Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel

Documenting the very personal process of making Aliyah (immigration to Israel) by one very atypical Israeli-American girl. Aliyah on 17, August, 2005. Roadmap: What do you mean there's no roadmap?! Hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride! Ole!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I feel like I'm in a Becket play: waiting for Bezeq.

I was blinking again when I got home last night from a really fun party --my DSL light was, that is. Those three glasses of wine made me incapable of thinking about calling Bezeq then. No way was I going to destroy my happy little haze by plugging and unplugging every item in my abode. So when it was still blinking this morning I bit the bullet and called. The 5,000 items were unplugged and replugged, the filter was changed again, the light went green and I had lift-off -- for all of 5 minutes.

I called again and went through the whole regime again including doing 3 modem resets with a pointy object. Finally he had me just plug in the phone and not the modem and did a line test. Hmmm, interesting, it is saying that the modem light is doing something on his end, he tells me, which is not possible since the modem is not plugged into the line. This means something is wrong with the phone line. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! What have I been telling you people?!

So the Bezeq guy just left about 10 minutes ago. I had planned to go to ulpan today and, in fact, was even going to be there on time because (probably because of those 3 glasses of wine) I woke up bright and chipper at 6:30. Scratch that plan. When the fix-it guy arrived he was like, "wasn't I just here last week?" Yes, yes you were. Whatever it was that was wrong was wrong downstairs at the main box and not in my apartment. Hopefully. The light is green again at least. He still insisted that the problem "downstairs" had nothing to do with the previous modems dying a terrible death. Myself, I'm sitting here wondering if we didn't bury those poor little modems while they still had life left in 'em...after all, this modem was amazingly resurrected with the fix downstairs and it was acting just like the others that were proclaimed to be toast.

While waiting for Mr. Fix-It I started putting books on the bookshelves that I put together over the past couple of days. I had the idea that these were going to solve my still-in-boxes and clutter problem. Well, five boxes later the shelves are full to over-stuffed. And there are still 3 boxes that haven't been unpacked. Several stacks of books are hanging out in the tiny office area. Clutter (small piles of books and miscellaneous objects that would go nicely on a bookcase) are still, ummm, cluttering. In fact, as I gaze around my living room --we won't think about the office or bedroom, ok?-- this room looks worse now, if that is possible than it did before I ripped open those boxes and started unpacking. How is this possible?

(BTW should have news on Monday or Tuesday about what is going on with mysterious bills arriving in my name)

Friday, November 25, 2005

holy crap --my Mom just called and said, um what do you know about a bunch of bills that just arrived today for you after going G-d knows where before getting here from your old apartment in NY: notice from IBM that I owe them $500 for a dvd burner purchased on October 10th, notice from Verizon that they are turning me over to a collection agency for unpaid bills in the amount of several hundred dollars charged early October, and so on. I was like WHAT? I closed out my Verizon account before leaving (and anyway it came out of my bank account automatically) in August. I sure as heck haven't ordered a DVD burner from IBM in October or any other month and certainly not one for $500. She is calling these folks now to try to find out what the deal is but our suspician is really high that either the ex-roommate or someone else has stolen my identity/credit card information and is happily charging away. Holy crap.

I'm going to write more about cab drivers in Israel today because yesterday I had the full cabbie variation experience. I was in a total of 4 different cabs all in a very short space of time. I hailed the first cab driver outside my apartment to go to the train station because I was leaving with too short a time to trust taking the bus. He reminded me of the ancient mariner or maybe a close descendent of Methusula. When I told him I wanted to go to the Arlozorov station he said, no, I'm taking you to the university station because the traffic is better in that direction and it will be cheaper for you (thud), he used the meter without my asking, and then talked to me about the Kabbala all the way there. (And by the way, it was much faster). When we pulled up at the station I paid him and as I was getting out the right change he reached into his glove box and pulled out a litle book in a pretty little bag and handed it to me with the instructions to read it and my life would make more sense, I would be happier, and (most importantly) I would find a good man who would take care of me and make me happy --it was a copy of sefer ha'zohar.

When I arrived at the central station in Be'er Sheva I was completely lost. I knew I had to find the Maccabi kofat cholim and I knew it was only a short walking distance but I didn't have any idea uh where it was. So I brilliantly thought to ask a cab driver. He offered to take me there for 10 shekels. When I said, actually, I really would rather go by foot if you would just be nice enough to point me in the right direction he grudgingly gave me directions --go down this street about 3 blocks and then turn right and then left and then ask someone there. Ok, so I follow his directions and end the middle of nowhere basically. I approach a nice woman on the street and she directs me back to where I came from but just across the street. Just across the street from the station, inside the kanyon (shopping mall). In other words, this cabbie had offered to make a U-turn, quite literally, for 10 shekels. And then had sent me on a wild goose chase when I declined. Grrrr.

So I pop into the Maccabi thinking hmm I might just have time to get these forms and the medical exam done in time to be at the scheduled talk at the university. But aahhhgghh when I hand the forms I'd spent 3 hours translating and filling out to the woman (given to me by the university) she shook her head and said, "these are the forms that Clalit uses. You have to fill out these forms instead and have your university fill out this section before we can do anything." Waaaahhhhhh. So out I rush and ...grab a cab.

This cabbie lives in Ashkelon but drives his cab in Be'er Sheva (I couldn't quite make out his explanation for why he does this --they are about 80 km apart which is, uh, far even for us kilometer-challenged folks). I gave him my standard "I'm from Germany" line to make sure we talked in hebrew and not in english and it turns out he is originally from the Netherlands but moved here as a child. So we talked in a mix of germanish/dutch and hebrew on the way to the university. He was full of praise for my hebrew ability given I've been here 3 months --when they say that you know what is coming already--> and asked me for my phone number and could we maybe have a date? Uh no but thanks!

I rush to the department in time for the talk only to discover that the talk has been cancelled. I give them the forms and have them fill them out their part and then it occurs to me that if I rush like hell I might actually get back to the Maccabi before it closes and then back again to the university in time for the meeting I have at 4:30.

Sprint to the gate and grab cab #3. Cabbie #3 is of the industrious "I'm going to pick up the world" variety. There is already a young woman sitting in the back of his cab when he picks me up. 10 seconds later he stops to pick up a young Arab-Israeli student who is covered head to foot in traditional attire. She and I are both going almost the same place and it is only a short detour to drop off the other young woman (first). The conversation was very interesting. He asked each of us in turn what we are studying and how we like the university. For convenience and lack of language skill sake, I simply say I'm studying communications. He then he asks me whether I am just here to study or have I made aliyah. When I tell him I've made aliyah, the young Arab-Israeli woman in the back warmly wished me much success and said that, having studied for part of her undergraduate degree in the UK, she truly believes that Israel is the best place to live in the world.

He drops me off and as I'm crossing the street to the Kanyon, cabbie #2 from Ashkelon drives by and waves and starts to pull up but I wave him on. He was probably wondering what the heck I was doing back there again since he'd dropped me off only a short while ago at the university...

I rush back into the Maccabi about 10 minutes before it will close and am the only person there. The young woman at the desk, who speaks not one word of English, shakes her head and tells me she is not allowed to help me fill out my section of the forms. I sigh and say hmmm I guess me and my dictionary will have some work to do and I'll come back next week. Dictionary? You can't understand these forms with a dictionary! Here, give me the forms and I'll help you after all, she tells me. So she reads aloud question #1 in hebrew and I look at her blankly. She calls a doctor in and he translates one (of the many) in the list of ailments I maybe had at some time in my life? I say no, never had that particular she circles no. The next question goes the same have you ever blah, blah, blah blah, blah or blah? In response to my blank look she purses her lips and says, "you look very healthy," and circles "no". The doctor nods approvingly and goes back into his office. So it goes down the list. There is the occasional question I do understand --cabable of doing the work required, boy howdy yes --will I be exposed to any toxic or dangerous materials in my job --g-d I hope not, circle no. We are done and she says, ok we'll submit these and get the correct forms to your university so you can be paid next week. Bye. What about the exam...? She calls the doctor out, they consult, they beam at me, given my answers on the questionnaire --not necessary. Alright!

So now it is back out to grab the 4th (and final) cab of the day. Cabbie #4 is a morose man. He has a stuffed dog on the dashboard and I pet it and comment that it is very cute. He grunts in response. Searching for conversation, I ask him if he has a real dog at home. No, he tells me, it is forbidden. Ahh, that is a shame. What about cats? No, they are also forbidden. Only Jews are allowed to have pets, he tells me and because he is not a Jew he is not allowed to keep so much as a fish. B'emet? Really? Yes, he says only the Jews are allowed such things. Ahh. To be a non-Jew in this country is to be worse than the dog he is not allowed to own, he tells me. I didn't quite know how to respond to this and indeed, the rest of the ride went in silence.

So there you have it, a wide spectrum of cab experiences, no?!

(BTW, I asked at the university if it was true that only Jews are allowed to keep pets in Be'er Sheva and people responded with a "where in the world did you get that crazy idea?!")

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

You know you really are a social psychologist when give a talk to a comm department and they don't know what the hell you are talking about and when it comes time for the q and a you feel like they are suddenly speaking a foreign language and you are running through the, not german, not hebrew, not english oh wait, that was in english! My talk today sucked and I am not used to giving sucky talks. Part of the problem was being worried about and attempting to try to explain things in an easy-to-grasp way since the talk was in a foreign language for the audience --I failed at this. Also, in light of the email suggestion I got last night, I was trying to figure out and relate my psych stuff to comm. The problem is is that I really wouldn't know a comm theory if it fell on me. Ok that is a slight exaggeration but only slight. I've been working within psych and borrowing some from sociology for so long now that I really don't remember much of the theoretical stuff from a comm basis. Comm theory just didn't come anywhere close to explaining my findings and so I moved on to theories that did. Anyway, I failed at this too in the talk.

Ay my head hurts. I'll be uber-surprised if anything comes of this talk.
I did run into a really close friend of mine at the U and he was very excited about the possiblity of my being there (me too before the talk from hell but those hopes are kinda dashed now) and we are going to get together for coffee. Yay Ran!

Oh and when they took me to eat we were told we maybe shouldn't go into the faculty dining room because there had been a suspicious package or something left. We ignored them and went into a dining room full of people who were happily eating and also ignoring the suggestion to leave. We started on a salad and then the suggestion to leave became a get the hell out and so we had to find somewhere else to eat. I hadn't understood the first warning and just followed along when we went on in but I definitely understood the second one. Twas nothing, however.

Oh. I just realized that exactly one year ago to the day I arrived in Tel Aviv for my pilot trip, back when I was thinking "yes" but was by no means 100% sure, and was scared to death that maybe a "yes" would be the wrong thing. I had no idea just how good a thing a "yes" would turn out to be.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I have Internet again. Sort of. It is slow. It is kind of funky. I keep getting internal http 500 errors. It still takes an eon to load a page. But I can load a page (when not getting the error). We'll see how long this lasts. So the guy finally came at nearly 6, leaving me trap-o-rama'ed in my apartment for the afternoon. He did a variety of testy things with a lot of whatchamallits. Eureka, he tells me: your modem is bad. Really? Interesting.

In fact, very interesting because if so then could you please tell me why you people have given me 3 (yes, 3) modems in the past 5 weeks (since I first got service) and all of which have managed to die? Hmmm? I had a modem in the States (in fact, G-d help me I still have that modem here with me in Israel --I found it over the weekend and have no idea how it got packed along). I used it for two years and it was always a happy and working little modem. Why do your modems go on strike?

I have a theory but psst don't tell anyone: it is that there is something wrong with the phone line and it is frying my modems. It is also frying my splitters or whatever you call them. I'm on splitter #2 already, after all. And, while I'm paying for the great 2 whatever it is's to be really fast (pshaw you convinced me when I thought about the cheaper 1.5) my connection is slower than the dial-up I used back in the ice age.

At least this modem is smaller and cuter.

One of the good things about having a net connection is that now I feel famous. That's cos Lisa mentioned my blog in her very kewl post over on the GVO site. If you head over there make sure you follow the link to Ari's post on why he made Aliyah. But make sure you aren't consuming food of any kind when you do --there is half-chewed up cracker now between my s and d on the keyboard and they just don't wanna work anymore. Hmmm, maybe I should call bezeq to come fix them --I could use another new modem maybe :)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Can I strangle the folks at bezeq? Starting on Wednesday my net connection has been worse than awful --the connection wasn't just dropping it was requiring to me unplug the modem and restart the computer about every hour or so and then getting even more frequent by Friday. This morning it was dead dead dead. No matter how many times I tried the magic "turn everything off" trick it just blinked at me. The little green dsl light did, that is. So I called and spent about an hour on the phone doing everything I've been doing, plugging in the phone, changing out the cords, and screaming silently. Then they did a line test --something is wrong with it. Well, I kinda told him that to begin with. For one thing, my connection is and has been from the beginning excrutiatingly slow, even for our home-grown Israeli sites. Like slower than the old dial-up connections. No one can come to fix it until tomorrow afternoon though. I feel so cut off. I'm at the coffee bean, natch, to try to do a bit of email because I have piles of it I need to answer. Saturdays are usually my catch-up day with all the emails that weren't screaming "critical response needed now" at me.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Anyone know of any good blogs out there in hebrew? I've been trying to find some to read that are your basic non-political day in the life kind of blogs and not having much success. Please let me know if ya have some good tips in this area! Thanks in advance :)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

a mixed bag

That is what my week has been. First the horrid ulpan day and then two days of basking in typed paper glory --yes, I was still Yaeli on Tuesday: she complimented me several times in passing on the essay and when she passed back the papers she waved it about and announced to the class "just like in the university, kol ha'kavod." After class, when I told her I would have to miss both wednesday and thursday and could I have the assignments if there were any in the book she beamed at me and showed me the pages. I hope we have another essay to type soon.

I spent Wednesday at the IDC. Wow. Sababa. Achla. Mitzuan. Eyzeh Yofi! Can I find any other exclamations to make over the new Communications building that is going up? It is really amazing. I got the grand tour of all four floors (three of which will be dedicated to communications), walking in among the construction workers and generally getting in their way. (This by the way would so not happen in the States --what someone could get beamed by something or fall off those stairs without any railings and lots of construction "stuff" on them and die or...worse, live...and file a lawsuit!) I got to meet Noam and a variety of other people associated with the department there.

This morning I got up at the crack of dawn, after staying up til late working on a chapter, and got everything ready for my class. I made the train (was 20 minutes early) and so got there in time for my first meeting. Then there was the talk to listen to (b'ivrit) which had something to do with journalists being anthropologists and anthropologists being journalists and it all being very subjective --I think. I think I understood about 30% (maybe less). What was seriously frustrating was hearing all the words that I should know and at one time knew but not being able to remember the meaning. Because the talk was rolling along it was impossible for me to stop and figure out the meaning from the context either. I was itching to get at my dictionary but frustrated that I should be in a position of having to look up the word _again_ .

Then I found out that my class wasn't happening. I really wish someone had told me this sooner (like maybe yesterday) because then I wouldn't have spent the many hours preparing for it and could have used that time for other pressing needs. I will still have to do a lot of re-preparing next week because my brain is like a sieve these days. Instead of class I had to take the class to watch some films (the jewish film festival is happening at BGU right now) and hear a panel. I understood the first film perfectly --it was in yiddish :) I was mostly clueless during the panel discussion but did pick up some of what they were arguing --again, feeling happy that I was understanding. (And oh yes, I had a 10 minute conversation with a student in hebrew today and that was kewl). So I was feeling pretty good.

Then after the panel ended there were cabs there to take those of us who live not in Beer Sheva (uhh that would be all of us on the faculty) to our respective abodes. The cab driver had me sit up front because the other two lecturers were going to be talking in hebrew. I was kewl with that: their talking in hebrew, that is. I was eager to stay in the "the mode" and, feeling completely mentally drained, really wanted to sit and listen and not have to say anything in any language. It was not to be, however, because the cabbie talked to me the whole way back and he insisted on talking in english and whenever I tried to respond in hebrew he a) told me my hebrew was too bad and to talk in english or b) pretended he didn't understand me --and I'm sorry but I've been able to correctly ask someone where they live in hebrew since I was a child --my hebrew ain't _that_ bad or c)moved the conversation back to why was I not married. I was ready to strangle him an hour and 10 minutes later. But it was a free trip home (wow) and he dropped me off just two blocks from my apartment (double wow) and I still got home more than a half-hour than I would have if I had taken the train and then the bus (triple wow).

So the week had ups and the week had downs. I've figured out that I feel really hopeless and depressed about ever grasping this language whenever I am tired and when I am more rested I feel (slightly) more optimistic.

Monday, November 14, 2005

There you have it: today was an all-around better day in the topsy-turvy life of me. I was, for instance, Yaeli to the morah today. Ahhh how did I achieve this, you might ask? It is called a keyboard and a printer. Yes, I wormed my way, in a most stealthy and underhanded manner, back into her semi-graces by typing my essay using the bajillion words (that I still don't truly know the meaning of) she wanted us to try to integrate (lihishtalev -aha so I do remember one) into a narrative. I was up most of the night doing it and I will say that it sucks rocks but it is typed and it is 2 full pages typed. And I was Yaeli and not just Yael. Oh my. Who knew what one little letter could do or mean?

Who knew that Rabin and Eliezer Ben Yehuda have so much in common? I can ascertain that they have at least 41 words that can be well-used to describe them both. Hmmm, well actually, at least 8 of the words are shared in common with Rabin and croccodiles instead. Oh well, he had a bit of the croccodile in him too. Hey, he was an Israeli politician, how could he not?!

I can also ascertain that it is great to have friends with cars. First, it is great to have them as friends. Second it is great that they have cars. Finally, it is a really nice shee-luv (combination) that these friends are willing to drag car-less friends about to huge mega "I'm much cheaper" super-stores so that the carless friends can buy 36 rolls of toilet tissue among other neccessary things. Hmmm I managed to purchase something like 450 shekels worth of neccessary things. When I got home many of them did not seem as neccessary as they did when surrounded by what can only be described as the American Dream (e.g. access to tons of non-neccessary but you think they are neccessary uh stuff) But fear not, I will never run short of a paper-towel again in my lifetime.

And, best of all, I am going to go to sleep in a mere two hours from now. Wooooooooo :)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Yam HaMelech

Yam HaMelech
Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

Thank you Flickr. Here are the pics again and hopefully working this time.


Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

The water at this spot was extremely floaty. Tons more salt is in the water in the southern part of the sea and the salt coats the bottom so thickly that the rocks are not even ouchy to walk on. These folks look like they are in a time-warp though.

Snow? Not quite

Snow? Not quite
Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

No, that is not snow on those rocks and plants --that is salt!

Intrepid climbers

Intrepid climbers
Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

Me, Courtney and Katherine (read Kat's account of our trip in the post below :) just after we nearly killed ourselves walking up to the top of Masada from waaaaaayyy below sea level.

The view toward Jordan

The view toward Jordan
Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

The route down to the Palace level

The route down to the Palace level
Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

Ok, going down these stairs to the palace level was seriously scary. Can you imagine going from level to level on a donkey or a camel or whatever they rode back then?

I've removed my whiney little post (thank you to those who gave a lot of support in the brief time it was up!) because I vented and that is enough. I don't want it hanging around and reminding me --and everyone else :) --of what an idiot I am at times *grin*. Generally I wouldn't let things get to me like that but I'm putting it down to being over-tired and stressed. Tomorrow will be a new day and a better one than today (lol, dear g-d please). I'm off to attack the hebrew homework. My ulpan buddy called and informed me that low and behold I don't have the darn handout because it was handed out on Thursday. I have a shorter version on the same topic (we're all agreed that if we read one more thing about Eliezer Ben Yehuda and his mute-until-the-age-of-4 kid we are all going to scream in unison). So she gave me all the new words for the writing assignment and I'm off to do it.

Since I'm doing photos and it takes a zillion years to get them to upload on yahoo and then to get the links to upload correctly here, I'm putting up a few more. These are mostly photos of my evening tonight. I went to Kikar Rabin this evening for the memorial for Yitzhak Rabin an incredible leader and an incredible man. He was one of the greatest movers and shakers for peace this country, and the world, has witnessed. He was assassinated 10 years ago on November 4th at this very square following a rally for peace.

Gathering at Kikar Rabin
Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

It was estimated that there were 70,000 people at the memorial tonight by the police but the organizers put the number closer to 200,000. Myself, I estimate that the number was many. Many, many.

The stage
Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

Unfortunately, my camera, a lovely little finepix E510 given to me last year by my favourite person in the world (my brother, Brett) does not perform well in low-light conditions. So all the pictures I took of Clinton and others on the screen and on the stage didn't come out worth a darn. But you kinda get the idea of the staging area from this.

Lighting candles in memorium
Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

A lot of people were lit candles in Rabin's memory. There were many impromtu groupings of candles fluttering on the sidewalks close to where he was murdered.

My candle among many others
Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

My candle is in the second row, 5th one over with the really bright flame because I'd just lit it before taking the picture.

Tonight was a night of both sadness and joy. There was something about standing among thousands of Israelis, especially when we all sang our anthem Hatikva, that made my heart just about want to burst with hope, as the song is titled, and happiness and sadness and pain at the same time.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

My Masada and Dead Sea adventures are going to have to wait. I really thought I'd have a bit of time to sit down and write them up. Work happened, my landlady called and invited me for Shabbat dinner and sounded so lonely I said yes (and I'm still queazy --sp? I can't spell in any language any more!--because she served chicken and chicken gravy on everything (everything!) and umm I'm a vegetarian. I eshewed the chicken itself but yeeeeuuuucccchhhh). Then I finally extracted myself and got home about 11 and then worked until now.

BUT I'm not going to leave folks completely hanging. In jest the other day I asked my dear friend Katherine if I could steal her write-up like I steal her ulpan notes and she said yes. I was joking then. LOL, now I'm not. So here is Kat's pretty kewl version of what all went down when 3 girls and a tent went way down through the west bank (I promise my own soon uh sometime uh yeah):

Yam Ha Melach and other exciting places

or: We drove through the West Bank and I never even knew!

So Yael and Courtney and I decided we needed a girls weekend away, no boyfriends allowed! while Yael was not particularly fussed either way, and Courtney knew that she could pitch a tent better than Daniel anyway, I was missing Bob for the fact that he always rolls the tent up and gets his hands dirty so I don't have to. So I am now bust, because now I have proven that us girls are capable of going away and camping and fending for ourselves so now next time we go camping with the boys they are not going to give us any leeway! Dammit. I see a lot of dirty hands in my future.

So we were just going for 2 days, driving from Tel Aviv via Jerusalem (45 minutes) then down to the Dead Sea (or Yam ha Melach as they call it here, which means the salty sea), and then camping somewhere in that area, and then going to Massada the next day. My first shock was that by going this route, we were driving through the West Bank. Being geographically challenged as I am, I never took a proper look at the map, and I always thought the West Bank was slightly north of Jerusalem, not also South East of it too. So I was a little confused when we drove out of Jerusalem, and we drove through a checkpoint, which had Palestinian cars queued up to go through to Jerusalem, all waiting for their turn (they have green license plates unlike the Israeli yellow ones), and then we were driving through very deserted areas, literally and figuratively. We only saw a couple of camels (my first real middle eastern camels!), lots of complete desert (makes the Negev look welcoming), a few Bedouin encampments (grubby shacks, some animals, couple of clotheslines, all on the side of a desert hill), and some typical A-rabs on the side of the road as mouse would call them (typical in that they were wearing what we ignorant foreigners would term a dishcloth on their heads, and I believe they call a Keffiya).

Then we got down to the Dead Sea (about 60 km's), and the first place we stopped at to pop in the sea was very derelict and abandoned looking all around, bad roads, and then separate places to swim for men and women, and very many muslim men and women. Curiouser and curiouser. And yes the whole way I never realised a thing, only the next day when Courtney made a throw away comment did I realise that we had been driving through the West Bank all the time. If I had known, I would not have been quite so cavalier with my answers when we got stopped at the checkpoint on the way out - instead of telling them we were going camping, we didn't quite know where, I would probably have tried to assure them that we knew exactly where we were going and please to let us back in! So I now know a few more facts. The west bank comes down very close to Jerusalem, and then extends further south. It borders with the top piece and left side of the Dead Sea, and stops about halfway down the Dead Sea. On the other side of the Dead Sea is Jordan. Had I had the patience I coulda floated across to Jordan for the day.

The Dead sea was much fun. It is completely exhausting - even a little dip in it will make you so sleepy. It's also great because you can be standing in it, and your feet will not touch the bottom. If you are lying, it is possible to lie on your side as if you are on a bed. The first place we stopped at we jumped right in, floated a bit, got out to slather ourselves with mud, and then jumped back in. I wish I had been able to take pictures of us in the mud, but you will all have to imagine them. Most amusing. We looked like frog women!

The Dead Sea itself is actually shrinking at a rapid rate - just less than a metre a year. The north bit is actually almost disconnected from the south bit due to shrinkage, and as a result the south is much saltier, shallower, and floatier. The water in the south you can pretty much lie on it like you are lying on a bed, with your head completely back which is very cool. The only problem is that when you get out you will have straw instead of hair. They have fresh water showers right outside the sea, because if you do not shower right away, you will probably die from all the things that are stinging, like any cuts or scrapes you had, or anything else you have with a mucous membrane. Hint - do not fart in the Dead Sea!

We camped that night at a moshav (communal farming place thingy), and met some very nice Israelis, who laughed at our pathetic attempts with our little gas camping stove, and then invited us to share their dinner - most amusing. So I've decided that while we girls may not quite be as handy as boys, we can still get everything done by looking useless and getting people to help us.

so here are some pictures as reward for reading through all the blather. Here are Yael and Courtney, and as promised I photographed them from the waist up - I think they owe me money now. Yael is from a number of places including New Orleans, New York, and she seems to know quite a few bits of Texas too. Courtney is from Houston, and Austin as well. Thanks to the both of them I am picking up a silly american accent, and they keep on finding themselves saying things like queue, boot, robot, swimming costume and other necessary things.
Ooops ok no pictures yet either and I'm not stealing hers. Hey I do have my limits but as you can see they are pretty low. THANK YOU KAT!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I am promising a nice long post on Friday all about my absolutely fabulous and fun (eyzeh kef!!) camping trip to the Dead Sea, the visit to Masada and our quest to find a camping site --my first experience with camping Israeli style and heh it was kewl but finding a place was no easy task! (I am hoping also to get pictures up). Because of my lovely fun weekend, however, I am snowed under with work. hey, I knew this would happen going in and I might come up for air sometime in the next millenium but will definitely post on Friday :). I've also been doing a bit on my hebrew blog and so kinda neglecting this one because writing anything in hebrew is a major ordeal (and it still comes out really bad and incorrect and I can't spell my way out of a paper bag <--uh yeah this bastardization again of the "can't find my way out of a paper bag" saying which means what an imbecile!).

What else is going on in my life besides work and more work? Well, I picked up the first Harry Potter book --in hebrew. Kewl Kat inspired me because she is reading the second book (though I thought it was the first one) and I thought it would be fun if we were both reading it and could maybe discuss it b'ivrit. Uh, yah, like that is likely to happen! Anyway, I'm very proud because I've read one page. I will finish this book around the turn of the next millenium when I finish all the work piled on me.

Ahh my exciting life. Ok til Friday unless I find an extreme need to procrastinate and dodge my responsibilities for a short while!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sorry to freak people out --I got a slew of emails and a comment and a call from a friend in the States all saying, "you aren't giving your cats away?!" No, it was only a moment of wishful (bad Yael, bad) thinking. It was a comment along the lines of the one my mother used to say when I was a kid and she was fed up with me, "if you don't watch out I'm going to give you to the gypsies" --I wasn't afraid, of course, because for one thing I'd never seen a real gypsy and for another I thought that it'd be kinda fun. heh, I knew it was just her frustration and not a real threat. On the net though it is much harder to tell when someone is saying something and not really meaning it (basically just mean they are being made nuts by something --in this case me by my cats). So the horrid little beasts are stuck with me.

I'm giving myself a kol ha'kavod on the teaching as I, importantly, survived the experience and so did my students (mostly) and because talking afterwards with students I got a tiguvah micovedet (an acceptable/respectable response) to the lecture. They are panicking because they have to write their final paper in english. I was like hey, you each get to write 25 pages while I get to read 26 twenty-five page papers. Then I pulled out the letter from bezeq that I got earlier this week and still haven't sat down to translate after realizing it would be quite a lot of looking up of words. I waved the paper at them and said, it took me an hour to figure out this letter and it is only one page! That shut them up. Mostly.

The commute to Beer Sheva seriously sucks. It is half an hour -45 minutes to get to the station. The train only comes once an hour so if, like today, you miss the train by 30 seconds you have to wait another hour (good thing I was planning on getting there really really early --was taking the 1:08 train and don't teach until 6 but wanted to get a lot of other things done). Then it is an hour and a half on the train and then a 20 minute walk. Then, at night, when I finish teaching, I have to wait nearly an hour for the train and ...reverse everything except that the bus now only comes once an hour. But it is only twice a week :) I'm feeling punchy already on no sleep. Grin, by the time the girls pick me up tomorrow I should just be a riot.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Can't. Get. Any. Tireder. Impossible? Well ask me on Friday and I'll let you know. Better yet, ask me on Sunday. I haven't stopped since a quarter of 7 this morning and am most likely going to have to pull an all-nighter both tonight and tomorrow (and quite possibly every night next week outside of this friday and saturday).

Good news: I have a load of clothes happily drying and another load in the washer. The washer connector guy came this afternoon, right after I had to flee ulpan (well only like 10 minutes early) in order to meet with a reporter who wanted some background info for an article that he maybe/possibly will be writing. While he was sitting in my extremely messy (yes, still and I'm going to go insane if something doesn't happen to clean it up/organize/unpack it and I don't have the time to do it) apartment, the washer connector guy came and well, connected.

Washer guy left, reporter guy left. I turned on computer and started pulling my hair out over my syllabus again. I can't use the book I had planned to use (wasn't time to order it to get it here in time for the kidlets), I can't use 90% of the articles I would normally use (either not available in pdf, or I can't access them because my nyu access to the online library is toast and I still don't have access to the university library here online or otherwise and...I don't have happy little copies of them in pdf on my computer). So trying to put this syllabus together (one that is useful and educational and interesting etc) is more than a challenge.

I also got a reminder today about a chapter that is due next week --on top of the other chapter that is due next week and that is nearly killing me, 3 reviews that still need to be done for the book I am editing (I may harm some of my reviewers if they don't get those reviews back to me), 2 reviews that I may be harmed if i don't get back to others, and a chapter outline for another book I committed to (next time I commit to something someone commit me --to a mental hospital).

And of course, I have a lecture to prepare (well finish preparing) for my first class tomorrow.

Despite all this, (lamrut zot) I am going CAMPING on friday and saturday at the Dead Sea (yam ha'melech -sea of salt as we call it here). It is going to be a girls only camping trip with some of the banot from ulpan --yalla! Of course, I may have completely collapsed by the time we get there as we are leaving at like 6 a.m. on friday morning. I will certainly have collapsed by the time I get back. Don't care, don't care, don't care.

BTW does anyone want a cat...I have 2 extra, free...just because I'm disowning them doesn't mean that aren't totally lovable and great! (Just keep telling yourself that Yael, just keep right on!)