smart

What does it say when I was reading about spas (for work, natch) and seeing the word “yogalates,” wondered how they could combine yogurt and yoga (same as pilates, right? I know, I know, not quite, but still)…….

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To mourn and to celebrate

Today is Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance Day), when Israel mourns for those who have died in the wars we have been in throughout the existence of this country – at least one every decade. Tomorrow is Yom Haazmaut (Independence Day), but today is a day of sadness and reflection.

It’s a strange day for an Israeli left winger. On one hand, I can appreciate the great losses that the people of Israel have sustained in order to get and maintain its existence. Every single one of my adult relatives, including my mother, has been in a war – and they could have been among the ones we are mourning today. And there have been times over the last 60 years that without the lives sacrificed in war, there would be no Israel.

On the other hand, I don’t believe in war, in principle. And perhaps more (personally) disturbing, I don’t find myself proud of this country very often, making it hard to engage in any national holiday. There are so many things wrong with Israel today, from corruption everywhere you look to a nationwide obsession with consumerism to human rights violations and absolute hypocrisy on a number of levels, in particular the prevention of a marginalized population’s pursuit of independence.

The truth is, none of the above reasons are reasons not to respect Remembrance Day. And really, I do. There are two sirens that blare throughout the country – one the night before, and one in the morning. And in that time, I thought about the fact that no matter what, lives were lost and today is a day respect those lives, and the families who lost loved ones. Israel being as small as it is, every single person has a connection to some kind of tragedy, or has a loved one who might have been lost. The effect is that this day is much more personal for all of us.

I guess the ‘other hand’ argument applies more to tomorrow’s holiday, Independence Day. Of course I appreciate Israel, I wouldn’t be living here if I didn’t. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that for the most part, I am not – and, for the record, this is painful to admit – for the most part, I am not proud of Israel, of being Israeli. The government is transparently corrupt, hypocritical religious and right-wing people are trying to rule the country, the army is taking advantage of its power and its ability to exploit Palestinians in Israel and the territories as well as to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, even when Israel was founded on the ideal that a group should have the right to their own country. I don’t like to be associated with corrupt, consumerist, uncaring and exploitative governments, and unfortunately that’s what we have these days.

The Israel I was raised on isn’t the Israel I live in today. Sometimes I think that if I lived somewhere else (read: not the most controversial city in the country and possibly the world), it would be more like that place I thought I was moving to. But maybe the Israel I was raised on, the country that my mom left when she married my dad almost 30 years ago, just doesn’t exist anymore. That’s a more depressing thought than anything else. Can it go back to what it was? I still see parts of it, here and there. And there are wonderful things about the land and culture. That’s what I focus on.

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Spring specials

My mom just left after two and a half weeks here, and it was wonderful and sad and filled with adventures. I loved having her here. Among the highlights:

Passover weekend at the bf’s parents – wine, wine, wine, TONS of food and we even got to drive around some of the area, including this lake/former waterfall that you have to hike down into. I did it in flip flops, thankyouverymuch.

Kibbutz bonanza – memorial for my grandfather, who passed away four years ago, beach with my cousin, more yummy food. Came back to Jerusalem with a nasty sunburn and a full belly!

Bread-making during Passover (but don’t tell the religious folks, it’s kind of totally against the rules) – and it was damn good, if I may say so myself!

Quality time with my mom and my friends – they love her almost as much as I do!

American Colony Hotel – beautiful, and great to sit with my former roomie and her mom

Terrible sushi experience – never go to Japanica in Jerusalem: the service brings a whole new level to suckiness and the food isn’t even all that good.

Wonderful tapas – mom, bf and I had an amazing dinner at Sol, and it makes me glad that they like each other :). I think this visit gave him a first glimpse into where I come from, and that I didn’t just drop out of the sky with no family or history, so that was a good thing.

I made jam! and it’s yummy! I’m turning so domestic….

Old City – with mom and my bestest, including the best hummus in the world, of course! I really like the Old City, I should go more often.

And everything in between. It was a much-needed visit. Her leaving was hard though. Really hard. On a day-to-day basis, I am able to live alone (without my family), and not miss them too much. It’s never easy, and thank goodness I have my friends and the bf, who make up my surrogate family here, but you find a way to cope with the life you’ve built for yourself. With my mom here, I actually had the real thing, so her leaving was even more painful because in the separation I understood that as amazing as my surrogate family is, there is nothing like the people who are actually my blood, and who have known me for all the years I’ve been alive. I’ve brought this life upon myself, however, and there’s no turning back. And I wouldn’t exchange my moms visits for anything in the world.

So back to the grind of regular life. This week includes Israeli independence day, which should be interesting. Bush is coming to my city. Great. The whole place gets shut down – when he came in January, all the streets in the center of the city were completely closed down, and I don’t suppose this time will be any different. I can’t believe I moved across the planet and he STILL finds ways to mess up my daily life. Anyhow if anything interesting happens, I shall report.

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up, down, all around

We went up north over the weekend, for a family wedding and to celebrate the bf’s mom’s birthday. Besides the fact that we were up before 7am every day, it was really nice. Bf knows rediculous amounts of trivia about Israel, so it was like a personal tour. On Friday, we left his parents house and drove to the upper Galilee, stopping for a picnic along the way. We went up to where the family gets the grapes for the wine they make. We went to the Rimon winery, where they make wine from pomegranites and let me tell you, a) that is GOOD, and b) there are not many better ways to start a weekend at 10:30am than with a wine tour and tasting. From there we went to the nearby Dalton winery, which had delicious (grape) wines and a gorgeous view.

From there we continued north towards Tzfat, arriving in Ya’ar Birya where we would be spending the night. We changed and went to the wedding (for one of the bf’s cousins), which was very nice. Again the scenery was beautiful, and it was great to hang out with him and his family. And we only got one or two notifications that we (he) are next, er… a little awkward, but what can you do. After eating and drinking and drinking and eating, we had a nap before heading out for a birthday meal of, er, chocolate in Rosh Pina. There is this awesome restaurant that is all about the chocolate, and we had some, and opened presents, and had a good time before crashing.

We were up early again in the morning, for a quick breakfast before heading out and north again, this time having a trivia competition (the bf driving and asking questions, me in the passenger seat and his sisters in the back). Somehow I was winning in the points category, despite being the only non-Israeli-educated (the questions I got right were the only ones not about Israeli history/geography). I rock. We drove along the border with Lebanon, over to Rosh HaNikra, one of the most northern points in Israel on the coast.

We went down to the sea, where I had a quiet little reunion that made me very happy. Finally we made our way to the old city of Acco, where we walked around before having a DELICIOUS seafood lunch. Yum. Making me hungry just thinking about it!

Went back to the bf’s parents house after that and spent the rest of the afternoon there before heading back to Jerusalem. The weekend was sooooo nice, neither one of us wanted to come back! But such is life, I suppose…

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Cheesecake

He came home last night sometime after 9pm (we had talked around 7 and he said that he shouldn’t be much more than an hour) with a huge smile on his face. After how sick he had been for the past week, I was happy to see that he was feeling better – enough to (sort of) balance the less-happy part of me for him coming home so much later than he had said he would. Plus I knew he had been studying, which was good, but I had never seen anyone so thrilled with life after a multi-hour study session.

He asked if I wanted tea, telling me I did and singing in the kitchen as he got everything ready. When he came back into the living room with the tea he was also carrying two plates with cheesecake on them. And I started crying.

He had been meaning to bring me flowers for two days, he said (I started crying again), for taking such good care of him while he was sick. On a totally unrelated note, he never notices anything when he walks in the street – just focused on getting to his destination. But last night while he was walking home, he saw a bakery and thought of a recent conversation we had had about how much I like cheesecake (the American kind, not the Israeli kind). He thought of me when he usually doesn’t even notice or think about anyone or anything. He was on a happy high because he loves me, and it felt great to realize it every once in a while.

Is it any wonder I cried? And then we ate the cake, found a ridiculous Australian movie on TV and made popcorn, because cheesecake followed by popcorn is a wholesome, nutritious dinner. I have a great life.

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Love is like a roller coaster

Having a real relationship is tough. I’ve never had something like this, where I care so much and I want to make it work and it’s so intense sometimes I don’t know if I can handle it. We saved it last night, and I hope that makes us stronger than ever – but I know it’s not going to be easy. I guess they say anything worth having doesn’t come easily.

I’m in love. The real kind, with pleasure and pain and highs and lows and you put up with it because the relationship and that other person is more than the fight. It is very difficult, more than I would have imagined. No matter what happens, I am learning so much. I hope I will continue learning with him forever, but I can’t know that yet. For now, I am loving and crying and fighting and flying because as I’m learning, that’s what love is.

I wanna ride.

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New Job

I started a new job yesterday (yes, I have been going through transition after transition after transition the last few months and no, I don’t like it). The first day was… good. It was hours of meetings, but they were really interesting because my boss and the people he meets with know what they’re doing and are very good at it. They were talking about a project (company) they developed, then one talked about a couple of other projects he had going and they decided to take them on no sweat, even though it would almost double the amount of money they would have to raise this “round”  – we’re talking about millions of Euros, here. It’s exciting and intimidating and I’m really looking forward to working on these things!

On the other hand, it should come as no surprise that I have nothing in common with old, rich religious entrepreneurs. When in the first meeting, they were laughing about the close call one of them had in getting home just 10 min before “Shabbos” came in, I thought….. nothing. I had nothing for that conversation. I have never even traveled for work, let alone thought about the Jewish holy day of rest in relation to travel, except in how it affects the bus schedule to and from the airport. I suppose I will find common ground, but in the meantime it’s just a little awkward. Gotta love it!

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