Friday, December 25, 2009

visits... home?

Well, its finally here. After shabbat the baby and I will hop on a plane and head back to my home state (and country). Rest easy, its only for a visit... but I have been looking forward to it for a month now. Here in KG the weather has been beautiful and warm for the last two weeks... and its been driving me CRAZY. I have always loved California winters... the rain, the cold, without the freezing or eternal snow. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons... and I have been sorely deprived of them here. I am looking forward to the perfect California winter.

I am also looking forward to the time spent with my family. I miss them all terribly, and it hits closer to home on the holidays. Christmas is here today, and came and went with barely a notice. I do love that about Israel, but as someone who grew up celebrating all holidays, I kind of miss it too. I miss the walking around my great-grandmothers street looking at the lights (and the crazy neighbors who would bring in snow and dancers and other crazy items), I miss the time spent at my grandparents, the morning with my family.

Everyone always asks how I can live in a warzone. Just yesterday a father of 7 was shot near his home... For love of the country, for love of my husband, I am here and the conflict is a part of how I live my life... but far and away the hardest thing about living here is being a world away from my family, both in distance and culture. happy holidays to everyone, see you state-side

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

fellow english speakers

In the last week I have run into a handful of English speakers here in KG, and it keeps surprising me that others like myself exist here. Most have been here for 15+ years, but apparently there are a few newer immigrants floating out there. So I did what anyone of my generation would do... I turned to facebook. I created a group for English speakers here in KG, and the word is starting to spread. We only have 6 members so far, but honestly thats more than I expected in the past couple hours.

One of the most well known english speakers here in KG manages the local bookstore... she seems to know all the english speakers because its the only place to get the Jerusalem Post or Haaretz. So she and I have decided to try to get an English speaking group back together. We will include the local moshavim and kibbutzim, mostly because without them we would have no one. We will try to put together potlucks and meetings and fun events. It feels great, because now I can be active and try to get it all together.

Besides that we have a trip stateside coming up very soon. Besides my normal fear of flying I am very exciting to be able to see my family. I am also excited to get out of the current 80 degree weather we've been having, and experience a semi real winter.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Living in a small country... or just a small city?

It still amazes me how small of a world we really live in... and how if we take time to just listen to others around us, we can find so many connections. In an Israeli small world moment, I discovered that the son of one of my ulpan teachers is best friends with two of my husbands cousins.
My ulpan class, as I have said before, is all russians... a couple weeks ago one told me that she has an American friend I should meet. The American is my grandparents age, but my ulpan classmate said that we just HAD to meet. So the three of us got together for tea this morning... and what a small world it became.
Turns out that this American (lets call her R) came to Israel in the 1950's from NY, married a Moroccan and settled down here in KG. In 1967, as the war broke out, she gave birth to a son... and decided that war-torn Israel was no place to raise kids... so she moved to the San Francisco bay area. She lived in SF, then later taught at USC. Now that her son has moved back to Israel she and her husband decided to come back... to lovely KG. We had much to talk about, from classes and atmosphere at USC, to the beauty that is the bay area. We discussed the pros and cons of living in Israel vs California, and the different outlooks of our generations. We argued about the role of religion in the government and debated about the reality of the American dream. Even though we have nearly 60 years between us, it was great to be able to discuss there things. We even discussed putting together our own KG version of an American club.

In not too long I will be heading back to the states to visit my family. I am looking forward to it, besides the ever constant fear of flying. It will be a nice (and much need) break).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting back into shape

Before our wedding I was determined to loose 25 pounds, just to make sure that I looked thinner than my dear husband on our wedding day. After a year of weight watchers I had lost over 30 pounds... I felt better than I had in years, and I loved it. Since then I had a baby... and my body went back to its "usual" state, pre-weight watchers. The only weight watchers program here is no where near where we live, but I was determined to get back to my wedding weight.

So yesterday I finally got my act together, and convinced one of my soon to be sister in laws to go to an all women's studio with me. We had signed up for a step class (like jazzercize?), but when we got the there person at the desk suggested that we start with aerobics on our first day. So we joined a class... and the workout was harder than I ever would have imagined! Both of us were so sore about 15 mins in, and struggling to keep up. It didnt help that the teacher was convinced that the 2 Kg weight bar was far too light for me, and switched it with a 4 kg bar. Still, it felt amazing to be doing something to exercise... even if I am crazy sore today. My goal is to do this type of class twice a week, and pilates or yoga once a week for at least the next three months. I still have about 10-15 pounds of baby weight I would like to loose.... lets see how long I can keep it up.

Its also amazing to be here in Israel for those only in Israel moments... last night, after our aerobics class, they lit a channukiah and sang channukah songs. It was nice to have the moment. Its was also surprisingly nice to be in an all womens gym... I never really liked "curves" in the states, because it felt like they were lowering the exercise standards for women, but this was a hard core class for women. Now I just have to keep my resolve up.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

house hunting

Even though we arent exactly sure where we want to settle down, the husband and I have been looking at some apartments and houses for sale, just to get an idea of what we like and dont like... and maybe more importantly what this city (and others) has to offer. It has already been a very interesting experience. Last night we went to see a "penthouse" apartment, on the 11th floor of a building. it was a nice apartment, but very Israeli in its layout. The kitchen was tiny, the rooms were narrow, but it had an amazing 80 square meter balcony looking out over the city. Too bad the rest of the apartment just seemed too small and crowded.

i am very american. I want a large kitchen, a separate (or partially separate) dining area, at least two (preferably two and a half) bathrooms and a "master" bedroom big enough for our American queen size bed. This seems a lot easier said than done.... and its not very israeli apparently

We also checked out a two story apartment... which was a pleasant surprise. the owner, a Russian woman, redid the whole inside herself. the outside was a typical 15 year old dirty building, but the inside was nice. there was even a separate dinning room! It wasnt perfect, but it was the first place we had seen that felt homey. we arent nearly ready to buy yet, but it really gave us some ideas as to the kind of place we want.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Being honest here...

Sometimes I just laugh at Israelis. They really do mean well, but something happens when you grow up in a small country with lots of neighbors who dont particularly like you... you begin to think that everyone who DOES like you (aka people who live or visit your country) are your friends. And being that everyone living near you is a friend, it is more than permissible to ask complete strangers whatever you want. take the following conversation I had while walking home from my in-laws house.

(I stop at a red light waiting to cross the street. An older couples walks up next to me, religious, with a girl of about six or seven- the following conversation is translated from the hebrew)
Woman: How old is your baby?
Me: six months
Woman: shes yours?
Me: Yes, she is mine
Woman: shes skinny for her age, did you know that? Did the doctors tell you? She looks small/
Me: Yes, we know, but she is healthy, thank g-d
Woman: Of course, thank g-d. May she be very healthy. Look how she looks at us! Shes very smart.
Me: Thank you
(we cross the street and turn in the same direction)
Woman: Do you live on Glickson Street?
Me: Nope, I live on ______ Street.
Woman: Oh. Are you selling your house?
Me (thinking I heard her wrong): Excuse me? Can you repeat? I am a new immigrant and my Hebrew isn't so good.
Woman: I know how that is. Are you selling your house?
Me: Um. No. We rent it.
Woman: Thats too bad. Are you English?
Me: No, American
Woman: Oh. Wow. well lots of health.

Now... I dont think I would have ever had a conversation like that in the states, with a complete stranger. And its not nearly the first time, something similar happens almost every day. I am getting used to it, but it can be hard telling who means well and who is trying to get something (like the guy who tried to ask me out about a month ago, and I thought maybe he was a friend of my husbands I didnt recognize...) It is amazing to live in a country where everyone really is your neighbor... but it still kind of freaks me out sometimes. maybe Ill get used to it one day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The city I live in isn't exactly jumping with excitement everyday. It is a city, has all the major conveniences, but lacks sorely in the entertainment department. No movie theater (they had one for a while, but it was closed down due to religious protests), no bowling arcade, one shopping mall that is kinda small. so what makes the whole city turn out in droves?

the opening of the new supermarket.

My husband has been working in this new supermarket to pass the time... his brother and his mom both work for the same chain, so he got in to help them set up. Last night was the grand opening. Its a Victory supermarket- and next to it they are opening up a new "Big", which the is company that owns the strip malls. So last night not only did this new supermarket open up, but also a Fox (clothing company), CafeCafe (restaurant), a book store, a pet store and some other places. This is more excitement then this city has seen in years.

I went over to grab some dinner... this city has very few restaurants, and almost ALL are shwarma or falafel joints, so I was excited for a new dairy place. I was expecting a crowd, but I was overwhelmed as I fought my way through the masses of people trying to enter the new grocery store. the line of cars outside the complex was huge. For a small city, this was a major event. I kept running into family members and friends of family members and people who somehow knew me but I didn't recognize. EVERYONE was out to see the show.

Coming from California, where there are multiple options for entertainment in a short drive (or a not so short drive, but close enough anyways), it was hard to understand this joy of a new strip mall. The biggest importance is hopefully a new influx of shoppers into the city. We are the "big city" to a lot of local moshavs, and if they come here rather than going to Beer Sheva (or the long way to jerusalem or tel aviv) then it would be great for us. Heres to hoping that this new strip mall proves its worth to the city