I haven’t done a great deal of training with Petey. Regular G-Fish readers know he’s housetrained, albeit with certain ‘excitement issues.’ Plus, he totes knows “Sit.” But that’s about it. Yoda Jeremy’s like, Just work with him a little bit at a time, when you come in from a walk. But I haven’t been.
Until recently, when I started ending our walks with some training on the Stay! command. I’ve been telling Pete to sit down on the step in front of our building’s front door, and rewarding him with a treat. Then, I’ll put my hand out in, like the universal STOP command and say in a firm and slow voice, Stay!
I’ll repeat myself as I back up while maintaining eye contact. Then, I fold my arms in front of my chest and stare at Pete, periodically repeating the Stay! command with my “talk to the hand” gesture. Finally, I release him by excitedly yelling, Come! And he comes running and gets rewarded with another treat and lots of praise.
It was not easy at first. He just has so much damned energy and excitement about him, that starting any new training feels like such an uphill battle. Plus, there are kittens who live in our front garden, and sometimes they pull Pete’s focus away from me. And sometimes, my boy just gets so antsy or excited that he can’t wait for my Come! command and just bounds forward on his own. When he does that, he doesn’t get a treat, and I plop him down back on the step, and we try again.
After only 3-4 days of this (averaging a few tries per walk, which we go on 3-4 times/day), he seemed to get it! No more bounding forward before I gave my Come! command. Even if I waited an extra long time, or went around a corner/out of sight. He got it! I was really proud of him.
Then, I thought to try it out in a different location, like on the path next to our building, and it became clear he hadn’t quite gotten it. Sometimes he’d still bound forward before he was called. So, we’re continuing this training, and whenever possible (no distractions, safe areas where he can’t run away) we’re doing it in different environments. Still very proud of Pete.
New biscotti post is up at ROASTe.com. I brewed my first-ever cup of coffee using a French press (vs. a drip coffee maker). Woah, big difference – for real!
After working so hard to get my green form, I was a little nervous about leaving it behind with the woman behind the counter, who told me I had to have a doctor sign-off that the medications I take don’t make me a menace behind the wheel. She said I’d get a call to come pick it up in a week, but T.I.I. (This is Israel, meaning anything can happen here), and there was no phone number for this one window that handles driver’s licenses at the Ministry of Licensing, and even if there were – the voicemail system would all be in Hebrew, and well….you can see why I was reluctant to fork it over.
But I did, and yay – I got a call this week that the form was ready for me to come pick up. So, I did, and then I called Avi, the driving instructor I met last time at the Ministry with Jeremy. He met me in the parking lot and took my green form and told me he’d schedule my lesson and road test. It was funny, he actually showed up as the passenger in his own car, while another student was having a lesson with him, and told me to get in. So, there I am talking with Avi while some other guy is practicing his driving. And then before they drop me off at the bus stop for me to go back to Tel Aviv, I think to say to Avi, “This is for an automatic [transmission], right?” Avi’s like Automatic? No, my car is stick shift. You need automatic? No big deal, he told me he’d give my form to another instructor, Elie, who has an automatic car and would call me with news of my appointment time for my lesson and road test.
Same deal, re: worrying about leaving my green form “in the cloud.” But I did, and Eli called this week, too.
Wednesday, I take my driving test to get my Israeli license!
I realized this week I am a little bit depressed. Nothing clinical – I can still get out of bed, and all. I wonder what brought it on though – was it that Cellcom rep who called me this week and offered me a better plan? It really was a better plan, so I took it – but she did tell me it was for 18-months and I’d be penalized for opting out early. I’m not going anywhere, and I’m happy with Cellcom, so I had no problem with that restriction.
….or did I?
This could have something to do with turning 40 recently, also.
Look, here’s the thing: I feel my career ran its course back in New York. I don’t want to return to the field of public relations. If I did plop back down in NYC – what would I do ??? While I want to choke my fucking boss who I can’t stand am ready to move on from my primary job, I am quite excited about the direction of these new developments – doing social media consulting for ROASTe and hopefully soon also for Seital. And, when I get enough of this new work to free myself from the hell that is my main job, I’ll have more time to work on my memoir about moving to Israel. Plus, the weather is great here, I like living among so many Jews, and I feel a strong, Zionist connection to Israel.
But for sure, the novelty of being here has worn off. Things that were at first so exciting and fun – Riding my bike around town like a 12-year-old, which I haven’t done since 1984, Whee! – are now completely whatevs. All the other things, too – now that they’re not new, but they just are, I’ve realized that emotionally, I feel right where I was back in the fall of 2008 before I left New York: wanting a husband and to start a family…wanting to be in a higher income bracket that would finally allow me to travel, live in a nicer home, dine out and actually, you know, buy things when I’m out and about (I think they call it shopping?)….just a general feeling of not being satisfied anymore with my simple life of work, gym, AA, net surfage, a diet of mostly frozen food (with assorted junk binges), etc.
I did move to Israel very quickly and with a certain degree of spontaneity, but it never felt blind. I thought about it a great deal, and it felt very organic. I had ‘done’ New York after 17 years, and with my job in jeopardy, I felt a window closing for me there….and one opening for me here with new opportunities and choices.
In AA, there is an expression of ‘taking a geographical cure’ as a method to control your drinking. You know, if I just move someplace else, things will be different and my drinking won’t be a problem anymore. The problem isn’t with me….it’s with New York. We call the shorthand for this: doing a geographic. I certainly never felt as though this is what I was doing with my move to Israel. But hell – now that I’m at where I am emotionally, it makes me think:
Was this move all about doing one big geographic?
There is no escape from yourself, though. Wherever you go….there you are.
I miss my family, but that is not the kicker. I speak to them (in Philadelphia) about as much as I did when I was living in New York. Don’t take this personally, Mom, but What I really miss is being around my deep bench of sober, gay AA friends in New York. I see and interact with them all on Facebook and many of them on Twitter, and thank God for it. It is no small thing at all; you know who you are: we comment on each other’s photos and statuses daily and 8,000 miles and a whole bunch of bits & bytes away, you are still my support system, and I love you. And I have a real & true & loving support system here, too, I do: Anna, Leah, Jeremy, Danny, Nir, Liron, Abi, Lawrence, Ronnie, Junie. I’m grateful you are all in my life. There were just more of you in NYC, that’s all.
כל יום ביומו.
“One day at a time.” That’s what the above phrase says. I have it tattooed on my arm. So, there really is no need to figure out “where I am going to be for the rest of my life.” But if I think of how freakishly cold Israeli apartments are in the winter, and their small sinks and mineral-heavy water….or everyone and their mother parking on the sidewalks, or having to seriously improve my Hebrew because this Hebrish crap just ain’t cutting it, or buildings here that just look so Third World that they appear as though they might crumble any second (and many more things native to Israel), I can easily answer myself with – Uh-uh. No way. This isn’t forever. I miss First World development & feel…places that are big & clean & spread out, that just look as though they belong in the 21st century and not from 1930 or 1860. I may not enjoy many things about my New York City neighbors who aren’t just like me, but maybe that’s something I need to work on, you know?
As for my new career as a social media consultant, there is something to be said for the fact that Israel is a very small pond (7.1 million people, less than all of New York City), and it’s a very good & safe environment for succeeding and rising to the top of your field if you are good at what you do and work hard (which I am, and I do). Not that I couldn’t make it in New York, too (isn’t that how the song goes?), but as a person who’s always been a Late Bloomer, maybe I could really benefit from doing this work from over here. Plus, the economic recovery in the U.S. continues to be fitful, and I know plenty of people out of work; do I really want to return NOW and jump back into that (economically) depressed environment? That’s another argument for remaining here, at least for the next few years.
My friend Junie said of course I’m depressed; it’s because I’m working too hard. After she said this, she went for coffee with some more of my friends, while the other people we were hanging with went to a street fair on Rothschild Street. I went home to go to work for a few hours, even though Friday is the weekend here and no one works in the afternoon. I proved her point immediately! It’s true. I may go out to a bar or club once a week, and I typically meet my friends Anna and Leah for coffee once a week, but other than that – it’s ROASTe work, memoir writing, job search efforts, errands and cleaning in the mornings, then my main job from 2-9pm, then the gym, then unwinding for a few hours online with Facebook, Mashable, Perez, Atraf, TV Shack and NYTimes.com, then sleep. Even my main break from work is getting boring – taking Pete to the dog park. Good for him, and I am making some regular friends from going there, but it ain’t enough.
No tidy summation from me at the end of this post. Just feel like I’m done musing for now. We’ll see how I feel when I read it over after hitting ‘publish.’
Maybe I’ll move to San Francisco…
I swear to God, what song do you think came on my iPod immediately after hitting “publish”? Leaving New York from REM’s album Around the Sun. What does that even mean, God?
Good news, you guys. Petey does not have a urinary tract or bladder infection. I collected a urine sample (fun!, actually v. easy), and our vet ran a quick test. Petey passed every test, and his urine is an indicator that he is perfectly healthy. Yay, but this cost me 60 shex to find out (not so bad).
So, then what is up with his making me pull him out of his crate and either peeing right outside of it, or trickling some down the stairs? Apparently, just nerves or excitement. Um, OK…
I’m not pulling him out of his crate anymore. I find that if I just sit down in front of it and act affectionate, he’ll run right into my lap. After some petting and love, I’ll stand up and carry him down. If it’s midday or less than 3 hours since his last time out, I’ll let him walk down the stairs – but I’m trying this without a leash (instead, I’m waiting to leash him up until we get outside), and I’m guiding him with a treat in my hand and giving him bites of it on the way down – pulling his focus onto eating instead of emptying his bladder. But if it’s first thing in the morning or after a really long time of being inside, I carry him to avoid any accidents (and need to clean up, and setting off of my temper).
This is working. I’m hoping he grows out of this whole nervous pee thing eventually though. I’d love to just be able to say Let’s go for a walk! and he just follows me down 1-2-3, no probs.
After working 12 hours straight on Friday and then still going out to see my friend Danna, I went out after that to a club called Ha’Oman 17. It was the 10th anniversary of the popular Israeli sex dating site Atraf that everybody knows and uses.
Holy shit, you guys! I had no idea this place existed. You mean they have bi-weekly gay dance parties here, alternating with the weeks Big Boys is off?
Where as Big Boys is fun and all, but has music that would be scoffed at by true clubbers as just literally spinning the baby pop hits, this was true, serious tribal house music that flowed and built upon itself and took the dancefloor on a journey. A shirtless journey, I might add. There was a second room of spinning, for the poppier crowd – although just like Andy Anderson’s awesome top room at Roxy circa 2000, it had all the twinks, chubs and fag hags in it. The real action was in the main room, where DJ Hector Romero was spinning.
There were plenty of tweakers – peeps on Meth or Ecstasy. You can tell by their tweaked out eyes. But no matter, I got into the awesome music and being in the center of all that Sexy Jewish Guy Israeli Shirtlessness. I can’t believe this party has been going on every other week, and I am only just finding out about it. Not that I’d want to go every week, but every now and then - fo’ sho.
I didn’t really meet anyone, but then I usually don’t meet guys in bars or clubs. Not for lack of trying; I just find that usually the guys I am really into aren’t into me, and conversely I get followed around by a pack o’ trolls I can’t get rid of. Although I may have had one or two bouts of dance floor kissing and/or dirty dancing. Here’s a buncha pix. I was tweeting and sending to Twitpic like a mofo. Not like I was removing myself from and missing out on the immediacy of my surroundings, more like feeling so happy I had to share it:
It was fascinating though – inside the club, I couldda been in New York. The beats were Grade A, and the boys were a step above what I’d find on the dance floor in New York, at least for my tastes. But, then you’d step outside, and we were like in some industrial alley that looked like….well, the Middle East. Plus, do you have to pass through metal detectors when you go clubbing?
Around 7am, I got my jacket and left the club….almost. I got outside and heard a souped up version of “We Are Family” come on, to re-energize the floor now that the smaller room had closed and the separate crowds were coming together. Like any good Gay, I 180°d and went back inside. Danced for like another hour. Fun, fun times!
Leaving a club after hours of shirtless beats, fierce lighting and dangerous dBs and entering into the tranquility of a new dawn is a really special moment, I’ve always found – a real sweet spot. Something about traveling thru the wormhole of intense tribal dance journey into the calm promise of a fresh day is just presh. Of course, it’s also the reason God invented shades. I snapped these pics on my bike ride home.
I was totes ready to sleep all day. But my boy Pete needed to go out, as he was at the upper range of his bladder capacity after being crated for nearly 8 hours. Plus, since he had just gotten a ton of rest, a walk around the block wasn’t going to cut it. If I wanted to really get some shut eye, I was going to have to tire him out. So, I armored up with the shades, and we went to the dog park for an hour. Mission accomplished. We both crashed upon returning, and got up around 8:30 p.m.
I was delivered after a week of entirely too much work. Thank you, God.
I am exaggerating. It was only 48 hours, and the net result was that I learned it is definitely possible to find a good apartment that I can afford with short notice.
The backstory: I may have to move by April 30. I can’t get into it here, b/c it involves some shadiness, but I might have to be out by then. And my ex-boyfriend boss landlord advised me to start looking at places. But I soooo did not want to. Minus the mold problem, I’ve got it made here. My place is recently renovated, in the best TLV neighborhood, right next to the park, with cheap rent. Plus, the four main apartment search sites are all in Hebrew.
You can have a Google Translate button built right into your toolbar that auto-converts these pages into English. But – when you click on the individual apartments for more information, the language translation doesn’t work, and you have to manually cut/paste into G-Translate in another browser window.
The four main sites are:
I started with Homeless, b/c that’s the one my friend Phil used to find his place. I got to give it to myself – I am super disciplined. Even with my two jobs and everything else I’ve got going on, I made time to deal with the language translation hassleness (which comes up again when you make the phone calls) and spent like an hour making calls about seeing apartments.
Most of the ones I can afford are in Florentine, an ‘up and coming’ neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv. It bills itself as Tel Aviv’s answer to ‘the village’, but it is really more like the Lower East Side pre-Giuliani/Bloomberg eras. (For comparison’s sake, right now I am living in the Old North neighborhood, which is the Upper East Side of Tel Aviv – next to the park, close to AA, my office, the language school, a little quieter, more boring and prettier than the other neighborhoods, but even within this quaint area, I am near the two swinging intersections with bars that are happening every night of the week, some really good fast-food places that are open late, and Israel’s first 24/7 supermarket. Basically, I am beyond golden right now.)
I made an appointment to see one place that evening. I didn’t realize it when I made the call, but this listing was handled by a shark real estate agent. He called back at 6pm to reconfirm, and at 7pm I set off on my bike to ride to the other end of the city to see this place. It wasn’t even in Florentine, but was a stone’s throw from it. It was….like, nowhere. I guess you could say the Meatpacking District, before it got developed; just very industrial.
But it was in a brand new building, which I liked. And the place was gorgeous. Not quite “two rooms” (which is how you say “one bedroom” in Israel), it had, like, a divider b/t the the kitchen/living room area and the bed/bathrooom, sort of like bar-height.
The amazing part? It had an enormous deck, the same size as the whole apartment, with a view of the city. I didn’t really need this, and I’d rather have that space be part of a larger apartment. But it’d still be pretty cool – for parties, patio furniture (w/ kiddie pool, custom awning?), great for my dog, parties and strorage).
Plus, as an incentive to get good tenants to move into this neighborhood, the hustler realtor offered me the place for 3100 shekels ($815) /month, when it was listed for 4000 ($1052). Hmm. Bonus: it was literally around the corner from my BFF Danny. So I dropped by afterwards for some insights. “Dont move here!” Danny emphatically told me. It’s not a neighborhood. It’s so different from where you live now, it’ll be a shock for you. After hearing about the deck and more details from me, he changed his tune Get all New York on them and tell them you want a 5-year lease at that 3100 shek rate. Plus, ask them if they can get creative with the building owner for you, and split their fee with the owner, so you’ll only have to pay them 1/2 fee (realtors here get a fee = one month’s rent). (Another good things was the realtors would accept their payment in tashlomeem, which is a credit option unique to Israel, like a payment plan. I’d have 18 monthly payments to pay this fee, which made it 172 shex ($45)/mo – or like, nothing.
Next morning I went into their offices (which happen to be down the street from where I live now) and tried all this. 5 year lease? REJECTED! Split fee with owner? REJECTED! And, even – 3100 rent the shister agent offered me? FLAT OUT LIE! (Couldn’t get the place for less than 3,300/mo). Plus, no plumbing set up for my washing machine (I’d have to use communal, coin-opp laundry in basement for the whole bldg), and the apt came with a fridge, so I’d have to sell mine.
Ix-nay on this place.
Went right back to Central Command my computer, back on Homeless, and started making more calls. Made appointments to see three places that evening – two in Florentine, one actually in my neighborhood on Ben Yehuda & Jabotinsky.
The first place? OMG, you guys,
Srsly, dog poop (at least I hope it was from a dog) on one of the stair landings – WTF !?! And this piece of crap was actually listed by an agent, so I’d have to pay a fee for it. Uh, no, Lady. And what a bitch of an agent she was! She didn’t come to show it to me, but kept calling me by phone. And every time I tried to talk English with her, she would read me on it, telling me (in Hebrew) Stop! You are in Israel now – speak Hebrew! You have to practice, no more English for you! True enough point, but you’re not my granny, bitch. Show me this apartment or STFU.
And the apartment was a HOLE. A studio, subdivided from a larger apartment, with two college kids inside, smoking pot. Mattress-on-the-floor-type-deal. For 3000 shex !?!
Practically cried when I saw this place. Has it really come to this? Please God, no. Divinely intervene now, pls. Called this other guy in same neighborhood. Went right over there.
Much better! Definitely a fixer-upper, but a true one-bedroom, with AC built in, tiny little deck, lots of storage space. There was some furniture that came with it I’d have to throw out, it needed a paint job but the owner would probably do that, and it came with a fridge which was problematic for me (and the fridge was tinier than mine, and needed to be defrosted and cleaned out inside, majorly). But it was only 2800 shex, and the Va’ad Beit (monthly bldg maintenance fee) and Arnona (municipal tax) and water bill were included in that! Plus, no realtor’s fee, b/c it was listed by the owner.
Time to see that third place. The one, actually in my neighborhood. And it was nice !!! Only 3200 shex, Va’ad beit/arnona not included, realtor’s payment couldn’t be made in tashlomeem. But totes just renovated, and two huge rooms. No fridge (which was good, so I could bring mine), yes on plumbing for my washing machine. The place was in a subdivided larger apartment, which were actually just made illegal in Tel Aviv and if the landlord is caught, he pays a 250,000 shex fee ($66,000 approx !!!), but this landlord wasn’t fazed by that.
No question, this was the place. Same neighborhood as I’m currently livin, and a lot going for it.
Which meant it would only be available for a couple of hours. Oh yeah, the good places go like – *that!* [snap]
So, I emailed my ex-boyfriend boss landlord and said, Um, I need an answer ASAP – I might have to give them $$$ to take this place tomorrow. Since we don’t have a lease on this [current] place, can I be out that fast? He flipped out on me – breaking out the Jewish guilt big guns about how he has helped me out with living accommodations since Day One (all true) and that even though he wants me out by end of April and I should start looking at places – I can’t take any of them! Plus, I maybe don’t even have to leave in April; there’s a chance I could stay put.
So, this was all for naught. And it was a lot of anxiety to go through, seeing all those places, thinking about $$$ I don’t have and movers and such, scheduling these viewings despite my two jobs, etc. But – as I stated years ago? at the top of this post, at least I know now that if I have to find a place in a hurry, I can do it.
Filed under: Friends
This weekend I got visits from two friends. Pictured above is my friend Michael Luongo. I have known Michael a few years from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist’s Association (NLGJA). He is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and photographer, concentrating on travel. His articles appear in places like Bloomberg, the New York Times, and The Advocate. He’s also authored books, including Gay Travels in the Muslim World and Frommer’s Guide to Buenos Aires.
Michael took me to breakfast on Thursday morning. It was good to see him and catch up on all the exciting traveling he’s doing. He had just come from Syria, and tomorrow he leaves for Cairo. He is a very kind, talented and interesting guy.
Then last night I met my friend Danna Kinsky. Danna is Israeli, but lives in Los Angeles. She’s here now visiting family. I met Danna two years ago when we both worked for Queer Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival. I did the PR for it, and Danna was house photographer. She is also a cinematographer.
I worked yesterday on both my nonprofit job and for ROASTe from 3pm until 2am. I was exhausted, but wanted to see Danna, so I txt’d her before I finished, and she said she was still out. I zoomed over on my bike to the other side of town and met up with her, plus got to meet some of her friends. The DJ was amazing !!! His profesh name is “Schoolmaster” (as in old skool), and he was spinning all this old shiz like Janis Joplin & James Brown, but souped up with crazy beats. Danna is creative and real and energetic as ever. I was excited also, when she told me she might want to hire me to do a one-month social media campaign for the launch of her new cinematography website, and that her friend is moving to New York soon and I might be able to move into his apartment (if it looks like I have to leave mine in April).