Gefilte Fish Out of Water

Minor freakout while running.
March 31, 2009, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Feelings, Struggles


Went for a long (16 mile – how many km is that?) run in Yarkon Park this afternoon.  My boss is incommunicado for a few days while travelling, and work will be a little slower during this period.

Started thinking freak out thoughts while running.  Firstly, since I’m working for a startup nonprofit and there’s no 401k, how am I gonna continue to save for my retirement?  If not 401k’s or pensions, what is the main retirement savings vehicle in Israel?  Olim, feel free to reply.  I’m sure I could ask the NbN message board, or my boss when he comes back, or AACI – and, it isn’t I must have this answer now or I’ll die, but it kicked off some wacked thinking.

Also, over the weekend, YouTube videos of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus‘ 27/3/09 concert, “The Big Gay Sing” surfaced, and they were very bittersweet for me to watch.  They did an amazing Madonna medley, including full drag reenactment of M’s legendary “Vogue” performance from the 1990 VMAs.

Then after speaking about Proposition Hate, they sang “Tomorrow” with Andrea McArdle !!!

And they ended the concert with Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”:

Plus, they did MJ’s Thriller and Toni Basil’s Mickey.

Now, there just isn’t anything like that here. I sang at Carnegie Hall five times with the NYCGMC. I loved Monday night rehearsals, our special yearly Retreat and infamous “No Talent Show,” and c’mon – look at those special moments they created together onstage! Girlfriend, you KNOW I would’ve given it my all to try and make the dance team for that Madonna medley.

And I REALLY need my own apartment. Right now, while my boss and our intern are away travelling, it’s just me in the office. And it’s a home office. And I’m also living here. So, basically I have no commute and can work in my jammies…WHICH GETS OLD. If I don’t go running, or to an AA meeting in the evening, I can stay by myself all day here, and that is just NOT GOOD. It’s not total isolation, b/c I am commenting on friends’ Facebook status updates, returning emails, and having the occasional Skype call.  And my back is hurting, b/c I’m not in a proper, ergonomic office chair, and I’m humping over, leaning into da laptop.  :-/

And like – this felt really right to make Aliyah.  And it’s not like it feels wrong now…but I knew I just couldn’t do more of the same old, same old.  But what if….asking my Dad to help with a downpayment on an apartment in Chelsea would’ve done the trick?  What if being a first-time apartment owner in a cool neighborhood and decorating it with pride and care – what if that would’ve filled me up just fine?  Did I really have to move to Israel to feel like I was doing something new?

Well, there is the matter or work.  I was never in love with my PR career.  Look, I fell into it b/c I was a nervous mess, addicted to drugs & alcohol.  But as my career progressed, I was able to move into a firm where our clients were cool indie films and nonprofits and LGBT causes, and – meaningful stuff.  When I got laid off, I really didn’t wanna look for just another PR job to pay the bills, where my clients would be crapola like hair care lines and pharmaceuticals.  I just couldn’t be a hack for crap.  And I am not talking about work on this blog, at the request of my boss, but I’ve told you: I’m part of a skeleton staff building an important nonprofit from the ground up, and it’s really meaningful, meaningful stuff; we’re already saving people’s lives and we’re going to save a lot more.  It’s a pretty incredible opportunity, and also for the new professional experiences I’m adding to my work experience.

So, I dunno.  It’s a few hours after my run, so the feelings are less intense than they were.  I just wonder – I mean, I love being here…just walking down the street, breathing the air, listening to and seeing all the Hebrew – it feels very right.  But the only places I’m going to are the office/my residence, Yarkon Park, AA, and Basel Square.  I should see other parts of the city, as well as other parts of Israel.

One more thing – what about how I’m a colossal U2 fan, who still hasn’t heard the new album yet (b/c I don’t want to iTunes or my huge music library on my work laptop and my desktop hasn’t arrived from NY yet), and I just renewed my ICON (Madonna fan club) membership,  b/c I’m a legacy member and can order concert tickets from the pre-sales before the general public.  My good friend from NY Sheila has offered me first right of refusal on her extra U2 ticket for NJ’s Meadowlands on 24/9/09, and I do get 1 business trip to the states per year for work…but will the timing work out and I’ll be able to make the show?  When Madonna tours again, will I have to sit it out (last time she came through NYC, I went to all four shows)?  Will these things cease to matter to me after more time has passed?  Right now what I’m giving up seems more clear than what I’m gaining by being here.

Hey, sorry for not serving up a pithy post and instead getting all confessional on you.  But as my friend Marko might say, maybe I had to just “WORK. IT. OUT!”  (Oh, that IS a quantifiable thing I’ve gained from this move: I’m blogging now, and really enjoying it.  I saw no reason to do that while living in NYC.  Cool, bonus.)


P.T., comin’ up
March 30, 2009, 4:52 pm
Filed under: Infrastructure


I saw my primary care physician again yesterday and got a prescription to resume physical therapy on my left elbow.  I had surgery on it 2/5/09 (or, as dates are written in Israel 5/2/09) before I left the U.S. to reattach the tendon.  I did a quick few sessions of P.T., but then I was audi.

The date-thing actually caused a bit of confusion.  My Iraeli doc was looking at my surgery report a little bewilderdly…”But your surgery hasn’t happened yet?” he said.  I’m about to press the silent alarm under the desk and have him taken away, when we both figured out the source of the confusion and had a laugh.

Anyway, my doc in the U.S. who did the surgery said it’ll be months before I can lift weights again, but of course I am dying to hit the gym, b/c:

1) beach season is coming up

2) great way to meet boys people

3) great new addition to my routine

But the last thing I need is to reinjure myself, so I want professional rehab care.  I took the ‘script over to the Maccabi health clinic on Hashia Street and didn’t have to wait in a line to turn it in.  The clerk entered me into a database and said they would call me when a P.T. was available in the area.  Hmm, I hope that’s soon!

Israelis don’t jaywalk.
March 30, 2009, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Cultural Differences


It is truly the exception that proves the rule.

I have experienced many instances of Israelis cutting in front of me in line, owning the sidewalk, pushing me to get on the bus first; every cliche of the “pushy Israeli,” I have seen.

Except one.

Israelis will not jaywalk.  (OK, very rarely will they.  People who do are probably olim like me.)  One theory is that cops used to ticket people for jaywalking.  I don’t know the reason behind this phenomenon, but it can be 2:00 a.m., no cars on the road, the street could be so deserted that dogs’ll be screwing in it, but an Israeli will just be politely standing there, minding his/her own business, doing his/her best imitation of a Brit, waiting for the light to change.

I secretly love this, b/c it is the one area where I can play an old familiar role: the pushy, I’ve-got-somewhere-I-need-to-be, hipster, don’t-fuck-with-me, a-car-wouldn’t-DARE-hit-me New Yorker.  You see, I have news for you:  in many ways Tel Avivians out-New York NY’ers.  It’s weird, but similar to how San Francisco is gayer than New York, well [*blasphemy alert!*] Tel Aviv is kinda tougher than NY.

[*all people are individuals and behave independently; in this post, I generalize,  but it is meant light-heartedly and does not come from an ugly place]

Dollar Store
March 29, 2009, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Infrastructure, Official Immigrant Stuff


Also went back to the bank today.  Totally not as bad as I thought it might be.  I was already authorized to have this dollar sub-account attached to my main account, same account number and all.  It costs $20 minimum fee (or .19% of deposit) to wire dollars from an American account.  It costs $6.70 minimum fee (or .19% of transfer) to move it from the dollar sub-account to the main shekel one.  And, I can do that transfer online for a lower fee.

Yay, all around!

The only lame thing?  The grant check I gave them will take one month (“I hope not longer,” says the rep when I ask her, “Maybe less?”) to clear.  *cue Debbie Downer music*

Bright side: it went down exactly like I called it.  What I was afraid of was not so bad after all.  I even had a friendly (if fashion challenged), English-speaking bank rep.


Good morning, Miss Dina!
March 29, 2009, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Official Immigrant Stuff, School


I ran some important errands today.  One of them was that I took the paper I got from the Ministry of Absorbsion a few weeks ago to the Goldstein-Goren Ulpan today and officially signed up for 0-level daytime class.  8:15 a.m. – 12:50 p.m., Sunday-Thursday.  I can’t wait.  I shouldn’t buy a book, b/c I get it free as a gift.  (love! free! stuff!)  My teacher is Dina.  The administrator said she’s, “Very good.”  😀

A new thing to obsess over
March 29, 2009, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Pot Luck


Blog traffic.

There’s this feature on WordPress that lets you look at how many people are visiting your blog each day…what posts they’re clicking on…what outgoing links they check out….all in pretty graphs.  I love it.  Forget Facebook comments on a status update; screw the number of Atraf messages I get.  Suddenly it’s all about the number of site visitors measured by WordPress’ “STATS” feature. 

Damn you, STATS feature !!!

So, I posted ads on Nefesh b’Nefesh’s singles yahoo newsgroup and also Janglo and Taanglo.  And watched traffic explode.  I exaggerate.  A few hundred visitors don’t make me Perez.  But I’ve had a taste, and well, uh-oh…


WHAT Pop Culture Blackout ???
March 29, 2009, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Amerijones, Pop Culture


Today some olim angels saved my life.

If you’re livin’ in Israel and you miss your American TV, listen up:  this post is your one stop shop to mainlining all that juicy, high fructose corn syrup, Americana Hollywood ooze once again.


1) If streaming video is your thing, check out these sites:  TV Shack, TV Dome and NinjaVideo (*cue heavenly music from God/heavens*; thanks, P & S!).  Or, check out this post.  Basically it says to download Hotspot Shield.  Once you have, then go to your computer’s time/date settings and set them to Arizona.  Then, open the Hotspot Shield program, and it’ll give you a fake I.P. address, so when you go to hulu,,, or, you won’t that soul-crushing, “Sorry, streaming videos are only a to viewers in the United States” message.  It worked for me on hulu, and with the network sites, I was able to circumvent the outside-the-U.S. issue…but the players just wouldn’t load, so that solution wasn’t so hot for me.  I just caught up on LOST thanks to TV Dome, and I officially bow down and lick that site’s combat boots.

2) Now, if you’re more of a downloading kind of Oleh, you have another set of options.  There are SurftheChannel, Great Stuff TV and e-mule, which give you links to download sites (thanks S again, R, and A/Y!).  Then there’s Mininova (thanks M!) which requires you do download Torrents – which is like stealing music off Limewire, only you’re taking pieces of the media from hundreds of computers at once, so it’s good for bigger media like TV episodes and movies.  Other torrent client sites include: Bittorrent (thanks, J!), Utorrent, (M!) and for Macs:  VUZE (M again!; *Mac users, you are welcome.  Please send iPhones in appreciation to…*).

So, click away, Olim and enjoy your favorite flavor crystal filled American mind candy!