Gefilte Fish Out of Water

White Night
May 30, 2009, 5:08 pm
Filed under: Cool Things


Wednesday night was Erev Shavuot, but in Tel Aviv it was also ל’לה לבאן, or “White Night.”  My teacher Dina kept insisting that we all check it out.  Basically, there would be free outdoor concerts all over the city – on Rothschild Boulevard, by the beach, all over.  (Side note – I wonder if Dina is a closet party animal.  When she was not in class two Thursdays ago, she told us some story the next Sunday how she rode all over the whole country for two days on the back of a motorcycle.  Also, she said in 1998 when Madonna and Michael Jackson performed separate concerts in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park, she went to both of them.  Hmm…)

Anyway, I don’t like crowds, I don’t drink, and I’ve already been to Mardi Gras four years in a row; plus, I was bone tired.  Did I really need to go to this?  But my sweetheart friend Anna encouraged me to meet she and her fiance out, so I did.  I joined them for a bite, and then we checked out one of the bands, then strolled among the madness a little. 

Cute.  Not the end all, be all.  But cute.  Here’s a few shots:

Back in NY, I'd walk right through this scene (while feeling contempt for the onlookers) if I needed to get to an escalator on the other side.  In Tel Aviv though, my Inner Tourist comes out to play.

Back in NY, I'd walk right through this scene (while feeling contempt for the onlookers) if I needed to get to an escalator on the other side. In Tel Aviv though, my Inner Tourist comes out to play.

On Rothschild Boulevard.  The "100" lights are for Tel Aviv's 100th birthday celebration, going on all year long.

On Rothschild Boulevard. The "100" lights are for Tel Aviv's 100th birthday celebration, going on all year long.

Honey, we should have taken the expressway...
Honey, we should have taken the expressway…
Israel's youth debates the age old question: Dick York or Dick Sargent?
Israel’s youth debates the age old question: Dick York or Dick Sargent?
Not a good place to be if you're a lost chihuahua.
Not a good place to be if you’re a lost chihuahua.
The scene outside Shuk HaCarmel.
The scene outside Shuk HaCarmel.



Hey, you look like Gabe Most!
May 30, 2009, 4:05 pm
Filed under: Amerijones, Friends


I was working late on Wednesday night and not gonna go out for White Night.  But my friend from school Anna persuaded me to.  I’m not so much into crowds, but it’s supposed to be a total “happening” and not to be missed.

So, I’m riding up Allenby and locking my bike to a pole by Rothschild, when I see Gabe Most, who I know from the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus.  Gabe has family here and had told me he comes often for work.  “Gabe!” I hollered.  Yep, it was him.  He came over, and we schmied a few minutes.  Small town.  How cool is that?

A pre-Erev Shavuot Shindig
May 30, 2009, 3:58 pm
Filed under: School


We didn’t have school on Thursday (which remember, is like Friday in the U.S.; the end of the workweek) last week because of Shavuot, which is when God gave the Jews the Torah.  On Tuesday in the afternoon session of class, Dina thinks for a second, then tells us we should have a party at the end of Wednesday to celebrate the holiday.  Everyone should bring in something for it.

I brought cups.  (nobody ever thinks to bring cups, plates, or sliverware, and they are always appreciated; plus, they’re cheap).

Anyway, it was nice.  People brought some killer cheesecakes.  I stayed for a while, then ducked out before it was over with my friend Anna.  Something very key I learned from Julia Phillips’ book, Driving Under the Affluence that I apply constantly is: “The moment when it’s time to leave” isn’t really the moment when it’s time to leave.  “The moment when it’s time to leave” is the moment before the moment when it’s time to leave.  In a nutshell, this means to leave when you’re still having fun, not to wait until the function “peaks.”  I explained this to Anna, and we both got the hell outta there.

"My cheesecake's better!"  "No, mine is!"

"My cheesecake's better!" "No, mine is!"

Fearless in the Classroom
May 30, 2009, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Identity, School


Wednesday in Ulpan, in the morning session, Dina writes some shiz on the board.  It’s a paragraph making use of the the 2nd of 7 classifications of verbs in the past tense.  “?מ’ כורה” shes asks (“Who reads?”)

I don’t know what happened, but my hand goes up.  Now I am not one of the best students in our class, nor am I the worst.  I’d say I’m above average.  But I’m determined to learn this language to the best of my ability.  There are a finite number of days in class, and I’m going to use them to the max.  This wasn’t a suicide mission; I knew I could get through the paragraph.  But it wouldn’t be smooth, perfect or effortless.  Imagine a 5-year-old trying to read out loud after (s)he’s only been practicing a short time; I mean, I’m going slowly and sounding this shiz out and making some mistakes.  Kinda embarassing.

My point is: if I am going to learn Hebrew, I am going to have to work for it.  So, that’s what this was about.  And I did great!  Yeah, I sounded like a 5-year-old, but I got through it, and after I did, the class applauded for me.

The Old Guy Thing
May 30, 2009, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Pot Luck


So it was nothing really.  But at the time it was odd:  two consecutive days where a random senior citizen guy took an extraordinary interest in me, for no reason at all.

Tuesday, it was outside my apartment building.  I had just rushed home to make myself a salad, after running a few errands after school.  I passed this big bellied guy on the phone as I headed out to my bike and thought nothing of it.  A minute later, as I’m futzing with the lock on my bike, he comes up to me, speaking in Hebrew and handing me the phone.

“אנ’ מדבר אנגל’ט” I said, and he changed over to English.  He thrusts me the phone and says, “Tell her I’m the fattest thing you ever saw, and she needs to have a healthy lunch with me,” he says.


He continues: “Tell her!  Tell her!” he insists, and then says to me in an aside: “I’m trying to get her to say yes to a lunch date.  Tell her I look terrible and fat, so she will accept my offer to eat at a vegetarian place.”

(This is this guy’s technique?)

I grab the phone and am charming.  “Well, he’s not the thinnest I’ve ever seen him,” I say (not wanting to insult him.)  When he encourages me silently, I go for it: “Seriously, he’s so big that he took up the whole sidewalk, and I can’t ride around him,” I say.  He yanks the phone from me and asks her, “Did you hear that?  I am so big that he can’t ride his bike around me!” 

He shoves the phone back at me, and I improvise some more: “You should definitely come over here and go out with him.  He’ll take you to a nice place…”  He cuts me off with, “No, I will pick her up and take her to a beautiful place!” he says.  I backpedal, “I mean, you should let him pick you up and take you out.  It’s a beautiful day.  You two can sit outside, he’ll take you shopping afterwards and buy you some nice things…”  (His eyes open wide, but he’s into my performance and still encouraging me.)

Eventually I get myself out of this by saying I have to go to work (it was true).  He’s still on the phone with her, but he leaves her hanging and asks me how we can stay in touch.  I just give him my number, because I don’t expect to have this phone for much longer.

15 minutes later, I’m in the office when the phone rings.  It’s him.  “That was great,” he says.  “It didn’t work for this time, and she doesn’t love me yet, but I thnk I will get her next time.”  I tell him I’m glad.  He thanks me for helping him out on the spot like that and makes a comment like, “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”    Um, didn’t we just meet? (I’m thinking.)  He says, “I’m not gay or coming onto you like that or anything, not that there’s anything wrong with that…”  He senses that he’s putting his foot in his mouth and says, “Sorry, sometimes I make stupid jokes.”  I tell him, “No, it was clever,” but secretly I’m pushing the silent alarm under my desk for the authorities to come get this guy and haul him away.

Anyway, I don’t think he was a gay psychopath, just a jovial dude with a big personality.  But my plate is so full, I don’t have time to see and stay in touch with the great friends I already have here and abroad.  I don’t need to add Fyvush Finkel to the mix.

Then, the next day, as I entered the mall where the Maccabi eye doctor’s office was in Azorei Chen, I meet a securityn1138233430_30129402_8848 guard who I ask for directions.  His name is Moshe, and he tells me he likes my “I Love New York” shirt that my friend Jeffrey made for me.  He tells me he is also from New York and made Aliyah more than 30 years ago.  He yaks some more, but I get away from him.

On the way out, he asks me if I’ve signed up with the AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel) yet.  I tell him I haven’t, and he praises them and says he volunteers there.  Then, he asks for my number and tells me he wants to stay in touch.  Him, too?  I doubt this guy was gay or lascivious either, but two old guys wanting my number in just as many days – what, do I have “Pop Pops of the world, let’s be BFFs” tattooed on my forehead suddenly or something???

May 25, 2009, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Cool Things, Pot Luck

Goodbye speed.  Was reduced to walking my bike down long stretch of gorgeously smooth and manicured bike path.

Open road....too bad I had to walk.

Open road....too bad I had to walk.

Prayed for a gas station or bike shop.  It was approaching 6pm.  Fished my wish: there was a gas station and Bridgestone Tires (!!!) place on other side of road.  Crossed when lights were red.  Talked to Bridgestone guys.  English speakers rule !!!   Gave me directions to nearby “Rony’s Bike Shop.”

Uval (Rony is his daughter; he named shop after her) put my bike on a…bike holder thing…and fixed the tire in no time for 30 shekels (about $8).

Uval showed me two thorns he pulled out of my flat tire.  I explained to him how I crashed because I hadn’t been paying attention, and he told me that was just a coincidence and didn’t cause my flat.  The flat was caused by these thorns, which I rolled over after I got back on my bike after the crash.  Dayum !!!

While he worked, we had a cool conversation about Hebrew and English.  He said Hebrew has 1/10 the amount of words English has (70,000 vs. 7 million), but that it is definitely enough to express all your thoughts.  He said I need to keep speaking my Hebrew in public and not rely on Israelis’ ability to speak English.  I told him I had run into Israelis plenty of times who didn’t speak English, and how that sucks.  He explained that almost all Israelis know English, but they are embarassed to make mistakes, because they primarily learned their English not from the classes they had in high school but really from American TV, so they will only speak English in environments where they feel safe and they won’t be embarassed.


Was happy to get ease and speed back and ride on home.  You see, everything in Israel is an adventure!  I had the frigging time of life riding a few miles out to the eye doctor, crashing, getting a flat, getting directions to a bike shop, getting my bike fixed and having meaningful conversation with a stranger new friend, then riding on home.  Israel’s the best!

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.  Then, I went back to work for four hours, and now it’s quarter to 2:00 in the morning, and I’m still a’bloggin’…

Doctor, my eyes.
May 25, 2009, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Infrastructure

IMG_2056Posts all out of order today, but whatever.

Cycled far – for about 35-40 minutes north to tony Ramat Aviv neighborhood I already mentioned called Ezorei Chen to the optomotrist Maccabi assigned to me.

Really enjoyed this ride.  This must be where the rich people live!  Gorgeous high-rises.  Like, fourth or fifth day of perfect, San Diego-style weather, and really enjoyed this long bike ride out there.  When, sidewalk ended on main Namir Road, figured I could finish the trip within what looked like an internal network/campus of Rich People High-Rises.  I was right; totally did the trick and brought me rest of the way there.

No main receptionist greeting arrivals at Maccabi; just peeps sitting outside 4 or 5 doors, each with a list posted in front.  Very organized!  I was siked when I was able to find my doc’s name in Hebrew (even though I had never seen it written before; only had a transliteration), and then found my own name in Hebrew right next to the 17:30 (5:30 p.m.) time slot.

Doc was a chick.  Not super friendly, but friendly enough.  Spoke English.  Told me I didn’t exactly have “calcium deposits” on my eyelids like I’ve had before and suspected was why it’s been hurting to wear my contacts lately.  Said I actually had inflammation on inner parts of both eyelids.  Prescriped drops, ointment (on my eyes??) and wipes for both eyes for 10 days.

Riding back, I had the accident

Azorei Chen, where the rich people live.

Azorei Chen, where the rich people live.