Gefilte Fish Out of Water

It’s not the heat. It’s the crazy – muthaeffin – ridonkulous – please – kill – me – now – I – can’t – stand – it – it’s – so – hot – why – God – why? heat.
July 28, 2009, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Struggles
Just another typical July morning in Tel Aviv.

Just another typical July morning in Tel Aviv.

But it’s so hot, mami, so hot !!!

OK, for months peeps were hyping the Israeli summer to me.

You’re gonna die!

It gets so hot, you feel like you can’t do anything or even move, all you can do is sit there.

We fry falafel on the hoods of our cars.

I was nervous.  After all, I hates to schvitz.  I much prefer spring and autum, and actually the older I get, the more I even dig Bitch, it’s freezing! winter.  It’s crisp!  It’s cool!  It’s like you’re walking around in a giant refrigerator, so fresh and well-preserved.

But summer?  And especially a humidity-laden summer?  Hates it !!  I just do not likes to schvitz.

But, you know, come on – could it really be that much worse than New York?  In the northeast U.S., we get a phenomenon called the Bermuda High.  Basically, warm air moves across the Gulf of Mexico and out over the Atlantic in a circular pattern, picking up moisture as it moves up the coast.  It’s gross.

Even up to two weeks ago – mid July -, this alleged “horrible Israeli summer” hadn’t materialized yet.  I was not even using the air conditioner in my apartment.

Well, it finally showed up.  And yeah, it does suck.  But it’s really weird – it’s different than humidity grossness in the northeast U.S.  In New York or Philadelphia where I grew up, in the height of the humid summer months, you step outside, and it’s just like – WHOMP! – you literally feel like you’re crashing into this thick, heavy dead air at like 90 mph.  It’s literally just literally just like this – WHOMP! – and it just kinda drops on you, and you can barely move through it, or like, even hear.

That does’t happen here.  You go outside, and….can still feel a breeze.  And, I dunno, the air just isn’t that heavy.  But.  The sun is so s-t-r-o-n-g, so hot.  It’s like Vegas Hot.  Like, Arizona Hot.  Like, that shiz just shizizzles.

Similar to New York, all you have to do is the tiniest amount of activity…walk up one flight of stairs, ride your bicycle one block, etc. – and the waterworks (sweating) starts.

But, the sweating is kind of worse here.  Like, even if you’re sitting down in air conditioning in class, and feeling fine and cool and refreshed….or if you’re sitting outside at a cafe, but in the shade and also feeling kinda cool and refreshed, it never fails: your shorts and underwear are kinda sweaty and stuck to your butt and bottom of your thighs when you get up.  It requires a kind of  “peeling off” step. 

And things can only be worn once before they have to go into the wash.  Like, in New York, if I wore a pair of shorts for just a few hours and didn’t play sports in them or really do anything stenuous, I’ll fold ’em back up in the drawer to wear again another time.  No use wasting needless energy and water to clean them when they’re not dirty, or Al Gore would get pissed.  But here in Israel?  Uh-uh, after one outing, those things are done.  Ripe.  Wet around the waistband.  Gross.

Not into it.



Butt-sweat montage

Butt-sweat montage


July 28, 2009, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Cool Things, School

Hafsika means “break” in Hebrew. 

We get a 1/2 hour break from class at 10:00 a.m., and a ten-minute one later at 11:50 a.m.

New classes are starting all the time here at Ulpan Gordon, because you constantly have new immigrants arriving and needing to learn Hebrew.  Last week, I noticed a lot of new , hot students during hafsika; it was really packed!

I decided it was worth showing you how jammin’ an environment it is.  There are students – new immigrants and just temporary visitors in Israel – from all over the world: including, North & South America, Eastern and Western Europe, Africa and Australia. 

A lot of them are younger than me (like, in their 20’s), because if you think about it, it’s more common to make a big step like emigrating when you’re younger.  But plenty of people are just as crazy as me my age and even older, too.

Looks fun, don’t it?  BTW, here is a good one-pager my friend and fellow blogger Ms. Babble wrote up about what to do before you begin studying in an ulpan.  She created the Ulpan Gordon site I linked to above, too.

Another Day, Another Eye-Poppingly Beautiful Blossom in my Tel Aviv Neighborhood
July 28, 2009, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Just Sayin'


I notice many, many flowers in bloom all throughout Tel Aviv.  Not only planted in gardens; there are some exquisite ones adorning many hedges and bushes, too.

The last time I was so taken with one, I posted about it back in May.

Well, now look at this one.  This is from a small tree I pass everyday riding to work.  There are a lot of red and pinkish ones like this everywhere.  But these peach-ish/orange ones really popped out at me.  I just had to snap ’em and show you.

Here’s a couple images pulling back and giving you some more perspective.

A little further back

A little further back

The whole tree

The whole tree

Pretty, right?

Gay Soup
July 25, 2009, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Exploits, Yum


I was really good to myself this weekend.

Oh, I still did a lot of work – chaired an AA meeting on Friday, cleaned the eff out of my apartment because it was my turn to host our Saturday Hebrew study group, and wrote my second column at IGoogledIsrael.  (BTW, I’m really proud of this column.  I was so afraid that I’d be a One Trick Pony, and I didn’t have as clear an idea for this column as I did the first one…it took an hour longer to complete than last week’s, but it turned out pretty good, and I’m so relieved… 🙂 )

But yesterday I decided not to go into the office.  I can do this b/c:

A) I’m an independent contractor, and

B) Friday is the weekend in Israel (but a workday in the U.S., where my job is based).  Sunday is a workday in Israel (but still the weekend in the U.S.).  I usually wind up working both days (and taking off only Saturday as just a one-day weekend), but I tend to do half days for Fri & Sun, having them equal one full day when combined.  It’s really sweat off nobody’s back that I didn’t go in on Friday.

Then today, when half of my study group cancelled on me, I decided to call up the remaining member and ask that we cancel the group for the day.  She was cool with it.

Yay,  B E A C H   D A Y !!!IMG_2504

I’ve waited almost five months for this!  This is showing incredible discipline, believe me – b/c I am a Total Beach Person.  But with school and work during the week, and then a 1-day weekend that I choose to spend studying Hebrew, there just ain’t been time to go right now.

But today, I went for it.  I was so excited, packing lunch into the mini-cooler, stuffing my blanket and towel into the beach bag.  I rode my bicycle 5 minutes to Hilton Beach, which is Tel Aviv’s gay beach.

The eye candy was ridick !!!

Man, it was hot out, too.  But I applied and reapplied my sunscreen, and I’m happy to say I didn’t get burnt.  I actually studied some Hebrew by myself, and read some of my Summer Beach Read, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

IMG_2501I saw someone really cute I knew, who ended up joining the hunk on the blanket next to mine, and I had a great opener – I’m Facebook friends with you.  (B/c it’s true: we chatted on Atraf, I tried to make a date with him that never happened, but we became FB friends, although we’d never met in person before this).

I saw a guy I know from Ulpan.  I actually saw a guy I know from….New York!  How random???  Yeah, he’s just an acquaintance, but once about 9 years ago, we made out in his car for a little bit.  Random – he’s here for the first time visiting an Israeli GF.

Then I went into the water, or as I’d like to call it, the “Gay Soup.”  That’s slang a friend of mine made up for when a bunch of gay guys hang out in a jacuzzi.  Only this was, like, a jumbo bowl of soup, b/c we’re talking about the mild, gently-waved Mediterr-effing-Anean.  And there were literally about 100 gay men splashing around in there.  I was all by myself at first, but enjoying the eye candy.  I started talking to two Israelis, and then we bumped into my NYer acquaintance.  So, presto-whamo, suddenly I’m in a neat little clique/cluster, bobbing amidst the larger Gay Soup.  It was divine.

I hung at the beach for almost 5 hours and had a blast.  Came back to good news from my editor, who said he loved my 2nd column and had no edits for me.  Then, it turns out I barely had any Hebrew homework to do.  So, I had time for this post, and now I’ll hit the sack and actually get a good rest before the week starts up tomorrow.

One more Parting Shot:


It’s the Jewish Olympics, Cuz!
July 22, 2009, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Cool Things, Friends


Tomorrow is the closing ceremony for the Maccabiah Games.  I haven’t been following them or going to any events (my schedule doesn’t allow for it), but basically they are the Jewish Olympics.  Jewish athletes from countries all over the world come to Israel for two weeks of competitions – a “Battle of the Jews,” if you will.  This is the 2nd largest sporting competition in the world; only the real Olympics is larger.

Yesterday I was taking a break from work by going for a short bike ride in the park, when I heard from across the river Now batting for the United States….  It was a Maccabiah baseball game, probably the finals or semi-finals, since things are winding down tomorrow – Canada vs. U.S.  Aww, I got a little wistful.  If I didnt’ have to return to the office, I would have parked and watched a few innings. 

Anyway, turns out my cousin Susan’s travel agency is in charge of booking the travel for the entire American team and their families, and Susan is here!  Today she took me to lunch in the the Hilton Hotel.  It was very nice.  I had Japanese salmon.  Susan is magnificent, and I love her.  We had a really fun time.  She’s been working super hard, and today was to be her day off.  I hope she got some sun after I left!

Thanks, Susan!

Thanks, Susan!

She deserved that break!

She deserved that break!

My favoritest Hebrew sentence ever.
July 21, 2009, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Cultural Differences, Funny Hebrew, Pot Luck


Sometimes Hebrew words just sound real silly to my English ears.

The funniest sentence in all of Hebrew has to be: . תטוסי שנת שעבר  (Ta-toosee schnot sha-ah-var).

Ha !!  Ha!!  Ha!!  Tussy!  Snot!  LMFAO

[Technically, my Hebrew sentence is incorrect.  “Schnot” is only a word if it’s part of a smichoot – a combo word made up of two other words, like “brother-in-law.”  But that doesn’t make it any less funny.]


A Shift.
July 21, 2009, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Identity, Infrastructure


The past few weeks, I’ve been willing to speak Hebrew to most sales clerks (I still need to learn how to say “slices” if I’m going to use Hebrew in Pizza Hut), but not to try and have conversations in Hebrew with my Israeli friends.

It felt pointless.  I could do two conversation “volleys” back/forth before I’d cave and go, OK, that’s enough, I have to talk in English now…

But this week, I just started going for it.  Oh, I go     s    –    l     –    o     –   w     (you can practically see the gears turning in m y head; it’s like I’m expecting time to stop until I come up with the right word or verb conjugation; my poor friends just look at me and wait as I stare a million miles off into space, coming up with the word I’m lookng for…), and I need lots of help from them; it’s like I’m a bimbo actress and they’re feeding me lines…   But I’m doing it.

Fortunately, I’m blessed with a lack of embarassment.  I don’t care if I “look bad” and like an obvious new immigrant by making lots of mistakes when speaking Hebrew.  I am one!

I get lots of opportunties to practice throughout my day.  Like when I forgot to take my “towel card” from the desk attendant as I left the gym after a workout the other day, and I went back and said שליחה,שחכתי את הקרטיס שלי. תודה, ביי (Sorry, I forgot my card.  Thanks, bye!).

Or, when a woman asked me for directions as I waited on my bike at an intersection for the light to change.  I didn’t know enough Hebrew to help her out, and I tried to explain this, but she really wanted an answer and wouldn’t accept my limitations.  She pointed to the street we were on and asked me (in Hebrew) This is Dizengoff, right?  I answered yes, but still couldn’t answer her next question.  Eureka!  Since I had my bearings, I thought to point to my left and say צפון (north) and to my right and say דרום (south), and she was like (in Hebrew) A-ha!  Thanks, Buddy! as she took off in the direction she needed to go.  Score!

I was also stoked when I spontaneously answered my boss in Hebrew, and told him a serious piece of information he needed to hear in Hebrew!  He was so surprised, and when we eventually switched back into English, he was very encouraging, telling me I had done great. ! אחלה (Arabic slang for “Great!”)