To show you how behind on stories I am, this one’s about Pesach, which took place back in March. So, I’ll zip right through it.
I’m not religious, and I’m always working. So, when I didn’t receive any invitations this year for Seder like I did last year, I was totes nonplussed; I was like – great, an extra day to catch up on work.
But the day before Pesach my friend Debra called about a work matter, and when she heard I would be alone on the holiday, she flew into action and got me invited to her friends Andy & Tanya’s Seder in Jerusalem.
It was a fabulous Seder! One thing that was really special about it, was – OK, normally when you’re more than 1/2-way through the Haggadah (story of Passover + prayers to sing & say), you break to eat the meal, and then continue for a bit more after. But for our Seder, we took another break: during the first half of the Seder, the super host Andy (who’s got *such* a fun personality!) announced that because the Haggadah doesn’t really get into the important story details or what really happened – the miracles God made that allowed the Jews to escape slavery in Egypt – we would get up from the table and act out a play for the kids (there were 6 kids at this Seder).
So, Andy, w/ his awesome personality, begins narrating the story.
Anyway, when it came time for Pharoh to enter the story, – whoosh! wha- wait, whatsat! – Andy outfits me w/ headdress and neckware, and guess who’s Pharoh!
Anyway, you know what a ham I am, and I got totally into it – ordering the kids to make me sandwiches and do pushups. It was hysterical.
Last thing I want to say here, is that we had four kinds of charoset on the Seder table. One was a Turkish recipe with cardiman and ginger in it – yum!
I had a wonderful time and was so glad I was invited. I made some new friends in Andy & Tanya, and also Debra’s husband Aaron. Tanya’s family from the UK were wonderful, too. A very belated, very heartfelt thank you, Debra!
I may have missed T6, but I celebrated Thanksgiving with some of my friends the next day. My deskmate The Mean Lady BFF Anna & her husband/my friend Eric invited people over for Thanksgiving on Friday, because in Israel Friday is the weekend and more people could come that way.
Well, we had a great time. Eric grilled some delish chicken (because the supermarkets don’t have turkeys, but you can special order them, but we didn’t know that), Anna made scrumpch sweet potatoes and stuffing, and Leah brought yummers green beans. Me? Non-cooking, lil’ ol’ me brought soda and fresh ground coffee.
It was a nice mix of Americans and Israelis. (Eric has lived here a few years and has some good Israeli friends from his job.) After we ate, Anna bust out the Thanksgiving word find ™ sheets, and we all had a cutthroat laugh, trying to finish the game first. I haven’t done that shit in years! Yo, the backwards, diagonal ones are a bitch, yo !! I kept cracking myself up by yelling out I found ‘sturkey’! or I found ‘grindian’! It never got old only for me. I may have sucked at the Word Find™, but I took first place in the maze (helping the pilgrims get to the turkey). Nice !! I used Anna’s own cheat method of working backwards. Whatever part of the brain that game uses, I totally have a great [whatever part that is].
I was dying to play Celebrity, but after dessert, half the guests got the hell out of there before we broke out some more games left to attend other engagements. So we ended up watching YouTube cat videos on the TV and then praying to God to please puncture our eyeballs watching Anna & Eric’s honeymoon slide show.
I love my friend Anna, and she is both an awesome host and cook. Thanks, Anna!
As anyone who has ever grabbed my love handles can tell you, I love to eat. However, I don’t love to cook. There was a time in my life 10 years ago, when I was in a relationship, and he and I did cook for each other. I could make a few things – omelettes, broiled fish, stir fry, meat loaf, broiled 1/2-chicken; that’s about it.
But more recently, I am just:
A) So super busy that I often don’t get home until late at night, and
B) I just don’t enjoy it. It’s the last thing I feel like doing after a long, busy day.
So, besides making myself granola in the mornings, I would just eat out a lot. I’m also a thoroughly routine-oriented person, and if I like something, I will just eat it over and over again until I can’t stand it anymore and need to switch to something else. Case in point: Chipotle. Giant, Hagrid-sized burritos made with simple ingredients – vegetarian-fed meat raised in a sustainable way, and organic veggies. I heart Chipotle chicken burritos so much and would one every day around 5:00 p.m.
Then, there’s also Starbucks, which gives me a totes emotional boner. I swear, I probably react to The Bux the way most kids feel when they see Disneyland. And it’s been a challenge finding coffee up to par in Israel, as evidenced by this column I wrote on the subject. Finally, there’s Billy’s Bakery – opened by a defector from the NYC’s legendary Magnolia Bakery, the cupcakes and cake slices there are just WORTH THE THOUSANDS OF CALORIES THEY PROBABLY CONTAIN.
So, I knew I wanted to have as much Chipotle, Starbucks and Billy’s as I possibly could while I was in New York. And I did hit all three. But as Murphy’s Law would have it, sometimes when I was hungry and needed a bite on-the-go NOW, I couldn’t find a Chipotle (even though they’re on like every corner of Manhattan).
So, here, since you didn’t asked for it, is the tally of how much of my fave foods I had while in NYC last week:
Starbucks – 6
Chipotle – 1
(which really should have been three, but I couldn’t get to one in time; must feed the beast, you know. Both those times I settled for local NY pizza…b/c you know, Israeli pizza is just fake.)
Billy’s – 2
(one trip was two slices of cake – boxed for home – and one cupcake to eat on the way; 2nd trip was merely two slices boxed for home – P.S. is it just me, or does junk food always tastes better when consumed home alone in secret?)
I was invited last week to a nonShabbat Dinner. It was Shabbat in spirit, in that we were relaxin’ and goovin’ and mixin’ it up/feeling good, and it was definitely a good dinner. But not so much with the prayers or candles.
My friend Jeremy from Ulpan and his gorgeous fiance Samadar invited me for this dinner, which also had several other Ulpan friends in attendance, as well as Samadar’s Israeli friends. It was really fun.
They cooked some scrumpsh garlic bread, followed by salad and spaghetti. Luckily, I did not spill any sauce on me. I overdressed a little – only a buttondown and slacks, but T.I.I., man, and peeps did shorts/T’s or maybe jeans – but racked up the compliments, so it was almost worth it. I say almost, b/c the pants were definitely a little snug, if you know what I mean. Guess all those pints of Ben & Jerry’s Creme Brulee had to go somewhere. They weren’t unwearable; my ass did look fabulous in them. But they just weren’t comfy. Or as Alicia Silverstone as Cher in Clueless once said, I know it sounds mental, but sometimes I have more fun vegging out than when I go partying. Maybe because my party clothes are so binding.
Total digression, sorry. Anyway, Samadar is an actress and one of her actress friends totally looked like Ally Sheedy, although apparently she gets told more often that she looks like Sigourney Weaver, which I also saw, but she prefers the Ally comparison.
I got props from Samadar at the end of the night on my mingling skills. Sure, it was totally easier to hang w/ my Ulpan Peeps, but you never know who you’re gonna meet, right? So, I made sure to mix it up with her very nice Israeli friends.
Uh, what else? Not much, except we really had fun laughing it up and talking. Didn’t stay too late – maybe until 11:30 p.m. Really enjoyed myself. Such nice people. Oh, also Jeremy has a big, beautiful dog. His name is Merlin, and I think he’s a labradoodle. Are they big?
One more thing, I brought an apple streudel and some chocolate balls from a bakery called Cake Art. They were really good, but even I got wrapped up in the napoleon cake that Steph brought.
y’all, שבת שלום
You guys, it only took five months and four days, but I finally got a working BlackBerry in Israel.
BEYOND YAY !!!
iPhones aren’t available or supported in Israel (though they are coming soon), and I had a BlackBerry when I lived in the U.S., so I wanted one over here, too.
Well, they cost $900 (that’s dollars, not shekels) over here, and I read stuff online how if you brought an unlocked one over from the U.S. (about $225), it would totally work fine here, and all you’d have to buy was the Israeli SIM card and phone/data plans.
‘Cept I tried this back in April, and it failed. Not sure why, but the theory was we tried to put too many 3rd party apps on during the initial data transfer. Or, it was actually refurbished crap even though the vendor sold it to me as new.
Then, I was screwed b/c my warranty had a grace period before it kicked in, RIM wouldn’t cover it b/c I bought it from a 3rd party vendor, ebay’s warranty had expired, and so had the vendor’s.
Fortunately, the vendor was generous and allowed me to return it for a replacement anyway. I remember buying it from an ebay store called ipod outlet, but suddenly I was dealing with another ebay store named Blue Bay Electronics, so I guess Blue Bay owns iPod Outlet.
Anyway, being that I am in Israel and Bluebay/iPodOutlet is in the U.S., I had to wait until somebody I knew in Israel was traveling to the U.S. (and I was made to pay the return shipping – shady!)…and then dependent on someone from the U.S. to schlep it over here.
This took about 3 months. *prolonged sigh*
Finally it arrived last week, and I took it to Cellcom on Wednesday to buy a plan and SIM card and get my new baby activated. Well, first up, the salesguy sold me the wrong data plan. He gave me all these choices when really the only plan that would allow me to set up email on a BlackBerry was a special data plan offered by (wait for it)….BlackBerry duh.
So I got home, and the phone part was working fine, and I could surf the net and all, but couldn’t set up email. Grr. Called Cellcom tech support, finally got an English speaking tech, and he told me the salesguy screwed up and that he would void my contract and that I should go back to the store, and he would call me in 20 minutes and I should ask for the shift manager and put him on, and he would explain everything to him. Shoot me for the run-on sentence; I don’t care.
Except, the workers in the store weren’t having any of that, and then the rep I got seated with refused to talk to the techie on the phone when he called back. Dramz! But I’ve been listening to the audiobook of The Secret as I rode my bicycle around town all week, so I just kept imagining the good outcome I wanted and feeling grateful for it as if it had already turned out fine, and the bitchy rep got up to find the original salesguy. They argued a while, and then finally the salesguy got on the line and spoke to the techie. After that, Bitchy was nice to me, and I got the new BlackBerry data plan they should have sold me in the first place.
So, then I spent the next six hours tricking the thing out. I wanted it to look and work just like the one I had back in New York. Yes, I was completely obsessed with this and completely isolated as I got busy adding apps and themes and ringtones, but not in a bad way; I waited five months for this day, and I was having fun playing with my new toy.
We’ve had a sub at Ulpan all week since our teacher is away, and it was 3am when I finished playing with the new BB, so I decided to play hooky on Thursday. Woke up mid-morning and decided to call my doc for an appt. I’ve had uncharacteristic back pain all week, and I wanted him to examine me. Picked up BB and made the call.
Call kept failing. [uh-oh, not good]
Used other phone to call BB. Wouldn’t receive calls either. Hmm..
Web and email working fine, so I’m not worried. Call tech support with the old skool phone I’ve been using all this time, but it uses a pre-paid card, and I run out of minutes, so the call drops. Damn, I had a good English speaker, and we were getting somewhere. Grr. Realize I can use work’s Skype account to call back. I do, but wouldn’t you know it, we’re almost out of credit on our account, and because of a freak issue w/ our card on file, auto-renew was disabled…meaning, the clock was ticking on this support call.
Nice techie. She tries to call my BB. No dice. Tries again. Call goes through, but the ring tone is all crackly, like the thing is getting fried and then –
the thing completely dies. Try taking battery out and putting back in. Looks like it’s booting up and then…dies again. And again. And again. And…again. Techie signs off. I’m alone, but I have to go to a place of acceptance. I’m not going to put myself through another international, drawn-out warranty/return saga, nor am I going to find some back-alley local store to try and fix it. Despite the success stories I had read, I tried once to bring an unlocked American BB to work over here and failed. And now I’d tried twice, and it failed again. Eff this. I was going to take out savings from America and drop $900 on a new Israeli one and just guarantee success once and for all.
But I get an idea, and I decide to try one more thing. I take the battery out again and replace it with the battery from my neutered Verizon BB from America. Worth a shot. Bootup always takes a lil while, so I go into the other room and start taking clothes off the clothesline.
Come back to check on it…keeping my hopes in-check…look down at the screen and – there’s my (wallpaper) niece Alexa – S-U-C-C-E-S-S !!!
WTF, I don’t know why this worked, but I ask God to remove from me the need to replay and figure out this mystery, and I just accept the whole morning. I also ask God to remove my fear that it will stop working again. Who knows why it did what it did? The important thing is that it is working perfectly now (still, two days later), and I am IN LOVE.
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 !!!
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.
I 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:
Yesterday was the Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv. I had a tremendous time participating.
I had previously signed up to volunteer at the Tel Aviv LGBT Community Center, so I had to be there at 8:00 a.m. to help set up for the “Happening” before the parade. This is not the first Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv; that was in 1999. But as Dudu, the guy in charge of putting together the “Happening,” explained to us at a preparatory meeting on Thursday, this year is the first year that all 30 of Israel’s LGBT groups (e.g. P-FLAG, The Aguda, TLV Fest, Israeli Gay Youth organization) planned the event together. At the “Happening,” each group would have a booth to promote their organization. There was also going to be a stage with live music and other performances.
I carried stacks of chairs from the Center to the stage, and then I taped sticks to the back of signs for P-FLAG, so their members could hold up the signs during the parade. The rest of the time was down-time to enjoy the “Happening.” Lots of people enjoying themselves. Not just hot guys, but families, older people, teens, lotsa lesbians, probably straight people, too. Good vibes. I bumped into Yoni & Yoni, a couple I met two weeks ago, and also my new friend Anthony, who is visiting from NYC.
Then it was time for the Parade to start. My job was to be part of a 2-person team to carry a 50-foot string of rainbow colored helium balloons. Not so easy! There was wind to deal with, low power lines to avoid, etc. Any my partner was totally not paying attention, so I did the bulk of the work. But halfway through the parade, even that much must have been too much for him, b/c he turned over the reins to Ronnie, a very capable partner, who was fun to work with, too. I had a lot of fun! I saw my friends Marisa and Jerami on the route.
The parade ended at Gordon Beach. I had a sensational time dancing and boy-watching. The performance acts were so spectacular!
I bumped into my friends from Ulpan, Lisa & Trevor in the dancing tent. Later, I saw another Ulpan friend, Fabio, on the beach. And after that, my Ulpan friends Caitin and Leonardo found me. Plus, there was Valerie from Milan, who made a cameo in our Ulpan class for a day, and Vladi, whom I had a nice date with back in April. It felt very nice to be connected here enough to bump into someone I knew every half hour or so. Here’s Fabio, plus Marisa and Jerami from the parade.
There was this cute doggie with a woman dancing near me. Suddenly her dog went on a mission – digging sand and more sand. Everybody was cracking up; he was so into it! I wanted to say to him, Doggie, give it up! It’s a beach. You’ll NEVER get to the bottom of all this sand. But the joke was on me; this doggie had a specific goal in mind: to make himself a comfy bed!
The butt cleavage thing? Honestly, I have been meaning to do a post on this for a long time. There is a crack epidemic in Israel. Maybe it’s overreliance on low-riders, maybe it’s weight issues, I dunno – all I know is from grannies to toddlers, I’ve seen more ass crack since I got to this country than I know what to do with. But on the beach yesterday, I noticed something different: gay guys who roll their shorts down, purposefully to expose the tops of their butt cheeks, putting them on display the same way a woman would wear something low cut to expose a nice rack. Hey, more power to ’em, and c’mon – what gay guy wouldn’t like looking at that? It’s just kinda funny, that’s all. And that back hair thing? Well, I’ll just say that’s one plus about living here: much less pressure to manscape. It’s not that the community is a bunch of wolf-men roaming the streets. But there certainly are a lot of furry necks and shoulders.
However, this is Israel. There is no shortage of stunningly hot men.
There are many more pics I want to show you, but goddamn – all this custom sizing and image collage making is taking 4evah! I totally don’t have time to do the post about our first Ulpan party at David’s apartment last Thursday, and probably more importantly, I did not do my Ulpan homework yet. And I totally had plans for a “system upgrade” of my notes. Oh well, next weekend!