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!
Filed under: Amerijones, Exploits, Feelings, Identity, Struggles | Tags: family, gay, men, nightlife, Thanksgiving
I have the greatest family ever. Seeing so little of them is definitely my least favorite part about living here. But video Skype chats and Facebook photo comments are wonderful things, and they’ve been enough for me to get by. It’s stuff I’ve written about here & here. As far as celebrating holidays go, I would like to be with my family for these, but I can’t be, and that’s mostly been OK.
Thanksgiving is different.
For the past five years my cousin Jennifer has been holding it in her huge, beautiful 19th century home in suburban North Jersey. I love it because it’s the one holiday where my whole fam schleps up from Philly, instead of me having to go down there. To get to Jennifer’s, I only had to hop on a 20 minute bus ride from the Port Authority, drink deeply from all that family goodness, then say sayanora and head back to NYC to play with my friends for the long weekend intead of being trapped in surburan Philly hell.
It’s more than that, though. For starters, Thanksgiving at Jen & Harry’s is called TURKEYPALOOZA. Each year, they send out a new goofball invitation heradling the event. Here’s this year’s:
Jennifer’s husband Harry is an amazing chef and we eat like The Biggest Loser contestants kings. You can’t tell by my darling, slim figure, but I have one hell of an appetite. Jen indulges my goober sense of humor by helping me art-direct increasingly elaborate staged pics of me hoarding and binging on desserts. Some of our past work includes:
Jen & Harry plan out a new craft for us to complete each year. In the past, we’ve painted our own ceramic dessert plates (not unveiled until the following year!), designed our own napkin holders, and decorated our own turkey feathers, which were assembled to create a picture of the full bird:
It’s gotten so we don’t even refer to it as Turkeypalooza anymore. Not unlike a big-budget Hollywood franchise sequel, we refer to them now as T3, T4, T5, etc. So this year I missed out on T6. *sad face* But I was going to plan something really special to connect with them all. I bought my cousin a cheap webcam onamazon.com, set up a gmail account for her and used it to set up a Skype account for her. While I have Skyped my mom, bro/sis’n’law/niece, and dad individually before, I had never Skyped the whole fam in one place at one time. I thought it would be totes awesome to have peeps just rotate in and for me to speak with the whole mishpacha this way.
Only, I think what happened was I didn’t set it up far enough in advance. My cuz did manage to log into her Skype account, and the last message I got from her the day before Thanksgiving said she was exhausted from all the planning but she wold plan a test Skype with me sometime before everyone arrived. Then…I waited by the computer all evening, but never connected with her. I used Skype’s SMS feature to send txt messages to her cell, my mom’s cell and bro’s cell. Still nothing. :-( [I found out later that peeps who get txts from you via Skype can’t respond to them. I thought everyone was ignoring me, but they probably just had no way of responding.]
I wasn’t sure what to do. I had plans to attend a screening of a lesbian romantic comedy called “I Can’t Think Straight” as part of TLV Fest‘s “Alternative Movie Nights” monthly film series, AND I was supposed to stop by Max Brenner’s chocolate restaurant to celebrate my friend Jeff’s birthday. I’d gladly miss both those events if it meant being face-to-face with my fam (via video Skype). But no one was responding, and I didn’t want to sit at home and not connect with them and also miss both my plans. So I figured I would go and could always try them at my 1:00 a.m. (their 6pm), after everyone was in their trypophan comas. I was running late to make the screening, so I painted on my vintage GAP jeans (the ones that make my ass look great), walked the dog, hopped on my bike and was off. See, since I was late and this was a film fest screening, there would likely be an introductory speech before the film screened. If I was going to inch my way through the crowd in a front row seat (excuse me…’scuse me, sir…pardon me…sorry, thank you…) and draw a lot of attention to myself, might as well make sure my ass looked good.
So I got to the cinematheque, which is sort of Tel Aviv’s arthouse multiplex…and it was dead. The guard told me nothing was going on, but I insisted the screening was going on. He let me in, and I went upstairs and into an in-progress screening of….Woody Allen’s “Whatever Works.” :-( Sure enough, I checked the Cinematheque guide, and the screening was LAST NIGHT.
How I got that wrong, I’m not sure. But, oh well. I txt’d my friend Ronnie, and asked him if they were still at Max Brenner’s. He txt’d me back Dude, that was last night.
Eff, man !!! There actually was a Plan C. My friend Danny had introduced me to this weekly gay party in 2012 Bar called “Beef,” and I really liked it. It’s a leather party. Hot guys, amazing music. And it’s on Thursdays, so I could always go there. And had I gone straight there, I probably would’ve been fine. But, you know – it was a big double-whammy I just had. Not connecting with my whole fam at T6 like I had been expecting to was a big disappointment. But I thought I had plans (natch, double-plans), and so I wasn’t gutted about the whole thing. But when I took the back-to-back hits of finding out both the screening and birthday parties were last night and I had missed them both, it was like *WHOMP !*, and I was suddenly feeling sad & lonely. Sad & lonely is not a good mindset for me to walk into a bar with. So, thankfully I remembered to do the next right thing, and I called my friend Anna. Voicemail. Dang, but I left one. Then, I did the nexter, righter thing and called my sponsor. He had gone to bed early (it was 11:00 p.m. by this point), but picked up. I brought him up to speed. It was a short phone call, but it was all I needed; just not to be alone with the feelings and to tell another person how I was feeling really stabilized me. I told him what I planned to do next, and he told me to have a great time. And so I hopped on the bike and was off! (It was a good week for music, what with new albums dropping from Glambert, Gaga, SuBo and RiRi, so I was jammin on the bike ride over.)
I got there early, and the place was still empty. But I saw my friend Russell there, so I went to his booth and started talking with him and his husband Avi. Actually I didn’t really know Russell yet. We were FB friends and had been introduced, but never really hung yet. Russell’s kinda famous in the gay community in Tel Aviv, I think. I didn’t discuss this with him yet, but his lawsuit to have his marriage (to a same sex partner) recognized in Israel went all the way to the Supreme Court in Israel and was successful. Anyway, we got a chance to talk, and I really like him.
So, it’s only recently that I’ve really started going out in Tel Aviv. My first six months, I was doing full-time ulpan (intensive language school) in the mornings, then working afternoons-thru-evening, then doing Hebrew homework at night. Throw in blogging and my articles for iGoogledIsrael, and there just wasn’t much time for it. But I’m taking a break from my Hebrew education, and – although my mornings are still packed with creative writing and working on a memoir of how I made Aliyah in a span of 5 minutes – there is some time to sleep in now, if I want to go out. And I’m starting to meet some people, and see them out and about and get introduced to more people, and then introduced to more people through them, and…
So, anyway, the place starts to fill up, and I’m having a good time, and then suddenly my BlackBerry vibrates. OMG, it was my cousin Pamela returning my instant message !!! When I was trying every way I could think of to connect with the fam, I remembered she was a BBerry Girl, and I tried I.M.’ng her, but she didn’t respond. Until now, that is! So, suddenly we’re IM’ng and I come alive. I mean, my heart is just filled with love and meaning.
It may not have been the connection I was expecting – with the whole family in full-on video and audio – and instead it was typing with thumbs on an itty-bitty keyboard to one cousin while being surrounded with men in leather, but it was enough.
More than enough, actually. It made my whole night. (Thank you, Pammie !!!) And so, my cousin sends me through the I.M. first a pic of my first-cousin-once-removed Dayton. And then, she sends me my little niece Alexa; both from the dinner table. And so, I snap a pic of my surroundings to send back. but – even though the flash goes off and sort of embarasses me – it’s too dark for it to come out very good. So, I have to go for this: there are three bartenders in the main room. An ugly one, a really cute one, and an *cue angelic music* truly holy Adonnis type one (in the pic above that opens the post). I tell a friend my plan and get the boost of encouragement I needed. I go up and explain to him that I’m I.M.’ng with my cuz from the Thanksgiving dinner table and she’s just sent me two pics of my little nieces, and I just have to reply with a pic of my surrounding – namely, hot men in leather, and it’s gotta be him and well, would he pose for me? Luckily, he’s not the shy type, and he gives me a good one, and I snap it. I tell you, it was more embarassing having the flash go off and looking like a goober cheeseball tourist in front of everyone else doing what they wish they had the balls to do photographing the hot bartender. But it was worth it. After this, I was feeling some serious mojo kick in, and I later went back up to the bartender and showed him the I.M. thread, and he told me to friend request him on Facebook.
Seriously – why shouldn’t I be with a guy this hot ??? So, after this my whole night just kicks into overdrive. I’m so high from the family connection that my vibes make me really attractive to everyone in the bar, and I’m meeting guys left and right. I ask Pam what we should do – is a Skype still possible at this point? She’s like Yeah, but hurry. Jen wants to put the kids to bed. But I’m about 15-20 minutes away from home by bike, and then I’d have to take the dog out, and then boot up the PC, and I couldn’t make a Skype happen before at least a half hour at the earliest. Plus, I kinda didn’t want to leave the bar. The night was in full swing, and I was lovin it. Pam didn’t twist my arm and said, Nah, let’s just bag it. Right answer, PammiePoo !!
I saw my friend Ron, and I talked to him a little bit in Hebrew first, and he paid me the hugest compliment. He said You know, some people might make fun of your [totally sucky] Hebrew, but let me tell you something: I think it’s a really brave thing you did, moving all the way here and starting a new life at your age, and so does everyone else. They won’t admit it, but everyone looks up to you for what you did, because it’s really important for Israel, and we appreciate what you’ve done. You’ll have a better life here, more opportunity than you would in America. I was not expecting this from him, and it made me feel terrific.
So, anyway, then I rode home, walked the dog…and surfed the ‘Net for two hours, b/c I was so wired up. I still wished I’d had a chance to see and talk with everyone in my amazing family, but it was amazing in its own right how my night went from sad & lonely to maybe my best night out in Tel Aviv yet.
Thanks to H.P., Shuki, Anna, Russell, Jacques & Shoham, שמאי, Eliad, Danny, & Pamela !!!
Filed under: Preaching, Published Columns | Tags: #tweetsgiving, gratitude, Thanksgiving
My friend and the owner of consulting firm Community Organizer 2.0, Debra, asked me to participate in something called #Tweetsgiving. An annual 48-hour event pegged to Thanksgiving, the project encourages people to blog, tweet, share and host parties about gratitude. All grants and donations raised by the project go to trick-out an elementary school in Arusha, Tanzania with computers and other high-tech learning tools. (Last year’s #Tweetsgiving helped fund efforts to build a new classroom at the same school.)
Anyway, I made my contribution this week’s iGoogledIsrael column, so check it out, please. I also encourage you to add the tag #tweetsgiving to all your tweets ) and follow @TweetsGiving (if you’re on Twitter), include a link to www.TweetsGiving.org in your posts (if you’re a blogger), or just plain old donate.
The U.S. nonprofit behind the project is called Epic Change.