Friday, July 29, 2005

My Happiness Depends on Cheese

A couple of weeks ago Yaacov and I discovered wonderful, sharp, tasty, orange cheddar cheese in the shuk. It was imported from England and just perfect. From time to time in the U.S. I liked to eat cheddar cheese. It's great in omelets and scrambled eggs. It's good with salad. You just can't make good mac and cheese without good cheddar cheese! It is just a touch of home that makes me very happy.

They sell some crap down at the local grocery store that they call cheddar cheese, but it's just not the same. Yuck.

Well, Y went to the shuk this morning and I asked him to pick up some cheddar. He came back empty-handed. They're out and don't know when they'll have it again! What am I going to do?!

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Of course I've been thinking a lot about the recent bombings around the world. I've intentionally tried not to post about it. I am so conflicted and upset.

But today I was listening to Galgalatz and I finally heard something that expressed what I am feeling about it all...

In the immortal words of Gwen Stefani, "Let me hear you say, this shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!"

(The lyrics are from Hollaback Girl on Gwen's CD Love. Angel. Music. Baby.)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Kick Up Your Feet

Here I am in the kitchen demonstrating the most popular summer dance craze in Israel. Actually, this dance has a long history here and you can find people doing it from about March to November. (I cropped off my own head because my smile looked funny in this picture.)

Step one: Say, "Ow!" and lift up one foot - or at least make an unhappy face and lift one foot
Step two: Wiggle the lifted foot in the air a bit
Step three: Tap the lifted foot toe-first on the floor
Step four: Place the foot back on the floor

Here's a close up of the dance. Sandals are required footwear for this dance!

Of course this is the dance that folks do when something gets in their sandal. It's fun to watch people do it. It's just too hot here to wear closed shoes. This little dance is universal. Next time you get something in your sandal, try to get that feeling of brotherly love from knowing we've all (or just about all) been there too.

Aren't my sandals cute?! I hope Christa appreciates them. I bought them in the Old City last week for about $9! I got a black pair of a different style too.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tan Lines

The other day Yaacov and I were swimming with his brother at their parent's house. Y's brother was teasing Yaacov about his "army tan". In the South we called it a "farmer's tan" - you know, where just your neck and the lower parts of your arms are brown from wearing a shirt outside all of the time.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

More Surprises

I recently wrote about my general dislike for surprises. I think that I need to correct myself. I do actually like some surprises.

The other day I was washing dishes and as I put the bottle of Palmolive down I guess I gently squeezed the bottle and several tiny bubbles floated out. They drifted around the sink for a moment in the breeze. (The windows in our apartment are open all of the time. However, we're still debating on the best way to keep open them at night and close them during the day or to leave them open all of the time) For some reason the bubbles made me smile. What a nice surprise.

A couple of weeks ago gardeners came to refresh the garden of the apartment building across the street. As part of their work they put a new terracotta pot with bright pink petunias by the entryway. The same day I saw a resident walk right past the flowers then do a doubletake and smile after having noticed the flowers. She had a nice surprise. It was a nice surprise for me to see her notice them too.

I've always enjoyed finding long forgotten money in pockets. I even like finding ticket stubs or restaurant receipts in pockets and thinking about the movie I saw, who I was with, etc. Recently I found a NYC subway token that I got on my first trip there in the 10th grade. I didn't even know that I brought it to Israel. It hitchhiked inside a Louis Vuitton bag that I bought before Louis Vuitton became cool again and when I was a different kind of person.

Monday, July 11, 2005


For the past two days I have felt like crap. It's nothing major; maybe something I ate. Yesterday I just stayed in bed or on the sofa. I am not sure what sick people did before television. It sure helps you to forget what's ailing you. I am convinced that many problems in the world could be placated with TV and air conditioning (ok food and clean water would help too).

My time in the bed would have been more restful had it not been for the banging and other indescribable noise-making activities going on two floors up. A couple of months ago the crazy lady that lived there sold her apartment to this nice young woman (my age) and moved out. The new owner has been over to hang out and shared with us her plans to renovate her apartment. She's knocking down walls, changing doors and windows, re-doing the electricity services, renovating the bathroom, and moving the kitchen. Basically, they've gutted the place and started from scratch.

Most (if not all) of the buildings in Israel are made from either stone (old buildings) or concrete. Here in Jerusalem you're required (in most cases - this is Israel after all - there are ALWAYS exceptions) to have a "Jerusalem stone" facade. Somehow the interior concrete construction carries the sound in a fascinating but horrible way. It sounds like the workers are just on the other side of the wall. I can't imagine what it sounds like in the apartment above ours. It also makes me wonder how much other people can hear of what's going on in my apartment!

There is a lot of debris and it must be hauled off to be recycled, I'm sure (note the sarcastic tone - again Israel!). You can see on Savtadotty's gallery one way that they remove debris - with a shoot into a dumpster.

However, in my building they put all of the debris into big sacks and used a crane to move the sacks from the fourth floor to a flatbed truck.

Here is the crane with a strap ready to lift up rubble.

Here's the crane reaching the fourth floor. I am taking photos from inside my apartment. I think that was the safest place considering Israeli construction "safety" practices.

Here they've got two sacks of rubble and are bringing them down...

and down...

and down...

and finally loading them onto a truck. They did this about eight times until the bed of the truck was full. These pictures were taken a couple of days ago after the first day of demolition. They came again yesterday afternoon and lifted up supplies for the remodeling and brought down construction debris.

Living here makes me feel very "Rear Window" somtimes.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Or Adom (Red Light)

This morning Yaacov and I got up and did something we do most every Friday. We went to the shuk or open market to buy veggies and such for the week. Y's been working on a civil-disobedience case and wanted to stop by a bookstore downtown to see if they had a book he was looking for related to his work. That meant that we had to go in sort of a reverse loop to our usual route. We stopped by the bookstore and headed to the shuk. We crossed one lane of King George on green, looked left and right, and then crossed the other lane on red. Well, after crossing the intersection a policewoman approached us and asked for our ID cards. I said in English that I didn't have one while Yaacov handed his over. After asking us in a gruff voice why we crossed the street on red, she said to Yaacov that she was giving him a ticket. Well, it's not a big deal. We did something wrong, we got caught, and now Y was getting a ticket. We were too shocked that she was actually giving Y a ticket to think about how ironic it was to have just been talking about civil disobedience.

I kind of stepped away from the action and waited for the policewoman to write the ticket. Apparently my American looks and accent - plus using English - got me off the hook for now. All you Anglos out there take note of that strategy!

We left with our 100 NIS ($20) fine and talked about how police time could be better spent.

We "did the shuk" and headed home. On the way home we passed an elderly man in a wheelchair and his Asian assistant. As I walked passed the old man said, "Mah ze?! Yeled o buba?" (What's that? A boy or a doll?) Yaacov immediately started to laugh. Those of you who know me, know that I am about 5'6", 120lbs, skinny and cute. Yes, I am 27 with the body of a 14 year-old. Let's just sum it up by saying that it's an issue with me, ok! But never has anyone called me a doll! I haven't shaved in 3 days and I was wearing a tank top - my most butch look!

I guess the old man was just calling it like he saw it.

What do you think? Be kind. Note the very butch stubble, beefy arms, and bed head. A doll?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

In My Neighborhood (part 2)

Fat Cat

For those of you who've read my blog from the beginning, Fat Cat isn't a new character. I got some new pics of him this week. So, I'd thought I'd share more about him.

Fat Cat belongs to a family in the apartment building across the street. He is prissy. He doesn't eat from the trash. He avoids hanging out with street cats (they're everywhere in Jerusalem!) and has a slow-moving, Garfield-esque style.

Once I went to the pet store and bought him some expensive cat treats. When I offered them to him, he was so not interested. He sort of sniffed them and then turned up his nose and walked away.

Sometimes he's on our side of the street and hanging out in the garden that surrounds our building. He has a spot or two that he likes on the garden wall. He'll let you pet him and love on him but only after you say hello and he says hello back. Sometimes he'll close his big yellow eyes, but I haven't heard him purr.

Here he is on the garden wall of his building.

He's checking everything out.

Once I heard the baby that lives in the apartment with him crying. Their balcony door was open and I was on my balcony reading and watching. Fat Cat had had enough of the crying noise and came outside to escape for a minute. Smart man.

He can recognize the residents of the building. When he's ready to go back inside, he'll watch for someone that lives in his building to head toward the door. He really moves it to make sure he's at the door when they go inside.

I don't see him every day, so it's kind of special to see him around. I'm allergic to cats too. This way I feel connected to a pet without having to sneeze.

Check out In My Neigborhood part 1.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Blogger Thoughts

Here are some links to other blogs in Israel and their thoughts on the Jerusalem Pride Parade.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Apparently U.S. President Harding made up this word - normalcy. Of course our current President makes up all kinds of goofy words.

Anyway, I guess that I have been busy the past couple of days - but mainly things have just been out of whack. Ulpan (Hebrew school) started on Monday. I am in kitah gimel - or 3rd grade! It's tough. The texts that we're reading are longer and more complex than those in my previous class. It takes a couple of readings to figure out what's going on sometimes. I'm glad to be back on a normal schedule. Schedules are good for me.

I've been in a funk about the stabbing at the Pride parade last week. There is a gathering tonight to reflect on the whole situation. I'll go and let you know how it was. In related news, the guy that was alleged to have been the attacker was charged today in court with three counts of attempted murder. You can read about it here.

OK... a day later. I went to the vigil/protest last night. There was a great turnout. There were so many police and security personnel. It was meaningful just to be there. March/protest chants can be so dumb. I kept thinking about other ways to protest without folks screaming - that just seems so inappropriate after people have been stabbed. For me a respectful, quiet, meaningful gathering would have been better. But I am not the boss. We really must stand up for the issue here. It's not just about gay rights. It's about a group of people being able to organize and share a message through a march without being stabbed. It's about democracy - freedom of assembly and speech - without fear.

There is a level of disorganization/lack of planning in Israeli culture that is SO FRUSTRATING to me sometimes. Lisa mentions it in this post. It impacts many aspects of Israeli life - from changing lanes while driving 100 km/hr, to deciding where and what to eat for dinner, to the disengagement, to making plans for big events. I am not sure what the roots of this phenomenon are. I am not even sure that it's a bad thing in general. But my god, for a country that has been through all of the problems that require planning that we've had here - well, you'd think that Israel would be better at it. There's a phrase in Hebrew - yee-hee-aa (long A) beseder - meaning "it will be ok". Sometimes things here AREN'T OK! It is so irresponsible not to be prepared for situations. I know that you can't plan for everything - but you can think through the process and determine possible outcomes - and make plans for problem solving. That way you won't be caught with your pants around your knees. Things can be better than just beseder.

When bad things happen it seems like there is a game of "not it" that really gets my goat. Take responsibility - plan, evaluate, consider outcomes, revise, be reflective. Don't just stand there looking stupid and pointing fingers.

Ok, that was my little rant for today.

I'm hoping things will begin to get back to normal - whatever that means - soon.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Internet Fun!

JOHN, Seattle

Thanks, Savtadotty, for this fun link!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Jerusalem Pride

This past Thursday was Jerusalem Pride 2005. I am still trying to wrap my head around all of it, but maybe I'll get more perspective by sharing some details with you kind folks.

The parade was an early evening event (the Sun is HOT in Israel). Everyone was to meet up in the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in downtown Jerusalem. The police were expecting about 1,000-2,000 people. Conservative estimates put the turnout at 5,000 and the most I've read is 10,000. There were a lot of folks packed together. I hated it. I don't like crowds to begin with and this was just not fun.

Here's a picture of Yaacov's back and the crowd before the start of the parade. You can see that lots of folks from "the media" turned out too. So many cameras!

I thought that this was an interesting picture. Here we have Burger King, beside a shoe store selling Clarks, and on the far right is a pride poster/sign in Arabic. In the foreground (I am such a great photographer!) are the tops of two heads. One is bleach-blonde and the other brownish. Not long after I took this picture these two women started kissing and I felt like I was standing next to Tom Cruise for a minute because of all of the camera flashes and clicks. There was a mean lady standing nearby and she started spitting near/at these women. It was HORRIBLE! I didn't know what to do. I don't even know the word for spit in Hebrew! At this point I just wanted to go home.

Eventually the parade started and things got moving. People were able to spread out and breathe a little bit. However there were some stink bombs and apparently other things tossed into the crowd. The smell was really unpleasant.

So people along the route were supportive and others were in opposition. This has to be the most controversial things I have ever done. I have a tiny idea of what the civil rights marchers in the South must have felt like not so many years ago.

Here's a fuzzy shot of a group of folks marching form the youth organization. I wish I had gotten a better perspective shot. It was so inspirational to see King George Street FULL of marchers!

Here's Yaacov carrying the sign I made. Our friend Isaac is on the left in plaid and our friend Sharon is on the right with the pink ribbon.

Shortly after this picture was taken we got word that three marchers had been stabbed. Yes, an ultra-orthodox man stabbed three marchers! I can't tell you how upset, frustrated, and confused I am. There was a good deal of police presence along the whole parade route and they caught the man. However, it is just CRAZY to me that someone could be so UGLY and TWISTED to do something like that! I just don't know what to say.

The parade continued and the festival planned for the Liberty Bell Park took place after the march. I was able to meet up with darling Savtadotty and her cute friend Danny. But I was so exhausted from the week that I was in no mood to stay and party for long. Plus the news of the stabbing and all of the stress of the week was weighing down on us. Yaacov and I left early.

The next day Yaacov went to visit the victims in the hospital. One woman had surgery to reconnect muscles and such in her arm after the stabbing. Another victim had deeper stab wounds and will be in the hospital a few more days. I think that the third victim only received stiches. The whole community has been shocked and stunned.

There will be a vigil later this week and I will let everyone know what the plans are for that. I know that just one crazy person on a stabbing rampage is a fluke and random. However, the persistent hatred and animosity by large groups of the population in Jerusalem just cements my resolve to continue to work hard for this cause.

Friday, July 01, 2005

I'm Feeling...

Oh my goodness, is down! They just left me hangin'! Now, I'm feeling ______!

Actually, I am exhausted. It's been a long week. I've got a post brewing about Jerusalem Pride...hang in there.