Thursday, September 08, 2005


Ok - this is just going to be an update post. I am feeling a little nuts-o, so you'll just have to hang on with me.

I am really bored with ulpan right now. It seems like medicine. You know that taking it is good for you, but it tastes bad. Today we talked and read about the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls - something I know lots about. I volunteered to talk about the exhibit project in front of the class next Mon. Fun.

I just remembered what I really wanted to talk about. On my way back from CD shopping today (Y is going to cut me off soon - I have been buying LOTS of music lately. I am still looking for DJ Cam's Soulshine - if anyone has it out there. Today I bought Texas' Greatest Hits.) anyway - shoot - I just forgot again - see nuts-o. I totally can't remember what I wanted to talk about.

Oh - remembered! So this week I have been trying to get in touch with someone from the photo archives at the Israel Museum. I need to get some pictures for the exhibit. Anyway, I called the person yesterday. Ok - her mother tongue is Russian and her second language is Hebrew - a little English. I started the conversation speaking in English and then quickly switched to Hebrew. It was about 3:00pm and she said that if I could come right then, we could meet and talk about the photos. She was going to take a long weekend and wouldn't be in the office again until Monday (maybe). I live about 30 minutes by foot from the museum, so I had a choice - either run or grab a cab. There are lots of taxis in Jerusalem and getting a cab would be no problem. To make a long story short - I got a cab to the museum, had a successful meeting, and walked home. I am tight like that and plus it's a beautiful walk.

Now to most people, that doesn't sound like a big deal - but I am going to let you in on a secret - I am scared to death of new things. People tell me, "Gosh, John, you're so brave for moving to Israel!" Most of the time they are talking about the unstable political/terrorism situation. They have no idea how scary personally this change has been for me. See, I am a small town boy from North Carolina. There are more people that live in my apartment building than lived on my entire street in Kings Mountain, NC. I am not used to this urban environment. I don't like to take risks and stick my neck out (not on the spur of the moment anyway). I like to be the expert. I like to feel confident in what I am doing. Let's look at the challenges that I faced in the two hours yesterday :
1. Cold calling someone I didn't know in a professional capacity. 1a. Talking with that person in Hebrew.
2. Getting a cab - there is no "cab culture" in Kings Mountain.
3. Negotiating the fare with the cab driver - I made him use the meter because I needed a receipt for reimbursement.
4. Checking in at the Museum and finding the hidden photo archives.
5. Having a meeting in Hebrew and scheduling a follow up.

Everything worked out perfectly - what's the worst that could happen right? It all stresses me out nevertheless.

I have been reflecting to see if I have always been timid like this - and yeah, I think that I have. In high school and college I was in performance groups - choirs and such. But you can spend a long time getting the performance perfect before anyone sees it. In college I was in several plays. I was "Mike" (the tap dancing guy) in A Chorus Line. I had never tap danced in my life. I learned the routine and did an ok job. But I had months to prepare. It wasn't like, "Here, take these shoes and dance! "

I knew that moving here would be a challenge - but I had no idea that I would be pushed in so many tough, new ways. The challenges are exhausting and probably hard for lots of people to understand. My passive, quiet, suburban way of life up to now didn't prepare me for all of "this".


At 12/29/2005 5:46 AM, Anonymous Leah said...


I'm not totally sure how I found your blog today, but you've sucked me in. I started mine when I was working in London as a way to keep in touch with my family--so I can relate to the experiences you've had. I'm also learning Hebrew as an adult--kudos for marching off to a museum. So hard to do, but you did it. Yeah, I know, you did it months ago--but still... you are so lucky to get to make this move and you have a great blog. Thanks for writing.



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