Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Victory and Defeat

If you skipped this blog because you thought I was going to talk about the elections - nah nah nah boo boo.  As I have often said, I find politics exceedingly boring.  Yes, there is intrigue and yes I watch "House of Cards" but seriously, it's all about money and power, and not at all about what's right or wrong.  Cynic? Um yes.

No, no, I am going to speak about my own, personal victory and defeat, all of which happened today!

Let's start with the defeat, and get it out of the way.

My trip to the Post Office (anyone living in Israel will now start nodding and then begin shuddering, reliving their own Doar nightmares):

Got a petek (slip) in my mailbox to pick up a package that was "registered."  And addressed to my husband.

Stood in line for 1/2 hour because of the two women working there, one was busy with an irritated woman who insisted on something that was not possible.  Shocker.

The argument went on and on, then the people waiting in line joined in, yelling at her to move along so that the rest of us could get helped.

She yelled back that it was not her fault and she wasn't leaving.

Finally the other worker got the brilliant idea of asking if anyone had a package to pick up (much much faster than other processes that are done at the post office, like paying bills, receiving bypass surgery, buying/selling a car, adopting a cat, etc. etc.).

I was first in line for packages!  Surely this would be a victory!

She looked at my ID card, which HAS MY HUSBAND'S NAME ON IT AS WELL.

  • No, she said, I need his ID card.
  • But he is away and his name is right here!  Look!
  • Do you have a picture of his ID card?
  • No.
  • Well come back with a picture of his ID card.

Now let me just say that the last time I did this, they accepted my ID card just fine.  But as we all know the rules here change depending on the mood of the worker. DEFEAT.

Second wave of defeat: As I was driving home I was thinking, I have to ask my husband to scan his ID card and email it to me.  Then I remembered - I have a scan of his ID card, I could have printed it out and brought it with me. Sometimes my own stupidity shocks me.


I have lived in Israel for over three years.  At no time have I purchased makeup.  Not that I wear much, but when you need a refill, you need a refill.

I have always waited for a trip to America to buy makeup. Why?  Because the crazy cosmetic ladies who sit in Super Pharm on their little stools and wait for you to glance their way will pounce on you and ask if you want a makeover and I have always been afraid of them.  They are pushy and they scare me. There I've said it.

But today something came over me, mostly the dire need for more face powder.  I walked into the Cosmetics Area!  Within a nanosecond bleached blond lady #1 asked if she could help me.  I looked at her, smiled, and said, no thanks, I am fine.  I did it!  I really did it!  And do you know what? She left me alone!

Then dyed blacker than black hair lady #1 saw me.  She wasn't going to let me go.  She probably thought bleached blond lady was a loser.  She asked what she could do for me.  I thought to myself, "Seriously, woman, you apply makeup like your face is a birthday cake, and frankly you  look utterly ridiculous and you want me to ask you for beauty advice?"  Anyway, I said no to her too! And she left me alone.

After I made my purchases and walked out, I thought that perhaps they left me alone because they just didn't want to waste their time on me. If they took a look at me, plain old Susan, they probably figured they'd be wasting their time on someone who apparently had no interest in looking younger or more lovely, or like a birthday cake.

Who cares, I now have new face powder and I have defeated SuperPharm!

You gotta kinda take your wins where you can.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Guy on the Side of the Road....

It gets me every single time.  I'm going to ramble here, so prepare yourselves.

What gets me is seeing someone on the side of the road who's stopped his car and is davening because it's almost past Mincha time.  Last week one morning, driving on a local road,  I saw someone in tallit and tefillin standing next to his car davening.  And I got this stupid goofy grin on my face.  This is normal, this is what we do, it's no big deal.  I know people do this in other countries, but here, no one driving by is wondering what that person is doing - everyone knows because it's routine, it's the norm. No big deal...

But it is such a big deal.

It's always the little things that do this to me, that still fill my heart with gratitude for having the opportunity to live here, to have come home.

I still gasp when I see the landscapes, and always, always, imagine ancient Jews walking towards Jerusalem over the hills. (Yes, I'll admit it, sometimes the ancient Jews look like Charleton Heston).

I am always thrilled to see the dig sites that pop up everywhere, and especially to see the one right in my neighborhood in Modiin - an ancient shul.  

I grew up in America as a stranger.  It was not my country in so many ways.  The calendar revolved around someone else's holidays, someone else's customs.  I had to work around my own holidays, explain explain explain, work overtime on some days to leave early on Friday, miss meetings and events because of Shabbat and Chag, etc. etc. etc.

I appreciate America and American life, but once you live here you realize deep down inside yourself what you've been missing, and it's shocking.  That sense of deep connection to every single person on the street, the fact that the entire country revolves around Shabbat, chagim, Jewish historical events....The fact that you are home in a way you never even knew you could be.

Going to our local mall on Fridays fills my heart - religious and non-religious wishing each other Shabbat Shalom - whether they plan to stay home or go to the beach the next day, they mean it. The mall is set up like a shuk on Fridays, with vendors selling food, flowers, and gifts in preparation for Shabbat.  Most people don't work on Fridays, so it literally is an entire day to get ready for Shabbat - mentally and physically.  By Thursday afternoon, each and every week, the excitement begins to build and the sense of anticipation is palpable.  This is what Shabbat is meant to be, this is how it is supposed to feel.

This week I went into Jerusalem to meet visiting family - imagine me telling my grandparents whose dream it was to even see this country, that I could walk around Jerusalem any time I wanted to.  

I guess the overwhelming feeling is that everything I mentioned above is "normal" when you live here - it's just what you see every day. But it never feels routine - to me it's always thrilling. I can be doing the most mundane task - picking up the dry cleaning, getting gas - and I think to myself, "I am doing this in Israel - how cool is that?"

Pretty cool.  Pretty cool.