Saturday, August 8, 2009

swirling thoughts #3 - welcome to israel

everything smells good in israel - even the nail polish remover (how do they do that??) and everything has sugar added in israel - even the milk (why would they do that??)

ever seen the whole fire house in the supermarket buying pasta and sauce? cute, right? ever seen a truckload of israeli sodiers in the makolet buying mango nectar? beyond!

65 hours since our much celebrated arrival in eretz hakodesh and it seems like one blurry long day. One blurry long day of climbing stone stairs – they are everywhere – inside my house and out. We park the car according to packages we have to carry. If we have a lot or if they are heavy we park on the street above our street and bring the packages down the 70 or so stairs (that connect the two streets) to my front door. With no packages I park as close to our house as possible but that still involves a long sidewalk including about 22 stairs. Bob likes to park down on the street below ours. And then walk about 150 stone stairs up to my house. It’s no wonder garbage is picked up from these tank-like containers located sporadically throughout the neighborhood and not house by house (the closest garbage ‘tank’ to me is exactly at the bottom of those 150 stairs – Barbara is now in charge of taking out the trash).

In Brooklyn my kids changed their clothes exactly 3 times a day not including pajamas and towels which went into the hamper daily. Have I become Israeli so fast or am I just keenly aware of the size of my European washer (not to mention the two flights of stairs down to the laundry room)? We’re on a new system of 3 nights per pair of pajamas, 3 baths per towel and zero changes of clothing once we’re dressed in the morning.

in the process of un-spoiling my kids (a daunting task!) - apples and cucumbers no longer get peeled, everyone walks (no more shoulder rides). ok so i'm just getting started. kids are so very happy. their feet are so very black. my floor is staying white b/c though they run barefoot outside, i inspect their feet at the door and then make them wear shoes INSIDE!

Coming from carpeting we are all used to running around the house barefoot. My kids’ greatest joy in Israel is running around barefoot – outside! Even as I have measured success in limiting this, it takes only two seconds barefoot for the bottoms of little feet to turn black. So now I have taken up post as the foot police inside the house (did I mention the flooring is white stone?). I have implemented a strict no barefoot in the house policy. Shoes and socks at all times. Since the worst offense is walking with wet bare feet out of the shower onto the stone floor which undoubtedly will have dust and dirt on it and thus result in little black feet prints all over the house… my heightened alert time is shower time. The drill is this: dry in the shower, step onto the bath mat and get dressed into 3-day old pajamas, clean underwear and clean socks. I wear flip flops. I leave Bob alone. Not sure if he even knows I’ve gone off the deep end and traded my germ phobia for black feet-marks on the floor phobia.

spent the day in jerusalem with my dear friend michal - kotel in the morning for shacharit, bonkers bagels in the rova for breakfast, nachlaot for a quick errand and then malcha mall for sandal shopping plus we sat down and ate cake on real plates in a real restaurant with coffee in real cups.

less dreamy this morning - woke up late and ran to jerusalem to the ministry of absorption to (wait, wait, wait) and then find out about no less than 14 OTHER offices we need to visit to take care of our taxes, drivers licensing, health insurance, banking, ulpan, employment licensing, and more. followed up by lunch on yaffo street - just me and bob having a lunch date in jerusalem - now THAT was dreamy!

We went to the post office today to pay for our health insurance (in Israel this makes perfect sense) and then to the health insurance office which is also the health insurance clinic which is where you go to see your family practitioner for any kind of health problem whatsoever. There is no specialist until you have seen your family practitioner. Have kidney stones? Talk to the FP. Have an ear, nose or throat problem? Talk to the FP. Gastro problem? FP first! From there we went to the bank where the first thing we did was sign a money laundering form in Hebrew with the bank manager who gave us his private phone number and told us to call him any time with any problem – bank related or not. Then he set us up with an account manager who opened our actual account, gave us tons of advice on bill paying, money changing and where not to buy toaster ovens. Then she gave us her home number and insisted we call her any time day or night if anything in life gets to be too overwhelming. What was overwhelming to me today was the realization that for all my enthusiasm and exuberance I have turned into the pregnant and shmata-wearing version of the prototypical dumb blonde. All I do as my husband carries on in Hebrew with postal workers, health clinic secretaries and bank officials is sit quietly and smile my prettiest smile. I’m getting quite good at it but it’s more than a little frustrating. Ulpan registration begins in September – let’s see how much Hebrew instruction I can get under my belt before I give birth and my 3 year old comes home from gan speaking to me in Hebrew.

am i israeli yet? i fried shnitzle before i drank my coffee this morning and two of my kids are wearing crocs (with socks) to shul. shabbat shalom!

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