Thursday, August 13, 2009

swirling thoughts #8 - man jobs, GPS, and the dream of a good night's sleep

You know you’re in Israel when…
We pulled into a pay parking lot at the beach in Tel Aviv a couple weeks ago. The man told us to pay 20 shekel. Bob asked, “Should I pay now or when I leave?” The answer, “Until Moshiach, pay first.”

About 2 weeks before we left Brooklyn, someone from Jennifer Convertibles called to ask me when we would receive our bill of lading from the shipping company – something they need for their bookkeeping since we did not pay sales tax on our new camel colored leather sofas, which were shipped directly to a warehouse in anticipation of a transatlantic boat ride. I told him to call the (Israeli-run) moving company which administers the warehouse and speak to them about it. He said, “I did! A lady answered the phone and when I asked her, she started yelling at me in Hebrew!” I laughed and told him, “Welcome to the rest of my life.”

While Bob was in the States a couple weeks ago he put me in charge of a few small tasks. Take a particular car we were thinking of buying for an inspection, hire a painter to paint the bedrooms of our new house, and take care of the broken washing machine in the house we were living in at the time. “These are MAN JOBS” I complained to no one in particular and then set forth to accomplish them, best as I could. (For the record, when I called home tonight to ask Bob to put up some noodles for Barbara’s dinner he asked if there were any easier dinner he could make).

So I went to “Test Line” in Givat Shaul where they do not speak English but they do inspect the car you are thinking of purchasing and give you a thorough analysis of what’s wrong with it. The analysis comes in the form of a sit-down conference to review several pages of bullet points about the car. In my case, the analysis included a follow up phone call the next day (in Hebrew) with some more of the tester’s personal opinions on whether or not this particular car would work for me. Cross one job off my list. Next – the painter. I hired the painter recommended to me by a friend. In American English we discussed the fact that I wanted the bedrooms painted white. He gave me a price and I gave him the green light to paint the day before we were to move in. Bob returned from the States. The washer was fixed, we’d decided about the car and the painter was starting two days later.

When we finally got into the house and decided the rest of it also needed painting it became apparent that maybe we’d hired too expensive a painter for the bedroom job (there wasn’t much left over in the painting budget). We checked out the work of another (cheaper) painter but were very unimpressed. After a sleepless night Bob awoke this morning with a declaration. “I, myself, will paint the house.” I left early in the morning to take the kids to camp and then for some important beauty appointments in Jerusalem. I felt they were important, anyway.

bob tried his hand at painting this morning. he's back to lawyering now. if you see him in BK next week, please do ask him to come paint one quarter of one of your walls. :)

Meanwhile, Bob tremped to the hardware store, purchased drop cloths, paint brushes, a roller, a thingy for the roller to sit in, some painter’s tape and some paint. He tremped home and (I could not have made this one up) was picked up by the guy who painted the bedrooms. The painter dropped him home and wished him well. When I returned from Jerusalem I found a defeated and deflated paint covered Bob sitting on a plastic chair in the living room. One fourth of one wall was painted to perfection. It had taken 3 hours. Bob’s painting career had lasted 3 hours. The painting supplies were now in the garbage. As I left with the kids to Mini Israel in Latrun he called after me – “I think I will call the bedroom painting guy to finish the house.”

Everyone needs a GPS
Before we left Brooklyn people would ask – “You’re not afraid to drive in Israel? Do you have a GPS?” Bob would wrap an arm around me, give me a pat, and say, proudly, “Lisa is my GPS.” My sense of direction is great (at least compared with Bob’s – he has trouble with multiple entrances and exits in a square parking lot – I tell him nobody can be perfect at everything). Asher inherited my sense of direction and together we are a great team. If I lose my bearings, Asher is my GPS.

The ride to Latrun should have been simple…
I did not even consult a map. We see the sign for Latrun every time we drive to the airport. And so it went today. There is a sign for Latrun. It says, “Latrun – 3km”. After that, nothing. The next exchange is Route 3 toward Be’er Sheva and someplace else (NOT Latrun). There is nothing at all about Latrun on the exit sign. And so we continued until it was painfully obvious the next stop would be the airport. With my friend on the phone translating directions from where we were to our destination, Mini Israel, I made my way closer and closer without ever having to turn around and go back the way I had come. So for the first time in a long time (here comes the foreshadowing), I had completely lost my bearings. On a winding country rode we passed several turnoffs that were clearly not Latrun and then we hit something called Latrun Chariots. I quickly called my friend. “Yes! Latrun Chariots! You are going the right way.” I took that to mean, ‘make the turn’. For some reason, the parade of police trucks making the turn ahead of me didn’t seem odd. I waited a good 5 minutes for about 40 trucks to turn, then made the turn myself to bring up the rear of the police truck parade. I wondered if it was some sort of a drill or maybe a funeral procession. Or maybe really a parade. At one point the last truck in the parade called something out to me in Hebrew and I just answered him, “Mini Israel?” He nodded and we all continued.

Now I mentioned earlier we are renting a station wagon from a rabbi. It is not new and it is, by no means, an off-road vehicle. Well, don’t tell the rabbi but today I tested the off-road capabilities of his Honda Stream. We followed this police parade for more than 20 minutes on dirt and gravel roads through wheat fields and groves of almond trees. At some point in our low-speed (but totally nerve-wracking) off-road adventure, Bob called me. He was sitting with the painter and did I remember what color the couch was that we ordered from Jennifer. "CAMEL!" I shouted into the phone, barely breathing. He asked if I could be more specific. "THE EXACT SAME COLOR AS A REAL LIVE CAMEL!" was the best I could offer and then I hung up. Finally one of the police trucks stopped and I was told I would not be able to pass. I said, “No problem – I will follow you to Mini Israel” at which point they told me they were NOT GOING TO MINI ISRAEL and that I needed to turn around, make my way to the main road, make a right and drive (yashar, yashar, yashar) until I saw a sign for Mini Israel. Somehow during the 20 minute parade ride I did not take notice of which dirt paths we were following. With my son navigating based on our proximity to a cell phone tower he’d noticed earlier we made it out of the groves and fields in just 10 minutes. Ten more minutes of me holding my breath.

We went, we saw and now it’s dark – how will we get home?
We followed the signs toward Jerusalem and made a decision to drive through Jerusalem in order to avoid the winding road between Bet Shemesh and Efrat since I don’t like driving at night to begin with. I figured it would be a snap – lots of straight and well-lit roads. Ha! I forgot about the curvy hills (curvy up hills and curvy down hills) on the road into Jerusalem. Again I was breathless, trying to move fast enough for the cars behind me on the up hills and then, on the down hills, shocked at how quickly traffic moved from 80 kph to completely stopped. We entered Jerusalem and for the second time in a week I found myself in Givat Shaul. We passed “Test Line” and I resolved to simply follow signs until I had my bearings but, alas, I had none. For nearly an hour we drove around trying to make our way to Gilo. Evidently my GPS-like sense of direction works only in the daytime.

The baby is kicking, the beds are jiggling. I just want to sleep.
Another important Hebrew word I recently learned was B’haryon – pregnant. I no longer had to describe myself as someone with a “tinoket bifnim” (baby inside). This was sort of exciting, especially given the circumstance – depending on how pregnant you are (there IS such a thing as just a little bit pregnant in Israel!), you get to enter Kiftzuba – a kids’ recreation park – free of charge. That’s something like a 60 shekel savings. My kids are jumping, the baby is kicking, I’m relaxing with an iced coffee. Life is good – but I am so very tired.

For the first month we were in Israel we rented a fully furnished house. Given that our “real” house wasn’t ready and our lift was still at sea, it was a tremendous convenience. The location was great – central and next to a park – and the bajillions of stairs actually served to keep us fit as we collectively ingested more borekas, pizza, ice cream and iced coffee than any family should in a four-week period. So fit, in fact, that both my husband and my daughter commented on how nicely I am carrying this pregnancy. I haven’t gotten a comment like that…. well, EVER. Even the baby seems fit – all day long kicking AND punching (might have something to do with all that iced coffee…). So for a change, though I am huge, I am firm and not jiggling.

The water bed in the furnished house was a completely different story. It was jiggly and wavy and everything a six year old wants in life, NOTHING a pregnant lady is looking for. For one month I waved, jiggled and rolled each night away. With children and hubby climbing in and out of the bed causing rolling waves to push me right over the side and onto the floor I was actually looking forward to the period of time to be spent on air mattresses on the floor of our new house.

Now that time has come and I must say, I am re-evaluating my position.
When I came home from Latrun, after listening to my kids crying in the car for a full hour, “Just call daddy to come find us! We want to sleep!” I, myself felt like crying. “I just want to sleep!!!” It’s been 41 nights since I’ve slept in a normal bed. As I roll off the air mattress each night in my sleep I am certain I have been dreaming about sleeping.

No comments:

Post a Comment