Friday, September 11, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #33 – yareach devash

When Bob and I got married we honeymooned in Israel. Every hotel we checked into, he was sure to let them know it was our “yareach devash” (literally, moon of honey). We were treated to bottles of champagne, platters of dried fruit, baskets of fresh fruit and even plates of cake. Sometimes there were room upgrades. In the Dead Sea we wondered where they would put Bill Clinton if he happened to show up during our stay since we were clearly in the presidential suite. But, alas, the honeymoon finished. We got back to Brooklyn and got started on real life.

My honeymoon with Mai Eden ended the day I actually placed my order. Up until that time the English-speaking sales rep pursued me in a way that made me feel special. Important. Really wanted and appreciated. Loved even.

My elusive English-speaking Mai Eden service rep…
“Vladimir from the water” called me tonight. Twice. From his private (read: blocked) Mai Eden number. On my cell phone. Where I have no reception inside my house. And so we got as far as, “Hello, this is Vladimir. From the water.” Twice. Even this is progress. How did we get even this far? A little background is in order:

I had no koach (strength) to fight Mai Eden about the 400 shekels they billed my CapitalOne Card without ever sending a bill or explanation. But I called them anyway. And in a fatigued daze I navigated through six rounds of menu options in Hebrew. Every time I heard a word like Sherut (service, I think) or Heshbone (bill, I’m sure) I would press the number. When I heard Automatica I DID NOT press the number. For all I know it was one menu and I was listening to the same 3 options for 10 minutes but I’m pretty sure it was how I’m telling it. So I got to the Sherut Heshbone lady and we established who I was (shem shell ach – your name?), and when I didn’t know what she was asking I just gave her my phone number. I gave my house number. Three times. And then my cell. And then it came – some recognition – Lisa M---? Zeghrubavel Arghba? Nachon!! I asked her if oo-lye (maybe) they have someone who can speak to me in English. She stayed with me so I guess the answer was no. But I was on a roll. We established more. I have my heshbone. I have a baya (problem) with my heshbone. Baya Gedola (big problem). She’s with me. I keep going. I received water twice. Sheva bachbookim (seven bottles)? Ken! Sheva bachbookim! And now for the baya…the 400 shekel charge (7 bachbookim should cost 168 shekels). Overly confident, I pose my question: “LAMA HA HESHBON BESHVIEL ARBA MAOT SHEKELIM???” At this point she launches into a detailed explanation of my bill at which time the communication breaks down completely and I humbly repeat my request to have someone who speaks English call me back. She sees my limitation and agrees. And so, since yesterday morning, I have been anxiously awaiting the call from Vladimir from the water.

The honeymoon doesn’t last forever.
Or so they say. My friend in Brooklyn told me – just wait. Wait til they start school. Til they walk in the door at 1pm. Til they’ve got homework. YOU’LL see, she told me. YOU’LL see…

Just the other day I was speaking to someone who’s lived here some 20 years. She lives in a neighborhood which is literally a stone’s throw (no pun intended) from Bet Lehem. I asked her if she hears the early minyan – ha ha – the call to prayer and the ensuing prayers come at about 4am but sometimes as early as 3:30. She said it’s so loud she can hear every word. It’s the middle of the night! It’s like noise pollution! I mentioned that I hear it sometimes, depending on the wind. I also mentioned about the donkey braying that wakes me and the kids each morning at 6:45. I said something about the sounds adding to the flavor of the place. She smiled and said it’s all still romantic and new to me. The honeymoon will finish. I will want to sleep at night and not be woken up by donkeys in the morning. She said it with a lot of confidence. Lucky for me I’m a heavy sleeper. And I still don’t mind the donkey. So long as he stays down wind.

Before Asher was born I felt like me and my firstborn, Barbara were on a honeymoon. She used to wake me up earlier than the braying donkey – at about 5:30 am. Ready to start her day. So we would go downstairs and watch Barney and snuggle on the couch. It was dreamy. She was so sweet and loving. And then Asher was born. And the honeymoon ended. At his first checkup I asked the doctor to please check Barbara. Something has happened to her, I told him. She must be sick. She checked out fine and I insisted he check her again. “What are her symptoms again?” he asked. She’s impossible! She’s not the same child! He looked at me and smiled. “What did you expect?” he asked, nodding toward Asher. “You’ve ruined her life!” Now Rosie snuggles into my bed each morning. She rubs my face and tells me "I love you soooo much mommy!" Yesterday she looked at me adoringly and asked me to set up her Jumpaline. I explained I couldn’t do it alone – I need to wait for Aba to come help me. She looked at me with love and said, “But you’re my mommy! Mommy’s can do everything! I love you soooo much Mommy!” I can hear the clock ticking as we count down the weeks to the end of this honeymoon.

Am I in Israel or at a Dead Show?
A friend of mine who made aliya some 9 years ago recently posted a funny blog about trempers (hitchhikers) along with a suggested "Tremping Ettiquette Guide". She got a ton of feedback - mostly about smelly trempers. It's funny, the day we arrived in Israel last summer Bob and I spent the day with the kids in the car picking up trempers and delivering them to their destination. We were running a free taxi service for the fun of meeting new people and getting to know the neighborhoods and local yishuvim. He's never said as much but I believe one of Bob's thrills when going into Jerusalem is loading up the car with trempers. Last week when we found ourselves in Jerusalem with errands still to run and no time left before the kids got home from school, Bob dropped me at the Gilo trempiada and I tremped home to be there before the kids. To us the tremping (giving and receiving tremps) has been novel and fun. And then yesterday the kids and I picked up the dreaded smelly tremper. We drove him exactly 4 minutes down the road to his destination and then, as we pulled away, opened every window in Uplander. Normally I'm careful to drive with the windows closed on Route 60 and the kids know it. They couldn't believe their eyes! Picking up tremps is a part of life here. But it's no longer romantic and new.


  1. Fun to have my blog mentioned in another! Congratulations on being official Israelis now that you have had a smelly tremper! :-)

  2. today i was late for kug carpool and as i whizzed by a bunch of trempers i was thinking i'd like to have a slot on top of my car like a nyc cab driver that could i could use to announce my status. for example: carpooling; running late; car filled with groceries and seats are all down; and the most necessary - i have to pass the zayit trempiada on my way to my street so i'm always gesturing that i'm about to turn left (i know no one believes me) - so i need one that reads, "i live on zerubavel"