Monday, May 3, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #136 – where’s a good bonfire when you need one and who’s blocking traffic?

I may plan my next visit to America to coincide with Lag B'Omer...
I have survived my first Lag B’Omer in Israel though it forced me to suppress every parenting instinct in my being. Let me set the stage. In a half block strip of the deserted end of the next street over, there were 8 fires going at once. 3 of them were, more or less, manned by grown-ups.

When my 10-year old daughter and her friends called over to see if any grown-ups could light their bonfire the question became “whose dad will supervise the girls’ fire?” I mean, that was my question. Their question, again, was CAN SOMEONE PLEASE COME LIGHT THIS THING? I sent Bob. To light and to supervise.

As I set about roasting hot dogs and marshmallows for the family I kept a nervous eye on the distance between little fingers and flaming marshmallows as I noticed most sticks the kids were using were foot-long shish kabob skewers. Except for one little 4-year old girl who wanted to roast her hot dog on a popsicle stick. As I delivered her to her parents in hysterical tears I wondered about air fare to New York this time of year.

At some point things (and I) calmed down. The campfire, the singing, the snuggling and the atmosphere - it really was amazing. Absurd and ridiculous. But also amazing.

Will I return next year? It's a question of which prospect shortens my breath with more anxiety - supervising my kids (including a one and a half year old toddler) as they hop between raging bonfires or supervising my kids (including a one and a half year old toddler) on a 12 hour international flight. My breath is already shortening with anxiety.

Sometimes it's like camping even when you're INSIDE your house
Obviously I am on the internet but, like my electricity, my connection is not always so reliable. Did I mention we spent Shabbat in cozy darkness for more than an hour 2 weeks ago? And by cozy darkness I mean blackness, inside and out. No light until Bethlehem. And so, while some people are suing the electric company, others have signed on to a petition to improve the internet connection on Rehov Zerubavel (priorities!). And guess what - soon my ‘high speed internet’ will actually become high speed. I know this to be true because of the cobblestones and street that were so carefully dug up and then replaced this week (see photo) in the middle of the road that runs through Efrat. Every time we drove by (or sat as traffic was waved around the work site) Bob would say:
You see that? That’s high speed internet for Zerubavel, baby!
I can’t wait!

What else is blocking traffic? Don't beep - he's backing in!
Israeli drivers love to find their perfect parking space and then back into it. Even when backing in is not required. Even when backing in is not convenient. Even when they will block traffic in two directions on a major roadway in order to position their car in such a way that, should they have to leave in a hurry, they can do so. A nation of minute-men, if you will. And they respect the ‘back-in parking’. Israeli drivers, not especially known for their patience, will, in fact, wait patiently for someone who is blocking traffic in two directions on a major roadway IF said person is in the process of backing their car into a parking spot. I speak from my very own (shocked) experience!

Somehow I stumbled on this chat page of engineers arguing the merits of front-in vs. back-in parking. It is refreshingly hilarious if you keep “Israeli drivers” in the back of your mind while reading through it:

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