So an ant, a rabbit, a pig, a nightingale and a dove walk into a room for rent…
This post in so many ways has a lot to do with progress. So we’re at the end of Ulpan: today was my final exam (and it was REALLY REALLY HARD). It’s incredible to me that 6+ weeks have passed…the amount of time I have left to be here has been reduced to the much less intimidating number 3 1/2 months. Classes are starting a week from today, after the Rosh Hashana break. But I really have a hard time with endings. This trip is a way for me to challenge my expectations of myself, my boundaries and comfort zone. Despite the honest fact that during these six weeks I have struggled to win the confidence to speak and am only beginning to understand snatches of conversation (being monolingual, it’s a slow process), Ulpan has been an extremely helpful and large step forward. I came here and I was like a walnut. Yes, a walnut. Ilana my teacher has cracked open my shell, and though I’m not fully out of it, I’m peeking through, and that’s no small feat. Despite being miserably exhausted almost every day in Ulpan, I feel that she made it a very supportive and safe space to learn, and I am sad to see that go. I wish I were progressing (להתקדם TAKE THAT SIX WEEKS OF ULPAN) faster but perhaps part of life is realizing that you don’t always adapt to new spaces, places, challenges and areas of study as quickly as you’d like. And by you I mean me.
Let me be depressing for a moment before writing about the piñata of awesome the last two weeks have nevertheless been. I’ve been dealing with some shitty medical problems since Day 1 that have only intensified, and with which I’m trying to find some peace and acceptance. For the first 3-4 weeks here, my stomach barely cooperated. About 3 weeks ago I developed an allergic reaction that I think started with an unfamiliar soap but which was maybe irritated by heat and stress. After going to the on-campus clinic a few times (which ended up being way less intimidating than I feared, though the doctor speaks only Hebrew and Russian) and taking a blood test, they were unable to tell me what the rash (by that time mostly cured by some steroidal pills) was caused by, but they did tell me that my iron count is really low. “You’re anemic!” Yep, been that way for years but apparently I am not taking very good care of myself. I have felt tired for the entire trip so far but daily functioning without frequent naps had been getting difficult the last few weeks; now I have an answer. Despite the fact that taking my iron pills should have been a bigger priority earlier, I have become extremely frustrated: with the doctors, with myself, with my health, with learning Hebrew, with everything. It’s been non-stop and I had just been starting to feel a bit more comfortable when this occurred, just to feel knocked down a notch, to lament that my energy could be being spent so much more effectively, like devoting my time and attention to studying and learning Hebrew hardcore instead of sleeping. My madricha Sarah (HI!) gave me some food for thought when she said it’s easy to blame everything around us rather than focusing on the real root of matters, namely your perspective on happenings and the way you choose to react to them. I think it’s important to acknowledge that my anemia is not something I did to myself by being irresponsible at the same time that I get to choose (at least to a decent extent) my mood and my drive during the day. SO THANKS SARAH. =)
Another lesson learned is that when I get back to NYC the love of my life, I am going to turn my default laziness around and do all of the activities I’ve been putting off, because life is way too short
to do your homework to not be self-motivated to improve yourself and have positive and meaningful life experiences.
Anyway, the temporary conclusion is that I’m still a bit itchy and going to the doctor in Jerusalem tomorrow. It’s all about the experience, right? =P
FUN TIMES! If you don’t understand the title of this post, you are probably American (and not one that was in my Ulpan class). Hee hee. It’s a joke on a children’s story (דירה להשכיר) by the amazing, late Israeli poetess Lea Goldberg. Here’s us performing it in class!
I also finally got to go to a dance bar! Sidenote: I found a new fave beer, Leffe Braun, to compete with my love of Sam Adams.
On another note, ISRAEL HAS BEEN RUINING MY SHOES. God Israel. But I’m excited to invest in some Naot Teva, a great Israeli brand.
Last Friday was fantastic.
I spent the morning sleeping in and catching up on some DNC/RNC videos (though I’ve yet to see Bill Clinton’s speech!). Then I headed off to Maimon Spices in the BIG center, about which some tipster (Adi =]) told me I can find gourmet coffee beans there. It did not disappoint. Like for real this store is my new best friend. I also have a life.
Then I made my way to DraftBar, an awesome pub I hope to return to at nighttime, for FASHBASH, a showing of original Israeli designs of clothing, bags and jewelry…
I made two purchases (a pair of earrings shaped somewhat like calla lilies with a pearl in the center, and a sexaaay blue long-sleeved romper) and will re-update this post when I have the photos of me modeling them =)
I bought the romper from a really awesome lady named Lital who designs her own brand, Isidora Anne. In case you’re interested…
I returned to the Meonot for a fantastic Shabbat dinner with Shoshana, Doug, Vishna, Zoe and Zoe’s friend Tal.
Afterwards, I called it a night and then spent the entire Saturday prepping for my 20min Hebrew presentation, which I think I nailed wooo.
Also this week I got my tragus piercing which I am irrationally and disproportionately excited about! סוף סוף! (Finally!) And I can always remember that I got it here in Beersheba, by a dude named Avi who was so pleased to have our business that he rushed through (don’t worry, he did a very good job actually) my tragus and Nisha and Zoe’s helix piercings – while I tried to look like a concerned, dissatisfied American, which does not work in a country where customer service is barely a priority – saying to me afterwards, “We hope you like your piercing; if you don’t, it’s your problem!” When I asked if he sterilized his needles or used new ones he told me that he bought used ones from Beit Cholim Soroka (hospital) across the street from BGU. Sir, I do not understand your sarcasm delivered in a heavy accent. Ah, the Israeli way.
Some things I’ve been eating/making as I finally grew the ovaries to legit cook:
Actually, this was super controversial: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4276987,00.html
The wine fest was scheduled to take place right outside a mosque that was “confiscated,” so to speak, by the local government. Muslims litigated, wanting to reopen it to practice there, but the courts ruled against them, in favor of making it a museum I believe. Though the wine fest has taken place here for six years, this recent contentious decision must have renewed anger. They did move it a bit further from the Islamic site but held it despite threats of a terrorist attack.