Friday, June 30, 2006

sick, sick, sick

Short blog today because I don't have much time, but it looks like my luggage finally showed up although I don't have it in hand today. Yesterday we went to the dead sea. We drove throught the desert which was cool scenery though not sandy like when you see the Sahara in movies with the dunes and the sand blowing around. It was kind of mountainy but all brown and not much growing there. We saw ibex which are like, goats with long horns curving back, and the kids rode a camel, and there were Beduines, which are nomads that live in the desert, riding donkeys with head wraps and living in makeshift shacks and herding sheep. We also saw remnants from tanks that were left behind from the war of 67. At the dead sea the weather was hot, the water was hot, everything was hot! But it was cool how you floated your legs just plopped up without trying, you could just lay there for hours and be held up by the water. Boy it made your hangnails burn though! We all covered ourselves with the mineral-rich mud from head to toe, it was gross. Overall it was a cool experience, there were people there from all over the world, I heard german, australian accents, americans, etc.

Today my cousin's husband, who owns his own hair salon, cut my hair and it looks cool. It was terrifying because he layered it and I saw all this hair flying and I thought, oh god this is going to be awful. I kept telling myself don't freak out, hair grows back... But ba sof, (in the end), I really like it! Hopefully it will also look good tomorrow when I style it myself... On Sunday he wants to put highlights in. Then I went to my cousins house to try on clothes to wear to the party this evening since I don't have my luggage. So, I will get a picture and try to post it to the blog if my brother complies! I am exhausted now because I'm sick, I don't remember the last time I was sick its been so long, but of course I have to get sick on vacation. Blah. Anyway, more later, gotta get ready for Cody's suprise bar-mitzvah party which is going to be in Tel Aviv overlooking the ocean. I hope he likes suprises!! :-O

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

blue jellyfish

spent all day yesterday at the beach playing paddle ball, drinking mochiatto, eating hummus, and chilling. It was nice, the water was bath-warm and clear enough to see the freaking monsterous blue jellyfish floating about. Cool but scary. I wouldn't go in past my ankles because of it. Anyway, nice, nice, very nice. They have these cafes on the beach with chairs and tables facing the water, if you order something there, even a cup of coffee, you can sit there all day lounging under an umbrella staring at the sea. We played a game which appparantly is indigenous to this area which is basically hitting a little rubber ball back and forth between 2 paddles on the beach. fun :)

Today my father took the kids for the day to visit with his sister and parents, and my cousins and brother and I went to Tel Aviv, the biggest city in Israel, to walk around, shop, drink coffees, meet friends (of thiers) eat, etc. It was fun but I am getting a sore throat and my brother is also somewhat sick now. So, we walked, talked, I brushed up on my hebrew skills which are suprisingly passable, by which I mean, I can basically communicate although I probably sound like a stupid foreigner. Luckily they all speak English more or less too, so if I have to substitute a word here or there I'm still understood. They also have menus in english if you ask. The lady working at a popular clothing store, Castro, said she was shocked to hear me speak in english because I look just like an Israeli, from the clothes down to the tattoos. I mean she acted really suprised. I am wearing my new clothes which I bought at Castro so, that prob had something to do with it.

Here's what I learned today: There are less rules here. You can do a lot of stuff without fear of the cops getting on you, for example people were riding their motorcycles on the sidewalk, between cars, etc., my cousin parked on the sidewalk while waiting for my brother to run into a store, etc. Also, people here are friendlier. My cousin says she would never move to America because people there are kind of - cold, and polite, and distant, often not even knowing their next door neighbors, whereas here, people are warmer, its easier to make friends, you can just call someone and drop by, you don't have to call ahead and make an appointment, or before 8:30 pm or whatever. They also said its the best for raising kids, they are super social here, running around the streets, 5 friends dropping by and asking if they can stay the night, and of course they can, none of this calling and making arangements days in advance, you take your kids to your friends house if you have to go somewhere, and vice versa, anyway I don't know if they are or not but it sounded like they were trying to coerce me into moving here! I ate a new fruit today, leechee? when you peel it it looks like an eyeball. but is good! I think its an asian fruit. Also at a cafe ate cut up watermelon with Bulgarian cheese. wack! Anyway, must go to bed now, I am exhausted from all of the walking and eating and meeting people. Must wake up at 6:30 am to go to the Dead Sea tomorrow, we rented a minibus so everyone could ride together, how wierd is that! Anyway, lehitraot!

hot hot heat

What a good feeling to wake up and put on my new clothes and not have to walk around looking like a dork. In white short sleeved collared shirt with an open V-neck and army green pants that gather at the bottom (out of respect you can't wear skimpy things to holy areas so no shorts or tank tops) we got in the car for the hour-long drive to Jerusalem. It was cool looking, but frankly I can’t enjoy even the coolest thing when I am hot and miserable. It was sweltering, the sun was supernova bright and beating down mercilessly, and I kept repeating the obvious, an annoying thing I tend to do when I’m miserable. It goes something like this: “Its so hot” (duh) ...5 minutes later… “Man is it hot.” (thank you observo, master of the obvious)

So we went to the wailing wall, also called the ‘kotel’ – it’s the one remaining wall from some holy destroyed temple where people go to pray and write notes that contain prayers or wishes and shove them into the cracks of the wall like notes to god. Its separated so there is a (large) side for men only, and a tiny section for women. Many of the places you had to go through a metal detector and they would look through your bag. There was that golden dome you always see in the pictures of Jerusalem that is part of a holy Muslim mosque, and winding alleyways of markets selling shiny trinkets, swords, hookahs, and cloths of every color like you would see in Aladdin or Indiana Jones. It was way cool but, again, impossible to enjoy due to the heat. Unfortunately due to violence, many of the cool things to see were off limits. I didn’t start feeling normal again until we were half way home in the air-conditioned car. So due to the stress of the heat combined with the whole family thing and trying to travel with too many people, today didn’t feel very vacation-like. We did have a delicious meal of hummus, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms roasted in olive oil and herbs, etc. at least. One thing I noticed is there are a LOT of beautiful women here. Like in America you walk around and maybe one in 25 women is pretty. Here it’s more like, 1 in 3. Also most people here are skinny. So, the question my brother raised is, are they genetically superior to Americans or do the ugly ones just stay home?

Then my bro, kids and aunt went to the part of the city that’s just up the street from my aunts house, all new chic restaurants and clubs, and ate malawa, a flaky round flat bread which is a lot like paratha, delicious, another thing called f----something with an f, that is like a long skinny brown bread-like thing that you dip in this spicy tomato puree, yummm, and then for desert something called fatoot, which I think is made from malawa but small pieces and in a sweet form, like with chocolate or in our case, honey, cinnamon, coconut, and raisins. Sounds weird but was delicious. The end! Oh yeah still no luggage! >:(

Oh yeah scary moment when I heard what I thought was a gun battle in the street below, but was just fireworks from a wedding! I guess I'm a *little* jumpy!

disconcerting news

this morning in the news, Israeli forces are gathering at the Gaza strip in preparation for retailation for an attack by Hammas that left a couple of Israeli soldiers dead and another one kidnapped. Hammas demands release of all women and under 18 prisoners in exchange for information about the condition of the kidnapped soldier. I'm sure this will have no effect on our trip but in general its a bit concerning...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Day 3

Well still no luggage and I spent the day in public in pastel blue and green skin-tight clothes that look like something you would wear to do yoga. So, we finally broke down and went shopping. My cousin took the lead but unfortunately since he is so metro-sexual he has very expensive taste in clothes and selected the stores accordingly. Even so, it was almost worth it because he was totally patient and watched me try on clothes and parade them out and told me what to buy or not to buy with seemingly limitless patience.

My math is not so good so the exchange rate is a bit confusing (divide by 4.5) and I ended up spending kind of a lot. But, whatever, I needed something to wear! Anyway, I felt better about what I spent after I saw that he spent $500 (no exaggeration!) on clothes and jewelry for his girlfriend back in Florida, in addition to what he bought himself! Also, the airline may reimburse me for some of that, although it could only be like $70. By tomorrow it will have been 4 days since I have been here with no luggage!!

After shopping and mediocre falafel, we went and did the family thing at my cousin’s phat pad, we ordered pizza (boring) and hung out, talked, I played with my cousin’s youngest, they didn’t have the A.C. on and it was muggy as hell. Finally we left, splitting up so that the kids went home to bed with my mother and my aunt and uncle took my brother and I to Jaffa and Tel Aviv, the biggest city in Israel. Anyway Jaffa was way cool. So far Israel has looked kind of crappy and old but not cool and historic, but Jaffa is all old school like something you would see in ‘the ten commandments’ or something. Actually while going down the cobblestone stairs in one alleyway that we walked through with some sort of, I dunno, Arabic music or something playing from one of the buildings, it reminded me of the mini morocco at epcot center. Pretty cool. There were stray cats and kittens everywhere, which somehow added to the ambience. It was right on the ocean, we walked by some archaeological dig areas; apparently Arabs and Jews live side by side there. Anyway it was the coolest place I’ve seen so far, a city right on the ocean with the waves crashing along the shore below. I am ACHING for a camera but am told they cost like a hundred dollars more here so I am not buying one. So many cool pictures I could have taken! It’s literally killing me! I tried to use my brother’s camera but it is crap.
I also want to call my sweetie pie but everyone is sleeping and there’s some sort of country code you have to dial to call over seas and I don’t know what it is! So until tomorrow when I can ask, email will have to suffice.

Tomorrow we are going to Jerusalem.

Second Day

Still no luggage! They delivered 4 pieces of luggage this morning, none of which were mine. I am in a complete panic since I packed everything I own and will need a whole new wardrobe if they don’t find it! I slept like 12 hours straight while the grandmothers took the grandchildren to the beach. The coffee here is fantastic and I attempted to watch Hero in Chinese with Hebrew subtitles. Didn’t really work, obviously! I am feeling disconnected because I can’t just pick up the phone and call people (at $2.99 a minute!) so it’s sort of like when you lose your cell phone for a day, that lost limb feeling. So, we went to visit the grandparents/great grandparents, boring but important, I'm sure they won't be around much longer. The land their house is on is worth a million dollars, as it is in the most expensive and safe neighborhood around. Did you know that you could drive across this entire country in 10 hours? There is a lot of that ‘eat more’ thing going on with people offering you food constantly. The good part is, everything I have eaten here so far is good. The vegetables and fruits themselves just taste better then than their American counterparts. Who knew cucumber (melafefone) tasted so good?

Anyway then my brother and I went to my cousin’s apartment to watch the soccer game. Her house is the bomb. I love it. 2 stories, the top story is a giant rooftop deck with grill and kitchen perfect for parties. Downstairs everything is high class and fancy, a deck overlooking the city like 20 stories high, with a glass and chrome curved wall. The weather is fantastic, way less hot then back home, which I find surprising. We ate Mediterranean style out on the deck with the breeze blowing in, toasted pita with melted cheese and tomato along with roasted eggplant spread, hummus, Mediterranean black olives, tahini, cheese with garlic and mint, fresh cherry tomatoes and cucumbers and mushrooms… delicious. Then my cousin, brother and er.. whatever my other cousin’s kid would be to me, 2nd cousin? 2nd nephew? Anyway, we went to this spot of bars right on the beach, it was nice, the sand here is silky not abrasive, and you sit in chairs right on the beach and have your drinks. I learned some slang terms in Hebrew, for example, ‘Sababa’ means cool, 'lapaneem' means like, the bomb, walla means ‘really?’ The music was all American music, bob marley, stp, etc, and the signs here are some in hebrew, some in english. Tomorrow, I have to go shopping, because I can’t spend another day here in my cousin’s sweatpants! Also I will never be allowed in the clubs this way. Casual dress here is like going-out clothes in America. No one wears just some sloppy t-shirt that says corona on it with some ratty shorts out in public. If anyone wants something special from here, they better tell me before I go shopping! Well , off to bed now, staying up until 3 am is not good for combating jet lag!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

whats the worst that could happen?

Packed all Wednesday night, slept 2 hrs and went in to work with the slim hope that my replacement keyboard for my laptop would come in before I had to leave for my flight. Amazingly, it did! For the next 2 hours I attempted to wrap everything up at work that I needed to while listening to my distraught supervisor vent about her boyfriend who told her he loved her and was talking about a future together, moving in together, etc, suddenly freaking out and saying he not only wants to put off moving in together, but actually wants to see other people, ‘cultivate friendships’ and concentrate on getting his PhD. Crushing. That is the dark side of relationships- almost always one party is ready to move on before the other one is. When you open yourself up to the immense joys of an intimate relationship, you also expose yourself to the danger of the worst most painful experiences of your life.

Anyway, lots of stress and 15 hours of travel (with screaming babies, very little sleep, and really bad movie options) later, we arrived to find (whats the worst thing that can happen? read ahead:) our luggage still in New York! Grand. They gave us some toiletry kits and sent us on our way, telling us that if we are lucky they may get it to us by tomorrow. So that sucks. But at the airport two aunts, an uncle, grandmother, and cousin were all there to greet us, and although exhausted, we all enjoyed a delicious Mediterranean feast and strong cups of Turkish espresso in tiny little espresso cups. My cousin is still as cocky as ever, in front of his own 90 yr old grandparents said that he just naturally has a fit body, that the only excercise he participates in is sex. Jake and his second cousin ‘Or’ which in English translates to Light (his brothers names are Thunder and Lightning) got along like long lost brothers despite the language barrier, and tomorrow morning we are off to the beach, which is less then 10 min away. Shalom!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

melzie visits

From left to right: Michelle, Melynda, Ciara, Cody, Me, Leah, Jake

Here is a snapshot* of my trip to the cheesecake factory last night when my friend of 15 years and former partner in crime Melzie came to visit me from SC. They were OUT OF PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS ~ my sole reason for ever going there. Alack. (is that a word?) anyway it was still good but I spent a fortune. She's going to get her masters... that makes me think, should I get my masters? Holding babies is fun. I miss her, I wish she lived closer! Not many people I can hang with as well as I can hang with her. She's the beavis to my butthead. And, a few hours a year to hang out together isn't enough! Especially with kids everywhere so no time for serious talking. *sigh* everybody leaves me! Oh to have all of my close friends as neighbors so we could hang out regularly and have coffee on the porch together. :( I haven't done any laundry or packed for my trip or even unpacked from my last trip. for godssake. I talked to my cousin, he says when we get to Israel we are going to party like its 1999. Yo, what the shnitzel (in the words of the Beastie Boys), I can't stop going to sleep at 2 am, I guess I am still on west coast time- well its only 1:28 so maybe I'll go now...


Monday, June 19, 2006

who needs a manual?!?

Just kidding actually I am working diligently trying to get as much done here as possible until Thursday when I'll be leaving on a jet plane... Case in point, it is after 6 and I am still here.

I left my thai lunch leftovers in V's car and have been crying about it all evening. :( WAH!

DO SEE: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
DON'T SEE: Bridget Jones Diary II

Friday, June 16, 2006

party's over

So, Vegas was great and even though it felt like a long enough trip, there was still so much we didn't have time to do, so I am starting to see why my friend has been there 5 times in 2 years!

First off, Vegas was not nearly as obnoxious as I thought it would be. Not all loud and clangy and crowded and in your face. An entire universe away from Atlantic City, which is gross. Everything was beautiful, slightly gaudy with the giant sphynx or statue of liberty, or golden lion out in front of the various hotels, but fun in that 'disney world for grown ups' sort of way. It was definitely a positive sensory experience, every hotel, restaurant, etc. was beautifully designed.

We got to see 2 shows, Ka and Love, which were both incredible productions. For Ka, we were in the fourth row center!!! There were people FLYING directly over our HEADS! It was just like being IN the story. Vertical battle scenes, fire-y arrows shooting through the air, fireworks, so cool! The best part is, everything was free! Well not the shows or anything but you get my drift. The food, the hotel, the flight...

The coolest thing about the trip was this: I so needed to get away, I haven't taken one vacation day yet this year and was starting to get very burnt out at work. Between the trip being free, and the cool design conference sessions I was able to attend (I got to meet Ze Frank!) and getting to go with V and have him all to myself for 5 days, and the suprize Beatles show that got me all choked up because it was such an awesome sweet thoughtful suprise and I loved it so much-- Vegas was such another universe that it really really felt like getting away. I didn't even want the plane ride back to end. Now I only have a week until I go to Israel - now THAT stresses me out!

Monday, June 12, 2006

viva las vegas

After a wonderfully direct flight across the country we arrived in Vegas at around noontime. On the way over, we were blessed with bright sunshine and cloudless skies and the pilot kindly informed us that we were about to fly over the Grand Canyon. It was amazing! I knew it was big (hence the name!) but, it was massive, even from however many miles above the earth we were flying. Unbeleivable. I know that people pay $350 for a helicoptor ride over the canyon but we got to see it for free. Sweet!

Since the conference didn't start until Monday, we had the afternoon and evening to ourselves, which we spent eating and napping and watching the NBA playoffs. V placed a bet on Dallas as the winner, they had to win by 5 points or more for him to double his money. He knew they weren't the favorite against Miami Heat with giant Shaq the bully and the amazing talent of Dwayne Wade but heard that Wade was still recovering from the flu and had a broken thumb bone. He didn't want to have to root for Miami anyway so he went with his heart (the worst way to gamble!) and they won! By a lot! Exciting.

Then V had a suprise for me, he had secretly bought tickets to the Cirque de Soleil show 'Love' which is Beatles theme and set to their music. I LOVED IT! It was probably the best show I have ever seen. I would change the sentiment 'All you need is love' to 'All you need is love, and music, and art' hehe. We had perfect seats, not too far and not too close. I wish I could describe the show but I know I wouldn't do it justice. It was so beautiful and creative and choreographed perfectly, and the lighting, and the costumes, all weird and yellow submarine-ish. The girls seating you were dressed in bobby cop costumes like from the 60's and the dudes were dressed like the queens guard. Everything was so well done, and weird, and wonderful. It was an awesome first day, and today the conference starts!

Friday, June 09, 2006

your friday slacker material

My hotel, the Luxor
To pass the time on a Friday when no one is working anyway but you are tired of looking at photos of your receptionists' cats or chit-chatting around the water cooler about the high gas prices, read these hilarious rants from 'Best of Craigs list'

Some of my favorites include 'Fuck you, chores' and 'To My Fellow Passengers'

Well, off to Vegas, SUCKAHS!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

"This is a message to all those who take violence as a path."

Violence in the name of ending violence? I guess so, and believe me I am not shedding any tears over the death of al-Zarqaqi, yet somehow the idea leaves a bad taste in my mouth, reminding me of the way I feel when I see a mother smack her child and say, 'don't hit'

I guess that sometimes violence is a neccessary choice, and dropping an A-bomb on an entire city to end a war can be considered the greater good for the greater number of people- I don't know that I have any other solutions but I do know that I don't like that one.

Joys and trials of parenthood-

The good:
J: I'm going to assasinate you!
Me: Wow, I must be a pretty important person! Usually they only call it an assasination if you kill someone really important, like the president.
J: You *are* a very important person, to me

Working together and throwing this and that into the blender to come up with an awfully delicious smoothie, one of the best I've ever made:
Fresh banannas and blueberries, frozen strawberries, frozen orange juice mix, vanilla yogurt, soymilk, and ice. mmmmmm it was perfect!

J is picked to be the lead in a song and dance routine to be preformed in honor of a retiring teacher, the only one with a solo
listening to him practice it and talk about how other kids watching him practice were saying, 'man, J's really good!'

The bad:
C picking a fight with me and remaining angry all evening and has to spend it alone in his room, even though he can't really communicate what I did to upset him, and knowing its probably all of those social and academic and parental pressures that cause your middle school and highschool years to be so emotionally tortuous. Feeling guilty knowing that I probably could have handled it better if I wasn't so drained from working all day.

The ugly:
I still sent J up with a smoothie for him- I'm a pushover

Ever wonder about Judaism's views on sex?

Monday, June 05, 2006

how to - get as little done as possible at work

i have uncovered a new resource for slacking.
Its called 'WikiHow'
Topics range from silly to useful. Some examples include:

How to How to Be a Good Parent
How to Dress Kinderwhore, Like Courtney Love
How to Teach a Dog to Tell You when He Wants to Go Outside
How to Ignore Valentine's Day without Getting Sent to the Dog House
How to Be a Supporting and Loving Stepmother
How to Make Water in the Desert

In other news, Vince Vaughn pitched a Speed Racer movie to the makers of the Matrix. Who does he want to play? You might ask. Oh yes, Racer X.
I'll want to see it so long as Tom Cruise isn't Speed.

This weekend I dropped a cast iron pan on my toe and felt like the looney tunes cartoons when someone drops an anvil on their big toe and the toe quadruples in size and turns bright red and throbs visibly and everyone laughs. I will never laugh again, oh no, this I promise you, Fred Flinstone.

Also at a family BBQ, I had a very sitcom moment when V's stepmother directly confronted us with the dreaded, 'So, when are you two getting married?' and wouldn't let up! I know that whenever I refer to TV like this: 'But on Friends, ______' the reaction I tend to get is, 'That's TV, not real life!' But to all of those naysayers, I have definitely seen the scenario I just described on several sitcoms!

Friday, June 02, 2006


Click here for an interactive fortune teller (from hell)

Tired of rock-paper-scissors the old-fashioned way? Ever have the urge to throw in something like, 'nuclear bomb' ? I know I have. But when I do, the game always turns crazy like, 'Rock-paper-scissors-POOP!' or 'Rock-paper-scissors-UGLY CHICK!' (of course I am playing with children!)
I'm all for creativity but, how do you know who won? Does paper beat poop? Does rock beat ugly chick? It all gets very confusing. Thankfully, some dude with way too much time on his hands has SOLVED THE DILEMMA!

Last night the non-stop popping and crackling electric rolling thunder sounded like the civil war was taking place at the inner harbor. Very unsettling.

Today in Catonsville while hugging goodbye along the road, someone yelled out, 'Get a room!' followed by someone else yelling out, 'Ah, just f@#K her right there!'

Nice, jackass.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I think its worth it...

I made this person !
All of the hassle, finding programs, filling out forms, getting doctor notes, paying fees, driving here and there, sitting around waiting for it to end, buying equipment, arguing with their dad about why I sign them up to programs that take place on 'his days' and now he has to drive them around and be hassled... Often its exhausting, but I think the long term and short term payoff is big.

I really think its good for them on so many levels, both athletically/physically, mentally, socially, etc. They say that kids involved in team sports are far less likely to get involved in drugs and hanging out with the wrong crowd. I think it raises their self esteem (the look on J's face when the owner of the Karate dojo said that he wants to put him on scholarship because he does his forms better then the red belts was priceless), keeps them in shape, makes them feel capable, gets them away from the computer/TV/playstation. Also, they look damn adorable in the little uniforms :P

Mainly, I am trying so hard to avoid making mistakes I think my parents made. Either they didn't know better, weren't pushy enough, or didn't have the resources, but I wasn't involved in any extra-curricular activities and I'm sure that played a part in all of the trouble I got myself into back then. I'm sure I'm making my own mistakes with them, and nothing guarantees they won't turn into monsters upon hitting puberty, and that, like everyone else, my kids will attribute their failings to my bad parenting and their successes 'in spite' of having me as a mother, but if I can somehow keep them on the right track I'll at least personally feel like I've done an OK job. Phew, parenting is hard, and annoying, and expensive, and wonderful, and rewarding! I hope I'm doing alright!