June 24, 2013

Why can't every weekend be like this?

The way every day should end...
In the last two weeks the weather here in Tel Aviv has shifted from "summer" to "I'm melting."
Which basically means that you sweat standing still in the shade at 8am.
So, to beat the heat and mark the arrival of real summer in Israel...
we went camping on the beach last weekend.

The tent city.

I have to say, Israelis just get how to do summer.
After a quick drive to less-crowded beaches north of Tel Aviv, Itzik and his man-friends took less than 30 min to set up a large common tent, a kitchen, a small tent city, and the relaxing began.

Not bad for the first thing you see when you wake up on a Saturday morning...

Waitin' for Mom to wake up.
We spent Friday night and Saturday grilling, drinking, swimming, drinking, eating, drinking...you get it.
It never ceases to amaze me how remarkably peaceful it is if you just get a stone's throw outside of Tel Aviv.
Steak, drinks, bonfires, friends, soft sand, and the Mediterranean Sea...
this is summer done right.

June 16, 2013

I'm obsessed with my dad.

There are few relationships more special than that of a father and daughter.
I tried to write something which accurately captured just how important and special my dad is to me
but nothing really seemed right-
 there aren't words true or unique or beautiful enough.


You're my best friend, a tough teacher, 
and a living example of what it means to do your best 
and love with everything you've got. 
Thanks for your sense of humor, for your forgiveness, for your unwavering belief in me.
You are everything to me.
I miss you every day I'm not with you
 and I love you more than you'll ever know.


June 12, 2013

Owning #catsonwheels

A few months ago I shared with you my love of Instagram 
and my fear/disdain/fascination with the cats which rule the streets of Tel Aviv.
Well, nothing's changed. The little buggers are as strong as ever and today
I'm sharing some of my favortie #catsonwheels moments as of late.

Saw this guy twice.

...and this is just a sampling. 

June 9, 2013

Israeli pride.

This weekend marked the summit of Gay Pride celebrations in cities around the world, and while Tel Aviv is no exception...I believe that Israel's Gay Pride celebration is exceptional. 
Exceptional because Tel Aviv is one of the hottest party cities on the globe, 
and when the gays get involved it only turns the party volume up. 
Noteworthy because Israel is the only country in the whole of the Middle East where it is legal to be gay- where you can be a gay individual openly and not fear for your life. 
Remember that next time you hear Israel called an 'apartheid state.' 

Friday's Pride Parade and subsequent four-hour beach party drew tens of thousands of people from around the world into this little city. They all marched past my apartment around 1pm, and straight down to Gordon Beach where they partied and celebrated the human rights haven that Israel's democracy (the only democracy in this part of the world) promises to minorities of every ilk. 
It makes me straight up proud to be living in Israel. 

Oh, and I have to show you how my favorite bakery celebrated Gay Pride: a funfetti cupcake.
NOLA American Bakery on Dizengoff- always a good decision.

June 6, 2013

Starting over. Daily.

I recently found a message in my inbox from someone I knew last year at Tel Aviv University, a friend of a friend who has since left Israel. She was asking to 'play matchmaker' and put me in touch with a friend of hers who is moving to Israel, hoping I might be able to give this young woman advice, maybe give her a lead or two for babysitting work, and in general just be a point of contact for someone who will soon be wearing the shoes I donned back in 2011. I remember being that girl, moving to a foreign country, with only a few loose contacts (and one or two strong ones) and the hope that I could build a life somewhere else. I also remember feeling totally grateful anytime someone could advise me on what bus to take, or how to ask for the coffee I like in Hebrew, or what the Israeli equivalent of sour cream was in a sea of mystery dairy products at the grocery store. I still am that girl, more frequently than I would like.

It feels strange to be the person that someone might look to to answer those questions now- simultaneously like I've accomplished something in my time here, and like I haven't accomplished quite enough. Two years ago I was living a very comfortable life. There were things I wanted to change (obviously, I moved across the globe) but I could do my own banking, talk to the cable company (what I wouldn't give to be able to sit on hold waiting for an inept Comcast customer service rep who speaks English), and navigate public transportation with ease. Those are the little things that are so hard for me here, that make every day just a little bit (a LOT) harder here than I ever could have prepared myself for. And now I find myself advising people who have just arrived in Israel on the few things I have figured out, and feeling like a total fraud/a little proud of myself for what I have managed to pick up along the way. 

I won't lie to you, there have been moments (and maybe there always will be) where I consider just throwing up my hands and moving back to the US. Usually I feel the most like that when Itzik and I argue, or I have to do any type of banking (you really have NO idea how good you have it in the States), or I think about the average salary prospects for someone with an MA (half the average of the US). It can be easy to become discouraged. But something I was taught at an early age is that love is a choice- one that you have to renew within yourself every day. I love Israel. And every day I have to renew the choice to give this everything I have.

I knew this would be hard. But I'm doing it. I don't always feel successful, but I haven't given up. I love (hate) the challenges, and the little victories (like learning a new word and using it appropriately). I'm doing something I dreamed of doing, and I'm trying to do it the best that I can. I need to seriously work on my Hebrew (which will relieve a lot of frustration), and I need to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I need to continue to work on the friendships I have here and build a fulfilling social life (your boyfriend cannot be your whole world...at least not MINE). But I'm working on it. And I'm working on it in a place that is steps from the Mediterranean Sea, in land of the Bible, and in an age that I can talk to my parents and friends back home as much as I please (time difference be damned!). 

So, it could be worse. And it will get better. One day at a time.