Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'll tell you what...I'm addicted to computers and the Internet. I'm not sure what I'd do without one, at least if I knew that I couldn't have one for years. Right now, even not having one for a few weeks, has been like not sleeping. I mean, you have to sleep for at least a little bit every day, right? Well, I feel like I need a little bit of Internet access every day too! Maybe I'm just exaggerating.

So I moved into my apartment on Sunday. I couldn't move in until around 5:30pm, and then we had to talk to our landlord's son for a while, doing the whole contract thing. I almost didn't make it, though. I am a customer of Bein Leumi, the 'first international bank of Israel.' I almost joined up with Bank Hapoalim, the biggest bank around, but they were rude and dismissive when I went to start an account. I went to Bein Leumi, and they were very nice--so they got my business! The problem with Bein Leumi is, however, that it is a smaller bank. I don't really know of many branches in Jerusalem, and I only know of one ATM (I'm sure there are more, I just don't know them). So after packing up all my stuff on Sunday, around noon, I started the 30-40 minute trek from the Old City to the ATM. Remember, this is the Middle East; it's hot here around noon. Hell, it's hot here around 5pm.

Finally I made it to the lone ATM, only to see that it is 'segor'--closed. Normally it isn't a big deal, because in America we have something called a 'debit card.' I have an ATM card here, which I didn't know whether it would work in another bank's ATM machine. I fretted for a while, almost called the apartment mate to tell him that I wouldn't be able to bring the $1050, three months rent upfront (common in Israel), but then took a chance on the fees with another bank. They gave me money, but I still don't know how much I was charged for using the mean Hapoalim branch.

I got to the apartment by way of taxi with probably the craziest taxi driver I've ever had. Let's say that I, Mr. Play-It-Cool, stomped on my imaginary brake peddle like your behind-the-wheel instructor about a hundred times. My apartment mate, Yonaton, called me earlier in the day and asked if I would help him move his stuff from his old apartment to the new one. I gladly agreed, no problem! So after our meeting we made the driver to a little town outside of Tel Aviv. Turns out he brought his entire life over when he made aliyah. He rented a 'lift,' which is a freight box on a cargo ship, so he was able to bring everything imaginable. We've gone to about 3 other apartments to pick up various suitcases as well! I was glad to help, but man, what a job! I have a lot of respect for those that work in heavy lifting.

When I came over here I decided to bring just what I needed: clothes, select electronics, hygiene items, and only my most precious books. I fit my life into a regular backpack and two 45 pound duffel bags. Really not so much. When I went backpacking for two months, three years ago, I learned the joys of bringing your life in one backpack. True freedom is knowing that you have reduced your life to the simple things, to have spurned the trivialities we so often carry with us, that we stack up in our houses like so many Blue Beard treasure chests of sentiments. I have truckloads of the stuff just like everyone else, but I wanted to give myself a new start. I never want to abandon my life as I've lived it...but now, at this juncture, at 23 years old, starting my post-college life, I want to start afresh. My heart is carrying my memories, my family and friends, so why should my pockets necessarily do the same? Maybe here I'll build up another treasure chest of those little trinkets that often line our shelves and the pictures that adorn our mirrors. These remembrances of who were are, where and in what time we live, and who we love, are all good mementos for a happy and healthy existence. But, in the comfort of our secure lives, there is always a time to see to it that we haven't stopped living for the day, and instead drifted into living for the past; no matter our age. Not that our pasts are bad or not worth living for, but shouldn't we at least look toward an even better future?!

Anyway, we got to his old apartment around 8. We hit the road back to Jerusalem around 11:30. Quickly we unpacked the loaded mini-van, and then I hit the pillow. I wasn't used to a dark and quiet room, since living in the Old City entails children screaming at 6:00am, and the windows in my old apartment didn't have blinds. I slept like a baby, even though I had no pillow and used the time-tested sweatshirt as my headrest. That first night of sleep wasn't to be...

I woke up with a full nose of snot. Not to be gross, but let me just give you a piece of what I've been living with since Monday morning. Have you ever woken up with one nostril clogged so entirely that you aren't able to even breathe one bit of air through it? Isn't it an odd thing to think that your entire single nostril is so full that you cannot even get a single whiff out of it? Now, imagine that both your nostrils are like that for 3 days. Needless to say, your head would feel a bit woozy too.

My apartment is big and nice, but it's not really clean. It's a clean place, but because the landlord just did all manner of remodeling/fixing, there is dust everywhere. Dust is on every shelf, every window ledge, every nook and cranny. The window in my room has a nice flower-bush growing into it, but since it's lived through the entire dry season it is very dry and covered in dust. Remember how I talked about the dust-storm in Jerusalem? This city and country are very clean, they really are, but we are surrounded by deserts here! What did you expect?

I'm just waiting for the rainy season to give me its full force. FYI: Israel is on the Mediterranean sea. There are many climates in the world, where countries have their respective types and frequencies of seasons. America has a distinct 4 season climate. Israel, however, is a part of the "Mediterranean climate." This means that there are two distinct seasons: dry and wet. The dry season is from spring until fall, while the rainy season is mainly winter. This means that you WILL NOT see rain in the late spring until early fall. This is not like an, "oh, I doubt it'll rain today in July," type of situation. It's more of an, "if it rains today in July I'll gladly walk down Mainstreet naked," situation. The end-result is that by the end of the dry season everything is, well, dry and dusty-- and I can't help but sneeze!

I have so many thoughts and observances to write about: construction in Jerusalem, religious people and their lives, my experiences, politics, what it's like to live without a car, and everything else you could think of. I have a friend here that has a nice blog, but because he has spent so much of his life in Israel or involved in Israeli causes, he chooses to not write about the eccentrics of Israel. I'm not so reserved!

I applied for a job today. Cross your fingers for me.


Anonymous said...

Hey buddy I just wanted to wish you happy birthday. I think its sometime around October 22 or 23 but I don't know the exact day. Anyway I am glad to here you moved into a new apartment and I hope you get a job soon.

Your pal,

Unknown said...

Good luck on the job application. Can't wait to here how it goes. We're hanging on your every word.

God bless, UB