Monday, September 26, 2011

Rosh Hashana Tikatevu...

It will very soon be Rosh Hashanah.  And as in past years, I find myself caught up in the whole shopping and planning and getting ready scenario.  I am making lists, planning menu's, selecting recipe's, thinking about what I will wear, reminding myself to wash my sheitel, and so on. None of this is what I consider the REAL work of introspection, (Cheshbon HaNefesh), and attempting to fix what is wrong in my life (ie; behavior, actions, words, deeds, aka Tikkun HaNefesh). Yet the practical aspects of RH dominate.  It is not until I enter the shul to pray that I will begin to really FEEL - to experience emotions connected with this introspection and fixing of my soul.  I know it will come to me in a rush, a shock that all of a sudden, here I am, how can it be that it is RH already?  I think, I should spend, or rather have spent, more time in contemplation, in learning, in working to fix that which is wrong, BEFORE Rosh Hashanah.  It is precisely because of this that is the reason why we have this time between RH and YK -- to do that which we neglected before RH.  

One might think that as an Olah Chadashah, finally realizing my dream of living in the Holy Land, that I would have stronger feelings.  Right now, I don't -- and I do not know if I will.  Where I am, is too similar to where I was -- Hashmonaim is very much like Teaneck in many respects.  I am witnessing a certain level of gashmius here that I got away from when I moved to Baltimore.  I am somewhat hestitant to admit this -- because I am reluctant to hurt the feelings of those who live here, many of whom have reached out to me, and have helped me, and befriended me.  The fact is that the gashmius in no way obscures or renders unimportant the goodness that does exist here.  People here ARE wonderful.  I do feel welcomed.  And I do feel comfortable because this is all familiar to me.  

But last Shabbat I was elsewhere.  I was in a place where people live much more simply.  Some may have the money to afford more -- I can't tell.   But they live in smaller places and have less.  And I was so much more comforted there.  I also felt more spiritual -- and I am not so much of a spiritual person.  But I was able to emote, to FEEL while I davened...something I have barely been able to do here. 

I talk to G-d, all the time. I thank Him for all that I have. I ask him for good things in my life and the lives of my loved ones.  And yet....I feel lacking right now, as I approach the Yomim Noraim.  I am not sure what I am trying to say...I only know I feel like something (or perhaps someone) is missing in my life....

I pray for a Shana Tova for all my loved ones, family, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers.  May you all be inscribed in the book of life for a year of only good things.  Amen. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Multi-tasking and Dating...

I am NOT a multi-tasker.  I honestly believe that anyone who claims to be a multitasker, and especially one who is PROUD of it, likely does not give his/her all to any task at hand, and much is lost in that.  I hear parents bemoaning the high incidence of ADD (attention deficit disorder) and at the same time praising "multi-taskers" for their ability to do more than one task at a time.  Do you see a problem here??? 

Anyway, this post is not meant to be a rumination the state of affairs regarding ADD and/or the concept of multi-tasking.  It is meant to be venting of my frustration over how exhausting I am finding my life to be at this time. 

Some of that exhaustion is due to the enormous levels of stress that have prevailed in my life over the past several years.  Based on the information in this website: my stress level is:  

  • Death of spouse 100 
  • Divorce (the litigation to which I was subject was tantamount to a divorce) 73 Losing my job 47 
  • Retirement (I am semi-retired, not entirely by choice) 45 
  • Change in health of family member (my mom was ill, my ex husband was ill, my son in law's grandmother was ill -- all at the same time) 44 
  • Major change in financial state 38 
  • Trouble with in laws 29 
  • Changes in living conditions 25 
  • Change in work hours, conditions 20 
  • Change in residence (TWICE) 20 
  • Changes in recreational activities, (had to stop due to physical limitations) 19 
  • Changes in shul activities 19 
  • Changes in social activities 18 
  • Changes in sleeping habits 16 
  • Changes in number of family gatherings 15 

TOTAL 528  

According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale a score of 300 or more means one is at risk of illness!  I scored 528!!

Add to this the fact that I am disabled - severely to profoundly deaf!

My current concerns have been and in some cases still are:  

  • having a car (I solved this one)
  • money to pay rent, utilities, groceries, car, and other necessary items. (So far, so good)
  • having a job (working on this one, so far receiving a large number of favorable responses to my CV, and have had several interviews and several more upcoming. Ability to use the phone remains an issue.)
  • meeting men (I DO wish to be remarried)
  • learning Hebrew (I am in ulpan 6 days a week, every morning for 4.5 hours)
I think I am doing REALLY WELL given all this...

Now, with regard to the issue of meeting men:  I have been rather recalcitrant of late with regard to this issue -- both in terms of actually meeting men and in terms of discussing it.  The recalcitrance in meeting men is NOT due to shyness or fear. It is due to the overwhelming tiredness I feel and my need to have a clear and relaxed mind when meeting men.  I do not want the negatives of my life to cast a shadow over my efforts. I want very much to leave the negatives behind me, in the dust of my life.   

However, I have not been devoid of efforts to meet men.  I am on Frumster and Saw You At Sinai.  I do tell friends that I am interested in being fixed up (although I have yet to have anyone offer to fix me up and I do not know if it is because no one has anyone to fix me up with, or if it is because they think I am too difficult or too weird to fix up. 

But recently I had an experience that really gives credence to my claim that many of the men who are age appropriate for me are damaged goods.  Here is what happened:  a gentleman contacted me via Frumster, indicating interest in me.  I responded positively and we exchanged a few emails.  I was interested in him although there was ONE thing that bothered me about him.  He wrote in his profile that he does not like "aggressive women".  I am pretty outgoing, and I am a bit of a fighter -- I have had to be, most of my life.  I consider myself assertive but there are those who think the difference between aggressive and assertive is hair-splitting.  But since everything else seemed okay I allowed myself to pursue this.   And this is what happened:

He indicated a desire to meet me early this week.  I explained to him that would not work since I am in ulpan and at the moment very involved in the business of acquiring a car.  I said that it was POSSIBLE that I could be available later in the week.  He then reluctantly agreed to this, but with what was essentially an ultimatum, that if I could not meet him this week, then he would consider it an indication that I am not serious about finding a husband and getting married!

I was definitely put off by this.  We had agreed to a Thursday evening meet, at a place of my choice in J'lem.  Then, last night my son-in-law offhandedly mentioned to me that his school is having a graduation ceremony for his class on Thursday evening in Haifa.  He had not informed me sooner, the result of his own indifference to this event.  But for me, I cannot be indifferent. I feel very strongly that he needs to participate and that we need to be there.  It is important to me that he feel good about himself.  He needs this.  So, I was thus in the position of having to excuse myself from the date for Thursday night.  I sent this man an email explaining the situation.  I suggested that we could meet after Yom Kippur.  His response? 

"There is NO way in my mind that you would make a time for us an entire week after meeting over Frumster, then ask me to meet you another almost 2 weeks after that.

Your need to re schedule is obviously fine. IF you are serious about wanting to wait almost 3 weeks to meet me after seeming so interested and telling me how lonely you are,...then I guess you have an awfully lot of self confidence that there are LOADS of younger men "out there" who are decent looking , financially/emotionally stable,  don't mind your extreme hearing loss and who aren't solely interested in sleeping around, with YOU as their next target.

Your signals are incredibly mixed. I'm not at all sure you know what you want at this point, at least as it relates to another marriage.

When you decide you are serious about dating, please write me back and if I am not already serious with someone else, we can meet for coffee, or lunch.

 My next wife will  make ME a priority , not to have to squeeze me in between some other commitments  she may have in Jerusalem weeks later."

I was not surprised at this response given his "ultimatum" beforehand.  But I am kind of dumbfounded at the extremeness of his position.  He wants me to make him a "priority" in my life before we have even met!  He shows a clear lack of understanding with regard to familial obligations, and with regard to MY time:  there is no way I am going to go gallivanting on a date just days before Rosh Hashanah when I have tons of work to do to prepare meals and do shopping, etc., all while attending ulpan every day for half a day!  

I think I am not being unreasonable.  But I would love to hear how my friends and family think about this.  What are YOUR thoughts?  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My obsession

Since before I made aliyah the one thing that has been most pressing in my mind has been a worry about whether or not I would manage to acquire a car once I made aliyah to Israel. 

My finances are not what they once were, due to circumstances described earlier in this blog, so I was rightfully concerned.  However, I did attempt to be as frugal as possible in an effort to have some funds available toward this purchase.  I have also been extremely resourceful in finagling my situation, financially anyway. 

Since I arrived in Israel, this most pressing concern has been ongoing.  One could say that I am/was obsessed. In fact, at one point while discussing this issue with my sister she DID say that I was obsessing over this and that I needed to relax a bit and put it in Hashem's hands.  I tried, I really have. I think I did, actually, but without forgetting it. It never went on the back burner for me...

Today I met with a "car tester" over a car that I was considering for purchase.  This was a man who comes to the car and tests it for all kinds of defects and then gives you a report as to its condition and safety.  I NEVER saw such thorough testing.  He used a probe to test paint thickness, and metal thickness and differences and oddities, and the plastic and he probed the car EVERYWHERE.  He took pictures.  He was able to determine if the car had been in any accidents, where the damage occurred and how, and what was repaired, or replaced.  He could determine how many accidents the car had been in. He also looked under the car, and checked the frame.  He checked the axle.  He looked at the wheels and the tires.  He looked under the hood.  He tested the engine. He took this stethoscope, with a long metal probe at the end and listened to the engine while it  was running. He inserted the probe in various places in the engine.  He took the car for a road test.  He tested the emissions.  It was amazing.  Then, he gave us a report.  He described the accidents the car was in and the damage. He also said the frame is good, the repair work is good, the car is safe.  He said it is obvious the car has been well taken care of.  He suggested the engine is a bit noisy and it needs a flush.  (this is a 10 year old car with 145k km on it).  He also said the two front tires need to be replaced.   In the end, I got the buyer to reduce the price and to agree to take the car to the mechanic to have the engine flushed.  

Now, we are just waiting for that to happen and for my money to show up in my bank account.  Then, I will have a car!  Whoopee!  

And now, I am just EXHAUSTED...  

Ulpan, Jobs, and a Car...

I hate juggling multiple tasks.  I am NOT a "multi-tasker". I do ONE thing at a time.  I like to FOCUS on whatever it is that is at hand, that I am working on, without the distraction of "other things".  But for the past week or so, I have had to diversify my focus, albeit, not simultaneously.  

One, I began ulpan.  I am proud to say that I am in Kita Gimmel, and I am keeping up with the class.  I was not sure what my level of Hebrew would be, after thirty years of non use.  As they say, "use it or lose it".  I forgot much but, happily, like riding a bicycle, much has come back to me.  I am fortunate too, that my teacher at ulpan, Dahlia, is an EXCELLENT teacher.  I like her a lot.  She spends enough time on sicha (in class discussion) and on dikduk (grammar) and reading that I feel like I am getting a good well rounded experience in learning Hebrew.  

Two, I have been sending out CV's and posting to all my networking sites and blogs and connecting with others in my field in an attempt to find a job.  I found thus far, not one, but two. Both are part time. Both are working from home.  Neither are high pressure.  I would prefer a "bona fide" job, perhaps even full time but for now this will do.  I have two amutot (non profit organizations) "on the hook", which are interested in me but which do not wish to pursue anything until after the chagim (Jewish holidays - Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah).  Again, this is fine for me.  It gives me more time to "settle down" a bit. 

Three, I have been consumed with the goal of acquiring a car.  After an initial foray into the possibility of borrowing money from a bank for the purchase, and the disappointment in learning that without a credit history HERE, it would be near impossible, I came up with a better plan.  I already had half the needed funds in my checking account (in the US).  I could take the other half from my IRA -- BUT -- I really did not want to do so in THIS tax year.  It would bump my income up into too high a tax bracket.  So, some very good friends of mine loaned me the needed funds with the agreement that I would repay them in Jan or Feb when I would be able to take the money out of my IRA without incurring too much tax liability.   (I have wonderful friends!)

With regard to finding a car, that was another hurdle for me.  Without good Hebrew skills and with the humongous difficulty that using the phone poses for me it was a HUGE hurdle.  Thank G-d for FRIENDS.  Another good friend (albeit a NEW one whom I only just met a few weeks ago) has been helping me by making connections for me, making calls for me, and going with me to look at cars.  Right now, there is a very good possibility that I will be purchasing a 2002 Toyota Corolla.  It has already 145k km, which is kind of high. But I took it for a test drive and it drives really well. The car is obviously well taken care of.  Today I will have a mechanic check it out and if all checks out, then I will buy the car.  I just hope the wire transfer I have requested comes through in good time. 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Still unpacking...

I have been unpacking boxes since Monday two weeks ago.  And I am still not done. I remember when I moved from Teaneck to Baltimore.  I had my new apartment in tip top shape in two weeks.  But there are many differences in this move that account for the longer time it is taking me to get my house in order.  

  1. This is not just a move from one place to another. I IMMIGRATED to Israel. There is much more that I have had to deal 
  2. with regarding my immigration.  
  3. Movers in Israel do not unpack all the furniture and re-assemble all the furniture as they do in the States. 
  4. I moved into a house that essentially is the same size as my apartment in Baltimore, but my apartment in Baltimore was a 2 BR with a den.  All the rooms were HUGE.  My house here has more rooms in the same space, it could be a 5 BR house, all the rooms are much smaller than those in Baltimore.
  5. My married daughter and her husband and their 2 1/2 year old son, Gavriel also moved - into the same house with me!  So we are dealing with TWO households. 
But, I am being patient. Slowly, slowly, it will all get done.  At the end, everything will have a place and everything will be IN its place. 

I have had a great helper throughout the move:  my absolutely adorable and delicious grandson Gavriel. He loves to follow me around and help me unpack boxes, and put all the wrapping papers back into the boxes and move the boxes.  He is just delightful.  I could go on and on and on about him.  But I won't.  Those of you who are grandparents will understand...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

That Isreally Israeli feeling...

So, today I went to the Misrad HaKlita in Modiin.  It is located in a caravan amongst a group of caravans at the entrance to Modiin from C'vish 443. I needed to be there because I had not yet given them my banking info for my sal klita and I really needed that to be taken care of. I did not have an appointment. The woman with whom I was to do this business was Liora and her English was not good, and even though I am Kita Gimmel level Hebrew, the phone is IMPOSSIBLE for me.  I have a hard enough time deciphering English on the phone, forget about Hebrew.  I explained to her that I cannot hear, I am hard of hearing, wear hearing aids and the phone is impossible.  We exchanged emails in which she told me I needed to make an appointment to see her.  I asked her, via email, when and where and I would be there.  She never responded.  Finally, I asked and learned her schedule and just showed up.  

That was today.  As soon as she was not busy with other olim, I entered her office, sat down opposite her.  Immediately she tells me she cannot deal with me without an appointment -- I have to make an appointment.  I tell her, in Hebrew, just do ONE thing, one simple thing:  take my bank info and arrange for my sal klita to be deposited into my bank account.  That's all.  So, she agreed but said that she would not be able to spend time explaining things to me.  I smiled and said that would fine. So, she began to set up the sal klita deposit for me.  While she did this, I smiled at her and then started to ask her (in Hebrew, of course -- she is Russian), how long she is in Israel, how many languages she knows, and other things.  Result?  She flipped, she warmed up to me, smiled and became friendly.  And..she explained EVERYTHING to me.  I kept saying, there are people waiting, and she said, "Let them wait".  She was SO nice to me.  At the end though, before she bade me l'hitraot (see you later), she reminded me to make an appointment! I smiled and  said sure!  

Yesterday I was at the local Rami Levy supermarket, picking up a few things.  In the checkout line, in front of me was a woman with her two daughters. I was watching them and noticed that every time the older daughter spoke to her mother she tapped her on the arm or shoulder and always looked straight at her face.  I surmised that the mother must be deaf but was not sure.  After a while my curiosity got the better of me, and I tapped the woman on the arm and asked about that.  She confirmed my guess, that she was deaf. Her lipreading was impeccable.  I told her that I wanted to learn Hebrew from her daughter because I could read her lips so well too!!  She too, spoke no English. I told her a bit about my own hearing loss and my experiences.  It was a nice connection to make.  

The day before that, I had car trouble.  I have been driving a rented car.  The battery was dead when I went out in the morning to start it up and my amazing neighbors came to my rescue with jumper cables and a powerful jump start.  We let it run a while and then I went about my business.  I made a few stops, with no problem.  Then, my last stop, also at the Misrad HaKlita (that time about ulpan), the battery was again dead.  And so was my cell phone!  So there I was with a dead car, dead phone, in a country that I have only been in for a few weeks, and with a language that I am not so fluent in....I hiked back to the Misrad HaKlita and explained my predicament.  Rita (Rakezet Ulpan) was fabulous. She called the rental company for me and told them the problem. They said they would come but it would be an hour because they were coming from Netanya.  So Rita told them to call HER when they arrived, and she told me to sit in the air conditioned office and have a cold drink too!   I sat there and then others came in the office and I was included in the discussions!  It was so funny, no one is concerned about privacy at all!  I had a good time while waiting for the auto technician to arrive.  He was going to jump me but I told him no, I want a NEW BATTERY, this happened TWICE and it is NOT good. He shrugged and did as I asked.  He was courteous enough though.  

So, these vignettes have been just a few of the things I have experienced thus far...I am truly enjoying myself here.