19 August, 2008 • 4:31 pm 0
It’s been a hectic week or two.
There was the lead up to ‘tute and the week of Summer Institute itself. It was busy, genderful, discussionful, friendful, cuddleful, teachful, and learnful. A few of us blogged about it over on Jewschool. I was left wrestling with some wonderful conversations, which I will have to continue back in the real world, possibly with margaritas in hand.
Sunday evening, upon my return, I had a lovely, if short, sleep in New York before heading to Montreal yesterday morning. Or at least, that was the plan. The short version is that I was “denied entry” to Canada, forced to return to the US. Which worked out, as I was able to get my work visa Monday evening, but meant I didn’t get to spend the night in Montreal catching up with a fantastic family, couldn’t get to my storage locker, and wasn’t able to have poutine for dinner or bring a dozen St-Viateur bagels back to New York with me. Alas. But, as I said, it worked out: I am now a legal alien in the US. (In the 36 hour period that started with pulling out of the parking lot at FPU in Rindge, NH, and ending with my return to my lovely hosts in the Bronx, NY, with the trip to the border in between, I traveled 1638km, passed through NH, MA, CT, NY, NJ, and for all of three minutes QC, and both chased lightning storms and raced to avoid them.)
Today I dealt with the social security office. Seems I was too efficient; the US Border and Customs folks hadn’t yet entered my work visa in their database, so I couldn’t actually get the SSN. Most likely this means it’ll take 2-3 weeks to get a SSN instead of the 1-2, but worst case is that it could take as much as 4-6 weeks. I plan on following up with them both on the phone and in person.
I also had the joy of filing an FCC complaint today. While driving south through Albany last night, I was scanning the radio dial when I came across some sort of sermon or Bible study. I heard the word phylacteries and continued listening. That is, until I realised that it was anti-semitism masquerading as moral/Christian superiority. Ugh. I hope they’re fined.
And now? Now I try to burn through the rest of my to-do list, possibly have a nap, certainly call a few more leads on apartments, then try to get a good night’s sleep before my first day of work tomorrow.
12 May, 2008 • 8:59 pm 3
I love Vancouver. It’s no secret. But like so many relationships, we have our disagreements. I want more Jews, more Jewish life, Jewish community. And Vancouver wants me to compromise; love her for who she is, without trying to change her. And I do, mostly. I love the ocean, the mountains, the sounds, the beaches, and the false creek. I love being able to ski and kayak on the same day. I love the abundance of amazingly fresh, delicious, yet cheap sushi. On a good day, I’ll even admit to liking the small big city (or is that the big small city?) syndrome: of walking down the street, sitting in a café, going to the farmers market, and running into people you know. Yet it pains me that I couldn’t be shomer shabbos with a progressive community in Vancouver. (Though, just wait, ’cause I’ve got long term plans.)
It’s annoying that the only kosher restaurants are the snack café at the JCC and a deli-slash-grocery store. That there isn’t really a Reform synagogue. That the pluralism, post-, and trans-denominational pushes happening in the US aren’t happening there. That there are so few visibly observant Jews, that I get to try to ignore the guys on the SkyTrain urging each other to “pull [my] strings.”
I want to see that all change, help it change, but I’m just not in a place to do that (yet).
This was my first visit to Vancouver that didn’t feel like “going home.” What an odd realisation. If I’m asked where I’m from, I’ll still say Vancouver. But now the question of where home is gets a shrug, an “I don’t know.”
I hope to know soon. For now, I can say that I’m in New York. And, for the first time in many months, I have unpacked my backpack.
Post script: Shabbos plus four days just isn’t long enough to see all the lovely people in Vancouver. Hopefully my next visit will be longer… and not after another 1.5 years.
16 September, 2007 • 9:03 pm 0
So welcome to 5768, “Shmitty’s year.”* In which this is the 7th or sabbatical year, which means there’s a whole lot of agricultural laws to follow or at least argue about; Purim will be three days long in Jerusalem (and other walled cities); February has 29 days, and there’s an extra month of Adar; no double parshas (weekly Torah readings) on Shabbat (which is the last time it’ll happen for 44 years for communities that follow 2-day holidays and 8 years for 1-day holidays); Passover will start on Saturday night (which always leads to craziness and weird procedures like flushing crumbs down the toilet because you can’t burn anything due to Shabbat); Cyprus and Malta are adopting the Euro; it’ll be the earliest Easter since 1913; and the change of the clocks in Israel meant that we fasted for Tzom Gedaliah an hour less today – or something.
*So named by yours truly because the Hebrew term is שמטה (sh’mitah) (the seventh year in a seven-year cycle during which land in Israel must lie fallow and debts are canceled) and there’s so much going on this year that I thought it would be exhausting. Thus sh’mitah because an old, friendly but exhausted, man named Shmitty.
* * * * *
The hag (holiday) lasted two days, or three days, depending on your calendar. Rosh Hashanah is a 48-hour day, and Shabbat is a normal-length day. Which meant that Wednesday late-afternoon through Saturday night was filled with davening (at 5 different minyans; only one of which was the minyan belonging to the synagogue we were in), good food, great people, a cold with lingering cough, a hitbodedut walk at night which was quite helpful for me, singing, conversations, simanim, and naps.
* * * * *
A year ago, I was in New York for the haggim, with some of the same people. Which only helps to highlight how much things can change in a year, yet still feel familiar.
* * * * *
It’s clearly autumn here, or something resembling autumn. The nights are crisper, dropping to a “cool” 15C/60F; the wind has picked up; and unlike the first two weeks I was here, there are now clouds in the skies. Another end of summer is the end of Summer Clock (what Israel calls daylight savings time). The clocks went back an hour last night, making the time difference between here and home either 9 (Vancouver, Seattle) or 6 (Montreal) hours, until North America changes their clocks in November. (I would say more on this topic, but it looks like BZ already has.)
* * * * *
And I’m still house hunting. I have a few more options now: el-cheapo apartment for one; cheap roommate situation; or a 2+ bedroom apartment to share with Mr. and Mrs. LastTrumpet. So if you know of any great, furnished apartments, let me know.
30 August, 2007 • 1:14 pm 0
This has been Haifa: walk up a hill, “no,” walk up a hill, “no,” walk down a hill, “no,” walk up another hill, “no”…
Earlier this week, I call a bunch of listings from rental sites, some of which I’d been eyeing for a while, some of which I had already talked with the landlord about. I told the that I’d be in Haifa Wednesday, and would like to see their apartments. They all told me “no problem” and to call one I was in Haifa to set up times to see their places on Wednesday afternoon/evening. Great. But, just as nothing else has gone according to plan here, why should this? So I got to Haifa and called all the landlords. Most said their places were no longer available. A few said to come see their places, only to tell me once I was there that they were taken. So I broadened my search, increased my budget, and made more calls. Nothing. Around midnight, a landlord called me back to say that the guy who had taken it had fallen through, and I could go see it then. At midnight. What about tomorrow? Doesn’t work for him. So at midnight I climbed another hill, got to the apartment and… it was taken. ARGH!!!!! This morning I called a few more places, the only ones I hadn’t yet called (due to their locations and/or price) and saw a couple more. One was so scary I didn’t want to go through the door. The other was nice, but expensive, and the landlords won’t consider anything shorter than a year’s lease, adn despite the ad saying it’s available immediately, they want to rent it for mid-October, October 1 at the earliest.
So now I’m sitting at Hof Ha’Carmel, one of the three train stations in Haifa, waiting to go south. The free wifi at the station might, sadly, be the highlight of this journey. That and the breeze that’s coming off the Mediterranean. With humidity this bad, it’s nice to have a breeze.
I think being in Haifa, doing ulpan here, and working here, through the winter, I’ll have a better chance to learn and use Hebrew than in Jerusalem. But I’m having a hard time not seeing the housing frustration as a sign that I ought to just stay in Jerusalem, do ulpan there, stay where my friends are, and try to find work there instead.
1 August, 2007 • 10:57 am 0
It’s jarring, still living here, but not really living in my own apartment, but not being 100% out of my apartment either. I’m staying chez nevergirl, where the cats run around with bras, the bed has a sink hole, and the decor is black! My furniture is all sold, save for my bed which is in storage. All of my things are sold or in storage.
I’ve been running around, playing final Scrabble games, going to movies, having last meals… It all feels final, which is good. But not with the same weight or emotion that accompanied my move three years ago, from Vancouver to Montreal.
A few more days, a party in my empty apartment, and I’m off to the ‘tute for a week, back to Montreal for 2 days to do laundry and repack, then off for good.
11 January, 2007 • 11:18 pm 0
17 people, one half LJ’d
12 pounds potatoes
5 pounds sweet potatoes
5 pounds carrots
4 bottles of wine
3 drinks spilled
2 pounds apples
2 frying pans
1.5 litres canola oil
1 sink, twice plunged
Varieties of latkahs served up:
Potato with tonnes of fresh dill (by request for nevergirl)
Sweet potato with roasted garlic
Carrot with ginger
Potato, apple, and cinnamon
Potato, sweet potato, and nutmeg
I forgot to takes photos throughout the night, so these photos must suffice, though they do not do justice to the yumminess of the latkahs cooked up.
6 January, 2007 • 10:05 pm 0
So maybe it’s the warm weather, maybe it’s the lack of feline friend, or maybe it’s my body’s lack of timezone compliance. Whatever the reason, I’ve been super busy in the apartment.
I’ve finally donated away all of the clothing that no longer fits me. I had been holding onto it, to wear once I’ve lost weight. But I’ve decided that I’ll deserve a shopping trip as reward for taking that weight off. And then, once I’d cleaned out the closets and shelves, I moved onto the rest of my pad.
Sadly, this included cleaning up the litter box, toys, and food bowls. (If anyone wants/needs bowls for their pets (plastic or ceramic), please let me know. Likewise, I have a somewhat used snail-shaped scratching post and random cat and dog toys. Let me know if you can use any of them, otherwise they’ll be donated to the SPCA later this week.)
I talked on the phone with my parents today, and they put me on speaker phone so that I could talk with Moishe Pumpkin. I made his “call” (a specific whistle, followed by a clicking noise) – when I make that call, he comes to my side, or will follow me around. So in Seattle, I would make that call and he would follow me downstairs, or would hop onto the bed to sleep next to me. Anyway, I made the call over the phone, and he started looking around for me. Deb held the phone down and I called Moishe Pumpkin again; Deb reported that he came up to the phone, nudged it then started licking it. Aww… I miss the li’l bugger. (Oh, and he’s totally better and healthy again. He’s roaming around the house, stalking Thomas and Pumpkin, playing with Thomas and Pumpkin, eating, and being a cute brat again. The vet will still run tests on his stool to see what caused the obstruction in the first place, but for the meantime, he’s better.)
Finally, for those of you who aren’t in Montreal, aren’t experiencing the weirdness first hand somewhere on the east coast, you’re missing out on some oddly mild winter weather. Today it was 12ºC! I went for a nice afternoon walk – wearing shorts! Shorts, in Montreal, in January? Madness!