Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Skill I'm Lacking

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to use the can opener in this apartment. It's not supposed to take 10 minutes to get a can 1/4 open. I wish I'd known this before I'd gone grocery shopping after work this afternoon.

Who wants to send me an American can opener?

Mornings With Bubbes

Today was my first day at Yad L'Kashish. I got there on time at 8:30am, and was taken to the Embroidery and Weaving workshop. The head of the workshop is named Anat. For some reason, she reminds me a lot of someone I know, but I can't quite place her. Her second in command is a very pregant woman named Yulia. Everyone in this workshop is female. The men seem go for metalwork and book binding.

I was handed over to one of the workers, an Israeli named Orit. she started to teach me how to embroider. I had a piece of white cloth with straight lines drawn on with a pencil and ruler, a needle, and some lime green thread. My job: emroider straight lines. After I mastered that, I was set to the task of embroidering straight lines with smaller stitches. Then I learned how to make little round daisies (still using lime green thread). My first attempts weren't exactly circular, but my fifth attempt was perfect. This meant that I was ready for a real project. I'm now in the middle of embroidering a mezzuzah case. So far it just involves embroidering black lines. Later I'll get to fill in spaces with colors. Who knows? Maybe, eventually I'll be able to embroider tallaisim, like Esther and Orit, using gold and silver thread on ivory colored silk. At least I have something to aspire to.

Pretty much, I get to sit and embroider with smeet little old ladies all morning. Actually, Orit doesn't seem like she's over 45, but the others are ancient. Here are my two favorite moments from Day One:

1) Miriam, who's hard of hearing and knits something blue all morning, learning my name and immediately asking, "Are you married?" (All in Hebrew...I don't speak English there. They call me Naama, since Cara is too difficult for Israelis) When I respond in the negative, she replies without hesitation, "May Hashem soon send you a mazel tov."
2) A little old lady, whose name I didn't learn and who appears to be about 92,000 years old, coming into our workhop to lead us in 10 minutes of arm and leg exercises. She's just too cute for words.

After one day, I really like this internship.

Weekend Report

I realize that there really is no such thing as the weekend here in Israel, since we work on Sundays, so this weekend report is really an Erev Shabbos/Shabbos report. Today's report will be in the next post.

I woke up Friday morning in time to throw shabbos clothes into my backpack, dress somewhat presentably, and run down the street a couple of blocks to meet up with fellow bloggers Steg and Treppenwitz. 'Trep' picked us up in his minivan, with adorable mini-Trep in the backseat, and drove us to his home for a lovely brunch with the entire Mishpachat Treppenwitz. This was my first visit to Gush Etzion, and I'm definitely going to be back. (Next shabbos, actually. I really like Mishpachat Treppenwitz, and they're not sick of me yet.) Gush Etzion, for those not used to the real names of places in this part of the world, is sometimes referred to as the West Bank or the Occupied Territories.

I'm going to interject here with a comment of Trep's, which more people should hear. At one point, we were driving on a road through their town, which was bordered by Arab vineyards on the left and Arab vineyards on the right. Yes, that's right, folks. Arab-owned land in the middle of a Jewish "settlement". If, as Trep so rightly says, we Jews were really just interested in a land-grab, don't you think we'd have seized those vineyards, rather than let the Arabs border a frequently used road that runs through a Jewish town?

Back to Erev shabbos. After an extremely enjoyable brunch, Trep was kind enough to drive me back to J'lem, so I could catch a bus to Tel Aviv. I spent my shabbos with Eli and Miryam, which is always fantastic. I've been there enough times that I'm comfortable with their friends. I'll probably go to them for Purim, since these are very funny, entertaining people and Purim is a funny, entertaining chag. Miryam and I caught up on a lot of girl talk, which was wonderful. I don't have any really close female friends here in J'lem. The closest I get is my employer, and that's kind of sad (even though she's fantastic and treats me like a friend, rather than her household help).

I got back to J'lem around midnight, motzei shabbos. Just in time to find another irritant about this apartment (French girl is in Ashdod with her family for the night. So what the devil is her boyfriend doing sleeping on our sofa?!), and go to bed.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Honey, I'm Home...Sort of

Well, that week went by rather quickly. Paris was unbelievable. I'm completely in love with that city. I spent the first two nights on my own in a hostel in district 10, where I made friends with people from all sorts of interesting places, and learned how to say 'I don't speak French" in French. I wandered around during my one day flying solo, finding kosher sushi, the Picasso Museum (note to Picasso fans: this one is a huge disappointment. Not worth the admission fee if you don't speak French) and the Jewish History Museum. The latter was amazing. It starts with Jewish life in Europe from the Middle Ages and goes all the way to the 20th century. Anyone in Paris with a couple of hours to spare should make a point of going.

Then I met up with Big Brother. We spent the next four days or so going to the Rodin Museum, D'Orsay Museum (Impressionist and Post-Impressionist), the Louvre, Notre Dame, Saint Sulpice, Saint Germain Des-Pres, the Middle Ages Museum, the Latin Quarter, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph, the Champs Elysee, etc. Bee-you-ti-ful! We did a lot of wandering and exploring, and I did a lot of picture taking. I'm hoping to create some online photo albums this week.

Then Big Brother returned to the States, and I went on to London for two days. To be honest, I prefer Paris. But London was phenomenal (especially stopping in a different pub every couple of hours for a pint), and it was great to spend a couple days with Jacques.

Now I'm back in Yerushalayim, with mixed feelings. I'm thrilled to be back, and to still be able to call it home, but I find myself in a less than ideal situation. I'm looking for a new apartment. My roommate situation just isn't working out. I came back after a week to find my bedroom entirely rearranged with no regard whatsoever for my opinion (and the new arrangement sucks, to put it mildly). Plus, my roommates have decided that they want to rent out the apartment for Pesach. The only problem is that I was planning on being there for the chag. Would I be willing to move out for that week, they ask? After all, it's a great financial opportunity for them to make some easy money. I think this is incredibly chutzpadik, to say the least. They expect me to just pack up so that they can make money...and not even offer to include me in on the plan? I don't think so! So I'm now looking for either a new roommate situation or a studio apartment. Let them pay extra rent without me to cut costs. I'd rather not live with people like this.

Anyone in J'lem looking for a personable, responsible, considerate Jewish girl to live with? Yeah, me too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Travel Advisory

In about 10 minutes, I'm leaving Israel.

This is the first time in my life that the thought doesn't make me cry. That's probably because I'll be back in a week.

I'm off to Paris to meet Big Brother. Then it'll be London for 2 days, and then I'll return home to J'lem to start my internship.

Cara's European Adventure

Au revoir!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

This Just In...

I've been accepted to the Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work. This would be pretty cool news at any time, but Loyola also happens to be my first choice for grad school, which makes this news very cool.

I'm still waiting for word on 2 other schools. One is just a backup, and the other no longer interests me all that much, so I'm not too concerned with whether or not I get in. I'm also still considering grad school in Israel, but I have to do more research on Israeli MSW programs and transfering my American non-social work bachelors degree.

However, as much as I don't want to leave Israel, I have a feeling that I'll be back in Chicago for the next couple of years, and going to Loyola. So it's a damn good thing that they accepted me.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I Heart My Life

Every day since moving to J'lem, I've found myself smiling, whistling; or humming a happy tune for no particular reason. I'm just happy to be here. Walking to the bank makes me happy, because I'm walking to the branch in my neighborhood in Yerushalayim. Grocery shopping makes me happy, because I'm stocking up the refridgerator in my apartment in Yerushalayim. Everything makes me happy.

So here are some detailes about the Happy Life of Me. I live in a two bedroom, first floor apartment in the Talpiyot-Baka area. I have two roomates, both of whom made aliyah and were in my ulpan. Jill is 18 and French, and Esther is 26 and Canadian-born Morrocan. Pesach should be interesting, since I'll be sharing a kitchen with two Sephardic girls, and I'm as Ashkenazi as they come. Jill and I share a bedroom. We occassionally hit a language barrier, but overall we manage to communicate just fine. The apartment is big and bright, with a large living room, separate kitchen and balcony.

Though I don't have much to do at the moment, I will soon be very busy. At the end of February, I will be spending every morning volunteering with Yad L'Kashish (Lifeline for the Aged). I've recently landed a babaysitting job for a family in my neighborhood, so my afternoons will also be full. All that remains is to find some shiurim, and I don't think that will be a problem. After all, this is Yerushalayim.

Before my busy work schedule begins, however, I'll be temporarily leaving this marvelous city. I'm meeting up with Big Brother in Paris for 4-5 days, and then going on to London for 2 days to visit a friend.

So, right now, my life is about as perfect as it can be. It's good to be me.