Tel Aviv Part 2

When I said that it’s hot I don’t think that I made it clear just how hot it is.  Friday broke all records.  How long have they been keeping records in Israel?  Isn’t the Torah just one big record?  Anyway, Friday hit 45 degrees Celsius.  That’s about a billion in Fahrenheit.

Earlier in the day we walked to the Carmel market.  It was so hot that we couldn’t even buy anything.  There were too many people and we couldn’t think because our brains were cooking.  Anything I held in my hands just slipped right out.  The kids were mocking my icepacks and frozen washcloths until that day, suddenly I became very smart.

On that very very hot Friday evening we experienced a Kabbalat Shabbat that I know I will remember for the rest of my life.  It was at the port of Tel Aviv.  A man and a woman sang beautifully while being accompanied by a drum, a keyboard, a bass, a cello and a clarinet.  We watched the sun go down over the ocean while a greatly appreciated breeze cooled us on this very hot day.  A group of Italian tourists danced off to the left while a group of young Israelis danced off to the right.

It was so magical, hopeful and peaceful all at once that it brought tears to my eyes.  A perfect end to a perfect week.

We caught a cab home.  It was so hot that the cab driver had his windshield wipers on to deal with the condensation from the air conditioning.

Saturday we mostly hung out at the hotel and went for walks.  Most of the family is still swimming so there was also beach time.  In the evening we had a wonderful dinner with an old friend from Ulpan days.  It was wonderful to finally meet his family.  For 25 years we’ve been writing to each other and exchanging pictures.  Meeting everyone in the flesh was worth the wait.  We went for a little walk and they showed us  a little area of Tel Aviv that we hadn’t seen.  All in all another perfect evening.

Papa Bear took the kids to the Diaspora museum today while the Artiste and I went to the airport to pick up my Dad.  To say that my Dad is thrilled to be in Israel does not do it justice.  He even commented on how beautiful the sidewalks in Tel Aviv are.  The Artiste is prepared to be embarrassed as his grandfather in his enthusiasm will approach and talk to everyone around him.  I’m just happy to see my dad so happy.

I’m not sure when I’ll have internet access again, I’ll post when I can.

It’s not me, it’s hot. Tel Aviv Part 1

We have now been in Tel Aviv for just over 4 days.  We wanted to give ourselves some time to adjust to the weather and to the time change.  I now know that I should have done some preparation at home so that I could have an easier time adjusting to the weather.  What I should have done was to turn my oven on at home to 200 degrees, open the door wide and climb in.  Today was a record breaking day.  I am very proud to say that I did not pass out, not even once.  My kids think that it’s hysterical that I don’t want to be touched when we are outside.

I had a wonderful reunion with a friend that I have not seen since our Ulpan in ’85.  We have written to each other for years but it was so exciting to actually get to see each other and to have him meet my family.  We will get to meet his whole family Saturday night, I can’t wait.

Being here makes me feel young.  I know that it’s silly and far from the truth but I feel as though I’ve been transported back to when I was 21, brave enough to travel on my own and young enough to think that I could leave behind everyone and everything to move here.  Reality is that I am not young and I know that my dream of aliyah is a thing of the past.  I have learned these past few days that I still love this country but I also really love my life back in Canada.  I am Canadian through and through.  I am painfully polite, I like my personal body space, and while the men here are very handsome the machismo is a bit overwhelming.  Who even knew that they still made Speedo bathing suits for men?  Why hasn’t the craze for board shorts reached here?  I spend half my time on the beach looking away either in shock or in embarrassment.  I have been blushing for days now. Tel Aviv is about FLESH.  It’s so hot that people wear as little as possible. Would I have been wrong to tell the topless sunbather to put her top on, as it is not a topless beach?  My sons love Tel Aviv.  My daughter also loves it.  She loves it because as she says it has 4 things; the beach, sightseeing, shopping and activities.  It also has great ice cream.

We were lucky enough to get into the Palmach museum.  It is a wonderful walk through history.  It is so easy to forget the sacrifices the pioneers made to build this country.  We are a tough people, even if I am not.

Happy Go Lucky Is Bad?

I remember sitting in a third year social psychology class and hearing for the first time that the happy go lucky personality trait is looked down on by society.  These people are not seen as achievers. I have to admit that this new knowledge shook me up a bit.  I’m the third born of three daughters.  I was born not to worry.  My sisters could always do the worrying for me.  I was always content with my Alfred E. Newman state of mind. My father is a worrier extraordinaire. He has always seen danger around every corner.  Someone had to be out having fun in the sun while the rest of the family gathered nuts for the upcoming winter.  As I got older I began to see the possibility of worrying. I stepped up to the ropes of the worry ring, tapped my eldest sister on the shoulder and said to her. “I’m not going to worry yet, but you tell me when I need to”.  A very safe place to be.  I know she will never needlessly worry me.

I married a big worrier who comes from a family of worriers.  Safe again.

Usually when he is up in the middle of the night worrying about something I can be the calming voice that explains that 3a.m. is never a good time to think about this stuff.  I’ve learned to love Type A people.  They are the ones who get things done so that the Happy Go Luckies can sit back, relax and be the calming force that we are.

Then along came my kids.  Not worrying is no longer an option.  Now I find myself having these little conversations in my head, trying to be my own calming 3a.m. voice.  Sometimes it works and when it doesn’t I can usually turn to one of the worriers in my life.  They’ve either already come up with a solution or know that it is not something worthy of their worry.  This helps. A lot.

So I am trying to talk myself out of my anxieties about our trip.  Papa Bear does not share my worry about the heat or my claustrophobia about  flying.  If my inner voice does not calm me I know that the Gravol will.

There is only one constant in my life that worries me.  The Artiste is pretty happy go lucky.

Does This Really Make Me a Bad Person?

It has been a great summer.  The weather has been wonderful.  After two years of rainy, cold, miserable summers this has been a sunny relief that has nurtured our souls as much as our flesh.  Did you know that rickets has been on the rise?  We really do need exposure to the sun.

I was concerned at the beginning of summer that the kids would be bored without summer camp and that all of the togetherness would kill them.  I am happy to report that this has not happened.  They have managed to entertain themselves (the sunny weather definitely helps) and fighting has not gotten out of hand.

I seem to be the only one who needs a break from the togetherness.  Don’t get me wrong; I am crazy about my kids.  I prefer their company to just about anyone else’s.  That’s my issue; I think I like being alone too much.  I get prickly when I am constantly surrounded by people.  I like silence.  The Artiste gives me a hard time because most often I don’t even have the radio on in the car.  I think well in silence.  Silence soothes me.  So does the sight of water.  I think I like lakes better than oceans because oceans are noisy.  Just kidding, it’s the salt in my eyes that doesn’t thrill me.

We have done a lot of entertaining this summer.  It has been nice, sort of.  I have been brought to the realization that I like my company in small doses.  Even people that I really like.  Come for the afternoon and stay for dinner, great.  Sleep over and now you begin to enter into my prickly territory.  You can only prepare so many breakfasts, lunches and dinners, change so many beds, wash so many towels before you begin to feel like an underpaid servant.  Or at least, I can. It’s been great but it’s been more than enough.  We have a plate that we bought years ago for a charity fundraiser.  It was made by a local artist.  Basically, it looks like a regular plate that is covered with (three dimensional) bones and earthworms.  The boys were all young when we bought it and we knew that they would love the grossness of it.  We were right.  I want to hang it in my cottage kitchen.  Sometimes I laughingly tell our company that when this plate shows up on the kitchen table it is time to go home.  My husband thinks that this is a horrible thing and gets upset if I show the plate to anyone.  I think that I could do a lot worse.  What do you think?

We will be heading off to Israel in a few days. I don’t know if I’ll be able to blog from there or not.  I will try to, but I imagine myself passed out from the heat on the hotel bed a constant heat headache making it impossible for me to think or at least my fingers, drenched in sweat slipping off the keyboard.  Let’s just hope that I don’t pass out daily making the tour a drag for everyone else.  My husband loves the heat, he doesn’t get that I don’t.  This will be an exercise in empathy on his part and stoicism on my part.  Hopefully our marriage will survive and this trip will be a good memory for the kids.  There’s a heat wave!!  Can ya tell that this is making me nervous??  I can feel my blood thickening just thinking about it.

I hope that whoever reads this has a good end to their summer and that I will be regaling you with wonderful memories when I return.

Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Evolving Friendships

My children worry that I don’t have enough friends.  This is not one of my many worries.  Whenever I mention an adult they ask me if we are friends or “friendly”.  This is my distinction and it both amuses and worries them.

When you’re a kid making friends is a breeze.  You like chocolate, I like chocolate – my mom just baked chocolate chip cookies let’s go eat some.  Instant friendship.  As you get older the meaning of friendship changes – I like that she always keeps a stash of chocolate in her purse and she shares nicely but even more importantly we hold the same political views and she is not attracted to very tall men.  Even that is not enough if your friend ends up partnering with someone you don’t like.  I have no trouble going out with her but spending an evening with him is not worth all the chocolate in the world.  There is also the problem of your partner.  He may not care for chocolate and is not willing to spend time with your friend.  So it becomes a different kind of friendship, one of exclusion not inclusion.  Or maybe your partner will go out with your friend and her partner but in return you then owe your partner an evening with his buddy who loves wine gums and whose wife the vegan ethically disapproves the mistreatment of the cocoa bean workers.  Is it really worth an evening of that?

So let’s just say that there is a couple that you both like.  This is a friendship to hold on to.  You follow the natural course of life and you all have children.  Suddenly your girlfriend wants to compare dates of when your babies hit their milestones and to boot you can’t eat chocolate with her anymore because your nursing and it’s the one thing that gives your baby colic.  You manage to get past all of this and you are now entering the toddler years.  Your friend announces that she does not believe in discipline as it just stunts her child’s creativity.  This is said while her child is running around your new home with a chocolate bar in one hand and a dripping piece of watermelon in the other.  You bite your tongue and turn in profile so she will not see the nervous tick in your one eye.

Somehow you manage to make it through these years and the friendship remains intact.  All in all her kids are fairly tolerable to you but your kids just don’t like them.  You have been able to deal with your spouse, her spouse, their parenting style and their children but now your kids are the insurmountable problem.

There are also the friendships that begin but then just sort of fall flat.  Or the person that you thought you like but who is so rude to the waitress that you begin to suspect that maybe she’s really not that nice.  When I was in university and I described someone to a friend as ‘nice’ my friend responded by saying, “Tea is nice.”  At the time I thought she was so clever, but at this stage of my life I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘nice’ just may be the highest complement that you can give to someone.

Developing friendships takes a lot of time and energy.  These are the two things that my family needs from me in spades.   I guess I’m like a cactus and friendship is my water.  Luckily I am happy with friendly encounters in the supermarket or school parking lot.  The next time my kids lament the fact that I don’t have more friends I’ll just let them read this.

I have to add that I am very lucky to have two sisters who are my closest friends.  Who I know will always have my back and who are both very nice women.

We are also very fortunate to have a few close friendships with couples that we both like and whose children are friends with ours.

I will always take quality over quantity.

I feel that I need to add a small disclaimer.  Almost all of the issues with the above friendships are imaginary and are unrelated to our current friendships.