Birthdays, Cats, and Other Israeli Legends

So Life Has Definitely Been Intense.

Welcome to my life.

 

Still can’t spell “Definitely”…argh!

 

Ok. I spent Shabbos with my friend on Sorotzkin, at cousins. We had an amazing time, and one of my favorite moments was standing on the “Promenade” overlooking the mountains. There’s something about the views in Israel that are unparallelled anywhere else. Mountains, sunglight, forests, beaches, trees, the works. Masterworks.

This place is awesome, and if you haven’t yet been here, please change that. Fast.

Anyways. Oh, yes, my birthday.

I’m 18, you guys. It’s kinda scary, so I try not to think of it too much.

My birthday was amazing. I got more phone calls, hugs, cards, birthday signs, presents and balloons (over 18 of them, actually) then I have ever received in my LIFE. I think. And my friend came in and a few of us went out to eat and my sister bought me an ice coffee. I received, amongst other things, Doritoes, earrings, chocolate, Oreos, a ceramic cow, and  a fascinating drawing.

Now I know who my real friends are (LOL).

SO, smashingly successful birthday, and thank you for your kind wishes.

Moving on. Heh heh I can’t wait for my Hebrew birthday lol.

 

So Israel lets you take public transportation, naturally, since you need to be partially insane to own or drive a car here, but anyways, being seventeen up until last week, combined with my Israeli passport, entitled me to half priced rides on all buses and trains.

Which I ddin’t really think of toooooften, so when I would take a cab, or two, or six, I would say, well, it’s only 10 shekel (about $2.50) instead of the usual fare of 6.60 shekel, and I wouldn’t feel too bad.

Turned 18, happy birthday, only NOW do I start paying 6.60-before it was 3.30. SOOOO- should not have hailed that cab.

Moving on. This is funny.

A week before my birthday I purchased 40 rides for half price. (when I purchased in bulk, I recognized they were cheaper, to explian the cab situation.) After my birthday, my card (called a Rav-Kav) stopped working. I went to the Tachana Merkazit (Central Bus Station, where they deal with people like me) na dthey informed me that because I was no longer entitled to half-price tickets, my previous purchase had become invalid.

Imagine that! They won’t even let me use up my card-I assume becuase they foresaw that people like me would just load up a few years worth of rides and travel at half price forever.

Ah well, entering the poorhouse as we speak…

In other news, I volunteered with about half my school at Yad Eliezer today. We packaged over 270 boxes, and it was a BLAST! I literally just dumped a bottle of soap into a cardboard box and then did another one and another one, for over 30 minutes.

Assembly lines rock! And roll. Fast.

LOL

Ok.

My room has been spotless lately.

I talked to my brother on the phone for almost an hour.

I miss my friend.

I tried to write a song.

I had to reward myself with chocolate every five minutes of sitting quietly through a certain class. NO joke.

I need to go study now.

For all you people who have been motivationg me, helping me, guiding, encouraging, thinking of or praying for me, I just wanna shout out to you all from the bottom of my heart, and across half the universe that I miss you and love you and if not for you- you know who you are- I probably wouldn’t be here today.

So thanks.

 

And now for story time.

I was walking with a friend down a shady sort of street one chilly night last weekend. The time was late, our eyes were drooping with lack of sleep and the only thing we wanted at that moment was a nice warm bed- not a freakin’ Chad Gadya episode.

A bald man with a black jacket holding  a red leash was yelling at his huge black dog. Screaming “Attack, Attack!” at the top of his lungs, he pointed his dog toward an (innocent?) black and white cat who freaked out and lurched forward- right towards me and my friend.

The man (he seemed to be an arab) screamed hysterially with drunken laughter, and followed his eager dog, who was literally pulling at the leash to attack the cat who was headed right towards US!

The fight or flee instinct seemed to evade my friend and myself- to be precise, it was simply a “flee” instinct that pushed us to scream hysterically and run as fast as we could out of that dark street. We ran until we could no longer see the cat and crew, who had taken off on a wild chase in the opposite direction. I was panting, and my friend was laughing, and trying to pull me along, and we suddenly noticed a man with headphones talking to us.

When we looked at him inquiringly, though, he ignored us, and this went on for some time until, still panting, we had caught up to him. At this point, he turned towards us and asked, smilingly, with an Indian sounding accent,

“whatever is dee matter?”

So we told him about the dog and cat, and the crazy man, and he laughed and said in his funny accent,

“Do not worry. I am here, I am here.” and we thanked him, and asked if he knew how to fight dogs, to which he reassured us he did, and then, after saying “I am here now” once more,  he walked off.

My friend and I just looked at each other, and we were all like, “where?”

So then we walked home and went to bed. The end. Lol.

Keep UNraveling.

Sukkos

Friday was the day I had been waiting for for a very long time. Finally, finally, I would go to Geulah. It wasn’t easy to make the trip; Geulah is the best to visit on Erev Shabbos or Yom Tov, both days which I never have school, so sleeping in is always an irresistible temptation. The problem?  Candle lighting here is extremely early, so I never have enough time to make the trip. This Friday, I was determined to do it, and do it I did. My friends and I stepped onto the packed train, and made our way through the slight drizzle, the unusual mugginess and fog towards the center of all things Chassidish- the place where modesty is a must, where Jews jostle for a place on the sidewalk, where the narrow streets are dwarfed by the tall stone buildings welcome to Geulah.

We walked and walked and walked some more, and that would basically some up the majority of our day, only the things we saw were so amazing I have to go into semi-detail. First of all, our school is hosting a photo contest for all things Sukkos related, the winner gets free frozen yogurt for their room and I want to be that girl.

Hence, my camera joined us on that trip.

First stop, down Kanfei Nisharim, a bunch of Israeli children play-fighting with Lulav leaves refused to let me take a picture, and threatened to hit me.

I resolved to shoot first, ask questions later.

The next few hours were filled with shooting pictures of innocent passerby who I deemed as worthy of being captured on my camera, and I shot with abandon. Lulavim, Esrogim, little kids, old men, nobody passed by unscrutinized, and if they did, it was only because I was busy capturing someone else on my precious little black Canon.

The streets were packed with people purchasing last-minute Arbaa Minim and other items for Sukkos, and although we wanted to stay forever, we finally headed back to seminary, exhilarated and ready to start the Chag.

My friend and I took a cab to my cousin, who had all her children and grandchildren over, and we enjoyed a wonderful meal. We walked over half an hour to get back to our dorm, talked late and I slept in. I had to be on the same street by noon the next day for my other meal, but I didn’t realize how long it would take so I only arrived at 12:15.

Thankfully, they had only just started, and I made Kiddush, washed and joined the meal. I had a wonderful time there as well though I was sweaty like a crazy person from my long walk and felt a bit gross. I met some really cute girls though, and I stayed afterwards chatting with random third cousins for a few hours.

One thing someone said really got me thinking, how they had been to the Kosel a bunch of times already, and I’d only been 4 times.

Walking back around 5 pm, I decided to go to the Kosel at the next opportunity.

Little did I know that would be sooner than I thought.

As I walked into her dorm room, my friend who I had eaten with the previous night informed me that she was planning on going to the Kosel and invited me to come along.

I realized that this was my chance, and despite my exhaustion, I agreed.

I was kind of in the mood for an adventure, and boy did I get one.

One other girl joined us, but when she found out my friend, E, wanted us to find a meal in the Old City, she left.

After asking some directions and getting a bit lost, we finally arrived outside the Old City.

So began our CRAZY, INSANE night.

We asked a family that E knew if we could eat by them, but they don’t have American meals, so then we asked some random person, who said no but to look around the building.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a girl I know walked out with another girl, and after talking a little, they realized we wanted a meal and so invited us in. E and I could not belive our good luck, we had found a meal, and when we entered the apartment, we were blown away. This was all in Rechavya, the stunning upper class community and this apartment was luxuriously done up- we ate on the porch with china plates, crystal goblets and the best food we’d had in weeks.

Ok, words CANNOT describe, the sparkling floors, light fixtures, couches, the way everyone was dressed we had just stepped foot into a wealthy, wealthy home, and they couldn’t have been any nicer. In fact, they waited us hand and foot and refused to let us get up and help. They were wealthy out the wazoo. E has stayed in five-star hotels before and she was BLOWN AWAY. Let’s let the imagination run for a few minutes….

Well, curfew was at 12, and we had a long walk back to the dorm so at about ten o’clock we took our leave, with much thanks and appreciation (we could NOT shut up!)

we decided to go to the Kosel which was probably not so smart seeing as we could very possibly arrive late to the dorm, but I refused to turn back, not once we had gone that far.

The following three hours were filled with people, adventure escorts, running, davening (we made it to the Kosel finally) free Gatorade, tissues, more escorts and lots of freaking out. Being vague on purpose here, but we finally started back home, way too late to talk about, and we heard wolves howling, I was freaked out of my mind, and suddenly more escorts a religious family, appeared out of nowhere (Ok, it was close to 1;30 a.m.) Basically, every time we were afraid of walking ourselves, or struggling with something, G-d sent a saviour.

The rest of my Sukkos was amazing. I went to Birkas Kohanim Wednesday morning, incredible experience, a lady almost fainted on me, you couldn’t breathe, I nearly got to the front. The place was PACKED I don’t think I ever saw quite that many people. Afterwards I went with my sister and cousin to Holy Bagel, my first official time going out to eat.

We hung out and then my sister and I went shopping, got flowers for my amazing Rechavya hosts and had some fun adventures.

Thursday I went to the beach with my friend and saw the most amazing sunset EVER!

Friday was pretty much the usual, up late, some errands, went to two teachers houses, one for each meal, had amazing time.

Sunday I took a bus to Neve Yaakov where I spent my second days of Chag with my two good friends at one of their sisters.

Although one of my friends got really badly sick and had to go to the hospital (she’s OK, b”H) we still managed to have a wonderful time!

I cannot believe Sukkos is OVER….here comes the rest of my life!

Can’t wait to hear your comments!

Keep UNraveling!

SemGirl Ramble 2

You know that feeling you get when things are looking great, everything is falling into your lap and for the life of you, you can’t just imagine anything better? And then everything just…gets better? Sounds rare, crazy, idealistic and possibly insane, but…

Welcome to the past week of my life.

So, quick updates and sign-in is coming up in less than ten minutes. (Actually, the madrichot just signed us in without making us climb four flights of stairs, so I get to stay in the computer room in the basement. See what I mean about insanely awesome?)

To review, because you’ve probably forgotten about my existance, so how can you recall where I’m up to in life?

Rosh Hashana was phenom- went to Karmiel with my sister and stayed at great family friends, had a blast and spent some quality time with my BFF.

The time leading up to Yom Kippur was slightly stressful, classes and much emotional junk going on, think I wrote about that, but I did OK.

Yom Kippur spent at Medrash Shmuel, beautiful choirs with soloists galore, lots of walking and broke my fast twice. Lol. Spending the fast day in the holiest city in the world was INCREDIBLE and hopefully I will never ever forget it.

And then came Sukkos prep. Prepare for some breathtaking stories because this girl is living in the Holy City, where miracles happen. Every. Day.

The day after Yom Kippur, a Thursday, our sem took us on a crazy long full day trip. Woken up before 8:00 am by our Trip Coordinator, with cheery words and loud, boy-choir music, we stumbled down to the bus, most of us feeling slightly “post-fast” and very tired.

We first went sand duning,  just cimbing massive hills of sand and running or rolling down, and this was near Ashdod. After sweating like we were in the Sahara desert, we made our way to the stunning beach of the Mediteranian Sea, somwhere in Hertzlya, I think. The water was a stunning blue-green, the sky bright with the sun streaming through, and the sand white as a set of Crest Whitestrips enhanced teeth (um, what?). We splashed and jumped and squealed, and the salty water washed over us, to the point that our eyes and noses were quite sore. No joke, I thought I would get washed away at one point, and the lifeguards had to keep yelling,

“Banot!” Which means “girls”, and then a whole string of Hebrew warnings would follow, all of which we gaily ignored. Our time at the beach was glorious, and stay tuned for pictures.

Now, since we beached in our clothes, we had to make our wet and sandy way back to the bus for the third time, and sat uncomfortably until we got to the boat docks.

This part of Hertzlya was beautiful, and as the sun began to sink in the sky, the first shift of sem girls, myself included, boarded a massive speedboat with a net in the back. Ten girls would take turns lying in the net, which meant we were flying inches above the water. Since the boat was going so fast, it would bump up and down, crashing over the incoming waves, causing enourmous amounts of water to spray up and down, and throwing us around so we quite literally were like fish in a net. The experience was horrifying, frightening, exhilerating and enjoyable, all twined up in one salty, confused, bumpy ride.

There was one wave so big, for a second the boat seemed to hang in midair, and then it came crashing down in such a way that I was completely blinded, screaing with my hands pressed against my eyes and nose (oh, that water was salty!) and my feet went completely over my head as I smashed into the wall of the boat.

Thankfully, there were no injuries, and I can happily say that I still had a smile on my face (my dripping wet face) as I clambered up the slippery deck, grabbing onto poles and friends alike as I raced for a seat before the next wild wave. Many girls felt sea-sick, but I just felt thrilled, like a true sailor at sea.

I got incredible pictures of the setting sun, sailboats, and all water related things, and unfortunatly, all too soon, our trip came to an end.

We changed in a mall on the pier, walking past Gap in sopping, dripping clothes and flip-flops was not awkward at ALL (the restroom cleaner got a little ticked off) but we apologized and cleaned up as best as we could.

We ate dinner, davened mincha and bussed (again!) to a park where people work out and adults can play and be children there.

My friends and I made a chain down a massive tunnel slide, which resulted in many bruises. Surprisingly, sand duning, swimming in a sea and rocking a boat ride are not problematic for seminary girls, but going down a tunnel slide is.

Through all this time, I had not yet made Sukkos plans for second days and I was FREAKING out (they kept blasting music on the bus, I got wrong numbers, busy signals…) but when we got back to seminary, I finally got my Sunday night and Monday lunch meals in order.

Here I will stop, give you a few minutes of a break, see if I can get pictures up, and then start a new post!

Stay tuned, comment hard!

Keep UNraveling!

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