Tuesday, April 29, 2008

All Good Things Must Come To An End

I can't believe our trip is almost over. We're flying back to Israel, P"G, this weekend and it's surreal at how fast time flies. The first week we were here, we had to adjust to the time change, the jet lag, and the Pesach preparations. We spent days just helping my Mom get the house ready for Pesach, and we ran errands and cooked and baked and did what we could to help usher in the holiday. 

Pesach itself went by pretty quickly, which was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because Pidgeon and I both really need our bread. A curse because the time we spent with my family just flew past. It was wonderful seeing my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew and fortunately, my other sister is heading to town with her brood this weekend. We were able to catch a movie and dinner with Cousin Neil on the Upper West Side, which was our Chol Hamoed highlight, and we got to see one of my good friends who was visiting her family from Boston. 

But, in 4 days, it will all be over and we'll be heading back to our life and realities in Israel. It will be very hard for me to leave, this has been such a wonderful vacation. It's great to just be in my parents house again, to be able to just raid the fridge or wait up for my Mom to get home from work so we can chat, to go to my old bedroom and look through my photo albums or my yearbooks and show Pidgeon a glimpse into my childhood. It's so nice to just get into my car here and drive to Main Street for some Shimon's pizza, or to take a ride out to the Island to see my friends and shop on Central Avenue. We hit Austin Street in Forest Hills twice this trip, and we did some decent retail therapy at some of the our favorite stores (Sephora for me and the comic book store for Pidgeon). Today, we're going to head over to Starbucks for some hazelnut hot chocolates which will be great and soothing on this grey, cold and rainy day. I'm going to miss the Spring rains of New York City a lot, and I'm really going to miss our Starbucks. 

That being said, it will be nice to get back to our apartment in Jerusalem. To the new beds we ordered before we left, to my favorite Green Grocer on Derech Beit Lechem (hey, it's almost lychee season and I LOVE lychee fruit), to our Dr.'s at the medical center, our movie theatre in Talpiot, to my thesis and writing, and to Pidgeon's family who are anxious for us to return home. 

The more time I spend at home, with my family, the more I realize how difficult my marriage situation is. As wonderful as it is to live in Israel sometimes, it's really difficult not to be near any of my family. Yes, they all plan to come and visit and yes, we all now have webcams so we're able to see each other and chat online, but it's just not the same. I have a number of friends who are in similar situations, who live in a different States than their families because they chose to live near their husbands family. It's hard for them too. The amount of distance doesn't matter, it's just the distance alone which makes things harder. Perhaps this is the way we have to be so that I can appreciate my family more. I just keep hoping that one day, P"G soon, the rest of my family will pick up and move closer to us in Israel. But, until that day happens, I'm going to try my best to be happy in Jerusalem and maybe - day by day - I'll miss everyone and everything about New York just a little bit less.

Well, I'm off to pick up some Starbucks and then Pidgeon and I will probably just lay low, rent a movie, and get ready for our busy night. We're meeting with our wedding photographer to look at our album prints and then we're off to visit some of Pidgeon's NY family on the Island.

Yom Tov from Gotham City!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Passover in New York!

We're here! I can't believe that we are actually here! It's completely surreal but the past 2 days have been amazing for me. It's 9:18 a.m. and I've been up since 7:00, a feat since I woke up the past 2 days at 5:30 a.m. from this jet lag. I'm giving the Pidgeon 20 minutes to snooze and then I'm going to wake him up and get our day going. New York is simply beautiful! The weather is sunny, dry and cool and the Queens neighborhood is hopping!

Last week, I was so busy trying to get everything done before our trip that I had no time to blog. Between cleaning our apartment for Pesach, packing, and Pidgeon's 34th birthday, I barely had time to breathe! It's nice to be able to update the blog now and just relax a bit before the Pesach preparation gets us busy again. 

We flew out of Ben Gurion on Sunday and, fortunately, our flight wasn't overly full. The seat next to me was empty, which was really great, as I was able to get as comfortable as one can flying El Al cattle class. I'm crazy about germs though, so I made sure to have plenty of Purelle on hand and made sure to take my multi-vitamin before the flight. I also drank an entire bottle of Mei Eden during the flight, which was great to combat dehydration but not so great for a sleeping Pidgeon who had to wake up each time I needed to use the bathroom. 

When we got to JFK, the line to pass through customs was 5 rows deep and it took both of us some time to get through. Pidgeon ended up being the biggest Mitzvah man and helped this Charedi-Yiddish/Hebrew only speaking woman who was having a difficult time communicating with the American customs officials. Pidgeon ended up tracking down her Hassid husband to go back and try to help get his wife through to the States. Meanwhile, I went to get us a cart for our luggage and I swiped my credit card into the machine and $1.50 in quarters came out. I asked one of the sky cap guys what happened and he told me that "some poor shmuck didn't have enough change and so he just gave up." Pidgeon suggested that, with my newfound luck, we go to Atlantic City on the trip. I'm going to donate the money to Tzedakah as soon as I figure out where I put it.

We got into my parents house around 1:30 a.m. and it took us a while to just unwind and fall asleep. The night was pretty restless for me although Pidgeon slept fine, and then Monday we had a bit of a whirlwind. We went to run errands and put our clothes into the cleaners so the wrinkles would be ironed out before Yom Tov. We also went to visit my Grandmother, who we haven't seen since August, and that was really nice until she told us that we "both got really fat". 

Oh, and did I mention that somehow in all of that we managed to stop up the toilet and had to wait for the plumbers? By the time we sat down for a Chinese dinner, Pidgeon and I were just exhausted from it all! 

Yesterday was a much better day, we went to Bay Terrace shopping center and did some retail therapy. We got some books at Barnes and Noble and bought all the drugs we need for Pesach. I also managed to introduce Pidgeon to TCBY and we enjoyed yummy frozen yogurt for lunch! I managed to keep myself up until past 11:00 p.m. last night and got a much better stretch of sleep. I'm going to need all the rest I can get, my Mom is putting us both to work tonight in the kitchen! I can't wait.

Well, it seems Pidgeon woke up without me and I hear music coming up through the floorboards. Before I run down to say good morning, I have to say just how disappointed I am with Susie Fishbein's Passover cookbook. We bought 4 when we heard it was coming out, one for each of us, and I honestly didn't realize that there were only 30 new recipes. People, I'm lazy, but not that lazy. I have all her other cookbooks, I could have easily adapted them too! It was a bit of  a waste of money for us, and I feel bad I made the recommendation for my Mom and some of my friends. It wasn't Susie's fault though, her website CLEARLY mentioned that she adapted most of the recipes. I just didn't read the site before I ordered the book. I think it's time I become a better consumer! Live and learn.

Till tomorrow! Yom Tov from New York!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Cookie Therapy

It's a good thing I listen to my Father, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to post this week's edition of Haveil Havelim. But, since I was blogging as I received submissions, I was able to get everything up before the sickness completely took over. For once, not waiting until the last minute really paid off. If only I could do that with my thesis!

I've been feeling ill now for a few days and, by Saturday night, no amount of ginger ale or saltines could make the queasiness go away.  In complete desperation yesterday, I baked a batch of my Aunt Irene's (A"H) chocolate chip cookies. These are as all-natural as one can get, with only eggs, oil, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange juice making up the batter. I tossed in a handful of chocolate chips and baked away. Only, for once in my entire life, I couldn't stomach eating them. I forced fed myself 2 and it didn't help, and so I pushed the platter away and went back to lying prone on the couch in front of the Food Network. No amount of Iron Chef America helped, and so this morning we were back at the Medical Center to try to figure out what's going on with me. Here's hoping I start feeling better soon!

Shabbos was a very interesting experience. We ate out Shabbos lunch in Katamon and Pidgeon and I did the hike to our hosts house in pretty decent time. The meal, we discovered, was dominated by Australians and some of the men segregated themselves during the buffet meal. We, however, all came together for dessert and as our hostess passed around generous portions of triple-chocolate cake with coffee ice cream, one of the Aussies said the following:

I was just in Atlanta the other day and my lord but Americans are just so fat! I  mean, I've never seen such obese people in my life. I don't even know how their bones can support all the fat weight!.

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and listened to the rest just dig right in and take their pot shots about fat Americans. I pulled at the tightness of my skirt and tried to ignore, but the comments were just getting crueler and crueler. I finally couldn't keep silent anymore and mentioned two well known facts:

1) Americans don't exercise nearly as much as they should

2) Many Americans cannot afford to eat well, as fruits, vegetables and lean cuts of proteins are much more expensive than any Happy Meal and McNugget with Super Sized fries costs combined.

Pidgeon mentioned they should rent the movie Super Size Me and, unfortunately, the conversation just kept going. I should remark that the ring leader of the conversation had quite a paunch himself. And then, he went on and on about how the Orthodox Jews of Atlanta are just so svelte.

A few years back, a good friend of mine from Atlanta got married and so I visited the Peachtree State and spent a wonderful Shabbos in the Orthodox Community. It happens to be an extremely affluent community, and so I was not surprised by his comments that the members tend to be slender. When you can afford to eat healthy, nutritious food, have a pool or tennis court in your backyard or a gym in your house so you can work out and access to educational materials about good health, you too can stay in shape.

What bothered me most about the topic of conversation is that it was just not a topic of conversation that's appropriate for the Shabbos table. Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude, and I've spent more than my fair share of Shabbos meals discussing Quentin Tarantino movies or celebrities who are sleeping around, etc. But, while we're eating, why bring up topic in such a nasty matter.

And yes, I am not a svelte size 6, so I do take personal offense to the fat bashing that went around the table. In fact, a number of people at that table were not anorexic, so it was extremely ironic to watch them verbally attack chubbies when they themselves hadn't seen the inside of a gym in years! 

People in glass houses, folks, they don't throw stones!

Well, I'm off to hit the gym and try to work off all of this American fat that's weighing down my bones. 

Yom Tov!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Haveil Havalim #161 - Pidgeon Break

A few weeks ago, I decided my dear readers needed a bit of a Pidgeon break, and so I got in touch with The man about hosting this week's Haveil Havalim. For those unfamiliar with Haveil Havalim, it's basically a roundup of compelling, fascinating, interesting blog posts throughout the jblogosphere thats been submitted to me to present to all of you! Its a complete honor for me to play hostess this week, and I've been exposed to so many new and interesting blogs and postings, that I'm thrilled to be able to "pay-it-forward" and share with all of you.

Well, enough fanfare, let's give the other bloggers their due:

Soccer Dad takes on Hamas and The New York Times.

Judeopundit examines the headlines about a possible war.

Talk about censorship! Barbara's Tchatzka's post opens our eyes to the situation regarding an "un-Islamic" radio station in Afghanistan.

Simply Jews brings us the results of a recent BBC poll.

It's an election year and Joshua Sharf over at View from a Height is hitting the campaign trail.

YID with LID sent us some thought provoking posts, and this one about Anti-semitism in Britain was particularly jarring.

Thomas Jefferson revealed in a post by DWSUWF.
17 Tamuz gives us a daily dose of Mussar.

Shira's On the Fringe and this time she's taking on the bedtime shma.

Muse over at me-ander is counting down to Pesach and preparing for the final week of Chametz removal.

A Simple Jew gives us Chizuk through the words of Rabbi Zvi Leshem regarding terminal illness and Faith.

Daf Notes examines the Gemara debate about talking cows.

Shiloh Musings takes us back 30 Years.

Dan over at Tzipiyah pumps us up for Israel's 60th Birthday.

An Anonymous blogger wrote about new lives post disengagement.

Esser Agaroth, meanwhile, brings us the news you don't find on Jpost of a Shomron hilltop being torched.

Gila at My Shrapnel lets us into her struggle with wearing a hearing aid.

Talk about Yichus! The Rebbetzin's Husband's ancestor, Jacques Torczyner, had a profound impact on the creation of the State of Israel.

Pop Culture
Moti's Moti gives us insight into Israel's latest anti-drug campaign.

Over at Seraphic Secret's  blog, a chance encounter on an airplane results in the most fascinating 60-degrees-from conversation with a stranger.

Tip Diva gives us a top 10 list on how to survive a Latke-Hamantaschen Debate.

Having been to two britot this week alone (Mazal Tov!), I loved reading Schvach's post about the bris.

A guest blogger brings back Purim with a posting about his experience celebrating in Iraq.

Jack wrote an extremely moving post about dealing with family illness and the amazing love bond between his Grandparents.

Leora, over at Here in HP, posted beautiful photos of Spring.

Mottel from Letters of Thought posted some glorious photos of the beach at Malibu.

Daled Amos, meanwhile, lets us know exactly the type of books Amazon is selling.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of haveil havalim using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Technorati tags: haveil havalim, blog carnival.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Under Construction

No worries - the site isn't under construction - just our apartment. Tomorrow morning, the AC/Heating unit guy will be coming to P"G finally fix our unit! I'm so excited, even though the place will be a huge mess, because this should at least provide us much needed AC during the extreme heat of an Israel summer. I just hope they don't make too much of a mess, cause I'm not ready for a heavy duty cleaning on top of a Pesach cleaning!

This afternoon, one of Pidgeon's best friends hosted the bris for his new son. The bris was at the Park Plaza hotel in Jerusalem, and we got all decked out and headed over right on time. When we got to the hotel, we were faced with a line of cars all trying to get into non existent parking spaces. Pidgeon drove up to the front of the hotel and left me off before he went looking for a parking space. I waited for him outside and listened as angry bris-goers yelled at the hotel security for lack of parking spaces. One woman looked like she was going to have a throw-down with them because she drove all the way from Tel Aviv and didn't want to be late for the main event. Fortunately, Pidgeon found a spot not that far from the hotel, and we made it in time for the cutting. I can't stand when the baby cries at a bris, it really just gets to me. Pidgeon is like me, so we opted to stand in the back and let the other guests watch when the cutting took place. After the bris part, I waited in line to speak with the Grandfather of the baby, who had held him during the bris. I know there is a Jewish, technical term for what role that is during the bris, but having no children and never actively planning a bris, I'm not sure what it as. Anyway, he was giving out Brachot to people, so I decided to wait in line and get one too. Since Pidgeon and I started to date, I've met his numerous times when we went to visit his friends Chanan and Naama. He is a lovely little Yemenite man with the more pleasant of dispositions and this aura of spirituality. I wasn't going to let the opportunity pass by and, when I reminded him of who I was, he was very happy to see me at the bris. The bracha was extremely thoughtful, very powerful and almost made me cry. Pidgeon opted out of the bracha process - it's really just not his thing - but sometimes I think these types of opportunities shouldn't be passed by. Hey - you never know - right?

So, I used to blog under a different name, and sometimes I go back to the old blog to see if people are leaving me any comments. Today, I discovered a comment from a woman who was absolutely offended that I bad mouthed an extremely popular hair stylist from Tel Aviv. She accused me of having "difficult hair" and that is the reason why I got the worst haircut of my entire life. I deleted the comment as it really had no relevance, and because I don't post comments from anonymous writers. Had she left her name, I would have been more than happy to get in touch and explain the story. So folks, if you're reading my blog, drop me a comment once in a while! I'd love to hear what y'all think!

Meanwhile, Pidgeon and I had the best treat today! We went to Aldo and had milkshakes. I've been craving a milkshake now for 2 weeks and we called around and found out that Aldo makes 21 shekel milkshakes. Pidgeon was still meaty from the bris and I was just dairy so I decided to go for it and get myself an Oreo milkshake with skim milk. Pidgeon had an interesting concoction with soy milk. It was bliss people. I highly recommend that, if you need a milkshake in Jerusalem, go to Aldo on Emek Refaim and enjoy!

Well, I'm off to finish working on a press release for one of my clients! Till next time!

Erev Tom from Baka!