lizrael update: 4 facts till I reunite with coherent thought

Happy March! Since it’s been quiet around here, I’ve provided a few quick facts:

  1. Fifty-Two Frames isn’t the only thing going on in my life, but I have felt uncharacteristically quiet for a long while now.
  2. I haven’t been working since beginning of February. More on that another time.
  3. Sometime in the next few weeks we plan to get a baby out of me. Pretty much as ready as.
  4. I miss running! It’s the season and every time I see a Tzur Hadassian making their rounds, I really miss it. I’d like to do the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem half marathons in 2015.

There. I hope that unblocks things a bit.

lizrael update: the expat-makes-a-visit edition

Living in Israel (and probably many other countries as an American expat) is an exercise in being happy with what you have, and I feel lucky to have even scratched the surface of that sentiment.

Occasionally the conversation comes up with fellow expats here and I’m no longer surprised to admit that I’m happier here than I imagine I would be in the States.

Last week I returned with the kids from a trip to the US where we mainly visited with family, which is actually the sole serious issue I have with living far away from the place I grew up. The family aspect was lovely. It’s soaking in as much familiarity and nostalgia and new memories as I can in as little time as two weeks out of the year.

Each time I go back for a visit, I feel a certainty that I made the right choice, which I think is so incredibly valuable when you’ve made a life-altering decision. This time, it barely even crossed my mind to contemplate it; it was a given.

Some of the time, I view America the way lots of people who don’t live there view it. The politics creep me out. The culture shocks me. The values confuse me.

And when I’m in New York, I’m overwhelmed. The supermarkets are heavy. The malls are filled with stuff for sale that makes me sad. The maternity and daycare situation is dismal. The nightly news is frightening. I’m looking over my shoulder. I’m filled with mistrust.

I think maybe I was always overwhelmed until I left. Surely not every born New Yorker has a New York soul. Not every American feels at home. A lot of the reasons people cite for what’s great about living in the States don’t compel me.

I’m happy to be lucky to be happy with what I have.

Life lately.

Enjoying the summer blooms.

Soaring through the superhero phase.

Ate through a 2-week baking craze.

Acknowledged July 4th in Jerusalem, USA.

Devouring a Song of Light and Fire, games of thrones, crows, feasts, cravens.

Inspired at the home office.

Welcoming new friends.

Uncovered a long-lost treasure.

Attuned to the start of Ramadan season.

Fifty-Two Frames: Self-Portrait

First off, I started participating in Fifty-Two Frames exactly 52 weeks ago, January 2012, and this week I completed it, in time for a new round called 2013.

Secondly, this week’s theme was a good one. It had the potential to be awkward, narcissistic, lame, or reflective. Sighofrelief it became the latter.

This week I was lucky to find myself in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. You know that wonderful mosaic statue park, right outside the kids’ petting zoo area? It’s my favorite part of the entire zoo. The statues are beautiful, kids can climb on them, and just eyeing the colorful tiles makes me feel creative. While there last week, I noticed a few of the abstract stone creatures had mirrored mosaic tiles so I took advantage and experimented. 75984758461 photos later, I had a few to choose from.

Now for the reflective part… I’ve been around a little while. Three decades. I’m a lot of things. I’m a writer, an amateur photographer, a blogger, a student, a former junkie of a few left-behinds. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter. I’m a dual citizen, split down the middle by an ocean. I’m a lot of someones.

Week 52: Self-Portrait

I’m a lot of things, but I’m not broken. I'm a lot of things, but I'm not broken. Fifty-Two Frames is a collaboration of artists, sharing the best of their work to a weekly theme. Want to join? Contact Yosef.

My NYTimes debut: experience of an expat Staten Islander during Sandy

My New York Times debut: A journalist found my post on my experience of helplessness as a Staten Island expat, far away during the Hurricane Sandy disaster. After some emails and a phone call, my Staten Island-based mama and I became the lede of his article on New York expats taking action during crisis.

Here’s the article, in this weekend’s paper in the New York Times Giving section:

Tied by Heartstrings to Calamity

It was kinda cool to be on the flip side of reporting as the interviewee. Probably made it a lot easier for the writer, too. And I also got a kick out of collecting info for him to find other local Israeli resources.

The experience reminded me of my old reporter ambitions (which, since abandoning them, I’ve partly pursued here for the last 8+ years; so one might say). It got me thinking that I might want to revive that old life a little, perhaps staying online, maybe starting with guest posts? Might be fun to give it a shot.

Next stop… byline somewhere!

Back to school (again).

Move over Billy Madison, I’m going back to school (again).

Had my first class at David Yellin College in Jerusalem, and looking up at the giant stone arches ushering me and dozens of other students through, I felt home again. Classrooms piled on to other classrooms. A little sandwich kiosk at the entrance. Students walking around with steaming coffees between their funky nailpolished fingers.

Everyone texting as they walk. Everyone talking to someone. Arabs and dosim salt and peppering the yellow hallways.

Ahhhhh. Academia.

So it’s not a university. I’m not in Dublin and this isn’t the psychology degree I sometimes wonder if I’ll get.

But it’s so refreshing to have one night a week to myself every week for the next two semesters. To pretend I’m in university again. To soak up every word of learning like it’s extra whip cream on the frappuccino at the coffee bar downstairs.

Walking through yellow hallways, texting and smiling, getting struck up in conversation by a young backpacked guy who has no idea I’m not really one of them.

Oh, it’s on.

As I slowly rouse from the last four years of pregnant haze and breastfeeding exhaustion, the world becomes slightly clearer, a little brighter, and just a wee bit more attainable.

I decided that I would spend this year investing in myself, dusting off the creative workshops, writing exercises, draft after draft after draft of whatever it is I call that, Short short fiction, prose, poetry, bla bla. It’s totally fine.

So I’ve enrolled in two courses – a short one with Channie Greenberg in Jerusalem, for three weeks. And a commitment of two semesters with the program run by Judy Labensohn called So You Want to Write at David Yellin.

I’ve already got some stuff I want to share but I need to work on it further. One goal of this new direction is to write pieces I’d actually prefer to keep sacred, so I can rewrite and maybe make something of them. Maybe read them to no one at a bar. Maybe read them to the goats that graze across the street.

Maybe read them to you.

lizrael update: Thirty.

In a way, I consider myself fortunate that on the eve of my thirtieth birthday, I spent my night at an אסיפת הורים for my kid’s gan.

I’m not a birthday person; I haven’t  been for a long time. If nothing else, surely my mother deserves the credit for being split open so that I could be yanked from what I suppose was the worst physical trauma I’ve ever endured.

Yep, I’m quite lucky.

Anyway… Numbers shouldn’t dictate our success, and our age shouldn’t dictate our achievements. So I was as happy today as I’m sure to be tomorrow.

Besides, my son says I’m turning three. Since Abba, is, of course, four. I appreciate the effort on his part.