Free to be… sixty three.

Had a great day, especially since Park Begin wasn’t a disheveled, polluted mess by the time it ended! I love how a bunch of immigrant friends can get together, no local family aside, and have a great time of a national holiday.

To the %#@! asshole who let his Doberman Pinscher run loose through groups of families in the park: seriously, fuck you. Your giant dog, which should have been tied up (or not at a family park on a national holiday) ran past my traumatized kid, sunk his teeth into his ball, tore it apart, ran through another family making their kids freak and their baby cry, then you yelled back at the mother who dared call you out on it, and  when you finally caught your dog and started walking away, you didn’t even apologize until we prompted you to. What I really want is to call you at home and have my kid leave a message on your machine, where he says the sentence he’s been repeating all day in a sad, traumatized voice since I explained to him why he can no longer play with his ball in the grass: doggy broken… doggy broken…

<throat clear, dust off shoulder>

I love this country, I love living here, and feel incredibly lucky to be making my life in this place the last six years. I just wish the same for anyone else who’s looking to attempt it.

Israeli flag protekzia.

Someone is watching over us. Taking care that we do right by our adopted citizenhood.

And that someone… is our mortgage bank representative.

She happens to live in Tzur Hadassah, and her home happens to be located at the bottom of the hill our apartment overlooks. And now that she knows exactly where we live (and what our repayments are like) – well, she’s decided to take care of us. When she brought some papers home for us yesterday, she included a package of Israeli flags for us to hang on our mirpeset which overlooks the yishuv.

“I noticed you haven’t hung up any flags yet, so I thought you could use this!”

Finally, a bank that goes above and beyond…?

Still here.

It confuses me that about one half of myself can’t believe we’re still here, and can’t believe things will continue the way they are – growing, productive, surviving… and the other half of myself thinks, look at the progress! Look at how far we’ve come, and how far we’re poised to go! We build buildings made from bricks and cement – no more tents, no more temporary!

But… bricks and cement can be bombed, other half of me argues. Nothing is really permanent. What’s 63 years? In fact, what’s 5,771 years in the grand scheme of things?

But… somehow, it keeps going, second half says. There’s something stronger than time that keeps it going.

Do Israeli kids ever learn the fire safety lesson?

The answer, sadly, is no.

There is an unhealthy Israeli-Jewish obsession with fire in the springtime. It starts today – with Biyur Chametz, the burning of chametz, which is done on erev Pessach. Soon will be Yom Haatzmaut – the national barbecue bonanza, and after that, Lag B’omer, which pretty much celebrates bonfires the way it’s done here.

Coming from a country with real fires that kill real people – and being married to an Australian – I can’t express fully how angering it is to see the carelessness with which Israelis treat the issue. Houses may be built of stone here, but the beautiful trees and plants we sing about and name our children for are not fire-proof.

For instance – when my husband went out today to burn our chametz (tiny morsels wrapped in newspaper, in an open space), he spotted a father and son duo who, along with their bread, chucked in the plastic bag they brought it in. The father went so far as to turn to my husband and offer a sound piece of advice: “Hey, why don’t you just throw your plastic bag in there?”

A few minutes later, after he regaled us with that tale, we looked out the window and saw a fire in the forest across the street from us in Tzur Hadassah. Soon after the smoke was spotted coming up from the trees, four kids between the ages of 10 and 12 ran down the hill from the forest, with shit-scared looks on their faces. After calling the firefighters, my huz yelled out to them – “Did you start that? What were you doing up there? Learn from this!”

They ran away, of course. I’m kicking myself I didn’t take a photo of them because I swear  I would have have printed it out and hung signs around the neighborhood calling out for their parents, teachers and friends to be responsible and discipline them properly. I don’t give a shit how old they were. The younger they are, the worse it is. They need to be taught, because clearly someone didn’t pick up that responsibility early on. In the States, we learned about fire safety since we could comprehend English.

The firefighters and police came in a timely fashion, which was a pleasant surprise. But it was too late; descriptions of the kids given to them could describe any of the punk kids running around Tzur Hadassah.

I just hope some spark of personal responsibility or shame made those kids spill to their parents, and that their parents are not the types to coddle them into feeling better because they’re ‘just kids.’

It’s a horrible shame and an embarrassment to me that personal responsibility tends to be lacking around me here in Israel.


New York a no go.

So every time I’ve had to bail on a work trip before this, it’s been baby’s fault. Well, my fault, but as a result of the baby’s existence. And my dedication to breastfeeding.

Now that we’re partially weaning and I’m feeling better than I have in months, I was just so looking forward to the trip this week. I was going to attend 140conf in New York City and help promote another baby I hold dear (I don’t breastfeed that one though).

And then came the crippling evil stomach virus from hell. I thought stomach viruses were always ’24-hour bugs.’ But this was the worst abdominal pain I’ve ever experienced aside from… well, you know.

So I spent four days with on/off fever and dehydration headaches, while either doubled over in bed or in the bathroom (overshare?). I also didn’t eat for that long (and actually managed to lose those last couple of nagging preggo kilos). I went the entire Yom Haaztmaut without touching a single BBQ’d anything (a record I’m sure!).

But I came out of the sick closet yesterday and had a great day seeing people and congregating in the Israeli outdoors, as I suppose it should be on Yom Haatzmaut. So there’s that.

There’s always the next conference, next project, next baby…

Yom Haatzmaut this year.

My flight is on erev Yom Haatmzaut – the eve of Independence Day here in Israel. That is THE day of the year: everyone takes off work, everyone goes to parks, everyone barbecues as much meat as they can, and everyone coughs a lot and experiences stinging eyeballs as the other entire country is crammed together in unity, polluting parks under clouds of grilled smoke.

Despite how absolutely fun that sounds, I got a lot of puzzled reactions when I told people about my travel plans. You’re missing Yom Haatzmaut???

Maybe I’m not Israeli enough to care that much, or maybe I’m not sentimental enough to care that much. I’ve been here five years, maybe it’s worn off.

Or maybe – just maybe – I’m too much Israeli up in this piece: The flight I got was a special rate from El Al (whose motto is , “הכי בבית בעולם”) for Israelis leaving the country over Yom Haatzmaut.