I'm tired. David and I left for Yerushalayim early this morning and got back around 6 this evening. You may not understand that to get back here at 6 on the #417 bus means to leave from Geulah during the time everyone's getting off work, so the bus is crowded and the highways are crowded. It's been weeks since I've ridden the 417. Even though I took my ginger pill, I was pretty sick on the way back. It had been sprinkling a little throughout the day, in the 60's, changing from mostly cloudy to sometimes sunny. People on the bus were actually wearing anything from winter coats to short sleeves. It was so stuffy! I had David open a window before I passed out, which probably didn't make many people happy. We got off the bus way before our normal stop and walked home, which helped a lot.
I was pretty proud of the way we found our way around today. We first had to go into Givat Shaul for a (I'm whispering this) mammogram. I had to go to a clinic that is not covered by our chupat cholim, but I had been told by everyone, including my doctor, that it was the best place to go. It was off Kanfei Nesharim, kind of like an Olive Street or Manchester Road in St. Louis, so David just took off after we found the building. They had told me it could take about 3 hours, but I was out of there in one. I felt kind of guilty; there were women who were there before me still sitting in the waiting room when I left. It turned out almost everyone there spoke English. The woman who did the mammogram (owwwww!) said her sister and brother-in-law lived in St. Louis for awhile and worked for the Aish rabbi. I told her, "I worked for the Aish rabbi for the past ten years!" It turns out they were the Goodrich's who now live in Beitar, fairly close to where we live. She also knew other people we know. Before I left, she stopped me and asked for Tehilla and Dovid's Hebrew names to daven for them. (Speaking of that, Dovid is in surgery right this moment having a craniotomy. Rabbi Grunberger sent out an email; it sounds pretty scary. I read a lot of tehillim when I got home and read the email. Please pray that Rafael Dovid HaLevi ben Brocha gets through the surgery safely and will soon "regain his ability to move, talk, walk, run, play and learn, be"H (with G-d's help), all to be able to serve HaShem as a proper Jew." (quote from Rabbi Grunberger's email)).
So, anyway, the receptionist at this place is from St. Paul, MN where David's daughter, Erin, lives, and the female doctor who did the ultrasound (that's what makes this clinic so good; I've never had an ultrasound along with the mammogram) lives in Beit Shemesh and is from NY. Even though we had to private pay, compared with the US, it was pretty inexpensive (495 NIS - about $125).
I found David sitting in a restaurant with a cup of coffee studying his Ivrit (good for him! Especially since we missed class today and I just spoke with Ellen who said we have a LOT of homework for Sunday - including conjugating 20 verbs in past, present and future tenses which means about 10 words for each verb, e.g., the infinitive of to learn is l'limode. So you have: I learned, he learned, she learned, they (male) learned, they (female) learned, we learned, then you have different ones for present and future. It's not like you just add -ed to past tense and change the pronoun, or add the word "will" in front of a verb to make it future - each word for each pronoun is different. And depending on the verb "group" (there are seven, but we're only up to 4 and of course haven't learned all the verbs in each of those groups yet), the way you conjugate is different. Ellen said we've learned 67 verbs so far; I don't think I personally have learned that many! David was testing me in the bus on the way to Yerushalayim this morning and I did pretty good, even though I kept mixing up ozir (help) and chozar (to return or repeat).)
Let's see; where was I? For some reason I keep going off on tangents. Oh yeah, I found David and we got on the #35 to the Takanah Merkezit (sp?), the central bus station. It seemed like this entire day, when we got to a bus stop, the bus just magically showed up right then. I think it's David's mazel, not mine. When I'm alone, I sometimes have to wait 20 minutes or more. Anyway, once we got to the bus station, it was pretty comical if anyone had been watching us. David's map showed that we needed to take either the 7 or 21 to get to Talpiot. We had to take our paperwork and our American drivers' licenses and our teudat zehut and our teudat oleh (don't even ask) to the license bureau there (it's the only one in Yerushalayim) so they could take some money from us as well as the paperwork and give us other paperwork to take the next step in finding a driving instructor to give us the one mandatory driving license before we can take the driving test so we can get our Israeli driver's license. There may or may not be many more steps than those to get the licenses, depending on what kind of mood any of the people along the way are in, or if they want to get more money out of you by flunking you on your driving test and making you take another lesson, or if they decide that medication you take could hamper your driving ability (if you saw how people drive her you would not even believe that statement), they'll send you back and forth from your doctor to write a note to the head of the transportation department or to Netanyahu if they feel like making your life more interesting. And you get to just go back and forth from one agency to another with a smile on your face, saying "Toda raba" because all you really want to do is get it over and done with.
Where was I again? Oh, right, the bus station. So, we went up and down the street in front of the bus station stopping at each of the bus stops where there are signs posted as to what busses stop there. We were pretty sure what side of the street to be on, but there are also bus stops on the other side of the divider by the convention center where traffic also goes in both directions. There we were, walking up and down both sides of both streets, down through the tunnel, up again on the other side, asking security guys for help, when I finally said, "Let's go inside and ask someone at the information desk." Makes sense, doesn't it? So we went through security (they check every bag with an xray machine - EVERYONE carries a backpack in Israel - and each person has to pass through the metal detector), went up to the 3rd floor and found out we needed the #14. And we (okay, David) asked in Hebrew! The girl looked as if she was trying not to smile in amusement at his faltering question (something like "Ezeh kav autoboos ho-laych b'Talpiot?") Finally, we got to the right bus stop and the 14 came almost immediately. We went down Yaffo and turned onto King George, which was great because we had already decided to eat at either Yossi Peking or the Red Heifer, and they were both on that street. Yossi Peking had moved and we had their address, but David has been wanting a good steak since we moved to Israel and hadn't had one yet, so that was probably where we were going to go, even though I really wanted Chinese (but we've gone out for Chinese several times already).
So here we are on a bus to Talpiot, and all David knew was that the license bureau was near the mall. Except that when we got to Talpiot, there were LOTS of malls. In fact, we were in an industrial district that had car lots everywhere and all kinds of stores. We were in the back of a double-long bus, and I finally turned around and asked, "Does anyone here speak English?" The guy behind us did, and actually knew that we had to get off at the very next bus stop and cross the street and the license bureau would be right there. Hashgacha pratis once again! We got off, crossed the street, saw the building, walked up the steps - and the door was locked. It was 1:34 p.m. and guess what time they closed for the day? Yep - 1:30 p.m. Bid'yook (that means EXACTLY). While we stood there stunned, the security guard unlocked the door from the inside to let someone out and we (okay, I) begged him to let us in and he just shook his head and closed the door again. I started knocking on it, but he didn't open it for another minute or two, when he let another couple out. I told him that we had come very far, all the way from Ramat Beit Shemesh and this time he looked at least a little sympathetic as he said, "Lo!" and closed the door once again. Only in Israel. At least we knew how to get there the next time, and we saw what the hours were that were posted on the door.
So we went to the mall across the street (we were already there after all) and looked around, then walked back down the street to wait for the #14 going back the other direction. It came right away. Hashem likes to give a little, take a little - He's got a great sense of humor, no? So we got off on King George at the Great Synagogue, and found Yossi Peking, which turned out, disappointingly, to be a little hole-in-the-wall take-out place with a few tables. It used to be a great restaurant when it was off Ben Yehuda and in Beit Hakerem. So we headed for the Red Heifer, but when we asked an English speaking couple who were walking near us, they said it didn't open until 5 and it wasn't afeeloo (even) yet 3. Poor David. There are so many kosher restaurants here in Israel and where do we always end up? Cafe Rimon, of course. But this time we ate on the meat side, and David actually had a really good steak, so he was happy. And that made me happy. Whew!
But then we had to run (at least walk really, really fast) down Yaffo a couple blocks and then all the way into Geulah so David could daven mincha before it was too late (it gets dark here before 4:30 these days). Then we got right on the 417 which is where this whole long story started. Isn't it more fun to make a short story long then a long story short?
We were both in a hurry to get home to our little Emma, who had spent the day with her friend Coco, at Coco's house. Coco's mommy and the 3 year old twins, Hadar and Yakira, enjoyed having Emma there all day. In fact, Yonatan had just gotten home from work and was about to walk the two dogs when we walked in, and Hadar and Yakira were adamant that Emma stay with them. It was a tearful scene for all when we took Emma home. It's doubtful that they left Emma alone the entire day; our poor puppy has been so tired this evening she couldn't move! Yesterday when we went to ulpan, it was the first time in her young life that she'd ever been completely alone. She's always had other animals around if not humans to keep her company. She was so excited when we got home yesterday! She raced through the house for an hour without stopping after we got home; jumping in our laps and playing with all her toys like a maniac, going from one to the other. Now she has us for 3 days, but when we go back to ulpan on Sunday morning, she's not going to like it...
She's been sleeping in her little bed next to me while I've been writing, but her daddy just took her to bed. Usually by the time I go to sleep, she's right in the middle of where I sleep, and I have to move her over to get in bed. Then she cuddles up against me. She's such a little cutie pie!
Tomorrow is cleaning-all-of-Coco's-fur-from-all-over-the-house day. I hope the vacuum cleaner can handle it. I don't think Emma sheds, but Coco sure did...