It seems like longer and longer between blogs. Some days it feels like there's no time to even turn around, much less spend time writing. But it's the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, my mahj game fell through, David is in Yerushalayim until probably 9 or 10 tonight and I don't have ulpan again until Sunday, so - here I am!
I do need to go down to the chupat cholim around 4 to get a flu shot. We got some letters in the mail that they probably sent to selected people (read: old) to tell us we should go to the clinic sometime in December to get our free flu shot. But I'll be finished writing before 4. It actually looks like it may finally rain this afternoon. For some reason I can't get to the RBS weather website to check, but I'll just take an umbrella with me to the bus stop. Or maybe I'll actually just walk on down to the clinic; it's a long way but it's mostly downhill and I can use the exercise.
So David is no longer in ulpan. He really needs to find a job and from what we've heard from others, it could take up to a year to find one and we don't have enough money to last that long unless we spend every penny we have. Our sol klita (government checks) end at the end of January and we don't have much other income. David feels that all the IT (Information Technology) jobs are in programming and he's only done networking for the past many years, so he decided to hone up on his programming skills. He went to Machon Lev, the Jerusalem College of Technology, where Nathan went to for a year, and they're actually letting him sit in on a class 4 days a week - for free. David knows how to program; he just needs to learn the new languages. He's also on all kind of job email lists and has his resume in at a lot of places. Plus Nefesh b'Nefesh is also helping him. One job listing he showed me last night looked very interesting; the first two years they need someone to live in Barcelona, Spain. I think he should apply for it. It's only a 4 or 5 hour flight from here and he could come home for Shabbos or I could go there. You wouldn't even believe how many families move here, with a lot of kids, and the husband keeps his job in the states and commutes, coming home every couple of weeks or once a month. The wives are really suffering because they have to take care of the kids and all their needs, plus deal with all the other issues of moving here all on their own. But I guess it's important to them to have that American income, which is proportionally much better than Israeli paychecks. We personally feel we can get by on so much less than we did in the states, but then, we don't have a lot of kids to take care of any more, either. I do feel pretty bad that we won't be able to send our kids and grandkids and my nephew any Chanukah presents this year. Hopefully we'll be in a better position next year.
I also applied for a job yesterday. Our friend, Zvi, who is director of the Jewell program at Aish, forwarded me a job notice from the Aish Jerusalem office. They're looking for someone 4 hours a day to mostly work from home. That would be perfect for me! Someone in personnel called me this morning and I told her about my ten years with Aish St. Louis and my computer experience. She said there are always jobs opening up. I'm sure Rabbi Grunberger and Albert from Aish St. Louis would give me a good recommendation. But I really don't want to work while I'm still in ulpan. I don't even know where those 4 hours could be fit in right now and the pay isn't much (but average by Israeli standards). We'll see what, if anything, they offer me.
Tomorrow morning the ulpan is offering another tiyul, this time to Yerushalayim. I had signed David and I up, but we decided not to go. If we can get up early and catch the 6:30 AM bus to Yerushalayim, we're going to Nathan's Rav's son's bris in Har Nof. It was nice of the Rabbi to have called to tell us about it. I can't afford to buy the baby a gift, but I'll have to get a card when I go down to the mercaz later. If we decide not to go (we really won't know anyone else and I'm sure the men and women will sit separately for the seuda - festive meal after the bris), we'll just catch a later bus and go into Yerushalayim anyway. I haven't been to the kotel in awhile and it will be nice to walk around a little. David's class tomorrow is at 2 p.m. in Bayit Vegan (he says Givat Mordechai), and then I'll probably just grab a bus home so I won't be tempted to go clothes shopping in Geulah (they have great stores for women!).
I'm hoping that Ellen and I are going to a play tonight at the matnas in Beit Shemesh. We forgot to confirm that in class this morning.
Ulpan is getting to be more fun. It's still frustrating and sometimes I'm totally lost, but I'm getting most of the "principe" behind what she's teaching. Surprisingly (or not), when I go over with David the stuff we're learning, he already knows it! He's doing his learning via computer (who would have guessed?) and also while he's no-saya (traveling) to Yerushalayim every day while on the bus (or train). He also feels he's learning more by being "out there" and trying to speak with people and hearing them speak, than by sitting in a classroom. Sometimes I get angry with myself when an opportunity presents itself for me to speak in Ivrit, and I actually know how to say whatever it is, and then without thinking I just speak in English. I just need to be more cognizant and try to use Ivrit whenever possible.
Last Friday night we had 2 couples for dinner from ulpan and it was so much fun! Ellen and Kalmon came, and Yosef and Joke (pronounced Yoke-ah) from Holland. We drank a bottle of wine and sipped some really good chocolate liqueur and just laughed all evening. Joke can't speak English well, but she understands it, and Yosef knows German, Yiddish, and English. The funniest thing was when Ellen told us about when she was a kid and her parents said they could get a dog. She said she had in mind a big, furry dog that she could call Butch. Then her mom brought home a little toy poodle and they ended up calling her Taffy. While we were laughing, David said, "I know what you mean. We also had a toy poodle, named Tinker Bell." We almost fell off our seats, we were laughing so hard. David continued, "Yeah, good old Tinky." Then we really lost it! I know - it isn't so funny now. It's one of those you-had-to-be-there kind of moments. But it was really a special night. Making new friends is so difficult. You spend all your time at the beginning comparing them to the friends you left behind and it's hard to open up your heart to make room for the new. But you know you have to, because you're here now and you need friends to spend time with and share with who aren't 6000 miles away. No one "gets" you yet; you have to start all over. As we say in ulpan: l'at, l'at (slowly, slowly).
Emma is such a cutie. She's up to 7 pounds. When we had to take her to her 2nd vet appointment last week for her next shot, we didn't know how to get her there. We didn't have the borrowed car any more and she is terrified of the pet carrier we bought. So we just called a taxi and held her the whole time. She just shook and shook, poor baby. She's really bonded to us. When I take her outside in the late afternoon, even if there's no one out in the park when we get there, within 5 minutes there are kids on all the balconies yelling, "Emma! Emma!" and pretty soon 8 or 10 of them descend on us. Sometimes Emma likes it; the kids chase her around or she chases them and licks them. But sometimes they keep picking her up or stand on her leash and she can't just roam around and smell everything or eat everything she finds. When Hadar and Yakira from downstairs see her, they get really excited and want Emma to come to their house to play with Coco and them. Even though there are other people with dogs, it's still something of a novelty here, so Emma's pretty popular, especially since she's so small.
It's getting a little chilly; I had to close the sliding glass door here by my desk. It's probably in the 60's, but the breeze blowing in feels colder. David just called from Yerushalayim. He said it was much colder there; in the 50's, but it feels like rain. The sun is actually trying to peek out here. Our weather couldn't be more perfect. I just wish it would rain every night and have sunshine every day, which is pretty much what we have except that it never rains. And we need it!
I found out this morning that a young woman I was davening for was nifter (died) yesterday. She is a fairly new newly-wed, and went into a coma after (during?) childbirth. That was a month or two ago and she never woke up. So sad. That poor young husband, and that child who will never know her mother. Baruch Dayan Ha-emet - Hashem is the True Judge.
Thank G-d Tehilla Grunberger went home last Friday before Shabbos. What a miracle! She'll still need physical therapy every day for the next couple of months, at least, but the fact that she was able to come home so soon is so wonderful. On Sunday night Aish St. Louis had its (our) Annual Gala Auction and I was told Tehilla went to it. Kol Hakavod! I also heard there were about 600 who went and it was a smashing success! Albert is a master at putting events together. Last week I did some signage and computer stuff for them every night, so I feel that I had a tiny part of it.
Emma keeps interrupting me to play with her. I'm going to save this so I can write more after I get back from getting my flu shot. I hope I can find it again!
It's now almost 10 p.m. I went down to the mercaz to get my flu shot and pick up some groceries. David didn't tell me that they make you sit for 30 minutes after the shot in case you go into anaphylactic shock, so it took longer than I intended. On the way back in the bus I got off at the top of Ayalon and stopped at Linda's, someone I occasionally play mahj with. Her daughter has a "source" for taping a certain tv show I used to watch in the states, and there were 5 episodes waiting for me on DVD. I was so excited! I didn't even mind the long walk home with 2 heavy bags of groceries. Everybody's got to have one vice, right? Okay, maybe not. I'm working towards not having any vices, and doing a whole lot better than I used to.
On a totally unrelated topic than vices, I thought I might give some mention to the fact that Nathan was in the Bahamas last week on a mostly paid for trip to Nassau to be in a poker tournament after winning an online poker tournament a few weeks ago. The top 6 players out of 194 (which included 12 world-renowned pros) would be on a televised tournament. Nathan hung in there until the very last day and beat out all the pros. In fact, he beat out (let me get my calculator for this) 166 other people and came in #7. I don't think he was so disappointed about just missing the last six; he was somewhat of a celebrity and made a lot of contacts to get into other tournaments.
I have mixed feelings about the whole mishegas. Nathan says it's not gambling because everyone pays the same amount of money to play in the tournament and are provided with the same number of chips at the beginning. The last one in is the winner. I don't know any of the halachic implications of all this, but I do know that it brought his self-esteem level up a few notches. I just pray, a lot, that somehow this leads to only good in whatever way Hashem has in mind to do it. I want to believe that my son can live a fulfilling life living by Torah and mitzvot. Plus he needs to give me some Jewish grandchildren already!
So Ellen and I didn't go to the play tonight. I actually made some calls and found us a ride, but the woman wasn't leaving until really late and we didn't even know if there'd be any tickets left for tonight's performance. I didn't really want to leave Emma alone again, since David had left this morning, and I was first at ulpan until 1:15 and then I went down to the mercaz for another couple of hours. Plus, David and I are going to be in Yerushalayim all day tomorrow and she'll be alone again. Except - I think I'm feeling repercussions from the flue shot. They said I could have flu-like symptoms for up to 3 days, and I've been feeling pretty achey (achy?) all evening. We already decided not to go to the bris, and it may be that I'll stay home tomorrow and we'll go on Thursday instead. We'll see how I feel.
Let's see, what else can I tell you? My head's really foggy and it's late, so this is a good time to end. Have a Happy Chanukah!