Monday, July 16, 2007

Tel Dor

I had a lovely weekend visiting Bron on her dig site at Tel Dor. Flo, Keleigh and I packed sleeping bags, a tent, and food for Shabbat and headed up there on Friday night. Tel Dor, an ancient port city, sits on a hill overlooking one of the prettiest beaches I've seen in Israel. We spent the day at the beach, and then Bron showed us around the site. Finally we had Shabbat dinner, then slept on the beach.

Woke up early the next day and continued to lounge about and swim on the beach, swimming until we saw a jellyfish and decided it was time to go in. Bron may or may not have been stung, her arm was sore and red but it certainly didn't seem so awful. Besides that, it was a pretty idyllic day, sunbathing, reading, drinking beer and eating around the clock, until we took the train home after havdalah. Life is sweeter here. I'm glad it was so much fun, because at this moment my family is on the first ever family vacation at Hilton Head that does not include me. I am so sad I can barely keep myself from sighing every few minutes. It's a rare, rare thing to have all the Spagnuolos in one place, alone, for a week, with no distractions and time to focus on each other. SIGH! I wish I could be there! But I suppose not everybody gets to spend the summer in Israel, nu?

Here's the girls on the way to the site, with the beach behind them:

The Tel Dor Dig Site:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

אני רוצה לדעת אם אפשר לראות כשה אני כותבת בעברית

Just wondering if you can read that headline... I can write in Hebrew on my computer! A new discovery that takes a looooooong time. Let me know if it works!

All is well. It's been a great week. The international film festival is on, and there are events everywhere. A couple nights ago there was a free outdoor screening of an Israeli movie, Aviva Ahuvati, and it was great. We got there 20 minutes before the show, and still got great seats and free bags of chips. I couldn't help but think, if it had been New York, we would have had to come three hours early and wait in an enormous line and jostle with thousands of other people to get in and get really bad seats. Here, the entire place filled up, but there was still just enough room for everybody. I miss that. The ability to take advantage of the fun things a city offers without having to compete with a million rude people.

My Hebrew is greatly improving, I am happy to say. Still no guarantee that I will pass this test, but at least I have a fighting chance. I studied for hours today, and for hours every day this week. I've taken a study partner, this guy from my ulpan whose Hebrew is so good it embarrasses me. Always study with someone smarter than you, that's what I say! Anyway, we've been working hard every day, and I need a break! Tonight I meet Maya for dinner, and then we shall proceed to numerous drinking establishments to wipe away the stress of the week. (And what stress! Every day I have to go to class until ONE O'CLOCK! It's awful!)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Housewarming in Nachlaot

Apparently Nachlaot is the neighborhood to live in these days. All of my friends have congregated to it, a small-streeted, kind of run-down, semi-religious, right-in-the-middle-of-everything neighborhood in the city center. You can walk everywhere from there, it's right next to the market, and it's still pretty cheap. So Maya has found herself an apartment there, an adorable place, and threw a housewarming party last night. I walked to her place from Katamon, through Gan Sacher, Jerusalem's version of Central Park. It was dusk, and I was high enough to see a lot of the city. It was beautiful, the houses crawling up and down hills all lit up, families barbecueing in the park, air thick enough with blossoms to be called creamy. I still can't shake the feeling that I've been carrying around, a feeling of well-being and satisfaction that is pretty rare in my life.

I carried it with me all the way to the party, where I increased it steadily with well-timed doses of red wine and peach sangria. There were so many people from my old Arabic crowd there: Maya, of course, who's in the picture with me above, and Enia, in the other picture, along with Kate and Matt and a few others. Of course their Arabic has more than surpassed mine, and I'm a bit ashamed of how much I've forgotten. Ah well, time to concentrate on Hebrew.

Anyway, I had a great time, and made my way home close to four in the morning. Another strange thing I had forgotten about Jerusalem: It's so much easier to meet guys here. I've been here for two weeks, and already three guys have asked me for my number. It's different than in the States though. They won't call me up to ask me on a date or anything. They'll call to invite me to a party, or a BBQ, a Shabbat dinner, something with a lot of people. Then you become friends, and maybe something will happen down the line, but you get more time to size each other up. So there's no pressure to start anything, but there's always the possibility, and I like that. The guy from last night already texted me to invite me to Shabbat dinner, but I'm having Shabbat dinner here with Flo, Bron, and guy #2, so he's too late! Not that I'm really interested in dating anybody in the three weeks I have left (!!!), but it's so nice to know I could.....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sof Shavua

The weekend is here at last. This is good because I have no talent for waking up at 6:45. The rest of the day is practically wasted, at least until I have a nap. Luckily classes end at one, so I get to have a nap EVERY DAY. I miss, I so desperately miss, the life of a student. Apart from all the studying, that is.

Speaking of studying, I'm becoming increasingly worried about this test. I took a practice test this week, and it was miserably awful and stupid and hard. The problem is that here, the teaching methods vary so greatly that it's hard for me to learn. For instance, I could study every word that I've ever been taught in class, but there's no real curriculum, see? so maybe the test will have what I've learned, and maybe it will have what the class down the hall learned. One key word that I don't know in a text, and I'm kind of ****ed. So it's the luck of the test, basically. Luck was ot with me this week, but maybe on the real test? The problem is there's no way to know for sure. So here's hoping.

But being in Jerusalem again makes it all worth it. I forgot how much I loved it here--have I mentioned that yet? I wake up happy, I go to school happy, I come home happy. Israelis are loud, aggressive, annoying, and I love them. One minute they'll be yelling at you, then the next they're inviting you for dinner. Even the rage is the intimate rage of families.

I've gotten accustomed once again to the idiosyncrasies of Israeli life: the straightforward nature of the people; the teenage soldiers with their machine guns sitting next to me on the bus; the handing over of my bag to be inspected before I go into the library, the supermarket, the mall; the stray cats that are everywhere in the city; the black hats and sidelocks walking along beside girls with miniskirts worn up to their necks.

I spent an hour on the bus yesterday when a large group of Hassidim blocked the street to protest the building of a train through their neigborhood. Then last night, I went to this live concert under the stars--free of course for students--and drank arak till I was dizzy, while during breaks they played HaTikvah, Israel's national anthem, to celebrate 40 years since the 1967 war that gave Israel back the Western Wall. It's just the beginning of the summer, and Jerusalem is gearing up for all the events that happen, one after the other, concerts and film festivals and parties, all of which are so different from New York events in that they're A) free, and B) crowded enough to be fun, but never to crowded to get in. How will I ever go back??