What is Ayyam-i-Ha in the Holy Land?

I didn’t do anything for Ayyam-i-Ha last year…I am pretty sure I spent the Intercalary Days cleaning my house and reading.

This year has been vastly different. On the first day, Tuesday, I spent the evening at my friend’s house for “Ladies Night”…which mostly consisted of watching a movie, eating, and talking about very random things. Last night (Wednesday) I went to another friend’s house for a Chili dinner/Musical Devotional. I ate 3 very large bowls of chili, and then we sang songs, said prayers, and played musical catch phrase. There was much laughter, which was desperately needed.

Tonight I plan on doing nothing. Well, “doing nothing” in my world means cooking food for the next few days, doing a little art project, and probably watching a movie. Tomorrow night (Friday) I am going to an Ayyam-i-Ha party, and then Saturday morning I am having brunch. Saturday afternoon I am going hiking in the Haifa forest.

This year is much better than last year. These days outside of time have been a welcome respite from a very busy work schedule, and of course an opportunity to prepare for the Fast, which starts on Sunday.

I got mystery chocolate in inter-office mail today…apparently a few other people did too! yum. As an extra-special treat, 3 of my favorite ladies just stopped by my office on their way out to say goodnight. 🙂

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An observation

Music in department stores is the same, no matter where in the world you are.

As I wandered the one department store at one of the malls in Haifa last night with a friend, I realized that the piped-in music floating through the store was the same brand of Americana middle-aged-woman-friendly chintz that haunts shoppers in stores across the country back home.

And it has followed me to Israel!

Also, department store dressing rooms are exactly the same, too. It is strange…sometimes I feel like I haven’t left home at all.

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A day with the ladies

A Saturday unplanned became a Saturday of relaxation and time with friends.

I went next door for brunch, and six lovely ladies and I cooked and ate a large meal…eggs, bacon, pancakes, potatoes, coffee, tea…yum. Then I hopped on a sherut and went to Bahji for the rest of the day.

This is what it looked like:

It is khamsin (dust storm) season, so the sky was not clear, but it was still warm and beautiful…I wandered the gardens for a while by myself.

A large group of us ate dinner back in Haifa at 14 Sheks (I doubt anyone actually knows the real name of that place), then Roya and I went to my place to watch Chocolat and drink…hot chocolate. 🙂 Perfect ending to the day.

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My time by numbers…

4 months until I leave Haifa, Israel and go back to the United States.
My departure date is June 7.
11 weeks until the event that I came here to work on occurs.
3 weeks until Ayyam-i-Ha.
19 Saturdays until my departure.

And to think how easy it would be to spend eternity in this place…

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Functional earrings

I wore these earrings today, which I bought a year ago:

They’re metal and quite heavy. I walked over to a table at lunch where several of my friends were sitting. The guys immediately noticed the earrings and starting discussing what they looked like (gongs, apparently, or palm fronds). The conversation then turned into a list of all of the things that should be made into earrings.

Triangle (ding ding! Dinner’s ready, folks!)
Grandfather clock
measuring tape
pepper spray
dental floss
ear warmers
pez dispensers
mp3 players
digital billboards
tv screens
satellite dishes

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we felt the silence, in the way a child knows to be quiet when the room hushes suddenly.
it wasn’t heavy…it lifted the heart, and around we went
our shoes in varied sounds and rhythms.
the city moved on, in the usual way, and in our one way we spent forever
following the thousands before.

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99 days

Today I noticed that we have 99 days until a Very Important Event (I should have noticed 100, but it has been a little busy around here!).

Last night I spent time with people I usually don’t see very often, and it was a breath of fresh air. We had coffee (well, I ate an entire meal, dinner #2) and had some conversation that made my brain happy. By this I mean there were ideas and conversations that were entirely different than my usual interactions, with new stories and amusing anecdotes. Perfect.

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Breaking things

This morning was a little ridiculous. Lucia came over to eat breakfast with me before the Celebration of the Birth of the Bab (we’re on a lunar calendar for some Holy Days here). In the span of 20 minutes, I broke 2 eggs (at different times), a full jar of minced garlic, and two cups.

Broken glass and food everywhere. And I dropped some vegetables and silverware while cooking. I’m a mess. The thing is…this isn’t normal for me. I am not a messy person, and I rarely break things. Ah well…it made for a good laugh. Maybe this is a sign that I should stay out of the kitchen for a while. 🙂

Tonight is cold and windy. Our flat is exceptionally drafty, so even though I have my heater on, my hands are slowly turning to icicles. I’m going to snuggle into bed now and enjoy my sleep.

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Dusty old books

There were boxes of old books in the parking garage today, marked “FREE!”, with that musty smell and slick dust feeling. We dug through them, hugging the discoveries to our chests. The tip of my nose starting twitching, the usual reaction to things that have been sitting forgotten on a shelf for too long.

One of my most treasured memories is standing in Uncle C.E.’s office about 2 months before he passed away in 2005. He had a fantastic library of books, especially first editions of Baha’i books that I’d never seen before. He showed me pictures of his family from 50 years ago, told me about his childhood, and watched me as I carefully pulled one book off a shelf, then another.

I just remember looking around at him, sitting in his leather chair, smiling at me. His health at that point was not good, but we did not know that he would die of cancer so soon after. No one did. As Carmen and I drove away from the house, we started crying…something told me I would not see him in this world again.

We were family, even though there was no blood relation. He took a few pictures of Carmen and I in the garden: “Stand there…smile!” I got those pictures later from Aunt G., and cried when I saw them. He loved us so much…asking questions: “What are you doing next? Are you looking for jobs? Ten years from now?”; and telling us that he was proud of us. Telling us kids to take care of each other…sometimes I feel like I’ve failed at that one. The 5 of us are scattered across the globe.

Every time I stopped by his office while I was in school, he would ask me how my schooling was going, if I was studying enough (probably not!), and he would just look at me and I would want to try harder, do better.

I miss him. If this was a piece of paper, the ink would be running off the page right now.

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Path of dust

My heart is in a wistful mood,
my tiny little sorrows shake the dust from my soul.
My laughter has strong intention behind it.
Music with piano and soft whispered tones reaches inside me,
perhaps in 43,200 minutes words will be spoken again
and then too late.

Since my words stumble, fall, put on band-aids, and promptly fall again, songs must step in to assist.

Brett Dennen- Desert Sunrise
Cinematic Orchestra- To Build a Home
Joshua Radin- Winter

Everything, and nothing really new. Ran into some friends who were on pilgrimage, had some fun coincidences, finally settled into my flat (after 2 months!), watched the miniscule amount of fireworks, went to a much-needed devotional at Lucia’s, hang around with the usual crowd, discussed possible day trips around Israel, interesting discussion with a friend, lunches full of laughter…This last week has been full of preparation for a large meeting on Friday, every night after work…I’m excited, I know it will go well, and if things mess up it is ok. Really, my entire term of service here has been about patience and detachment. 🙂

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What has happened?

One year ago I had just arrived in the Holy Land to start 18 months of service. One year ago today I stood at the top of the mountain and watched fireworks.

I have attended several weddings of dear friends, gone camping for the first time, spent evenings with friends, saw friends and family as they came on pilgrimage, went on pilgrimage with my family, traveled to Europe for the first time, attended the funeral of the last Hand of the Cause of God, spent endless days at the beach, prayed at the Shrines whenever I could, and laughed a lot.

I have learned about prayer, strength, solitude, friendship, love, and responsibility. There are things that I haven’t even discovered yet.

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What a wonderful wedding…

Baha’i weddings are so unique…each couple’s style comes through in the ceremony. Two of my very dear friends got married this weekend, and I have to say it was one of the best weddings I’ve been to. There was the perfect mix of humor, reverence, joy, friendship, and love. Plus really good food and lots of dancing. 🙂

I discovered blisters on my feet the next day…no surprise there! Now that the wedding is over, I’m looking forward to the next time we all get dressed up and snazzy looking.

On a completely different note, I’ve been having bad luck with dogs recently. I was walking home the other night with some friends and a dog snapped at me for no reason! It snagged my coat with its teeth but didn’t manage to get me. Last night I was walking home, and as I reached the bottom of a set of stairs, two dogs were at the end of the sidewalk barking. They started coming toward me, so I ran all the way back up the stairs and walked around the long way. I am not normally afraid of dogs, but this is just getting ridiculous.

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Every Day

Every day.

Crossing a street to sanctuary.
Counting worn pebbles through thin soles of shoes.
Trying not to step on snails (I have a horror of that crunch).
Smiling in a general way, and then specifically.
Spending nights staring at stars through the ceiling.
Pouring coffee through filters.


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One Year

As of December 8th (tomorrow), I will have been in Haifa, Israel for one year. I keep writing little pieces of some kind of summary, but my words have been failing for a while now.

I know I’ve changed, and am still exactly myself.

There is something to be said for solitude. I haven’t quite figured out the words yet…when I am alone I think in pictures and concepts and it reminds me of the pieces of the notes we wrote, the words we wrote and never kept. I wish I’d saved more than one or two, I don’t remember how I used to think anymore…and the tradgedy is that I forgot about my silence.

Enough of the self-analysis!

Life is wonderful, how could it not be? The Shrines…oh, how can words even be enough? I love the work that I am doing, my friends are solid and make me laugh.

Chicago was left behind in a whirlwhind of snow and goodbyes, Chicago comes to me through pilgrims, pictures, and stories. Haifa has always been home and will always be home, and the rain now makes me smile as I sleep in my balcony, the sharp taps on glass and streetlights flash.

Staring across the foggy sea from the balcony, the glowing clouds hover just inches above, the Terraces up to the left, the Shrine of the Bab just hovering through trees, an entire city sparkling and living…these will probably be my enduring memories. Who knows? There are so many things that change and stay the same.

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It completely slipped my mind to write a blog post about this when it happened…

A few weeks ago my flatmates and I were having a quiet evening at home,  I was chatting with my dad on the phone.  Suddenly the power goes out, and as I go into the hallway I smell smoke.  The microwave was my first destination.  I called one of the flatmates over, and opened the door.

Smoke came pouring out, and the object that had been in the microwave was on fire!  Flames, the kind you roast marshmallows on.  My flatmate blows it out, then grabs a cup of water and dumps it on.  Meanwhile, I grab a flashlight and go to find the fusebox (I just moved in to my current flat a month ago).

Turns out the fusebox is ABOVE the front door.  We live on the top floor, so the ceilings are very high.  (So that is what the ladder in the corner of the kitchen is for!)  We get the power back on for an hour, then it goes out permanently for the rest of the evening.  Also, while this was going on all three of us were laughing, shouting, and generally causing mayhem.  Our neighbor downstairs said he heard us, but that since I was laughing he figured everything was ok. 

When the guy came the next day to check on everything, he said the microwave was really old and needed to be thrown out, something about wiring…suffice to say, it went straight into the dumpster. 

When I got back on the phone with my dad that night, I thanked him for teaching me how to do these things around the house, how the fusebox works, painting, mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, using tools, and fixing random objects.  I think he was pretty amused by the entire incident.  🙂

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Before this past weekend, I had never been camping.  I’ve been to cabins, lots of road trips, and so many hotels I can’t even count anymore.  But somehow I missed out on the camping thing.  We had nine people and camped out on the shore of the Dead Sea.  Some highlights from the trip:

  • Circles around the roundabout in Arad…and other misadventures.  We had two cars, so were following each other…which sometimes caused hilarious situations when people were trying to figure out where to go.   Thank God for cell phones.
  • Setting up two tents in the dark.
  • A band of 60 people showing up at around 11 pm and setting up camp around us.  There were Arabs with kerosene lamps playing loud music, and Filipinos chattering away and singing along to the stereo system they brought.  None of us slept very well.  At one point, around 4 am, I ended up walking around because I couldn’t sleep.
  • 6:30 am wakeup call by some of my fellow campers who decided that they wanted breakfast.  I woke up to a cheerful voice saying “Time to wake up and start the day!”  My response was unintelligible.  🙂
  • Floating in the Dead Sea…I definitely need to go at least one more time before I leave Israel.
  • Hiking around Masada.  Wow.
  • Amazing dinner in Hertzliya at an Asian-style restaurant.
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“Love is the means of the most great happiness in both the material and spiritual worlds!” -Abdu’l-Baha

Sometimes I don’t know how I got here (physically, spiritually, emotionally). Most days everything feels normal…and then there are the times I find myself in a room with a group of completely amazing people that I really admire, or walking in the gardens at night with the Shrine of the Báb glowing in front of me. More and more the concept of detachment comes to the front of my mind as the one thing that keeps me level, allows me to fulfill my capacity, and focuses me on the important things. When I forget to say my prayers for detachment, everything just seems to slide out of reach.

“Love is the universal magnetic power between the planets and stars shining in the lofty firmament!” -Abdu’l-Baha

I found this quote while looking for something else…wow:

“Universal beings resemble and can be compared to particular beings, for both are subjected to one natural system, one universal law and divine organization. So you will find the smallest atoms in the universal system are similar to the greatest beings of the universe.” -Abdu’l-Baha

It makes me think about scientists spending so much time looking for carbon-based life forms, about the search for habitable planets and our definition of the physical universe. We are so limited as human beings, in this form, and we struggle to understand our surroundings. I don’t have any answers, but it sure is fun to think about!

“Love is the breath of the Holy Spirit inspired into the human spirit!” -Abdu’l-Baha

There is this concept that the mind is not connected to the body…the mind exists in the soul. This is so beautiful! Our brain is the conduit through which our mind operates our body. So…the mind/spirit is what makes us human, which allows us to operate with free will (which in my mind is one of the distinguishing characteristics of being human).

“Love is the greatest law in this vast universe of God!” -Abdu’l-Baha

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Over halfway

September 8th marked the halfway point in my service in Haifa.  9 months left.

I know that I’ve changed, that I’ve stayed the same.   There are so many beautiful moments, and I wish I could gather every beautiful soul into my hands and carry them with me anywhere I go in the world.  I wish I could explain everything here, or write it down, but recently words have been failing me.  Perhaps pictures would suffice.

I am so, so happy here.  Autumn is slowly creeping around the corner, the pilgrim season starts in a few weeks, the magic of the smell of cold evenings still exists in the world.  

The passing of the last Hand of the Cause of God is still too recent to even understand.  As far as I can remember, I had the bounty of meeting four of them (at least the ones I remember meeting).   `Alí-Muhammad Varqá, `Alí-Akbar Furútan, Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, and William Sears…and now they’re all gone.

“The greatest attainment in the world of humanity is nearness to God. Every lasting glory, honor, grace and beauty which comes to man comes through nearness to God.”

 (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 147)

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In loving memory

In just a short time I will attend the funeral of the last Hand of the Cause of God, Dr. ‘Alí-Muhammad Varqá.  He passed on to the Abha Kingdom on Saturday evening.

The obligations of the Hands of the Cause of God are to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things. They must manifest the fear of God by their conduct, their manners, their deeds and their words.

 (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 444)

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Sunset last night was the start of Yom Kippur, which means that for 24 hours everything is shut down. I do mean everything. No one drives, so my flatmate and I went for a long walk….in the middle of the street. It was rather surreal.

I haven’t heard Haifa this quiet…ever. I cleaned, baked, and read last night after soccer, it was extremely relaxing. Today I am having a day in the flat with a couple of girlfriends (food, movies, the usual), then going to see a play that a bunch of my friends are performing in/directing/helping with. Rather excited about that.

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A Holy Day

Today was the commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Bab, which we observe on the lunar calendar in Israel.

I woke up at 9 am to make a giant breakfast and shared it with some friends in my building.  At 11:30 we caught a cab to the Shrine of the Bab for the program at noon.  Every Holy Day chairs are set up in the courtyard of the pilgrim house, prayers are read, and we circumambulate the Shrine.   It is quite beautiful and peaceful.

After the program was over, 10 of us went up to the Merkaz (top of the mountain, shopping area) to eat lunch.  It was quite delicious.

I spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping on my couch and watching movies.  At around 7 pm I went over to Roya’s, and I got home just a little while ago.

So that is my day, one restful day in middle of a busy week.  People ask me what is new, what is happening in my life.  I’m busy, and that is really all I have to say.  The details are not that important, especially if you’re not me.  :-)  There are the usual things, and I document with pictures and stories and words, some things you see, some you don’t.  There are some exciting things in the works…trips, events, etc.  I think every weekend is already booked from now until November (ok, maybe I exaggerate a little, but still!).

Also, I am still getting used to the idea of being 24.  Hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

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Things I like… (#4)

(Credit to Vahid for this picture)

cobblestone streets

really great handwriting

tea at Bahji in the afternoon

spanish moss on willow trees

vegetable stands on the side of the road

broken pieces of colored glass in the sun

old cemetaries (calculating ages of the dead)

children calling me “auntie”

cooking for a lot of people

close friends getting married (congrats to two couples here especially! Love you!)

(I Like: #1, #2, #3)

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I guess you take the good with the bad…

A cockroach crawled up my jeans leg while I sat at a bus stop yesterday. I had to shake it out…it was about as long as my index finger and quite…wriggly. Not so much fun.

Also, I had an entire conversation with the old man sitting next to me, even though he knew about 20 words in English and I know about 5 in Hebrew. He offered me a peach but I wasn’t hungry.

Frisbee last night at the beach:

Last week’s frustration has been channeled into action, which is much more fun. I had quite the wonderful weekend, and while I am not home as much as I used to be, I have decided that it is a good thing to be busy, especially for someone like me.

I have been rather obsessed with a few artists recently. So check them out…

The Shins– Wincing the Night Away, 2007

Joshua Radin– We Were Here, 2006

Bloc Party– A Weekend in the City, 2007

Tom McRae – unreleased recordings

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The heat of August

The heat has not been crippling this summer, and I work inside an office during the day, so I do not get the brunt of it. Maybe 15 years of Chicago winters went so far into my bones that I need 15 years of sun to get tired of it. 🙂

Bahji (where the Shrine of Baha’u’llah is located, about 45 minutes drive from Haifa) is only open in the evenings right now because they are doing major construction and landscaping, so I have spent a few evenings there in the last few weeks. It is really quite amazing to be there in the quiet dark, with only small pools of light from the opaque globes scattered around the gardens.

Meet my new friend, from Bahji:

One thing blends into another, each night is like the other, and each moment there is more strength in my words. I made promises to myself in each place, these are now binding and I am not playing games anymore.

(there are games and then there are games, and I haven’t played either in a very long time)

I hope I am not getting sick, the tiredness is in my head and my throat and I am not sure why midnight is a magic time, suddenly I must sleep. I know there is much more for me to say, about beach days and bridal showers for friends, dinners and birthdays and moments with every single person I meet. The stuffy Jasmine-filled heat of sanctuary, home is here and home left the moment I opened my eyes today.

I made promises. I say this out loud to hold myself to them, the prayers will not drift away in the wind and everything is tied down with the most beautiful pieces of string.

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Performed this at the open mic on August 3rd…

I used to write love songs. I would run the tips of my fingers over dry earth, my eyes over the trees passing by. Pulling out every word, using the mortality in my thoughts, idealized in eternity.

I used large words to say everything, and no one heard because nowadays people don’t hear large words. Everything is cut into little pieces, the latest sound-bite of the newest fad, now on news stands!  (I haven’t looked at a supermarket checkout line in years).

Five hundred thousand points for using the word “dextrosinistral” in a sentence!  That is, by the way, a left handed person who is trained to use their right hand.  And your prize is…a dictionary?

Admit it…at least once, you have opened the dictionary or encyclopedia intending to read all the way through.  Come on, admit it!  (looks around)  I guess that was just me

I always wondered why the popsicles I made in the summer never turned out like the ones from the grocery store.  I was convinced that I could find the perfect recipe, and I wouldn’t have to chew my way through a solid block of ice.

Paper airplanes are the perfect pathways for love notes, if only they would fly in the right direction. 

I wish you would stop and ask for directions.

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I am strangled by time zone differences and my inability to communicate. I spent the day doing nothing except watching documentaries and baking gluten-free cookies. I didn’t even clean, respond to emails, make phone calls…not one useful thing.

Oh, well I did paint my nails.

Meals have been haphazard today. I am finding myself in strange places in my head. I slept only as much as the sun allowed me, woke up with my arm so asleep that it was no longer my own.

I drank too much weak coffee last night, I talked too much and now everything is fuzzy because I no longer remember what stories I tell. There is no need to talk this much. I want to start over, start my stories over. I don’t want to be the same person any more. I want to be me again.

Yesterday was a morning in the Hadar, entering stores, the feeling of fabric between my fingers and street vendors. I love the crowded vegetable stands with mangoes twice the size as usual, the butcher that says “Welcome to Israel!” (that beef was amazing in the stew, by the way). Roya, maybe I should have bought that magnet. 🙂

I wish I could find one thing that consumes me…too much ambivalence is making me a very boring person. I wish I could gather stories to re-tell that make people hold their breath. I wish I could walk in the streets with nothing but time and photographs of the future and restless feet…

and you.

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Cleaning machine

There are certain things that are meant to be done during daylight, or at least at a time when you aren’t asleep on your feet. Cleaning bathrooms, for example. First, I am not a person that likes to clean bathrooms (although there are people out there who enjoy this activity. Seriously! I met one!). Second, when I get tired, I forget things. Third, I always try to multi-task.

I was feeling very efficient after my dinner party tonight…washed all the dishes, bagged up the trash, put away the food, put away clothes in my room. I put toilet cleaner fluid in the toilet and let it sit, and did the same with the bathtub scrub.

This was at around 10 pm. Then I got distracted watching youtube clips at my next door neighbor’s flat, stopping by my aunt’s flat, etc. The usual fun times at the Blum. 😛

At midnight I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and realize that I haven’t scrubbed out the cleaning stuff. So it is happily eating away at the tub and toilet. I promptly scrub them both out, taking away several layers of minerals (yay for calcium deposits in the water supply!). Trust me, I would have completely forgotten to clean it out if the smell hadn’t overpowered me.

Now it is 12:30 am. I think I drank too much tea. I am wide awake.

I just realized that I wrote an entire blog post about cleaning my bathroom. And it had no point except to illustrate that I am occasionally absent-minded and a little bit obsessive. Wow. I’m so sorry to have wasted your time! 😀 But hey, the everyday things give you a little glimpse into my life, right?

Do any of y’all have a story about forgetting things, bathrooms (I know I’m asking for trouble with this one!), or even a random anecdote that you always wanted to share, but never had the opportunity? Now is your chance!

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In summary

“…as long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters.”

-Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

I don’t have a lot to say right now, really. I had a fantastic day yesterday…we went hiking in a forest preserve, and I am really just happy that I survived since it was so hot and we were out there for 6 hours (pictures here).  Also, I read the latest Harry Potter book in a 24 hr span.  I am crazy.

I am quiet these days, happier to sit back and listen, or read, or be inside my head. I need social interaction, as I always have, but there is something wonderful in learning what it is to be on my own.  If it makes me more serious than usual, so be it.

It is interesting to step outside yourself, to analyze your actions and see where things are taking you.  It is also good to have friends/family that are honest with you, and who say what needs to be said, even though it isn’t always what you want to hear.

The reason I say all of these things is because there are a lot of people who read this blog, and I am pretty sure that I don’t know most of you very well.  There are parts of me that want to learn about everyone around me, to be a friend, to cherish them.  I also know that I don’t always have time for that, but if someone makes an effort, I am likely to do the same.  The way the world is these days, with people being “friends” at the drop of a hat (whatever happened to the word ‘acquaintance’?), it is hard for me to say that I need more “friends”.

But I really love knowing people’s stories and trying to understand who they are, and that will always be something I cherish.  So no matter how many lovely people are in my life, I will always welcome more.

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I drove a car today for the first time in nearly 8 months.  (Well, to be completely honest I took a driving test here a few months ago, but I only drove a few blocks, so I don’t think it counts.)

It was wonderful.  I didn’t realize how much I missed driving until I got behind the wheel.  Driving in Israel wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and I was driving for work, so I had a specific destination. 

A business lunch at an outdoor restaurant, good conversation, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” playing on the radio as we drove back to work completed a fabulous day.

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A taxi adventure

Every morning about 10 of us take a sherut to work from our apartment building.  A sherut is like a mini-bus, and it arrives every day at 7:45 am.

Today it did not arrive.  8 of us stood outside our building, confused.  While we waited, another sherut came down the driveway.  He asked us where we needed to go, and when we informed him that we were trying to get to Golomb (where the Arc is), he drove away as if offended.

I called the sherut manager, who then informed me that he couldn’t reach his driver.

We decided to walk up to the street to catch a few cabs.  Taxis kept driving by, most of them empty, while 4 boys and 4 girls stood on the curb.  We got 4 people into a taxi, which then stopped 20 feet away and kicked everyone out: he wanted twice as much money as we should pay, and wouldn’t use the meter. 

Finally we got almost everyone into two taxis (that we called to come get us), leaving me and one of the guys left behind.  We flagged down a taxi, who then took 2 wrong turns, almost didn’t stop at our destination (I had to emphatically correct him!), and tried to charge us too much money.

 I arrived at work a 1/2 hour later than I should have. It would have been faster to go by horse-drawn carriage.

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