Saturday, February 12, 2011

A little bit of everything

Nothing too exciting over the past week but I felt I should update anyway.

Sunday night about 15 of us went out to a bar in Jerusalem that is owned by American immigrants to watch the superbowl. We got there at about 11:30pm but the kickoff wasn't until 1:30am our time. The night started with a beer chugging contest (so American!) and they had a wings eating contest at half time (also, so American!). It was a good feeling of comfort to be there, feeling so American in the middle of Jerusalem. Actually, Jerusalem is a city with A LOT of immigrants so you hear a lot of english on the streets anyway. The broadcast we were watching was from ESPN but it was something international so we didn't see the commercials. We did, however, see many commercials of sports clips during which I cheered every time the sox, pats, celts, or bruins showed up on the screen. Two cheers for the obnoxious Boston sports fan :). We got back at 6am and for some strange reason I woke up two hours later to go to class.

Wednesday I met my sister Allie at the airport when she returned from LA to get the suitcase that my momma sent with her. I now have an egg crate, mattress pad, snuggie, coffee mugs, rainboots, some coats, a beach towel, night light and a few other things to add to my three suitcases worth of possessions I have here.

Friday night I had Shabbat dinner at my friend Gadi's house. I've known Gadi for two years now and I've met his family but I have never had dinner there, just lunch Saturday afternoon. When I arrived there were only 5 of us. After about a half hour the gang was all there, all 25/30 people! I really enjoyed remembering that this isn't an exception for Shabbat dinner, this is the norm. It is such a great tradition here, to be with family and friends for dinner once a week every week. Gadi's mom is from Uruguay originally, she made Aliyah when she was 18, and his dad came here from Australia when he was really young. Everyone spoke in Spanish, Hebrew, and some English for me, although I CANT WAIT until I feel more comfortable in Hebrew, especially in these settings. The food was AMAZING, and tasted even more amazing because the food at my ulpan is extremely sub par. Gadi's mom reminded me that there is nothing like "mom's cooking," and told me that I must come more often.
Here when someone invites you over, especially for Shabbat dinner, the invitation is not because they think that they should invite you. If you are invited for Shabbat dinner you are expected to attend, and it's kind of insulting if you don't. Hospitality here is amazing. When someone says you have an open invite you truly feel that this is true, and the next Shabbat that you don't have plans you will go there. It's not imposing, it's expected.
After dinner/dessert/games with the family, Gadi and I picked up some friends from Ulpan and went to my friend Abe's party. Abe was having a "Long Live Liberated Egypt" party. How perfect that Mubarak resigned literally 3 hours before the party! Abe lives in East Jerusalem, which, for those of you unfamiliar with the area, is the Arab area east of Jerusalem "proper". I like to think that I expanded the horizons of my Israeli friend Gadi by bringing him there, let's leave it at that for now, haha. Next post: I live over the green line and I don't know how I feel about it.

Running is going well, I finally registered for the Tel Aviv half marathon yesterday. I am about to head out for my "long run" of training week two, five miles. I have been doing pretty well getting out to run 4 or 5 days a week, even with all the hills. The problem is not the hills, its the lack of nutrition I am putting into my body because of the food at my Ulpan. As you probably know, I am a vegetarian. (sidenote: the chicken and chopped liver at Gadi's last night was delicious! ;) ). I am SO down for eating chicken at Shabbat dinners because 1. it's usually delicious, and 2. I am extremely protein deprived. Besides potentially on Shabbat though, the only protein I receive from my diet is in the form of dairy (mostly yogurt) and eggs. AKA: not substantial. Yes, I need to work on this. My legs remind me of their lack of protein every run, they feel more tired on these hills then they should. I'm sorry legs, but the meat in our dining room here actually disgusts me because I'm a picky meat eater. I must figure something out...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bone Marrow Donation Update

As you may remember, I donated bone marrow on December 15th. If you have no idea what I'm talking about you can read about it in a previous blog post, here.

This week I emailed a few people from DKMS to see if I could find out anything about the patient's current status. I received an email back today and found out that the little girl did indeed receive the transplant two weeks ago! I don't have any more information yet but apparently it can take up to 30 days to see if her body will accept the blood or not. I'll write again when I find out more. Until then, everyone say a little prayer that the transplant is successful!

This is all I had to do to potentially save a little girl's life? I never would have thought. Terrible quality pictures, haha, I took them from my laptop while donating.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Feels Like Home to Me

What a great week it has been! After a hard few days last week of being homesick, I have had no complaints this week! Some combination of going to Shorashim and spending Shabbat with my sister and the Morse's (my sister's, and now my, "adopted family" here in Israel), talking to friends and family from home, and changing my way of thinking pulled me through just fine.

The biggest thing I was hung up on was the feeling that I did not have good friends at Ulpan yet. I knew, in my head, that in two weeks I could not expect to have formed best friendships, but the fact still made me feel very lonely. Once I realized two ways that I could improve my situation, things got a lot better. First, I decided that I would push myself to spend more time in friends' rooms and with friends outside of Ulpan. This is pretty easy because we live in what is like apartment style dorms, so my friends are all literally a minute or two away from me, if that. Second, while spending this time with friends I decided that I needed to stop thinking and analyzing so much. I realized that during the times I was with my friends I wasn't truly being myself. I had so many thoughts constantly running through my head (what am I doing here, was this the right thing to do, what are the next few years going to look like, can I see myself being good friends with these people, etc) that it was inhibiting me from being myself. I was more quiet and reserved than "normal" me, I wasn't letting myself open up and actually be present in the interactions I was having. If you know me, then you probably know that analyzing, ruminating, and thinking so much is REALLY not like me, so this was a frustrating realization to have. Ultimately, I needed to stop thinking and just be.

The good news is that this week I have felt the most like myself since I have been here, so I think my two step solution is working :). I genuinely feel more happy and energetic, I am more excited to spend time with friends getting to know them and forming relationships. I actually feel like I am living here now and not just visiting. All I can hope for is to have many more weeks like this week.

I am staying home for the weekend for the first time since I have moved in, I am excited to spend Shabbat with my new friends in Jerusalem. For now I'm off to go give my friend Brandon a hair cut, I can't believe he's trusting me!