Tel Aviv is One of the Most Expensive Cities

So, Tel Aviv ranked as the 22nd most expensive city worldwide, and the most expensive city in the Middle East.

Honestly, neither of those facts surprise me. It’s known to be an expensive place to live, even more so than Jerusalem. But let’s look at the opening sentence, which has two parts.

  1. Tel Aviv is the world’s 22nd most expensive city. That means that 21 cities are more expensive. And hundreds of thousands are less expensive. Okay. Makes sense, at least kind of.
  2. Tel Aviv is the most expensive city in the Middle East. You can look at this in two ways. First, Tel Aviv is an expensive city to live in. Second, other cities in the Middle East are inexpensive to live in.

Tel Aviv is a bustling, modern city. It has hospitals, a long strip of beaches, malls, and an international airport (which actually belongs to Lod, but whatever). It’s full of markets, museums, and tourist attractions. It’s a port city, and it’s an old city, too. All of these factors added up mean that no matter how small or old your apartment is, the land that it’s sitting on costs a fortune.

So yes, it makes sense that Tel Aviv is expensive. So is New York. Fine.

The other side of the coin is that most of the Middle Eastern countries are still considered to be developing economies. Many of the governments are corrupt, and the lay people are poor. Between civil wars and terror groups fighting for power, it’s no surprise that less funds, jobs, and social benefits are available for the citizens.

That means that Israel (and I would put Jordan, too, and until recently, Egypt) is one of the most stable and developed countries in the Middle East. So, it’s no surprise that Israel’s most expensive city should be the region’s most expensive city. Is that something to be proud of? I think not. But, our economy definitely is.

And while we’re on the topic of how great Israel is – several of Israel’s hospitals ranked high on the global list. We’re talking about a list of the top 12,000 hospitals in the world. In this tiny country, 32 hospitals made the list; the highest ranking of them being #103 in the world. That’s pretty good, and I’m proud of it.

Social Media and Me

Since social media first came out, I’ve hated it.

I don’t have Facebook, and never missed it.

I don’t have Twitter, because I think it’s dumb.

I don’t have Pinterest, because honestly, I don’t see the point.

I don’t have WhatsApp, and I never quite understood why everyone else does.  (Admission: Until a few months ago, I thought its name was WhatsUp.  I still call it WhatsDown, though.)

And why would I want to stick a name tag and personal pictures onto my Gmail account?  I don’t.

I do have LinkedIn.  I don’t know how much it’s helped me, if at all, but I signed up because I figured it would help me network and find a job.  It hasn’t, at least not yet.  But since so many experts think that LinkedIn is useful, I keep hoping that it will find me something.

Even though I’ve been active on online forums for over ten years, somewhere inside, I’m still a teenager, scared of stalkers who take their stalking offline.

I don’t post pictures of my kids – or myself, or my husband – on the net.  Recently, I shut down my Geni account, and changed all our names to anonymous or blanks.  I have no idea what my extended family thinks of that move – and honestly, I don’t really care.

I do what I do – and don’t do what I don’t do – after a lot of thought and consideration, and I really don’t care whether my decisions are applauded or booed.

Honestly, when people ask me about social media, most of them raise an eyebrow at the fact that I am completely disconnected.  In many ways, I feel like my technological skills are ten years behind.  I feel like a Bubby.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  To this day, I don’t know.

But, Yitzchak is on the same page.  He also is completely off all social media.

Lately, though, I’ve had to make some tough choices.  As you probably know, I’m not continuing at my teaching job this year.  That means that when the school year starts in less than a week, I will be at home.  Shlomo will go to gan, at least the first day (he doesn’t want to go back, but I told him he needs to try one day, and then decide).  And I will be home, with Tova.  We don’t do daycare.   Not if there is another viable option . . . even if that option requires a sacrifice of money, convenience, or career.

I’m happy about that.  It really is what I want to do, deep down.  I’m just worried about whether or not I’ll want to find another teaching job in a year from now, and how that would go, if I chose to take that route.

But what not teaching also means is that I need to replace my salary.  Ideally, Yitzchak would be earning on his own what the two of us earn together.  That may or may not happen, and it may or may not happen in the next few months.  Really, we just have to work hard and pray.  In the meantime, though, I still need a salary.

I know that if this freelance business thing succeeds, I won’t have to go back to teaching.  The question is more if I’ll want to. Honestly? I’m scared that Tova will be ready for gan next year, and, being a good parent, I’ll send her just because she’s ready, even though technically speaking, there’s no reason to spend the money.  Then I’ll be stuck at home by myself, running my own business and making eleven thousand shekels a month (okay, hopefully), but in desperate need of company.

Last time I stayed home, I was creating and editing educational materials.  It was great, except that my boss’ budget wasn’t big enough that he could promise me steady work.  Luckily, it was enough at the time, and we managed.  Now, though, I’m not up for that level of uncertainty.  I will still be working with him, but I need other clients, as well.

Freelancing, whether teaching, writing, or editing, is a tough field to find jobs in.  So, when I saw on one site, “If you can’t find your ideal job, create it,” it really clicked with me.

After a long bout of cold feet, nail biting, nervousness, and thinking “Oh my G-d, I can’t believe I’m doing this.  Is this me?  Am I NUTS?” I took the plunge.

I am now a freelance writer.  In six days, it will be official (because my teaching contract will be up).  I am going to make this work, and I am going to be one of those high-earning success stories, having to turn down clients because my business has been more successful than I’d thought possible, and I want to leave more time for my family.

What all this means, though, is that my attitude towards social media will have to change.  To build an online writing business, you need to network and reach people online.  You need to be easily searchable, both in Google and in social media, because otherwise, clients the world over will have a hard time finding you. Even if they do manage to find your site, they’ll be nervous about being one of the first to work with you, or about hiring an unknown writer, when there are more well-known, personable writers to be found.

I think it was Sophie Lizard who wrote that, “People don’t work with websites, they work with other people.” Or something along those lines.  So, you have to show that you’re a person.

And so, with a lot of tummy flip-flops, and a lot of nervousness, I came face-to-face with the social media monster that I’ve successfully managed to avoid since its inception.

I took the ghost Facebook account, faceless, nameless, postless, pictureless, that I had made for the sole purpose of being able to read Facebook links, and I put a picture and a website.

I made Twitter and Pinterest accounts, added a picture, name, website, byline, and found people to follow.

And when my first guest post came out the day after I sent it in, I shared it.  So far, it has gained me a single Twitter follower, and four LinkedIn “likes”.

I think what my compromise will have to be, is that I post and share my writing when it comes out.  Soon, I will make a logo; after that, I will probably get someone to draw a caricature of me, and use the caricature on all my social media accounts, instead of an actual picture.

This is actually why I haven’t been posting too much in the past week.  Instead, I’ve been pouring my time and energy into getting my freelance writing business off the ground.  It isn’t easy, but I’m on a roll, and I believe that with enough motivation and hard work, I can land a couple of high-paying clients within the month – enough to easily replace the income I was earning as a teacher.

I’ve also been trying to teach myself to put only one space between sentences, instead of two.  What this usually means is doing “Find and Replace,” when I’m done writing an article.  Most of the time, this does the trick.

Wish me luck, because I think I’ll need it.

And don’t worry.  I’m not leaving this blog.  I will still continue posting here, on a schedule as regular – or irregular – as I have been until now.

When my site is up, and I feel like I can be proud of it, I will place a link over here.  Until then, sit tight, and keep reading. 🙂

UPDATE: I wrote this post a few days ago, on August 26.  I don’t know that I’m super-proud of my site yet, but I have 2 pieces published and two more scheduled . . . so I’m taking the plunge and waving my  anonymity bye-bye.  You can visit my writer’s site here, and of course, if anyone you know (maybe even you) is looking for a quality freelancer, I’d love it if you recommended me.

Mom-life Identity Crisis

I love my job as a teacher.  I love my students, I love the challenge, I love watching them grow.  But I don’t want to put my babies in daycare.  I believe – we believe – that babies should be at home, or maximum with a much-loved babysitter, one-on-one, until they show readiness for preschool.

When Shlomo was born, I was in my last semester of college. We had a mishmash of me, Yitzchak, and my best friend.  When I started teaching, he was six months old, and I took a babysitter.  That ate up half my salary, and I worked hard and came back exhausted, with no energy for anything.  The year after that, I worked from home; towards the end of the year, I saw that he was starting to become more social and by the time summer vacation came, I knew that he needed to go to gan that September.

I found him a gan, and found myself a teaching job. Towards the beginning of this school year, I had Tova.  So, after my maternity leave was over, Yitzchak and I did another mishmash of scheduling, and staying home, and Yitzchak would take her with him, sometimes.  Now, I have the question again, but slightly different, since 9 months is different than 6 months, and Tova will be 9 months at the beginning of the school year.

And I have a problem.  If my resume shows that every time I have a baby, I take a year off to stay home . . . no one will hire me.  So, what do I do?  Do I keep teaching, or do I stay home?  If there was an option for only Yitzchak to work, and for me to stay home and just keep house, I would.  Yitzchak would too, obviously, but I’m not sure it’s good for him to be keeping house all day.  At the end of the day, intelligence, politics, and equal rights aside, it increasingly seems to us that we are a pretty traditional couple.

I also am not thrilled at the prospect of working from home again, but unless someone gives Yitzchak a miracle job that will pay all our bills AND allow us to put money aside (so that, for instance, we can buy a couch and put the sapapa in the guest room; or so that we can buy a standing oven with a stove on top, instead of having a toaster oven and a two-burner stove that sits on the counter; ah, and a carseat for Shlomo and a new stroller because ours was not a well-researched purchase, and new clothes for me every time I change size), I don’t really have a choice.

And so, dear readers, I turn to you. Does anyone on here have a steady writing, editing, or teaching job that I can do from home?  It needs to be a set number of hours a week and a steady pay[pal]check at least $1500 a month.  Ideas?  Opportunities?  Have any of you done data entry, and can recommend a reliable website?

Hey, at least my parents can’t complain that they paid thousands for my degree and here I am looking for a simple job from home.  The Israeli government paid for 3 years of my degree, and Yitzchak and I paid for the fourth, 200 shekels at a time.

The C and G Bagrut, Or, The System is Messed Up

The first bagrut (matriculation) exam this season was the English exam.  The way Israeli exams, in most subjects, work is like this:

A few hours before the exam, each school is sent more than enough test booklets, for every test that they will be giving.

They bring in  proctors, unrelated to the school, but usually from a sector and gender that will be mutually comfortable.

The proctors make sure that the room is ready for the test, and then the students come in.

The students hand over everything that is not a pen, food, or drink, or whatever material is allowed to be brought in (for instance, a dictionary, or simple Bible).

Then the proctor hands out the exams, the students do what they can, and hand it in.

This is the process in short.

But what happens when someone finds a copy of the test and uploads it to the internet, so that he and his friends can prepare?  It’s no longer an “unseen” text, and the questions are known, and the students have the opportunity to prepare answers . . . but not across the board, and therefore, the test isn’t really fair anymore.

The ideal would be to isolate that student, or possibly school, and punish them appropriately.  But half an hour before the entire country is going to take the test, there is no time for that.  So, what do they do?  The following is what they did while I sat in the teacher’s room and waited, and while my co-teacher kept calling the Bagrut hotline to find out, as soon as possible, what we were supposed to do.

First, the people in charge of the bagrut exams talk.  Then, they decide to change questions, and the new questions will be sent by email to the secretaries, to be printed and attached to the existing test booklets.

But what about the students who are LD, and therefore only do half the exam, orally?  Which questions do they do?  Previously, we had a list of which questions were necessary.  Now, what do we do?  What about those LD kids who have a disk?  The disk doesn’t have a recording of the new questions, and it’s not fair to make them do the test without having those questions read aloud to them.  And what about students who already started the test?

We got the list of questions for the first LD set, and the second LD set was told to do the original questions.  Then we saw the replacement questions – they were practically identical to the originals, except maybe in a different order.  The students who had already started had to start over, and had two options: 1. extra time, 2. moed bet (another chance to do the test, in a few weeks).  Even for those who chose to take the extra time, the test isn’t really fair.  It was late in the afternoon, and doing a matriculation exam is taxing.  I think it’s fair to say that the answers they gave the second time around were probably of a lesser quality than those they gave the first time around.

Because all anyone knew was that the exam that was supposed to be at 4:15 had been leaked, this whole process happened to 2 separate exams – C and G, which were both scheduled to take place at 4:15 that afternoon.

Two days later, we hear unwelcome news: Now, 45 minutes before the start of the exams, all students testing must be phone-less in the examination room.  Then the tests will be sent by email to the secretary, who will print them out for the students.  This is a bad plan, and if this is what we have come to, then we are in big trouble.  First, let’s see why it’s a bad plan:

1. 45 extra minutes in the exam room.  Expect grades to drop immediately, because that adds 45 extra minutes of stress, and certainly won’t help anyone do better on the test.

2. What happens if the school’s internet happens to not be working exactly when it needs to be?  What happens if a specific city has a power outage exactly when the bagrut needs to start?

3. Previously, the test booklets were sent to the schools.  Who is going to pay for the photocopying?  And for bigger schools, is 45 minutes going to be enough?

4. Who says the test won’t leak, anyways?

In my opinion, there are major underlying issues in the system, if this is what we have come to.  But on the other hand, I thought that anyways.  I’m not sure how standardized, stupidized, matriculation exams help our academic ranking, use, or level at all.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it does the opposite.  But I’m no minister of education, so my opinion doesn’t really matter, does it?

In addition, the new system punishes everyone.  Why not just punish the sector that started the leak?  I understand that in today’s age of Facebook and Instagram, the leaked test will make it to everyone.  But not fast enough to be a real threat to the test’s integrity, for the rest of the country.

Update: The Education ministry has responded to the anger of teachers and parents, by finding a middle ground.  Some schools will get direct delivery, and some schools will have to send two representatives who will be held responsible for the integrity of the exam in that school.  Students will have to hand in their phones 30 minutes early.  This is much, much better.  Will it work?  I don’t know.  Honestly, I am of the opinion that a student who wants to cheat will find a way to do it, no matter what guidelines are set.  This is a global problem (as in, affecting the entire Western world) and will not be solved until we stop making academics into a golden calf that everyone is required to serve.  

We, as a whole, need to put more emphasis on who people are, and a solid value system, and less on grades, academics, and what people have.  “Keeping up with the Joneses,” should not exist, and is a symptom of this same problem; when you have to prove that you are a worthwhile person by grades, money, or lifestyle, you cannot put the same energy into living according to proper values.  But that’s a subject for a different post.


Do We Live on Stress?

Two days ago, I realized that I had to de-stress.  I am the type that worries about everything.  The specific thing that I was stressed about is irrelevant at the moment.   At any rate, I started thinking of ways to relax.  And then it hit me:  I don’t know how to relax.  I function by being stressed, by stressing myself out.  If I’m not stressed, I don’t function well.

I work last-minute; I procrastinate.  Then, at the last moment, I do what I need to.  One example is my seminar paper (or B.Ed. paper, or whatever you want to call it).  I pushed it off and pushed it off and pushed it off, and I handed it in at the last minute, after working on it for about two nights and one day.  It scored an 85%, which, in my opinion, is pretty good for such a last-minute paper, with last-minute interviews.

I told Yitzchak, “You know, I don’t think I know how to relax.”  He replied, “Really?  What makes you think that?”
Me: “Well, I’m always stressed, and I don’t think I ever really relax totally.”

Him: “I can’t fathom why you would think that!”

Me: “Are you being sarcastic?”

Him: “Obviously!  You seem to like stressing yourself out.”

This got me thinking: How many of us are so wound up that we can’t relax?  How many of us are so stressed out that we equate even less-stressed with completely relaxed, because, to us, it is?  How many of us stress ourselves out on a daily basis, over things that matter and things that don’t?

Things that matter: Paying the bills, eating nutritious meals, taking care of the kids.  Things that don’t: Buying a fancy gift for the birthday party, making a fancy birthday party, buying a new car (assuming the old one is servicable).

More things that matter: Making sure that you communicate well with your spouse, that the two of you support each other’s opinion and parenting, at least in front of the kids.  Making sure that you get enough sleep that you will be able to function the next day.  Making sure that you and your family are healthy, and know basic safety guidelines.

More things that don’t: Buying a new computer when your old one is still good, buying an Ipad5, being friends with everyone, making sure you don’t miss any social events, making sure your house is always super-clean.

See what I mean?  We all stress ourselves out about things that don’t matter so much.  I’m guilty of it too; we all are.  But is this stress good for us?  What will really matter in ten years?  I think we all need to take a step back and think foward: Which of these things will continue to matter?  Which will not matter in ten years, or in twenty years?  If my child isn’t sitting quietly, why is that?  Because he’s a toddler?  Because he’s a hyperactive 7 year old?  Or because he is rude and violent?  Only the last one is a problem that needs to be solved; usually, toddlers grow out of their toddlerhood, and hyperactive seven-year-olds learn to sit through business meetings.  So do I really have to worry about what the people on the bus, who I will probably never see agian, think of me?  Should I even bother?

I am trying to take a deep breath and relax.  I try to envision my ideal life (which is not unrealistic, by the way).  I try to see myself as if I am there now, feeling calm, relaxed, happy.  I try to feel the relaxation that I am pinning on the image in the daydream.  I close my eyes, lie down, and imagine it.  I try to think of ways to relax.  Unfortunately, spending time with my MIL in quiet L. is not feasible at the moment, because we can’t get away right now.  But, I can imagine how it would be, and that is also relaxing.

(Note: This was written last December.  As in, December 2012.  Now, thank G-d, we live in a much quieter city.  Though I wouldn’t mind visiting my mother-in-law, I don’t dream of visiting her nice, quiet city the way I used to.)

To Jerusalem for Jack

Yesterday was my “kid” brother in law, Jack’s, swearing-in ceremony.  Jack made aliya a few years ago, wanting to join the army.  Secretly, we think he made aliya to prove that if Yitzchak could do it, so could he.  I call him my kid brother in law because:

1) Yitzchak has three older brothers and one younger brother – Jack.  Since I’m married to Yitzchak I tend to think of myself as older than Jack even though

2) Jack is a year older than me.  But I gotta say, even though he’s a good kid, he really is still a kid.

We haven’t seen Jack since July.  We’ve wanted him to come but he’s always too busy on his weekends free.  Okay, fine.  No problem.  But in the past two weeks he called us five (Yitzchak says eight) times to check if we were coming to his tekes hashba’a (swearing in ceremony) at the Kotel.  The last three were on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday (as we were leaving the house) of this week.  So we figured he was pretty desperate to have us there.  Not that we wouldn’t have gone anyways – he doesn’t really have anyone except for us here.

Well, we got to Be’er Sheva and saw a bus going to Jerusalem (we missed the bus to Be’er Sheva by about thirty seconds and had to wait for the next one).  It was full and left.  Then we saw another bus, that takes longer, and Yitzchak went to the bathroom.  The bus got full and left, and another bus came, before he came back.  We were in line to get on this bus (the third since we’d arrived) and when we were almost at the door they announced that there was room for five more passengers.  I was the fifth, but they said that was it, so I got off and let someone else get on.  (I’m not going to get on without Yitzchak and Shlomo.)  Then another bus came and we finally got on.

We were almost to Jerusalem when there was a 20-minute traffic jam.  When we finally got off the bus every traffic light we saw turned red just as we got to the crosswalk.  Then we missed a light rail train and had to wait for the next one.  Then we ran to the Kotel (Western Wall) and thought they hadn’t started yet – only to realize that we’d missed the whole ceremony.  Oh, well.

Jack was happy to see us.  We met his friends, a family who kind of took him under their wing (he’s not religious; neither are they) and his apartment was near to theirs.  The mother, L., started talking and I said, “You sound just like my mother in law!” Two kids, a boy aged 16 and a girl aged 13, who fought like two teenagers are supposed to fight.  A national service girl who who had become friendly with the family and with Jack.

They gave Shlomo a big bag of bamba which I had no problem with him eating, considering that he was getting tired and Shlomo refuses food when he’s tired.  At least he’d have something in his stomach.  Then people started complaining that they were hungry.  We all (all eight of us) found a pizza place, put four tables together, and sat down.  Shlomo refused to eat, which worried me until I remembered he’d had the big bag of bamba.  (We chose the pizza place for the kashrut supervision but no one realized that that was our reason; it was good pizza, no smokers around, and had place to sit.  We were also the only ones who really knew our way around the Old City.  And we were kind of upset because this place had become more expensive since we were last there, although it’s a fair assumption that everyone else had raised their prices, too.)  Two big pies and drinks for those who wanted.  Since neither of us took a drink, they went on L.’s bill, along with one of the pies; we paid for the other.  And everyone who passed by looked twice – a toddler, a chareidi-looking couple, four obviously non-religious people, including two soldiers (the 16 year old is learning in the army academy, not serving yet) and an obviously religious girl.  Haha.  I love making people wonder.  It is kind of an odd group, but none of us felt odd at all.

Mom called Jack, and then L. asked why we weren’t Skyping (Jack’s phone has Skype).  So we all – or at least half of us – took turns talking to the Skype machine.  First Jack, then L. (it was interesting watching them talk), then Shlomo and Yitzchak, then me.  Then back to Jack, who kept showing off his ability to tell people to shut their mouths, and that he’s in charge because it’s his phone, in Hebrew.

We got home really late (like, a quarter to twelve).  We had planned to do a few things while we were in Jerusalem, but as you can tell, we didn’t exactly have time.  Oh, well.

Even though it was a long trip and we came back sore, it was pretty fun.  It was good meeting the people that Jack spends his time around, and I hope that his girl-picker starts working as well as his adoptive-family-picker.  Come on, it’s no fun being the only couple married in both families.  And even though one of Yitzchak’s older brothers is getting married soon, they’re both in their forties so it’s safe to assume there won’t be any kids.  Plus, if Jack gets married here then he’ll stay here, which means more fun and family for us.  And a greater chance that his parents will come.

I can’t say the trip didn’t take a bite out of our wallet, though.  140 shekels transportation.  Another 60 for pizza and another 10 for water.  Ouch!  Oh, well.  I guess it was worth, it, right?

I hope so.

We brought our camera but didn’t have batteries – we had been planning to buy on the way but didn’t have time.  Luckily, L. did have a camera and promised to send us the pictures.

Here’s the invitation that we were sent:

tekes hashbaa, army, israe4li army, IDF, IDF ceremony, kotel, soldiers, israel, swearing in, israeli defense forceTranslation: Dear Families, You are hereby invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the group of November 2013, that will take place on Thursday, 13 Adar 5764, 13.02.2014 at the Western Wall.  On the itinerary: 17:00 – Gathering together 18:00 Swearing-in ceremony 19:00 Dispersal/dismissal  [signed] Aryeh Shachori, segan (vice) aluf, commander, ba”ch kefir.

The Online Literature Course

top, highlearn, online learning, matach, literature course, online course israel,, haifa, bgu, teachers courses, literature courses

Translation: “The virtual campus for teachers.” This is the picture on the site’s homepage.

That, obviously, I have to do.

It works like this: Starting from next year, you will not be allowed to teach literature unless you have taken this course.  And they will not be teaching this course anymore.  Bear in mind that they have been saying this for quite a few years.  I, in all innocence, thought that this time, they really meant it – in the past, they said, “Starting in a few years;” now, they said, “Starting next year.”  When I told Yitzchak, he asked what would happen to the brand-new teachers.  At first I didn’t understand, because I took a similar course in college (from a top professor, too).  Then he explained himself and I thought, “Hm, good point.  I should ask the counselor.”  So I asked and she said that she doesn’t know and they haven’t figured it out yet, and that they go through this every year.  Israel.  I don’t understand why it can’t just be a required course in colleges.  I guess I won’t understand – because this is Israel.

Well, luckily, the course for my area is online.  Why luckily?

First of all, it saves the time and money that I would have spent on travel.

Second of all, it means I can do it at my pace (fast) and not sit there bored waiting for everyone else to get it.

Third, and most obvious – I can do it whenever I want.

The downside?  I can do it whenever I want.

But it sure is a better package than a face to face course.  And, there really isn’t another option, thank G-d.  For each area there is either one or the other.  Thank G-d that this is what I have.  I’m done being bored in class, I had enough of that a long time ago.

However, there are a few problems with this course.

1) The sessions usually start on Mondays.  This is great – I can do the work Monday night and have Tuesday free to do other things.  Problem is, the session usually only opens late at night (session 6 opened at 11:30pm; session 7 opened 1:14am), so although I can access it on Tuesday, it doesn’t really open on Monday and I get frustrated.

2) The instructor has not checked my – or most other people’s – work since session 2 or 3.  Needless to say, it’s kind of frustrating.

3) The one session so far (6) that I actually needed was lacking.  The instructor said that this session (7) should fill in the gaps, but it doesn’t – it talks about a related topic but not the one I need, nor about the differences between them.  Topics that I already know were overdone.  And this specific topic, that I wanted to clarify, is way underdone.

4) Half of the reflections for the sessions aren’t sent with the rest of the session.  The first time this happened, I emailed and asked for the link.  She sent it pretty much right away.  The second time, it took a week (until the next session opened) to even receive an answer, and the answer was that the instructor had simply not put it together yet.  She would do so in the morning.  Well, it’s still not done.  And I’m really annoyed.  (I want to check it off my list already!)

5) The course uses mhtml.  It opens only in Chrome.  It is slow, inconvenient, and honestly, I don’t see why it can’t be more user-friendly.

Other than that, it’s a pretty good deal.  I paid 30 shekels ($9) for the course, because it is subsidized.  It probably gives me a slight raise in salary.  And it gives me a lot more confidence teaching literature . . . even if most of the material is stuff I already know.

My Cell Phone – Again

1a. My cell phone broke again and I am unwilling to spend money on fixing or replacing it.  Bad phone, bad plan, too expensive.  We are looking to change plans, BUT our current plans came with phones and we are still paying them off (that is part of the plan, so that they get your money regularly for 3 years).  2 of the 3 phones we are paying for are almost done being paid off and broke a long time ago.  The third is Yitzchak’s phone, which also came with a new plan that we will probably have to pay some kind of fine to be rid of.  Just paying off the phones will cost about 900 shekels ($260, but over here it’s a lot of money), not to mention the other expenses.

broken phone, phone broke, touch phone, cell phone, phone1b.These other expenses are:

– At least one new phone, because the plan we had is a “kosher” plan that is locked to any other type of sim card (and it is legally locked and cannot be undone); preferably 2 phones because the only non-kosher phone we have is my brother-in-law’s and we don’t feel comfortable using it for a long time.

– Two one-time forty-five shekel fees to send the new sim cards for the new plan.

– A fine because we are breaking Yitzchak’s plan early (before the 18 month minimum).  It is a relatively small fine, but it’s still there and I don’t know how much it will be.

1c. In the end, this WILL save us money, though, because right now we are paying about 200 shekels and maybe more for a phone that doesn’t work and another phone with unlimited minutes.  And I hate that.  Our new plan will be with phones that we buy cheaper from a store and pay for upfront, along with two plans that are 10 shekels each.  Obviously, 10 shekels a month ($3) isn’t going to be a perfect plan but it’s cheap, reliable, and gives us what we need, even if we have to start using our home phone more (which is healthier, anyways).  The plan gives each of us unlimited texts but only 60 minutes talk time before it starts charging by minute.  But seriously – who cares?  That’s what a land line is for.  And since we are anti-social and usually talk only to each other, we can do that with texts, too.

So that’s the cell phone story.  Obviously, dumping a thousand shekels is a big deal.  This whole thing is a headache and a half but we will get through it.

1d. Not everyone knows that my phone is broken – I told my sister three weeks ago.  I told work.  I told a few friends that I ended up calling for some reason or other.  When I get my new phone I will text important people with my number and that will be that.

On the other hand, if Yitzchak gets his way and we do get him the unlimited plan (which I am against because I don’t like plans that go up after a year), then I’d like to nix the home phone.  But if we’re not nixing it, then we are fixing the jack in the living room, because the room that the phone is in is very inconvenient – and we don’t want the phone in our bedroom.  Been there, done that – and no.

So, that is the story of our phones.  Hopefully we will have a new, nicer, story soon.

2. Speaking of phones, Jajah is closing down in two days and both Yitzchak and I are kind of bummed.  Not that we used it so much anymore, or that they had suuuch a great price, but still.  They were good, and they’re closing, and it’s sad.  Bye, Jajah.  We will miss you.

family fighting, fights, family feud, arguments, family, families, fights, disagreements, frustration, anger, resentment

This is probably how some people in my family will feel after reading this admission.

3a. For goodness’ sake, I don’t know why I am posting this.  I have family who reads this blog and they don’t have our landline number, and we tell them that there is no option for them to call a landline.  Because, let’s face it – it is NOT an option. We have had enough calls from outside Israel at midnight or 1am, or even 5:30-6:00 am that it just isn’t something that we want to have happen.  (And it DOES NOT matter if we are awake or not at this hour; if we are awake then we are either busy, cranky, or both; if we are not then it is just plain rude to wake us up early.) No offense, but as a general rule a lot of times people forget to calculate the time difference, or just don’t calculate correctly.  I don’t have energy for that.  There is no reason that one of us should need to get out of bed in the middle of the night so that the phone will stop ringing and not wake everyone else up.

3b. And turning off the landline’s ringer isn’t an option – we always forget to turn it back on, until someone – or one of us – calls and says that they tried calling the house and there was no answer – and then the person at home realizes that the phone never rang . . . because the ringer was off.  The ringer can be off for a few days straight before we notice.  So, we just don’t turn it off anymore (and neither does Shlomo, because the switch doesn’t do anything obvious, so why move it?).  Also, we don’t have caller ID on our landline, and if there’s going to be an emotionally taxing conversation, I need the choice to refuse the call, or at the very least, five seconds to brace myself before answering the phone.  So no, it is not an option.  Sorry to all the hopeful and slightly hurt.  I hope you understand.  When we feel up to dealing with the consequences of giving out our home number, we will give it out.  Until then, we will do what is best for us.  There is always email, Skype, and loads of other options for anyone who wants to reach us.

And my apologies to the non-family readers who had to read part 3.  I will try not to subject you to this again, honest.  (I don’t do it often, do I?)

So, What Should I Write?

Now I really have a case of writers’ block.  Not because I have a one-track mind, but because I can’t think of anything to write.  None of the stuff that’s happening now is interesting (thank G-d).

So, here’s a list, and you can tell me if anything here seems post-worthy:

– Hot weather, with fans but no air conditioner.

– A week and a half until my in-home daycare center closes.

– Yitzchak needs to sign up to test.  And finish the material and the review.

– He also has to make a few related phone calls.

– I have work to do.  A lot of it.

– Remember the creative writing assignment?  Well, I still haven’t printed it (because printing it needs planning; we don’t have a printer at home).

– We have stuff to deposit at the bank (always nice, but not too interesting).

– We have to clean the house and cook for Shabbat.

– We are exhausted.

– I am debating whether to sign up for a two out of three days of summer classes.  Maybe I should do it – it would be very interesting.  On the other hand, maybe we’ll want those 400 shekels.  But on the other hand, 400 shekels isn’t that much to spend, right?  But maybe we’ll want it in another few months.  We have a few other financial decisions to make.  Not big ones, but they are still decisions.  And after all, 100 and 100 adds up, right?

– We have planning to do for next year.  Not fun to think about, but we’ve gotta do it some time.

– I need to buy shoes.  I hate buying shoes.

– Should I do a certificate course next year?  Or should I not?  Why or why not?  Is it worth it?  Is it worth the time and money?  Hmm . . .

– We have to talk to a patent lawyer.  Sigh.

– We have to talk to our neighbors.

– We have to call the phone company.  And maybe the cell phone company, too.

Do any of these things sound post-worthy?  Of course they’re all interesting on some level, but most of them feel like tweets or Fakebook statuses.  You’re probably thinking that tweets and Fakebook statuses aren’t too bad – but I don’t have either Twitter or Facebook, because they go against my personal ideals and ideas.

Hey, at least I told you that I’m not quitting my blog, right?

Maybe I should put some of my creative writing stories up on here.  But on the other hand, maybe I want them copy-protected, first.

Student Aliya (Immigration to Israel)

Yesterday I was thinking about how I moved to Israel.

Or rather, I was thinking about how, when I visited my family one summer, I met one of my eighth-grade teachers.  She asked what I was doing, how I was doing, where I was.  I told her that I was studying for a B.Ed. and had moved to Israel.

But I felt funny saying that.  Really, I didn’t live in Israel.  I mean, technically, I had.  But I kept coming back for the summers, because my “home” was a student dorm, that was closed in the summer, and where I switched apartments every school year.

I didn’t feel like I lived here.

Now, I live here.

When I think back to when I made aliya, I think it was a smart move.  The government gave me a huge subsidy for my degree.  They gave me a small, but helpful, rent subsidy (which disappeared, for reasons of bureaucracy, when I married Yitzchak).  I had a place to live, and during vacations, had people to stay with.

I paid a dorm fee and food.  I didn’t pay electricity, water, gas, property tax.  I paid for my schoolbooks and transportation, laundry and food.  I didn’t pay most of my tuition fees, or for rent during vacation.

It was a smart move.  It was a good thing to do.

And if you’re a single student, it’s probably a really good option.

Now, if – when? – I go to visit Canada, I can honestly say that we live in Israel.  We do.

And I don’t like to fly, so I am happy that we have our own little apartment here in Israel.

Once, I used to like flying.  That was when I was single.

Somehow, after we got married, I stopped liking flights.  Maybe it’s because of all the flying I did while we were engaged.  Maybe it’s because now, I fly with Yitzchak, and he packs differently and plans for flights differently.

Maybe it’s because we have Shlomo.

Maybe I’m just more tired and like to stay home more.

I don’t know.  Truthfully, I don’t care, either.

As long as we can stay happily at home.

But if my sister or brother asks whether they should make aliya and get a degree here – my answer will undoubtedly be yes.

It was a good choice.