Monday, July 26, 2010

Well, who needs a balcony - or sleep - really?

Oh, the pounding in my head. Oh, wait. That's actually the pounding outside my head. When we lived in Vancouver, everywhere you turned, there was construction. Houses were bought, torn down and new monster homes - usually du- or triplexes - were built in their place. It happened to the house across the street from us, the house next door, the house behind us and the house diagonally across from us. Every. single. day we would wake up to the crashing noises of timber being ripped off its foundation, bulldozers razing walls. Then it began next to us. The house next door was so close, we were convinced the bulldozer was knocking into us. Every few minutes, we'd hear a crashing noise and our house would vibrate. Since we had already decided to make aliyah, we couldn't wait to get out of there and get some peace and quiet!

Well, our peace and quiet lasted about a year or so. Over the course of the last year, construction - which has been in the planning stages for years - began in earnest on the apartment complex and park on our street. Right across the street from us. Like, directly across the street.

The hill across the street - before

For months, we've been waking up to the sound of breaker machines tearing apart the boulders that make up the lovely hillside across the street from us. They finally stopped a few weeks ago, and we thought, "At last!" They were ready to pour concrete.

No dice. They stopped long enough to throw down some rebar, and put up some construction walls, then started completely decimating the hill right outside our patio. The machines are now right outside our bedroom window, at the same height as our 3rd floor apartment.

This was a couple of weeks ago. There's even less of the hill now.

Which means not only are we hearing the noise (the volume has necessitated sleeping with earplugs, because the construction starts at 6:30am), but we are now enjoying the vibration of the d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d. Any thoughts of dining on our balcony have been quashed under the layers of dirt and dust tossed about by the construction.

I couldn't transfer the video I took of the actual machines, but this is the exact same melody. Just multiply by two and take less breaks.
To top this off, work has now started in the field behind our apartment. The field is already flat, so the breaker machines aren't necessary. The machines that pour concrete for the foundation aren't quite as loud as the breakers, but that's not saying much.

So now we're left with dust and noise in the front, and noise in the back. We haven't been able to open our windows in over a month, and I'm going through dust rags (even through closed windows!) like crazy. Which, of course, means that the air conditioner has to be on far more than it would otherwise. Which also means, of course, we're going to have one nasty electric bill.

When our landlord first told us he was not renewing our lease (he wants more money for the apartment. Or to sell it. Good luck with either one right now), we were disappointed. We like our neighbourhood, and our neighbours, and really love our apartment. The development companies are conspiring to make us really look forward to a change of environment. We even considered moving to a settlement, if only because there's a construction freeze.

I may be forced to go to the beach tomorrow, just to get some peace and quiet.

Update: our landlord must have come around the neighbourhood, or he called his agent who said, "are you effin kidding?!" because he called us asking if we wanted to stay. So to save expenses and the pain of moving, we're staying. The electric bill will be cheaper than paying for movers.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to look like an idiot without even trying

The conversation went something like this:
Me: (in Hebrew) I want to make an appointment with Dr. X
Guy on phone: Im Dr. X b'Modi'in? (with Dr. X in Modi'in?)
Me: Ken. (yes)
GOP: Mi holech l'rofe? (who is going to the doctor?)
Me: [Brain fart]

I didn't understand the question. Who is going to the doctor? I don't know - his patients? Is there a party at his office? Do I need to bring a date? It's a contextual thing; I've never been asked this before when making a doctor's appointment. I'm going to the doctor. Who else would it be? (Remember, I do not have children, so I am not used to making appointments for other people. Plus, I've never been asked this before.)

Finally, I get it and I say:
Me: ani. Aliza Ahltmahn (me. Alissa Altman)
GOP: b'ivrit (in Hebrew)
Me: Ma? (What?)

Then the brain really shut down. "In Hebrew"? I answered him in Hebrew. I don't understand. He asked me if I'd prefer English, I said yes, he said something really quickly that I think was he'd get me an English operator, wished me a good day and then hung up.

So.... does that mean someone's going to call me back? Did he accidently disconnect when he meant to put me on hold? Is he banging his head against his desk, sighing, "Anglos"? Did he go on his lunch break thinking, another day, another dumbutt?


Making a doctor's appointment is not difficult Hebrew. I know all the words necessary to make an appointment. Yet, I failed. I know what to say, I just can't understand what people say to me, especially if it's out of context or unexpected. And once I'm thrown, I can't get myself back on track.

This is true for a number of situations. I can get along okay in simple Hebrew, as long as I keep the sentences short and no one ever answers me. Just let me talk, and if you need to tell me something, use hand gestures.

We'll manage just fine. Who needs actual conversations, anyway?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jerusalem Romance

A poem for Tisha B'Av (the 9 Days)

Jerusalem Romance

Walk with me through ancient alleys
on polished cobblestones
by stations of bygone sallies
Walk with me through ancient alleys

seven hills and graven valleys
filled with long-forgotten bones
Walk with me through ancient alleys
on polished cobblestone

Copyright 2010 Morey Altman

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Happy different anniversary to us

Just a few days ago, on the 10th of July, we celebrated our two-year aliyahversary. Two years of living in Israel, as Israelis (and just one year away from being cleared of our Nefesh b'Nefesh grant!).

Last year, we did something we've never done before; we went on a cruise. We could do it because a) the cruise was kosher(!), and b) the cruise was extremely affordable. All those years of watching the cruise liners come in and out of the port at Vancouver, and now we could be one of those on the ship instead of just watching it.

(Last year, I also wrote a blog post commemorating our first aliyahversary.)

During the cruise, Morey realized that we would be coming back just before our one-year aliyahversary. He noted that it was a nice way to celebrate; making aliyah all over again. Aliyah really means ascending; we use it to refer to people moving to Israel, because they are ascending to the Holy Land. So, really, it's relevant to anyone who is entering the Land, whether permanently or as a tourist. Morey joked about observing our aliyahversary every year, by going away and returning on or around our anniversary date.

It accidently happened again this year. All us kids went to Pennsylvania to celebrate our mother's 65th birthday. Since we didn't want to be travelling during the 9 days, it worked out that the best flight home to Israel would be leaving on the 7th of July, arriving on the 8th. So yes, we landed in Israel - made aliyah - two days before our 2nd aliyah anniversary.

Wonder where we're going to go next year?