31 March, 2012

I should know better than to buy the cheap stuff.

I am the grocery shopper in our house, for no real reason than I have Wednesdays off so it's easier for me to go. Also, there's a super right near my work so I can easily pick stuff up on the way home. The problem is, though, that I have to do it on my own.

Usually it turns out fine. I know most of the words and everything has big pictures on it. Sometimes I flub up. I've come home with trash bags three-sizes too big, or olives that were sliced and not pitted. Nothing horribly tragic, but annoying. The latest mistake came in the form of jam. I wanted peanut-butter, but they didn't have the generic brand and I wasn't about to spend 19₪ for a regular-sized jar. So I bought strawberry jam instead, as it's equally good on toast or for a quick sandwich.

Simon was less than pleased. Simon also likes to complain (he's Israeli) so I just brushed him off. It's something new that he didn't ask for, of course he has an opinion on it. I like strawberries, they didn't have peanut butter, I made an executive decision, and if he was going to be that picky he can do the bloody shopping himself. End of discussion.

Until I opened it today and tasted some. First of all, it's a color of red I've never seen in nature before and, I think, glows slightly. Second of all, it tastes the way dry erase markers smell, but mixed with pancake syrup and extract of Strawberry Jolly Rancher. I turned it over to look at the label...

Yeah. 60% sugar. I don't think it contains a single natural ingredient. My teeth still hurt.

26 March, 2012

What's in an email?

Most days, the political situation here (by which I mean Israel's pariah-like status in the Middle East) doesn't really enter my thinking. Whether that's because it's become so rote as to be ignorable or because it's more smoke-and-mirrors on the part of politicians (::coughthelattercough::) I don't know, but that's what it is. Every once in awhile, though, something happens that makes me a bit nervous. Today was one of those days.

23 March, 2012

Well, looks like my timing was pretty off.

When I started this, my workload was relatively light despite a few projects that were in the pipeline. In the past four months, though, I've gotten all kinds of professional and personal projects piling on, taking a few international work trips, and now am slated to be transferred back to the US for a 12-month contract for my job. In the Old South. Awesome.

So hence the reasons this blog never quite got off the ground. My return to the US will be mid-summer and, obviously, Simon won't be coming with me. We've done 10 months apart before, so I have no doubt we can pull off twelve. Then we'll see where we are: if I come back to Israel or if we go find somewhere else entirely to live. Professionally we'll both be in better places in a year's time, so who knows what the future holds.

We'll see if I get anywhere on this blog in the coming months before I head back State-side, though don't hold your breath. I'm already juggling enough, nevermind now having to plan a move and find housing, furniture, etc. a few thousand miles away, and Simon is pretty overworked himself. The time and energy needed to convert a pretty humdrum life to interesting blog posts just isn't available right now.

In the meantime, my Tumblr is queued up with some interesting reads about expat-ness and GLBT stuff in Israel. I'll keep that running, since it's pretty low maintenance, and am always available to answer questions, but blogging...just not in the schedule right now.

14 February, 2012

Information at your fingertips

I'm a big proponent of technology. Heaven knows I depend on it for everything from communication to brainstorming to reminders. So, obviously, I have my iPod Touch loaded up with Israel-specific apps. Here are the apps I use on a more-or-less daily basis:
These are on top of the usual apps you'd use in any place you live, such as Skype or Evernote or the ubiquitous Facebook. I also don't have an iPhone, so I don't have apps that depend on having a constant connection to the internet, and these are just the apps I tend to use, so it's certainly not to say this is a be all, end all list. Not by any means. But these are my recommendations for what works for me. If you have any suggestions, for iOS or Android, leave them in the comments.

08 February, 2012

Navigating Simon's family can be a bit tricky.

Like more people, Simon came out to his family in stages: first his siblings, later his mother, and, about two or three years ago, his father. 

His brother and sister are totally fine with us. I've been over to houses for dinners and weekends and the occasional New Year's Eve party. His mother is just "OK" with his being gay, and doesn't know what to do with me. Every time I'm at their house, she's very nice to me and, like any Jewish mother, feeds me until I can't walk anymore. And kudos to her, because it took her a long time to get even that far. And Simon's father...well, Simon's father doesn't quite know what to do with the "gay" thing, nevermind me. Needless to say, I've never met him.

Last Friday was no different. Before Simon's father got home from work, we went over to his parents' house. It was one of his niece's 6th birthday today, and they were having a little party for her. Upon entering, his niece (she of the birthday) proceeds to explain in detail her new birthday outfit, and how the sleeves of the sweater don't stay up when she puts her arms over her head. I am then literally almost bowled-over by his 5-year-old nephew, who ran out of a back bedroom and latched onto my leg (he likes me because I play with him a lot, mainly because I can't keep up with adult Hebrew but kid Hebrew is do-able). Then his other niece tottled out of the bedroom to see what the commotion was all about, saw me and Simon, giggled, and ran back into the bedroom. She just turned four.

New this week, though, was Simon's grandmother, who I had never met. Simon's mother's family is from Morocco, and came to Israel when Simon's mother was a teenager. Simon's grandmother is getting up there in age, and both her hearing and her mind are starting to go a bit. Because of this, she's forgotten much of her Hebrew, so all conversation with her has to be in loud, simple Hebrew or Arabic. Between my intermediate Hebrew and strong accent and her mixing of Arabic and Hebrew and strong accent, we didn't do much conversing. Even Simon shouting "THIS IS BEN" in Arabic took three or four tries before we're pretty sure she got it.

And so the afternoon went. After stuffing ourselves on schnitzel, peppers with spaghetti, and that spicy Moroccan tomato salad I can never remember the name of (I'm pretty sure it starts with an "m"), much of the rest of the time was spent playing Dora The Explorer matching games, freeze tag, and then putting a Yug-E-Oh puzzle together. And then I had to hang up a string of balloons because I was the only person in the house tall enough to reach the ceiling lamp*. Oh, and I almost fell off the chair and crushed Simon's grandmother. I don't think she noticed.

Around dinnertime we had some cake and coffee (oddly enough while watching Joan River's Fashion Police: Golden Globes Edition), and then Simon took me home in his parents' car on the way to going to fetch his father at work, which is how we usually run things when I come on Fridays. And then I came home to catch up on "Nikita" and Simon went back to have dinner with his family.

It's a bit hard for me, since I don't have any family here and only a limited group of friends in Tel Aviv. I feel like I should go out and meet people, but that's so much easier said than done.

*For reference, I'm 5'11"/1.80 metres.