Let’s Play a Game

Israelis are very expressive people. Whatever they do, it is done with immense passion and a whole lot of hand gestures.

For the last few years, I’ve started playing a game: I people watch and guess if they are arguing or merely having a conversation. Now this probably sounds ridiculous cause any idiot can spot the difference between the two, but you’d be surprised.

I’ve seen conversations about the weather with hand gesticulations as if we were entering WWIII.

I have witnessed a woman ask the bus driver what the cost of a ticket is and the conversation somehow ends up in 3 old ladies arguing about why she’s still single.

yelling

Non-verbal communication is equally, if not more important, than verbal communication. When it comes to a country where nothing is off limits and most things are verbally expressed (for better or for worse), the non-verbal communication follows suit. A conversation can be riddled with wide, open armed gestures followed by a playful slap on the arm followed by a “yo” wrist shake followed by a noogie followed by a kiss on the cheek and then a shake of the hands. Maybe even throw in a hug and an “I don’t believe you” wrist flop for good measure.

So next time you’re waiting for the bus or looking to kill some time, I suggest trying this game for yourself. And no cheating – you can’t be within hearing distance!

rega

 

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You call it scary, I call it home

Yeah, yeah – I know. The Middle East is fucked up. And I live smack dab in the middle of it. I get it, I live a tumultuous country, especially now that there is currently a flood of news reports about the “Israeli Palestinian Conflict.”

I’m not gonna go on a political rant here (ok, maybe I will but I’ll keep it short) but what the fuck. Imagine that you’re on your way to work, minding your own business when suddenly you are faced with an attacker holding a knife. Your punishment is death – the crime? being Israeli. Obviously once an attacker is caught, he is shot (whether to be absolutely sure that he is neutralized or because of an eye-for-an-eye mentality I can’t say). Then the international news goes on to report that you, the victim were the cause for incitement and that the attacker was some bystander who was shot and killed. Not only is that false  reporting (looking at you, CNN) but it’s completely infuriating to see. Whatever, that’s besides the point. I’d also like to mention that I stay aware of my surroundings and have never once felt anything but safe.

On that note, I’d like to point out that life goes on. My cousin this morning told me that the news alerts of attacks are less shocking to her each time they happen – that you have no choice but to get “used to it” as much as you can.

I expected that moving here would be complicated. I never expected that moving here would mean that I would be put in situations where I am asked to give up my sanity, my livelihood and my sense of security. That is simply not an option. When you love something, whether it be a place, a person or whatever, you recognize the flaws. You accept them. Then you move forward.

Which brings me to my main point of this post: that throughout all of this stress, all of the turmoil, I had that feeling a few nights ago. That feeling you get when you suddenly realize that you have reached most of your goals and that you’re pretty damn proud of yourself.

Walking home from my second week at a new job, I realized that wow, I’ve really accomplished a lot. I moved to a new country. I learned a new language. I experienced real love with an amazing guy. I made great friends. I found a job, twice. I found an apartment, also twice. I found out who I am.

The past two and a half years have taught me not just how to get my shit together, but how to manage it too. And I never would have had the chance to experience these perfect things if not for me being in this turbulent and messy country that I love so very much.

beach

I did it!

There is a mall in the center of Tel Aviv that could easily be called a life sized maze. It has tunnels, half-levels, ramps, bridges and at least 6 different entrances.

Casually referred to as “The Center,” Dizengoff Center spans over a very busy street and is known as the mall that was designed by someone who was likely stoned out of their mind.

Everyone seems to adapt their own personal technique for tackling the navigation of Dizengoff Center – I always enter through the same set of doors, follow the same route and do my best to manage from there.

Last week, I went to meet a friend there (already a risk – how would we EVER find each other if we didn’t enter together??). My usual point of entry is one of the farther ones and on this particular day, it was rainy and freezing cold so I decided to take my chances and go in through the closest entry way. I was also texting, and (like a careless teenager) wasn’t really paying attention to where I was walking.

Then something amazing happened (after I finally put my phone away) – I looked up and realized that I had (semi)blindly and totally unmindfully arrived at the exact location that I needed to get to.

I know it’s not much, but it is a huge victory for me to be able to brag that I not only maneuvered my way through Dizengoff Center (which is an achievement on it’s own), but that I did so while not even being attentive.

It’s the little things that count – and cracking the maze that is Dizengoff Center was a big moment for me. As weird as it sounds, that moment made me realize that hey, I’m not just some American trying to get by in Israel (as my blog boasts), but that I am an American with Israeli citizenship and that I AM getting by in Israel.