Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The sheer number of people who helped us get here - from my lawyer cousin Peggy who advised when trouble started with the ex-landlord (which is how this mess began) to lawyer friends Revital, Eli and Maital who looked over potential apartment contracts so's I wouldn't get myself into another contractual mess to countless others who listened, offered leads & soup (you know who you are, Big D), to my parents and siblings to the friendly people in blogoland who supported via the comments section when the doo doo was really hitting the fan...It definitely takes a village and anyone who says different is neglecting his/her village.
A wee share before I run out to scout refrigerators and coffee machines: My friend R who shall remain anonymous called to ask if I think she should attend the Chicago University MBA Meet & Greet Night in Tel Aviv. This was very surprising to moi.
"You're thinking of getting an MBA in the States?"I asked.
Of course not, darling. I want to pull men.
Ahhh...life back to normal...
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Reading an anticipated e-mail, I learned that work I had counted on/really hoped for fell through.
At the instant of realization, I found myself simultaneously doing and feeling an assortment of things. I couldn't sit still. I went to the kitchen for a glass of tea. Made coffee while sipping tea. Looked at the fridge contents to discern if there might be something I could either consume or prepare. Closed the fridge door. Frustration.
I wanted to cry. I panicked. "Who can I call? Mom? A friend? A cousin?" They've had their fill. No burdening.
I polarized to the opposite end of the spectrum. Lethargy. Craving the warmth of bed, burrowing & blocking it all out beneath blankets. But the house move is tomorrow. No such luxury possible (it never is). Return to mania. Get out of the house. Maybe do laundry. Take a walk. Ride the bike.
As I stood, paced and went through the emotional range, I watched myself from a detached somewhere else. And the knowledge that I've visited this funky fear place in the past slowly dawned as did the reckoning: "Look Ma. I'm still in one piece!"
And so it was that I came to understand - but REALLY understand beyond the conceptual - what Ms. Genevieve Howe, therapist, professor and director of a therapeutic institute in San Francisco, described as "Standing on the Edge of the Unknown" in a course she taught on Anger & Conflict/Love, Passion & Obsession.
Genevieve lectured on the human potential for building thresholds that render us capable of staying with and riding through uncomfortable and stressful feelings instead of turning to addiction or blocking. According to Ms. Howe, the more frequently we sit there, the better at sitting we become. And IF we learn to direct the distraction towards creative passion or endeavor, we reach an ever higher level still. Sort of like Beethoven or Picasso or Thomas Edison.
I don't paint or compose or invent scientific "stuff"...But I make a very good Thai Coconut-Lemon Grass soup.
That's Philosophy Sunday for you...Amen.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
There's a healthy dose of mistrust in these parts surrounding money/business matters for very legitimate reasons. It may be holy terrain but corruption-free it ain't. Ask the politicians - they'll vouch (off the record only, of course).
Imagine my alarm yesterday when trying to withdraw funds from an ATM machine only to be repeatedly denied with a flashing warning message that I had exceeded my daily limit. Yet I hadn't taken any cash out that day. The card, incidentally, is linked to a foreign account.
So I get home and gingerly ring up the bank linked to the card to ascertain the reason for denial. And find out that the first ATM machine which denied my attempt also registered the try as the Real McCoy. In other words, the Israeli bank is saying I received cash when I didn't.
Now it's up to the other side to investigate and I can just imagine the scenario: "She got it. We are sure. No doubt. We saw her. I personally saw her. I happened to be watching the ATM machine through the window just then. Promise. Really." Mama mia.
When I went into a different bank today and offered the story in passing, the listening clerk smiled knowingly. Christ! (no offense to Christian contingencies. But wait one minute. Didn't JC go after the money changers?)
I need this right now like I need ...*sigh*
Just another calm day in HLC. Peace Out.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
One FINAL share - something I forgot to offer up prior: Going to see a place, the building elevator suddenly jolted to a halt between floors. (Luckily, young Rapha wasn't with me) I was terrified. Oh my god I'm stuck in an elevator and it's going to fall! This is how I'm going to die!! I rang the alarm. Nada. An excruciating half minute later, the lift began moving again.
Upon sharing the info with the current tenant: Oh yeah he says in blase mode. I should've said something about that. If you get too close to the door it stops and won't move again unless you move away from the sensors.
Anyhow... Rapha approves of the new place and favors his new downsized room. He had to contain his joy upon seeing the adjacent park.
Now up to eyeballs in boxes and deciding what goes with and what gets sold. Anyone need a bright blue, child's clothing cabinet? My stuff simply won't fit into the new place. I'm very much a non-chatchke person so minimalism here we come.
To the supporters and bearers of kind wishes: Mucho gracias
To the Tel Aviv housing market: Le'Azazel!!
To onward and upward: I'll drink to that
Cheers & beers. Moving day is on the horizon
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I'm calling about the refrigerator you advertised. Can you tell me what it looks like?
You know what happens to you after you get married? You die.
5-year-old Raphael to his female friend Max
I have a really hard time with Israelis. I can barely tolerate them
Excuse my asking but aren't YOU Israeli?
Yeah but that's different
Monday, October 23, 2006
It's over-priced and much smaller than I prefer but it is well taken care of, gets lots of light, is an upgrade neighborhood-wise - near Tel Aviv's Opera House overlooking a sprawling park as opposed to our current heavily trafficked main thoroughfare - and ... we were running out of time, weren't we?
I am exhausted, spent and over-baked. To describe the past month's search mission as unpleasant is like saying emphysema is just a wee cough.
I still don't get it. This is not Manhattan. Or Paris. Or London. So WTF? And I don't buy the whole "the French moved in and snapped up all the property creating huge demand" blather, either.
I must've seen at least 50 apartments. I regret not grabbing one in particular but I wasn't savvy enough or ready.
The others? Well it has been an experience in learning to negotiate and let go, knowing when to bend and when to hang up the phone, when I should plead my case, change my visions and ideas and mostly about learning to compromise. It has also been a window into a nasty market filled with some pretty skanky, unpleasant characters. Others are gracious, forthcoming and surprisingly pleasant - but they are the minority.
A few precious tidbits which, when I've simmered down, will make for humorous dinner table shares:
Current tenant showing apartment: You know that part of the deal is buying the air conditioning unit from me for $800.
Moi: But I don't need it. And I don't want it. And I don't have the cash flow to tie up in an air conditioner. But I definitely want the apartment. It isn't new. $800? How'd you come up with that price?
Tenant: It's what I want for it and that's the deal. Take it or you don't get the landlord's number. It's all about cash flow. You should remember that.
**it took every iota of self control not to ring up this guy and tell him I was rooting for the ass wallopers who will inevitably trounce him in London when he relocates there next month.
Landlord over the phone: Who's the place for?
Moi: Myself and my son
Landlord: Oh no. Too big. I mean what are you going to do with all that space? A bigger family with more kids should live in the unit.
Moi: How many kids does it take to fill up a 2-bedroom apartment? Wait. I can't believe I'm having this conversation. What do you care what my space preferences are?
Owner: We want an $8000 U.S. cash deposit plus 2 guarantors plus a bank guarantee plus one year's rent in advance
Owner: We'll fix the holes in the ceiling. The broken window? No worries. Taken care of. Sure sure sure. Just sign here.
*sigh* I'm glad it's (almost) over.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Allow me to be the first to welcome Mr. Spielberg to the Tel Aviv housing market. The same shark pit I have been slogging through for the past 2.5 weeks.
Of course, Steve (do you mind if I call you Steve?) , you won't have to deal. The sharks will bring the pit to you.
So on that note, allow me to be the first to thank the Big S for further increasing property values in an already inflated market. The so-called Soho - more like Queens on a sunny day - will get the boost of its lifetime. And we mere clownfish will be left facing ever more sharks.
(Yes, it IS all about me)
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
We people are peculiar. And our peculiarities are based, to a great degree, upon fear.
Holy Land Central (HLC) being much much (much much much much) less politically correct than the U.S. of A., people will actually list what they don't want in tenants. When you ask for explainers on the specifications, the roots of prejudice are quickly revealed.
- Couples only/No roommates. Reason: Roommates split, one is left holding up both ends, floundering follows and vacating ensues. Has this landlord heard of divorce?
- Married Couples Only - Reason: More stable. Has this landlord heard of divorce? Or heated arguments at 3 a.m.?
- No Children - Reason: Too messy, too loud, will wreak havoc. And what of the twin, toy terriers running amok, spraying urine and eating the walls?
- Families Only - Reason: More stable. Heard of the family that moved into a flat, changed the locks and flaked on rent for two years because the law allows parents with children to stay put?
- Guarantors Must Show Pay Stubs - Reason: Proves a steady, reliable income. Ever hear of offshore accounts, offshore investments and foreign income?
Wish me luck as I forge. Time is running out. AHHHHHH!!!!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I'm sleeping in patches; To bed at around 9-10 p.m., awake at 2 a.m., back to sleep at 6 awake at 7. Psychosis induced.
Were it a dwelling for myself alone..but alas, I'm on my own these days as a single mom and I've a child to consider. I'll blog it some other time. Too tired for that type of "true confession" right now.
HOWEVER, today was a day of hope. Not because a deluxe penthouse apartment overlooking the Mediterranean glimmers on the horizon.
Because I spent the day with someone I'm writing an article about who instills Hope. Tons of it.
She's a powerhouse: millionaire business tycoon, celebrity both in Israel and abroad, chairwoman of numerous international charitable organizations, hostess of a popular prime time television show..And yet she lacks ego (for the most part). I mean, she bloody offered to share her salad with me. And get me something to drink. Not send her assistant. As in: "I'll go get you a soda"...
Amazing. And get this: She worried that she's not doing enough to make the world a better place. Sheesh. I shoulda told her: You're right. But find me an apartment and you will be redeemed!
Now THERE's ego. wink wink
Monday, October 16, 2006
During one of her sessions the therapist actually answered the cellphone(s). She had not one cellphone but two. Which rang not once but twice.
Call #1: "Yes dear, I'll be home in an hour. Stop hitting your brother."
Call #2: "No, I said the frozen x-tra cheese pizza. Not the hot dogs. It's back behind the ice cream"
My friend chose not to return.
The socialized medicine system then referred her to someone else.
Who was deaf.
But he could lip read bilingually in English and Hebrew.
And at least he didn't answer cellphones.
And I'M the crazy one??? my friend mused.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
Life is a bucket full of sh*t; Duck your head or you'll get hit. Fa la la la la la la la la la.
(Had my parents known what we were REALLY learning in summer camp each season...)
If so, then it's time for some good old fashioned leisure. Follow this link and give it a whirl. You'll be addicted in no time t'all..
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Living in San Francisco one develops a keen understanding of these matters: differentiating between the street dwelling newbies, old hands and "this person doesn't belong here" types becomes second nature.
My heart screamed and I stifled a cry of despair as he continued to pick unaware of my presence.
In San Fran or New York or Paris, okay.
But in my idealized memory of Holy Land Central (HLC) and its social system to protect all, this image of a young man wearing high tops, Bermudas and a preppy short sleeved shirt while sifting through garbage didn't gel. He was indicative of a larger looming issue here in HLC.
I recently supped with an old friend who bemoaned the country's poverty levels. He cited demographics and figures shocking to a city dweller such as myself who rarely travels to the peripheries. 5-person families living on the equivalent of $900 U.S. per month. Soup Kitchens. Hunger.
I noticed the pre-holiday food drives were a bit more driven than last year.
What's up, war withstanding?
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
Sunday, October 08, 2006
The checkout person at the supermarket thinks we have a houseful of cats!
But the only cat sounds you'll hear at our house are purrs of joy—over all the things kitty litter does for us!
This absorbent, kiln-dried clay has many surprising uses, because it's a peerless sucker-upper of oil, grease and odors—and a powerhouse disinfectant. (It has to be to deal with kitty waste.)
That's why it's the cat's meow to...
Prevent mildew in bathrooms and elsewhere (Page 172).
Deodorize smelly shoes (132) or a smelly hamper (115).
Remove cigarette smells from furniture (27).
Give your car traction when it's stuck in snow (266).
Soak up oil and grease stains on driveways and garage floors (273).
De-ice sidewalks, patios and driveways. Better than rock salt (198)!
Remove moisture and musty smells from closets (191).
Friday, October 06, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I looked at four places yesterday. And four the day before. And four the day before that day. Street names, telephone numbers and contacts are beginning to melt together as I bike, run, walk and bus around the city like mad. Some places are hot. Others are over-priced dreck.
Wasn't there just a wee war here over the summer? And don't those types of events generally drive housing rates towards the lower end of the scale?
Oh right but also over the summer hordes of French Jewish nationals fled to Holy Land Central (HLC) looking to escape religious persecution (or so the rumor goes). They bought property with "kicks the shekel's derriere any day" Euros, drove availability into scarcity and sent market rates sailing.
During the dot-com boom we used to half-joke: Can't there be a small earthquake? No one gets hurt or killed but like maybe 4-5 on the Richter so that it does enough damage to scare away the opportunists ..??
You know where I'm going on this one. Wink wink.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
A heavily Russian accented voice from behind startled me out of my musings:
What can you do? You have to just keep on going ...
The building maintenance woman pushing a broom. Schoingemacht. So much for silent musings.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Customer #2: We've been waiting a long time. What's going on back there?
Customer #3: Wow this place is filthy. Make ours to-go instead.
From the Kitchen (Hebrew) to Shift Manager: Dani, how do you make a Big Mac again? Can you come back here?
McDonald's, Tel Aviv
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Craig is ...well, Craig. The Craig. Wait. Maybe it'll help if I put it in lower case: craig. Aha...you know who I'm talkin' about now don'tcha? http://www.craigslist.org
He started it in San Francisco and as the list soared from local exchange board to international phenomenon on a tremendous scale, he remained a regular, unpretentious as hell guy who hangs out at a regular coffee shop in Cole Valley.
This article only adds to Craig's allure. He decided not to sell even tho the biz was estimated at $15 billion. Who needs the money? he said in an interview. If you're living comfortably, what's the point of having more?
Craig, you are IT. The bomb. What guts. Sheeee...it