Sunday, January 09, 2005

My Goings-On

1) I spent Shabbat at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Treppenwitz in Gush Etzion. They are good people! And- thank God a hundred times over- they have a real guest room with its own bathroom. Lap of luxury for Chayyei Sarah! The kids were great. The older two like Star Wars and Harry Potter, so I quizzed them a bit. The baby, Yonah, is a real charmer. Most of the time.When he's not shrieking to wake the dead he's adorable! I liked him when he let me hold him, and he put his head against mine and let me kiss him and talk to him, and he played with my hair. Zahava is lots of fun. The chopped liver is indeed to die for. I saw the shule that was just featured in Photo Friday. A good time all around.

I also learned quite a bit about Efrat that I'd never known before. David was pointing out to me that all the land on which Efrat is situated was bought from Arabs, not "stolen" as they are often accused of having done. In fact, in one place, Efrat is only as wide as the street connecting two neighborhoods, because the fields on each side of that street are still Arab-owned. And he was telling me that in their park, there's a big square of empty land where the Arab farmer refused to sell, and he comes once a year to plow it so that he can keep his title to it. It's not that I ever consciously thought that the land was stolen. I just never really had an opportunity to find out this kind of detail. It's easy to forget that the West Bank is not one big monolithic tract of land. It's a place with lots of communities, large and small, and each one has different people and a different history, and a different relationship with its neighbors. Food for thought.

2) In the grand scheme of life, the following is a small complaint, but it's my blog so I get to vent about whatever I want: About 10 days ago, my (rented) washing machine broke for the third time in 2 months. I was doing a load, it was in the rinse cycle, when from the next room I heard the machine go psssst! psssst! pst! pst! pssssssssssst! The kitchen had little charred pieces of rubber floating in the air. I unplugged it and called Y., the man who rents out the machines, and said I want a new one. The man who came to look at it last Sunday (a week ago), said "indeed, we cannot repair this. We'll come on Thursday to bring a new one." Well, given that I already had a lot of laundry to do, 5 days was a while to wait, but I figured I could hold out until Thursday.

We arranged that Y. would come on Thursday at 11 am. At 12:20 I called to find out where he is, and he said he'll come at 1 pm. Fine. They come at 1 pm, and take away the old machine, which had shorted out so badly in the past 3 months that the floor underneath it was covered in a black, charred mess. Y. says "we'll come tonight to bring the new one." I said "hold on, you don't have it now? I thought you were bringing it today, not tonight. I have plans tonight." He said "well, Sunday then." I said "you said you'd have it today." He said "yeah, but you won't be home."


Fine. Sunday then. I called him this morning (Sunday, right?) and asked what time he's coming. Again he said "sometime tonight." I said "I have plans! When you say you will bring the new machine on a certain day, to me that means during the day. This is not right." He said "well, then, how about tomorrow morning?"

So now I'm getting the new washing machine, I hope, tomorrow. Just 4 days after I originally thought I'd get it, and a week and a half after the last one broke. Meanwhile, my laundry was already piled up 10 days ago, you know? And the worst part is that all the "smartutim" (rectangular rags) that I need for washing the floors were supposed to get washed 10 days ago, and in order to mop up last week I had to borrow a smartut from my neighbor. How pathetic is that? And every time I thought "oh, I'll bring my laundry in to the laundry service" or "maybe I should buy more smartutim, even though I already own a ton of them" I thought "nah, I'm getting a new machine in a couple of days."

So today, really depressed because all my laundry was dirty and all my smartutim were dirty and I couldn't even mop the stupid floor, I finally shlepped everything to the laundry service, where for twenty dollars they will do all my laundry and dry it. Yes, I did. Two (big) loads at $10 per load. Because if I wait until tomorrow, then even if I finish washing everything (each load takes about 2 hours in these little European machines), I'll have to hang it outside to dry, and in this weather it might take 3 thousand years to dry, and I don't have space indoors to hang up every wet piece of laundry in my house.

Problems, problems . . . .

3) More to the heart of the matter, I've been feeling quite blah lately, because this is the first time in my life that I'm only freelancing. All the other times that I've freelanced a lot, I've either also been in school, or also teaching college courses, or also working a part-time or full-time office job outside my house. Actually, most of my adult life I've worked very hard, though I've been privileged to enjoy so much of what I do. This situation of having no compelling reason to get dressed every day is bringing me down. I thought that it would be great, just working from home, doing the whole "uber freelancer" thing, being "funemployed." I thought I'd get up at 6 am and work all day and make a killing, writing tons of articles for American publications and earning dollars while living in shekels, living the sweet expatriate life. Sure, in a parallel universe I am doing that, but here on planet Earth I'm completely unmotivated. I just mope and putter and poke around on the 2 1/2 assignments that I do have, and feel like a lazy, pathetic bum. I'm actually living like Odd Todd, except that he gets an impressive income in tips for his website, so for him blogging isn't really a form of puttering.

Emotionally and financially, I cannot afford to live this way. So I'm doing two things to improve the situation: I'm trying to get structured at home (really get up early, really be disciplined about sending out pitches, really take care of things that I need to do), and I'm looking for a part-time job that will get me out of the house and into the sunshine every morning. If I don't find something, I'll probably sign up for ulpan in the fall, so I'll be improving my Hebrew and getting out every day.

I know from experience that if I structure my life around something like school or a "real" job, then my motivation and discipline for the freelancing skyrockets and my life improves in every way. I guess it's not just full-time moms who go crazy at home. I'm just not meant to never see daylight. I'm also not meant to not be able to pay my bills, which will happen if I don't pull myself together real quick! Maybe now that I've posted about it I'll feel bound to change.

4) I actually did get out today to go to a Nefesh B'Nefesh event, a dessert reception for singles and young couples, to welcome particularly those who made aliyah in December. Lots of great people have made aliyah in the last few years! It was nice to see! Also, Nefesh B'Nefesh now allows non-NBNers to come to their events, so that NBN immigrants and "vatikim" ("ancient ones"- people who made aliyah a long time ago) and native Israelis can integrate. I liked this event because it was for young couples, too, and therefore not a "singles event." It was very non-pressured and I liked the people a lot.

You'd be so proud of me! I promised myself that I'd meet at least three new people at this event. And I did! I walked right into groups of people I didn't know --yes, including some very cute single (younger!) guys-- and introduced myself. The people were really nice. Part of me felt like a dork, but part of me knew that if I hung around talking only to women I already knew that I would forfeit my right to complain about my dating life. :-) Only if I put in some effort which then failed could I claim to be wronged by society, you know? :-) Unfortunately, the number of men there who were single and religious and in their 30's and people I didn't already know was . . . um . . . 2, maybe. But I did my best. It really was a nice group of people, and I hope all the new arrivals have a very easy absorption process. (See, I don't only go around complaining about how weird people are!)

OK. It's 11:40 pm. If I go to sleep now, maybe I'll wake up before my new washing machine arrives . . . This is Chayyei Sarah, over and out. :-)

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