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But above all, try something.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

I don’t like failure, it is not something that comes naturally to me.  I always felt a bit of a big fish in a small pond, never quite challenged enough to really consider it all much of a task to meet expectations placed on me.  I suppose that is a good thing for a while, never having to disappoint one’s self or others for failure after failure.  But then again, maybe it is just the story I’ve told myself to cover over the memories that were blurred over with time and substance.

I’ve been jobless for almost four months now.  While I did accomplish some, the gains are not tenable for much longer.  I have a home I love and feel comfortable in.  I have a city that is walkable and connected to the country’s mass transit all while close to the beach.  But the job market just isn’t what I need.

So it is time to admit it frankly.  I have failed in my move to the north; time to try something new.  This coming week I’ll be going down south to see about one possible job and just to get a sense of the feeling of being back in the far south again.  If that doesn’t work, I have one very solid offer to have yet another life-restart out in California.

But I have to do something.  My self confidence took a huge hit again and came along with his friend depression.  The fact that I didn’t have a job and therefore no reason to leave the house means I have been inside for days on end only leaving to buy more tobacco and groceries.  I’ve gone back on some meds that have been helping but now I need to actually restart living life.  Let’s hope that a new location can help that.

I should have an idea as to which plan I’ll be working on by the end of the week.  Either the far south of Israel or a new life in CA…


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Another Fresh Start

Well, to be honest, this shouldn’t be surprising to anyone.  I’ve left work after a year and a half.  I also decided to put my notice in on the apartment.  Jerusalem is just too much, so I’m going to head north for yet another “fresh start”.

How did I get here again?  Well, you will be happy to know that no drugs or alcohol were involved in the making of this life mistake.  After two months of doing the assistant manager job that was vacant, I was given a three month trial period in the position.  No change in contract, no change in pay.  Just another three months of doing what I had already been doing for the two months before.  And truth be told, I had to fight for the trial to even start.  One Wednesday evening, the room service department was freaking out that we didn’t have the rooms blocked for Thursday or Friday – both of which were sold out.  Not only would that have ruined room services’ day, it would have also fucked up housekeepings’ day.  So, since the other, official assistant manager had already gone home and since I assumed the department manager had left hours before (per his usual behavior), I went downstairs to start blocking rooms.  This is something I promised myself I wouldn’t do before I got the job because it is firmly within the job description of assistant manager.  But I didn’t want the other departments to have a bad day.  So I go and start.  Not a quarter of the way into Thursdays block, I hear my boss.  I was a bit amused that he was still at work at 6pm.  But then I realized he was interviewing someone for the open assistant manager position.  I was livid.  But I held it together in that moment and simple stopped what I was doing and decided to go back upstairs to the reception desk and just be the best supervisor I could be and nothing more.  Fast forward to 8pm and the boss is on the phone freaking out that we don’t have a block for tomorrow.  Without skipping a beat, I told him he should, “ask that 20 year old punk wearing cut off jeans and a full beard interviewing for my job to do the block.” and hung up.  It felt nice to say, but I am still the frairer here so by the end of my shift, we had the whole block for Thursday and most of Fridays block.  The next day, I went into work and within a half hour, I was brought down to HR for what I assumed would be me getting fired for hanging up on my boss one too many times.  But instead, they offered me the ridiculous three month trial period with no change to anything.  Realizing they were actively interviewing other candidates, I figured I had no choice so I took what I could.

Now, I should mentioned that there were already two other assistant managers who had already quit their positions within a year of opening.  The third one (the current assistant manger) already made it know that this isn’t how things are supposed to be working and there are serious issues.  So when I came in to be number 4 as a junior assistant, I know it was going to be a rough time.  But after a month a three weeks, I had this snap in my head.  “You work a third of your life, you should be happy there” kept running through my head.  And 12 or 13 hour shifts most days of a 6 day work week just wasn’t making me happy with all the bullshit I had to deal with.  So I put my letter of resignation in effective 1 September, the day I was supposedly going to finish the trial period.  The upper management tried to get me to stay and truth be told I wanted to.  But I can’t work in a department where people just don’t care about the workers.  I don’t know how much of my own money I spent on either staff supplies or staff development just to be told not to do that in a condescending way.

But now I’m out.  And I have another month and a half on my apartment.  The plan is to move to the far north near the coast and find a job that isn’t in the hotel industry.  But I am having a huge mental block in actually doing the work to make that happen.  I know that a huge part of it is that I want to move back to the US.  I want to be back in a culture that comes natural to me, one that I don’t have to double or triple think and check before reacting or responding.  Like, I get the culture here.  And to be sure, there are more positives here than in the US right now.  But it is exhausting and I find myself hiding at home far too often.  Not to mention that in almost five years I have had no real relationship and only a couple (as in, literally two) awkward encounters/dates.

But that isn’t what this is about.  This is me writing into existence the plan.  I will spend the next week finding an apartment that I love without any roommates in the north.  My own little corner of the world where I can garden and paint the walls and buy my own furniture.  Then I’ll start figuring out what I can do in that town.  Office manager sounds nice.  But I know I don’t want to work in hotel style service industry.  I can work with Becky’s that can’t get their reports in on time.  But I am over the assholes that think they buy the person on the other side of the counter when they come to a place.  Then when I get up there, I will remember that I don’t want to be a workaholic.  I want to have days at the gym and weekend hikes just outside the city.  For the umpteenth time, I want to move to start over and live the life I want.

But if it doesn’t work, I am giving myself a year.  And if I am still in this funk then, then I will move to the north west in the US and start over, again, there.

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an email I just sent that made me giggle

First, I have had a post ready for more than a month, but I need to preface it because I wrote it in such a different mind set than I am now (I’m so good now, btw).  But that will wait until later.  Just wrote this email and it made me giggle, so let’s put it here for posterity:

first, your voice mail is full.  empty that shit out, you need more of my nonsense in your life.

second, I might have polished off a bottle of wine tonight.   But not a in sad drinking way – went out with the girls from the work chain.  fun was had.  stories were told.  bitches are fascinating.
third:   listen to this song.  toddrick hall is amazing.  Then, go listen to his whole “forbidden” album.  It tells a story.  Then spend another hour and a half listening to his “straight outta oz”.  it is another story

fourth: bitch, why haven’t you come to visit me?  I already got used to the odd looks I get when I say no family has come to visit me in four years and that I’ve only been back twice.  But I think I can get them back to normal if Americans in general come to visit.  So come give me street cred on these mean streets of community oriented Jerusalem.

Also, currently (not now, because….. 1am) I’m in the middle of a three day management course.  yay for getting life back on track!

lastly: penis.  because fuck you.

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Work and life

So if I hadn’t mentioned it before, I left Mount Zion hotel 3.5 months ago.  Ruth, my third-level ulpan teacher, had suggested I move to a brand new hotel that was, at the time, still not open.  Being so prone to suggestions as I am, I headed on over to one of their cattle-call style interview days.

The hotel is called Orient, and it is a part of the Isrotel chain.  Isrotel was the same chain I worked for during my first two months down south in Israel.  We started off by having classes in the future meeting rooms of the hotel four stories below ground.  After a month+ of that, we were sent out to other hotels in the chain for experience.  I spent most of our month out on the road at the Dead Sea property but also had a half week in Mitzpe Ramon.

The training classes were mostly, retrospectively, not that great.  It is nice to know the company history, but that was only a couple of hours on one day.  The other courses I can hardly remember.  The time we spent out at the other properties I feel was good.  We were thrown into the system and had to learn quickly the computer software used by Isrotel.  Those of us who picked it up only had to tweek the property specific information when we returned to Jerusalem.

So the building itself: it is gorgeous.  A beautifully done central, 10 story building with an additional four stories below.  The exterior merges the famous Jerusalem limestone with modern, sleek, city hotel design.  We have a long, elliptical entrance way made of glass where reception sits.  And just outside (but connected to the main building through underground tunnels) sits two historically renovated Knights Templar buildings which will be our executive suites.  There is also an additional two buildings that are tucked just out of sight that will be rentable apartments.  There is an indoor pool, as well as one on the roof of the hotel with views of the whole city.  This place is truly going to be something special.

I say ‘going to be’ and not ‘is’ because it is still being built.  We are, after all, still in the middle east.  Deadlines are more of suggested dates really.  But, thanks to a deal with the government’s tourism ministry, the hotel opened before it should have.

So, we are having a rather bumpy soft opening.  It is not all that fun because the problems are usually fundamental issues that should never be allowed to happen to guests.  But alas, nothing to do about that now.

I will say though, I really do love the diversity of this company.  It is quite literally a tower of babel in my mind.  We reached so high (for Jerusalem) and have such a view, that naturally there would be a cornucopia of languages and cultures that follow.

There is the mainstays of ‘mainstream’ Israeli culture (if you can even try to define that):  we have the Misrachi Jews, the Ashkenazim, there are the secular people and the kippot-wearing-not-working-on-shabbat types.  But then things are just spiced up a bit.  We have a sizable Russian and Ukrainian population (which, please if you don’t know which group someone may belong in, do NOT assume Russian… it could end awkwardly for you).  They tend to keep to themselves and usually need translations from Russian to English and then their defacto language captains will translate into the appropriate language.  We have the quite, hardworking Ethiopians who despite having been a part of Israeli society for at least a generation or two, still seem to be held back at arms length.  Similarly, we have a sizable force of Palestinians/Israeli Arabs.  They are generally eager to talk in English and always seem to be having a better day.  There are also the few Spanish speakers who flow between the communities with the ease of a Swiss ambassador while always switching right back into Spanish when they get the chance. The French are also present and accounted for, although being that they are in the midst of being the ‘newest’ wave of immigrants, they tend to have only wait staff positions (one of my friends from the ulpan being in this exact position) And of course, there is the American delegation.  Despite my resistance, I have seemed to allow myself to start a few friendships with some folks from the old country.

Quick aside: I say resistance because one of the very few factors of integration into Israeli society is not living in a little ghetto of others from your old country.  It is why I have chosen to never have American roommates and why I try to go out of my way to not have American friends yet.

Back to babel:  Along with the cultural and language differences, babel brings confusion.  There are departments who just mesh wonderfully and seem to be off on the right foot (here’s looking at you lobby restaurant crew).  But for most of the departments it is … a bumpy start.  You have those who are trying to assert dominance in the race to replace the inevitable group of middle management who are only here to open and will return back to their home properties after a few months.  You also have those who managed to hide their inabilities through all the pre-opening work  who are now stumbling and falling.  It is frustrating to be a part of the opening staff for a new hotel.  But I think it will be rewarding if we can just make it through the first year.  I mean, we have only been opened for two weeks and we are already seeing some leave on their own and I have heard the rumblings of others who are nearing the chopping block.

So that is where I’m at in work life right now.  Frustrating as hell and interesting as fuck.  I just hope to keep my cards close to my chest and play the right hand when it comes time.


As for personal life…. awkward comes to mind.  Truth be told I haven’t had much a life this calendar year.  I was working full time and going to ulpan 5 days a week.  Then towards the end of the ulpan and a couple of weeks after I was out at the Dead Sea.  Then the hotel was getting closer and finally opened so I have been working 6 days a week, usually more than 8 hours a day.

I did go on an impromptu date two or three weeks ago with a Russian immigrant.  He seemed like he could have been a good friend but he was 5 years older and was trying to move things way to fast for my comfort level.  (college me would be in shock if he read that.)  When I get home from work I’m usually way to exhausted to do anything social and have escaped into binge watching series online.  I am usually more comfortable when I am taken away to whatever world I am watching online than I am in my own reality.  My weight has creeped up again, my hair is thinning/balding and my 30th birthday is not helping me feel like I have time to get a handle on this thing called life.  And with all the changes going on in my life and the world in general, I feel like I have some OCD issues I need to get looked at.  That wasn’t even something I realized until this week when one of my good work friends just straight up said that I have OCD after I made a joke about it.  So that is interesting.  I suppose it makes sense.  This past year I’ve felt so powerless over so much crap that has happened in life that I guess it is natural to try to assert power of the small things I can?  That sounds like rationalizing…  Well, like I said, the word awkward comes to mind when I think about my personal life.

That’s all for now, good job for reading this far.

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Because I need to put this out there

So I started writing three different times today.  The first was positive and I will return to it.  The second was half and half, but I’m going to break that up because the third… well the third the words just came flying out.  It is pretty dark and maybe I’ll edit and post in a few days.

But, after quiet the roller coast ride of emotions over the past 4 hours, I want to put this out there (but not so publicly as to post to facebook):

I’ve been sober for 3 years 4 months and 3 weeks.  And it is nights like tonight that I forget, but am so grateful, that I live in a city where you can’t buy alcohol after 11pm.  I probably would have downed the whole bottle without a thought in the world.

Thankfully my roommates don’t keep liquor here.  So, a piece of chocolate, a rather visceral and scathing writing session, and I’m off to bed to face another day tomorrow.  Please let it be better.  And please let me walk past the shops if I still crave that mental release of booze tomorrow.

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A huge update all at once

So, I started writing about 5 different blogs over the past few months.  I never posted them because I would get busy and not have time to finish thoughts or edit.  Tonight isn’t really different, but I’m going to put what I have written down here and hope it is clear and isn’t too full of mistakes.

I also have to come back and talk about the Hebrew course I’m in, maybe I’ll add another post tomorrow about that.

Last little bitty in here:  I have really been struggling with wanting to get high on pills again.  It is almost every day that something, usually a song with a particular back beat, triggers these memories or feelings.  Always the good parts of being high, never the crashes afterwards.  Thank goodness I’m not in Tampa and have no friends or suppliers here for pills.  Small victories right?  But, if you love me and want to see me throw my life away again, send oxy or pain kills or both.  Joking.  Half joking.  Kind of.  Nervous laugh?  Ugh, I just wish it wasn’t addictive/expensive/illegal.

With that, here is my copy and paste draft that I was working on.  It is a long one:



I keep seeing this memory come back into my head.  It is my first night here in Israel.  I don’t really remember much of the flight over, unlike my flight to Papua New Guinea.  I only have fleeting in and out memories inside the airport; sitting in a small office getting my official ID, lots of paper work and booklets.  Then out on the curb, getting a taxi that the state was going to pay for.

The drivers face is mostly obscured in my mind’s eye.  Younger man, I would assume arab since most Jewish Israelis would either be in the Army, doing their post Army world tour, or studying at university.  He was nice and cheerful.  I was exhausted and confused.  It was as if I was seeing things from a movie point of view.  My face was practically glued to the passengers side front seat window.  The yellow dim from the street lights passing at the same intervals, sending their beams dancing across my face.  It was all so fast, large and confusing.  Like a country bumpkins first time in a large city.

The drive to the kibbutz was about an hour and a half.  I tried to match the drivers energy during the beginning.  I explained questions he had of me and asked my own.  But probably only 15 minutes in, still close to the airport, I just passed out.  The adrenaline rush had worn off and I just didn’t have anything else to run on.  I didn’t sleep long, maybe 30 minutes.  When I woke up, the driver still cheery.  I must have appologized for falling asleep because he said, “It’s ok, you are here now.”  You are here now…  Three years later and I am still trying to get used to that.  Such a simple sentence but so full of meaning.

Fast forward a bit and I’m now on the kibbutz that night.  It is probably 1030 or 11 at night.  Here I am, carrying my whole life in a huge hiking pack on my back, a small backpack on the front of my chest, a small hand bag I got from the government office at the airport in my left hand and a stuffed full suitcase in my right hand.  The ulpan director is driving in her little go-cart next to me, with no offer of help, as we make our way to the ulpan building and my first temporary home in Israel.  I am the first to arrive in my room and will have the night to myself.  There is just one light blanket on the bed and one small pillow.  The director gives me a basic intro; bathrooms there, kitchen at the end of the hall, air conditioner on the wall.  She leaves and I am alone.  It is freezing out and even colder inside.  But I can’t seem to figure out the heat option.  I sleep horribly that first night.

Now here I am, more than three years later.  I still feel just as confused as that first taxi right out of the airport.  To be sure, I have made major adjustments.  I have learned enough language to make it through any situation I am in with 90% hebrew.  But there is still so much about the laws (mainly to do with work situations) and the culture that just escape me.  The frankness here I am almost used to but still get taken aback every now and then.  For instance, this is something I jotted down a few weeks ago:

As I am trying to decide if I want to eat PB&Js or a tomato and cheese sandwich, I keep thinking about the jab back and forth at work last night.  As I got in, Lily was trying to find out what restaurants would be open (Shabbat) and deliver at 11pm.  Hannan asked me and I my response was I think just dominoes.  He pushed for something more and my response was that I don’t make enough to order out that much.  His response was something along the lines of ‘well, you don’t look like your missing out on any meals.’

I want to punch capitalists.

So, yes, I do want to punch capitalists.  But the back and forth was just another example that I still struggle with.  Hannan is the assistant hotel manager.  And I am an entry-level front desk agent.  There is enough space between us on the figurative ladder that jabs about my weight wouldn’t be appropriate in America.  Yet here, it doesn’t matter.

(insert after rereading:  Just in case, I want to make sure that anyone who might know Hannan, he is actually my favorite manager and the one I respect the most.  I actually find myself making mental notes on his management style so I can be like that when I get back into management.  This was just a one-off example).

But, I did recently move apartments.  I now live with two native-born Israelis.  One doesn’t speak English at all and the second isn’t very confident.  So 99% of the time, I’m speaking Hebrew at home now.  It is an adjustment to living with two straight men.  But overall things are better – other than the four-story walk up.
So, the only other thing I kind of wanted to write down was about depression.  I have seen my warning signs for months, but I also so some signs of improvement – like wanting to dance, or go out, or make new friends.  I think I’m learning how to see when an episode is coming on and I’m subconsciously trying to fight it off.  I first noticed this episode was coming when I had a week of non stop, relentless, almost aching urge to have that clean pill high I used to get.  I miss alcohol but there are days I would give my arm for a bottle of oxy.  (as an aside, one of the many pluses for living in this country is that it is much harder to get RX pills here… so no worries on any relapses or anything.)  So yeah, I’ve seen this depression episode coming.  And then this past week, there was just too much happening to fight it off.  I applied for a new job at a hotel opening in a couple of months.  I pass the interview and have some sort of computer test this coming monday.  Now, I got through the interview with 90% being in Hebrew, but towards the end, when he was talking the timeline of starting work and all that, some things flew over my head and I didn’t ask for clarification.  So, I wasn’t sure when to put in my one month notice here (another difference to America.  If I leave my job without giving a one month notice, I have to pay them something close to a one month paycheck…).  Anyway, I went to HR and told her of my intent to leave and then asked all sorts of questions since I am very honest about not knowing what I need to do and what is due to me.  Not to mention the fact that I now have to pay almost 5k for the hebrew course work paid for.  She. Got. Pissed.
After the second time of her loosing her cool, I just closed down and was like, ok, right.  ah huh.  anything else?  cool.  Needless to say, I’m not going to wait around on putting that notice in.  Even if I have a couple of weeks without work (since the new hotel doesn’t open for two months), I think just being away from this particular hotel is going to be worth it.
**After reading that once:  got the new job, didn’t spend too long in depression but also still fighting it off.  And again, sorry for all the errors.

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Something new in the neighborhood, but not really

I really like my neighborhood.  It is in the city limits.  There are two bus lines; one going to the industrial area/one of the malls and one going through the center of town on to the main bus station on the complete other side of the city.  We are close enough to everything anyone would need but far enough away to have that quiet suburb feel.  There aren’t loud parties or the hustle and bustle you get in the center of town.  Even the bank or grocery store never seem too backed up (until you get inside – but that is an Israeli thing in general).

We also have some of the best views around.  There is a large berm/elongated hill across the street that, once on top, you can see clear over to Jordan and large parts of the desert valley between here and there.  Then there is the neighborhood promenade.  Truly one of the best in any major city I have ever been to.  It is known for its views of the old city – if you picture Jerusalem from outside the old city, chances are your image is a picture that was taken at this park.  The park itself though is amazing.  Long and winding, it is perfect for a lovers stroll or running track that isn’t repetitive or dull.  Its many trails seamlessly traverse up and down the valley it is situated on.  The occasional horse or Segway tour passing over the traditional Jerusalem limestone pavers.  The carefully placed benches or small amphitheatres offering views of the sunrise, the sunset, the old city, the neighborhood of Silwan down in the vally, or the sprawling pine trees.  The pathway lighting is just right to provide the sense of safety at night while still allowing the lovers a sense of cover to steal a kiss at the end of the evening stroll.

When it isn’t too cold, I love to either walk to work or home from work through this park.  Instead of 30 minutes on the roads that steadily get busier and busier as I get into town, I get 25 minutes of nature and fresh air before popping out a short 2 blocks from work.  This place is a refuge from the city life that drives people crazy.  I’m not the only one here for sure.  Another aspect of the park I like is that it is one of the few mixed spaces in Jerusalem.  Arab families enjoying the green grasses to play soccer.  Jewish couples strolling around.  The occasional community picnic.  You just don’t see the two communities side by side like that in many parts of the city.

But this park, the Armon Hanatziv Promenade was soiled a few days ago.  A man from the neighborhood next to mine was driving out of his neighborhood toward the city when he saw a group of soldiers getting off a tour bus.

Aside:  the total amount of space that the promenade is accessible to the road is really quiet small.  Most of the boundary between the two has been separated with trees, shrubbery or a retaining wall providing a level pathway along the hundreds of meters where the promenade starts.  There is one small parking lot and only a few spots on the road next to the parking lot where buses can park on that are actually in eye shot of the promenade, the rest of the bus parking is obscured from the park.

Back to the story:  this bus had just let off a class of IDF officer cadets.  They were probably being given background information about where they were (this neighborhood was a no-mans-land controlled by the UN between 1948 and 1967).  At just that moment, the man from Jabel Mukaber was passing by and took the rare occasion to slam his construction truck through the young cadets.  Having plowed straight through their formation without disabling his truck, he then turned around to try at another pass before being shot by the guide and two of the cadets.

It is unfortunately a new common choice for terrorism, this plowing through crowds in large trucks.  That surely isn’t what shocked me.  But the fact that it was in this park, just 5 minutes walk from my apartment.  That it was in the park I take to work or to clear my head.  That it was in my neighborhood – you just don’t expect that.

This event happened around mid day.  I was still getting over a cold so I was sleeping in my bed.  That night, I was scheduled to work the night shift.  For a split second, I thought about walking to work but decided not to – I didn’t want to be a gawker.  But as fate would have it, I left just at the right time to see my bus driving past my stop 5 minutes earlier than it should have.  Since the bus route goes through the neighborhood, I can cut through another park and then on to the bus stop at the promenade to catch it if I walk quick.  So without thinking that is where I started heading.  When I got to the road that the promenade is on, I saw an unusually large number of cars parked on both sides of the road.  “Oh… that’s right.  Well, it is much to cold to wait for the next bus in twenty minutes.  Just walk by it and be done with it.”  I was amazed that less than 12 hours later, everything but a few fallen lines of police tape and a few mounds of grass that had been uprooted were all that was left.  This was the spot where 4 people died and something like 15 others were hurt.  I guess Bibi doesn’t play around when he says we should continue on with our lives.


When I moved to Eilat 2.5 years ago, the war was going on.  My first night in my first own Israeli apartment, Hamas decided to send over three rockets.  The alarms sounded, and I woke up and groggily tried to find the shelter.  One of the rockets landed 150 meters away from my building.  But my building was on literally the last road in town.  There was nothing but desert mountains on the other side of the street where the rocket landed.  I never did go hiking over there and had no connection.  Once that night was over, it was more of just a story to be recalled than anything else.

But this is a park I’m in a few times a week.  Southern trees have their strange fruit; I suppose it is just another type that grows here too. (points to you if you know the reference!)

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