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I wrote this 5 days after getting back to America – 7 Feb 2019

I’m cleaning out the email so I’m posting a bunch of blog posts I started as emails to myself.  Most will probably be private, but this one I wrote to post:

 

So here we are, Thursday night in Madera California.  Monday I slept almost the whole day, Tuesday I slept half a day and Wednesday I finally went out and walked around.  It was interesting to say the least.  Mitch offered me his living room to crash and I didn’t even google or look up anything about this place – I just knew it was near Fresno which is a city I heard of.  I assumed it was all kinda close and connected.  Turns out, I’m in the suburb.  So Wednesday was a bit of a culture shock since I was only in cities or kibbutzim in Israel.  I spent the day walking around to find city hall, DMV, credit unions and other things.  Nothing really got accomplished as at each place one thing or another was missing that I needed.  And by the end of the day, I was just confused and a bit depressed.  I was also shocked at the huge but empty roads without any sidewalks or public transportation as well as the rampant homeless people.  I ended the day thinking this whole America return was a big mistake.  Today I spent most of the day in bed watching Netflix.  But then I went for a walk around the rather large block that took 45 minutes in total.

The idea behind the walk was just to get some exercise so I didn’t fall into depression again.  But I soon came across a retention pond and the amazing sound of frogs just after dark singing their hypnotic songs.  I had to pause my music and it took me back to late summer nights in Florida.  Then, just a bit further down the road, my nose was filled with the smell of a backyard fire.  It was something I hadn’t smelled in more than five years.  There is a holiday in Israel where we burn bread as Passover comes in, but that isn’t the same smell.  And again I was transported back to years gone by.
As the smell slowly faded with each side road, I came across a high school with a marching band practicing.  The thuds and rhythms were almost war like hearing them now but they brought me straight back to Brandon High or the practice field at FSU.  A version of home brought on by the senses of experiences past but now colored with a new hue of why those traditions started all those centuries ago when young men marched off to kill others.  This wasn’t a sad moment, just a strange new way of seeing a strange memory.
The last sensory change was coming back into the apartment complex.  Someone had their washing machine going.  The smell brought me back to the Dudding’s house with their ever loving grandmother who always must have had a load in the washer as that unmistakable and amazing smell was always washing over us.
These sounds and smells all brought me back to this place, this country and society.  It is comforting and warm and welcoming.
And yet, there is something that is still missing.  Something that isn’t quiet right here.  The play of shadows and lights between the dark streets and bright car headlights was disorienting and I even had a jump fright at one particular shadow as it sped past me in an imagined but all too real aggressive manner.  Where am I?  Do I belong here?
There was an article I read a few years ago that I wish I could find now.  It talked about how an American moved to Israel and then years later moved back to America.  It wasn’t easy for her and she ended up coming back to Israel.   But no country was the same the second time around.  And she ended the article with an almost longing emptiness.  She had two homes and yet none at all.  I feel like that right now.  I am afraid of being here.  I am seeing all the things that drove me away the first time.  But what waits for me back in Israel?  Will things ever be the same?  And will I ever find the place that I want to call my home and settle down in?  Who knows?
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Try to focus on the good things in life.

I’m trying to get back on the life train so hopefully I’ll put out a new blog once a month again.

Depression has been too real.  You all know what life has thrown at me from my past few updates.  This round of joblessness was not as fun as I would have liked.  And this certainly has been the longest and second hardest bout of depression I’ve ever had.  But, the pills have finally taken the ups and downs to a steady lull.  It is a really fascinating thing to watch when I think of it from afar;  I am healthy enough to remember what I was like before depression.  A go-getter, outgoing, energetic kind of guy that can find the good things in life just about anywhere.  But, thanks to the pills, I just don’t have the energy or willpower or something to actually go back to being that person.  It’s like a zombie.  But a not super depressed zombie.

But things are progressing and I am trying to learn to trust the process.  The airline tickets have been bought and come two weeks from today, I will be landing in sunny California to a new adventure.

Which brings me to something my aunt mentioned, in her very Jewish, round-about, twenty minutes later kind of way:  I live a very lucky life.  I have done and experienced things that most could only dream of.  While I have wanted from things, I have not known true lacking for any long periods of time.  I have been able to pick up my life and move quiet a few times and across the world.  Despite my current Israeli bank account amount, I have a relatively good financial history and an American credit score that hovers just between ‘good’ and ‘great’ depending on the month.  These are not things that most people can say and certainly not things a lot my age can say.

I am lucky for these things.  And when I start to focus on the sad things in life, I need to remember that.  Yes, moving sucks.  Like, I have loathed the past two moves I’ve done with every fiber of my being.  But I was able to do it.  I am able to move when I feel like it because I am free from more permanent obligations and financial constraints.  And yes, my personality has changed and I don’t like where I’m at now.  But how many people get a fresh start in a brand new state when they need to make a change?  And I have people around me that remind me of that.  I am a lucky person.

 

Ok, I’m getting far too tired to keep going – off to bed and then Jerusalem tomorrow for the last time in this life chapter.

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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:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOUjB6F4Ko4   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.
xoxo

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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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