Friday, August 27, 2021

Love in the Time of Corona pt. 4 (or Better Late Than Never)

Instead of sitting around waiting until we could have the wedding we had planned (although the wedding I have always dreamed of would be in a jungle, on the beach, with African drum music. Either that or at a drive through burger joint. When the burgers are ready, the wedding’s over and everyone goes home.), we decided to just have the chuppah somewhere outside with 20 attendees.

There was no point in waiting for the original date we had planned either so we decided to just have it two weeks from then. We already had the photographer, makeup and hair person, and someone to rent a chuppah from. So we just had to find a day when all 3 of them and the Rabbi were available. Surprisingly, this was the least complicated part of the whole wedding planning process. The chuppah lady gave us a few days the chuppah was available the week we wanted, the makeup artist’s kids were coming out of isolation at the beginning of that week, and the photographer and Rabbi were pretty flexible. So we made it work somehow (or perhaps we had some help from above).

We also had to find a location to have the chuppah. Since neither of us knows any rich people with large yards in Jerusalem (obviously we just don’t know the right people and should probably work on this), we were going to have to do it in a public place. So we took a walk one evening on the boardwalk in Armon Hanetziv, overlooking the Old City. We found a large gazebo down below on a quiet path, away from the sounds of people and traffic. We knew that was it. It was beautiful, quiet, and relatively close to us.

It also meant getting permission from the municipality. A little bit of paperwork? No big deal, right?

I couldn’t find any number to call on the city website about a permit for an outdoor event so I called the municipality hotline. The woman gave me a number to call. Then THAT woman gave me another number to call, and about 5 numbers later I got to Dudu from the gardening dept. I told him we just wanted to have a chuppah outside with up to 20 people. He said he’d send me the paperwork to sign and we just had to return it with scanned copies of our ID cards. No big deal.

A few minutes later, I received a form in my inbox containing 11 conditions that had to be met, including a 10,000 shekel deposit. Dudu then received a very angry email from me. In response, he agreed to waive the deposit. We had to fill out a bunch more forms, but eventually got our permit.

As an aside, a month or so later the city started publicizing options for outdoor weddings in various different spots around the city to help couples who still wanted to get married but couldn’t do it in a hall. I like to think that my angry email had something to do with that, but I’ll probably never know.

The wedding was beautiful, and apparently there were fireworks being set off behind us over the Old City during the ceremony. Afterwards, the celebrants went to a nice restaurant in the First Station where they kept bringing out food, and then when we thought they were done bringing out food, they brought out more food. And then when we thought it MUST be time for dessert they brought out more food.

The REAL fun started after the wedding though. Corona bureaucracy is even worse than regular bureaucracy because none of the government offices are open. Opening up a bank account was fun. Just kidding, we failed at that. Apparently if your source of income is in cash, you and your cash are unwelcome at the bank, whose job is to store your money. We couldn’t register our marriage until we got our marriage license, but because we went through Tzohar to get married (an independent organization whose purpose is to be the intermediate between the couple and the Rabbinate) and because they had closed down all offices except the one in Lod (literally the armpit of the country), and because they insisted we come in in person to show them Gil’s divorce certificate (which had been filed with the Rabbinate anyway), and because neither of us had any inclination whatsoever to take the bus to Lod, we didn’t have a marriage license. They sent us emails periodically to remind us that we still had to do this and after trying to work something out with them (showing them the license on Zoom, them contacting the Rabbinate to get confirmation of its existence, sending them a copy since Gil doesn’t trust the post office enough to send an original), we point blank refused to come in. Eventually Gil discovered that he could order another certified copy from the Rabbinate in the mail, and we could just send that. I would just like to stress the fact that we had to order a copy of a certificate from the Rabbinate, originally filed with the Rabbinate, just so that it could be re-filed with the Rabbinate in a different file, in order for us to get our marriage certificate. Not only that, but Tzohar reminded us that we had only sent them 2 copies of pictures of us instead of 3 copies each. So in addition to the divorce certificate, we had to send them another copy of the passport pictures, which they then stapled to the marriage certificate and mailed back to us. Thankfully at around that time they reopened most of the government offices so we could actually file the documents (which need to be filed in person regardless of whether or not a global pandemic has forced the government to close these offices). So we were finally able to change our family status with the government 6 months after we got married. Better late than never I guess.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Love in the Time of Corona (pt. 3)

A month and a half later, the lockdown ended and we were eager to get on with our plans. We didn’t want to be that couple that waited until the last moment to do everything, drove each other and themselves crazy, and then ended up having a mental breakdown and being committed to the ward of an institution designated for victims of wedding planning procrastination. So we called up Ramat Rachel to confirm the date we had decided on with them. No answer. We sent messages. No answer. Finally we got a response that they had not returned to work yet, but that they’d like totally get back to us when they did. A week went by. We sent another message inquiring about their operational status. Still not opened. Finally, after a month or so of bugging them, we gave up and decided to look elsewhere. Now you would think that after having been shut down for a month and a half, they would be eager to start booking again as soon as possible to make up for the financial losses incurred during lockdown. But they had a very typically kibbutzy attitude about it all, and didn’t seem to care if they made or lost money. Or perhaps they were just enjoying the kibbutz pool while sipping margaritas and didn’t feel like coming back to work yet.

A friend of ours, who was also getting married in the summer, recommended a nice events restaurant called Montefiore, that was right across from the Old City. They had room for up to 100 people, which was about the number of guests we had been thinking of, and the chuppah would take place on the promenade above the restaurant with a view of the Old City during sundown. This location was even easier to get to in Jerusalem, and the food was dairy and less expensive than Ramat Rachel although it was not all inclusive. We would still have to get a chuppah, flowers for the tables, our own alcohol, and rent an additional room for the buffet so there would be enough space. I was perfectly happy just having a music playlist playing in the background during dinner. Frankly I hate wedding dancing (well, dancing period), and have never been and plan to never be spotted partaking of this particular activity which induces exuberance and requires synchronized movements. There wasn’t really anywhere to dance anyway, since it was a restaurant, not an events hall. Gil really wanted a live band though, so I told him as long as he found it and they weren’t God awful, absurdly expensive, and didn’t play bad Jewish simcha music (or any Jewish simcha music), I would grudgingly tolerate it and not complain TOO much.

Making a guest list is difficult when you don’t know whether international travel will be permitted. We had no idea if my sister and her family or if any of Gil’s friends or family would be allowed in to attend the wedding. And if they were, it would probably require a two week isolation period. Plus there were the guests in Israel who didn’t know if they would be able to make it because they were either high risk, care for or live with high risk people, were medical personnel and therefore couldn’t risk it, etc. So at least half our list told us they wouldn’t know if they’d be able to make it until several weeks before the wedding. This makes planning a wedding difficult obviously. We had committed ourselves with the restaurant to 100 people. So we couldn’t invite too many people and we didn’t want to have fewer than 100 since we were paying for 100 anyway.

Meanwhile, progress with Tzohar was going pretty slowly. Getting letters from Rabbis attesting to our Jewishness was not going as smoothly as it should. In my case, having the wrong email address for the Rabbi, and then having to go back and forth with him several times to get the exact version that would be acceptable to Tzohar and in Gil’s case it was just not knowing what Rabbi to ask. And anyway, how could a Rabbi really know if you’re Jewish unless he knew your grandparents, and your great grandparents, and your great great grandparents, etc.? And what kind of whacko would PRETEND to be Jewish just so he could jump through the flaming hoops of hellfire that the Rabbinate would put him through? He or she could just as easily skip out to Cyprus for the weekend and get married there, and the marriage would be legally accepted here in Israel. I’m not going to lie and say that at no point were we tempted to do this, but again we had the little problem of restricted international travel.

The closer we got to the wedding, the more we realized that the virus was still alive and kicking and we were going to have to have special considerations and change things around a bit. Gil changed his mind about the band since he didn’t want to encourage dancing, which was still against government regulations (weird, sounds like a movie I once saw...). And we were trying to figure out what to do about the serving of food so everyone wouldn’t be touching it and coughing all over it. Plus there were the guests who were at high-risk so we were trying to figure out how many people we could fit outside on the small balcony and if we could bring them their own food outside or maybe we should just have servers and forgo the whole buffet idea, which would be more expensive, but more hygienic, or maybe everyone should just have their own personal serving utensils, and so on and so forth.

And then the government announced that they were restricting the number of guests at events and weddings to 60 people inside and 100 outside. Ok, no biggie. So we ran through different options- having only 60 guests, having the meal outside of the restaurant, splitting the guests into two shifts, etc.

And then the government announced that event halls would be closed and the number of people congregating together outside would be reduced to 20. So we canceled our wedding and sat and had a beer. Or three.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Love in the Time of Corona (pt. 2)

Fast forward 5 months. Gil’s kept me company while I’m sick. I’ve made him soup when he’s sick. Oliver approves of him enough to sit on his lap uninvited. Gil’s daughter likes me enough to play games with me on Shabbat afternoon. We’ve had conversations about everything from whether  aliens exist on distant planets to the merits of Kabbalah. Plus, he’s the only person on the planet who would willingly listen to me repeatedly practice presenting my final master’s project, though he understands perhaps 1% of it (the prepositions, and perhaps an adjective here and there). Willingly listening to someone spout half an hour of gibberish 4 times in a row is true love, my friends.

At this point Gil’s already thinking about popping the question. He gets a mutual friend to scope out the situation and make a subtle probe into my emotional preparedness for a marriage proposal. She asks me what I would do if he asked me that day to marry him, and like a deer in the headlights I respond without thinking, “probably jump out the nearest window.” She sends him a frantic message to abort the mission, and I am none the wiser about any of this (as usual).

In a lot of ways, getting married when you’re older is harder. You’ve settled into a routine (mine being never leaving school and acquiring as many side jobs as possible), you have a self-perception of yourself born of many years of being single and independent, and you have a fear of failure and a healthy skepticism that has developed as a result of life experience. When you’re a kid (yes, you 20 year olds are still children. Your frontal cortex has not even fully developed yet, which explains your bad judgment), you just jump into the water with no fear of drowning, or hitting the rocks, or losing your bathing suit when you hit the water, assuming you were wearing one at all because you kids probably didn’t come prepared to the outing, so who knows what you’re even wearing to go swimming in, if anything at all. Plus you forgot the coals and lighter fluid for the barbecue, and your gas tank is on empty.

However, the question eventually gets popped, and I accept. And now the hard part: planning a wedding.

Anyone who has read any of my blog posts knows that this process is going to be as complicated as humanly possible. Getting engaged in February of 2020- how can anything possibly go wrong…?

Step 1- find a location.

We did this pretty quickly. We visited several locations in Jerusalem but were sold on the first tour which was at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. We got a great deal (which included an absurd amount of food, alcohol, decorations and flowers, the chuppah, and even a bridal suite in the hotel overnight), the location overlooked the hills of Jerusalem, and it was easily accessible by bus. 

The day we were going to call and book the place, a nice sunny day in March, the government announced that all event halls were going to be shut down and there were not going to be any weddings for at least a few months. Ok, that’s fine. We weren’t planning on getting married til August anyway. Guess we can wait on that.

Step 2- make a guest list.

At this point we were in complete lockdown. The skies were closed to travel, heck, we couldn’t even go further than 100 meters from our front doors. But we made a nice list of people that we would like to invite since the lockdown was only a temporary measure (lasted about a month). Eventually we were allowed 500 meters from our homes. Then we were allowed out to exercise. Then we could go pickup takeaway from restaurants. Then the lockdown was over and though we couldn’t go back to “normal,” we developed some new concept of “normal” and went with it. This included a heavy dose of optimism that everything would be over soon. And so we made our guest list hoping that at least most people on it would be able to come, whether they be in the US or in Israel.

Step 3- paperwork.

Our lives are ruled by paperwork. It’s inescapable. But some paperwork is irritating, unnecessary, and inconvenient, and some paperwork makes you want to go back in time and murder the parents of whoever is responsible for these documents so that they had never been born. You don’t even want to just make sure his parents never meet, oh no, someone must die as restitution for the mayhem this person has inflicted on humanity.

Getting married in Israel is not just getting a marriage license. You can’t just go to a government office, sign a document, and congratulations, you’re married! That would be too easy. Instead, all citizens are forced to go through whatever religious body their census information says they belong to and file their paperwork with them. So whoever thought that a group of rabbis paid by the government would be the perfect crew to be responsible for such important processes as getting married, has clearly never met a Rabbi or a government bureaucrat, and certainly never could have dreamed up the horror that a Rabbeaucrat could perpetrate. Example- when my sister was getting married, they called up her uncle at 3am in NY to ask him questions about Judaism just to prove that my sister is in fact Jewish.

So we decided to go through an organization called Tzohar that acts as a bridge between the couple and the Rabbinate. The first step was filling out a very long form online. Ok, no problem. Except that we don’t know when or where we getting married yet because there’s a global pandemic going on outside that may or may not go away within the next few months, and you can’t send the document in without that very pertinent information obviously, but you also can’t save the form as a draft and fill it out those two boxes when you DO know. So we gave up and had beer.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Love in the Time of Corona (part 1)

Gil finally agreed that I was probably right about how we first met (after gaslighting me for at least 6 months). For a long time we disagreed about where we’d met, him claiming it was at a Shavuot picnic, and me claiming it was at a friend’s Shabbat dinner. It made for an awkward answer when excited strangers asked us how we had met. About a week ago, after I had already started believing his version of events (I’m distrustful of my memory to begin with, so when people are very insistent about their memory of events, I tend to believe them), he finally admitted that his memory of how we met wasn’t consistent with the order of events. He’s going to have to get used to admitting I’m right.

So the order of events is apparently something like this:
He starts getting acquainted with the Jerusalem social scene, poking his head out of the sand every once in a while. He meets and befriends a friend of mine, and is invited to Shabbat dinner at which I too am a guest. He is a bit horrified and astonished to see me there, as he had swiped on my profile on OkCupid literally a few days earlier, and had not gotten a response from me. So he spends the meal trying to play it cool, while wondering if I’m pretending nothing happened, or if he should say something, maybe acknowledge the fact that he had “liked” my profile. Meanwhile, I am completely unaware of any inner drama going on with this guy since I never saw him on OkCupid and to my knowledge we are complete strangers. I just thought he seemed like a nice guy.

Then we meet again a few weeks or so later at another friend’s picnic. There are a lot of people there, so Gil and I don’t really talk much, though I vaguely remember his presence and me thinking that he was tall.

Fast forward a few months later and he is gradually becoming part of my social circle. I see him occasionally at Shabbat meals, and then a friend brings him to one of my meals so I start inviting him to my meals. He seems like a nice guy, funny, and intelligent too, so why not? Plus he lives in my neighborhood, so it’s easy enough for all involved.

I didn’t really think of him as dating material, despite the fact that one of my friends suggested it, and a family friend (you know who you are Jeff) that knows us both from the old country wanted to set us up (but was thankfully dissuaded by his wife). The biggest reason I didn’t consider him as a potential match was a pretty big one- a daughter from a previous marriage. Anyone who has ever talked to me for more than 5 minutes knows my feelings about children and animals (there’s an inverse relationship between the two). I’ve dated guys with kids before but it always ended up feeling too complicated. And frankly, my life is complicated enough as it is. I live with a stubborn cat who destroys everything my roommate owns, and I can’t seem to get through a whole year without having more than three jobs (at the same time). Throw a helpless, small human into the mix, and we’ve created sit-com levels of unnecessary complications.

Apparently though he thought I was hinting my interest to him by inviting him to Shabbat meals and to singles events through Facebook. I can see now how that might be misconstrued, but I invite lots of people for Shabbat meals, and I invite Facebook friends to events I think they might be interested in (including single friends to singles events). I guess inviting him to a Tu B’Av party and then to Shabbat dinner the next night was not the best idea if I was trying to broadcast platonicity, but it honestly never even occurred to me (I invited maybe 10 people to the event and then another 10 or so to Shabbat dinner, probably with several people overlapping).

He stayed after dinner to “chat” and we ended up having a 4 hour conversation. It was 1 o’clock in the morning by the time I finally looked at my watch. This was possibly the longest conversation I’d had with another human being (Oliver and I chat all the time, but mostly about tuna), including on dates, in a very long time. And even more unusual, it was actually interesting.

I remember sitting behind a guy at some event, a guy that I had sent a message to on OkCupid and who had not replied, and listening to him have an entire conversation with a girl about bags. He got very excited when he saw she had a similar cotton bag as him, and found this an interesting enough topic of conversation to maintain for at least the next 5 minutes (that’s when I tuned out). Needless to say, I dodged a bullet on that one.

Then when he asked me out to dinner, I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised. Dinner? Guys don’t ask girls out to dinner anymore. I’ve been asked out to coffee, drinks, and a park bench once (that probably should have been a red flag right there), but dinner? Men just don’t invest that kind of time or money on a woman these days. It’s all about quantity of dates, not quality.

I accepted, on the condition that he wasn’t making it (he had warned me before that his cooking skills rival that of a 5 year old’s). The evening of the date, we met at the bus stop located between us. He had been reading something on his phone, and after greeting each other, he asked me what I thought about moral relativism (that’s what he’d been reading about on his phone). So we spent the first part of our first date discussing the definition of morality as a function of time and culture. As opposed to where we got our bags from.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

How I Spent My Time in Quarantine

Honestly, I mostly didn’t until recently. Being a lab worker means it’s essentially impossible to work from home. Especially when your work involves mice and you have a cat. Since I didn’t really want my research to get eaten, I was going in to work even as the city slowly started shutting down. My plan was to continue working until the last coffee stand shuttered its metaphorical doors.

 A few weeks ago, all students received an email requesting volunteers to help with the corona testing in the virology unit of Hadassah Hospital. The country was opening up more testing centers including one in Hadassah Ein Kerem, and much more staff was required. Seeing as the tests are performed using real time PCR, a common laboratory method, they were recruiting grad and post grad students at the medical school to help them do it. I signed up to volunteer and a few days later got recruited (obviously this step required an absurd amount of paperwork, blood work and vaccinations, and a trip to the security dept. which was opened between the very specific hours of 9 and 11:30, to pick up a volunteer tag).

 They began the first shifts about a week later. They signed me up for the Wednesday and Thursday morning shifts which I was informed were from 7am to 4pm. In the original email I had received, the shifts were supposed to start from 8 which is almost doable for me. Waking up at 5:45 in the morning is not really my idea of a good time. I am capable of dressing myself (as long as it doesn’t matter if both shoes are the same or not), eating (I have found that this is an instinctual act, as long as it doesn’t matter how much food gets on the sweatpants I am wearing because that was the best I could do about dressing myself at that hour), and getting to work (even if it takes a few attempts to get on the correct bus traveling in the correct direction). In fact, being faced with the options of getting up while it’s still dark out to test throat swab samples, and sleeping in, well...…... we had a good run humanity, it’s too bad it had to end so early.

But since I had already committed, I agreed to this torture session masked as an attempt to aid humanity. As I’m sure you can all guess, the first few shifts were mayhem. The volunteers mainly stood around waiting for instructions but since the actual staff had no idea what to do, we mostly loitered, blocking the hallways while the workers ran around trying to figure out which lab had run some specific batch of samples, or yelling at the lab workers for scanning all the forms upside down, etc. We didn’t know who to ask for instructions since no had bothered to introduce themselves and whoever was in charge had neglected to tells us. The person explaining to us what to do (i.e. move boxes from one place to another place, which we were subsequently told by other people who appeared to work there to move to another place a meter away because they were blocking the supply cupboards) didn’t really seem to know herself what to do. We later established that she does not in fact work there, but actually works in the microbiology lab next door and was temporarily reassigned to virology to work on the corona testing.

The first day I arrived 10 minutes early and was told by someone to just wait in the staff break room until they started the shift. By 8:00, all the volunteers were hanging out in the staff room wondering if they had forgotten about us and about the whole plague thing the entire world is currently experiencing. So we went looking for someone to give us directions with the assumption that SOMEONE was running the shift. Microbiology girl ended up instructing us to take the giant cardboard boxes of samples from MDA out of the fridge and put them on carts for the 3 different labs doing the testing. We spent 10 minutes loading up the first cart, 20 minutes looking for more carts to use until finally reappropriating carts we found lying around with other stuff on them, another 10 minutes loading up that cart too, and then another hour or so waiting outside the labs (all 12 of us volunteers) in case the lab workers needed something. After an hour of blocking the hallways and aggravating the other people who may or may not work there (who knows?) but were trying to get through, I asked someone who seemed to work there if I could go on a coffee break. She said yes, but that I couldn’t go out like that! I looked down at myself garbed in a disposable lab coat, shoe covers, hair net, cloves, and surgical mask, and said, “obviously.” When I got back, there seemed to be no change in status, so I asked her if there was anything to do. I said, “I would be happy to help if there’s something to do, but if not, I have my own work in my own lab to do.”

She apologized that there was nothing to do but informed me that the dept had been forced to take a specific number of volunteers, even though they told them (I don’t even know who the “them” is) that it was too many and they didn’t have enough work to warrant that many people. She said I was definitely free to go, no problem. I asked her who the person responsible for the volunteers is and happened to run into him the next day. Turns out, he’d never even been to the virology labs and had no idea what was happening there (which was not much besides a smidgen of chaos).

The next day was basically a repeat of the first day, although I lasted a few hours longer before I just took off (I had no idea who I was supposed to inform that I was leaving and figured no one was going to notice one less person idling around anyway).

Thankfully by my third shift, they had started getting their act together and we did more than just move boxes around, although our instructions on what to do seem to change every 6-24 hours. I still have no idea who most of the people who work there are and they have no idea who I am (they never take roll call or check off who’s there. I could be the gardener dressed in a lab coat and face mask for all they know.). Thankfully, they’ve started increasing the testing dramatically so there is actual work to do. Don’t get me wrong, things are still a complete mess, but they’re a predictable mess. We know that Hadassah Har Hatzofim is going to send half their samples without forms, and that a certain civilian sector of the army will send us samples on dry ice that consequently become jellified after they thaw, and hence almost impossible to pipette. I also know that half the staff is going to be late since the buses are running at only 25% frequency, and that we will run out of scrubs for everyone by 7:15. There is only a 15% chance of all scanners working properly, and a 10% chance that MDA will bring their samples within an hour of when they call to tell us they’re on the way.

The silver lining (well, maybe) is that they decided to make us actual workers instead of just volunteers, which is slightly more of an incentive to wake up even before all those nutty early morning runners would be out if the government hadn’t banned it. Unfortunately this means a truckload more paperwork (took me two attempts to successfully send in all 20 pages of paperwork, the contract, and pictures of my ID and diplomas), online safety, hygiene, and sexual harassment lectures and tests (took me two attempts to pass the hygiene test), opening up a Hadassah email account (5 days later and I still can’t log in due to a variety of different technical issues) in order to be able to fill out a 101 form (no, that was not in the first 20 pages of paperwork like you would think it would be), and then a return trip to the security dept. whose hours they have thankfully extended due to demand, to pick up a staff tag. Probably by the time I get this all straightened out, there will be a cure for SARS-CoV-2, and probably for HIV and cancer too.

As of late, I have not being going to work (the one I ACTUALLY get paid for) very often since all my cell cultures got infected with bacteria and I had to throw them out. This is why I’m a lab worker and not a doctor since I can’t even keep my cell cultures alive. Since all of my urgent work got thrown out, and the rest is in the freezer, I don’t have too much to do that can’t wait. So I too have been spending my time cleaning for Passover (not that my roommate left too much to do), listening to recorded power point presentations about mitochondria since classes have gone digital, and most importantly, serving as a lap for Oliver for as many hours of the day as physically possible (I had to explain to him that 24 was the max).

My non-work day schedule goes like this:
  9:15- alarm goes off.
  9:25- alarm goes off again.
  9:35- alarm goes off again. I actually wake up this time, but spend the next half hour in bed checking the news and Facebook while Oliver sits on my lap.
  10:05- I eat a small breakfast.
  10:30- is it time for lunch yet? No? I guess I’ll go back to YouTube.
  11:00- is it time for lunch now? Still no? Ok, guess I’ll do laundry/wash dishes/take a shower, etc.
  11:30- is it time for lunch now? No? Well I guess I’ll heat up some Aroma coffee I’ve been hoarding in my fridge.
  11:31- Open up a recorded lecture about mitochondria. Pretend to myself that I’m paying attention, while checking the clock every 5 minutes so I don’t miss lunch time.
  12:00- lunch time!!! Defrost one of the hundred sandwiches I’ve got frozen in my freezer that I have to finish by Passover.
  12:30- go back to the lecture. Actually pay attention this time for about 15 minutes.
  12:31- remove Olive from laptop, move the laptop off my lap onto a different surface, return Oliver to newly vacant lap.
  12:45-17:30- spend the rest of the day checking every half hour to see when it’s dinner time.
  16:00- consider doing some sort of exercise. Remember running outside is banned, reject idea of exercise. Go back to watching the clock.
  11:00- realize I have wasted the entire day doing absolutely nothing useful and that I have a 7:00 shift tomorrow morning so I better go to bed soon.
  12:30- actually go to bed.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Election Blues (#3) and a Global Pandemic

Seeing as we’re all stuck at home for the near future (and possibly the far future as well) I feel it is both my duty, and my salvation (for someone who can’t even stay home from work on vacation days, keeping busy is a must), to entertain everyone with a blog post. I know they’ve been pretty infrequent for the last few years, but that may change if the world remains shut down.

First, some updates about my life:
I have officially finished my Master’s degree and have started my PhD in biomedical science (shockingly without any serious bureaucratic hurdles). I am also engaged to a wonderful man (ha, I bet most of you had already given up on me) though making wedding plans right now is an exercise in futility. My original plan was to wait until the next election day in 6 months or so and have a nice day wedding, but it seems we might have to wait for the election day after that.
Also my poor giant lug of a cat Johnny is sadly no more. He got cancer last Passover and I had to put him to sleep. It took me an entire 2 months to acquire another cat. His name is Oliver and he’s a little over a year old. Meaning he’s still at the stage where he runs around knocking stuff over and causing general mayhem. Luckily he sleeps at night (usually on my person) and doesn’t wake us up. Too often.
Now some updates about Israel:
I just reread my last blog post about the first of what became a series of 3 elections. I had to laugh at my naiveté at thinking that we would all go vote, someone would win, and then we’d have a government (as good or bad as that government might be). Alas, 3 elections later and I’m not sure we have a government yet. I’m not actually positive since the news coverage is focused almost exclusively on the current global pandemic and only mentions the Knesset to tell us which MK is mad at which MK today. In fact, I would go so far as to say that probably no one really even cares at this point about the politicians unless they’ve caught the coronavirus and have spread it to us.

Now some updates about the world:
Don’t panic, but we are currently in the midst of a global pandemic (never mind that the word panic is already in the word PANdemIC). I myself thought I had the coronavirus last week, but it turns out that the symptoms of an anxiety attack are very similar to those of COVID-19, but much more transient (it went away a few hours later after I calmed down). I looked it up and the only number you can call if you have a suspected case of coronavirus is MDA. So I called them and the conversation went something like this:
Me: I think I need to be tested for coronavirus. I’m having trouble breathing and I’m coughing.
Yitzhak from MDA: have you been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of the virus?
Me: not that I know of, but anything’s possible. I work in a hospital and take public transportation.
Yitzhak: If you haven’t been exposed, then it’s not corona. Go to the doctor if you’re not feeling well.
Me: …. are the doctors testing for corona now?
Yitzhak: no. But if you don’t feel well, you should go to the doctor.
Me: …. so you don’t want to test me for corona?
Yitzhak: you don’t have it. You haven’t been exposed.
Me: how can you be certain of that? Do you know where all 300+ infected people have been 24/7 since they were infected? Isn’t it possible that I crossed paths with one of them without knowing?
Yitzhak: No. The health ministry knows exactly where every one of them has been, and you would know if you’d been exposed. Since you work in a hospital, you should know this.
Me: (in my head: “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard”)
Me: (outloud:) ah.

Last week my roommate got an update that she had been at a Purim party with someone who later tested positive for the virus. She got this message a week and a half after Purim (an impossibility according to Yitzhak from MDA). So she was essentially quarantined for 4 days having missed the first week and a half. By day 2 of quarantine she had cleaned almost every surface in the entire apartment. I fully expected that by day 3, the walls would all have a new coat of paint, and that by day 4, we would have a new room attached to the apt, where there had never been one before. Alas, still a 4 room apt, but one can dream.
However, after staying home for several days in a row, I have a new understanding of cats. Their journal entries must look something like this:
Day 578 of home quarantine:
I ran around around the house singing and knocking stuff over. I won a fight with the laundry hanging out to dry. It will think twice about starting up with me again. I watched the birds outside for an hour until I got bored. Then I napped cuz there was nothing else to do and I was tired from running around the house.

On the bright side, a lot of people are going to get their Passover cleaning done early this year.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Election Blues

I hate election season. I did my best to ignore all politics and election propaganda for as long as possible. Which is difficult when you’re receiving a constant stream of spam from parties who think that if they send you 20 messages a day, you will want to vote for them. I thought about voting for whatever party DIDN’T spam me, but that really only left the chareidi parties whose constituents mostly don’t have texting capabilities on their kosher phones. Even I’m not willing to go THAT far for my principles.
I took the whole “ignoring the elections” thing so far, that I went to work that day like normal. Actually my entire lab showed up (besides the boss), cuz we’re nerds. Granted, being the only lab working means you get to use ALL of the departmental equipment without having to wait or sign up.
I have an intense distrust of all politicians (based on life experience) and don’t usually vote for a party based on their platform (which they’re not going to carry out anyway). I vote for the person I think most likely to leave the country in one piece at the end of their term. Which is why I didn’t vote in the last American election. I kind of figured that both candidates were just as likely to leave a burning wreck behind them as they sailed off to Tahiti in their private yacht 4-8 years later so I wrote the country off as a loss and jumped ship.
Honestly, it’s absurd that this country can’t go an entire term without the coalition collapsing. What is wrong with us that we can’t make it an entire 4 years between elections without some catastrophe resulting in the entire knesset falling apart? It’s even more irritating when you realize how much elections cost. Someone has to get paid for sending out all that spam. And guess who ends up paying for it. If you think about it, we’re being forced to pay for our own spam.
I had a very difficult time deciding who to vote for. In fact, I didn’t decide until the morning of election day.
I obviously wasn’t going to vote for the Chareidi parties. And frankly, I don’t know what self respecting “religious” Jew would vote for a convicted criminal heading a political party (Shas).
I obviously wasn’t going to vote for the Arab parties either. Although, neither was anyone else seeing as young Israeli-Arabs had called for a boycott of the elections in response to the Nation-State Law, clearly not understanding how democracy works. Not voting on principal, especially for the only parties working to strike down the law, is cutting off their nose to spite their face.
I wasn’t going to vote for the left wing parties. Though I agree with Meretz on many social issues, I don’t agree with them on issues of security and am disgusted by their apologist attitude and self-recrimination as Jews in a Jewish state. The labor party encourages a welfare state. Although the country was built on socialist values (and probably couldn’t have succeeded any other way), we have thankfully progressed to a point where the same socialist values that built the country would only be detrimental to further advancement.
The New Right (Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s break off party) seemed to tout changing the justice system as one of their main agendas after Ayelet Shaked’s tenure as the Justice Minister. Which makes me wonder what Naftali Bennett was doing all that time as the education minister, since I didn’t hear a word about changes in that arena, and the education here certainly isn’t getting any better.
Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party was an interesting party. Half of his platform I agree with strongly (reducing government intervention, increasing competition, and restricting the Rabbinate to a licensing) but the other half is completely insane (building a synagogue on the Temple Mount after removing it from Wakf control???). Apparently many of his voters were younger people who are in favor of legalizing marijuana, which was a huge part of his campaign. Aside from the apocalyptic visions he induces in me, my personal principle is not to vote for the guy all the potheads are voting for. Although it may help to explain why his party didn’t make it in to the Knesset even though many polls predicted him passing the minimum percentage of votes. It’s entirely possible that his all potential constituents just forgot it was election day and spent it playing video games instead.
I wasn’t going to vote for Kahlon’s Kulanu party, since they have proven themselves to be effective in their last term in the Knesset only as human seat warmers. Their election posters stated that they were “the only party to choose YOU.” I don’t know what they chose me for, but I certainly didn’t volunteer for anything.
The United Right shot themselves in the foot when they decided to join together with Otzma Yehudit, the self admitted Kahanist party whose leader was banned from running for Knesset on the grounds of “incitement of racism.” I don’t vote for racists or extremists. It’s a thing I have.
That leaves the largest parties- the Likud and Blue and White. And frankly, after watching the frequent cat fights between them, I wasn’t particularly impressed by either. If your platform consists of bashing the other guy, you haven’t actually given anyone a good reason TO vote for YOU.
I’m quite tired of being embarrassed by Netanyahu and the scandals that seem to follow in the wake of his family and everyone unfortunate enough to be around them. And his capricious politics and fickle decisions make it difficult to know what he actually stands for. I’m not sure he even knows at this point.
On the other hand, I hold Gantz responsible for the disaster that was Operation Protective Edge, in which 67 Israeli soldiers were killed, and another 469 were injured. Incidentally, Moshe Ya’alon, the Minister of Defense at the time, is number 3 on the party’s list. While much of the party’s platform seems worthy enough, I would absolutely not want to see Benny Gantz as the Prime Minister.
And so you understand the reluctance with which I walked into the voting station and cast my ballot. I’m still not sure I voted for the best party, but frankly, it probably doesn’t matter that much since the Israeli government is set up in such a way that it is almost impossible to change anything, especially when the ministers have no idea what they’re doing, and the MKs are just as likely to vote against a law proposed because the person who proposed it insulted their mother the day before as they are because their party is voting that way to blackmail another party into giving them what they want. So at least I have peace of mind that no one’s vote really counts for anything and it’s all a farce anyway (a very expensive one).
So here’s to hoping that the next however many years until the next election go smoothly and don’t cost the taxpayer TOO much money.