Month: April 2008

  • Self fell into bed, finally, at 2 PM. Now, it’s more than five hours later, she doesn’t know what happened in between, only that she was dreaming, and when she woke up and went outside to the living room, hubby was sitting in front of the television set, smoking.

    The garden had changed. Now all the trees that were bare before self left are in full leaf. Self sees that one of the maples in the front yard is being bothered by something, because the leaves have come in on only one side.

    Self had to throw away a small 4-inch pot of lamium maculatum, and some woodruff that had expired in its ceramic planter.

    The dogs were fat.

    The weather was cold and overcast.

    Self had to spray her roses: the Sunflare was absolutely over-run with small green aphids.

    This morning hubby accompanied self to the Mountain View Farmers Market. There self purchased: bok choy, green snap peas, new potatoes, green onions, apple cider, onions, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and a 10-lb. bag of navel oranges. Afterwards, hubby took self to a new Vietnamese noodle place, which was more bustling than old haunt Pho To Chau, and he appeared distracted and in a hurry to leave and self couldn’t finish her pho. Then, on the way home, he was very upset because they seemed to be hitting each and every red light, and then he slowed down considerably, perhaps he was testing the glide mechanism of the car who knows, but self was already halfway out: that is, her head kept falling over and her eyes kept closing.

    At home, self declared she was in need of a nap. A five-hour nap, it turned out.

    Only two rejections in the mail. In the wee hours of this morning, because self could not sleep, she finished Penelope Lively’s The Photograph and began E. L. Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate and is now almost halfway through it.

    It was self’s first time to read Penelope Lively, and maybe her third time to read a Doctorow (the first and second times were way back in the early 80s), and though self remembers being astonished by everything Doctorow did, once-upon-a-time, she now finds his writing fussy and predictable.

    But she’ll probably finish the novel, what the heck. Self thinks it is absolutely amazing that tomorrow is already the first day of spring quarter at xxxx community college. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

  • It is so wonderful to sit and chat with dearest sister-in-law, who is now on her third round of chemotherapy.  Dear Bro and nephew left last night, Mila the caregiver has the day off.  It’s just self, Dearest Mum, and Ying in the room, and we’ve been talking non-stop for hours.

    Self wishes this had happened sooner, but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth.  Ying is contentedly munching on the 2-lb. box of See’s chocolates self brought from California (technically, she’s not allowed to ingest any food that isn’t cooked, but what the hell, we are all in a strangely celebratory mood), and leafing through a Vogue magazine.   We all started watching a movie about a couple of young Beatles fans, and now we are watching “Billy Elliott,” the movie about a young boy who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. Not once has anyone mentioned Dear Bro.

    It was a beautiful day in Tel Aviv!  This morning, Dearest Mum and self walked around the Neve Tzedek neighborhood. After lunch, we walked along Allenby until we found a bookshop self had read about on the web, whose owner turned out to be a transplanted American (originally from Newark, New Jersey).  On the web, the bookshop (on 87 Allenby) was called Bibliophile, but it’s actually called Halper’s Books, and the owner said he’d been running the bookshop for 20 years.  Dearest Mum bought a couple of books by Doris Lessing, including one that self recommended because she remembered reading it while she was in the Stanford Creative Writing Program, The Golden Notebook.  Self bought a book by an Israeli writer who the bookstore owner said was very good (But since self doesn’t have the book with her at the moment, and can’t remember the name, she’ll have to post about it later — apologies, dear blog reader)

    Later, self and Dearest Mum had lunch of hummus, olives, eggs, and garbanzos in a small café that was large enough to accommodate only four small, round tables, and the manager was kind enough to turn on the airconditioner because he noticed self was perspiring. 

    Self so half-in-love with this city, and so drenched with worry now for her sister-in-law that she almost can’t stand it.  

    Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned. 

  • Dearest Mum arrived last night. 1 A.M., self was sleeping on the couch. She has a vague memory of seeing a skinny woman enter the apartment in skintight jeans (reminding her of Oprah-surrogate in “The Brunch”, who also has a penchant for skinny jeans, though self doubts very much that Dearest Mum’s are Dolce & Gabbana) and a pink top.

    Then, morning. It’s a beautiful day! Apartment’s environs are rather busy and noisy, and the cafés apparently keep going until the wee hours. If self were 20 years younger and much richer, she would be down there, participating in the life of the street.

    Self told Dearest Mum all about the dear boutique on Gordon Street, and the little coffee shop next door, and self agreed that after Dearest Mum returned from visiting Ying, self would take her there. But Dearest Mum has returned with brother and nephew (who has a humongous appetite: show him a piece of anything and he’ll gulp it down faster than you can say — than you can say, whatever. This morning, self examined the jar of Nutella that nephew has been feeding from, the last week. She still doesn’t have any idea what it tastes like. Should she give it a try? No thanks.)

    Anyhoo, self now declares she has a headache, for she simply can’t bear the idea of her last hours in Tel Aviv being spent in the company of Dear Bro, and especially she doesn’t want to have her last meal at favorite coffee shop in the presence of Dear Bro, and just as we are all setting out together, self declares she feels “sick.” Suddenly, brother is extraordinarily solicitous, wondering if it was the bed in the apartment, perhaps she should try the bed in the other room (At Ruppin self slept on the sofa in the living room for 10 days straight, her clothes scattered on armchairs, and brother paid her no mind). Then he says, still in solicitous mode, “Does your stomach ache? Can we get you anything?”

    And self just stops dead in her tracks and stares at him with vile loathing. She backtracks and starts walking back to the apartment and Dearest Mum tries to detain her with those strong fingers of hers that are honed from decades of piano-playing and her grip is really very hard but self shakes her off and just keeps going. The last thing self remembers seeing is Dear Mum’s face, boiling over with fury.

    Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

  • Alas, self is being booted out of Ruppin apartment, not by the mysterious owner, Mr. R, who has conveniently failed to surface, but by self’s very own Dear Bro, who said to her that he wanted her out by today. Why? Because, according to Dear Bro, self is “abusing the hospitality” of Mr. R (who doesn’t give a fig; he’s not even on the same continent. As of this writing, that is).

    Self suspects the real reason is that Dear Bro needs her in the new apartment so that she can baby-sit nephew while Dear Bro spends his last night with sister-in-law Ying. Yes, indeed-y, Dear Bro is leaving Tel Aviv AHEAD of self but, lest dear blog readers get too giddy with excitement, it is only, like, 24 hours ahead. And in the meantime, Dearest Mum is arriving tonight to assume Dear Bro’s place as monitor of self, to see that she “stays in line,” “doesn’t get Ying too shaken up,” and is responsible for no more of sister-in-law’s (possible) relapses.

    So, self flounces back to the Ruppin apartment, very exercised (but at least the No. 10 bus showed up within 10 minutes of self’s getting to the bus stop, which has never happened in the history of self’s two-week stay in Tel Aviv, dear blog readers) and is now very tearfully packing her bags. If she had $200 left in her wallet, she’d get a ticket TOMORROW to California. And at the same time, she realizes how very ridiculous it is that she, a grown woman, should be reduced to almost-tears by thick-headed Dear Bro (who, by the way, is also harassing self to e-mail hubby picture of delightful Carmel bungalow, going for only $990,000 — a veritable “steal,” Dear Bro says — that he thinks we ought to be able to manage by going 50/50 on the down. Self said she would discuss it with hubby, but she’s already deleted the picture of the house from her message files. And she’d rather rip her tongue out than admit that, really, $990,000 is a bit rich for the likes of hubby and self, who are, as the saying goes, poor as church mice. Why else would she have put the whole trip on her credit card — adding to the already humongous bill for last year’s car repair which she is still paying off at snail-like pace of $100/ month? And why else, despite Dear Bro’s extremem mean-ness, would she still be here, subjecting herself to his mysterious and dictatorial moods?)

    If only self could run to her nearest Oprah-surrogate, young man who tends “The Brunch” boutique on Gordon Street, to tell him of this latest kink in her evolution. Her first night in Tel Aviv, while self was walking around the block to cool down, she encountered this store, where she began trying on dresses in a rather distracted, haphazard fashion. Then, this man (who reminded self so much of Jake Gyllenhaal — a younger version) came up to self and said, “Darling, put that away. You look like you are getting ready to clean house.” And since then, self has dropped by the store whenever she is feeling low (which is, like, every day). The other day — or perhaps it was just last night — Oprah-surrogate said, “Darling, you need to find a way to get more money out of Mama.” Which made self laugh so hard she almost cried.

    But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Or, as someone else, perhaps Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a bowl of cherries” blah-blah-blah.

    Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

  • Almost as soon as self stepped into the Ruppin apartment, she heard from Ying. Self apologized for not seeing her, but was in Bethlehem and Jerusalem all day. Self told Ying she’d bring her Tom Yam soup today, from that restaurant Ying loved, on the corner of Ben Yehuda and Bograshov.

    Already, California looms large. Self misses:

    her garden
    The Economist
    The New Yorker
    The New York Times Book Review
    watching movies

    (and, goes without saying, everyone in her family there which includes — aside from hubby and son — the two li’l crits)

    A few days after self arrives, there is her reading in the Ferry Building (Apr. 9, 6 PM, for those of you who are interested in meeting self. In person. In full-on comic mode). And then there is her visit to Valerie Miner’s Women’s Studies class at Stanford (Apr. 23– Valerie tells self her students have prepared presentations on Mayor of the Roses, and seem to really like the book. Whew! That’s such a relief–!!!)

    Self asked hubby what movies were showing in the local cinemas, and hubby replied that he didn’t know, he was too busy working! Self tells herself she will make it up to hubby by becoming a domestic diva for the remainder of 2008.

    And now to re-visit the old Trumpeldor Cemetery, which was closed when self dropped by last Friday or Saturday. The days of her trip are already beginning to run together in her head. All she knows is that the friendliest people in Tel Aviv are taxi drivers. It’s amazing the kinds of things they feel impelled to share with her. One old man showed her an 8 x 10 glossy of his dead son, killed at the age of 33 by a fare who directed him to a dark, gloomy section of the city. Now the driver carries the picture around with him all day in his cab. Heartbreaking.

    So, taxi drivers of Tel Aviv, self salutes you. All of you. From the oud-playing driver who took her to Trumpeldor, to Eli who drove her home late one night from Bialik Street and insisted on giving self his phone number, even after self told him she was married, had a son, and moreover was not one of those nice and caring Filipinas the taxi driver seemed to like so much.

    Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

  • Well, Dear Bro hied himself off to an apartment on Rothschild Avenue today, and self returned late after a trip to Bethlehem (of which self will impart more later, dear blog readers, as it was a most stimulating excursion), and self decided that she would just spend the night at Ruppin, and keep on spending the night here until either: a) owner shows up; or b) she returns home.Because self absolutely loves this neighborhood! With her new “best friend”, the boy who runs the boutique called The Brunch, just off Ben Yehuda, who always invites self to stop in and chat (Self is saving him up for Zack), and the cute coffee shop a few steps away, which serves the most delicious macchiato.And tonight she’s meeting a young South African woman who self met on her Bethlehem tour, who happens to be moving to Hong Kong in a month.Self missed seeing Ying today, but she talked with her on the phone and promised to give her a very lively account of her adventures tomorrow, along with plentiful take-out from Ying’s favorite Thai restaurant.Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.