Jan 31, 2011

My Quarter-Life Crisis

This morning started out pretty unremarkable. I had slept a good 14 hours the night before (in my defense, I had been up til 6am the night before dancing and participating in other forms of various debauchery) and when I woke up, I could not shake off a little gloomy feeling that was creeping in on me. After I had managed to shove a poptart down my throat, I began to realize why I was so miserable: I had had another dream of Israel.

Now I never dream. Seriously- when my head hits the pillow, in T minus 5 seconds, I am out and not even WWIII could get me up (I have literally been asleep during missile firings, gunshots and a neighbor's notorious late night sex romps and not missed a minute of sleep). I cannot remember the exact details of the dream, except  I just woke up with an odd sense of nostalgia and sadness. It wasn't until later when I got to work and logged onto Facebook and saw that my ulpan roommate had moved back to complete another ulpan program at our kibbutz that I just got so sad.

I miss those days so much. I miss Israel. It breaks my heart to think about how sad I am missing it. I think about Israel every single day. I surround myself with Hebrew, listen to Israeli music, feel a bright surge of pride when I see falafel stands and boast proudly (and obnoxiously, I'm sure) whenever I spot Natalie Portman on the cover of a magazine. I dread looking at my friend's Facebook profiles and seeing the pictures of them all together and just feeling so isolated. I literally feel myself longing to return. I miss the thick air, the grime of the Tel Aviv streets and the constant noise of obnoxious and whiny Mizrahi music. Even my frustration at the bus schedule and annoyance with trying to get the simplest things accomplished are sorely missed. 

And the most tense and stressful moment in my life is happening now. I am at a crossroads and need to make a decision: the most important one that I have made in awhile. Whenever I was faced with other challenging moments, my security blanket was Israel. When I took a semester off of university to decompress after a chaotic Freshman year, I chose Israel. When I was faced with the decision to study abroad, I had dozens of options but I chose Israel. And when I was looking at working or getting an internship over the summer, I threw caution to the wind (and literally all my finances) and chose Israel. And now that I am about to graduate from university and am facing another great crossroads, I am again torn. Is it Israel for me again?

I am young, I want to experience more. I want to hitchhike in Africa, salsa in Argentina and drink a pint in Ireland. And yet, as I sift through the various options of where I want to go in the coming year, I cannot help but wonder: what about Israel? And yes, I know that Israel will always be there (actually that is not entirely definite, but for the sake of this entry let's just go with it) but I cannot help but feel a sense of... something that makes me feel like I am missing out. Like I am the neighbor who didn't get invited to the party so I have to watch it from my window. I know it sounds irrational, but I can't help but feel that way. And I have a weird panic that if I don't get there soon, I will miss out on everything. I just am not entirely sure what "everything" is. 

Jan 28, 2011

Peace Out Mubarak

I woke up this morning at 6:00 am. Took a shower, brushed my teeth, shoved a banana in my mouth as I ran out the door to catch the metro to work. I logged into my computer, checked my e-mail messages and Facebook profile and prepared to suffer through the mundane 9-5 after which I would have some dinner, watch some TV and call it a night. Little did I know that during my day I would have the rare opportunity to watch a revolution unfold 6,800 miles away in Egypt.

Thanks to Twitter, we have an unparalleled and truly historic look into the events unfolding in Egypt at this very moment. This is simply mind-blowing to me. With the click of the "Refresh" button on my browser, I can, in real time, view the collapse of a regime and the toppling of an inept and corrupt Mubarak. Each time I click that refresh button, I am quite literally viewing history as it happens- in 140 characters or less. 25 minutes ago, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on the death of one woman killed in the clashes in Egypt. Nic Roberston details the "black smoke" hovering over Alexandria and Sherine Tadros of Al-Jazeera chronicles the spray of tear gas and rubber bullets. 

Multiple news sources, including Al-Jazeera, CNN and the Huffington Post are offering live footage of the scene in Egypt: the amassing of police troops, the quiet huddles of protesters that are quickly brewing into dynamic and chaotic throngs of angry Egyptians. The whole event in itself is amazing and inspiring. 

Even with internet outages and cell phone lines cut off, Egyptians on the ground are still finding ways to stay connected to the outside world. CNN reported of protesters without internet phoning in updates of the situation and having those updates posted online. The spirit of revolution is one that seemingly will not be quelled by rubber bullets, tear gas or police intimidation. 

The spillover from Tunisia marks an incredible shift in Middle East politics and one that is sure to hold the attention of the West. As Nathan Brown, a professor at my university said "I think what the events in Tunisia did was take that sense that nothing could ever change and lead a few people to question it." Although the events in Tunisia did inspire the current demonstrations and protests in Egypt, the same outcome will not be so readily attainable for the Egyptian people. 

And this is what I think will be the most important result of the protests in Egypt: the new spirit and dialogue of Arab politics. This fear of the regime in power is something that has held back Arab nations from truly uniting and becoming a serious force in international politics. But that is jumping far ahead. For now, all I can really do is sit in my little island cubicle and keep refreshing Twitter, hoping to glimpse a small fragment of history in action.

Update: I found this great graphic on the Huffington Post website showing the internet blackout in Egypt.

Jan 15, 2011

Staying in on Saturday Nights

Reason number 38 why I love staying in on Saturday nights: Watching Law & Order: SVU while trolling the internet for cute animal videos. Enjoy.

Jan 14, 2011

Week in Review

So folks, I have (almost) officially ended my first week of my last semester of university. It was surprisingly awesome. Monday I headed off to work at the job which I love. I'm basically a glorified switchboard operator, but everyone that I work with is so amazing and kind. There's the mailroom guys who I can always joke around with and who call me "Kardashian" and mock me because I when they were talking about the Jets I had assumed they were enthusing over West Side Story and not a football team. There's Mikey who is always down for a spontaneous duet of anything by Whitney Houston and of course there's an endless slew of awkwardness and office politics that makes me determined to never have a career in which I would be confined to a cubicle and the only highlight of my day is when the pie truck comes around. (Seriously the sight of grown women grabbing their purses and running to each other in high-pitched squeals about blueberry pie makes me contemplate divorcing myself from the human race). 

Jan 10, 2011

How to Find Your Travel Soul Mate

expect an Oscar nomination for this one

I was slumped against a wall in the Boston Logan Airport last, my laptop plugged into the wall so that I could watch the underappreciated cinematic classic “Step Up 3” while hoards of panicked travelers grew steadily more agitated at our increasingly late airplane when my traveling companion looked over at me and said “Thank God you’re easy to travel with”. I couldn’t help but smile from this compliment. I had never excelled at sports, could not hold a tune to save a life and my artistic capabilities never exceeded the back of the Friendly’s menu, but dammit- I could travel! I had mastered the art of shimmying out of my jacket and shoes before the person in front of me had even finished fully removing his belt. I had dominated the oddly enjoyable trivia-like games the Israeli security asked you at the airport and was especially proud of my capability to know every single item on the Passover seder plate. Sleeping in airports have become natural to me and I have mastered the art of maneuvering around the armrest so as to enjoy my full eight hours. I live and breathe to travel. I devour travel books and regard Lonely Planet as my own personal Bible. So, when I was offered that simple compliment I could not help but be proud.

It also made me think about the various traveling partners that I have had in my life and what makes some of them “good” and others “I rather be strapped down in a Thai prison than here with you right now”. There are certain obvious factors that need to be considered when traveling with someone, especially when you will be traveling extensively with them. The first most obvious one is budget. You both need to be on some sort of understanding so that when you land in Paris and look for lodging, you will not be staying in a hostel with a rat for a roommate in the Latin Quarter while they are enjoying Egyptian cotton sheets down by the Champs-Élysées.

Jan 4, 2011

48 Hours in New York City

Due to the mildly ridiculous blizzard, my trip to New York City got delayed by a day. I was a little bummed but privately elated that I could have an extra day spent in my PJs and watching the snow pile up outside. Tuesday morning, though, like a true trooper I managed to drag myself out of bed (okay- the couch. I was on another QVC binge) at 5am and head to South Station to catch the Fung Wah to NYC. 

The Fung Wah was definitely not my first option (Take a second to Google "Fung Wah + death" and you will understand why). It wasn't completely horrible though- I did meet a nice man who was going to NYC because God had told him too. Obviously, I mean God tells me to travel across country via death machines blasting Chinese music all the time. I just choose to put down the bottle of Jack Daniels and call it a night. But to each their own.