Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Stir Crazy

The snow to end all snows is still on the ground here in beautiful Efrat and I am feeling a little bit nutso. I would say I’m stir crazy but the truth is, it’s not about being stuck in the house—it’s about not being ALONE in the house. There are people all around me, all the time.


I vant to be alone
It started Thursday. It began snowing and it didn’t stop. It snowed and snowed and snowed some more. We ended up with over 3 feet of snow on the ground and we were all home because when it snows in Israel, everything shuts down.

It’s not that we’re wusses here in Israel. I grew up in Pittsburgh and my husband grew up in Chicago. We know snow.

But Israel is a young country and snow is an unusual occurrence so we’re just not prepared for the white stuff when it does come down. Israelis don’t have snow shovels or ice picks to clear icy sidewalks. You can’t buy rock salt here at your local hardware store. The city doesn’t have many if any snow plows or firm snow contingency plans.

Panic Buying

When the weatherman predicts snow in Israel the supermarkets overflow with people and the shelves empty out as panic buying ensues. So you’ve got to do it too, or you’ll be without basic staples like bread and milk. Stuff runs out.

The streets are narrower in Israel, so they become especially hazardous in difficult weather conditions. The low-lying areas flood. People don’t have snow tires or chains. We get especially heavy winds in Israel that down trees and electric lines. At the same time, people flock to Jerusalem from the warmer areas of the country to see the unusual weather phenomenon so you end up with icy, jammed up roads.

Furthermore, houses in Israel aren’t well-insulated and most people don’t have central heating. The cold seeps into your bones.

In short, it’s best to stay home and cuddle with the kids if you have them until everything is back to what passes as normal. Which at this time of year should be rain and not snow and freezing temperatures.

"The Look"

Now I like my alone time. I like my family, too, but not all around me all the time, especially not when I’m trying to write as per my job at Kars for Kids. And of course, my desk is in the living room and I don’t have a way to cloister myself from noise and distractions. The most I can do as my family members naturally forget to be quiet around me is to give them “The Look.”

It helps. Until the next time. Usually five minutes later.


So when I realized my writing just wasn’t going to happen today, I packed it in and looked for distractions on the ‘net. Since I was cooped up in close quarters with too many people for too long a time, the distractions I found had to suit my morbid mood. And oh lucky you, I’m good at sharing (don’t thank me, I’m a giver, as my friend Dave Bender always says).

A Movie About You

This website lets you customize a movie to be about you by inputting the address of your home from back when you were a kid growing up. At least that’s what it’s supposed to do. You actually don’t see much of your childhood home—it’s more expectation than wish fulfillment. But when you’re feeling nostalgic due to the weather, it’s nice when you start to type in your old address and the search engine spits it out for you. You feel acknowledged.

Here is the movie it made for me. Note that Google Street View is not comprehensive for Israeli streets, so I couldn’t make a movie for my kid with our (current) address.

Next, I found this social experiment pictorial. Here’s a quote from the page:

“After Candy lost someone she loved, she went through a long period of grief and depression. With time she felt gratitude for the time they had together and eventually she found clarity in her life by contemplating death so much. But she struggled to maintain this perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. She wanted a daily reminder and she wanted to know what was important to the people around her. So she painted the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid of the sentence “Before I die I want to _______.” Anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations in public space.

It was all an experiment and she didn’t know what to expect. By the next day, the wall was completely filled out and it kept growing: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, hold her one more time, straddle the International Date Line, see my daughter graduate, eat more everything, abandon all insecurities, plant a tree, follow my childhood dream, be completely myself…  People’s responses made her laugh out loud and tear up. They consoled her during hard times. She understood her neighbors in new and enlightening ways, and the wall reminded her that she’s not alone as she tries to make sense of her life.”

Morbid enough fer ya?

A Fun Guy

Moving right along, here’s a fun guy. He pours molten aluminum into ant hills. But hey, Kiddies, these are fire ants that are pests, so it’s okay to torture them with the equivalent of a manmade mini-Pompeii. Besides, it’s ART.

It actually is really cool art. You have to watch the whole thing to see why (alternatively, if you don’t like to watch fire ants tortured you can just skip to the end of the clip).

Next up, I contemplated some really neat architecture, which is a depressing thing to do when you’re living in a moldy rental, so yeah. Really fit my moody blues.

Last but not least, I found this totally useless item. Actually, it may be useful for you, if you’re the type to fall asleep on buses, trains, or planes. Unfortunately, I am too hypervigilant—I’d be afraid I’d miss my stop—to ever appreciate the merits of this estimable sleep travel hat that both cushions your head from bumps and shields your eyes from the light. It’s called—you guessed it—the ostrich pillow.

Come to think of it, maybe I could use that ostrich pillow hat to feel more, um, alone. That is, if they’re all still home tomorrow. Until then,



  1. theres a million $ check for you ima .... Ima: SHHHHHHHH!!!!

    1. ROFLOL. Now THAT will never happen. Not the offer and certainly not the response.

  2. I was so cheerful till I read this. Now I'm depressed with you. Okay, not. But I do have to appreciate a gal who also quotes Greta's famous line. Probably in accent, too. Yes? Next time you're overwhelmed by your peeps and bummed, come clean my house with me. Found oodles of cool stuff! You still wouldn't get anything you care about done. But I'd have cheap labor.

    1. Hey. Any excuse to spend time with you would be a worthy one. I'm a cheap date.