Aaliyah life continues

I sit writing this blog in the extremely cold ulpan grounds, but happily more or less, completely alone. This is because I decided to skive the “mandatory” excursion to Jerusalem today,  for two main reasons. The first, and slightly less, important is because I was reliably informed that these trips are akin to a “shit show” and frankly ain’t no-one got time for that. However, what swung it for me was the insistence that I must go. Which included the head of the ulpan chase us around the ulpan screaming “mandatory trip.” And, maybe it’s because I’m an Ashkenazi Jew or maybe it’s because I’m a pain in the ass, but when someone screams at me and then uses loudspeakers to tell me to get on a bus, I’m gonna run and I’m gonna hide.

Hopefully, this decision won’t impact too much on my social life as it’s such early days I do still feel the constant pressure to be on, present and entertaining at all times. Which, frankly is just incredibly exhausting. It also feels a little like I am at a boarding school with cliques already forming and the surprising appearance of a mean girl This means my present time alone is rather rejuvenating and well the worth the shitty excuse I will have to offer tomorrow to explain my absence, “period pain” in Hebrew anyone?

Anyway, apart from my non-attendance at various Ulpan events the dust has somewhat settled since my first day. I did, happily, manage to open a bank account and even made jokes with my account manager who it seems had once visited Oxford. This was, of course, after I shouted at her for mocking my accent. I mean…Israelis mocking my accent? Jog on love. I also managed to sign up to medical insurance and deposit money in the post office (again, achieved during the skiving of yet more activities.) Suffice to say, if ulpan read this blog I am screwed.

For those of you who are concerned I was placed in the set below top set for Hebrew which, it goes without saying, is unacceptable. I have yet to be moved up despite beseeching both in Hebrew and English. My current tactic is to simply do the top set work until they are forced to move up, but at least this way I won’t miss out. And for those of you who will call me a nerd, or worse – frankly I have five months to get my language up to scratch and like my doubters in the bank – you can all jog on.

In truth, I do still feel rather discombobulated, and whilst I am doing “stuff” as it were, I still feel as if half the time I am sat scratching my head wondering where the fuck I go from here. I’m neither happy nor unhappy, just unsure – which I suppose is normal for an immigrant. How on earth our grandparents did it all those years ago from the haim I will never know – I have madrichim, (very) basic language skills and free rent and food and still, I feel a cloud of confusion and unease follow me around. My latest challenge is an urgent need to add data to my mobile phone plan, which is one of the few things that is much much cheaper ba’eretz, but struggling to deal with phone companies in the UK, I will be seeking assistance with this one. If great-grandpa Haim didn’t have to deal with this nonsense, no reason I should unnecessarily upset myself.

However, despite Wi-Fi drama what I have found to be truly amazing is the number of family members that are crawling their way out of the woodwork. Failing to have a family Whatsapp group because they’re simply aren’t enough of us, I am amazed at the second and third cousins that are offering me places to stay, bringing me food and generally just making me feel at home. Which I guess…it is.

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Yom Aaliyah

Today I bought a pillow….

This is, essentially, all I accomplished. Which I guarantee you was not the plan when I woke up.

In fact, despite being rather exhausted after an incredibly draining day landing ba’eretz. Which was uninspirational (the Yemenites get a far nicer arrival from what I can see) and, frankly, a painful symbol of how little Israelis care that you have chosen to move to their country.

Sadly, instead of balloons and singing, we spent  hours in the absorption centre (and surely the absorption centre in Israel must be the only one to boast Louis Vuitton luggage – my guess is the French.) And then spent even more time wandering around Ben Gurion Airport sheparded by members of staff who, amazingly, seemed even more clueless than ourselves. Before finally finally arriving at a taxi tired, hungry and cold (more on that later) to be berated by the taxi driver for trying to shtup eight individuals’ wordly possession in his taxi. Let’s put it this way he did not handle with care.

Despite all this, and my aching arms from schlepping suitcases up and down stairs, I decided to wake up early this morning to get shit done. Because if there’s one thing I am good at – it’s ticking points off my to do list (obviously metaphorically, I’m not really the list type.) So bright and early I arrived in the moadon ready to be whisked through all the administration that needed to be filled in at ulpan. Of course, whilst I was bright eyed and bushy tailed (or at least my makeup hid most of my sheer exhaustion,) the ulpan staff were not really on board. Instead, I trawled through boring bureaucracy slowly, which included failing my Hebrew test – I have yet to be told of my set, but it sure as hell ain’t Solomon stream. And for those of you who keep telling me you can’t “fail” the test, honestly, you just don’t get “it.”

However, finally I had done all that needed to be done and seemingly signed my life away so I was ready to rock and to roll. So at midday, I left ulpan to go to central Jerusalem – terra firma if you will – starving (I had yet to buy food), but determined and proud.

I had two jobs

  1. To get a SIM with a UK landline
  2. To open a UK bank account

Obviously, I did neither.

I did shout at an Israeli and cry, but more of that later.

As I arrived in central Jerusalem a friend informed me that the banks close at 1pm and don’t reopen till 4pm. Why on earth they do this, I couldn’t even begin to fathom. But, ultimately it meant my whole rush was redundant. I could have slept, but I didn’t. I persevered, how wrong I was.

Firstly, the phone:

This is a very boring story so I won’t go into it at depth, but it involved me basically deciding to use the SIM I had originally been given at the airport, and wasting a huge amount of time (and money on roaming) in my pursuit of other, ultimately irrelevant options.

However, it was on my search for a workable SIM tailormade for my unique requirements that I learnt two useful things.

  1. Literally, no-one gives a shit that you’re an oleh hadashah. I had, mistakenly, thought that when I said those words doors would magically open, people would be nicer, more open, more forgiving of my dodgy Hebrew. I was wrong.
  2. No-one speaks English (or certainly not to me), I suspect this is part of a mass ploy to make my life harder than it needs to be, but this is yet to be confirmed. The irony is I had at one point joked I was going to pretend to be French forcing people to speak to me only in Hebrew so I could improve….be very careful what you wish for.

Then I dragged myself around town, as my mother would say, dreycoking before arriving at one bank at 3.25 ready for its doors to open at 3.30. Of course, what I didn’t realise was that you needed a ticket which meant I wasn’t even first. I was brusquely waved vaguely in the direction of a manager who thrust a number in my face and seemed to think I would be able to make heads or tails out of an Israeli switboard.
I could not.

But, then it got really interesting.

I went to Bank Hapoal’im ready to book a meeting for tomorrow. However, the signs were ominous as  in the huge queeue that formed outside I got screamed at first in Hebrew (and then when I pretended suddenly not to understand) in English for stealing some nuttas place. I was also balancing this drama with a client phone call, whilst offering retorts and trying to save my spot at the head of the queue in Hebrew. Finally, we were let in after a 20-minute wait. I was one of the first to be seen, and all was good.

However, the teller was very upset I had come to her branch and not one closer to me, despite my protestations that I had arrived but a day ago and didn’t know Talpiot (which I later realised isn’t even the right area) from my left foot. She also refused to book me an appointment. Legitimately refused, even though I know of others who had booked appoitments.

Then I lost it, and in my anger became a sem girl and questioned her ahava Yisroel, dramatically gathered my belongings, stormed out and cried. 

Looking back I may have overreacted.

However, whilst I did get very little done today. I must say that was has amazed me is the kindness of olim who have gone before me. Every single oleh has messaged to help with advice, counsel or simply words of empathy – which is really what I needed. And, thanks to them, I not only got through the day, but feel ready for tomorrow. Which is, thankfully, another day.

 

What it’s actually like to be on a diet

Oh I know….you’re not meant to say it. It’s become like this taboo word, instead, I should preach that I’m on a healthy lifestyle kick or some other delightful bullshit that makes the dieting package look prettier. But, that’s garbage. And, frankly I am tired of defending myself for wanting to lose those extra pounds. So, instead here are the hard and ugly truths about losing weight.

  1. Hard

Dieting is really really hard. Seriously, properly difficult. Every moment of every day there is temptation and if most of us struggle to say no to friends/family/colleagues, think how hard that is when confronted with the yummy deliciousness that is the Kosher Kingdom Pick ‘n’ Mix aisle *insert your favourite here*. At every moment, of every day you basically have to constantly say no, when your entire body is screaming, craving, desperate for you to acquiesce. And only the feeblest part of your brain, that knows this can spell long-term trouble is able to remain strong. Hopefully. So here’s my first truth about dieting: – it’s a bit like sex, if it ain’t hard, you ain’t doing it right.

  1. People suck

I dare you. I double dare you to tell someone you are on a diet. In general you will find two responses:

  1. “Oh that’s lovely, but please just try some of *insert calorific food of choice here*
  2. “Oooh you’re not getting anorexic are you?”

Both of these are incredibly annoying for rather separate reasons. For the first point I will refer you happily to my original statement. Dieting is fucking hard, and by tempting and teasing me with food I obviously want, but have actively chosen not to eat you are being cruel. The second point is so shockingly insensitive to both the severity of an eating disorder and the psychology that goes behind this tragic issue that it leaves me dumbfounded. Please, I beg of you try something new. When someone announces they are on a diet, simply say nothing. Boom. Ladies and gentleman problem solved.

  1. Calorie deficit

There is a shit tonne of health food stores out there where you can buy any number of delicious items. From rich and creamy peanut butter, to chocolate covered raisins right the way through to protein powder. You will, undoubtedly come out of these stores with the warm glow of self-righteousness and fragrant upper middle-class vibes. However, food that is of a high quality, organic, or “healthy” is not necessarily low calorie. Dare I say it…even an avocado is rather high in calorie…with the average hipster favourite being around 300 calories. And ultimately, to lose weight you have to be in a calorie deficit. That is it. So you can buy dates that were farmed by the spritely virgins in deep India next to the purest Himalayan mountains. Hell, they could come from Gan Eden themselves. But, unless you’re in a calorie deficit. You. Won’t. lose. Weight.

  1. Weekends

The problem with weekends is that they are two days long. And for the more observant amongst us they also contain Shabbat and its plethora of rigidly organised meals rich with fluffy carbohydrates and calorific deliciousness. And so you can be strict all week, take your foot off the pedal on the weekend and before you know it. You’ve lost before you’ve even had a chance. Sadly, on a diet, there really does need to be some sense of control i.e. I currently have a blanket rule that I’m neither eating challah nor am I drinking alcohol. If I’m honest this also has a little something to do with my behaviour on Simchat Torah and the resulting hangover tinged with shame, but that is somewhat aside from the remit of this story. On a diet you really can’t lose control for any lengthy period of time (think cheat meal, rather than a two-day orgy of fattening and calorfic food stuffs.)

  1. Gym

I love exercising. As many of you know, and judge, I pay inordinate amounts of money to attend glorified sheds around North West London. However, that being said you can go to the gym till the cows come home. But, if you’re not in a calorie deficit you can’t lose weight. That is obviously not to say that aren’t a huge number of extremely valid reasons for attending the gym – as it brings a number of health and psychological benefits. But, eating a KitKat and justifying it with time on the treadmill, it ain’t gonna work.

Now obviously I will end this article with the, rather more humble, acknowledgement that I am neither a PT nor am I a nutritionist. So for some properly reliable information go check out Martin McDonald #god on Instagram.

Meanwhile, I shall get cracking with my breakfast of boiled eggs and hope and see y’all on the other side.

The Five friends we all have

 

 

It has been noted, mainly by men, that I spend a great deal of time on my blog judging members of the opposite sex. In fact, one delightful gentleman once commented that he would never date me as I would probably write about him, to which my other friend chimed in “only if you’re a dickhead,” which made me happy. Obviously, I did later write about him, but that is absolutely beside the point. In an attempt not to allow for my writing to get stale I thought this week I would take a slightly different tack and write about the five (female) friends we all absolutely have.

  1. The Crazy One

Don’t get me wrong – all girls are crazy, at least a little bit. Particularly when we like a guy. However, there is quite clearly a line that the majority of us won’t cross – we might Facebook stalk going back to 2010 and we would probably work out who his ex-girlfriend was going on the minimal information we have been offered, but we wouldn’t like rummage through his rubbish to find old back statements. That’s the line….for most of us. However, I know a number of girls who have done unspeakable things in the name of boys, their job, their family etc…These are “the crazy ones” – frankly I like to keep on them tap, because they always make you feel a little less nuts when shit hits the fan.

  1. The bitch

The bitch, in my experience, normally takes a little time to come out of her shell. At first the bitch is effervescent, she is lively, she is the most fun in the room and you genuinely want to spend time with her. However, slowly, slowly, once she has ensnared you in her trap she will unleash the full force of her bitchiness and you will be left reeling and quivering in the corner. Of course, bitch is clever and won’t let you go quite that quickly….ladies in my opinion these leopards will never change their spots. Run far and run fast.

  1. The flaky one

There are friends, I swear to god, who I make plans with and simply wait for them to cancel. They will always have a good reason of course, another excuse to schlep out their back pocket so you don’t feel like an afterthought. Friends like this is quite possibly why most girls have gym memberships – with, now, plenty of time to get out our frustration.

  1. The one who disappears

Literally I have friends I won’t speak with for months, and I mean months. And then suddenly out of the blue they will message me wanting to meet up – this type of friend is then split into two categories. They will either then ignore your follow up message (which is really just the height of rudeness in my opinion) or arrange a meeting for like a month in the future after which time you won’t hear from them for another few months and so the cycle continues.

  1. Your actual friends

To be honest I don’t have a huge number of these, a fact which often makes me a little concerned, but I guess is pretty normal. These are the ones who are properly there for you, which isn’t to say your relationship will be perfect or something out of Sisterhood of the travelling pants – but it will be authentic, genuine, and something worse holding onto as opposed to a slot to fill an empty looking week.

Five signs a guy is into you…maybe?

When I was a kid I pretty much thought relationships were simple. You met a guy, he was into you, you liked him back and then you got married and had little blonde hair and blue eyed babies. Unfortunately, the whole dating game isn’t quite as simple as I had hoped – and whilst I can think of a few couples where that dream scenario really did take place…there are a number of others that bucked, defied and opposed this trend. The couple where the guy was never into him or the girl liked someone else, or they were never single at the same time, or they broke up for years. Whilst He’s just not that into you is a nice premise….sadly in my experience life isn’t quite as simple as that. Relationships are complicated, sticky and can’t be stuck in a mould quite as binary as Holywood would like. That being said, I do now believe they are three (handy that innit…) key pointers that suggest a guy is actually into you. So here goes nothing lasses….

 

  • He’s there

I mean this is the most obvious, but if he doesn’t text, call or Facebook message you back he’s just not that into you. At all. A guy who likes you will not only respond to your messages, but will message you of his own accord just because he’s thinking of you (n’aww). To test this theory out I wouldn’t message for a while and see what happens; and whilst this may prove painful if home boy doesn’t pick up the phone, it’s probably as us Mancunians are wont to say “nisht.”

  • Drama/emotion

OK so this is a recent revelation I had and so hear me out. Now whilst I am not suggesting that you cry or cause some form of dramatic altercation to coax your man out of his emotionally stunted shell, it is a pretty good test of his feelings for you. Take me for example….today an Instagram star I follow got engaged and I swear to god I cried, genuine tears. Never met her, don’t even know what she looks like because she hides her face, and whilst I know she was considered “old” in the community I don’t actually know her age. And still I cried. Let me tell you right here and right now that no straight man in the history of humanity has ever cried because his favourite football player got engaged. It’s just not a thing. Men, in general, shy from emotion (and in the same sense) drama – they have better things to do like say…scratching their balls, or other such things. And so if you introduce drama or emotion and they stick around, you’re probably good to go. Examples of this would be tears, angry text message. I swear to god I once told a guy I liked him and he simply didn’t reply, such was his desire to put as much distance between himself and any irrelevant emotion or drama. It hurt, but the point was made loud and clear. Just something to consider.

  • Hungry Eyes

This was a term I coined some time ago and basically refers to that look a man gives you when he wants to say….do more than discuss moral philosophy on a Sunday afternoon if you catch my drift. Now obviously men are relatively physical creatures and so may well often have hungry eyes. So as in all things context is king and this doesn’t apply in every setting. For example in a night club at 2 am on a Saturday night, not to be crude, he probably just wants to bang. However, if it’s a normal hour and you’re doing a perfectly mundane activity, such as cooking dinner or watching TV, and he has a hungry eyes; I wouldn’t say it’s a bad sign.

So there are my three component parts that taken together (the crucial part of this little hypotheses) that might, maybe prove you have a shot. But, frankly like I have said men are a complete mystery to me…so let me know your thoughts. God knows this shit is but the contents of my confused brain.

Five things you should never tell someone who’s just been through a breakup

 

There exist a select group of people on this earth, untormented, lucky bastards who have never properly experienced the earth-shattering event that is a breakup. This is either because they have been with the same person since they were like eight or because they have not quite met someone they like enough yet. And whilst Tennyson may have maintained it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all; frankly you should all read some of his darker shit, because the guy was a wack a doodle. A proper breakup is heart-wrenchingly, terrifyingly, immensely painful; and literally feels like you are being torn apart from the inside out. And so for the lucky few of you haven’t experienced this pain here are the top five no-nos to say to your friends going through this.

  1. Maybe you’ll get back together

Oh I know…your sister’s cousin’s aunt broke up with her boyfriend for three years and then they got back together, had a brood of kinderlach and lived more happily ever after than Cinderella herself. This is the exception to the rule. Again – please let me repeat this for emphasis – the rare exception to an otherwise flawless rule. Most people break up and do not get back together and, frankly, of those who do attempt to reconcile the odds are not in their favour (just look at Digby and Liv from MIC). So do not put false hope in your friend’s head, trust me they’re already there- building Hollywood fantasises without you adding fuel to the fire.

  1. I told you so

OK so yes they went for the drug addict/casual drug dealer and so literally nobody is surprised it ended (not that I’ve ever been there.) In truth, we all know those couples who are hanging on by an ever so tenuous thread that threatens to break at any moment. However, when the end does come, as you knew it would, you’re allowed one I told you so, but that’s it. Because, frankly it’s just unconstructive feedback and unfortunately not all of us go for the good Jewish boys with stable jobs and five-year plans (again…this is not about me, obviously.) So instead remember that love is blind and even  Hollywood starlets like Katie Holmes fuck up from time to time.

  1. Try not to think about it

I’m going to give you a case study about a couple called Brad and Jen, in this case study Brad leaves Jen for another woman. And, in this scenario, this is how Jen’s brain will look – work, Brad, food, Brad, need to pay the tax man, Brad, just saw a film posted that reminds me of Brad, wonder what Brad is doing now, does he think about me, must go to the shops and buy some milk, Brad…basically all Jen will be able to is think about is Brad, admittedly interspersed with some other thoughts. But, trust me most of her brain power will be focused solely on him. So saying something as insensitive as “try not to think about it” is akin to saying “it was only a dog” to someone who’s lost a pet – something that I learnt the hard way let me tell you. But, another story for another blog – perhaps entitled top five times I’ve put my foot in?

  1. But it was only three months/it was never right etc…

These lame platitudes are irrelevant. There are couples that date for years that never really give a shit about each other (I can literally think of two off the top of my head) and others who date for three months and burn hotter than the sun. Not only that but just because a couple shouldn’t be together doesn’t mean they don’t love each other tremendously. Don’t invalidate someone else’s experience because you have nothing better to say – keep your mouth on lockdown and pass the fucking vodka bottle. Which brings me nicely on to my last point….

  1. If you have nothing helpful to say…

The truth is you will get over a breakup (trust me on this one), but in the immediate aftermath that is irrelevant. And to be honest there really isn’t anything that can be said, done or interpretively danced to improve the situation. My advice – just be there for your friend, get drunk, binge eat, watch A Walk to Remember (a massively underrated movie) and pray to whatever god you believe in that it doesn’t happen to you.

Five signs you’re a fake girlfriend

It looks like a relationship and feels like one. You talk constantly, tell each other your hopes and dreams and in an alternative world, you have all the makings of a Disney movie. Apart from that one minor, if oh so important, technicality; that you’re not actually together. Often these are born out of break-ups where couples can’t quite let go, men who can’t commit, are scared to be alone or really just really like the taste of your cooking. But, nevertheless we’ve probably all been in one or, at the very least, seen friends suffer through them; so for the sake of humanity here are my five signs that you’re a fake girlfriend or boyfriend (a less common, but just as valid conundrum) – I’m all about the #equality.

  1. No kissing

Obviously, this is the most crucial point to my hypothesis: the lack of intimate physical contact. You might touch, hug, accidentally on purpose brush their leg with your arm, but that’s as far as it will actually go. Because otherwise you would actually be dating, or friends with benefits. Which is another topic for an entirely different blog. Although may I be so bold as to add that there is a myriad of ways of obtaining aforementioned “benefits” without ruining a friendship although as usual, I digress. In a fake relationship however close you get both physically and emotionally; fake boyfriend is never gonna lean in for that Hollywood moment. Because home boy knows once that line is crossed there really is no turning back.

  1. Meet the parents

I have to be honest this is not a phenomenon I can even begin to fathom having neither a degree in advanced psychology of frankly even the faintest inclination of the inner workings of the male psyche (for further information please feel free to read my previous blogs.) However, fake boyfriends almost always want you to meet their family – “oh you’ll get on so well with Aunt Sandra/Sister Beatrice/Mummy Hannah.” True story I once had a fake boyfriend who was more than happy to introduce me to his entire extended mishpucha until we actually started dating when his enthusiasm cooled quicker than an Eskimo at Christmas. Go Figure.

  1. Everyone will thinking you’re dating

“But surely you are,” “I mean you can tell me…honestly,” or my personal favourite “c’mon you must be banging.” And you’ll smile coyly and protest loudly whilst secretly being pleased that outsiders validate your hope that maybe this actually is going somewhere. Luv I’m afraid that until your not-so-significant other gets the memo, and regardless what the rest of North West London believes, it isn’t so.

  1. Girlfriendly duties

This can span anything from cooking, ironing to emotional support that goes far beyond normal friendly duties (weddings, funerals, family crises etc….) What I have learnt over the years is that if you give a man an inch, he will indeed take a mile. And quite frankly single men are quite possibly what keeps the entire takeout industry afloat, so do your bit for the economy and put the pot down.

  1. Listen to your gut

If you will indulge me a momentary segway into religious philosophy if for no other reason than my brief seminary education should count for something, in the Jewish religion there is the Yezter Hora “the bad inclination” and the Yetzer Tov “the good inclination” which both live within within you. Now in a fake relationship, your Yetzer Tov will instinctively know that the late night phone calls, the constant messaging cannot possibly be healthy. However, your Yetzer Hora will apply pressure, with a serious of “what ifs”, – What if he falls for me? What if he changes his mind? What if I suddenly grow wings and could fly? All possible, in theory. In actuality – much much less so. Lads and lasses listen to your instinct and to your Yetzer Tov….run far and run fast. Because, whilst the relationship may be fake when it ends, and trust me on this, it will feel far too real. And there simply isn’t enough Ben ‘n’ Jerrys in the world.