Monday, August 29, 2005
I'm leaving on a jetplane
"Ooh, I just know that something good is going to happen.
And I don't know when,
But just saying it could even make it happen."

That's it... I am finally out of here in a few short hours. I have a date with destiny and she doesn't want to be kept waiting.

I would like to thank you all SO much for making this possible. It was your words of encouragement that made me think I could do it and your unbelievable generosity that helped make it happen. I can, without doubt, say that you guys are directly responsible for helping make this happen. Where would I be without you?? When I started this blog almost 2 years ago I don't think I knew how much it would transform my life... and now we will see where it takes me. I hope you follow along and see where all your hard earned donations go to and watch me as I journey within and without.

I promise I will blog as often as I can but I have no idea how often that will be for the first three months, it might only be once a week... twice if I am lucky. The last two months should be better so hang in there. But most upsettingly I won't be able to read everyone else's blogs as often. Oh the withdrawal!! How will I keep up with you guys?!?

For those into RSS feeds (perhaps a better option for monitoring blogs who don't update everyday) the feed address for this blog is: Use it in good health. :-)

And now I bid you farewell.... I'll see you on the other side.

"Well... you didn't wake up this morning,
'cause you didn't go to bed.
You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red!

The calendar on your wall -- is ticking -- the days off.

You've been reading some old letters.
You smile and think how much you've changed.
All the money in the world couldn't buy back those days.

You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes.
You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky.
THIS IS THE DAY -- Your life will surely change.
THIS IS THE DAY -- When things fall into place."

T minus 14 hours
So what does a girl do in her final hours before traveling? Well, at the moment I am listening/watching "Your Mama", possibly the most catchy song ever (thanks for sticking this in my head, ocB!!!!) while eating a giant bowl of porridge that I made. I had actually not meant to make a bowl this big but.. er... well I misread the directions. "Ohhhhh... 2/3 WATER, 1/3 oats.... not the other way around!" Duh. Had to strain my tired and anxious brain to do the math to get the ratio right again, and of course got a giant bowl of oatmeal out for my efforts.

I'm also eating it with *ample* amounts of brown sugar because I have a horrible horrible bitter taste in my mouth from a sleeping pill I took last night. I was aware of this side effect having taken it before, but I felt sleep was more important than how my milk would taste in the morning (which incidentally, tastes horribly sour and awful). I got almost 6 hours sleep and they were good hours, without the usual tossing and turning. This is good, I am hoping to be totally exhausted when I get on the plane tonight and maybe I'll get some sleep on the plane. Not likely, but a girl can dream.

So I'm just going to do some last minute running around and then I am dropping my computer off at Princess Blondie's so she can tuck it away in a safe place for me. I'll post again before I leave... plane takes off at 11:25pm.

Sunday, August 28, 2005
heavyweight champ
Hole. Lee. Crap.
I just zipped my luggage closed (by sitting on it) and weighed it, and lemme just tell ya... I am way over any weight restriction for ANY airline. I'm talkin' 30lbs/15kg overweight (assuming I fall into the 60lb/30kg weight allowance category. if not I am really screwed). Malev charges $15US per kilo overweight.. so I'm looking at about $225US, which is about $269CAN. Plus taxes.


Why must I be such a diva.. WHY?? And here I thought I was doing so well! I was wrong... so very wrong. Visa will be very happy to hear that this will be a costly miscalculation.

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love you tomorrow!
Oy, this is it. One more sleep away from leaving all my creature comforts and the life I know to go on a character building adventure to Israel. I have *no* idea what the future holds and when I allow myself to daydream I come up with all kinds of scenarios; sometimes I imagine finding a dreamy Israeli man and staying there,and sometimes I imagine running home screaming, having had enough of Israel and Israelis. I figure 5 months is enough time to provide me with all kinds of answers, perhaps to some questions I didn't even know I had.

I was told the program outline looks a little like this (anyone from Livnot who's reading this can feel free to correct me): Hebrew classes = 3x week for 1 hr each; Jewish Ethics/ Community Service = average 5 hrs wk (classes & workshop); Israel (geo-political, environment, socio-econ, etc ) = 15 hr a wk (often done during hikes); Jewish History = 2x wk for 2 hrs each (current events, Zionism, etc.); Jewish Laws/Customs = 8 hrs wk; Bible study (text-discussion) = 2x week for 2 hrs each; Also, 1 to 2 free evenings a wk and 1 free weekend a month. Shabbat is observed as a group.

Sounds pretty cool, no? And yay!! Hebrew classes!! I love learning Hebrew. :-) I am really looking forward to this program.. I like the looks of what I'll be learning.

But for now I need to get through the next 36 hours and get myself ready. Yesterday I got *zero* done in terms of trip preparations as it was spent with friends, from morning to night. I had a great time with my friends and am really glad I'll have those memories to hang onto.
Today won't be a lot better as my grandmother will be driving down from up north to visit and see me off, which means the day will be spent with the family. This is why I am up at 6am, so that I can try and get some stuff done before the family events beginning around noon. Today is the day I attempt to close my luggage.

Speaking of luggage, my new Hungarian friend Noorster has been giving me great advice and has been so sweet and helpful. The problem is that my luggage is going to be over the crazy-low weight restriction that this airline has (20kg/40lbs) and so I am fearing the money I am going to have to sink into paying for the extra weight. This could cost me a bundle. *gulp* I'll weight my luggage today and see.

Oh... and the last three posts I've written? All done on my new laptop! :-)

and my fears are coming true....
Reports are coming in of a suicide bomber detonating himself after trying unsuccessfully to get on a bus in the the southern Israeli town of Be'er Sheva. Apparently a bus driver spotted the suspicious looking man and reported him to some guards who blocked him from entering.

This is twice in recent memory that this town has been hit when in the past it was never really targeted. The last time a suicide bomber attacked that town was almost exactly a year ago... I remember because I was in Israel at the time. I remember thinking... Be'er Sheva?? They never attack Be'er Sheva! Then again, I guess they attack wheverever they can get to.

This also worries me because Yael, who just moved from New York to Israel, will be commuting into Be'er Sheva from Tel Aviv. But hey.. if the terrorists think that suicide bombings got them Gaza, why would they stop, right?

Saturday, August 27, 2005
what have we done?
Looking back on the whole disengagement mess in Israel I have to say I find myself honestly scared now. Not because we uprooted other Jews or the multitude of others reasons most anti-disengagement folk tried to use as arguments. But for the one reason that I refused to accept... that Israel would look weak and that the terrorists would see this as a win and a reward for their sick efforts. Frankly, I didn't care if the terrorists saw it as weak because we knew the truth and we knew the strength and character it took to take such a hard step. You want to think we are weak? Go ahead, Israel has put you in your place in more than one war and Israel can do it again.

What really made my jaw drop and ask myself what have we done?? was when I saw a quote from the Palestinian Leader..... their LEADER, like your president, my prime minister, whatever.... that said this: “Today we celebrate a real day of happiness. The Israeli army and settlers are withdrawing from Gaza because of the sacrifices of the Palestinian people of martyrs and prisoners. Tomorrow they will leave Jenin and after that the West Bank and Jerusalem". Abbas also said that the withdrawal was made possible by the “sacrifice made by those who’s homes were destroyed, all those who were injured, and of course by the blood of the martyrs and our brave prisoners. We now must do everything to build our homeland.””

Did you catch that? Their leader actually just said that the reason Israel withdrew from Gaza was because of the martyrs. Suicide bombers. Terrorists. He didn't say through careful negotiations or as a step on a path to peace... he told these terrorists that it's because of what they did. This is problematic for two reasons; 1) obviously because he practically just gave them the greenlight to keep up the tactic since he stated it works (2) this is a man struggling to get respect from his people and he didn't even try to take credit for this, which would have been the politically smart thing to do.
Oh and btw, notice he said that Israel would leave Jerusalem one day too.

So I guess it should come as no surprise then that Hamas (you know... the terrorist group that's actually calling the shots for the Palestinians) says Israel was humiliated by their efforts and therefore they plan to continue the attacks. They also warn that the Palestinian government should not try and stop them. Very nice.

Anyway... I was naive. I knew it was naive of me at the time, thinking this wouldn't turn into such a security nightmare..... but I wanted so badly to believe this was in Israel's best interest. As of last week I'm not so sure anymore. Now I fear for future attacks, more than ever..

Friday, August 26, 2005
it's here... but...
Ok, first things first, the laptop has arrived. I had to pay $140 in customs fees *choke* but whatever, I was hardly going to dwell on it. I have opened it and plugged it and so far things seem to be ok. I have been trying to hook it up to the internet but I can't figure out why I can't get online. I totally forget how to set up a proper connection and I am especially dim when it comes to laptops. When I plugged it into my modem an XP bubble popped up and acknowledged that it had a net connection and gave the speed, but I couldn't get onto the net at all. My brain is fried from lack of sleep so for the life of me I can't troubleshoot the problem. Why must My Big Gay Daddy live so far away??

Also, not having a proper mouse is driving me MAD so I am about to pull on some shoes and go buy that and a wireless card though I am slightly frightened by the idea that I have no idea what I am buying. I'll be checking the return policy. Just how are people supposed to use these touch pads for a mouse?? So slow and awkward. Ick. New mouse and wireless card coming up. I'm gonna call a friend of mine to come help me. }:-)

So here's hoping I don't have a lemon.. hard to say until I get mucking with it. It's nice and thin, which I am way happy about in terms of traveling, but it only has a 20GB drive. Yikes, what good is that?? I'll be burning lots of my information off of it to store. And the guy didn't bother to reformat it so I have the settings for some guy named Damien. Whatever, I just want it to be up and running before I go. *fingers crossed*

UPDATE: Well, thanks to the help of a dear old friend of mine my laptop is up, running and wireless! I am so very thrilled that it's working and (so far) all seems to be well. I am going to spend the next few hours loading programs and fine tuning it to the way I like it. Finally!!!!

is... is that a light I see up ahead??
Well, I think I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have more or less finished the packing, with just a few keys items in the laundry to add in a bit later. I haven't actually tried putting it ALL in the suitcase yet, so I could still find myself surprised in the end by finding it either doesn't fit or is over the acceptable weight. Here's hoping something finally goes my way and that all will fit.

Yesterday was a bit crazy as I was in a strange zombie state from lack of sleep. I went back to my office one last time for a farewell and was greeted with cake and presents. So sweet. And then I went off for a haircut and fell asleep several times throughout. Came home, had a nap, and then got up and finished the packing. But sleep remains elusive as I tossed and turned nearly the entire night. I'm starting to resemble the walking dead a bit (at one point someone walking through the hair salon yesterday stopped and asked if I was alright! wow, how wasted must I look!?). I must be worrying more about this trip than I think I am because I am soaked in sweat every night as I try and sleep.... nightmares and worries are keeping me up. Zzzzzzz. I need sleep and I don't think I'll be getting any until sometime next week.

This morning I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my laptop. According to the tracking number on UPS it's on route for delivery even as we speak, so hopefully in the next hour or so it will finally be in my hot little hand. I need to get a wireless card and all that, and get it ready for my trip (load Firefox and bookmarks and such) so I really wish it would show up already! It had better work or that's one dead eBay seller.

That's about it. I promise my posting will get infinitely more exciting once I am in the Holy Land..... 3 days to take off!

(P.S. is anybody else using Blogger noticing that the window in which you write your post is doing something weird? I have no buttons for previewing, adding URLs, spellcheck, etc.. I have tried IE too and it doesn't look like it's the browser.... but it's been doing it since yesterday. wtf?)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
a little less conversation, a little more action
Tired of hearing about the stress of packing up for my trip to Israel? Packing for 5 months has proven to be an ongoing nightmare. I won't bore you with logistics, just use your fertile imaginations on what it's like.

Today I was told by a best friend that a farewell party is in the works for me this Saturday (this was their way of tipping me off because I *hate* surprise parties). I wasn't terribly happy about this news since I had openly expressed a couple of months ago that I did NOT want such a party and that I would rather do my rounds and visit people more personally. This is in large part due to the fallout I had with two girlfriends of mine... I just don't want to have an awkward situation where we all have to be in a room smiling and pretending to be happy because not everyone knows we aren't speaking anymore. Ucch, this drama is so highschool and I don't have the energy for this. Anyway, now I have a damn party to go to and I'm none too impressed. I'm sure I'll live, I just *really* didn't need the added stress.

I have, however, made myself a new friend. A former blogger (now just a reader), Noorster, wrote to me after finding my blog through Lisa's blog (a Canadian-turned-Israeli) and has written to me in friendship as she is a flight attendant for the Hungarian airline that I will be flying with next week. She has offered suggestions, answered questions and is even trying to arrange her schedule so as to meet with me and show me around a bit! How SWEET is that?? I'm telling you, there is a "brotherhood" in blogging that people outside of the blogging world just don't understand. I am lucky enough now to have a name, number and email address for a friend in Hungary, so I'm feelin' pretty darn good about that.

Now I must get back to my packing.... I'm a bit stalled and I don't know what's holding me back. I think it's the fact that it just never seems to end. I have a feeling I'm going to need to repack a few times to remove some things in order to make room. I mean... do I really 3 black t-shirts? Probably not.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
the countdown is on
6 more days til I pack up and move my life over to Israel for awhile. Yesterday wasn't much of a good day, but have any recent days been? Work relationships have been strained as I announced yesterday that today would be my last day. This caused some grief since I was expected to stay until Friday; um... pardon me for not wanting to work until Friday when I leave on Monday and I have *just a few* things to do between now and then. It's not fair nor rational to expect I would work until the last possible minute. My boss begged me to come in for a half day tomorrow and I said we would discuss it at the end of the day today.

I am making list upon list of things I need to do and people I need to see before I go. Bank number 2 turned me down for money too, so I need to figure out just how I think I'm going to pay for all this (I don't think I need to drone on about how stressed I am about that). Looks like it's going to be credit cards. *gulp* I also need to get my paws on some Euros so I don't starve while I spend a day in Budapest. Yes, that's right.. I leave Canada Aug 28th, land in Budapest, get to spend the day there and then hop on another flight and land in Israel the next day (how nice is my friend who is picking me up at 3:45am at the airport in Israel??). How many Euros will I need while I am there? How can I take a tour of the city while I am there? Where and when do I propose to get sleep??? (no I am not one of those lucky individuals who can sleep on a plane. I only wish!) Speaking of sleep I finally crashed into bed at 9:30pm last night after too many nights of no sleep. I slept until 6:30am this morning but woke up twice in the middle of the night wringing wet with sweat.... and I mean *pools* of sweat from the nightmares I was having. Nothing like fumbling for towels and clean sheets in the middle of the night. sigh.

I will not stress. I will not stress. I WILL NOT STRESS!!!!

My home is a mess of boxes and luggage and laundry waiting to be done. Who knew walking away from my life here would be so damn messy?? I hate the mess it makes me stress out more... I'm a girl who likes to be a little more organized than this. It helps me stay sane. I tells ya, life was a helluva lot easier when I was a boozehound and I could just check out of reality when things got too tough. LOL! Oh well, as the saying goes, time to deal with life on life's terms.

I am sad that I am not going to have time to say goodbye to a few people like I wanted. I bid farewell to my meditation group which was actually a lot harder than I thought. I did a lot of healing in those rooms and it helped calm my stress. And they are just darn nice folks. I am seeing some of my closest friends on Saturday as we go for one last "geek outing" before I leave...... a comic book/sci-fi expo. Yeah! Go ahead and laugh, but we have fun geeking out and laughing at the uber-geeks that dress up in full costume. And come on, look at the guests! Elijah Wood, Clive Barker, Crispin Glover and half the bloody cast of Star Trek and Star Wars! Shatner, man... Shatner!!!

Anyway... I gotta finish up things here at work and pack up my office. I can't remember the last time I've been without a job... so this is a bit of a weird feeling for me. And I've certainly never quit a job so I could move to another country! haha..... life is strange, kids.... life is strange.

Saturday, August 20, 2005
You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life
I now function at a whole new vibration.... when I wake up in the morning, as soon as I realize consciousness, my heart starts *pounding*. Every morning that I wake up in my own bed is a morning closer to the time when that will no longer be the case. I immediately try and figure out what I have to do today and calculate how much time I have left to run around and get organized before I go. I can feel that my heart rate and pressure are now constantly high, and I don't much like it.

Yesterday I did me a bit of crying at work, if I may be perfectly honest. Calling the bank and finding out I did not get the increase in my line of credit like I had hoped was a huge a blow and my stress level rocketed to new levels. I don't have time for things to go wrong!! It wasn't until after lunch that I finally pulled myself together and began trying to figure out an alternate plan. I applied for a line of credit with another bank (which I hate doing.. I like to keep my debts in one place, they're easier to keep track of) and I have no idea when I will find out about that. I have very little time to get my hands on that money (assuming I get approved) and to get things organized. Precious little time to figure out Plan C if that doesn't work and I don't get money from that bank either. I have mere days to figure all this while still trying to work, pack up my apartment, pack up my luggage and see as many friends and family as I can before I go. Like I said, I can feel my heart thumping in my chest now, *all* the time.

HOWEVER! At a time when I really seriously needed a win, I called up the deadbeat eBay seller whom I am feuding with to duke it out with him (since he has been completely disregarding my emails and prior call). Lo and behold the fool answered his phone and I went at him with both barrels. I hadn't noticed how loud I was screaming into the phone until someone had come to my office to shut the door..... I guess I was disturbing others in the office. Oops! Anyway after he threatened to take me to court in the States (ooo.. I'm quaking in my little Canadian booties!) and various other threats we tossed back and forth he finally relented. Even as we speak there is a second laptop being sent up here from Texas by UPS. WOOT WOOT!!!!!!!!!!! It seems the fella didn't like the website I had made about him in which I advertised what an asshole he is and he wanted it removed (I bet he didn't like me contacting ALL the people bidding on his current items either. heh). I told him if he sent me a new laptop I would remove the site and that when the laptop is actually in my hands I will remove the negative feedback I so kindly left for him. The expected date of arrival: Aug 26th. Gives me a whole 3 days to get it ready for my trip (*stress!!*) but it's a damn sight better than buying a new one like I was on the verge of doing! WHEW!!!

Thank you to every single one of you who clicked on the website to help drive up the visitor counter (I think that really had an impact, especially since you drove my website to the number 2 ranking in the Yahoo search engine for "laptop-wholesaler"!! the guy *freaked*!). And thanks also goes to those who linked that website on their blogs, who helped research alternatives, who offered me the use of their laptops while in Israel, and who offered wonderful words of encouragement, support and suggestion. It may not have seemed like it, but you helped me keep my head together.
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have the best readers ever. I love you guys!

"O-o-h child things are gonna get easier
O-o-h child things'll get brighter

Someday we'll get it together and we'll get it undone
Someday when the world is much brighter
Someday we'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Someday when the world is much lighter

- Nina Simone

P.S. I keep forgetting to mention this (likely because I'm so wrapped up in my own personal drama... bad celestial blue, BAD!): you want to know what REAL stress is like when trying to pack up and head to Israel? You should head over to Katie-Yael's blog to follow her experience of making aliyah (moving to Israel). She JUST arrived this week and is beginning to settle in and figure things out. She has said goodbye to life in New York and has now made her home in Tel Aviv. Go extend some of that famous encouragement to her, she can use all the support she can!

Friday, August 19, 2005
The bank did not give me more money. I am fully and completely screwed. I leave in 10 days and I don't know what the hell I'm going to do for money.

I can't blog right now, I need to think about this..

have a good weekend everyone.
Shabat Shalom

Wednesday, August 17, 2005
blah blah blah Trip to Israel blah blah blah
Ucch, I know. I whine too much about my woes, especially regarding my impending trip. But I gotta vent somewhere and this blog has served that need best (unfortunately for all of you who have to put up with it). I promise once I get to Israel the posts will liven right up and I will regale you with stories of getting acquainted with life in Israel.

Today I am in that state of "I give up". I went to the computer store that had a good deal on a laptop to see what the scoop was. Of course, if something seems to be too good to be true it usually is, right? Such was the case with this one. I talked with a very nice guy and he told me that the laptop is deceivingly advertised and that the laptop I was interested in wasn't internet capable (wha?? who the hell would sell a computer like that?!). The next option up on the pay scale was $1000... way out of my range, especially considering I have already spent $635 on a laptop I have yet to see. I told him about my predicament with the deadbeat eBay seller and asked him if he could tell me, off the record, of where I could go to get a good deal. He said: "*Way *off the record?" I said yeah, totally off the record and confidential (I'm not looking to get the guy fired, I'm just desperate for help). He paused for a moment and then asked if we could step outside to talk (so his boss wouldn't overhear, of course). We did and he told me of a few places that sell the exact thing, but for $200 cheaper. He also named a few smaller computer stores around that I could check out, all the while glancing back to make sure he wasn't going to get caught having this conversation (he kept saying "I shouldn't be telling you this, but you seem nice"). I thanked him very much for his honesty and help, shook his hand and left feeling like things are just not getting a whole lot better for me. Are the laptop gods conspiring against me or something!?

I have gone online to look up prices with some of the other computer places, and overall they are around $750-850.... well out of the $600 range I was aiming for from the start. The biggest problem with those prices isn't even the price itself, it's the fact that I would have to pay it in full immediately; the whole reason I went to the first computer place (with the seemingly good deal) was because I could put the payments and interest off for a year, buying me some time and saving me some money for my trip. I am running out of money and I can't drop it on *another* damn laptop. So what am I going to do now? I just don't know. I think I'm royally screwed and I am very much running out of time.

Speaking of money, I went to the bank yesterday and begged for more money. I filled out an application for an increase in my line of credit and I have to wait for an answer sometime in the next day or so. *fingers crossed* Oh how I hope I get it.... it would make all the difference in how I enjoy this trip. Without it I will be uptight about money the whole time and will be worried about going anywhere and spending money on anything. WITH it I can relax a little and enjoy myself... even spend a little longer in Israel if I like. Maybe send home a few trinkets to friends and family. Please please bank people..... let me have that increase!!

*sigh* As I write this I think... man, I sound so self-absorbed and shallow. As I sit and worry about trying to acquire a silly laptop for my trip my fellow Jews are struggling to come to terms with being forced out of their homes, 100 are feared dead as a boat sinks off the coast of Colombia, and 43 people are killed in yet more bombings in Iraq (bombings that are so commonplace in Iraq now that nobody even notices them in the news anymore or runs to the tv to hear the details). So while I sit and have a little meltdown because a dumb eBay seller won't return my emails or phonecalls, and I am hitting wall after wall when trying to find a solution to this problem, I have to remember that in the bigger picture there are much larger problems in the world. I guess this is what I get for being a spoiled Westerner.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
stressed? WHO'S STRESSED???????
Ok, so is the world out to get me or am I just paranoid? It all started with that deadbeat seller on eBay who is STILL screwing me over and not even answering my emails anymore (which included such important questions such as "Is it insured or isn't it?? I PAID for it to be insured!!"). And yesterday in a bizarre turn of events my Firefox browser up and decided to dump all my bookmarks. Poof! I thought I had restored them but I am missing all my bookmarks from N-Z. Wtf?? I love you, Firefox!! Why have you forsaken me?? And as a cherry on top a co-worker came into my office yesterday and said "Hey, did you know someone had keyed your car??". I flipped out. Last week $850 was dropped on that car to replace a cracked windshield, put new brakes in, and get the license sticker updated and now some rat bastard has taken a key and dragged it down the side of my car for no good reason!?!?! (for those who have been lucky enough to avoid such a scenario and are unfamiliar with what it looks like you can see a pic here. mercifully mine wasn't quite that bad)


Ok, ok.. I have vented. I am ok now. I must remain focused on my preparations for my trip to Israel. Five months is a long time to plan for so I must be methodical and logical about my planning, packing and spending. As it is things are looking a little tight on the money front and it's starting to suck the fun and excitement out of things. I'm stressing (how unusual). I have an appointment to go to the bank at 6pm tonight to talk to someone about raising the limit on my line of credit. If they say yes (which I won't know for 24-48 hours) I will be *immensely* relieved and extremely happy. If not I will remain a bit on the tense side as I work on a new game plan. Here's hoping they say yes, hm? Could be worse... I could be stressing like Yael who is MOVING to Israel today from New York. You go girl!!!! I'll see you in Tel Aviv!!!

Here, this is good for destressing... "Stuff On My Cat".

dis·en·gage: to release or detach oneself

It would be incredibly remiss of me to not mention the events going on in Israel right now, as I am sure even my non-Jewish readers have heard about it in the news (for those unclear on what is going on you may go here for the Israeli government's explanation of what the Disengagement Plan is, and go here for a timeline map explaining how we came to this point).

I haven't discussed it up to this point for a number of reasons; I am a bit of fence sitter on the matter as I can clearly see arguments for both sides of the debate. Also, I can safely say that I am not as informed on the matter as I probably should be and therefore feel I can't really speak intelligently on the matter. I have been trying to track down facts, but it's hard when bias for or against the plan taints how information is written and presented. I have found it frustrating as I try my best to be as informed as I can be, especially about Israel.

As much as I have been a fence sitter, if pressed I would say that I lean slightly towards the "pro" disengagement side (which will no doubt have me falling out of grace now with a few Jewish bloggers), though I have to say my view has been seriously challenged since seeing footage of Jews being served eviction notices and being dragged away. I found I had tears in my eyes as I watched scenes of Jew against Jew, sometimes in angry and confrontational ways, and sometimes in calm, tearful, and pleading ways. I felt the pain of these people who were once supported and encouraged by their government to live in these areas now being betrayed and told they must leave "or else". It's just not an easy thing to see and if you don't know what I am talking about I strongly urge you to head over to Israellycool's post that shows pictures of exactly what I am talking about; it's gut wrenching to see such pain on a person's face. I have seen pictures of Israeli "settlers" sobbing as they watch their synagogues being torn down and love ones being dug up so that cemeteries can be moved, and I have seen soldiers crying as they are instructed to follow orders to remove their fellow Jews from their homes. Sometimes doing "what's right" seems so wrong.

For insights as to what it's like head over to some Israeli blogs; Imshin gives some moving impressions, Rinat gives a first hand account as a reporter here and here, as does Lisa. And a special nod goes out to Yosef over at If You Will It for this blue and orange ribbon concept which perfectly describes how I feel. This is one of the most pivotal and historical moments in Israel's history and existence. In an odd way I am anxious to get over there to be part of it... be a witness to it, and feel it first hand, however hard it may be. 13 days away.

Sunday, August 14, 2005
I spy
I just finished playing the video game "No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way". Brilliant game!!!! The storyline and movies between levels were absolutely hilarious and the main character (played by you) is a spy named Cate Archer. It's set in the 60's and your character is a total hottie in 60's outfits with a smashing British accent. The jokes and supporting characters are hysterical and I found myself laughing outloud numerous times. And in true spy fashion you get all kinds of crazy gadgets like a makeup compact that opens up into a decoder, a mascara brush that turns into a stun gun, and an electronic kitty that explodes when enemies try to pet it! Really a great great game, if you're a player I highly recommend it. Fabulous story and beautiful graphics, all laced with a fantastic sense of humour. (thanks for hooking me up with the game, Mulder! xo)

Speaking of computers, Princess Blondie's hubby, Bruno, called me this morning to point out an ad he saw this morning for a new laptop. It looks like a pretty good deal and the best part is that I wouldn't have to pay for a year and there's no interest on approved credit. Take a look and tell me what you think.... for $649 it looks like a good deal. I would upgrade the drive so that it plays dvds too and add a wireless card to it, but other than that it would be good to go. What do you want to bet that if I got the damn thing the other laptop I bought would finally show up in the mail?

And speaking of mail (sort of) I was reading Celtic Cross's blog post about another blogger's fight with comment spam and I thought.... wow, I have been really lucky because nearly every blogger I know has had to contend with comment spam and I haven't really had a problem. I wondered if my blog was just so small that it flew under the radar, and if that's the case I'm happy because it would be a bitch to deal with. And no word of a lie, an hour or two after I thought that I got comment spam on my photoblog. And then an hour after that I got ANOTHER one on my photoblog. WTF?!!? Is that what I get for even *thinking* it?! How is that fair?? Spammers are mind readers too, or what? Pfft. Ok, I challenge you.
I wish I had 5 million dollars......

Saturday, August 13, 2005
I get knocked down, but I get up again. You're never going to keep me down.
Well another craptacular week has come and gone. Perhaps it is all meant to be this way so that I appreciate my time in Israel that much more, hm?

Yesterday I was let out of work early (I have no idea why, perhaps I just looked that whipped; I had only 4.5 hours sleep the night previous because I am well into the sleepless stage of preparing for my trip so my brain obsesses non-stop and I can't sleep anymore). I met up with Princess Blondie and her new hubby Bruno and we took in an afternoon movie "The Skeleton Key". It wasn't nearly as scary as I wanted it to be (will any movie ever be??) but it was well done and it was entertaining from start to finish. And that Kate Hudson! Holy wow is she beautiful!! And she is really starting to look like her mom.

Today I am running around trying to do all I can before the trip. I will begin packing up my apartment to make room for my friend who will be moving in and subletting from me. I have also already been on the phone with my bank to straighten out some financial issues.... I'm already running out of money for this trip and I haven't even left yet. I'm trying not to let panic set in, and instead trying to be calm and logical about working out a plan. The problem is, I have just never been good with money.

After that I just have to get some skirts and pants shortened/hemmed, buy a few more items and start packing. Just over two weeks and I am out of here!

Oh and I am trying a spray on tan today because I have given up any hope of getting a natural tan before I go. Sometimes a girl just has to admit to these things and let go. I can admit, my delicate Irish flesh just isn't meant to be anything other than white. I figure it's best to try it here before I go. I'll let you know if I am orange or golden.

Thursday, August 11, 2005
and the hits just keep on coming
I have no idea why I thought today might be a better day since I have a funeral to go to first thing this morning (the "visitation" was last night).

Boy, I hope this week is over soon because it just hasn't been a good one.
I'll keep you posted about the eBay war. Thank you VERY much for your fabulous and continued support. You guys have yet to let me down.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005
World War 3
Well, if you read my post yesterday you know that I am in the midst of a battle with a seller on eBay about a laptop I bought. I was told it would ship in 4-7 days and three weeks later it's still not here. I leave for Israel in 19 days, I need that laptop now!!

Anyway, in an effort to light a fire under the seller's ass I created a blog that gives the full and complete story. And by full and complete I mean that I have published every single email between us, to date. I have tried repeatedly to get him to help me resolve this, I even opened a dispute, and he has ignored me for the most part. I have finally had to escalate this to a claim through eBay, which at best means I will only get back $200 of the $500+ owed to me. That's assuming I qualify for a claim.

If you could all do me a big favour and just visit the blog where I wrote about it, called "Why laptop-wholesaler is a thief" (subtle enough, ya think?). I don't expect you all to read the very long sordid tale but I would like the visitor/site counter to reflect the fact that I am getting the word out about him and maybe when he sees lots of visitors he will consider finally getting off his ass to do something. That and I really would like to spare anyone else from having to ever deal with him.


UPDATE: I have emailed eBay. I have emailed the seller and let him know there is a blog just for him. I have tried calling US Customs to see if my package is there. No luck. A friend of mine even called the post office that the item was shipped from and had no luck there either. I have just gotten off the phone with Visa and asked about disputing the payment of my item (via Bidpay) and they said I have to wait until Aug 28th. That would be the day before I leave. Not very handy.

I have spent over $3700 on this trip and I have very little money left for when I actually go. I am stressed and this trip is becoming much less fun by the minute. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day....

Tuesday, August 09, 2005
climbing the mountain of debt
First of all let me just tell ya... I was *glued* to the tv this morning watching the shuttle landing. I actually teared right up and nearly cried (and even clapped!) when they landed. I was *terrified* for those on board, I really was. WHEW. I am so glad they made it home safe. And then when mission control welcomed them home?? Oh yes, that was worthy of a tear. Welcome home indeed.

Anyway, I won't bore you with details of my weekend except to say that I have been on a shopping rampage for my trip to Israel. This past weekend it was a trip to Mountain Equipment Co-Op for hiking boots, two flashlights (one for the hand, one for my head), a new backpack (I had shoulder surgery a number of years ago so I need a good pack that spreads the weight out), 2 pairs of socks for the hiking boots, and a 3 litre camel pack (made in Israel!!) for taking water on the hike. My face went ashen at the cash register as the price was totalled and I handed over my bank card. This trip is costing me a fortune before I even get on a plane! Speaking of which, I got my plane ticket last week.... $2010. *choke!* I don't want to really think about it, but I've probably already spent somewhere around $3000, none of which is really mine (credit cards and loans and overdraft, oh my!). I am sailing into debt with a smile on face and the hope that this will all work out in the end. *gulp* I must keep the faith, I must keep the faith, I must keep the faith......

I am, however, currently getting screwed over by someone on eBay to the tune of about $550. I bought a laptop on eBay because let's face it, I'm way to poor to get a new laptop, and this was the cheapest way I could do it. Yes, I knew I was taking my chances and now with exactly 3 weeks left until I leave it's crunch time and the computer is STILL not here (I won the auction July 15th). I was told it was shipped July 19th and would be here in 4 -7 business days. Um... so where is it? I have opened a dispute on eBay with the seller and have tried to press the matter as best I can because I don't have a whole lot of time to resolve this dispute and these things take time. The seller is saying I'm shit out of luck because he shipped it and it's out of his hands. I checked the tracking number and all that USPS is showing is that it was received on July 19th. It's not saying if it left the US, it's not saying if it arrived in Canada, and it sure as hell isn't showing a signature to prove it was received. I am telling the guy to either give me my money back so I can quickly pick up a new one or send me another laptop. I don't have time to frig around, I need it now. I need to time to get that laptop loaded and ready for my trip. Grrrr...... I don't have a good feeling about how this is going to go. Anyone else had a dispute on eBay? How did you resolve it? Any suggestions or ideas?

Anyway, I am back at work and wearing my hiking boots in an effort to break them in before I go. I am wearing them out shopping, around the house, at work...for however long I can stand them, I wear them. I don't want to go through the pain of breaking them in later.. I'd rather get the blisters over with now, ya know?

Speaking of eBay auctions and the Holy Land... check out this auction. Go ahead.... scroll down... and then tell me what Jesus has to do with a plug converter/adapter set, if you can.

Monday, August 08, 2005
we will resume regular programming soon
I am hopping in the car to drive 2 hours north to grandma's to give her the medication she left behind when she stayed with my parents. Then I will do a little fishing, and drive back. 4 hours of driving on 5 hours of sleep makes me wish my grandma had a better memory.

I'll write a real post when I get back tonight.

UPDATE: Okay, I know I said I would write a real post when I got home, but I am way too tired. It'll have to wait until tomorrow. Sorry. I need to go to bed, and I pray that when I wake up in the morning and check the news I will hear that the spaceshuttle Discovery has safely landed, because I have a bad feeling about it. *fingers crossed* Good luck to the crew.

Friday, August 05, 2005
The Announcement!
Ladies and gentlemen, it's official....... I am going to Israel!!

I have been holding back the announcement while I ironed out details of financing, but I think it's safe to say at this point that I will be leaving in just over 3 weeks. I have had to take out a bank loan (line of credit) in order to finance this, which is no easy feat when you have quit your job! I have to make monthly payments on that loan while I am gone if I am to have any sort of decent credit history when I return, and that is where all of you have come to my rescue. The funds raised from my bracelet sales will be absolutely critical to making this plan work. I have isolated that money and it will be used very carefully to ensure that I do not default on my loan payments. Without all of you, this trip would not be possible.

Now I am losing sleep (I have been up since 5:30 this morning, unable to sleep) as I keep thinking about all the things I need to do before I go. Set up payments on my loan, on bills that need to be paid while I am away (credit card, car payments, etc) and on money I owe to the government. I need to buy supplies, clothes, hiking boots, etc. I need to pack up my apartment and get it ready for a friend of mine who will be subletting it from me. I need to cancel my phone and internet services and teach my friend how to take care of my giant fishtank. I need to make sure paperwork is in order for everything from insurance to Livnot forms.

*sigh* So much to do and the stress level is rising rapidly. I want to thank every single one of you for your truly amazing support and encouragement. If you had told me last year that I would be walking away from my job and life here to go to Israel for 5 months I never would have believed you. Yet here I am chasing a dream thanks to you. I am humbled and honoured. Thank you, everyone.
Shabat Shalom.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005
thar she blows!
So I nearly cried today at the sushi place when they got my order wrong. I'm quite sure it wasn't the wrong order that brought me to the edge of a meltdown so much as a culmination of things, with the wrong order acting as the cherry on top.

Prior to the sushi moment I had a lousy workout because I was in a foul mood because just prior to that I had been arguing with the post office over the cost of shipping to Israel. And before that it was a day spent stressing at work including more than an hour on the phone with tech support (only to have my problem NOT solved after all that trouble), talking to travel agents about pricing, talking to banks about money, talking to friends and fellow bloggers about money, talking to my doctor about the trip, my health and how I can get some sleep because I can't anymore because I sit up all night stressing about.... yes, money.

Anyway, I didn't come on here to whine or beg for more money. Just explaining why I am feeling quiet today. Perhaps my mood will be different tomorrow.... I am a woman, afterall.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The day AirFrance came to town
What a crazy day here in Toronto! As I am sure you have all heard by now, there was a plane crash at Toronto's main airport. An AirFrance flight, coming in during a spectacular storm, overshot the runway and slid off and into a ditch and ignited into flames (footage can be seen here). The news here is going crazy for the story and you can't escape it. Here's how the days events went for me.....

1:30pm - I went with another manager to a local store to set up a new display we are testing in a few stores. The weather had been sunny most of the morning with the occasional bit of rain here and there. It was HOT.... this summer has been one of the hottest on record for Toronto, and today was no exception.

2pm - While working in the store the other manager and myself heard the sudden and very LOUD downpour of rain. The sound of it pounding on the roof of this "big box" store was eerily loud. I went to the front to look outside and was *stunned* to see it looked nearly WHITE there was so much rain coming down. It looked foggy or almost even snowy it was so heavy, and I could not see my car across the parking lot. The store staff and myself stood and watched the rain for a while in utter amazement as we had never seen anything like (I even took pictures!). The sound of the rain slapping the pavement was deafening. We remarked at how it must feel to be in India where this happens often. At one point the lights had flickered in the store and the power had threatened to go out.

2:30pm - The rain had stopped for the most part and the sun came out. It seemed that the storm had gone.

3pm - I got a call from another manager back at the office taunting me that hail was hammering down on my beloved car back at the office (I had driven the company van to the store, as it was full of product for the display). It's worth noting at this point that my office is RIGHT beside the airport. In fact, this morning as I drove to work I was watching one plane come in for a landing as it floated remarkably low over the road I was driving on. In the past I have actually had to yell loudly when talking to someone while standing in the office parking lot as a plane passed low overhead (our building is right under a flight path).
But I digress! I had said to the other manager that there was no hail yet where we were, 10 mins west of the office.

3:30pm - The weather is back and more fierce than ever. Once again I gather with the staff at the front of the store to watch the weather and we are dumbstruck that it had gone from sunny to storm, and then sunny to storm yet again. We were sure the weather had passed but now we stood as hail pelted down and lightning flashed everywhere. I started to wonder just when I would ever get home (I live 40 mins away and there's no way i was going to drive in that weather).

4:30pm - working in the store all day I am unaware that there has been a plane crash 15 mins away. It figures this would be the one day I am not in front of my computer all day reading news like usual. I get a call on my cell from the office manager... she is sounding upset and is saying something about flooding and hangs up without finishing the conversation. Looking baffled I turn to the other manager I'm working with and relay that I just had a bizarre conversation with the office manager and that it sounded like something bad was happening back at the office/warehouse. 2 seconds later HIS cellphone rings and it's the office manager again. The rain is flooding the area and water is backing up into our warehouse and causing flood damage. My co-worker drops everything and rushes back to the warehouse in the storm. I remain behind to try and finish the display as the store is a complete mess at the moment thanks to us.

4:50pm - I get a call from the office manager telling me I need to get back to the warehouse, they need my help. I drop everything, apologize to the store for leaving the place in a mess and promise to come back within an hour to finish the job. I am still unaware of the airplane crash.

5:03pm - As I begin to drive back to the office I turn on the radio and hear crazed traffic reports telling people to stay away from the area around the airport including a highway that runs just south of it. I yank my car suddenly to the left... I was just about to exit onto that highway. Finally I get the full story about the crash, though details then were sketchy. I grumble that I am being told by the media to stay away from the area when that's exactly the place I need to go to. Anxious for details I begin to worry about the people on the plane.

5:30pm - I am stuck in horrendous traffic as I, and apparently everybody under the sun, am attempting to find an alternate route. As I sit in traffic numerous fire engines, ambulances and police cars race by me, sirens blaring. The rain is intermittently showering the traffic.

Alright, I'll stop the drama here. In the end I went back to the office, helped pour bags and bags of sand in an effort to stop the water from flooding in, and took pictures of the damages for our insurance claims. When that was done the other manager and I drove *back* to the store to finish the job we had started. When we walked out of the store at 8pm the sun was shining and the pavement was DRY..... as if the storm had never even happened. It was downright bizarre.... and HOT. Ugh, the humidity from the heat+rain was *stifling*.

Eventually I got home and finally got a chance to turn on the news and see the footage. Prior to that I only had the radio and smell of burning jet fuel to tell me what had happened. The wreckage looks awful though I am extremely proud that the airport handled the near disaster so well. I am astonished and thrilled that not one single person died... as close to a miracle as I have ever heard. They say the plane may have been hit by lightning... which will make the airport *very* jumpy over the next 2 days; the weather is to be more of the same until Friday.

In a moment of sarcasm (hey, I was tired, soaking wet and working a very long day) I turned to my co-worker and said: "Gosh golly! Toronto will be all over the news tonight, and for something other than gay marriage! Wowsers, I bet even CNN will be talking about it!!" (CNN is notorious for pretending that Canada doesn't much exist)

What. A. Day.