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.

Thursday, July 28, 2005
bracelets or bust!!
Alright, that's it. I'm having a really miserable week and I'm enlisting the help of my readers to help make me feel better. How? It's quite simple, really. We make a deal..... I will post again just as soon as I sell FIVE more bracelets. Yes, you heard me... no more posting until a few more fine readers step up to bat and help me reach my dream. And NO Sam, this does NOT mean you can buy five since you have done MORE than anyone else to help me in all this. I'm sorry I have to do this folks, but desperate times call for desperate measures and it seems that everyone has forgotten about this because I backed off on the nagging.

Ok? Ok. Here's hoping my blog won't be on hiatus for too long....
(updates will be added at the bottom of this post)

UPDATE: 1 bracelet down, 4 to go. A great big thanks to TechWench who managed to make me smile and applaud when I saw her order and little note that came with it. Thanks, I owe you a big wet one. *wink*

UPDATE: In a first EVER cross promotion, TechWench (webdesign goddess that she is) is offering a discount on a customized template to anyone who buys a bracelet from me. For full details go here. This is such an unbelievably good deal you would be foolish to pass it up! I think I owe TechWench more than a big wet one, now... heh. THANK YOU!!!

UPDATE: YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2 bracelets down, 3 to go! A big shout out to 3T, who decided to take advantage of the wonderful (and limited time!) cross promotion offered by TechWench. Thanks for your support!!

UPDATE: I am back from visiting my grandma up north, and still riding the long weekend high. I was thrilled to come home and find an order for a bracelet from one of the wonderful staff at Livnot. Toda raba, Yehonatan!!!! I will mail it out tomorrow!
3 bracelets down, 2 to go!

UPDATE: There is hope!!!!! I just received another order for a bracelet from Chana and Alan in Phoenix, Az. Thank you so very much, you have brought me nearly to the end of this blog hostage taking!! ONLY ONE MORE TO GO!!! Who will be the one to bring me back to blogging and help send me to Israel all with one swift purchase??

FINAL UPDATE: I just received an email from MatzahNatcho saying she will be mailing me money for a bracelet, thereby ending this hostage seige with the blog. Thank you SO MUCH for your generous purchase... it will take me far. And just in time! Now I can blog about this crazy plane crash here in Toronto! Go to MatzahNacho's blog as a thank you for ending the madness! :-D

And a BIG thank you to one and all for your patience and kindness. I am humbled by your generosity. This includes Cassiopeia who just went to the trouble write a new plug for me in her blog, complete with photo and big description (and nod to ocB who designed my sexy "help celestial blue" button!). Thank you Cassiopeia, just because the hostage seige has ended doesn't mean my need for help has. I need all the publicity I can get, so it is much appreciated. Similar thanks goes to Yossef for yet another mention of me on his blog (his efforts to get me to Israel have been very sweet) and to my new blogging buddy, Peninah, who has also made mention of my plight on one of her blogs;(Firefox users will need to view the blog using IE); she has cheered me up greatly today.

Somehow 'thank you' seems to inadequate sometimes. :-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005
I close my eyes and still I see
I just woke up from such a disturbingly graphic and violent dream that I can only wonder how on earth my brain could come up with such a scenario. I cannot possibly put it up on my dream blog, it's too scary and disturbing. Great way to start my day.

I have a funeral to go to this afternoon. I don't feel like writing a real post today, and we'll see how I feel about it tomorrow.
Meanwhile, be good.

Monday, July 25, 2005
good news and bad news
1) Finished Harry Potter last Thursday at work (shhh!) and rewarded myself with a sushi dinner. I actually really liked the book (my love has dwindled slowly with each book in the series) and like other Potter fans am now dying for the last installment.

2) I had my mom take me out to go shopping for the dreaded bikini because she can put up with my whining and crabbing about how I hate shopping, she spent years listening to it while buying school clothes. Her help paid off, more or less and I bought two bikinis. I'm not in love with either one, but they will do. I *desperately* need colour because I look horribly pastey and white in them. I have no idea how I am going to acquire said colour.

3) I did not manage to go buy a sleeping bag but I did manage to make myself clean my increasingly messy apartment. I always feel better with a clean home, so why is it so hard to get myself to do it?? Oh, and I also have to buy luggage soon too. Cha-ching! CHA-CHING! $$ :-/

4) I pulled out my Hebrew textbook from class to start to refresh my memory a bit before I go on my trip. I think I will start listening to my Hebrew cd's in the car now too. Any Hebrew is better than no Hebrew, I figure. But without a class or a native speaker of hebrew around I am finding it tough. I have questions and nowhere to direct them. Very frustrating.

5) I got news this morning that an old dear friend of mine from highschool has lost his mother. She died at home of cancer. My friends and I are extremely worried about our friend for he has always been an emotionally and mentally unstable fellow at the best of times. We hate to admit it but we believe it's only a matter of time before he commits suicide since his mother was his whole world (he lived at home with her, and he rarely worked). He buried his father when he was a child (the event that I believe lead to his lifetime of mental/emotional difficulties) and his stepfather a few years ago, whom he was very close to. He really has no one left and no money. I hope he is still here when I return from Israel, but between his addictions and bi-polar behaviour I am not hopeful. With no family to ground him it's up to us as his friends to try and help him. He has already had a violent outburst and it meant his mother was sent home to die instead of a hospice.

Another of our friends has gone with him to make the funeral arrangements today, I expect the funeral will be sometime at the end of the week. This news has deeply saddened me and I worry about my friends future.....

6) I just got 4 out of 7 numbers on my lottery ticket which earns me $151 towards my trip. And of course I'll be buying 2 more tickets this week, because what kind of a gambler would I be if I didn't spend the winnings on another chance?

Saturday, July 23, 2005
the ebb and tide of friendship
"Everybody's changing
And I don't feel the same

I had two scary dreams last night involving friends I know either walking away from me or pushing me out of the circle/gang of friends. Weirdly, in one of the dreams Princess Blondie's mother told me that "it would just be best if I left now". Yow, that hurt.

Truth of the matter is that something unexpected has happened during all this planning for my trip to Israel; I have found myself very disconnected from my life now. I feel like I am in a strange limbo as I have had plenty of time to imagine what my life will be like for 5 months in Israel. All this daydreaming and planning and buying and packing has me feeling very disconnected from my current life as it is now and leaves me in a feeling of limbo. I feel like I have one foot here in Canada and one in Israel and it actually doesn't feel altogether good.

A few weeks ago I had a big falling out with two of my closest friends which has had a different impact on me than I would have expected. These girls were two of my greatest confidantes and were important emotional supports for me in my life and upcoming journey. When those friendships abruptly ended I mourned only very briefly and it was then that I began the feeling of great disconnect from my life. (How do I describe this without sounding like I should be in a padded room....?) I guess it just felt like two more things were removed from my life that might keep me attached to my life here. Two more reasons for me missing Canada and my life here are gone.... two more reasons for coming back at all. And while that may seem dramatic, you have to remember that my family is *incredibly* small... so my friends very much serve as my extended family. And when two of those extended family members fall out of grace with me it also puts an incredibly uncomfortable strain on me when seeing the rest of my extended family. As it is, I have become far less social since that falling out with my girlfriends and keep much more to myself now.

I feel like I am a ghost walking around and haunting what was once my life. No longer here, but not yet ready to move on to the next level in Israel. Friendships are evolving right before my eyes.... some have disintegrated completely while others are being stretched and tested. Will they snap? As I take steps towards the biggest journey of my life other friends are also caught up in their own journeys and our paths are diverging rapidly. Friendships I once thought unbreakable I am now not so sure of. On bad days this feeling destroys me... on other days it feels like this is how things are supposed to go. It's all part of the plan to get me to let go and take the leap.

This trip of mine has really brought to light who my steadfast friends are and which ones aren't. I have one friend who not only bought two of my bracelets but he took a bunch of them from me and peddled them around his office and favourite comic shop AND his family dinners. He showed me incredible support, and took up my cause as if it was his own. I have had bloggers, virtual strangers, who have gone out of their way to mention me on their blogs, often several times, and really help get the word out in the vast blogging community. And then there are those friends who hardly acknowledge my trip at all, only ask when they feel obliged to, never mention me on their blogs and only actually call when they need something or need to talk about what's going on with them. They always say that it's when you call for help that you find out who your real friends are, and this has definitely been the case for me, with surprising results.

Clearly I am afraid I will return to find that the gap left by me in the circle of friends will have closed up and I will not be invited back in. You laugh, but these things happen! However, I can't afford to let myself worry about all this. I have to have faith in the remaining friendships and the path that lay before me. I know this is where I must go and what I must do and I know it won't be easy.

"Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight
You gotta kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.

Thursday, July 21, 2005
Bikini Village
I am one of those rare forms of girl who actually does NOT like shopping. I think my opinion of the activity might shift if I were suddenly rich and didn't have to start every search by checking the price tag, but as it stands now, I hate it. I don't like trying clothes on, as I find it a royal pain in the ass to get in and out of clothes repeatedly. Money is always tight, so shopping for me was never done as a pleasantry, always out of necessity. Therefore I only go looking at clothes when I actually need something, never as a form of retail therapy (for me retail therapy generally comes in the form of a new computer/camera/game). It comes as no surprise then that my very least favourite item to shop for is a bathing suit.

Last weekend I decided to pop into the mall on the way home to begin what I know will be a long search for a suitable swimsuit for Israel. While I do have a new bathing suit from last year's trip, I was hoping to get a second one and, perhaps (for once in my LIFE), a 2 piece. I am, for the most part, a one piece/comfort-over-fashion kind of shopper when it comes to swimsuits. This is for generally practical reasons... I intend to actually SWIM in it, as opposed to many girls who just like to lounge around in the sun in theirs. I loathe sitting and baking in the sun, and choose instead to swim, splash around on shore or go scuba diving/snorkeling. I also am not at all comfortable with the idea of a 2 piece suit despite being a girl of petite and fairly well proportioned stature. In other words, I am short and skinny, and by all accounts small breasted. Given that I did not inherit the ample bosom my mother did, I figured.. how hard can it be to get a swimsuit to house what little I have?

I quickly remembered why I don't ever shop alone if it can be helped; I tend to give up very early on in the shopping experience, losing enthusiasm if I don't find something I like fairly quickly. Recognizing this weakness I forced myself to turn around as I was leaving Bikini Village to go back and take a real stab at finding a suit. I had a style in mind that I wanted to try but couldn't find something suitable. Going back for another try I had dropped my standards a bit and grabbed a bunch of suits from the racks and headed into a changeroom (if you can all it that. It was a room of stalls built of straw with shower curtains for doors).

I started with the top, struggling greatly to get it on as the clasp it was made with was somewhat difficult to navigate. Once I had that on I took a step back and had a gander; it looked alright, I thought. So far so good. Then I grabbed the bottoms, in the style of short shorts, if you know what I mean. I put those on and thought... omigod.. I actually look FAT. And no, I am not like all the other girls of the world who think they look fat even though they are skinnier than a post. I know I am skinny and tiny and am never, I mean NEVER insecure about my weight... until that moment. I looked a bit pudgy as the bathing suit highlighted some ripples and lumps on me that I had not noticed prior. I thought.... holy wow, is THIS what happens when you turn 30??? And with that the bathing suit was off, no others were tried on and I was OUTTA there. No bathing suit was procured that day and I have not forced myself back into another bathing suit outing since. Maybe I'll take another crack at it this weekend. Or maybe I'll just live with the suit I have.

Next thing to shop for: a sleeping bag.

3? 4? more blasts in London???
What the *bleep* is goin' on??

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Scotty has been beamed up
I knew from first light this morning that this wasn't going to be my best day. I had been awakened rudely in the night by a picture falling off the wall above my head, landing on the pillow mere inches from head. This scared me beyond words and I could not get back to sleep thatnks to the adrenaline, so I sat up and read more Harry Potter until 1:30am. This then caused me to have some crazy dream that involved me trying to give the Pope (the old one, not the new guy) some kind of potion, all while trying to reassure him that it probably wouldn't kill him. The rest of my night was sleepless as I tossed and turned and got up and walked around my apartment a bit. This made me very sleepy and grumpy at work.

Eventually I started to feel very unwell at work and left early to come home and take care of myself (I am terrified of getting sick and not being able to go to Israel, so when I don't feel well I am *right* on top of the situation). And lucky me, I came home to find that one of my two cats had a vomit festival all over my bedroom carpet. *sigh* Why? WHY must cats be little vomit bags like that? And why can they not do this on the hardwood floor, why must they do it on the beige rug, creating a stain that will never EVER go away? Because this was to be a crummy day, that's why.

All that and James Doohan, "Scotty" from Star Trek, died. I was very sad to hear the news as were all my geek friends (and he was Canadian, EH! Just like William Shatner, EH!!!)

Ok, back to my Harry Potter. 422 pages down, 178 to go.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
so high it takes my breath away
Ack... I... I can't... can't speak...can't speak right now....
Choking... on the... high... cost of flights... to Israel.
It's gets *marginally* cheaper if I go through BUDAPEST on my way.
Well. I've never been to Budapest before.... apparently there's some Jewish stuff to look at.

'Scuse me... I think I need to go lay down.

Monday, July 18, 2005
Herbie, Corey and Alex
1) I know I've been whining a lot about the weather, but I have to do it again because it's just UNREAL how bloody hot it is. This is Canada for pete's sake, what gives?? 43C/110F for the umpteenth day in a row is simply unacceptable. There are reports of a few heat related deaths over the weekend and this is really no surprise given the amount of smog that likes to linger over Toronto. I too found myself in a moment of panic yesterday as I was hiking across a mall parking lot at a good pace only to find that I couldn't breathe because the air was so thick (it had been raining in the morning so when the sun came out the air was thick as molasses). I panicked as I realized I didn't have my asthma inhaler on me because I never carry it with me (I so rarely use the damn thing) so I had to slow down a moment to catch my breath. Finally I got to my car, got in, and cranked the air conditioning for a bit while I sat and calmed down and took deep breaths. Note to self: get new inhaler from doctor before heading to Israel. How annoying... my asthma is so slight I never even think about it until I get into trouble.

2) I am starting to wake up in the middle of the night in a panic about money and my trip. Money money money.. I hate how much of my time is spent worrying about it. And while it's all well and fine to say that I shouldn't, I sort of need to if I am going to try and buy an airplane ticket this week. So I roll over in the middle of the night, wake a bit, and think.... omigod... did I book a ticket? can I afford to book one? will it get more expensive the longer I wait? It's ridiculous that THIS is what I am thinking about in the middle of the night. This morning as I was sitting in traffic I looked over at a sign at the gas station announcing that the lottery pot this week is at 12 million. *sigh* What I could do with 12 million.

3) Speaking of sleep, I had a dream about Corey last night. I wonder if I should call him again, before I go away. Part of me thinks that's the dumbest idea ever, and opening that old can of worms is a bad plan... but part of me feels inclined to because I am in a good place in my life right now (nightmares aside) and I just want to say hi... see how he's doing. He was popping up on local news a while back which made me think I should check up on him... but then I have Sam in my head telling to stay away. LOL. I dunno... maybe I'll leave that can of worms unopened. But come on.... could going out for one coffee be so bad? :-P

4) A really really sweet girl named Alex has bought a bracelet from me to support my trip, bringing the count up to 107 sold. Alex and I have been emailing back and forth since November when this bright idea first popped in my head, and she has been very supportive and encouraging since she has taken a very similar journey recently. It's really been amazing how many people have come out of the woodwork to say hi and to offer some words of advice or encouragement. Complete strangers have written me to say such nice things!!! Wow... even at this point the journey has taught me so much and enriched my life. Anyway! Bracelets go out today for those who have ordered them over the last few days.

5) Herbie: Fully Loaded wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and much to my surprise (I hope you're sitting down for this) I actually enjoyed being in a theatre full of kids when watching it. Anyone who knows me knows that I get deeply annoyed with chatter during movies, but this time it was so sweet and funny to listen to the kids cheer and jeer throughout the film. It was a nice reminder that these films are made for and enjoyed by kids. Actually, truth be told, it wasn't a bad flick... I laughed a bit here and there and had fun. However, Mean Girls is still the best Lindsay Lohan movie. I musta watched that at least 3 times on the plane ride over to Israel last year.

6) You want me to go to Israel, right? show me some lovin'..... buy a bracelet. All the cool kids are doin' it!!

Sunday, July 17, 2005
all touch but no contact
Well, things don't always go according to plan, now do they?

Friday night, being the swinging single girl that I am, I spent most of the evening unconscious on my couch. What can I say? I was tired. I managed to wake up in time to drag my sorry ass to the store to pick up the new Harry Potter book when it was released at midnight. Then I dragged my ass back home, curled up in bed, and read for about 30 or 40 minutes before I required more sleep. I then woke up Saturday morning just before 8am, had some breakfast, read more Harry Potter.... and then proceeded to have a nap (are we noticing a pattern here? for some reason, reading makes me VERY sleepy, so staying awake past more than say, 20 pages, is a real feat for me. I don't know what the deal is, but it means that it takes me forever to finish a book, as you can well imagine).

When I awoke from my nap I decided that if I was going to get any reading done I had better move it to a location other than my bed. So I got up, pulled on some shorts and a tank top and lugged a chair outside. It was just me, the sun, a bottle of water, and Harry. Much to my chagrin it was a bit of an overcast day.... slightly sunny but oddly I felt the occasional raindrop.... every few minutes.... land on me. Strange weather, but still doable for tanning. About an hour into my reading (you are getting VERY sleepy...) my cell phone in my pocket rang (oh right, just me, the sun, a bottle of water, Harry and my cell. did I forget to mention my cell?). As I looked at my call display I saw that it was my bestest friend Princess Blondie. It would seem the girl had bitten off more than she could chew on a little "home improvement" project and needed my help to finish painting her bedroom by the end of the day. Always happy to help a friend in need, I hopped in my car and headed up to her place. And that was the end of Harry.

My evening was nice as I met with my favourite aunt and uncle for dinner which they were so kind as to pay for (yay! steak and lobster for me please!). Later on my parents were invited to join us for a coffee and dessert back at the hotel restaurant, which was also nice. What sucked was that out of everybody at the table... all over 50, except for moi.... *I* was the one who wanted to end the evening at 10pm so I could go to bed. Colour me embarrassed. I'm telling you, painting was exhausting!!

I figured today would be the day I would do my tanning since the plans were a washout yesterday. But when I got up at 7am to head out to sit with my meditation group for a few hours I soon found out that today is a very rainy day. *groan* No sun for this girl. And in case you thought rain had a way of cooling off raging hot temperature... well you'd be wrong. Now it's hotter than ever, FOGGY, and air that is thicker than ever. It's sticky and nasty and not at all sunny now that I want it to be. Weather Gods be damned!!!

Alright. I'm going to go read me some Harry Potter. And after that I think I am being dragged out to see Herbie: Fully Loaded. I must really love my friend a lot.