December 29, 1998
We've been in Israel exactly 3 months. I'm sitting in the office of the Ministry of the Interior, waiting to renew our visas. I've been here since 8 AM so far and I just finished the book I brought with me. The person sitting next to me came to get a # (like at the bakery) at 6 AM and she's still here. We thought that maybe there is an easier way to renew a visa here (by mail?), but if there is, they keep it secret. It's hard not to get angry about wasting my whole morning (day?) here. But, like it or not, this is the way things happen in Israel. Patience.
It occurs to me that this is my opportunity to reflect upon our stay here so far, as I am here solo. Our first two months here were very stressful for me. As you know, our apartment was not close to being ready for us when we arrived, and we lived in a caravan up the hill from the apt. I didn't mind the caravan itself so much, but I did mind schlepping my laundry and baby back and forth to Julie's house every day. Another source of stress of course, was finding, obtaining, fixing, driving, and losing the cursed Subaru. I'm actually relieved that that car is gone now. I enjoy the features of our rental car, despite it's cost, and don't miss worrying whether the Subaru was going to overheat on its way up the next hill. And yet another source of stress was illnesses. Yona had green goop dripping from his nose for a full two months. The rest of us took turns contracting various viruses, sometimes severe ones, as in Zosh's case. I'm happy to report that at the moment we are all healthy .and hoping to stay that way for a while.
Thankfully, things in general have improved. The apartment is nice. We bought some space heaters which actually warm the rooms well. The kitchen is small by adequate. We don't often have guest over for Shabbat meals, although we did manage to host our friends from Tel Aviv (Charlie, Audrey & kids) for a Shabbat. We have been invited out for occasional meals, and now that we're more settled, maybe we'll begin reciprocating.
My Hebrew is gradually improving. I speak a mixture of Hebrew and English in most places. Usually, I am using Hebrew with an English word thrown in here and there. We speak mostly English at home, unless the kids have friends over. Our kids don't actually speak Hebrew, except an occasional word or tow. It's amazing to me that they are managing so well emotionally and socially.
I volunteer in the audiology department at Hadassah hospital, Ein Kerem once/week. I spend most of my time there watching other people work. I occasionally help out by playing with a baby during a hearing test. I did part of a hearing test last time I was there and hopefully will become more involved with the work over time. The hospital is located way out on a hill on the opposite side of Jerusalem. It takes me as much as an hour and a half to get there in traffic, and about 45 minutes to get home. I can't imagine a worse place to try to get to in an emergency. Don't worry, there are good hospitals closer to where we live. I find the level of professionalism and expertise at the hospital similar to that in the U.S. There are four people in the department that specialize as audiologists, although the rest do standard hearing tests in addition to speech therapy. There is one accredited place in Israel to study speech and hearing (Tel Hashomer, in Tel Aviv), and graduates are certified in both areas. There are about 45 students/year, mostly female.
An audiologist at Hadassah told me about a hearing aid dealer looking for help. So, now I actually have a part time job. It is in the center of Jerusalem (only 25-30 minutes w/o bad traffic). I work two mornings/week. S far I spend most of the time reading books and selling hearing aid batteries. It's been a good opportunity for me to practice my Hebrew, and to see what the hearing aid industry is like here, at least in this particular office. They sell all of the latest products (digital hearing aids, completely-in-the-canal hearing aids), but use unscientific fitting and verification procedures (Can you hear me now?) Truth be told, many places in the U.S. do the same. I can't stand it though. I need to measure the amplified sound in the ear, and the patient's test performance before I am comfortable sending them on their way. It seems such a shame to sell expensive hearing aids and then program them in what I consider a haphazard fashion. My boss tells me that most of his patients with digital hearing aids are very happy, so hopefully that is an indication that he is doing something right. My boss had a mild heart attack a few days ago. He is OK but still in the hospital. It's still unclear how this will affect my responsibilities there. I'm a little nervous about it. His wife and daughter know how to run the business, but not the details of hearing aids. My Hebrew is not strong enough to carry the ball on my own, plus, I'm only there 8 hours/week.
Yona has been going to an interim babysitter, and then Shai's mom watched him. This week, we will start with a new babysitter. The plan is that I'll be taking him to her house at 7, go the the nearby gym to swim (run?) work 8:30-12:30, retrieve him, and meet the big boys at home around 1:15. I'll report next month how that works out.
I haven't read Shai's report yet, but I imagine he's covered all the other family news and more. I'll end this with the Ministry of Interior update. At 11:30 my # came up and I turned in our forms. Now, 12:45 and I'm waiting patiently for them to get to my new number. Aha, it's my turn right now! How do people work in this awful office? I'll be happy to get out of here and get back "home" to our apartment in Alon. It's home for now anyway. I'm happy to be here for the year, but would never want to stay. I miss our life in Sharon and look forward to returning to our house, friends, lake, and the conveniences of life in America that we all take for granted.