Wednesday, January 17, 2018
No phone, lights or motor car
To be cut off is both liberating an frightening. What if someone needs me? But no one really needs me. What if something happens? But nothing ever really happens. In Jerusalem (moreso than at home) the phone is both a technological necessity and an anachronism. But here I am, a man without a phone, relying on Maddie to communicate with the outside world. So she sends a message out to the fleet that I am off the grid but she can't account for work emails or the people I can't anticipate. This is why I prefer to remain unimportant.
I sit alone in the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf with a double espresso, considering the relative cost and/or worth of taking a cab back to the apartment to get my phone. It is really cold and raining -- really gross outside, so walking back, a 20+ minute investment each way is not a real option, and waiting in the raw weather for the light rail so I can pay to reduce the walk to 5 minutes also isn't attractive.
It suddenly got sunny and people don't seem to know enough to put their umbrellas away (though the wind takes care of some of those). I waited for Maddie to finish up with whatever errands she ran by having a second double espresso. No time like the morning for a bad decision -- why should the evenings have all the fun? I sit and watch Jerusalem and consider how it is simpler than Tel Aviv, organized in its own crazy way, simpler and more honest. Then I realize that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about and that coffee is some yummy stuff. Maddie shows up (as does Ari Goldberg who is 17 feet tall and likes shakshuka. Yuck). We also see three other former students while eating breakfast. Maddie got the ciabatta with cheese. Meh. The coffee is all I needed.
After the meal, and a trip to another sunglasses store, we catch a Gett to Giv'at Sha'ul. Maddie needed to go to the Nefesh B'Nefesh center to return her broken backpack. Every person who moves to Israel or goes into the army deserves a free backpack apparently and if it breaks, by God, they get a new one. Maddie had gotten the replacement in Tel Aviv yesterday but promised she would return the broken one, if only to prove that she wasn't trying to cheat the organization and hoard backpacks. So the free backpack cost us the cab ride there and back. Pack.
We returned to the apartment to meet Elijah and get my phone. I couldn't go any further without it. I had received zero messages and even fewer calls. My unimportance confirmed, we headed back out into the drizzle. It soon turned into a heavy, soaking rain. Hurray. Off to the tailor, again and then, to kill time before we went BACK to the tailor, pizza. Next up, paper goods for Naomi and then, through the rain to the Swidler residence because of the promise of warm chocolate chip cookies. See, I like Israel and I like eating, but because I am allergic to nuts, I can't enjoy any of the baked goods around here. There is some sort of obsession with hazelnuts and that's just not cool. So while I would love to be able to get something to munch on while I drink my coffee, I can't. Sure, there probably isn't any nut in some of the products, but there are so many around and cross contamination happens so I don't want to risk it and live on Benadryl. We did find Reese's Peanut Butter cups made in America so I munched on them. Through the rain to N+D and many cute children and, more importantly, the hot cookies fresh from the oven. Quite good and warm and not raining so there's that. But I can't count on that when I am wandering a couple of miles away.
Then we head down to Harvey's and our reservation with the Oshins. On the way, Maddie stopped at a while bunch of dress stores so she can try things on and torture me and Elijah. She found nothing all that great but this way no store feels left out. Eventually, we get to Harvey's. Now, I thought Harvey's was a steak house. It turns out, it is a smoke house. I have never been to a smoke house. Normally, when there is smoke in a house, I go outside so this all seemed counter intuitive. But I went in anyway. We ordered every appetizer besides the salad because, salad. Beers and drinks and then mains. I ordered a steak. I know, "smoke house not steak house" but I wanted a damned steak. Other people got a variety of meats smoked for the past day or so but I wanted a simple steak to eat. It was really nice. They call it "entrecote" in Israel but I think of it as "steak." I don't believe in more detailed labels. Also, the onion rings are ridiculously good -- Jeff says he might have developed an addiction. Won't you please donate to help Jeff with his onion ring addiction? For just the cost of an order of onion rings, Jeff can have onion rings. Please help. Brisket, shoulder, and something called Asada kept us all busy and warmed us up from the inside. It is tough to get seats there -- make reservations a few days in advance and order a lot of different things. Share. Then order more. The food was made even better by the company. Though we missed Yoni, it was a hoot reconnecting with the Oshins -- good folks, they. And, they know Harvey so that's clutch.
We waddled out (nice work Harvey, by the way) and worked our way back to the apartment. The young 'uns are playing HQ and I'm drying off and warming up. I'm back to being connected and I can't decide if that is a good thing or not. And I'm still wondering if the espresso is going to haunt me all night. Tomorrow, the mall, because there are dress stores there also.