Home away from home away from home

Let’s see…where were we?

Oh yes, vacation. Vacation was filled with happy occasions – L’chaims, engagement parties12371082_10153489108958124_1286207895138924807_o, weddings, the works. Mazals all around. It also included a short trip home to Jersey, where we got to watch my niece’s JV basketball team lose pretty miserably (despite her super impressive skills, no joke- she scored like 20 points on her own, must have skipped a generation), and then a visit to sunny Florida, where we got in lots of grandpa time, played a good amount of shuffleboard and drove around in a rental car that was way too sexy for us.

Seriously, we felt like such ballers driving with the top down until, literally seconds in, we were attacked by bees. Convertibles are not as awesome as they look in the commercials, kids. True to our track record, there were a couple of illnesses along the way. We love needing health insurance when we don’t have health insurance. It’s our thing.

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But we got back to the Holy Land in one piece and in time to celebrate the new year with old friends.

Then it was back to Cyprus. You know. Cause that’s our home now. Yeah…still weird. Everyone at the airport seemed pretty depressed to be going back after three weeks of freedom, but Josh and I had something to look forward to. I never knew you could miss something so much until we left Bella at a doggy sitter for three weeks. And apparently three weeks is a LOT in the dog world because when we picked her up, she was a new woman who could suddenly bark and jump onto tables. We learned about that second part when we found her cleaning up our leftovers with her tongue one evening.

Anyway, of course it was back to school and studying for Josh, which meant back to

binging on TV for me, but we did get to go ice skating at the Christmas carnival (which was still going 2 weeks post Christmas, as were the Christmas songs in the grocery store). I was with an Israeli and a Canadian so in terms of skill level, I was somewhere in the middle.

IMG_7302And then, the best thing ever happened. Josh HAD to play the basketball booth as he always does and while he could only sink one shot, I made in three outof three and won myself a little prize. It may not sound like much, but it was one of the better moments of my life.

I was peer-pressured into joining the gym. I felt a little guilty about it since it goes against everything I stand for as The Anti Fitness Guru (check me out on instagram for your daily dose of inspiration to sit and do nothing), but I was feeling uncharacteristically adventurous. So far, I’ve gone once and I mostly chatted with the guy who signed me up. I told him I’m from Israel and he said he went to Lebanon one time. That’s the same. I also managed to do 22 sit-ups, which I was still feeling 4 days later. Next time, maybe I’ll be less ambitious.

When was the last time you fell off a bike? It doesn’t happen too often to capable adults, right? Well, Josh was riding to school when his bike literally fell apart beneath him. He got scraped pretty bad and the bike had to be sent for repairs. Then, the day we got the bike back from the shop, I was riding it downhill, hit something on the street, and was hurled onto the pavement like roadkill. I must have laid there for a good ten minutes feeling sorry for myself until someone stopped to help me and my embarrassment started to outweigh my self-pity. I assured the kind stranger I was fine and then cried the whole way home. You have to see me – I’ve got an apple-sized black and blue mark on my knee, a super ugly boo-boo (yes, I said boo-boo) on my elbow and a massive collection of burns on my hand from a sautéing incident. The good news is, Josh and I are clearly soul mates – very clumsy soul mates.

The better news is, we won’t need to risk our lives anymore because we finally found a car! Here’s to hoping 25 years of instinct don’t kick in and I end up driving on the wrong (right?) side of the road.

IMG_7316I learned something new about Cypriot culture on Sunday when I went to the mall with two friends. Apparently, just because the website says that the mall is open, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the stores are open. No, no. Sunday is not the day to go the mall in Cyprus unless you are looking for a quiet place to contemplate life. It all w5d743393497832bd8fc44940bdfb4414orked out though cause we got some haagen-dazs, which makes everything better and then moseyed on over to Ikea so we could buy things we don’t need. The outing ended with me accidentally triggering the fire alarm in Ikea.

Another12650951_10153598391188124_2584657575502396062_n tidbit about the mall – when I got back from my trip to DISNEY (more on that later), I sent Josh to return a dress – which I obviously did not buy on a Sunday – and he called to ask me if the store always looked like a giant hole in the wall. So, yeah. The store closed down and the next closest one is in Kazakstan. Anyone want to buy a dress?

Disney! There’s not much to say except it was as awesome as you’re all assuming it was. Got to spend lots of time with the siblings, nieces and nephews and, most importantly, Mickey!

Oh, and of course there were those ever so pleasant interactions with fellow Jews tapping us on the shoulders, blurting out “mincha at 5 at the castle” and walking away. At Seaworld, the kids and I had the idea of telling people mincha was in the Orca tank. Just for funsies.

Back in Jersey, (my home away from home… away from home?…) I got to see Mintzy and host Tovah and the legendary Browns for shabbat. I wanted to pack them in my suitcase, but only Adi would fit and I just couldn’t do that to Shimron.

Josh kept himself busy in my absence. Explored the island a bit, went to Israel and tried to become Bella’s favorite human. Fail. You should have seen her when I got back. Dogs love the way humans can’t – with lots of slobber.

I was also given a warm welcome by my landlord, who called to advise us to take our bikes inside as there will be thieves coming. Clearly, the thieves are very courteous in Cyprus and have the decency to make an appointment before showing up.

We’re having two very fun and adventurous guests this weekend so I’m sure there’ll be lots to write about! Stay tuned =)

Fresh Meat

As I begrudgingly mentioned at the end of my last post, I was completely abandoned by my husband and friends during exam period, so it was kind of perfect that Cedric and Naomi decided to swoop in (Via Aegean air) just then.

They got in around 10:30 AM so I greeted them in pajamas with a toothbrush hanging out of my mouth, but I hopefully made up for this photo 5hostess-fail with a plate of chocolate-chip smiley-face pancakes (which you might just get to taste if you #comevisit). Next on the agenda was a visit to parrot jungle, of course, followed by a quick trip to the supermarket, whose spacious aisles and short lines are always refreshing to people who live in Israel and whose last shopping trip was most likely a survival-of-the-fittest type scenario.photo 4

That evening we attended a Chanukah bash hosted by the Chabad, where I learned – probably because no Jew can resist free food – that there are way more Jews in Cyprus than I thought. They flew in a nice little Klezmer band from Jerusalem and we all clapped along to some Fiddler On The Roof. It was basically the most Jewish thing ever.

photo 3And then we did the most Christian thing ever by going to a Christmas carnival the next night that was totally decked out in light up reindeer and Virgin Mary statuettes. After several runs on the Wild Mouse, I remembered that somewhere around age 23, I – well, more specificphoto 4ally, my stomach – lost the capacity to enjoy roller coasters. Still, I agreed to go on a little caterpillar ride that didn’t look too menacing. Little did we know that the thing goes around like, 7 times, at a pace that is so intolerably slow, I was surprised the caterpillar hadn’t turned into a butterfly by the time it came to a merciful stop.

Naomi and I spent all of Friday cooking for the big, end-of-finals dinner I was hosting that night, which ended up being more of a drunken Israeli photo 5.JPGmusic festival than an actual meal. We lost Bella at one point and I frantically searched the apartment until I found her snuggled up in my bed – Apparently the neighbors weren’t the only one who didn’t appreciate the deadly combination of newly free students, alcohol and Mizrachi songs.

Saturday night, Maya and Yair hosted a lovely Chanukah party featuring sufganiyot from Israel and we got to say goodbye to all our friends before heading off on our respective exotic vacations. Jokes. Most of us are back in Israel for the next three weeks.

On Sunday we had to part with Bella. We called our favorite cab driver, Theo, who is very proud of being the only cabbie in Cyprus with an Audi photo (14)and was NOT pleased when Bella’s kennel turned out to be in the middle of nowhere, reachable only by a rocky dirt road. His precise words were, “Josh, I’m gonna kill you.” Luckily one of Cedric’s hidden talents is diffusing tension and Josh is still alive and well.

Bella’s kennel ended up being less than ideal. We showed up and it was like we were walking into a prison and Bella was the fresh meat. The other dogs were literally rattling the cages and howling at her. Before we knew it she was…being taken advantage of…by a male dog. “Keep your butt on the floor, Bella!” I shouted, nearly in tears, as we watched on in horror. Later, we found out she was to be left out in the cold in a small fenced-in area with a couple of other small dogs for her entire stay with NO WALKS

When we got to the airport we worked it all out – after grabbing some jelly donuts from the ever-helpful chabad – and she was transferred to a facility we feel much more comfphoto 1ortable with. We still miss her lots though =(

I think the most notable thing about the Bollag’s visit was Naomi’s sudden affection for dogs. When she came, she wasn’t too crazy about them, but, weirdly enough, my shoe-chewing, sweater-biting, terrible-fart making little puppy changed her mind. She’s been texting me pictures of dogs she’d “hypothetically” want.

Funnily enough, our flight back to Israel was several hours before Naomi and Cedric’s, whom we were going to be staying by in Givat Shmuel. So photo 2while they enjoyed a stroll along larnaca’s boardwalk and indulged in some delicious Haagan-dazs (#comevisit), we settled into their apartment and lit Chanukah candles just a short 293 miles away.

Well, until Josh schlepped me to Moses with him so I could order a highly overpriced piece of schnitzel that tasted a lot like the ones I make at home for free =)

That’s all for now. Heading to New Jersey and Miami for a bit so I’m sure I’ll have lots to report when we’re back in Cyprus!

Mommy Dearest

Okay folks. I know it’s been an unforgivably long time, but believe it or not, I’ve been super busy.

Among other things, I’ve taken on a new pupil. That makes three all together – At this rate, I might have my first full time job by the end of the year!

Okay, let me search my memory for any and all notable occurrences since my last blog…

Oh yes, there was that bowling trip. I was weirdly excited to learn that bowling is a thing in cyprus. I say “weirdly” because I despise bowling. For those of you who have not yet heard my bowling rant, here’s an abridged version: You usually go in groups so  you’ve gotta wait anywhere between photo 17-15 minutes for your turn (depending on how large and chatty the group is), during which time you are hosting a small internal pep rally, telling yourself  – no – convincing yourself  that THIS time, you will knock some pins over. Then, when it’s finally your turn, you march up to the ball dispenser in this odd, hyped-up, determined state, and if you’re anything like me, your ball heads straight for the gutter. Every. Time. At that point, you’ve got to turn around with a fake AF smile smacked onto your face because you know you all came here to have “fun.”

Also, I’m too weak for the heavy balls, but my fingers are too fat for the light ones.

Moving right along. My mom’s visit was wonderful, despite the metaphorical turbulence we kept hitting. First, she had to spend all day in Ben Gurion airport because she missed her flight to Cyprus because they decided to close the gate AN HOUR before take-off. Who does that? Josh and I would never make a single flight if that was standard protocol. So she booked another flight, walked around a bit, had some ice cream and when it finally came time to board – the flight was suddenly delayed. I think that’s probably about the time she started crying. What’s important is she made it to Cyprus (which is NOT in Greece by the way – we need to start dispelling that misconception) with all of my tuna cans and stella doro cookies.

That night, we had a lovely steak dinner with some friends, to whom my mom later referred as “A colorful bunch,” and the next day, we wphoto 5alked around the neighborhood while she took pictures of literally EVERYTHING. So I took pictures of her taking pictures.

Back at home, I kept catching her scrubbing various items photo 3around my apartment. That’s my mom for you. She and Bella were…courteous to one another, but I don’t see an epic love story happening there, especially after Bella forgot her manners and ripped mom’s panty hose. Oh bophoto 1y.

Speaking of Bella, Josh and I were with her in the park, when we suddenly heard someone  calling her name. We were pretty confused since Nicosia is not the kind of place that even my celebrity husband runs into people he knows. Turns out, there’s another Bella in town. They hit it off until our Bella got a little too forward.

After a quick tour of the medical school, Josh, my mom and I flew to Israel for the weekend and had a grand ole time seeing friends and attending the Biephoto 4gel-Litman wedding AKA the party of the century. The doctor-in-training left back to Cyprus on Sunday and, though the small tickle I had in my throat on Saturday night suddenly turned into a big tickle,  I ventured into the old city with my mom, who bought and ate several different sufganyot along the way. When an elderly man cursed us for not giving him money, she unleashed the Rivkie Pinsker we all know and lophoto 5ve upon him. I don’t know if he learned his lesson, but he didn’t mess with us on our way back.

Then the big tickle turned into fever, a crippling headache, nausea, you name it, so we unfortunately spent the rest of her visit on the couch watching bad 90s movies (#crazybeautiful) and then it was bye bye mommy =(

 

Back in Cyprus, I had two days to recover before throwing Josh and ORI a surprise 80s birthday bash, which was photo 1more of a surprise for Ori then Josh, who was a little suspicious when we had a hard time keeping him out of the house and EVERYONE suddenly wanted to study with him. Regardless, it was a fun time for all, filled with beer pong, twister, dance-offs and more! Happy birthday, guys =)

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I was rewarded for my efforts by being abandoned for a week while everyone studied for finals.

I’ll end there because this one’s getting kind of lengthy, but stay tuned to hear all about Cedric and Naomi’s visit and our three-week break!

And in the meantime, feel free to check out my new instagram account, TheAntiFitnessGuru, for your daily dose of encouragement to sit on your couch, eat wacky-mac and use your toes to change channels on the remote in order to avoid excessive movement.

I’m Feeling 25

I know it’s been a while…probably because it’s taken me about a week and half to recover from, what I’ll call, “The Weekend We Learned We’re Not 22 Anymore.”

We had four lovely Givat Shmuelers for Shabbat, who I will mention by name because (1) They’re super cute and (2) They ever-so-sweetly requested to be featured in my next blog post =) So thanks for coming, Gabi, Talia, Orit and Lara.
photo (12).jpgIt was an absolute pleasure to have you and we hope you come again soon, even though you gave us hangovers we’ll never forget.

It started with an innocent game of Cards Against Humanity (does that exist?), but then we decided to add a twist – judge chooses the best AND worst card submissions and loser has to take a shot. Unfortunately, Josh and I were on a team and our American humor was not appreciated by most, which meant we had to fill up quite a few times.

IMG_6743Saturday night, we went to Lidre, which is basically the equivalent of Ben Yehuda except longer and with fewer Judaica stores =) Oh yeah, and the Turkish border is right smack in the middle of it. We talked the guard into letting us cross a few feet in even though we were passport-less. It was not as exciting as the pictures make it seem.

IMG_6659But then we found a bar called – okay I have no recollection of what it was called but there was a cool green door at the entrance and I vaguely remember insisting to the bartender that he change the name to The Green Door – and the night gets kind of vague from there. That’s what we get for trying to keep up with a IMG_6681bunch of 20-22 year olds. If you think three years don’t make a difference, they do. I remember when I was 22 and I could throw ’em back like nobody’s business. Sorry Mom. I’ll stop now.

IMG_6694Long story short, you know it was a fun weekend when you find a card that says, “My Humps,” under your couch on Monday morning.

The following week I went to the mall with Josh to find him shoes that aren’t sneakers. To say it was difficult to refrain from shopping for myself is an understatement, but I preoccupied myself with rejecting every option Josh picked out and redirecting him toward more acceptable alternatives. At Aldo, he was torn between two pairs and when I told him to just get both, the manager offered me a job. Too bad I don’t have a work visa – I would have milked that employee discount for all it was worth. Anyway, Josh ended up getting the pair I liked less. Naturally.

Then we headed to Ikea where we had a coupon for 150 euro because of a student promotion sort of thing. It’s complicated. I thought it  would be  a dream come true, running through the aisles of Ikea, grabbing IMG_6730all of the things I’ve always wanted but could never bring myself to spend actual money on. Then I realized that’s, like, the entire store. The dream turned into a nightmare when Josh insisted on buying a huge white fluffy rug shaped like a dead animal that is highly reminiscent of the coyote I somehow convinced him to leave in Israel.  Anyway, now he and Bella fight over it when they’re not taking adorable naps together.

On Thursday, we went to the Brickyard (our go-to bar…it’s like our own IMG_6736little Central Perk: foreshadowing…) and it was Trivia Night! The amount I know about the world is shameful and I am just glad my dad wasn’t there to witness it. But the entertainment round- that was my moment. “How many seasons were in the show Friends?” Seriously? There are people out there who don’t know the answer to that? I also knew the lyrics to What Makes IMG_6738You Beautiful among other things I shouldn’t be proud of. Luckily, with my pop culture knowledge and my teammates’ actual knowledge, we won free tickets to WaterWorld! See you in May, Lazy River!

On Shabbat, one of our guests brought a little dog named Terry and we thought, Great! Bella will have a friend! Wrong. Those two were worse than Regina George and Janice Ian (Bella is Regina, of course). But luckily, she did meet up with her gal, Diva, later in the week.

On Sunday, I went to Jumbo with ELISHEVA. Jumbo is a HUGE store filled to the brim with things you want but don’t need. Good thing is, it’s hella cheap. We naively started with one shared shopping cart…silly us. I bought Bella a sweater that’s too big on her, I bought Josh slippers that are too small on him and I bought me a bunch of things that were justttt right.

When the cabbie picked us up outside of Jumbo he noticed our carts and said, “Wow! You guys must have big families!” Sure… Then when we got to my house and Josh came down to help me with the bags, he told him, “A successful man is one who earns more money than his wife can spend.” Challenge accepted, my friend.

I’m not generally a kid person, but the 6 year-old girl I tutor is really growing on me. We recently learned that we share a favorite snack (chocolate chip cookies) AND a favorite drink (chocolate milk). What are the chances?

One of my Jumbo purchases was a game to help her with her English. It has cards with two similar pictures and we have to find all the differences. I pretended I was just letting her find them, but I was actually searching frantically and coming up with nada. She’s pretty good though. I got her a sticker book as well. Each page has stick-skinny girls in bikinis and we’re supposed to dress them with the sticker clothing, but get this – the sticker clothing is TOO SMALL on them. Let’s encourage eating disorders right from the get-go, shall we?

I also got her a third game – It took us about 45 minutes to set it up and IMG_6748then I completely failed to understand the directions. I brought it home with me for research and then three grown adults (one of whom is in med school, another of whom is a lawyer and the third of whom is – well – me) spent a full hour and half trying to figure out how to play a game called “English: Play & Learn.” We felt like champions when we finally did though.

On Monday, we had a dog trainer come over to help us out with Bella. He completely transformed her. She wouldn’t even look at a treat until she had his permission. Then GEDALYA came over for a BBQ and untaught her EVERYTHING. He kind-of made up for it by BBQing 3 kilo of steak.

Another eventful thing happened that night – I said a WHOLE SENTENCE in Hebrew without ONE mistake. Ask MAYA. She witnessed it.

Okay,  you’re going to judge us for being incompetent dog-owners, but – Bella peed outside for the first time this week! It was so exciting! I took her out to run some errands – we went to the pet shop, the printing store and the Early Learning Center to buy some games for my student (It happened to be play time and Bella was swarmed by terrifying little children screaming “SKILLOS” – that’s dog in Greek, btw). Now I know that’s only three places but when you’re walking with a puppy who (a) is so cute that EVERY SINGLE PERSON you pass stops to freak out over her and (b) gets excited by each and every leaf that blows by, it can take a while. I was out with her for about two hours when we neared the house and at that point I just decided I’m going to stay outside with her until she pees. This meant another hour or so of me standing in the dark, cold park across the street from my apartment, but when she finally squatted down and did her business, it was all worth it.

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Bella being cute at the vet, since I have no other pictures to put here

Speaking of dark (terrible segway, but accept it), all of our lightbulbs are slowly dying and our living room looks like a dimly-lit dungeon. We tried to change the lightbulbs, but when one short person marries another short person, they kind of doom themselves to forever having to call that one tall friend for favors…Thank you, Eshel. Let us know if you ever need anything from a crawl space or something.

Nothing else to report except my mom is coming in exactly one week! I’ve got to go clear the pantry to make space for them Stella Doros!

 

 

 

Grabbing The Bull By The Horns… Or Not

Bella made a friend! It was actually the most precious thing in the world. We were out photo 3for a stroll and along comes what can only be described as her doppelgänger – same size, same color, same age. Her name is Diva, and the two of them looked like Simba and Nala, rolling around in the grass like old pals. I wish I had pictures, but it was pretty dark out =/

I guess palling around with another pup gave her the confidence to face Boogie (loud barker who lives downstairs) because the two of them totally had an alpha-off the other day and Bella definitely emerged victorious, despite being a quarter of his size. Boogie was sent running back to the parrot jungle, where nobody dares challenge his leadership.

In other news, this past Friday I challenged myself to cook for Shabbat without watching TV, which is pretty difficult considering all my favorite shows air on Thursday night. But I did it. I peeled all the veggies, braided the challah, breadcrumbed the shnitzel…all without so much as turning on my computer. And guess what? I was completely finished by noon! So of course I decided to reward myself for my clever new system with a very lengthy celebratory nap…and that was when I missed all the calls from Josh telling me that half a dozen more people had asked if they could join us for dinner. Lesson learned: You can never beat the erev shabbat curse. No. Matter. What. I stepped out of the shower just in time to light candles.

But the meal was great nonetheless. My friend ELISHEVA’s mom was visiting and they are both French. I was sitting next to them for too long I guess because when it came time to ask everyone if they wanted noodles in their soup, my Hebrew came out in a flawless french accent. And everything sounds way sexier in French, of course, so no one passed on the noodles.

After the meal, we played let’s-try-on-Zahava’s-wigs. A fun time was had by all. Again, I wish I had pictures, especially of ESHEL.

We ate a lovely lunch by YAIR and MAYA’s place, where the fact that the two medical students among us were in the midst of studying geriatrics meant we mainly discussed death and dying… like I said, it was lovely. We also discovered that their house is haunted by a tiny Angry Birds figurine that was there when they moved in and spontaneously appears in random places without anyone moving it. Very eerie. We might have to set up some hidden cameras and go all paranormal activity with this one.

photo 2On Sunday,  GEDALYA came over to fix our toilets in exchange for some pancakes and then he, SHANI, Josh and I went for a short bike photo 3ride to what we thought was a carnival, but ended up being some sort of wedding planning event. Not knowing that, Josh asked the concierge if he could come in and check it out, to which he was told: You are far too young to be thinking about marriage!

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Then Josh ever so responsibly ditched us to do schoolwork and we borrowed our amazing friend YAIR’s amazing car and headed to the photo 2actual carnival. There, Gedalya rode the mechanical bull and I fell off of the mechanical bull. Twice. I’m bad at a lot of things, but this took the cake. I spent less time on that bull than I do trying to figure out what time it is on a non-digital clock.  But believe it or not, that’s not where I suffered the injury that made me walk like a grandma for a couple of days.

No, THAT was at the antique flea market we went to next. If anyone would hurt herself sitting on a lounge chair, it would be me. I’m lying there, enjoying myself, already having had made up my mind to buy the 10 euro chair and in the midst of deciding where on my balcony I would get the most sunlight when BOOM. Tail bone, meet hard cement floor. I can laugh about it now, but it was a pretty hard hit.I spent the next three days carefully avoiding movement of any kind. Unfortunately, this meant I would have to forgo the squats I occasionally do while brushing my teeth. It also meant that Josh had to pick up all of Bella’s…droppings… So, not a bad deal.

I ended up getting a mini guitar for Josh, a vase to replace the water bottle my shabbat flowers were currently confined to and a Sodoku board game.

But I decided not to get the chair.

That evening, after all the chaos, Shani and Gedalya came over for shabbat leftovers. I was complaining about my sore bottom when Shani asked me “Which side is it?” I thought about it for a minute and then said, “It’s not really either side, it’s more in the middle. The tail bone area.” She burst out laughing, barely able to find the words to explain that she was asking which sink she should put the meat dishes in. Oops.

Still working hard on my seminar paper. Re-watching The Walking Dead from Season 1 has been very taxing. (Spoiler alert for all the lost souls who haven’t started watching yet): Watching Daryl search endlessly for Sophia was absolutely heartbreaking.

This is what research looks like

This is what research looks like

The latest is that our balcony seems to be the newest target for raw eggs and wet paper towels. At first I thought it was a Halloween thing, but then I realized Halloween photo 5 photo 4really isn’t that big here and assumed it was an anti-semitic thing (b/c we Jews are kinda programmed to think everyone hates us). Shev Zacks Shatzman was a suspect for about a minute and a half when she posted on FB that she ran out of eggs and needed to borrow some. But turns out it’s just the neighbor’s kid – apparently water balloons were his weapon of choice before we moved in, but that got boring. Anyway, when Bella gets salmonella poisoning, it’s his fault. Can’t seem to keep her away from those eggs.

I started tutoring a 6 year old Greek girl twice a week. She doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Greek. We make it work. Mostly, we do a lot of coloring…

The Israeli I tutor is away for the weekend so I tried to sleep in today and found it surprisingly difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I managed, but am I becoming an actual person?

We are having 4 Givat Shmuelers for shabbat. Should be fun! We’re still waiting on the rest of you =)

Puppies and Babies and 5-Kilo Fish

I have been confronted by our friends in Cyprus for not mentioning them BY NAME in my blog posts so be on the look out for lots of shout outs. They’re my only friends here and I can’t afford to lose them.

I’ll start with the good news! Two out of three of my seminar papers have officially been handed in. Too bad I left the third for last for a reason…

Hoping to finish it before November 25th because – wait for it – Rivky Pinsker is coming to Cyprus! And to Israel. You heard that right. I didn’t even have to have any babies to lure her here =) Can’t wait to see her and all of the goodies she’s bringing me from the States, including, but not limited to: Kix, Shake & Bake, American tuna, some H&M requests and, of course, Stella Doro cookies.

Hallelujah

Hallelujah

Speaking of Stella Doro cookies, a huge thank you to my father-in-law for stocking me up this past weekend! You don’t know how bad life was getting without them. I was snacking on Lotus wafers.

While I’m thanking people, I’d like to show my gratitude to GEDALYA (shoutout #1) for teaching Bella how to growl. You are the worst. She apparently feels threatened by most inanimate objects, ranging from shopping bags to dustpans. But while she’s super tough around things that are plastic, you should have seen her when she first met Boogie (the downstairs dog-neighbor whose bark is definitely worse than his bite, but like, significantly worse). In short, she cried, jumped into my arms and left a present running down my shirt.

While we’re on the subject of downstairs neighbors, my landlord, John, informed me that the municipality was upset with the sukkah on the roof and that it needed to be taken down. My first reaction was “sure.” My second was to be super impressed that a public organization has its stuff (#joshcensorsme) together to the point that it has time to get fussy about “unauthorized structures” on the tops of buildings. Meanwhile, the post office in Givat Shmuel is just now delivering packages from July.

Remember my all-too-frequent statuses about getting locked inside or outside of my apartment in Givat Shmuel? Turns out it’s just me. So far, our door was blown shut while we were standing just outside the apartment (with the key inside, obviously) and another time, I took Bella for a walk, forgot to take the key with me and ended up knocking on the landlord’s door for twenty minutes, Bella latching onto me for dear life in case Boogie showed up again. You know when you hear someone’s voice on the other side of the door, but they don’t answer it? Turns out they do if you try to play דרך השלום on their doorbell. We got the key =)

photo 1On Wednesday, Bella got her second vaccination. One more and I’ll have no more excuses not to take her out three times a day. For now, it’s doctor’s orders!

Once again, we travelled to Israel for shabbat. Josh went to see his BFF, who was visiting from Canada, and I went to get my rain boots. Jokes. We were so excited to see Micha and Ahuva and we’re a little bit pissed that they’re not stopping in Cyprus. First he doesn’t show up to the wedding…

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Ori + Bella bonding time

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Josh + Ariel bonding time

We left our itty bitty puppy in the hands of the very capable ORI and YAEL (Shoutouts #2 & #3), got to spend time with our itty bitty nephew and I learned that I am one of those people who compares my dog to human babies.

“Aw! Bella ALSO gets the hiccups!”

“Some people say she looks like me, but I totally see josh.”

“Oh, Bella’s farts smell even worse, trust me!”

Israel was great, as always, but even more so because I kept running into people who tell me they, or their sister, or their rabbi reads my blog. Slap me if I start developing a celebrity complex.

I also went with my mother-in-law to Rami Levi and got all the necessities. And by necessities, I mean three different types of barbecue sauce.

And, of course, we got to see a bunch of our friends – not ALLphoto 5, but a bunch. To those we didn’t see, we still like you and we’ll try to make it happen the next time around. Or, you know you could #comevisitus!

What was not so great about our trip was the unpleasant reminder of how prescriptions work in that country. From now on, when people ask me what I miss most about the States, it’s not Target, it’s not octagonally-shaped stop signs (which, by the way, they have in Cyprus! #comevisitus?) and it’s not my SUV that I need a step stool to get into. No, it’s the ability to renew my prescription via a machine, without even talking to my doctor, let alone physically going to see him or else waiting 5 days for him to notice my request on the maccabi app. Grrr. Great. Bella’s rubbing off on me.

While I’m ranting, my brother-in-law’s theory that showing up late and disheveledphoto 2 to the airport makes the attendants less eager to make you remove weight from your suitcase – FALSE. We literally got to jump the lines because we were so late and we still had to pay extra for the weight AND for our carry ons, which the definitely-on-that-time-of-the-month attendant deemed “not suitable for carry-on purposes.” Then, of course, we saw GEDALYA at the gate with an 80 pound wheelie. But at least we got to sit next to each other this time. Last time, Josh forgot to request adjacent seats and I had to sleep on a stranger’s lap! Jokes, I did the “zeehavs ball” ©.

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More babies! Yay!

It was all forgotten, however, when we arrived home to a super-excited-to-see-us Bella. I know my mom loves me more than life itself, but she never licked every square inch of my face when I got home after a weekend away. Oh, and once we’re on my mom – the METS are in the world series! This doesn’t mean much to me except that my whole family is thrilled, minus Josh whose precious Blue Jays (and by that I mean the team he only started showing interest in when they started winning) just fell short. At least that eliminates an awkward mom versus josh situation on game night (when is game night? I am so bad at this).

photo 4Today I went to the supermarket and, under the instructions that I can only buy whole fish for kashrut reasons (correct me if I’m wrong because it’s kind of excessive), I purchased a 5 kilo salmon. And it still has its eyes! Yes, I rode home with a fish head sticking out of my bicycle basket. Then Josh decided he’s nauseous and can’t handle food. Of course, later he ate the hamburgers his mother sent with him, but it’s all good.

If you haven’t heard, they changed the clocks on this side of the world, which gave us an extra hour of sleep one night, but also means that I’ll wake up from my 3 PM naps to complete and total darkness, which, if you’re a napper, you know is the most depressing thing ever.

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I’m very happy that I brought my rain boots because rainy season seems to be officially here. Hah. I act like I go places. But it’s nice when it leads to moments like these >>>

Okay, it’s time to get back to that seminar paper, which, by the way, is about Rick Grimes’ leadership style. While we’re on the subject, if you have seen the latest episode of The Walking Dead,  please contact me immediately. I tried talking to Josh about it to get out my feelings, but he just doesn’t understand.

Until next time, folks!

All About Bella

Okay, I’ve already written the post below, but I’ll be honest –  I feel pretty stupid posting my ramblings about my relatively uneventful week when there are shootings, stabbings and the like going on at home. I feel guilty because a part of me is glad I’m not there. I’m reading friends’ statuses about what they’re experiencing and I feel relieved that I don’t have to deal with that fear, at least not firsthand. I can walk outside, go buy some groceries, get on a bus without looking over my shoulder and wondering if every stranger I pass is about to pull a knife on me. But as far away as I feel from the violence, I can’t escape the hatred. I can’t escape the ignorant and venomous comments on social media that boil my blood and remind me that no matter where I am in the world, I am part of this war. raised_clenched_fist_with_israeli_flag_tiesncuffslapelpin-r289c5dad52c745bb8d322c211ec3252f_zj2mv_324

So here is a message to all my friends in Israel: Read about my most recent experiences in Cyprus, but know that I’m thinking about you guys on the front lines, protecting my home by simply going about your lives as if there aren’t monsters lurking in the shadows, plotting to take them away from you. Know that I am grateful for your courage and your strength, even as the world ignores your – our – plight. Thank you.

Now for the post.

It’s always exciting being back in Israel. It was even more exciting that we got to spend time with an itty bitty baby. Our new nephew, Ariel, is super, super cute!

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On a less happy note, it would not be a proper Jewish holiday if I didn’t contract some sort of ailment. After the brit on Sunday, we headed for the airport and I got to spend 40 minutes inside a freezing cold airplane, which definitely didn’t do much to improve my health. It was possibly the burning in my throat that made me extra irritatedphoto (8) with the cab driver, who insisted we dump the Sefer Torah that we were borrowing from the chabad for Simchat Torah into the trunk. We refused and started heading to another cab until he finally conceded and let us hold it on our laps as long as we, under no circumstances, allowed it to touch the seat. Because, you know, the scroll that sits inside an ark all day every day must be absolutely filthy. It’s okay though – I sneezed all over that back seat.

All the headache was worth it when we got to do hakafot at a friend’s apartment in Nicosia. On his way around the circle, my friend, Eshel, turned to me and made typing motions with his fingers, as if to say, “You better blog about this.” It’s hard to describe. It’s kind of surreal for someone who grew up in a Jewish community in Jersey and then spent most of her adult life in Israel to experience this sincere and genuine “effort” to be Jewish. Yeah, I know. I’m not living in Saudi Arabia. But I’ve never had to rip down my own schach before, scour the stores for something resembling a sukkah, worry about finding Kosher food, borrow a Torah and plead with a cab driver to allow me to treat it with respect… Everything “Jewish” was always a given in my life. It almost felt like a default setting. Back home, Simchat Torah was the holiday I’d spend stifling yawns and dispassionately looking on at a black and white blur of dancing men. But now that I have to struggle a bit to have them, moments like the one on Simchat Torah, when our little group of Jews from all different backgrounds took turns holding the Torah and leading the rest around a table, feel much more special, somehow. Because they wouldn’t happen if we didn’t care enough to make them happen.

But let’s IMG_6308segway to the real reason you’re reading this – Bella! Luckily enough, by Wednesday, I was feeling like my usual – well, not healthy because I’ve pretty much never eaten a vegetable – but not-sick self. My friend Maya (the other med student wife I mentioned last time) and I took her rental car to Limassol, where we made a quick, obligatory trip to the mall and then obviously got lost for about an hour and half on our way to pick up Bella. But we finally madephoto 3 it to…what can only be described as puppy heaven. Bella and all her little brothers and sisters were swarming around my feet and looking up at me with eyes that made it nearly impossible not to take all of them. But the image of Josh’s face when I’d arrive home with a full litter of pups gave me just enough strength to leave with only Bella. (We decided on that name because it’s really pretty and deserves to be represented by someone more appealing than Kristen Stewart.) Here’s a paparazzi shot of me departing from puppy heaven >>>

On our way home, we made a stop at the supermarket to buy some dog food and I photo 2finally got to be one of those girls who carry around adorable puppies in oversized handbags. There was probably like one person in the whole store who didn’t stop me to ogle and make weird, inhuman noises at Bella. She’s pretty irresistible.

She’s also insanely attached to us. The only time she’s not lying on our feet or pitter-pattering after us is when she’s sneaking off to dophoto 2 her business. When we went to check on her the morning after her first night with us, we found a sizable collection of our belongings in her bed, including but not limited to: my flip flops, Josh’s sneakers, my mitpachat and our computer charger. I’d be lying if I said the infatuation didn’t do some pleasant things for my ego.

And yes, I said “check on her in the morning” because I am proud to announce that I have been waking up before noon of late. I got a job tutoring an Israeli in English, which means I have to be up at an hour I’d previously only seen in movies. And I finally get to use the only greek phrase I know – it means good morning, but I’m not even going to try to spell it.

photo (7)On Friday morning, our first (of many – #comevisit) non-familial guests arrived. Shaul came to see the Island and Gavy came to temporarily relieve me of my wifely duties…Just in time, too, because my sickness hiatus lasted only about two days. We’re trying to get me some health insurance, but very much in keeping with the rest of the cyprian business world, the office does not seem compelled to answer its phones.

But our guests brought us enough bagel-cafe bagels to host a full on (insert-any-kind-of-Jewish-event-here), giving me the energy I needed to cook for nineteen people. Bella was definitely the star of the show and she was loving the attention. Turns out there’s nothing too special about Josh and me. She just likes people.

On Sunday morning, we went on an adventure in search of an open supermarket. The first one was closed, but the second one was opening in twelve minutes so we joined a huge line of shoppers waiting for the doors to open. photo 5It kind of felt like sitting on 5th avenue outside the Apple Store, awaiting the debut of the newest iPhone. But we got what we needed (Philadelphia cream cheese – way more enticing than an iPhone) and then it was bacphoto 3k to Waterworld- because it’s always a good idea to go to a water park when you’re coughing up your own intestines. It’s okay – I spent most of my time passed out on a lounge chair and then I got my feet cleaned by some fish, so it was mostly a day of relaxing and getting in some good ole’ vitamin D.

In other news, we recently discovered that we live next door to a budding drummer. Nah, it’s cool. We were getting too much peace and quiet with ONLY the constant bird screeching. Thanks for adding something new to the mix.

A couple of things that I have been experiencing as the wife of a medical student:

  1. I am convinced I have every disease Josh learns about. So far, I’ve had an ear infection, anemia and osteoporosis. I really need health insurance.
  2. As my only friends in this country are medical students, I am inevitably always the dumbest person in the room. That’s why I got a puppy. We just play and chew stuff when the conversation gets too intellectually stimulating.

Photo on 10-11-15 at 7.25 PM #2

Stay strong, Israel. I’ll see you soon.

Sukkot in Nicosia

Missing detail from last post:

photo (5) <<< THIS is what our laundry looked like after the rainstorm. Fun stuff!

Moving on…

It was hours before Yom Kippur when we realized we had to get on the sukkah thing, pronto. So I google searched every sukkah-eque word in the english language Iphoto 1 could think of (hut, gazebo, car port, pergola, tent, you name it) and finally found a store that hadn’t taken all of its summer products off the shelves following a 2-hour long rain. Josh was still in school so, after calling the store and being assured multiple times that the gazebo would fit in a car, I took a cab there and low and behold – it did not, even remotely, fit inside the car. It’s okay if there’s four feet of cardboard box hanging out the back of your trunk as long as you drive slowly, right?

Yom Kippur pretty much had me ready to convert to Chabadism. Those guys are fast! Now I just have to break the news to my dad…

On Thursday, while the doctor was in school, I went up to the photo 3roof and built the gazebo. photo 3Later, we went to the hardware store to get some wood for the sukkah and I got a confusing little glimpse of home when I spotted <<< this definitely Israeli label. We proceeded to carry 3-meter long pieces of wood all the way home, stopping briefly to tovel a garlic mincer in a swamp that was conveniently formed by the rainstorm.

That night, we went to a friend’s place with a bunch of Josh’s Israeli classmates to help photo 4build his sukkah. It ended up looking like a beach stand on some tropical island that sells pina coladas. The Chabad photo 2rabbi came from Larnaca to introduce himself to the students and I think he was in shock to see a bunch of Jews building a sukkah in Nicosia. It might have been a first, or at least a second =)

Shabbat was fun! We played a lot of Settlers, Set, Perpetual Commotion and when that got old, we all took turns reading from a med school textbook in different accents. image_1Chinese was my favorite. On Saturday night, I tied the tarp to the gazebo and apparently created some kind of sail when doing so because the sukkah and I almost got blown off the roof. On Sunday, Josh and I went to the park across the street to gather some schach. We saw some palm tree stalks that were hanging pretty low and attempted several methods of removing them (scissors, Cutco knives, swinging from them) while our landlord, John, watched confusedly from his yard. During this process, Josh only slapped me in the face with a tree branch once! Victory! Eventually John offered us a tool that I can only assume was made for the sole purpose of cutting off palm tree branches because it worked like a charm. By the time we had collected enough branches and begun to drag them back to the house, we hadimage_2 attracted quite an audience.

The neighbors were watching from their windows and probably thinking something along the lines of, “What on earth are those Jews up to now?” What we were actually up to was trying and failing to avoid severe injury – do you know how sharp palm tree leaves are? Josh screamed so loud at one point I thought he had cut himself with the terrifying wrench slash scissor slash murder weapon the landlord had given us…but nope, he just got poked by a leaf.

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In the end, it was all worth it. We had a sukkah that we got to fill with friends and food. The holiday was certainly different from what we’re used to, but it was great.

Yesterday, I went with a friend (another #medstudentwife) to Limassol. She had a job interview there, which ended up lasting a little over 3 hours so I got to walk around and look into the windows of a lot of closed shops. When it was (FINALLY) over, we were both in dire need of some retail therapy so we photo 1headed over to what is definitely the best mall on the Island. I bought enough clothing to help me forget about the 3 plus hours of aimless wandering AND lots of stuff for the puppy! We are getting her this Tuesday – It’s really happening! My mom told me that her patient, to whom she obviously divulged every detail of my life, asked her why we’re getting a dog instead of just having a baby. She told him she totally agrees, but she can’t say that to us…so instead she told me that story, which was basically her way of saying that to us =) gotta love her.

Speaking of babies, the most important update I have is that Josh’s sister had a beautiful baby boy right before chag! So get ready, Israel – because we’re coming back this weekend! See ya’ll soon!

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View from our sukkah #comevisitus

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If Only We had a Gazebo to Shield Us From The Rain

So we were on our way home from the airport on Wednesday and that’s when Josh decided to remember tphoto (3)hat he was appointed to bring snacks and food to his group meeting the following morning. Every Monday and Thursday he meets with an assigned group and they attempt to solve medical problems, while eating food of course. So far, someone brought pork. We had barely any food in the house, but luckily I had refused to leave my handy dandy smiley-face pancake pan in Israel. And so, at 8 AM on Thursday, I dragged myself out of bed and made chocolate chip pancakes. I felt like mom-of-the-year. I hear they were a big hit =)

On Thursday night, I recklessly abandoned my shabbat cooking duties and we went to a bar called the Bricphoto (4)k Yard with some of Josh’s classmates. There was no music, but a lot of soccer. I really didn’t think I drank that much, but before I knew it, I was zig zagging home on my bike like…um, I dunno…a drunk person on a bike? (I need to work on my similes)…I spent the early morning hours with a massive hangover and started to think that maybe this was just my body rejecting the broccoli I had eaten for dinner (If you’re confused, refer to previous blog – I like broccoli now).

The backyard bird situation has escalated. There is one that I call The Ambulance, only he’s worse than an ambulance because he doesn’t drive off and fade away. There’s another one I refer to as The Alarm Clock, which I think we can all agree is the most horrible sound of all time. I went to the store to buy some ear plugs and tried explaining via hand motion to the store clerk what I was looking for and she brought me to the Q-tips. Sigh. But a few stores later, I found ’em and I’m pleased to report that I have been sleeping much better!

Shabbat was nice. We had nine guests for dinner and then walked 1/2 hour in the blistering heat to a friend’s place for lunch. When we got home, I crushed Josh in a game of Settlers. Just had to put that in there.

On Saturday night we went out for a friend’s birthday (back to the Brick Yard) and I couldn’t even look at the alcohol. But I’m happily eating broccoli as I write this so I guess we’ve identified the culprit.

The puppy search is officially underway! I have been looking at so many puppies on so many Facebook group that I literally see tiny baby doggies every time I close my eyes. We thought we’d found one, but it turned out the owner had relocated to Cameroon (Yes, that’s in Africa) and we’d have to pay the “shipping” fee. So we searched some more and we believe we picked a winner, but I won’t post a photo until it’s official =)

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, I’m sure you saw some of my photos from the
photo 2monsoon that hit Cyprus. We bike rode to the mall, where we found a gazebo that would be perfect for a sukkah, and before we knew it, we were completely surrounded by tidal waves. There were literally garbage cans floating down the street. Josh’s first photo 3question was, “Do you think we can tovel our dishes in this?” His second was, “Can you get my bike for me?” So I ventured out into the chaos and I can now cross both ‘riding a bike drunk’ and ‘riding a bike through a river’ off of my bucket list. We left the gazebo, deciding to come back and get it the next day, when it wasn’t, you know, raining inside the mall.

Little did we know…

I rode back today to get the gazebo. I parked my bike and strode inside, all confident, image (2)tapped an employee on the shoulder and pointed cheerfully to – an empty space where the gazebos were supposed to be. What? Yeah. Turns out they sent them back to China that morning because “the weather is changing and people no longer need gazebos.” Gosh, it’s like 90 degrees here every day – it rains once and they’re pulling on their winter gear. Also, we had spoken to a store employee about the gazebo AT LENGTH the previous day (probably asked him about 32 questions) and it didn’t occur to him to inform us that it would be gone in a few hours? Here’s a sales tip for ya:, if customers are expressing sincere interest in a product, you might wanna seal the deal by clueing them in to the fact that this is the last possible day to buy it. I’m telling you, we get enough Israelis over here, the economy will be set right within a week.

I’m sorry, I know that was lengthy, but I was beyond shocked. I’ve been to that mall so many times since I’ve gotten here and seen the gazebos every time…the one time I try to buy one – boom- they’re gone. Totally frustrating. So we’ll try to find one elsewhere, but if anyone has any suggestions for sukkah building, we’re all ears.

Have an easy fast, everyone!

Home for the Holiday

As a follow-up to my previous blog, I’ve decided it’s okay that the majority of the stores here are never open b/c you can literally buy everything from the supermarket.

photo (2)No joke, you can get it all – from baby powder to lawn mowers. We bought our TV from the supermarket down the block. I think I might have even found a sukkah there?

Last week kinda blurred together into one loooong day. Josh started school and began learning about the ear. I know this because he spent most of his time at home pointing at my ear and muttering various anatomical-sounding words. Into my ear.

On Monday evening we went to return the car and that’s around the time the dust-fog-photo (1)sand thing started. We were all like, “Close the windows! Don’t breath it in!” And then we went to fill up on gas before giving in the car and for some reason, the entire car reeked of gasoline and we were all like, “Open the windows! Don’t breath it in!” It was a lose-lose kind of situation.

Once the last of the Ikea furniture was assembled, I had pretty much nothing to do but write my seminar papers. So, of course, I did everything I could to avoid that and found myself glued to what every aimless traipse through YouTube inevitably leads to -conspiracy documentaries about Brittany Murphy’s death. From there, I watched Clueless, opening the door to a whole parade of 90s movies about popular blond people.

By Wednesday evening, I’d forgotten what shoes felt like (though I luckily had a scapegoat in the conveniently timed dust-storm) and Josh decided I had to get out and do something other than sit on my butt watching movies. So we went to the movie theater and I sat on my butt and watched a movie. But it’s okay because this time it was with strangers and not for free =)

Now that we were carless, we rode our bikes, which we bought from the supermarket ofIMG_0580 course. It was fun until my hat flew off, landed in the middle of the highway and narrowly escaped a good tire-squashing. It’s been a pretty huge adjustment for us not to have a car. Back in Israel, we used to drive to the gym around the corner. Okay, Josh drove to the gym and I worked out at home. Okay, by “worked out at home” I mean gorged on cookie dough.

IMG_0581On Thursday, in keeping with the spirit of getting out of the house, I bike rode to the mall. It’s around two minutes from our apartment, but I made Josh give me very detailed directions and then I forgot everything he told me and used Waze. I was not impressed with the selection at the mall or with the burning sensation the supermarket-quality bike seat had ignited in my bottom, so the trip was short-lived.

Fully equipped with a google images photo of a sukkah, I went to my landlord’s daughter to discuss building one on the roof and she was super nice about it and even pretty excited. So now I get to further avoid seminar paper writing by teaching myself how to build a sukkah from scratch! Woot!

On Friday, I had my at-home appointment with a mobile barber who should definitely be living in a palace due to the fact that she’s the only haircutter who seems to work around here despite the vast number of salons, and then Josh and I headed to the airport where we got on all the wrong lines, as usual. I felt like I was back in Israel as soon as someone cut us.

But Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah were fabulous and it was great to be back home, even though we don’t technically have a home there anymore (shoutout to the Galeanos for hosting us), and to see friends who we hadn’t seen in (gasp!) 2 whole weeks. I knew we were becoming true Cypriots when Josh couldn’t seem to remaster the whole driving-on-the-right-side-of-the-road thing. He got it eventually, but it’s crazy what a couple of weeks can do to your instincts. Oh, also the most insane thing happened and I ate broccoli and LOVED IT. What is happening to me? On image (1) imageSaturday night, we bravely ventured into the machsan from cardboard-box hell in search of our hot plate (which we realized is not such a hot commodity in Cyprus) and after risking my life and the lives of all our belongings, I emerged victorious. Yay for hot shabbat meals.

A lot of people asked a lot of questions about Cyprus and I’m just like, dude. Read the blog.