Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Where Am I?

We are in a modern age, yet there are the occasional times that I get surprised at what I can actually do with the technology that is available to all of us.

Yesterday while I was surfing the internet in middle of the night, which I am prone to do instead of going to bed, I was researching my vacation in Key West. Through a series of random keystrokes I stumbled onto a site that has live streaming cameras of some of the hot-spots throughout the island.

There are 3 cameras from different angles all pointing at the general Mallory Square. One of them is angled out onto the water, where the sun sets, one of them is pointing towards the cafe and the stage, and one of them has a birds-eye view of the entire area.
Despite me being in a different country, the cameras aren't blurry at all. I can see the water rippling, the clouds moving, the two people racing on their jet-skis. I can see all of this as clearly as if I was sitting right there on the pier. I can even hear the music that the cafe is playing for its customers.

I am not in Key West. I am not in Florida. I am not even in America. Yet if I focus, its as if I am sitting right there. Even more so if I would move my computer out into the sun.

I can see the people walking by, not aware that I am sitting here at my computer in Israel watching them. I can see the waitress setting up the tables, and the band setting up on the stage. I can see this all in real time.

When I look away from my computer I can see my mother sitting at the kitchen table reading a newspaper. I can see my dad washing the dishes. I can see my dog lying on the floor. But as soon as I look back at my computer, I can virtually be in Key West.

Get this, in a couple minutes the Maccabiah Games closing ceremony starts. It's located at a giant stadium in a different part of Jerusalem. It is going to be a massive event, there are multiple Israeli music artists performing including Infected Mushroom, which is one of my favorite bands.
I wasn't able to find anyone to go with me, though I did try really hard to convince my parents to go. It was close but in the end they opted out.
So rather then going by myself, I am going to sit on my computer and watch the live streaming of the event. I will hear all the musical performers, I will see the fireworks, I will virtually be part of the crowd. Despite me sitting in my dining room on my laptop.
If I wanted I could watch the people of Key West and the closing ceremony at the same time. I could even eat dinner while doing it.

Don't get me started on Skype. Well okay,  now I've started on Skype. I know we are all used to it so it doesn't seem as cool anymore, but if you think about it, its actually quite incredible. I can Skype with my sister in America and its as if one of us drove to see the other like we used to do. I take her into the kitchen while I cook and she takes me out onto the porch as she has a cigarette. We spend time together, even though we aren't in the same country.
Or I group Skype with my close group of friends. We get on our computers, despite all of us being in different places and we talk, gossip and get hyper together. My friend shows us her baby, my other friend shows us a new dress that she bought. It's like we are all sitting in a room hanging out.

So here is the ultimate question. Where am I? Am I in Key West watching the sunset and hearing the waves lap onto the pier? Am I at the Infected Mushroom concert? Am I in Chicago meeting my friends new baby? Am I in Monsey with my sister? Or am I just in Israel using my technology to the fullest?

Where am I really?


Monday, July 22, 2013


This post is about olives.
It's also because my mother told me that she checked twice today to see if I posted something new. 

In the Shuk there are many vendors, and a lot of the vendors sell the same things. Spices, olives, veggies, dried fruit, things like that. 
There is a big fad among the tourists to come to the Shuk with their fancy cameras and spend 2 hours taking pretty pictures of all the vendors and their wares. 

Yesterday I was in the Shuk and had some extra time on my hands. (I always have time on my hands, I just decided to hang out instead of going back home)

I tried to act touristy and take a picture of the olives, without actually looking like a tourist taking pictures of olives. Because I am not. A tourist. 

This picture required a lot of maneuvering on my part because I had to simultaneously taste and buy olives while getting the picture at an artsy angle. All of this without the guy realizing that all I was doing there was taking a picture of olives.

I got the shot although now that I have the picture I am not quite sure I understand the appeal. Maybe tomorrow I will go take pictures of spices instead. 
Or you know, do something productive -  like get a job. 

*Friend available - I like coffee, mocking strangers, and taking pictures

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ulpan. Its a wonderful wonderful place.

"An ulpan is an institute or school for the intensive study of Hebrew. Ulpan (אולפן, plural ulpanim - אולפנים) is a Hebrew word meaning studio or teachinginstruction." - Thanks Wikipedia. 

Gosh I love that site. I use Wikipedia like 15 times a day. Every time I want to look up a movie, tv show, actor, anything! The Internet is a wonderful wonderful place.

So back to ulpan. I am in a ulpan class that started in mid April. One morning I woke up and my mother said that she had signed me up for ulpan and it started the next day. Of course, I pitched a fit because why would I want to go sit in a class every morning and learn Hebrew. Learning, mornings, school. None of my particular interests. Then the ultimatum was put on the table. Either I go to ulpan or get a job. Obviously I didn't have a real choice here because how can I get a job in Israel if I don't speak the language? So ulpan it was. 
Honestly, I am a bit surprised that it took that long for this ultimatum to be brought up. I was bumming around for 8 months before I got told that if I don't go to class the next morning, then I have to find a new place to live. 
Since I know that my mom and dad are going to read this -- number one supporters right there -- thank you Mom and Dad for giving me those 8 months!

Every week, 5 days a week, I go and sit in class for the morning. Well mostly every day, and mostly for the whole morning. Sometimes, I come late. And by late I mean halfway through class. And sometimes I miss class all together. Only for good reasons though, of course.
I am the youngest person in my class, it is mostly middle aged people, with a couple scattered people that are in between my age and middle aged. As is true with any random group, there are a large number of personality types and a large number of backgrounds. This is basically asking for me to make fun of them. 

First we have the cliche hippie wanna-be, who isn't actually a hippie at all because he looks like he googled 'hippie' and decided to dress and act based on that, when in fact the whole idea of a hippie is their individuality and lack of conformity. So good job bro, you have properly conformed to the stereotypical image of a hippie, down to the slow stoner voice and carrying around a guitar for impromptu sing-alongs. 

Then there is the 33 year 'surfer dude' from LA. He came to Israel on a spiritual journey and carries around a Bible wherever he goes, because he is constantly hearing the voice of God. He sits in class and has pages and pages of notes all around him on the table, and despite having been in class from the beginning, does not seem to really be learning a thing. Every time the teacher calls on him, he starts saying the answer and upon realizing everyone is waiting for him, he stammers and freezes up. It makes me wonder what he has written on the sea of yellow legal pad paper that surrounds him on the table. 
He's also the guy who blurted out that he got rejected by a girl the night before when she told him that she is out of his league. Oh yea, and yesterday he got deported from the country and can't come back for 5 years because he didn't renew his visa. I guess that he will have to find God back in LA. 

This leads us to A- the frumpy, married woman. She is middle-aged, has a husband who's learning all day and is pretty naive. She didn't get the 'out of my league' comment. The whole class is laughing and she was sitting there all perplexed. When she gets called on, she has a total panic meltdown which causes her to forget the answer. She's incredibly nosy and one day she picked up my Kindle and turned it on in the middle of the book I was reading. I'm pretty sure I did a slow motion 'run and grab' -- Lady you really don't want to see that. 

I used to sit at the table right near the door and next to me sat the Korean. You know when you are in grade school and there is always that one person in your class who knows all the answers? First to raise their hand, can barely contain themselves, randomly blurting out the information that they know? By luck of the draw I sat down next to that person on my first day of ulpan and only realized too late that she is that person. Except when you are an adult, its no longer considered cute to say the answers when you aren't called on. When you say your answer over mine, its annoying. When you say your answer over mine -- and its wrong? Not cool. 
Ulpan aggression. 

Now we have another frumpy middle-aged lady. She has an ordinary name and could be from any state in America. She's plain and a cliche. A wedding ring, but no diamond. A little heavyset and a sour look on her face. She sits leaning against the wall with a constant scowl and despite her age all I can picture is an angry teenager who doesn't want to be here.
One day I decided to have a conversation with her and realized that she's actually pretty similar to me, super sarcastic and cynical. Now I enjoy talking to her, she's one of my favorite people in the class, and I am just a judgmental b*tch. 

I should probably start paying more attention to the teacher, and less attention to the people around me. Hey, this way I might actually learn Hebrew. But life would be a lot less interesting. 

Oh, I am accepting donations for the coffee needed to keep me awake in class. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Everyone keeps saying I should write a blog and get ads and followers and become famous and cool and rich.
Every time someone says that I laugh it off and say I cant write but secretly inside of me I wonder - could I do this? Would people be interested in what I have to say?
I cant be funny on demand. Its like that one time I made a Twitter account and all of a sudden I felt so pressured to be funny and cool and literally had nothing to say. Despite me making multiple statuses a day on my Facebook account, I sat there for 45 minutes trying to think of something 'worthy' of being on Twitter. I came up with nothing and deactivated the account.
If someone recorded my mind on a loop, I am sure that there would be funny or inquisitive things that people would be interested in seeing or reading about. Hey, maybe even some great ideas or inventions.
But right now all I am thinking is how I wish the window was closed because it got really cold all of a sudden, and its so weird that Belle runs in her sleep - I wonder what she is dreaming about. If only this chocolate bar was being held in front of my mouth because both of my hands are currently occupied with typing this mindless drivel.
As soon as I start thinking about what I am going to type, my mind freezes up. Virtual stage fright. Computer fright? Screen fright? As if.
I have so much bullshit to say to the people around me, I can barely hold it in and censor myself and all of a sudden when I ask myself to type something, just for myself I blank out. Where has the Shira quirk and personality gone? Maybe it left with the alcohol. 25 Days Sober.
That would be super awkward if my personality disappeared when I stopped drinking. Have no fear guys - its just a temporary break. Trying to find reality.
When I get in the mood of music I listen to the same 3 songs over and over. The songs vary depending on what mood I am in but regardless of the genre of the music -- I will have that shit on replay for hours. All of a sudden its 2 in the morning and I end up sitting here wondering where the time went. Oh yea, I lost track of it the 34th time I listened to this Eminem song.
I got to find something to do with my life. Maybe I should set up an hour a day where I just sit in front of the computer writing down every thought that comes into my head.
Maybe I should find my Canon Point and Shoot and take faux artsy pictures of Nachlaot. Oh look a wrapper, let me bend down on the floor and get an angle that makes that dirty candy wrapper look pretty. Add an Instagram filter and we are set. Photographer available for hire. I take pictures of the shit that you throw out. One day I will open up a gallery filled with artsy pictures of different pieces of trash.
Dont you love when people do that? Someone buys you a fancy camera, you make a Facebook page for your 'business' and all of a sudden you have a career. You take a picture of the tree, sharpen the image, use a contrast filter, and now its art. A true photographer in our midst.
I'm going to eat my words as soon as I can convince someone to buy me a fancy camera, but until that mystical day comes I will hide behind my computer screen and mock those who do this.