Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Compare

Solitude is a kind of a funny thing.  I think sometimes the word can tend to have a negative connotation, but it's not necessarily bad right - everyone needs some alone time.

However it's fascinating to me how everyone needs different doses of it.  I have friends who hit a point where they just NEED some alone time to recharge, reset. I think I fall more in the middle of the spectrum, I enjoy some solitude, but too much of it and I start to get in my own head.

I didn't really want to write about this, because it's a little bit sensitive and personal and honestly maybe border-line childish? And while what I'm about to say might be a big huge DUH, I don't know, I kind of want to talk type through this.

Too much occasional alone time has led to too much occasional social media time, which in turn has led to me playing the comparison game.  It's almost humorous, because I used to YELL at my friends when they would do it.  But in a recent conversation, the tables turned.

Basically, I disclosed that I was considering unfollowing a handful of people on social media because their lives were making me sad.  Not because their lives themselves were sad, but because of what they were constantly portraying.

Some of you might be reading this and are like, "Wait hold on though Kait, you're posting pictures of the beach every other day."

Touché.
However, my life is not a beach.

I took this last night, isn't it pretty!

Social media can really suck man. It can suck because, it basically allows people to paint whatever picture they want about their lives.  And rarely is someone going to choose to display a bad day, a sad day, an argument had, etc.

DISCLAIMER:  I am not unhappy.  Please don't read into this post. But let's be real here, we are all struggling with different things, we all have problems, there are always a variety of challenges.

Basically, I had to be forcefully reminded of this by my friend, like I suddenly had a maturity level of a brainwashed 16 year old whose only goal in life is to be part of the cool crowd.

Is that still a thing anymore? I hope not.

So I'm posting this as a reminder, mostly because I needed the reminder.  Pictures, and statuses, and videos - they don't fully represent that person, or their life.  And while it's awesome to be able to share the beautiful and happy PARTS of peoples' lives from over 6,000 miles away, I need to cut out the bad habit of looking at those parts, and assuming it's a whole.

Wow, that looks like an awesome weekend they had. I'm pumped for them!

End thought. Stop there. Don't start comparing, leave it at that.
It's actually a good rule for life as a whole - not just social media.



I hope this doesn't somehow offend anyone. It's simply exactly what I wrote.  Actually, if it does offend someone, I'm not sorry; this is just another part of social media.  We all have the ability to express ourselves however we want (outside of nudity, that's pretty often blocked still) - and this is just me expressing a recent struggle.

ANYWAYS, love you all.

-Kait

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Things

We finally got a vacuum yesterday.

Yes, we have been living in a very sandy city, with a husky, without a vacuum for five weeks. This is what the vacuum container looked like (originally empty) after 20 minutes of vacuuming.


It's funny the pleasure that small things and items can bring when your life is suddenly severely simplified and revolves around completely different agendas and goals. Once cleaning was complete I stood in the middle of our apartment for a few minutes just observing the cleanness of it, letting my accomplishment soak in.  It's the little things right?

A few weeks ago, our air shipment arrived that was majority my clothes (LOL sorry Andrew) but also a handful of kitchen utensils/appliances.  And it was glorious, because suddenly having a French press allowed me to stop having to go to coffee shops every morning - where simply ordering a 'cup of coffee' is not a thing.  You order a cup of coffee, they ask what kind - Americano, Cappuccino, Macchiato?

Just normal coffee please?
Coming right up, says my French press.



The arrival of the blender suddenly allowed breakfasts on-the-go for Andrew, which will become even more joyous when our protein shipment arrives.

A wonderful friend out here with a car even dragged our jet-lagged butts to IKEA the first Sunday we arrived (yes, Israel has IKEAs - a few actually) and suddenly our all-marble apartment became a little bit cozier with a few rugs.

The last of our belongings are on a boat somewhere; honestly, probably in the middle of the Atlantic if I had to guess, and odds are with the customs process and FIVE Jewish holidays in October (some even multiple days long) we won't see any of it until November.  Which is fine, we came to terms with that awhile ago, but I'll tell you what when that stuff gets delivered, I may just shed a few tears of joy and bury myself in our couch for a solid ten hours.

I realize it is semi-superficial to place too much value in THINGS, but I also believe in the midst of big life changes, the familiar can help reduce the panic.  Sitting down this morning and having a cup of American (Dunkin Donuts) coffee in my familiar mug that was a wedding gift, it's simple, and it's comforting.

Another girl (woman, if we are being formal) actually moved here with her husband the same day that we did, and I've had the blessing of getting to know her well, as we share very similar struggles and our emotional ups and downs seem to coincide week by week.  I'll spare babbling on too much about it, but in summary we agreed upon this:

The ups and downs of life - in our case right now, adjusting to living in a foreign country - they don't necessary make sense.  I can be perfectly fine, and a few minutes later find myself crying over an Instagram picture because I miss my friends, or because an employee at the restaurant gave me a weird look.


The ups and downs of life don't have to make sense, so if I want a vacuum cleaner arriving yesterday to be part of an up, well then damnit it will be.

Cheers -
Kait

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Four

Today is our official four week mark of being in country.  Blows my mind, it's absolutely flown by and been a blur.  Realizing that today was indeed 28 days, I decided to pause for a moment and do a little bit of general reflecting, which I shall divide into two categories.  I realize these lists might come off as somewhat superficial, but don't lie to yourself you would have some sadness about moving somewhere without Targets too.

Things that don't really bother me that I thought would:

1. Lack of my familiar stores.  I basically lived NEXT to Target back in Baltimore, and made several quick runs there a week since they literally have everything.  So Target, followed closely by my favorite grocery stores such as Trader Joe's, Whole Foods - I really thought I would have separation anxiety.  Don't get me wrong, I miss them... but there are more options here than I realized, and it forces me to explore the smaller shops that I wouldn't necessarily go into if I had a big Target-like store out here, close by.

2. Making friends.  My past two moves the process of making friends semi-consistently broke me down into tears; I HATE the slow-moving process of it, I'm just not very good at it.  I still don't love it, but have learned to be more patient with it, and I think I'm a little better at it the third time around.

Friends at the beach last week :)

3.  Lack of a car.  There have been times when I wish I had one, sure.  But walking around the city has taught me a TON, forced me to be more active, and in general probably gotten me more comfortable, more quickly.  Our car is being shipped over here - eventually - but we most likely won't see it until mid-November at the earliest.

4.  Shabbat.  When I say I thought it would bother me, I don't mean the religious practice itself, I mean the fact that roughly 75% of the city shuts down from sun down on Friday to sun down on Saturday - a large chunk of our weekend.  I thought that would really limit us in regards to making social plans and outings, but so far we've found way more options of things to do/ways to be creative than expected; and I've actually kind of come to love the slowness and quietness of Shabbat.

Things that kind of bother me that I didn't realize would:

(let's define the word bother super mildly, these things aren't ruining my day, more so I'm just surprised that I even noticed them)

1. The cats.  Soooooo many stray cats.  Now don't get all up in arms, I'm not like a cat HATER (well some of them really piss me off because they hiss at Kai and get all aggressive with her and she's like what I just want to be your friend!?) but there is always cat food scattered everywhereeeee. Which is cool right, because there's this crazy organized effort throughout the city to take care of all the stray cats, but not so cool when your dog is obsessively hunting down the cat food, occasionally eating it, and then getting awful gas.

This guy guards the gate to our apartment, I've named him Kelly

2. A lack of fall.  I was well aware that there wasn't going to be a 'fall' out here in the sense that the leaves aren't going to change, and it's not going to get cooler until closer to November.  But I think even more than the temperature change, I miss the celebration of fall, and all things pumpkin.  And I'm not going to lie I did this today:

Secret Tel Aviv is an awesome Facebook group where you can pretty much find out about anything

3. LaCroix.  LOL SO BASIC, I know, but I miss it.  There are a few sparkling water options in large bottles, but minimal flavors, and DAMN I just miss grabbing an ice cold can of LaCroix and crushing it when I'm thirsty.

4. The time change.  I want to cheviot this with, I actually kind of like and dislike our time zone difference from the U.S. - so this could have made both lists.  Mornings are nice because they are super quiet, my phone doesn't typically light up with any alerts (unless it's another Israel-resident) until late afternoon.  I get a lot done, and can kind of be disconnected when I choose to be.

However, I am big on keeping in touch with people, and doing it well.  So when my Baltimorians start waking up around 2 pm, Chicago around 3 pm, and Colorado around 4 pm, it's sometimes waves of texts/facetimes/snapchats all at once.  And evening for me is typically workout time, dinner time, and then Andrew time, so I can't always be on my phone a ton, depending.  Which is where I've found frustration that I wasn't anticipating.



I'm not saying this at all to discourage anyone from reaching out to me - I love hearing from everyone, and being thought of.  

So there they are, my four-week thoughts wrapped up in two lists.  I hope they aren't read as me sitting here complaining, I just enjoying sharing the randomness of some of it, and wouldn't be surprised if I re-read this six months from now and laugh at myself.

Enjoy your Friday Eve my friends, I'm off to the dog park with hopes of avoiding all cat food along the way.

Cheers - 
Kait



Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mornings

Fun factOut of the 14.3 million Jewish people in the world, 43% reside in Israel. 

Mornings in Tel Aviv are super quiet; it's actually my favorite part of most days here.  6:30 AM walks are usually with only a select few dogs, traffic is light and the temperatures are beginning to stay cooler and cooler while the sun is still rising. 

Weather this time of year is absurdly consistent; it's basically the same. exact. thing. every single day.  A few clouds in the morning, then clear skies the rest of the day, highs in the mid-eighties.  We've been told a few different things in regards to what fall and winter are like here (opinions vary depending on what people are 'used to' for winters) but from what I can gather it will stay fairly mild, and we won't see snow unless we venture towards the mountains - sometimes even up in Jerusalem.


Another reason I have grown to prefer mornings here is kind of a selfish one - no one randomly approaches me on the street and starts speaking to me in Hebrew.  Now let me preface that with, I'm extremely grateful that Tel Aviv is such a friendly city, and that every fifth person on the street wants to know 1. what kind of dog Kai is 2. how old she is or 3. directions to somewhere.  (Top three reasons I'm usually approached).

As a sidenote, even having headphones in does not detour people from approaching me... I try it daily.

But recently  I've shifted from feeling confused when someone approaches me in Hebrew, to now kind of annoyed.  Not with them - but with me - because I know VERY little Hebrew, and even if I did I can't help with directions yet. My response always makes me feel like a brutish ape - usually I kind of grimace and half yell "WHAT" and they either quickly switch gears to English, or they keep speaking Hebrew and I have to put on an I'M AN IGNORANT AMERICAN AND HARDLY EVEN KNOW ONE LANGUAGE face and ask if they speak English, in English.

Roughly 80% (of who I've encountered) do.  The amount of languages most people here can *fluently* speak actually simultaneously blows my mind, and leaves me feeling super incompetent.  It's not a secret that most of the world seems to know at least enough English to get by, yet (majority) of American's notoriously never pick up another language - not very well at least.  And I guess I had never really formulated any feelings around that until I actually immersed myself in a culture where it mattered.

Example: I heard a girl at the beach the other day quickly switch from Hebrew, to English, to Portuguese. 
Sigh.

It's unrealistic to declare that I'm going to be fluent in Hebrew by the time we are done here - Hebrew is a super tricky language, and even learning the alphabet system would be a feat for me. However, I am now much more dedicated to learning basic words and phrases to get by.  So far I know... roughly five words (can we count Mazel Tov?).  Current state learning is simply using a pretty cool app on my phone, but I think we both may eventually move to a tutor once or twice a week for awhile, as that's a resource that's available to us.

Anyways, those are some of my thoughts on the week.  If anyone reading knows some Hebrew and wants to give me some pointers, I would appreciate it.

Have a fabulous day, cheers - 
Kait

Friday, September 2, 2016

The pup

Fun Fact: the dog population in Tel Aviv has tripled in the past 20 years

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  I'm not going to go into *extreme* details because it could very well turn into a 20 chapter novel, however, if you ever want more details or advice around flying your dog - whether you're moving or not - reach out to me. I mean it, I'm passionate about it.


Immediately upon learning that our move to TLV was a 'for sure' thing, I began the extensive research process around what would go into bringing our husky pup Kai along with us (there was never a doubt that she was coming).  All countries have different rules and regulations - Israel falls somewhere in the middle in regards to the strictness and complexity of their import rules, at least that's what I've been told.

The planning started months out.  There were strict timelines around certain shots/when lab tests had to be sent, etc.  The last ten days possibly took a month or two off of my life, as she needed a Health Certificate no more than 10 days prior, then the USDA had to sign off on all of the paperwork (I had to drive up to PA for this) and then 2 days prior to flying all paperwork had to be faxed to Ben Gurion Airport in TLV to be approved.

Ben Gurion's fax wasn't working... so after a few international phone calls, and some googling, I found that their fax actually never works. I spoke with one Israeli who basically told me 'not to worry about it' which wasn't the answer I was going to accept.  I eventually ended up getting an email address, that immediately bounced back to me saying the inbox was full.

After a few more persistent phone calls and re sending the email about 10 times, I got the OK from the Veterinary Inspector at the airport. 


My biggest worry (I'm not joking I sometimes laid awake at night running through worst-case scenarios of Kai's first flight) was the water situation.  The flight from Newark to Tel Aviv (we drove up to Newark so that she would be making zero connections) is roughly 10 hours on a good day, gate to gate.  We had to drop her off 3 hours minimum prior to the flight.... plus tack another hour on upon landing, that's 14 straight hours in her crate.  A MASSIVE crate for the record - I could sleep in it if I needed to.


The dog drinks more water than I do, so the tiny ass plastic water bowl that comes with the 'travel kit' wasn't going to cut it.  Not to mention she ripped it off and chewed it up upon our first time leaving her in that crate.

(Panic ensued, I then ordered 3 different travel bowls online to try)

Long story short, I ended up leaving her with 2 metal water bowls on her crate door - United filled both with ice upon her boarding - another plastic water bowl on the side, that I had frozen the night before so that it would slowly thaw... and a hamster waterbottle feeder (also frozen) that I zip-tied onto the outside (because again, she had ripped it off several times in the past) with the nozzle sticking through the crate.

Yes, it was a lot, but better safe than sorry.

I was crying when we entered the Pet Safe office at Newark to drop her off.  If you aren't a dog person judge away, but if you are then you understand dropping your 9 month old puppy off to be put in a plane for 10 hours is heart wrenching.  I'm going to give the Newark office props, because I think they deserve it - the lady I dealt with was great, she reassured me several times, and allowed me to take out Kai twice while we were waiting for them to come take her away.

Her words were "Heck, I think our program is so great I would fly via. Pet Safe if I could"
Unsure why you would opt to fly down under the plane, but I appreciated the reassurance.

Once she was carted away, there wasn't much more we could do besides drink some wine and get ourselves through the next 12 hours.  Prior to boarding, the employees at the gate verified that Kai had been boarded into her temperature-controlled room under the plane - separate from luggage. Regardless, I didn't sleep much, grimaced anytime there was turbulence, and watched the screen on the back of the seat in front of me slowly track our progress across the Atlantic.

Upon landing, it took roughly 45 minutes until we were reunited with Kai. We stood by the over-sized baggage area, and all of a sudden a large garage door opened and Kai was carted in on one of those trucks that are always zipping all over airports.  I saw her little head watching through her side window, probably wondering WTF happened the past 12 hours, but looking perfectly fine nonetheless.  Upon seeing us she starting barking and I again started crying, and the rest is history.

Kai splashing around in the Mediterranean Sea at a local dog beach
<3
Some other time I'll write about why Tel Aviv is actually an awesome dog city (or you can google it, it's actually insane how dog-friendly it is), but in short her transition has been pretty easy. Not to mention she's made my own transition easier - I honestly can't imagine not having her as a companion out here.  She's a handful, but we love her, and can't wait to go on more adventures with her.

Anyways, that's my moving Kai to Israel story.  Hope you have an awesome long weekend!

Cheers - 
Kait


Below is a list of specific advice that I kind of just want out on the internet for those who may need it or be interested. 

- I strongly recommend not to get too deep into the online reviews of the different airlines.  EVERY airline has haters, as well as lovers - but who are the people taking the time to actually get on there?  The haters. I read some scary reviews about the United Pet Safe program, but at the end of the day it seemed to be the most used program to ship pets, and our best bet for a direct flight.
- Know that crate requirements are different per airlines and per domestic vs. international travel. Read crate reviews and know what you are buying. Sizing definitely matters.
- Buy the dog's travel crate a month or two before you fly, so that they can sleep in it at home and get familiar with it.  Try out the different travel bowls as well and find out what works best for your pup.
- Our vet (and it seems most vets) won't really recommend much when it comes to sedating.  Airlines will not fly dogs if they 'look sedated' however, you will find there are things you can try to help them remain calm/more chill.  We experimented with children's Benadryl prior (it makes some dogs actually more hyper, hence why we tried it first) and it chilled Kai out a bit, but not to the point that she was knocked out or didn't have her bearings.  Therefore, we gave her two Benadryl (50 mg total - they say one MG per pound) about three hours prior to the flight.  I also put a pheromone collar on her because why not - you can read more about those here.
- Kai is super high-energy, another reason I was so worried about putting her in a crate for so long.  I did some research, and found a dog park actually fairly close to Newark... so we got up to the area roughly 6 hours before our flight so that she could eat, run around and wear herself down.  I'm actually really glad that we did that.
- $$$ - without going into exact numbers, it's expensive to fly a dog.  Even outside of her actual ticket, the crate, the vet bills, etc. - all of that added up.  Obviously you can't put a price tag on having your best friend with you in your new home, but it's something to keep in mind going into it, to prepare for.