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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Back Again

Uh, yes, I've been away too long.....sorry.

But I have good reason(s).

The Boy got his draft notice. We took it to the doctor, filled it out with doctor's help (she's wonderful) and mailed it back. We then get a letter that says, in essence, don't show up for induction but send us medical records which corroborate what your doctor has told us. Hundreds of pages of medical records are duly copied and mailed to the IDF......after which we receive another letter saying, in effect, "Hey! Where were you? You didn't show for induction so we're giving you another induction date and you'd darn well better show up this time!"

So much for following instructions. It simply proves to me that military hierarchies are the same all over the world---the department that sent us the Send Medical History But Don't Come never talked to the Induction Center. So Plan B is that we will troop down to the induction center next month with another batch of medical records because I can almost guarantee that the records we sent last month are either (1) lost (2) misfiled or (3) in someone's in-box awaiting processing, but they will NOT be in the file at the induction center.

Then we made another major lifestyle change. If there is an easy way to do something and a difficult way to do something, we seem to find the difficult way.

We bought a cottage in Modi'in last year. It's lovely. It's three stories, very spacious with garden and garage. Unfortunately, in the year we've been here, it has become clear that the Boy's schooling will remain in Jerusalem; his medical support will remain in Jerusalem; OUR medical support as we get older will be in Jerusalem; that the things we like to do are in Jerusalem; that all my friends (except for Wenche and Susie who are moving to Modi'in) are in Jerusalem; that I will have to commute to do the things I want to do, bring the Boy to the doctors and to school and to see the friends we have here. The Husband works for the Jerusalem Police, so even he will have to commute.

I loathe commuting. I hate it so much that I have, throughout my professional life, paid more to live near work rather than drive for 45 minutes to an hour. What were we thinking?

We were thinking like Californians, where people routinely commute for an hour to get to work, and think nothing of driving 30 minutes to have lunch with friends.

This isn't California. And I appear to have acclimated to Israel much more rapidly than even the Husband thought possible. Driving up Road One daily is not for me....

So....the house in Modi'in is on the market. (Anyone want a new cottage? We're including the kitchen and the double-pane windows...)The cottage was supposed to be ready by July 7th, which we all knew was a totally fictional date. However, the builder has now notified us that it will not be completed by September, the drop-dead date in the contract (the builder now has to start paying part of my rent) and has told our real estate agent that it will not be finished until December.

And in the meantime, we bought a condo here in Jerusalem. IT won't be finished until next summer. But I'll wait. It's worth waiting for--1400 square feet, and we're making the living room and master bedroom a bit bigger by taking out a bedroom we don't need. The house will be just perfect for a retired couple with one teenager, AND its all on one floor and I don't have to navigate the stairs. Now, I'm not so feeble that I can't navigate stairs at this point in my life, but we're taking the long view: when I'm 80 (should I live so long) I certainly don't want to navigate stairs. Besides, the Husband hates stairs--he has never done well on stairs, even in his youth. He's the only man I've ever met who trips going UP stairs.

So, back to the point.....I haven't been able to blog because I seem to spend all my time copying medical records, copying financial records, organizing real estate paperwork and delivering it to various agencies: the IDF (courtesy of Ronit, because I would never have figured out how to get the paperwork there); the bank; the lawyers; the Jerusalem contractor. And, like a fool, I decided to accompany the Boy through ulpan this summer.

He needs to upgrade his Hebrew for school. I don't. But I thought it would be nice to keep using it, and we could commute together.

He's doing fine.

I'm drowning. It's an intensive Hebrew ulpan at Milah, and for intensive Hebrew one must be present every day. Unlike Aleph, where no one knows anything, Bet is full of people of various ulpan backgrounds. Two people in our class have serious yeshiva backgrounds; one is married to a Hebrew teacher and speaks Hebrew at home; one is from South America and carries on fluent conversations with the teachers at speeds that leave me baffled.

Humility is struggling over one section of homework for an hour and a half and when you ask your son, "Have you done your homework?" he says, puzzled, "Yeah, I knocked it off while we were in Cafe Hillel waiting for the taxi."

I'm in Big Trouble. I'm trying to cultivate the attitude I ventured towards Elizabeth, my classmate from Mitchell, last week over coffee at Caffit: it's not a contest; I should just take what I can get from the class; I should try my best to keep up and not go crazy; it's all about learning the language and if I have to take Bet over again, so be it.

Elizabeth was very supportive and agreed it is all about learning the language. Of course, Elizabeth is also very smart, went to Ulpan Akiva for two weeks, worked hard, mastered Bet and is probably starting Gimmel this Fall....

I remember that when I first went to law school, we did something our freshman year called "Shepardizing." It's now done by computer program, but back in the Dark Ages when I was schooled, we did it by hand. It is a method of checking on the reliability of a particular citation. It involves looking up the citation you wish to rely upon in a large red tome with miniscule print wherein is listed your desired citation and every case that ever mentions your case thereafter. But what you see on the page is a series of numbers and letters (such as 4Fed2nd876) which is the citation of the case you wish to quote, and a long list of similar citations, each of which has an almost invisible little number (the headnote) and letter next to it. This obscure code tells the researcher WHAT issue is being quoted in the subsequent cases and whether or not subsequent courts approved this holding, overturned the case, or modified it in a way fatal to your argument.

I thought it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do (you young lawyers today with the computer programs have it SOOOO easy) but I mastered it and by the end of the third year of law school, as Senior Law Clerk, I could check citations at warp speed. Even when I was getting ready to retire, I often found it was quicker to pull down the big red Shepard's volumn in the library than to walk the football-field-distance to my computer to check a citation.

The point? That I hope that in five years I look back on my struggles with Bet the same way I look back up Shepardizing -- with a kind of astonished "What made me think that was so hard?"

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