Monday, September 1, 2014

Adventures in Israel

So, we made it. We're in Tel Aviv in a small 1 bedroom apartment with the dogs until our house is ready in the suburb of Herzliya. Carl and I have unpacked the items we need to, and the dogs are adjusting surprisingly well to a walk schedule as opposed to us just letting them out on the lawn which is what they've done their whole lives. 

This morning was comically problematic however. There is a gate that leads to the entry of the apartment building that's never been locked. Until this morning. At 6:00 I was awake as I had fallen asleep early so I thought I'd take the dogs out early as their last walk last night was a bit early. I got the dogs into the elevator (small, even smaller than some in Stockholm) got out the door and down the gangway aaaaand gate is locked. I tried the keys that we have but even though one fits the tumbler It won't turn. 

In frustration I return upstairs and wait to see by looking out the window when someone else might open the gate. At 7 am I phone the landlord to inform him and he's surprised as he said no one locks the gate. He says he will bring keys to it today. Finally about 8am I look outside and the gate is open so the dogs and I rush down and they do what they need to. I'm surprised at the resilience of the dogs to adapt, and think they are being marvelous. 

Last night we had an amazing dinner at La Shuk on Dizengoff, did some grocery shopping, and in general vegged out. We will do a bit more today, but not much. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What makes a home?

Today is packing day at our house. The movers have come to remove our footprint from the Staff Quarters (SQ) that we've occupied for the past 4 years. 

As little by little and room by room the 4 guys go about their tasks, turning a home back into a house. I remember the first day we arrived here and it was such a blank space. That's how it feels again. In many places SQ's come furnished and you bring your own 'stuff' to make it your own. It works, but when it's done and all your items are in boxes again, the house ceases to become a home. It's a sad day that is. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Yes, we're still going.

Our move to Tel Aviv is just 6 days away. By this time next week I will be waking up in Israel. I have been contacted publicly and privately by friends and relatives with their concerns and fears for our safety. As much as I appreciate that concern and on some level I understand it, please be aware that those statements make moving to another country, which is stressful in any circumstance that much harder.

This will not be a political post. As the spouse of a Canadian government employee I have no politics. What I will say though is Tel Aviv is still very safe. Life goes on, people go out to eat and party, people go to work, visit friends and are social, and life continues on. Tel Aviv was one of our choices that we submitted for consideration. This is not a posting arbitrarily thrust upon us by Carl's employer and being aware of the history of the region it would be disingenuous for us to say that we never could imagine this would happen. We both look forward to seeing what Tel Aviv, Israel and the region have in store for us and exploring where we can. The reality of my husbands career is that we may be posted to a tough place now and again. It goes with the job and everyone in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development knows that.

As for me, I have no idea what I will be doing there. Will I work? Im going to try but my first point of order is to establish our home there once we have our housing and our shipment arrives. After that is said and done I will see what's next for me. 

We both appreciate all the concern for our well being, but please support us instead of question us. Remember we will more than likely be swimming in the Medeteranian on Christmas Day and you won't be. It can't be that bad. ☺️

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Now it's getting real.

Yesterday I went to the Israeili embassy and picked up our passports with our new visas in them. Next Monday the movers arrive to pack up our house and ship belongings either to Tel Aviv or back home to storage in Ottawa. The final vet appointment for the dogs is booked in order to comply with the requirements for the veterinary certificate for entry into Israel. We are scheduled to leave Stockholm on Augudt 30. Moving is a "go."

This week is a week of making sure that the inventory is updated to reflect what goes where, organizing the items in the house as best we can into the 4 categories that items need to fit into, and throwing out still more stuff. The dogs can tell there is something happening though they're not sure what yet. At this point I'm as calm as I can be under the circumstances. There are a few things still unknown at our destination ( such as where we will be living ) but I have faith based upon correspondence yesterday that this will soon be remedied. 

Even though the move is stressful, any move is let's face it, I'm starting to get excited at the prospect of being somewhere new. I will miss Sweden and my friends here for sure, but there is just a bit of excitement at being somewhere again unknown to me. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Starting to feel real now.

Here it is June already. The time is flying by quickly now and before I know it, we will be off to Israel to live. I've already submitted our 3 month notice to the utilities that we subscribe to end service at the end of August. Next week we are heading back to Canada for some training and to see both of our families albeit brief on the family visits on both ends. Thank god for our friend Runar who watches our dogs most of the time when we travel, I don't know what we would do without him. He is one of the many people I will miss from Stockholm, and I hope that they all take advantage of us living in Tel Aviv and visit (as long as we have the room as we have no idea what we are moving into yet). We've planned our farewell party as well as a last tour of the area before we leave and we've already started sorting tossing stuff out and packing what little we want to pack ourselves. 

There are all sorts of things I am thinking about in regards to Tel Aviv such as; how will I make friends if I am not working? The language barrier and how big will it be (Hebrew is hard!). The climate will be very different from Sweden and that will take some adjusting too as well. I am sure all of this will be sorted, but it's still rolling through my mind a few months before we pull up roots and move. 

I do look forward to the adventure, but I really just kind of want the move portion to just be over as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

".......Aren't you excited??......"

As we are preparing to move from Sweden to Israel (more than likely mid-August) this is the question I get most often. My standard answer now is;"do you get excited when you move?" Moving is a pain in the ass whether it is across the street or across the globe. This will be my third international move in 7 years, and Carl's fifth international move in 14 years. We are not going on vacation, we are relocating so excited is not the word I would use. Nervous, curious and stressed? Yup those might apply.

We move because of a job. Yes it is our choice as we are able to submit our preferences for positions abroad. That job can take us to some far away places and we do have amazing experiences there, I can't deny that. It is however a move, picking up our lives and living it somewhere else. For us it means trying to figure out what to bring and leave behind (or in this instance bring and send back to Canada), getting our dogs to the destination safely, tons of paperwork, updating our inventory, making sure the dogs meet the health requirements of the new country, obtaining new ID's, leaving behind friends, find a new doctor, dentist, veterinarian, barber, gym, learning a new language and in my case if I can't work finding things to do to occupy my day.

At the end of the day, of course I look forward to the adventure of living someplace new. Tel Aviv will be far different from anywhere I have lived before and will present a lot of challenges as well as opportunities, but we need to get there first.

The life of a Diplomat and the family that follows them is far different in reality than what film and television would lead you to believe. It's a job. Every morning you go to an office and perform tasks that are assigned to you. Often times it is easier on the employee as that person steps back into their home country every time they step into the Embassy. The family though are the ones who are immersed in a new language and culture who have to figure out the mundane things like where to shop, can I read labels in this language and where to get gas. Children need to adjust to a new school environment and make friends all over again. For couples with children that is a great network to meet people as all those kids have parents too. As a gay couple it can be more of a challenge.

There are a lot of things to mull over when you make a move like this, so that is what goes through my mind currently. Before we even get there we have to say goodbye to those who we have met here in Sweden. That is always the hardest part, but I've always said if it doesn't hurt when you leave, you didn't do it right.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When your sense of safety is shattered.

This past weekend we had two friends, Duane and Jan visiting from Amsterdam and on Friday we had been out being touristy.

Friday night, Duane was not feeling well so he went to bed right after dinner. The remaining 3 of us stayed up and watched VEEP. At 9:30 I took the dogs out and then put the car in the garage. The lights in the entry were way were off so I must have locked everything up for the night.

A bit after 10 pm I went to bed, Jan and Carl stayed up to watch another episode of VEEP. I was in bed surfing, the dogs were in the room with me (Folsom on his bed on the floor, and Sierra up on the bed with me and they were both asleep.) When the show was over Carl dropped all his stuff into the room and then went into the bathroom to brush his teeth, shutting the door. Jan had gone downstairs to get ready for bed himself. Carl could not have been in there more than 5 minutes, he opened the door and then started shouting “who the fuck are you, get out of my house” and took off running.

I jumped out of bed and ran after him. He’d run out the front door, Sierra running after him and was down the street almost to the top of the hill. I could hear him wheezing from his asthma. Sierra came right back to me and Carl yelled at me to call the cops, we had just been broken into. Jan who was downstairs until Carl shouted and ran out of the house never heard any noise from the thieves either.

I phoned the police and they said someone would be there quickly, and they were. The first responder was a guy with a canine unit who walked around the neighborhood to see if he could find them and checked on our neighbors home.

Carl’s old laptop was stolen out of the living room, his Blackberry was stolen as well. My wallet had been gone through, but nothing taken except 20SEK and the box of change that we had on the secretary was missing, all full of 1 SEK coins. They could not have been in the house long at all. As the perps ran away from Carl they dropped his laptop.

The police came (they were cute) and took our statements and Carl’s BBY number. Sierra, was chewing something, and it appeared to be gum. The cops collected it as all we could think was that one of the theirs had spit it out when they ran out. Thirty minutes or so after the police arrived, another group of police knocked on the door, and they had found the box of change. The thieves has dropped it in one of our neighbors driveway. The police picked it all up and brought it back to us, keeping the box to dust for fingerprints. Later we realized that a bottle of Vodka and a bottle of wine was missing too.

Saturday morning I want to the hardware store and bought some items to help me secure the house and installed them right away. We make sure we double and triple lock everything now. All of that helps but we are still shaken by the fact that these individuals were able to get into our house, while we were home without us knowing it. That is really damn scary. Apparently we are the 5th or 6th house in the neighborhood this has happened to, though that doesn't make it any easier.

We no longer feel safe in our own house. It creeps me out to go downstairs at night to make sure everything is locked up without having to turn on every light, afraid of what might be around the corner. Today, Monday was the first time I have been alone in the house since this happened, and even on a sunny day if I hear a noise, or one of the dogs start barking and I can't immediately see the reason why, the hair on my arms stand up.

This feeling will pass, I know it will but until then it feels really weird.