Jerusalem & the Meaning of Cleavage




In Hebrew, there is apparently no word for cleavage.

I learned this as I sat in the backseat of Y's cousin's car. We were driving to get a pre-Passover lunch: giant bowls of hummus. We're doing hummus wrong, America. It's not just a dip, it's a meal.

Anyway, Y and his cousin were having a perfectly innocent conversation that took a turn when Y, for some reason, mentioned cleavage. 

creeper.


His cousin, who I guarantee was familiar with the concept of cleavage -- he's a 23 year old guy -- was confused. "What is cleavage?" he asked. Stuck in the backseat, I listened as Y explained cleavage and expounded on it until he felt his cousin was adequately familiar with the term and all its various uses. After, oh, ten minutes of discussing cleavage, Y was satisfied.

A few days later, we took a day trip to Jerusalem with this cousin and his girlfriend. 




At one point, the girlfriend was telling the story of an embarrassing moment while waitressing. 

"I was carrying a platter of food, and as I reached across this woman, I accidentally spilled the platter all over her...." she paused, at a loss for words, gesturing across her chest.

"CLEAVAGE!" said Y's cousin proudly.

Some people travel to foreign countries to heal the sick. Some travel to bring religion and hope. 

We brought the meaning of cleavage. 

...

On that note, here are some pictures of one of the holiest cities in the world. 





 Bagels, hijab, rugs, scarves and arab pastries in the Old City market



Crowd of worshippers at the Western Wall



Crowd of worshippers at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 

The colors of Akko


Get ready: I'm about to hit you with, like, 6 posts about Akko, a city you've probably never heard of but should definitely visit. Actually, I'm going to hit you with 6 blog posts and a Steller. Does anyone else use Steller? I think it's so fun.

The old city of Akko, located on the coast of Northern Israel, is an ancient walled city made up mostly of Muslim families. This means every night the sky glows with the neon lights of minarets and several times a day, the noise of the city is muffled by the call to prayer that takes over the village. The city streets are narrow stone alleys with tiny convenience stores tucked into nooks and crannies and bright shades of blue, green and turquoise hiding behind every corner.

 It's like nowhere I've ever been. 

---

I had to write that intelligent sounding paragraph to make up for what was actually coming out of our mouths, over and over again, while we wandered the streets of Akko:

"It looks just like it did on Wikipedia!" --Y

and, 

"This is just like Aladdin!" -- me.

Let the Israel posts commence...

A few things about Israel:

1. I have lived on this Earth for 29 years, and never once have I run smack into a glass door. 

In Israel, it happened to me twice.

It happened to Y once. 

Mazel tov, Israel, you pretty much have the cleanest glass in the world.



2. Sing it with me, everyone: ...and I'm proud to be an American....



3. On Sunday morning, our flight left from Tel Aviv at 5 am, with an 8 hour layover in Amsterdam, getting us home to Minneapolis at 7 pm the same day (so basically, we time traveled). Rather than go to sleep in Tel Aviv, we stayed up all night, fueled by ouzo shots and wine. When our plane landed in Amsterdam a few hours later, we took the train into the city for the day.  In other words, I was an international jet setter on Sunday. 

On Monday, I did nothing but organize my medicine cabinet. 



It was almost as much fun and left me with far less jet lag. 

4. I'm currently spamming Instagram with photos from my trip. They're all from last week, and I realize this isn't how Instagram is intended to be used, but I don't actually care. For 2 reasons: 

1) I don't think of Instagram as a way to gain followers or "enhance my brand". For me, it's just a scrapbook -- there have been plenty of times when I needed a pick me up and engaged in some instatherapy -- scrolling back through my pictures and realizing what a nice little life I have. 

2) Despite sharing far too much about my life on the internet, I have a fear that if I post photos while I'm out of town someone is going to come steal all of my stuff (because people are clamoring for my Target wardrobe and Ikea furniture). Although, if anyone was paying attention, my absence from social media was probably even more suspicious...

Travel tip: Ireland and the problem with maxi dresses

For the first week of our honeymoon in Ireland, we successfully avoided tourist traps. We didn't kiss the Blarney stone or pay money to take a picture with a strategically placed leprechaun in a town square. Our trip was so off the beaten path.  


And then we visited the Cliffs of Moher. 

We were waiting in line behind five tour buses to pay eight Euro for parking when Y got grumpy. "Look at all of these tourists," he muttered, as I leaned out the window to take a photo of a sign written in Gaelic (or something equally not touristy). As we parked and followed the herd of people exiting their tour bus, his mood grew worse.

At that moment, we hit our first married milestone:  the first time I referred to Y as Mr. Grumpy Pants. 


There's a reason tourists (ourselves, of course, excluded, we are wanderers) flock to the Cliffs of Moher: they're beautiful. Really, really, beautiful. It's worth finding a quiet spot, if you can, and just taking it all in; letting the unrelenting wind, um, have its way with you.

Which brings me to my first travel tip: if you're going to be visiting a windy shore, maybe don't wear a maxi dress?

Once I found my quiet spot to enjoy the view of the Cliffs, the wind had other plans. My maxi dress, which I'd so carefully chosen for its effortlessly chic vibe, was anything but effortless at that moment-- the wind was hurtling it against my body, leaving absolutely nothing to the imaginations of the five buses full of tourists. 

Below, the one PG photo of me from this part of our journey:


I was horrified. Y thought it was hilarious. The tourists got back on their bus and headed off to wait in line to kiss the Blarney Stone

To this day, during an especially windy moment, you might hear me tell Y "Shit, I'm Cliffs of Moher-ing right now" as I frantically pull fabric away from my skin. 

Christmastime in New Orleans


In case you're curious, the first thing you should know about New Orleans is that the French Quarter is full of loveable weirdos. 



Like this guy.



In all my years of spending time in New Orleans, this is the first picture of me in Jackson Square. (I'm not a tourist, psh.) And I had to cut it off because my former favorite shirt makes me look about three months pregnant. 

(At first I said nine months pregnant but Y, in his infinite medical wisdom, assured me I only looked three. This is still disconcerting because I am definitely ZERO months pregnant.)






Here's a tip if you find yourself eating at the famous Commander's: They're going to push your chair in for you. Do not -- I repeat, do not --  put your full weight on the chair. It won't go anywhere. It will be embarrassing for all parties involved. Clearly I'm not used to eating at fine dining establishments.

Tip #2: order the cheese grits. For the love of God, order the cheese grits. 






Two views of Larry Flynt's Hustler Club.






Christmastime in New Orleans = 85 degrees and 85% humidity. It never seems to affect my friends who somehow can wear pants in that weather, but I had to wear as little clothing as possible and I still sweated far more than is appropriate for a lady. Thank goodness the glow of the Roosevelt's Christmas lights made my hair look presentable. 

(Just kidding, I photoshopped my stringy bangs. My blog, my rules.)

Louisiana road trip


There's a highway that takes you from central Louisiana to south Louisiana, a highway that I've driven more times than I can remember. I can tell you which bathroom smells the best. I can clue you in to where the police are hidden just waiting to pull you over. I know which gas stations have Starbucks Frappucino drinks, and which only have Red Bull.  

Usually this highway is a means to an end; just another leg of a long, boring drive. But this time, in our rental car that smelled of stale smoke and a desperate whiff of "new car smell" air freshener, we decided to treat it like a proper road trip.

Which, let's be honest, just means that I took out my camera.

Rule #1 of road trips: you don't choose your road trip music... it chooses you.


These abandoned FEMA trailers have been sitting on the side of the highway for years. 


Good sunglasses are a must. Many thanks to Y's dad for donating these slightly used (read: have been run over by a lawnmower) Ray Ban wayfarers. 


Sugarcane fields as far as the eye can see. 


My road trip partner in crime -- we've driven across the country together twice (and then some) and still kind of like each other.

 

 My only complaint is that he never lets me stop for roadside fruit.

The Fault in Our Stars: a sort of review



Here's a tip for my readers: read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

Here's another tip for my readers: Don't read The Fault in Our Stars on an airplane, when the person sitting one inch away from you is privy to every emotion you might experience while reading a book. This book is about kids with cancer. Cool, ironic kids, who talk about the C-word in a refreshing way. But no matter how cool, ironic, or refreshing one tries to make cancer, there will be tears. That's a fact. I know a doctor. I know what I'm talking about. 

Here's a tip for anyone who happens to sit next to me on an airplane while I'm reading such a book: When I --- clutching my armrest for dear life every time the plane makes a sudden movement --- mention that I am reading a book about kids with cancer, don't say, in your broken English "I do not like death from cancer. I rather die in plane crash."

And as the plane descends quickly (but not quickly enough... never quickly enough), and I bury my nose back into my book, trying to make the terror of air travel just end already, don't say, loudly "I have not felt plane like this before. Something is wrong with this aircraft!"

But back to you, readers. If you're in the mood to feel, and you like teenagers who speak above their grade level (a la the kids from Dawson's Creek, but less angsty, which is amazing because they have cancer and bigger things to worry about than not getting in to film school), and you enjoy reading about Amsterdam... you will like this book. Just not on a plane next to a Pakistani college kid who doesn't understand plane etiquette.