San Francisco has a different kind of crazy

Well, I have now completed two full weeks of my new line of work! I must say that I am rather enjoying myself in San Francisco. Work is enjoyable, even if it is quite busy at times. I'm finally getting a grasp on my responsibilities and learning how best to manage my time. I'm even better understanding how everything works in our systems and how eBooks are actually published! Woo!

I do have an interesting summary of outside work experience since arriving in San Fran.

1. One of the firs things I saw leaving the airport with my mama was Harley Quinn on a motorcycle. Awesome.

It looked something like this.

2. Katy told me that at about the same time, she and Kelly saw three men on bicycles: one was completely naked, one was wearing a pink bustier with no pants, and the third was similarly scantily clad.
To see what this could possibly look like, check out this Not Safe For Work San Francisco blog about the annual Wold Naked Bike Ride.
3. I encountered my first "smug" at the local Walgreens when I bought some toiletries and realized I didn't have a reusable bag to place my items in. The clerk gave me a look, Katy explained I was "new to California," and he begrudgingly told me my first bag was "on the house."
See short preview clip from South Park's "Smug Alert" episode to perfectly describe this.
4. The temperature has been solidly between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit with blue skies, and I get to listen to native Bay Area residents complain about the "cold" while I revel in how absolutely gorgeous it is. Seriously, there are actually a couple people wearing winter coats. Though the other day there was an epic amount of that lasted literally all day. But that was just cool.

Note that according to weather-and-climate.com, these temperatures are still above average.

San Francisco may not have the same kind of crazy as NYC, but it certainly has its own form of crazy! So far I'm enjoying it. Maybe especially because I have the advantage of getting to drive in the carpool lane to and from work almost everyday. And yesterday we saw a jerk driving in the shoulder to avoid highway traffic get pulled over. Mwahahahaha!

I do love the views, though. It's a striking combination of urban and nature that is unlike anywhere else I've seen. No wait...it looks almost exactly like Haifa. Alright, just kidding, the San Francisco Bay Area looks exactly like the Carmel region of Israel. Only damper.

What a perfectly apt summary of SF.

I feel like a lot of my first posts living in SF will cover the similarities and differences between the West and East coasts. Now if only I could find a backpacking buddy to explore the mountains with on a multi-day excursion....


Everything happens all at once!

Shortly after I decided to slow down on the job hunt, Katy called me with a potential job offer out in San Francisco!

Long story short: I got the job!

You're now reading about the new Client Services Associate for a brand spanking new ebooks publishing and distribution company! I'm pretty pumped. It's a real fast turn around, so I have to organize myself in two weeks. I already got my plane ticket, and my darling mama will be joining me.

It means putting Israel on hold for a bit, but that was starting to look like it might take a while. My January goal will be blasted away, unfortunately. First, I must accumulate grant money, and this real world job will help me store up for the winter.

Speaking of Israel, I managed to get a very positive reaction from my church about the cemetery in Akko! I won't be around this weekend during the collection, but I think things will be good.

So things are moving along and life is finally starting for me. Oh, us silly 20-somethings these days and our late starts to life. Things will go well, I do not doubt. I'm looking forward to being on my own again and getting to spend some time with my cousin who is out there, too! Oh yea, and the pay won't be so awful to deal with either. ;)


I left my heart in Akko...

Well, we meet again, Blog world. I was gone for quite some time.

I have been yet again waxing and waning in my life's purpose and through the ups and downs and foggy days, a clear path is beginning to emerge again!

Photo by me!
Sometimes I forget how blogging has really helped me to clear my head. There are quite a few things flying around in there right now, so I thought I'd put my hand to typing again to organize my thoughts. Somehow it goes much better when I realize that someone out there is actually reading it, so I work harder to be more coherent and tangible. So here it goes!

My thoughts and even my dreams have all centered around Akko. It's where my heart is, it's where my passion is.

One reason I love this place so much. So many different people!
I was trying too hard to both find a job and apply for grants to return to Israel that it was ripping my heart in two. Last week I decided, no more job hunt. I am working full time, albeit with little money, but I do have an income - and a place to live and food to eat and a wonderful, amazing, loving, supportive family who won't let me fail. I am truly fortunate to have all of that in my life; it's more than many people have. With all that in mind, I had the realization after talking with my wonderful grammom - my heart and mind are in Akko; why am I wasting my time looking for jobs more related to my field of study or interests when I could actually be doing what I really want to do? It's strange because never in my life have I been so sure of something, and it feels weird and different. I MUST go back and finish my work.

Today, I had another realization that came in the form of an email from a lovely lady who shares my same name. The content was straightforward and professional, but the hidden message said: "We love you. We want you back. Here's how we're going to help you." And it came to me so powerfully that at first it scared me. Then I saw that it was going to help me and that they weren't going to give up on me, and I know that I cannot give up on myself. I need to work harder. I miss it. I miss it so much. I miss the people and the food and the generosity and the culture. It is my second home. My home away from home. I have two homes! How many people can say that?

Now, what do I need to do to make this happen?

1. Beef up my project proposal!
2. Apply to more grants!
3. Write my speech for the church in October!
Oh, I'm speaking to my congregation to take up a donation for the cemetery in Akko. I have to work on this.
Let's break it down:

1. Project Proposals:
I have never written one of these. I was starting to get really upset about this, but I am getting a lot of help from people who care about me and this is absolutely wonderful!

There are multiple scopes to my project.

  • Physical work
    • Restoring graves
    • Purchasing materials
    • Hiring professionals for survey
    • Training volunteers
  • Documentation & Geneology
    • Creating a monument survey
    • Creating an interactive website with survey information
      • Families will be able to add information about loved ones buried there
  • Community Involvement
    • Inviting the community to be a part of the documentation and physical work
    • Teaching about conservation
    • Listening to and incorporating concerns and ideas from the community
  • The People
    • From the Community
      • Priests
      • Community leaders (Abdu, Nzar, Salem, among others)
      • Youth (the scout groups and other youth)
    • Professional
      • Engineers/Architects/Conservators (at least initially)
The project will involve lecture days, training days, and work days. There will be more lecture and training in the beginning, but I imagine I will need more training and work days later as more people decide they want to get involved. Training will be more hands on at first but after some time, I will be able to remove myself completely from the project - my ultimate goal! - so that the project will be completely self-sustaining from the community.

My second goal is to unite the four church communities in this effort. I would like for each church to have a handful of volunteers working in the cemetery.

2. Grants
Um, yea. I think this is going to be my hardest part. I really have no idea where to look. BUT, I am getting some help from the wonderful people at the International Conservation Center! YAY! This is just going to take more research than I am putting into it now.

3. Church Speech
This is actually going to take some serious thought. I need to present the urgency of conserving this cemetery without making the people of Akko seem disrespectful, ignorant, or uncaring. Because they are none of these things. In fact, the reason I got into this project was because the people there are the exact opposite. They just need assistance.

I spoke with Nzar today and I think we're going to go with donating the money towards preparing the area for a cemetery chapel. As of right now, there is no place for services on the cemetery grounds, though there is a building that would  make a wonderful chapel. If preparations can be made towards cleaning it up to begin renovations, the community would see its importance and become more involved to make it happen. Perhaps then there would be more places to seek funding. Also, if there a single building where families and the community could go to pray, it might encourage more unity between the four churches.

Future location of cemetery chapel.

Yes, I think all of this is good. And now I feel better. YES!


Am I Making a Difference?

I keep waffling back and forth on my project between utter despair and failure to actually feeling like I'm making a difference.

For instance, this morning I awoke to a feeling of abject failure. I went to bed a little after midnight and popped awake at 03:30 with the worst upset stomach and restlessness. I kept thinking of everything I was missing in my report and how on earth I could possibly finish it all. The only solution: turn the computer back on and work work work before heading out to the cemetery at 06:00. I arrived at the cemetery in a rapid 15 minutes (it usually takes 30 minutes to walk it!) and immediately set to work. I said good morning to Selem (the surly old man working in the cemetery whose toes I accidentally stepped on in the process of this project. Whoops!) and told him in choppy Hebrew what I was planning to do that morning and how long I would stay. I managed to accomplish more in an hour and a half than I have ever while being there. I had a conversation about personal philosophies in broken Hebrew with Selem, still sour about my work, but overall leaving with a sense of connection, even if it is bruised.

I worked all morning with high school students from all over Akko in the Center teaching about joint fillings and helping them mix their own mortar. I felt really good about it. So good that when I heard Michael talking about how nice a cold beer would be, I suggested splurging on Kakushka's, a local craft beer snack food joint in the new Turkish Bazar. It was awesome.

So now I'm really cracking down on my report, which I'm submitting tomorrow afternoon to the priests, directors, and advisors. Oh my! I'm feeling quite good, though we'll see how it goes after I hear back from results from my advisor! Eek!!! Nzar's brother, whom we've only just met yesterday for the first time, saw me working. 

He stopped me in my work and asked, "So you're the famous archaeologist??" I was confused. 

"I'm an archaeologist but of course not famous."

"No, you are famous in all of Akko! The priest, he keeps talking about you and the cemetery! He tells us you are working all week there."

Boy, did that make me feel good! For now. We'll see what happens by midnight...



Well hello there, blog readers.

Um...I'm just a little...involved. Ok, maybe a lot.

When I'm not working, I'm stressing about what work I still need to do. And when I'm not stressing about my work, I'm stressing about finding a job. And when I'm not stressing at all, I'm wondering why I'm not stressing! AND when I am not wondering why I'm not stressing, I'm actually having a good time relaxing. Among all this, I'm surprised I am getting any sleep at all. Most nights I'm lying awake thinking about what I need to do, suddenly wake up with the dawn groaning about why the sun wakes me up so damn early, only to have my alarm wake me up minutes later. It's a pretty vicious cycle that is leaving me quite exhausted. Nzar comments constantly about what a "tired girl" I am. I told him I'll probably look this way until I leave because even once everything is put in its place and submitted, it'll be time to worry about my flight home! Which is only a week away! EEK!

At the end of all this, I seem to completely forget about my blog and my dear readers!

Do not worry, my precious followers! Long flights and layovers will result in pictures and updates!


Blog Update #2...I am ridiculous...

Wow, I am so sorry on the lack of blog updates, dear readers! I am still trying to make myself be motivated in times of stress, and when I am motivated, I am so focused I think of nothing else! Also, I didn't realize how difficult it is to keep our house clean before. We had enough people doing little things here and there this whole time and never noticed how much that really helped. In the end, it feels like I never stop cleaning. Work on my cemetery is progressing rather well, I hope. I had a panic attack Wednesday night over it thinking I was really behind, but when I talked to the others about it, everyone seemed to think I was the only one in control with things going smoothly. Sweet! Anyway, here's the update I promised last week...


I visited the Palestinian economic center of Ramallah, located in the West Bank – a quick and easy 30 minute bus ride from Jerusalem!

Nutter trapped himself on the roof next door! An account of our attempts to save him!

May and June are ideal wedding months and the International Conservation Center building is the ideal location for wedding photos!

The fishing culture in Akko is not only related to boats, but also net and harpoon fishing!

I spent the weekend with one my advisors, Kamil, and his amazing family in Haifa. He took me to Nazareth since I’ve never been there! It was a great time, I ate a ton of Arabic food and drank more Arabic coffee than I ever have in a single weekend. I’m surprised I didn’t absorb Arabic into my language list I heard so much of it this weekend! The pictures in Nazareth are of the Basilica of the Annunciation. For the sake of time for myself, you can check out the wiki page for the basilica for more info.

"Synagogue Church", so named because it's believed to be the synagogue Jesus first started his teaching ministry.

Now I’m just focusing on getting my project done. I’m working in the Greek Christian cemetery outside the old city. It’s used by all the churches in Akko: St. George, Greek Orthodox; St. Andrew, Greek Catholic; St. John’s, Roman Catholic; and the Maronite Church. The oldest graves are in complete ruin and the community really wants to fix it up. Pretty much, what I am doing is creating a documentation, conservation, and maintenance plan for these communities. My project will be in two phases: Phase I – compiling historic records to identify the main importance of the cemetery to the communities and the city of Akko; Phase II – surveying the present conditions and past maintenance, creating grave typologies, identifying urgent care, and creating a plan that includes short and long term maintenance goals, including budgeting and volunteer care. I’m pretty excited. Here are some photos of the cemetery now:

I’m also starting the job search, networking. I need to find a job! I’ve also decided that I will definitely return to the States at the end of July/beginning of August! Whether or not I remain in the States is questionable and dependent upon the job search. I’m looking for historic preservation work, private or government, in the following parts of the States: Philadelphia, Washington, DC, San Francisco; or I’m also looking in Israel. We’ll see what happens!


Getting Crazy...

Wow, I must apologize, my dear readers. This past month has been pretty crazy. Between finishing our mini projects to saying good byes to half our crew to beginning our personal projects, I have had very little time to update. Well, that’s not quite true. I’ve gone through spells of being extremely lazy and extremely productive, which I haven’t much liked. I would prefer steady spurts of productivity to lead into rewards of relaxation. Instead I’ve been doing the opposite – being extremely lazy and then freaking out and going crazy trying to be productive. I need to work on a schedule…

Anyway, let me give you the highlights of the month of May. This is going to be in two parts…

I saw a camel in the mote around the old city of Akko!

Nutter fell asleep on the chair!

We had a tour of the agricultural lands surrounding Akko and were given more Arabic coffee, cucumbers, and tomatoes than we knew what to do with!

We said our farewells to those who were leaving early with a lovely BBQ!

I woke up to bagpipes and ended up watching a parade for the Feast of St. George!

The last rains of winter/spring.

We visited Ella at her gorgeous home in the Western Galilee, a small village called Mitzpe Abirim inside a nature reserve!

We got a special tour of the Bahai Gardens in Haifa!

Sorry for the lack of explanation on a great number of things. My mind is a little bit everywhere, so I can't quite focus on descriptions. HOWEVER, if you want some good explanations of things, you could always check out my facebook photos, because I always make sure there are explanations and descriptions there. And that's easier and faster than updating the blog, sadly. And as I've said before...I've been feeling lazy. This shall improve, my friends! But the second half of the blog posting will be tomorrow. For now, I have work to do!