Army Trip and Blender Troubles

For the first time in 9 weeks, I participated in a practice. Despite the fact that my knee didn’t feel 100%, it was still such a relief to be able to run up and down a little.  My inner joy was clearly noticeable, because multiple people told me it was the first time they had seen me smile in months.

Today I was able to do even more, and my knee felt much better.  I cannot describe my happiness in being back on the court.  The last 2 months have been interesting and fun in certain ways, but for the most part being injured has made the whole experience pretty miserable.  I am looking forward to finally putting all that behind me, and the goal is to play in my first game next Tuesday.

On to things I want to complain about. This week it has to do with the process of obtaining a release from the Army. I needed a paper that said I will not be called to duty for at least 1 year, because of basketball.

The plan was to go early in the morning to some Army office with one of the team owners daughters. Because she recently left the army she was supposed to be able to talk with some people she knew in order to speed up the process.

So we go driving out there, arrive at the place, and begin a nice long wait. To make things worse, I play no part in any of the talking or negotiations.  I just have to stand there while Lilach talks with one person, then another, then goes inside, then sees someone else, and on and on.

I guess what was complicating everything was that I am such a new immigrant I am not even in the Army’s database yet. To me that was a good thing. I was like, “Umm, why are we TRYING to put me on the Army’s radar?? Just let things be and maybe I will slip through the cracks.” Granted that would take away the possibility of me ever being a part of some sort of awesome, legendary battle where I refuse to retreat after my whole platoon has been killed, and I use a single pistol to protect our base against an onsluaght of hundreds of men.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Drew, you would be such a good fit in the army, what with your willingness to wake up super early and practice extreme cleanliness. You also have never shown the propensity to question/antagonize authority figures until they want to throw you out a window.  It will all be second nature to you.”

In spite of all that, I would rather put off my inevitable heroics on the battlefield for at least a year. We had to get it in writing that I would be playing basketball soon and thus needed my service to be delayed. I kept asking Lilach, who was obviously writing it due to my lack of any Hebrew skills, to throw in somewhere that if ever summoned I demand to be immediately made a General in charge of at least 1000 men. She smartly refused.

So, it takes forever for Lilach write all this out, then we have to wait for the authorities to look at it.  We decide to go out to eat something, and it is pouring rain.

As we are walking along to go get food, Lilach matter of factly goes “Ya, during the war 2 years ago a rocket landed right there.” I was like, woahhhhhh. I knew crazy stuff was always happening, but I just kinda assumed it was all happening down in Gaza. It was weird to think this normal city I was walking through was getting hit with rockets just 2 years earlier.  This story must have stuck with me, because there was crazy loud thunder that night and I kept having dreams my city was getting bombed.

After an hour or so we head back to the army office, wait around some more, and are finally told that there is nothing they can do to help us. Great. To top it all off there is flooding on the streets so what would normally be a 20 min drive back takes an hour and a half. Keep in mind I had to wake up at 7:45 AM to do all this. 7:45 AM! Anything before 10 might as well be 4 AM as far as my body is concerned.

To really, really top it all off, at practice the next day the manager calls me over and basically tells me that everything we did was a waste of time because there is a kid on the team in the army who can handle everything for me. Wow. Couldn’t have thought of that 24 hours ago? Oh well, I guess it’s all one big learning experience.

Speaking of learning experience, never buy a hand blender in Israel.

I am big on making my own smoothies, and I am big on being over the top, mind bogglingly  cheap. The combo of these traits meant that as soon as I could I bought the cheapest hand blender I could find.

After the first few smoothies I made I was feeling pretty good about my purchase. Then it all came crashing down. About a week after buying the blender, there came a smoothie that defeated it. The poor blades gave it all they could against that frozen fruit, but they could simply not go on any longer. Of course, I refused to accept this and kept trying until a putrid smelling black smoke started coming out of the blender.

At this point I had a mostly frozen, partly blended, milky, orange juicy, powdery goop.  Seeing as OJ and Milk out here cost some where in the neighborhood of 80 dollars a gallon, I gamely closed my eyes and started chugging.  It was not very pleasant, but I felt good knowing I wasn’t pouring my money down the drain.

Back to the store I went, mad that I had not saved the receipt on the first one, but excited to be getting another blender.  I would not make the same mistake twice.  This time I got the SECOND cheapest hand blender.  That’s quite a step for me.  Plus the name was Kenwood, which seemed American enough of a company for me to support it.

Much to my chagrin, this American made piece of crap died, no joke, the second time I tried to make a smoothie.  I could not believe it.  I checked inside and saw the parts all mangled and hot.  Not sure if it was my fault or the blenders, but at least I saved the receipt.  I did a half hearted job of cleaning it up, put it all back in the box and went back to the store.

I gave it to the lady at customer service and said I wanted to return it.  She said something I could not understand, and I kinda nodded and she took my receipt and went to work.  After a minute or so she gives me back a strange looking print out with a stamp on it, and continues about her business. Uhhhh, what.  She gives me a heavily accented “eetz ayy gahran-tee.” I don’t know what that is, but I do not want a “guarantee” I want a refund.

I then go through the painstaking process of trying to get her to understand what I want, and eventually she goes “ohhh ree-torn!” Thank god. But, I am not in the clear yet.  She puts a call into her phone, and over comes some guy who must have been a supervisor of some sort.  She asks me if I used it, and I am about to say ya before offering up an un-convincing “No, it was not what I wanted…”

The guy starts to open the box, and I was sure he was going to see stains and food chunks everywhere, deny the return and banish me from the store forever.  But, for reasons unknown, he stopped, put down the box and approved the return.

I finally ponied up and bought a real blender, and today it made my smoothie in about .5 seconds. I was thrilled. It’s the little victories that count.

Last thing on the complaining front.  I was elated to find that there were instructions in English with the most recent blender that I bought.  I did not really need them but it was just nice to see, because so many things out here will just not bother with English.

My stove, for instance, will have instructions in Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, weird Slavic languages, Yiddish and that language Tolkien made up for the elves to speak in Lord of the Rings (Sandy knows what I’m talking about. Glyphs baby. Just one of many terrible class choices on my part.) Inexplicably, there will be no instructions for the English user. It never fails to amaze me.

Other things going on in my exciting life:

-I learned there are no donut stores in Israel. For some reason this blew my mind.

-One of the 400 feral cats who live at the bottom of my apartment complex had babies.  It is nice to see some kittens running around instead of just dirty cats. I tried to feed one of the cats some of my cheese once, and it was not having it. No interest whatsoever. Really, destitute cat that I see drinking out of the same disgusting greenish tupperware every day and rummaging through the dumpster, you are not gonna take this cheese?  It better have went back and ate it after I left.

-I touched on this earlier, but it has been storming crazy hard out here.  It is the loudest thunder I have ever heard.

-I have speed watched (fast forwarding through the parts I deem un-interesting, so anything involving Carmella and a good chunk of the therapy) 4 seasons of the Sopranos the last 3 weeks.  It is good, but no where near as good as The Wire or Breaking Bad.

-Most of the CD’s I made when I first got here are scratched too bad to play, so in the car it has been a steady diet of The Bends, Cuban Linx II, Whut Thee Album, Step in the Arena, Abbey Road, Sublime and Lord Willin’. Redman is criminally underrated.

That’s all I’ve got for now.

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