I have arrived in Israel for the 3rd straight year. If you had told me in 2005 that upon graduating college I would spend 27 of the next 36 months in Israel I would have never believed it. Yet here I am, on a team called Beer Yaakov. The city is right outside of Tel Aviv and is very close to all sorts of interesting places. That does not matter to me as much as it normally would because I am car-less this year. Yes, my time in Haifa was so disastrous that I could not even sign a contract that included a vehicle. So it goes. The silver lining is that I won’t have to pay for gas anymore, which was where like half my paychecks went last year.
When I arrived in Tel Aviv I was tempted to try to enter the country using only my American passport so that they would not register my presence as an Israeli who has yet to fulfill his army duties, but I decided against it. They would probably be able to track me anyway, they are a goddamn first world military, but the main reason I came in as an Israeli was because the customs line was shorter for Israeli citizens. Laziness wins out for me even when the consequences of my actions could result in being sent off to launch grenades at Arab militants. Seriously though, waiting in lines is the worst.
I am in another grungy apartment for another preseason. The good thing is that these living conditions don’t even phase me anymore. There is a dead cockroach curled up next to my toilet. I didn’t bat an eye when I saw it and I haven’t bothered to move it. There is a shower with no curtain so the water goes everywhere but I have no desire to deal with picking out a shower curtain. I am supposed to be leaving this place on Wednesday to go to my permanent apartment, so what’s the point. I am hoping that I actually move at the designated time, because I have been down the “don’t worry we will have [blank] ready for you” road out here before. Like, “Considering you severely injured your knee because of our crappy floors, you’ll have an MRI in a week!” Then “you are on a waiting list, that MRI should be coming up!” To “do you really need an MRI, doesn’t it feel better by now?” And finally, 8 weeks later, “OK we scheduled you an MRI. It is across the city at 8 PM at a hospital you have never been to and you have to drive there yourself. Have fun!” A similar situation I always go through is “we will fix your heater because we know you can see your breath in your room and that you walk around with 2 sweatshirts on!” Then “the maintenance man had to reschedule, we will bring a portable to your house tomorrow!” To “so and so thought he had the portable and didn’t, but don’t worry I am personally working to see that a guy is out there this week!” And finally, in late March once it has started to warm up and my frostbite wounds are healing, “I heard that everything is fixed in the apartment. I told you I had your back!”
Thus, I keep my expectations super low and add about 3 weeks to whatever date they promise me something will be taken care of. But, although it is still early, the management of this particular team appears to be professional and trustworthy. They outfitted my temporary place with everything I needed and it did not take 2 weeks of pleading to get the internet. That is a victory in itself. But that does not mean that there aren’t other things that have already gone wrong. For instance, the USB powered computer speakers that I painstakingly researched and carried all the way out here have stopped working. Probably a sign that I should have not cheaped out by getting a “slightly used” set off of Amazon. I waste money on unnecessary things all the time, yet I decide to save $15 dollars on an item that I would have used everyday and cannot replace out here. I recently spent around 50 bucks on 2 thermos’ and some allergy medication I am not even sure I need, yet I purchase speakers that may or may not have been thrown out of a moving vehicle at some point. Damn.
Another thing about the place I am staying at right now is that there is no lock for the door. I brought this up to the management and they assured me that “beer yaakov is a safe place.” I don’t doubt that, but come on. I am just going to leave all my passports, credit cards and electronics in an unlocked house for 3-4 hours a day? My first instinct was to throw a fit and demand something be done, but they were all so nonchalant about the situation that I am just going along with it. I figure they would be responsible if anything got stolen considering I told them about my concerns. I can easily see that not being the case, but it eases my mind a little bit.
The first practice was pretty standard Israeli fare. The first thing the coach told us is that we are going to start every practice for the next 2 weeks with conditioning drills. This scared me for a second, but then I realized where I was. Conditioning out here consists of running laps for 15 minutes. That is literally what we did. They told us that we are going to increase the time we run by a minute each day. The gym is really hot and running for 20 minutes at a decent pace isn’t the easiest thing, but it is a far cry from being serious basketball conditioning. Every time I am on a team out here that runs laps I have to restrain myself from screaming out “no serious basketball team has run laps since Bob Cousy was leading the Celtics through old timey kettle ball routines and Mr. Burns esque calisthenics! (can’t find a clip, check the Simpsons episode King Size Homer.) Training has evolved to where people devise functional workouts that are basketball specific and pinpoint the exact neruomusculoskeletal areas that we should be working! It’s all about functional strength!” Alas, it is better to not rock the boat and just stretch on my own.
Despite the subpar running regimen I am excited for the season. All the guys seem to be friendly and hard workers, and our top 5-6 players are really solid. I think we can win the league. I haven’t won a championship since high school so it would be great to get that feeling back. Anyway, I am going to try to be more consistent with the blogging stuff this season. Hopefully funny stuff happens.