My Version of Job Hunting

I decided to take a trip to Israel. I was sick and tired of sitting at my house, wondering if the teams’ reluctance to pay for my plane ticket was the only thing holding me back from a job. I figured if I flew out here a myriad of possibilities would materialize. That turned out to be wishful thinking.

Let’s start with a positive. I have been crashing with the family of one of my teammates in Beer Yaakov, and they are exceedingly kind. They have housed me, fed me, taken me to their family functions, and even done my laundry. I couldn’t ask for more. Continue reading “My Version of Job Hunting”

Gated Communities

A few days ago, I had to drop my sister off at a friend’s house. This friend lived in a gated community within a gated community. That’s right, two gates. Two separate interactions with the guard gate command center to make sure that I wasn’t a threat. I was blown away, mostly because this community was located inside an incredibly safe city to begin with. Continue reading “Gated Communities”

Standardize Basketballs! (The Rock Sucks)

I was at a workout the other day and noticed that a recent high school graduate was shooting with a strange looking ball. It had a completely different color, texture, and weight than the Nike ball I was using. It was darker, rougher, and harder.

It was made by Under Armour. Apparently the school this guy is attending uses those balls exclusively. I couldn’t believe it. Not only was I unaware that Under Armour even made basketballs, I was shocked that they had the audacity to trot out what I consider an obviously sub-par product.  Unless you are 100% defensive minded, I am pretty sure you prefer a ball with some give and cushion to it. A relatively soft, slightly sticky ball is easier to handle and allows you a little more leeway with your shots that hit the rim. By making a tough, unforgiving ball, Under Armour essentially ignored all the traditional qualities that people seek out in a college ball. It had the look and feel of something a Middle School team would use when if were forced to practice outside. Stick to cleats, Under Armour.

Seeing Under Armour’s poorly made, make-James Naismith-Roll-Over-In-His-Grave ball reminded me of the least favorite basketball I have ever used.

This guy:

worst ball ever
Lots of bad memories coming back right now.

Continue reading “Standardize Basketballs! (The Rock Sucks)”

Neighbors – Not What They Appear

A couple of months ago I was at home to recover from my foot surgery. My afternoon routine involved small amounts of rehab and a lot of lying spread eagle on my front driveway. Don’t judge, zoning out and getting natural Vitamin D is integral to healing.

About 20 minutes into my sun session I heard something that snapped me out of my zen state. It was the unmistakable hum of my neighbor Belle’s tan Honda sedan. Melvin, her husband, was probably with her. (Names changed to protect the innocent.) They are both small and stout and approximately 72. More importantly, they were pulling into their driveway. I had to think fast.

My brain went into overdrive cycling through possibilities. Can I get up and hobble into the house? Impossible. Otis the family dog was wagging his tail and walking toward their car, a sure tell that a human is in the vicinity. Lie perfectly still and pretend to be in some unalterable meditative trance? It would not deter them from walking over anyway. Start moaning in pain, make them think I am in grave danger, crawl inside after convincing them to call an ambulance, then say I am recovered by the time the medical personnel show up? A tad dramatic, and it still had the chance of ending in a conversation with them. Sit up, wave, and brace myself for the inevitable? Sadly, this was my only real option. They had seen me. I was caught.

Seeing a Housman in the driveway has long been a huge conversation trigger for Melvin and Belle. Ever since we moved in back in ’95, they have taken every opportunity to engage with our family. In my memory these exchanges always took the form of a couple of neighbors sharing a few pleasantries. Perfectly friendly behavior. It was only as I grew older that I realized M&B were playing the long game.

I have no doubt that they understood the ramifications of having brisk, concise conversations with the boys next door. Surely they were thinking “Make them believe we merely want to say a quick hi and bye. Appear to be all business. If we do that for the first 8 years or so they will never see it coming when we decide to turn every conversation into a one act play, starring us. We can wax poetic about politics, travel, our son, our many and various adult education classes, basically whatever we want! They will feel rude if they cut us off because we are old! We will ignore all hints that they want to terminate the chat. If all goes well we can talk with them uninterrupted for hours. It’s the perfect plan!” And it has worked marvelously. They continue to hone their craft, and in order to do so the seek out interactions.

I guess it is possible that we just happen to be outside at a lot of the same times, but I doubt it. I swear they keep a watch over our front door. If I so much as turn the knob one of them will causally saunter outside to “garden”, “get their mail” or “get in their car and drive away.” They are such good actors that sometimes they make it seem like they actually want to be doing those things. Ha! Surely they only feign interest in leading a life that doesn’t revolve around speaking with me.

So imagine their joy when they not only saw a Housman exposed on the driveway, but lying down with a cast on his foot and no crutches in sight. I could not even stand and face them eye to eye. They would loom over me.  I was like an infant in his high chair who is done eating and wants to leave but has no choice but to sit there. Add in the fact that my brother had successfully avoided them for his most recent visit and the effect was like a herd of African hunting dogs stumbling upon an incapacitated impala. The icing on the cake was a happy looking Otis standing beside me. It was almost too easy for them.

Otis’ presence is often the flimsy excuse M&B use for coming over and starting the marathon chat sessions. They do a phenomenal job of feigning that they enjoy his company. Oftentimes they bring him treats and play with him for long stretches. The whole thing can look adorable to the untrained eye. Most people would never suspect that their elderly neighbors would pretend to like a dog as a means of furthering their own narcissistic agendas. Thankfully I am able to see through their ruse. I now use my knowledge of their true motives to better protect myself.

It really is about protection, because a few minutes into their story about how their cruise ship ran out of iceberg lettuce you begin to lose your will to live. Some might say “Drew, what were you really going to do for that 5 minutes? Have you not recently spent 5 minutes literally staring at a wall?” To which I say it’s about personal freedom. I had a choice to stare at that wall. They leave me no easy way to get out of the talks. If I have to sacrifice making them feel a little better in order to maintain complete autonomy over my actions than that’s what I will do.

Did I live by that creed on this particular day? Of course not. I readied myself to nod, smile, and ride out the storm.

They ambled over with their seemingly warm hellos, but I knew what was lying beneath. They sensed that they had a captive audience. It took them about 30 seconds to get past the initial pleasantries and start the real conversation. The one that, as if by fiat, revolved around me asking them questions and then patiently waiting as they told horrifically boring stories.

I got a 5 minute discourse on every injury they have ever sustained and how one of them has an impending knee surgery. Next was a story about their visit to a museum in Israel, an anti-riveting 10 minute saga that somehow became about family values. Are they teaching me now? Do I need to pretend they are wise because they remember a time when you could say that cigarettes treated asthma?

What makes everything worse is that the situations the stories derive from usually contain a hint of something I might be curious to hear about. The problem is that their delivery is unfathomably monotonous and plodding. The words start to lose meaning. The tiresome anecdotes and unnecessarily long pauses pile up until any last vestige of interest has been mashed into a fine dust.

M&B can usually recognize when that point has come, and I think they consider their work done. They retreat back to their home, successful in having made someone listen to them. I can’t hate them for it. In fact, I admire their persistence and the way they were able to execute their decades long plan. All I can do is work on ways to avoid the talks. I also hope to warn other young people of what can happen if they fail to recognize the signs of a neighbor who is out to cannibalize their mind, spirit and time to fuel their own deep rooted needs. Stay strong out there.

My Shower Woes

I know what area of my body is bound to be the cleanest at any given time. It is always my chest.  This is because the majority of my bathing the past few years has taken place inside of extremely tiny showers, and I don’t really feel like doing a complicated maneuver to be able to wash my legs. I stretch pretty much all day every day, and I still have a hard time soaping up my whole body in these minuscule Israeli showers.

You would have to be a veteran cirque du soleil performer to be able to comfortably maneuver in the shower that I am provided with. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was all the auditions for Cirque consisted of. They wheel out a classic Israeli shower and tell people they have to clean themselves without knocking over the soap container and breaking the cap, without bumping into the handle and causing the temperature to get thrown completely out of whack, without banging against the glass so hard you are legitimately worried it might crack, and without becoming claustrophobic because the ceiling slants downward and just barely clears the top of the shower door. That ceiling is really eerie. It gives the illusion that you are completely sealed into a tiny, watery prison. Continue reading “My Shower Woes”

Walking in Groups

I watched a couple of episodes of this show House of Lies, and it got me thinking about something. There are four main characters. The show is chock full of scenes that feature all four people walking. They stroll through the airport, the company hallways, the street, wherever. You get the point. The thing is, they somehow always find a way to walk side by side by side by side. Four people across.

In all my walking experience I have yet to find a way to walk comfortably three people abreast. The real world presents too many obstacles for this to happen. Walkways can be narrow, packed and hard to navigate. Oftentimes nimble movements are required. Continue reading “Walking in Groups”

1/4 Season Update

Things have been going well enough that I haven’t been compelled to write about something that was bothering me. Here are some things that have happened and things I have thought about since my last entry:
-ODWB gave me a clock as a holiday gift. I was grateful, but I am still suspicious. It seems like every night that I come back late there is some sort of work going on early the next morning. Once it was painting the hallway (which you wouldn’t think would be that loud, but he found a way to make it obnoxious and un-sleepthroughable) , once it was the roof. If he thinks I’m not on to him he is very wrong. Continue reading “1/4 Season Update”