So we are back in Jerusalem after three weeks in South Carolina and California; a great visit with family and friends.The biggest surprises upon returning?
1.) It has been a significant struggle to readjust to the 7-hour time difference. Much worse than the first time for some reason. But when you wake up wide-eyed at 2:00 AM the only thing to do is get up and do something until yawning begins, if ever. Penn_E, who stayed here, has adjusted well to our being back and she sleeps through most of our odd hours; so we’ve got that going for us
2.) The untended grass here, which has been brown since late June, is now green (!) and the weather, so far, is sunny, bright and quite comfortable–this after multiple promises that the local December/January weather is miserable. Now we’re hearing that when it’s not raining the weather is actually pretty tolerable. So far so good.
3.) The December ambient light in Jerusalem, with the sun rather low in the sky (same latitude here as midway between Tallahassee and Atlanta) is spectacular. Everything looks like a great potential photograph. So I’m planning to grab my camera and try a few things while the sun is still shining.
What about the surprises we experienced once back in the states?
Being able to understand the language and able to read most any sign without sounding it out like a third-grader was a treat. Driving for the first time in seven months was fun. We hit both Costco and Walmart; there is really nothing in Jerusalem like them and so we stocked up on relatively inexpensive things; spices, cosmetics, zip-lock bags, T-shirts, sweat pants…
We noticed a few curious things too.
Didn’t Joe Biden’s “summer of recovery” began 2 summers and a trillion dollars or so ago? But the only thing that seems to have improved since that beginning is the gap between expectation and reality. For example: gas is again well over $3.00/gallon in most places. (Under George Bush this constituted a clear and unacceptable burden on the poor. Now, apparently, given the absence of discussion in the major media, the poor seem to be managing this well.)
Making ends meet is becoming the new American Dream. I have friends and former clients who are extremely grateful that, unlike last year, they are now grossing enough in their businesses to pay the bills.
According to the US Census Bureau, Construction starts are moribund.
Auto Sales tanked in 2008 and the widely predicted auto production recovery is now expected to miss the mark. Retail sales are still anemic but there seems to be a boom in consignment and second hand sales.
There is no need to engage in a discussion of capitalism here. Or greed. One either believes that wealth can be created or that one man’s gain is another’s loss. It seems that the storied American economic engine has wound down and we are okay about it. The previous 200 years of continuous improvement in the American standard of living has been recast as an aberration. It shouldn’t have worked in the first place. We have been in need of a common-sense lowering of expectations (Jimmy Carter was right! Turn out those lights.) and it appears that has finally been accomplished.
This all adds up to culture shock. I was warned when we moved to Israel…
you will see things you have never seen before and that you cannot possibly prepare for.
They were right, of course, but I thought they were speaking of the Middle East.
Here’s a fascinating discussion showing how the entire free world seems to be channeling its inner Neville Chamberlain with regard to the peaceful nuclear pursuit in Iran.
“Obama’s response is of a piece with his non-response to Iran’s plan to bomb targets in Washington. It is also in line with his refusal to contemplate sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank and its oil sector. Moreover, Obama’s continued insistence on working through the UN Security Council to ratchet up sanctions on Iran despite the fact that Russian and Chinese support for Iran has blocked that venue make clear that he is not at all serious about using US power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”