Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 10, 2012 - The Flight Process

It is five in the morning Israel time (or is six because of daylights saving?) and I slept a good nine hours. I should technically still try and force myself to sleep, but I can't bring myself to do it. So instead, I decided to make a journal entry from the last post which consisted of me sitting on my butt waiting for the night flight. Let's do this.

8:55 - JFK Terminal 6
So after my last post, I looked around to see which familiar faces I will be seeing for the next fourteen hours and noticed that they were all strikingly old people. Happy old people, but old folks none the less. After an instruction from my mom the day prior to my flight, I went over to the table to see if I was still eligible to change seats to an aisle seat. As it was, I was in the middle row in the middle chair, and seeing that I was going to be on a plane with the elderly, I would have preferred to not be a nuisance on them in case I had to go to the bathroom.

As I waited for my turn, I felt something hit me on the back of my leg. Turning around, I saw it was a woman who looked about in her mid-40's picking up pieces of paper. Piecing two together, I leaned over and helped pick her papers up; you know, because it's the polite thing to do. After I helped her, she smiled and said "Mercy", now I could be an idiot and mistook it as that instead of "Merci" but I decided to let it slide. She looked me over and asked if it was my first time going to Israel, to which I simply replied no and asked if it was hers. Turns out, it was. The group of old folks? A bunch of catholics going to Israel for the first time to see where Jesus Christ was born. I honestly found that to be the cutest thing ever, because they were all smiling and giddy like a bunch of three year olds going to Disney World, and as such, I responded like a mom saying stuff like "You're going to have so much fun, it's a beautiful place" and so on. Needless to say, the woman was glowing. She later complimented my hat.

After being told that I couldn't because the plane was actually filled to the brim with people (seriously, it was a flight of 393 people). I went back to my wall and called up my parents to tell them I'm about to take off. There was this annoying lady who worked the airport, you know, the ones doing the announcements? And she had this frightful timing of making announcements whenever my mom was trying to tell me something. And it was just simple announcements, no, these were announcements over the microphone. Yelling. As if we couldn't hear her. She kept doing this until I hung up the phone.

So for those unfamiliar with how security works when traveling to Israel, you need to go through a second security check before boarding the actual plane. While it's the best thing to do in terms of security and making sure on safety (I'm all for it), people take a long time to through it. And like I said, half the plane consisted of the elderly. S instead of getting up and exhausting my legs just standing there, I decided to wait until the line went down. This was the plan of all the people who were ages 40 and younger. I met up with a family who all spoke hebrew and we all just sat there chilling like it was nothing while hoping at the same time the lines would go by faster but we eventually made it to the front.

9:00 - Delta Airplane
One of the things to do (which I'm guessing is new) is to show the receipt of any liquid products purchased at the terminal. Because I'm a hoarder of receipts (compliments to my dad who tells me to keep them so he can check when the bill comes in) I showed it to them no problem. I felt like a boss being all "BOOM! Here's the receipt! What's that? You want my I.D? Well here you go!"but I digress. And began to board the plane. And let me say this: The plane was PACKED. The guy wasn't lying, and I had to make it through to my seat. My seat was placed in a row of the catholic people (who I should once again point out, were beyond nice) and once I made my presence clear, the guy who sat on my right (that is to say, the aisle) quickly got up and helped place my carry on into an available overhead that was right across from me as well as my heavy winter coat.

I didn't ask for that.

Yet he did it without me asking. Clearly one of the nicest people I've met. So after I thanked him, I took out my magazine and began to read, waiting for the White Russian to go into full effect, when I heard the lady sitting in my aisle talking to the guy on my left about the bible. An elderly fangirl is the proper term I can think of for the two of them. It wasn't until she brought up Tel Aviv that I paid a bit more attention:

"It wasn't until I heard that there is gay pride in Tel Aviv, could you believe it? I mean, in the Holy Land, this isn't even glanced over? I'm surprised."

Clearly, this lady doesn't know that Israel isn't stuck in the Biblical ages, but I can't exactly blame her for assuming it is, taking into consideration that this was her first time going there and she's going off of the hype of the Bible. She also believed The Lorax isn't suitable for kids, so I tuned her out eventually, feeling the alcoholic effects going at full force. So I lowered my hat, and waited for the flight to commence.

As the plane took off into the air, they decided to play an in-flight movie. But due to being surrounded by HD for a good chunk, I mistook "Tower Heist" as an early 2000 movie. The two old ladies in front of my were dying of laughter of Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy's hijinks. Decided to watch an hour worth of it before I took the Advil PM and prayed to God that I wouldn't pull anything stupid in my drunken/drug induced state. Instead of watching more of Rattner's movie, I asked the guy who put my carry on if I could go through to go get it. He politely moved. And I began to curse that he put it way too far back. Eventually a flight attendant came by and helped me while I grabbed my sketch book and laptop with movies, but I had to move away from the food cart that was going through.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I nearly pulled a Kristen Wiig moment. Holding on to my things, I started walking away from the food cart only to be told to e told to keep going through when I looked at some of the passengers and gave them a glance if I could scoot over to where they were sitting until the food cart passed. But I kept walking all the way to the curtains that separate the classes. Not wanting to block the peoples' viewing of the movie, I was tempted to go through the curtains when a different flight attendant told me not to and to head back to my seat. I could've done so many things to make Bridesmaids proud, but I refrained. Worst thing I could've done was yell to everyone that there was an amish woman in colonial garb churning butter on the air place wing.

So once I sat down and passed the offer of airplane food (still being full form Chili's), I popped in the disk of "Puss in Boots" and watched that as everyone was slowly drifting off to sleep. After watching, I began my struggle of sleeping position without doing the following:

  1. Punching/kicking/smacking either gentlemen on my sides.
  2. Pissing off the person in front of me for my constant kicking.
  3. Pissing off the person behind me for reclining my chair far back.
While I didn't piss off the people behind, in front, and to the left of me. I did accidentally slap the guy to my right, to which I quickly began to apologize before he went back to sleep. I did feel horrible for smacking a guy who was up till now being very nice to me. I can't say I remember much, but I did toss and turn a lot before I found an odd position to fall asleep in that didn't wake anyone up. And I didn't wake up until the flight attendants were done serving breakfast to the passengers.

11:45 am - Ben Gorion Airport, Tel - Aviv 

The Captain made the announcement that our flight will arrive early to Israel but it won't be for another two or so hours. I killed the first hour by listening to music and the second hour watching "Despicable Me" for the millionth time. Both men that sat with me were watching it as well. I was secretly hoping that they weren't judging me for watching it. I doubt it.

As we were preparing to land, I was making sure everything was on me so I wouldn't forget my things. A tradition that comes with flying to Israel, is that people clap for the successful flight and landing from the captain, and usually, the people who clap are Israelis, at least that's what I've experienced it being. So per-tradition, ever Israeli (myself included) began to clap while the Catholics looked confused and we began to pick up are things. The nice man next to me, once again, taking down my carry on and coat for me. Thanked him for helping me close my bag after trying to shove my laptop into the bag and proceeded to walk.

I should mention this: I have two passports, one American, and one Israeli. The Israeli one has an official documented form that allows me to not take part any army related things during my stay in Israel. I got this paper after getting three letters from Israel regarding the army only because both of my parents are from Israel, and as such, I'm technically a citizen and have to join the army. I got one threatening letter that warned me that if I stepped foot into Israel, I will be arrested on the spot. It's all cleared up now, but still. This is important documentation.

As I was reaching the center of the terminal, I did a double check for my passport. I couldn't find it and a heart attack commenced. I ran back as fast I could to the airplane, praying that the people didn't clean it out yet. As I reached there I asked some of the flight attendants if they saw a black bag, and taking note that they were all speaking hebrew (and a trait I found out that I had, was that when stressed, I can speak fluent hebrew, and not the broken excuse of a mess that is my normal hebrew) and one of the guys there sat down with me, told me to take a deep breath, check my bags again to make sure it's not in between a crack or magazine before re-checking the plane. It wasn't in my bag, so we checked the plane. So through out the process we were all calling each other out in hebrew if we saw it. My brain hates me, so I mistook C39 as my seat when it was C29. Found it there, exactly how I left it, took in a huge deep breath, and thank the whole crew for putting up with me, to which they shrugged it off and told me to keep a better eye on it.

From then on, I had the passport bag around my neck like a necklace, not caring if I looked like a tourist. I didn't want to have another panic attack when I barely started the trip. I went to the passport check in, and went as an Israeli check in. The man looking through it told me that the army is looking for me, to which I answered as calmly as I could (still being on the adrenaline of the lost passport) that I have the paper to prove that I don't need to be in the army. He nodded and told me it would be in my best interest to call them up and tell them to update their files on me. He was nice.

I went to the baggage claim and saw nothing but flights from Germany. Again, I asked the people who worked there where are the luggages from America, and they pointed down saying there are a few bags left. And they were right, there were about... eight bags? I found both of mines the minute I laid eyes on the trail. And ran over grabbing it, leaving behind my carry on near a trolly as an announcement went off stating to not leave behind your luggages. Screw the rules, I have luggages to claim! Both bags weigh 45 and 38 pounds respectively, but I managed to pick both of them up. Separately, of course. After being placed on the trolley I made my way to the exit where most passengers wait for someone to pick them up or to go get a car, luckily my option was to wait for someone. According to my uncle, who came to pick me up with his two daughters, we didn't have to wait for each other. Perfect timing is perfect. I waved at them so they can spot me and was greeted to two shy girls and a big hug.

According to him, they made a bet to see if my hair was curly or not (and for the record, my hair naturally is curly, the profile pick was because it was a fresh hair cut therefore a fresh blow dry). The girl with the curly hair cheered that she won. So we made our way through the car and drove from Tel Aviv to Rishon LeTzion, roughly a 15 minute drive (or longer, I am in a jet lag induce state of mind at the moment) to visit my grandma from my mom's side as well as my aunt who lives with her. We joked during the drive that while cities around Israel updated and/or changed, Rishon has remained exactly the same, give or take a few new buildings and a fresh coat of paint. We made it to the apartment where the aunt waved from the window, a scene that looked like something from Rapunzel. Made me curious as to how long she was standing there. As we began to walk to the front of the apartment (we parked in the back), we saw an older woman speed walking (or what I assume is her version of running) at us. Old lady was my grandma, and she gave me a tackle hug, causing my hat to fly off my head and my headphones to strangle me. Remember how I said I don't like people being upset? Well, she became very emotional. VERY emotional. Can't say I blame her, but there wasn't a need to make that big of a scene, I also took a mental note that within the two years I haven't been in Israel, I succeeded at becoming taller than her.

We went upstairs where we waited for my other aunt (uncle's wife) and the third infant so that we can eat. Within the time frame of her arriving and me stepping into the apartment, my grandma rushed to make a phone call to my mom, as promised before I flew, apparently. Uncle began to worry about the time difference seeing as it was between 3 and 4 in the afternoon our time, making it roughly 7 or 8 in the morning in Miami. Luckily, my mom happens to wake up at those hours on the weekend, which baffled my uncle as to why she wakes up that early. Told her the events that transpired as well as the instructions of what to do next from her, she then asked for my grandma and hung up after they spoke. I should mention that through my discussion with my mom, my grandma not only stole my hat, but she took a prop knife that you wear on your head (you know, like someone stabbed you in the head) and danced in front of me; I was beyond freaked out by this gesture, and not because I was jet lagged. Shortly afterwards, my aunt and the five month old child came in and gave me a hug hello.

My grandma has this disgusting vile doll that would put Chuckie to shame. For as long as I can remember, that stupid thing has been there giving a nasty look to everyone. Giving a face of disgust, I sat next to it so I can talk with both my aunt and uncle (the aunt who lives with my grandma being busy entertaining one of the girls). I pushed the doll away and said quietly how much I hated this doll. So did they. They told me that before their first born, my uncle asked why my grandma didn't throw it away yet to which she replied that "she won't throw it out until they have a baby", fast forward a few years later and they have a third newborn and yet that damned doll is still sitting on the couch. My uncle then said we should just toss into the garbage and tell her to get another dog.

We ate dinner (or what little I could stomach, not that her food was bad, but more of it being that I wasn't that hungry) and we had a pleasant dinner conversation, with my uncle giving me some rather hilarious commentary to my grandma. The little baby boy sat quietly as my aunt was eating when my grandma decided to pester him. I love my grandma, but one thing I know she does is she comes very, very, VERY close to your face when she's eccentric. She means well, but personal space is something that does not exist when she's hyper. She picks up the child who very clearly wanted his mom and began to, as my uncle state, make dog noises that eventually raises their pitch. He was dead on. The other aunt joined in, and the baby, with all good reasons, began to flip out and reach out for my aunt who was drinking, and she took me and hushed him quietly. I barely knew the baby, but already I can tell that he cries for all the right reasons and not for some excuse.

We sat for coffee and tea, with me declining coffee mainly because I did plan on sleeping that night and waited patiently for my uncle to finish his coffee (this should be noted, it was technically the second batch because the first one was sweet coffee, with vanilla milk, and extra sugar and my uncle being on a diet for health reason and not wanting to get diabetes for something disgustingly sweet). Grandma and other aunt began to pester the baby again, and clearly the baby wasn't going to take any more of that crap and being exhausted, he began to yell at the top of his baby lungs as a signal to get out now. It was ear deafening. Not taking any more chances, I said good night to my grandma and aunt and left with my aunt and uncle and their three kids and drove to Modi'in (about 15 to 30 minutes from Rishon, depending which road you take).

I was zoning out and my uncle was doing everything to keep me awake till at least eight at night. But we eventually made it to the apartment where I was greeted with pictures on the door welcoming me, all drawn by the two girls that even in my zombie-like state, I smiled in appreciation. I don't remember much cause I was drifting off to sleep, but eventually I made a list with my aunt for shopping the next day and eventually unpacked the presents I had for them. Two barbie dolls from Tangled for the two girls as well as these Little Pet Shop toys you throw on the ground and they pop open, earrings for the middle child, summer clothes, socks, and shoes for the baby, a tunic/dress with a nice scarf and a over shirt for my aunt, and three shirts for my uncle. If there was ever an experience of Christmas, this was it. They were all glowing and I felt like Santa. It finally hit nine, and I was so exhausted that I changed clothes and passed out. And now here I am at five in the morning typing all of this up.

Pictures weren't taken due to being a zombie, and of the few I've taken, will be posed up soon. So, until next time!

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