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Happy New Year

January 6, 2011

Apologizing for not blogging is silly. I’m not sorry for not writing because that would tacitly imply I believe you, whoever you are, were hurt that I didn’t entertain you for a few weeks. I am not that delusional.

Instead of wasting time talking about how or why I haven’t been writing, let’s talk about Christmas!

After much debate, I went back to the US for the holiday. Not holidays, technically, as my return flight to Israel was on New Year’s Eve. In fact, my plane was somewhere over Midtown Manhattan around 9:50 p.m., though try as I might, I couldn’t see anyone in Times Square. Regardless of how many people were cheerfully freezing down below, I was out like a light thanks to all the extra room on my empty plane populated with two smiling (and notably underworked) flight attendants for every passenger on board, most of whom were wearing plastic New Year’s hats.

But back to being home for Christmas. It surprises me every time I’m back in the States how one short year away can so thoroughly undo nearly twenty consecutive years of living there. While it may only take three or four days to readjust for the most part, some things stayed weird the whole time I was in town. For example, for every light I successfully turned on, I knocked at least three pictures off walls, hurt myself, or otherwise confused someone by completely missing the light switches. Who knew that I’d get so used to how high light switches are in Israel and feel like I had to bend down to turn on a light in the U.S.? Right up to the day I left American light switches just looked weird.

The other usual reverse culture shock staples were in effect — everything was almost frighteningly huge, cars were too big, the sky was too vast, the amount of effortlessly comprehensible English nearly short-circuited my brain that had become accustomed to concentrating really hard to understand spoken words. But unlike upon returning from another year in Japan each Christmas when I would feel restaurants must have accidentally delivered ten meals to my table instead of one, after a year in Israel portions actually appeared pretty normal, if not small. And after being in Israel for a while, people in the U.S. just seemed so darn nice all the time, which is also a big contrast to feeling like everyone was embarrassingly rude when I would come back from Tokyo.

Here’s to another great year of incongruous holiday mishmashes, learning experiences, and new levels of cultural confusion.

The family dog looking perplexed as usual

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