1st July
written by Bloom

(written without seeing Ilana’s version)

Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today. Leaving from my home for the past two and a half years, New York, New York. I first arrived in November 2007, a day after finishing the Israeli army, having never been to the US before, and having 6 weeks to find a job before my visa interview at the consulate. Thankfully, everything has worked out. I’ve grown to love the city, and even become a New York snob – I don’t usually leave Manhattan unless its to leave the the continental US! Here is the things I’ll miss, and what I won’t miss about New York.

Things I won’t miss:

  1. Garbage. On the street. It stinks. For non New Yorkers, the New York method of garbage disposal involves putting garbage in large plastic bags and leaving them on the footpath (sidewalk) on garbage day. These mounds of garbage sit and leak and stink until they are picked up.
  2. Everybody is obsessed with their work. People work long and hard in a manner that is utterly offensive to an Australian.
  3. The high concentration of lawyers, investment bankers and real estate brokers. Not only are people working too much, many of them earning ridiculous money doing absolutely nothing productive for society.
  4. The weather. How is it below freezing in winter yet we still have sticky tropical heat in summer?
  5. Air conditioner rain in the summer. There are lots of high rise buildings with window set air conditioners – you know what I’m talking about.
  6. The prices and the inequality. Sometimes it seems like New York is like a Third World country, with so much wealth and so much poverty side by side, and almost complete racial segregation in some parts. I certainly wont miss 18% tips, or buying fruit where its dollars per item not dollars per kilo.

Things I’ll miss:

  1. Jewishness is such a given part of the culture. Local news reports that Rosh Hashanah is coming. Beggars ask if you can give some tzedakah. Black people using Yiddishisms.
  2. On a similar note, the great access to kosher and vegetarian food. In our time here we have probably sampled most vegetarian restaurants in Manhattan.
  3. Its hard to go past not owning a car. Its great to be in a place where everything is walking distance or a short subway ride away.
  4. Finally, the hustle and romance of the big city. Every street corner, yellow cab or column of subway steam seems iconic. The skyline as a monument to American success. Crossroads of the world, with throngs and throngs of people form everywhere across the globe. Riding my bike through Times Square in peak hour traffic, weaving between taxis, being close enough to feel both the heat of their engines and the cool breeze of their air conditioners. That’s my New York.
25th June
written by Ilana

We are leaving NY in less than a week.  I can’t even believe this is really happening.  I have really loved living in NY over the past three years, and I hope we return after the trip.

As you can see from the first post, I love making lists.  So, without further ado, here are my goodbye NY lists:

Things I will miss about NY (in no particular order):

1.  Our apartment.
I know that when we are on the road we will each be living out of backpacks in hostel rooms.  I will definitely miss having a full apartment to ourselves, with our own kitchen, furniture, TV, internet, etc.  We will see how I manage as a vagrant.

2.  Job.
One of the most, or actually probably THE most, difficult thing about taking the next year off has been leaving my job.  I am a high school teacher and I love the people I work with, and I love my students, and it has been very hard for me to say goodbye.  I hope that I really wasn’t saying goodbye, and that in fact I will be rehired when we return from the trip, but even so, my job has become so much a part of who I am, that it is difficult for me to imagine a year without it.  I plan on giving myself curricular projects for the next year, just to keep my teaching mind alert, and because I love projects.  Although, part of me thinks I should be taking a break from any work over the next year, I know that that is not really my nature, and that I thrive on keeping busy.

3.  Friends.
Obviously I think it will be amazing to have an entire year to spend time with Bloom, but I think I will miss having our friends around to add to the mix.

4.  Readily available kosher and/or vegetarian food.
I am really not excited about eating rice everyday.  I hope that it does not come to that.  I am also sad that we cannot drink tap water.

5.  New York City in general.
I’m sorry family, but  love living in NY.  I love the general feel and atmosphere of the city.  I love the parks.  I love the different summer concerts and pilates and movies.

Now on to things I will NOT miss about NY:

1.  The smell.
Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking, “but, Ilana, you are going to be in other smelly places.”  Yes, I’m sure this is true, BUT we will also be in some fantastic natural parks and doing some trekking in the wilderness, which will be a welcome change from the stench of dog (and human!) urine and rotting garbage.  Unless the inca trail smells like garbage….maybe…

2.  My iPhone.
Ok, I know that no one FORCED me to buy an iphone.  On the other hand, whenever I went to Chicago and saw Mom, Amit, Josh, Bubby, Zaydie, Zev, etc. with iphones I was tremendously jealous.  So, I was sort of coerced, right?  Well, now I’m an addict.  I check my gmail and school email every 6 1/2 seconds, constantly look at facebook, neurotically check the weather, read a paragraph or two from the NY Times, and then check on different hostels in Cuzco, and possible flights to Borneo,  all while listening to pandora.  While this is awesome, obviously, I have a problem.  While I am aware that it will be difficult for me to be iphone-less for the next year (no cell phone service!!  no constant 3G!!  How will I know if someone liked my facebook status??!), I also know that this is probably a good thing, and that maybe it will be nice to have comparably little access to phone and internet.  Hopefully, I won’t go through too much withdrawal…

3. Expenses.
A small cup of gelato at screme is $5.  A movie is more than $12.  Our rent is actually obscene.  Enough said.

4.  Working.
I know that I said I would miss my job, and I will, BUT…being in control of my own daily schedule is going to pretty nice for a while.

5.  Media.
I think ads and billboards really have the ability of getting inside your head and making you feel like you must consume more products in order to be adequate.  I am an advertiser’s dream.  I can watch a commercial for anything, and I will be convinced that it’s amazing, which is why I love SkyMall.  Each time I look at SkyMall I think I live in a world filled with brilliant futuristic geniuses.  A hot dog toaster!!  Amazing!!  A gun that shoots marshmallows!  How have I been living without one??  Luckily, I am way too lazy to order something from a catalogue, and luckily, skymall rarely tries to convince me that I need to have smaller pores, wear higher heels, or have longer lashes.  What I am trying to say is that I often feel like ads exist to make people,  often women, feel like they would be hotter, more lovable, more beautiful if ONLY they had this magic wand that makes your lashes grow longer instantly (and may also make you blind).  While I do resist these beauty products (i doubt I would ever be able to figure out how to use this magic wand, and I know for a fact that I fall on my face in heels), I still think that consciously or sub-consciously, it makes me feel bad.  To conclude the first, of what I assume will be many, feminist rants, I will not miss the American cultural phenomenon of ads everywhere.

And with that I will say goodbye to NY, or hadran alach New York City v’hadrach alan.

8th June
written by Ilana

We leave for our round the world trip on July 7th.  Less than one month away!  We leave NY on June 30th, which is totally insane.  There’s so much to do!

So far we have:

  1. Gone to the doctor for physicals
  2. Ilana got the following vaccines:  Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever, Typhoid and a Polio Booster.  Bloom got:  Yellow Fever vaccine and Typhoid vaccine in pill form.  Weird!
  3. Opened new joint bank account at Capital One where they don’t charge you extra for using an ATM overseas.
  4. Sublet our apartment for the year.  Yay!
  5. Told our employers that we’re leaving.
  6. Booked our flights from NY–Chicago for June 30th.
  7. Booked our flights from Chicago–Lima for July 7th.
  8. Booked our flights from Buenos Aires–Melbourne for August 25th.
  9. Ilana bought a backpack
  10. Benji, Ilana’s colleague, loaned her his kindle for the year.  Awesome!
  11. Josh, Ilana’s brother, is loaning his netbook to Bloom and Ilana for the year.  Also awesome!

Ok, I feel a little better after making that list.  We still need to:

  1. Ilana needs to finish grading and other school related work.
  2. Organize our apartment/pack up our clothes.
  3. Buy all sorts of travel gear
  4. Ilana is convinced she needs to buy travel clothes
  5. Figure out how to pack for a year in a backpack…

I hope this wasn’t too boring to read.  I promise this blog will get more exciting as we travel!