Hola Buenos Aires! Here I come!

Well, well, well. It’s been SOOOOO long since I last wrote a blog post, that I’m not even sure I still know how to write!🙂

The reason for cranking up the old writing engine is that I’m leaving in 4 days’ time for Buenos Aires. And I will be gone for 3.5 weeks. Wow. And yikes! When I tell people this, they ask if I’m going on holiday, if I’m going alone. Well, yes, I guess, to both but it’s a little bit more than that. I’m going to be meeting long-lost family. And lots of them.

Yup, finally all those years of doing genealogy is paying off with a large family reunion in South America. Actually, I have family in Venezuela and Brazil as well, but that’s another story. This story is centred in Buenos Aires.

My father’s parents came from Poland. In the mid-1920s, they emigrated to Palestine. They were there for a few years before they moved to South Africa. And when they arrived in South Africa, their nationality was “Palestinian”. Yup, my grandparents were the original Palestinians😉

My father’s mother, Faiga Rozencwajg, had an aunt Golda who married Mordka Mendel Tenenbaum. They had 6 children that I know of. Of these first cousins, two sisters and a brother went to Buenos Aires, while one brother went to America. My grandmother kept in touch with her cousins; I have some photos that they must have sent her, and she went to visit South America in 1971. However, with my grandmother’s passing away in 1986, we lost all contact (and I don’t think we really even knew about this contact).

Fast forward to mid-2009. An American woman named Mary Jo contacts me on the JewishGen Family Finder website and asks if I’m related to Mordka Mendel Tenenbaum who is her husband’s grandfather. I find the name in my family tree and make the connection. Mary Jo tells me that they have just found the Argentine relatives after forty years of lost contact between the families. They had already met some relatives and were planning to meet more.

I then left it for a few months (or rather, I forgot about it) but remembered again in April 2010. I got back in touch with Mary Jo and this time I joined our family trees together which was very exciting. Mary Jo informed me that they just come back from spending 2 weeks in Buenos Aires meeting lots of “new” cousins. We exchanged old photos and information. I even had a Skype chat with some of these “new” cousins, which was amazing and emotional.

It was then that Mary Jo mentioned that they were planning another, longer, trip to Buenos Aires in a few years’ time. This planted the seed in my head to make a visit of my own at the same time as their trip to Argentina…

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There’s more to this than meets the eye(s)

This morning I went to the optometrist. No, there was nothing wrong with my sight as far as I could tell. I just went for a checkup since I’m on a quest to check out all body systems. This year I went onto the expensive comprehensive plan on Discovery Health. Just for this year. So now that I’m in the Above Threshold Benefit, I’m making use of it by checking out all aspects of my health. For example, the other week I did R3000 worth of blood tests!

Anyway, coming back to the optometrist. I actually find it quite fun to go through all sorts of tests, especially if I do well in them! The results were actually very interesting which is why I thought I’d share them with you.

My distance vision is excellent. The optometrist, Ariella Meyerowitz, was very impressed by how far I could see. As I knew before, my left eye is stronger than my right eye. In fact, it turns out that the right eye has a slight astigmatism which Ariella says is completely normal. Astigmatism means that the eye is not completely round, but slightly elongated.

Just a brief explanation of how eyesight works: Each eye sees a slightly different view of the world. Each image is fed back to the brain which then superimposes the images on top of each other to make one whole image.

Now I probably don’t have the following absolutely correct but this is what I remember Ariella telling me. Instead of my eyes working together properly, each sends its own image and the brain keeps swapping between the two images. It’s not like one eye is dominant, which would indicate one hemisphere of the brain

taking prominence. Instead, each hemisphere of my brain is active. Right and left brain. And this is very true of me.

Let me quickly mention the theory of left-right brain specialisation. Broadly speaking, the left brain is concerned with language skills and linear reasoning while the right brain is concerned with visuo-spatial and mathematical abilities as well as artistic creativity. Women are generally considered to be left-brain dominant while men tend to be right-brain dominant. In my case, I am equally proficient in both areas – I am very good with languages and I have a very analytical, mathematical mind (over-analytical if you ask me!).

When I was a young teenager, an optometrist prescribed me glasses for reading. I probably had them for a few months. Then an eye specialist said that I didn’t need them and wouldn’t need glasses til I was 40. I told this to Ariella. She said that glasses might have helped to teach my eyes to work together.

Over the years they have adapted very well to working the way they do, but it has been a form of compensation. What she finds fascinating is the link between how we perceive the world physiologically and our psychological experience. Does how we physically “see” the world affect the way we “view” the world? For example, perhaps there would have been increased communication between the two halves of my brain if my eyes had been trained to work together. Maybe the way my brain works now is two sides working well, but more separately than together. Interesting stuff to ponder.

Ariella also told me that I find it hard to relax my eyes. Did you know that there are two ways to focus on something? By tensing the eye muscles (which is the only way I thought we focus) and by relaxing the eyes. I think the different ways of focusing have to do with near and far vision. It seems that sometimes things come into focus when we relax our vision. Hmmmm…. Doesn’t that give food for thought? Anyway, it turns out that I’m constantly tensing when I focus, and that I don’t relax enough. You try telling my brain to relax!

I’d like to think that this is probably due to the fact that I work all day at a computer building websites, so needing to stay focused on the screen in front of me. And then when I come home, I’m usually on the computer again. It turns out that my not watching TV is maybe not such a good thing sometimes!

Watching TV is considered relaxed vision. The remedy is to make a habit of looking away from the computer for a period of 10 seconds. This could mean just looking around the office at other people. Or staring out the window. Not bad options…

So while for now there’s no need for me to get glasses (my script would be almost zero), I need to practise relaxing my eye muscles.

Life’s lesson for today: Relax and let things swim into focus on their own.

P.S. Ariella Meyerowitz is a wonderful, warm, friendly, knowledgeable, patient and helpful optometrist based in Glenhazel. I can definitely recommend her.

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What’s Sunday got to do with it?

Another Sunday survived.

Okay, so I’m being a little melodramatic. What’s there to survive about a Sunday? What’s so difficult about Sundays? After all, aren’t Sundays the perfect day off, the day in which to chill, relax, do all those things you can’t do during the rest of the week? Laze around. Shop. Visit friends.

Well, not quite for me. When I wake up on Sunday morning, it’s often in a depressed frame of mind, especially when I have nothing planned for the day. Outside it’s a gorgeous sunny Joburg day, beckoning me to come revel in the sunshine. But there I am in my flat with nothing to do. Oh sure, I could go shopping. So let me rephrase that. With nothing MEANINGFUL to do. That’s the crux of the matter. I’m lying in bed with a beautiful day outside and nothing meaningful planned. And that feels mighty depressing.

Married friends with kids cannot relate to this. They would LOVE to have time off, time to themselves. Time to sleep in. Time alone. But I have the opposite problem. Being single, and almost in my mid-30s (okay, some might argue that 34 is alread mid-30s, but strictly speaking I have until 35!), having too much time on my hands is my predicament, my challenge. I don’t want to waste time. Yet I feel time trickling away, slipping through my fingers, with nothing to show for it. Well, nothing of significance. Much.

Over the last few months I’ve been experiencing a sort of existential crisis. What meaning is in my life? What am I doing? For what? Why? What’s the purpose of it all? This has been brought into stark relief after the end of a relationship which I had at one stage believed could be THE ONE. Boy, did I really want to believe it. It gave my life such meaning. It wasn’t just that I had been longing for a life partner for years. And thought I’d found him. It was very much a matter of imbuing a rather mundane life with heightened meaning and excitement. Fantasies of major life changes. Of embarking on new life paths. Upliftment from the repetitive familiar to the unexplored unknown.

With all that crashing down on my head, I was left with…. nothing but myself. The same situation. Me I guess. The bursting of dream bubbles. Cold reality again. And confronting the meaning of why we’re here. Head-on.

These were definitely not my thoughts in my 20s. These were not questions which occurred to me, or remotely entertained, except in a very intellectual fashion (i.e. not emotionally involved with the issues). But something has changed now that I’m in my 30s. A much greater awareness of time and its fleeting nature. And a loss of potential. Life seemed to brim with so much more possibility in my 20s. Dreams of achievements. Fields to explore. Now life seems to be passing me by. The majority of people my age (in my social stratum) seem to be married with kids. Or at least, have settled down with a partner. They are so much further ahead in the course of life, while I’m still standing on the starting block.

So back to Sundays. I’ve realised I have to really plan my Sundays. Give myself something to wake up for. Make arrangements to see friends. Be constructive with my time. And building relationships is the most constructive thing I can think of.

This morning started off sluggishly. I woke up tired and listless. But by late morning things had picked up and I was off and away. I think that once I’m out of my flat, I start to feel better. While I’m happy to live alone (coming home at the end of a day to an empty flat is really no problem), when it comes to a Sunday I don’t want to be cooped up inside on my own. I want to be doing something meaningful. Anyway, I left my flat at 11:15am and only got back at 10pm. One thing led to another (dropped in for a quick visit at Maria, lunch at Eleni and Terry, Jax’s afternoon birthday party, returning a top to Debbie which ended up taking a few hours) and by the end of the day, I can look back and see I managed to survive another Sunday. Meaningfully.

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Hit me baby one more time…

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… What happened to Meira? She starts her blog again and then… silence. Well, Monday morning I received quite an emotional blow. I found out that Tal got engaged a month ago and is getting married in 2 months’ time. Quite mind-blowing. So Monday was pretty much spent in tears.

But I’m glad to say, and I’m sure you’re relieved to know, I’m feeling pretty okay now. I guess this means closure. It hurts, sure. But what choice do I have except to move on? Thankfully I have the support of wonderful friends and family. It means a lot to me. And that’s something to be very grateful for.

Sorry this is so short. Will write more soon.

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Hello? Testing testing… Can you hear me? Ah yes! We’re back on air!

7 months exactly since I wrote my last blog post. So much has happened, so much has changed since then. And not at all in the way you may be thinking from what I last wrote.

The past 7 months have been the most emotionally difficult period of my life. My relationship with Tal (or rather, with He Who Shall Not Be Named, as I prefer to refer to him) ended shortly after I left London. I didn’t put much of my personal life into my blog, so you wouldn’t have been aware of this, but things were definitely not all rosy during my Italian and London trips. In fact, I was on the start of an emotional rollercoaster, which soon after just went downhill. And down is where I’ve been for the last seven months.

So why have I returned to writing? I have been in need of a good deal of healing. Been trying various things, which I hope to write about, and tonight driving home I started thinking of writing my blog again. The whole way home I was writing this post in my head. And I figured it could be a good thing. I have written a lot in my diary over the past months. Intermittently though. Perhaps this will be a more regular activity.

I have no idea who’ll be reading this. There are some friends who subscribed all those months ago. There are some friends who asked me why I had stopped writing. After the break-up, I felt there was nothing to say, nothing to write about. Hopefully I’m back, Nads!

After I stopped writing, I thought that would be the end of my blog. Who’d read it now that I’d stopped writing? And who would even find it? But the weird thing is… and I was totally surprised to discover this tonight… there are still loads of people coming to my site. Okay, not HUNDREDS, but even 40 a day (on average) is a fortune of people, especially since I haven’t written a word in 7 months! And they’re finding me through the search engines. Take a look at the search terms which brought visitors to my site just yesterday:

  • sad old man
  • doc martens
  • primrose hill
  • italy map
  • concrete balcony
  • martens
  • capri italy maps
  • san marco square
  • verone piazza delle erbe
  • where fore art thou, romeo
  • o romeo romeo
  • schengen visa application
  • fishing old man poor
  • schengen visa italy
  • kosher italy
  • guy in undies
  • doc marteens
  • map of italy
  • blue love sad
  • juliet house
  • bell centre arena seat distance
  • tuna italy
  • balcony juliet
  • happy man fishing
  • schengen visa questions
  • south african passport holder needs a sc
  • old man coat

How bizarre! “Guy in undies”???!!!!!!! Hmmm…. I think that many of these search terms were for images, like “map of italy”. To be honest, I have tried typing in some of these into Google but haven’t found my blog come up much. Actually, these search terms are starting to look like some kind of fridge poetry. Or Search Engine Haiku.

sad old man

blue love sad

where fore art thou, romeo?

Well, enough for one night. Good thing I started writing late at night or who knows how long this post would be!🙂

P.S. At last, I have now found my blog coming up – on Google’s image search. “doc martens” “primrose hill”…. But still no idea how “blue love sad” brings you here. If you can find out how, I’ll reward you with…. fame and fortune as your name gets mentioned here. And then you too can join sad old guys in undies on Juliette’s balcony.

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The weather in London next week will be warm and sunny…

… and Paris will be cold and rainy.

How do I know this? Am I some kinda psychic? No, I know this because I’m leaving London on Sunday and going to Paris. And taking the bad weather with me. Just like I brought the bad weather in Italy with me to London 4 weeks ago when I arrived here. A month back it was really very pleasant here in London. But after a few days it all went downhill. And it’s been getting worse and worse. So I guess it’ll be for the good of all the people in London that I leave so they can get their summer back… But pity the poor Parisians…

Here’s what I’ve had to put up with… summer in London…

London “summer”

Looks like a horror movie waiting to happen…

“Summer” in London

Okay, it’s not always THIS bad…

View from Sean’s place

The above pic was taken in Hendon from my friend Sean’s place. Sean, incidentally, recently got engaged to the wonderful Judy! MAZELTOV!!!🙂 A very romantic proposal it was, on one knee nogal, by the Western Wall in Jerusalem…

At the moment I’m busy packing up my stuff. It’s not something I’m enjoying and I’m really dragging my heels about it. Today also marks 3 weeks til the end of my trip. Which sucks. Big time. Who cares about the real world??? I just want to stay on holiday! Pout pout, sulk sulk😦

After today I’m not sure when I’ll be able to write my next post. Most likely it won’t have pics. I have, though, sorted through all my pics and uploaded them to online albums, so hopefully at some stage I’ll write a few more posts about them. And then there are all of Tal’s photos to go through – he’s a much better photographer than I am! And he took lots of me! My love of posing and his snap-happiness combined beautifully!

Okay! Better get back to packing… Catch y’all later!

🙂

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Crazy, chaotic, noisy Napoli…

The 8th to the 15th of May was spent in Napoli (Naples), most of that time with Tal. We used the city as a base to explore the isle of Capri, Pompeii, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. The weather had improved a lot since Rome and Sicily, and was generally sunny and warm.

Napoli is many things: noisy, frenetic, chaotic, lively, graffiti-covered… But the one thing which stood out for Tal and me is that it’s full of LOCALS. Naples felt like authentic Italy. In many other cities, such as Rome (obviously), Taormina and Venice, the places swarm with tourists. Now I know this is a bit rich coming from, ahem, a tourist herself, but that doesn’t mean I want to be surrounded by fellow tourists, especially busloads of Germans and French. This is why Naples felt so refreshing. And the people are very friendly too.

Not only are the local Neapolitans friendly, but they’re also very helpful and even look out for you. All the guidebooks warn you about pickpockets and bag-snatchers on bikes. But it’s very touching when the local residents show their concern by pointing to that wallet bulging in your pocket, or that bag slung over your shoulder, telling you to take care. Which happened to us numerous times. That state of vigilance reminds me of sweet ol’ Joburg😉 . Fortunately, we survived our many public travels with wallets and bags intact. But I did often have to remind Tal to lock his wallet away in his backpack – years of living in London can make one go soft😉

Here are some photo highlights from the city of Naples only:

View over Naples from where we were staying

Above is the view from the rooftop guest apartment where I stayed with Alexander and Sara of Chabad of Napoli. From there I could see this Neapolitan sunning himself…

A Neapolitan sunning himself

I was very much taken with the Galleria Umberto I shopping centre, not by the shops themselves, but by the beautiful building itself:

Galleria Umberto I shopping centre

Napoli is a very crowded city, full of tall buildings, draped with washing, bounding narrow lanes. Here’s my attempt to convey this:

Flags

Napoli street

Street in Napoli

Street scene Napoli

Napoli

One thing that strikes you about Napoli are the whizzing bikes and Vespas – they are everywhere! Zooting around corners – watch out! Men, women, children, usually 2 to a bike. We even watched people making deliveries on motorbikes – one the driver, the other holding the item above his head. Come the end of the work day and it’s noisy chaos as people return from work or go out for the evening. It can be quite a shellshock to be caught in the middle. What was particularly mindblowing were seeing families on bikes. Yes, mom, dad and child. I snapped one below. At least the parents had helmets. That’s something, right? Poor kid…

Family of 3 on a bike

Gelato (ice-cream) is as much a delight in Napoli as it is all over Italy:

Gelato in Naples

Tourist trinkets…

Tourist stuff in Napoli

I snapped these 2 men arguing, or was it just animated talking? I couldn’t tell!

Now listen here…

Yikes! Did I just snap some mafiosi?😉

Neapolitan mafiosi?

I just love the way this old man’s legs dangle as he reads the paper!

Old man Naples

The inside of the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) is beautiful and sumptious:

Palazzo Reale

Tal returned to London from Naples. On that Sunday I accompanied him on the Alibus to the airport. We had such a cute, friendly bus driver (pictured below). I told him I was coming back to Naples after the airport. He said that if I’m on his bus on the way back, then he’ll let me travel free of charge (maybe he saw how miserable I was since Tal was leaving!). At the airport, I waited with Tal until he boarded, for at least an hour. And lo and behold, on my return to Napoli I had the same bus driver. And he kept his word🙂

Alibus bus driver

And finally, a stunning view of Napoli and the Bay of Naples from Castel Sant’Elmo on top of Vomero hill. That is Mount Vesuvius in the distance. Yup, the famous volcano which erupted in 79 CE and buried the aristocratic town of Pompeii in lapilli, small volcanic rock fragments. As you can see, it pretty much dominates the area.

Napoli from top of Castel Sant’Elmo

There are literally hundreds more photos in my online Naples photo album.

Enjoy!

🙂

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