Some things about Haifa

I’ve been in Haifa for two weeks, which probably deserves some sort of recognition.

Here I am: able to navigate successfully from point A to point B regularly; starting to get good at calculating the exchange rate ($1 = 3 shekels) without thinking too much; sweating more than I’ve ever sweated before and unable to explain my feelings in Celsius.

There’s bigger selection of fruit than I’m used to, but strangers don’t smile as much. I’ve never lived this close to an ocean you can swim in.

I forgot about living in the middle of an alphabet you can’t read. Hebrew looks like upside-down music notes, and I can never remember what my receipts are for.

It didn’t hit me that I was moving until I made it all the way here, standing in my new room, unpacking all my dresses. And then suddenly it did. Everything I hadn’t been thinking about for nine months, all at once.

I haven’t been able to figure out which buttons are doorbells and which ones are light switches in the stairwell of my building. I kept ding-dong ditching the neighbors for a while, but now I just feel my way up in the dark.

Two weeks isn’t enough to figure anything out. But I know a few things. That there’s an Arab bakery a few minutes walk from where I live that’s open on Shabat. That “toda” means “thank you” and “rega” means “wait” (and the accompanying hand motions). Which staircases will take me home. The difference between doorbells and light switches will come with time.

I’ve already used up two bus cards, so I’m well on my way to settling in.

Some things remind me of Amman (the hills everyone calls mountains, the sandstone buildings, the cucumbers stacked in crates outside corner stores), and some things remind me of other places.

I think that’s what happens when you move around a lot–wherever you are ends up being an amalgamation of all your previous homes.

In the Arctic again

Geeze, I’m becoming one of those bloggers. Sorry. Sorry, sorry. Sorry again and forever. I’d promise to do better, but why make promises you probably won’t keep? Let’s just all keep our expectations low for the next several years, and when I unexpectedly don’t become a barista-for-life-with-unrealized-aspirations-of-writing-a-novel, we can all go out for dessert.

I’m in Barrow right now. I’m up here working with the Barrow Baha’i community on a project to train older youth to start junior youth groups.

This is where Barrow is, if you’re unfamiliar with Alaskan geography:

map of alaska

It’s about 671 miles north of Anchorage, if you’re drawing a straight line up and down the state. Which is what you end up doing to get there, since it’s off the road system.

I’ve never been to Barrow before, but I drove all the way up to Prudhoe Bay several summers ago when I was working in Coldfoot. At some point after Atigun Pass, the mountains just slope into the tundra and never come back up. It’s eerie and flat, and the mosquitoes are bigger than you’ve ever seen them. Prudhoe is like the setting for a YA Lit dystopian novel, with all the larger-than-life machinery.

A crappy picture of machinery. July 2011.
A crappy picture of machinery. July 2011.

Barrow is cut of the same cloth, but it’s a real place, not just an oil field. It’s not the steep, mountainous Alaska I’m used to, but there’s still something about the way the tundra turns into the Arctic Ocean without any sort of ceremony and the sea ice pushes itself up close to the beach in the ever-present wind.

Hello, Arctic Ocean.
Hello, Arctic Ocean.

The sun never really quite sets in the summer in Alaska anyway, but it fades out in the middle of the night depending on where you are. But up here the brightness never fades. It’s the same at 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. And it was 34 degrees and snowing yesterday, the kind of good biting cold you get in the fall before you have to break out your real winter coat.

God, I love Alaska.

Blue hair and Vespas

A few days ago, mom told me she was heading to Wal-Mart. “Need anything?” she asked. “Yeah, blue hair dye!” I told her, because I’ve been meaning to fix my hair for a while. Later, I came home and found a box of Manic Panic on my bed. Today, she helped me pull out all the faded streaks and clip them back. The hair dye smelled kind of like blueberries and harsh chemicals, and now our bathtub is tinted slightly blue.

“BABE WANT TO GO LOOK AT THE VESPA TONIGHT?” Valerie texted me earlier this evening, post re-dye-blue-streaks operation. She’s been casually browsing Craigslist for scooters and motorcycles for years, but lately a lot of our friends have been getting their motorcycle licenses and exuberantly tweeting about it, so I think it’s making the motorcycle-fever worse.

We went and talked to the woman from Craigslist, who was the mother of someone who went on a laser tag date with one of our roommates this winter and then sent some confusing texts. His mother seemed nice though. And the Vespa is great. It’s adorable and yellow and sort of perfect in it’s impracticality, and Valerie spent the drive home rattling off Vespa facts she’d learned from the Internet the night before.

“I should have just spent the summer in Fairbanks,” I told Valerie after our millionth conversation about how average Anchorage is. “I think you’d just be heartbroken when you left though,” she replied. “I’m heartbroken now!” I said, with characteristic dramatics. “It’s inevitable, and I might as well have enjoyed the last part of my summer in Alaska.” “Yeah, but transition times are necessary,” she responded with sage wisdom. “You’d either have one in Haifa, or right now in Anchorage, so it might as well be right now.”

It’s true in a way. Hopefully this purgatory means I won’t spend several weeks wallowing in Mediterranean August humidity. Regardless, we’re going to Fairbanks this weekend, and I’m beyond excited.

I’m back–finally, impermanently

I woke up at 7:45 this morning as my best friend stepped over my sleeping bag to unzip the tent we set up in my parents’ backyard last night. “Sorry,” she mouthed, but in a way that said, I’m not really sorry about waking you up, you sucker, you convinced me to camp in your parents yard in the rain and now I have to go to work.

backyard tent selfie at 1 a.m. with the best people i know <3 <3 <3
backyard tent selfie at 1 a.m. with the best people i know

I haven’t spent a summer without a job in years, and I guess this is what it’s like.

I am home: finally, improbably, impermanently. I got back from everywhere the night before last. I have a severely peeling sunburn and no clean socks, but it is good to be back in Alaska, albeit the wrong part. Alaska Airlines just emailed me with the subject, “ELIKA we’re ready to go to Fairbanks!” Me too, me too, me too.

Today, when I went to attempt to return something at REI I bought 6 months ago (successful, btw), the woman at the cashier complimented me on my leggings. Then she gave me the lady-outfit-once-over and said, “man, you’ve got a lot of patterns going on! I love it!” So anyway, I have a new friend and one less expensive sporting good store item, which is something we should all aspire to anyway.

“Do you have, like, a list?” my brother asked me a few weeks ago, after he had been telling me about the Anchorage bucket list he and his friends have to finish before they all leave for college. “Yeah, I need to get a tetanus shot, and close my bank account, and make a dentist appointment, and I want to go to Fairbanks once or twice, and–” “No, like a real list?” “Not really.”

For now, it’s just nice to be home. Home being a place where I can wear a coat in June and camp out with my best friends at night.

A much needed update

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been sans-laptop, and updating from my phone is icky and inefficient. Nonetheless, here I am, typing out a post on my phone, because, ugh, blogging for 4+ years turns you into the kind of person who wants to talk about everything on your blog.

I have so much to say. I thought I would take a break from my blog this summer, and pull myself together, and maybe start again once I had moved to Haifa. (I have a plane ticket now! Things are official! I’m leaving in August!) But I’ve just been keeping a journal of things I want to retool and post eventually.

So much for starting a life of mystery.

Anyway, for now, a much needed update, complete with iPhone pictures.

I’ve been traveling for the last month. First on the east coast with family:


Wherein I got to meet literally my biggest idol Sarah Kay, and watched her perform spoken word, and it was everything I’ve ever wanted and more:


And then I’ve been vagabonding all over Europe with my brother:


He’s really cool. Here’s a picture of him:


Last night we got to hang out in a bar in Amsterdam and watch the Dutch cream Spain in the World Cup. Everyone was decked out in orange, and very thrilled:


I would post more, but the WordPress app keeps crashing as I try to add more pictures to it. We’ll be home soon, and, I say this confidently, posting will resume a pretty regular Elika schedule.

Also, if you’re in Alaska, let’s make sure to hang out between June 26 and August 5. I’ll be in Fairbanks for part of that time too!

You guys are rad, as always.

The last four days

In the past week, I:

  • graduated from college
  • packed all of my material possessions into the back of Dad’s subaru
  • moved away from a place I had grown to love immensely
  • watched my little brother graduate from high school
  • turned 22

That’s enough for one year, let alone FOUR DAYS.

I’ll blog more when I have my wits about me again (that’s a promise), but right now I am the smallest of emotional wrecks and need to tend to my fraying insides with love and care so that I don’t fall apart thanks to the balloons full of feelings that have replaced my lungs inside my chest cavity.

Anyway, the plan for the summer is a hodgepodge of locations and activities. I’ll be traveling for most of June and back in Alaska for all of July. And then I leave for g.o.o.d.

A week ago, I was sitting in my kitchen working on a study guide for Modern European History living life as I’d known it for what seems like forever. I can’t handle this. My chest-cavity-balloons full of emotions are threatening to burst, and if that happens I will cough up sadness and anxiety for leaving behind so many rad people and excitement and anticipation for what comes next, and I’m not sure if I would be able to stop coughing, to be honest, and then I would have to get an inhaler or find cough syrup and it would be this whole thing and no one needs that.

So I’ll just leave you with this picture:

How to wear your graduation gown to accentuate your womanly curves, obviously.
How to wear your graduation gown to accentuate your womanly curves, obviously.


It’s always been about the weather

Today is my last day of classes ever. And it’s flurrying outside. This all feels like poetic justice, especially now that the leaves are out (finally) and I am nearly out (finally), and winter is having a hard time letting go. That’s a metaphor, right?

There’s a lot to do this week, obviously. And I haven’t been able to bring myself to get started on any of it–packing, rewriting, studying for tests that wont matter in 4 days. Instead, I spent several hours with the newspaper staff yesterday, cracking journalism jokes and brainstorming ways to pull the last issue together. One of the best things I’ve ever reported and written is running in this issue.

I went to Portland this weekend.* Thinking back on it now, it seems like a different person who almost went to college there. It was wholesomely satisfying to come full circle like that, especially because the weather was much better at home. And it’s always been about the goddamn weather.


*For the region 10 Society of Professional Journalists conference. I won an award–1st place feature photography in the region for these pictures.

Crisis averted! I’m back!

If you visited my blog in the last 24 hours you probably noticed a gaping white error screen. I didn’t screenshot it, so if you missed it–because, let’s get real, you only check this blog when I put up a post on facebook–you’ll have to use your imagination. The haze of memory is starting to interfere with the actual facts, and I’m really thinking it looked something like this:

snapshots of a broken life
(now announcing my lucrative career in graphic design)

Anyway, since you’re reading this, I’m obviously back!

Thanks to Jeremy for helping me get ftp access set up, and PROPS TO ME FOR FIXING MY SITE. I am feeling very self-sufficient right now, which is why I ate eggs for dinner at 10:30 p.m.

Also, I played my oboe for four and a half hours today. Get on my very geeky level.



A brush with the law

Valerie is sitting outside on the hammock right now, and I am inside pouring my lifeless soul into a paper about Margaret Thatcher, and we are occasionally calling back and forth to each other through the open window over the excellent bluegrass Pandora station I have pulled up right now.

Me: “An FBI agent is coming to our apartment right now.”

Valerie: “Why?”

Me: “Because [one of our friends] is getting government security clearance and he put me down as a reference. So someone just called, and there is an FBI agent heading over to interview me.”

Valerie: “Should I put on pants?”

Me: “You’re probably ok.”

Valerie: “Want to practice?”

Me: “Being interviewed by an FBI agent?”

Valerie: “Yeah.”

Me: “Ok.”

Valerie: “Hi, I’m an FBI agent.”

Me: “Hi, I’m Elika.”

Valerie: “Is that your real name?”

Me: “Yes.”

Valerie: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Yes.”

Valerie: “I don’t know what else he’s going to ask.”

Me: “Me either.”

Pictures of breakup season

Spring is here in full force. We’ve melted through most of the snow (even the April snowstorm), and I’ve worn sandals almost every day for the past week. I’ve been trying to compile a series of breakup season photos because grey snow and mud are the best. Here are a few favorites:

DSC_0033 4-3-14 thursday tuesday Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

I ran through a foot of snow in sandals the other day. That, my friends, is what April is all about.