Packing For A Month In Tel Aviv, Israels

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Packing For A Month In Tel Aviv

“Larry had brought me blue jeans, a red polo shirt, jogging socks, my white Nikes, an extra cross from my suitcase, the silver knives, the Firestar complete with inner pants holster, and the Browning and its shoulder holster. He’d forgotten a bra, but hey, except for that it was perfect.” Laurel K Hamilton

No suitcase in the world is fit to contain the multitude of useless junk I consider bringing on even the shortest trips. I’m a high maintenance traveler. I have a few enviable skills but packing is not one of them. Spending a month in the same place with weekend trips is a packing challenge for me. Its much easier to pack when I’m moving around. How can I survive a month in a city without my black leather fringe boots?

How many t-shirts , socks and underwear do I have to bring if I am actually going to be doing laundry – something I normally avoid on vacation? Do I bring the laundry detergent with me? By not bringing so much underwear, does that give me room to bring even more denim?

I always pack like I’m going to Cuba or Myanmar twenty years ago. I’m a fan of duct tape. You can use it for anything – broken luggage or broken toes. Also zip lock bags. Everything spills. I always bring flip-flops. I live in fear of a disgusting shower floor. I’m a germaphobe and always travel with hand sanitizer. I think every public restroom carries malaria or bubonic plague.

Sexy lingerie? If I think about it enough, it’s going in the suitcase. Workout sneakers? There is a lot of ice cream in Israel. How many purse options should I bring? There are many different ways to carry around credit cards, rumpled cash, gum, eye drops and lip gloss.

It is going to be raining. Do I need the cute red rubber rain boots?  I almost never wear them in Southern California because of the drought. It would make a cool Instagram photo with the old city of Yafo in the background.

What about all those books that I have lying around that I am planning to read? I can bring those for the plane .

This time I have many presents for my god-daughter. I’m bringing an extra suitcase for her gifts. Gift giving practices vary by country so be aware of the customs. She is two and half and doesn’t know the customs yet.

I’m a traveler and I know that packing heavy is a rookie mistake. I spend a lot of time organizing because of this. My packing mantra is less things, more experiences. Sometimes it works.

Ps. Our AiirBnB  is two minutes from the American Embassy. I wonder if they will need help packing.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Things I Carry In My Day Bag When Traveling

Things I Carry In My Day Bag When Traveling

“You have to travel to see new light, find new hope, renew the mind and revitalize the soul.” Lailah Gifty Akita

Chances are good that if you need something, you will find it in my purse. It is a bit of a black hole. You would not believe the things I find. There is always food (not always fresh), usually chocolate, loose cosmetics, foreign coins from countries I haven’t been to in a long time, loose credit cards that have fallen out of my wallet, old car tickets that I couldn’t find when I needed them, foreign bills from my last trip, more than one coffee card, business cards from people I do not remember,  receipts, loose tic tacs, eye drops, theatre tickets, a toothbrush without a case, keys to I don’t know what, rubber bands and band aids.

I’m not good with a purse. i do love them and have many. I believe that each new one will be different.This will be the one where I become neat and organized. Within in a week I have enough stuff in it to flee the country. The only time I am reasonably organized is when I travel. I always start with a clean purse.

I usually leave in the morning for a whole day with a purse and light tote. I can’t fit everything I need into a purse and the tote is good for shopping.

Lip gloss – Terry clear gloss. if its sunny something with a sunscreen as well.

Cover stick – works for everything

Eye drops –  because I need them,

Clear glasses –  because I need them also.

Tiny umbrella hooked onto something if rain is a possibility

Small or large camera

iPhone

Sometimes sneakers or extra shoes

Pen and moleskin notebook or paper if I misplace the notebook.

Candy

Floss for after the candy

Water

Paper map. Technology doesn’t always work.

Business cards

Change for street performers and rest rooms. I give to every musician and every restroom. Trust me, in some countries you will want to pay.

Tissues – for those same countries.

Hand crème and hand sanitizer, because I have hands.

Allergy pills and Tylenol.

Ipod and noise cancelling headphones

Protein bars, almonds, cheese or something wrapped in a napkin from breakfast which always involves crumbs .

When I get home I clean out my travel purse. There are always cookie crumbs, loose cosmetics usually without the tops, loose pills that have fallen out of the bottles, loose coins, foreign bills, loose credit cards that have fallen out of my wallet, business cards from people I do not remember, loose tic tacs, eye drops -some are empty, a toothbrush without a case, stones and shells I picked up from somewhere, airline and hotel “giveaways”, loose jelly bellies and m and ms, loose crinkled tissues, gum wrappers, hotel keys, boarding passes, and papers from museums, galleries and stores.

Yes my purse usually ends up as a reflection of my disorganized brain. I’m not ashamed of it. Who has time to organize a purse when there are so many exciting things to do in the world? I carry my baggage with me.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Act ll – Downsizing in LA

Act ll Downsizing in LA

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” Buddha (This has always been one of my favorite quotes.)

The Latin word for baggage is “impedimenta.” which means things that get in the way of forward movement. Self help books say that we must get rid of our baggage to lighten the way to the new.

I am moving to a smaller house and “downsizing. “Downsizing conjures up an image of a life that is descending. The American dream has trained us to believe that bigger is better.

I no longer have the luxury of a ton of storage space for all my extra stuff.The amount of things you can accumulate after living in one big house for a long time is overwhelming. Daily I sift through photos, memories and keepsakes to see what aspects of my former identity will transfer into my new life. The emotional anxiety of releasing your history is tough. I am definitely leaving a little bit of who I was in this house. I am trying to only bring things that will add real value to my life.

The downsize was not my choice but an unavoidable life change. I can’t ignore the circumstances that brought me here but it is going to be different. I am going to be living in a much smaller house a block from the beach. It is a neighborhood where you can walk to Starbucks and restaurants. I haven’t lived in a walking neighborhood since moving from New York. I am a little excited to be able to walk on the beach every day and become a regular at the cool trendy restaurants popping up nearby.

So I just have to get through this miserable, uncomfortable, painful part of life to move into this cool house I found. Maybe our paths were never meant to be straight and the unexpected places we find ourselves are just where we are supposed to be.

Fly safe,

JAZ

A Heartbreaking Work Of Getting Rid Of Books

A heartbreaking work of getting rid of books.

“A book can wait a thousand years unread until the right reader comes along.” George Steiner

I identify myself as a reader so it is particularly hard to get rid of my books. As a visual learner, reading is the way I make sense of the world. I am at ease with books around me.

There is a special bookcase in my house of books I have read and loved. Books aren’t impersonal objects to me.They carry in their pages the moments of my life. They were in suitcases with me on my trips. I found one from my honeymoon, my college favorites, books I read to my children, books that made the trip from New York to LA so many years ago and books that changed my life. I went through my books one by one. There was a lot of stuff in the pages. I found quotes that I had written down on little pieces of paper, theatre tickets, flower petals, letters and photos.

Inside the books themselves were worlds so much bigger than mine – Hemingway’s Paris, Bulgakov’s Moscow, Kazanzakis’ Zorba and Tolstoys’ Anna Karenina. The list is endless.There were characters that felt like I did about things from authors like  Kerouac, Eggars, Rand, Salinger, Hughes, Frankl, Vonnegut, Potok, Conroy,  Didion, Fitzgerald, Leibowitz and Wolfe. It was authors like Marquez, Llosa, Proust, Allende, Cervantes, Camus, Murakami and Hesse that made me want to see the world they came from. My most tattered book is “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. It is a book I often reread when I need any kind of self-help or understanding about the world.

I would never get rid of books willingly. Paperbacks and fast reads were the easiest to part with, I had a hard time with unread books. I have a lot of them on my night table that I want to read but haven’t gotten to yet. I have to read every book I have ever bought eventually. A book doesn’t have to be read by a certain date.  Whenever I read it is always the right time. Classics, favorites, Pulitzer Prize winners, coffee table art and travel books are still with me. Some will stay in storage for a while because I can’t part with them yet.

Books connect us  and explain things in ways that I often can’t. I asked my kids what they wanted from the house. My son said,”Ill take all your books.“

Fly safe,

JAZ

Cleaning Out Stuff With My Kids In Los Angeles

Clearing Out Stuff With My Kids In Los Angeles

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can”. Beryl Markham

I  moved a lot  when i was growing up so I didn’t get to save things.  I wanted my kids to have their stuff and my house was big enough to save it.  Now I am moving and I can’t keep it anymore. I  really don’t want to let go of anything. I want to cram every exam paper, swimming trophy, essay,  dance tape, favorite stuffed animal and birthday invitation into a storage locker. I would know that it would be there if for some incomprehensible reason we would ever need it.

My kids started going through their stuff together. There were years and years of accumulation of things in this house. That is what happens when you have many closets.

“Here is your pile.” says my son.  I don’t need a pile. “It’s my college diploma, bar mitzvah stuff, first birthday invitations and all my baby pictures. Don’t you want  to keep that?“ I replied “Don’t you?” He said “I have no room for it so you keep it. Don’t you want memories of me?” Yes I think to myself.  I want to hold on to you both as kids forever. I want  very much to have all the pieces of our past.

He reads aloud his speech from when he ran for seventh grade president. “I remember that being a much better speech,” he said. The sorting continues.

“I need this, I’m keeping this, I can’t get rid of this, I must have this, oh wow look at this – all my Nintendo games. I have to get a Nintendo player.” His pile gets bigger and  bigger.

I once read that you are supposed to ask a question with each item. Does this bring me joy? If not, toss it. His reply is that ‘Maybe someone will make a documentary about me some day and they wont have any information about my past. We need to keep this stuff.”

My daughter finds something that belongs to him. “Here pass that to the ‘A Beautiful Mind’  pile” she says.”Look I found dad’s Bar Mitzvah invitation.” It was clearly something his mother had kept.  “Give it to me”, I say, “Are you going to give it to him?” “No.” I answer. They look horrified and snatch it back. I was going to save it for future grandchildren but I did not tell them that. 

My son starts taking pictures of things and posting to his friends. His friend replies “Great, send that to me in another ten years when you go through your boxes again.”

My daughter isn’t doing that much better. I start to pull out some of her discarded clothes to save for my god-daughter. “Why are you saving stuff for  her and not me?” “Did you want to save stuff? I ask.  “I didn’t know that we could. “Now she starts making a pile of things she wants to save and not take.

I pull out one coat I took when my mom died a few years ago. “Have you ever worn that coat?” she asks. She tries it on. “I would wear it today. You have never worn it.” I put it on. ”Uh, it looks like a bathrobe on you. It looks so much better on me. “ Now that is all true and probably why I have never worn it.  It is one of the few articles of clothing that  I took from my mom so it is hard for me to part with it. 

My daughter takes a lot of boxes out of the storage room and leaves them in the garage. Can’t we do this one by one I ask? I don’t want boxes all over. She says that she has to leave now. My son says quietly,“I agree with you but I’m not siding with you publicly against her.“

There are about twenty boxes unopened from our old house that no one has looked at in sixteen years. They are filled with their elementary school things. They carry all the pieces of my children that I was trying to hold onto. It was the same way I took things from my mom’s house after she died to hold on to her and her past. I realized that whatever was in those boxes, I hadn’t seen in all that time. I remembered their childhood without ever accessing the boxes. I didn’t need them and they probably don’t either. 

I know now that I will remember things or I won’t but I don’t need a storage locker filled with stuff. It is difficult to distinguish between possessions and memories.  The possessions do trigger the memories for me. The emotional cost of letting go of their childhood is high. These things connect me to a happier time in my life.

We are more than our  possessions.  Our memories are inside us and maybe writing my story is a way to remember. The most sentimental things aren’t things at all, but stories of the people and places we love, and how we spend our time.

Fly safe,

JAZ

More Packing Tips

More Packing Tips

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

My son is brilliant and creative  Unfortunately, he was  packingly challenged. The suitcases used to be at my house so he always needed to come home to pack for a trip when he was in school. He has figured it out by now.

Here was how the scenario went:

11:30 PM:  My son enters the house and  begins to empty his car bringing in almost his entire wardrobe. It doesn’t matter if he is going for a week or a month. He hasn’t decided  what to take yet so he brings everything. I am trying to travel with less and less and feel it is my job to impart this wisdom. Thus began the negotiation.

Mom:  Why are you taking so many sweaters? (Substitute any and every article of clothing here. Several answers ensue. Pick your favorite.)

Son: This one looks good on me. My girlfriend likes this one.  It’s my lucky sweater. I gained/lost weight. I always wear this one.

Mom: It is going to be ninety degrees. Did you check the weather?

Son:  No I haven’t had time. What is it that you think I do all day?  I’ll just take these two.

Mom:  But they are wool sweaters.

Son:  I always bring these. They look good on me, my girlfriend likes them etc,  ( We’ve heard these before) Ok fine. Just tell me what you think I should take. (Mom picks a few things) Those, not these? Don’t you think these look better? Not take my lucky sweater? I just checked the weather. It’s going to rain for half the time so I need two different wardrobes.

12:15 AM  As it gets later, he starts to not care so much about what he is bringing.

Son: How many shirts should I bring?

Mom: Four.

Son: Four? Last time I brought six.

This goes on for every item except sox and underwear. Our family doesn’t wash clothes on vacation. We always bring a lot. We have different rules for the cleanliness of our clothes  also. You can always wear something with a little stain on it when you are traveling as long as it doesn’t smell. My son has adopted these rules when traveling as well. I get this.

12:45 AM: ‘”Mom, I’m really tired. Do you think that you could just fold my shirts?”, he asks. No mom likes to hear that their kids  are really tired – no matter how old they are. I’m not  sure which one of us  is handicapped at this point. I proceed to pack. Folding the shirts properly and putting them in a packing case takes the longest. He knows this.

1:15 AM: Now he is packing his toilet articles. The son is not someone who believes in the 3 oz bottle rule or travel sizes. He brings everything from his bathroom that he needs no matter how big it is and puts it in his suitcase.Next he pulls out four books to bring with him. Obviously he is also someone who doesn’t care about the weight requirement of luggage. He begins carefully perusing them to see which he really wants to bring . He settles on two.

I have this theory about the creative brain. It just doesn’t function well when it comes to the mundane dealings of everyday life-like packing. That is why so many people in the movie business have personal assistants even if they don’t seem important enough to need them. Or perhaps he just didn’t inherit the packing gene.

!:40 AM: He closes the suitcase. “I have stuff to do before I leave and I will sleep on the plane.“  I didn’t inherit the sleeping on the plane gene.  I know my son will be asleep as soon as the plane takes off. At some point the person next to him, will give up trying to push his head off their shoulder and he will wake up as the plane is landing.

Fly Safe

JAZ

Top Ten Things Not To Bring On A Plane In Your Carry On Luggage

Top Ten Things Not To Bring On A Plane In Carry On Luggage

“Don’t let your luggage define your travels, each life unravels differently.” unknown

1. box cutters – ok I get this one.

2. Snow globes larger than a tennis ball. I think that they mean the large intricate ones that you buy in Christmas markets in Austria, Germany or Eastern Europe. I’m guessing it has more than 3 and half ounces of liquid. How do the TSA agents  feel taking Santa on a sleigh in the snow away from a kid in the airport at Christmas? I love snow globes.

3. Anything that looks like or can be used as a weapon – toy guns, baseball bats, hockey and lacrosse sticks ski poles, sabers, swords, knives of any kind and scissors that are not for nails.

4. Liquids over 3.4 oz. This limits my food shopping when I travel and my impulse food buys in the airport gift shops. This includes interesting sauces, weird nut butters, dips and spreads, jams, jellies, preserves, wine, liquors, salad dressings, olive oils, vinegars – things I am not comfortable with in my checked luggage. The TSA rule of thumb to remember is “If you can spill it, spread it, smear it, squeeze it, spray it, pump it, or pour it,” then travelers should check it. Why does the TSA being cute annoy me?

5.Guns, gun powder, bullets, explosive devices, spare parts of guns and fire arms, grenades, flares, gunlighters and ammunition. So where can you actually have this stuff? I would like to avoid those areas.

6.Tools over seven inches. This includes hatchets, axes and saws. I like this one. I often see people on planes who look crazy.

7.Anything flammable. I’m good with that. I have bad fire karma. My house burned down twice as a kid. The second time it was hit by lightning. This is probably not a good time to tell that story.

8.Illegal controlled substances. Does that mean drugs? Watch a few episodes of Locked Up Abroad (they are almost always picked up in the airport)  and you probably won’t want to be carrying that with you. These are not Martha Stewart prisons.

9.Disabling chemicals – bleach, fire extinguishers, chlorine, spray paint, tear gas, recreational oxygen (what is fun oxygen?) How did they make up this list? Did someone think of things that could be dangerous? Was it a committee? Are these things that were confiscated? I have to say I would also be suspicious of someone with a fire extinguisher, spray paint and tear gas in their carry on.

10. Anything they feel like taking. I’ve lost many lip glosses, lipsticks, tweezers, batteries and sewing kits. Sometimes I feel protected and other times I feel they are saving the world one confiscated item at a time.

Fly safe,

JAZ