3 Life Lessons An Old Man Called “Wild Bill” Taught Me

During my time working in Israel, I had the good fortune to be coworkers and friends with one of the most badass old men I have ever met in my life. While he was flawed, he also possessed traits any young man would want to have: He had tons of money in his bank account, was physically fit, and was a womanizer. Through many long work hours and discussions over the course of a year and a half, I got to learn a lot about “Wild Bill” and his philosophy. In turn, he taught me that even though you’re in your 50s doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with the young bucks.

1. Money management is very important.

“Hey! Raul! Why’d you call off work yesterday?” he’d ask.

“Well, Wild Bill…”

“Nah, nah…I don’t want to hear it. I know what you did. You went out and got drunk with your buddies.”

“Yeah…”

“What have I told you about that? Not only did you lose out the money you could have made from coming into work, but you also spent all that money at that bar. Knowing you, I know you spent at least a hundred bucks.”

“I know.”

“You say you know, but you keep on doing it. You don’t listen!”

If there is one thing Wild Bill loved, it was making money. Wild Bill was a workaholic. People knew if they wanted to take an extra day off, all they’d have to do is call up Wild Bill and he’d cover their shift. He’d cover so many shifts that he once went 112 days without having a single day off. After having that day off, he went on another 60-day streak.

He had a simple mindset: You’re either working and making money or you’re not working and you’re spending your money. Wild Bill loved receiving his paycheck and seeing it pile on top of all the money he had already saved.

“How much money you got saved up, Wild Bill?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Come on…”

“I’ll tell you this—I’m not a millionaire, but I’m close.”

Wild Bill had no debt, owned a house, and had a nice car back in the States. He did that by always being extremely frugal with his money and avoiding debt throughout his life. Wild Bill was a bit on the extreme side, since his diet consisted of ramen noodles, chicken, and the cheapest beer in Israel, Günther’s. Nonetheless, he never made six figures, but his financial intelligence put him in a position where we wouldn’t have to worry about money like too many people arriving at retirement do.

2. Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you have to get fat.

Wild Bill consistently worked out, which put him on a higher tier above his peers. Running and weightlifting were constants in his life. Even during our work shift, it would be common for him to do some wind sprints and knock out some pushups to get his heart rate up. While he was a heavy boozer, he knew it was important for him to counteract the physical effects. It would be common practice for him to run to the store two miles down the road because beer there was 25 cents cheaper than at the place right down the street. He’d buy three or four Günther’s, drink one in front of the store, run back home, drink them all, run back to the store, return the cans for some money, buy a few more Günther’s, and run back.

Other than a serious injury or illness, there is no reason why a person can’t keep themselves in shape throughout their lives. You don’t have to have a bodybuilder’s physique or be one of those crazy in-shape cross-fit buffs, but you can at least maintain a level of fitness that helps you counteract all the bullshit you put in your body over the years. Veterans tend to get fat after they leave the military because we no longer have that forced physical training to burn away all the booze and junk food we consume. Wild Bill showed me firsthand that you can be a boozer and a physical badass at the same time.

3. You’re never too old to philander.

Next on his list of life essentials was the quest for getting new pussy to destroy. Wild Bill was a womanizer and a pretty good one at that. With a strong body in his mid-50s, Wild Bill stood out from all the other old farts who let themselves go. Combined with the air of confidence that only age and experience could bring, that made him a poon-slayer to be revered.

Whether en route or at the store, he would get the attention of some fine young things, which for him were women in their 30s and 40s. Being a man who has fucked hundreds of chicks throughout his life, Wild Bill knew how to make his potential prospects swoon. Whether it was a Moroccan businesswoman or Philippine caregiver, he knew the right things to say to get them to come over to his apartment sometime in the near future to cook him dinner while he drank beer and watched music videos.

He kept his women in line by adhering to the age-old adage of “money over bitches” and refused to ever take a day off to see them. They would work around his schedule, not the other way around. They would get pissed at him, stop talking to him, and try to knock him out of their lives. But eventually, they’d call him back and agree to be in the relationship on his terms because they realized that men of his age and caliber were rare indeed.

Wild Bill wasn’t a perfect man. He had many faults and demons like we all do. He was an alcoholic, was never loyal to a woman in his life, could be cheap to the point of absurdity, and was stubbornly stuck in his ways. Yet he worked, kept in shape, and fucked like he was in his 20s. He didn’t let the notion of being an old man stop him from living life on his own terms. In a society where too many people let their age be a hindrance and only look back on their glory years, Wild Bill decided to keep his glory years going. As he once said to me, “One day you’re going to look back at this time in your life and think to yourself, ‘You know, that old man, whatever his name was, he was a pretty badass dude.’”

~Raul Felix

See more of my work at Thought Catalog

Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Taught A Psycho Bitch How To Shoot

Duke decides to make a pot of tea to ease his stress and tension. He sits in the living room waiting for it to boil. His ex-wife was released from jail a week ago after violating his restraining order. Still, he isn’t sure whether she would at last leave him alone. He can still smell the faint scent of her perfume. It made the hair on the back of his neck rise up. Even though he’s a foot taller and about a hundred pounds heavier than her, he fears this woman. He thought he would be able to start over here at his brother’s home. His family had urged him to leave that psycho bitch for years. He loved her. He was a man of his word. He couldn’t leave her when she was sick. That’s how he reasoned holding onto her in those dark days.

He remembered when he first met her. He was twenty-two years old and had just returned from a year’s deployment to Iraq. His previous ex-girlfriend had Dear Johned him with a two-sentence e-mail and refused to answer any of his phone calls.

He met Jade the psycho bitch at a classy piano bar with a wide variety of lovely women from which to pick. About seven or eight beers deep, he laid on eyes on her. She was dancing in a silky black dress with a skirt so short that it barely covered up her ass and pussy. At times, he was sure he could see her white panties. Under normal circumstances, Duke would not have the nerve to talk to her. But liquid courage and the fact he hadn’t touched a woman in over a year took away his inhibitions.

Stumbling over toward her seemed like a quest in itself, for he was shit-canned hammered. A year of no alcohol was taking its toll. He tapped her on the shoulder, gave a quick smile, and started grinding himself on her. Jade, who was equally as drunk, proceeded to rub her ass on his crotch. Their conversation, barely coherent to the outside world, had a wicked chemistry of teasing, flirting, and touching. They were lost in pure, alcohol-driven lust for each other. They fucked at her apartment later that night.

Suddenly he hears her footsteps coming down the stairs. “How did she know I would be here?” he thinks. The steps grow close and closer. He can’t move. Move, damnit, move. He can’t. Even in Iraq he never froze up, yet here he was, unable to move a single muscle.

“Hello, my love,” she says.

He sits there in silence, focusing on her devilish smile and the .45-caliber pistol in her hand. She moves with swift precision toward him and sits down on the recliner across from him.

“Don’t make any sudden movements or I will blow your fucking brains out,” she says. “Now listen. Remember what I told you when we first decided to get married—that I would never, ever let you leave me? Well, I’m keeping true to my promise.”

His body begins to shake. He looks into her dead, emotionless eyes.

“Who is she, Duke?”

“I’m not cheating,” he says.

“Bull fucking shit! You think I’m some sort of fool, don’t you? You think I’m going to let some other woman just have you? You’re fucking mine. Your cock and fucking balls belong to me, Duke!”

He sits there stunned, looking down at the pistol she holds in her hand like a pro. He regrets teaching her how to shoot.

“Let’s say I was cheating on you,” he says. “What would you do then? Kill me? Kill that other bitch? Kill our daughter? What?”

“Oh, Duke, you’re so simple. Do you really think I would let you off that easily? By the time I’m done with you, you’re going to wish for death. I just need a name.”

“No.”

“So you are cheating on me?”

“No. We’ve been done for almost two years now. I have never cheated on you. But I do have someone new in my life,” he says.

“For us to be over, both of us have to agree. I never agreed to it. So you are a fucking cheater. I’m going to kill you and that dirty fucking whore.”

“Fuck you.”

“Oh, Duke, you would love that, wouldn’t you? I know you miss having me all over you. I know you miss my mouth on your cock. I know you miss having your hands on my boobs and ass. I know you miss the way I would fuck your brains out. I’ll be honest; I miss your body, too. But now you’re tainted with the stench of that bitch’s cunt. I can’t let you just slip away. You have no right to leave me.”

They sit there in silence. She never takes her eyes off him. She seems cold and calculating, as if she’s going over any possible routes for him to escape.

Duke can’t seem to come up with a plan. His eyes shift between her, the pistol, and the living room. He tries to think of something, anything that could get him out of this situation.

The pot of tea on the stove begins to screech. Jade hears it but attempts to ignore it. She has her eyes fixed on Duke. After a few minutes, the hissing starts to irritate her.

“Get up and take that goddamn pot off the stove!” she yells. He heads into the kitchen; Jade follows with the gun locked on his skull. Duke slowly picks up the pot, then as quickly as he can, he turns around and throws the boiling tea into Jade’s face. Jade shoots one round, hitting Duke on top of his right shoulder blade. She howls in pain as the water scalds her skin. Temporarily blind and panic-stricken, she shoots wildly. Duke keeps low and attempts to crawl out of the kitchen. He misses being hit several times by mere inches. He then hears the unique click that signifies the gun is out of ammo.

His shoulder’s bleeding, but Duke gets up and musters his strength and charges toward his blister-faced ex-wife. He tackles her into the kitchen counter, causing knives to be knocked down all over the floor. He’s on top of her, choking her with his left hand. Struggling for air, Jade frantically tries to locate a knife with her hand and grabs onto a knife handle. She picks it up and stabs Duke in the thigh. The pain is unbearable and he rolls over. Covered in their blood, Jade stands above her injured former lover. She grabs another kitchen knife and stabs him in the other leg. “Fuck! Fucking bitch!” he screams. She finds the pistol, heads back to the living room, looks through her purse, and fishes out another clip of ammo.

“My love, I will now purify you.” Jade aims the pistol right at Duke’s forehead. She gently squeezes the trigger and Duke’s brains splatter on the kitchen wall.

~Raul Felix

Read some more of my stuff at Thought Catalog.

3 Proactive Steps To Becoming A Writer

As much as some of my haters despise the fact, I’m a writer who gets paid to write. I must be doing something right. While I am nowhere near my end goals, I am proud of how much progress I have made so far. I look back and think about how I got started, and it’s pretty simple: About three years ago, I decided that I would be a writer. I didn’t seek anyone’s approval or permission. I just made it a goal and decided it was what I was going to do, no matter what the task required of me. So I started reading various books and articles looking for some tips to get started. With those nuggets of information I took the first steps to making my dream come true. Here are some things you can do to get yourself on the same track.

1. Write 1,000 words a day in a private journal.

The most important step is to actually write. That sounds good in theory, but anyone who has tried to sit down in front of a daunting blank computer screen knows that it’s tougher than it sounds. There is all this pressure to think of something useful and insightful to say. Or something funny, witty, and intriguing. Or something informative and factual. It’s a tough way to start when you don’t know jack shit about the creative process.

Instead, start a journal. This can be handwritten, on a typewriter, or it can be a text file on your computer. That shit is superficial and doesn’t matter. What matters is that you actually write. Your goal is not necessarily to write anything interesting, but rather to pour shit out. Write about your day, write about what is pissing you off, write about some chick you want to fuck, write in the first person, second person, and third person. Talk to yourself and encourage yourself to keep on writing. Hop from subject to subject. Your goal here is quantity, not quality.

This will create muscle memory for your hands and will get it used to writing prose. Your hands will learn where every key on the keyboard is and if you’re a slow writer, it will hone your fingers so they can keep up with your thoughts. In turn it will make you become a quicker and more effective writer. This process of mind-dumping anything that comes to your wee little head will encourage you to say whatever you have to say instead of worrying about what someone will think about what you are saying.

About 99% of what you write in your journal will be complete garbage. But as you’re vomiting out sentence after sentence, occasionally one will flow out that is genius. Or you will think of good subject matter to explore and develop. Remember, no one is going to read your journal but you, so you can talk about anything you want. If you share a computer with a significant other, tell them you don’t want them to read your journal. You will automatically censor your random thought process if you think someone else will be reading it. If your significant other doesn’t respect the fact that you want to keep that part of yourself private, ask yourself why you wish to remain with such a person.

If 1,000 words seems too daunting to start off with, write 500, 250, or 100; it doesn’t fucking matter. All that matters is that you get the process started and steadily increase your output. Aspire to write every day, but if you can’t do that, do it every other day or every third day—whatever you need to get some sort of pattern started. Once you develop consistency in frequency and output for about a year, you will have developed your skill set significantly and will be ready to actually get what you have to say out there.

2. Start a blog.

When I had been writing in my journal for a little under a year, I decided to read the first blog post of one my favorite writers. He fucking sucked. “I’m a way better writer right now than that motherfucker was when he started his blog,” I thought to myself. That’s when I knew I was ready to start my blog.

You have to define your blog’s goal. Is it where you want to launch your career, or is it a blog where you’re just going to write about bullshit that no one outside of your immediate circle of friends will care about? This is where you start thinking about quality over quantity. What value do you bring to the reader? Why should they care about what you have to say? How can you say it in a way that’s insightful, funny, or witty? What makes your perspective unique? What can you say that no one else can?

One big piece of advice I’ve consistently read is that your blog has to have a theme: travel, make-up, gaming, cars, the military, picking up chicks, fitness, etc. This implies that the only way you can succeed is by being an expert in something. Unless you’re trying to build a business around the concept, that’s bullshit advice. By giving your blog a theme, you pigeonhole yourself into writing about a limited range of subjects. You need to explore different subjects and styles to truly develop your voice.

Your goal your first year as a public writer should not really be to thrive, but rather to survive. Maybe you post two articles a month like I did or you’ll post 20+ like my first writer friend Katie Hoffman was able to do. Ever since I started writing my blog a little over two years ago, I have seen many would-be writers come and go. They’ll get all excited, hitting the ground running and write five blog posts their first week. Then as quickly as they came, they disappeared.

I’ve seen many wannabe writers say things such as, “Well, if someone gave me the opportunity to write for their site, I’d write a lot.” Fuck you, no you wouldn’t, you fucking lazy piece of shit. Writing is merit-based, and an audience is not an entitlement. You must earn the readers’ respect and attention. You must create your own opportunities rather than just wait for someone to hand them to you. Starting a blog is how you create your own opportunity and get your work out for the world to see. Go through your first year consistently producing content without quitting.

3. Grow some rhino skin.

Writing is subjective. What one person believes is a wonderfully crafted piece, another will think is total crap. Understand that even if you write a technically sound piece, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be interesting or capture anyone’s attention. What matters most is the content.

You will be insulted. You will be told you should go kill yourself. You will be told you can’t write for shit. You will be told that you should quit. You will be told that you have no talent for this. You will be told that your articles are mundane and unoriginal. You will be mocked and laughed at. You will be trolled. Or perhaps worse of all, you will be ignored.

Fuck them. Keep your head up, be tough, and with an almost delusional attitude, keep your eyes on your goals. Remember, you didn’t need anyone’s permission when you decided you wanted to be a writer, and you sure as hell don’t need anyone’s permission to keep walking on the path. The only person that can stop you is you.

Some articles that you pour your heart and soul into will be complete flops. There will always be someone who is more successful than you. Instead of being jealous of their accomplishment, read what they write, analyze what they do, and try to figure out what you would benefit from incorporating it into your own style.

Becoming a skilled wordsmith is not something that happens overnight. It’s a long process that requires many lonely nights in front of the keyboard. Self-doubt, frustration, and writer’s block will always be looming. Yet if you’re willing to do what it takes, you will earn the right to call yourself a writer.

~Raul Felix

Check out more of my writing at Thought Catalog.

3 Signs A Woman Is A Dependopotamus

The Dependopotamus is a vile creature that can be spotted throughout all branches of the US military. She is the dependent of a military man and lacks any form of self-awareness and cognitive capacity to realize what an utterly worthless sack of shit she is. Since most women who marry a military man are upstanding people and citizens, the Dependopotamus is able to disguise herself as a person of character like an insurgent among the local populace. It takes a skilled eye to spot a Dependopotamus in the wild, but if you pay attention to these tips, then you, too, will be able to spot these wretched parasites in their natural habitat.

1. She has an unearned sense of entitlement.

The Dependopotamus has no real-world accomplishments to call her own other than dropping out of the cosmetology program of her local technical college because it just wasn’t her “thing.” Though she is a lazy bitch, she is also a prideful one who boasts to the world that she is a somebody. To sustain her masquerade that she is a contributing member of society, she’ll take her military man’s professional accomplishments and hardships as her own.

She holds on firmly to the belief that just because her husband is a Sergeant First Class, she automatically earns his prestige by proxy. She’ll look down on other women who are married to men who are of a lesser rank, even attempting to boss them around and implying that if they don’t do what she says, it could negatively affect their husband’s career. She shamelessly wears her husband’s rank, not realizing that just because a man sticks his dick inside her body, it doesn’t mean she gains ranks through whore-smosis.

You’ll see her in the comment section of military articles, talking about how her husband has been deployed three times and how hard that’s been to her on the home front, even though all she did was get fat as fuck, spend all his money, and have a half-dozen other cocks inside of her while her husband was in Iraq hoping not to get his legs blown off by an IED.

Yet she will insist on wearing her XXXL T-shirt with yellow pit stains on them that boldly proclaim to the world, “Army Wife: Hardest Job In The Army”—as if sitting on the couch while eating bonbons, fucking around on her iPhone, and watching Netflix as she lets the house get progressively dirtier can compare to being a real soldier. She’ll bitch about how lonely she is because her hubby is always working and deployed, and she’ll use that as her justification to fuck other men—despite the fact the she has no real career or even semi-respectable means of employment. She leeches off the trusting nature of her man in uniform. Poor sucker doesn’t even realize that his homely wife is the incarnation of what is wrong with modern society.

2. She spurts out one baby after another.

While dimwitted, the Dependopotamus is a shrewd beast who knows that there is one surefire way to trap a man: Bear as many of his offspring as possible. Since having a baby in the military is free thanks to the dependency benefits, she’ll be in a constant state of hosting and developing new fetuses that she isn’t certain are from her husband or one of her many lovers.

Though she has three or four offspring, she has little to no motherly qualities or skills. She will allow them to roam wild through the base’s housing tracts like feral critters as she sits in front of her computer Skyping her sister, a fellow Dependopotamus, bitching about how she feels military wives aren’t appreciated enough. She doesn’t see her offspring as children who need love, attention, and care; rather, they are pawns in her scheme to secure a permanent position in the life of her military husband—or, more importantly, a cut of his paycheck and benefits.

The Dependopotamus knows that she has no shot of surviving in the real world without someone else footing the bill. In a different life, she would be one of those women who lives off welfare and has seven kids by four different men, then expects the government to pay for her dumb cunt mistakes. Luckily for her, she grew up near a military base with plenty of young, desperate soldiers who don’t know any better. Like a predator on the hunt, she sought out the weakest of the pack and sank her claws and teeth into them. Poor Private Snuffy never stood a chance.

3. She is a fat fuck.

Not all fat chicks are Dependopotami, but nearly all Dependopotami are fat chicks. A hallmark trait of a Dependopotamus is her gluttony and sloth. Unlike a self-respecting woman who will take advantage of her free time to improve herself, educate herself, and at least keep some token form of physical fitness, the Dependopotamus is content with feasting on junk food, booze, and her husband’s soul.

When she does leave her den, the poorly bathed Dependopotamus will waddle very slowly to her car. She will then drive to the Dependopotamus social ground, the Post Exchange (PX). As she and other Dependopotami sit there eating their third Big Mac and gossiping away, they will scoff with jealousy at the younger, skinnier wives who aren’t complete pieces of shit like themselves. They will stare them down in an effort to shame them for giving their husbands a reminder of what a woman who actually takes care of herself looks like. God help the poor, pretty lady if her husband happens to be in the same chain of command as these green-eyed monsters. For surely they will make her existence miserable until she falls in line and agrees to take measures to become a blubber-bag herself.

The Dependopotamus is a paradox. She is an utterly useless woman with a high sense of entitlement and self-importance. She is completely repulsive, fat, and poorly hygienic but is able to secure a new dick willing to lift up her floopa and smash her guts easily. She is extremely fertile but should be on a list of human beings who aren’t allowed to reproduce because her genes are toxic and will only perpetuate more parasites throughout society. She’s poorly educated yet cunning enough to know all the benefits, regulations, and loopholes to keep her dependent status, secure child support, and extort alimony after divorcing her husband because he had the audacity to accidentally catch her doing a gang bang in their bedroom.

Armed with this useful information, you are now ready to go to your local military base and see if you can spot one of these creatures, but be warned—it will cause you to lose what little faith you may have left in humanity.

~Raul Felix

You can read more of my articles at Thought Catalog.

A Day In The Life Of A Debauched Traveler

While I don’t consider myself a globetrotter yet, I’ve done my share of traveling and have established a daily pattern while on the road. While some travelers take tour packages, stay at resorts, eat local delicacies, and buy knick-knacks, I tend to stay at cheap hostels, don’t buy any souvenirs, and eat at the cheapest place I can find. I opt to invest my money in more pleasing activities such as heavily boozing and paying the local strippers to rub their tits in my face. A typical day for me goes something like this:

11:12AM:Wake up with a vicious hangover, not quite knowing where I am, with random scratches and bruises all over my body. My muscles ache and are in desperate need of potable water. My bladder is full of piss, but I am unable to gather up the motivation to move my body out of bed. I decide to sleep some more.

12:30PM: Get a rude awakening with a bladder that is ready is to explode. Run to the bathroom and release a stream that gives me pleasure equivalent to an orgasm. Enter the shower and wash the smell of disgrace from my body.

1:04PM: Decide it’s time go see some touristy shit. If it’s a travel day, I decide it’s time to ride my motorcycle 250-300 miles to my next destination.

7:00PM: Finish either traveling or seeing touristy shit. Go to hostel to shit, shower, and eat chow.

8:00PM: Begin drinking either while socializing with people at the hostel or surfing the Internet while sitting in a dark corner by myself as I brood about my loneliness and how I wish I had a beautiful chick with whom to share this magical adventure.

10:07PM: Have a good buzz going and decide it’s time to go get some pussy. Either do a solo mission or go out with people in the hostel who aren’t lame.

10:48PM: Arrive at a bar and talk to people and hit on women. Get rejected by 90-95% of them. One eventually likes me enough, but I misinterpret her kindness as her wanting my cock in or around the general vicinity of her mouth. Make bold move; get slapped.

11:42PM: Go to a different bar because that one is full of total bitches that don’t realize how much of a catch I am. Lose the people from the hostel and join a new group.

11:48PM: Order a beer and take a shot. I’m a fucking beast. Look around the bar and see a chick across the room who isn’t totally disgusting.

11:50PM: Get mediocre chick interested in me by casually dropping the “former Army Ranger” card and mentioning that I’m traveling on a motorcycle. Her panties get wet, and I’m pretty sure she wants my cock.

12:01AM: Take a shot with mediocre chick.

12:17AM: She and I form a deep emotional connection. She becomes progressively prettier as I get to know her better, and I start imagining how life would be if I were to make her my woman.

12:36AM: Make out with mediocre chick.

12:54AM: Decide to take another shot. Vomit.

1:10AM: Mediocre chick runs away because I become overly aggressive with the ass-grabbing and biting.

1:12AM: Get kicked out of the bar because I start slurring, cursing, and spilling beer all over myself.

1:21AM: Stumble into another bar while attempting to seem as sober as possible. Make small talk with fellow patron that evolves into a deep philosophical conversation.

1:40AM: Say “goodbye” to my new friend who has altered my worldview forever. Leave the bar and immediately forget everything we’ve discussed.

1:54AM: ?

4:13AM: End up making it back to my hostel room somehow. Immediately get on Facebook and try to get whatever girls are online to send me nude pics. Fail.

4:34AM: Fall asleep while jacking off to pictures of chicks that have sent me nude pictures in the past because the Internet at the hostel is fucking slow and won’t load porn quickly.

11:12AM: Wake up with a vicious hangover, not quite knowing where I am. Decide I’m still too tired and go back to sleep.

Read more of my writing on Thought Catalog.

6 Things I Learned About Israel While Living and Working There

Living abroad seems to be on the bucket list of nearly every twenty-something who is on the road to self-discovery. There is this urge to get away from the safety, familiarity, and security of our homeland and go to another place with a different culture and language. I got the opportunity to live and work in Israel a couple of years ago. I went there not knowing much about the country other than that Muslim extremists hate them, but they hate everything, so their opinion is worthless to me. During my time in Israel, I learned a lot about that wonderful land’s customs and quirks.

1. Shawarmas Stuffed With French Fries Are Delicious

I’m not a foodie of any sort. I don’t know shit about spices, herbs, textures, nor about any of those adjectives food connoisseurs use when describing fine delicacies. But my taste buds are refined enough to taste the difference between good, OK, and totally disgusting. One of the staples of my diet was the shawarmas stuffed with French fries that I told the street vendors to make extra-spicy. They were delicious and were one of the few items that could fill me up with only one serving. Before I got there, I had no idea what hummus was, but once I tried it I was in love with it. My girlfriend and I would often go to eat at her parents’ house for Shabbat dinner. The whole family and their friends would gather together. There were the world-famous Israeli salads, but I’m a man and I like dead animals, so all of my attention to went to foods such as Cholent, St. Peter’s fish, lamb kebab, shish taouk, and shashlik. There was also a wide variety of chicken-based foods with carrots and peas that had a flavor I never have tasted anywhere else.

Israeli versions of other cultures’ food were hit-and-miss. They had “Mexicani” food, which was supposed to be authentic Mexican burritos but never tasted like real burritos although they were delicious nonetheless. Sushi and Italian dishes were as popular there as they are anywhere else. In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem there was a restaurant called Mike’s Place that specialized in American-style food and was a popular hangout for Americans aching to get some food that reminded us of home.

2. Jerusalem Doesn’t Have Strip Clubs

I lived in a medium-sized city in the Negev Desert called Be’er Sheva. Thanks to Ben-Gurion University providing an influx of students, there was a vibrant nightlife considering how small and remote the city is. Bars were the main gathering place for my coworkers and me. From my impression, Israelis aren’t big drinkers like Americans, or at least they don’t get drunk, wild, and out of control like we do. We would go to a bar at 10PM and be the only patrons there as we drank Gold Star, Tuborg, and Carlsberg. They have a hard alcohol known as Arak, which I avoided after my first taste of it. Israelis operate on something known as “Israeli Time” and are ridiculously late to everything. All of a sudden at 11:30PM there would be a huge crowd of people at the bar. Then at 1AM, everyone would be gone with us Americans still drinking ourselves into oblivion.

Jerusalem had a better and more intimate nightlife than Tel Aviv, but Tel Aviv had strip clubs while they were nonexistent in Jerusalem. If you wanted to go to bars where you could actually hang out, talk, and get drunk with your friends and everything was within walking distance, Jerusalem was the spot. If you wanted to go out to the beach, get drunk, get some titties in your face (the strippers actually let you grab their tits), go to clubs with loud music and dancing, and maybe score some drugs or a prostitute, Tel Aviv was the spot. The drawback there was that everything was spread out, so you would have to take taxis to go bar-hopping.

3. Attacks From The Gaza Strip Are Part Of Life

One night I was out for a run when I heard a siren go off. I wasn’t sure what I was hearing and thought to myself, “Did my iPod just change to an N.W.A song?” I stopped and looked around, searching for an ambulance or a police car. All I saw was one car pulling over and a person running toward a building. I took off my headphones and noticed the sirens were coming from everywhere. Then I heard a missile launch and looked up to see the trail. A couple of seconds later, I heard an explosion. That’s when I realized the Iron Dome had shot down a rocket coming from the Gaza Strip. I posted on my Facebook a status along the lines of, “I guess Gaza sent a harassment rocket.” One of my Israeli friends commented, “Welcome to Be’er Sheva.” That’s when I learned that random rocket attacks were a fact of life in the southern cities. They would never make the international news because they would only send a couple every month or two.

Rocket attacks became a spectacle for us. My roommate and I would hear the siren and run to the rooftop so we could see the Iron Dome intercept it. After the siren stopped, people would go back to their routine.

In November 2012 the Israeli Defense Force launched operation Pillar of Defense, which kicked off with the killing of Ahmed Jabari, a chief of the Gaza military wing of Hamas. After that, the rockets started and didn’t stop. Every thirty minutes, the siren would go off, and you would hear the explosions as they landed in the streets or the Iron Dome intercepted them. At first it seemed pretty fucking cool. Rocket attacks had been seen as a nuisance rather than a legitimate threat, since either the Iron Dome intercepted them or they landed in the middle of the desert. Then three people got killed by one while they were on their balcony. That’s when my girlfriend put her foot down and wouldn’t allow me to go up and see the action anymore.

4. It’s Expensive As Fuck

One of my Israeli friends told me a joke: “In Israel, the Jews Jew the Jews.” Here in California I could spend $200 in groceries and be set for a month; over there, that would last me a week, maybe two. I was told that people there work 12 hours a day, six days a week merely to get by. The government loves to tax everything so they can fund the IDF. You’re never quite sure how much you’re being taxed because the taxes are already worked into the price.

5. People Don’t Wait In Line

Whenever you would board a bus or a train, it would become a shoving match. After a while I learned how to out-shove everyone. Tiny women are tricky, though; they’ll squeeze beneath you and go ahead of you. They’d do it so quickly that you wouldn’t even realize it until they were ahead of you.

6. I Only Learned A Few Phrases Of Hebrew, But I Wish I’d Learned More

I never learned more than a few phrases of Hebrew. It’s an irrelevant language anywhere else in the world, but I had an opportunity to learn it and never cared enough to do all the work needed to learn more. I think it would have been a cool little skill to have in my pocket, because knowing random little things like that is always a good thing.

I also didn’t study much of the region’s history while I was there. I researched more about it after I moved back to the US. Instead of just going to museums and cities looking at pretty things, I would have understood what exactly those pretty things were and what they meant in historical context. I would have had a firmer understanding of the complex relationship between Israel and the Arab League instead of the oversimplified version the American media conveys.

I hold my time in Israel close and dear to my heart. I lived in debauchery a lot during my time there. I found a woman I truly loved and lost her. I made some good American and Israeli friends. I traveled and saw nearly everything there is to see. I made some good money and came back to the US in a better position. It may the Jews’ homeland, but it will always be a second home to this American.

~Raul Felix

Read more of my writing at Thought Catalog.

How To Find The Greatness Within You

You will never become anything great or do anything in your life worth a damn if you seek permission from external forces. It is up to you to search deeply within yourself, to find what you truly want from this short life you’ve been given, and to take the appropriate steps to achieve it. The world has nothing planned for you other than to be a cog in already established channels. Your fulfillment and development are none of its concern as long as it gets to squeeze you for every drop of human capital it can.

What is your purpose? You don’t have one predestined for you. You have inclinations and perhaps even talents, but that doesn’t mean they are your purpose. Your purpose is not selected at random by some mystical force and given to you to discover at some point in your life. Your purpose is something for which you consciously decide to make emotional and physical sacrifices. If you’re not willing do that, it’s not your purpose.

You must harbor an intense disgust for those who tell you’re not capable of being what you wish to be. Who the fuck are they to tell you no? Do they have what you want out of life? Do they live a life worth mimicking? Or are they cold, bitter, and distraught souls who take pleasure in seeing others fail because it validates their own shortcomings? If they are close to you, purge them from your life.

Instead, keep and allow those in your life who are supportive and believe in you. Those who allow you to discover, experiment, and fail until you get it right. Those who challenge you to be better rather than berating you for trying. Those who give you solutions to problems instead of focusing on the problem. Those who notice when you’re beaten and battered, reach down, help you up, dust you off, give you a slap in the butt, and tell you get back at it. They are the ones who matter and whose loyalty, friendship, and camaraderie you must not only preserve, but cultivate.

What are your obstacles? Financial? Physical? Emotional? Societal? Each one can be overcome if you are willing do whatever is necessary. Not everything can be solved with a simple head-on approach. Some things take cunning and shrewdness, others require you to take risks, and some only require you win the war of attrition by stubbornly chipping away at it. If it was easy, anybody could do it. If anybody could do it, there is no greatness in it. Greatness is not reserved for the few who are destined for it, but rather for those who are willing to work for it.

Only you can bring out the best in you. Only you can decide whether you’re willing to deal with the emotionally rattling and jarring journey required to reach the top. Only you can motivate yourself to keep fighting and slugging away as you face one crushing defeat and failure after another. The pain and turmoil you will encounter once you decide to go on a path of greatness will test what you’re made of. It makes you go into the dark sections of your soul and heart and makes you question your ability. It will make you cry and hurt. It will make you doubt yourself. Each time you confront those parts of yourself, you’ll become stronger. You’ll remember the failures you had before and how you overcame them. You’ll remember those feelings of doubt and hopelessness that once consumed you and how you crawled out of it bloodied and wounded, but alive. You’ll remember that exhausting yet glorious moment of triumph you had when you made it out of the seemingly hopeless abyss.

Greatness will not be in your life if you wait for her to find you. Greatness knows her value and rarity and will not be won at a bargain price. She’s elusive, tricky, and hard to tame. Greatness does not go to those who seek approval, but to those who are bold, audacious, and decide for themselves they are worthy of possessing her. Greatness doesn’t believe in those who don’t have the confidence to believe in themselves. There are too many cowards in the world, and greatness feels no sorrow for them. Greatness is a stuck-up bitch with high standards. As with any bitch, only those with a strong force of will are able to wrangle her and put in her place.

~Raul Felix

Read more of my work on Thought Catalog.