Finding myself in the Middle East

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lonely Heart

And when I cry I cry for both of us
My pain has no name;
And when I cry I cry
To the merciless sky and say,
There must be a better way.

I've been listening to the Israel Eurovision song, which is a duet sung by a palastinian and israeli proclaiming their sorrow over the state of affairs in Israel, and had dual reactions to it. Well, a few reactions. First, I cried, because I am me and I do that.

Then, I blew my nose and listened to the song again. I felt it was a bit cheesy with all the touching and the smiling and the loooooooooooove; all a bit over the top, but being a bit over the top is, after all, our joint semitic heritage. That, and a overly dramatic flair about the nasal cavity.
But that might be it. In terms of similarities, I mean. And that was my third, and most realistic reaction. We are so different from each other, Arabs and Jews, and I speak from first-hand conversations and knowledge, not recycled political stuff. But perhaps that is a whole different post. Really, I was just going to write about my crying and the fact that all Outdoorsman has to do to have me keening in unspeakable grief is say something like, "Oh, Di, look at that cat."
And I'll say, "oh, cute!"
And he'll say, "It's looking for a female. 'Tis the season."
And I'll say, "Oh, love. Love is in the air."
And he'll say, "But if it gets some tonight, that female is gonna have kittens."
And I'll say, "Oh, kittens! So cute! With their big ears and eyes--"
And he'll say, "But it's spring, and in Israel it doesn't rain at all until November."
And I'll say, "--and little paws!--so?"
And he'll say, "So, the kittens won't have water, and they will look for but won't find any and they will meow and open their big eyes pleadingly and--"
And I'll say, "And they'll ALL DIE! Waaaaaaaaaaaa!"
And he'll sleep on the couch.
While I google pictures of sick kittens and eat Ben and Jerry's.
Thing is though, my emotions are nodescriminatory. I cry for the family and the victims of those dettached enough from humanity to kill, and my mind plays over the fear they must have felt and the pain--but--I also feel bad for their murderers on their way to punishment, feel my heart sink when viewing their scared eyes set in stoic faces, dignity stolen by being forced to endure that bright orange jumpsuit. They stire my heart, but they shouldn't.
Like this rather silly song which does not really reflect the reality in which we all live here in Israel. (Besides for the fact that we are both people of faith. Cry to the merciless sky? Not so cool.) It stirred my heart, but really it shouldn't have.

Or maybe that's simply what makes me human. Disagreeing vehemently with what they have done with their life--and still have room for them in my heart.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's My Party

It's one in the morning, and I just finished icing the cake. It's shaped like a butterfly, as Princess requested, and which she mentioned again, in a whisper, as her eyes closed during our nightly story. But it's not purple and pink. The store ran out of confectionary sugar (again), and I used chocolate spread instead. It looks pretty, with colorful sprinkles and a pink plastic Happy Birthday plaque, and I'm sure it will taste good, but I'm not sure of the reaction. Emotional situations on the Princess Scale can range from a tantrum worthy of a 2 year-old, or a hair-raisingly mature understanding of the situation at hand (For example, she might ask me if the pink and purple mixed and turned into brown. To which I will probably lie and say yes, you clever girl.)

Do stores in America run out of such a basic ingredient on such a regualr basis? It's been a while, but probably not, I would venture to say. Does it annoy me? Darn right. As does it sometimes get tedious to travel by bus or Phil and Ted's, and to speak to my family back in the Old Country while taking into account the seven hour time difference. (except, of course, for that one time when I didn't. Take it into account, I mean. And I was all, "hi, Mom, wazzap?" and she was all, "Bzzzpsdc? Hgnnn. Gabababab." And I was all, "OMG, what time is it?" And she was all, "Wazazaza." And I hung up the phone, called her back 4 hours later, and she said, "Did you call me at 4 in the morning?" and I was all, "No, why?" and she's like, "I had this dream...I think? Are you sure?" And I'm like, "um, why would I call you at 4 in the morning?" and she bought it, I guess. Because the caller ID is too much like a computer for my mother to wrap her head around.)

There are a lot of things that are not as convenient here in the Land Of The Israelite and Home of the Original (with thanks to The Far Side) Inconvenience Store. And while I bemoan them and you think you've got it rough with them, there is something strangely apealing about a land that has not been sanitized for your protection and prepackaged for your convenience. There is something more real about a hike that does not have railing along every rough path, something more human about a clerk who will get annoyed and tell you so, rather that speaking in polite mincing tones while despising you under his breath, something more raw and natural about a store not having every single thing that is on your shopping list.

Maybe what I am trying to say is this; not everyone is here for my service, and not everything is here for my consumption. The world is not here to get along with me; I am here, on this short, short journey, to learn how to get along with the world.

G-d, I hope that the cake comes out good.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Road to Hell

So I'm gonna be a total nerd and reveal my Smallville obsession by starting off this post with a quote from it:

(and I will not tell which episode and season it is)

(because I don't even know)

(oh, yes I do)

(but this is not shakespeare, and I so I am not exactly PROUD that I remember exactly where the quote originates from)

(heck, let me start the entire post over.)


I heard this great quote from somewhere, about evil. it goes something like (okay, exactly like) "Darkness is not a place. It's a journey."

It's so interesting. I could waste days, waste weeks, take the easy way out for years, and then wake up one morning, full of G-dly spit and fire, and plan how I'm REALLY GONNA LIVE. Daven every morning. Cook healthy nourishing food for my family. Blueberry muffins filling the freezer! Whole-wheat bread! Always cut up veggies and home-made dip on the table! And we will dance and sing and laugh and play and I will be loving and giving and patient and forgiving! I will excersise and be thin and beautiful and happy and spiritual and then I go back to sleep, quite worn out from all of my incredible plans.

And then I have a monday just like sunday.

But that's okay! Because I WANT to be good. So I am good. ....Right?

And that is where the quote that might-be-Milton-or-something-but-is-definitely-not-from-a-TV-show comes in. It really hit me. Not that I think I am the epitome of darkness. But that could just be simply because I was born basically good. I don't like hurting people or things. I like making people happy.

But what if I didn't? What if I naturally enjoyed causing other people pain? I would be going along with my natural instincts just as much as I am doing now.

My choices are based on what makes me able to sleep at night. What if in order to sleep at night I needed to get even with all of my enemies and I could not rest until they all DROWNED in a POOL of their own BLOOD and FEAR?

I just scared myself there for a second.

Anyway. Get what I mean? Why am I good? Because that's what makes me feel good? Because my journey gives me good choices, even though I seldom follow through?

How am I different from Lex Luthor---um, the fallen angel?

Friday, May 1, 2009

When Life Made Sense

Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted.

Because really, when you are wearing comfy-but-still-cute pajamas and lying on a pile of blankets with the TV screen showing a slightly snowy version of You've Got Mail next to your best friend and talking about The Future, there were lots of things that were not part of the grand calculation.

We drew blueprints of our dream houses and chose the colleges of our dreams. We wrote New York Times bestsellers and fixed all of the mistakes that our parents had made with us. We named our children and figured out the proper heights for our husbands. We picked out low-fat recipes and doctoral thesis topics.

We accounted for all the big stuff. It was just that lots of little tiny things never quite made it to the calculator.

Little tiny things that first cried and then smiled, and then laughed, and then talked, and then talked back. All the while needing to be fed and changed and then fed and toilet trained. And played with and held and discipled and loved.

We accounted for everything except for the fact that there are not enough hours in the day to have it all. To cure the worlds problems and to cure the bruised knee and bruised ego. To write the grand novel and to write, while holding her hand gently, her name. To finish the Phd and finish making dinner just the way he likes it.

Today I wrote back to the master's program that accepted me and told them that I would not be attending due to financial reasons. Half of me is hoping that they will hand me a scholarship.

The other half of me wants to make play-dough out of flour, water, salt and food-coloring, and kiss all the boo-boos away.


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