Finding myself in the Middle East

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Beautiful

America! Hugs and love and family! And free food! And cars and customer service! And grass and pools and happy happy happy days and nights!


'Cept. We are subletting our apartment, and I am looking at it with a stranger's eyes for the first time. And my eyes hurt. I didn't realize the bathroom window is coated in black mold. I thought that it was painted black. So, out came the bleach and the rags! And off came the mold--and the paint, and the wood. And almost, the window. So I have splinters in my fingers and bleach under my nails and a wild look in my eyes. We are leaving in three days, and one of those days is Shabbas. I am not packed, the house smells like bleach but still looks like a large rodent trimmed its teeth on every available surface, and also seems to be growing shoes and small parts of games that I have not seen in years.

I would get a cleaner to help me, but they cost tons of money, and I'm still waiting on the rich great-great something-or-another who died and I never knew but looked upon me and loved me from afar and left me all of his money before I do that. Or maybe I'll try to find out if I have any of that great Native American blood, or the blood of some other people who get money just for bein' alive.

Although I guess if I had any of the above options, I wouldn't be living in an apartment that the Turantula and Cocaroach Weekly calls, "A stunning find! Move-right-in condition! Bring all your relatives!"

Erm. Maybe it's bad timing to PMS right now.

I'm still excited, though! Land of the free and home of central air!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

Okay. So Coco-pop doesn't have insurance. That's not the worst thing in the world. Like, on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being a romantic getaway in the Carribean and 10 being the Holocaust, and 4 being Coco-pop doesn't have any insurance, it would be, well, I guess it would be around a 4, then.

This country is a falafel sandwich wrapped in chest hair, wrapped inside red tape. This is the third time that Outdoorsman went down to the Misrad Hapnim (Ministry of Interior, as in the interior of your SOUL, which they will SUCK out and LEAVE you STANDING THERE SOUL-LESS), and the third time that he was turned away for incorrect paperwork, and also, the previous sentence is a terribly disgusting one and also doesn't really work. Also what I wrote in quotes doesn't work. I am too annoyed to make sentences work.


This time, the letter from his Rabbi neglected to state that he was Jewish. He should have whipped out the picture of his grandfather with his gloriously Jewish shnozola and removed all doubts.

So Coco-pop doesn't have insurance since her temporary one-year insurance ran out (see, they know it takes a YEAR to get on the insurance. Proof! That they do it ON PURPOSE! Arrrrrgh! And me with no vodka in the freezer! The timing could not be worse!)

It's a 4. It's just a 4. A blip on the radar of alarm.

Speaking of blips and radars, Coco-pop just woke up from her nap. Her cry sounds a little...nasal? A little snotty? A little....sick?

Oh G-d. Just let me know when I can panic. I'll be sitting here, waiting, drinking warm vodka and orange juice.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Baby Talk

Princess: Ima, Coco-pop is big already.

Me: Yes, she is getting big, isn't she? You both play so nicely--

Princess: She's too big to be the baby anymore.

Me: Well, she's a big baby.

Princess: No. She's a toddler.

Me: I thought you were a toddler.

Princess: (eye roll) Nooooo. I am the huge big girl.

Me: Ah.

Princess: (a look that says, as I was saying, before your ridiculous interruption) so we have a toddler and a huge big girl, and no baby.

Me: Oh. Yes, well. Okay.

Princess: We need a baby.

Me: Do you want more ketchup with your chicken?

Princess: I'm gonna daven for a baby.

Me: Um! Okay. Just make sure that you daven that the baby should come in the right time.

Princess: (nods) How about right after lunch?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gotta be me, just gotta be me

Outdoorsman has been coming home for the last few days sweaty, tired, aching, covered in a layer of fine white dust, and happier than I've seen him for a long time. He got a contracting job, he's making money and working with his hands at something that he is really good at. He's learning better as a result, because his head is clearer (though slightly sweatier and dustier) and he is Hunter-Provider. Hear him roar.

I'm so happy that he is happy, and really, the money thing will be good, too. Okay, it will be great. Until they come out with a diaper and yogurt tree, we kind of need it.

So what's the problem, you ask? I'll tell you.

Did I mention that I work at the bottom-most rung of Ramat Eshkol society? I am a babysitter. I babysit babies and change their poopy diapers and let them spit up on my carpet and drool on my toys and pass on various bugs and diseases to my kids, my husband, and I while their mommies go off and do Very Important Things.

Outdoorsman never wanted me to work. He wants to Provide while I be a full-time SAHM. Change my own babies' poopy diapers and let them spit up on my carpet and drool on the toys--but they would be pooping my babies' poop and spit up my babies' spit up and drooling on their own toys, so it's different, you see. Plus, I might actually have more energy for the endless book reading marathons and the more-than-occasional tantrum and the startling questions--

(Princess-"Ima, if there are boy birds and girl birds, how can the birds know if they are a boy or a girl?"
Me--"erm...maybe it's written on the bottom?"

So. Bear all the canclulations in mind. My work is not exactly glorious. It also takes its toll on my mothering and energy levels. My husband wants nothing more than for me to be free to be the best mother and wife that I can be. A+B=C. Or something mathematical like that.

So why, when Outdoorsman triumphantly informs me that I do not have to work next year, that it's finally going to all work out, why do I just feel a sense of loss? How can my sense of self possibly be wrapped up in this?

I think that maybe it has to do with the 36-hour day that we women are supposed to have. The day where it's the best thing in the world to be home with the kids that you, after all, brought into this world, but have you no self-respect, woman? What are you, a baby and diaper machine? So hence, the 36-hour day. Viola! You stay home with your kids, and have a full-time career at the same time! It takes on new dimensions in a kollel community, where working in order for your husband to learn is held so sacred. The ice-coffee-beat women, those black-clad pouty-lipped dependantly wealthy girls are held (by me as well, I must admit) in distain.

I guess I'm afraid that I will become A Lady In Black.

No, that's a lie. I'm not afraid of becoming one of them. It goes very much against my nature, and besides, the last time that I was a size 2, I was officially admitted to a rehab for anorexia. My twenty extra pounds and I are bound for rehab no longer. No, what I am afraid of is even more embarrassing.

I am afraid that people will think that I am one of them.

I will find myself explaining. (I'm looking for work, I don't know how it got this way, on second thought I'll put back the oranges, they are so expensive, you know how it is, and so do I because I'm also not a free-loader.)

I am 27 years old. I have two kids. I have been married for 5 years. (Reverse the order of those last two, on second thought.) How long will what they might think control what I do?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Father's Day

My father came home from the hospital last night. Or yesterday? Um. Time difference. Makes me feel all sci-fi-like, and as if I did that whole going back in time thing and accidentally killed someone's great-great-grandpa and now the whole planet is under the dark dictatorship of the giant cheeesy mushroom people.

Mmmm, cheesy mushrooms.

Anyway. He's home, at least for now, and his infection is cleared up, and he's back to himself, which means basically that he can smile if he tries, but that's about it. Multiple Sclerosis makes the giant cheesy mushroom people look like kindly old blue-haired cashiers.

The cause of death for many M.S. sufferers, statisticially, is euthanasia. The physical agony, the slow degeneration of a once vibrant person, the pride-robbing dependance-- And someone in my family said recently, when this newest wrinkle developed, "maybe he should just stay home, and let the infection take its course." My mother repeated the comment to me without rancor and added dryly, "pretty cold-blooded, huh?"

Um, yeah.

I know that there is a huge world-wide debate about euthanasia, the side for citing dignity for the ill person.

I don't think that that is what it is at all. It's about productivity. We don't consider people useful, viable, contributing members of society if they are not, well, contributing and viable. And useful. My father does not seem to be any of those things anymore.

I heard a wonderful tape by a wonderful Rabbi (Rabbi Frand, maybe? I don't remember the names of my best friends--really embarrassing story just happened with that, I'll post about it when the blush fades--so the names of the Rabbis are definitely pick-a-rabbi style) who said that it is not "quality of life" that makes someone alive. Rather it is "sanctity of life."

Life is sacred and precious in and of itself. That is why we have children, even in a world that knows darkness and pain and will one day be ruled by the cheesy mushroom people as soon as I figure out what to fuel my time machine with. My father's life is sacred and unique and has worth simply because he is alive.

That is how my mother has the strength to do what she does. That is why my father is still alive so many years after the doctors gave him 6 months. I remember when Christopher Reeves (with whom my father bears a striking resemblance to) died of complications of a bedsore. Those kind of things are taken care of right away on my mother's watch. Because she cares and loves him. Because she has the sacred mission not only of having brought brought 10 souls into this world, but of preserving this one, this one whose body may seem to be growing sicker and sicker but whose essence shines with a light from the eternal.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Second Star to the Right

When we were little, my siblings and I would sit up at night for hours and fantisize about how it would be when we grew up. We would all get married and live in the same little town. It would be close enough to the city that we wouldn't get bored, but far into the country that we so loved and lost ourselves in every summer. And we would have it all to ourselves.

When you grow up in a tight knit--and large--family like mine, the rest of the world is faded compared to the vibrant colors of home. I never suffered from peer pressure. All I wanted to be was just like my big sisters, and my little sisters want to be just like me. We had our own language, our own games, our own way of looking at the world. We are all tall and when we all walk together we walk taller. Green eyed, light skinned, prone to laughter and a slightly sarcastic sense of humor, we would live together forever.

Husbands and kids and stuff too, of course.

Then we really did grow up. Got husbands and kids and stuff.

And moved far away from each other.

As of August, when some visiting siblings blow this joint, ('cause "blow this joint" sounds light and like I don't even really care that they are all LEAVING ME) I will live 6,000 miles from the nearest green-eyed, light skinned (slightly) sarcastic sister.

It's not that I don't love my new little family with all my heart. It's just that when I play scrabble with my husband, we don't play the way I played growing up (namely, flipping your board around and saying, "OMG, I have the worst letters ever. Does anyone have a T?" And then someone handing you a T.) and actually, that's not it, either. It's fun to play by the real rules sometimes. And adding staight hair and brown eyes to the gene pool is good, too.

And can't ever go back, so maybe that's what this is about. You can't grow up and still have things stay the same. I can't be a mother and make (the right?) choices for my family and still run from the friday night shabbas table with my siblings and play "fire" as the laughter and singing from the adults left at the table wafted into the darkness of the den.

But it's not about that, either, is it? I was not the happiest child. I don't really want to be a child again. I just...want...things to be...simple. Like the tormenting thoughts that visit at night and after I ate something that I shouldn't have; am I a good mother? a good enough wife? do I bring joy to my home? are we making the right decisions about our children's future? do I give my husband the confidence that he needs and the love he deserves?

That self-doubt and worry versus being 10 siblings strong, strong enough to be our own community, strong enough to be our own bulwark against anything dark and scary and unknown. When we had all the answers and knew just what the future was going to be like-- namely, us, together, having fun.

I miss that.

I do miss that.

That I'm all grown up and too big to fly again to NeverNever Land makes me a little sad.

I'm just sad that everyone is leaving.

Just a little sad.

Backwards, turn backwards O Time, in Your flight
Make me a child again, just for tonight
Rock me to sleep, Mother,
Rock me to sleep!


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