Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Things have been tortuous for me lately. Everything from the fly that won't leave my bathroom for 3 days now - I've been swiping it sitting on the toilet, swiping it as I put in my lenses, swiping it as I take off my make up...it won't fucking budge - to the dog emptying out my garbage can in the kitchen and licking all the paper plates clean and dragging cereal boxes to my son's room and ripping them apart there plus he had disemboweled a small stuffed animal last night. My son and Hubby played ping pong name calling "You Fucking Drug Addict" "You Fucking Wimp" "YOu Fucking Drug Addict" "You fucking wimp" - until they both fell asleep. For what did I come home early last night. I could have danced all night and not have had to hear all this. Then there's the wet laundry that hangs in two racks inside our house because of the rain, and my husband shouting at 12:00 am to my daughter's Persian boyfriend -"I FEEL CROWDED IN HERE!" I get to work this morning and the e-mails are depressing. More Palestinian house demolitions and descriptions of the families and young children in tears. I can't do a thing because a) I have no clout b) I have to work every single day and cannot volunteer my time to help them out. My boss was writing a report today and made me read one paragraph over and over and over and over again until he GOT IT! Then when we write another paragraph, I have to read that one over and over and over and over again. To alleviate my exasperation, I try reading the paragraph in different tones. The second time I read it, I read it slower and with more feeling. The third time I read it, I enunciate each vowel. The fourth time I read it - I've got to be real inventive. My Boss believes I can win an Oscar. I can't wait until one day a computer can read what was typed, reads it aloud and can take over my narration job.

Monday, November 29, 2004

2 Strange Dreams

I had 2 strange dreams recently and related them to friends. The first one was a dream of one of the cast from "Queer Eye for a Straight Guy". I think the guy's name was Carlson ? - the blonde one from the show. He is over my house for a "re-do" and looks at me and tells me I look like a balloon. I woke up immediately thank God. Right before that I had a dream that I was holding a small blue box that came from Tibet. I opened it and saw all this glistening dust. Richard Gere, the movie actor, is behind me telling me to put it away because it is holy. Not the kind of dream "I" had in mind for Richard, but never mind.

My girlfriend tells me gurus or lamas or whatever give gifts of dust that shimmer. I had no idea. I know nothing of Eastern religions. I have enough to learn of my own and anything I find in Eastern religions, I can basically find in Chassidic/spiritual Judaism. So there. Whatever do these dreams mean?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Dr. Rambo

I will be going to see this Dr. Rambo today - a female gynecologist. Haven't been to one in ages and it's time I took some responsibility for myself. Ain't no one else gonna remind me to go. I didn't want to use the local gyno - a heavy elderly Russian woman - who is constantly asking my kids in her heavy accent in her high voice - if they engage in sexual practices. If they're not telling me, they're not gonna tell you, honey. I asked at work for recommendations for a good gyno. A new mother highly recommended this - Dr. Rambo. The name kind of scared me a bit. I then asked another friend of mine for an opinion about her. "She made me cry." Of course she made you cry, I figured. She probably stood there like Stallone holding god-only-knows what kind of weapon and ordered something like - open up or I'll shoot. That might make me cry too. But as I thought of cancelling my appointment, my friend confided that Doc Rambo only made her spit out her chewing gum while she examined her. That was the whole deal. You don't mess around with Rambo. You spit out that gum.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Friday Ramblings

I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving in Jerusalem last night. My mother always celebrated Thanksgiving - but never on a Thursday. She would wait until Friday and serve us our Turkey with stuffing then for our extravagant Sabbath meal. In Canada no one gave two hoots about American Thanksgiving. Canadians had their own, although I haven't a clue as to why they picked October and their historical significance for Thanksgiving. We never celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving either. But being surrounded by American ex-pats made me long for some of the nostalgia of a cozy Thanksgiving dinner. Whole turkeys are difficult to find here. Mostly they sell Turkey breasts - skinless - for making schwarmas and stews. Not the same.

I walked into some of the joints heavily frequented by Americans and Normans on Emek Refaim was crowded and noisy with, well, loud Americans. The waiters and waitresses were all dressed in warpaint and Indian headresses which I thought was funny. The food seemed too mass-produced and it didn't seem like a good place to eat in if you weren't sitting with at least 10 other people. Too noisy for a couple date. I decided our best bet was not having to stick with turkey but just going out to eat is celebration enough for me. The next big soiree for us will probably be New Years.

There is an old inn across from the defunct train station in Jerusalem, called the Khan. We'd never been there in all the years we've lived here - that's 10 years. I am amazed that there is always something to discover here. Especially so after one of the people I work for came back after a long stint in the US, extolling the praises of America the beautiful. "Life is so much easier there, people have everything, everyone travels, everyone is buying ipods in all different colors, look at all of you (we were 4 women sitting around her). You all look tired, simply exhausted." Well, gee, thanks. What was going on here? Of course I didn't move here to become rich and acquire "stuff". My diamond-loving friend from Toronto who spent $1,200 on a necklace in a new age shop selling mostly rocks and candles frightened me and now Ms. Boss is frightening me. What is everyone turning into here???

But getting back to the Khan. My mind always drifts - sorry. The place was amazing. There's a large courtyard with huge olive trees and ancient olive-press wheels, surrounded by buildings that house a theatre that looks like a cave - featuring alternative music on some nights, a pub and a restaurant upstairs. The restaurant was a good find, the food original - vegetarian fare as well as unique pomegrante or tamarhind sauces to smother on meat and fish and anise flavored beets, etc. Looking out the picture window from the restaurant my mind wandered back a century and I could see where the old stables used to be and I could imagine all the Jews and Arabs playing backgammon together and smoking water pipes on their way to or from somewhere.

Happy Thanksgiving

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad
attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was
rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.

John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying
only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to
"Clean up" the bird's vocabulary. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the
parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got
angrier and even ruder. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird
and put him in the freezer For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and
screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over
a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the
freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said, "I
believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm
sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do
everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask
the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird
continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Thursday, November 25, 2004


I wish there were more words to describe dysfunction but that's how the past 24 hours have been. Tuesday night I had the dreaded Parents/teachers meeting at my son's school. The wait could be for up to an hour as each parent is alloted 10 minutes to gab with the teacher, but somehow - being that they're Israeli parents who like to talk and argue - it ends up being 20 minutes each. I was the next to the last parent to see the teacher and as I waited looking at my split ends my son speaks at last - DON'T LOOK FOR LICE HERE. Honey, I wasn't looking for lice. I haven't had lice in about a year. Lice - the dreaded plague, plagues every child here and they, in turn, pass it to their mothers, myself included. My youngest is 12 and for one year now, I haven't seen the pesky critters anywhere on anyone's head in our house. What a pleasure.

Ah, but getting back to my dysfunctional day - my daughter celebrated her 15th birthday that night as well. She showed up asking for Chinese food and didn't want a cake. Who doesn't want a cake on a birthday. Mum certainly does. So I ordered the cake of her choice - it was sickeningly sweet, that I think she, in her teen wisdom, knew this well in advance. The Chinese food was a treat for me, as I didn't have to cook that night. This was loser Chinese food though with the sauces overpowering the bits of chicken among the peppers. What the hell - she liked it though.

The next day my Good Daughter gets sick and begs me to come home and make dinner for her - "since you haven't made dinner in a long time" - saying this as if it had been decades since I've been near the stovetop. Yes, since I finished nursing you, my dear, you haven't had dinner. Nor you, your siblings and father and everyone else who complains about its absence.

Even this morning Abed, our Palestinian friend, whom Hubby drives to work with him each day, gets into the car and digs into me, asking Hubby - What did you have for breakfast today. Breakfast? Who has breakfast as we all rush out in the am. Putting my lenses in, in the morning, is enough work for me, as well as making sure my own friggin' teeth are brushed and my face thoroughly moisturized. Abed dug in some more - "When I was at your house, and Hubby asked for the kids to do something and one of them said - 'no, YOU do it' - if it were one of my kids, I would ask them 'for what did I bring you into the world'?"

I thought for more than a fleeting moment - why couldn't the Israeli army have put up a checkpoint just that day in front of MY house so that Abed wouldn't have been able to visit and notice my spoiled brat kids. They may not have much, these Palestinians, but they do have children who behave better to their families than we do.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Honor thy mother and father

An old Jewish man lived alone in the country. He wanted to dig his potato
garden but it was very hard work as the ground was hard.

His only son, Saul, who used to help him, was in prison for Insider Trading
and Stock Fraud. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his

"Dear Solly: I am feeling pretty bad because it looks like I won't be able
to plant my potato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging
up a garden plot. If you were here, all my troubles would be over. I know
you would dig the plot for me. Love, Papa"

A few days later the old man received a letter from his son:

"Dear Papa: For heaven's sake Dad, don't dig up that garden, that's where
I buried the money & stocks. Love, Solly."

At 4 am the next morning, a team of FBI agents and local police arrived at
the old man's house and dug up the entire garden area without finding any
money or stocks. They apologized to the old man and left.

That same day the old man received another letter from his son:

"Dear Papa: Go ahead and plant the potatoes now. That's the best I could do
under the circumstances. Love, Your son, Solly."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Interfaith meeting

It rained like freezing hell yesterday - all day - without the sun peeking through for one moment and I had to get my winter coat out of storage. I didn't give a flying fuck how bad it smelled. Karmela the nun called me at 3:00 pm - If no one comes to the meeting, we'll just have an informal one. Shit, and I had just gotten my evening gown out of the cleaners for just this once. Never mind. I had hoped -somebody- would actually show up besides us three faithful coordinators. I had spent 2 hours that morning typing up my wonderful presentation on Abraham - the Jewish perspective. I perused through dusty books I hadn't looked at in a decade and found some good spiritual stuff. Shame if nobody would come. I focused on Abraham's quest and relationship with God and his hospitality. I left out circumcision because I feel funny talking about penises in front of academics. Also, I wasn't sure whether this was a commonality between all three religions because not all Christians are circumcised and I didn't want to do a guessing game in the room of who was and who wasn't. So I left that out. I left out the story of Hagar and Sarah because for me that is the root of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Sarah threw Hagar out of the house and Palestinians feel today that that is exactly what Jewish mothers today would like to do to them. I diplomatically left that out. Someone wrote to me about what a diplomat was - someone who can tell you to go to hell and you end up looking forward to the trip.

By the time the meeting began we had 13 solid people there not including one Canadian artist who showed up for 10 minutes before he left for another meeting. He even wore a French beret. Of course he's an artist. What else do they wear? I invited Souliman from the Abu Sukkar center for Peace and Dialogue. He, in turn, invited a person who works with Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian academic involved in getting hundreds of thousands of signatures for their peace initiative. Never mind all that - I was just happy that people showed up, that the 2 Palestinians got permits to come into Jerusalem thanks to the invitation I sent them.

Speaking of Abraham, they mentioned how it would be nice if we could go as a group to Hebron to visit the Cave of Machpela in the place of such holiness and tension between our peoples. I jumped at the idea because I enjoy the thought of freaking out all the locals, both Jewish and Palestinian, at the site of our mixed procession. But then they all thought better of it and decided perhaps it would be best if we first started out at Nebi Samuel - the Prophet Samuel's tomb - where it's a lot less tense and where we could actually pray together, but separately without too many raised eyebrows.

Anyway gotta go and buy a cake for my ex-Criminal Daughter's birthday today - she is turning Frightful Fifteen.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Vanity Fair

Last night I went to see the Reese Witherspoon movie Vanity Fair. My Eldest Daughter agreed to come with to the old landmark movie theatre in Jerusalem. She's a kind of Kelly Bundy type who identifies with Reese's former Legally Blonde types and I was wondering how she'd fare through the classic British epic movie. She actually did pretty good on it, not asking me too many questions throughout and I especially enjoyed Bob Hoskins' part in it. She ordered popcorn for us and this mega-super-size-me popcorn showed up at our table before we went into the movie. "Who is going to eat all that???" I queried, figuring I'd share it with the whole damn audience if I have to. "It was only $1 more than the medium one" she explained. I sauntered into the movie theatre with my real glass (not a paper cup) of hot apple cider with brandy complete with dried apple slices and enjoyed the movie ever so much more with my drink. Daughter ordered a chocolate drink in a paper cup. Why drink out of a paper cup when you can drink like a mensch out of a glass cup.

It's been raining so hard today, I am in a "fireplace mood" and am searching for a Jerusalem restaurant that has one. Let's see if I can find one. There may yet be one and if there isn't - it would certainly be a hit in the rainy winter months. In Toronto everyone had working fireplaces in their home. Here - hardly anyone does, although these wood burning fireplace-look-alike room heaters are on the market this year.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Our Chassidic friends

They came to visit for 10 days. Talk about the Odd Couple. I love them both to pieces. She loves jewellery with a passion, anything that glitters and is expensive. Her husband complains bitterly to mine about her spending sprees. The more he makes, the more it goes - on her hands, around her neck, on her fingers, and wherever diamonds drip. She complained to me about her Orthodox hippie-style daughter. "She has a belly ring and wanted to know whether she could wear her belly ring in the mikvah (ritual bath). So she called up her rabbi - talk about stump the rabbi - who had no idea what a belly ring is. He asked his wife what is it? His wife waved her hand at him - it's just some meshugas (crazy thing)." I don't know what the verdict was, but I could just imagine what a ruckus it must have caused in the rabbi's household. At last a question he could not answer easily.

We went out on Friday and she took me out for breakfast. I showed her the New Age shop and thought we'd be looking at crystals and candles. But she immediately spotted something glistening in the locked glass showcase. "That's termoline! I can't believe it! I've been looking for this for YEARS!" She's found her treasure at last. I was horrified. The price tag was over 1,000 dollars US!! "Your husband will KILL you", I warned. "Put it back" I said. She didn't listen. She took it out, wore it around her neck, walked around the store with it and decided to buy it. Shit. All I wanted her to do was look at candles for 10 friggin' dollars and she finds the most expensive thing in the house. I had no idea the store even sold jewellery.

Saturday night we went out as a couple. They came over to see our rather modest home and she perused through my photo albums. "WHAT IS THIS??!" she screamed at a page in my album. "Oh, that's the gay pride day in Jerusalem last year. Isn't it colorful." She turned grey. "You put these pictures in your FAMILY album?" I put everything in my family album.

We went out for coffee and cake and I told her about my Feng Shui consultation. "Everything is in the Torah, even that" she told me. Her husband elaborated further "The Torah even tells you where you should build bathrooms in your home, he stated. You are not allowed to pee facing the Temple Mount." OH? Hubby and I tried to figure out in which direction our bathroom faced. "I think I pee towards Mecca" I said, not feeling too good about that either. I glared at Hubby -"But YOU, my man, are peeing towards the Temple Mount!!" The restaurant patrons began to look in our direction for the more enlightening conversation coming from our table. "Shit. Looks like I will have to pee sideways from now on." Yes, do that. Please pee in the direction of New York City only. I feel a bathroom renovation coming on!

Greenwich Village Blues

OK - I'm back to being Cinderella. My home is computer-less now that work needed my loaned computer back. The good news is that there is less inter-family fighting over the computer and it's a bit quieter these days. The bad news is I have no time to relax on weekends and read other silly and not-so-silly and some hysterically funny blogs and best of all - discovering interesting blogs.

While perusing the internet on Thursday, I read a small news item about local Greenwich villagers in a bit of a neighborhood tiff with Richard Gere about his building a Tibetan style temple in his backyard. Nu? What's up with the neighbors. Tibetan temples are beautiful, certainly not an eyesore. Just what exactly are they afraid of? It's not like he's building a giant chapel for evangelical, snake-handling, Jesus screaming Pentacostal Christians who might be in religious ecstasy at 3:00 am, waking up all the neighbors who have just gone to sleep. Buddhists are quiet. Real quiet. I've done walking meditations with them. I know. They don't talk. For hours. Sometimes even for days. The only thing making noise might be a tiny bell or two. OK some actually use gongs, but I don't think he'll be banging gongs at 3:00 am or at any ungodly hour. Are they nervous the Buddha in his temple will turn into something terrifying. WATCH OUT!!! IT'S THE ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT BUDDHA!!!! HEEEEELLLLPPPP!!! C'mon folks. This is Buddha, not King Kong. Even if it does grow to 50 ft. so fucking what. Can't the man get some spirituality in his life - even if it is in Pagan Greenwich Village?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

A Hard Rains Gonna Fall

Yesterday kicked off winter officially here. We had one rainy Friday, but yesterday felt more winter-ish. It poured, then stopped, then poured and stopped again. The vendors at the shuk had the radio tuned to Rock stations who played rain theme songs like Prince's Purple Rain, and others like Can't Stand the Rain, Wish It Would Rain, etc. all throughout the evening.

Meanwhile, at work we delegated days where one of us would bring "lunch" for the office. Today was my day and I poured over the stove last night making Pasta Primavera for these young Israeli girls. I've been to lots of restaurants in Jerusalem, even ones that portray themselves as Italian and I have not yet seen Pasta Primavera in any of them. Pity. It took me 1 1/2 hours and the asparagus cost $5, a princely sum for veggies in this part of the world. But it was worth going to the shuk in the rain to hear all the rain songs playing on the radio. While I was protecting my Pasta Primavera from family members, the dog and the street cat who ventures boldly into our house at times, my Eldest Daughter comes in from an evening of clothes shopping hungry like a wolf. "YOU CAN'T HAVE THAT" I barked at her, telling her it's like the cakes she bakes for all the policemen at work. "Take whatever's left in the slow cooker" I ordered, which was nothing more than a couple of potatoes and a little bit of turkey left over. "Can I have $2 for a slice of pizza?" she begged. I felt selfish - "If I give you, I'll have to fork over another $2 for your brother" who gave out a resounding "YEAH" in agreeance. My 20 year old began to cry. Me, the guilty Jewish mother, felt terrible. So my co-workers will have less to munch on at lunchtime. OK, take the friggin' food and so I watched while my oldest and youngest child dug in happily.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Wednesday's check-points

Abed moved from A-Ram to Issawiyeh to avoid all those hassling check-points to be able to get to work with Hubby more easier. But today when we went to pick him up, there were tons of army and police and school kids were being let through quickly after their bags were checked but others had to stand in line and wait. One soldier said to one of the villagers "If you want quiet, you have to have quiet at your end." I asked the soldier what was going on. He said people from that village they tried to burn down the gas station. I hadn't seen any signs of vandalism. Was it teenagers doing their thing as Jewish teenagers do? Or was it more? Last week I read about Jewish teenagers in the rural Golan Heights who burned their teacher's car at the teacher's home, but no one thought to put up checkpoints for the Jewish teenagers. Of course, playing around the gas station is quite a bit more dangerous, if that was the truth. I don't know who to believe. I asked Arab civilians what they thought was going on - they said it was because Id-Al Fitr ended and everyone was coming back to work so they were checking simply everyone coming into Jerusalem. We saw Abed coming up the street and thought because we knew him, he could avoid standing in line for checking. No such luck. We went to all the soldiers and asked if he could just come through. They all said he has to stand in line with the rest. Then they told me to stand a bit back from the Palestinians coming in. God forbid I might to get to know one. I didn't want to argue, because who wants to argue too much with armed soldiers unless they're doing something terribly wrong, like being abusive, which I didn't see - just a routine hassle and checking IDs. It took Abed 45 minutes to get through the check. But he got through it and meanwhile someone selling Arab-style sesame coated pretzel-like bread got $1 richer from Hubby who decided to buy 2 for our breakfast.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Geniuses and aliens

The Good Daughter rang me up yesterday to tell me she received a large bouquet of flowers from her boyfriend. "Is he feeling guilty about something?" I asked her. "HOW DID YOU KNOW?" she asked. She was truly amazed like I was a kind of biblical prophetess, psychic mom and Einstein all rolled into one. Heh Heh. I've just been around long enough to know. No secret there. Turns out Bad Romanian Boyfriend hadn't seen her in over a week, was supposed to take her somewhere yesterday but never showed up, so flowers came in his place. I let the Good Daughter believe I was Mother Genius.

Hubby came to pick me up to go to a fellow interfaith member's art show this afternoon. "You sounded like an Italian sports car in your sleep last night." "Huh?" I didn't quite understand. Then he went on to say that lately I've been talking incoherently in my sleep as well as moaning and groaning and yesterday I was buzzing and humming in different tones. "Maybe I'm communicating with Aliens" I told him. He went on - "I swear I'm going to buy a tape recorder and tape all your sounds. You're having a whole fucking conversation there." Jeez. Well whoever it was communicating with me in my sleep probably fought with me as well, as I woke up with a jolt at 3:00 am. My neck was stiff along with my entire right side, as well as my stomach aching badly. I had to sit up, as the aches seemed to be better while in a sitting position, and ended up watching Larry King and Oprah. Thanks aliens.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Laughing fits

I was trying to work on this 12 page To Do list for my boss. Two of my co-workers were making fun of me, him and this list. OK, so it's trite. Big deal. He can't type and I happen to be the fastest typist next to Clark Kent and I am forever grateful to the generous Lord to have one talent he doesn't have. So I added things like 1. Shave testicles 2. Pick ass - and other assorted, more pornographic, entries and we laughed until our sides hurt. Luckily I remembered to erase said items on this list before we faxed it to him overseas, and called the receptionist after I left the office so she could double check that it really went out to him overseas without all the porn stuff. Poor guy. I'd hate for him to have such a rude awakening about me. But the thought of him getting such a fax was so funny, I laughed all the way home on the bus not caring what other passengers thought of me, through my Arabic lesson, at the kitchen table while my son thought Lord knows what happened to his mother and I tried to tell Hubby about it, but he just emerged from his cave in his grey undies only to take a swift drink of Pepsi and retreat back under the covers.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

The British are Coming!

Actually not - but one British journalist actually did and wrote an absolutely stunning piece for the Sunday Times on our beautiful country here. Enjoy!

Muhammad the nurse

I took my son Friday night to the medical clinic in our neighborhood that is open when all the other clinics are closed. We sat for 2 hours while everyone suffering from all kinds of ailments piled in, kids in pajamas, tired looking fathers and mothers. My son had cut his foot badly while playing soccer in sandals and kicking the floor. There was only one doctor on call. I thought there were two doctors on staff, but the person whom I thought was a doctor was a male nurse, a Palestinian called Muhammad. I was so curious and so happy to see him here, in a place full of Jews, Jews who are considered settlers by many (except for the Jews who live here - we consider ourselves Jerusalem suburbanites). No one in that room, and it was crowded, gave it a second thought. He wore his name tag - Muhammad something or other. No one gave him a hard time. Everyone treated him with the utmost respect and he did his job very professionally. He bandaged up my son's foot carefully after cleaning it with a solution my son wasn't too happy about because it burned slightly, and gave me instructions on how to do it myself (although when I did try it, I couldn't manage to do it as neatly as he did it - in fact I did quite a slop job). I wanted to ask him all sorts of questions - how do you feel about working in what is considered a settlement, how did you get this job, where do you live, what does your family think, etc. I didn't ask diddley of him. But I overheard someone else who did. He lives in Jerusalem and is also a nurse at one of our major hospitals. Little things like this never get media coverage - do they?

heart stickies

Notice Eliyahu holding the Palestinian flag and Ibrahim holding the Israeli flag :-)

Praying for world peace

Circle of flags at Twyman's event

I'm holding the Democratic Republic of Congo flag

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Twyman's here

James Twyman, a Christian troubador of peace, came to Israel and had this "event" tonight which I went to, and which Hubby reluctantly drove me to as part driver, part escort. He sang some acoustic songs, we meditated for 5 minutes in silence and I laughed as someone poured water into the hot water machine because it made so much noise. We made circles of energy in our hands, then in couples, then in groups of 4. We did circles and chanted and then everyone was given flags of every country in the world and we chanted "May peace be on Australia, Austria....etc" and of course the biggest Amens came when they mentioned Palestine, Israel, Iraq and USA. There were all sorts there. I thought Hubby would be amused at the crowd. On the way back he was like "people looked like they came out of a mental institution, did you see the crazy woman with the hat?" "That woman is my friend from jerusalem, she's an artist. She's supposed to look eccentric" I told him. He said "Well when I asked someone what he does for a living, he told me he's Corporate. I asked him 'Corporate what?'" he told me just to prove his point that they were all nuts. I didn't find people there nuts, even though everyone wore little colorful styrofoam hearts all over their faces and clothing. It made me smile. Afterwards we all danced to World Music which was fantastic and I probably lost whatever fattening stuff I had eaten during the day. I danced like a wild banshee. My friends Ibrahim and Eliyahu were there, both back from England. It was great to get that Ibrahim hug after a few weeks of not getting those special hugs. At one point after the flag thing, Eliyahu held up the Palestinian flag, Ibrahim held up the Israeli flag and this Jordanian guy who was here for 3 days, held up his flag and it made the perfect picture. At the end of the evening we all made a circle which winded its way around like a spiral and we all held each other in that circle chanting Halleluyah, Salaam, Shalom and when the chanting winded down, Ibrahim said "Thank you God for making us all One tonight."

Friday, November 12, 2004

Two Worlds

Amoun, the Gypsy, invited me to Iftar, the breaking of the Ramadan fast at the Jerusalem Hotel, a beautiful, tiny hotel, that hardly any Jew living in West Jerusalem knows about. It's beautiful, the food is great, cheap and it's a block away from the road that divides East and West Jerusalem, but still no one will venture there. Like when I lived in NYC and 96th Street was the "border" between safe Manhattan and unsafe Manhattan. I wouldn't venture past 96th Street - not even 1/2 block onto 97th Street when I was younger. I was late for dinner partly because my boss was overseas and called me at 3:00 pm to give me vast amounts of assignments and because my hair was a disaster and I needed some professional treatment (hair treatment, that is). Let me explain. At 7:30 I was to meet people from Toronto, whom I hadn't seen in 9 years. The last time they saw me, I had covered my hair with hats, wigs, scarves as a member of the Ultra-Orthodox clan. I didn't want my friend to think the wigs "were so much nicer than your own hair." Back to East Jerusalem - Amoun and her friends and 2 sisters were just finishing up dinner. The conversation was mostly in Arabic and I figured out words like "Suha, car, married, small, little, money, husband" but I couldn't put it all together. They seemed to be the only Arabic speakers in the place - the place was swarming with Europeans - journalists, peace workers, etc. I guess because Arafat died, no one in East Jerusalem was in a celebratory mood. I didn't even know he died until I checked in with the Internet in the morning and saw the headlines. Even on the bus going into the Jerusalem - no one seemed elated - and this is a bus full of "settlers". Everyone has an attitude of "wait and see." Even though I wasn't a personal fan of Arafat's because of his terrorist background, because he didn't help his people enough and let them fester in refugee camps when he had enough $ to build a good infrastructure in Palestinian cities, and assorted other things - it will be hard to fill his shoes. Putting myself in a Palestinian's place instead of where I am in my Jewish place, I'd feel terribly sad at his death, because he instilled pride in his people if nothing else. I don't think the world would have taken notice of the Palestinian plight if he hadn't exploded (no pun intended) onto the scene and caused a world ruckus. But my attitude is the same as most Israelis here - let's wait and see.

Then I split from Amoun to visit my Chassidic friends staying at a nearby hotel a few blocks away, after telling her why my Toronto friends would feel just a touch uncomfortable at the Jerusalem Hotel where she invited them as well for Iftar. "It's not kosher, first of all" I explained. I would actually have loved to have seen everyone's reactions at the sight of a Chassidic man with a flowing white beard and his wife - with a kerchief tied in the back - trotting into this place.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

People on the inside

I'm having some turbulent times with the people on the inside. My kids have been bullying me, testing me, trying me... My Complaining Daughter complains she has no underwear and I should buy her some. I told her she has been working for months, why can't she pick up some undies for $2.50 each herself? I've noticed some cute ones while doing the laundry that say "enjoy" on the front side - Enjoy? Enjoy what. Believe me, I'd have never gotten her undies that were thongs, or anything that says "enjoy" or "lick me" or anything of that ilk. Isn't it enough I buy out the stores with feminine products for the teenage girls in the house? "Why should I have to buy underwear!" She shouted at me. "Because your sisters began working at 16 and they bought themselves everything from then on." She shouted even louder - "and why do you have to always compare me to THEM?" saying the word "them" as if they were skeevy, drunken street beggars. She continued her rant - "I don't have to be like them! I don't have to be like my friends! I don't have to be like you. Just because you lost your virginity at 21 does that mean I have to lose it too at 21 years old?" WHAAAT the hell did THAT have to do with buying underwear for Christ's sake. But she had to have that dig. I'm actually proud I didn't lose it at 13 and bragged about waiting (and waiting and waiting)to "do it" - to my teens once they acquired steady boyfriends in a feeble attempt at sex education.

My 12 year old woke up this morning demanding "money or I'll mess up the house". Are we related to the Jewish Lansky Crime Family of Chicago (or was it the Lower East Side)? Extortion, exmortion. No way. I'd rather have a messy house than give in to that terrorizing squirt. As he began throwing my clean laundry from the basket to the floor I waltzed out the door for the day.

That evening I went to the mall to buy face makeup. The Russian ladies at the makeup counter were so soothing. "Why don't you sit and relax and Marina will give you a face treatment." For free. I sat in the chair. I let Marina take my makeup off gently. She massaged my face with facial cleansers from Clarins and put anti-aging serums on me and moisturized my neck - all the while smiling at me with each stroke on my face, like an artist who simply loved what she was doing. She didn't just seem to be "doing her job". She applied makeup to me, as if she were Michaelangelo putting the final touches on his masterpiece. I stopped her at the green eye makeup. "Please make it look natural," I pleaded. She took out the brown and peach eye shadow set and continued her art, smiling all the while. I ended up walking out of there with a bit more than the face makeup I had come in for. But I really needed some of these people on the outside doing a bit of pampering for me....

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Lottery Winning!!!!

Yay! I finally won a lottery. Yup the big one!! Unfortunately, it came in the form of an e-mail and I never bought a ticket and it's one of those scams that come to me daily either in the form of weekly letters from Nigeria that some Prince or some relative that died in Nigeria left me anywhere from 1 - 6 million dollars and bank mortgages that finally got approved from Citicorp and now this:

Original Message -----
From: "debbie johnson"
Sent: Monday, November 08, 2004 12:16 PM

> z
> Ref. Nnumbe: 066/596/5067
> Batch Number: 5445-8224-XZ 33
> Sir/Madam
> We are pleased to inform you about the result of the Lottery Winners
International programs held on the 4th November,2004. Your e-mail address attached to ticket number 00731205- with serial number 4276-581 drew lucky numbers 7-54-18-23-11-45 which consequently won in the 1st category, you have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of
> US$ 1,000,000.00 (One Million United States Dollars)
> Due to the mix up of some numbers and name's we ask that you keep
> your
winning information confidential until your claims has been processed and your money Remitted to you.
> This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and
unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants.
> All participants were selected through a computer ballot system
> drawnfrom
over 25,000 company and 40,000,000 individual email addresses and names
> from all over the world. This promotional program takes place every
> three years.
> This lottery was promoted by the software corporation to compensate
> some few individuals with website and email addresses, we hope that
> with part
> your winning you will take part in our next year USD50 million
> To file for your claim, please contact our FIDUCIAL AGENT:
> TEL: +31-645-228-158
> Email: grouplotto204@netscape.net
> Remember, all winning must be claimed not later than 30th of November
> After this date all unclaimed funds will be included in the next stake.
> Please note in order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications
> please remember to quote your reference number and batch numbers in
> all
> Furthermore, should there be any change of address do inform our agent
> as
soon as possible.
> Congratulations once more from our members of staff and thank you for
being part of our promotional program.
> Note: Anybody under the age of 18 is automatically disqualified.
> Sincerely yours,
> Mrs. Suzan Pepple.
> (Lottery Coordinator)

Heh heh. They told me to keep this confidential. Why should I? I'm so fucking rich after all the Nigerian money that I have and this lottery winning and the lottery winning in Euros that I won yesterday, I can't even count how much I have. I could feed all the Palestinian refugees in this country. I'm richer than Suha Arafat. Why am I still working???? Who the hell is sending all this shit out???

What if I really really REALLY won something though, and they notified me somehow. I probably wouldn't believe them.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Fashion sense

Imagine the horror when I came into work early this morning - in fact, very early this morning - at 7:30 am, and my 75 year old male boss says to me - "Hey, I've got the exact same sweater!" What would your first thought be? Mine was - Oh shit, I think I gotta go and return this thing RIGHT NOW. I went on a shopping spree last night and got myself some new secondhand duds. They were real nice. Stuff from the Gap and from very good quality Israeli and European chains like Zara. I was so happy with the blue cotton pullover sweater from the GAP I had gotten for myself for the change-of-season weather we have in Jerusalem now. Until I wore it to work today. I thought I'd get some "ooohs and aaaahs" of approval from my colleagues as I model my new wardrobe at work. But no. My senior citizen boss, who should really be golfing in Caesarea at his age, tells me I have the exact same taste in clothes as he. This is actually very terrifying. I actually went to this store wanting to look a bit more polished. My Peggy Bundy days are over, I told myself as I looked through the clothing racks and ignored the leopard prints. I did want to look a bit more older and even sophisticated. But not that much older.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


I have to backtrack to Thursday because today was so uneventful. I'm staying late at work to see the movie Shall We Dance. Two girls at work bonked out on me - one for a good reason, because she is ultra-orthodox, her year of mourning is not up and she cannot go to any entertainment. The other one wanted to go with her mum. But I'm like her mum, I insist. Never mind. I went with my other friend, the one who always feels sick when I'm with her. Last time we went out she felt like throwing up. Good thing her boyfriend was there in the pub with me while she went outside for some air. This time she said she thought she was feverish, but decided she'll join me anyways. That is a good friend. The mood was so weird that day. Bush just got re-elected and I kept on getting assorted calls from friends and kids around 7:00 pm - "Arafat is dead" "Arafat is still alive" "Arafat is dead" "Arafat is getting better". I couldn't wait to get out already. It was like the Monty Python skit about the Dead Parrot - "Is he dead yet?" My friend finally got to the office and we got to the movie at starting time. Only one teller at the booth. My friend has balls and I don't so SHE complains about how can there be only one ticket seller during opening time! Then she takes a movie guide and generously cuts out all the photos of Richard Gere to give to me while I'm waiting on line to buy tix. We went shopping after the film and then this albino guy who worked at the store spills bleach or white liquid laundry detergent all over the floor. It wasn't very nice, but we turned away from that aisle and laughed until our sides hurt. Because everything was so white, his clothes, his hair, the detergent he poured all over the floor, plus we didn't know if Arafat was alive or dead. It was just complete madness. My favorite line in that silly but enjoyable movie was when the loudmouth dancer wanted to have one of the students as her partner - her student of choice of course being Mr. Gere. Hey why not. Someone asks him "What are you waiting for?" as he just sits there, not really wishing to be that one's partner. He says questioningly "Divine Intervention?" Heh, heh. Aren't we all waiting for some of that...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Face to Face

I decided to stay home and not invite anyone over or wake up at ungodly hours to go olive picking. But the lure of curiousity of new dialogue groups is too strong. In the Old City in Jerusalem there was a meeting this afternoon of Face-to-Face, a Palestinian/Israeli group where members on both sides lost an immediate family member due to the conflict. My Shabbat guest from South Africa invited me to go since they were having a special meeting of a delegation of South Africans telling their story - before and after. It was very interesting listening to stories from a black woman - about how they had to live in separate townships, have little or very inferior or even no education, how they couldn't own farms, but worked on white people's farms. The "colored" woman spoke about how she was in the middle. Her ancestry dubious - not exactly white, not exactly black. How her parents served tea to their white guests but when black guests came, who were relatives of her dad's, she thought they were the servants. My Shabbat guest, the white guy, spoke about his privileged life growing up in South Africa and knowing very little about the "other" until he went to university and questioned his government. They spoke about hierarchies - whites at the top, coloreds in the middle and the blacks on the lower rung. Like here where you have the Jews on the top level, the Druze and Bedouin on the next lower level, then Israeli Arabs and the lowest being the Palestinian Arabs. The self-claimed "colored" woman talked about the white "settlers" who came around 1820 and took away the land from the natives. And how much the blacks hated the oppressive whites and how they spoke about throwing the whites into the sea and/or taking their homes when they leave, and about the whites being deported back to where they came from. Until somehow they came to a realization that they had to get to know the other. She said they all finally came to the conclusion that each have no other home - that this is their home and they have to make the best of it together.

During the break I sat with some Jewish women, I spoke about coming from a religious background and how I broke away from it. The blond one was so impressed with my personal history, she told her friend from the Left-Wing femnist Bat Shalom about me and that woman dressed in black smiled at me from ear to ear telling me how happy she was at my decision to break away from religion. My new best friend. Until I told her where I live. Somewhere over the green-line. With a wave of her hand she dismissed me like a flea and looked away. So much for dialogue between Jew and Jew. She spoke about boycotting her own country's products. I wanted to talk to her after the session ended about her lack of proper dialogue but she left with her blond friend.

Before I went to this meeting, Hubby explained to me that he thought perhaps all these internationals are a front for Al Qaida. He thinks Al Qaida is everywhere. Like air. One Palestinian man came over to speak to me. "Hi. My name is Osama", he said. Great. Just what I need to tell Hubby. I never asked for his last name, fearing the worst, although he looks nothing at all like the arch-terrorist. "How do you know Ismail?" he asked. "I come from his village." On my way into the Old City, I stopped off to look for my friend, Ismail, who works right inside Jaffa Gate. Not to worry. I asked around for him and everyone in the area turned muezzin for me. ISMAIL! ISMAIL! They all yelled for him. You could hear them all the way to Mecca. Finally a figure in a white robe emerges from a building way down the block. I never saw him dressed in a traditional white robe and a bead necklace. He looked majestic in his Ramadan Friday splendor. We hugged. I told him I was going to a Face-to-Face meeting and he nixed his planned prayer time at the mosque to join me. I hope Allah won't get mad at me. His cowboy friend from New Mexico joined us as well.

Back to Osama, when he heard where I lived, he didn't walk away, he didn't frown, he just told me that it wasn't a place where I should be living, working as a peace activist. It just didn't make any sense. But my talk about this land belonging to the both of us, with equal rights - real equal rights did make sense to him. I invited him to my interfaith group meeting this month. He is the Palestinian head of Face to Face. I gave him my card and chuckled at the thought of my kids picking up the phone to hear that "Osama" is calling for me. Daddy's right, they'd whisper.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Girls at work were discussing the new cleaners that come in after hours. One girl in particular when hearing that they were Arabs seemed horrified - Arabs! How are you going to let them here when there's no one watching them, or when we have to work late..." She was going on. The office manager assured her that they were Israelis and had ID cards and not from the territories, which was illegal. That was HER main concern, but she didn't hear the terror in the other's voice, which I heard. I piped in - What are you so frightened of? They just looked at me with a -there-goes-the-liberal-Arab-rights-advocate-again-look and didn't say anything more about it. The evening receptionist is a delight. She wants to come with me to the old city in Jerusalem to meet my Gypsy friend and write about her. I must have asked her 100 times - you're not afraid to go into the Old City? No, she isn't, she thinks they're all interesting and would love to meet the Gypsy family. Wow. It's a date!

Meanwhile, the article from the Jerusalem Post on my Interfaith work has people talking - my daughter's boss read it. She asked her - "Was your mother in the papers?" I asked my daughter if she said "No" since everything I do embarrasses her. She actually did admit that it was her mother in the papers and I feel she was actually proud of me for once. That and the fact that I straightened my hair to give myself a more polished, less hippie look made all my kids more proud of their mother. Now they could actually be seen in the street with me, in broad daylight. Ah the simple things to please your children. Another acquaintance stopped Hubby in the street. "What is going on with your wife?" as if I'd already had that affair with that hunky movie star. "Are you left wingers", he asked, pained by the thought. Hubby answered with that spark of wisdom that creeps out every so often, that that wasn't the point. "She does great work. And it goes beyond that article. She's involved with so much." Sheesh. I really thought he'd kvetch to the guy about me not being around so much and isn't it a pity how I turned out, etc. So that was a big surprise.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Everyone here is American today. There were local elections here in Ma'aleh Adumim for mayor - and Hubby and I voted last minute. Each for different candidates. For the city council - he was like - I voted "Lamed", what was it, he asked. I told him you probably voted for the ultra-orthodox or something extreme or for a Russian party. Inside the voting booth here, the volunteers were asking us whether we're voting for Bush or Kerry. I'm sure they would rather have been able to vote in the US elections than for people who won't make much of a different in the universe. The popular talk show Yatzpan here was hilarious - everyone in the audience was waving US flags and there were red,white and blue balloons throughout the studio which was decorated in US flags. The audience were given t-shirts of either Bush and Kerry and were asked who they would have voted for and why. One guy said he was Iraqi and was wearing a Bush t-shirt. Others said Kerry was cute and tall, most said Bush had been supportive of Israel for the past 4 years and therefore they hope he gets in for another 4. I wouldn't have known who to vote for in the US. I probably would have been among the 5% or so of Americans who stayed home and didn't vote. Whoever will be the president of the US - that outcome will affect the entire world. Here in our town, I voted for the person who spends all our taxes on beautifying the city with fresh flowers, etc. much to the annoyance of his opponent. So the worst thing that can happen here is that the opponent will win and our city will no longer smell like jasmine.....

Monday, November 01, 2004


It is absolutely tedious to transcribe 5 hours of tapes at work. I rushed out of there at 4:00 pm and did some errands for the family. Then it was time to treat myself. Back to the biker hairdresser. He looks at the ceiling and asks me - do you think the drywall work is good? No I didn't, I told him. THEN WHY DIDN'T YOUR HUSBAND DO IT. Fortunately, he asked me this after he colored and cut my hair. Why do you have to get me involved in this, I thought. I just wanted to sit in the salon chair, and have my hair washed and scalp massaged by a handsome young thing and be friggin' done with it. This horribly loud, more overweight than me, customer comes in. She's yakking away about spas and jacuzzis. I'm trying to get into the conversation but she ignores me. Fine. Maybe it's my accent. My Nasty daughter - who decided to accompany me to the hairdresser "to watch him" has a conversation with her. The loud customer is yelling at me while I am having my hair blowdried. WHY DON'T YOU PUT HER IN A BETTER FRAMEWORK??? What on earth is that woman on about? I figured it probably had to do with school and the only one subject my daughter is learning this year or the fact that my hairdresser is complaining that my daughter quit her job with him and is working with catering. I didn't know which it was. And I didn't fucking care. I told the nudnik lady nicely - I can't hear you - and that was the end of that. Sheesh. Between nudnik and the complaining hairdresser, my Nasty daughter didn't seem so bad this evening. We walked back together, talking about body shapes, she blaming me for her having small boobs - and we laughed as some guy catches our girls only conversation from his front balcony.