Sunday, January 30, 2005

Hearing and Seeing Things

Hubby was hearing things on Friday.

"Didn't you hear Raed telling you 'you're so beautiful, I kill my wife! I kill my wife for you!' And everyone was laughing. ???? You didn't hear that?"

Sorry, I was there, and didn't hear anything of the sort. Nice try though.

We both had gone to the neighborhood grocery store where Raed was busy attending to my every need. What I did hear was -

"What you want? Jerusalem Post? Tomatoes? I give you everything what you want. I tell my wife about you. She want to see your picture, but I tell my wife (see? not 'kill my wife') that I invite you and your husband to my house. You come to my house OK?"

He never said when the invite was but he will eventually find a day and a time. And I will drag Hubby to the Palestinian neighborhood of Abu Tor to meet this wonderful man's wife. And no one will die.

Hubby did try to be helpful in other ways. I was tossing around ideas for my stories to get published (other than here).

He had ideas.

"Maybe try the Washington Post."

"You know they're owned by the Moonies"

"Who gives a fuck. I'd drive a leased car from them. I'd worship the Moon if I had to."

He was a bit disappointed that the only lead he got for work this week was from a woman who he called the Bag Lady because she looked like one and because she had this idea of opening up a restaurant in a urine-infested alley off the main drag in Jerusalem. She knew the neighborhood drunk and greeted him. He greeted her back by going to a corner, whipping it out and taking a piss. "Oh don't pee over THERE!" she whined and turned to my husband to further discuss the restaurant. Geez, who would want to eat there anyway?!

Meanwhile, today I'm trying to get into an Israeli website and I need a password. Nothing I picked worked - the site rejected them all. Finally, I am so frustrated, I pick a password with the word "fuck" in it and ...guess what?? It liked it. The "f" word was accepted. I'M IN!

Friday, January 28, 2005

What's an Elvis Inn without an Elvis impersonator?

Elvin INN - near Jerusalem

Smoking the peace pipe

Joel - the Apache medicine man in Jerusalem

Follow that rainbow

Blocked channels

I'm trying to figure out what is blocked in my life. I haven't gone to any debtor's anonymous meetings. Perhaps that was sin #1. Sin #2 may have been getting a credit card, which I hardly use anyway, because I paid a property tax debt with it (renters here pay property tax), which took up most of my credit. Sin #3 may have been not contacting my sponsor. I called up an old-timer in the program who lives in one of those extremist settlements in Samaria.

"Maybe all these problems began when you first joined that group of yours."

"What group?" The Beatles, Stones, DA, Al-Anon? I couldn't figure it out.

"You know, the group you went to Barcelona with."

Ahhh, my interfaith group. She thinks sin #4 is making peace with people of other religions???? God is punishining me financially in my attempts to make peace with Palestinians? Is that what this woman thinks!!!?????? I got even more depressed and angry talking to her than I was beforehand.

However, in yelling at me, she gave me some other food for thought, like not being grateful for what I already have, like a job that allows me to work plenty of paid overtime, health, and other assorted small things.

Meanwhile, today was the last day of registration for my son's junior high. The last thing I had to do was take him to one of those machines where they spit out your photos, because the school needs two passport size photos. I have exactly $2.50 on me - not a penny more. This is what the photos cost. I give it to him and escort him to the place. He is walking 50 feet away from me. He runs up to me quickly and tells me "I know people here. My friends are here." Then runs away from me again like I have the Black Plague. He's nearly 13 and his mother is an embarrassment to be with. What's the embarrassment?? One, that I'm his mother and TWO and this is a big TWO - I speak English. I speak a foreign language. We are not true Hebrews. We come from Mars, not from somewhere on this planet Earth.

He sat in the booth listening to the instructions in Hebrew. I asked him,in English of course, if the photos are ready to be taken. He squirmed in his chair and yelled "SHHHHHH" like the authorities will cart him away for having a foreign-speaking mother. When the photos came out,they were tiny sticker size photos and I said - in English of course - why didn't you ask me what kind of photos to get. These are useless. "SHHHHHHH - you're embarrassing me!" he cringed and began walking away. With that I yelled - in English of course - I HAVE NO MORE MONEY FOR ANY MORE PHOTOS AND YOU NEED THESE FOR TOMORROW. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO." and I ran towards the exit, away from my English-language-hating son.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Divine Intervention - sometimes

the Jewish holiday of Tu B'shvat came and went yesterday. It's the new year for trees here and the time of the year when the almond trees blossom, heralding Spring, although the rainy season will continue until April. It's customary to buy dried fruit and nuts. I couldn't afford a fucking raisin this year so I was a bit pissed off at God for blocking our $ channel.

After going to a Parents/Teachers meeting, where I heard decent things about my daughter, I found a credit slip from an upscale linen-houseware-clothing store from July. In this country, when you return something, you never get a cash refund, even if you've paid with cash. You get credit. 50% of the time, people lose the credit slips, but I have a file with them and never lose them and use them at times when I need to most - like when I can't afford raisins, but want to go on a shopping spree because it's so depressing. I was on my way out of the school to walk to this mall, to buy whatever it was that caught my eye for nearly $50.

A man calls out to me to tell me he's lost and can I help him. He was South African from the accent. I turn around to see this skinny young man, walking with a toilet plunger and cables. I was intrigued. You see alot of stuff here in Jerusalem, but this was interesting. "Would you believe in South Africa I had a huge plumbing business, and look at me now." Of course, we both bitched about living here on the way to the schwarma joint where he was going, which was on the way to where I was going. He said he tells people he "committed" aliyah (which is the term used for people who move here from other countries). I told him when people ask me why I've moved here, I tell them it's like the movie Close Encounters. You have this urge to be here, you MUST be here, but you don't know exactly why and don't have any peace until you move. If he's a plumber, maybe he knows Hubby, and turns out he did vaguely. "tell him to give me a call, I've got a job for him to look at" I promptly called him up to tell him. How on earth did I meet this plumber, was his next question. "Divine Providence" was what I answered. Maybe next week, I will be able to afford a pack of raisins after all. And by the way, after cruising the Kitan store, I ended up buying two sets of flatware which was sorely lacking in our house. Plus I had enough credit to buy myself a coffee mug for work. My own. My very own....

Blog Awards

I see my blog is up for Best Life in Israel blog - so far I've got a whole FOUR (4) votes. Not bad. The voting is here. Let's see what happens. Oh the thrill of it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Real Whores

Today was so stressful. The Professor, God bless his soul, was even more unusually annoying than usual. He gave me an assignment to do that would take 15 minutes. After literally 3 minutes, he was banging on the door, wondering why I hadn't done it yet. The whole day was like that with him. He got annoyed at his assistant whispering one word to me while he was on the phone. We resorted to 3rd grade tactics and wrote notes to each other to finish up an assignment he gave us - in silence. He would really benefit from some Eastern meditation. Silence is golden in his life. When he finished the phone call he asked "What were you doing?"

"Oh - just writing notes to each other."

"Love notes?"

When he left the room momentarily, I decided that he would love to see the two of us in some state of scantily-dressed mud wrestling or worse. All men fantasize about two women. Even his assistant thought so. We were hysterical with laughter thinking about it, and while we were in hystericas, he comes marching back in the room - the smiles on our faces still lingering but stifled somewhat.

Later in the morning, Mr. Professor shlepped me to his other office - about a 5 minute car ride away - to explain the contents of a folder I prepared for him. "I want you here immdiately." Off I went with the driver/errand man for our company.

The driver had just gotten back from a trip to Bulgaria. It was freezing cold there. He left his wife and newborn son for the weekend and went with a friend.

"the whores are expensive there and so skinny."

"Really? How much do they cost?" I'm always wondering about the cost of things, even when I have no use for them. And sex for money always intrigued me. How do they do it. I'm not talking about the women from Eastern Europe that are brought into Israel under false pretenses. I'm talking about those who do it willingly - the high class escorts or whatever. I also need money for shit like bills and I'd love to take a vacation or even be able to afford a friggin' bath mat, but I could never ever bring myself to such method of employment. Besides, I'm over the hill for that kind of job anyways.

The driver told me they charge $100 plus $30 tip.

"Was it worth it?"

"My friend who 'did it' said it wasn't."

Obviously, he wasn't going to admit to me any transgressions he may have made on this wife-less journey.

We drove by a recently renovated large home that had been converted into a Bed and Breakfast inn. The driver mentioned that it is used frequently by hookers. The Inn's owners apparently don't mind the quick turnover of cash for 1 hour usage. It certainly beats having families with noisy kids stay overnight, who complain about the food and what have you.

I went to see the Professor, explained the contents of the folder and was back in the elevator with our driver. As we exited the elevator, some woman who looked exactly like Catherine Zeta-Jones' character in Chicago, comes trouncing in. She is wearing something low cut with a push up bra. What I noticed about her, was that she oiled her cleavage - all the way from her neck to her breasts. She actually looked nice, but something was amiss because she was dressed for evening and people don't shine their boobs here - at least not in the daytime. Whatever. I asked the driver, who knows from such things -

"Who was THAT?"

He knew she was a hooker - he called her a female escort. I wanted to know what was she doing in that building and who was she going to see? I wanted to follow her back into the elevator and figure it out. But I let it go. It was the first time I had come so close to a real life "ho" in this city. I wonder how much she charged.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Saturday with the gang

I ran into the bank on Friday - thrilled because Hubby had gotten a few hundred bucks for a Museum job he did months ago, and they finally paid him. Whatever was left to cover the overdraft, I used to buy food - less than $100, but it did the job for the weekend. I have the very unpleasant task of telling my rich daughters that they have to help pay some small bills otherwise if they don't - we won't have gas for the stove top cooking and everything will have to be baked - including eggs - in the electric oven. They were terribly upset when I did tell them. "Tell dad no more Coca Cola and cigarettes. I don't want my money going for these things." Rightfully so, my dahling chickpeas.

When I walked into the bank, the heavily made-up teller looked at me like her poorer gypsy sister - "LEAH. You have to fix your hair. You used to come in here looking good." I wondered if I had deposited several thousand dollars that day, would she be insulting me like this? I wanted to tell her if the thieves in the bank would give me back some of the interest they have taken from me over the years, I could be able to afford to come into the bank "looking good" with my roots newly done. Scoundrels.

Our normally peaceful shabbat dinner was interrupted by a good episode of Fear Factor. The teenage daughters were marvelling at the rather pumped up mammary glands of some of the female participants. My almost-13-year old son believes a "boob job" means pumping your breasts up with air, much like you do with the wheels of a bicycle. I love it. It's a great idea.

He was playing role reversal that night, as I fell asleep on the couch watching the E! channel. I woke up momentarily to feel him placing a blanket over me, plus a pillow which he gently put underneath my head. What a wonderful kid - at times.

He sure knows how to get to his mother's heart. The following morning, he asked me if he could make me some hot chocolate with REAL chocolate bars, instead of cocoa. And he boiled up the milk perfectly and handed me this perfectly made hot chocolate, on a terribly stormy, hailstone-ridden Saturday in Jerusalem.

Son, you will make a great husband, one day.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Apache Medicine Man

It's not everyday you get to meet a Native-American Apache medicine man. The weather was awful and my friend cancelled out, so I went with my friend Eliyahu. Nothing like getting some spiritual/mental healing from another source.

"I hope he looks like an Indian, and not a white Presbyterian minister." I remarked to Eliyahu. I had met part-Indian Jeanne White Eagle, who was an interesting woman, but didn't look at all Native American.

Fortunately, he did look the part, wearing a vest with fringes, and had shoulder length hair. An Injun in real life. I had never been up close before. I've always been intrigued by their way of life, which I thought was so pure and close to Mother Earth. I get mad at thinking what the new Americans did to them, all the while thinking how primitive they were instead of getting to know their culture, etc.

He lives in New Mexico on a reservation.

He began by telling us a story - similar to Chasidim, he tells his stories in metaphor. There was a bear looking into the river, and he kept on diving in and jumping out. This continued numerous times. The rabbit sitting on the riverbank laughed at the bear. "What are you doing". He answered "I'm trying to get the berries I see in the river."
"You fool! The berries in the river are only a reflection. The real berries are in the tree above your head."

The healer, Joe-El, continued. The truth is not buried under some river. It is right above your head.

He took out his peace pipe and opened up with an Apache prayer and waves his pipe around us. Then he passed it around for those that wanted to smoke it. It was only filled with tobacco, so I didn't bother smoking. :-) Then he said more prayers waving an eagle feather and brushing sage smoke towards us. I have dried sage at home, and like to burn it sometimes because it has a sweet smell like pot. But I had no idea it was used in Apache ceremonies.

We touched on Apache spiritual beliefs - they believe the world was created in 4 days. The circle divided into four is very symbolic in their teachings, although I can't remember what it was he said. Must have been the sage. Or my age.

But it was awesome, that while he spoke, there was a thunder storm outside - reall loud. And the thunder and lightening came in synch with the stuff he was saying. the whole thing was so wild.

He finished off the evening by singing songs for different occasions, lullabies, etc. He told us that the drumbeat we so often take (in those cowboy and indian films, particularly) for Native American drumming - that ONE, two, three, four - ONE, two, three, four - beat, is not true. He never heard that kind of drumming anywhere in his society. We all laughed, probably because up to now we all thought it WAS real.

The place where this evening took place was at another Eliyahu's house. This guy is a paraplegic mystic. I've never seen anyone so happy. His smile literally stretches across his face. His walls are plastered with postive sayings and mystical Eastern verses, plus kabbalistic art. I'd be miserable so cooped up in a wheelchair every day, but not him.

I was so happy that I made the attempt to meet two very special people this stormy night.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Here, there and everywhere

I must suffer from adult ADD. I seem to be interrupting people, left, right and center when they talk to me and their sentence consists of something over 15 words. At work, the Professor's assistant could sit like a statue, so still and so quiet, for an hour. But I have to walk around the room, grab an apple, a drink of water - even run to the bathroom.

Two nights ago I met with my Gypsy friend. I was penniless and she treated me to dinner at the Jerusalem Hotel. I ate like a starving cat and when I was done and about to leave, one of my guests at the hotel who knew my friend, brought his beer and nuts over. I knew right then and there, he was going to stay awhile. But he was interesting. A political economist. What that is, I really have no idea, but his travels throughout the years sounded fascinating and running around the West Bank is probably peanuts for someone who had spears aimed at him in Papau New Guinea. He was originally from Liverpool and claimed to have gone to the same school as John Lennon. He seemed about his age, perhaps a bit younger. He said John scratched "Duane Eddy rules" on his desk in class. I love hearing shit like that. He seemed to be in love with my friend, but my friend loves no one except people she can't have. That's the way of the world, isn't it. I dished out my business card to two cute young Palestinians who wondered why I was living here.

"To help bring peace between Jews and Arabs."

I don't know if that impressed them or not, but I promptly got a call from one of them that evening, promptly asking me out the next evening for drinks.

"Didn't you tell them you were married?" asked an irritated Hubby.

"No, there was no absolutely no time before you got there and I had to rush out."

But anyway, I was elated that any man under the age of 70 had finally asked me out. Husbands will not understand that about their aging wives. I felt about 25 years old again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Hot Showers

Taking a shower in Israel is much different than showering in the US and Canada. I'm not sure what it's like in other parts of the world. During the winter months, it becomes a challenge. We have solar heaters and if it is sunny then there is hot water most of the day. Except in our little place which is stuck between two taller apartment buildings and, therefore, very little sun gets to our solar heater. When there's no sun, we have to use this electrical switch, see? And the longer you run it, the more hot water you have and the higher your electrical bill will be.

Nothing was funnier than when we first arrived in Israel nearly 10 years ago. We were so tired travelling with 5 little brats and Hubby wanted to take a shower before conking out and ran out of the shower totally in agony because there was no hot water. Who knew from switches these. In civil countries like Canada, you turn on the hot water tap and you get hot water. Steaming water. But in this quasi-third-world country, there's no such thing as automatic hot water. But we were brand new immigrants. Ignorant immigrants. Green. Fresh off the boat. Fresh off El Al. He went to bed totally depressed. I stayed up to greet the assortment of people coming into our place to introduce themselves to us "newbies." One asked where my husband was. I told her he got upset because there's no hot water in our apartment, and how does one get hot water fixed here. This lovely lady walked over to the wall next to the bathroom, where there was a big red switch, and flicked it on. "There. In two hours, you'll have enough hot water for your whole family."

So this morning I woke up around 6:30 am - put the switch on for 15 minutes and got about 5 minutes of hot water. I'm in the shower, racing for time. Totally not relaxing. I'm about finishing washing my hair when I feel the hot water slowly ebbing, turning to lukewarm. I hurry and put hair masque on. I know I can't leave it for the full 3 minutes that it's supposed to stay on your hair. There's not enough hot water left. So I count to 60 and wash it off, while the water is turning too cool to handle. This is totally, totally primitive.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

My Rich Kids

With total lack of funds, due to only one income these days, I have tried to resort to getting some financial assistance from my eldest daughters. These are the two daughters who have responsible waitressing jobs at a well-known Jerusalem joint, and make good on tips pretty much every evening. The Arab cooks in the kitchen like my girls and serve them their food - real fast - so the customer is happy - happy enough to sometimes bestow 20% tips on them. "The cooks yell at the other girls" they told me smugly. And certainly their food doesn't come as quick to the customers.

It's Karma - I told Hubby. If you're nice to the Others in this country, indirectly, some good will come back to you.

My eldest gave us $50 last week. She wanted it to be a loan, but I told her under the circumstances, it has to be a gift.

This morning, I tried to glean $50 off the Good Daughter, who somehow had the morning "fitties". Maybe that room is totally haunted. She's usually not so Exorcist-like.

I walked in this morning to ask her for money. She screams at me under her blanket.


"Perhaps because it is morning, oh sweet one?"

I persisted and stood over her bed.

She then sat up in bed with her eyes still closed, her hair totally disheveled, and I thought I saw foam beginning to appear at the edge of her mouth.

HERE ARE MY KEYS!!! and threw them at me so I can open up her locked closet. I took what money I needed out and ran out of that room as fast as I could.

Peace Activities You and I Both Missed

There was one with Rabbis and Imams in Brussels that my friend Eliyahu just got back from. You can read about it here.

And the tree planting activity in the Negev I did not go to because I just wanted to do absolutely nothing this weekend but download music and watch movies.

Plus I found an interesting site that has the name of our Jerusalem group - Reut/Sadaqa but is a totally different group, but a very interesting and active one nevertheless!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Nebi Samuel gathering

We've fixed our computer at home - it's the one we bought for $40 3 years ago, so every minute that it is working I thank the Good Lord. But it is more difficult trying to wrestle is away from my two youngest kids - the son, who plays his racing games on it and the ex-Criminal who chats on ICQ for hours and hours and hours. Fortunately it's 9:00 am and Son is eating Honeycomb cereal and the ex-Criminal is still fast asleep.

I convinced one of my closest friends to join me on Thursday on our interfaith activity at Nebi Samuel. It's the Prophet Samuel's tomb just outside in Jerusalem in Area C - a mostly Palestinian populated area with a few Jewish towns inbetween, but administrated by Israel. It's totally confusing - these areas marked A, B and C. We were having a prayer for peace session there with a Palestinian group, that didn't want any media there. But I considered it a success, if they were hooked up with us for a meeting, even if hardly anyone knew about it. It means we are going in the right direction. It was a first interfaith non-political endeavor for them. It was also a first interfaith meeting for my friend. It's difficult recruiting new people - people are nervous, afraid of meeting the scary other. Getting any new person involved is also a success.

So I was terribly excited when she wanted to come and kept calling her that day to make sure she wasn't going to cancel out on me. When we drove there, she wondered aloud whether she had any incriminating stickers on her car. In Israel if you are politically active - you paste your car with the appropriate bumper stickers. The leftists have their stickers - "settlements break up the country" "friend, you are missing (for Yitzhak Rabin) and others I can't remember. The right wing - I think - win the bumper sticker contests with loads of different slogans. I remember seeing one person's car just plastered with them. She told me they are what's holding her old jalopy together. But my friend went through her bumper stickers - one was Na Na Nachman M'Uman - a popular saying of some Breslov Chassidim and the other was "Let the Fairies Live" - no need to explain that one.

When we got to the site, we noticed the lack of army, police, etc. It was so quiet. There was a small Palestinian community there of 250 villagers plus a Jewish school for Higher Jewish learning - called a Kollel on the premises. There was nobody to search your bags nor any electronic security doors to go through - and it felt unbelievably light and wonderful to be there. There was a bridge over an ancient excavated community to get to the Mosque/Synagogue/Tomb. We climbed up to the rooftop to get a spectacular view of the surrounding hills and the sunset.

15 people had come to this meeting and we were a big disorganized. I had planned for everyone to meet here, but forgot that sometimes you need some kind of program. So we were just chatting away, getting to know one another, however briefly. Some of the women were from Jenin but were now living in Ramallah staying with a family whose father had been killed by the Israeli army.

One asked me - How do you convince such people about peace?

We all have our losses from this conflict, I told them. They have to come here to meet Israelis who do want peace and there are lots of them around.

I don't know whether it was for religious reasons or political reasons but non-Muslims weren't aloud into the mosque itself, but they allowed me to watch at the entrance. It was beautifully decorated. I told them I'd adhere to the rules and cover my hair completely - but it still wasn't allowed. Ibrahim explained he couldn't touch me before prayers (Muslims cannot touch a woman before prayers in case she is menstruating) but gave me his usual Ibrahim-hug after he finished praying.

I took a couple of the Palestinian women into the Jewish section. They were allowed in and at the tomb itself there were a couple of women praying from the Psalms. The Palestinians just stood there waiting and watching. One wanted to see how I pray. I'm normally not a pray-er but I took one of the Hebrew books of Psalms and read one paragraph from it, afterwards, kissing the Tomb of Samuel the Prophet, thinking he'd be very pleased if his soul saw that I brought some Palestinian women to watch me pray for the peace of this country.

It is very hard for me to gather people for any activity. I'm so much better at behind the scenes or one-on-one communication. My friend Eliyahu was there and I asked him to gather round everyone to make a big circle, where we could offer some prayer for peace. Some of the villagers came by and joined our circle. Even though we are not a political group, they went on about how terrible the occupation is for them and that the Israelis don't allow them to build new homes or additions to the existing homes in their village. When people marry, they must leave the village because there's nowhere for them to leave. They seemed devastated by that. Normally, we would stop a political discussion, but we let them go on for 10 minutes or so because we felt they had to vent and normally do not get a chance for anyone to listen to them. They needed some compassionate listening from Jews at that moment. An Orthodox Jewish couple walked in while we were in a circle and Eliyahu, looking quite Orthodox himself, bid them a warm hello. I'm sure they were totally confused.

Afterwards we drove home with Eliyahu and Ibrahim in the back seat. As we passed the checkpoint, my friend slowed down -she wanted the soldiers to get a good look at the back seat with Eliyahu and his long sidelocks and Ibrahim wearing his kaffiyeh sitting together. Hopefully, the soldiers will see more of this in the future - Amen and inshallah.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

If it's hot in the kitchen - get out and dance

It started out as a pretty normal day - with my co-workers making fun of my breakfast cuisine which was hot oatmeal or farina. Each and every day they ask me, as if it really is too horrible to be true

"Do you really like that stuff? What do you call it in Hebrew? I know it's healthy - but do you REALLY like it?".

They sell Kellogg's here in Jerusalem, so cold cereals are acceptable, but oatmeal is definitely a foreign substance.

After work we had to see the social workers with our former Criminal Daughter. They want to put her into a closed institution to keep her from harming herself and hanging out all night and not coming home and basically returning to life as a human being. She was terribly terrible - every time the social workers asked her something, she was be totally sarcastic and obnoxious with them. When they brought up the fact that she likes to hitchhike to Jerusalem, one asked her "and they give you free rides for 'nothing'?"

So the Daughter answers - "so what do you think? That I'm like you???"

Hubby lies to the social workers - "she doesn't come from a crazy family". Heh heh. Well, just be thankful this non-English speaking social worker does NOT read this blog, because it doesn't show us as being particularly normal. But it's up to the judge to decide whether she goes or not. The other girls in our family won't be too disappointed if that happens because all their makeup and clothing will be safe for at least 3 months.

I sat down later than evening with the Good Daughter, whose 2 year relationship with her boyfriend is less-than-perfect. He prefers to hang with his friends on weekends than take her out.

"He gets angry at me for no reason and we haven't gone out in a year".

"Well, honey, you're only 18 - dump the fucker and date the cute French guy you met at the restaurant where you work - who begged you to call him because you are so beautiful or have a date with the South African guy, but DO SOMETHING AND DO NOT RUIN OR WASTE YOUR LIFE!"

She has never dated anyone else and sits at home for him like a dumpy old married woman.

I decided enough of me sitting around at home - it's either doing dishes, cleaning the bathroom or dancing. I hadn't gone Israeli dancing in ages - years perhaps. I've been told that where we live, the new, young dance instructor is hot, Hot, HOT and people are coming from all over Jerusalem to dance in MY neighborhood. I decided to check it out.

When I got to the newly built gym, which did not yet have that awful ingrained, smell of sweat, I met people I hadn't seen in years, who thought I left the country, or the planet. Israeli dancing is no longer just debkas and horas. It has incorporated alot of jazz and samba steps and lord knows what else, but it's so cool, even young people go. The dress code there isn't so much track pants and sweat tops. Oh no. You look nice. From nice jeans and tank tops to more elaborate outfits and some of the more older dancers even put on ridiculous sequined tops.

Honey, this is a GYM!!! A GYM!! Not the fucking White House Ball.

I danced and danced, trying not to fuck up my neck discs which have deteriorated in the years I have been in this world. I felt like a whirling dirvish. The DJ/dance instructor was wild, pounding on darbukas while the music played. I felt so "IN" when some of the best dancers invited me to join their "inner circle". For some of the couples dances, I didn't have a partner, only towards the 3rd set of couples dancing, when I should have been fast asleep. It's easier when you don't know the steps in circle dances because you just go to the outer circle and follow people's feet to your left and right and in front of you, making sure not to crash into them, which is in itself, a feat.

My dance partner looked like Truman Capote, with a full set of white hair. He didn't seem to mind me not knowing the steps. Some men just like to lead. We joined the circle of couples and I tried to be light on the toes so he could twirl me properly. It didn't matter that I didn't know the steps so well - I was just pleased that his toes were still intact and his arm sockets weren't pulled out of joint by the end of our 20 minute set. For me - that was success enough.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Cairo Journalism School

I'd love to go to one of those schools. To get an Egyptian journalism award, I'd have to come up with some crazy and sick story of Israeli government plotting, murder, or God knows what - just anything anti-Israeli and I'm in. It's the mother of National Enquirer magazines or worse. Over the weekend I read that in a Cairo newspaper it was reported that Israelis and US are to blame for the Tsunami disaster. We were reportedly (by who?) doing some naval exercise in the area and something exploded which caused the earth to quake and the tsunami to happen. Everytime there is any disaster in any part of the world, Israelis are always to blame. Like when the World Trade Center terrorist attack happened, and the same journalists from that same school of journalism reported that it was Israelis who maneuvered the entire thing. What geniuses we are.

Not to mention that Iranian television is pretty bad too. I was really saddened to note that they have a television series that featured a young girl whose eyes were taken out by Israeli doctors for use in illegal transplants.

How on earth can these kinds of media stories/features be stopped. You'd think that normal people wouldn't believe this garbage but they do. Even Hubby's partner Abed, when Arafat died, believed that the Israelis poisoned him, because that what was written in some tabloids. He'd believe the tsunami thing too. And he's just a regular guy.

Bubby Goes to Church

I tried posting yesterday, but for some reason, it wouldn't post - hence the same post today. Sunday was Bubby's birthday. Bubby is the Yiddish term for grandmother. Mother of Caveman Hubby. It's also Polish for grandmother. She is somewhere in her mid to late 70's. I have no clue and I'm embarrassed to ask her. I'll have to wait until Hubby's brothers come to visit us next month. She is very Jewish in her thinking but very Canadian in her accent. When there is something I say she doesn't hear or understand, I hear a very resounding "EH???" She sounds like those two canucks from the Great White North on Second City TV (or was it Saturday Night Live?) - "well, what do you think aboot that? eh?" I met her before I even laid eyes on Hubby and fell in love with her. I think I married Hubby because I wanted her to be my mother-in-law. She is a bit of a loner though and doesn't get out much because she now walks with a cane. So I was surprised when she told me she had to rush off the phone because she had to get dressed to go to church.


Yes. You see her other son's partner (they are both gay) who is the son of Pentecostal Ministers (both parents are ministers but to my knowledge don't know their son is gay) is singing in the church choir and it's a hell of a choir (can I say that?). It's in a black or African-Canadian church and he just cut a CD with that choir and they've even been nominated for a Grammy in the Gospel category (I really do have to check that out). So to the church she is going.

She told me - You'd love this church. They absolutely just love Israel.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Celebrating Elvis' Birthday near Jerusalem

I figured Hubby needed quality time with me. How? Simple things he did like when I asked for some toilet paper while I was stuck in the toilet and he comes in bearing or, rather, baring, his - er - um - "human" toilet paper holder on his happy self.

Or yesterday when I noticed a tear in his jeans around the groin area when I was getting out of the car.

"Honey, you have a rip over THERE!" the rip staring right at me.

"I know. That's because my nuts are overheating." OK OK - I promise to give you some quality time.

My kids were wining because we didn't want to take them this afternoon on our rare Saturday outing.

"Where you going?" the 2 younger ones asked. My 15 year old insisted she was coming with us. I don't think she cared where we were going.

"We're going to visit Elvis."

"Who's that?"

Israel was celebrating what would have been Elvis' 70th birthday today in various places. Hubby noticed they're having Elvis impersonators all day today at the Elvis cafe near Jerusalem just outside the Globus movie studios, where the Golan/Globus team makes their actions flicks.

I've passed this place once - it's a shrine to Elvis, with a Golden Elvis statue in front of the place. But this time we went in. I just had to see Israeli Elvis impersonators. The place was covered in Elvis photos, even the ceilings had drawings of Elvis. A true Elvis heaven. One guy wearing a white Elvis suit, looking more like Roy Orbison, playing an acoustic guitar, singing Jailhouse Rock, was doing the tables.

"When can we hear you sing?" Hubby asked him.

"If you pay me I'll sing at your table."

"Do you think we can get Elvis to lap dance for us, if we pay him a little more?" This was getting seriously interesting.

Pretty soon the place was flooded with God-knows-what - families with young children, people our age, and quite a few with that 50's Fonzi look. Everyone who had that ducktail hairdo was "lookalike" enough for the patrons who whipped out their cameras. Hubby went to the toilets downstairs and said while he was peeing, there was a guy primping his hair - getting that "do" just so. Geez. We stayed an hour, sang along with Roy Orbison/Elvis who sang a bunch of Little Richard songs and I wondered if everyone knew that was Little Richard and not Elvis. It didn't matter. We had some quality time together.

Avoiding War

A soldier came to a fork in the road and saw a nun standing there. He
asked her, "Please Sister, may I hide under your skirts for a few
minutes. I'll explain why later."
The nun agreed to his request. Shortly thereafter, the two MPs came
running along and asked her if she had seen a soldier running down the
road. She replied, "He went that way".

After the MPs disappeared, the soldier crawled out from under her skirt
and said." I can't thank you enough Sister, but you see I don't want to
go to Iraq. The nun said she understood.

The GI said, "I hope you don't think me rude or impertinent, but you
have the most beautiful pair of legs I've ever seen!"

The nun replied," If you had looked a little higher, you would have seen
the most beautiful pair of balls you've ever seen! I don't want to go
to Iraq either!"

Last of Dad's Estate

My brother told me he just received a whopping $250. This is the last of my deceased dad's estate that just came trickling in.

"It's not so much", he complained to me - as if, why bother even getting excited about it.

But to me, it was a goldmine. Certainly, I don't believe my brother ever rode in a black limousine before as I had done, broke as a bone, on Wednesday with the office staff. But I hadn't held bills in my hand for 2 weeks now and I felt giddy as I loaded the $ into my purse.

I ran to my work to download e-mails and see if Hubby had any leads for work. Yes. Two leads! A downpour!

I ran to the shuk to shop for the weekend, and I felt drunk with excitement at having 2 week's worth of food money. My eldest daughter's boyfriend - the Persian one - just opened up his very own store in the shuk and I needed some paper plates, cups and other household things. Why not give him the business. But as I loaded up and was ready to pay - he refused to take my money. Even after I showed him I actually had some. What a world. I wish every store was like this. Then I'd be rich and take vacations and get manicures and pedicures. Maybe even a massage.

I had reserved a space to plant trees on the green line border with Rabbis for Human Rights. That was yesterday. That was before I thought I'd have money to shop. I opted for breakfast out with my girlfriend after my food shopping spree, and sent Hubby, the dedicated chauffeur, back to the house with all the goodies.

I brainstormed with her about ideas for me to get some more cash and not have to depend on Hubby for a second income. I advised her to dump her new pot-head boyfriend, even if the sex is good. "You can do it yourself" was my sound advice. We watched a busker playing Dylan stuff for money in the open part of the shuk. "Do you know him"? I inquired.

"Nah, he'll probably be my next boyfriend. He's from Nachlaot (the neighborhood by the shuk). They're all scraps from Nachlaot." We howled loudly with laughter and went our ways.

Hubby mentioned to me that Richard Gere was in the papers today because he is encouraging the Palestinians to vote in Sunday's elections.

"Where is the article?" - this day is just getting TOO good. Money from my dead dad, food shopping without debting, breakfast out with a best friend and now an article about Gere.

"That fucking Buddha" was all Hubby would tell me about him, and off he sauntered into his cave.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Black Limousines

I remember the last time I rode in a limousine. In the late 1970s when I was working at that cool NYC record company and we went to the premier of the Ramones movie Rock 'n Roll High School. So here I was crying in my office with my co-workers because the banks were bugging me about this bouncing and that bouncing and "when will you come in and pay us. We did so much work on your behalf changing the dates you wanted the loan to come out of your account..blah, blah, blah." The Tel Aviv lady was furious at me, even though a few days ago she was like "I'm doing everything I can to help you." Help me? The top thieves in Israel are going to help me. Yeah right.

My co-workers were supportive. One gave me some chocolate. My bosses left me alone and soon we were about to have lunch at a fancy Jerusalem French restaurant, courtesy of the company - we have a company lunch every one a half years or so. I'm buying milk and bread for my family on evil credit from the local grocery store, and am now going to have a kick-ass meal at one of Jerusalem's most expensive restaurants. If that wasn't hysterical enough, the only limo driver I know in Jerusalem, pulls up in front of our place and offers to take us to this restaurant. So here I am. Red eyed from crying and wallowing in self-pity, riding in the back seat of this "stretch" (by Israeli standards) limousine. I check the back pockets in the car for any spare change that may have been inadvertently left behind by careless millionaires or billionaires. No such luck. Millionaires are super careful with their money. We get out in the pouring rain and walk into the busy restaurant. They ordered four bottles of wine and I probably drank half.

My Criminal Daughter won some kind of singing competition and was among the 12 chosen out of a few hundred in Jerusalem. There's a French movie playing at the Jerusalem Theater called "La Choralle" or something similar about a tough boys' school, where this wonderful teacher comes in and teaches the rough boys music and singing. He believes in them and they have this wonderful rapport. I thought it similar to my daughter's situation. My boss had seen the movie last night. I told him about my daughter and he wanted me to go see the movie tonight - He asked - Do you need money?

Shit, I always need money. I began laughing and crying at the same time. He dished out some $ to give to me to see this movie, plus grab a taxi home. I was so touched.

I shut off the phone when unemployed Caveman Hubby called me several times to bug me about dinner.

"I'm working very very late. Plus, I'm looking for a second job." I huffed to him -and promptly shut the phone off.

I walked in the pouring rain with my friend from work - Bat-El, (her name translates to Daughter of God) to the theater. We sat in the theater soaking wet and cried throughout the movie.

When my taxi came to get me, and I told him what movie I saw he laughed and said - this is what you do? You walk all over Jerusalem in the pouring rain and cry through a movie?

That man will never understand women.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Downtown Jerusalem one evening

Funny to see how when my boss comes into the office unexpectedly, whoever is at the reception area scatters to different parts of the place. Once when Hubby came to visit and they thought HE was the boss, they all scattered and he caught them scattering. He likened it to cockroaches scattering when feasting in the kitchen at midnight and the "BOSS" comes in unexpectedly and turns on the light. The thought of it kept me laughing the rest of the day. Today he gets the receptionist to call me at 7:33 am to find out when I'm coming in. He's obviously in a rush. Hubby has no $ for petrol, so I took the bus instead of him bringing me in as usual. I told the office I'm waiting for the bus. "When is the bus coming." "Honey, this is Jerusalem - Israel. You know better than that. Who knows when anything gets here." And I left it at that.

Last night I met with 2 Palestinians and the head of the Interfaith organization to try and do some activities with their Peace and Dialogue group. We decided to have an evening of prayer together at the Tomb of Samuel just outside of Jerusalem. The Palestinians needed a special permit from the Israeli army (which we had to obtain for them) to come to Jerusalem from the West Bank, and they had until 9:00 pm that evening. What a hassle it is for them to come to any dialogue with us. Imagine the look on the restaurant patrons' faces when the two walked into the popular coffee shop in the center of town. This is so out of the ordinary - these public intercultural encounters. I saw the nervous look on one patron's face as the Palestinian woman, with the traditional head covering, stood at the entrance. Even more shocked was this patron when she saw us shaking hands and giving kisses.

Our group of 4 tried to figure out what days would be best to have this prayer session. Fridays - when most Jews are off? No. The Muslims use the tomb for afternoon prayers. We settled on a weekday after it was ok'd by one of the Mukhtars from the village by the tomb. After we made two tentative meetings and other plans for the future, we walked around together. They asked me where the S'barros restaurant was where the terrorist bombing occurred a couple years back. We walked there (a new restaurant is there now) and I told them that we knew some of the victims in that attack. Once you're in dialogue with the other, I continued, you not only mourn your victims, you mourn the other side too in this conflict. They agreed and I'm sure they feel the same way.

They were thrilled to be in Jerusalem and only had 2 more hours to wander around before their permit time was up. I felt as if they were looking at Rockefeller Center in New York City for the very first time, during the Christmas season. It was the same look of awe. They lit up just wandering around downtown Jerusalem. We window-shopped. We watched the crowds at Zion Square hanging out. And wished for a time when there would be no terrorist attacks, no checkpoints, no misery for both of us - where it wouldn't be weird to see Jews and Arabs walking around together and chatting in public.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Mom and Teen Meanderings

Last night I was at the Sunday night macro dinner in this funky apartment in Jerusalem. I sat next to a French Emily Latella. If you are old enough, or watch Saturday Night Live re-runs, you will know who Emily Latella is. I was suspicious enough because I got there late and there was an empty seat next to her. The rest of the overflow crowd were sitting on the couch or near the fridge in folding chairs. I wanted to be comfortable and took the seat next to "Emily". She spoke -"I AM TEEEECHING EEERIDOLOGEEE AND NUTREETION. DO YOU KNOW ANYBUDY WHO WANTS TO LEARN IT?"

She was about 1/2 inch from my face when she spoke to me and came up to my boobs when she wasn't. I cracked up because I always loved Gilda Radner playing Emily Latella, and here she was, sitting right next to me. She looked and sounded just like her. I couldn't stop smiling because inside I was cracking up so much - she probably thought I was the friendliest person in the room. There was a birthday celebration and the birthday cake came out. Don't get so excited. Macrobiotic birthday cakes are weird. Whole wheat with tahini topping and apples inside to make it sweet. Emily shrieked "ZEE CAKE EEES SOOOO TASTEEEE!!!"

I had a very light day at work today. The most difficult part of it was getting into a taxi to "escort" a visiting professor to the Inner Sanctum, our Jerusalem Ivy League joint. Leah's escort service. Heh, heh. Wait until I tell the folks back home. I took one look at the guy, and I thought he's definitely gay. Perfectly ironed jacked, slacks and TIE. No one but lawyers wear ties here. But to my surprise I found out he does have a family. I was hoping that he's not closeted and won't leave his family in 5 years time because he must come out. As my co-worker said "Maybe he's just a 'good' boy." He really looked so preppy and he sat up so straight in the taxi. I hadn't seen a look like that in, say, 10 years. When I went back to the States 2 years ago, I hung around Rolling Stones fans. Anything but preppy.

I had enough spare time to check in with my daughters. My eldest and 2nd oldest daughters were going to go this week to do EKGs or whatever it's called to check out their frequent migraines. So they decided to go together. "Mom, wanna come along with us." Those wires freak me out. So, no thanks. At least you have each other. I tried to convince them to check it out with a naturopath, acupunturist, homeopath, chinese medicine man, but to no avail. They prefer the medical way. Like their grandma. So it only seems natural that their children will want to do it MY way.

My 2nd oldest, who is waitressing at a popular Jerusalem restaurant, told me that she got phone numbers from 2 guys. One Indian guy from London. "Is he Jewish?" I asked her. "No, he's spiritual." Great. A swami.

"He is into martial arts and he's married. He said whenever I'm in London, he'll show me around."

Spiritual, into martial arts, British and married. I told her - honey, this married bozo is going to show you around no where except below his waist.

His friend is a guest DJ from London who is DJ'ing at a club in Tel Aviv. He gave her 2 tickets to the club he'll be at.

"Make sure it's not a strip club."

"Oh MOMMMM!!!"

Supporting Israel

A man arrives to the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv with two large bags.
The customs agent opens the first bag and finds it full with money in different currencies.
The agent asks the passenger, "How did you get this money?"
The man says, "You will not believe it, but I traveled all over Europe, went into public restrooms, each time I saw a man pee, I grabbed his penis and said, "donate money to Israel or I will cut your balls off"...
The customs agent said, "well... it's a very interesting story... what do you have in the other bag?"
The man said, "You would not believe how many people in Europe do not support Israel"...

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year's Dud

New Years was pretty dud-ish for me this year. I made reservations for an extravagant dinner and entertainment at the Jerusalem Hotel. But I had to cancel. Hubby was in his favorite character for the New Year - Prehistoric Caveman. He didn't come out that evening, except to complain bitterly that he'd rather spend the rest of his life in debtor's jail than have to look at "this dirty house." It really wasn't that dirty. Just when you're depressed, it's like 3 crumbs on the floor appear to be an acid-trip-like barrel of sand on the floor and there is nothing one can do until you come off that bad trip.

Saturday morning, the weather was summer-like. It was in the 70s. His "acid-trip-like" depression was gone. Hubby asked me if I wanted to go to the beach. THE BEACH???? Really. Does that man know how much I have in my life insurance policy? Look, I never liked the beach ever since I saw the movie Jaws. And now with this real-life tsunami disaster, my phobia is even worse. Ever since I was little I was petrified that each wave I saw could become a potential tsunami - even if the wave only came up to my knees. I think I'd rather take a long, hot, steamy shower within the safe confines of my home.