Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Weird Shit

I knew this week was getting weird when I found a pair of my underwear on the floor near our private entrance in the parking lot for our apartment building. Now how the heck did that get there. I think about it for a few minutes each day. Did the damn dog have it in its mouth on the way to the "toilet" outside at 5 am in the morning. Did Hubby feel a moment of passion while toying with the undies while having a smoke by his automobile? Geez. Life is such a mystery.

Then there was the unidentified hairy object I found sleeping next to my eldest daughter a couple of mornings ago when I opened up her unlocked door. I must have stared too hard. He sure was cute. I didn't believe her one bit when I called her up at work and asked who he was.

"He's gay" she told me. Sure, sweetie. Mama knows best. She has gay radar. The guy is definitely straight.

"We're just friends" was her other excuse and continued giving me about 25 stupid excuses. More on mystery #2 next week, perhaps.

I went to my friend's son's wedding last night in some remote place 1 1/2 hours north of Jerusalem. Hubby bugged off on me and thankfully, knowing how stable life is with the Caveman, I was wise enough to make a backup plan. I hitched a ride with one another Jerusalemite going to the wedding. I had to take a cab from work though because of time constraints. The cab driver was concerned. Of course, they have to know where I'm going and why. Always.

"You aren't dressed to go to a wedding" he observed.

"I have my clothing in a bag here and I'll get dressed at that person's house before we leave. It'll only take me 5 minutes."

"5 MINUTES!! FOR A WEDDING?? How will you have time to put on your makeup?"

I thought of asking him - Why do you doubt my word, mister man. Have you been dating my eldest daughter, you freak. (She's the one that takes 2 hours to step outside the house, even if she's just going to the grocers).

I was very grateful, while stepping out of the cab, that we do not tip taxi drivers in Israel.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Pinocchio in drag

Kids are Scary

Jerusalem - Purim 2005

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Visiting the captive

Today was visiting day for my daughter in captivity. Hubby had never been there and I, who has a very bad sense of direction, managed to remember the various highways and turnoffs in order to get there.

She was happy to see us and we stayed for 2 hours. It was sunny and warm on the grassy lawn. The 11 girls who are in the "secured" part of the place are contained in a small area, their rooms, their lounge, their diningroom and their lawn area, which has several picnic tables, two couch swings and a table for the girls to do their lessons outdoors. My daughter told us about the place - the big breakfasts with cheeses and salads, a meat lunch, and a light dinner. They had a party last Wednesday until 10 PM and a DJ was brought in. Sheesh. Sounds more like a teen's paradise to me than a court-ordered-reformatory.

There was one loud horrible newer girl there, yelling and screaming at everyone within earshot. Who is she? I had to know. Turns out that girl's 2 months pregnant and I wondered if she was going to keep the baby, if her relatives will keep the baby, or will she have to give the baby up for adoption. She acted totally dysfunctional. I also wanted to know if my daughter had enough aspirin for the headaches she's gonna get living together with this chick for the next 3 months. It looked like a reality tv set. 11 girls living together in a small area and they can not leave until they're there 5 weeks. There were 2 Palestinian girls there as well. They looked as sweet as pie. But so did my daughter who wasn't wearing a stitch of makeup. They don't leave mirrors in the rooms, to be on the safe side so the girls don't break them and try to hurt themselves or others with it. So there's just one communal mirror for them all. So that explained the lack of girls wearing makeup in that place.

She asked me to bring her a discman. We don't have one, but her little brother, ridden with guilt for his constant fighting with her over the computer, suggested he'd chip in for one for her. I wonder how much these girls can get out of their parents who are feeling bad for them being in lock up - even with good food and DJs.

She asked me to let her use my cellphone to call her boyfriend. "You know you're not allowed to! I don't want you to get in trouble and you have to listen to RULES!"

"Mom! Every mother when they visit lets their kids use the cellphone to call their friends. My friend even spoke to 5 of her friends. I haven't heard from him in so long and I miss him so much."

A week in this paradise slammer did seem like a year, even for me. I thought of Romeo and Juliet. Juliet was also 15, as my daughter, and Romeo was 17. I thought about their tragic ending. My daughter has this real Juliet-like passion for this guy who is a year older than her. I reluctantly dialed the cellphone hiding inside my purse. Then I put her head on my lap and let her talk to him for 2 minutes, just to tell him that she loves him and will see him when she gets out in 4 weeks. When she got off the phone she kissed me and told me that she loves me. I guess some rules just have to be broken.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Liars Liars

I've had a bit of a rough week - putting my ex-Criminal into her lock up and crying about it all week. What am I crying for? She's safe, she's being fed, I know I won't be getting calls from the police to pick up my daughter at the station for painting graffiti in the malls, or some other infraction. It's probably the loss of control, not that I had any in the first place over her. But maybe then, thinking out loud, it's the fact that I hope the place won't lie to her, by telling her she gets out in 4 weeks for a weekend with us and then find a reason why she won't be able to get out. I know they probably won't lie and only if she misbehaves consistently, would they not let her out. Maybe that's why I'm upset. I want her to abide by the rules for the first time in her life. It's also because I can't have daily contact with her - only weekly.

Being the mood-swinging mama that I am, I ran around yesterday in drunken-like happiness, grateful to God for being able to buy small items I wasn't able to afford in months but because Hubby landed a job for the next few months, we have a bit more than usual. I felt like those mad shoppers in one of the tv shows I used to watch in the 60s - where they were given a certain amount of money and had to shop in the supermarkets and load up their carts in 60 seconds - something like that. Hubby had to check his car at the repair shop. Jerusalem seemed festive with the happy holiday of Purim in swing. I was thrilled to have a long weekend - on Easter Sunday for the rest of the world and Purim for the Jews. I ran from store to store to see what I could buy with the extra cash - bath oil, incense, a beautiful pair of $25 earrings (since the only pair I owned was snatched by one of my daughters), and I was just about to enter one of Jerusalem's most unique and beautiful furnishings store, when Hubby rang.

"Where are you?"

I didn't want to tell him where I was, because he may get frightened that I'll go haywire in that store.

"Just downtown"

"I'll meet you in 1/2 hour"

"Great, honey - see you."

At least I had 1/2 hour to peruse in this paradise. I stood in line to pay for hand cream in the L'Occitane department. The cashier had problems opening up her cash register. It took about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I get another call from Hubby -

"Where are you?"

"I'm still looking around"

"Because Good Daughter's boyfriend's parents are here and they have Mishloach Manot to give us (Purim packages of cakes/candies/wine that people distribute to their friends - it's customary to give at least 2), and I thought you'd pick up a ready-made package and we'll give it them now."

I prayed to God that He should fix the cash register immediately and within 5 minutes, the damn thing opened up. I got my change and ran up the hill to the shuk, bought the ready-made package and gave it to them.

Safely ensconced at home that afternoon, I felt like being creative for the Sabbath meal and made a green salad with strawberries, chicken cacciatore with roasted vegetables poured on top, etc. When we sat down to eat the Nasty Daughter looks at the food with her silent boyfriend and says to me

"You make disgusting food, how can you expect him (nodding towards the boyfriend) to eat it. Why can't you make regular food????"

"Look, honey, this isn't your greasy shwarma shop. Got it? I made Gourmet Food here. See? If you don't like it, you can leave."

If I must say so myself, my non-regular food tasted delicious. What a liar she was.

This morning I wake up and see Hubby on the computer.

"I'm just checking the mail" he tells me. I walk over quickly, too quickly for him to shut down the Porno sites showing on the screen.

Some mail.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Hubby and the Racists

I was so terribly busy at work today trying to get everything finished before our long holiday weekend. The Jewish holiday of Purim comes out on Friday and Jerusalem celebrates it on Sunday - with everyone getting dressed up, kind of like Halloween, only instead of asking for candy, people give candy and special pastries called Hamantashen.

I called Hubby to ask him some short really important questions. He was like - I'm eating lunch now. I'm putting you on the phone with C.'s wife, just in from Canada yesterday.

I really didn't want to talk to C.'s wife, even though we had hosted C., the Pentecostal guy on Friday evening. I was busy busy and BUSY. What part of busy did he not understand.

I was extremely polite and telling her she should spend Easter Sunday in Jerusalem, because she didn't want to go there because of the crowds. I don't know what she's thinking. Jerusalem never gets that crowded. Crowded was in Barcelona or in New York City subways, but I guess any city with a population of over 2,500 is crowded for her. I even promised to find them a Pentecostal church service in Jerusalem for Sunday.

I get back on the phone with Hubby - who puts Abed on the phone with me.

"Kif halek....." and on he goes having a 10 minute conversation with me in Arabic that I barely understand. He thinks I'm making all this language progress, but I'm only learning the Arabic alphabet now. I finally get off the phone with Abed and am handed back to Hubby. I try to ask that very important quick question and he tells me he'll get back to me in a half hour, because he wants to finish his lunch.

Thinking silently - what a dick, I rush home before the festival starts. Hubby calls and tells me to put the hot water switch on for the shower. This means he's got a headache. He doesn't tell me this but I know. But a wave of compassion comes over me and I struggle to get the house tidied up in 20 minutes so he doesn't have a worse headache when he sees the mess. He's on the couch, having no clue that the place looked like a salvation army depot 20 minutes before. I feel he's thankful.

He tells me that today where he worked, some young Jewish guys were playing music loud. He likes a wide range of music but this was racist music - in English - by a well known guy in extremist right wing circles singing anti-Arab songs. The young guys were laughing and singing along with the music. Hubby goes across the street to them and tells them in no uncertain terms that if they don't shut that crap off, he'll tear the stereo wires out of the wall. Then he calmed down and explained the following to them.

"I'm a contractor working across the street, and I hire Palestinian workers. It's embarrassing for me to have them listen to this shit. It's offensive to me even more so. I used to be like you once, until I learned better, until I got to know the others. You must have respect for the others, because the world is changing and it has to change for the better."

To say the least, they were stunned. Heck, I was stunned just listening to this. They didn't expect anyone to complain about their taste in music and didn't think it was offensive and apologized to him for being offensive. I guess no one had ever challenged them beforehand.

I told Hubby - why is it when you come home, all I hear are belches and farts? And then you walk around the house scratching your balls and eating out of the cooking pots.

I never get to see him at his best. Nevertheless, I was damn proud of Hubby because it does take great big balls to confront racism.

Monday, March 21, 2005

A mum's agony

It was the night before ex-Criminal daughter had to go do her 3 month stint at the "lock-in" reformatory where I took her this morning. She came into our room looking for Hubby's cellphone to call her boyfriend. Hubby didn't know who was in the room and woke up startled and began screaming -


I woke up thinking is this man totally fucked? You know you have kids that love to take loose change or even a bill or two and throw it into their own pockets. Why tell them EXACTLY where you are hiding your dough?

The next morning - money intact - with her bags already packed, I had the social worker pick us up. It seemed like the drive took longer than it did. It was a bit over an hour but seemed like 3 hours. It was a bit difficult to get to, with 3 or 4 turn offs from the main highway and it was near the coastal city of Ashdod. The place had high gates, but no barbed wire and I could imagine my daughter trying to scale the gate trying to break loose and hitch a ride from the main road not too far from the place, but I figured she'd have second thoughts as an armed guard and more high gates surrounded the "enclosed" complex. For the 3 months she has to be there, 5 weeks are in the "enclosed" area and the remainder in the more open premises. The girls - well - looked like her - with attitude, but they eyed her curiously. Some were sympathetic. "Tell her not to cry, it's not so bad." "We all cry at first."

I remember our last outing we had on Friday. She was at the lingerie store thumbing through the racks with a lit cigarette which I tried to pry away from her lest she burn down the undies or the store. Maybe we could start a new style of underwear with cigarette burns on them, but I think not right now. She yelled at me that I'm crazy for trying to take away her ciggie and I thought Man does she need this place.

But when we got there, she seemed so helpless and small and fragile - not the ring leader for troublemakers. She cried when she spoke about her boyfriend and when they told her she wouldn't be able to call or see him for 5 weeks. We walked around the joint which looked like a cross between a Kibbutz and a jail with flowers and nice graffiti to liven up the place. I likened it to a dog kennel where you send your beloved pet for 3 months and know he'll be safe and be fed, but don't know exactly how the staff will treat your loved one and don't know how he'll get along with the others.

I noticed how the girls rooms were neat, simple and immaculate. I pictured her being the only one with her stuff strewn all over the joint. But there'll be none of that there. I imagine it's hard work for anyone to deal with these distressed teens and to get them to do anything. I was starting to become impressed with this place. I don't know what they can do with her in three months. But I do hope it's all for the best.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Our Pentecostal Guest

Hubby had been working for these past two weeks for an old Toronto friend of his - a doctor - who had taken along his construction guy to work together with Hubby on building his home. The Canadian construction guy is here for another week. Hubby got chummy with him and invited him to our house for a Shabbat meal. The doctor warned Hubby - when the Canadian starts talking about religion, he don't shut up.

Since I'm already into Compassionate Listening, it didn't matter if someone talks for hours. We had him over and he was a very pleasant guest. He lives waaaay up in Northern Ontario where the summers are over by August. He's a born-again Pentecostal church guy and I just love listening to these fire-and-brimstone people. He was telling me how the Sabbath is made for man and man is not made for the Sabbath. And how people in his community may be good Christians on Sunday, going to church and all that - but live like the Devil the rest of the week. He made Hubby seem like a silent Buddhist monk. We laughed because he doesn't use profanity at all and he reminded me about Milton Berle on the Ed Sullivan show years back telling the audience he had gone to Arizona to visit the Hoover Darn and went riding in a heck-icopter. While Hubby was just about falling asleep on the couch, I thought our guest would never leave until I was "saved", which meant that he may be staying at my place for quite a while.

Today, we picked him up at his hotel and perused all the Christian sites. We went to Gethsemene Gardens, then to the place on Mt. Zion where the Last Supper took place and off to the Haas Promenade before going to Ein Karem to see where John the Baptist was born. It's been awhile since we had hooked up with any authentic great white northerners. When he agreed with what we said, he'd say " oh, right on!" and regaled us with stories about bears coming up to his kitchen window, and packs of wolves in his driveway and moose drinking in his lake. Even though coming face to face with that kind of wildlife is common where he is, it now sounded as exotic to me as him seeing a camel on the road in East Jerusalem. He told us about the different partridges he used to hunt and all about the Spring Bear hunt when their fur was fresh and shiny, not tired looking as they do in the Fall. I felt I had come face to face with a real live Little House on the Prairie character. He was charming, pronouncing "picture" - "pitcher", and he just felt so priviledged to be in the Holy Land, as he looked in awe at just about everything here. It just reinforced my feelings for the whole country, even though life here is difficult. While taking others on a tour of the land for the very first time, it's like you're also seeing it for the first time.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

So what if I'm a Junkie

I was sitting with the rest of the loser parents with their loser kids who couldn't get into the local junior high school. The wait to speak to the guidance counselor was about 1 1/2 hours. I felt I was waiting for the Wizard of Oz. Meanwhile, the "elite" school's hallway was teeming with teens, skipping classes to socialize or whatever. I wasn't too impressed after all. The end result was that they'll let him know in June if he's in or not. If he were not to go into this place, the alternative is another junior high with a very right-wing slant. I'm not sure I want him to go there. How would he feel besides having a mother who speaks English and embarrasses him to the nines - how would he feel going to a very right-wing school and having a mother who's a junkie? At least that's what my friend Eliyahu called me today. I told him I was blogging all the peace stuff around Jerusalem each week and he said - "you know what? You're a peace junkie".

Beforehand I knew I was a chocolate junkie, a food junkie, a second-hand clothes shop junkie, a Richard Gere junkie, a Rolling Stones junkie, and during my son's bar mitzvah we were all collectively called Janglo Junkies. Janglo is a many-times-daily e-mail list for all the Jerusalem Anglos. It lists everything from moving sales, to concert listings, to people looking for jobs, nanny's, pet sitters, schools, medical information, food information, and even someone looking for Gothic people and people into the Renaissance area for get togethers, even Shakespeare recitals. I got some of my furniture/appliances from Janglo advertisements and Hubby even got some work from people looking to renovate, etc. But I think I like being a Peace Junkie the best.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Mad Day in Hell

You know those days when NOTHING, and I mean nothing you do seems to go right. It started off okay, but then I had to pick up a food package during work hours. It's not THAT easy to tell my boss I need to skip work for 1/2 hour during the day - he gets nervous about it. He was in meetings all day - away from the office. I snuck out at 9:15 am, thinking I'll only be 1/2 hour and will get back before they take their break at 10:00 and he may want to call me for whatever reason. I get to the food bank and the people inside cannot open up their door. It's lock. It's stuck. They don't think about letting the 4 people waiting in line through the other door. So we wait and wait. And I'm getting more and more stressed. I ask everyone in line if they wouldn't mind me going before them for the pick up because my work needs me and no one understood me. They all spoke and understood Russian. At least that was what they told me. Russki, Russki. After a 20 minute wait, with my heavy bags, I try to hail a taxi, but there's hardly a taxi in sight, even though it's a busy intersection. Someone sneaks up a half a block ahead and hails MY taxi. But she must have felt my vibes because she let me into the cab.

The taxi ride was slow and painful. There was so much traffic because streets are closed due to the 40 dignitaries from around the world who have come to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial re-opening ceremony. I called work -

"I'm on the way. If he calls, tell him I'm in the bathroom and I'm sorely constipated."

This in front of the cab driver and the other passenger. I was beyond embarrassment by this time.

Fortunately, I didn't miss any calls, except for the one I didn't want to get - like the one from my son's school telling me they got a fax from the junior high saying it is final that he did not get it. Like fuck it's final. I cried during lunch because of the school's pompousness in not trying to help me with my kid. They were working against me and I felt it. In narrow-minded places, of where there is not a shortage here in this country, they look at the entire family and if something isn't right, then the whole lot isn't good. So my ex-Criminal Daughter had ruined her own reputation at that elementary school, and even though my son is much different, they don't see it that way. They figure he'll turn out just like her. So, he's probably branded as a "would be" criminal.

Then I get another call from the social worker telling me that my ex-Criminal daughter will have to go to her "lock-up" school - a reformatory of sorts - for three months, beginning on Monday. I can't get in touch with her to tell her. I feel pangs of parental guilt that it went this far with her.

Then after my haranguing phone calls I tried to sort things out in my head by blogging. Trying to post yesterday's post took me ages because I kept on gettng error messages each time I sent it for publishing. The one time I didn't copy what I had written on a word document, it didn't take and my writing was not anywhere to be found in cyperspace. I had to write it all over again. But when I checked my blog an hour later all THREE versions showed up. Go figure.

I get home and look for the stove lighter to make dinner. It's 8:00 and I'm starving and so is my son. He told me the Nasty Daughter took the lighter into her room to light up her cigarettes. I ran upstairs to look for the lighter and her door's locked. I ran downstairs and yelled - That's IT - there's be NO DINNER TONIGHT 'COS I CAN'T LIGHT THE BLOODY STOVE!

Good son comes to the rescue. He is calm, cool and collected.

"I can buy matches for you at the Russian store."

I slip him a 5 and don't care if he brings me back any change.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I know now what kind of mother-in-law I will be for my future daughter-in-law. They should only watch out for the mother-in-law from hell.

My thirteen year old son applied to the local junior high school and was rejected. He's not a bad kid, I've had worse. In fact, his grades are average, not below average, plus he's not a troublemaker. God knows, I've seen much worse. But, unfortunately, he's the kind of kid that if someone starts up with him and he hits back, he's the one they catch and he's the one that gets suspended. They wrote him up for pushing someone - even accidentally.

In this country nothing is without a fight. So I'm fighting to get him into the school not because I love this school. They certainly didn't endear me to them when they sent a rejection letter to him personally. It's because all his friends are going there and that's where he wants to go. And why shouldn't he be able to? I contacted everyone I thought could perhaps help - his teacher, his guidance counselor - who all said they would help but did absolute dick. I called a Rabbi with connections to the school. I called the school that rejected him and no one called me back. Finally I spoke to the guidance counselor of that school today.

"Why did you reject him" - I inquired.
"Does he have behavior problems?" she asked.
"No, he doesn't."
"Well I see he has a few marks in the school's "violence" files"
"They marked him down for very minor stuff"

She settled for an interview with me and the Kid on Thursday. Meanwhile, I will be calling all his teachers, and getting their opinions of the Kid and writing them down in order to give to the counselor on Thursday. One cannot fight in this country empty handed.

I told my dear son that he has to be on his absolute BEST behavior now before the interview. But yesterday in school on the way to the bathroom, he was accosted by someone of the female persuasion. She wanted to "talk". So he did talk to her and was 20 minutes late for class. This was immediately written down in his file. I asked him why he did that. Why couldn't he tell this brazen hussy who was also not in her class (the school has separate classes for boys and girls), that he had to go to class or he'd be late.

"I didn't want her to think I was a nerd."

"So you may have screwed up your chance to get into this junior high after all. Was it worth it? Because of a girl???"

I already am hating his future girlfriends.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Happy Anniversary to Me

We celebrated 22 years together in a nice Jerusalem restaurant called 1868 - named after the date of the building. So while the civil war was raging in the US (or is it few years after?), builders in Jerusalem were constructing a lovely building outside the old city walls for a residence which eventually turned into a restaurant with arched ceilings and thick walls.

The fare here was upscale middle-eastern, however, I saw nothing middle-eastern about the place. What I thought was the middle-eastern herb zaa'tar (hyssop)wasn't. I was informed by the polite French waiter that this was some kind of coarse pepper. There was black olive paste and eggplant dip for the bread and that was as middle-eastern as it got. The waiters were doting and served us new setting after each course, with the setting being brought to us on not just a plate, but on top of soft white towels.

We tried to be adventurous for the first course and took veal sweetbreads. We had not idea what they were and I was sorry I asked because the guy said they were "shkeidim" or tonsils - something awful like that. They were presented beautifully in a toasted potato nest on top of mushrooms and baby lettuce leaves. I told Hubby - pretend you're a contestant on Fear Factor and just eat the fucking things. But he wasn't about to get $50,000 for it. Too bad, because I would have won. There were 4 of them and I had 3 while he just managed to down one.

Next we ordered the main course - which I thought would have come with some side dish or potatoes or salad or RICE. I mean if you're going to call yourself middle-eastern - serve RICE!!! These cookie cutter circular portions of beef arrived for Hubby with 4 thin slices of potatoes and my goose breast was also cut with the same circular cutter. The chef must have lots of fun with those cutters. I guiltily ate the fois gras on top of the goose because I've seen those widely distributed photos of how they torture those poor geese in order to get their fois gras.

Hubby's eyes were closing and I thought he's going to definitely fall asleep at the table and if he does - should I leave him there overnight and take a bus home, or wake him up? But he was actually sitting ever so blissfully in the padded leather-like comfortable chair wishing he had one of those in our dining room. Yes, I'd like that too, because then he'd fall asleep on one of those and then I'd have the whole bed for myself.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Rose of Jericho

Every once in a while, just when you thought things are going smooth, a new scare comes along. Remember when everyone saw the movie, Jaws, in the late 1970s and no one would swim in the ocean any longer - myself included?

My daughter said that she read in the local paper a news article that 38 people from our city have the Rose of Jericho disease from sandfly bites. This is an awful disease that takes 2 - 12 months to cure and people are left with ugly scars. They are looking to a Bedouin doctor for traditional treatment for this or for prevention - I'm not sure which. Meanwhile, the people affected are living in the older section of the city, not where we live. Plus Bouganvilleas are supposed to kill off these pests. And my neighbor's bouganvillea is draped over our front entrance so hopefully his gorgeous plant will do the trick.

Meanwhile, it's my 22nd wedding anniversary today. I'm waiting for Hubby to take me out to dinner and I can indulge in fine food before I freak out again at the thought of disease-ridden-carrying sandflies in my city.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Making Changes

I'm trying to make some blog changes - like putting the box you see above this post on the side bar in a scroll down box, and if not a scroll down thing then just on the side bar - but it hasn't worked out - yet - so I'm depending on Blogger Support. Let's see if it helps.

I plan to have a running, weekly column on the side showing peace activities from here - not demonstrations, not political stuff, but the good stuff.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I hope you can see this link about Palestinian and Israeli 4th graders getting together in Jerusalem.

Friday, March 11, 2005

all those annoying things

Having had to work over 12 hours this week plus these past two Fridays, left me little leisure time. Just Saturdays. So I get impatient with everything. And my boss, equally impatient snaps at the receptionist when he asked for a folder because she brought in a red folder. She should know better than that. No red waving in front of a bull. He hollered "Why do you have to bring me this color? Isn't there another color - like blue or white." He must have been feeling overly patriotic today.

I had called Rabbis for Human Rights after receiving an e-mail that they were setting up people for Friday night meals from The Fellowship of Reconciliation group. I quickly took on 3 guests even though time was limited.

"You've invited strangers?" asked one of my collegues at work.

Anyone in a group with a name like Peace, Reconciliation, Interfaith, Dialogue - is hardly a candidate for being a rapist or a mass murderer. I figured it was safe to invite this group of strangers.

We hadn't had strangers in our house since November and it was high time we did something about it.

I prepared a marathon cooking session - even bribing my kids to clean the house for $12. The volunteer was Nasty Daughter who muttered complaints throughout her cleaning session, but was happy to earn cigarette money from me. I got frustrated at squeezing the orange juice from oranges that didn't have seeds which meant I would have used them for eating oranges. But everytime I cut up an orange for eating, I get a mouthful of pits, so I didn't want to chance it this time and delegated all of them to be juice oranges.

I went back to Jerusalem at 4:30 to meet our guests who were at that "touchy-feely" Reform Synagogue, leaving instructions for kids and Hubby not to burn the house down and to wash the floors, clean the bathroom and shut off the stove so the chicken won't turn into ashes.

The place glowed when I got home with our guests. Apparently their group is one of the oldest interfaith groups in the US, which formed after WWI. Because of hassles at Ben Gurion airport - because they are a Peace group, they flew into Jordan and from there drove to Jerusalem. Apparently the delegation before theirs got turned back because the Israeli officials don't take too nicely to people who fraternize with Palestinians. Then foreigners might realize how nice Palestinian families are and then all that hard government work to make them all seem like terrorists, will be for naught.

This had been their first visit with a Jewish family since they had always been hosted by Palestinian families since they arrived.

At dinner time, Hubby hogged the conversation with lengthy stories about "his life" which seemed really really long - maybe because I've heard them for hours on end before. Maybe because I was very tired and impatient and wanted to hog the guests for myself because "I" invited them and he didn't even want them there in the first place because he was tired himself. But our guests really didn't seem to mind. He was peppering his "sermons" with "I am honored by your presence" about a hundred times, which got on my nerves, because that morning he asked me to cancel the guests. Like fuck you're honored. And he sounded so uncharacteristically mushy, I wondered if the Brandy his brother bought for him at Duty Free was having this effect on him. I was in the middle of putting together my Indonesian Rice Salaed and I hear him continue "and as you are amongst us...". "Amongst"??? Who talks like this in the 21st century? I didn't make any comments, but I shot him a glare.
I did manage to get a word in now and then. And then I think the highlight of the evening was when Hubby brought out his gas mask to show everyone what it looks like (scary) and the atrophine (sp?) injection in that box as well.

After 3 hours I gave our guests my business card before seeing them off. Hubby got back at me for all those glares and my cutting his conversations short.

"Oh you're giving them your FAKE business cards?"

At least my kids behaved like civilized human beings at the table and I can't be so totally annoyed at Hubby because he did show up and entertain my guests and didn't retreat into his cave early like he usually does. And for that - I was grateful.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Cow from Minsk

The only cow in a small town in Poland stopped giving milk. The people
did some research and found that they could buy a cow from Moscow for
2,000 rubles, or one from Minsk for 1,000 rubles. Being frugal, they
bought the cow from Minsk. The cow was wonderful. It produced lots of
milk all the time, and the people were amazed and very happy. They
decided to acquire a bull to mate with the cow and produce more cows
like it. Then they would never have to worry about the milk supply
again. They bought a bull and put it in the pasture with their beloved
cow. However, whenever the bull came close to the cow, the cow would
move away. No matter what approach the bull tried, the cow would move
away from the bull and he could not succeed in his quest.

The people were very upset and decided to ask the rabbi, who was very
wise, what to do. They told the rabbi what was happening. "Whenever the
bull approaches our cow, she moves away. If he approaches from the
back, she moves forward. When he approaches her from the front, she
backs off. An approach from the side and she just walks away to the other side."

The rabbi thought about this for a minute and asked, "Did you buy this
cow from Minsk?"

The people were dumbfounded, since they had never mentioned where they
had gotten the cow.

"You are truly a wise rabbi," they said. "How did you know we got the
cow from Minsk?"

The rabbi answered sadly, "My wife is from Minsk."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Has Everyone Gone Mad???

It started yesterday morning at work. I don't know if it was some weird Karma or misalignment of planets or everybody's chakras off kilt.

My two bosses faced me this morning.

He: You can work with her and that takes priority over the meeting this afternoon.

Then he walks out the door and she takes over.

She: He really wants you to go to the meeting this afternoon so you can work with me now until you leave for the meeting.

I don't argue with her as in "But he just said..."

So I did this yo yo thing, and bounced around from boss to boss and meetings - never having time to complete or even start any thing they had asked me to do for them. I sat 3 hours straight in that awful chair taking minutes and my arm was numb by the end of the meeting. By the time my day ended at 7:00 pm - I looked like I had smoked an entire kilo of weed by myself. My colleague took notice and asked me if I wanted to go with her to smoke up. Huh? I'm just a party/holiday/4 times a year smoker, I don't follow that stuff around Jerusalem. Just because I looked the part yesterday...

Then that afternoon I sat on the Jerusalem #18 bus to the center of town - where two people were arguing about the open window. The pregnant woman was hot and kept on opening the window while the teenager in back of her kept on shutting it because he had fever. They were banging and opening the window alternately while yelling at each other. Meanwhile, everyone on the bus was looking at them and laughing out loud at the spectacle. But the two hot-heads were oblivious to the laughter and kept on going at each other. Bus Rage - Jerusalem style.

I see my journalist friend on the next bus I take, who tells me she loves my writing and she gave my blogsite to another journalist to put on a US site about Israel. I told her about perhaps writing to pro-Israel church newspapers and getting paid for it and some woman wearing a head-covering, standing near my seat, stops her conversation with her friend and glares at me while I said the word "church". I made sure to say "zionist" and "pro-Israel" really loud in my conversation, while she was listening in on it anyway, just to settle her down.

I get home and my Nasty Daughter yells at me.

"If you were a real mother, you'd buy milk in the morning!!"

In my excellent role as a "fake mother" I answered.

"Sweetie. Do you realize that I leave the house at 6:30 in the morning and only come home at 8 in the evening???"

"Then you'd leave me money"

"Leave YOU money?"

Never. She may end up buying cigarettes with the milk money.

I call up Hubby to find out when he's coming back. He hadn't worked in 2 1/2 months and has found something for a couple of weeks outside of Jerusalem. I wanted to find out when he'd be coming home this evening.

"How's my beautiful wife?" He asked me.

I looked at the telephone receiver like someone, some alien, had hijacked the phone lines. Was that really Caveman Hubby or had another soul entered his body? Heh heh, and so what if it was. I think I like this soul better.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Weekend conversations

I found it difficult to blog at home, especially with my Bully Children who are overly eager to ICQ while I just begin to sit down at the home computer. As a result, they won't see me until very late tonight as I'm doing after-hours thing at my office (no - I'm not having an affair - I'm too old for that shit - I'm just sitting at the computer, getting more knowledgeable by the minute, dears). And I'm blogging with no one hanging over my shoulder and it's ever so pleasurable.

I remember some of the conversations I had over the weekend - with Tamer who wanted to throw parties or raves for Jewish and Arab young people at places in the desert near Jerusalem, accessible to both Palestinians and Israelis. And the British Aid agency worker who agreed with everything I said by repeating it.

She: My government (British) is useless.

Me: Yes, Blair is Bush's puppet.

She: Yes, Blair is Bush's puppet.

Me: And Bush is a cowboy

She: Bush is a cowboy.

Tamer was pissed off royally at the last Tel Aviv suicide/homicide bomber who had fucked things up for all of us.

"Everyone in my village is so mad that this happened and my sister called me from Ireland to tell me how mad she was." he told me. There was no giving out sweets in his village, when the tragedy hit. I was really happy to hear that though.

Speaking of Bush, I couldn't stop smiling when Abdullah came to visit last night because of his resemblance to the White House Master. I thought - hey, honey, who's your daddy. Really. It was hilarious. And he was going on (not Bush but my guest) about one state for both peoples and stuff I agreed with him about.

"The governments don't want peace. Because they buy arms and bombs and planes and it's big business. If there's peace, their business will go bankrupt" he told me.

Sounds real to me.

"Just one hour - ONE HOUR!!! - without my government and your government. Just leave the people together and we'll have peace. JUST ONE HOUR"

Wow! I think we could all find one hour in the day for this. N'est pas?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Weekend visitors

We were actually invited out for dinner Friday night. Having few friends in our neighborhood, I immediately took them up on the invite. I said if Hubby isn't in Caveman mode, he'll be there too. The food was plentiful and Hubby mentioned my interfaith work to this very right-wing host of ours, whose mouth was agape most of the time we were telling him about this. All he kept asking was how did I get into it. I think he'll make a good candidate for our next interfaith session - except that it's getting warm here and the flies are plentiful. He'd better learn to not leave his mouth open even if he's in perpetual surprise, otherwise the flies will end up nesting on his tonsils.

Saturday I had a visit from a British woman who rang me up. She heard about me from Tamer, whom I had met at Eliyahu's birthday and was curious about me. I thought Tamer wouldn't be able to get through the checkpoint but he managed to, which was fine. I thought of setting up my Gypsy friend Amoun with Tamer, but then I realized, if he's from the West Bank and marries my friend with an Israeli ID card, what usually happens is that the Israeli bureaucracy will see to it that she won't be able to renew her ID and she'll be made to get a West Bank ID. Sad isn't it? So I nixed that idea for the moment until things get just a bit more normal around here.

My son was introduced to our guests and then he pulled me aside looking terribly frightened. "He's Palestinian???? They're dangerous!!!" he whispered to me. I realized I only had Israeli Arabs in my house like Ibrahim, not the "others."

"He doesn't look so dangerous" I assured sonny boy and he seemed to trust me somewhat.

I fed everyone our traditional Sabbath lunch. Tamer had only seen those Jewish rituals done on television, but here he was at our Sabbath table. As we walked back to the entrance of town so they can catch a ride to wherever it was they were going, Tamer was asking why everyone was inside when it was such a gorgeous day.

Well we don't have any patio furniture. My kids will be watching tv or playing computers.

He told me he doesn't need any furniture, him and his buddies will seek out the nearest rock and hang out there for a while. He's definitely got the right idea.

Today some other guy phoned me and I had no idea who he was. Abdullah. He had been calling me for a couple of weeks now, always asking me if he could visit, and I've always pushed him off because I couldn't recall where I knew him from. Hubby rolled his eyes with a "here she goes again" look mixed with a "I hope he's not a terrorist" glare. But today I figured I'm on a roll for visitors. Yeah, why not, come on up. Turns out I knew him from the Valentine's day Arabic class. I hissed at my daughter who was all over her boyfriend in the livingroom. "We have GUESTS!!!!" Guests are such a rarity here that she doesn't know what it's like to show a little decorum.

Abdullah was looking for a place to pitch a permanent tent somewhere near here with a bedouin flavor and dish out some great food, have music and have Jews learn about their Bedouin brethren. I thought if he finally had a place going, I'd go to some of the people I knew here in schools to see if they'd get classes to go on cultural trips to that place. I'm setting him up with someone I know who can perhaps help him with this - perhaps next week over some coffee or a nargila.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Hit Me Baby One More Time

You know, we really had a lovely week. It was so beautiful with my brothers-in-law in town and everyone behaved themselves. My daughter only called me a bitch once that whole week and my son misbehaved one day and threw his puzzles all over the floor (which we then threw in the garbage) while my brothers-in-law were out. And the celebrations was so calm and happy. People called me up afterwards to tell me it was one of the nicest, happiest occasions they had been to, which really surprised me. My brother-in-law even fixed my son's computer and put more speed and memory on it so he has it for another 3 years or so. So there I was being so happy and grateful to God and to my friends and relatives when.....

He hits me. Again. and Again. and Again.

It wasn't enough that our car was in the repair and my daughter took out a loan for us. Oh No. That wasn't enough. So now we have radiator trouble and it costs an extra $400.

When Hubby took his car to be repaired 3 weeks ago, the guy told him a price and when he came to make a first payment and for the garage to begin work on it - the repair guy said he had made a mistake and they were only able to get a new part, therefore, the repair costs more!!! But Hubby said he would be making a grave mistake by not keeping his word as to the price. When Hubby came to pick up his wheels, he noticed that the garage was full of cars.

"You see?" he said to Mr. Repairman. "because you stuck to your word, God blessed you and now you have lots of business."

Hopefully God takes Hubby's words tongue-in-cheek otherwise people will be hopping mad, blaming him for their car failures. All because the repair shop was blessed.

So why stop there - God. When it rains it pours. So what does He do. He gives me a pounding toothache that I had to make my Professor boss miserable by leaving early to see the dentist. We're very very busy at work. I don't have time for fucking emergencies.

My dentist doesn't take my word on which tooth aches.

"It could be your sinuses, it could be your lower teeth, it could be this back tooth"

And he proceeds to torture me SIX times with this horrible, horrible, deep freeze, to see which tooth is sensitive to "freeze" - making me use loud profanity. He's lucky there were no children in the waiting room.

Plus my tooth is still throbbing. I think the dentist likes it when I talk dirty.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Did I do that?

I went to my first Women's Interfaith meeting in Jerusalem - a separate group from the one I am involved with. They had alot more people at the meetings - about 25 people showed up. I knew some of the people there. The Moslem and Christian speakers talked about conflicts they have with trying to be a modern woman and their respective religions. They were very open in speaking about their sexual conflicts, etc. It was pretty enlightening for me to hear this. I don't think these women would be as open in a mixed gender group.

There was a woman snapping photos of us from a US-based organization called Peace X peace - consisting of a group of international women making peace. They're showing a film next week of their work at the cinemateque.

During the break an ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman came to me and said she had read about me in the local papers about my interfaith work and decided to be a part of it too. She had been coming to meetings for the past two months. I was quite surprised and extremely happy that a little publicity had an effect on at least one person. She works for an organization that rehabilitates people with physical defects, people in wheelchairs, etc. I hope to try and hook her up with a Palestinian rehab place in Jerusalem. She was more than happy to hear about them and doing some activities with them as well.

So even though I nearly fell asleep during one of the presentations out of sheer exhaustion, and was wondering if I should have gone to this meeting altogether because of overload, I felt that it was worth the effort because I think that this new connection will be a good connection.