Monday, June 30, 2008

Coming of Age

It can be scary, this coming of age thing. In my case, it's a coming of old age. I'll give you an example. I woke up this morning at 6:10 a.m. I sat on the toilet and realized just in time that I still had my underwear on. Horrifying. Then if that wasn't all, I took a shower, forgetting that the window to the bathroom was WIDE OPEN. There I was in all my naked glory, showering in front of everyone in the new neighborhood of my town. Just what will my neighbors think? Everyone is new here and getting to know one another and now they get to see their relatively new/old neighborh showering naked - had they looked out their window early this morning.

So now that I got this off my chest, let's go to another coming of age happening in my family.

I sat a couple of weeks ago with my friend from Texas who shared with me her trials and tribulations of living with a 16 year old male teen.

She remarked to me, "I know he jacks off all the time, 'cos he's always taking showers. Even a few times a day!" She seemed so happy that she has a normal son.

On the way home that day, I started to worry. My 16 year old son hardly showers. Maybe once or twice a week, but he's not a daily showerer. I began to wonder where his teenage sexual tension is going, or if he has any at all. He doesn't have a girlfriend, so what the fuck is going on?

Over the weekend I hear Hubby berating my son.

"Every day you change your bed sheets!!! Is this normal?? I can't stand doing these sheets every day in the laundry!!!!"

I walked over to Hubby...

"Shhh. If he 'needs' to change his sheets every day, then let him be. Please!" I pleaded with him. I continued, "It must be his age."

And Hubby stopped his rant, and I was able to sigh - a sigh of relief.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

When Life Imitates Art

I always found it amusing when I would end up watching some Chinese movie and it would be a coincidence when I found myself sitting on the couch eating Chinese food with chopsticks. Totally unplanned in tying the Chinese dinner and Chinese movie together.

A coupla weeks ago, I watched the Israeli version of American Idol. They went to India to find the next Israeli singing sensation. Any why not, when half the fucking nation ends up there after army service. As I sat down to watch the program with my kids, I noticed the bowl on my lap held curried pumpkin soup. A mere coincidence?

Then about a week and a half ago, I saw this Irish movie, The Wind That Shakes the Barley on television, and watched horrified as British soldiers tore the nails off a young IRA militant. I went to sleep and the throbbing of my middle "fuck you" finger woke me up while it was still dark outside, which meant it was around 4:00 am. That morning, the pain was still there, and I went to see a doctor who had to drain this mysterious infection which seeped its way into my finger. And WHY? Because I watched some guy who had his nails forcibly removed? For Chrissakes, isn't this just Hollywood (or whatever you call it if it's an Irish movie)?

Do I have to watch what I watch on television? Should I limit myself to Monty Python flicks? If I watch Woody Allen movies, will I become a neurotic Jewish mother and grandmother. No wait. I am already one of those. Shit. So what's left?

Yesterday I babysat my grandson while they went out to see Adam Sandler's movie, Don't Mess with the Zohan. After I raided my daughter's fridge, I turned on the TV while the baby went to sleep on one of my boobs. I flicked through the stations and wanted to watch a movie about gay people, but they were dying of AIDS, and I thought I'd better not watch it. It's not safe for me to watch movies like that. Even if I never have sex again. So I kept on flipping the stations. And I finally found the program for me - How To Look Good Naked - hosted by this Jagger-esque gay guy who makes overweight, frumpy lumpy women look and feel beautiful again.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Saturday mornings can be a perfect escape from reality. I spent a good few hours in the morning daydreaming....

In the first daydream, I have a good size part in You Don't Mess With the Zohan, Part II. In the movie, I'm of course Adam's older Israeli sister, who gets mistaken for a Puerto Rican, an older prostitute (Israeli women can dress trashy). The shopkeeper nods his head and says to no one as she walks out the door, "these hookers don't know when to stop working...". Zohan's sister, of course, hates his girlfriend, lets her Palestinian neighbors think she's Puerto Rican, etc.. And I, of course, make a good coupla million dollars for my role, get out of debt and furnish my house and even buy a new car!

In my second daydream, I'm protecting Palestinian farmers from rampaging settlers in the fields of the Hebron Hills.

I say to the angry young settlers, "If you really believe this is Holy Land, why desecrate it with hate and anger and violence. Do you think this is what God wants? To see the Children of Abraham fighting amongst themselves?"

I try to get a dialogue going about the commonalities of Islam and Judaism, but am not succeeding too well. Both sides are just glaring at the other.

I try to shake the young men's hands at the end of our dialogue and they walk away from me muttering "I'm not shaking hands with an Arab lover."

I yell back at them..."I bless you to one day not only shake hands with Arab lovers, but to hug and dance with your Arab brothers.."

And I say to the soldiers who had just arrived on the scene, "I bless you that you will not need any more bullets, and that only flowers and balloons will come out of your guns."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Being in Love

I met my friend from Tulkarem yesterday at the beautiful new Legacy boutique hotel in East Jerusalem, next to the American consulate. We hadn't seen each other since October, when we met at the Peacemaker's Camp in San Francisco. She brought three of her children with her, whom I met for the first time. We spent hours catching up on each other's lives, and as we chatted, I realized why I like her so much. She is probably the only Moslem woman (she's an American woman who married a Palestinian and eventually converted to Islam) who does not cover her hair, despite all the peer pressure to do so. She was telling me how ridiculous it seems that many of the local girls put on all this makeup, wear tight jeans and then put on the hijab. "What would you think if you saw a nun wearing a habit, and tons of makeup, wearing tight clothing underneath?" was her question to me. Her girls also do not cover their hair. She wants them to make the choice, and not to feel pressured by others.

"I hope you're not embarrassed that your mother is different from all the mothers in Tulkarem." I told the well-behaved kids, who just shrugged their shoulders at the question. As if to perhaps tell me "why should they be embarrassed" or, they dare not tell me otherwise.... I felt a strong bond towards my friend at being "different" from other mothers.

"You have to be strong to survive here, with a sense of humor of course." My friend reminded me, but I didn't need reminding about that.

I took them to the stately American Colony Hotel, which they had never seen or even known of its existence. The heat was stifling, and the kids wanted to put their feet into the pool. I said that they could, but the mother insisted that they not do so because they weren't hotel guests. Her firm look to me told me not to push it further.

She wondered why I didn't move back to Canada when Hubby had been working there and found it easier financially.

I don't know whether she understood, but I told her there's nothing for me over there. My soul is here. And Friday the 13th turned out to be a long and wonderful day.


I woke up at 6:00 am to get to the Jerusalem cemetery, as it was the Yartzheit (anniversary)of my dad's death. I used to go in the heat of the day and the sun would burn down on my head, making me wonder how I just didn't burst from the heat. But this morning I beat the heat as I said the appropriate Psalms which spelled out his name in Hebrew letters. Before I left I imagined giving his soul a big bear hug. I really felt him hugging me back.

In the evening, new friends from the 'hood (not messianic Jews this time) drove me to the Jewish Renewal service in Jerusalem which meets every month. It used to be at Rabbi Kagan's home, but because there are now so many more people coming to the services, it was moved to the Reform congregation's premises nearby. I warned my friends, who seem to be straight-laced people in their sixties, that it would be like nothing they've ever experienced. I was right.

The musicians were in their place. Two people were playing acoustic guitar, one was alternating between a darbouka and an oud (I would love to know who plays the oud in a synagogue - even a Reform one!),another drummer, while a monk from the Emmaus Monastery in Latrun played violin, and a few nuns, dressed in white, sat in back of him. The newbies thought the rabbi was "interesting." She certainly was, bringing in Psalm chanting/singing and chassidic stories in-between the verses. Some people danced in the middle of the floor. Some people closed their eyes. Some people prayed with their palms up. However you wanted to let your soul fly, you were free to do so there! The music was beautiful and moving and really brought me to a spiritual high.

And as the day came to a close and I came back home to have the Sabbath meal with my family, I realized why I can never ever leave this country, even if it means having an easier life somewhere else.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This month in Jerusalem....

Has it been nearly a month since I last posted? I'm afraid so many thoughts have passed through my head, that it's nearly impossible for me to put them all down on one blog.

I'll try to fill y'all in with just some of the stuff.

School and Kids:
My son has been truant for over a week. Ever since I complained to the principal about the coordinator and his teacher, they have been on his case for everything. The last straw was when they tried to kick him out of school (something amiss here? Don't kids WANT to leave school?) and threatened to call the police if he didn't leave within 10 seconds. He was waiting for the class coordinator to hand him the cellphone which she took from him the day before. She wasn't going to. It was the War of the Bulls. Two headstrong people. The kid is stubborn and he didn't want to leave. She calls me up yelling and screaming, in typical Israeli fashion, and then in typically Jewish fashion, complaining that she had to chase my son all around the school (she's about 100 kilos overweight), and that she nearly fell and tripped and broke bones. Now, I wasn't going to let my son get into trouble with the Po-lice and have that woman tell "stories" to the police, if she did end up spraining an ankle. So both Hubby and I decided to have him take a "leave of absence". It's against the law. I know. But what's a mother to do?

Interfaith meetings:

I keep on chugging and wondering why on earth I am doing what I'm doing. It doesn't make any sense when you look at the whole picture. Will 5 Palestinians that come to my house, help change the entire Palestinian outlook on Israelis, Jews and Settlers? And will my town be berift of racism? It's a big fucking task for one person, let me tell you. But after these meetings end, I'm left feeling tired and euphorically giddy with happiness. It's such an intense feeling, that I think that's why I'm doing all this volunteer work, which is taking up a lot of my free time, wherever I can find it. We're planning a bus trip to Haifa - so stay tuned. It should be a fun ride. I keep on telling my kids that THIS will be the chance for us to throw each other into the sea, because we'll be picnicking on the beach. And, of course, this is what most Palestinians and Israelis think the other will do to them, if they only had the chance...


Seems all our neighborhood friends happen to be messianic Jews. I don't know why, although our friends tell us "there's a reason." We went to visit some of these friends on Saturday, who were trying to tell me that Moslems don't worship the same God we do, and gave me a whole New and Old Testament song and dance of why they don't. Plus a whole New and Old Testament song and dance of why Jesus is the messiah, and were rather rattled by my sinful and rather scandalous proclamation that, at the moment, I don't believe in anyone being the Messiah. I told them we have to do the work ourselves for a messianic age to come about, which I'm all in favor for, of course. It ties in very nicely with my interfaith peace thing. They gave us a small book called the "New Covenant" which I put on my bookcase next to the Sikh literature I got as a gift in India. A few days later the New Covenant disappeared. I have a feeling my husband had something to do with its disappearance, although when I asked him about it, he insisted it was still there.