Saturday, May 30, 2009

When the Apples Fall Far From the Tree

Holidays can be difficult when there's no car/means of transportion - especially for the old and the restless like myself. I read in the papers about water hikes in the Golan, fairs in Caesaria and a meditation/yoga festival called Sagol on the grounds of a southern kibbutz - and I want to go to all of them, or even one of them. But I cannot.

I had the pre-holiday blues while my son was partying wildly with all the anti-Arab racist fans of Jerusalem's Betar soccer team, singing their racist songs. The Israeli tv stations filmed the fans and I prayed my son wasn't being filmed because that would embarrass me to no end. It's bad enough he thinks it's fun and even thought it ok to miss school the next day with most of his class as they trudged into their homes the next morning when the buses began to roll again.

We were invited out for Thursday night at my newly-married daughter's family. Some members of my family were worried that they were gonna get poisoned by the mother-in-law's food.

"She tried to kill us last time, remember?" insisted my youngest daughter who decided to eat locally at my oldest daughter's home - where the husband is a real chef and who doesn't hate her enough to poison her.

"Last time" was New Year's where the catering gave some of the family stomach queasiness. But this time my married daughter is making the pastas, lasagnas and salads and I'm bringing the blintzes. So no one should be afraid!!

After an unhealthy but happy feast of pastas and cheese of various sorts, we were driven back home to our house - us, the unfortunate souls with no car, who have to be driven back and forth. They must feel so sorry for us. They even told me not to bring them anything. But I did bring flowers and blintzes. We watched a bit of television on their 50" plasma tv and I tried not to get jealous of their "things".

"One day we'll get a large LCD" I told the mother-in-law ..."AFTER we get shower doors installed." And I glared at Hubby who I believe to be the cause of our lack-of-shower-doors and lack of second working shower in the main bathroom. It irritates me to know that out of the five 8-floor apartment buildings in our complex, we are the only ones who do not have shower doors or a second working shower. I sometimes enjoy being different, but this is taking it too far!

I had expected my newly-engaged daughter to come home some time before the holiday. But the holiday was starting in an hour and no daughter was to be found. I called her and was surprised to find out that she had seriously fought with her fiancee. She was chucking both him and religion out the window, as she told me she decided to work on the eve of the holiday.

Her sisters gasped at her new-found heretic-ness and then laughed their heads off. When she got back home, she opened up the sheet set she was saving for after her wedding and put them on her bed. The sheets were floral and appropriately colored red. She was mad as hell and was not gonna take it anymore. And she blurted out her venom.

"Do I look fat?"

"Not at all."

My daughter is quite petit and very skinny. But she said her fiancee was making fun of her and told her she was fat. How DARE he! She continued with her rant - "He's always making fun of me in front of his family and friends, and thinks it's funny." So none of us are mourning the fate of this relationship. I'm just wondering whether she'll be keeping the zirconium ring he bought her. Hubby was thrilled at her not marrying a Moroccan because they all "need to be the boss" and said he'd rather she married an Arab.

Last night we were all together - including both marrieds with the grandkid. I complained about the tasteless chicken I made from ground up tortilla corn chips. Hubby tried to console me in his usual tactless way.

"If you were living in Chicago, all the niggers would be lining up outside your door for this chicken."

I guess I should take this as a compliment.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Crossing Over

Our interfaith group had been meeting for over a year already and had only met at my home in Maaleh Adumim. It has been a royal hassle for the Moslems to get over to our side with getting permits and some times not being able to get them on time. Last month we felt secure enough to make the next meeting at our Moslem coordinator's home in Abu Dis. Many local hecklers had teased me with emails like "why don't you meet at their home in Abu Dis?" - and at the beginning it seemed impossible. After all, aren't Jews too frightened to venture into Arab neighborhoods? Well, last month we made that decision to finally have our next meeting there.

Four Jews set out from the entrance to Maaleh Adumim on Thursday night. Our Moslem coordinator picked us up outside the checkpoint in his car. He immediately apologized for the state of his car.

"This is my father's car. It's a very old car, but because he works for the Palestinian government, this is what they gave him."

Huh? I told him too bad his dad doesn't work for the Israeli government because he'd be driving a shiny new Volvo right now. And we drove through the dusty bumpy roads of Azariah through the valley of Abu Dis dotted by ancient terraces.

"I like driving this car better than a Mercedes?" he told us.

I looked at him in disbelief. What kind of Arab was he anyway? Didn't they all love luxury cars - BMWs, Audis, Mercedes?

"I feel like I'm really driving when I drive this car!!" he told us, as he struggled with his stick shift.

"Yeah, when you go in a Mercedes - it drives YOU, doesn't it!" I said sympathetically.

He must be the black sheep of the family, I thought.

As we drove into Abu Dis, everyone seemed to know him. They waved and smiled, probably not having any idea he's driving a bunch of Jews into his home.

He gave us a tour of his place; out in the garden there was an ancient fig tree, its roots against what looked like a centuries-old wall. There was a row of old domed homes owned by his family in another part of the family compound.

"This is where I met my wife, when she was a student at the university and rented an apartment there. I would see her from this terrace."

"Oh like David spying on Bathsheba, huh?" I asked - while everyone laughed at the thought of him checking her out in her apartment, unknowing to her.

The house was immaculate, and I could use that word freely since the Pope was still in town on Thursday. Abed poured us coffee from a lovely copper urn he picked up in Jordan.

We talked about mosques and synagogues at this meeting and the Moslems seemed surprised to find out that one of the oldest synagogues in the Holy Land was deep in Jericho. I had taken photos of it when I was there like 10 years ago. And the Jews learned that the three holist mosques are in Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. There were 7 parts to a mosque; one of which is called a Minbar. So when I looked at a photo in his home of the Minbar inside Al Aksa, at first I thought it read "minibar at Al Aksa" and everyone laughed at the thought of a secret minibar inside the holy mosque.

The discussion expanded somewhat as some of us secular Jews talked about feeling closer to God even though they were secular than when they were religious. Because sometimes formal prayer doesn't always get you there. I tell the group that I also feel close to God during interfaith meetings and prayer groups because I feel like this is what God wants. He enjoys seeing the Children of Abraham getting on in His land and not bickering over every fucking thing.

The meeting lasted for three hours instead of the usual 1 1/2 hours. The Jews didn't have expiry dates on our permits - heck we didn't even need permits to get there, although one person noticed a sign going into the Arab neighborhood forbidding Israelis to enter this neighborhood, even though it's Area B and legally allowed.

As we were let out at the entrance back to Maaleh Adumim, the guards asked us if everything is ok, as we walked through the checkpoint.

"Yes, everything is ok." we answered and smiled. If they only knew where we just were...

Walking to where people parked their cars, we wondered why donors weren't pouring money into interfaith groups/non-political dialogue groups. I think everyone felt so high from this meeting.

And that feeling unfortunately soon ended as I entered my home and faced the grumpy, eternally-complaining members of my family....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Health is Wealth

Last night I got two free tickets to the Alternateva fair - a fair for alternative health products, healthier lifestyles, strange new age fads and your multi-level marketing salespeople with their shtick. I had just been complaining that I never get wined and dined any longer - not since my old boss died - that my Higher Power listens to me kvetching and - abracadabra - this newer boss handed me her two tickets because she couldn't go. I went together with another co-worker.

We walked through the aisles of stands - which took us three hours in all - not to mention all the lectures and music we missed. We passed by Tarot card readers, astrologers,palm readers - there were a few machines that read your auras, but that was scary. What if my aura is a wrong color or something? I wouldn't want to know. I tried to walk quietly minding my own business, but everyone there seemed to know everything about me. There was no hiding nothin'. What if they all read minds? Then I'm in deep shit.

"You have seborrhea" says this woman who's selling her brand of natural creams. She's looking at my nose and continues.

"It's not a physical thing you know. It's spiritual. It's from stress."


I looked at these egg shaped dry skin removers which hold in your dead skin instead of it flaking on the floor and thought those were the coolest things. Two stands were selling them, and one was 20 shekels cheaper than the other. It was the only thing I bought. There were other "As Seen On TV" items that looked like fun - like the tool for folding shirts perfectly. Maybe next year. I didn't take those 15 minute reflexology or reiki treatments because by the evening's end the massage therapists looked like they were in need of their own treatments - after so many hours of work. I fell in love with these foam mattresses and pillows, called memory foam, because the foam contours to your body/head. It must be heaven to sleep on those. We tried sitting on the chair pads and decided if we buy those for the office, we'd probably get fired for not wanting to get off our chairs at work.

We walked past people with acupuncture-like needles all over their hands and books on Kabbalah and expensive equipment for raw foodies.

We sampled a bit of free food here and there, and tried out all the testers from the abundance of natural creams and salves and oils. We nodded our heads in agreement when the salesperson told us that people are used to shampoos with a lot of suds because they think it works better when there's more suds, when in fact the natural shampoos have little suds, if any.

"In fact, the cheap ones are like putting kerosene in your hair. Do you know that? Do you want to put that stuff in your hair?" We nodded in agreement with her.

Then a Sunrider salesperson stopped us to give us a taste of hot water and cinnamon.

"This cleanses out your body. You can eat anything you want - chicken with hormones and antibiotics and chocolates, but you can drink our products and your intestines will be cleansed."

For like $20 for 10 bags.

"I'll need to spend $60 for a month's supply, right?" I asked. Could people be so stupid? I'll make my own fucking hot water with cinnamon to clean my intestines out and it'll cost me $1 a month.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jerusalem Welcomes the Pope

It's Pope Fest this week in Jerusalem. Roads are closed, busses are re-routed during the day and the city has a kind of festive atmosphere where everyone's walking in the streets downtown during the closures. Notre Dame hung many yellow and white flags all over the place and a sign at a busy downtown intersection said that Jerusalem's Light Rail Transit system welcomes Pope Benedict XVI. He probably wondered about the horrible mess the light rail system is making of Jerusalem and the least they can do is officially welcome him.

Many of my interfaith friends got to meet the Pope at a special interfaith gathering until a sheikh hijacked the meeting for his own political agenda. Doesn't he know one doesn't talk politics at an interfaith gathering? Asshole.

My daughter wondered why so many tourists had come from overseas to see the Pope. There were dozens of tour buses all over the city.

"They're Pope Groupies" I told her.

"Really? They go all over the world just to see the Pope?"

I'm sure some actually do, although I don't know of anyone personally who does.
And this past week I've also been concentrating on my raw foods, preparing one vegetable juice drink a day. Hubby took a peek at what I was making one morning...

"THAT looks like cat diarrhea." Well, it does actually. Which means I can have this juice all to myself, unlike other snacks and goodies which I have to hide - and hiding places are becoming more scarce in my home, as the family becomes more knowledgable of my hiding places.

I even took dried bananas to work today. Looking at these bananas I packed in a plastic bag, it did look like a dried piece of crap. But you can eat it and it's sweet and it's healthier than chocolate. So there. I won't have to hide any dried bananas either from my family.

My recently-married daughter called me and wants to know whether I can go with her to sushi night one evening. She's become totally addicted to sushi and "needing" it twice a week. We made a date for next week. At home I wondered about this new addiction of hers and told my husband...

"She was never adventurous before. All of a sudden, NOW - she's so into sushi? I don't get it."

I love sushi and when I was her age, I also ate it often. What's happening? Is she becoming more and more like me as time goes on? Where she once detested my "adventurous" gourmet food, now she's liking brown rice with edemame and other healthy options? Well, does that mean she'll be inviting Arabs into her house soon enough?...

Saturday, May 09, 2009


I am trying to incorporate some "raw foods" recipes into my life. I took a class during the week to try out some of the funny-looking green drinks because they seem so healthy and quick to make. Quick to Make is the key here. In my busy life, it always seemed nearly impossible to cook healthy meals, so a quick - throw-everything-you-have-in-the-fridge - seemed like a good solution. Which is what I did and - lettuce, peppers, ginger, garlic, apples, pears, beets - even parsley went into the machine. I gave some to Hubby and he grimaced with a loud "Yuck". He anyways believes I'm trying to poison him in one way or another - so I wasn't surprised at his reaction.

One morning I had just finished one of my various Green Drinks, locked the door, and headed for the elevator on my way to work. As I was about to go into the elevator, two young hunky guys were looking around for something on my floor. I asked them what they wanted. They said they were looking for my daughter. THAT daughter - the one that's always getting into trouble with the police. They were investigators and wanted to investigate her about something, but they wouldn't tell me what that something is, because she's over 18 and they just wanted to talk to her. The good citizen that I am, I ran into her room, but she wasn't there. She probably slept over at a friend's house, which is something she does for about half the week. I didn't seem concerned about her whereabouts and told the guys that I'll have her get in touch with them today.

If I do sound pretty blase about this 'challenge' of a daughter - that's because I am. I'm still paying for her friggin' lawyer for her pot bust over two years ago and I'm not getting her any more lawyers. That's it. Finito. It's legal aid for her or I'm placing her with a Moslem family where they lock up their daughters until marriage and then the husband can do with her what he pleases. I've HAD IT!!!! There. I've vented. That felt good. My stress is now gone.

"And by the way" I added, "you made me miss my bus, so could you please drive me to the mall where I could pick it up after it makes its route all over the neighborhood?"

The least they could do is to get me to work on time.

I got on the bus at the Mall, and my married daughter who travels on that same bus each morning with me, was like,

"Oh my God! Your lips!"

"What's wrong with my lips?" I asked.

"You look like you were swimming in Shrek's bath. You're lips are totally green."


I was nervous that the investigators might now think that I ate all my daughter's marijuana - when the culprit was in fact the parsley, celery, carrot, apple drink.

The next day the daughter under investigation goes to the police headquarters and they grill her over whether she's smoking weed or not. She insists she isn't and tells them they could test her if they want to. They don't. Or at least she said they didn't. Time will tell of course if she's lying or not. I'll know within the year if she gets a letter from the court summoning her to yet another trial. But meanwhile, I'll just be drinking my drinks. It take the stress away. And that green is totally legal.