Sunday, March 28, 2004

So i thought things were easing back to a semi-normal state since the cripple met his doom. A bit on what it's been like since it happened in regards to the tension here. People have started going back to their normal lives. Bus riding, going to cafe's (although they were considerably empty over the weekend), going out in general. But there's something in the air (maybe it's the fact that there have been lots of attempts, but no successes).

now for the fucked up bit. I've been finding myself checking the news several times a day half-hoping that there would finally be a pegua (bombing). No, i haven't gone insane (i dont think). I dont want anything to happen, obviously. But this tension can drive you insane if you spend more than a few minutes thinking about it. I mean, you sit in the middle of the bus and think "well, at least by sitting here i'll just die" or you sit all the way in the back and think "well, maybe from here i can survive without losing a limb." I was sitting with the cousin tonight and we heard this loud low rumble. we just looked up at each other and intinctively thought the same thing. It's also confusing because we live pretty close to some medical place, and ambulances go by a lot. Thankfully, nothing happened. I dont know what the sound was, but it definatly sounded like an explosion somewhere. Maybe it didnt and we've just both been waiting for it to finally happen that we just jumped to the conclusion that we're all waiting for. I know i'm not alone in feeling like this, it's normal no matter who you are or how long you've been here. Still, you realize how fucked up it is, but you can't help it. It's confusing and stressful and much easier to disappear into my little university bubble which i do as often as i can. guess i should be happy over all the work i'm supposed to be doing.

i'm trying not to write too much about this. it's not particularly easy. it's hard choosing the right words, and i'm certain that if i went over later i'd think it was crap. i wont do that though. it's how i feel right now. it can, and probably will change, within hours. you've got to realize, i spent 3 hours in a crowded cafe, on crowded dizingoff, and then went to the crowded beach. it's not like i'm going at this hermit style. still, i'm trying not to write so much because it'll just end up getting more and more incoherent.

i guess there are too many things to think about. too much that you can get angry or happy or sad over. or laugh about or cry about. it's like hooking up your emotions to a dimmer switch being manipulated by a hyperactive toddler. i dont know. maybe that's a shite analogy, but i'm too tired to think of anything better.

in other news, a friend threw a sushi party at her lavish retro-grandma apartment on thursday night. very swanky, lots of fun. went to lunch and the beach with effie. talk talk talk. good time. now it's late and i'm tired and kinda hungry. gonna go down to yaffo tomorrow to look for a birthday present for mom. wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

so very busy with school work. so much to read. hope i'm not going to burn out. i have to write my papers. this MA shit is tough. i wish i had taken advantage of the laxity last semester. much easier than this time around. i guess i was still too busy adjusting. i have no excuse for the dicking around i did in february other than the fact that i was feeling pretty low. i still managed to write my one long paper for the semester (30 pages, fuckers!), but i've got two 15 page suckers to go by early june. i think they'll have to push the deadline back to the end of the summer, because there are plenty of folks that have yet to write anything. of course, there are a couple of geniuses that have managed to write them all. diiiiicks. wish i could hate them, but they're oh-so-loveable. (not sarcasm) all in all, i'm feeling pretty ok. except for this fucking cold. i think i'm off to a sushi party on friday. yay sushi. hope my nose works by then so i can enjoy the food. hope i can get all my shit done soon. gaaaah glarblefraggle. cough cough. snot-rocket. score.

here's one youre not hearing about in the west or at least i havent really seen much of it in the western press. it's been buried a bit. 100 shek's for a kids life? that's about $22.50 american.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

finding hope in unlikely places...

Monday, March 22, 2004

it's tense here now that yassin has been killed. funny how blowing up an evil cripple makes you feel like youre walking on glass whenever it's brought up. fact is, a lot of people are going to die. probably up until the end of passover. another fact, people would have died anyway. i guess it's just a matter of numbers. i'm trying to stay in my university bubble, and i've got lots of work to do. still, it's been a strange day. random attacks around the country, including a guy with a knife in yaffo. yaffo, christ. and a guy with an ax in ramat gan. i wanted to go down to yaffo on sunday to do some shopping, now i doubt i'll go. jesus fuck. i got on a bus this morning after hearing the news. i dont know why. probably a stupid thing to do. i'll take the bike out of retirement this week. even if my chances of getting hit by a car are better than getting blown up. at least if i get hit by a car the worst that happens is you die or break some bones. getting blown up and surviving means losing arms, legs, disfigurement...who knows what. sometimes i'll sit in the middle of the bus and the thought of, "at least if it happens here i'll probably die quick" comes over me. sick, huh? the bus was relatively empty today. i imagine it'll stay empty all week. passover is coming up and i dont want to think about what that'll mean. some people are really worried. a friend in my program kept talking about it, and wanting to know how i felt. truth is, i dont really know how i feel. i've stopped analyzing the politics here because i've learned that it can drive you crazy. i know that a bad man died and the world is better off. i know people are going to die. i know people would die anyway, whether sheikh yassin was killed or not, maybe fewer but still. i just dont want to die because a stranger decides to blow himself up next to me.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

so very very sleepy. waiting for some pictures to upload to send to all the deserving folk. pictures of...the desert. and funny pictures of camels. spent the last three days wandering around the negev and a bit in eilat. spent today enjoying the eilat beaches, drinking beer, and playing sheshbesh (backgammon).

i'm feeling way too tired to give an accurate portrayl of what went on. we went to the makhtesh (maktesh...yes, that's a real english word) ramon. it's basically a crater...a giant fucking crater. walked around it a bit. also walked through some random part of the desert...very very beautiful.

it was a group from the overseas program. mostly college kids, but they were good. i really only knew a handful of folks from my program, and i mostly stuck with them and the israeli's. my hebrew has clearly improved dramatically (at the expense of a bit of my english) since i'm able to spend hours conversing with israeli's and making jokes. heard some excellent ones, but unfortunatly they just dont translate properly into english. but, let's try anyway.

The KGB is interogating a guy, trying to make him admit that what he knows. He refuses to tell, so the interogators yell out, "IGOR!" and big massive hulking Igor walks in. "Igor, this guy wont tell us what we want to know, so take him into another room and fuck him up the ass." So Igor picks up the guy and goes down the hall when he hears, "IGOR!" from another room. He walks in and the interogators say "Igor, this guy wont tell us what we want to know, so fuck him up the ass and break his face." So Igor picks up the second guy and goes down the hall when he hears, "IGOR!" Igor walks into another room and the interogators say, "Igor, this guy wont tell us what we want to know, fuck him up the ass, break his face, and break his legs." So Igor picks up the third guy and goes down the hall. The first guy taps him on the shoulder and says, "Igor, remember, i just get fucked up the ass."

Thursday, March 18, 2004

John Kerry...who says he actually voted for the $87 billion before he actually voted against it (Well, good thing he's so concerned about the welfare of American soldiers)....has also claimed to receive endorsements from foreign leaders. JK won't tell who these mystery folk are. "None of your business" to quote him directly. Well, aside from the fact that it's generally frowned upon for democratic leaders to interfere in other democracies elections, being endoresed by this jew-hater isn't something JK should be tooting his horn over. Unless you consider that Kerry would either send Jimmy "shouldnt i be dead by now" Carter or James "fuck the jews they didn't vote for us anyway" Baker as his middle east envoy. Then again, JK can't seem to decide on much to begin with, so if he's elected i'd imagine a lame duck presidency. which will be nice for those folks just itching to go duck hunting.

as for me, i'm disappearing into the desert for a few days. sayonara. i plan on abusing my body and not thinking about anything since this semester is kicking my sorry ass. wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

funny....this is all the new york times has to say about an 11 year old kid carrying a bomb. don't try to find it by going through the new york times site. oh no. contrary to what it might look like, the only way to find this article is by doing a specific search for it. not that you'll learn much here, except how big and bad israel is and how there nothing but brave resistance on the other side of the line. nice, very nice. hey, name me another country besides israel that would send a kid like that home? i dont know if that kind of compassion makes me want to laugh or cry. in most countries he'd be strung up. although i guess in most of europe he'd be hailed as a national hero. cowardice seems to be an old trend that's staying strong with a bullet. a kid for christs sake.

Monday, March 15, 2004

If you want to skip this whole rant, you’ll be smart. If you want to get the gist, drop to the last paragraph. If you’ve really got nothing better to do, than knock yourself out. Read it twenty times if you like.

It’s a question of identity. Who are you? What are you? You know you’re different, somehow. You act a little differently, you speak a little differently, think a little differently. Sometimes that shines through and it’s reflected on other peoples faces, in their reactions. It baffles you, it worries you, sometimes it drives you mad. You’ll start searching in different places, different activities, different lives. You start playing role after role, until you just can’t act anymore. You start to take the search seriously, because you finally realize that it’s not something completely intangible. Maybe. So you start to make it about you.

And that’s what this is. It’s about me. That’s all. It’s not a commentary, it’s not a series of articles, it’s not a documentary, it’s meant to be factual, or serious (to anyone else), or tasteful, or tactful, or sensitive, or inquisitive. It’s not a guidebook or a research piece or an artistic expression. It’s about me. It’s for me. Understandable any right to privacy disappears the moment it’s published, but it wasn’t designed to be private. It’s all experimental, anyhow. That doesn’t make it any more than what it is. Me. Random thoughts. Don’t like them? Join the club, I don’t like them all either. And that’s just what’s been published. There are nastier things up here. There are also beautiful and wonderful and pink and fluffy things that don’t get put down. Why not? Who knows. No one’s meant to learn anything from this. Not even about me. Perhaps especially not about me. Confused? Too bad. It’s all about me, as in for me. Anyone tagging along and skimming the random thoughts is getting a fish eye view of the ocean. Interesting, but you’re not get much in the long run.

Trying to figure it out? Let’s go over it again. This is about me. For me. For me, by me. FMBM. It’s the latest in urban wear. Look but don’t touch, because it’s an obscure museum with a lousy curator whom hasn’t explained nearly anything at all about what you’re seeing. In other words, stop thinking that you get it. It’s not about culture, or people, or religion, or politics, or behavior, or law, or history, or physicality, or opinion, or taste, or class, or economics, or time, or education, or emotions, or any of the million other things that you might be seeing here. They’re just characters, and caricatures. Nothing is portrayed fairly or properly or in any sort of relevant context. They can’t be, they won’t be. Because they’re not me.

I’ll switch to metaphor mode. Anything that anyone reading this that they can relate to is paint. I’m using it to make something for myself that’s invisible. It looks public, but it’s not. The messy palate doused in color, that’s what visible. What it means when I mix it together, that only I can see. Not that I can say what I’m seeing. It changes. All the time. No one holds up a painters palate and says, “what a work of art!” That would be ridiculous. Because it’s not art. It’s just something the painter uses to get from point A to point B. This is just point A, and maybe a tiny bit of the journey to point B.

Still confused? You’re clearly too normal, and I’m clearly too tired. Look, anyone who’s taking anything on here and using it to reflect on who I am, or where I am, or who these people are I randomly mention, or even if you’re using it to reflect on yourself for some unknown reason. Stop. You’ll do better to take up alchemy. This is no glass of water, and it’s not going to turn out any gold. It’s not written for any meaning that anyone is going to find. You can’t learn from anything written here. You’re not meant to, and I don’t want you to. Last time. Everything written on here is about me. If you’re looking for meaning, stop. If you’re looking to learn about Israel, the people here, or anything relating to the country, don’t do it from here. There are a million sources of education that are infinitely better, the best source being to actually come and experience it for yourself. This crappy little blog is nothing more than an ego-trip. Sorry if that bursts any bubbles, but that’s what it is. Sometimes there are things to share, sometimes there are things to vent, mostly there is nonsense that comes out for no good reason. Sometimes it’s nice, sometimes not so nice. Sometimes it’s honest, sometimes not so much. Sometimes it’s coherent, sometimes it’s like this. Sometimes it means something to me, sometimes it’s bullshit. It’s never meant for anyone to take it seriously. You want a serious blog, go read instapundit or something. Go read the Washington Post. You want to know why I write some of the things I write? Too bad, half the time I don’t know. It’s what happened that day, or it was something that was turning in my head, or I was bored and decided to post. If you’re sensitive to anything written here, don’t read it. It’s not meant for you. You’re not going to know what I’m thinking by reading this, you won’t know who I am, who the people are around me, what this country is like or what it means to me. You wont get any of that because I’m not prepared to offer myself up on a platter, contrary to what may have been previously thought by reading this. Now I’ve spent far too much time explaining myself for something that shouldn’t require explanation. This entire little shit blog is nothing but randomness and silliness, with some things that mean something to me. If youre still looking for more, well, good luck with that. One minor word on the country though. It's quite incredible. I don't do it justice on these pages and i don't try. Mostly i just bitch, and that's not fair. Seems i mostly complain about the driving. Well, guess what folks, i dont even have a license here, so don't fucking listen to me. Instead of bitchinig and moaning about a million different other things in life, this is the one i've focused on. Why? who knows. Sometimes you just need an outlet, and that's mine. I've been unfair about other things as well, or unclear. Deal. Maybe i should make more of an effort to paint a rosier picture. Or at least a fair one. We'll see. Frankly, i'm happy here. There are no people in the world like Israeli's, for better or worse. They'll tell you exactly what's on their mind, they're go painstakingly out of their way to help you, and they don't take shit from anybody. Problems? yeah, but no one stays here if they don't love it in one way or another.

a friend of mine was taking her drivers test, and the driver kept saying to her "why do you keep moving your body like that? what's wrong with you?" Now, he only spoke hebrew, and her's is only so-so, but he finally made her pull over and said "i dont get it, i always see americans doing this. every time you change lanes, you turn your body around. why?" she just looked at him and said, "uh, to check my blindspot." "you're what?" "my blindspot, you know, the part of the car whereyou can see?" "what? there's no such thing!"

that from the driving instructor. yes folks, this is the land where no one knows how to drive. it's actually illegal to check your blindspot, and thus no one even knows what it is.

well, to update that, its been refuted. why the practicle exam (in english) that effie got says not to check your blindspot is beyond me. but i've been told i'm full of shit by a possessor of an israeli drivers license and that you are taught to check your blindspot, so i'll hope that i am, indeed, full of shit. it wouldn't be the first time.

in other news, i went down to sheinkin to buy shoes. there are some of the ugliest shoes in the world right here in israel, but also some great shoes, and at great prices. much better variety and price than in new york. so sure i'll probably get run over, but i'll look fucking hot laying in the road. i also went down to yaffo. ahh, alex, how your presence is missed there. bought little nicknacks and things at the shook. fun times.

i'm hopefully going to eilat next weekend, assuming i stop being a lazy fucker and get some work done. particularly on the two papers that are due by the end of may. there's a bunch of folk that havent written any yet, or only one long one like i have. but who knows when i'll find the time for all this. *sigh*

the illness reared its ugly head for a few hours on saturday. not fun. there's some stomach virus epidemic going on around here. so far i think i've had it the worst. most people have just been in pain (got that) weak (ditto) physically ill (yup) or just whiney (totally)...but i was the only one to spend 12 hours dilirious and hallucinating. well, guess i'm clearly in the poorest physical shape. i have however been sleeping fairly well, which is a new and welcome arrangement.

i totally want a nap now...i should drink coffee. i have so much to do...fuck me with a pogostick

Monday, March 08, 2004

So a dear dear friend may be showing up soon. Anna, who i worked with in california, sent a random email saying that she was in greece (randomly) with 3 girls she's studying with in paris (again, something random). Anna is crazy. It's true. Love her to death. totally out of her mind though poor thing. an absolute riot. causes a raucus wherever she goes. she can't help it. it's just who she is, and i wouldnt have it any other way. i wish i could offer them all room and board, but my wee hovel cannot, unfortunatly, accomodate 4 guests for a week. even 4 american girls bouncing around europe. alas, they shall have to stay in the favorite of traveller hovels, the youth hostel. or so i assume. anything and everything is possible. for all i know i'll have 4 women in my bed for a week. well, i'll survive. they can nurse me back to health as i'm still recovering from the poisoning of the food (that's arabicesque writing). i'm still feeling week, although i did get a little crazy and eat a laffa today. i hope it doesnt end up killing me. so far so good. *knock wood*

this semesters schedule: Hebrew, Arabic, Religion and Politics, Demographics and Economics, and Inter-Arab Relations. The last sets me up with about 250 pages of reading a week. But the prof. put michael scott doran on the reading list and i absolutely adore what he writes. if you've never read anything of his, you should go do it that right now.

Doran teaches at Princeton, and knowing that makes me wish that i had paid more attention way back when in high school to the idea that grades matter. Because in high school i was much more interested in drinking and sex than grades. So, while sitting here, with random thoughts, i'm thinking that the american public school system does an excellent job of teaching facts, but makes no effort to explain why they matter or what can be done with those facts. Had i understood that, i imagine that i would have cared more, gotten into a place like princeton, and had the opportunity to learn from prof. doran whom i'm sure is an excellent educator. then again, i could have been drunk when they were explaining why facts matter. either way, i was a bit of an intellectual late bloomer. some might say i still am. i would say i'm not an intellectual at all, rather a stumbling acadamic with a great fear of the "real world," since apparently the "real world" doesnt consist of driving around in a pick up truck with a dog. now it's time for me to read off into the sunset....YEEEEEEEaawn....

Friday, March 05, 2004

school, insomnia, and food poisoning

it's been a trying week. last night was the first night where i almost got a full and complete nights sleep. but anything beats the night before where i spent 12 hours delirious, unable to breath, convinced i was dieing, yet unsure as to who i was or where i was. that's right kids, it's food poisoning season and my body reached it's equinox the night before last. ever spend a night thinking in arabic, even though you dont know enough to think in arabic? i think we have a new definition of insanity.

speaking of insanity, classes began on monday. pretty good so far. of course, i missed thursday, which was the day when three classes i wanted to try were scheduled, and now that will have to wait for next week. bah. i'm hungry and want soup. i just need something with flavor. or maybe a nap.

Monday, March 01, 2004

passion shmassion

so about a week ago, during one of several all-nighters i pulled over the vacation for no good reason, i decided to start writing about mel gibson's movie. i think we all know what it's called, as people can't seem to shut up about it. well, i'm no exception. i haven't seen the film yet, because, ironically, in the land from whence jesus came, we have yet to receive the film about him. actually, my understanding is that the film has little to do with jesus as a person so much as a piece of meat that just gets beaten, and beaten, and beaten, and then beaten some more until he's tacked up on a cross like so many things that are tacked up on crosses.

anyway, here's what i wrote.

You’d think that somewhere out there was a Jewish leader with an ounce of PR skills. Alas, that does not seem to be the case. Let’s leave Israeli politics aside for the moment; that would be like throwing myself head first into quicksand. Let’s focus on the latest media craze, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion.” Do a Yahoo news search and you’ll come up with just over 3000 articles as of the wee hours of February 26. To quote Reuters, “’The Passion of the Christ’ opened in cinemas across the United States on Wednesday as Jewish groups decried it as anti-Semitic and New York's Roman Catholic cardinal stressed Jews did not kill Jesus.” I would like to introduce many of my fellow American Jews to the notion of productivity, as clearly they are working very hard at being the opposite thereof.
Let’s take a look at Abe Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League National Director. Mr. Foxman lied his way into private screenings of “The Passion.” Presumably to get to the bottom of the controversy. Well, sneaking your way into a screening reserved for leaders of the catholic community certainly doesn’t seem to uphold many Jewish values. Foxman’s loose tongue doesn’t help him either. Quoting him in today’s New York Observer, “Only for sadists, only for masochists could this be beautiful.” I imagine one could say the same thing about every holocaust film ever made. Is “The Passion” violent? Sure, but so is Kill Bill and much of the bible as well (that’s new and old testament).
To the “never-forgeters” who would probably love to nail me to a cross for that last comment, let me say this. You are the one’s who have forgotten. When a Jewish-American group like Amcha decides to protest “The Passion” by dressing up in concentration camp uniforms it is indeed they whom have forgotten.
Of course there are many leaders in American Jewry who have stood up against the preemptive anti-anti-Semitism cry-fest. Although their mild finger wagging in the direction of ADL & Co. get much less press coverage than protesters on the upper-east side of Manhatten with signs reading “The Passion is a cruci-fiction.” Can you imagine Egyptians protesting “The Ten Commandments?”
If American Jews want to worry about “The Passion,” then they should go see it. For all the box office revenue their protesting has raised, they might as well throw some more cash in Mel’s direction. At least then they’d have something they might be able to complain about. For all I know, this may be the worst film about Jews since Leni Riefenstahl was directing. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to call it a blood libel without having seen it yet. Particularly not when it’s a film about a man whom the vast majority of the Western world (and Israel’s supporters) view as much more than just a man.
I’ll leave off with another of Foxman’s snippets of insight. “When Cardinal O’Connor first came, he compared abortion to the Holocaust. But, you know, he learned.” So tell us Mr. Foxman, when are you going to learn?