Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tell Tale Signs

Heralds of the war are seeping into Tel Aviv in the form of displaced families with virtually no belongings. Shabbat was spent sharing a long table decorated half of strangers, half friends and their families. Candles were lit as the new guest wiped the tears from her eyes, either from the beauty of finding a safe place to bring her family, or the sadness of leaving the danger of their home in Sderot only a few hours earlier. My exhaustion came in the form of an extremely long night the night before.

As the war continues to drag on- slowly, but surely my friends and acquaintances are being called up. One by one they are receiving the call to change into their uniforms and serve. Tsiki's best friend was called up last week. "Where are you going" I naively asked him. "eh- near Hebron Sooz". I heard the awkwardness in his voice. "Near Hebron Elad? Near Hebron as in around the area where Tsiki was killed Hebron??" "Eh- in the area." As he avoided answering the question directly. It was Thursday night that I found out he is running the exact same checkpoint where Tsiki fell- And next week will sit in the same exact watchtower. My heart is framed right now in a concrete box. For me, a lot of my reality has become even wilder that my imagination.

I am fascinated to hear some people comment: "the war doesn't affect me". These are mostly foreigners that have no connection to the IDF or native Israelis among other things. If the notion that another 20 year-old soldier is being laid to rest with his mother and girlfriend looking on, or men going to fight in the week of their wedding day doesn't "affect" you, I don't know what can. As for me, I can't help but take this war personally, and it kills me to know bereaved families are being created everyday. This hits me close to home, and right now is bouncing of the concrete box.

As I was getting my knees burnt at the beach yesterday, I saw two IDF soldiers peel their olive green uniforms off and throw them on their massive army rucksacks as they ran into the ocean. Army helicopters were flying south to north along the coastline and my friend commented. "it does not cease to fascinate me that we are at war, yet we still are able to drink our ice coffees and lie on the beach."

She was right. We have our army for a reason, and I can't wait for this all to simmer- because I don't like hearing the sounds of helicopters when I can't be sure where they are going or why.

xoxo

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Seasonal Self Awareness

Life is a progression. I am pretty addicted to the fact that no year is the same as the one before, and one must always progress spiritually, intellectually, scandalously into the upcoming year. Right now, I'm learning a lot about myself, and ever since I signed up for Thailand, and stumbled into Israel- my life has been an accelerated learning experience. I have a high tech filter on- as to know what experiences to allow to penetrate me and humble me, what experiences I should wrap in a silken hankercheif and place in my pocket, and which ones I need to discard with the trash every morning before work.



The past two weeks I've needed to filter the natural worrying a war does to a Ginrod. From the past week, another soldier will be buried next to Tsiki, suddenly the small military section of Maskeret Batya is becoming more and more busy with the new sand of a freshly dug plot. New girlfriends and brides are experiencing a loss I have been coming to terms with in the past year and a half. The nation knows what's it's like to lose their young men in uniforms, they commemorate it every year unlike any other nation, but not many know what's it's like to lose your soulmate. So when I hear that the fiance of a kidnapped soldier is %100 sure he's coming home into her arms, because "they have a future planned together". I simply look the other way and hope her wishes come true, I don't want her part of my group. She needs a happy ending to her dream. I simply have to create a new happy ending for mine (and it's coming along slowly).

Shabbat was a much needed rest: It was nice to shut off the disquisition of the ecstatic Journalists from the west, displaying their bullet proof vests and gloating over their strategic locations on the hillside. Spent with P Bonez and fam, it was nice to replace the stress of all the "what if's and What the hell's" with a sleeping baby on my chest. It's amazing what love seems to seep through ones pores when you see a 3 month old smile, it's amazing how you still get that oogly feeling when they vomit all over your arms. If it was so pleasant to hold such a small thing as a bystander, the immense joy to hold it as your own must be abysmal.

So in the spirit of my response to one of my hosts of "I'm blogging this". Please enjoy the following conversation taking place over a MyTastebudsAreThankingYou Friday night dinner: (if you don't like dark humor, please don't read.)



Host: So what does your father think of you
converting?

Ginrod: Not much he's dead.
Host: ahhh..oh.
Ginrod:
don't worry, he was a big fan of Jews. You know how Americans are sport fanatics
and have "sport rooms?" He had something like that, but for Jews. Limited
edition posters etc.
Host: Really? That's cool.
Did he have a Jew? You know, like how they have "Filipinos" here?
Ginrod: sure did. In a cage in the corner. But you know-
just like plants only grow to the limit of the size of the pot their in, Jews
only grow to the size that their cage was in. So we had to replace him with a
statue.
Host: (who is short). Yeah, I was in a
cage for really long time.....



hmm doesn't sound as funny when one writes it. But it was hilarious and probably extremely offensive to those who have tact. If it helps. Absolutely NONE of the statements in the conversation are true. Well except for my father passing and the plant in pot thing....

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Planes


Another day of business as usual in Tel Aviv. Anyone I have respect for, especially those with extensive military experience I inquire: "Do you think they REALLY have those missiles. Do you think they REALLY would bomb Tel Aviv?". I had a knot in my stomach the first day of this war, I've lead myself to believe that is far fetched at the moment to think Tel Aviv could get hit.

P Bonez and I sat at a restaurant at the beach last night, feet away from the small waves of the Mediterranean, feet in the sand we stared at the black sky. "Is that a satellite? Is that another one??" I questioned. "Naw, it's mars and Venus". "No it's not, it's a satellite, it's a war satellite.. They have spy vessels in the sky!!!" "No, sooz- it's Mars and Venus".

"Is that a flare I see??". "naw P, it's a plane..Wait, it disappeared..In the clouds? Maybe it is a flare..Why would there be a flare here??". Our conversation would then become drowned out with a pattern of planes/ helicopters flying by.

Israel is so polarized. Even when she's having a war. An hour away my friends are feeling the tremors of Katyusha rockets near their homes. While in Tel Aviv I am still able to dig my feet in the sand. Some say this will end quickly, some report it hasn't reached it's Zenith. This is about the time you take everything one day (hour?) at a time and stop letting the media's obsession with Israel dictate the palipatations of your heart.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pictures from Deutschland

Here are some pics from my trip a couple weeks ago. Life does not cease to amaze me when you enjoy the ambiance of the World Cup with tall glasses of Weissbier and return home into a hornets nest of a middle east crisis. I suppose only time will tell where this will lead.


Bry and I on the Spree River in front of Dads school.

This is after I had to go into the erotica store and pull my mother out of the movie: The exotic adventures of Jeff and Mark. Scandalous mother.
Dads childhood flat- Berlin.
The statue Bry and I used to climb over when we were kids. Frankfurt.
My Lola and I- she not sleeping, she just Asian!
Mamo and I in front of Dads school

Sunday, July 16, 2006

What would Ginrod Do? Whaa?


My day began with refreshing www.haaretz.com and www.ynetnews.com for by-the-minute updates on the situation up north. After the bombing of the train station in Haifa, it was futile to try calling one of the girls from the girlfriends of fallen soldiers group. I called the head of the group instead. "We have six new girls in the last two weeks, with more for sure to come.." She sadly shared with me.

With Tel Aviv going on alert all I could think with a brain sigh is what am I going to do?

It wasn't until I got off work and walked the streets of Tel Aviv did I realize it's business as usual here in TA. The cafe's are still packed and the walkers still have their leashed dogs in hand, as we wipe the sweat of the humidity from our foreheads.

My mind was quite rattled from watching too much CNN before my Shiur. These days, I am easily stressed, with all the what if's and what the hell's. Time has passed- but my heart is very well aware of the devastation living in this country can bring.

There is an elderly gentlemen that attends the Shiur. He wears a tan golfers hat, a white shirt with tan suspenders- matching tan slacks. He carries this very childlike look to him, even at 81.. And I grin at him with admiration. We stood outside after the Shiur. He asked about my Catholic background and I needed to hear a good story. "My brother and I are the only survivors of the Holocaust of my 70 member family", he told me in his old German/Polish accent. "Do you know a man named Schindler?" he asked me, "of course... ehhh you were on Schindlers list?!" I stammered. He raised his forearm to show his tattoo. "If it wasn't for Schindler, I would have never made it".

He continued to tell me of his experience in the camps, of bribing his way out of Poland after the war into Czechoslovakia, going into Germany, and eventually making his way to New York. "I then got on a Greyhound bus all the way to California and went to Australia!!" he tells me with enthusiasm. "At that time, money was on the streets!! I did property!" He continues... "Would you believe I made millions???.. I only came to Israel because my daughter wishes to live here, I wanted to be around my family".

"That's a story, do you think it's possible to make millions here??" I lamely asked. "Ha!!! Never!!! Go back to the U.S, make your money..Then enjoy yourself here!!" he answered with his eyes bright. "How did you do it Jean?" I questioned. "when you lost your entire family, where did you find the desire to continue, to move on?". Jean looked at me as if I was insane. "survival and to move forward is the only way", fair enough- I thought, I accepted his invitation to a Sabbath dinner under the condition that he would share more stories and went on my way home.

I looked at the sky one last time and lightly wondered what the probability of a missile landing at my toes would be. All the stresses of what too much Sky News, CNN, and too much of the what if's and what the hell's brought today finally simmered themselves for the evening by simply talking to Jean the Pole, who made me realize how many amazing stories there are out there, and thousands more- and if you're gonna ask me what I am gonna do: I'll tell you one thing. I'm not going to bitch about the oil prices (yes, fellow Americans, this is a direct lash at you guys). ...But I will stay at home. Right now, Israel is my home. So I guess I'll be glued to the news, and hope for a resolution. Sooner than later, of course.

xoxo

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Closure

I came home from Berlin with a new balance to my soul that I haven't felt in nearly a year in a half. I think it was the realization that although I have chosen Israel, and although the tragedies of last year alienated me from a life I was so familiar with, I am extremely lucky to have a supportive family behind me. Spending the weekend with my mother, bry, and my grandmothers made this my ephipany of the week. Dropping your fathers ashes off in his home city is never a task anyone 25 year old wants to anticipate, but when I look back on it, I have this flutter in my heart. We fulfilled my fathers last wishes, as a family. Something I realized about my family: the cultural diversity that defined the Dorings, allows me to thrive in my own choices in my adult life.

In seeing my mother for the first time in six months, I carried this aching feeling that my choice to do an Orthodox conversion will permanently alienate me from my mother. That my children will never be able to relate to my Catholic Philipino side of my family and that I am painting my fur to be a shade of the blacker than black color of sheep. I had this aching fear that my mother does not respect my last year of accomplishments and that I can no longer make her proud, since I am choosing a faith that is a different time zone from what I what accustomed to for 24 years. Last weekend, such aches have been put to rest. My mother may not understand Judaism, she may not be familiar with the significance of Israel to Jews worldwide, but she is still my mother, and she does accept my choices in Judaism, in Israel, and in my personal and career life.

I am able to sit back, take a deep breath and simply be thankful for my my family, that we can run along different paths, and still carry ourselves as family. It's something I am extremely proud of, even if I cannot find the right melody to express it.

Israel is all over the news right now. I have been receiving textes and emails about my safety. The impending fear of my Israeli friends being called into reserves pulls the strings in my heart. I am not afraid for myself, I am afraid for my friends. I have however, come to the conclusion that because I chose Israel, I chose to experience a reality that the West has only had a taste of. In all the fear that endless possibilities of a war on your soil carries, we will still go to work, and have Thursday night birthday celebrations with splashing glasses of Jameson. We will still have amazingly lovely Friday night dinners with top friends and giggle together over completely irrelevent and scandelous topics as we feast on new recipes. The stress of what could/will happen looms over us, the guilt of enjoying ourselves floats around us, but we can be at home with it.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Berlin 2006

There is nothing like Berlin, three hours before the game. I spent the day finding ways to entertain my mother and two grandmothers, allowing myself a rest on the double-decker sightseeing bus around town. Saw the last reminents of the Berlin wall I stood next to when I was six, hugging on my fathers leg, asking him if the men with big guns are gonna shoot us.

Yesterday was spent driving around the city, trying to remember where my father's childhood flat is, it took us aeons, but we finally found it.. in tact. The door was locked, so i pressed all the buttons and when someone finally answered, I spoke in my best German possible: "hallo, i'm Susi Döring, my father grew up in this complex and he's already passed.. could you please allow my family and I in so we can remember him?", the gate buzzed immediately. My hand in my grandmothers, we inspected my memories, twenty years later.

We left dad on the bank of the Spree river, and sat on the same bench my father sat with us 20 years ago, with his video camera sat at an angle. It took awhile to find this place, not far from the tiergarten and passed the victory angel, it was the sweetest goodbye. I have realized my father grew up in a truly amazing city. Berliners are some of the friendliest people to run into.

Italians have taken over the city.. far more than the French. Horns are beeping, flags floating above the cars.. women with fine threads and high heels are clicking down the streets. I think I am the only one without a ticket. damn. My mother asked for a lemonade, so I got a mojito intstead at the outside stand blaring South American music. I don't think she could taste the difference

The brazilians haven't left and I think the Germans are quite satisfied with their third place. I am however, quite disappointed that my brother left this morning.. on his way to France. I don't know how ballsy I feel going to a pub alone on such a crazy night.

I'll wake up tomorrow at the break of dawn to avoid the traffic and take the ladies back to Frankfurt. My trip: short and sweet.


xoxo

Friday, July 07, 2006

Frankfurt

So there is a fan mile on the Main river. 100,000 people congregate to watch the games on 12 ft by 12ft screens floating in the middle of the river. The Germans love their national sport. I saw a man in pink silken womens underwear marching around Frankfurt with a group of his friends following him in Metallica shirts yelling "we are not eggplants!!!"

R-iii-ii-ight.


The Navaho indians are still touring around europe breathing through their wooden tubes making that trippy, hippy music. (last time I saw them was in Copenhagen 2001)

German women can reach astronomical heights. Noo matter how much glitter they wear on their cheeks, those especially big women eerily remind me of the transvestites I would see in Bangkok, hunting foreign men with money in their wallets.

The beer is still in nice, big glasses.

Every item on the menu seems to be pork. But I am happy for the phillipino food i can enjoy from the family. In preparation for our trip to Berlin tomorrow, I went to the butcher and asked in my Ginrod German " haben Sie etwas anderers aus Schwein??" (have you ANYTHING other than pork!??" the women laughed at me and presented me the only meat offered that had no trace of pork in it. Turkey... i'm not mad at it.

25 year old friendships we're remembered and washed down with cappucino's. My German is being refreshed at turbo level and digested with rich cakes in my belly. Seeing my mother after 6 months, heavenly.

Hoping that the millions of fans in Germany for the Weltmeisterschaft in Berlin don't decide to take the autobahn with me. Although I know deep down inside that no traffic will ever compare to the traffic of Israel.

One great thing about being gone from "home" is the realization that you miss "home". More importantly: nothing is as great as your home. Deutschland is definately a big part of me, i've spent most of my foreign life here. But I really love my home, and homemade apple wine.

xoxoxo

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Siggy

A week before my father died I went to the the Director's office of the Peace Corps in Bangkok. 41 C weather was influencing Bangkok's pollution and the heat radiated off the skyscrapers as I took the back alley way to the PC Headquarters, which was a classic victorian style house hidden behind a 8 foot cement wall on Embassy row.

"I have the feeling I need to go home", I told my Director, a tall lanky man whose helicopter was shot down during the secret war in Laos in the 60s, a man who introduced watermelons to Thailand when he did his service 30 years ago. "Is your Dad sick?" he logically questions. "No, I replied" as tears began streaming down my face. "Is he in the hospital?. is he becoming sick?" he re-questioned me. "My dad has never been sick, he's never been in the hospital" I explained, "But I have this nagging feeling that I need to go home, and I need to do it as soon as possible". "Susi, I'm sorry to say, we can't just send you home based on a feeling" he explained "If you have this feeling, maybe you should call your father and find out if he's ok, if he's not- we can only then make arrangements for an emergency leave."

I walked out of headquarters feeling a bit dramatic. I remember thinking perhaps I have just lost my mind, maybe homesickness has consumed me and negative thoughts are breeding themselves in my noggin.

I spent the following weekend in Chiang Mai with a small group of close friends. We caught up on filling our belly's with the western food from cafe's that American men ran and played pool with mis-measured tables. My heart was still heavy and when my father called, assuring me he was fine and I was overreacting, I just nodded into the telephone.

Four days later my brother called me to say dad was in the hospital. Three hours later my father passed. 6 hours later I was on a plane back to Bangkok from my home in Chiang Rai and 12 hours later I missed my flight home. 20 hours later I was finally en route to Tulsa to my mother and brothers, whom I hadn't seen in 15 months.

My dad had always made his wishes clear about his death. "Cremate me, take me back to Berlin, buy a bottle of some good scotch, sit under a majestic tree and remember me" he would explain to me in his old German/American accent. "If you want me to put you in a place where I remember you..." I joked "Wouldn't a shoebox on top of the toilet suffice? Then I would remember you everyday". A daughter never wants the idea to linger for too long that the rock in her life wouldn't be around one day.

One thing our father passed onto us is the Doring Sentimentality.

Memories of Dad swirl around me as I get on the bus to work, as I walk to pick up my laundry:

Him teaching me to hang upside down on the monkey bars (he did the rings when he was my age). My first tennis racket at age 6, our first A-frame play house, Dad yodeling into the Alps, my permanent seat on his shoulders of his 6"2 frame. Dad and Bryan spending Saturday nights playing chess, him watching the U.S news and calling the reporters Jackass's. Dads excitement in making his spaghetti bolognese, make us bless the food with a german prayer, him doing his ape impression afterwards as our teenage selves rolled our eyes. Him disagreeing with my choice to be a boxer (women shouldn't learn to fight) but then letting me dance around him, shadow sparring him in our living room.

When we moved into our home in Tulsa, Dad bribed Bry and I: "A candy bar for every treehole dug!!" he exclaimed. As we eagerly began our weeks long task. In 1987, we dug at least 18 holes. In 2006, our house in Tulsa is flowing with foliage. I reminisce our debates, of my choice to work in a 3rd world country and his desire for me to find a "real" job..us debating on topics from Neitzsche to the Poles, how much firewood to store, and why I should shop at Sears instead of the GAP.

These memories are permanently floating around me. I do miss my dad this week, I ache for the live role he had in my life- I secretly wish someone else was missing their dad and not me- that he wasn't gone and I could take him for granted.

As the World Cup comes to a grand finale in Berlin this weekend and as the the remaining Doring family packs their bags to meet in Berlin, only the finest scotch will be ordered by Bry and I as we sit under some majestic tree and pretend the celebration is all for him.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Summer is taking me for prisoner.

Summer on full throttle here in Tel Aviv. Thousands of umbrellas are lining the beaches creating little shade of those who seek it. New bars line the boardwalk with music dancing around them. Thursday nights have composed of mingling with spirits in hand, leaning against the banisters of bars that line the Mediterranean, while the midnight waves crash and sprinkle their salty water on your toes. The sun has given birth to new freckle colonies on my body and found her way into my belly button. Hello summer.


Hello Jellyfish.

I have learned a few new things this week: you can break a horse in a day by bringing it into water and sitting on it and then slowly riding it out of water. It takes two weeks to break a camel. You must tie it's hind legs and starve it for two weeks, hardheaded creatures they are. Those wildebeest of the desert. A frog swallows by rolling it's eyes back and some sort of muscle encourages the swallowing process. I have also discovered that my zucchini bisque soup tastes very similar to my French Asparagus soup. My most disappointing revelation: Tel Aviv has a Jellyfish season.

We Olim Tel Avians have been spoiling ourselves in the last 7 weeks in the cool, fresh water of the Mediterranean. Apparently, the Jellyfish have discovered it too and have decided to terrorize our wading space. The small ones are easily spotted- you can see their brownness for afar. The large, plastic bag size Jelly Fish tend to play with the focus of your eyes. All I wanted to do Friday morning was dive into the water and paddle around, but the size of such jellyfish caused me and the crew to run out of the water like schoolage children.

Knowing my luck, a large wave would crawl onto me as I am joyously frolicking in the salty water. As my mouth is laughing itself away, one of those plastic bag jellyfish would have found its way onto my face and then I would be begging from searing pain for one of my friends to pee on me. (is this becoming a teamed topic this week??). I chose to cool myself off with the shower and sit in the shade instead.

The political situation in Israel at the moment depresses me. My heart will forever ache in a way it never did before when I hear of soldiers that fall. It only reminds me of the terror my soul went through last year and I can only know that if those soldiers had a girlfriend. I will most likely meet her and console her through her pain. Everyday I am praying that the captive soldier will come home and take his mother out of her pain she is experiencing right now waiting for him at home.

This is Israel. Where every goal of the World Cup is echoed throughout the streets in the warm night. Where Shabbat dinners are long and warm, where the beach waits for you after a long night of laughing and dancing and "walks to the bathroom". This is Israel... where Super dorky Christians with white socks and burnt knees march around singing some song in Hebrew about how they love Israel and believe in us too. Where Hacidic Jews roller blade on the main streets in their black attire skating with a large flag of their organization waving behind them. This is Israel where I have began to go to popular clubs early so I don't have to wait outside too long because of the situation and my fear of an attack occuring nearby. Israel is that place where Uma Thurman comes to attend a wedding and settlers are being kidnapped and murdered. What a polarized place it is. We have both worlds here, it fascinates me every single day that I am fortunate enough to experience.

xo