Tuesday, October 31, 2006

random thoughts of a Ginrod


Do you all know what Foetus in Foetu is? It's a rare condition which deals with the embryonic development of twins. Except, one of the embryo's grows inside of the other one. So -normal twin grows and grows and then one day, feels some movement in his abdomen and walla- there is his long lost twin, living as a parasite inside his abdomen. Some of these lesser twins have been found to have hair, teeth.. Half a head.

Shivers down my spine I tell you.

Learn something new? Learn Foetus in Foetu! As my every-Monday- taxi driver drove me to Bnei Brak for my every-Monday super orthodox lesson, I thought deeply about this rare condition. I wondered where you place G-d in these physiological disasters. The Torah is the guide to life. Where in the Torah tells you how to perceive such disorders? Anyone?

My lesson last night composed of me playing my weekly "what if" game. "so... " I began, "candle is lighted on Shabbat. Candle falls over, starts rapidly growing fire. Do you put it out?" " No, I make sure my family is safe and put water AROUND the area and go outside." answers my tutor. "you can't be serious" i answer, "You would risk your home, the apartment building, the block!! ...Instead if extinguishing the flame??". "Can't break Shabbat." she answers.

riight. Is it wrong for me to admit I don't believe her? Nor would I do the same thing.

So- I laid my kopf to bed last night, and tried my best to remember myself at 6 years old. It's quite simple to do, given the fact that my father walked around with a video camera glued to his right shoulder most of my childhood. I remember my Big brown eyes with flyaway hairs bursting out from my French braid. Corduroy pants, my hands in my pockets..big goofy smile.. lightly freckled. Then I thought of myself now, and if I could reach into the past and whisper in Susi Elaine's ear. Tell her some things that I feel, so maybe it makes it better in the future. She would never believe me, and even if she started to listen, her brother would run and grab her hand, tell her not to talk to strangers, and they would skip home, for dinner. And the Susi of the future , of the now, would go on her way, wishing she had someone whisper her a little truth about all of this when she was a kid, maybe she would be a bit stronger- a little bit more prepared.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Romanian arguments



There is no fall in Tel Aviv. There is no true winter. There IS a cold, wet season, and it has just started.

When the leaves fell in Tulsa and the rain came, the smell of the season would dance around your nostrils. The air would become more crisp and feel a tad cleaner. The rain came to Tel Aviv- all weekend long- the smell of watered down feces and wet cat danced through the streets, a bit ghoulish and bothersome during wet nights and alleyways with no lights. The streets, however, ARE cleaner and so are the cars and those fruity, flowers that dropped from the trees and made you slip on the concrete are also washed away. Tel Aviv doesn't have proper drainage, so you're feet are always wet and your ceilings soak through.

Our ceiling soaked through that is. The dead woman does not want to be forgotten. Whereas at one time I felt a bit saddened about the concept of a lonely soul with no one to miss her, my sadness has turned to disgust at the fact that the yellowish water dripping from the ceiling was not from polluted rain. It was from a polluted individual who left hoards of rubbish on her terrace. Her 20+ cats were leaving their droppings outside and when the rain came, the rubbish held the rain water on the roof-with no where to go, except to mix with the cat poo left behind, and soak into my roomates bedroom. Nasty Nasty woman.

Shabbat was relaxing, the rain was falling so hard, there was no where to go other than to bed. It was one of my first Shabbats I've spent at home without guests. I am learning to be able to keep it by myself. Which is quite lonely, and the neverending rain didn't help, but I emerged well rested with copious amounts of energy and thoughts of social darwinism (from the book I was swimming in).

More often than once, I found myself sitting on the kitchen counter, with the window open analyzing the melodies of fighting I heard next door. A romanian couple reside across the hall from us and they speak to one another in screaming and yelling. At first, I was convinced that the husband, who is a diplomat, was a wife beater. After many sessions on the sink on Saturday, I have changed my views. His wife is a madwoman.

Just as I hit a pleasant meditative state during my second nap that day, her erratic screams hit the record high decibals. I was sure she was being beaten and ran to sit on the sink.

In my head, I was playing out the scenario: The diplomat had a humble wife and two young children back in Romania, although his wife was humble and beautiful- she wasn't enough to quench his insatiable appetite of political scandal and lovemaking. After all, she was raising her two children with one on the way and her diplomat husband was always on top secret missions. One of his last missions he was paired up with a beautiful Zoologist, they were trying to trace a group of poachers in Africa who were selling the local zoo sick animals and causing random plagues in small, rural towns in northern Romania. That is where their affair first begun- because his loneliness for his humble and beautiful wife who was rearing their young children.

With time, he became addicted to the zoologists seductive ways, for she was also a very beautiful and fiercely intelligent women. His hunger for her milky skin drove him to want her day and night/ night and day.But even with his thirst for her, he would not leave his wife, for he loved her in a way that was beyond the flesh- his very own soul grew with hers. He knew he was a wrong man, but he is only human, no?

So evil, intelligent, seductive, milky-skinned Zoologist informs humble, beautiful wife that she is the one porking her soulmate and beautiful wife is soulfully defeated. She locks Diplomat husband out of the house, out of the bank account, out of her and the kids lives. Diplomat is a torn and beaten man and knows what he has done will never be forgiven. So he stays with seductive zoologist and takes the next case which is to spy on the AM/PM grocery stores in the center of Tel Aviv (the romanian officials believe the Russian mafia is over pricing the kosher cheese and sending the funds to an arms group in russia who, in turn AND unbeknownst to them, sends the profits to Iran.)

And that brings it back to the reason why I am listening to their arguments: zoologist seductress has no work visa and spends her days walking their bulldog. She hates him and their life together. "this is no way to treat me! our lovemaking skills are nothing anymore!!" she yells at him. "You have become a shadow on the wall@##$". Then she goes on screaming like a banshee about how she deserves more and he's scum and he doesn't say anything anymore and just lets her scream and slap him because yes, he is indeed scum. and the only woman that ever loved him, that would ever give him everything he ever wanted in payments of love and warm kisses has locked him out of her life.

And they do this about 3x over Shabbat. I almost had the nerve to knock on the door and tell them they are upsetting my Shabbat experience. I don't recall my parents ever yelling at one another. At the kids, hell yeah- but at each other? never. if you can't communicate, shouldn't you learn to? Some of us are taking naps in the cold weather alone and these people can't appreciate they have one another for even a few hours. Spoiled monkeys....

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

one and a half years.

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Today marks the one and a half year anniversary of the loss of Tsiki. I went through my old laptop and found the folders of short videos tsiki would entertain himself with while he was traveling through S.E Asia. It's funny what time can do, on one hand- it's passes so slowly and painfully, and on the other...well, has it been that long? i've lived so much in the last year, but often still feel that hole that has been ripped into me is still gaping and hoping. I realized a lot this year, and understand things on such a different level than I had before- that understanding alienates me and magnifies my loneliness. That understanding defines who I am these days. If we could only take back all the wrongs we ever did and make them poetic rights, for a chance to gain that innocence back, I would focus all my little prayers to it.

Tsiki is the one in front. This was one of my favorite videos of him, he hated that I loved it. "Don't show it to your Peace Corps friends, it's a bit embarassing" he's say with a grin. I showed it to aLL my friends.

I've stopped missing him in the way I did before: As a lover, as the man I wanted to spent my life with. Nowadays, I simply miss his light- his friendship, his loss was a huge blow to his family. I want their happiness back.

I took the day off to breath a little bit, for a little self reflection to get away from the memories of my dreaming last night. I think i'll jump on a bus and rest my thoughts in Jerusalem.

xx

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Sheital and her Tichel


I was in Bnei Brak with my tutor last night. After learning the detailed laws of Kashrut in terms of mixing, kneading, and thick and thin mixtures on Shabbat. I brought up the confusion I had in terms of a woman in my Shiur (torah study group), wearing a Sheital in the form of a wig and a hat the covered past her hairline.

For my non-Jewish friends back home, a Sheital is a head covering that complies with Tzeniut, laws concerned with modesty, in both dress and behavior. There are different levels of this practice, from wearing a small headband in acknowledgement, to showing a small amount of hair, to covering all your follicles with a scarve, to wearing a wig. The more modern woman will show their elbows and their knees, dressing more business casual vs the halter top of their Secular counterparts and if theywear a Tichel, it still shows some of their hair, or they only wear it to Synagogue.

In the Haredi community, all married women cover their hair whenever non-family members are present. Some will cover their hair at all times, even when alone, even when sleeping at night. I'm studying with the more Haredi, orthodox woman although I know I fit in the more modern orthodox mentality at the moment.

My tutor emphasized the importance when I am married of wearing a head covering. I brought up the fact that the married people I have spent time with, cover their hair when they leave their house, but not %150. that there is always some natural hair showing. She looked at me and expressed her opinion that "it's not appropriate". Me and my tutor get along quite well, and she's taught me a lot- we are also both accepting of one anothers view points, but I always like to disprove her theories of what is appropriate or not.

The whole concept of the sheital annoys me. It doesn't make any sense. Not in the sense of the tradition, but in aspect that IF you are wearing a Sheital as a form a modesty, to hide your beauty only for your husband. The whole wig concept goes out the window.

From our discussion these are the points I brought up, in a fashion that she really couldn't argue with:


  • A woman does not wear a hesslich wig. they are often beautiful and expensive. 2 points for vanity.
  • A womans hair underneath her wig is often more unhealthy than the wig itself due to age and the fact that the hair has been covered since the beginning of marriage at age 15. the luster is gone- it has gone grey etc.=1 point for vanity.
  • Going overboard with the laws of Tzeniut is wearing a wig and a massive headcovering. and in my logic, they X one another out. The hat that covers your hairline follows the laws of modesty, but when you wear the wig along with it. it brings back your vanity and therefore: plus 1 for the ugly hat and minus 1 for creating the look of natural hair underneath your ugly hat.
  • your wig emulates the look of natural hair. If you have great hair underneath, and have a great wig on top it cancels the intention of modesty out. If I wear a thong and another thong on top to cover up my original thong. it's still a thong. no points earned on this one.
  • If you shave your head for modesty, then you aren't as attractive to your husband. so you ugly both ways. no points earned. except for the women who look amazing with no hair and real silly with a scarf- but I have yet to encounter that breed. i'll keep my eye out.

Conclusion: The only time you'll see me in a wig is when I wear one with my Xmen halloween Storm costume. I've had a shaved head- it just makes me look different. So those two possibilities don't exist in my book. Sheitals are out for the Ginrod. Tichel's are in.

Love to hear other people's opinions on the topic....

Monday, October 23, 2006

Ze Barn and realization

When I was a kid, there was this huge maple tree in our oversized backyard. Dad had a shed built to hold all the yard tools, the lawmower and old birdcages from our feathery family members that passed away. He called this shed "Ze Barn". It was a mini-replica of those oversized hay barns one would see when you drove further out into the country.

Every few years, we'd paint ze barn, waterproof ze barn, sweep ze barn. When I got older, I stole leftover carpet samples from the home decor store nearby and carpeted ze barn. I moved the yard tools into the garage and created a lightly padded bed on the wood that served as a large shelf in ze barn. I hung up pictures from calenders with large nails found in the toolbox. I hung up the bird cages and pretended this barn was a sun room. In the fall, me and my best friend would spend hours there, pretending it was our studio. We'd nap in the cool fall weather and vacuum our carpet samples with tender, loving care.

Dad attached a large, slanted, two room, wooden rabbit cage to the side of ze barn. Housing two rabbits we imported in from a friends farm in Kentucky. I would spend the following year gazing sweetly at the rabbit couple, getting scratched by the rabbits, attacked, bitten, chased and chase by the rabbits. I would learn that no matter how much hay you place in their boxes, the bunnies will still freeze like blocks of rabbit ice in the below zero winter. and that one day you can have two and the next month 20 and ten years later, you will see wild rabbits running through your neighborhood and know that they are the descendants of the couple from Kentucky, who have won their freedom and escaped your grasp that one fall day and now have become pests in South Country Estates.

I climbed the large, maple tree one Sat morn and nailed a 2x4 in between two branches and would sit on it, with my back against the trunk, reading the lates R.L Stine or Christopher Pike book. Spooking myself into nightmares the following evening. One day, that 2x4 broke and I fell, feet first, through the branches and landed, scratched up and terribly spooked- on the rabbit cage.

The weather in Tel Aviv reminds me of those fall to winter days at home. Then I remember- I'm in Israel. I also remember my Hebrew is still terrible and remind myself that I probably am better at Yiddish than actual Hebrew and wonder if -because I can understand a lot of Yiddish- if I should mention it on my resume.

This week i've realized some things. I realized that the review of the Torah each year will have a different meaning to me, each year and there are several ways to understand one's view. I realized that it does give me slight heartache when my co-workers don't change the water in their goldfish bowl. I realized I have hormones and that's the most challenging part of being single because those multiple releases are gone, I realized I have no love or compassion for the stalker that has been harassing me and I might, in turn, begin make him feel uncomfortable with clever antics. I realized you can't live on soup alone for dinner.

I also realized that I think the nicest thing right now that could happen would be to come home from a long day of work and studying and have a nice meal waiting for me, with my laundry done and put away. and a back rub- ahh yes, that would be divine.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Living Life on Auto Pilot



I almost didn't go to my Shiur last night. Since the weather has been changing as well as my body, my legs have been aching. I woke up from my afterwork nap to my alarm crashing against the table, a weight of 30 lbs on my shoulders. My contacts, dry from the stressful dragons nap I just had, were stuck to my eyeballs as I thoughtlessly flicked on the TV to catch 15 minutes of Dr. Plastic/ Dr. 90210 on the television.

I rarely ever watch TV. Before I discovered Dr. Plastic, I don't think I watched more than 2 hours of television a week. Because of Dr. Plastic, I watch 5. It's a disgusting revelation of the vanity of wealthy and dissatisfied humans who go in for package deals of liposuction, tummy tucks, and breast augmentations. Ugly people try to get prettier to help their "modeling career". Skinny women want to be even skinnier and have disproportionate saline sacks inserted into their chest for "self esteem". Bumps on noses are shaved down, cheeks are stuffed with Ass fat for a more "youthful roundness".

Every time I watch the show. I feel a little bit better about myself. A bit more real?

Every time I watch the show. My own breasts seem to shrink a little more.

Nevertheless, after some carrot soup. I briskly walked to my Shiur to find some spiritual inspiration in this plastic world.

Rabbi Levine was discussing the hangover of the Hagi'im. How there is this natural sense of emptiness that floats into our hearts after such an intense time of reflection, observation, and celebration. I wanted to tell him of all my nightmares ever since Yom Kippur. HowI felt all my sadnesses and happinesses turned into a concrete block in the last two years and with all my ruminating during the Hagi'im they were broken up and floating around my innards with no where to go. How sometimes I think my thoughts are pounding against my cranium but my ears won't let them out.

Rabbi Levine told us of a mashal to explain the essence of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur: It's as if you had a disease. There are the internal symptons, eating your body from the inside, and the outer symptons- the rashes, the bumps, the boils! After all the ruminating and self-reflection, and cleansing of the green stuff that clouds your aura, your disease is gone, but the rash still remains. To rid yourself of the rash is to give your soul a little TLC in the form of the T-o-r-a-h for the next year and follow the rules a little better for effective spiritual performance.

We went on to discuss faith and I brought up the statement that I often assume peoples faith are confused with their naivety. And how I find it hard to balance the dullness of the everyday world with the floating-in-the-clouds feeling of the religious world. Rabbi Levine explained how the effort should be made to elevate the physical world to a level that can bring a connection to the spiritual world. "Only in the physical world is reality hidden." he began, "taking the physical and making it spiritual is the only way to bring G-d into this world."

In the world of Dr. Plastics and speed dating, of shocking news and Whip-its. The goal really is to absorb life. I, we- tend to be guilty of experiencing things and not letting it imprint our souls, Of living our Sundays to Thursdays without absorbing, if we took a moment- to let it touch us, well- I guess we'd still enjoy beer and pizza, but there would be a hint of beauty in the way the oil slides off the slice and accidently into our beer.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Rest

Ever since Rosh Hashana, my mind has been swimming every night with dreams. I'm often my own worst enemy when it comes to my thought process, caught in between worlds of sentimentality, remembering, anticipating, assuming, analyzing.

I spent Shabbat in Jerusalem, it was quite tiring, emotionally and physically- but I had a transparent string that kept my chin up and my heart cool- the cooler change in weather made me reflect about this time last year, about how grateful I am that time passes and you live for other things. I took a long walk before Shabbat finished, I thought about things a lot. I pretended I lived in those beautiful cottage like homes in Baka. It's so romantic- it's easy to get lost in day dreaming.

It's heartwarming to know that I'm still making it in Israel and my baskets are in many ways a lot more fuller. It was only last year, that I was trying to figure myself out, numbingly going through the motions of Sukkhot, with my transparent string- a real life marionette- imitating movements that help me blend in with the world.

My dreaming has taken on a theme. Last night, I had the third nightmare of the IDF. I can't remember when these types of dreams started- but they are not fun to have. When you're younger and have nightmares, because of one's naivety, they are not so bad. When you experience life, and the worse things you could possibly think of happen in real life, your nightmares become brutal. When two crushing things happen in your life and all the emotions from both things occur in one dream, it's almost debilitating.

In these series of dreams, I'm an officer, i'm a soldier, and this time- I was on milluiem (reserves) as a paratrooper. There was a commander who was a bad seed, in my dream- he's blond hair and blue eyed and massive. In this dream he is trying to recruit me to do something terrible and I am avoiding him. In order to coerce me, he has copies made of all the letters Tsiki wrote to me and is telling me "if his memory means anything to you, you'll do this..". I try to punch him, I do my combination punch that I practiced so many years in boxing, it's a strong combo, but doesn't phase him. I try punching him in the stomach and a hand with one finger comes out from his stomach and stops my fist I run from him and a war is about to begin. Tanks are rolling in, they are paving the land to make way. Scene changes and i'm in a car where people are rocking the car and yelling, banging on the windows, there is an old man and I tell him to keep calm, fearing a heart attack. I'm out of a car and running into a moving train- trying to find a more peaceful area. Tsiki's body is in front of me- wrapped in linen, a woman is crying and trying to undo the linen. I'm telling her to stop- to leave it be, I jump off the train and am sitting at a table. I find all these letters my parents wrote to me before my dad died but never received.

I wake up, crushed, confused- when I was younger, I was obsessed with dreams, finding the meaning, lucid dreaming- being able to control your own subconscious. When I have dreams like this- I don't want to analyze them, I just want them to go away and I want to regain a sense of peace.

The rain started today. I come to work- soaked. Note to self: buy an umbrella.
Another season has begun in the country that has become my sibling. Whom I love to hate and hate to love.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Phone call



I am trying to create my own philosophy at the moment. Trying to create a beautiful balance between the everyday trials and what brought me here. The heat is drifting away in Tel Aviv, and due to apartment rules, i found myself drinking wine and smoking cigarrettes on the park bench outside, talking on the phone to best friends in Seattle, in Tel Aviv, and having conversations with fellow Pinays escorting their aging bosses on canes. At my age, I know who I am. I know who I can be. I can deal with myself just fine ( i just can't control how those around react to me). And as I took an early night in- and as my roommate is beginning his night out, I get a phone call with an Israeli accent.

"hi 'susi, my name is Rachael, I got your number from the girlfriend group."

"ok,"I say...what's up?".

"i just lost my fiance' in the last war, it's been a couple months. Ever since there's been a hammer over my heart. They told me it happened to you, the same unit, a commander. They said you were inspired enough by his death that you moved here, and you are converting..they say you did all this and you're ok. i'm calliing you because I don't think I will be."

...... .......................................

i don't know what to say.

......

"are you ok?" she asks..

"of course", i automatically answer.

"i take that back", i tell her- "I'm still trying, I am SO much better than before, almost OK. I understand things SO much bettter.. about life, and the cycle of it, and how to breath in death and breath out life, but i am still trying. I am happy, but I get more sad so much easier. I get jealous because of the things I don't have. But I wake up every single day and remember that a lot of people my age never got to breath in life the way I did. and therefore, shit.. i dunno..it's suppose to be worth it."

and then, there is this silence. and she challenges me:" but i loved him"... she says.

me? i'm a little bit bigger now, and a little bit stronger, and a lot more weak and a lot more romantic. and all I can say to this girl is: "i'm sorry", i then I refuse to challenge her back, because we all are self righteous and I believed it in the most beautiful way as well, and I don't want to take it away from her.

I tell her how we grow, and we ache, and we're lucky to be here, in this place Eretz Y'srael- because everyone understands-but we both know many don't. And I tell her with a smile that as much as we may hate ourselves for being "that girl" .we had no choice, and because of that- since we still have innocence. and we DO love again, and that is something I know for sure..and anything is possible and look at me: i'm working and juggling and dancing and jumping, and in that i'm not sure it'll be ok, but it should be."

And I know when we hang up, she doesn't believe me. and she's so crushed and small right now. but i told her I would call her in three months. Like I did the other girls. and when I DO call them, they are always better. and they move on.

Who do I look like the most!?(yawn)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Disney


Have I pounded into this blog how the polarization of Israel astounds me? I don't know any person in this country that doesn't walk around with two opinions. I took my fair share of sociology, psychology, philospohy, gender studies, religious theory, business communications, political communications, feminine literature, anthropology, organizational communication, AND zoology classes to always assume I can figure the general behavior of humans out.

Ani lo' Matsli'cha.

I've learned the two step, the 7 step, the e-tick e-tick(Philipino), western swing, lindi hop, Likay (Thai), Fawn dancing, tap dancing, ballet, cheerleading dances, muay thai/western boxing (there's there is a bit of dance in that art) and I still can't move in step.

My head has been pounding with conversation from cafe' break with co-workers. I guess my conclusion is one of those pro-Israel views. Ain't no place like Israel. Where the people walk around with scars as their beauty marks.

My co-worker is madly in love with an absolutely lovely Irish girl. His whole face lights up with glee and fits of passion when he announces to me his decision to take the plunge and "make it work". "I lived in Spain for three years Susi!! For us to be in love there, no problem. For us to be in love here. Big one...she's moving here in two months. What should I do? How do I do it right?" he asks us. Me, the orthodox convertee and my co-worker, the conservative convert. Same religion.. two opposing views. If I began on that explanation. It would be 456 pages long.

Here in Israel, your innocent relationship becomes, religious-cultural-political-stressful-wildly romantic- ironic. You love, You convert, You get a Visa,you..wonder what the hell you're doing.

You're too religious for him, he's not religious enough for you. He's not religious but needs you to convert because his kids "have to be Jewish". She eats pork wrapped in chedder cheese on Tuesdays, but fasts on Yom Kippur. You keep shabbat but you watch TV? You don't touch men, but sleep with your boyfriend, you keep shabbat but you're not jewish. You eat non-kosher food but do Tephillim every morning. You do everything right? You do everything wrong? You challenge one another and play the bad Jew vs. Good Jew game.You want world peace, but you're mad Israel didn't take care of Hezbollah. You trust the IDF but think the leaders are dolts. You work for AOL but use MSN. Then you cover your ears and sing Aladdin songs.

You get a bit more philisophical, but you stopped using other writers qoutes.

The ingredients to your destiny are placed right in front of you, from all the little and big things we call experiences since we were little tigers. It's up to you to utilize what is right there to reach the highest level of your destiny. and in a polarized country, while you are pontificating your destiny, you are also thinking how you shouldn't eat meat late into the evening because it clogs you up throughout your eternal destiny.

I can show you the world.....

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Memorial part IV

One's sadness from losing a loved one is never too far away. It's easily accessible, all it takes is a moment to sit yourself on a bench in front of his grave before Yom Kippur, all it takes is the fourth memorial to give you the shakey hands and eyes that seem stuck to the ground, with a blank stare.

I feel as if i've been punched in the stomach.

I guess this is the week for memorials, I am trying to figure it out completely, but the Armored Corps memorial was this evening. Thousands of people watching large screens as hundreds of names scrolled themselves towards the sky. I practiced reading Hebrew. The soldiers marched into the ampitheater to eerie tunes played on a flute. They marched in holding massive candles. Men recited prayers into the microphone, black and white clips of war fell across the screen as choruses sang more unfamiliar tunes to my ears. The Israeli flags waving in the air.

There were a couple case workers from the IDF assigned to the family after Tsiki fell. Two women, who accompanied me to Hebron in a bullet proof vest, who came to the house and warmly placed their hands on my cheek while I was exhausted from life, who've kept up with the family and checked in on them- One of them came and sat next to me for a short period. "You know her father was killed by terrorists when she was 6" whispers Tsiki's mother into my ear. " In Munich." she finishes. "Whaa? her dad was one of the athletes killed??!" "she nods". I look over at her in a completely different light from that moment on...

A young man finds me as I am walking around. "At Havara shel Tsiki nakhon!!?"(you are the girlfriend of Tsiki right?) he inquires. I nod, he goes on to introduce himself. The new commander of the unit and on and on... I guess when a young life stops. The labels continue, you're never not the girlfriend of the fallen soldier. What an awkward situation would that be if Bonez and I didn't have our breakup. I almost laugh at the thought. I'm curious to how others answer these questions.

With this whole self evaluation, Yom Kippur, sin repenting thing- I've thought a lot about how I feel now, vs last year- and I feel better, I can almost say I feel fine, alright, goodness goo, life is- normal? I often scan my brain, trying to envision who or what I would have become had this not occured so early in my adult life. I am eager to see a glimpse, to know if I am doing the right thing around these parts. I feel I am in the right place. So why does it continue to pain my heart? Why did I wake up the day of the ceremony with a sense of dread because I know exactly how my heart and mind would feel by the time I got home and so why did I go? And since I went, and my interview flashed on the screen in front of thousands, does that mean I am defined by this? Would people have cared about me more had this not occured? Would people have cared about me less? What's done is done, it cannot ever be reversed. I went to bed early enough and sleep well. I felt quite old last night.

So in the name of grief. A feeling many of my peers are unfamiliar with at our age, but as my good friend Elad put it: "basically everyone is playing catch up to what we already experienced". I'd like to include an excerpt from Joan Didions book: a year of magical thinking. I've qouted her before, but no one speaks the truth as she does...xxx

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to use could die, but we do not look beyond the few days of weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nautre of the even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool. customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be ‘healing.’ A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the fungeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to ‘get through it,’ rise to the occasion, exhibit the ‘strength’ that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that his will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be the anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of memoments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.”

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Flying and My first animal sacrifice


Officially, This was my second Yom Kippur. It was my first with the attempt to follow all the rules strictly. Since Friday, I spent all my extra Shabbat time reading up on the Holiday, I'm sure I retained a lot of information, but due to the content of the books I was reading, I tended to fall asleep.. A lot.

Before Yom Kippur drifted into Israel, I made a quick stop in Jerusalem to buy yet another book for the holiday, along with thoughts to go to the Kotel (wailing wall). It's not hard for the Ginrod to always attempt to climb that spiritual ladder and despite the opinions of many, I do find some solace in talking to a wall of limestone. P Bonez and I also had some item exchanging to do in the name of our breakup.

In the spirit of our apparently laid back breakup, we decided to run my Jewish errands together and found ourselves at the shuk (market) as the last people squeezing themselves in the metal door with the smell of fowl and feces. Kapparah in Hebrew is " means of atonement", a vicarious animal sacrifice on the day previous to Yom Kippur.

The chicken man hurriedly handed P Bonez his cock by the legs and my hen by her wings. Bonez nervously recited Psalm 107:17-20 and Job 33: 23-24 as we failingly attempted to swing our birds over our heads. "Can you please read faster??" I urged. "Sooz, I'm not used to reading this text in Hebrew!!" he whispered back. We finish the prayers with: This be my substitute, my vicarious offering, my atonement. This cock (or hen) shall meet death, but I shall find a long and pleasant life of peace! As our birds began to calm down, we walked over to the slaughterer and to hand him our birds. "Siamti L'ayom (I'm finished for the day)" says the butcher in his dirty whites. "uh, what are we supposed to do with our chickens then!?! They have our sins in them!!" we exclaim!! Actually, P Bonez says that and I just stand their dumbfoundly, and my hen is pretty dumbfounded as well.

I must inject that although this practice became popular with the Haredi Jews in Eastern Europe, it is not condoned by all of the Jewish Community. As for me, it was simply an interesting experience. It can be argued either way. I've learned that everything is what you take from it, meaning doesn't come naturally to our day to day lives. It is our job to inject romance into the world. Romance doesn't happen until we put our fingertips on it and draw it close to us. Romance seems too far away from my fingertips right now.

Never in my life have I dedicated so much effort into grasping and ingesting a religious holiday. I read so much, the thoughts in my noggin' were swimming to make sense of who I've become in the last year... I've never spent so much time in a religious building, let alone a Synagogue before, by my own free will. I came to many conclusions with all my thinking. My dreams were insane, so much of them- as if my subconscious let loose and flooded the rest of my brain with all my fears and worries and hopes and anything else it could place in them. My last dream after Yom Kippur was of me flying. I was swimming through the air and floating above the ground without touching it. I haven't had a flying dream since before the deaths. I usually am invigorated after such a dream, but I don't know what they mean anymore.

I look forward to this next year overflowing with meaning. I'm just curious where I'll find it.