Thursday, July 31, 2008

a two shekel fool.

Wedding preparations are draining my already xsmall pockets. I don't have much to offer myself when it comes to indulgences except what I findby foraging deep into the forgotten darkness of my cupboards. You can understand the frustration when the grassman has ceased to knock on our door (he's been asked not to come back), but instead is in the park outside of my balcony yelling "Miss! Miss! Let me cut your grass!"
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Me: I have no money right now. Only two Shekels!
Him: But I must feed my children.
Me: I'm sorry I really only have two Shekels.
Him: Can I have it?
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I then throw him my last two shekels. He picks up the shiny coin.
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Him: Miss Miss!! please let me cut your grass, I need to feed my children.
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Me: You TOOK MY LAST TWO SHEKELS!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Who's the wealthier man now? He is and he still yells at me across the grass to remind me so.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jtown Run around.

A few days ago, I was on top of the roof of King David's tomb in the old city. From this viewpoint, one sees almost all of Jerusalem: the wailing wall, the dome of the rock- on a clear day, one could even see the dead sea in the foggy distance.
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There is a wall that snakes around the Palestine terriritories from Jerusalem onwards. Some call it the apartheid wall and some say it is the only solution to minimize the threat of terror in Israel. The last time I saw a wall like that, I was 6 years old in West Berlin. My father let me walk up on the stairs to stare into East Berlin. My 6 year old fear of being shot was apparent as my dad held me in his arms. All I could ask is why would they have such guns and want to shoot us? Why do they look so serious? Would they hurt me if I touched the wall?
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My recent move to Jerusalem has opened my eyes to more racism and bigotry than Tel Aviv allowed me to witness. Once again, many will say it's because of the bubble Tel Aviv is floating in, a middle eastern city not in the middle east. A vibrant, young community who chooses to ignore the threat of terrorism from our extreme counterparts. A community who chooses to focus on frisbee on the beach and Thursday nights out in packed clubs and 20 minute lines.
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Here in Jerusalem everyone seems to be wearing their gang colors. From what sort of Kippah (Yamika) one is wearing, to the chosen style of head dress a woman uses to cover her hair. These colors and these sleeves are not only a reflection of a persons religious level, they are a reflection of their politics and of their social viewpoints. Many will embrace diversity despite of what gang colors they are wearing because they have been taught to. Most will judge you if you do not wear their garments, if you do not walk their walk. They will assume who you are and sentence you in their minds. This is how it is in Jerusalem.
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I come from a country where racism was challenged 40 years ago, and compared to Israel- has significantly advanced since then. It was only a few times in my life where people had the intolerance to comment on my asian mother. I never saw much of a difference between black, white, indian, or pink man in the corner. I don't understand bigotry, I do not understand racism.
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Living in this city, my frustration leads to almost clausterphobic levels. You do not call someone an animal, a pig, you do not make reference to their last name and try to associate them with the crazed Tractor driver from yesterday. Your disregard and disrespect for others is unexcusable. How can there be peace when parents teach their children to disrespect women who dress differently, to disrespect those with greener eyes than yourself, or those who speak with an eastern european accent?
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I miss that bubble of Tel Aviv, where Jerusalem's problems can be in the news and not on the same road I travel everyday.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Slime black goo

I'm holding a wooden meat skewer in my mouth. This package of skewers stored underneath my sink has become quite useful in the last twenty four hours.
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Particularly when it comes to clogged sinks.
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The combination of long brown hair, and constant cooking left the bathroom sink mildly clogged and the kitchen sink a constant pool of rice and bits of leftover food.
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Last week, I thought about purchasing some super duper liquid drainer delux. The kind that would eat your hand as well as any sort of residue left behind from feeding and washing.
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Instead, I decided it would be more affordable to dismantle the sink piping and giving the pipes good washing.
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They needed a little bit more than that, the pipes needed a good gorging, and my petite fingers weren't long enough for such practice.
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But the meat skewers were.
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So there I was, massaging the clogged pipes with reliable, wooden meat skewers. The black goo would splat out, balls of hair covered in black goo. Oiled goo- slime flowing out into the plastic red bucket I set below the sink. I cleaned the rubber washers, I ran those pipes clean.
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Add that to my list. Accomplished plumber. My mother would be so proud.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

melting

The summers in the middle east are sweltering. I'm pulling my grocery trolley behind me, quickly licking my ice pop as the ice turns to green syrup and runs down my hands. Dropping into my shoes. My toes are sticking together.
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We move slowly, to avoid over exertion, the tile floors on my dirty toes are refreshing and a small treat to the heat that is hovering above my head.
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As the engagement progresses, I notice what a different feeling being a fiancé' is. The evolution of becoming adult: noticing For Sale signs on apartment buildings. Asking friends about their mortgages. I think about my family, and how far away they seem sometimes. My parents lived the American Dream, they set up home, house and family in middle America where the Maslow's hierarchy of needs are attainable. Where space was taken from the Indians and given to everyone else. Where mortgages get you electric door car storage and 4 bedroom houses. Where there is a dining room and a living, and they are separate. A place where a McDonald's hourly employee is making more of a salary than I am.
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It seems Israel is the reverse of that Dream. Cars are taxed 100% and the closest thing to a garden with your first home may only be an extra large flower pot holding your favorite herbs.
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When those thoughts swirl in our heads it's easy to wonder what were we ever thinking? Despite all of these differences- there isn't much of a coincidence we all reside here. I suppose such force should be accepted, after all- we're all a pretty happy bunch.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Stuff part 5466904856

The rise in fuel prices will directly affect the attendance of my planned nuptials. Oil Prices and the recent move of my closest girlfriends to the farthest corners of the world make even phone calls a bit costly.
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I'm trying to not let it bother me.
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Not thinking about it at ALL.
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These are the consequences of choosing to reside in a country very very far away from your home.
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I also attempted to ride my bike to the central bus station. Which was an auspicious attempt in promoting a healthy heart and to avoiding taking one extra bus for connection to my new employment. Although it was only a 30 minute bike ride, it was consistently uphill the ENTIRE time. I arrived at work with only baby wipes to salt away from the effort.
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My job is outside of Jerusalem, in a sleepy neighborhood filled with youth. Bikes are lined up alongside the fences of the homes, without locks, children crawling everywhere, but, surprisingly quiet. I'm working in the non profit sector, an aim of mine since I began working in Israel. So despite the lack of profit in the organization & in my salary, I'm a bit smug with the fact that I have a successful way of doing what I set out to do. Which means one of two things: either I am an over achiever and achieve most. OR I obviously do not have high goals. I suppose i'll take the middle stance and say the battles are chosen with great gingerliness.
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Disclaimer-Please excuse my lack of fun in writing. As of late I have only been reading medical terms and have no doubt it has affected the style of my writing.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Morning Door Bells

He comes every morning, just as P bonez calls me about which tu tu to wear for the day. As if he's waiting for the timing of it all. The moment I open my front door and large patio window for a cross breeze. The moment I sit at my computer to update myself on emails and get started on my work projects. Through the crack of the door I see his leathery tanned face with his ancient baseball cap on his head.
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"Lo Arbeh Kesev!(not a lot of money)" he tells me.
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"En li Kesev Aschav!" ( I have no money right now) I explain to him.
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Then the whole I need to feed my children, please let me work on your yard, I need bread, let me work on your yard.
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What confuses me, is that i've offered him dry, packaged food. I've told him he could have all the frozen pita in our freezer box. He remainds uninterested.
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"Can I come back next week and clean the garden?" he asks in Hebrew.
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"Fine, come by next week". I reply. Come back and my broke ass will find a way to pay you so you can feel all of your pestering did something. Which, it did.
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He won.