Monday, February 28, 2005

Tel Aviv Bombing


So, here's a picture that you might have already seen of the site of a terrorist bombing that took place in Tel Aviv this weekend. This picture was taken from a window that was broken in a building across the street from the bombing.

One of the things that I have found really interesting is that when I was in the U.S., I was one of those people that said things like, "Well, what do you expect? The Palestinian people don't have other ways of expressing their opposition to the Israeli occupation. Bombings are the direct result of the apartheid situation that Israel created. Etc. Etc." Now that I have been here a while (I think that this was my 3rd bombing while in Israel), my attitude has shifted. Yes, the oppressive situation that Palestinians experience daily is HORRIBLE. But there is NO EXCUSE for this kind of violence especially in light of the progress that we've been making toward peace. More and more, Palestinians have venues to express their rage, a government to empower them, and willing participants in the peace process around the world. The people that commit these bombings are not interested in peace. They are interested in keeping the fight going - and this is a product of religious fundamentalism...some fatalistic plan for salvation.

What if this is it? What if there is no heaven or hell? What if your plans are for nothing? What if heaven is what you make of it on this earth...this day...right now? Why not make it as much like heaven as possible? Why wait?

Israel is not going away. Palestine is not going away. We've got to figure out a way to stop this violence, make some concessions, and get along.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Still Here

Last night there was a bombing in Tel Aviv. I am ok.

I'll write more about it later.

Yaacov and I are having breakfast and then going to the beach.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Better!

Today was the first day at the new ulpan. At the old ulpan, we studied for 5 days a week for about 4 hours every day. Each class was FULL of new information...words zooming right over my head and splattering in an indistinguishable mess on the back wall. In the new ulpan we study for 3 hours for 4 days a week. The pace seems much more reasonable.

The best part is the change in peers. In my old ulpan there were a lot of students just right out of high school. Besides one other guy, James, I was the oldest person in the class by about 8 years. It was like high school...lots of noise, smoking in the hallway, acting stupid, cell phones ringing, and being insolent.

The new class has a mix of people that's much more conducive for making friends. Plus a lot of the people in the class are neighbors. I am exciting about studying. I actually did my homework tonight!

I am sleepy and I think that I could go to bed right now. But, I have a meeting at the community center where I volunteer. So, no rest for me. Not yet anyway.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Sunburn in February

I think that it was about 80 degrees here today. I am not sure exactly. It's 10:00 and it's 61 degrees F. Winter returns tomorrow with highs of 51 and rain.

Yaacov and I went to a nature park with our friend David and a nice girl that he's dating. There were ruins of Roman waterworks in the park ...ancient drainage system, steps and walls. Things that are so old that they seem part of nature. As if they have always been there. (I'll try to stop writing in fragments.) Spring is coming to Israel and you can feel it. The days are getting longer. Sunlight is becoming more direct. Flowers are blooming.

I got a sunburn today. After our trip to the park, we went to Abu Ghosh, a town outside of Jerusalem to have lunch. It's an Arab town so everything is open there on Shabatt. It's crowded too. Sun, pita, humus, kababs, Diet Coke...what more could you want? We sat outside in a lovely restaurant. I was having so much fun, I didn't realize my arms were turning pink.

Last night Yaacov and I were invited to a dinner party at our friend Avi's house. It was so nice. Good food and good company. On our way there we passed a little pond in a garden that was singing and dancing! The pond was FULL of frogs having sex. They were all awake from their winter nap and were having a party. It looked like frog soup. They were all slipping and sliding over each other. It was like something from the Discovery Channel!

Tomorrow is my last day at my old ulpan or Hebrew school. I am going to a new one on Monday. I am sad to leave the other students, but I think that my new ulpan will be a better fit for me. I hope to make lots of friends and learn some Hebrew too. You can visit the web site of my new ulpan at www.milah.org.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Neither Heaven nor Hell

In limbo - in a state of being lost or forgotten, deserted or unwanted; not knowing what to do because of lack of information, etc. (I really want to know what the etc. is here.)

It is so cliche to use a definition to start a posting, I know. But I felt "in limbo" and I wanted to know the word derivation. Ahhh, the joys of Google. Worlds of information right at your fingertips!

Here's more:
Originally a technical term in medieval Christian (Roman Catholic) theology. It is a form of the Latin limbus (border, edge), as found in limbus infantum (the abode of children who died before baptism) and limbus patrum (the abode of the just who died before Christ, thus lacking redemption, but not through their own fault). (You Catholics have it all figured out!) These notions were much discussed and referred to in imaginative literature such as Dante's.

From meaning a region on the border of hell, but not in hell but not in heaven either.

(BTW, I took this directly from http://users.tinyonline.co.uk/gswithenbank/sayingsi.htm. It's written as if they took it directly from someone else. In any case, the background for lots of common sayings and expressions are highlighted on that site.)

I was recently asked if I was interested in a job working on an exhibit for a museum in Charlotte, NC. The job would start very soon and world be great for my career. I was very flattered to be considered. I could visit my family and stock up on things I need for Israeli life while there for the 3 month project. After the 3 months, I would return to Israel and complete the project from here. I AM TOTALLY EXCITED BY IT!

Here's the hitch. I had to pay for the next semester of ulpan or Hebrew classes TODAY or be dropped from the registration. The project is still if-y and there are lots of loose ends. If I didn't pay today, then if the project falls through, I would be here just hanging out. If the project does come through then I will only be able to get 75% of my money back at the most.

So, I waited and did some hand-wringing, and complaining to Yaacov (Poor thing, he is SO ready for me to make more friends!)...and finally paid. If the job comes through, then GREAT! If it doesn't then I can still go to ulpan.

I felt (and still feel) in limbo.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Anemone Flowers


A park near our house was dotted with these lovely red flowers, anemones (sp?). Perfect for Valentine's Day, the name of anemone plant is connected with the ancient myth, telling the famous love story between Adonis and Aphrodite. This specific myth inspired great poets like Ovidius or, much later, Shakespeare, to compose hymns dedicated to love. According to this myth, when Adonis lived with Aphrodite, the two lovers would go hunting in the woods. As Adonis chased game through the forest, the goddess would follow closely behind, in her swan-driven chariot, dressed as a huntress. Aphrodite's ex-lover, the god of war Ares, grew jealous of her affair with the mortal. While his rival was hunting alone, Ares disguised himself as a boar and attacked Adonis causing him lethal injuries. Adonis used his spear to strike back to Ares, but was soon gored to death by the boar's great tusks. Aphrodite hurried to Adonis in her chariot, but his soul had already descended into the Underworld. In despair, she sprinkled nectar on Adonis’ wounds. As Aphrodite took her lover's body out of the woods, crimson anemones sprung up where each drop of blood and nectar fell onto the earth. It is said that that the wind which blows the blossoms open, will soon afterwards blow the petals away; so it is called the Anemone, or Wind Flower, for that which brings forth its life, ends it. (So dramatic!)

Peek-a-boo!

Flowers

Monday, February 14, 2005

No More!

I am subscribed to a listserv for English speaking people in the Jerusalem area called Janglo (Jerusalem Anglo...for some reason, people that speak English here are called Anglos. England=Anglia. e.g. Anglo Saxon). In any case there are funny posts that come across this listserv. Here's one:

Message: 19 Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 15:18:28 +0200 From: Oppenheimer Family Subject: STOP!! No more help needed re breastfeeding!Thanks to all those who left messages for my friend regarding breastfeeding premies.Much appreciated and no need for more!Sincerely,Frances

Can you feel the love?!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Valentine's Day Cake!

The Valentine's Day Cake!


Here's a picture or two of the cute, cute, cute Valentine's Day cake our friend Ilana made. It was beautiful and yummy to eat too! Thanks Ilana!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

GOD!

Sometimes I really miss Chapel Hill. I miss walking to campus in the summer and sweating to death. I miss walking on campus and Franklin Street and tripping on the bricks. I miss the memories in each building in town. I miss knowing what came before...before it was this it used to be that. I miss counting squirrels. No squirrels in Israel. I miss Bar-B-Que. I miss fried okra. I miss corn bread and buttermilk biscuits. I miss magnolia trees and dogwoods. I miss Durham. The Museum. Nice Price Books. Grannies Panties. I miss looking for junque in Burlington. I miss reliable weather reporting. I miss time alone in a car. I miss a clothes dryer. I miss Target and Wal-mart and Waffle House. I miss Bojangles. I miss libraries filled with books in English. I miss being able to tell what the voice mail announcement is saying...you have 2 new messages. I still don't know how to save voice mail in Hebrew and I don't know my cell phone number. I miss A Southern Season and Cameron's. I miss buying cheap gas. I miss knowing where I am going. I miss knowing where to look for things. I miss phone books in English. I miss opening books the "right" way. I miss advertisements in English on the radio. I miss the AM/PM 12 hour clock. I miss being able to walk into Harris Teeter and knowing right where to walk to buy whatever I am looking for ...and FINDING it! I miss dodging deer with the car on the way to work. I miss driving to work. I miss the smell of skunk and seeing opossums on the side of the road. I miss grass yards and driveways. I miss Whole Foods. I miss country stores and Sun Drop, Cheerwine, and Mr. Goodbars. I miss recycling day. I miss Lowes and Barnes and Noble. I miss driving in the country. I miss mobile homes and all the lights for Christmas. I miss milk in plastic jugs, drinkable yogurt, and fresh shrimp. I miss bacon cheeseburgers. I miss yard sales.

Ok, that's it for right now. I feel better.

Of course, the thing I miss the most is my family and friends. I have never been an emotional person. I don't cry a lot. But sometimes I get a little (ok, a lot) misty thinking of everyone. I miss you all a lot and I hope you know how very special you are to me. (And you should write me and send me email, damn it!) How's that for a guilt trip?

(I just did a spellcheck on this posting. Cheerwine's suggested spelling was "chorine". Goodbar's was "godforsaken". I am not kidding.)

Shleet!

I wonder if there is a weather word that combines shit, sleet and snow. That's what it's doing right now outside in Jerusalem. Shleeting! It is yet another cold, wet, gross day. And then the clouds part and it's sunny for 5 minutes...and then it starts shleeting again.

They were calling for snow last night, but even I could tell that it wasn't cold enough here. But there weather changes very quickly here and it's hard to tell what's going to happen next. I have taken to wearing lots of layers and carrying an umbrella all the time.

Oh, here comes the sun. Seriously!

Valentine's Day Party

For the past couple of years we have thrown a Valentine's Day party and I wanted to continue the tradition here. They don't celebrate Valentine's Day here. Instead, they have a "love" holiday in the summer.

We had a Valentine's Day Tea party. I bought some wonderful loose "fruity" tea from my favorite spice shop. When brewed, the tea is a lovely red/pink color. I have a fancy pants glass tea pot (Ingra, you would love it!) and it just glowed beautifully on the table above the warmer. We also had champagne served in (plastic - yikes) flutes with bright pink bases. I made lots of cupcakes and pink and white icing. Guests could decorate their own cupcake with an array of sprinkles and their choice of icing colors.

We had lots of other junk food like chips, pretzels, and bright red Twizzlers pull and peel candy.

The piece de resistance was an incredibly cute and beautiful valentine angel cake made by our friend Ilana. It was spectacular and very tasty! I took pictures of it, but they didn't turn out too well. So, I am hoping that Ilana has some better ones that I can post. It was amazing!

For crafts we made the wax paper valentine hearts. Yaacov's creativity carried him away and we have some very unique color combinations! I made a flower arrangement that you can see in the pictures. It's a pink plastic watering can with a collection or pink and purple flowers. It turned out well, I think.

The whole party was washed with the cool sounds of quirky music that I mixed especially for the event.

It was a great success, but I miss all my valentines in the U.S.!

Party Room!

More Party Scenery

Party Food!

Party Scenery

Friday, February 11, 2005

Wax Paper Update

WE FOUND IT! WE FOUND IT!
I LOVE RUSSIANS!

The other day Yaacov and and I went to the Russian market that sells pork in downtown Jerusalem. We bought pork chops, bacon, and salami. When we got home and unpacked Yaacov noticed that the things we bought were wrapped in wax paper! Now, the amazing thing is that Yaacov noticed this and not me. He is usually oblivious to these kinds of details...wax paper, tissue paper, toilet paper...it could all be the same to him, the absent-minded professor.

Yesterday we went back to the market to buy more bacon and to ask about the wax paper. The nice woman that slices our bacon gave us a couple extra pieces of wax paper (not really enough for the art project) and said we could ask the manager about where he buys it. Yaacov asked the manager as we were checking out. He said that he buys it in Tel Aviv. He must have seen the disappointment on my face because he told us to wait and he'd bring us some. He came back with a lot of wax paper. Plenty for my Valentine art project. He totally made my day!

The Valentine's Party is today. Gotta get busy making the apartment look presentable...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Birds of a Feather


This is a picture of pigeons hanging out on the old antennae on the roof of the building across the street. Grey sky. Cold weather.

Most people have cable TV now, but the antennae are still on the roofs everywhere. I guess people are just waiting for them to rust away or blow off. All of these antennae really sway in the wind. It can be really windy here.

Fat Cat


There are millions of cats (it seems) in Jerusalem and this is by far my favorite. He's Fat Cat. He belongs to a family in the building across the street. He's not been outside a lot during the winter. So, I was excited to get a photo of him hanging out in the garden of our building. He's so big! The past couple of mornings he's been hanging out on the old fuel oil tank for our building waiting to say good morning to me!

He's kind of prissy. We bought him some tasty and expensive cat treats, but he wouldn't eat them. He doesn't get into fights with the street cats. I have never seen him chasing after the girl cats. Nor does he eat from the trash. You can see why I like him.

I try to get a better picture. He has a cute fat face too.

You can also see the bottom of the refrigerator from the first floor apartment STILL on their porch after several weeks! It looks like Sampson and Sons down there.

Sheleg?!


"Hello" is up and running again and I have been able to post these fun pictures.

Snow in Hebrew is "sheleg". If you look closely at this picture you can see the white flakes of snow. Look at the green trees. You can see the snowflakes better in front of them.

The snow didn't last, but made for lots of excitement.

Today it was 2 degrees Celsius here (36 degrees F) and just 40 minutes away at the Dead Sea it was 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees F). Israel is rich in differences.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Peace Will Guide the Planets

I just tried to upload some pictures but "Hello" (the picture software) is acting funny, so I'll have to try again later.

I woke up today to the sound of sleet and rain outside. I actually got out of the bed at 6:00 and went to turn the hot water on. We have to turn it on so that there is hot water for a shower an hour later. I got back in the bed and when it was time to get up again...well, I didn't. It was so gross outside!

I stayed at home and played hooky from ulpan. It was fun, but I NEED to be in class every day. Each day I am not there, I miss a lot. If I have questions, the teacher says (in Hebrew of course), "We learned this already," and tries to shame me into studying more at home. It doesn't work on me.

Anyhooo, it SNOWED here today! It didn't stick of course, but for an hour or so it was really coming down. It covered cars and such, but didn't last for more than five minutes. I have a picture I wanted to post of it snowing. You really can't tell much from the picture anyway.

For lunch Yaacov and I went to a Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood. The food is ok, but not as tasty as The Bamboo House in Durham. We ordered and listened. In this tiny restaurant, there were people speaking Hebrew, Chinese, Spanish, and English. It was pretty cool. That's one thing about Israel that's especially neat. There are people here from all over the world.

After lunch I got my hair cut. I go to this guy Hanan (John in Hebrew). He's really tall and skinny and has rock star hair. He wears tight clothes, smokes cigarettes (not while cutting my hair) and lives with his parents (he's just 24). He had a girlfriend, but has a hard time getting dates. His face has pointy features and while he was cutting my hair today I realized that he kind of looks like the blue eagle from the Muppet Show.

My friend Jenn got a job! Yeah, Jenn! So, all of you that I have asked to keep your eyes open for one for her can shut them now.

Two nights ago, after putting together some of the furniture from IKEA, Yaacov and I went to eat at Burger's Bar (That's how they spell it here-really. I don't know where the apostrophe came from...maybe the joint is owned by a guy named Burger?!) Burger's Bar is a cute hamburger place with made to order burgers and chips (fries). We placed our order and sat to wait. Suddenly the power went out. The fans over the grills stopped working and the whole place filled with smoke. We left and realized that there was a spotty power outage in the neighborhood. We walked down the street to find something to eat. We were starving from our construction work. The "golden arches" beaconed to us and I found myself eating a Big Mack with CHEESE! This place wasn't kosher! (Jews don't eat meat and cheese together.) It tasted just like America!

On our way home we were on the same path as a guy singing The Age of Aquarius really loud...at the top of his lungs! No shame at all. It was funny. He was behind us for about 10 minutes and even after we weren't on the same street anymore we could still hear the strains of AQUARIUS! echo through the quiet streets.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Taking a Break


Yesterday Yaacov and I drove to IKEA. It's about an hour from here. We drove in our cute, little car. It was our first road trip. The weather for the past few days has been terrible. Cold, windy, and rainy (some sleet!)...yuck! It was good to be inside of dry, warm IKEA surrounded by nice things. I always get some good ideas there!

Today I went to ulpan and now we've been putting our purchases together. For those of you that don't know. IKEA is a place where you can buy stylish things on the cheap but you have to put them together yourself (and bring them home yourself). I'll try to take pictures of our apartment now and post them soon.

It's so gross here. You get soaked just stepping outside. So, I took a break from our IKEA work and looked at pictures of warm, tropical beaches. The sound of the waves in my mind is overtaken by the sound of rain outside. It's good that it's raining. Israel has just two seasons really- wet and dry. It won't rain here from March until November. So, there's not much to complain about.

I finished The Secret History and now I am starting The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. So far so good.

OK, back to work.



Thursday, February 03, 2005

Where Have You Been?

There is a blog site that I used to read every once in a while. But the guy hasn't updated it since Jan 4. So, I have stopped checking it. I hope that you haven't stopped checking out my blog this week while I've not been posting as usual. I have been spending a lot of free time reading a good book called The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

‘Donna Tartt has discovered not the usual collegiate mix of sex, drugs and rock and roll, but a heart of darkness as stony and chilling as any Greek tragedian ever plumbed….she keeps the pace fast and the tension taut…A thinking person’s thriller’ Newsday

I have about 75 pages left. You can read a LONG article about this book by following this link: http://www.btinternet.com/~buckleburyweb/sh.htm

Here's a good quote:
‘Our own selves make us most unhappy, and that’s why we’re so anxious to lose them, don’t you think? Remember the Erinyes?’ ‘The Furies,’ said Bunny, his eyes dazzled and lost beneath the bang of hair. ‘Exactly. And how did they drive people mad? They turned up the volume of the inner monologue, magnified qualities already present to great excess, made people so much themselves that they couldn’t stand it.’

I'll let you know how it turns out. Until then, hang in there!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Wednesday Freak Out

I just had a cup of coffee and I'm listening to Portishead...just about ready to freak out. FYI!