Monthly Archives: November 2002

blue steel day with palm trees violent

i walked in howling wind and clumsy rain over the grass on the promenade, past empty wet cement tables where elderly russians usually smoke and play chess to the oldest cafe in netanya, star-shaped and protruding over a cliff with an amazing view of the sea. down the sand, ran thick black run-off from netanya’s city streets. i asked the waitress if it was toxic. “just dirt and leaves…”
bon jovi comes on the radio and i squint towards the hazy horizon, blue steel day with palm trees violent, new jersey is unfathomable.
i refuse to feel lost anymore. i will be home soon.. and even more exciting is my family coming here in one month. the two worlds will collide and they will remind me who i am… and i will go home and the distance between this arrogant threatened world will encourage tsafi’s dream qualities.. and i will look back on this time…and feel what? anger? strength? too soon to say…. i must focus on the future. the present is too scary… just yesterday there were three attacks on israelis. one at an israeli hotel in kenya, an israeli plane was attacked with missiles that just missed them and a bomb in israel. Sky News, BBC and CNN have non-stop coverage and i sheepishly called home to assure them that all is sorta OK in this sliver of the same reality. dad sounded positive and hopeful and ready for the journey. i wished him a happy thanksgiving and hung up homesick.

tomorrow is thanksgiving. I am one block away from where i pour all my home thoughts… the mediterranean… i watch music videos to reconnect with american culture… i can sit thru an entire aerosmith video…that’s how homesick i am… the US Embassy gave me some pretty bad news… all arrows point home but they are splintered a bit; more sacrifice is demanded. I don’t know how much more i can take… time spent away from tsafi for however long due to beaurocratic embassy crap. Just when i thought something would be easy here, i find myself having tricked myself. Everything is a process here.. beaurocratic, static, waiting, struggle, fear….
tsafi and i agree only on the size of jennifer lopez’ ass lately… all this wedding planning brings out our stubbornness and puts us in emergency business meeting mode all the time.
The theme to ‘flashdance’ comes on and i remember a time that i used to feel sentimental about it. Mixed in on the radio with styx and laura branagan, i used to have to assure my best friends that periods were not contagious and that nothing existed besides suburbia… how far i have travelled… i am no more and no less than every girl that ever sucked on the end of a charleston chew in the 80’s. i just never fully trusted what anyone told me was my limit. One of my parents led me to a life of mistrust and rebellion and one of my parents led me to stretch my boundaries but not to break them. only once did i stretch out of the lines so much that i actually ended up creating a whole new boundary… a bubble, a growth… like pulling on a rubberband too tight, feeling that initial assurance that i would always snap back to a familiar shape…only once did it surprise me… and that sums up my israeli experience.
Despite all this unsettled mismatch of this world here in israel, i am confused about how i could feel so incredibly happy. I settle into bed warming my toes in the pretzel shape of our alignment, in the scent between his shoulder blades, i curl into him instinctively tossing mid-dream as he shifts in nighttime slumber. I run my elbow under the pillow, over his head, and mess softly with his hair. I fall asleep content each night. So much so, that i moan myself to sleep sometimes in warmth and comfort. I’m aware this is my future… i love tsafi for his strength, for his direction, even sometimes for his stupid jokes in serious circles of my intent.
But I like silence too… i like when my tongue sticks dry to the roof of my mouth because of all the thoughts running rampant above it. And then just as suddenly, we fall into giggles again, poking fun at each other~

THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

in tel aviv, we sat with tsafi’s study partner, pini on his porch overlooking the traffic of ibn gverol and the looming presence of the azrieli towers reminded me of nyc. i left with my walkman and purple sunglasses walking to the US Embassy. i knew it was next to the sea so i pressed play on a sugarcubes cassette and knew i was getting closer by the declining angle of the streets and buildings that were under construction. i asked someone which way . “ayfo ha embassy americai?” and thru all the construction i finally found the oversized american flag waving out at me with big bold american letters spelling out ‘THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” and i said out loud ‘THANK GOD!!!’
hardly anyone was on line. a man eating a flourescent yellow ice bar sang loudly all the words to ‘god bless america’. teenagers with wrap-around sunglasses shook their heads and laughed. i went to the american section, no one was on line. there were rows and rows of empty chairs and bored tellers behind glass with nothing to do. no americans in their right minds would be here at a time like this!
he directed me to the immigration section and i found chairs filled with israeli’s waiting to get approval for visas to enter america as visitors. i’m here to see how and when my future husband and i can have a real life.

packing to leave

Leaving israel for good. Destination california. I set my compass. I separate things to go on the plane from the things that get freight shipped. I open drawers i haven’t touched in a year. Books on magick, celtic lore, on writing, paint, dreamcatcher making materials… i take out a video tape from 1973 til 1995 of me and my family. I plan to carry it on the plane with my photographs and negative books. Dust has always won in this room. It covers over all my precious things. I wet the end of an old t-shirt and slowly polish my cds, my cassettes, books, my stereo. Things like my cd alarm clock that was always bed side here yet never plugged in. not once. It’s as if a part of me to has been covered in dust, unplugged. Thank god i’m going back home…i will never take america for granted again. 6 more weeks.

military base

i’m sitting in the sun, on a brick next to a tree on a military base called jalbemi. tsafi’s been a bad soldier and now needs to pay the piper. he’s avoided serving in the reserves; he ‘forgot’ to do his duty and was already on probation so he has to meet with some officially striped army officer who will probably put him in military prison for a week. he chews his fingers and shifts nervously. he’s holding all his ammunition, our wedding invitation, official study papers from his school and other things with the hope that he can avoid punishment for not serving. safta left yesterday for her two-weeks-a-year pilgrimage to tiberius, paid for by the german government for her pain and suffering in the holocaust.
this army camp is like an old dirty summer camp. permanent dirt and decay, no toilet paper ever available, little shacks with bars on the windows. we had to prove we were israeli before entering. soldiers with make up, soldiers adjusting their gear; these are the people responsible for our safety. i think it’s a good idea to have everyone serve in the army at 18 years old. gives people much more discipline as well as secures this small land. i brush away flies. there’s a nescafe vending machine. tsafi’s been in there a long time. i hope they don’t throw him in the slammer. foreign eyes surround me, size me up. they notice that i write left to right; they hover like lasers around me, i make sure my engagement ring is prominent. this place has the vibe of ‘do what you’re told.’

mom just left me a message that she got the invitations and that she’s sending them out today. It feels ver official now…
i’m on the set of a commercial for a snack food called ‘Awesome’. It’s in a car dealership. I’m not sure what that has to do with food but all i know is that i’m surrounded by a familiar element, filmmaking; a day that has order and purpose…not for me, but that there is a schedule i understand, creativity a bit, makes me feel part of something.
As per normal, there’s screaming and disrespect but that’s to be expected. Directors usually scream, but israeli directors are something else…
I’m excited that the invitations are going out. Guests will start to reply and i wonder what that expectation will feel like. It’s surreal to be a bride…. i feel as if i’m already married. Tsafi and i are so amazing together! I miss him right now, knowing he’s taking a test right now that he hardly studied for. He says that since relocating to america feels closer now more than ever, that he has no motivation. I hope he continues his drive to be a successful accountant in america. I know he will do well with that. yesterday during sunset, after my dehydration headache subsided, we sat on a bench watching surfers, talking about what our life in america will be like. And we came up with scenarios on how we can pay the apartment off and leave in january. Oh! To drive across america on honeymoon with the back window graffitied with ‘just married’! to kiss at the grand canyon, to see diana’s school, to arrive in california and finally begin…
I once heard that one never has all three of these… a good home situation, a satisfying career and a good relationship. I’ve had 2 out of 3 but never had all 3… now i have 1 out of 3 and even though it temporarily makes up for the other 2, i wonder if i’m meant to have it all and break the stygma…
The standards of my contentness have been simplified biologically… i definately want now, more than ever, to grow up, to stop fighting things, to evolve myself so that i can pour love into a child and into tsafi. “i” has become “we” and “we” will become “three” soon…there’s always my writing and photography but i do them less out of lonliness now. tsafi has promised me a room to do my creative stuff; that’s all i need… he fulfills almost everything else.. i am becoming less selfish. I feel more healthy. My body has acclimated to chicken broth and turkey sandwiches. I feel emotionally invincible. Tsafi and i can get thru anything now. we are a team… and this team is going home soon. To my sweet familiar america… will it ever forgive me for all i’ve taken for granted? I will make it up to her.
2 days ago i got a call from one of the hotels that i had been trying to book for my guests in nj. I heard an american voice and was so thankful. “hello? Yes? Who is this?” ” thank you” “please” “take care”. Customer service, a godsend. I play danny’s latest cassette mix of songs in my walkman everywhere i go. Side after side after side. My favorite song sings about my strength being his strength, my hope being his hope… this song is by bruce springsteen. This is how homesick i am for my father’s home, my childhood bed, the hammock in my nj suburban home…i rock out to the nj boys, bruce and bon jovi… i see the background on MTV’s “TRL” of times square and i’m skeptically curious what nyc did to me when my roots are that NJ grass and the bike trail that leads to the ocean, where kids sell lemonade at corners and the roofs of school buses scrape tree branches. I miss my family… i miss my friends… god, i miss 7-11!!!…convenience, understanding, the english language. I am struggling so much every day here that even just one tendril of reminder makes my heart reach out across 6,000 miles to where i left physically to search for something that i now realize i can’t find anywhere else. Danny’s cassette mixes, above all else, bring that realization to the forefront of my mind. Slow coursing lyrics about waking up in nyc, being in our old neighborhood, wanting a wooden house, stripping layers of years with a simple song of potentials and nostalgia. When a song ends, i realize where i am and feel entirely split… i will never be accepted here… i am thankful tsafi is so on board with relocating to america. I don’t know what would’ve happened had this decision not been made for our future. I am more thankful, grateful, hopeful, more modest, more humble than i have ever been in all my life. and all this is under the surface. It’s hard to show these things in this loud aggressive threatened world. Safta has no idea how grateful i am to her. Despite her safta-ness and quirks, she let us live there, took us in, makes us soup. I’ve never had a real grandmother. I don’t really know about old people… i’m beginning to understand that there’s an air of suicidalness to them, but a sense of family ties passed on…

this morning i left netanya at 5am. I got lost getting to the film set so they told me to take a cab. I asked for a receipt before we got tot he destination. And the driver yelled at me. i told him it was my first time in a cab in tel aviv. He still was aggressive; briskly handed me a receipt and i was ushered into a cafe to have breakfast. The crew had just eaten so i sat awkwardly among dirty plates and half-full bowls of thinly cut salad, until someone asked me if i wanted to eat.
There were 2 israeli guys across from me sizing me up and one guy at the end of the table. I got to talking to him when i heard his american accent. “you’re from america?” “yes” he said. “from where?” “from new york.” He said. “the city.” And i stood up shook his hand and said “thank GOD!”. Adopting him officially as my home base for the next 2 hours as we were paired up as husband and wife, despite the 20 year age difference. We pretended to be shopping for a car…

13 nov 11am – the day is slow going… i’v found the props stash of ‘bugles’ called ‘awesome apropo’ here. i’ve talked to 3 co-extras and i’ve since quarantined myself. I keep being so negative about my experience here. why do i do that? i guess i have nothing else to say. Someone asks me how long i’ve been here, why i don’t speak hebrew, how old i am, if i plan to stay here, why not?, where do i live, and i have absolutely nothing positive to say…. so before i continue spreading the same negative tale, i’m quarantining myself. Just me and my bugles in an echoing white stairwell. Production people peak in on me. ladders and boxes of tools. The first guy i spoke to this morning at breakfast…his name is burt. He likes to tell stories about someone asking him something inappropriate and him saying triumphantly “it’s none of your business!”. He’s the one from nyc. He has an american wife, one 2 year old child, and another to be born on thanksgiving day. H e lives in yafo, his neighbors babysit for free. His child goes to day car with arab children. He’s happy and will stay here despite being on a bus when it exploded in september and having to jump out a windo. His ears are still ringing. He has a white head on his chin that’s begging to be popped. I think people that begin families here are stuck. Their kids will have language problems if they move them too early. Burt is a coin collector. He’s also a geologist; studied earthquakes, volcanos… knows about some crystals. Said that california will not fall into the ocean; just a major quake will hit. He also said that israel is due for one massive one too. I didn’t even know that earthquakes happen here.
then i met another guy… he’s in his mid-30s, a business journalist. He doesn’t believe in love. He thinks nothing is attainable like romeo and juliet. He told me about solo roadtrips in america. He grew up in california, near san francisco. He lived in washington dc for a while; worked for a senator. Told me a story about driving cross country, having a stop in mobile alabama. He went to a 7-11, bought gatorade and donuts, drove to a river and went and sat next to an old black man fishing. He offered him a donut and the man told him about his life. i’d say that was a donut well spent. He also said atlanta, georgia is a happening town. We philosophized about love and then he got me to talking about my israeli experience, to which, not soon enough after, i removed myself and here i am, contained in my own walls. It’s not right that i tell my story to people that enjoy living here. i learned that from maytal, who i worked with at my last job. She said she would go home and hear about a bomb and say “well, that’s israel” i guess i feel somehow that i’ll learn something from people that like living here. like if someone told me they hated nyc… i would tell them about the good things of the place, the diversity, the art, the convenience, the opportunities, and change their perspective if i could. But people secretly and sometimes outwardly are affected differently from me talking about my experience…so i’ll save it for my book…

you can tell alot about someone by the way they eat…it’s true. Maytal brought that up a few weeks ago. You can also tell alot about someone by what is in their everyday bag. My ‘purse’ is a black backpack. I guess that shows i like to pick up and go. It’s functional, balances the weight and instantly attaches to a bigger backpack that i can hop on and off planes. I’m envious of women with polished professional purses and polished professional looks. I’m not as much of a lady as i could be. I’m a traveller, a backpacker, a child of the world and dont’ try to pretend i’m anything other. Wheni land, however, and i WILL land, maybe i will have to fit more the part i will be playing… wife, mother, woman over 30 soon…

it’s 5:30am in nyc now..i’m doing nothing, absolutely nothing… i’m wasting time… here today, here in this country. My eyes are closing involuntarily. I’m uncomfortable wondering why i wore such an uncomfortable bra. I will be here for another 5 hours. somehow every thought lands with some reference to leaving here. sometimes i wish someone would violently disagree with me. “no, that’s NOT how it is here. you are misunderstood. Here, let me show you.” but no, all people can do is sympathize… and try to avoid or make the best of their own realities.

3:40pm – it’s the middle of the longest day. Why didn’t i bring a book? I’ve succeeded in hiding most of the day. I’m in a stairwell now. some guys put plastic covered leather squares here and told me to sit on them to make them worn-looking. “anything i can do to help” i said and i proceeded to try to sleep. My face stuck to the plastic.

the moon is always extraordinary when we are together. love conguers all, it’s true. here we are, under threat of war, in poverty, dependent on family. we have nothing but love…it’s as if we were stripped of everything else so that we can pour ourselves into each other and make it strong… and then the elixers of life will present themselves further. i never appreciated someone so much, never wanted so much to make someone happy. i have never been as proud of a relationship as i am with tsafi. he’s everything my family wanted for me. he’s everything my ‘little girl heart’ craved in fantasy. protective, intelligent, healthy. a man who overcomes most everything… a real solid person… full and real…and he loves me, needs me near, suffers in my absence… i have no secrets from him. i was always afraid marriage would be a stagnant reality… i entirely misunderstood…when i found someone to set goals with, life took on a new meaning..he is my partner in every way… i can’t wait to marry him…

i got fired last thursday. my boss, shai, was a typical israeli mixed in with the newness of power. he makes his employees cry, contradicts himself, can’t just talk, he must shout, he laughs arrogantly when you ask him a simple question. he wants his employees to fight, to compete. maytal and i weren’t doing that. but while she played the game and projected her sweet nature; i would have none of this behavior. what kind of boss behaves like this?? a new boss, one who is scatter-brained, tripped up on ego, an insecure fascade of power, all things i fight thru for truth or at least for a sense of team spirit. when asked to not shout at me, he changed to hebrew and bad-mouthed me to maytal.
shai has problems with every single person in the office, even his partners. it’s no wonder he’s a miserable person. i heard that instead of a honeymoon he gave his wife $5,000 and told her to have fun while he worked. now the quality of my research and what i did mattered little to them. in fact, they hadn’t even seen my work. they just said that they can’t “negoiate with me” and so i’m fired. “Well, what were we negotiating??” i asked…silence…. i say “them” because yehoram, one of his partners, does whatever shai does. basically, this was a corrupt company. we were basically spammers…sending emails to owners of websites that obviously didn’t want to be contacted. we’d have to go to secret tools to find the owners. shai and yehoram would go out for secret meetings out of the office. no one knew who owned the company. they told us nothing. we’d be there 9-10 hours a day and always there was mistrust and shouting, hardly a place for for me to exist…