A Life is a Life is a Life

Hey all.
This is me – checking in. I’m okay.
Except, I’m not okay.

I was so excited to write a new blog post. Mostly because I haven’t written one in a month, and a coherent one with pictures and stuff in longer detail.
I was gonna regale you with all the exciting changes happening to the RestlessMama family; about how school is over for the semester, and I’m switching programs; about the holiday of Shavuot we just had and the three cheesecakes that I baked; about how we’re MOVING to a bigger apartment (because, reasons*) and the necessary stress that entails.

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The bitter, and the sweet

*Tonight marks the start of Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial/Veterans’ Day. Tomorrow night will be Israel’s Independence Day, Yom HaAtzmaut. Here’s what’s going through my head right now.

It’s already somber outside. You can feel it oppressively smothering everyone.

And there’s still 20 minutes to the preliminary siren, bringing the next 24 hours to the fore.

Tomorrow the “real” siren will sound, calling everyone to a halt, to stand at attention, to remember, to commemorate, to never forget.

As if we need a bone-chilling, two-minute long reminder.

As if walking down these streets every day isn’t enough.

As if knowing, in the deepest recesses of my heart, that every single person i know in this country – has lost someone. Parent. Sibling. Child. Friend.

Tomorrow, for two minutes, the country will stop.

Two minutes is too long, but also not enough.

There is no siren that ends the next 24 hours. Just fireworks and the smell of grilled meat. Oh, the irony.

And instead of standing still, we move – we tour the country, we hike, we meet with family and friends. We drink, and eat, and drink some more, and maybe get sunburned too.

We dance and sing, and wave our flags.

We relish our culture, our country, our heritage, our home.

But this dichotomy happens every day. All the time.

For the next 48 hours we separate them, divide them, distinguish the two.

It’s hard.
But i wouldn’t have it any other way.

#HappyBirthdayIsrael

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

So last week I met up with a friend visiting this country and we spent the better part of the early afternoon wandering that holiest of tourist destinations, Jerusalem.

While wandering and gossiping and catching up and eating food, she mentioned quite nonchalantly that she reads my blog (woohoo!). Which segued quite naturally to my most recent post about changing jobs and restarting and blah blah. I started to tell her about the new job when we were distracted by a budding photographer (no, for real), which naturally segued into some other topic and the next thing we knew it was time to part ways.

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Veterans of a Different Sort

It was Veterans’ Day yesterday in the States. Which meant absolutely nothing was different and you can go about your lives, citizens.

Which is kind of sad.

In Israel, Veterans’ Day is a national holiday. People are excused from work and many companies consider the day lost, because half of their employees need to leave early because schools and day cares end early that day. Continue reading

Actual Reality

I feel that I should apologize.

That last blog post was not my usual writing style, other than the fact that it was all over the place. But it was lacking in the sardonic sarcasm, and for that I’m sorry (actually sorry) (should that be a hashtag?) (eh, whatever).

But – how can you describe a fairly horrible situation to people who live too far away, and in something of a bubble? Is there any way to describe it in a way that they will understand, and relate to? Or, at the very least, somehow maybe perhaps comprehend?
You can’t. It’s just not possible.

But I was trying to write something anyway, because there was too much going on and I therefore needed to get some of the crazy off my chest. But it was all over the place, because the situation is really all over the place.

And then – my high school did the thing it always does when something is going down in Israel. I mean, other than the charity and the sharing and the liking and the support from TOO FUCKING FAR AWAY.
It asked alumni living in Israel to “tell us about it.”

Here, they said; put into words how you feel when you don’t know if the person sitting next to you on the bus is good or bad.
Tell us how it feels when you see an explosion of messages on your phone from your kid’s day care and have no idea if it’s about the crappy temp. assistant or because someone tried to break in.
Tell us how you feel when you hear about another attack in the neighborhood where you have relatives and you don’t immediately hear from them, and start thinking the worst.
Tell us that this ever-present SOMEONE is out there right now and is causing undue stress, anxiety, panic, and disorder.
Tell us – but only in 500 words, because we have limited bandwidth.

This is not the first time I wrote something for them. It is the first time I submitted what I wrote, though. Mostly because I didn’t think I adequately portrayed how I felt in previous attempts, but also because I didn’t think they would appreciate what I had to say.

See, my high school doesn’t really do the sardonic sarcasm thing. They like silver linings, and hope, and a firm grip on the religious values they instilled in us. They want to know how us alumni maintain those beliefs during hard times, and they want it short and concise and in monosyllabic words.
Um….

For a long time I’ve known that I had a unique writing style and voice – and occasionally it would get me into trouble. But at the same time I always felt compelled to write an alumni perspective about what’s going on, if only to have a different voice telling the same story. But I also had to understand that my target audience is full of people who kind of like the status quo.

So to do this, I had to dig deep down and find my old self, who wasn’t as sardonically sarcastic, and instead was only slightly smart-ass. I had to find my short, skinny, somewhat optimistic, semi-hopeful, pre-9/11 self. I had to channel my insulated, bubble-dwelling, former “me” and not lose my uniquely witty writing style.
I had to find my 17-year-old self and write in a way that would A) meet those requirements, and B) not get not-posted at all.

And what I ended up with was, well, that. The good news is they didn’t edit it in any way. The bad news is – I don’t think it was enough.

It’s really not easy, you know? How does anyone describe what they are going through to people who have never experienced it?
If I asked my friends in Elsewhere how they’re dealing with all the shit that’s happening right now, you know what they would say?

Because the crap that’s going down in ‘Murca (and everywhere) is just part of their lives. They don’t even realize it’s happening, and it doesn’t even register with them.
That’s exactly how it is over here. The sad truth of all the crazy going on in the world right now is that it doesn’t register with anybody. Either because there is no frame of reference and we therefore can’t relate to it, or because there is simply TOO MUCH going on in the world.

I can’t possibly put into words what I’m going through, because there are not enough words. Even if I could find the words, they have no frame of reference. Just like I don’t understand what it’s like when there’s another school shooting.

But….while I was searching for my former self, I remembered this one time….

About 17 years ago, in the summer of ’99, one of my classmates was shot in the leg by Benjamin Nathaniel Smith. I was away at summer camp, but naturally the news reached us fairly quickly (and in the days before technology too, no less). When the school year started a few months later, he came with a crutch, a noticeable limp, and a picture of him with Sammy Sosa.
Because that’s what happened back in the day of terror attacks – you got to meet your hero. Now you’re lucky if you don’t meet a therapist once a week for the rest of your life.
He also came back with a byline that, if anybody started saying it, the entire class would join in to complete it.

Just like how you all finished saying this line in your head...

Just like how you all finished saying this line in your head…

Because that’s how we dealt with the fact that he could have died.

I remember talking to him one day about it – about the actual event of the shooting. And of course, we all read the newspaper articles that interviewed him. He was our mini-celebrity.
Because back in the day, if you got shot in the leg by a white supremacist terrorist, you became a celebrity. You were special.

Now, not so much. Nobody is special, because everybody is terrified. And the entire world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Wow, you really CAN find anything and everything on Google.

Wow, you really CAN find anything and everything on Google.

The world is full of terror – good and bad. I did mean that bit, and in all sincerity too.
There’s good terror when you take your first step. Or learn to ride a bike without training wheels. Or know that you’re about to win your school-wide spelling bee.
There’s good terror when you lean in to kiss a boy you like. Or when you say “I love you” for the first time. There’s also terror when you wait for the reply. (not to mention anxiety, but one emotion at a time here…)

There’s good terror all the time; way more than the bad. But the bad terror gets noticed because it is so rare. Like, tornadoes and hurricanes get covered extensively, even if they don’t actually do any damage. But nice, sunny days? When’s the last time there was a Discovery Channel special on those?

Maybe instead of Shark Week, or something.

Maybe instead of Shark Week, or something.

So because we are inundated with all the crap that’s going on, no amount of effort or trying will amount to anything remotely worth writing about to my fellow alumni living NOT in Israel. Because they wouldn’t get it.

And yet, for some inexplicable reason – I try anyway. Because I have this feeling that if I didn’t end up here I wouldn’t understand. And I honestly just don’t know if I would want to understand.

I would be busy with my own life, over there in that alternate reality. I would be working, and hopefully I would be passionate about it. I would probably be married, with a kid (or several, because who knows).

But – I would still be living in that tiny bubble, with people I grew up with and knew for my entire life, only thinking about my friends in Israel during the difficult times, and wondering how they were dealing with what was going on.

I wonder if I would read the things they posted.

Israel; Just the way it is

It has been such a while hasn’t it? #sorrynotsorry 🙂
Semi because of holidays and work and term papers (which I finished!), and semi because of technical issues with the Site-Twitter-Facebook love triangle. I hopefully have figured it out, but probably not, because there are some technical issues that just fly right over my head. You know, like airplanes over Cleveland.

I'm fully aware that this is Nebraska. Humor me.

I’m fully aware that this is Nebraska. Humor me.


And there’s really only one way to find out that the tech issues are resolved, so on with the post.

There’s been a ton happening, so let’s just jump right on in to the thing that seems to be dominating everyone’s mind.

Israel is a shit hole right now. Wait, maybe “shit hole” is too strong…cesspool of terror? Yeah, that’s better.

There are crazy people wandering around with knives hidden in combs, my Facebook feed is filled with questions about where to buy pepper spray and offers for free self-defense courses, and threats abound on my Whatsapp groups about Arab women possibly sneakily making their way into day care centers (YES!) to hurt and possibly kill children.
I find myself alternating between going on the internet because I need to for work, and getting off the internet because it’s filled with images that you can never unsee.

Everyone is suspicious of everyone else, nobody is happy, and there is a vise around this country that gets tighter and tighter with each passing millisecond. Because we are waiting for something to happen. We’re waiting for the news report that somebody else was injured or killed. We’re waiting for our friends/love ones/coworkers to tell us they’re okay. The tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife (WORST. CLICHE. USAGE. EVER.) And I want to just stick my fingers in my ears and shut my eyes and ignore it all in the hopes that it goes away.

Precisely.

Precisely.


But I can’t, because it won’t. This never goes away. Because it’s one of those endless cyclical sibling rivalry types of things, that each time it comes up everyone else just sighs and says “Not again, won’t they ever learn?” There doesn’t seem to be any let up to the crazy that is going on right now. And it’s enough to seep into other parts of our lives and make everything a little less sensical, and a little more absurd. At least, that’s how I see it.

So instead, I write about it.

My high school does this thing where they ask alumni living in Israel to write about the conflict du jour – so about twice a year there are a slew of contributions to the Alumni Blog. I guess they like my writing style.

You can read it here: http://www.icja.org/2015/10/living-with-the-good-and-the-bad/