Posts tagged ‘Karma’

8 May, 2012

Know your audience.

Theme of the day:

The first hilariously this-isn’t-me piece of junk mail arrived addressed to me, from a local-ish bank (who, incidentally, is represented for their PR by a former colleague — whoops). “Cheap” bank account? Credit card? What goodies did they have in store? Well, aside from an insert advertising a “free” $100 to open a financially-not-feasible checking account with them sometime in the next eight weeks, it included a letter beginning “Dear Audrey” and which continued “Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!” and went on to describe how many couples-to-be neglect to think about the combining of finances during the wedding planning and this bank was here to save the day! Hooray! Well, No Name Bank, not only am I very much not getting married, but if I were, the first thing I would do would be to think about finances and their combination, or not.

The next instance of Know Your Audience came with the second piece of junk mail I decided to open.

This plea for monetary support was addressed to my father, but reading the envelope which announced its intention to secure financial SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL on behalf of some foundation named after some old presumably Jewish guy, I just had to open it. I knew he wouldn’t care, but sorry anyway, U.S. Government. OopsFelony.

I can’t really describe the letter, except to say there were some embarrassing grammatical errors, so here’s what happened in visual re-enactments (I apologize for the wonky quality of these scans):

The third junk mail I opened was Obama campaign mail (what a lovely infographic they included on job growth) — free sticker! — and the fourth junk mail was actually not junk mail at all, but a notification telling my mom it was time to get her car serviced. So, mom, add it to the to-do list.

14 March, 2011

Get your activism on. [Warning: BDS]

WARNING: This will be incendiary and unquestionably littered with social democratic and possibly Marxist or even anarchistic sentiment. Please don’t read if you don’t want to think about BDS.

After much discussion and rumination and explication, I think I am finally able to explain and possibly even support the full call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel.

There is a LOT of information out there about it. It’s dense, seemingly contradictory at times, and very difficult to parse through. Having people to talk about it with is immensely helpful. For your own purposes, some good resources are PACBI, BNC, and IMEU.

To be completely honest, though so many people speak in favor of BDS, they only do so in the context of the real and physical occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But even among so many leftist Jews, it is very difficult to acknowledge or talk about the State of Israel as its own form of occupation, but to fully support BDS, which is critical for complete justice throughout all of historic Palestine, we must talk about the harder aspects.

10 November, 2010

Empowered

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20 October, 2010

Writing sunset

Nafplio, Greece

It’s almost sunset and this is almost an island. I stare across crystal clear glass-topped turquoise at drop-scene peaks draped in cumulus fog. Catamarans – no sail – drift by and minnows dart underneath. I am outside – below- the protection of the fortified battlements off the end of pier (long walk). Birds skate effortlessly overhead and I remember a time on a dock with a 6-pack of Geary’s summer and weighty take-out containers from Whole Foods.

I enter where it is forbidden to pedestrians and find and abandoned? stairway curving down to the water and a solar-powered lighthouse. And two power-walkers out for their evening stroll.

There is nothing but jagged edges and rippled contours as far as I can see, as long as Eye don’t look back.

The atelier of the gods falls away into the realm of the underworld, and ante-sunset breeze brings with it a particular magic and calm. Almost. Again. The water is tears in my eye. From salt to salt, vibrations from a world away. I forgot I stuck this flower in my hear, hippie child that I am. Or, rather, that I want to be. Hoping I can pull off the careless effortlessly. Mountains are half of me, salt the other. Here they are one but here I am alone and far far far away. I want a part of it – find it, somehow. All over the world and the phantasy of the enigmatic idyllic mountain-farming-seaside-fishing remains. Just that.

The clouds turn titanium and platinum as Helios sinks behind, mountains line up from dark to grey to light to land ho, barely visible on that horizon.

I have two friends now, hard-shelled eight-legged creatures munching snacks off the rocks. I want to share this, lie on our stomachs, our chins in our hands, fascinated by the slow and methodical process of crab-eats-rock. Side scuttle, side scuttle, mother may I? to higher ground and greener pastures. We would watch them get bullied by the tide, scramble to recover but eight legs never fails. We’d debate whether or not to pick them up, chase them back into hiding, but in the end humanitarianism (crabitarianism?) lets us let them be, remarking on their oddities and their funny mannerisms, as they finish their meal and head back into the sea, maybe we watch the minnows or maybe we just be. The sun still sinking slowly leaves a trail of fire across the glass. Look, burn, look away.

(Another crab crawls up right next to me, just inches from my bright blue laces. Nature fascination interrupts my elaborate daydream, and the cool evening breeze interrupts my warm reverie.) The sun – by some witchcraft of atmospheric meteorologic karma – aligns perfectly behind a small cloud pillar (divine manifestation). Its rays jet upwards and wind turbines dot the crest of the farthest mountain, silhouetted. Sky, sun, cloud, mountains falling down into the sea. Taking on shades of blue and gray, 90° away a half moon waxing peeks o’er the ramparts ready to play. Divinity, divinity. Water laps my toes. And in but a moment, the day is gone.

And still the turbines spin against these last warm rays of night. Light.

14 October, 2010

Blogging from…

…an online gaming center in Nafplio, Peloponnese, Greece.

Brief updates: getting-out-of-Israel security was unnecessarily long and complicated. I didn’t realize it mattered what shul I went to when I was leaving the country. But we manage, miraculously, somehow, to leave, get on the plane half asleep (6 am flights are not so fun), land in Athens, metro, get lost on the way to our hostel, find it, and pass out for five hours. Initial wanderings around Athens led to tourist traps and steep, crooked, narrow hillside stairways and road, simultaneously quaint and graffitied pastel homes, old Greek men cooking dinner in their windows, and views of the city from above and the Acropolis from below.

At the top of the mountain, bought a “cigarette” and had it rolled for 4 euro…and bad Greek weed is still better than Israeli weed. Thanks to Adonis and Stefanos and the top of the hill in the Plaka, Athens. Post-joint, mountainside restaurant for dinner with a kilo of homemade red wine, garlic bread, salad, and some fried zucchini balls…did I mention the homemade red wine? So far a trend in this country, and not one I am upset about in any way.

Next day: decide to tour some of the “old shit” in Athens because, well, that’s what there is to do there. Acropolis workers on strike (I love this, Hillary is none too thrilled), meander downhill to avoid payment of “seeing old shit” fees. Watercolors and street music leads to the seedy part and, eventually, furniture artisans and old 45s for sale. French press, spanakopita, and a loaf of bread from the bakery. Metro and bus, forgot to pay but avoided the 60x charge for riding without a validated ticket (karma!). Bus to Nafplio via one-hour traffic jam, Corinth, beautiful mountains and farm-filled valleys. A minor miracle this bus could make these sharp turns on these narrow roads.

Again, get lost finding the hotel/pension/guesthouse. But after several probably very expensive phone calls with the owners, we find our way through the old city down tiny side alley to our charming hillside guesthouse. Vassilly is the house mother, an excited hostess eager to give us anything we need in our snug room (but it has a bathroom!)…all for the low low price of 40 euro/night.

Some more wandering, “small fish” for dinner which I did not realize until my plate appeared that this meant, literally, a plate full of fried small fish – think minnows. Despite my initial shock I thoroughly enjoyed pulling them apart with my fingers to pull out the spines, and it satisfied my cravings for seafood in this picturesque, if touristy, port town.

Search for dessert led to dark chocolate-chili sorbet at the best (no lie) gelato place I have ever been to, according to the guidebook best in Greece. Sat on the pier and dipped my toes in the sea and missed Portland.

This morning: French press, greek yogurt (Fage is actually Greek), tomato, bread, on the landing outside with sounds of a lazy morning on the Mediterranean. Wandered up and down, along old battlements at the top of the hill on the peninsula. Churches, alleys, balconies, flowers, sunshine and breeze. A lunch of Greek salad and lamb in the pot, topped off with a boat ride to a castle on an island, a second round of gelato (dark chocolate sorbet for me), an espresso, and an afternoon flash flood thunderstorm.

Feta, check. Fish, check. Olive oil, check. Lamb, check. What else do I need from Greece?

27 September, 2010

Now I’m afraid of the US, too.

Is this a joke? No. Apparently being an anti-war activist means you are suspected of being connected to Hamas, or at least are worthy of being subpoenaed and having your home searched by the FBI.

What is this/that country coming to? Everyone who believes in these (or any) causes should speak out and be a vocal activist so the FBI gets overwhelmed and can re-focus on real threats rather than targeting non-violent human rights defenders. Go to a protest, or maybe just #Rally4Sanity (I really wish hash tags worked in this).

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26 September, 2010

Keep my church out of your state.

Today’s Ha’aretz featured a brilliant, brave, though subtly worded criticism of the Jewish state rhetoric. (At least, that’s how I read it.)

There’s a wall-to-wall consensus, from Yisrael Beiteinu to Meretz, from enlightened journalists to learned professors, on Israel’s definition as a Jewish state. But this definition strikingly resembles the definition of Iran as an Islamic republic or the United States as a Christian country. True, some American evangelists believe that the United States’ Christian character is at risk and seek to cement it in legislation. But the United States, like the rest of the enlightened world, still sees itself as belonging to all its citizens, regardless of religion and creed.

Most Israelis would respond to this by saying Judaism and Jewishness represent not a religion but a people, so Israel must belong not to all its citizens but to the Jews of the world, who, as we know, prefer not to live here. …

Rahm Emanuel, as we know, belongs to the American people, and Bernard Kouchner belongs to the French people. But if tomorrow the United States decides to define itself as an Anglo-Saxon rather than an American state, or France seeks recognition not as a French but as a Gallic-Catholic republic, both men will have to immigrate to Israel.

What I gleaned is that while Israel is a nation, and Israelis and more specifically Israeli Jews are a people, the entirety of world Jewry cannot be seamlessly integrated into such a nation-state. Though perhaps many would like to conflate religion and nationality, and that works here for the majority of society, they are not the same thing. American Jews are not French Jews are not Israeli Jews. We may share a faith and customs and traditions but we do not share those other critical aspects of people-hood: culture, language, political experience, soccer teams. I am Jewish, but I am not French and I am not Israeli, just as I am not Iranian or Chinese or Australian.

I am American, but this idea of Judaism as a people who as such are required to have and belong to their nation-state – this idea embodied in Israel as a Jewish state – robs me of my American-ness, of my nation and of a critical aspect of my culture. I am forced then to accept Judaism not as my religion or faith or community (though I belong to numerous communities based variously on regional upbringing, hobbies, my socio-economic and academic circles, etc.) but as my political affiliation and my nationality and my citizenship.

This is not what I want. I should not be required, because of who I am, to give up a nationality that accepts me regardless of this fact, in favor of a nationality that accepts me only because of this fact. At home I fight the constant infringement in state affairs by church proponents (why we are still “one nation under God” I can’t figure out for the life of me). But a state that defines itself by the church/synagogue/mosque/temple is an entire other matter altogether, something much more frightening and dangerous, something I cannot and will not accept being done to me.

11 September, 2010

Shanah Tovah

After my nice holiday weekend, back in full force. Well rested and somewhat brain-dead after three days of food and drink and lazing around.

I got to see an old friend and make some new ones. I was fed and I fed. I prayed and I atoned.

Two years ago, I did tashlich in the Jordan River. Yesterday, I did tashlich in the Med. The waves were splashing on me, and I felt at peace for the first time in a while. Such is the power of the act – feeding the fish and saving the soul, all in one fell swoop.

8 September, 2010

The year comes to a head

These pre-holiday weeks are always the most stressful. No family, no friends, no community, my gosh my life sounds horrible. It’s not that bad.

I’ve done my best to prepare, though, begging and pleading and conniving and manipulating and asking nicely to be invited to this, that, or the other holiday dinner.

I never really would have thought that finding Judaism in Israel would be so hard, but it is. I suppose that’s the nature of secularism and my particular social world.

I’ve done everything I can think of to prepare, or prepare to prepare, or think about preparing. Most stores around here will be open since this is Haifa and I live in the Arab neighborhood, so when I decide tomorrow morning that I do in fact want to make challahs for the dinner we are cooking tomorrow night, I will (inshallah) be able to find yeast and flour and all those other things I’ll need. Raisins. Apples. Honey.

I got two “new” books at the tiny hole-in-the-wall used bookstore. I finished Foucault’s Pendulum, and realized I would need more reading material for the holiday, since I intend to have a holiday. I am now working on Dr. Zhivago. The Three Musketeers is (are?) on deck. Now all I need to find is a siddur so I can do Tashlich at some point.

How strange, that the one thing I always make sure to do is Tashlich. Two years ago I did it in the Jordan River. (I suppose I should have linked that back to this blog rather than that one, since I uploaded all my old blog posts here….perhaps I will fix it.) I also think I sin more right before the holidays, since I know I will soon be absolved. I now ask forgiveness from all those against whom I may have sinned in the past year.

Given that I don’t really believe in God, or certainly no one else’s idea of God, why do I believe in Tashlich? Karma? The will of the conscience or conscious or something? Why does throwing bread in water make you a better person? It really shouldn’t, since you’re throwing bread in water, which is somewhere bread doesn’t really belong. Meditative, perhaps? Spirituality is a mystery.

L’Shanah Tovah

5 September, 2010

New pictures…

…up here (less) and here (more).

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