This turned into a poem but it's relevant because I'm writing about music

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This turned into a poem but it's relevant because I'm writing about music

Sometimes I feel like I'm not smart enough for books. And music- really good music. 
Music and books have a deep voice and I try to treat them with the same respect I give to snakes and the ocean and my Grandma's homemade chicken noodle soup:

Holy
Important
Relevant

Not always. Not nearly as often as we'd all like. Or maybe we don't (I don't) notice often enough. But music and books.
Crucial.  

When I want to write, when I want to feel, when I want to lose myself and find myself and pretend to understand the world and yell and meditate, I put on Kendrick and The Who and Lorde and Chance the Rapper and Odesza and LCD Soundsystem and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Beyonce.

My Uncle Louis lived with us while I was growing up and we'd watch Blues Brothers together and sing R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Aretha Franklin) and dance around to Jailhouse Rock (John Belushi covering Elvis Presley). He bought me voice lessons. He's my Dad's twin. They both cried at my first recital when I sang some ridiculous show tune. My Uncle Marc came to visit and I sang Slow Boat to China in the style of Ella Fitzgerald and all three glowed and listened and teared up and when we got ice cream afterwards, I don't think I've ever felt more loved. 

My Uncle Louis showed me musicals and Barbra Streisand. He let me sing with his band in bars and let me sing at his wedding and taught me the depth of music and how music really sounds if you listen closely, taught me that the Bass Player gets no credit, taught me that long days at the record shop beat pretty much anything else. 

When I was growing up, my Dad would quiz me on music in the car. We'd be driving around, maybe going to the bank, getting donuts from Albertsons, and a song by The Clash would come on and he'd say: 

"Yetta, who is this? You know this. Crucial band of the 70's. This is important!"
"No not the Sex Pistols, totally different sound. We listened to them the other day. From the UK. Very unique sound. Come on Yetta."

My Dad, when he visits me in Portland, will pick up the local paper and say:

"OMG (paraphrase), I didn't know _________ (please fill in cool, random band here) was coming! Are you going to get tickets?! I'll pay for your ticket. You should really go."
"Dad I don't even know who that is"
"WHAT?! And you call yourself a hipster, you say you have good taste in music."

Just to clarify, I've never called myself a hipster.
And my Father does love me
despite my less than acceptable knowledge of new bands on the horizon. 

My Father is the original hipster.  

When he met my mom and they started hanging out and falling in love, he silently went through her record collection- a right of passage to his heart. 

My Dad taught me music. The importance of it. To sing when I'm lost and scared. To turn on Billy Bragg when I want to start a revolution and Billie Holiday when I want to fall in love.
He didn't teach me how to dance- that was my mom
and she didn't teach me how to dance well (that was college).
But he taught me to feel music and good dancing comes from feeling. 
My Dad taught me music as an escape and as a statement. He taught me jazz and made me think about where it came from. He'd play the guitar during sleepy Saturdays and my Mom would garden and I'd play music out of my boom box from my window and sing along with Avril Lavigne and day dream about a famous record label owner hearing my 10 year old voice and telling me I was the next big thing. 



I'm sitting on a train and watching Andria drink an Americano. 

It's Passover. 

It's Passover and I'm on a train and I'm going to Auschwitz. I'm sitting on a train and Andria is drinking an Americano and I'm drinking a Cappucino. I'm simultaneously watching Andria struggle with Monday's NYT crossword puzzle: 

"What starts with a B and end with an N and in another word for schedule?"

and looking out the window into Beautiful, Fairytale-Land Poland. 

Yesterday, I took a bus from Berlin to Krakow. My mind spiraled, as my mind always does.
As most minds always do. 

I thought about how 75 years ago, no young (half) Jewish girl would've flown from Israel to Germany and hopped on a bus from Germany to Poland. 

I looked into the forest with tall pines that only have green near the top, touching the light blue sky littered with clouds and I thought about how many people ran away into those forests.
I thought about how many people died in those forests and how many people slept in those forests and decided to return back to Hell On Earth
because those forests didn't equate to survival or freedom. 

I thought about Israel and how angry that little country makes me. I also thought about how, 75 years ago, it was built on many justifications- one of which was said Hell On Earth

I thought about how I'm choosing to go back to that Hell-
to walk through it, smell it, to feel the dense air of death

Why?

To try and understand this notion of pure inhuman cruelty that didn't manifest in one human but within many humans collectively?

To try and understand this tiny country I call me
"home in limbo" and
"my homeland" and
"my promised land" and
"a nation occupying too much space" and
"a country existing within another country"? 

I'm sitting in a train car on my way to Auschwitz. 


A train car. 
By my choice, a train car.

The symbolism and metaphoric possibility and deep meaning of life does not escape me. 

I just don't know what it means. 

I've gotten used to not knowing. 
The feeling of uncertainty feels like home. 
It's safe and comfortable.

The finding of answers is the scary part. 

Uncertainty, indecision, it's all a justification for the perpetual misunderstanding, the perpetual violence, the struggle for power.
The "I Don't Know" breads the "I'll do what my Torah, my Bible, my Quran, my Communist Manifesto, Beyonce, tells me to do". 

Facing the "I Don't Know" alone feels impossible.

Maybe it is. 

I don't know. 

Maybe Auschwitz gives me hope. 75 years ago,
this journey from Israel to Germany to Poland didn't exist.
And a wall in the middle of a city, did.
A city that, now, does not sleep and is covered in art and beer and young, radical people. 

The symbolism and metaphoric possibility and deep meaning of life does not escape me!

I just don't know what it means. 

I'm sitting across from Andria in a train car on my way to Auschwitz
looking into Beautiful Green Poland
drinking a cappucino. 

I know this will hurt but I know it's important. 

I am not a martyr. I am not stoic or any stronger than the next person. 
I'm just trying to piece this story together because (big shocker) I DON'T KNOW who is right.

If anyone even is 'right'. 

I thrive in the 'I don't know'. 

But I will not sit here forever.
There are answers.

And I think we have to keep telling stories to start figuring out some of those answers.

Old stories, like the story of Auschwitz. 

And New stories, like the story of Israeli settlements. 

They don't coexist. They are not separate but equal. 
They directly effect one another- we use these stories to justify action; to justify violence.
These stories create interpretations, wrong or right.
Understood or completely mistaken. 

I will not face these heavy, dark, terrifyingly real answers alone.

I can sit forever in confusion. 

But I won't. 

I will surround myself with book and stories.
With music. 

I will surround myself with Hella Music like Mac Dre and The Black Keys and Elliot Smith and Alt J and Sylvan Esso and The Head & the Heart. 

I will sing when I'm lost and scared. I will dance when I need to celebrate and
I won't always understand these answers but I will try. 

I will surround myself with people, who like the answers I like and like the music I like and
with people who challenge what I believe in and who challenge my "right way" 
and who challenge my love for Beyonce
and who show me new music and new answers and
teach me new songs and ask me more questions. 

I am not alone. 

I am here.
With Andria. Drinking a cappucino. On my way to Auschwitz. 

It's Passover and tonight, I'm going to an Orthodox Seder,
to celebrate in an old synagogue a group of people that almost went extinct. 

I am writing and I have my headphones in with the volume up to a level that would disappoint
my Mother.


I am alive.

I am not 10 years old playing music on Saturdays. I'm not getting donuts today. 

I'm sitting in a train car. 

And I miss my Dad and I wish he was here to introduce to a band I didn't know about or a band I do know but don't understand because sometimes the wittiness of music and books and people escape me. I miss my Dad and I wish he was here to tell me about humans and why they are so cruel and so kind, and give me a history lesson that would explain everything I'm trying to understand and give me a few answers and a few more questions. 

And I don't miss home because traveling is the best. Because if I listen to Elvis Costello or Los Lobos or Pearl Jam or Warren Zevon or Bootsy Collins or Earth, Wind & Fire, I can feel my Dad sitting next to me. I can feel answers bubbling beneath an old, bendable, breakable, surface. I can feel answers waiting to be found, like it's their purpose in life- like it's my purpose in life. 

I can feel. 


Cheers. 


This was written on multiple days, coming directly from my journal writings in Poland while listening to Pure Heroine by Lorde and directly from my bed in Israel while listening to Untitled Unmastered by Kendrick Lamar. 

 

 

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Israel's Existential Crisis (and mine)

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Israel's Existential Crisis (and mine)

I'm still in the land of Milk and Honey. 

In fact, right now, I'm drink milk and honey. And tea. 


Finding yourself is a task.



I think I'm slowly beginning to understand that it is:

1. impossible
There will always be roughly half a million things I want to do and accomplish. That is okay. I don't have to decide right now. I just need to keep moving in some sort of direction I believe in.*
*easier said than done (to climb or to move to Sudan?)

2. boring
How awful would it be to know your exact next step? I'm a list maker, an organizer, a planner- but my best stories stem for chaos and my best memories came when least expected.

I don't want to know myself fully because then I'd never have the chance to surprise myself. 

So. 

That leaves me here.
In the land of Milk and Honey:
the land of Zion and the land Palestine. 
 

I don't know what I'm doing here.


Honestly. I have no idea. 

So I'm trying to figure that out...
with every cup of tea and night of curry and conversation. 


Israel also, the 68 year old (I know- just a young pup) country
is just kind of floating:

doesn't know where it's headed
and
no one can agree on where it came from. 

That feeling of 'lost with seemingly no direction' seems too familiar not to draw some ridiculous metaphor to every young person ever...
 

But because the world revolves around me, I will draw said conclusion to myself: 

I do this thing now. When I meet new people and they ask me should-be-easy, small-talky questions like "why did you study in Israel?" or "what do you want to do after you graduate?" or "are you Jewish", I tend to let out this big sigh. And I'm sure my answer sounds so tired; sound so exhausted.
I smile and I sign and I say...

"I don't know, I guess I'm studying the Middle East and Israel is interesting and I wanted to practice my Arabic but to be honest, I really don't know why I decided to study here but here I am, yani? (ya know)"
or
"I don't know, maybe move abroad and practice my Arabic or live out of my car and climb everything there is to climb or just cry because I'm in debt, but to be honest I really don't know what I'm doing, it's all to be determined maybe never"
or
"I don't know, my dad is Jewish but my mom isn't, and I've always loved the traditions and parties and family stuff but I'm not really religious, I just love the culture but in Israel it's different, so to be honest I really don't know if I'm Jewish or not or what that even means anymore and by whose definition am I identifying with anyway?"


See how that happens?
See how I just ruin it every time I meet someone new
because my brain is working so hard to figure everything out?

I am the Debby Downer of Israel!

That is maybe a little extreme. 

Maybe we are all the Debby Downer's of Israel. 

That is way more likely and would explain a lot.


There's this phrase that I hear Israelis and Arabs say often:

"I need to take a rest"

When I first heard it, I thought it was a sort of mistranslation from English, like maybe they meant
"I need to take a nap" or "I need to lie down for a bit".

And maybe it is a mistranslation and I just like to read into things a little too much*
*highly likely

But

taking a rest in Israel is the most crucial part of living here.
Laying down for a handful of minutes in the middle of the day is beautiful. 

Some days, we'll lay in the sun and do cross words and attempt acro-yoga and talk about nonsense and I will walk back to my room and thing "Ya I do need to take a rest!" because my mind is always going going going even when it's not. 

Israel, my friends,
is just constantly thinking
and then needing to take a rest. 


Here are some questions I find myself asking to the moon and/or the city lights outside my window when I can't fall asleep and/or I'm in the middle of the rest described above
(in no particular order):

-do we, the Jews, still need zionism?

-am i dreaming beyond the scope of my ability when I say I really want to get paid to climb rocks?

-why does Haifa, as an example of 'coexistence', work?

-does Haifa even work?

-what am I doing here? why did I leave my cushy Portlandia life for... this?

-is it wrong/unhealthy to eat 4+ oranges a day?

-why does Judaism, as an identifying trait, sometimes bring me a feeling of safety & a calm welcome, while other times I find shame and embarrassment proclaiming my attachment to it?  

-how long can I wear one pair of black leggings without washing them?

-why do we call pants a 'pair'? it's just pants. it's weird that 'pants' are plural. why would you ever have one pant? one side of a pant? 

-'pants' must be a hard word to teach people learning English- 'why is pants plural?!' they'd ask and then they'd cry because English is hard (i can only assume)

-why do Israelis usually curse in Arabic?

-can i afford two americanos tomorrow or should i make nescafe in the morning?

-is it morally wrong to bring children into the world?

-how do you say 'occupation' in Arabic?

-why am I learning Arabic? 

-why is Arabic different whenspoken than it is when written?

-i wonder what Connor is doing right now?

-do I have to brush my teeth again if I drink another cup of milk and honey and tea?

-what declaration ended the 1812 war?!

-why do I feel nervous and uneasy announcing my support for H Clinton when I'm asked in a class about it, while I'm surrounded not by Trump supporting rightwingers but progressive and supposedly accepting Bernie supports?

-I wonder who Connor is voting for?

-I wonder what would've happened if Nasser hadn't died? Or if Arafat hadn't died? Or if Al Gore had been president?

-when was the last time I showered?

-how do you say 'to shower' in Arabic?

 

See how that happens?
See how I get lost in there- in that mind of mine?


Closing thoughts and/or arguments:

Everyone should read 'The Alchemist'. Great book.

I like Israel. I'm confused but I'm thinking.
Thinking is good. 

Maybe the world is exploding bit by bit, city by city and maybe we are all pieces in a puzzle and we have to figure out how to piece everything back together. 

Maybe humans are a little too selfish to think that we are the puzzle pieces. 

Maybe I'm thinking too much about myself and I don't even exist in the puzzle. Maybe I'm just a piece somewhere in the middle that has two colors and only fits one place but the pieces around me haven't found their place yet so I can't fit into mine. 

Maybe I'm a corner piece and I'm just the most oblivious corner piece ever.

Maybe we are all part of something much bigger, way beyond a stupid puzzle metaphor. 

Maybe we aren't. 

Everyone should drink more milk and honey and tea.

 


So

Cheers


not with wine but with milk and tea and honey.*

 

*wine works too

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Forgive me but...

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Forgive me but...

CAN WE STOP CALLING THE FORCED MIGRATION OF PEOPLE FROM SYRIA AND IRAQ AND EASTERN TURKEY INTO EUROPE THE 'EUROPEAN REFUGEE CRISIS?

It is not a crisis.
At least not in the sense we tend to believe it to be. 

Calling the movement of people from Syria and Iraq and Eastern Turkey a 'crisis' is the West's way of manipulating and perpetuating our 

1) Fear of the unknown/other cultures/Islam
and
2) the belief and feeling of the White Man's Burden 

IF every country in the European Union (and USA) had 'open borders' to these people we call 'refugees', (forced migrants), no singular country would feel overwhelmed (like Germany presently does), 'taken over', or especially economically responsible for these new comers. 

The migration of people from a war-torn country is only a crisis for those people- the ones leaving their homes, their familiar culture, their belongings, and sometimes their very own family. 

This wave of people have resulted in a situation most closely related to a crisis in three countries: 

1) Turkey. The country that's taken in the vast majority of forced migrants, despite staggering on it's own civil war
2) Jordan. This TINY country has taken in the second largest amount of forced migrants. How much news have you read about that?
3) Germany. Yes, this European country is dealing with now, over a million people from an area completely foreign to their own. What this means for Germany and for these newcomers, only time will tell. 

Other than that, most of Europe and the USA has done next to nothing.
This is just not a crisis for any other country. 

This is fear and mis-managed, manipulative media telling us that we are all part of this struggle. 

I tend to think that this whole 'crisis' has only become a struggle because countries have decided to invest in building walls instead of issuing work visas. 

I could say a number of other things. Like...

1) Europe, in general, has an aging population and actually needs new people. 
2) Europe has taken in 'refugees' that amount to about 1% of it's population. 
3) Islam is not a national security threat and that is the most racist argument I've ever heard.

So.

IT IS NOT A EUROPEAN REFUGEE CRISIS.

It's Europe and the USA being unprepared and unwelcoming for a neighboring situation. 
 


And while I'm at it... 

Let's stop calling ISIS, ISIS!

The Islamic State DOES NOT represent Islam. 
It just doesn't. 

This would be like if we called the Klu Klux Klan, the Christian State. 
It's just actually hella incorrect. 
It relates Islam to this terrorist organization. 

While ISIS is Islamic, it's extreme Islam. 

Which, all religions have.
Extremists.

All religions have extremists. 

One more time for the people in the back:

All religions have extremists. 


This 'Islamic State' is an extremest terrorist organization and it only adds to this ridiculous fear of 'different' we have here in the West when we call them 'ISIS'.

Let's start calling ISIS what people in the Middle East (the people in this crisis call them):

Daesh

"...essentially an Arabic acronym formed from the initial letters of the group's previous name in Arabic - "al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil Iraq wa al-Sham". Although it does not mean anything as a word in Arabic, it sounds unpleasant and the group's supporters object to its use. Daesh also sounds similar to an Arabic verb that means to tread underfoot, trample down, or crush something"

(http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-27994277)

So.
Maybe a more fitting name? 
Or at least a more thoughtful name? 


Just a few brief things and thoughts that drive me to the brink. Language is important. 

For more information about the Syrian refugee crisis, check out one of my favorite explanation videos here

Cheers, loved ones. 

Thanks for reading my political rant. 

(And thanks to Gary and Nancy for listening to my constant issues with the world and helping me form my ideas into something more concrete and less hysterical. Love y'all) 

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