Tel Aviv Diary June 1-5, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary June 1-5, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

I wrote a piece just now about diglossia, and how we slip from language to language around here without even realizing it, but it went and disappeared on me and so my re-writing of it will be briefer than the subject deserves.

Although there may be many limits to the multiculturalism around here, there remains the "Wahhad man halach shpatizirn" syndrome, in which each word of the sentence comes from a different language (arabic english hebrew yiddish) to mean: One man went for a walk. I knew this phenomenon from my Yiddish-speaking home, when (for example) my mother kvetched that I wasted the whole day reading old poetry and it was a shande und a charpe ( a shame and a disgrace) to which I replied "Charpe diem." To be able to pun in latin and yiddish at the same time seemed to me to be the ultimate in multiculturalism.

"What is a monologue?" asks Shaike Ofir's Arab high school teacher of Shakespeare. "A monologue is one person talking to himself." And what is a dialogue? A dialogue is two people talking to themselves." Today the prisoner 'exchange' is an example of 'dialogue.' We send them a prisoner we released anyway and they send us body parts we didn't react to when they announced them six months ago.

June 2, 2008

The I know it's a bad sign, but I don't want to write about Olmert. I would like to write about Tomy Lapid, but it hurts too much. On Saturday we were cooking from his cookbook and thinking about how great his appetite for life is. He was a fine man. I liked some of his politics too. But with every one of the leaders who died in the past few weeks I become less and less capable of articulating the loss. It is more than the individuals, it is a generation of values I mourn.

June 3, 2008

No time for philosophy today. We arrived late to the hospital at 8:00 a.m. and once I got Ezi settled in the hemo-chemo room (as I like to call it), I went downstairs to pick up his pet scan. But it wasn't signed yet so I went back, picked up Ezi's health clinic card, and went to the Maccabi branch to get a hospitalization renewal approval. Once back with that, I wewnt back for the pet scan results, and returned them to the ward. Then there was the visit with the doctor, and I was sent upstairs to order the chemo. Since that takes half and hour I went back to the ward to read the petscan results (since when I asked the doctor if he got a grade of 80-5, he said "more like a 90"). Then for some juice to make the bitter pills he had to swallow more palatable, and then back upstairs to the chemistry lab for the bags of chemo. A few meetings with social workers here and there, a couple of visits to the secretary while Ezi gets his intrathecal treat, and then I collapse into a corner, as the patient himself gets ready to dance out of the hospital. At some point in the morning, a social worker cautiously filled out a form, asking Ezi, all kinds of questions, like whether he has nausea, depression, etc. "What about pain?" "No," he answered, and I interrupted, "Oh, yes!" She turned toward me, pen poised. "My knees hurt, my back...." But my plea for attention was disregarded and with a smile she turned back to work.

June 3, 2008

So what if it took me all morning to arrange the neustatin Ezi got today? It was mostly because people stopped me everywhere I went to ask how he is.

There was a moment, though, when I realized how much we are influenced by the general picture in the world even in our medical metaphors. Complaining to the doctor that Ezi doesn't have too much energy, she responds with "Well you know that each treatment is an atom bomb." I had just watched Achmidinajab talking about how we have to be destroyed and then came to the doctor to hear her using the same terms....

June 5, 2008

I've been finding it hard to get the expression on Ahmidinazhab's face out of my mind. When he answered the Israeli press about why he wants to destroy Israel, he said something about saving humanity, and his face was so serious, so convinced, so crazy, it is clear his every effort is toward the erasing of this society.

Ezi's birthday

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