Tel Aviv Diary Dec 8 - 12, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from December 8 - 12, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

December 8, 2004

Other than shiputzim i have no life. sorry. i know i have no reason to complain while people all around me are losing their homes permanently. This is not a complaint. It's an explanation. For those of you who like an exclusive Tel Aviv flavor, please skip the next paragraph.

So how did a nice girl like me get stuck for five weeks so far without a normal dwelling? 1) This whole thing was supposed to take place in the summer but silly considerations like money delayed everything. 2)In September we finally got down to ordering kitchen cupboards at Regba. 3)Because we were promised a November 15 delivery date, we booked a contractor for November 1. 4) A month later when we nailed down the details we were told that we must have misunderstood the date. It was November 30. 5) We decided to delay the contractor by only one week because we had a funny feeling. 6) October 30, we began to realize that if we were taking down the wall between the kitchen and the living room we would need new floors throughout and bought tiles. 7) November 1 I began packing the kitchen. 8)November 7 - the walls came down 9) November 10 - we began to realize that we would have to move the bookcases too - dismantled 1 1/2 enormous walls of books and china and records. 10) November 25 or so everything was ready for the kitchen 11) carpenter arrives on time - builds half the cupboard 12) whoops the counter tops are out of stock. the rest of the cupboard must wait. 13) Ezi finally orders airconditioning units 14) December 5 - aircondioned nightmare 15) December 6 - counter top man comes to take measurements 16) December 8 - window man comes to bedroom. We paint bedroom after airconditioned nightmare and windows. 15) One room set to rights. Study and workroom still full of part of kitchen. Kitchen is not operable because nothing else can be put in before counter top man comes. Plumbing, electricity, stove, ceramic tiles, etc. 16) Regba doesn't know when the counter top will be installed and doesn't remember promising to get back to us on this...

so happy hannukah

Bracha just called me - in her 90's, she's all alone on the holidays. Almost all her relatives are gone. Holidays are like that. if i had a kitchen i'd invite her for dinner.

And Oren returns from Tibet tomorrow. so we'll probably have a party at nona - maybe tomorrow maybe tonight and we'll invite bracha for sure. and yael and halfi and who else.

December 9, 2004

I really like Azam Azam and I'm so glad he's out of prison. He is such a fine man I hope he gets brought into politics - it couldn't ruin someone like that. He was interviewed last night on tv and everyone was all upset that he was paid for the interview. but it seems to me they didn't pay enough attention to him. When they interviewed his wife when he was on his way home she said that she didn't even have a place for him to sleep because she threw out their bed 7 years ago - it's the penelope-odysseus story in negative. i mean she was so upset about his absence she threw it out instead of maintaining it and the house built around it - Anyway they got a new bed yesterday.

A very interesting article about education of Israeli and Palestinian schools by Akiva Eldar appeared in today's paper. Ha'aretz We like to think we are objective and positive in our education but it is interesting to see the equations.

I love Hannukah - it's the feminist holiday - Judith brings the Greek conquerer of Betulia,Holofernes, bread and cheese and wine and when's he's drunk and over-lactosed she cuts off his head. I don't know why we don't eat cheese and wine instead of latkes.I wrote a poem about Holofernes but haven't had the chance to type it.

December 10, 2004

We've been too overwhelmed with having a messy non-kitchened house to celebrate hannukah the right way - and the kids are sick and stuff - but tonight we'll light candles with relatives, and hope to pig out.

I'm still getting over having listened to Geula Cohen's regular radio program the other day - not only because of her consistent view of Palestinians as war-mongering congenital liars - but because the facts as she sees them are not unlike the facts as I learned them as a child. I see them antithetically now. Which one is right? I don't care. I only know that my way is the only one that gives a chance for the future.

December 10, 2004

I feel I go on and on about the discrepancy between the dream that my parents, my aunts and uncles had and the world in Israel as it exists today. Not that they were totally devoted. My mother had some great parodies about life in Israel from her home town. There was a song in Yiddish: Something like - where have you been my daughter my own? and the daughter answers she was on a kibbutz and they worked in the field - mamma it was a mechaya (a revitalizing joy) and mother keeps asking questions concluding 'with where did you sleep, my dear daughter?' "In the loft in the hay, with halutzim tway. Mammay it was a mechaya."

Free love was a source of constant ironic humor to my mother's town - all the socialistic ideology she boiled down to the loft in the hay. (So mother and me actually did have something in common - the irony about ideologies.)

December 11, 2004

No spiritualistic shabbat for us - we are still messing around with buying dimmers and lightbulbs and painting and cleaning and stuff like that. So instead of the trip to enjoy the beautiful sea, we spent yet another friday and saturday shopping for screws.

And we were not alone.

You can't get in sideways in Ace. The loudspeaker is going full blast revving people up for their purchases, and the people are pushing around these enormous carts full of junk. Most of it is junk anyway.

And now it is our junk too.

Thank goodness we can clean out our spirits at Mishmish. I promise to try to include pictures this time around.

We spent the evening trying to understand and explain the phenomenon of Saturday night in Tel Aviv. "But Don't they have to go to work in the morning?" Suni asked. "Yes - at 8. Schools start, offices open - these people probably have to be up at 6:30 - 7." "So why are they coming out at midnight?" "Because they slept all day from last night." "How do they work?" "They're half asleep and they complain."

And here is the poem I wrote for Hannukah


they always do it

those jewish women

promise you everything

then cut off your head

wine and cheese

and all that teasing

and you can be sure

those jewish widows

know how to please

they always do it

those jewish women

cut off your head

and then celebrate

they’re always at it

those jewish women,

light candles

fry potatoes

and complain

about the mess

the head makes

rolling across

their clean clean floors

December 11, 2004

Sometimes I look at the Arab construction workers in my neighborhood or in my flat, and I think, they know so much about building, about explosives, about all the latest techniques! And today, when I saw the tunnel that blew up under the soldiers, the complex methods they used - I remembered that thought. These are the guys we taught to do our dirty work, to build and destroy, and look how much further they have progressed in their studies!

We are all praying for the soldiers - I cannot imagine how awful the fighting must have been in Rafiah just now.


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