Tel Aviv Diary - December 14-18, 2012 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - December 24-28, 2012 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

December 24, 2012

Erev Christmas. For the first time in my life I wanted a tree - to put it in the window. Just because the extreme religious have been trying to make trees unkosher around here. When I was nine I spent a few months in a hospital in Rochester, and got to share Christmas with the other patients and the nurses. Santa Claus and the whole shtik. Because my family was religious and foreign, I saw the whole event with a touch of irony. I love that irony, it keeps me sane and balanced, but it caused me to lose intimacy and understanding.

In any case, have a good holiday.

December 25, 2012

For most of us here, it was a regular working day. But for some reason everything I did or wanted to do went sour. Everyone had an argument, everyone was upset about something, everyone had a grudge. Now I am not in a mood to deal with other people's problems - even when i do try to help it seems like I just irritate them. But for me, the seemingly general anger demands a re-evaluation of my situation in life. What's wrong? the fear of the end of the year? the economic slowdown? My friends have all disappeared - too busy, too crazy, too angry that I've disappeared, mabye.

That's the answer. It's time to do something positive in the world. Start with a party, start with an honest discussion. End with a trip to the country.

December 26, 2012

I taught "The Second Coming" today, the day after Christmas, to a stunned class of mostly Muslims and Jews, and then Henley's "In Hospital" to a class that included someone who is hoping her long days of treatment are now over. It was part of a feeling that poetry can help, can direct, can make a difference. Then I went to a poetry reading in Jerusalem, in Tmol Shilshom, and my mind was only on making poetry important. It was a crowded reading and everyone was wonderfully enthusiastic - but was it really important?

December 27, 2012

No wonder the two-year old kid was scared when we walked into Dizengoff center. It is so incredibly noisy, crowded, and action-filled. Food stands all over the place, music coming out of every little boutique, people rushing past screaming at each other and at their cellphones. And just getting there meant avoiding the bicycles and motorcycles all over the sidewalk. As an adult I revel in it, but through a child's eyes it is hell.

December 28, 2012

War is hell. I mean here the end of season sales in all the stores that are spiked not only by the sales but by the certainty that prices and taxes will soon go sky high.

This terror was translated into every language today in Tolmans and Ikea where we went looking for a kitchen table. There was more Arabic in Ikea then usual, a lot of French and English, a little Russian and some Hebrew. And there was a little more desperation than usual in the air.

But it was a gorgeous day, and who could not believe that we really don't need that much money to enjoy the air and lovely sun and sea.

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