Tel Aviv Diary May 10-14 , 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - May 10-14, 2007

May 10, 2007

The electricity went out with a bang just as I was going to sit down to write an entry. it is now the middle of the night and the lights are is back but i have no idea what happened - except for the enormous crack i heard that preceeded the blackout.

May 11, 2007

Nothing. The electricity returns with the night, morning comes, and it is all forgotten, like all the other crises around here.

In the mean time the helplessness felt by the faculty and students alike as the semester fades increases every day.

The dust that has been gathering on everything all week, making breathing difficult, and a clean car impossible, only needs one good rain in order to clarify the air.

"So I hear your son is in Egypt," Mira says. I'm confused. How does she know? He just left yesterday morning, and with almost no prior notice. "It was in the papers - a peace delegation - don't remember which one." That's my boy all right. If there's going to be any 'good rain' it's going to come from those daring attempts to cross borders, to change the sameness of dirt that falls on everything.

The article, if you do Hebrew, is here. The picture was in Ha'ir but isn't online.

A few days ago we found ourselves in the Ramat Aviv G MacDonalds - at my insistence. I regretted my decision from the first minute when my order was misunderstood and i wound up standing for an interminable time while it was put straight, but when Ezi came home sick, I regretted my caprice even more. He wound up spending the night in agony and the next two days recovering. So when we ate tonight at Portifino at the marina in Herzlia , and the food looked and tasted like it was prepared by people who had never eaten Italian, I was dreading that I would come home with the same kind of poisoning. But it has so far not done me harm - and that's a blessing.

May 12, 2007

This is the site for the student strike:... It's only in Hebrew and it doesn't really make the whole argument, but it does show how serious our youth is. How serious? A friend asked me yesterday whose side am I on when I see the footage of the soliders attacking demonstrators. I'll tell you - everyone needs re-education. We've forgotten how to talk to each other, how to negotiate with each other. Much less the people on the other side. I could talk about any element in the political and military situation here, but a minor example: The student strike has been going for over a month and the minister of education has yet to publically address much less debate the strikers.

May 13, 2007

Boy did I screw up tonight - we WANTED to go to the open mike reading on Bograshov 31 tonight even though it was at the end of a long hard day. And we rushed out not to be late and miss the variety of poets reading in english here. but we parked near the sea, and raced up Bograshov Street to 31 and saw nothing. I couldn't remember the name of the cafe, and we thought maybe i had made a mistake as to the address, but when i went to check i discovered i'd left the announcement, along with my cellphone, at home by the bed. So we walked back and forth for a while, listening for some hint of a poetry reading, and then walked back, disgruntled. But every walk in Tel Aviv with Ezi is an adventure into the history of Tel Aviv, and if i could make a movie of the way he was describing the change in the street from the time he was a little boy and walked with his Nanny to the beach, it would be wild. The old houses, once residences, degenerated slowly into stores carrying flooring and wallpaper and now to cheap t shirts and cafes. Nothing beautiful in the street, but a lot of character. Its a common decadent characteristic of the city, that decadence. Often the streets get reclaimed, but more often they don't.

Sometimes I don't want to be read. When I saw that a poem of mine, "A Guided Tour of Jerusalem" will appear in Michigan Quarterly Review I suddenly realized that this was a poem I didn't publish for 6 years because I didn't want to be critical of my country, but am sometimes really totally fed up. And even though I think this criticism should be directed at the parties to blame, sometimes I find myself saying things in public. And then I'm totally ambivalent about losing control of my audience. Especially online where the words are so often taken out of context.

May 14, 2007

Now I remember why I hate the library at the university. I went today to get some books and of course there is almost nothing there. We stopped ordering properly years ago - no money for books, no room, no money for maintenance. More importantly, the dust hit me so strong, I am close to collapse hours later. Electronic journals are worse. I wonder why so little money is invested in students' educations, but just being in the library made me want to march on the Prime Minister's house with the students.

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