Monday, December 29, 2008

The Thing with Feathers

Last night a bunch of us were at a poetry event in a Florentine bar. The MC said that he is sick of readings full of poems celebrating wonders of nature such as quinces. "What the hell is a quince, anyway?" he asked.

Then came several people who read poetry not about quinces. Most of the works were very dark and violent. This didn't hit me right. I've been following the dreadful war the whole day, then mediated a panel about social descrimination and stigma in Israel. Renana, sitting across from me, just came back from a joint Jewish Arab event that turned tense and depressing by the current atmosphere. Following yet another poem about rape, prostitution and urban grit, I leaned over and told her: "Damn it, I need some hope".

The poet on stage read the title of his next piece: "Masturbation".

"I suppose that's better than nothing," I surrendered.

The only bit of hope was delivered by Chicky. He read a fantasy poem entitled "The Battle is Done". It ends with the post-war pizza parlors offering innovative pizzas topped with olives the color of love. I still left the place feeling rather down. At night, I wrote on my Facebook status that "Hope is expensive, but I'll splurge." Call it wishful thinking.

It was only this morning, though, brushing my teeth, that it came to me: that poem by Emily Dickenson, the one that is, in itself, what all of us saught last night. It came in its entirety. By some sheer magic I found that I know it all by heart, though I've last read it in Boston, years ago. The following is written from memory and from the bottom of my heart, as a New Year's gift to all of you.

Hope is the thing with feathers,
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

And Sweetest in the gale is heard
And sore must be the storm
That shall abash that little bird
That kept so many warm.

I heard it in the coldest land
And on the furthest sea,
But never, in infinity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Note: I realize full well that this nation's national anthem is entitled "Hope" and that I should cling to it through national crises. Ironically, it's the least uplifting national anthem on earth. Moreover, since it explicitely refers only to Jewish hope (it's in fact named "The Hope") and fails to address 25% of the population that isn't Jewish, I refrain from singing it. In my opinion Israel's anthem should be changed to 80s rock semi-hit: "I am in Love with a Girl from Bat Yam".

Saturday, December 27, 2008

There's no Better Way to Solve Complex Problems Than Killing Lots and Lots of People.

As of press time, at least 155 casualties were reported from the Israeli assault on the Gaza strip. This number is bound to rise over the next few days, and the tide of Palestinian corpses will doubtlessly carry more then a few Israeli ones with it. We just entered a new war. The name given the operation, "Cast Lead", is taken from a Channukah children song. It seems that the Israeli government is using the holiday spirit and the memory of a military struggle tousands of years old to enhance the concensus around its actions.

60 KM away from the battlefiled, I don't see anything of this war and the only thunders audible are in the voice of my father, critical of me for joining an anti-war demonstration yesterday. "There comes a time, when someone keeps showing aggression towards you, when you must give them a slap," he explains.

Yes, but what will be the result? what constructive scenerio can we draw?

"The more they shoot at us, the more eager they make us to attack them," he explains.

"And what do you think will happen the more we attack them?" I ask.

I agree that the shooting at Israel is intolerable and that if you threatened to slap, you usually should fulfill your threats, but this Gaza operation (try using the exciting word "operation" with one of the hundreds of widows, widdowers, orphans etc. that were created this morning), is deeply unpragmatic and looks like the clone of the 2006 Lebanese initiative. Not only is it a terrible, bloody disaster, but it's a terrible, bloody disaster that will solve nothing, and since when do terrible bloody disasters solve things anyway?

The Hammas heads don't really care for the lives of Gazans to begin with. They are in a terrible "Shaid" state of mind and will fight to the death, preferrably the deaths of others. Shooting at them won't stop Kassam and Grad rockets from flying into Israel, unless we kill the entire population of the strip.

I, being the pragmatic sort, am for one of the two: complete annihilation of all Gazans or discussing other options. No optional response to the Gaza bombing was ever discussed here except boom boom boom. Israel does not communicate with Hammas, does not give Egyptian and other mediators an easy time, Does not propose any solution for Gaza's dreadful siege situation, and yet almost its entire political spectrum, including the generaly Meretz party, support this pointless misadventure.

We've just been sitting here like hungry dogs waiting to devour the residents of that poor hellhole for years. Now our dog is off the leash. I can't stop it, (though I do intend attend the second anti-war demonstration, meeting tonight at 7:30 at the Tel-Aviv Cinemateque and marching down to Allenby), but the next time they tell me, as they often do, that "Arabs only speak the language of violence", I will have an answer ready.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tolerance, Love, Christmas

Pope Benedict the 16th said today in his pre-Christmas address that "protecting humanity from homosexual and transexual behaviour is as important as protecting the rain forests." He added that "The church must protect humanity from self-destruction."

Coservative Benedict is hardly an expert on saving humanity from self destruction. He is a poor choice of a pope, who is responsible to the deaths of millions by preaching against contreceptives at a time when the African continant is dying of AIDS. Due to his negligence and refusal to protect human lives, he may already be considered the greatest killer in human history. More harmful body-count-wise than Hitler (in whose youth organization Benedict was once a member), Stalin and Mao.

Furthermore, he is causing deadly harm to the glorious holy see. While speaking of "self destruction" Benedict is promoting the self destruction of the Catholic church. I, for one, have always been in love with Catholic peoples, from the Irish to the Poles, and yet such homophobic words stir strongly Protestant feelings in me (particularly Episcopalian ones). I'd like to wish a very merry Christmas to anyone who doesn't follow the path shown by that poor, disgusting bigot, (critical Catholics included), and a happy new year in which both rainforests and human dignity are protected.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


In the pocket of my late grandfather's leather jacket, my favorite hand-me-down/heirloom, I find a wrapped chocolate cube. It was served by the coffee at Ramallah cafe "Tarweea" and bears its logo. Tarweea, if I am not mistaken, is Arabic for "peace of mind".

I take the wrapped chocolate out and put it under the glass of my living room coffee table, along with the stone from Lebanon, the old book of Lenny Bruce routines, the cork of a champagne bottle that flew on some good night, over a year ago, and the small weaved memento of Baku, given to me by an Azeri friend in a place that is neither here nor Baku. I put on my grandfather's jacket and go out for a walk with Itka and Efros.

The sea is a deep cobalt, gushing underneath suspended concrete slabs of the new Ajami boardwalk. Above are the tiled pyramid rooftops of old ottoman buildings and a lighthouse painted with red and white stripes. Crumbling fishing vessles float calmly in a basin used continually for 4000 years, surrounded the smell of cooking squid and the exclamations of Asian tourists, awed by the sunset. I've never loved my friends like this, never been through difficult times with such a sense of calm, and yet rarely been so happy to be gently stepping out of them. This evening it's happening. If life is a journey in the pursuit of Tarweea, I have somehow docked at a safe harbour.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Due to a severe attention deficit problem, I find reading novels nearly impossible. I can write them, but not read them. In conversations where people exchange and compare literary adventures, I sit and nod, jealous.

But sometimes it happens, a book comes along and says: you can't read me? no problem, I'll force you. I will reveal to you each time you open me so much about the world, I'll make you laugh so hard and scare you so effectively that you won't be able to give me up. One such book is "Moscow-Petushki" by Venedict Yerofeyev. It took me nearly a month to go through its mere 212 pages, but I did it.

Moscow-Petushki is a "Russian drinking novel". Thus it was presented to me by Masha and Yonathan who lent it to me. In fact, it is a great work of late modernism, one that grabs Kafka, walks him one step further, tickles him and then kicks him off a cliff. Yerofeyev's book is a cult favorite, written in the Soviet Union during the the 70s. The text had to be kept away from authorities due to its deeply subversive nature, and was first published in a Russian language literary review in Israel. Thank god for Zionism.

The book is at one time as rustic as Robert Johnson's "Dust my Broom" and as profound as Bach's "Mattheus Passion". On one page is a recipe for a drunkards' coctail that contains no actual drink element, only nail polish and shampoo. On the next is an incredibly delicate allusion to Dante. I open the book randomly and happen directly on the following phrases, spoken by a female train passenger: "God knows where my teeth are, I am an educated woman and walk around toothlessly, like that. He knocked them out because of Pushkin. Here, I happened to overhear that you're having a literary debate. I thought to myself: I should come and sit with them and tell them how thanks to Pushkin I got my skull fractured and lost four front teeth."

Such is the plot: Venia takes the train from Moscow to a small town two hours away. He drinks the whole time, talks to some people, pretty much all of them miserable sorts, thinks a lot, hellucinates a bit. That's basically it.

Somehow. This exceeding simplicity allows Yerofeyev to penetrate us and touch us where it hurts the most. All of our fears are one fear: the fear of death. Everything we fear is a form or manifestation of death. Venia is galloping towards death on both an actual train and a train of thoughts, telling very funny stories, charming the reader and revolting him as he does so. Forget stairway to heaven, this is railway to hell. Literal death is not really the issue. Venia has death on his breath. He lives in a state of part death, two parts vodka Kubanskaya and 4 drops of nail polish.

It reminds me of the time my friend Naor found, in a newspaper film review, what he considered to be a perfect definition for life: "A few good jokes in a sea of boredom and obscenity". When life begins to resemble death too closely, as it does more and more with the advance of Moscow-Petushki's locomotive, it is life that we grow to fear. This isn't how I view the world usually, but I've been there, of course. I, too, sometimes find myself surrounded by too much death, and if only I had Yerofeyev's shiny mind, would have been the proud father of a very dark book. Even now as I write this, in full comfort and peace of mind, there's death in everything around me, from my near inability to read books, to the cup of tea I'm sipping, sugarless and dark. There's life there too, but focusing on that makes for a far less captivating read.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Boublil, Shmuelof

Waking up to this new week, many Israelis are experiencing a shudder of anticipation. This is the week, the one on which the winner of Channel 2's over-hyped reality show "Big Brother" will be announced.

There's nothing Israelis are mose engaged in, neither their vanishing savings and jobs, the dying education system, the continued disregard to human rights by their government, the organized crime going rampant, nothing. The fate of Israeli POW Gilad Shalit, kept in Gaza now for two and a half years, is suddenly of very little interest. Other hostages are on our minds, and they are kept in a well equipped villa somewhere in the Neve Ilan stuio complex.

As much as I'd like to avoid saying this, they really are important. The final stages of "Big Brother" give us a peek into current Israeli social reality that will be useful to sociologists in centuries to come. Three months into "Big Brother", only five of the house's inhabitants are left within. Two of them are Yossi and Einav Boublil, father and daughter. They are from the south of Israel and their heritage is "Mizrachi" - meaning that the family originated in the Middle East, rather than in Europe. The Boublils have thus come to symbolize, for many Israelis, what we have seen for decades as the "Mizrachi attitude". to use one simple word: They are aggresive. To use another, one that may be found to be more controversial, they are uncultured.

The other participants in the show are all Ashkenazim. There's Leon (an extrovertedly gay man) and Itay (a run of the mill straight dude), who are both weak in the face of the Bublils' hostile takeover of the atmosphere. It's only Shifra, an artsy girl who emerged from an Ultraorthodox family to live a Tel-Avivian, secular life, who's giving them a fight. Israeli society is splitting between supporters of Shifra and Supporters of Boublil the father, who seems most likely to win the show.

In a society that always dealt with tension between the Mizrachim and Ashkenazim, this is no simple experience. The Mizrachim who side with Boublil don't realize that, while being potentially triumphant, he is actually causing them severe harm, tattooing poisonous stigma. Moreover, Boublil has come to embody the Ashkenazim's fear that their society is being taken over by brutes, who disregard not only culture but civil behaviour. Boublil forces the bunch to watch the film he fancies (a light hearted comedy with blue collar, Mizrachi themes) rather than the one requested by the majority (a sophisticated drama/thriller, half set in Berlin). He causes all to disregard Shifra's birthday, simply because he and his daughter dislike her. To many ashkenazim, this reflects a shift away from emphasis on culture and civility in society, for which they blame the gradual empowerment of Mizrachim.

Ashkenazim who side with Shifra are often using her as a tool to express prejudice that otherwise would never have been voiced. In such way, Shifra herself contributes to uglyness in the society. This house will be the death of us. I can't wait till Tuesday!

To be honest, though, what really intrigues me is the experience of people "in the middle", such as my dear friend, intellectual and social activist Mati Shmuelof. Mati devotes himself to the Mizrachi struggle. He is infuriated by the harms inflicted by Ashkenazi society on immigrants from Middle Eastern and North African countries. For the most, those immigrants arrived here in the 50s, into a land ruled by the Ashkenazim, and found advancing in society rather difficult.

Now they have advanced. Le Monde called Yossi Bublil "the Prime Minister of Israel". How does Mati, a cultured, sensative and elegant Mizrachi man, who carries himself about this life in a manner far more reminicient of Shifra's, feel about this? Would he vote for Boublil to support the mizrachi cause? Could he bring himself to vote for a "Fridmanit" (the term for an Ashkenazi woman that originated on the show), attractive though she may be? How does he feel when Bublil is praised in his company? How does he feel when he is being put down?

My guess is that Mati doesn't vote at all, but that if forced to, as a task imposed by "Big Brother", for example, he would have gone for Shifra. Israel still is split between Mizrachim and Ashkenazim, but a much more strongly pronounced divide exists between those who hold education and civil behaviour in high regard and those who don't. On either side of this divide are both Mizrachim and Ashkenazim. If more Mizrachim are to be found on the Boublil end of the map, it is because Israeli society fostered lack of education among them for decades by treating them all as potential Boublils. Let's not repeat this mistake. Yes, Boublil is a Mizrachi, but he is, above all, and in a way to which ethnicity is irrelevant, an asshole.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Natten går tunga fjät, runt gård och stuga.

Yes! today is my favorite holiday: the nocturnal, mysterious, slightly macabre, coffee-scented, candle-lit, Swedish Sankta Lucia day.

Enjoy the beautiful santa lucia song clipped on to this older post about the holiday. I once passed a shabby trombone player on dizengoff street who was playing it to the indifferant public. That was one random, delightful moment.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Flashky and I buy two pitas with falafel and a pack of Davidoff cigarellos. "I'll take you to a special place to smoke them," he suggests. "Let's go to the smoking lounge at the Dizengoff Centre and sit with all the Emos."

This word is new to me.

"You know, the young kids who get their hairs straightened and lots of piercing in their faces. It's the biggest fashion trend now."

"Why are they called Emos?"

"Short for emotionals."

We climb through the massive downtown shopping center to one of its upper tiers, where a tiny roon is devoted to the smoking public. The chamber is decorated by many an ad for "Golf" cigarettes, clearly a sponsor of sorts, but the real decor consists of home-grown graffiti. Several kids, ranging in age between 13-16, are sitting there. They all fit the description of Emos down to the piearced cleavage. I take a photo of two of them, Michelle and Shani.

Then we head out into the night, to an art opening, where I bump again into downtown ex-lover (I get set back about two days in my process of forgetting her each time I see her, and I see her about once in every two days, so there really is very little hope), to the Minzar, that ancient Tel-Aviv pub, where I find myself repremending a friend who recently turned away a true companion: "You don't give love up! You don't give love up!"

And later: "Roam free, butterfly. Just take care of your butterfly heart."

The dark moon is high. Everyone is struggling. At the end of the night we're out having pizza on Allenby, with another friend sitting on the railing that graces the sidewalk, losing the good spirit that characterized his evening so far. His own failed attempt at a love story hurts him about thrice a day. Now comes the third time.

He's being quiet about it, but I know: He's an Emo, we're all such fucking Emos. Otherwise we wouldn't be singing "operator" in the middle of the street. Otherwise I wouldn't be giving each of my friends a goodbye hug that's meant, first and foremost, to comfort.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


There are lots of people I like on the various "chat" channels tonight. I'm supposed to be working but the little "bing!" of the Gmail chat, and the wee "click" of the Facebook chat are unstoppable. I think to myself: why are these people all alone in front of the computers? Most of them know each other. They could be having a grand party. Then I think: why need they have a grand party when they have chat?

Anyway, it would make for a messy party. On my Gmail chat I'm currently hosting the members of two couples that split up over the past 48 hours. Don't you know the feeling? Your ex-lover's name comes up and you know that with just one double click you can spin the lost relationship into new depths of disaster. Then, suddenly, the name of a previous ex-lover pops up beneath that of the first one. the names shift places, they nestle back to back, You wonder: what are the gods of chat trying to convey?

Currently on my Gmail chat list there's one proper ex and another girl with whom I once had a wonderful romantic adventure. Pretty cool. Facebook? only that same romantic adventure girl, nothing heavy duty. but wait! everyone on my facebook chat list is a woman except one man and he's gay. I count how many of them I find attractive and arrive at about 80%, leave the two married women out, and you still have a lot of potential romance and sexual tension in my lonesome nocturnal room.

Girls look surprisingly good in two dimentions. I go to my friends list to rate the top three loveliest profile photos. It is a beauty peagent like no other. The swimsuit bit and the evening gown bit are mixed, as every contestant is free to choose her attire freely. Please, my friends, I do not masturbate to Facebook, but I am fascinated by the state of romance today. This is where it begins - with little flirts and xx's, this is where it ends, with names resting back to back, like corpses in one of those multi-level burial plots they now offer in Israel for lack of land. Chat is both the maternity ward and cemetary of post-modern love, it's its inferno, purgatory and paradisio.

Well, not quite. You really have to meet face to face for paradisio. At least that.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Forbidden City

We left Jerusalem at dusk and reached the wall 20 minutes later.

By nightfall we were here:

Palestine is a prison. The Gaza strip is hermetically shut - a mass dungeon. The West Bank is nearly engulfed by the notorious seperation wall and choked by countless roadblocks. Palestinians can only travel out of their small territory to Jordan, via a tedious process that involves much humiliation. Then they can continue further, but who has the energy?

Israelis can travel into the West Bank to visit Jewish settlements and settler-dominated central Hebron (which is an abominable ghost town). The big cities, though easily reachable by car, are forbidden to us. If we are caught there by the Palestinian police, we will be transferred to the Israeli authorities for interrogation and possible imprisonment. Leaving such places is the real problem: get caught at the checkpoint and you're in trouble.

Bereft of foreign passports but full of curiousity, we said: who gives a damn, then travelled to Ramallah.

Being illegal in a rustic city where a lot of people hate your guts is fun to begin with (makes you feel cool!)

Being there with Itka and Helene is the very definition of fun.

Helene the Quebecoise lived in Beirut and Damascus before and spent a spell in Ramallah as well. She knows her way around and has friends in town. I'll give only people's initials out of regard for their safety and omit photos of our Palestinians friends.

The first friend who came to join us was S. a true cosmopolitan and a very funny guy. He runs an NGO and smokes like a locomotive. His friend O., who put us up for the night, does important environmental work and smokes too.

Incredibly enough, I had a friend in town too. J, who rears from a remote island in the Baltic sea, volunteers for the Palestinain cause. She only came by briefly to have one beer with us at "The Blue" (Ramallah's equivelant of Tel-Aviv's Riff Raff), but that was enough to enchant her with Nordic salt lollies.

From the Blue we moved on to "Jaffar's" for to fill our stomachs, then to "Sangria", a delightful bar, then to "Zan", a trendy downtown spot. I was delighted to see women smoking the Nargila pipes, wining and dining in all the different nightspots. This is uncommon in the rest of the Arab world, including Palestinian communities in Israel, and cements Ramallah's reputation as a relatively liberal, fun-loving city.

Zan, we were told, tends to be more fun loving. The previous night a party was held and the house was rocked. The night of our visit was mellow. The DJ was horrible and spent most of the evening checking his Facebook page. We fought the mellowness with a few rounds of Ramallah-appropriate drinks: Taybeh beer and Arrak. When an Israeli and a Palestinian raise a toast, something's bound to spill.

The male clientelle did not remain indifferent to the fair-haired girls. One suitor posessed a very hawkish political mind. Luckily we made up foreign identities for ourselves (Itka was Ukranian. I was Gabor, or Gabriel, from Hungary.)

But lo and behold, there were other Israelis there. Such as S, a West Jerusalem girl, who is about to be married to her Palestinian beloved and may move to live accross the line.

Don't get too deep into that Hallmark woosieness, though. This is Palestine. O's living room wall is adorned with a bullet hole. Our late night conversation touched on some of the scarier aspects of our mutual history. It was a great conversation, no banal bullshit, and none of the PC politeness that often castrates such talk. I was awed by everyone in the room.

It was at about this point we started really worrying about how we would get out. If the soldiers wave us through, all will be well, I could even post the story on my blog without much worry. If they don't, we'd have to come up with a tall-tale. What would be credible? What would give us away? How can we pretend to have come from a settlement when settlers don't drive on Saturdays? Should we hide the memory cards of our cameras? delete the photos altogether?

All the worrying made us tired. We gave one last yawn and faded out.

The following day, the city was gloriously hectic.

I've never been in a town so rich with baloon vendors.

We learned incredible stuff about Ramallah, for instance: that Tel-Aviv is clearly visible from it. Here, zoomed-in for your blog-reading pleasure, but visible also to the naked eye, is the Ramat-Gan skyline, 40 Km. away.

and here's Jerusalem to the south, with the Holiday Inn tower and Callatrava's bridge sticking out as landmarks.

We were climbing out of downtown, towards the Muqata'a - the Palestinian presidential palace and the location of Arafat's tomb. This was one place Itka and I were definitely not allowed to approach. even the IDs of passersby are checked. We decided to give the place a peripheral glance.

Then, by some manouver that included switching into another set of made-up nationalities and momentarily leaving all of our belongings (including our hidden Israeli IDs) in the hands of two Palestinian policemen, we were inside.

This was as good as it gets. We left the Muqata'a breathless - and not only us two Israelis. S. was nervous as hell within the walls and was now beginning to regain himself. Helene was brimming with love for Ramallah. Look at her face and look at all our faces on the last photo of us taken in the city.

How I would have loved to conclude the post with this photo, but in reality the last image of the trip is that of that o so aesthetically pleasing seperation wall and the checkpoint personnel.

We made it through quite easily. one friendly wave at the soldier, and she waved us through. This is a wave that S. and O. can't give. The illusion was broken. For 24 hours we got an inkling of what it feels like to be Palestinian, to always fear uniformed presence, to be forever trapped between hostile checkpoints, to feel that you have something to hide, that you are guilty, even if you never hurt a soul. Then, suddenly, we were safe.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Beautiful, like Prophecies

When I moved into my Jaffa home, I bought myself a mezuzah: that little box that is attached to the door frame at the entry to every Jewish home. My neighbors in the building and around are mostly Muslim and Christian. I came to live in peace among them and hence felt fully comfortable in showing some cultural uniqueness.

The neighbors treated the mezuzah with full respect, but the neighborhood kids acted as kids would, removed it somehow from the door frame, and vanished with its content. Inside each mezuzah is rolled a tiny scroll bearing a biblical inscription commending Jews to love God. Since loving is not an act that can be willingly performed, but rather a feeling that stems from the heart, Judaism developed the mezuzah - a little box of love - as a symbolic form of observing the commandment.

I went to town and bought a new ceramic mezuzah for 12 sheqels, then felt conflicted. Should I really put 90 sheqels more into the scroll? these scrolls are made by special traditional scribes, they can't be gotten for any less than that, and what if the kids tear it off again? will I just spend the rest of my Jaffa days Sysiphically traveling to Allenby to buy more and more tiny scrolls, investing all my money and time in something I don't honestly believe in except as some pretty tradition?

Then I had an idea. The previous day I found and purchased a used copy of Yehuda Amichai's book of poetry "Behind all of This, Great Happiness is Hiding". In it was my single favorite poem in the Hebrew language, the one caled "Royal Love song". It begins thus:

You are beautiful, like prophecies,
And sad, like those that are fulfilled.
Silent with the silence of the aftermath
Black in the white solitude of Jasmine
Sharp fangs in the mouth: a she-wolf and a queen.

It's really not much of a sacred text, unless you believe, as I do, that sex is truly holy, and that no beauty is complete without darkness. Here's another bit:

You are beautiful like prophecies that are not fulfilled,
and this is the royal scar:
With the tongue, to pass over it, with the sharpened hand
Over the sweet roughness.

With hard shoes you knock
back and forth bars over me
Your wild rings
Are sacred leprosy of your fingers.

I ripped out the page, rolled it into the mezuza, then glued it to the wall with the toughest industrial glue I could find.

Since them, whenever I became a bit unlucky, I'd always wonder whether that was a good idea. a Jewish superstition has it that if things go wrong around the house, the mezuzahs should be examined with a magnifying glass for flaws. perhaps the scribe slightly misspelled something and thus inflicted the house's dwellers with cancer, financial collapse, etc.

Thankfully, I suffer from neither, but the past few weeks have been difficult, especially financially. this Sunday morning I woke up dreading the morrow: the first day of the month, when both my credit card bill is charged to my account and my rent is due. I was dealing with several difficult matters, worried about myself and others, feeling rather out of love and lonely, in short, distressed.

This is just when the best day of my year began. I got an offer to write regularly for the nation's most powerful newspaper, saved a book deal that was about to tank and successfully fought against a bad deal that was to scam me out of royalties for another book. miraculously fixed an annoying flaw in my bike, realizing while doing so that I have lost weight: my pants kept slipping off at I bent, threatening a plumber's exposure to passersby on Salame St.

I got everything fixed just in time for a casual lunch with a profoundly attractive, intelligent and unique acquaintance of mine. It turned into a truly romantic date that lasted well into the night. We went to watch "Four Minutes", a random German film, picked by name. somehow it turned out to deal with everything we were talking about beforehand and be a monumental piece of cinema neither of us will ever forget.

On arriving home I found, on the mat before my door (there my neighbors bring my mail from the box as neighborly courtesy), an envelope containing a check some publication owed me. It was for 2425 sheqels. My rent, due on that same date, stands at 2300.

On the envelope lay the mezuzah. It fell from the doorframe despite the heavy duty glue. When I picked it up, "Royal Love Song" fell out of it. I read a verse:

Out of the ground emerges
all that I wished never to see again
column and windowframe, portico and jar, shatters of wine.

Make of my tale what you will, but this is not going back in.