Saturday, June 30, 2007

Good Days

From one minute to the next, my mind conceives of 40,000 different ways to connect what I'm seeing and feeling. But I seem to strangely doubt and wrestle with my words here. I'm wondering if this is because I'm struggling to learn a new language and my mind cannot rectify the incompatibility of thoughts and sounds?

That said, I haven't been able to keep up with myself. If my lack of access to bathing water at the moment is in direct correlation to my ability to get on the internet at will. Both are not a daily sort of activity one can engage in in the West Bank without being trite and cheeky (in a negative way).

The good news is that I was called "cheeky" in a positive way today by a man from Norway when I told him that I have discovered a way to eat breakfast for free in Jerusalem. The Notre Dame Catholic Church sits opposite of the New Gate in Jerusalem. I went there the other morning to get a cup of tea and sit in the shade for a little while. I was heading to a conference on health care issues in the Occupied Territories. It was blazing hot at 8am, and I told the guy at the restaurant of the hotel that I wanted tea. He told me that I needed to go to the breakfast room. Because I had not eaten breakfast (or dinner the night before), my eyes lit up like a Baby Jesus Christmas Tree at the sight!

In my tea-length skirt and collared dress shirt, the assumption was made that I was a good Catholic patron of the Notre Dame Hotel. Because I was starving, I allowed this to work in my favor, and before I knew it, I was feasting on watermellon and really yogurt and tea and jam and cheese. This made me a very happy Namaste. At one point, as the fresh watermelon was going into my mouth, I had to wonder if I will karmically pay for my thievery? Upon consideration, I decided to give 10 shekels to the next begger I met on the street. (And I did.)

Of course, after the conference, since I happened to stay the night in a cheap hostel in the Arab Quarter, I went back to to the Notre Dame hotel restaurant the next morning to see if I could get free breakfast again. Again, no problemo. Maybe this whole lapsed Catholic karma thing isn't so bad...

So, my Norse friend called me cheeky, and bought me an adult beverage at the Jerusalem Hotel, and I just smiled and sipped and accepted compliments on how I really don't look my age. Meanwhile, I got to relish in the fact that this is the first day in nearly two weeks that I had not completely managed to sweat through my clothing, down to my toes, and simultanously out of my teeth. It's been so bloody hot. No, it is beyond hot. There are no words for this kind of hot. Hot.

To summarize, it's kind of like this: You know it's a good day when your stinky pigtails aren't glistening with sweat and somehow smell like feet. It's a good day when you can get out a few sentences in Arabic and not sound completely mentally challenged. It's a good day when you can manage to avoid eating bread. (If you happen to have an unfortunate gluten allergy.) It's a good day when you find shortcuts through what seem like unbearable, shadeless treks across the city. It's a good day--at the end of the day--when you walk back into the camp and all of the children come running to hang out with the white girl. And yes, it's a good day when you say to yourself, "Wow, this shirt doesn't smell so bad--I think I might wear it again." This means that it only smells like ass, and not a dead animal, and yes, this is a good thing...

More to come. Forgive me. For now, this must suffice.

In peace,


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