Friday, January 16, 2004

Sof Shavua

It's been a bit of a lonely weekend for me thus far--not counting Thursday's terrific party. Luise, Gosha, and Bernd really went all out with their apartment, covering the walls with foil, moving out all the furniture, filling the tub with ice and cheap Israeli beer, and renting sound equipment. There were people from all over there--artists from Germany, volunteers from France, a handful of Israelis, Italians, and even a few Palestinians. I tried practicing my horrible Arabic, to no avail, but they were all very encouraging. I talked to an Arab drummer, who I had seen perform a few days before, and we talked about religion and Israel and Palestine. I suppose my first real conversation with a Palestinian. The strange thing was how western they seemed in a lot of ways, blond, blue-eyed, excellent English (better than a lot of the Israelis I know here), well-educated. I don't know what I expected. Anyway, the party was a great time.

But yesterday I spent the whole day in my apartment by myself. The idea was to study like a maniac, but something happens to me in absolute solitude for more than four or five hours: I sort of shut down mentally. This is not good for me. I guess I need human contact for at least an hour every day. I didn't get nearly as much studying done as I should have, but I did do quite a bit of Hebrew. Today I am scrambling to get out of my apartment, but none of my friends are answering their phones, and I can't just head to a coffee shop as everything is closed for Shabbat! Well, tonight I go to church, and I'll get my fill of people there.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Finals are approaching

I am skipping class today. I just decided. It is dark outside, and I am supposed to walk to class right now and sit for three hours on a Thursday night (which is the equivalent of Friday night in the states). That is what I am supposed to do. Who makes class on a weekend evening? Moshe Idel, that's who. He may be The Man in Kabbalah but right now I am very angry at his choice of schedule. So I am skipping! I am being very naughty, writing this instead of being a good student...but I have a party to go to tonight and I must get ready.

I have been studying hard though. Arabic is getting increasingly complicated, and I am attempting to recopy all of my messy notes from my other classes whilst reading the million assigned books, so I've been in the library quite a bit. I'm worried about exams, more than I thought I would be, mainly because I don't know what to expect. I've managed to get out a few times though. The other day I went to a student concert at the Givat Ram campus of my school, in which a Spanish friend of mine played the violin. Afterward we went out to the Stardust, and I met up with some Israeli journalists who took me out for a drink or two. I understood about 1/4 of what was said, so I guess I'm improving.

Friday, January 09, 2004

It's very cold here

Jerusalem is in the midst of a cold snap, which for the most part I enjoy, except for the fact that I have to walk the twenty minute walk back and forth from school in freezing rain. I am getting used to being wet. It's not so bad actually. I'm just happy to be living in a place that has (at least) two recognizable seasons.

I am slowly but surely getting better. I finally went to the doctor to get my antibiotics, after having figured out all the insurance stuff. Luckily with my card I don't have to pay a thing--not for doctor's appointments, not for prescriptions--very nice. So now I am left with only a cough and a runny nose. I think I have forgotten what it feels like to be healthy.

This week I went to two very different birthday parties, the first for my friend Ephrat, an Israeli, and the second for Anya, from Poland. Ephrat's party was all in Hebrew, so I was pretty lost, but I understood some things and had a good time anyway. Anya's party was in her boyfriend's lovely apartment in the German Colony. His father is the Israeli ambassador to Poland, so it's apt that he's dating a Polish girl. This party was all in English with Polish subtitles, and it was a great time. I talked to one girl for quite a long time, and she explained to me some of the intricacies of keeping strict kosher (such as, if you should accidentally use meat in a dairy pot, it can be salvaged if the pot is ceramic, but not if it is Teflon.) I learn more every day.

As for classes, everything is going well, and I am in the middle of writing my final paper for my class on Ancient Mesopotamia. I'm writing about the origins of Jewish Monotheism in the Ancient Mesopotamian pantheon, and am learning some startling things. Maybe I'll post all twenty pages when I'm done.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Ani Yoter Tov

Yesterday in Arabic, we finally learned the last two letters in the alphabet, and theoretically should be able to read, though not understand, everything written with vowels. In Hebrew we are about to finish our first level (Aleph) textbook, and in Classical Jewish texts we are up to the Mishnah. My actual class time in Islam is over, and now it is time to start thinking of my seminar paper. Soon the semester will be over, and I will be a quarter of the way through my Masters. Everything is going so fast, and yet I feel strangely detached lately. My mind is in several different places, and I'm having trouble concentrating on schoolwork. The mid-semester lull, I suppose. Hope I snap out of it.

Monday, January 05, 2004

On the Mend

Finally went to the doctor today, and am now thankfully taking Augmentin. Hopefully I will soon be able to concentrate on something, be it my room, that still needs drastic attention, as the rug is a rusty, mildewed mess, or my classes, in which I am very behind, or any number of things that I have let slide over the past few weeks, due to traveling, or visiting, or illness...soon all will be in order again.

This is Jef and I atop the Tower of David last week, with all of Jerusalem beneath us. 

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Chola B'lev

So now I am alone in my apartment, having dropped Jef off at the airport a few hours ago. I miss him already, and everything seems worse since I am sick sick sick. I never get sick, and yet it seems like I've been sick since I've been here. Why is this? All I eat are healthy foods. I walk a few miles a day. I take vitamins. When I was home, I never exercised, didn't take vitamins, and ate a disturbing diet of fried everything, and yet there I was healthy all the time. So what am I doing wrong? Should I eat more McDonalds and watch more TV? Maybe then I'll feel better.

As for my week, it was great--except for the sick part. Jef and I had to take turns trying to nurse each other back into health. Yesterday we were in Tel Aviv, and all we managed to do was take a taxi to the only open pharmacy (shabbat) where we loaded up on drugs and sat on a bench outside, barely speaking, waiting for the stuff to work. Finally we went to a movie. Last night we managed to make it to Jaffa, the "old city" of Jerusalem, and one of the oldest ports in the world. This was the place where Jonah took off when God told him to go to Nineveh; this was the place where Solomon received his Cedar from Lebanon. The city was charming and beautiful, but it took a lot of energy just to have dinner and take a few pictures. Maybe we'll laugh about this experience one day. We'll see.