Friday, January 19, 2007


wow. i think i've been starting alot of my posts that way....but its these intense ups and downs! today i had an intensely sucky experience on my kitchen work shift--basically, the 4 head cooks are total assholes and will randomly be mean to whomever they want. and of course, they won't let me do anything because i'm a girl, and also yell at me for not doing anything (grr!!). i did my best to yell back, but its tough to keep a prickly exterior for 4 hours straight (with no break), and half the time i was fighting back tears of anger and frustration. so many barriers to communication--language and culture being the two biggest.

it doesn't help that sky is feeling hurt and wants to cut off contact with me again; he's done this twice before when i was off travelling and it became too painful to hear about my sexual exploits (not that he wasn't having them too). mainly i'm just feeling emotionally exhausted from all the ups and downs and back and forths in all aspects of my life. today i thought, it wouldn't be the end of the world if sky dumped me. though i don't want him to of course. but, i don't feel like getting worked up and attached, i'm just tired.

shabbat starts in a couple of hours, the buchbuts (my morroccan saviours) apparently called esther (the head of the ulpan) to invite me over for shabbat. she told them that i couldn't go this week b/c we'll be all together here.

tomorrow night i've been assigned to the 3 hour post-shabbat dish duty--my goodness, it would be easy to sink into a deep morass of self-pity and moping! the truth is that my roommate miryam was on the last ulpan and is a great support person, and some weird sadistic part of me feels up to the challenge of this stupid kitchen job. everyone keeps telling me, you can't take it personally, there just mean assholes to everyone, its not special to you. its something i really struggle with, and of course it was so hard and miserable because i was totally taking everything personally. i just don't know how to be in that kind of environment in a healthy way--putting up a prickly wall or just breaking down and being a mush are both unappealing options. i guess the trick is to let it in and out the other side, like tong lin. just take in all their negativity and release it immediately without touching anything inside. somehow i have a feeling that its easier said then done. but maybe (!??!) it will be a good practice for me.

in the meantime, no work (or travel or music playing or internet or telephone) for 24 hours. if you're reading this, please send me some kind and supportive thoughts, i think i'm going to need them.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

kibbutzing along

(this is from yesterday)
day 4 on the kibbutz, and i'm finally starting to feel a bit settled. i've also finally found some answers to my many questions about this kibbutz, here's what i've learned so far.

Kibbutz Beerot Yitzhak is about 50 years old, it is religous, which means that it is shomer shabbat, observant of shabbat, also men must cover their head and women can't wear tank tops. it also means that the family is the basic unit. there's probably more but i'm not sure what...its pretty laid back as far as religiosity. the main industries are packaging sandwhiches (like for selling in gas stations or at large, catered events), milk and dairy products (which are also for kibbutz consumption) and coating pipes with some kind of metallic coat. there's also a spice factory and a grocery store here that they used to own. as you probably already know, this kibbutz like most others is moving more and more towards greater privatization, hence the selling off of businesses. there are folks who resist this and folks who are pushing for it, but as esther (ulpan manager) said, its ultimately inevitable.

30 percent of the kibbutzniks work outside, and 70 percent work on the kibbutz, in one of the industries (or domestic stuff, i think). there's a daily "quota", everyone works at least 6.5 hours/day. on shabbat, no one works. hours are 7 30am -4pm generally, but managers, etc often work much more then this. there is no compensation for overtime. everyone gets a budget from the kibbutz for things like clothes, food, travel, personal needs etc. larger expenses like medical and dental are covered by the kibbutz. folks eat breakfast and lunch together in the main dining hall, dinner they eat in their houses. i think the only food production is the dairy. also, apparently it is quite difficult to join--you must be deemed a very good fit by the kibbutz members, which is difficult to do.

i also found out more about the ulpan, basically they are programs run through many kibbutzim but also in cities, a 5 month course of intensive hebrew study. if you make aliya (if you are jewish and move to israel), you are guaranteed 1 free ulpan, to help with "absorption" as they call it (they don't like to say assimilation). so, many of my fellow ulpanistas have recently made aliya. which is another whole fascinating topic--the demographic of the ulpanistas. i feel like i'm in sociologist/anthropologist heaven here--everyone has a different, fascinating story of how they got here and what they are doing here. the standard first question is, did you make aliyah? if the answer is no, then this means that you are a tourist. that's me of course.

i want to interject a brief note about the kibbutz/ulpan relationship--for you oakers, its very much like the member/visitor relationship. some kibbutzniks are warm and open and friendly, and some are rude and closed off and don't want outsiders on the kibbutz. sound familiar?

i've been pretty much interrogating everyone i meet that made aliyah, asking them why and how they came to decide this. the most interesting to me is a guy from south africa who will do the ulpan for 1 month, and then join the israeli army. he hasn't made aliya, he just wants to join the army for a couple of years and then return to S. africa. we also have 2 brazilians, a swede, a bellarussian, siberian, ukrainian, a canadian, several virginians, 2 frenchies... and morris from long island. morris is about the dorkiest person i've ever met--when i met him, he turned bright red and looked like he was going to pee his pants with excitement. endearing. morris is from long island, of course.

all together we are about 25. so far, the kibbutz feels very cold and regimented. luckily, a friend put me in touch with his moroccan/jewish family who randomly happen to live in a tiny villiage that is a 2 minute walk through the neighboring fields. i walked over there yesterday, and just asked around til i found the house. it was such a beautiful experience. the mother welcomed me in with open arms (oh! you are girlfriend of my little doodle!!) and forced me to eat a giant plate of absolutely delcious food--very welcome after the oily and mass produced kibbutz fare. she is a gourmet cook and was in the middle of making guava jam and donughts for a neighbor. her son was there too, as well as the father and an adorable little neice. it was such a welcome experience after the cold impersonality of the kibburtz. they were warm and open and welcoming, and very real and sincere, too. the son had me in stiches with tales of all the hijinks they used to pull on the kibbutz as kids- sneaking in to swim in the pool at night, letting all the chickens out, driving the tractor around........they sent me off with a giant bag of homemade gourmet cookies, a jar of guava jam, and invited me back anytime. tomorrow we start regular class/work schedule. apparantly its very fast paced, but i feel ready to jump in.


wow, lots of stuff stirring. i can feel the flow kicking in and carrying me along. today was the first day of class, i LOVE being back in school, even in this little way. we have 3 hours of class in the morning, then a half hour for lunch. i worked in the kitchen in the afternoon, also trying hard to use my hebrew as much as possible.

i feel very excited about all of the possibilities opening up, but mostly just the relief of touching back into the deep inner knowing that i can just let go and let the tide of life take me.

gersh and i are starting to plan the piroski world tour 2007, i'm so glad to be back in touch with him and continuously amazed at the way our friendship continues to deepen and open outward. i forgot that he reads this blog, after reading the last entry about our time together, he wrote to me "I red [sic] your blog and understood many things much better after reading
the pure description of your feelings and thoughts, not affected by any
circumstences in the same time."

i also got a beautiful email from a budding friend (can you say that? the friendship is budding, anyway. and she is like a rose bud...) at twin oaks, i'm excited to be having all of these lovely correspondances.

sky and i talked this afternoon, our first real conversation since i arrived here. i totally dominated the conversation, high on the adrenalin from the first day of work and class, and just the good vibes from feeling settled and connected. he did talk a bit about about the weird family dynamic (his co-parents and their feelings about me). its a pretty annoying situation, he pretty much summed it up by saying that they don't regard me as peers. here, so far away from it all, it feels petty and meaningless. i hope i'm able to integrate the intense growth that i feel happening here when i return to the states.

Monday, January 15, 2007

the dirt

well, the last two posts were versions of messages from my mass email list, with the emotional turmoil neatly ommitted.

so here's the undercurrent of intensity that's going down:

basically, this gershon thing is utter madness. but also awesome. pretty inexplicable, really. we met at klez kanada, and saw each other again at klez kamp...hung out alot and there was a little spark which became an all consuming blowtorch of love, for him.  i've been sorta on the fence,  we had a nice connection at klez kamp, and i
 wasn't sure what would happen when i came here, until

the night before leaving for israel, sky and i made the huge, unprecedented decision to be...........MONOGOMOUS while i'm in israel! yes, the poly king and ms. fear of closed relationships, voluntarily attaching the seriously, it was actually inspired by an amazing conversation that i had with my sister that same night, and it feels totally good and right and amazing.  i love sky so much, and am really excited about being with him in a way that 
i haven't felt about anyone (for this long, anyway--the two week flame is my specialty).  so it feels great
to limit myself out of this desire for a big deep commitment.

and, for gershon, its total torture. i think the crux of it is that russian passion and emotions burn deeply and intensely, and seem to be all consuming. so, basically we've been kind of fighting the whole time. me fighting to get him to LET GO, and him fighting to hold on to his pain.

last night was madness, i had a phone date with sky, and then gersh came home, and after sulking for a few minutes, he told me to tell sky that i was fine, and to get off the phone. which left me feeling utterly unraged and powerless. we ended up having kind of an ugly fight, and then about 2 hours of talking and processing, perhaps the most intense of my life. this is after 2 days filled with emotional ups and downs and processing, and about 5 hours of sleep. at the end, he asked if we could cuddle platonically just to help get to a good place. i agreed, and it was nice, and then we went to sleep (at 1 30) in our respective bed/couch.


until, 7am, me still half asleep, he crawls into bed (couch)with me! after going over and over and over all of this shit so many times. so then, (after i meditated) we had another huge fight, its just so hard and ugly.

and it sucks, because i really do like him--he's funny and kind and generous, and appreciative...........and CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!! i can't figure out how to create a friendship.  maybe i need
to just give up and go away for awhile...

its good that we are apart now, i'l be here for 3 weeks.  and i don't know what will happen--more importantly, i'm feeling pretty stuck around how to approach this relationship. its f'n exhausting! somtimes it feels worth it and sometimes i'm just sick to death of explaining the same sh@t over and over.

any advice/insight would be much appreciated.......posted here or directly to

i miss sky.

kibbutz arrival

amazingly, i last wrote a mere 24 hours ago. somehow, i feel like i've already lived through lifetimes here.

yesterday (!) was a fun day, it felt great to finally be out on my own in the city, getting lost and figuring things out. The university of tel aviv has a large, beautiful campus, lots of green and trees, with the city scape in the background. The diaspora museum is 3 floors, with tons of interesting exhibits about all aspects of jewish life (community, family, study, etc), and the whole 3rd floor is dedicated to the various exodusus (exodi?). unfortunately i got there only an hour before closing, so i plan on returning when i'm back in tel aviv, with a note book and sketch pad. i promise a fuller report........

after that, i took the bus back to Jaffa--in my attempt to find old Jaffo, i managed to get myself completely lost, and ended up just wandering around neighborhoods for a good while, which was quite fun. people kept telling me to turn right, but the streets were all windy so i just meandered around. eventually, some people sent me in the right direction and i found my way back to the old section, it so magical and beautiful there! there's one giant castle-like building that used to be a lebanese synagogue and now is a museum and art shops, i wandered in the alleys and nooks for awhile, taking pictures. when it was time to go back, i got lost again! i think this is going to be a major theme.

This morning, i got up early, packed up my stuff, and took 2 busses to a religous kibbutz, beerot yitzhak north of tel aviv. when i arrived, it became clear what a huge exception they are making for me--the program is 5 months and $2000, its crazy to come only for 3 weeks. but, thanks to the gershon connection, they are just going to ignore all the beaurocracy and let me do it (!!). i feel pretty lucky.

so far, its a bit intimidating but also amazing to finally be on a kibbutz! i have so many questions and curiosities. The ulpan is a 5 month program of work and study that happens here, it seems to be fairly separate from the rest of the kibbutz. i'm staying in a little hut like cabin with 2 other girls that i haven't met yet, one french and one american. apparently there are 3 others from virginia, oh goody. there will be 25-39 of us altogether. most are russian.

after lunch i managed to get completely lost again, but it was so fascinating, just wandering around on my own! there seems to be some industry, also i came across giant fields of some crop and a cattle area (!). mostly its like a giant neighborhood, little sidewalks connecting the houses together. 400 people live here, 80 families. the houses are mostly stucco, very cute with lawn furniture and ornaments made from leftover industrial materials. there are a few kid houses/schools (like i said, many many unanswered questions), a big group dining hall and the ulpan section, offices and little cabins. beyond the borders there are mountains--its like a little villiage oasis, very green and pretty and it smells like chickens.

i'm very excited to be here after spending the last three years describing my home as a "secular kibbutz". it totally warmed my heart to see the cute old people in the dining room--there seem to be lots of young folks here too.

the schedule is going to be quite rigorous--4 hours of work in the morning, 4 hours of class in the afternoon. and i'm not entirely clear about the religious observance requirements...

arrival and madness

greetings from the holy land!

i arrived friday here afternoon, severly jet lagged and still recovering from the rude reclamation of my toothpaste by the fascist german customs
agents (i'd been awake for too many hours, and yes i cried in the bathroom for 5 minutes while enjoying my final fennel-licous dental moment).

an hour after my arrival here in tel aviv, gershon (russian/israeli friend from klez kanada, religious jew from a West Bank settlement, klezmer bassist and violinist, and all around crazy guy) dragged me to a chabad (religious jewish organization) shabbat dinner at the university--i was still having to remind myself what country i was in and prop my eye lids open, but it was fun and crazed and festive--the rabbi was getting drunk on cheap vodka and pouring shots for everyone (gershon sniffed his cup, and said to me "i don't drink fuel"), there was lots of singing and table pounding and food and general merryment.

Saturday, we walked to the (mediterranean) sea and went swimming in our underwear (despite the cool, breezy tempurature), then went back to chabad for shabbos lunch and more vodka-induced merriment. gershon had a dramatic emotional breakdown which included telling me that i couldn't stay with him, but thankfully that has now passed.

after shabbos ended, we took a bus to Jaffa (pronounced YA-fo), a very old city in the south that is now part of tel aviv. its about 3000 years old and is mentioned in the bible, very beautiful with castle-like buildings, winding alleys and tons of weird, wirey cats meandering around. afterward, we walked about a million miles to a bar back in the city where gershon's band, Oy Division, was playing...(traditional klez with accordian, bass, violin and clarinet). unfortunately i accidentally drank some caffinated tea when we went to a friends house to get blankets, so i was up until about 2 am...

This morning, gershon woke me up by sitting on me at 7am, but then we had the best breakfast ever--scary instant coffee, avacado on bagels, grapes and bananas. delicious!

then we started putting together a set for our new band, "in the russian style," which will be coming to a kibbutz/moshav near YOU sometime soon. the name has a funny story which probably won't translate over email, so i'll save you the to say that it is cause for much hilarity. (sidenote: according to gersh, russian is the only language in which you can conduct in depth analytical conversations about literature, politics, art, etc., using only curses).

also i found out today that tomorrow i'll go to a religious kibbutz in the center of israel for an ulpan, hebrew study and working on the kibbutz. the course is 5 months long, but i'll stay for 3 weeks. gershon lived on this kibbutz for 4 years, and the people that run it love him and anything he touches, so apparently the $2000 fee will be greatly reduced!?!? it's all happening very fast, but everyone concerned has repeatedly assured me that all will be fine, so i'm doing my best to take them at their word and go with the flow.

today gershon left for philharmonic choir rehearsal, so it is my day to explore the city on my own before leaving tomorrow. i'm writing this email from tel aviv university, after, i'll go visit the jewish diaspora museum (also here on campus, and apparently home to a music library with a giant collection of klezmer music), then take a bus to jaffa to explore some more. tonight, we'll have more band practice, and presumably sleep at some point (that seems to figure in last...).