Monday, May 21, 2018

Thoughts

I write as if everyone knows the things I am refering to.

HWSNBN is the 45th Potus.

The DSM is the Diagnostics and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders used by mental health practicioners in the USA.

PID is my definition - Post Israel Depression

It is something I experience every time I return from Israel. I am not alone - it is something all my friends who either were born in Israel, or who lived there for a long time, experience on their return.

It is a mixture of the shock of moving from one culture to another. Leaving one's family and friends behind, even though one has family and friends here. I think plane travel is really not normal. It is of course, expedient, convenient, relatively fast. I am not suggesting we return to steam ships or trains! But it is strange that we enter a tube which hurtles through space, and within a relatively short while one steps into a totally different climate, culture, way of being in the world, way of looking at the world, way of experiencing the world. Different language, currency, food, to which we acclimatise remarkably quickly.

I may have written this before, but here goes again. I waa listening to a program on NPR in which the interviewer was asking questions of men who had returned from Everest. The men said they wanted to get to the summit as quickly as possible. Of course they were accompanied by Sherpas who, to their dismay, insisted on resting, and not ascending immediately. They did this all the way to the top. When they asked the Sherpas why they wouldn't hurry their answer was that they were waiting for their souls to catch up. To me this exactly defines foreign travel. I am disoriented and 'out of sync' for quite a while, on either side. I think the definition of jetlag is in fact, a period of waiting for one's soul to catch up.

So here I am, back in the States. Another world, another culture, another reality. One of the reasons I return to Israel at this time is because it is Memorial Day. I lost my husband in the 1973 Yom Kipur War. A long time ago, decades ago, lifetimes ago, and yesterday, and today.

I cannot go every year at this time, but this year I did.

The evening of Memorial Day is a somber time of ceremonies. There is a national ceremony that takes place in Jerusalem and is of course seen on TV stations throughout the country. There is an alternative ceremony that has been taking place for at least 13 years now. It is for Jewish and Palestinian Israelis together. For all the victims of the wars, the terrorist attacks, the suicide bombs, the tragedies that continue all the time. I really wanted to go to this ceremony because I strongly feel that we are all in this together.

I was pleased that my sister and brother-in-law also wanted to attend, as did many of my friends. The ceremony was held in Gan Hayarkon in Tel Aviv. I won't describe it all, because one can read about it, and the other ceremonies. For me it was a very special occasion of communal grief, understanding, brotherhood (of course I also mean sisterhood). It was attended by at least 7,000 people. David Grosman ended the evening with a powerful speech. He spoke for all of us there, in his eloquent, articulate, and gracious manner.

What horrified me was what happened before we walked in to the ceremony. It was night time, and as we approached the security gates I heard shrieks and whistles. Men, they looked young, approached us, calling us whores and bitches. "Motherfuckers". "you deserve to die" "we can spit at you and throw stones at you," "traitors", they did in fact spit. They threw things. We continued to walk quietly, and didn't look at them.

Police were present, some on horseback. During the ceremony these young men revved their motorbikes and blew on vuvuzelas, trying unsuccessfully to drown out the speakers and the choirs. It was deeply unsettling. How universal bigotry and hatred are. Other than hearing Hebrew we could have been in the States, in South Africa, in Germany, anywhere.

But that feeling was not what I walked away with. I walked away with a warm feeling inside, that despite everything, there are still people who want to live together.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Another Shooting

Despite HWSNBM's thoughts and prayers, and suggestions of fully armed teachers, etc. yet another school shooting - in Texas. 10 killed.

I wrote that yesterday, it is now yhe day after and this tragedy has hardly hit the headlines, superseded by the Royal Wedding. I am waiting for the students to continue their fight for bans on assault weapons and against gun violence. I know they will.As I have written before, I just do not understand the need for weapons and the need to slaughter each other. I don't understand it on any level. It is all around us, in Syria, in Israel, in Africa, in Asia. I retreat more and more from this reality which surrounds us.

And in answer to your unspoken query, yes, I have returned from my travels.

I was in Israel and I returned on April 27th, and am going through the attendant PID - Post Israel Depression. I really think this should be in the DSM. Maybe it applies to everyone who lives in one country, but was born and raised in another country, or who lived for any appreciable length of time in yet another country! This ambivalence or trivalence (if there is such a word - if not there should be) is not unique to me, and it is something I have grappled with for years upon years. Where is one's home? or what constitutes home?

No answers to anything, but I am back again, and shall continue with my occasional blog entry.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Away

Hi there - to anyone who reads this.

A brief entry to say I will be away for the next 5 weeks, and doubt whether I will make an entry.

Be well, and I shall post something on my return.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Tipping Point

I am NOT writing this piece to change anyone's mind.

I AM writing it to vent - to attempt to manage my grief, my anger, my feelings of depression and utter hopelessness at the absolute insanity of these mass shootings. At the senseless loss of young lives because of bullets. And for the lives that have maybe not been lost, but suffer guilt for the very reason that they were not mowed down. For the bodies that have become incapacitated, paralyzed, the minds that have been traumatized, for ever. The horror of these shootings NEVER goes away, yet the headlines vanish almost instantly.
When will the people of America reach a tipping point - when will they come out loud and strong and clear, when will they shout out - NO MORE GUNS.
The hypocrisy of that man who says 'our thoughts and prayers are with you.' Bullshit - they never were and never will be.

And the mentally ill are blamed.
And the FBI are blamed.
And the school security is blamed.
And the parents are blamed.
And the students are blamed.
And the teachers are blamed.

Everything outside guns and ammunition is blamed.

I have said this before - THIS is terrorism - what is terrorism but to create terror? We do not need to seal our borders or blame immigrants.

The enemy is us. And we are also the ones who can stop this. By shouting out - NO MORE to the NRA and their money. To the scared and angry white men (sorry, white man, but this is what you have created).

And you have the gall to call ourselves a civilized nation.

And did anyone see 60 Minutes last Sunday?(before the most recent school shooting.) A law is going through congress which will allow anyone who has a gun license to take that gun with them wherever they go in America. For example, in Montana one is allowed to carry an unconcealed weapon. If someone from Montana decides to visit New York, or California, or any other state which does not have those laws, they can take their weapons with them. As one 'pusher' who was interviewed said - "It is the same as having a driving license. As long as one has a licence they can drive anywhere." I apologise for not quoting this segment exactly. It is always hard for me to repeat these interviews and shows in an articulate fashion, but do check 60 Minutes - I am not mad. These were supposedly sane individuals being interviewed.

Studies have been done on Palestinian children, Israeli children, Irish children, South American children, Afghani children, South African children, Syrian children, Mohingya children. There have been studies on the consequences of violence on children in the inner cities in America. I think by now these can be expanded to all the children of America. not just those in the inner cities.
It was found that the ones who fare the least well are those in the inner cities (and now expand it) because there is NO reason for the violence. Many family lives are no longer intact, and there is no hope. In most other countries there is always hope; that the 'good' or 'bad' side will survive (this depends on which side you are on, the 'good' or the 'bad.')
This does not hold true for the children of America. This is a nation growing up without hope. We see the consequences daily.

ENOUGH.

Monday, January 29, 2018

My present thoughts

Hi there. These are my chirpy musings for anyone who has been following some of my recent posts about being ill.

I am well aware that almost everyone I know, and those I don't know, have been ill, or are ill, this season. This despite the fact that people have received the flu vaccination, and/or have been boosting their immune systems with vitamin supplements, tinctures, elixirs, syrups, hand washing, avoiding contact with public places, and so on. A multitude of people beginning to live like Howard Hughes!

After my bout with pneumonia, I began acupuncture treatments. The acupuncturist told me that an unusually large amount of people had contracted pneumonia last summer.

So - I am going to go out on a limb with my musings.

It is my opinion that the immune system of our planet is depressed. It is impossible to separate ourselves from our environment, and our environment is ailing. The more we pollute our planet and destroy its natural healing ecosystems, the sicker we will all become.

This does not mean that I am about to embark on a totally dissolute non-caring path, but just to be aware that there are no miracle cures and instant fixes.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Roundabout

I feel like I'm on some kind of ghastly/ghostly roundabout. I was stuck on it in July 2017, then everything improved. Six months later I am stuck on it again.
I think roundabout is the right term because it is certainly NOT a merry-go-round.
Late June last year I was ill with pneumonia. In my post entitled FELLED of June 30,2017 I wrote about my getting sick and my very frustrating experience with Kaiser.
Exactly 10 days ago, January 8, 2019 I awoke with a sore throat. A sore throat for me does not bode well. It seems like that is my first warning sign of some kind of impending illness. I immediately prepared gallons of hot water with lemon, ginger, and honey, and took my Chinese pills which I swear by. Despite this I began to cough, and cough, and cough. Then came the congestion in my head and nose. Not too bad, as everyone and their mother has either flu or a bad cold. I did not have a fever and was not felled, so I knew it is not pneumonia. For 10 days I didn't contact my doctor. However, yesterday morning with no sign of this cough and congestion abating I thought it wise to tell my doctor. I sent off an e-mail and immediately received the form letter response that she is out of the office.
Roundabout -- deja-vu --here I am again, stuck at the same spot. I reacted like anyone who has been totally traumatized by a previous similar experience, I did not want to pursue the matter. However, I rallied and called to make an urgent care appointment.
Roundabout -- deja-vu --the nurse said she could not find any same day appointments, but would get a message to my 'provider's office' and someone would call me back by the end of the day.
Roundabout - deja-vu -- here I am, stuck.
I went off to my art class with my phone in my pocket. I apologised for my coughing and sneezing to my feloow students and told them that if they don't want me there, to say so. They were most accommodating, but asked me not to kiss anyone. I had to restrain myself.
Toward the end of class my cell phone rang - it was a medical assistant from another office. She said I needed to go for a chest x-ray and then she could make me an appt. with a doctor if I wanted, or I could wait for my doctor to return.(????? WHAT) I thanked her and told her to definitely make me an appt.
So this is where the medical system is quite phenomenal - I went for the x-ray and miraculously there was no one else in the radiology department. I had the x-ray and the results were sent to the doctor's office in 10 minutes flat. It would have been even less time if I could follow instructions and put on that 3 -armed robe quickly before the x-ray. Does anyone else find some difficulty in donning these items? I seem to have some visual impairment - it is most difficult for me to follow illustrations.
I went to the doctor who saw me punctually. She was a lovely YOUNG (they are all so young) woman who actually used a stethoscope to listen to my lungs, then she looked at my throat and ears. She told me the x-ray results were fine, but prescribed antibiotics, and expalained to me the reason I should take them. This is how I remember doctor's visits in the days before computers and all things digital and electronic.
I really don't know whether doctors know how palliative it is to actually look at and touch a patient.
So, that experience on the roundabout was definitely an improvement.
However, I had an issue with my landline and had to call ATT and this experience has proven to be deeply traumatic in the past. After two frustrating hours of replying to questions on an automated voice machine, and also trying to chat online with a technician, all to no avail, I had begun to wail into my cell phone - "person, human, agent", on and on. Despite my pleas the dam machine always had more questions so it would know who to refer me to - I kept on sobbing, tearing out my hair, coughing, spluttering and repeating "agent" until eventually a human answered. I do believe he actually understood the problem, and eventually admitted that it seems to be a problem with their lines and it was not my fault for not rebooting the gateway (I had done so) or my insinuations that the problem was on their side.
So, this was Thursday night - I now have to wait until Monday morning for a technician to come. The up side is someone will come (I still have hope) and solve the problem. Of course if it IS my fault, I will have to pay $99. If it is on their side, I wont pay.
My trauma comes from when I moved, over a year ago. ATT had informed me that it would be no problem and their service would fix my landline and internet on the first day. Needless to say - one month later it was resolved.
So, anyway, these are the reasons I feel like I am on a roundabout - it stops during summer, then stops during winter.
I do know that these are first world problems and frustrations, but they do niggle.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Trusted Traveler

Today, after a rather unsettling interview, I became a trusted traveler.

I don't know whether any of you have had any reason to be interrogated by a bureaucrat? Whether it be a customs official, or whether you have had to apply for citizenship, or any such thing in your own country, or in a foreign country?
As you know I am from South Africa. I grew up in a time when one did not question authority. Luckily I was not really put in such a position as I was classified as a first class citizen who had no brush ins with the law.
When I first left to go to England I applied for and received a work permit. Upon my arrival at Heathrow my passport was scrutinized. The oficial looked at me, at my passport photo, and at the work permit. After long silent minutes had passed he stamped my passport and told me to register at the Aliens Office the next day. The next day I sat on the wooden benches of the office together with other aliens. We were people from all over the commonwealth waiting for the official stamp of approval. Not too bad, just my first experience of dealing with the workings of bureaucracy.
My friend and I left the office and were walking to the tube station when a man walked toward us and spat in our direction! Luckily the spit landed on the pavement. He also said "go home filthy bloody foreigners." This was our official welcome!
This was followed by dealing with all the various ministries in Israel at a time when there were no numbers to be taken so that one could be seen in order. There were also no queues, nor even any vague idea that they may be useful in containing the pushing, surging crowd. I will not bore you with the ensuing chaotic details.
Then I came to America and applied for citizenship. This entails the filling in of endless forms, mailing them in with money, of course. An exam which required the purchase of a book, the study of the declaration of Independence, of the amendments, the system of democracy in the United States, and all its institutions. Once again, I will not go into this at length, but it was harrowing, and I can read, understand, and write english.
When I first left Israel I had a most upsetting run in with the Canadian officials. I had a multiple entry visa into Canada but the official in Quebec questioned my visa and actually called me at an Ashram in the Laurentian Mountains the next day to check whether I really was going to where I said I was going. He also added that I cannot go in and out of his country as I please!
One doesn't argue or try to reason with these petty bureaucrats.
Early this year I decided to apply for the Global Entry Program. It took me about three hours to complete the online application. I also had to send in $100.00. The money was immediately processed and I later received a notification that my application had been approved, and that I needed to apply in person for an interview. The first available time was the 30th November at 11.45a.m. I would have to go to San Francisco Airport. This was in March of this year. I put in my application for that time and then received a notification that I needed to bring my passport,, my driver's licence, and if that did not show my current address, a document proving residency, e.g.a bill from a utility company.
As I said, I received this advice in March. I made a note of the interview time in my calendar. During that time I traveled to England and Japan. My passport expired and I received a new one. The Global Entry Program received another designation - The Trusted Traveler Program.
Today I took BART to San Francisco Airport. I gave myself well over an hour. At 12th Street Station in Oakland the BART train stopped and the driver announced that there was police action at the West Oakland Station and no trains could go through. She would keep us updated. After 15 minutes the train resumed and I made it to the airport in time.
The doors to the Trusted Traveler Program are of course locked. After some time a uniformed man came out, shut the door behind him and asked for the names of the people waiting and the times of their interviews. He checked these on a clipboard. I was called in and went to booth No. 1 as directed. The same uniformed man asked for my passport and my drivers license. My drivers license still has my previous address, although of course this was officially changed over a year ago, when I moved. It will be on my new driver's license which is not yet due for a couple of years. My passport has a different number than the one which had expired. He gazed at me with his blue cheerless penetrating eyes and said I should have brought proof of my new address. "Did you not read the letter?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied, "in March, I just forgot."
He looked to a woman sitting behind him who was apparently training him and said I should be sent home and would need to reapply. Thank goodness she intervened, addressing him without either of them looking at me, that if I have a smart phone then I should show proof of address with something else. Amazon to the rescue - I showed them my address on their account.
He then asked me many questions and said "if you lie about anything you will not be granted permission." In the past five years where have you been other than Israel and India.
Oh my god, I simply could not recall having gone anywhere. Eventually I said, England. He then asked about Canada and Mexico - oh yes I said, Canada, I forgot it was a foreign country. I was in Mexico also, but maybe it was longer than five years ago. I totally forgot to tell him Japan, but after a lot of questions and much scrutiny of my application, and my new passport, and my fingerprints, I was told that I have been granted permission to become a trusted traveler. He gave me a booklet and told me to read it word by word, but not in his presence while he was talking to me! (I had dared open the book) - quickly I closed it and dutifully listened to whatever else he had to say.
Let my travels begin!