Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Moving Right Along

Yesterday and today I managed to get dressed, haul my computer to Tal Bagels, and get some work done. I also joined Facebook which means I'll probably never get any work done again. So far, what I've gained from joining Facebook is a few "hey, how are you" emails from people I'm glad to hear from, but who aren't giving any meaningful information about how they are doing, and I now have a loose connection with other random people, who apparently share my Eastern European roots, and who are proudly proclaiming their love for herring, kishka, and chopped liver. Someone "chomped" me and I'm now apparently a zombie, and I sent a virtual woolly hat to a friend in New York, who appreciates the thought.

I also discovered that there are several people in Israel and the US who think we are friends, but I have no idea who they are. Quite embarrassing.

In other news, in a few weeks I'll be picking up my Spring-season teaching job again, and I am really, really looking forward to it. This year the English curriculum is all Israeli literature, all the time (we dropped the Shakespeare). So I'm now reading works by Amos Oz, Savyon Liebrecht, and Etgar Keret to prepare, and will also be sprinkling their works with poetry and short stories by the likes of Bialik, AB Yehoshua, Rachel, Yehudah Amichai, etc.

Interestingly, the Israeli "canon" is largely devoid of literature by Sephardim, Arab-Israelis, or people with right-wing political views. If you know of any good novels/short stories/ poems that would help fill these gaps, please pass along the tips.

This year the course will meet four times a week, and I'm thinking that twice a week will be devoted to discussions about the readings, and twice a week we'll have workshops, with students working together according to one of three tracks they can choose: a creative writing track (in which they will produce poems, short stories, and diary entries related to their Israel experience and the readings); a Literature and Society track (in which they will write weekly responses to the course readings and do a research paper relating one or more of our readings to an issue in contemporary Israeli culture); and a Mechanics track (with weekly assignments to improve grammar skills and vocabulary). Lots of work for me, but more dynamic for the kids. I find that students of any age will be much more engaged in course material if they feel they've had some sort of choice in what or how they learn. At 15 my students are old enough to know what interests them, and young enough to be able to experiment in their coursework, without worrying about SATs or other standardized tests. I'm really excited!

Regarding my journalism work, I'm having a hard time right now because I have to catch up on several assignments that were pushed off while I was sick, but I can't do the interviews because I've almost completely lost my voice. I'm leaving people messages that sounds like "hi, this is Sarah static static static, I'm writing a static static for static static magazine. Please call me at zero five four static static static, static static, static static." Sucks.

Did you know that President Bush is coming to Israel? I'm sure the American and local media will make a big deal out of it, but you know what? Everyone I speak to knows the truth: He's coming to try to follow up on the Annapolis thing, so that the Annapolis thing won't be completely meaningless. But we all know that it is meaningless. So this visit is pointless, and is only going to serve to increase traffic congestion in Jerusalem while he's here. The prevailing attitude: He can come if he wants. It's his own time he's wasting. But if he wants to waste his time, kol hakavod (more power to him). We don't mind having him here, except for the blasted traffic. Whatever!

I've been having strange dreams lately, probably a result of being congested and not breathing properly when I sleep. :-(

All in all, we're moving along.

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