Sunday, May 30, 2004

Hi, everyone. Once again, I apologize that I haven't posted for so long. Here's a roundup of my news:

A. Health update: My cough almost completely went away, but now it's coming back. Meanwhile, I had pulled muscles in my right shoulder and ribs, so for a while I could hardly move without intense pain. Now I feel better, though it still hurts when I cough. If I still feel like this tomorrow morning, I'm going back to the doctor.

B. Yom Yerushalayim -- yes I know it was a while ago -- it was in the middle of my hacking cough so I missed the parades and such. However, the next day Yael took me to a comedy event at a local synagogue. It was basically one guy who told a lot of (funny, I must admit) clean jokes, and another who wove in inspiring stories about Jerusalem. The thing that made me happy about it was the simple fact that I understood 90 percent of it, even though it was all in Hebrew! Unfortunately there were many times that the only part of a joke I didn't understand was the punch line. But on the whole I was really happy to see that my Hebrew comprehension wasn't so bad! I was also impressed with the comedian, because writing jokes for a group of religious residents of Jerusalem can't be easy, but he really had people laughing.

C. OK, so the night before Shavuot, the newspaper I am temporarily working for had a party for all staff members, at a dance club they'd rented in Tel Aviv. Dance clubs are not my scene, but I figured it would behoove me to show my colleagues that I'm part of the group and show my face. There were like a thousand people crammed into this place. It was dark and there was a rectangular pit in the middle where people were dancing. I walked around the perimeters of the room, seeing who I could see, showing my face, making sure my editor saw that I was there, etc. Went to the bar and got a . . . Coke.

There was, though, a moment when I felt genuinely happy. The bar was behind the band. So while waiting for my Coke I turned and looked past the silhouetted band, at the pit with all the indistinguishable heads jumping up and down to the music. The music was actually really fun-sounding. Not angry-sounding hip-hop, but rather a sort of sped-up version of what sounded like funny or nationalistic songs. Anyhow, it made me really happy to see all these Israelis having such a great time. They were just dancing, and drinking their drinks (no one really drunk or throwing up or anything), and shmoozing with each other, and having fun in a really loud dance club, and I felt so so HAPPY that everyone was having such a wonderful time. If they showed this on CNN instead of only the happenings in Gaza, we'd have a lot more tourism.

D. Shavuot, spent with Ari and Sarah Beth in Hashmonaim. It felt weird to be leaving Jerusalem on one of the Shalosh Regalim, when everyone else is going to Jerusalem, but I actually have a bad history with Shavuot, and preferred to spend it sort of low-key. When I was 18 and studying in a seminary, we of course stayed up all night learning Torah, and then they had us walk from Bayit Vegan (part of Jerusalem) all the way to the Western Wall -- it's a long walk! We said morning prayers by the Kotel and all was very nice, until I got to lunch at the home of some friends in the Old City. Between staying up all night and walking in the pre-dawn hours from Bayit Vegan to the Kotel, my immune system must have suffered, because during lunch I excused myself and basically my body exploded. I was violently ill. And for the next 3 days I was on my friend's bedroom floor, on a mattress they'd set up for me, floating in and out of consciousness, feverish and miserable and sick as a dog. All I remember is my friend coming in every so often to make me drink something so I wouldn't get dehydrated.

Anyhow, ever since then, I haven't even attempted to stay up all night for Shavuot, and practically break out in hives at the thought of walking to the Kotel, even though I live much closer to it now. So I hightailed it out of Jerusalem, spent the holiday with "family," learned a little, ate a lot, and just focused on not doing anything that requires any exertion. I realize this sounds overly dramatic, but I truly associate Shavuot now with getting run-over-by-a-steamtrain sick. What can you do?

E. I'm getting bored with the internet.
Protocols no longer has that cutting-edge feel, ever since Steven Weiss left and Luke Ford came in. It jumped the shark a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, I find that Steven's new website, Fiddish, just isn't updated as often as Protocols, suffers from a strange obsession with the wigs-from-India issue, plus I miss the diversity of voices from Protocols.
Salon doesn't have much to excite me anymore; it feels like a whole lot of left-wing drivel interspersed with occasional flashes of somewhat-interesting material. Even the "Since You Asked" advice column is starting to feel a little old, though I must admit that today's question is a juicy one.
I really enjoy Allison Kaplan Sommer's blog, but she posted a warning that she'll be updating only sporadically for a while.
Michael Gibson hasn't posted a new episode of Ambition for a long time, bangitout seems to get updated only about once a week, onlysimchas causes me onlybitterness . . . even the news doesn't feel very newsy. It's all rehashing of trouble-in-Iraq, trouble-in-Gaza, blah blah blah.
Thomas Friedman has got to find something new to write about; his column today is eerily like a result of "how to write a Thomas Friedman column."

So, is this a problem with me, or a problem with the internet? Am I simply getting jaded? Am I a typical 80's child with no attention span whatsoever, fruitlessly searching for instant entertainment and instant gratification? Is the internet a place that by definition requires one to search a range of hundreds of sites to stay suprised and refreshed? And if so, I'll happily accept suggestions for interesting, non-pornographic, non-Anti-semitic sites that would keep me on my toes. Especially if it presents the news in an interesting way, telling me something I haven't heard before. I used to get that from Salon, but now Salon is getting to the point where it has nothing left to say. (Though plenty leftist to say. That's the problem. No surprises.)

When I was a teacher a few years ago, a few of my older colleagues were discussing the fact that in their day, Catcher in the Rye was the most exciting book they'd ever read, and today kids don't get as stimulated by it. I told them I didn't like it in high school either. For them, Catcher in the Rye was daring. For me, it was like "yeah, so he's angry and cursing. What's the big deal?" How much more so do today's teens find nothing remarkable about someone their age being cynical and jaded. As with Catcher in the Rye, so with websites; what is creative and daring one day becomes boring and hackneyed just a year later. The world is moving too fast for me.

F. So why don't I write refreshing material on my own website you ask? Good question, for which there are two answers. One is that the purpose of this site is just to provide updates for friends and family about how I'm doing, with some political or cultural observations thrown in when I feel like it. Chayyei Sarah does not pretend to be a news site, or a news round-up site, or a political commentary site. This is purely a whatever-Sarah-feels-like-saying site. If anyone other than my close friends and family trips here and likes to read it, great! But I'm not claiming to offer anything other than reassurance that despite my having moved to Israel, I'm still alive and kicking.

Second, part of the problem is information overload. Everything that happens in the world, it seems, is being recorded somewhere. The news comes so fast, and it's so easy to find out about other people's lives (blogs like this being a case in point), that at the moment I don't have much to add, other than, like I said, reassuring those who love me that I'm doing OK over here in the Middle East. At some point I think something will click and I'll write my memoirs or whatever. Meanwhile I'm happy to publish my little newsy articles and let others process it all. Personally I feel like lounging around with a Gameboy and a glass of lemonade.

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