Monday, July 26, 2004

feliz cumpleanos, ammumalavikamaliemuetcetc

Liam Helmer, June 21, 2004
...bdays arent a big deal by themselves for me either any more, but i'm trying to use them as a way to keep in touch with people, so at least once a year, i have an excuse to have to check in with all the good folks for whom i have marked a day in my yahoo calendar to celebrate their existence...singapore, is um. good. quite excellent in fact. its a place that kind of epitomizes a lot of the accelerations that are happening globally, for better or worse. ...may chuckles ache your belly

Ank, June 21
ankle toby, i'm watching the third cd of Brain Story. one man can see apples but not faces, another can see faces of the queen of hearts but not the hearts, a woman who cannot see things move, and suddenly i've taken a drug that has no name and whose trip is a singularity of the impossible.
holograms of the dance performance are moving, and since both silicon and carbon based brains find it difficult to process such motion, i will wait till i have a more still representation. except, did you know, still life painting cannot be, for, what is still is not life.
i drank your email. i will respond to whatever i burp up. perhaps i should have sipped and wrote and sipped and wrote but thats no fun. so forgive me if not all your questions are answered yes? i think i will ask no questions but the ones implicit in my answers.
p.s. of course i love dolphins, but when i ask myself why i don't know. i don't love k+d yet but maybe i will when i know them. i graduated! sunday. i got an email that says so, and email is the true purveyor of all Knowledge, so it must be so. yeah, see, i took Spring quarter off to get arrested and dance in the streets, even though i just had 2 classes left. took one of two in the fall at Foothills, most excellently enjoying being a non-stanford student, and for the other class, thought i could just pass the test into spanish 3 but it turns out that after a year of not speaking the tongue my tongue twisted and broke and since i refused to change my plans to come to singapore in december to be with my parents i just decided i could take french because they dont take spanish here at the university which i always declared i would never attend, in a country i always declared i would never live in for a long period of time after i left for college. and here i am. oh, and i'm graduated. after 5 months of fucked up paperwork and chasing after people who have no business holding the power to declare me educated. when i'm empress there will be no such schools and no such administrators, they will all be lined up and fed pizza till they fold over and turn into human calzones. and when i'm empress yoda will be slightlier fuzzier. and when i'm empress i'll dissolve the empire we call the state and my post will be redundant and freedom will reign and freedom will rain. sovereignty, not freedom, i like that word better, or i would if i could spell the damn thing.
dennish bernstein is a reporter inn the bay area, most well known as part of KPFA.
dennis kucinich i? think? is? still? running? for president? i dont know anything anymore, i havent read a newspaper for 3 weeks. the united states is another world, i think in part to protect me from the extreme frustration at my decision to get to the RNC and not knowing why the hell i decided it and what the hell i'm going to do instead.
i can roll joints. just barely. you teach me rotis, i'll practice on the joints and teach you in exchange.
aurobindo was a spirituality a politicality a growth in india around the time of the call for swaraj, and after too. he was more militant and a little less tolerant of utter non-violence than gandhi, at first, but the society he and Mother (his Other) created in Pondicherry, Auroville and the Ashram, non-violence is a guiding principle of evolution of the human. He was one of the first, if not the first, i think, to speak of the Superhuman, recently more technologically oriented manifestation being Neo, the transhumanist ideal, which was brought alive in the movie Trilogy of One, namely, named, The Matrix (1, 2, 3).
my wrists are heating up. so are my thighs, i'm resting Mickey the laptop on my lap. Atop my lap. my shoulders are tightening i retreat now. soon my friend we will build tables out of landfills and dance the cancansamba on them after we've eaten mangoes floating in pineapple liquor on them.
dissolved,malavikawhich means nothing literally but is the name of an ancient princess, an herb, and one of the best bharatanatyam dancers in india today (Malavika Sarukai)

Caroline Picker, June 22
"drink deep so you have what you need to dazzle."thank you. you have no idea what a much needed truth you hit on at exactly the moment i needed to know that truth. or perhaps you do know and that's why you wrote it.

christine hoffmans's Questionaire, June 22
73. Favorite smells? mud. me. chocolate. ground coffee, then brewed. chocolate. justice. peace. peace and cream. peaches and cream. beaches and streams. bitches can scream. chocolate. me.

Becca Hall, June 22
and i have shhort tolerance for emailage these days, so i wont say much this time, but i did want to say a hello and how are you and does the wind strum ballads through your hair?

Pete, June 22
shit. i'm scared for alb now. coming off prozac cold turkey isnt easy and going back to drinking is also not so easy to be in balance with. i know. i faked mmyself that i was in balance, and i'm only now learning that i still wasnt, and mighht never be.
anyway. i'm glad jo's gone. i'm glad she has your support.
glasgow. i had deccided against it cuz i realized i was doinng it foor the wrong reasons, which were 1) thinking that i would come with the magic solution for ALB and she would get all cured how wonderful and 2) to get the fuck away from singapore and my parents cuz theyre driving me crazy even though theyre actually quite good for me and anywhere will eventually drive me crazy and make me want to run away because i'm born crazy. and i didnt have a plan for glasgow, i mean i didnt have a job or nothing. i dont mind not having a job living with my parnets because that IS kind of my job, i get to have the freedom to be withh them and make them happy any way i can, and that is worth it. but if i move away i have to be independent, which means i need a way of providing my food, housing, and a bit of dough to have a pint or a puff every now and then. and all the whhile still being part of the revolution. and perhaps saving up at the same time. and that didnt look too easy to find without even knowing glasgow at all. SO. i've already told ALB i'm not coming. but then when i read your email i was thinking, i want to sing in a band (and have a band sing the songs i've written, because the more songs i write the more heavy a sound they need, i can just hear them being roared out and the guitars and drums going insane), and do you need a singer, and do you have any ideas how i can still come over to glasgow for a few months and make a little dosh and Damn a little Man?

Luna Federici, June 22
yup. i can see you resonating to indonesia.too bad about joanna. i was hoping she was still going to be there. my uncle, aunt, cousin, are moving to KL later this year, and i was like sweet, i'll head up there and see them all (includinng joanna i mean). forgot about hte gardner fellowship, tess had told me about that. you know tess right? we ran into each other in bombay at the world social forum. frickin insane fortuitousness that was. i love our global community, the wanderers of the world. yeah. exactly. there is SO MUCH possiblity so how on earth do we choose? i just got an email saying i'm graduated. i no longer have any official reason to say i'm a student, which i had been saying, even though in my mind i graduated a long time ago. so now i have to find a new label. or not. whatever. ebb flow come go jolly good show we've all put on, ho. i'm feeling oddly british today. perhaps i shall move to london and have tea and crumpets. or a decree of trumpets.sorry. you caught me in crackbaby mode. i should go check on the bread, i smell its wafts.
love mali

Thea, June 22
i'm doing my best to stop trying to look beautiful, its so very hard. being an ugly duckling i was so used to putting on a flashy tacky swan suit that would distract and dazzle at least momentarily. now i must learn to be me just me, me free, see me free, set me free.

Babaloush, June 22
amar asked if i was good. fuzzy. yes, i said, fuzzy, sometimes, sharp others. in general good. it wasnt a lie, not wholly, but i guess i'm not entirely ship shape and shweet. i have a feeling this particular series of days of feeling out of sorts and a little weepy for no real reason is because my period is about to start, but its still a real part of me, a real thing i'm feeling, no matter how irrational, and i dont know who to talk to so i was trying to call you this weekend, well to ask about the exam, but mostly to talk and cry a little bit. i've been fine, gotten over my little bout of down each time, but i found myself in that state again just now so i thought i'd let it out to you on email at least, and also i figured i would tell you anyway that i called to cry to you so that next time you will do the same without feeling bad about it. i deleted the stuff i had written here about my bout of down. i dont need to go through it and you dont need to read it. i'm done. my period will come and go and i'll stop crying and start laughing again and all will seem rosy again.

David Gasca, June 22
i'm dancing. everyday. theres a sanskrit phrase in the natya shastra (the text from which most classical indian dance originates), dainika nritta, which means daily dance. it means that everything, ALL, life, existence, can be seen to move in a dance. i love that. i'm trying to know that and be that.
heard of Gurtu, a musician? listened to a CD called Miles_Gurtu this morning and dance/acted to it. you would love it, the CD i mean. collaboration between miles davis and gurtu dude.

Paul, June 22
cool. i definitely wasnt opposed to the PGP thing, but i was looking at it more like a fun game to figure out. security is no longer an issue, i'm naively believing. its all so fucked up that worrying about shit like that just becomes paranoia for me, and i cant live like that. go ahead motherfuckers put me in jail, make me a martyr, how many Mumias can you handle?
so here's the thing, i was confused when you said violence is the only form of political expression. you very purposefully ended the email withh PEACE, which you seem to believe in. you laid out in the streets, peacefully (some would say that itself was a form of violence, shall we complicate and complexify or let it be?). so i was confused. then i resolved it by thinking maybe you meant it as follows, which i can also resonate to:
the use of power/force is inherently a form of violence.
political involvement (expression) is the use of power/force.
thusly, good friends and countrymen, political involvement/expression is a form of violence.
but methinks that is not what you meant. you say our capacityy for violence has given us everything. as in, violence is necessary and good. what parts of the above did you mean, and what parts of the above are bollocks?here's where i stand. i am doing my utter best to not cause suffering (and because death causes suffering, death also) in every action of my life. violence causes suffering regardless of cause. so. i will do my best to avoid violence. however. i do not rule out the possibility of certain situations requiring a certain amount of force. i'm down with the zapatistas even though they swing their rifles. they've proved that they tread with caution, and who am i to say that they have not tried every other avenue and that a form of violence is not necessary in their struggle. that said, if i were to jet over and join their struggle, i would refuse to pick up a gun.
chewed. responded. sleepy. why did you quit your job? itchy eyes. ya basta. good night.

Christine Hoffman, June 24
apple pie sugar plum there's bread in the bread machine again. methinks i was machining bread the last time i wrote to you too? its nice, the smell, even though i still cant really say i'm BAKING bread, cuz i'm really MACHINING bread. should machining have an e after the n? who the fuck cares. not i, sir, not i. i had missed you, thought about and wondered what you were doing, now no longer, yessirree cuz you will tell me about your burned apartments and your morning thoughts and the very best of meaning of life that you seem to have found in your love for one person who loves you back, the existence of which, along with the existence of the Kyle and Rachel who were here last week for the performance studies conference and i got to hang out with them more gooder than i had when we were together at stanford, yes all the existence of that makes me not so lonely and not so alone. whats billboard liberation front? it sounds familiar, and i could guess what it means, and i could even look it up in my Holy Book aka the internet, but i'd rather wait for your reply and read your description, even though i'm kind of in a hurry, i mean i only have until the end of existence to do all this shit so i better start typing faster and fatser ssnassdjflksjl ,xvolskdjf . i was born in boston to my daddy who was doing his PhD at MIT and my mommy who had joined him from India when they realized he would be there longer than they thought so they saved up to buy her a plane ticket. they sometimes didn't know where the money for my food for the next week would come from. my dad was walking on the ice once and he slipped and i flew out of his hands and landed on my head so i tell everyone i was dropped as a baby like a big joke but its not really that funny cuz my epilepsy (which has never been fully figured out, just like my depression, cuz its not actually depression its bi-polar disorder you fools, and i can tell you more about my brain than you can so get your medical degrees and MRIs and counselling therapy out of my face assholes) could have been a result of that fall, and i often wonder if they feel bad about that, they shouldnt, i hope they dont. theyre the bestest parents i could have asked for even though they drive me crazy, especially my mom. shit. you gave me your life story. you asked for it baby. during the time we were in boston we also sort of lived in austin texas for a little while. we flew over to singapore when i was 3 lived here for 3 years i hated my school bus and i stopped growing as tall cuz the milk is different here and my dad hated the department he was teaching in but we lived here for 3 years becausee it was close to family in india and plus the pay wasnt bad connsidering they were saving up for my college. then my mom went to do a linguistics PhD at stanford while my dad taught in the same department and gave her harsh grades because our culture does that, we're less nice to the ones closest to us, and i played in the quad and made very few friends because i was starting to become a quiet well-behaved child. fucking pansy. i was brown and not very cool but i only had a small inkling that i wasnt that cool. and THEN we moved back to singapore because my parents both got a job in the same department and thats so rare and it was gonna be much easier for us to see our family in india again and i went to an international school and we didnt change countries (still havent) but we moved house a lot because in our last last last life we were a nomadic desert tribe and i dont like to stay in the same place for more than 4 years, i think its a form of running away, i had a lot to run away from by the time i got to high school because there were cool kids and i wasnt but more importantly, EVERYONE, cool or not, was starting to get into relationships with that group that used to have cooties and i wasnt and in order to make myself feel like i was just a little cool and sexy i started getting drunk and partying and hooking up with people and puking every weekend because all my friends were british and they all did that and i took that habit to college along with my by-then-very-severe depressinon that was in fact suicidal because even though i loved life i didnt want to live without life and the way my life was going i thought i would end up alone forever and most of the time i still think that even though i'm ok with that, and i lived a terrible life my freshman year even though i had lots of friends and was often very happy and actually had a lot of guys thinking i was hot even though i didnt always know it and never knew how to handle it and then in the spring i tried to kill myself because i just couldnt make myself think of more things to stop myself from doing what i thought about doing for every day of the last one and a half years and then my parents flew over freaked out flipped out and i was in a psycho ward and they gave me stupid meds and no-one could figure me out and i had a glimpse of what happiness should really be and i came home with them and when i went back to school in the fall i quickly turned into a radical politicized hippy-wanna-be who everybody saw as a burning flame of energy tasting life to its fullest and strong and independent from everyone so noone felt needed even though inside i was a lonely curled up little ball of need. most of the rest of my life you kinda know the general gist, like where i lived and shit, and really thats the important part of this story so i'll stop now because maybe by now your brain is hurting from all the insanity i've revealed or maybe not because maybe youre familiar with insanity, at least if not in yourself, in others you care so deeply about. i've heard more about your mom than your dad. it was nice to read about him and his gardening tree loving computer science rejecting shelf building ways.
my address for now, at least till september-ish and possibly more is 1
03 Clementi Rd, Blk A, #09-08
Singapore 129788
whats yours? i like writing letters, especially from india where i wont feel like goinng to an internet cafe, i'd much rather sit on the mountain in front of my grandparents house and scribble to my world and my peeps.
uf t w

Denali, June 30
you know how i said i cant commit to a plan for myself? its not like the usual oh i dont know what career i'll have and i need a career now, cuz we both know neither of us subscribe to that BS. but its like the problem i always had at stanford, or wherever, wanting to do too many things, because the things i was doing were never enough, and i'm training myself out of that, but even now no matter what project i choose, i feel stifled by it after the glow wears off, and i dont commit to it and do it the best i can. problem committing. the real problem is, i think, i know, that applies to people too. mmm. i wrote more to try and explain but its not coming out right. anyway, my point is, in some ways, be glad for you
desire (i dont mean desire in the sexual fantasy way, but in the walk in the woods way you wrote about), i envy you that because i fear i will never have it, and without loving i cannot be loved truly, or at least i cannot feel that love, and thats a scary thought, and all the more frustrating because its seemingly in my control, but not really.

Pam Olson, July 1
funny (in a not that funny way) that one of the experiences that shook Yeshuda Shaul was the kids eating his trash. i always felt that oddness when we dumpstered in good ole luxurious PA.
how did the PNI interview go?
i'm in singapore with my parents. right now i'm officially jobless and graduated and people are asking me what i'm doing. remember that uncareer fair Think! did? we distributed that comic strip with the girl meeting her friend and being asked what she did? if you remember it, thats what i feel like communicating to them, DOING to them, and cant, dont know how. and if you dont remember it, no matter. just know that i'm trying to learn how to live life and am frustrated by people sitting willingly in cages, pods, getting their lives sucked out of them like batteries, and i want to scream and tell them to unplug already. its not always like that, the way i feel, and i when i describe it like that i'm being very unfair
to the ones around me, but hey, what the hey.
my parents are cool. theyre most excellently supportive. i'm here because of them, to be with them make them happy, and they know that. its hard to live with them at times, but its giving me a stability that i need to build on.
pam. you've known a love that movies and fairytales try to capture,
polaroided, distorted, but yours is real. how fortunate to have happened on that, even in its loss.
off to india next week.
may the olive trees in your area still be thriving, and may the only
Caterpillars you encounter be the cute fuzzy wriggly kind.

The Think! list, July 4, labelled "is anyone else sad that..."
..the only mailage on this list is virus/junk/spam stuff?
i'm sticking on out of some stupid unrealistic hope that some day there will be a something like Think! Int Uninc. Pbl Unlim. (Think!
International Unincorporated Public Unlimited), bringing disorganization, discontent, and somethingconstructive to theatres of revolution near you.
this unneccessary mailage was brought to you by Think! Singapore aka
how's it going out there?

Ank, July 4
i had planned to throw this independence day party today. not because i'm patriotic and all that jazz, but i was going to invite everyone to come and celebrate independence from whatever they wanted, whether it be as the white folks who crossed the ocean and gained independence from their queen and her dominion, or the brown folks who are some day going to gain independence from the system run by the white folks who came and took their country, or other brown folks who were born in that country and are slowly starting to gain independence from the identity of being part of the first white folks' legacy, or the orange folks under the leadership of aung san suu kyi gaining independence from the orange military folkks that have taken over the country, yeah so all that, party, invite, didnt
so much happen. i'm good at having ideas, not so good at making them
happen. kellea says i need a secretary or something. blech. i would hate to have a secretary.
whats fukuoaka?
you're not crazy. but you're wrong in thinking none of the goodytwoshoe freemarket inndians want to apply. they ARE applying. in droves. to these programs that are like, look, come back to your country of origin and help them get sliced bread and wheels and wireless networking. ick. the way they run those programs, i do not like, theyre all corporatey and icky, and i'm sure they open their eyes a little, but i dont know. ick.
well i'm off to india this friday to go roast some eggplants and have sex with other americans, except, i'm not american anymore, i'm not indian, and i'm not singaporean so i dont really know what i am.
i had a dream last night that i was stuck on the outskirts of some town and someone was trying to explain that it was america(tm) and tell me more about it but everything was blurry and we were trying to get into the middle of the town somewhere even though at the same time i really jjust wanted to get away from the whole damn area. i dont understand what the dream means. jung? freud? anyone? a little help here?
dreaming life, waking death,

Interlude: Emails to Shouri, Mica, Ayla, Wind, Marc (FNB), that i deleted but thought i should remember that i sent, trying to reconnect with them. no response from any. Also an unanswered reconnect email to Jed a week earlier.

Valarie Kaur, July 9
hmmm. yes. i'm glad you dont associate me with cold and dark. but try replacing those words with cool and shaded, respectively. better picture? just the calm space the peace away from the frenzy the madness the desires the angers that consumed corrupted me while i battled the world.

dark chocolate. yes, that is what it must be, what i think i would like to be. that is what your description of the love you are exploring reminds me of. if you had asked me what kind of chocolate i would want it to be before, i would have said the milkiest creamiest possible but now i discover in fact, no, bittersweet ecstasy can only be dark chocolate.
leaving for india this tuesday for two months, very very very excited.
pet pet pet on cocoa and kajal's heads.
snatch snatch snatch type type type.
your turn.
love love love

Pam Olson, July 21
in bangalore right now, learning all i can about the politics of freedom and identity, and the interflowage of community. off to delhi this evening. then down to kerala (south west state of india) to see the rest of my family for a month and a half or so.
not using toilet paper. being brown skinned and semi-white brained in a brown country. spending my parents money which we three see as family money not separable and yet me still being confused on whats worth spending on.
read on for my dad's email to me in response to my question about publishing.
wondering why the hell i'm at a computer instead of using my last few hours in bangalore walking and talking and blinking and breathing and seeing.

Thea, July 25
am on journey, as you say. journey has passed from singapore to bangalore to delhi where i am now and where i was walking on grass and felt breeze and thought it was just across that particular point in the fabric of space and then walked forward and realized it was all over the general area of space and it was actually only at that particular point in the fabric of time. i guess i'm more aware of motion through space rather than time and so think more in terms of space than time. mmm. what a deliciously brainless revelation. i've been having a lot of those. there's a lot of time to revelate when you're on the go, visiting folks entering their lives for a week, a little taste and onwards ho.
plants are awesome youre right. theres a bitty biodiversity plant across the road from here, we're going there to chill with the greenery after the afternoon when we've put the sun to sleep. its hot here. smelt like the wicked witch of the east, we will, if we step into the sun now. i tried, with a sheet on my head, this morning (which is when i walked on the grass and confused space with time), cuz my cous and i were being ghosts playing a kid game, but even with the white reflecting the heat it was toasty burning.
my brain got fried. off i fly, with a peck on your nose and hello to olivia, who yes, of course i know and a tap on my bottom for acceleration
till my next cyberial travel that happens across your communique,

Mansi Maheshwari, July 25
heya from uncle/aunt/cousin/dog's house in gurgaon, mansi. my aunt is a translator. she was talking about the EU and the sudden demand for translation and how now languages are flying all over the place and i thought of babel's tower falling and breaking and now its happening all over again, and then i realized i dont really know the story of babel and the tower, i just connect it to a vague thing about languages and tower falling and maybe i should read up or ask someone.

ok, that's my random thought for the day, hope thinking is just as scraggly and confused and illuminating on that corner of the sphere(wait but spheres dont have corners. heehee.)


Day 27
Moon 28

Monday, July 12, 2004

feliz cumpleanos, pablo.

One entry more than the Daily Revolution now. more permanent? nah. nothing is. permanent.

Gaaaaaaah. so ready to leave. frustration. dissatisfaction with All and All.

Today would be Pablo Neruda's 100th bday.
Ank sent this to me a a few weeks ago. Someday I'll find out what it means.

Neruda, Testamento de otono, the closing poem in extravagario

Matilde Urrutia, aqui' te dejo
lo que tuve y lo que no tuve,
lo que soy y lo que no soy.
Mi amor es un nin~o que llora,
no quiere salir de tus brazos,
yo te lo dejo para siempre:
eres para mi' la ma's bella.

Eres para mi' la ma's bella,
la ma's tatuada por el viento,
como un arbolito del sur,
como un avellano en agosto,
eres para mi' suculenta
como una panaderi'a,
es de tierra tu corazo'n
pero tus manos son celestes.

Eres roja y eres picante,
eres blanca y eres salada
como escabeche de cebolla,
eres un piano que ri'e
con todas las notas del alma
y sobre mi' cae la mu'sica
de tus pestan~as y tu pelo,
me ban~o en tu sombra de oro
y me deleitan tus orejas
como si las hubiera visto
en las mareas de coral:
por tus un~as luche' en las olas
contra pescados pavorosos.

Day 9
Moon 10ish

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Email from Pam, subject line: Abbel Boy

Dear all,

It is so strange to be sitting in an office in front
of a computer eating a chicken sandwich and drinking
fresh carrot juice with a multi-lingual Palestinian
woman (fluent in French, Arabic, and English, passable
in Spanish) chatting like in any other office, typing
up a report about, for example, a family that was
gunned down in their home at midnight in a Palestinian
town where friends of mine live by the army of a
country where other friends of mine live. One report
last week said Israeli soldiers in Nablus shot and
killed two sons and shot their father in the head in
front of their mother and sister.

Every day, it's like a normal day at work, and then a
report comes in about another family killed, another
operation or incursion or ambulance attacked or curfew
instated or checkpoint closed or parcel of productive
land destroyed, and your stomach turns to water. Last
week another nine-year-old kid was shot and killed at
a peaceful protest in Gaza, and I doubt the mainstream
news even reported it. Things like this have become

While Muzna and I were typing up reports one day last
week, two guys showed up, a reporter and a
photographer. The photographer walked in like a tall
beam of sunshine, a half-Palestinian half-Catalonian
from Barcelona, effortlessly charming in a friendly,
smiling, confident way, and in possession of a
passionate devotion to human rights, animal rights,
and Spanish soccer. Seemed like the type for whom
women just fell at his feet.

He came in and all the women fell at his feet. Muzna
suggested that if he really wanted to learn Arabic, he
should get himself a Palestinian girlfriend, and I had
to make an effort not to stutter. Later we and some
others went out for drinks at a place called Sangria's
with a gorgeous outdoor patio and garden. Most folks
ordered a very decent Palestinian beer called Taybeh,
and I had some Turkish coffee and a nargila.

Someone asked what a nargila was last time I wrote.
It is a tall ornate hookah, sheesha, water bong,
usually filled with flavored tobacco. My favorite
flavor is warad (rose), but grape and mint and
raspberry and mango are also nice. It's one of my
favorite things about the Middle East, time together
sitting around on a porch talking, usually about
politics, and laughing and enjoying each other's
company with no concept of time whatever, taking turns
blowing smoke rings and making coffee and tea while
people come and go and goats wander up the stairs and
cats come and sit in your lap and someone comes by
with some leftover desserts and the sun sets and
al-Jazeera or CNN comes on, and everyone rolls their
eyes because they are lying as usual, or at best
telling half the truth, and people who come randomly
by sometimes end up becoming great friends... That's
a short definition of nargila.

Anyway, we were hanging out on the patio of Sangria's
when a happy birthday song came on the loudspeakers
and two cakes came out with fireworks spewing fire out
on top. The birthday party had gotten enough cake for
everyone on the patio and the waiters passed it
around. When Muzna said, "La, shukran," (no thanks),
and the waiter asked, "Lehsh?" (why?), I laughed out

Alex, the Canadian journalist, told Mushir the
Spanishtinian heartthrob to tell his story of crossing
into Israel. Mushir laughed and said, "Ah yes, the
girl at the border control, she ask me, 'What will
your address be in Ramallah?' I said, 'Why, you want
to come visit me?' She turn very red, and she try to
answer me in Spanish, then she try to answer me in
English, then she start cursing in Hebrew." We all
laughed and he said, "But it is not so funny, because
then they give me only two weeks in Israel." Normally
tourists get three months. So he'll have to go back
to Jordan and renew soon. I almost don't blame the
poor girl.

After drinks I followed Alex and Mushir and a law
student named Omar to their apartment to watch the
Portugal/Holland soccer game. Omar is an itriguing
person to me because he is so thoroughly American and
yet has a certain understanding of things because he
has close family in the Middle East. He turned down
an amazingly lucrative summer job in the States for a
$500-a-month stint in Palestine. I am not sure how he
holds so many ideas, some of which seem contradictory
to me, in his head at once. I think I will learn a
lot talking to him.

He works for the economic arm of the Palestinian
Authority and is pretty disappointed with it. The PA,
from most accounts I've heard, is weak and
disorganized and dishonest and generally lacks
solidarity with the Palestinian people. Many
Palestinians are more upset with the PA, which was
installed by and is dependent on Israel, than with
Israel itself. Many feel betrayed and
ill-represented. And yet maybe 1/3 of the West Bank
population is dependent on it for their livelihood,
and Palestinian citizens have little to fall back on
politically except the fundamentalist party Hamas.
Somebody told me about half of Palestinians identify
with neither Hamas nor Fateh (the dominant party in
the PA). I hope al-Mubadara can be a viable Third
Front, and I hope its call for democratic elections
will be honored, but we will see. I have a lot to

While we were watching the game, Omar jokingly asked
Mushir if he would like anything, "like maybe some
abbel boy?" Mushir laughed, and Omar explained that
they had dinner one time with a girl who had been in
the West Bank a little too long, and she asked a
waiter, "May I have some apple pie?"

The waiter looked at her, confused, and the girl said,
"Sorry, some abbel boy, please?"

The waiter smiled, relieved, and said, "Oh yes, abbel
boy! Right away."

The next night, when I was studying my Egyptian Arabic
textbook, the Palestinian girl I live with said that
all Arabs understand Egyptian standard Arabic, but
almost no one speaks it. "And by the way, all our
books are written in Egypt, published in Lebanon, and
read in Iraq." I laughed but she said, "No, I'm
serious, it's been true for 200 years. All the
thinkers are in Egypt, but they have never had
democracy. So everything gets published in Beirut,
but they are all too busy to read. In Iraq everyone
is so smart, so that's where they read the books." I
wondered how much reading the Iraqis have done lately.

There was another expat party on Thursday night at my
house, and I was talking to an American guy who has
lived in Palestine for more than five years. He lived
in Gaza City for about two years, and he said the US
Agency for International Development spent tons of
time and US taxpayer money to build several wells for
the Gazans--our tax money given to the government's
business partners. Fair enough if it provides the
Gazans with much-needed water.

But then Israel came and destroyed all the wells, with
weapons paid for by US tax dollars to the government's
defense contractor business partners. And then the
first well-building business partners got another fat
tax-funded deal to rebuild the wells.

I was reminded of Milo Minderbinder, the black market
mastermind in Catch-22, bombing his men with their own
planes, making a large profit from it, and calmly
explaining to everyone why it was in their best
interest and done, after all, in the sacred and
inviolable name of Free Enterprise.

The American guy said, "I've seen so much stuff, I
didn't think I could get angry anymore. But the wall
makes me very angry."

Halfway through the party an Israeli Jeep showed up
and cut off our access to the main road, and it stayed
there for hours and hours. My Palestinian housemate
ushered us all into the house like it was a
thunderstorm or something. And, like in a
thunderstorm, we kept hearing explosions every twenty
minutes or so and vainly made guesses as to how far
away they were and what kind of damage they might have

A French diplomat and a German guy were playing bottle
caps, and I talked to an Irish guy who got sick of
being rich in Geneva and is working now for al-Haq, a
human rights NGO. He and the Swedish girl both said
that the UN pays well, but you have to have
connections to get hired.

The next day at work I found out the explosions were
part of an Israeli incursion, with six people arrested
and several doors blown down and at least two people
injured, including one child. Arafat's compound was
surrounded again. I believe two houses were
demolished. Three of those arrested are from Tulkarm
and work for the Palestinian Red Crescent. All six
were taken to unknown places. Details are sketchy,
because a curfew was in place, and to be a witness
would have been dangerous.

Walking around looking at the strong, beautiful stone
houses in my neighborhood the other day, I was
thinking that if someone were even to think about
destroying them, for any reason, I don't know how my
anger could be contained. My Palestinian housemate
later told me she was a victim of the very first home
demolition in Ramallah. She used to live in a very
nice five-story flat, and one night Israelis came and
found a wanted man, killed him (extrajudicial
assassination, illegal by the Geneva Conventions),
threw everyone out of their apartments, including
families with young children, without letting them
bring anything out with them, and dynamited it before
their eyes as an act of collective punishment (also
illegal by international law). My housemate lost her
father when she was 13, and her portrait of her father
was destroyed, as well as her book, clothes, CDs,
furniture, personal effects... she said she could not
count what she lost.

She grew up in Gaza City, and her family is made up of
wealthy Communists. (Wealthy Gaza Communists--triple
oxymoron? I have yet to meet a truth that was not
stranger than fiction.) She was hit with a bullet the
first time when she was six years old. During the
first Intifada in 1987, Israeli soldiers were shooting
at youths who were throwing rocks. She was on her way
home and was caught in the crossfire, and a bullet
grazed her ankle, and then a stone hit her in almost
the same place.

She said Israeli soldiers came into her home all the
time when she was young, and she saw her father being
beaten more than once, and sometimes her father or
brothers were taken away and put in prison. I wonder
why a family of Gaza Communists was so dangerous to
the security of Israel.

I told her Ronan's story from southern Lebanon about
the four prisoners being killed by an Israeli soldier,
including a child. She told me one time she and her
friends were playing in the road when they were about
7 or 8 years old, and some Israeli soldiers were on a
rooftop nearby. The soldiers started pointing at the
kids and laughing, and then one pointed his gun and
shot one of the children in the cheek. Another
soldier shot another kid in the eye. She said each
time they aimed she could not tell whom they were
aiming at. She said with a weak smile, "They were
playing a game, who could shoot a kid in the eye."

She said the worst thing she saw lately was that one
of the American torturers in Abu Ghraib was a pregnant
woman. "How can she do that when she was in that time
of life that is most... I mean could she not think
ahead and think that someone might do that to her
child someday?"

When the Al-Aqsa mosque compound was stormed by Ariel
Sharon in September 2000, the spark that lit the
powder keg of the Second Intifada, my housemate was on
her way to a party in West Jerusalem, but because of
the craziness she decided not to go. A Communist
friend of hers phoned and said he was going to go
check out the protest. He wasn't religious or
anything, he was just angry that the country that had
oppressed his people so long was now spitting in their
eye, and excited to be part of a big passionate group
of people. The next they heard of him was that he had
been shot and killed at the protest.

She said, "I have never lived anywhere else, and I was
six years old during the first Intifada and I was just
learning what the world was about. I thought it was
always about soldiers and beatings and killings and
checkpoints. I don't know what normal is." She's
hoping to study for a masters in finance in France
soon, and I can't imagine what a relief it will be.
Despite it all she still wants to raise kids here in
Palestine. She doesn't want them to see what she has
seen, but at the same time she says her experiences
have made her stronger, and she wants to stay with her

She and I went to see Mystic River at the
Cinematheque, and on the way back yet another Israeli
Jeep was blocking our path, and teenaged boys were
running toward it with stones. She turned me around
and said, "Don't go that way, ugh, I hate it when they
do that. Don't they know some of the Israeli soldiers
are not right in the head? They get scared and they
just shoot."

Last night a group of us went to a club called The
Orthodox to watch the Portugal/Greece game. There was
a small but vocal group of Greece supporters, and they
were very happy at the end. The guy sitting beside me
was from Nablus, works in Jericho, will study in
Missouri next year, and said he hates to leave
Palestine and is only going away for a time because of
the situation. He doesn't want to study here now
because it is too hard just getting around, and with
checkpoint and curfews and everything else, serious
study would be very stressful if not impossible. (My
housemate lost a year of study because of some
problems with her Israeli-issued documents.) But he
definitely plans to come back to his homeland to live.
I asked what he thought of Dr. Barghouthi, and he
said, "Like most Palestinians I think he is a very
good man."

An international film festival is coming to town next
week, and I hope to catch some good movies. There's
one about Che Guevara called Motorcycle Diaries that
looks good. My housemate, like me, enjoys long walks
around town, so I am looking forward to exploring the
area with her. We're thinking of walking the 20 km to
Bir Zeit at some point and catching a cab back.

Today I showed Dr. Barghouthi our new web page design,
and he is happy with it. Insha'Allah we can get it up
and running soon.

I hope you all are staying well and look forward to
seeing you again.


"Few of us can surrender our belief that society
must somehow make sense. The thought that The State
has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent
people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be
internally denied."
~Arthur Miller

Day 5
Moon 6ish

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Call now to end genocide in Sudan.

That was in the subject line of an email yesterday. Hey, excellent, that's all we have to do, we just have to call? Sweet, I'm on it, Sudanese-style peace celebration party at my house afterwards, y'all. Naah, don't worry, I got the phonebill covered, least I could do, yeah you can just put the Nobel down there, by the ceramic vase.

Save the world in someone else's inbox, mofos.

In the process of making presents and gearing up for India.
Out of sorts.
Always wanting to do something else besides what I'm doing. Irritable. Maybe it's blood coming on. Maybe it's the moon. Full tomorrow I think. Maybe it's the fact that I have no freaking structure or discipline in my life and it's driving me nuts.

Possession --by Barbara Kinsolver

The things I wish for are:
A color. A forest.
The devil and ice in my mouth.
that can't be owned.
A leopard, a life, a kiss.
never let me down.
To know that you have wanted me too
is as good as the deed
of trust.

Time for What to do in case of fire.