Tuesday, August 29, 2006

healing in tsfat

Sunday was a very interesting and unusual day. For me, the unusual part started with waking up at 7.15am, which never happens. Despite J's comments of "how lovely it is this early in the morning", it won't happen again soon. But it was for a worthy cause. My friend Y had taken it upon herself to organise a group of artists, therapists and healers, and take us all up to Tsfat, which is right by the Lebanon-Israel border, to provide post-war stress relief to as many women as possible.

On the bus on the way up, with an artist, a dancer, a Life Coach, a consegrity healer, a masseuse, a mandolin player and several baby-sitters for the babes, worries were expressed. How will they welcome us? How will we organise it all? Will it go well? I was especially nervous because, although I am trained in energy healing, specifically Reiki, I have never practised on strangers. I've zapped the odd headache and period pain, but never had someone I don't know lying down in front of me with their eyes closed, expecting healing. What with that and the very strong coffee I had at the Kvish 6 service station, I was not in the best frame of mind.

When we got there, though, to Ascent, a religious institute which particularly welcomes those "new to religion", shall we say, we all got quite excited. Every healer got her own room with beds and towels (I didn't know what I'd do with my towels, but left them there anyway), and a sign on the door. Then we waited for the influx.

In the end, I gave 8 treatments, of 25 minutes each, pretty much one after the other, and it was an amazing experience. The scientist in me always voices scepticism, while the "other" side of me says, No, this fits in with science, it's energy fields, it's quantum physics. And what I found so astonishing was that I felt something, and each woman was totally different.

One woman who desperately wants more children, I told that she had wonderful energy flow from her head to her waist, but then there was a blockage. Another woman, I sensed that she had angry feet, and that seemed to mean something to her. Another "client" had a weight sitting on her stomach that was pushing people away, and had something to do with a little girl. My first client, I sensed that she really wanted someone to brush her hair for her, and when I told her she said, "How did you know?"


I told them what I felt and left it at that. We didn't have time to discuss in detail. But they were all extremely grateful. All in all, we jointly saw 80 women that day.

Kol HaKavod to Y! Another day is being planned for Nahariya, also heavily attacked during the war - and this time men will get treatments too.

Here's to less stress and more energy flow!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


the only thing that gives some hope in this endless cycle of conflict and more conflict are inviduals who don't let anything stop them from trying to talk to "the other side". Went to see a film last night that brings these amazing people and their stories to a wider audience. I highly recommend seeing Encounter Point wherever and whenever you can. These people are very real, some of them have faced the worst tragedies a person can face, and if they can try and humanize "the other", then can't we?

It's hot, so so hot. I've turned on the aircon for the first time this summer. I feel bad, enivironmentally, for doing it, but I was going a little loopy so it is a necessary evil. Will turn it off as soon as the temp drops below 25 and the humidity below 30%.

whine, whine whine.

Knitting's coming on well, I've finished the back and have started the front.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I recently put a stats counter on my website , and just had a quick look. How exciting, people that I possibly don't even know have stopped by! Of 10 recent visitors, one was using Linux operating system, open source, good for you. But then only two out of the ten were Firefox users (bizarrely, they were using more updated versions than me, and I thought I was cutting edge), the rest coming to me on Internet Explorer... boooo.
Switch to Firefox now. Go open source!

All's well

Things have been patched up with the friends with whom J and I were have some, shall we say, "difficulties" last week. That's good, because it was eating away at me. My acupuncturist had suggested that if it was not sorted out by my next appointment, she would show me how to do some special "Soul to soul" healing. I found that thought rather scary.

Glad I don't have to do that now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not in the playground any more

Re: last week's trouble with friends, I had a revelation last night at yoga, something to do with being upside down, perhaps. Headstands can turn your perceptions on their head too.

I realised that I had been searching for a "best friend", the type girls had when we were twelve, the kind of "best friend" you spend all your time with at school, you giggle together, whispering about everyone else, doing each other's hair, and then talk on the phone to for two hours every night, because you just have to discuss the TV program you just watched or what was number one in the charts.

That kind of best friend.

But I'm not twelve any more and that kind of friend doesn't come along when you're on the wrong side of 35. Unless of course you're lucky enough to still have that best friend from the playground, to have managed to hang on to her through all the twists and turns of twentysomething years.

But I realised you can't make that kind of best friend any more, because we're older, because some of us are in couples - and perhaps because we shouldn't need it. In the years that have passed since the age of twelve, we should have learned to look after ourselves, trust our own intuition, praise our achievements and ride through the rough times.

I'm not saying we don't need friends, has v'khalila, friends are vital! And really good friends are precious commodities, and I treasure them as I should. I am lucky to have J, a great shoulder to cry on, a wonderful PR man trumpeting my successes when I am too English to mention them, who makes me laugh, cooks me dinners and tries to break up the cats when they fight.

But I have to give up on the search for a "best friend". She doesn't exist. And she shouldn't. Because if she is in a couple, then she has other loyalties which, as I came to understand rather bitterly last week, conflict with her friends. She can't be there to giggle with me and only me.

So, feeling a little older and wiser, I get back to life, musing to myself about writers being hermits and about pouring my angst into my fiction. I started knitting a new jumper today, with this stunning yarn that is actually ribbon not wool. (It's Number 5, the top left on the chart above.)

It feels good to be creating something tangible and beautiful, sparkly and unworn, untainted. I can't knit for long because my hands get sore, years of computer use have made them sensitive, despite all the yoga. But I enjoy it while I can.

Time for the wine

Just spoke to D - G is out of Lebanon. Thank goodness. She called his commander last night, was told to call back at 4am. She's a journalist and was already up north for a story, so when the commander said, Come to the border now, she went. She was there as Israeli soldiers streamed past her in the darkness, khaki-coloured figures in the early light, returning from the hell they had been in, elated, she said, to be out of there.

It took her a while to find G, and then she managed to get permission to hop on their jeep with them and head for their next destination, which happened to be close to where she was staying. She called. She said,

"G is in the shower",

and I could hear the relief in her voice, mixed with many emotions puzzling at the strangeness of all the night's - and month's - events.

Now they can crack open the bottle of Tishbi I bought them.

Monday, August 14, 2006

all quiet?

I hate to tempt fate, but things do seem quieter today up North. I say that from my comfortable nook in Jerusalem, I can't even imagine what it must have been like to be in bunkers for 34 days straight. Fingers crossed, all will continue.

Couldn't sleep last night. We got home from the cinema at 12.30 and then I went and looked at the news. Bad idea. I got so upset seeing the names of the soldiers who were killed, and reading an article about the death of David Grossman's son, Uri, that I couldn't get to sleep until around 4am. Must not read news before bed... must not read news before bed.

Here's my first picture posting:
You can try and guess who they are and what they're up to. Correct answer wins... A Major Prize.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Good friends and ceasefires

Thank goodness for great friends, alcohol and Shabbat! Thursday night's dancing-on-tables-to-cheesy-Israeli-songs hen night was wonderful, a roomful of people of all ages, some with flashing penises on their heads (not our bride-to-be, I assure you), all enjoying the opportunity to let all those tensions go by singing along with a middle-aged bloke in a cowboy hat crooning Shlomo Arzi into his microphone. We over-thirties were yawning a little at midnight and not sad to be heading for our bus back to Jerusalem, but the party in the Rishon winery looked like it was carrying on and on...

So, after the bad-taste-in-your-mouth incident J and I had with supposed good friends on Thursday, it seemed that someone up there was conspiring to send my messages of love and goodwill from all, just to balance it all out. I was hit on by a guy on my way to shul (!), and the last thing he said after I asked if he'd like us to go out for a coffee "with or without my husband", was "you're a great woman". I thought, Yes, yes I am! Then saw lots of lovely people in shul who told me they'd missed me, because due to an increased claustrophobia I had stopped going 9 months ago, not being able to cope with the 400-strong crowd that turns up on a Friday night. Now I can do it - if I get there early, sit at the front, and don't turn round during the whole service. A little wierd, but it works. And yesterday I felt I really wanted to be back with my community, whatever that means, so the warm welcome was very much appreciated.

Tonight, switching on the computer after Shabbat, I see that there might be a cease-fire. Perhaps by Monday, siren warnings every few minutes will be something we'll just reminisce about. Perhaps by then, all the soldiers will be safely back home and D will be reunited with G and they can drink the bottle of Tishbi red wine I took round to her place last week and told her was strictly to be saved for celebrating upon his return. I really hope so.

Right now, I am chatting with Harry, an online technician from HP, who is trying to help me figure out why my brand-new and very sexy Scanjet 4670 refuses to respond to my entreaties. Ah, the world of technology. Makes every other little frustration pale into insignificance.

Must get back to writing fiction. Much more calming.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Bad and the Good

What a day. What a day. I can't even begin to start describing it now. Donating food for people in the North, people being so kind and generous, opening their hearts... then good friends behaving in a shockingly disgusting way towards J and I... then a friend who moved from Jerusalem to New York 3 years ago sending me the letter he wrote to his army unit telling them he can be here in 2 days if they need him, that he is prepared to jump on a plane. I have been moved to tears, for the good and the bad, today.

S's hen night tonight - much alcohol will flow! Much needed!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Surreal in IsraelLand

Life gets more and more surreal. I don't even know where to start in describing my day. The bizarreness of it all hit me this afternoon. I decided to go for a swim at around 6pm, and was driving up to the pool. I can't seem to listen to music in the car right now, it has to be the radio, has to be people talking. Of course, what they are generally talking about right now is the war, which is not the cheeriest of subjects. I am trying to cut down on news etc.. because I haven't been sleeping well since we got back last week. Anyway, the discussion on 95.5 FM, Reshet Bet, was actually about Israeli Arabs and how they are treated, following on from something that happened in the Knesset.. from what I could gather, apparently an Arab MK made some anti-Israel comments and people called for him to be removed, something like that. Well, it was a fascinating discussion, but what was totally wierd was that every few minutes the female host of the show would say

"Yes, Jerusalem?"

and a mellifluous male announcer would gravely say

"The warning siren has just sounded in Kiryat Shmona. All residents are advised to go to their shelters and they may come out fifteen minutes after the siren has sounded, unless they are told otherwise,"

and then the discussion started right up again as if nothing had happened.

A few minutes later, she said "Yes, Jerusalem?" and the whole thing happened again, with the male voice saying exactly the same thing, except the place was different. As I was driving, I was hearing, in real time, when sirens were going off in the north. Here I am, safe in my car, driving to my fancy expensive health club for a swim, and they are running into shelters and waiting for the awful thud outside their walls.

I swam, and showered, this sentiment in the back of my mind, and as I walked out of the health club, thinking about how I would turn the radio on when I got back in the car, they were playing loud music by the pool. Not only that, it was "Caribbean Queen" by Billy Ocean, to which a class of middle-aged women was doing water aerobics.
Surreal? I think so.

Sadly, other parts of my day were all too real. My great friend D married G in October, a gorgeous outdoor wedding at a Kibbutz by a river just near Netanya. She is American, a journalist, always active, a great communicator; he Canadian, an architect, softly spoken and with a fondness for whisky. They live in Tel Aviv. I found out yesterday that he had received an emergency call-up to the army on Saturday. I immediately called D, and was amazed to hear that when he made aliyah, this gentle, artistic man had insisted on doing two years' army service instead of the one year he was required to do, and had served in Lebanon (pre-pullout in 2000). He was a combat soldier, and now he was being called up to his combat unit.

"I was sending my husband off to war," said D, wryly. "I thought, what year is this?"

They were in touch yesterday, he was in training somewhere in the country. Then today, he called her and said he was "going North" and he wouldn't be able to be in telephone contact.
That means only one thing. He is going in to Lebanon.

On the phone, from the back of the taxi she was taking back home from an interview, D broke down. She's terrified. And I'm feeling the tears coming as I write this. What hell is it that has broken out here? It happened so suddenly. We'd almost got used to the nightmare of suicide bombers, we felt reassured by guards at every restaurant entrance, offering our bags up freely for examination. But this? What is this? D told me she had spoken to an Israeli friend who had grown up here through the last thirty or so years of Israel's battles.

"She says she has never felt such an existential threat," said D.

I have to end on a more positive note. This evening, spoiled Jerusalemite that I am, I went to my meditation class. An hour and a half of "focus on the breath" and wandering around the garden just paying attention to lifting my foot and putting it back down again, which was heavenly. And I bumped into friends I haven't seen for a long time. They have 6-year-old twins, and I know that for several few years. she, A, had wanted to have another child. And she's pregnant. I got tears in my eyes when she told me. It's been one of those soggy days. B'shaa tova, to all of us.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Shavua tov?

What a way to come out of a quiet, beautiful Shabbat catching up with friends after being away for a month. To the headline in Haaretz "Mother, two daughters killed in Katyusha strike on Bedouin village as 130 rockets land in an hour." And then, underneath, the Reuters report on "Thousands marching in London, demand Middle East cease-fire" in which I read that "Thousands of demonstrators marched through central London holding placards reading "End Israeli crimes in Lebanon" and "Freedom for Palestine"." Makes me furious. Not a word about the hundreds of Katyhusha rockets that Hizbullah is sending over northern Israel daily with the specific aim of killing as many civilians as possible. What are we? Less then human.

Not the way to start the week.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

short stories and katyushas

I read a wonderful short story last night. Coming back from holiday at 3am yesterday, there was a pile of post waiting for me, including Mslexia, the fabulous quarterly mag for women who write, and several literary magazines, some of which I read regularly (Tin House, The Paris Review ) and a magazine that's new to me: The Bellevue Literary Review. It's published out of Bellevue Hospital, "the oldest public hospital in the United States", around for 270 years. Their remit is "fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that touch upon relationships to the human body, illness, health and healing." I wasn't so sure about this, but decided to send one of my short stories into their Fiction contest, and the fee includes a year's subscription. I cracked it open last night, and read the winning story from last year, Joan Malerba-Foran, "The Little Things". I was gripped from the first page, the story of an alcoholic teacher in an American public school just trying to make it through the day. This is the first published piece of prose by Malerba-Foran, a poet, and her poet's eye is evident in every sentence. Her powers of original description are astonishing. I am very picky, I demand a lot from a short story, and she gave me everything I need. Go out and buy this issue.
As to the second half of my post's title, coming home to the worst day of Katyusha rocket fire from Hizbullah on the north was not what many people may have thrilled to. But I was just so happy to be back in my flat, back in my bed, and, finally, back in a place where I could get detailed news about the situation. The BBC just doesn't do it for me. J and I sat in front of the Channel 2 news last night, watching the footage of the Israeli operation in Lebanon on Tuesday night and then seeing pictures of the devastation of Israeli homes by rockets yesterday. One man was killed in Nahariya, and his dog, a beautiful golden retriever, was wandering in between medics, reporters and the kibbutz residents, looking for his master. That said it all.
Happier news next blog, perhaps.

writing on a clean page

well, I have finally entered the blogsphere. How strange. I resisted for a long time, given the fact that I write articles for work and I write fiction for pleasure, so how much more writing could I do? But here I am, gripped by an urgent desire to express myself, inspired by other blogs of those around me, geographically and virtually. This is just to get something up there. Perhaps it will get more entertaining from now on. I hope so, but there are no guarantees. Comments welcome, as always.