Climate Changes, Community, Culture, Letting Go, Love, Mindfulness

Totally awesome redefined

I’m a girl who grew up in the totally awesome eighties, so it’s taken time for me to integrate the word awesome into my system with an emphasis on awe. But as I am awakening more to the magic in my life and in the world around me, I’m finding it necessary to rethink, “awesome.”

I processed this realization as I watched a trailer of an upcoming film in which astronauts describe what many of them say was the life-changing experience of viewing Earth from space.  Shuttle/ISS Astronaut Nicole Stott (who looks more or less my generation) says, “Awe is one of those words that you have a better understanding of once you see [what the planet looks like.]  I felt like using the word awesome was totally appropriate.”

(OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.)

Listening to the interviews with the astronauts, combined with commentary from philosophers, made me think that a trip to space would be a suitable prerequisite for all youth entering adulthood. What if, instead of going to college or the military, human beings first shot up to space, gazed out at our collectiveness on this planet, and wrote a poem or a song? What if they curated a photo exhibit or painted a picture or choreographed a dance or just simply wept with understanding and wrote an essay called, “What I did on my summer vacation in space?”

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell may have been the most impacted by his experience viewing our civilization from above. Back on Earth, he later formed a non-profit institute that researches meditation, consciousness, and human potential. Mitchell says in the film trailer:

“That’s a powerful experience, to see Earth rise over the surface [of the Moon].   But instead of being an intellectual experience, it was a personal feeling… accompanied by a sense of joy and ecstasy, which caused me to say ‘What is this?’ It was only after I came back that I did the research and found that the term in ancient Sanskrit was Samadhi.”

I highly recommend watching this powerful trailer and then letting me know what was awe-inspiring for you today. For me, it was a dream I had last night that came true a little today; it was a work opportunity that appeared at the perfect time; it was a song I hadn’t heard in 18 years but appropriately so since it only suited me today.

Some say there was a shift in consciousness that took place in 1968 once humans got a glimpse of the planet from space. And that this shift is ongoing today.

“This view of the Earth from space — the whole earth perspective — is the true symbol of this age and i believe what will happen is there is going to be a greater interest in communicating this idea because, after all, it’s key to our survival. We have to start acting as one species with one destiny. We are not going to survive if we don’t.”  — Frank White, author, The Overview Effect

 

 

Books, Climate Changes, Community, Environment, Food, Health, Modern Life, Relationships, Religion, Survivalism, War, Writing

What I imagine when I imagine the end of the world

Short Fiction

When I imagine the end of the world, I am alone at the edge of a cliff. It’s evening and God Only Knows by the Beach Boys is playing on a box radio I looted from my neighbor’s basement.

If it were a movie, I’d be gazing out over the city lights of Los Angeles just as the electricity went out, as one by one the skyscrapers lost power, and the city fell dark.

A blazing comet approaches.

Or a neon green burst of light from beyond the reaches of time.

Or a giant tidal wave shimmies up the coast.

If it were a movie, my heart would swell as I accepted my fate. I would open my arms and embrace humanity’s extinction for I knew I had lived life to its fullest.

But it’s not a movie.

It’s my real life.

In which almost every day is the end of the world.

* * *

 

I have a disease without a name.

If it had a name, it would be called something like redemptionitis or zombisteria or hypotrychtapocalypse.

The closest anyone has ever come to labelling my disease was in the years leading up to the much-publicized end of the Mayan Calendar in December 2012.

Doomsday Phobia, they called it.

Anyone who stocked their basements with toilet paper and canned sardines in preparation for Armageddon; anyone who hoarded books of medicinal herbs or learned how to forage for mushrooms in a weekend workshop held in the back woods of Westchester County, NY; anyone who stocked in the back of the medicine cabinet antibiotics from their child’s most recent prescription for strep throat: We were all quietly laughed at and labeled “preppers.”

Back when it was cute, the way a touch of crazy is cute, as long as it doesn’t lead to a shootout in a movie theater.

Back then, I wondered to myself if I was on a CIA watch list. Did they suspect me? A suburban New Jersey mom of two? A college educated professional with a real job and a real paycheck?

I certainly didn’t fit the profile.

I wore Ann Taylor suits and took the NJ Transit train every day from the suburbs into the city where I walked six blocks to my midtown workplace. In our open floor plan, I had the closest thing to an office – a transparent cube looking out over the East River, made from glass walls so others could look in. It was called the Rainbow Fish Bowl because of the stickers my daughter once placed on the sliding glass door. Every other Friday, I got a pedicure at Trudy’s Green Nails on Lexington Avenue. I was in a book club. I volunteered at the preschool. People liked me.

Each day, I put effort into smiling at my coworkers as if life wasn’t about to abruptly end by Avian Bird Flu.  I’d make jokes over the phone with the sales consultants who’d ask me if I thought wheatgrass was gluten free. I played along. Drank Nespresso in the coffee room with the writers; made snide remarks with the editors about our wacky advertisers; especially the ones who placed ads offering organic MREs (meals-ready-to-eat) purported to last 15 years. Secretly, I wondered if it made sense to pay for organic canned food when the cans were probably lined with BPA.

Could my coworkers view my computer monitor, however, they would have noticed I spent half the day reading headlines on alternative news web sites, corresponding in code with people named “Zen Grower” about the latest UFO sighting over New Mexico or the best price on bulk dehydrated food. I read blogs from people living in half-completed bunkers in the mountains of West Virginia; with strangers supposedly privy to knowledge that was never reported on CNN.  “The ‘Illuminati’ kills scientists, you know,” wrote Jade, my telepathic friend. She communicates with an alien race who is trying to save us from another alien race who’s been trying to destroy us since the Revolutionary War. “All war,” says Jade, “is the fault of the Reptilians.”

I would search “new world order Russian scientists reveal underwater pyramid” and “fourth dimensional beings plot to reprogram our brains” because I knew the search results would give me the intel I required to plan. And I planned. I had one to-do list that included vaccinations, playdates, and dentist appointments. Another to-do list for the end of the world.

My day job, I guess, was a ruse.

It was a way to satisfy my compulsion and still remain a member of society. Or so says Dr. Solomon. I saw it as a healthy way to educate myself on tactics I would surely need for the post-apocalyptic world I was certain was looming. Easily-learned skills like:

  • Reiki for when we no longer had the option to see surgeons for bone breaks or muscle sprains;
  • Acupressure, which I would use in the place of the anti-inflammatories we so depended on in the Before Times for headaches and menstrual cramps;
  • Nutritional supplements and herbal teas — like Chia and Flax seeds; dandelion and feverfew — I’d grow in a rooftop urban garden, where I’d herd my children before the Flood.

Back then, I was Advertising Director of a major national healthy living magazine. I courted and secured advertisers from multiple sectors: home and garden, health and wellness, exercise and fitness, diet and nutrition. And, of course, our bestsellers: classifieds from personal vegan chefs, Hindu tantric sex practitioners and Henna artists.

I was really good at my job. I was good at selling ads because I really believed all of the service providers and multi-level marketing professionals.  When they heard acknowledgment and acceptance in my voice over the phone, they eagerly placed half or more of their advertising budget in my hands.

I understood them, after all. Their fears. Their hopes. I knew intimately what it felt like to want to survive, but more so to want to be listened to and believed.

In my own experience, though, there were therapies and products that worked, and those that didn’t. Quackery, some might say. Except in my business, we never use the word quackery. This would alienate the chiropractors and homeopaths who placed half-page color ads for their self-published e-books.

Reiki, for instance, didn’t cure me of recurring yeast infections, as promised. But my Thursday afternoon sessions with Liane, the psychic massage therapist did help identify a sugar addiction. She also told me I had powers like hers; that I could, if I wanted to, study to be a healer.

She was right. I am a sugar addict. But she was also wrong. I can’t seem to heal anyone.

I kept seeing Liane on a regular basis and even believed most of the stories she would tell me: How her client was miraculously cured from testicular cancer by shiatsu and a six-week juice fast. How her deep tissue hot stone massage helped a couple overcome infertility. How the couple now had triplets – all girls.

I believed Liane. Except for that one time she told me that my migraines were the key to time travel, and that I should stop taking the Relert when the auras came on. I also believed the magazine readers who emailed testimony after testimony to our editorial staff profusely thanking us for publishing stories that changed their lives.  I believed the clippable lists we elegantly designed for ease-of-use, like “Pema Chodron’s Top 5 Mantras for Mindful Sex.”

I believed we were helping people.

I believed the jacket copy on the bestseller of contributing editor, celebrity physician Dr. Joel Willey– a book I personally reviewed for the magazine last December — promising increased sexual desire and stamina for peri-menopausal women by switching to a vegan, carbohydrate-free, anti-inflammatory diet.

I believed it all.

Which, apparently, is a symptom of my disease.

I have a disease without a name; without a designation, but with a host of exhibiting symptoms that collectively, for the past fifteen years, I called “conscious living,” but collectively make up a manilla folder of evidence against me, sitting on an antique desk in Dr. Solomon’s office.

All these “symptoms,” which were formerly advantageous qualities on a resume when applying for a job at a natural healthy living magazine, are now being offered up as evidence of my insanity. My inability to continue as a functioning member of society.

My disease is without a name. It’s as lonely as a woman standing on the edge of a cliff waiting for the world to end.

But, as it turns out, no name is necessary.

* * *

 

This work of fiction is an excerpt from an original short story by Jen Maidenberg, “What I imagine when I imagine the end of the world.”

Climate Changes, Community, Culture, Environment, Family, Living in Community

This is best use of social media for social good I’ve seen in a long time

#Litterati

 


 
And I'm playing in Israel.
I hope you join us.

Climate Changes, Community, Environment, Family, Middle East Conflict, Survivalism, Terrorism

An imaginable future

When we first moved to Israel, I felt uncomfortable sitting on buses and in cafes.

I would casually look around, trying to avoid notice, to see if there were any suspicious people or packages about; not sure, exactly, what my reaction would be if I spotted one.

Over time I have found myself less and less suspicious. More at ease in public places, as it so happens, but still not at ease.

“At ease” is not a behavior I was born with — or maybe I was — and was just spooked one too many times by a mischievous friend or traumatized by too many VC Andrews novels.

The world, for me, has almost always been a scary place.

And I have almost always been easily startled.

While here in Israel, I cautiously scan the room for bombs; in the States, I cautiously scanned darkened evening streets for rapists and quiet alleys for thugs. I walked quickly through empty hallways and avoided elevators with lone men. I double and triple locked my doors, and was known to sometimes sleep with the lights on. Especially the night after The Blair Witch Project.

I remember being in a bar watching a band perform in New York City once, in the months just before 9/11 but fresh enough after Columbine to still be jumpy, and leaping off my seat at the sound of a small explosion in the back of the room. Someone’s hair had caught fire accidentally on the tea light candle intended for atmosphere, and instead of atmosphere we were treated to dramatic special effects.

After I caught my breath, I laughed out loud at my reaction, but internally asked myself what I had been so concerned about. What immediate danger did I think the noise indicated?

A gun shot?

An explosion?

A brawl?

It’s the first time I remember my unease extending from mild anxiety to a heightened concern for my immediate well-being and the well-being of others.

From then and there, unfortunately, my unease has only become gradually uneasier.

And not because my anxiety has worsened, and not because I moved to Israel.

In fact, my anxiety has significantly improved in the last decade since I started acknowledging it and paying attention to it and using focused breathing, meditation and mindfulness.

Moving to the slow-paced countryside of Israel, in some ways, has helped, too.

But no matter how significantly my anxiety has improved, the world hasn’t. Since 9/11, the way I see it, we have been witness to more violent crimes like those in Aurora and Newtown and Boston and have experienced the communal aftermath of incomprehensible tragedies like Katrina and Sandy and are becoming more and more awakened to the devastation of our planet and the resources we have taken advantage of all our lives.

And suddenly I am no longer a minor statistic in a clinical journal.

It’s not just me and my world viewed through an anxiety-colored lens.

The world itself has become anxiety-colored. The world itself is on edge.

I watched this video of grown men jumping out of their seats; seemingly reaching to hug each other at the sound of thunder booming loudly over Yankee Stadium during a rain delay.

At first, I giggled. It was cute. Funny.

And then I paused, and realized, it wasn’t funny at all.

Grown men — baseball players, even, symbols of fearlessness and recklessness — jumping out of their seats at the sound of a …

Boom!

We are living in a world in which we are now, clearly, all easily startled.

scaredy cats

I know I’m not the first to make the claim that the world is growing bleaker and blacker.

There are voices much louder than mine that have come before.

And even though my voice is not the first.

There is always a glimmer of hope it can become one of the last.

The year I was born poet and activist Shel Silverstein wrote:

“There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.”

(Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein)

Those children are now grown.

Those children are now us.

And it’s indeed possible we have come to where the sidewalk ends.

And we need to choose in which direction we will continue.

We may continue to jump at loud noises, and then numb ourselves to an unacknowledged shared pain.

Self-medicating with food, technology, entertainment, drink, drugs, sex, consumerism, waste, whatever — silently signing the same consent form to ignore, to waive liability.

Or we may create together a world in which we can imagine its future.

A future not out of a dystopian film, but one lined with the vibrant green grass of my childhood memories and narrated by Shel Silverstein.

I want a future lined with colorful sunsets for my children to fall in love under.

And I want to hear thunder… and scream,

then giggle.

Knowing my fears are only imagined.

Climate Changes, Community, Environment, Family

A simple Earth Day in Israel

I remember my first Earth Day experience.

It was 10th grade and someone came up with the idea to boycott styrofoam.

The lunch room, of course, used styrofoam trays. And despite the efforts of a few forward thinking, future activists, the school administration refused to reconsider this earth-unfriendly decision.

So the students revolted. At a coordinated time in the afternoon, which happened to fall in the middle of Biology class, we watched the minute hand move slowly towards the 3. At 1:15 pm precisely, a handful of us stood up (after confirming with our eyes that we wouldn’t back out) and walked out of the classroom to the grassy field in front of the school.

We stayed there — despite warnings from the hall monitors and the lunch aides– shouting “No more styrofoam! Heal our Earth!” (or something powerfully catchy like that.) When the bell rang for the next period, I headed to Spanish class. And that concluded my career as a teenage environmental activist. This minor act was the only rebellious thing I did in my entire high school career. And I regret that. I should have staged more walk-outs or at least pierced more extremities.

Nothing changed in the lunchroom after the protest; not at least during my four years at Cherry Hill High School East.  The styrofoam trays hung around  — long after our protests. I bet they’re still hanging around… in a dump somewhere.

20 years later, I hope someone’s wised up and reinstated washable, reusable trays. Even wiser would be to bring your own lunch considering trans fatty french fries and carcinogenic hot dogs are still the stars of the lunchroom and that school lunches are linked with obesity. But I digress.

20 years later, I’m still the good girl I was in high school.

I can’t help myself.

The most rebellious act I’ll be pulling on this upcoming Earth Day, Monday, April 22 is blogging about other people’s trash.

Or picking some up.

Frankly, that’s better than doing nothing, which is what most people will opt to do on Monday.

Nothing.

Earth Day, for most, is just another piece of colored in line-art in a child’s backpack. It’s just another front page feature in Parade Magazine. It’s a photo op.

Surely, some will visit an eco-themed art exhibit or see an eco-film. Some might even take part in a small protest like I did once upon a time.

Not me.

I propose we all do something simple on Monday.

Pick up a piece of trash. Someone else’s trash.

Put it in the proper receptacle — paper with paper. Plastic with plastic. Food stuff in a compost pile.

This one simple act doesn’t require group think. Or a ticket stub.

Just you.

Pick up some trash.

If you want to take one extra step, consider not buying anything on Monday that’s meant to be thrown away.

And stop throwing stuff away. Keep it. Reuse it. Pass it on.

Teach your kids all of the above.

Make Earth Day simple this year.

Be a lone activist … and see how even a quiet, obedient good girl (or boy) can make a difference.

Climate Changes, Community, Environment, Food, Health, Mindfulness, Politics

Environment is not a dirty word (and being green doesn’t mean being perfect)

There’s a story I’ve shared quite a few times over the past six years since I became an accidental activist for holistic health and conscious living.

The story goes like this: I used to roll my eyes at environmentalists.

I used to snore that obnoxious snore that one inhales at the back of one’s throat when one thinks that someone else is holier than thou … naive … peace loving … do-gooding…world saving.

I was like, “Give it up, poser.”

And then one day I became the person other people roll their eyes at.

Oops.

It happened sometime in 2010.

After denying for years I was an earth loving, peace seeking hippie, I realized that all the efforts I had made to be healthy; to protect my kids from toxins in their food and surroundings; to connect people to wellness practitioners that allowed them to avoid a life spent on medication  — all those things — also helped the Earth.

And what did I understand soon after that?

If there was no Earth for my children to live on, it wouldn’t matter how organic, how natural, how toxin-free they were.

They’d be homeless.

And just like that I was an environmentalist.

Not the kind of environmentalist that saves otters or spends two years in a treehouse in the Amazon.

Just a simple environmentalist:

One that stops and thinks before she buys something; before she throws something away.

One that reads food labels.

One that brings an extra plastic bag on a picnic for trash — and then feels a little guilty she has a plastic bag in her possession to begin with.

jen pick up trash

One that teaches her kids that killing ants is cruel and eating animals is something I wrestle with.

I find that many people think that being green means being totally and completely careful and sure about every single thing you do, eat, buy. As if going green means going whole hog, vegan, hemp-wearing, off-the-grid hippie.

It doesn’t.

Truth telling time:

My kids own plastic toys.

Sometimes I throw them in the trash.

My community doesn’t recycle glass.

Sometimes I pack the glass bottles up in bags with the intention of taking them over to the next community for recycling.

Weeks go by. I throw the glass bottles in the trash instead.

I eat non-organic food.

Sometimes that non-organic food is called McDonald’s.

I like long, hot showers.

And sometimes I take them — in spite of the fact I live in a country where water is a luxury.

I don’t like dogs.

Sometimes I fantasize about kicking dogs. (I don’t kick them, but not because I like them).

I am human. But at the same time, I am a thinker.

I am someone who thinks green… by default, at first. And now, on purpose.

I think; therefore, I am.

I am someone who acts green.

Not because it’s politically correct or trendy.

And not because I think that my one or two or ten choices will mean that there will be a planet for my children to live on in 20 years.

In fact, some days I find myself banking on Mars.

Some days I think we’re all just f-ing doomed.

I am an environmentalist because once I started thinking, I realized it was impossible for me to be anything but…

an environmentalist.

Climate Changes, Community, Food, Survivalism

I’m really the farthest thing from a gardener

My photos on instagram paint a pretty picture.

broccoli 2013

The above broccoli and cabbage are part of the harvest from our backyard vegetable garden. We took advantage of the beautiful weather today (70 degrees and sunny) to weed and pull.

It’s the second season we planted; and the second season we’ve tasted vegetables we grew ourselves.

And, yes, our broccoli tasted delicious. And yes, it was exciting for us and for our children.

Truly.

And, while I am so proud of us; because even a backyard garden takes effort and intention and love, part of me judges me in a way I imagine some of my Facebook friends silently judge me:

Like:

“Oh how quaint. Look at us. We grow our own vegetables. Look at us. We teach our kids how to get their hands dirty.”

I can see how people might say that when they see my posts.

I can see it…because … um … sometimes I have thoughts like that about you.

Facebook tends to make you look like a braggart, a goodie two-shoes, a whiner, or an asshole.

But the people who really know me, know that I grow my own food as practice.

Practice being the perfect mom I’ll never be, but moreso practice being Caroline Ingalls … for the day when the grid goes.

My green lifestyle … the green gardener I play on TV?

It’s still practice.

Every day I am practicing how to be less dependent on stores, stuff, and things.

Less dependent on electricity; less dependent on gas.

Less dependent on the internet, too, though that proves to be a bit more challenging.

I’m just a formerly semi-spoiled Jersey girl looking for meaning and hope on a semi-vanishing planet.

If I can do it, so can you.

Start small.

Buy less. Recycle more. Eat less. Grow more. Take less. Share more. Drive less. Walk more.

Find five minutes to talk to your kids about the impact of trash.

Find five minutes to talk to your neighbor about the impact of pesticides.

Find five minutes to strategize with your partner about taking small steps that make a big difference.

Then actually take those steps. Do something. Anything.

And then write about it. Talk about it. Paint about. Blog about it. Scream and shout about it.

Pass it on.

Climate Changes, Education, Environment, Family, Food, Health

What matters to me most

What matters to me most in life and politics is what’s closest to my heart. It’s related directly to my own personal experience.

Isn’t that true for everyone?

And, perhaps, why I haven’t connected to the elections in Israel is because what matters most to me doesn’t matter to most of the people voting in this election. Or most of the people that live in Israel.

But what I still don’t get is why?

In between fighting wars, and between reading the newspaper in the morning and watching the news at night, don’t we all need/want to live healthy lives?

Don’t my neighbors, friends, relatives understand that nothing else matters once your health is poor?

Taxes won’t matter.

Housing prices won’t matter.

Military duty won’t matter.

Statehood won’t matter.

Once a health crisis takes over, little else matters.

And each and every one of us are in some stage of a health crisis right now.

Many of us are only days, weeks, years away from cancer due to chemicals in our food and self care products.

Many of our children are only days, weeks, years away from debilitating asthma due to air pollution.

Many of our grandchildren are…

Many of our grandchildren are…

Many of our grandchildren are…

an impossibility

due to rising infertility rates … climate change … drought…. famine…diminishing resources on our planet.

Vote what matters.

Policy wordle

Climate Changes, Culture, Terrorism

Experts say Israel safer than most

So I was thinking about the zombie apocalypse the other day afterreading the story about the Florida man who was shot while attempting to eat another man’s face. I was tweeting about it with comedian Rachel Dratch (okay fine, I was retweeting Rachel Dratch, who doesn’t know I exist…yet), and felt once again a sense of security in the belief that if the apocalypse were to happen, Israel would be the last sucker to go.

Since moving to Israel 18 months ago from New Jersey, I have slowly let down my anxiety-induced guard. Now it’s actually possible for me to walk into a Café Aroma and not worry about being blown up, especially at the Café Aroma in Karmiel, where I eat lunch every now and again and where I feel somewhat irrationally appeased by the fact that half the patrons are local Arabs and would make this particular Café Aroma a poor terrorist target.

Terrorism is no joke. I know this. Sarcasm is my crutch. Along with meditation. And 70% dark chocolate.

But just as some of you worry about terrorist attacks and the possibility of a nuclear attack from Iran, I worry about the zombie apocalypse.

Or  the pole shift phenomenon as dramatized in the 2009 Roland Emmerich film, “2012.” Or snakes crawling up my toilet and biting my privates when I pee in the middle of the night.

While there’s certainly a lot about living in Israel that exacerbates my anxiety, you might be surprised to know I actually feel safer living in a country that is prepared for the shit to hit the fan.

Israel is the place you want to be when Michael Crichton books start coming true. We have loads of creative scientists who can immediately turn their focus from investigating testes in a test-tube to finding the magical antidote for the zombie virus.

If an asteroid really does come super close to earth, enough to cause danger to human civilization, Israel can come to the rescue. Gather up all the engineers working secretly behind Rafael’s secured gates and hole them up inside Israel’s Space Agency until they come up with a plan for as asteroid destroyer, one that puts the “Armageddon nuke to shame. (Did you know that Israel is the “smallest country with indigenous launch capabilities?”)

I feel comfort in the fact that I don’t have to be a crazy prepper survivalistwith my own YouTube channel in order to feel comfortable saying out loud that I actually have my very own secured, hideout bunker stocked with canned sardines and a month’s supply of toilet paper. My MAMADcame standard with my house. So there, haters!

I may still get nervous boarding public buses, and watch my back on the windy Galilee roads I drive to and from work. Yeah, I still feel jittery about the end of the Mayan calendar, and notice with interest the billboards about the Rapture that occasionally pop up even here in Israel. But in a nutshell, I have faith that unless an advanced alien civilization (the one that secretly runs the New World Order) shows up on December 21, 2012, and tells us our time is up and that we need to be pulverized into dust for messing up this planet beyond repair — well, I actually believe that living in Israel is as safe as living anywhere else.

If not safer. (Or so claim the imaginary expert voices in my brain.)

This was originally published (with a lot of fun zombie pics) on The Times of Israel.

Climate Changes, Food, Kibbutz

Who Am I?

Somewhere, in the piles of bureacratic papers they handed us at Ben Gurion Airport last December, they must have hidden a green thumb.

For how else can I explain this new found commitment I have to what can only be characterized as…gardening? It’s clearly a bi-product of my Aliyah, this tender love and compassion for the newly sprouting and already rooted life in my yard.

My pre-Aliyah thumb was as black as black could be. I snubbed my thumb at greenery. I kept it safe and warm inside. My thumb knew only the tappity tap of the keyboard, whether it was the one on my laptop or the one on my Blackberry. My pre-Aliyah thumb did not know dirt; was not trained in carefully measuring the pressure placed on the nozzle of the garden hose; did not suffer the wounds of thorns.

My thumb…and I…wonder, “Who are we?”

Now we both suffer when we realize we’ve forgotten to water the plants. And we both yearn to be outside playing in the yard, rather than typing on a computer.

And we’re both, thumb and I, enjoying the fruits of our labor, and marveling at our transformation.

Growing fruit, veggies and art
 
 
 
 
 
 
Passionfruit vine spreading love
 
 
 
 
If you can't find 'em, grow 'em
 
 
Clementines are ready to pick
Climate Changes, Middle East Conflict, Terrorism

Looking for trouble

Apparently, I missed an earthquake today. I don’t know how. I wasn’t riding in a car. I wasn’t swimming. In fact, at 11:53, the time at which it happened, I remember looking at the clock on my computer and wondering how long I should wait before taking lunch.

But I missed it.

I’ve been waiting 36 years to be at the center of a natural disaster and I missed it.

Okay, a 4.1 magnitude earthquake centered some 50 miles away from you is not quite a natural disaster, and I should be thankful for such a statement.

But, since my coworkers, just a few desks away from me, felt the shaking (most thought it was construction going on in our office building), I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t feel a thing.

Maybe I was too hungry.

Others would brush it off, be happy that it wasn’t “the big one” that apparently Israel is due for. But, not me. I have this unexplanable desire to feel the earth tremble.

I don’t know when my obsession with disaster began.

Certainly, when I was still a kid. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d put my money on The Wizard of Oz. I was entralled with the film from a tender age, and those of you who are American and in your thirties or older will remember that  it used to be an annual tradition to watch The Wizard of Oz on TV, like the Ten Commandments during Passover, or The Year Without A Santa Claus, during the holiday season.

I remember being as young as five and sitting Indian style in front of our color television watching intensely the cyclone rip Dorothy away from Kansas to Oz. Since the movie simultaneously thrilled me and petrified me, I spent half the time in front of the TV and the other half behind the couch hiding.

So, it could be that my fascination with catastrophe is thanks to L. Frank Baum.  Or, preferring smut to literature, you could subscribe to the Audrey Rose theory: I was reincarnated into this life after perishing in a terrible catastrophe in a previous life; my soul is haunted by said catastrophe; and I naturally seek out to learn all I can to prevent it from happening again.

Or, more realistically, perhaps I’m just one of the many thousands of sensitive human beings who, without trying, automatically attempts to empathize with another’s suffering by imagining what it’s like to be in one of those situations: from tsunami to hurricane to flood.

I know I’m not alone in my fascination. There’s a reason why in recent years we’ve seen an explosion in catastrophe related entertainment:  With shows like “Storm Chasers” and “Full Force Nature,”  The Weather Channel and The Discovery Channel expertly take advantage of our society’s growing interest in (and dare I say understanding of) the frequency with which disasters occur, how ineffective we are at predicting them, and how often they signficantly impact civilization.

When I moved to Israel, I was really surprised to learn we are located on a bunch of active fault lines. Furthermore, there are some dormant volcanoes sleeping in the area of the Golan Heights. Who knew? Here I was anticipating only the anxiety of terrorist attacks or regional turblulence (aka “war.”) I had no idea that earthquakes and volcanoes were a possibility, too.

Don’t mistake my glibness for a death wish or insensitivity for those who have suffered horrible losses in the face of disaster. I know I can afford to be glib because I’ve never gone through it. 

But now, with the ghosts of war and terrorism constantly hanging over my head, I suddenly realized I don’t want to. In fact, I wonder if there is some way to retroactively reverse all that wishing for disaster.

Because, truth is, there is only so much turbulence this sensitive soul can handle. Considering I still jump every single time they make innocent announcements over the kibbutz loudspeaker, I think it’s probably best I didn’t feel the earthquake.

I need to stock up on my adrenaline for when I might really need it.