The Immigrant Mother Goes to the Movies

There are days

(like today)

when emails from teachers

with names beginning with

Aleph or Ayin or Chet

or long-winded reminders

via Google group

from neighbors whose

fresh-baked challah

I truly do enjoy

or the main menu

of the University’s

Babylonian student information station

all make me want to

gouge out my eyes

with aluminum skewers

left over from

last weekend’s “al Ha’Esh

or eat Whoppers in front

of the movie Clue —

either of the three versions

released in December 1985.

Basically,

I need my information

spoonfed, please, from

the Confection Stand.

I want each request and update

to melt in my mouth like

candy did once

like Tim Curry

in 1985 before

Rocky Horror Picture Show

before heads went missing

before someone said to me,

No one moved to Israel

because it’s easy.

There are days

(not today) when

I am proud that science

has proven that my brain

works better now that it

needs to decipher whether

my daughter requested

dag or dog for dinner.

But today

I just want to suck it all

through a straw.

 

 

 

 

 

Hebrew Language Tip 135: Turn your curse word into a casual remark

What You Need to Know About Me Before You Read My Tip

I like to curse. I think people who curse are cooler than people who don’t. I think people who don’t read blogs because the author uses curse words are over-sensitive. I used to have a blog called The Wellness Bitch. I like to scream, “Fuck,” really loudly when I stub my toe or drop something on it. When I say Fuck really loudly when I get hurt it makes me physically feel better. All my kids, ages 5 – 10, have said the F word out loud at least twice with my permission. (Two of them have a hard time differentiating between the F sound and the Th sound so at least one of them probably said THUCK. ) I have to hold back sometimes from saying to my kids, “Are you fucking kidding me?” because despite how much I like to emphasize my surprise, I know I don’t want them saying that phrase to their friends or teachers. All in all, I want to live in a world where people curse, but don’t want them cursing at me. For instance, I don’t want to ever be on the recipient end of “you are a f-ing …” well… anything.

Tip

If you like to curse, move to Israel where nobody gives a SHEET about cursing. Three year olds drop their pacifiers on the ground and say, SHEET!  10 year olds miss a goal on the soccer field, and they scream, SHEEEEEEET! Not to mention, every one and their 90 year old grandmother says “dafuk” which is basically a morphed Hebrew version of the F word.

That Said…

It should have been obvious (but it wasn’t) that curse words not in your native language lose their strength.  Which is why “shit” is something Israelis of all ages say by the way, without a second thought. (Including my own angelic little 7 year old.) Israelis don’t even consider “shit” a curse word. It doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to English speakers

But say “Lekh tezdayen!” to an Israeli and you might just make them flinch, or so I learned the other day when I said it a little too loud in my office coffee break room. Silly me, I thought I was being the cute immigrant. Turns out I was being foul.

Lesson

Words have strength … until we decide they don’t.

And that, my friends, is one to grown on.

Be all you can be

Most of us spend our entire lives figuring out who we are.

Parallel to this, we also seek the confidence to admit to ourselves who we are and share that self with others.

It can be an entire life’s work.

Imagine, then, being reborn smack dab in the middle of that project.

This is what it has been for me to make Aliyah.

Some will say just the opposite.

That making Aliyah was like “coming home.”

That moving to Israel allowed them to finally “find themselves; ” to finally feel a part of something, rather than apart from.

And there are elements of that sentiment I can relate to, but I wouldn’t say this has been my overarching experience until now.

Moving to Israel was a move away from who I am.

I am a communicator.

This is what I do. It’s what I love to do and it’s what I’m good at.

I’m also a relationship builder and an information gatherer.

And those are probably the three hardest things to do and be when you are a new immigrant, especially one in a country in which the main language is not your native tongue.

So why did I move to Israel?

For lots of reasons.

Good ones.

Reasons I stand by and do not regret.

But just as we do after many of the big life decisions we make — getting married, having kids, taking a new job — I ask myself now:

Who am I?

Who am I now?

Am I still me?

Some of my family and friends would insist I managed to be “me” even here in Israel. That I found a way to be the communicator, the relationship builder, and the information gatherer despite the challenges of language and culture.

On some days, I’d agree (and pat myself on the back, thank you very much).

But then there are the unforgiving days…

The days when I run into another parent in the parking lot, and I take that breath

You know that breath?

It’s the one you hardly notice but you take it right before you jump into a casual conversation with a casual friend in the parking lot.

Before you just “shoot the shit.”

You take that breath

I take that breath

but then I remember:

Im not me anymore. Not exactly.

This me thinks, “it’s going to be too, too hard for me to figure out which shit is the appropriate shit to shoot.And it’ll be even harder for me to understand the shit she is shooting back to me in Hebrew.”

And then I take another breath. This time, more of a sigh.

And I ask myself, Is it worth the mild humiliation? Discomfort?

I’m not sure.

So I don’t.

This is never a question I asked myself before.

Never.

And, similarly, there are some days…

Days when I know it’s really necessary for me to have a heart-to-heart with the teacher at my kid’s school. And I force myself to have the conversation.

Not because I am “the communicator” or the “information gatherer,” but because it’s what I HAVE to do. It’s on my to-do list.  And maybe I have that conversation, but I know it’s the mediocre version of what I could have pulled off in English.

And, oh how I judge myself afterwards.

And question myself.

In a way I never ever did before.

Never.

Because I knew who I was.

At least I thought I did…

Now, I’m not so sure.

Is who we are so fragile that POOF a move to a foreign country can change us?

Or do we just have to dig deeper, try harder to be

all we are. In spite of ourselves…