Excerpts from my journal during a three month journey of photographic discovery in the Land of Troubles
June 21, 2009, Sunday, Ramallah Friends School apartment—summer solstice:
Yes, how could I ignore this: summer solstice, the first time I can recall celebrating it out of country. How to celebrate here? An extra cup of coffee? Stroke my magic wand? Bed early, sleep late? Write something? Photograph something?
More and more dreams, with one recurring theme: babies and infants. For the 2nd or 3rd time I dreamt I had some responsibility for an infant. It was a girl again, about Eleanor’s age but clearly not her, I was responsible, and this time I left her alone in a large house as a group I shared the house with—a sort of commune—assembled for a party. I didn’t know the folks well, but trusted them. Does this little girl stand for the young women I find myself mentoring? Or is the girl some aspect of me, my feminine side as M might suggest?
In a series of dreams I attended a South African film fest, with a dismal turnout of audience, talking with the organizers, mentioning what I liked and didn’t like, deciding to leave early. I had a big story to tell the organizers and then couldn’t quite recall it. I knew it was dramatic but I forgot key pieces.
With a small family, again no one I recognized but they were family, we parked in a forest and were preparing to hike when a motorcycle cop pulled in front of us and began writing a ticket. We realized we couldn’t park there.
Ah, the dreaming is picking up. Is this because I’m feeling more at home? The night was blissful: quiet, cool, peaceful and by stuffing a large pillow between my legs I’ve found a way to sleep on both sides without pain. But I continue to wonder: the pain I’m feeling in my lower right back and adjoining leg, the stiffness, especially when I get up from a chair, is this related to my mattress? The pain began yesterday morning after a back pain free cluster of days. Just began suddenly as if I’d injured my back.
Luckily once I’ve walked for a few minutes the pain is less—I loosen up, but I am not sure how I’ll carry a large load on my back. Thank god this time I thought to bring a rolling suitcase, rather than rely on backpacks.
I bumped into Salim, the IT man at the school, yesterday in the office and he explained that the Internet problem is probably about the wiring. The phone company is due here to check and repair. So at the moment I have zero Internet at home, must rely on Pronto which is not entirely a problem—I meet people there and feel more part of the Ramallah flow.
A brief walk about Ramallah yesterday, toting my large camera with its wide-angle lens. What to see, what to photograph? The peace park? Closed. The upper school campus, including the new football field? Sure, and the construction at the school, a new classroom building. The market or souk, find my old friend the young vendor? Give it a try, a few snaps, can’t find my friend, where is he? Who to ask? How to ask? I don’t even know his name. Manarah Square? Not much new here. My home? Could be, for the blog. Maybe this morning before I go out. The school grounds? Another possibility. Me at the computer? Could be fun. With or without clothes?
Yesterday was mostly devoted to editing the Freedom and Justice Crier. Yes, I’ve brought my work with me, encouraged to do this by JVB, Rachel and others so I could finish it with due concentration. I’ve also prepared 2 more blog entries for eventual uploading. I hesitate about disclosing too much about my signing the Trader Joe’s deshelving of Israeli products and …
The shit hit the fan first with DD, the Israeli, who wrote a scalding scathing message to my Facebook page. And then comes DA. Someone in Friends Meeting-Cambridge informed him of my signature, I wonder who and how. He rightly criticized me for adding Friends Meeting Cambridge after my name, even tho I thought this was for identification purposes only, not connoting FMC participation or support. I plan to change this on the petition if possible. But the informant raised a vital question, what is FMC’s position regarding Israel-Palestine? I’ve prepared a letter to DA, I let it mellow awhile, and then when I was about to mail it from home (the Internet was working for a short period yesterday), I discovered no Internet connection.
Before the great disconnect I managed to upld my 2nd photo set, of the water tanker and intifada movie.
M wrote a copious letter, mostly about her health which continues to be a problem and a writing project. This latter is part of a workshop she had been taking upgrading her counseling skills. She also wrote to my blog. Odd how she drops in and out of my life, nothing consistent or reliable, but eventually present, and often powerfully so.
X at this moment might be facing her last week in Boston, or she might be leaving this weekend, I’m not sure about her precise schedule: her big South American summer journey, Peru hiking the Incan trail and then doctoring with NGOs in Mayan regions of Guatemala. Quite exciting, to be linked even tho tenuously, with such a daring and attractive adventurer. I continue to feel her presence thru the L. Cohen music she gave me.
I also reached the Bethlehem contact who promised to call right back with info about when and where to appear. No call back. Maybe today. I hope to join the cultural center in Aida camp either tomorrow Monday or the next day.
A few catch up notes: Frank the Frenchman I met in E. Jerusalem confided to me he is afraid going alone to the West Bank. This recalls SE’s admission that he feared a Palestinian might recognize him as a Jew and threaten him. A reasonable fear, but also perhaps that old victim mentality resurfacing. How can I convince Frank that he is probably as safe as I am wandering thru the West Bank, depending on where he is in the West Bank and what front he presents? Ramallah, no problem. Jenin, maybe another story.
As I wrote in my updated blog about B, or think I did, because B has Israeli citizenship, derived from living in E. Jerusalem and, in his words, having it forced on him, he is free to enter not only Jerusalem but all of Israel. He also can move between different parts of the West Bank, but not Gaza. He is not the typical Palestinian, not even the typical Israeli Palestinian, since most Israeli Palestinians do not have the extra ID that allows entry into the West Bank. Very complicated, reminiscent of apartheid South Africa. How long before the authorities realize this is a stupid, self destructive, costly, and unsustainable approach to living with one’s neighbors—and cousins in the Abrahamic lineage?
C wrote that she admires me in the way I live life fully. I wonder how she feels about her sister who also lives life fully. And about herself, who might feel stuck in a dead end job?
Mornings over breakfast I sit on the veranda; evenings during supper or later to read or use the computer I sit on the veranda. At both times it is twilight and the birds twitter madly. Ravens or crows, sparrows, and others cavort and feed among the pines. They are my friends, my companions, in this lonely setting without children.