come to my monthly party!

omg omg omg omg omg omg

omg

so exciting!

i finally got my very own monthly spot at the boom boom room, one of my favorite spots to play in san francisco! ¬†so here’s the thing though: they gave me two months to start. ¬†wednesday feb. 5th and wednesday march 5th. ¬†i gotta prove i got peeps, and then they might give me a whole year! ¬†woo hoo!

this has been a dream of mine for a looooong time.  this will be my night where i can workshop new ideas, re-arrange songs with new lineups and collaborations, work with dancers, light designers, djs, emcees, vocalists, musicians, the works!  i intend to pour all of the performance ideas that have built up over the years into this event to make sure that each month, something super special is hatched just for you guys.

february 5th will feature legendary one-man band and loop guitar pioneer, the genie. ¬†this guy’s dope. ¬†if you haven’t seen him… dude, just check him out, he’s amazing.

in addition, the night will always be closed out by my awesome best friends, JK47, rad DJs with impeccable taste that will you keep you dancing late night.

this is really my gift to you guys.  the night is totally free!  your gift to me is just coming out and enjoying yourselves.

see you february 5th!

check out the Facebook event here!

diary of a substitute #3

sometimes it is sooooooo hard to keep a straight face while telling a sixth grader to be quiet, especially when what they are supposed to be listening to is possibly the least important presentation they will ever hear.¬† i’ve shown up just in time to participate in their community meeting.¬† the topic this week: dress code.

the administrator has put together a lovely powerpoint presentation for the fifth and sixth graders, with pictures of shirts tucked in, shoelaces tied, and a demonstration of the stark contrast between a boy with a hat on, and his hat taken off.¬† see how he’s taken the hat off?¬† yes.¬† i do see.¬† the hat is off now.¬† god.¬† i’m DYING to check my smartphone and see if something interesting has happened.¬† actually, i would take anything at this point.¬† any status update, any e-mail, anything at all to break up the banality of this guy’s voice.

which is why i can’t in good conscience come down too hard on these children who have already sat through about 20 minutes of this heroically and who are finally reaching their breaking point.¬† their shoulders are moving.¬† they’re starting to hang their teeth off the backs of their chairs, experiment with what the world looks like upside down, pluck at the headbands of those around them… anything.¬† they’re getting desperate.

the crowd has started chit chatting.¬† “excuse me.” the administrator says dryly.¬† he waits an unwise amount of time with an unwise amount of uncertainty as to what response he’s expecting from that ‘excuse me.’¬†¬† the chattering continues.¬† he looks around stoically.¬† “if i need to do a count-down, that’s five minutes from your recess.”¬† i look at the kids and i see literal physical pain on their faces.¬† the last thing they want is time off their recess, yet they don’t know how much longer they can take without some kind of stimulation.¬† they scrunch their eyebrows and kick their legs, trying to send the inconvenient energy and curiosity out through their toes.

he’s moved on to the slide about “professional day.”¬† “can someone tell me what professional day is?”¬† a small girl towards the front raises her hand.¬† “yes, young lady.”¬† some imperceptible amount of sound comes from up front and he asks her to stand up.¬† she meekly scratches her head while she begins an admirable attempt at addressing the entire school for, maybe her first time.¬† “um… well, professional, professional day.¬† it’s, um… when, like, the rest of the days?¬† cause you have to wear your uniform usually?¬† but on professional day?¬† you don’t cause, um, it’s professional, like, so you have to wear different.¬† you have to dress different on that day.” she quickly sits.

“ok,” the administrator says.¬† “cara says you dress different on professional day.¬† do you all agree with her?”¬† the kids aren’t sure if they’re supposed to talk.¬† a few say yes.¬† a few others slowly nod.¬† still more look like they’re about to cry.¬† “excuse me.¬† i asked if you all agree with her.”¬† a few more say yes.¬† “that’s better.¬† ok.¬† so, if it’s true that we dress differently on professional day, why is that we dress differently that day?” a few brave, or maybe just bored, souls raise their hands.¬† “yes, young man.” he says to a boy up front.

“professional day is when you wear suits and look professional like you were going to a job interview or an interview for college so that you can learn what it’s like to be professional.”¬† i let out a sigh of relief that’s slightly too loud.¬† i think for a moment that this child has just succeeded in saying everything that needs saying about professional day and that we can now move on to another, possibly more interesting topic, like, maybe, the types of hair accessories allowed on campus.¬† but the administrator is not so easily thrown.¬† “young man, that was a very good answer, but i asked why do we have professional day?”¬† i’m totally at a loss.¬† i thought for sure this prodigy just answered that very question.¬† he raises his eyebrows in nervousness.¬† he’s drawing a blank.¬† what did he miss?

“we have professional day because that’s the day the upper school has college day, and we’re preparing you for college day.”¬† oh.¬† i see.¬† this kid jumped the gun.¬† he forgot that middle school is actually just preparation for high school, and that everything they teach you is in order to make it easier for your highschool teachers to control you.¬† what he doesn’t know is that he’ll actually need to unlearn all of this by the time he applies to college if he wants to have a prayer of seeming like an individual thinker.¬† here’s the lesson, kid.¬† here’s what this whole assembly is about.¬† don’t get ahead of yourself, and don’t think too deep.¬† focus on the rules, and the small world that forms your school.¬† don’t think outside of this little learning factory.¬† you won’t be ready for that until you’re good and broken in and ready to follow the rules.

“so, what types of clothes are acceptable on professional day?” asks the administrator as he clicks to a new slide showing pictures of men taken from catalogs, all wearing sports coats, collared shirts, ties, etc… one by one children raise their hands and guess parts of the dress code for professional day.¬† i am in absolute agony.¬† the boredom i feel is bringing me right back to childhood, waiting for my mom to finish a parent-teacher conference while i sat in the lobby thinking, jeeeeeeeeeez this is taking a long time, practicing the utmost will power to keep from running circles in the lobby, tearing all the art off the walls and making confetti with it.¬† except now i have something easier to gratify my excess energy which is a smartphone, and i know it holds all of the answers to every negative emotion i’m feeling right now; distraction, social interaction, new information.¬† and it’s just sitting there, burning a hole in my pocket.¬† i need it.¬† i need to look at it.¬† no!¬† definitely not.¬† i’m supposed to be modeling for these kids how to pay attention, and looking at my smartphone is an absolutely unacceptable example to set.¬† so i try to focus on the kids, since the presentation isn’t going to do anything to hold my interest.

what i see really kind of breaks my heart.¬† the kids have gone past their breaking point and they have regressed into zombie-like infants.¬† pulling on their tongues and lips, rolling their eyes maniacally.¬† they’ve lost it.¬† well, i don’t know what they’ll learn later today, but at least they’re docile.

new article in shalom

this article was published in the newsletter for the jewish peace fellowship¬†in the may issue of their newsletter, “shalom”

read it here¬†on their website, or read it below…

1-5-13: Day three of Birthright, Negev desert

 

It’s a meditation exercise to sit on the ground and imagine how supported you are.¬† But sitting here, in the desert in the Negev, you don’t feel supported by the earth, you feel engulfed by it.¬† Like it might crack open and swallow you at any moment in its teeming, shifting crust.¬† The shadows of the clouds are massive countries super-imposed on the yellow-brown sand like oil slicks, and the clouds themselves move like steamboats, slowly, but perceptively through the vast ocean of this massive sky.¬† They’re not so much mountains, but rather, harsh scabs on the arms of war, wounds that don’t heal but merely change form.¬† This place offers nothing like the mothering comfort one feels in the dank and mushroomy cocoon of the redwood forests of my native California.¬† It offers only you, alone with yourself and the knowledge that others have also known solitude and survived, regardless. ¬†

….

 

At this point, most people who are at all interested in Israel are familiar with Birthright, the free 10-day tour of Israel provided to young Jews from around the world. The pro-Zionist lobby hails it as a fantastic success story; an incredible opportunity for young people to get in touch with their Jewish ancestry, feel connected to Jews their own age, and gain an appreciation for Israel.¬† Those on the left who are critical of Israel tend to view it as a terrifying source of propaganda and brainwashing that uses creepy forms of manipulation to make young Jews support Israeli policies, perhaps even to the point of “making Alliyah,” emigrating to Israel.

 

I certainly identify more with the latter category, which is why I had mixed feelings about attending Birthright in the first place.¬† Not only did I not want to legitimize the idea that I actually had some kind of birthright to the land of Israel and Palestine just for being Jewish, but I was nervous that I would be forced into situations that would bother me, like having to sing along to lots of Jewish songs that I didn’t know, or cry about the Holocaust in some kind of ritualized group catharsis, or be surrounded by people who nodded vigorously when outrageously racist comments about Arabs were made.¬† I decided to go for two main reasons: I had never spent any time around Zionists before, and I felt that it was important for me to try to understand their point of view and I wanted to go to Palestine afterwards, and I didn’t think it was likely that I would make it there if not for a free trip.¬† So I hesitantly arrived at the LAX airport on January 1st, armed with an open and patient mind, took a deep breath, and hoped for the best.

 

My experience was complicated.¬† I can’t say that what I went through amounted to brainwashing or propaganda, at least not in the traditional sense.¬† I believe that part of the reason for this was the particular trip I was on; a niche trip, of which there are more and more.¬† The group I participated in was the “outdoors” – themed East Bay trip.¬† (East Bay refers to the Eastern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, which includes Oakland and Berkeley.)¬† I actually believe there was more to this niche than we initially realized.¬† Here’s an excerpt from my journey on the fifth day:

 

1-7-13: I’ve never been surrounded by so many atheists my own age.¬† Who would have thought?¬† Maybe it’s because Jews come around to secularism easier than Christians?¬† And I’ve never really kicked it with a bunch of Jews before.¬† How ironic that that’s how I ended up relating to my fellow Jews.¬† That’s how I’ve found community amongst the Jewish people.¬† Through atheism. ¬†

 

Even our tour guide was an “out” Atheist.¬† I considered the possibility recently that we were all selected to be on this group together partly because we were either atheists or “spiritual.”¬† I think that our American trip leaders were the only ones who were full-on religious Jews.¬† So they avoided a lot of biblical talk that I’ve been warned about on Birthright.¬† There was no reference to the “holy land” and they didn’t try to talk about the stories in the Bible as if they were real history.¬† In fact, there was no reference to the Bible at all.¬† It was like they knew that these triggers would immediately turn us off, so they avoided them.

 

Our tour guide was also very willing to admit that the Palestinians had some legitimate complaints.¬† He didn’t get into any of them, but he didn’t vilify the Palestinians either.¬† His attitude struck me as sort of a courageous but cynical libertarian, who mistrusted government of any kind, and who had a somewhat pessimistic view of humanity as a whole, but a strong sense of respect and integrity about the humans whose paths he crossed, including his “Arab friends” whom he mentioned vaguely on more than one occasion.

 

What it FELT like we were getting on this trip was a very a-political, fun, first-hand experience of Israel.¬† Furthermore, as has been documented by other writers who attended Birthright, the social dynamics end up taking up a lot of your focus.¬† First of all, each evening ends around 5 or 6pm and you’re not allowed to leave the hotel so there’s nothing to do but get drunk and hang out, a situation ripe for a regression to high school.¬† Crushes develop, cliques form, some people struggle to make friends, gossip starts; what else are we going to do with our time?¬† At a certain point on the trip, participants began to ask: Why can’t we have a structured conversation about Judaism or the Israel-Palestine conflict?¬† A few evenings we were told that we would have some kind of group discussion, but nothing actually happened.¬† This puzzled me until I read more about what others have written about Birthright.¬† It’s apparently common practice for the organizers to avoid anything too heavy that might lead to critical thinking about Israel.¬† They like to keep it light and fun while occasionally hinting at the tragic cross the Israelis have to bear by living in a war zone.¬† By avoiding any kind of detailed discussion of the conflict, but keeping a hint of tragedy in the background, the organizers made it feel like our fun-loving attitude was courageous, rather than indulgent.

 

What was tricky about Birthright’s biased message was that it came in the form of omission, which is inherently hard to spot and even harder to criticize, especially when you’re tired and hung-over, and preoccupied with why your crush didn’t sit with you on the bus.¬† My fatigue and social stimulation paired well with my decision to keep a low profile on the trip.¬† I didn’t ruffle any feathers.¬† I just enjoyed myself.¬† And though my Pro-Palestinian views stayed intact, I didn’t feel particularly obliged to share them with anyone, unless I was talking to someone one-on-one.

 

But once you cross that wall into the occupied territories, you want to vomit up all the Kool-aid you realize that you’ve just swallowed over the past 10 days.¬† I didn’t so much feel as if I’d been lied to; I just felt sheltered.¬† The diary that I kept on my experience in Palestine has a totally different voice than the diary I kept while in Israel.¬† It was as if I had been thrown head first into an urgent and tangible reality where what was happening around me mattered.¬† Instead of extended soliloquies about my new friends or thoughts about home, I was writing pages and pages about the wall, villagers whose homes had been demolished, how the universities have to have their lab equipment smuggled in, what sustainable agriculture looks like in Palestine.¬† I felt as if I had come out of a cocoon and realized that there were all these flowers that needed pollinating.

 

Returning to the U.S., with all my feelings of urgency and inspiration, I tried to pin down exactly which flowers were meant for me to pollinate.¬† I’ve decided that I want to put my energy into helping Birthright participants get to Palestine.¬† I feel strongly that young Jews need to visit Palestine, and though I obviously have my problems with Birthright, I think it’s a pretty amazing and informative trip to go on as well.¬† This is why my recommendation for anyone considering a Birthright trip, from any political point of view at all, is to go on the trip.¬† Enjoy it, get everything you can from it, but afterwards, visit Palestine.¬† You won’t know that you’re in a container until you see what’s outside of it, and that it all begins with checking out the other side of that wall.

diary of a substitute #2

i showed up to the school about an hour late.¬† one benefit to taking a day-of call is that you’re forgiven almost any level of tardiness.¬† i got the call at 6am and was told to be there by 7:45.¬† unfortunately it was an hour and a half commute.¬† the thing that sucks about being late, though, is that you might not have time to prepare for the class, so you always have to make sure that you’re mentally prepared for chaos when you walk in.¬† i checked out the neighborhood on my walk from the bus stop.¬† lower-income, but not untidy.¬† many of the small neighborhoods had tight little rose bushes perced next to the gate.¬† i smelled them on the way, letting the sunshine-warmed petals touch my nose.¬† i wanted to savor every moment of peace, since i didn’t know what awaited me at this new school.
i walked in and was greeted warmly by the secretary.¬† “we’re so glad you’re here.” she said.¬† huh.¬† that was a¬†rare greeting.¬† i looked around the office.¬† all the signs were¬†there.¬† the calendar display was on the right month.¬† there were no students in the hallway.¬† a colorful display of students’ names who were heading to college was prominently displayed.¬† i looked at the secretery again.¬† she didn’t seem hurried or stressed.¬† fuck yes, this was a Good School.¬† “since i know this is your first time here, here is some information about our school.”¬† i looked down at the page she handed me and i was floored.¬† never in my career had i been handed a more helpful document.¬† on the top it said, “guidlines for substitutes.”¬† what followed was a list of exactly how subs should handle all of the typical sub problems, as well as the expectations for how each class should go.¬† i looked up at the secretary and i wanted to hug her tightly and never let her go.¬† “thanks so much, this is great!” i said instead.
“here’s the log in information for the computer.” she said as she handed me another piece of paper.¬† i noted that the log in was “sub2013”.¬† wow, i thought, they have their own sub login.¬† i wouldn’t even have to hassle another teacher for theirs.¬† what was this?¬† some kind of sub paradise?
i walked into the room.¬† it was neat and pleasant.¬† on a table were two piles of papers.¬† one pile for my 2nd and 5th periods, and one pile for my 3rd and 4th periods.¬† i looked them over, as well as the lesson plan sheet that was left for me, and neatly wrote instructions on the board, as well as my name “Senora Rachel.”¬† it was an a.p. spanish class and i was eager to practice my spanish skills with the kids.¬† when i got the call, my agency rep wanted to confirm that i could teach spanish.¬† of course, i knew that in fact, i didn’t need to know anything to sub for this class, but i was prepared to speek spanish as much as possible.
the first student entered my classroom right after the bell.¬† “can i come in?” he asked.¬† this is an important moment for a sub, when they greet their first student.¬† they must immediately assess the entire school culture based on one students’ body language and disposition.¬† this student seemed immediately deferential, pleasant, awake, and polite.¬† so i opted for the “please help me know the rules” approach.
“how do you usually enter the classroom?” i asked.
“usually we line up and shake hands.”
“great!¬† then let’s do that.”¬† i said cheerfully.
this approach can be dangerous in the wrong situation.¬† with engaged, pleasant students, this approach relaxes them, makes them realize that you’re not going to be mean, that you’re a human and thus makes them inclined to be helpful and considerate, and find you funny and interesting.¬† with irritable, angry, aggressive students, this approach relaxes them, makes them realize that you’re not going to be mean, that you’re a human and thus makes them inclined to be manipulating, confrontational, and bullying.¬† if i have any doubt at all about my ability to manage a class, i will never ask a student what the normal expectations are.¬† i decide on a policy at the beginning and i stick with it with an iron fist.¬† i show an unwavering, dictatorial attitude to even the slightest infractions.¬† if that seems to work, then i gradually loosen the reigns.¬† if the angry, aggressive students have any indication that you are trying to be nice, they will use it against you to break you down.¬† it’s important to show that you have no interest in their opinions whatsoever.¬† this has taken months of trial and error to figure out.
but on these pleasant, rare occasions where i get to be with students that seem genuinely excited to learn, i can show myself a bit more, and all of us can let our guards down.¬† as i stood at the door and shook hands with students as they came in they each smiled a healthy grin at me and said “hello” and “how are you today?” as they entered.¬† beautiful.
the bell rang and i went up to the front of the class.¬† i straightened my spine and prepared my confident, happy, projecting sub voice.¬† i smiled and began.¬† “hola todos.¬† obviamente no soy su profesora normal.¬† soy una substituta.¬† se puede llamarme senora rachel o rachel si prefieres…” as i talked the students lit up.¬† they looked around at each other in surprise.¬† one student whispered to another, “damn she speaks spanish!”¬† i felt proud, but as the excitement grew, so did the volume.¬† they were all chattering with each other now.
“bueno.¬† necesito silencio en CINCO, quatro, tres..” by the time i said “tres” they were all silent, looking at me with the utmost seriousness and guilt.¬† oh come on, this was too easy.

diary of a substitute teacher #1

don’t cry. ¬† ¬†do. ¬† ¬†not. ¬† ¬†cry.
the laughter crescendos as i struggle to keep composure.¬† “who threw that?” i ask pointlessly to the horde. ¬†the paper balls have been hitting my back and head every time i turn around to write on the board. ¬†there is absolutely no way for me to tell who’s been throwing them. ¬†it’s probable that it’s multiple students. ¬†i look around the classroom. ¬†it looks like a war zone. ¬†for some reason, the students have been finding crayons and meticulously dissecting them onto the floor. ¬†then they’ve been¬†mashing¬†their remains with their¬†feet¬†so that bits of crayon are now spliced into the very¬†essence of the tile. ¬†i don’t even know where the crayons keep coming from. ¬†do they bring them with them? ¬†are they stashed in their backpacks just for this purpose? ¬†the worksheets i was supposed to have¬†us work on as a group have been transformed into paper airplanes that are now stuck in various corners of the room. ¬†some have penises drawn on them. ¬†others are simply demonically colored head to tail in effortful lead pencil.
i try to convey as much seriousness and severity as i can while asking them calmly but forcefully to be quiet.  it does nothing to change the smiles on their face.  the problem with this game is that the madder i get, the funnier they think it is.  i am tempted to give up, but i know that as bad as it is right now, it can and will get worse if i sit down.
i know this because of the one day i decided to give up. ¬†the students were¬†screaming over me and ignoring me¬†completely. ¬†i knew i had no control and the support staff couldn’t get the kids quiet either, so i wrote a message on the board that said “please pick up your assignment on the table below. ¬†work quietly. ¬†if you have any questions, come up to my desk and ask me quietly.” ¬†i sat down at the teacher’s desk and opened my book. ¬†the volume level rose. ¬†i defiantly stared at my book and refused to be phased. ¬†people started screaming, “hey! ¬†what are we supposed to be doing? teacher! ¬†teacher!¬† TEACHER!” ¬†i pointed to the board to indicate that i would only respond to people who came up to my desk to ask me questions. ¬†without turning their heads¬†and attempting to read the board,¬†they just gave me a scandalized look, like i had just asked them to shove their faces in a toilet. ¬†i put my head down and looked at my book. ¬†then I felt the wind of a large stick hurled at my direction that hit the window behind me.
“is you gonna cry?” a student asks excitedly. ¬†i snap back into the present. ¬†at least they¬†are only throwing paper balls. ¬†at least they’re not¬†trying to physically harm me. ¬†at least – “AAAH!” a female student screams. ¬†she¬†is¬†holding her face.¬† “BITCH!”¬† She screams as she hurls herself at another student.
Shit.
i dive into the middle of the two girls who have remarkable strength for the age of 12. ¬†the other students are ecstatic for the most part, except the two or three “good students” who are resting their heads on their hands and looking exceedingly depressed. ¬†the students around me have taken sides. ¬†they’re laughing full bodied laughs, as if everything is funny.¬† The whole world is funny.¬† Nothing is ever serious, and the more serious people want them to be, the funnier it is. ¬†the girls are impressively yelling at one another, puffing up their chests and cocking their heads from side to side. ¬†it’s really quite a production. ¬†i’m standing between and telling the girl who initially jumped at the other girl to sit down. ¬†i’m standing confidently but i have no idea how this is going to end or what i’m going to do if she swings at me.¬† “leave the class!” i finally scream.¬† “NOW!”
the volume subsides a bit as i march to the door and open it. ¬†i point outside.¬† “OUT I SAID!” ¬†the thing is, i have a pretty scary screaming voice when i want to use it. ¬†the kids are caught off guard. ¬†the student runs out of the door mumbling something about how i can’t tell her what to do.
the thing about yelling is that it has shock value. ¬†but the more you use it, the weaker the power becomes. ¬†you must reserve yelling only for moments of true crisis. ¬†so at this moment i feel momentarily relieved but also fearful, because i know that i’ve just used my secret weapon, and it won’t be possible to use it again and have it work during this class day. ¬†as i shut the door, i feel a paperball hit the back of my head.

a lovely song for you all…

these badasses, fireflyforest crossed my path when i was on tour with my band, antioquia. ¬†i think their album deserves a grammy, honestly. ¬†the instrumentation is exquisite, the execution and production totally professional, yet innocent. ¬†this album, these artists, offer, they don’t demand. ¬†there’s a humility and a playfulness that is heartbreaking. ¬†this song in particular gets me every time. ¬†enjoy.

 

Leaving Palestine

i thought my last diary entry would have been the end but… a brief last one to close things up.

just quickly.. more fun facts innocently omitted from the birthright tour!  remember sderot?  it was built on the palestinian village of najd.  the palestinians were driven out of that village and into gaza.  so when you form a mental image of gazans brutally firing rockets on the people of sderot, add to your mental image that they used to be the people of sderot.

aaah, and now here i am in the pleasantly civilized town of binyamina, just outside of tel aviv. ¬†it’s pleasant and eery. ¬†here i am in a house that wouldn’t be out of place in my parents’ neighborhood in western massachusetts. ¬†i can take hot showers and do laundry. ¬†the streets are paved and nice (so in that way maybe it’s¬†more¬†developed than my parents’ town…). ¬†and just yesterday, just a few miles away, i was in one of the more impoverished places on earth. ¬†what makes that even more weird is the idea that my host, mazin, can’t legally travel here and experience what i’m experiencing right now.
so i’ll just tell you about our fun adventure leaving bethlehem. ¬†joshua wanted to go through the walking checkpoint and catch the bus on the other side of the wall. ¬†when we had dropped off elliott and brett there had been no line and no problems so we didn’t expect much of a hassle. ¬†within a few minutes we were questioning our decision. ¬†see, we could have gone through the bus checkpoint, which is easier with bags because you don’t have to go through turnstiles or x-ray machines. ¬†on the bus checkpoint, sometimes they make all the palestinians get off the bus and search them but white people are usually left alone. ¬†in the walking checkpoint, we’re all in the same boat. ¬†so we walked through the first concrete ramp and showed our passport to the first soldier who waved us through as soon as he saw that our passports were blue. ¬†he didn’t even look at our picture. ¬†but as we turned the corner to the next serpentine walkway leading to a turnstile we saw a big crowd gathered. ¬†we heard an amplified israeli soldier’s voice screaming, literally screaming at people. ¬†we asked someone what she was saying and they rolled their eyes and said, “she’s yelling, ‘back! back!’ like we’re dogs.” ¬†it was a shock. ¬†i’ve never been spoken to by an authority figure like that before. ¬†i couldn’t imagine being treated that way in the usa. ¬†i guess maybe people in poor communities have experienced cops talking to them like this, but even i find it hard to believe that it’s the norm. ¬†people in the usa have an expectation of a very basic level of respect, which is completely absent in palestine. ¬†the soldiers do not feel obliged to be polite or respectful in any way. ¬†more people showed up behind us and we were shoved into the horde. ¬†we couldn’t figure out why no one was moving. ¬†someone told us that they had closed the checkpoint. ¬†‘what do you mean? ¬†for how long?’ i asked. ¬†again, they shrugged and rolled their eyes. ¬†above us a soldier was on a second story holding the biggest, craziest gun i’ve seen yet, just looking at us. ¬†some palestinians were waving at him and trying to ask him what was going on. ¬†he didn’t respond. ¬†we waited that way for maybe 10 or 15 minutes until slowly people started moving through the turnstile. ¬†after every 2 or 3 people the turnstile would buzz and stop moving, sometimes with people inside the turnstile and they would just have to wait like that for a few minutes until they were allowed through. ¬†we waited in that line for about 35 minutes and just when we were a few people from the turnstile the israeli soldier who had been barking and screaming this whole time screamed some more stuff, and we observed everyone around us collapse with sighs and shrugs and start turning around. ¬†‘what’s going on?’ we asked someone. ¬†‘they closed this turnstile. we have to go to the other one now.’ ¬†i ran up to the now-abandoned turnstile and yelled, ‘slichah! ¬†excuse me! ¬†can you tell me what’s going on?’ ¬†no response. ¬†a few of the palestinians laughed at me, charmed and amused. ¬†so now that everyone had moved, we were at the back of the line whereas before we were at the front of the line. ¬†joshua said to me, ‘screw it, let’s just go get the bus.’ ¬†i said i wanted to stay and see how this panned out. ¬†after another 40 minutes or so, we made it to the next turnstile. ¬†when it was my turn to go in the turnstile froze and buzzed as i was going through so that i was caught inside of it. ¬†i’m so glad i’m not claustrophobic, cause it would have totally freaked me out. ¬†it was like being in a tiny cage with my suitcase. ¬†i banged on the turnstile but nothing happened. ¬†by the way, this wasn’t the kind of turnstile that just has one bar at your waste that you turn. ¬†it’s a series of horizontal metal bars that you push like a revolving door so that when you’re in there you’re completely caged, head to toe. ¬†so that was fun. ¬†it only lasted maybe two minutes. ¬†then we were through the hard part. ¬†we got our bags x-rayed and were on our way. ¬†the whole process took about an hour and 20 minutes. ¬†not bad by local standards.
well, i think i’m going to leave this little diary here, folks. ¬†it’s been a really important adventure, and i thank you guys so much for sharing it with me. ¬†writing this diary has helped make it real. ¬†looking forward to seeing all of you when i return!
much love,
*rachel*