Sunday, January 29, 2006

Something I'm Conflicted About Posting

Even though I rarely post comments specific to Life in Israel I really am always trying to find incidents that reflect on my life here. And in that respect this story is appropriate. On the other hand I don't want to write it so that everyone else in the family can feel self-righteous and dismiss all Israelis as bigots.
On Shabbos afternoon I went with 5 other girls to visit patients at Tel Hashomer Hospital. Before going it sounds awkward and uncomfortable-just marching into a hospital room and announcing to the weak patient "we've come to visit you..so how are you doing?" but for every patient who prefers the company of people he knows or just wants peace and quiet to recuperate there is another patient who is lonely and needs to be distracted and really appreciates our presence. First we visited a surgery ward and then the other girls decided they wanted a change of pace and we went to the children's hospital. Almost all of the children are accompanied by a parent but in one room there was a little Arab boy, around 8 years old, who was in a room all alone. Although none of us spoke Arabic it felt wrong to move onto the next room when there was a boy who really needed attention. We tried to talk in that universal method of if I talk loudly and clearly then he/she will understand my Hebrew/Arabic. Luckily he had a few balloons on his bed and we started playing the classic keep the balloon off the floor. The other girls moved onto to the next room but I stayed behind to play with the little boy. In the middle he stopped the game and said to me very deliberately hahasamak. I tried every approximation to hebrew that I could think of but when I couldn't figure it out I remembered there was an Arab Israeli down the hall so I went over to him and asked him to translate for me. (It means "what is your name") On the way back I passed the father of a boy in the room next door to the Arab boy's room who asked me "are you girls Arab?" i answered "no" and he started walking away and then turned around self-righteously and told me "matim lachen l'hiyot" (it's fitting for you to be) [if this next line is inappropriate you can delete it from the post] suddenly i saw all those videos we watched in US history, To Kill a Mockingbird, the sneering "nigger-lover" and it turned my stomach to realize how the cost of intifada and terror isn't only the victims but its also the morality of my country, where a father who also has a son sick in the hospital can't understand that a little 8 year old boy is lonely and afraid all by himself in the hospital but instead all he seems is the enemy.
At this point in the story I'm still the hero, the liberal, humane girl fighting against the prejudices of backwards people. But when i re-entered the room i couldn't view him the same way. he tried to explain to me in arabic why his legs had been amputated and afterwards tired of the balloon game he picked up a foam ball on a string that he had in his bed also and showed me how he whirled it over his head. and i had to leave because all of a sudden i saw rows of little boys hurling rocks at soldiers and i probably imagined it but i saw hate in his eyes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Creating a Legend

About three weeks ago I started helping out this family. I'm supposed to give the 6 year old daughter one-on-one attention but in the end her three brothers usually end up tagging along with us. Last week I decided to write a story with the girl and her brothers. In the end we got caught up drawing a map of America and describing why Stalin was such an evil person. (Who was the Communist leader with the goat beard because that's how I drew Stalin and when I looked him up on the internet all his pictures were with a kibbutznik moustache.) And then her 9-year old brother had an idea for a story: One clear day everyone laughed at G-d. G-d punished them.
So for this week I decided to write a story for them to show how it should be done. I tried writing about a party the student union threw but in the end it just sounded like an orgy-dim lighting, loud music, a sumptuous chocolate fountain. So I tried to think of a story that they would relate to, something from my own childhood. But all my memories lack plot, climax, drama.
Step in Joe. My brother Joe is two years older than me. He has brown hair and brown eyes and is very good at sports. A legend is born! In the story Joe rescues the ball by bravely climbing the tree which is even taller than the house but in the process falls on his face but through his quick wits he covers his face and escapes with a broken arm. (I am the nervous younger sister in the story sucking her thumb.)
Anyway, for next week I need to come up with another story involving Joe's larger-than-life espacades, but I don't want it to involve breaking any more bones. Suggestions will be welcomed.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The case for language

Today, we were eating dinner with some mustard. Tom started pointing at the mustard and saying "da" --- he clearly wanted the mustard. He was becoming very upset about this. When we gave him some mustard, he did not want to eat it. When we gave him the jar of mustard to play with, he seemed happier but then gave it back to us to do something with.

Because he cannot talk, he cannot tell us what he wants to do with mustard! Grunts and hand gestures are not enough. Some people say that they learn Russian to read War and Peace --- well, maybe Tom will learn English so he can play with the mustard the way he wants to.

What do you think Tom wanted? My theory is that he liked to watch us squeeze the jar of mustard

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Cute kids

What is the cutest move of the kids.
1 Ruti's eyeroll
2 Chaim's Veggie Tale singing ( he sings along to all the songs)
3 Yosef's actually ( Actually its....)
Vote in the comments

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Guilt-free Way to lie to the Government

On January 1rst, Illinois changed the income limits for Medicaid, so now me and Shmuli can get free health insurance. Obviously, as an economist I agree this a completely stupid policy, but it would be even stupider not to take advantage of it. However, I had problems applying, because the computer program insists on asking about income received in the last 30 days. As a student, I'm paid irregularly, so that often I'm not paid at all in a given month, but when it's more than the monthly income limit. I've tried reasoning with the bureaucrats, but they always say that the computer system does not allow people to have irregular pay.

However, I figured out a completely (I hope) legal way to get around it. I applied for FamilyCare using whatever numbers I needed to make the computer system happy. Then, on the signature form, I wrote 'The numbers I gave on the application were altered slightly to make the computer system happy, but I certify that I am legitimately entitled to FamilyCare". I'm 90% sure that whatever bureaucrat that processes the form won't even notice the note right above my signature. So, I can get all the benefits of lying to the government without actually lying to them.