Three days later and three thousand miles away, I'm still thinking about this damn dream I had about Menachem Begin. Unless you know your Israel Prime Ministers of yore, this name means nothing. That's fine. I hadn't a clue or care until I visited the Begin museum in Jerusalem.
Actually when I think about it, my first introduction to him was in the Amos Oz book, "In the Land of Israel." When I asked who Begin was, my question was met with a semi eye roll and a correction, "It's BAY-GIN."
Enough back story. If you really want to hear about Begin, and he is really an interesting and complex figure,do it here.
I came to in the dream and I was sitting across from Begin. We were on low benches on opposing walls. My hands were on my knees and he was in the same position. We were in a bunker of some sort, which was small, a little too warm and completely silent. The air felt thick and the fact that we weren't talking made it really uncomfortable. There wasn't a war outside, I don't think, and I didn't feel as if we were in danger.
I was trying to read Begin's face. I wasn't sure, since I entered the dream mid-conversation, if it was my turn to speak. The inscrutable expression on his face wasn't helping. He was wearing those big clunky black rimmed glasses and it was impossible to see his eyes.
And then somehow I realized that in fact, he was dead. I was sitting in a bunker with a ghost. For whatever reason this didn't scare me. I didn't ask myself if I too was a ghost. I was just trying to think of the right thing to say to the former Prime Minister. He'd had a hard life and complex political legacy. He'd screwed up the war in Lebanon. He never really recovered from the loss of his beloved wife.
And that's when I saw that tears were streaming down his face. He didn't make a sound, his face completely still. He was just so incredibly, deeply sad. That was it. I tried to absorb some of his grief. I had no idea what to say.
It was then that it occurred to me in this silent exchange that he'd come to me because I too was lost in my own sadness. Just me and Begin.
The latest is this youtube video titled, "Yosemitebear Giant Double Rainbow." I came across it first while perusing my number one news source, Facebook (a friend had posted it via a friend who had posted via a friend etc) and despite it's length, a whopping 3 minutes and 30 seconds, I watched the whole thing, somewhat in awe. Then I watched it again. And yet a third time.
I won't rob you the experience of seeing it. Just watch. Please.
My ten second google research reveals I'm not the only one who has been moved. Not only does it have upwards of 2 million hits, but it has even inspired a couple musical remixes. Then Jimmy Kimmel featured it. I guess it has "gone viral" as it were.
It is a funny video, this guy having a borderline orgasmic/euphoric/manic reaction to witnessing a double rainbow. But it's more than youtube dumbness. This guy, Yosemitebear, covers the entire gamut of human emotion, from the thrill of discovery, to radical amazement found in natural beauty, to almost disbelief of his reality followed by a kind of existential grief. In short, he laughs, he cries, he records it all.
What's so touching to me is that I, too, go through these mini emotional revolutions/epic psychic journeys every day. That's an inner life, I guess. And to see Yosemitebear's makes me feel somehow less lonely. It's always good to remember looniness is relative.
I thought the 1980's had the monopoly on terrifying children, but after seeing Toy Story 3 in 3D and then spending a night dramatically tossing and turning, my dreams riddled with haunted giant possessed baby nightmares, I will stand corrected.
Perhaps you think it's my own fault for throwing money at the Pixar machine and a just punishment for doing so. You're right actually. But since I did, now I'm going to talk about it.
A number of things, in no particular order.
This movie, completely drenched in irony and proudly flexing its immense powers of self referentiality, reads like one long animated pop culture footnote. It made me wonder what kind of children this produces. Eye rolling toddlers, who knew Tickle Me Elmo before he got big? Or will these kids rebel by being earnest?
And then, who is this movie for? It's too dumb to be for adults really. It's too scary and sardonic to be for kids. Maybe these movies are grooming all of us for perpetual tweendom. Convinced of our intelligence like only a seventh grader could be.
The sitcoms of the 80's scared the shit out of me, to be sure. But at least they were trying to scare me into saying NO! to drugs, to not getting in cars with candy offering, child molesting strangers and to not make fun of those who were disabled because they were just like us.
Toy Story seems to relish being terrifying. A possessed giant baby doll, with one permanently lazy eye isn't horrible enough, so let's put it swinging in moonlight and make it's head spin exorcist style. What's the lesson in that? Don't trust your favorite toy, lest it turn on you Pet Semetary style?
I understand the story of Toy Story is supposed to teach us that at some point we must grow up. That a cartoon illuminates that lesson? Irony unavoidable.
It all began innocently. An overheated friend, who will go by her B-Girl name Tastic, mid-schvitz and still acclimating to New York City summer, commented offhandedly, " I want to climb into my freezer."
And for whatever reason, it flashed me back to an episode of the short lived and hugely important '80's sitcom, "Punky Brewster." The premise of the show- and by the way every 7 year old girl's fantasy- was that Punky was abandoned in a shopping mall by her mother, had no father in the picture to save her and so she is orphaned. I can't explain why the desertion fantasy is so attractive but there's enough examples- Annie, the girls from Facts of Life, the boys from Different Strokes and if you really want to get obscure about it, remember, "Rags to Riches"? to prove it. Developmentally, maybe that's when kids just want to be their own people and think that's only possible with dead parents.
But anyway, Punky gets adopted by a carmudgeonly old guy, with a soft spot for Punky and her equally orphaned dog, Brandon. She makes friends with the kids in her building- a sweet, slightly derelict bunch of neighborhood 8 years olds. Her best friend is Cherie, a gal who's all sass and if I remember correctly had a tough talking city judge for a mother upstairs. Enough back story, I know, but as I recall it, all these stupid details that have been locked in a fault in my brain since 1985 come rushing back.
The story of the episode that sent me back to a panicked, cold sweat kind of flashback was when Cherie got stuck and locked into a refrigerator put out in the trash. No one knew she was trapped. Her air supply was running short. WOULD THEY FIND CHERIE IN TIME?
Of course, they did. A cute little girl with corn rose suffocating in a kitchen appliance surely would have ended the Punky craze.
But this whole memory got me thinking about all a whole series of these cautionary/scare tactic episodes of sitcoms and experiences from my youth.
Remember when on, "Webster" Ma'am was pregnant and fairly graphically lost the baby ? I'll never forget it, the image of her crawling across the floor in agony, in her signature silky pink robe, calling out for George and Webster.
How about when Arnold was molested on, "Different Strokes"?
Or when Tootie almost got sold into prostitution on that very special trip to NYC episode of, "Facts of Life"?
I'm pretty sure somebody got molested on, "Silver Spoons" too, but don't quote me on that.
I really could go on and on here.
The point is the 1980's was Code Orange for kids.
And let's not forget the ultimate scare your children senseless moment, when we all were rounded up by our elementary school teachers to watch the Challenger Space Shuttle take off on TV.
I remember the excitement, "Look kids, this teacher is from New Hampshire! She's the first elementary teacher to go to space!" said Mrs. Simpson, my third grade teacher. I can see still her perfectly feathered, frosted and sprayed bangs, moving in one monolithic piece.
"Let's count down together!"
And all of us, the Punky Brewsters, The Annie's, The Arnolds counted down.
"Three, Two, One. Blast off!" We cheered! So exciting! New England teachers in space!
And then of course, not even after 10 seconds, the whole shuttle blew into a million little bits in front of our 8 year old eyes. No one cried, I think, except the teachers and we were shuffled quickly out of the classroom.
I think, in a way, that was the JFK moment of my childhood.
Anyway, I wonder if other folks went through this. Perhaps I'll start a support group or a book club. More to follow.
It's been awhile since I've had a convert nightmare. I had a series of these germares, or Jewish night terrors, in the lead up to my date with the mikveh.
Conversion was stressful. First, there were the "J-SATS", a series of mostly unanswerable essay questions given to me by my rabbi given beforehand about taking on the yoke of the mitvoth, my relationship to Israel and why I wanted to be Jewish in the first place. I say unanswerable because the only truthful answers led to more questions. Luckily, my questions-with-questions approach passed.
It's not that you can fail really, short of professing Jesus Christ is your saviour, while simultaneously eating bacon wrapped shrimp and denying the Holocaust.
The talk had with my Beit Din (a court of rabbis assembled), the day of my big dip was, much to my relief, fine. No one was there to grill me on whether Kangaroo was kosher or whether I recite the Pirkei Avot while jumping rope.
The actual dip, supervised by a mikveh lady named Gita, was, if nothing else, surreal. If you had told me in the year 2000 I would someday be speaking Hebrew naked whilst dunking in a ritual bath with three rabbis on the other side of the door listening to make sure it's kosher, I would have, well, I don't know what I would have done.
But back to the germare I had two nights ago. The first one since I took the name Elisheva and began my life as a Jewish lady.
The dream began quite innocently, as many horrible dreams do. It was Shabbat. My husband I were hosting 3 very important and pious rabbis and their sheitled wives. Everyone was gathered around the table and I was busy in the kitchen, nervously preparing to bring out the meal. In the other room, I could hear the rabbis deliberating, handing down religious rulings of some kind.
"That can't be right," I thought. "You can't do that on Shabbat." Then my heart began to race. "Can you?"
At this point it's important to mention that I, for some reason, had made a Mexican themed meal, which as I brought it out to the table seemed even to me a weird choice. As I approached with a gigantic steaming bowl of beans, rice and corn, I realized, "Omigod, these rabbis are so pious, they don't eat Kitniyot, even when it's not Passover."
For those, who just got lost on that last paragraph, Kitniyot is a special group of foods (including beans and rice and yes, corn) that are deemed not-kosher-for-Passover for Ashkenzi Jews.
At this point in the dream, I was so horrified, I just shook myself awake. It was just too unbearable, my Kitniyot humiliation.
I have theories on this one but I'll save it for later.