So the war drags on. There’s a discernible tension in the air; you can feel it.
The other day there was one of those classic Israeli moments when a car and a bus got a little too close for comfort pulling up to a red light. The drivers start screaming at each other from their open windows, and then the car driver gets out of his car, fist raised like he’s about to do some whuppin’, bangs on the door to the bus (yes, an Egged bus) and the bus driver opens it holding a baseball bat, and they were SO going to have at it. (I didn’t see what happened; I was in a cab and we got the turn signal.) Even for Israel, that was pretty good–and I think a lot about tense people blowing off steam any way they could. Or maybe they were both just nuts, I dunno.
I check in every day or so with my friends in Haifa–they hear the bombs from their apartment, they’ve stopped bothering going down to the bomb shelter, they just wait, after a siren starts, for the sound of something landing so that they can go back to what they’re doing. “It’s not nice,” she tells me. But, true to type, “Ain ma la’asot”–there’s nothing we can do but do whatever we would do. I guess if this happened to me every ten years, I’d get used to it too. Maybe. I don’t know that getting used to any of this–that thinking that it’s normal in any way–is a good idea. I know it’s considered good machismo here to shrug one’s shoulders like one can’t be bothered to having a reaction to all this, but I’d frankly prefer to keep my sensitivities intact. This IS a big deal, and I hope I never get so jaded that I can’t see it as such. I know that for a lot of folks, well–there isn’t anything that they can do right now, so choosing not to get wigged out seems like a better idea than getting wigged out (given that external reality’s going to be the same either way). I get that. And maybe that is the more enlightened position, I dunno. But that way, something else gets lost. I hope I don’t get used to this, ever. Ever.
Here in Jerusalem, in any case, there is work to do. I’m up to my eyeballs in the chapter I knew would be one of the hardest to write, and sure enough, it’s hard. There’s just so much to cover, and some of it is going to be really relevant to later chapters even if it doesn’t seem so important now–and I can’t tell what stuff that is. I basically have to write considerably more than I’ll need, and figure out how to make the coherent narrative emerge, with a side order of the chewy analytical stuff. (And yes, I’m writing a book. I’ve already signed the contract with Beacon Press, so I guess it’s OK to talk about it now. More on subject matter another time. But I’m thrilled that this has all worked out–I’ve been wanting to do this project for a while, and the publisher is great–they really know what they’re doing, don’t want something dumbed-down and insipid, and my editor is a model of competence in all the most reassuring ways.) Glad to be doing this work, but man is it hard work. OK. Onward.
But first, a few links: