An Open Letter to Yael Bartana

Dear Yael,

I am an Israeli-American. I was born in Los Angeles, live in Givatayim, go to university in New York but will be studying in England next year.

The reason I’m telling you this is because I am part of two worlds – I have two homes and no home, two countries and no country. This is a kind of internal enigma that I haven’t yet gotten around to exploring yet – the seeds of what I want to do with this puzzling idea are still revolving in my mind, floating in some sort of wind. Hopefully they will find some fertile ground and grow there one day.

Today, I was stunned. My mother and I went to see your exhibition at the Helena Rubinstein in Tel Aviv. I took three Manifesto posters in each language so that I’d be able to give some away to people I love. The ideas that you represented – and the way you represented them – were so beautiful, so thought-provoking, and so intensely personal to someone who has lived here most of her life and felt both aliened and forcibly integrated. During the films, I was constantly thinking, wondering, trying to figure out the future that I was seeing in the foreshadowing clues that were in the barbed wire, the spotlight, the arm-band, the assassination. But I also yearned so dearly to hope, to be among my generation – the candle-lighters, the optimists, the naive, the third generation who are furthest from the past traumas but still, somehow, touched by them.

I wanted to go to Hebron after I left those rooms, posters clutched tightly furled under my arm – I didn’t have a rubber band – and find the first Palestinian youth who would trust me and ask him to take my hand. We would go and buy two tickets to Poland. We’d call our families and friends once we got there. Maybe if he escaped from his ghost town and I escaped from this country that ignores its ghosts, we’d be able to show others, as you did, that the possibility was real. How naive. But what a wonderful wish.

I have written to authors before. I’ve never written to an artist before. I hope that, if you do read this, my respect and admiration for you comes through my words. You have inspired something within me – the flame of anger always burning towards this country, but also the drops of innocence and hope that try to dampen that fire. Most of all, you’ve awoken my imagination and my thought, and for that I must thank you from the bottom of my heart. A work of art has not touched me so in a long, long time.

Thank you, thank you, thank you,

Ilana

__________

Yael Bartana is the creator of “And Europe Will be Stunned” which premiered at the Venice Biennale.

A Reply to “A Schedule” + A Little More

I’d like to start this post by just saying how much it meant to me to read the replies you all wrote. It means more than I can articulate to have people believing in my, people who have never met me or talked to me, but have only known my through this blog. It’s more special this way – there are no biases, you aren’t here just to flatter me, and if you didn’t like my blog, you’d leave and needn’t reply. I know these things, though they’re hard to really accept sometimes, and so I truly appreciate your support. Starting Sunday (because in Israel, the week starts on Sunday) I will begin my writing schedule, and we’ll see how it goes. I hope that I won’t disappoint myself!

I also would like to thank those of you who say that they wouldn’t guess my age… Age doesn’t matter when it comes to friendship, as far as I’m concerned, but I’ll admit that I’ve always had a little nagging doubt in the back of my mind – I’ve worried, you see, that I’ll somehow become or appear childish without meaning to, and that my friendship would be denied or pushed away. That hasn’t happened, and I’m relieved – and I’ll take those words of surprise at my age as compliments, because I know you mean them as such.

So. On a side note: is there some sort of requirement that people who wish to write have low self-esteem? Because, clearly, I’ve been gifted with an overabundance of that particular asset.

**

Test-time

Tense.

Chairs scraping.

Clock ticking.

School-building: hardback chairs with metal legs,

grey, grey tables, scratched, scored.

A fly buzzes.

Heads turn, murder in their eyes,

longing to swat the

interruption.

Then, suddenly,

it’s over.

Laughter returns to faces,

Sighs of relief can be heard,

High-fives exchanged.

It’s done,

it’s over,

it’s finished.

The Concert of My Dreams

A lot of it was a blur. Hours seemed to pass between the time spent in a strange mall, all closed up except for one store blasting out strong music, and the actual event. It was strange, the way everything lost proportion. Time either crawled or hurried past. Scenes and people and views changed in a flash. Only some moments stand out clearly in my memory… That’s how it always is in dreams, isn’t it?

But it wasn’t a dream. It was real. We got to the mall at 15:00, found the neighboring stadium and the cluster of people. It felt like coming home. They were happy, energetic, giddy with excitement. There were nerds, and girls and Goths and metal-heads. There were young boys, barely into puberty and women in their thirties, clearly original fans.  Bottles of beer, vodka and even white wine littered the ground along with what seemed to be a thousand cigarette butts. But it was the one place, the only place, in which I felt perfectly comfortable with it.

We were there for a concert, a show. The rules are different when music pumps in people’s veins and the sun burns their backs to a crisp as they wait at a gate guarded by a couple heavy-set men. The rules have to change in an environment like that – it’s inevitable. Better to throw bottles on the ground where the organizers know it’s going to happen than throwing bottles into a crowd later and injuring someone.

It seemed as if we were in and out of the mall for food and bathroom breaks a hundred times, but finally, at 16:45, we were in the crowd waiting at the entrances. It was hot, sticky, and the sun was piercing and bright. People kept whooping for no reason, getting everyone just a bit more pumped up. Sir B. F. and I played games, guessing at what this or that person was like outside of Concert-Time.

Concert-Time is a different dimension, holding a dream-like quality, and consisting of no more than twenty-four hours in which time itself seems to shrink and elongate. The sunlit hours are the longest, whereas the moment evening falls, the breezes hold sweet and short promises. Crushed in a crowd, time elongates again in the heat and airless place. But then, suddenly, time seems to jump forward – by fifteen minutes, half an hour, an hour. The opening bands are on the stage forever, and then they’re not. The stage is empty forever, and then, suddenly, gloriously, it’s not.

They came on-stage, four men in the their mid-forties, and the crowd roared. We were part of a beast, a many-headed animal that thrashed and begged and demanded to be satisfied. The moment the first note started, we began to feed. Music, loud notes one after another, lyrics yelled at the top of our voices while the men on-stage sang loudly with us, for us. The speakers, huge and foreboding when the sun was up, were now a welcome friend, giving out the drug that we needed – the music.

**

Metallica haven’t been in Israel for eleven years. Finally, on Saturday, May 22nd, they performed at the Ramat-Gan Stadium to the ecstasy of long-time and new fans alike. There were sound issues, issues that the stadium staff blamed on Metallica’s equipment. But it didn’t matter whose fault it was – only that it was fixed, and that the crowd, and I inside it, roared approval at each return of the full blast of the speakers.

There are concerts you can’t ever go to again. Concerts that you know were likely once in a lifetime opportunities. This was one of them, and I cannot express how glad I was to be there. It was a night of enchantment – a night of dreams coming true.

Awards? Wow. Awards!

I’ve never understood the award thing very much around here – it just confused me a lot at the beginning that people were giving each other all these awards! But now that I’ve gotten two from the lovely Peg at her blog, I’m going to pass them on and abide by their rules.

This award really honors me, since I began this blog assuming I would only post fiction or poetry or articles in it, but with the family of friends that I’ve acquired here, I’ve branched out and written things about my personal life as well, something that I wasn’t comfortable doing at first. This specific award I’d like to give to the following:

1. Mckenzie the Lovely at Unabridged Girl. She writes about everything – her life, her thoughts, her writing. She shares some of her fiction with her readers, and is astonishing, because she’s such a fabulous writer both in and out of fiction writing.

2. Erin the Awesome, at Wild Archaic , who writes short, long, funny and poignant posts, sometimes about daily life, sometimes about authors and books and her opinions. She also publishes her fiction and is, as far as I’m concerned, a fabulous writer.

3. Joy and her group of family and friends here are just about the most versatile group you could find. They write about their opinions, with strong conviction but with an open mind to discussion and great sincerity and experience. You gals are wonderful, and Joy took my under her wing almost from day one, and I genuinely feel that she and her fellow writers are amazing women.

I like this one, because I hope I manage to bring happiness to some readers! Even though sometimes, like my last post, I tend to depress them :/. Now this award applies to the women above, PLUS:

1. J.W. at his blog – his posts have always made me happy because I love to read them. They’re always interesting, and often funny or moving as well.

2. Kit (I’ve just learned your name from the About section in your blog!) at Goggles & Lace, because I swear she’s my emotional twin and I love reading her posts – both fiction and every day.

3. Living Dilbert makes me laugh, laugh, laugh, and she actually matches my cynicism [and hidden hope and tenderness, too] about the world.

4. Dr. Tom Bibey at his bluegrass blog who makes me less cynical because his words are always touching and wonderful.

5. Heather, who’s amazing and sweet and her writing rocks my socks here.

6. Den, who’s a new discovery for me, and he makes me happy with his amazing flash fiction.

7. Eva, who I’m adding late because, well, it’s hard to always remember everyone who makes you happy! But she does. She makes me thing, she makes me wonder, and she makes me happy since I love reading her blog.

In case there’s someone I didn’t list here, I don’t want you to think that you don’t deserve these awards. I don’t actually read blogs that don’t deserve these awards, just so you know!. I’m trying to honor some specific people who have been close to me and meaningful, which is why I limited myself…

Now, I’m supposed to do the following things as well:

Seven Things You Don’t Know About Me:

1. I went to the first Metallica concert in Israel in eleven years last night with Sir B. F. and I had an amazing, awesome, splendiferous time.

2. My astrological sign is Cancer, and I hate that because every family member I’ve known well who’s passed away has died from a cancer.

3. I’m a devoted cat person, but I really, sincerely love all animals that aren’t insects. I love snakes. I love rats.

4. My eyes are green-grey, and their color is probably my favorite thing about my looks and my one vanity.

5. I almost went deaf when I was very small and had to have surgery to fix it. My parents noticed it because I was reading their lips instead of looking at their eyes when they spoke.

6. I’m so pale that I’m see-through. My veins are visible almost everywhere.

7. I love singing.

Ten Things That Make Me Happy (things, not people, so I’ll stick to that so as not to objectify anyone I love!):

1. Weather – I love experiencing sun on my face, rain on the windows, a breeze in my hair.

2. My favorite bands.

3. Books books books books books books books.

4. Computer games [yes, I’m a girl-gamer, and thus, a geek].

5. Pens and paper.

6. The Internet.

7. Blogs.

8. Those certain items of clothing that make me feel special [come on, we all have one or two of those].

9. My tattoo. I love that after five years of wanting it, I finally got it once it was legal to.

10. Chocolate.