Samantha and Frank

It was on a bright day in the middle of January that Samantha realized that her cat, Frank, had taken over her life. On that day, Samantha was driving her old Honda to her mindless office job. She was looking forward to work in a vague sort of way, mostly because she wanted to hear Roseann’s latest dramatic episode in her relationship with her ex-husband-current-sometimes-boyfriend. Samantha enjoyed those stories immensely, since Roseann was an intelligent woman who had the charming quality of being able to make fun of herself, and Samantha felt the need for a laugh.

The old car had no CD player, and of course no connection for her iPod – which was good, since it was on the fritz and was working only sporadically – so Samantha spent the drive to work listening to the radio. That morning, in January, she happened upon a talk-show, one of the many that featured uproariously funny hosts (at least, in their own minds) who spoke very fast. She realized soon that the host’s project that morning was dissing people with pets. He was talking to someone who rescued animals on the street and made various mean-spirited jokes about the subject until the guest thanked him sarcastically and finished the interview. Samantha had laughed – this particular show was one she enjoyed, because the host was funny sometimes – but she stopped abruptly when he started reading off a fax he’d gotten.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen,” he drawled, his voice fizzing in and out of the old speakers. “I have here a fax by Miss Mary K. P. and she’s written a very nice list here. So, get out your pens, all of you pet owners out there, and let’s see if your pet has taken over your life! Miss Mary K. P., as promised, you’ll be getting a free t-shirt from the network. Let’s go.”

Samantha smiled indulgently as she wondered how many of the items on the list would fit her profile, but soon she began to frown in concern. Soon after that she began to laugh uncomfortably, and, finally, she wore a fake expression of calm as she pulled into the office parking lot and decided that she had to get out more.

“First,” the talk show host had said. “If you feed your pet before you feed yourself – it’s taking over your life. Second, if you talk to it more than you talk on the phone – it’s taking over your life. Third, if you talk to it as if it’s a human being who understands your every word – it’s taking over your life. Fourth, if you hug it more than five times a day – it’s taking over your life. Fifth, if you live vicariously through other people’s stories, but interact with your pet more than with other people outside your home – it’s taking over your life.”

The list had gone on, and Samantha realized that yes, Frank had taken over her life. The problem was that even though she knew that she should do something about it… She really didn’t feel like it.

The Day of No Pollution

As evening falls outside my window, the sounds of the world shift. The ocean-like sounds of cars and buses whooshing past disappear, and instead falls a silence so intense that it is hardly broken even by bird sounds. Little by little though, a new sound dominates the city streets of Israel. The sound of a myriad little bells and rings and children’s screams and laughter.

Gone are the motors, and instead the steady pump of legs is the only mode of transportation, whether the legs are pushing pedals, rolling on wheels or walking all on their own. It’s Yom Kipur, the day to atone all sins, and the most dramatic thing about it is the taboo that dominates the country. No cars will drive tonight, nor tomorrow until sunset. No cars but ambulances and slow-moving police cars.

It is no wonder then that children and their bicycles rule the streets on this day. While the people who fast stay at home and guard their mouths from touching food or drink, the young – who aren’t actually required to fast by Jewish tradition until they’re thirteen – and the secular play in the empty streets to their hearts’ content.

Cops are… helpful? What’s happened to the world?

I have great belief in the police force. Ok. Well. That’s a lie. I’ve never had to deal with them all that much, but watching The Wire does put our boys in blue in perspective. Mostly cause half of them aren’t even in blue. Decieving buggers.

Tonight though, I encountered two policemen doing very unexpected things. I was driving with Ms. M and Mr. B. B. and I was standing at a stoplight, waiting for the green light. Of course, because this is Israel, a woman in a hideous white SUV tried to push in front of me so she could turn left. A cop car was a few cars behind me, and a very pissed off elderly cop actually made the effort to get out of his car and go up to her window and yell at her to get back into her lane and not inconvenience everyone else and hold up traffic. Of course she ended up turning left illeagaly anyway, but still, the point was made.

The second thing that happened tonight was again, at a stoplight. This time the squad car was in front. A man walked up to the window and seemingly asked directions. Then he smilingly got into the front seat of the car. Meaning the policeman inside offered a lift. This is another piece of courtesy that is unknown of here.

Next post might or might not mention if Paul McCartney was or was not assassinated during his concert here that is tomorrow night.