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Floods of Rain, Floods of Tears

Today, it rained in Madison. I mean rained. Also today the bodies of three teenagers – Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha’ar, and Naftali Frenkel – we’re found half submerged in a field near Hebron. One of them, Frankel, was also an American.

As I sat in traffic, watching the water flood the streets and the gutters, I couldn’t help but think about the situation. I try to distance myself from the sadder side of politics, but I couldn’t get this out of mind.

How could this happen? Who did it and where are they? Why isn’t it on the news here in America? What if things were different?

Sone people say that tremping, or hitch hiking, is what killed the boys. No, a person or people killed the boys. So many people that I know in the West Bank rely on hitch hiking to get into Jerusalem due to limited bus service; it’s something that you wouldn’t let your kids do in America, but in Israel, people are taught to trust strangers and help one another.

Then there is the issue of Palestinian deaths due to this. I don’t know the whole story there, but I do know that there were people among their ranks who knew information, including the identities and whereabouts of the suspected murders. By refusing to divulge such information, it makes them accessories to the crime. Killing people is wrong, but when there is a refusal to cooperate with authority, that doesn’t solve anything, and at least here in America that’s not something taken lightly. Not to mention that their Hamas comrades were celebrating the murders.

Next, my thoughts turned to America, and Americans abroad. One of the boys was American, but no one made a statement about him, and no American troops or diplomats were instructed to take action. I have so many American friends living abroad – not just in Israel, but also in places like India, China, and Togo. What if it were one of them? I was once an American living abroad…what if the victim were me? Who would come to my defense?

Another thing: something tells me that if the American were a teenage girl instead of a boy, news outlets would have been all over it like Jessica Lynch. What if it had been Natalie Frenkel, good white Jewish girl from Brooklyn, instead of Naftali Frenkel?

This turn of events causes so much uncertainty in my life and the lives of others. But if one thing is certain, it’s this. No question will change anything, and no answer will bring these three back to life.

There are few times in my life when I’ve been really afraid for my life and my long term future. My parents had JFK and the Cuban missile crisis. I had September 11th, the anthrax scare, the number 22 bus bombing, rising antisemitism in Europe, campus shootings, but then this happened.

If I ever go abroad for research or to live, will I truly be alone? Will I be swept out to sea like so much rain down Johnson Street?

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It’s 10:15 PM, do you know where my brain is?

Yeah, that’s basically my entire thought process right now, and over the past three days.

I have spent a good portion of my waking hours on this mind-numbingly impossible political science paper. 8000-10000 words, my…whatever, man. I went to bed at 4:00 this morning with about 5200 words (not an all-nighter), and belying my fears of not getting the word count, I sit here with an hour and a half left until midnight with 9000 words down and several sources to go. What is my paper about again? Puppets? South Africa? Something like that? Why am I subjecting myself to this torture? Why?

And there were sporadic thunderstorms following me around all day as I went from Espresso Royale to Noodles to the Steepery over the past ten hours.

Oh, and welcome to my newest flag, Bulgaria. As they say in Bulgaria, finish your paper and no one gets hurt.

And then, I WILL finish my review of Ubu.

After all, I already have a several thousand word headstart.

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Lemonade and Jelly Beans Day

Every once-in-a-while, I have a day that I call Lemonade and Jelly Beans Day.

And today was one of those days.

A Lemonade and Jelly Beans Day is not a good day, a bad day, or a neutral day. It’s one of those days that starts out with some rottenness, is usually dreary, and something good happens, but it’s not enough to turn the day around. Well, the good thing that happened to me today will have some long-lasting effects, but I’ll talk about those another time.

The provenance of Lemonade and Jelly Beans Day occurred in October 2009 in Jerusalem, Israel. I can’t exactly remember what set me off, but I was still living in the WUJS apartment so it couldn’t have been a good day, period. I remember that it was raining, which is normally a bummer, but makes everyone calm and happy in drought-stricken Israel, and softens the rougher edges of the world. It’s more of an act of purification than anything else. Plus, it makes everything beautiful. That day, I slept in, and when I woke up, my heart was sinking in my chest, heavy like a bag of sand. Which, ironically, was heavier knowing that it would have to face the rain. I wasn’t tired, hungry, or motivated to do anything. And then a feeling crept up on me.

I needed lemonade and jelly beans.

Right now.

Even though those are two foods I don’t enjoy on a regular basis, I strolled through the rain down to the makolet, which, fortunately for me, had some Minute Maid bottled lemonade and Jelly Belly Sours. Double yes, went my brain. Back at home, I settled back into my bed, my computer in front of me, and cracked open the drink. The lemony goodness washed down my throat, and when I bit into each jelly bean, the sour tang tickled my taste buds, validating all the sour thoughts and feelings that were going through me, and typed “it’s a lemonade and jelly beans type of day.”

Though I didn’t end up getting lemonade and jelly beans today, I certainly felt a bit deflated as I went about my daily routine, even passing up gym time to go home and hit the studying, hard, which was kind of good, I guess, since it got me to get some of my stuff done.

Each time I have one of these days, some other odd compulsion comes out, and for some reason, today, it was 90s one-hit-wonder group Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” doubling as the soundtrack. There’s just something about Wendy, Chynna, and Carnie singing lyrics like “I know this pain/Why do lock yourself up in these chains?/No one can change your life except for you/Don’t ever let anyone step all over you/Just open your heart and your mind/Is it really fair to feel this way inside?” It’s like a damp dishcloth for your soul, complete with a wacky bass line and banal, inoffensive lyrics that essentially talk about nothing. Sometimes it’s a horrible song, sometimes it’s my jam, but today, it’s like my special friend, or guardian angel, if you believe in that sort of thing.

Everyone has a lemonade and jelly beans day once in a while, where you’re not at your best, and that’s okay. Again, it’s not happy, but it’s not necessarily sad – more like subtle, subdued, low-key, teetering between anxiety and calm.

I feel a little better now.