this may or may not be about someone you've never met

black book

i'm up early

I’m up early and am watching particles dancing through the stream of sunlight that’s cracking through my curtains. It looks like a wall of magic connecting me, in my bed, to the outside world, via my bedroom window. They move slowly, and with purpose, like ants in a farm. Every single one is shining and multi coloured and jut drifting through the air flow. I wonder, they must be everywhere all the time, just right now they reveal themselves to me for some ungodly or, rather, quite godly, reason.

Nati is telling us his story on the Gaza Strip in Hebrew while Aviv translates. Below us, far in the distance, bulldozers push around sand and ash. Everything seems quiet, relaxed like a beachy day, and then I’m reminded of the horror and fortune we as individuals experience. On the way back down the hill after soaking in the torn up land and 15 seconds of escape time these folks are permitted, granted, calculated to expect, I see a discarded broken baby’s crib, burnt single pages from newspapers and Torahs. I see sneakers and random belongings. I can’t help but think the land I’m standing on used to be homes. It used to be somewhere someone would come home from work to, and make dinner or expect it and kiss their wife and children and relax on the couch to watch TV after a long day of work and just as they all settle on a show, the alarms sound and they run for safety, luckily they all make it, but when it’s safe to come out again, they see their house torn to shreds and their stuff, all their stuff, strewn out in the street like an American cop raided the place.

With even some insight and a lot more disgust towards worldly conflicts and the “conflicts” here at home. Wow, we have such first world problems. Debating who can get married, who can fall in love, then not imposing IQ tests for folks who wanna own a firearm, machine guns included, or run for president. The problems we have here in America resemble that of a novice, 4th world county, not a first world one, yet we complain and spend like the 1st world country that we pretend to be. Here, our anger and danger comes from an individual sense of greed, of pathetic racism, and this craving to fit into the American dream, which has changed and evolved into something people still can’t understand or achieve. In Israel, at least, the war is beyond the border. It is fueled by hate and vengeance, by ignorance and confusion. There is passion running though the country, the faith brings them together, for better or for worse. You could have 10 Israelis offering up their swimming trunks, even though you only asked one, and very quietly. And 10 Americans shaking their heads, faking an apology, disgusted by the thought of having their junk and yours swaddled in the same place. Because in America, we have the luxury of time to be disgusted and repulsed and judgmental and hateful without logic or facts. Of course, everywhere does this, even in the holy land. But in Israel, you wouldn’t lose a friend because you discussed politics.  America, Americans are callous people. Callous, callous, angry, hurried people. I am American. I’m fortunate to be American, but I am not proud. Even NYC seems trite, by the vast transplants who roam and stomp around entirely unaware. Unaware of where they are, of who has stomped these grounds and made marks before them. Unaware of the challenges of this city and of this damn forsaken world. Unaware that not everyone’s mommys and daddys pay their rent, their Time Warner, and Grub Hub bills, etc. etc. Unaware that you have to work and hit rock fucking bottom and be scathed and burned and permanently scarred before you can even dream of surfacing. That drowning is a good thing and just because you shaved your head and dyed your hair doesn’t mean you’re an outcast and misunderstood and for that reason alone, you’re now an artist. Why (do you think the word) artist has become such a totally mocked, flamboyant word or profession – especially pre-40s and unsuccessful. Because everyone is at it, without fruitfulness, without intention, without message or cause or rhyme or reason. Everyone’s caught the fame bug, and the spotlight is the only place they can be loved – or so they think. In Israel, what would be my peers, are forced, but happy to join the army to protect like they were protected before. That’s their glory. Our glory is a talk show, or a sitcom or Jerry Springer or Hollywood billboards, or even a fucking soap line. We don’t give a shit in what form our glory comes in, so long as we can post about it on Facebook and rack up the likes and comments and lovers and haters. We forget who we are. We forget what our childhood selves wanted to be when we grow up and mock their little voice by telling ourselves they were just kids and didn’t know anything about the world or how it worked. The truth is, we still don’t (we’re just expected to, so we all go along, blindfolded and pretending. How’s that working out?)

And still, these particles are dancing for me in my streak of bedroom light.

Micaela Silberstein