October 04, 2005

Shana tova - from Iceland :-)

Before I say anything else... shana tova!..


Indeed I must say, that never has my life consisted of a series of events that were a bigger and stranger mixture of my own culture on one hand, and the Jewish Israeli on the other. I'm also constantly finding myself in a situation that simply fascinates me as a student of cultural anthropology. To witness firsthand how things that have always been so 'normal' for an entire people, can be practically unthinkable for another. And yet two individuals from both groups appear perfectly capable of mutual understanding, and more.
These contemplations and events are, of course, caused by the fact that (as you already know), I now have an Israeli boyfriend. After days of trying to think of a pseudo for him on my blog, I asked him for ideas. Finally we decided that I'd just call him "Shlomi", because Shlomi, is his real name :).

My life has been (and is) nothing short of a big BALAGAN (mess) lately. I'm behind on all my schoolwork, many of my plans (which had all been pretty much the same for a very long time) are being rethought, I haven't worked out in weeks, changed jobs, I've been living off very strange food, and I even went through a very radical change of hairstyle when I went back to my natural color (red)"!.
But I'm absolutely ecstatic, and am not too worried about anything.
I've also been spending more time with my family. They are all in love with Shlomi. My sweet niece Gudrun is in love with him literally. She gets dressed up for him, tries to dress and act like me, chases him around and tries to charm him. My grandmother has stopped being afraid of him now, even though he's an exotic looking foreigner (she's scared of foreigners). She doesn't see much of a difference between foreigners. Last night there were images from Pakistan on tv, and my grandmother shouted excitedly "Israelis, Israelis!". I tried to explain to her that it's an entirely different country, but she said that it isn't, cause they have "the same shade of brown". But I know she likes him, cause she gave him a woolsweater she had knitted.

Last night was the beginning of Rosh Hashana,- the Jewish New Year. When my dear mother heard, she decided to host a dinner that night for Shlomi, since he's Jewish (with no pork of course, she said!). It was funny, it was nice. It was Icelandic lamb, Icelandic traditions. No cream sallad though, since my sister figured he would be uncomfortable with the meat & dairy thing, or something (although the ice cream for dessert didn't seem to be an issue). My mother was very nervous about the fact that there was no sallad, and thought that this might sabotage the entire meal. (Icelanders usually don't eat sallad with meals whereas Israelis always eat sallad with food). My grandmother spoke Icelandic to Shlomi, eventhough she knows he doesn't understand much. He smiled and nodded.
I spoke (and speak) English to Shlomi, and Icelandic to my family. He called his family yesterday, and spoke Hebrew to them. He mentioned to me how strangely surreal it is to sit in an Icelandic livingroom, and a room full of Icelandic people, and hear me speak a foreign language. I had the exact same thought about him. It is incredible to watch how an entire personality seems to be altered when changing languages. When he speaks Hebrew, suddenly the sounds he makes are a combination of very deep and high pitched sounds, made while excessively moving the hands.

So, two different worlds, clashing with a bang. And it's a great thing. It just makes life much more interesting.

Posted by Maria at 01:18 PM  Permalink | Comments (11)
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Somehow this brought a lot of lovely memories to my mind :-)

And I would kill for a meal of Icelandic lamb too (not the boiled head though)! Oh, you lucky people, you.

Strange coincidence, I dyed my hair too, very dark brown, one could say almost black.
All the best for you, Maria.

Posted by: Aki at October 4, 2005 05:08 PM Permalink

Sounds like you're having fun!

Oh, and Aki, there's nothing wrong with boiled sheep heads :p

Posted by: Arni at October 4, 2005 05:36 PM Permalink

Aki: send me a picture of the new hair!

Árni: I saw you the other day (a few weeks ago). I was riding my bike outside Glæsibær. I don't know if you recognised or noticed me.

Posted by: Maria at October 4, 2005 05:44 PM Permalink

Happy new year, Maria! The balagan sounds like a normal, and manageable one. Stability is not for the young! heh

Posted by: patrickafir at October 4, 2005 06:09 PM Permalink

What a lovely post! Really enjoyed reading.

How long is Shlomi going to stay in Iceland?

Posted by: Orly at October 4, 2005 07:23 PM Permalink

Well it's about time your hair was red again young lady. : )

Posted by: Alice at October 5, 2005 12:34 AM Permalink

Patrick: Encouraging, thank you!

Orly: Thank you as well, it's so nice to hear that! I've e-mailed you.

Alice: True! I shall be mailing you soon.

Posted by: Maria at October 5, 2005 01:05 PM Permalink

Happy New Year to you Maria,
Gmar Hatima Tova as well!

Posted by: Tal at October 12, 2005 04:27 PM Permalink

María, I didn't notice you then. Rest assured that I'd at least have said hi!

Posted by: Arni at October 13, 2005 02:17 AM Permalink

Wow, I am unwillingly away from computer activities for a month and you go and get yourself a boyfriend! And an Israeli one at that! Kol ha'kavod and bhatzlacha!! ok so when are the two of you coming HOME? :)

Posted by: Yael Kaynan at October 15, 2005 09:10 PM Permalink

Tal: thank you, likewise and stay in touch!

Árni: Next time :)

Yael: He's going to Israel for a visit next month.. I'm staying here :(

Posted by: Maria at October 17, 2005 03:26 PM Permalink

October 07, 2005

From terrorist to activist.. and Mata Hari

Essay-time. Again. Nothing works better than an essay to encourage me to do silly and pointless things I'd otherwise never even consider doing. This morning I spent over an hour on reading the biography of Mata Hari. Just to do something else than to study. I convinced myself that I really, definitely, need to know the details of what exactly happened to that Dutch erotic dancer during WW1...

Bringing things a little closer to contemporary times.. This article kind of freaked me out (recommended reading). Interesting how things one has already known for a long time can feel like a punch in the gut, just because somebody says them outloud. Ain't it?

Posted by Maria at 03:42 PM  Permalink | Comments (3)
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I know what you mean...my destraction is to start reading all the books in my bookshelves that have been lying there for years but on doing so I always discover that somehow I seem to have read the first twenty pages several times in all of them...I wonder why?

Posted by: Una at October 9, 2005 06:31 PM Permalink

Just want to tell you my father is 80 yrs today. It's a miracle he lived to see this day. When he was liberated from KZ (I don't know which camp he was in then), everybody thought he'd die soon. When he was still alive after a few days, someone told him "Dich wird der Teufel nie holen" (=The devil will never come to fetch you). He spent 11 years in hospital after the war, because of tuberculosis.

Posted by: Torbjörn Karfunkel at October 11, 2005 10:00 PM Permalink

Torbjörn: Send a Grattis/Mazal tov greeting to your father from me!

Posted by: Maria at October 12, 2005 11:17 AM Permalink

October 17, 2005

Talk talk :-)

Yes yes, I know I have not been blogging.. but my thoughts have been with this blog (and its readers), really! During my 10 days of net-silence the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur took place. Tonight at sunset yet another begins, Sukkot.
Now, I realise that these statements are neither surprising, nor written in an articulate, witty or interesting way. But I figured I had to mention them before proceeding to the banal little details of my every day events, that yet manage to capture so much of my thoughts, emotions and energy..
I am currently in one of my university's computer labs. Interestingly enough, I've always been annoyed by people who occupy computers to do 'useless' things like blog, or read about football.
Some of the people in the lab are noisy. Accross from where I am sitting, there is a group of (what I am guessing is) medical students, looking up information online, discussing things excitedly. A guy and a girl are having a stupid discussion about 'the situation in the Middle East'. The girl is short, with brown hair, pale skin, glasses. She looks like the most exotic place she's ever visited in her life would be something like Sweden. That is how she looks when she allows the baloney to flow out of her mouth as she says something like: "The Palestinians. I can really understand them, feel for them you know. I mean I can really sympathise".
It makes me think of how intensely contradictive things can be, when I compare a trivial, and yet very human incident that occurred last night as I was sitting in a car with Shlomi. We were both tired, sleepy and quiet, on our way home. Then on the radio news we heard a story of Israelis having been killed that day. Another tragedy sadder than words can describe. And yet there is nothing to do but swallow the bitter pill, again.
Shlomi said nothing. A serious look and silence for a moment. Then after a while he simply looked at me with a little smile, and told me he thinks I look beautiful. And what else is there to do, but to rejoice in what one has?


Posted by Maria at 03:07 PM  Permalink | Comments (2)
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Maria, I don't thihk this was your (or her) intention, but your description of the girl in the lab and her quote sounded to me really parodic and funny.

Then you reminded me about the shooting attack from... Sunday. Yes, though I was really sad to hear about it, I've already forgot it. This is the reality, for most of us.

By the way, since it's a Mitzvah to rejoice in Sukkot, the families do not make a formal Shiva. They had to return from the funerals and start celebrating the holiday...

Posted by: Orly at October 18, 2005 06:32 PM Permalink

I did indeed mean to describe her as 'parodic and funny.

Posted by: Maria at October 19, 2005 12:29 PM Permalink

October 19, 2005

A bad grade

Well... I daresay, that sometimes I feel like a child. I feel as though the immaturity just gets the best out of me, like it overcomes me and all of the so called sophistication I am supposed to have accumulated during the past 26 years. I am a woman with a temper, that is a certainty, but I am still no porcelain doll, and I normally get over things quick & easy. But there is one thing that simply drives me crazy. That takes my ego and runs it to the ground, and makes feel like the future is lost, and all I can do is escape into the comforting sweetness of peanut butter m&m's and a nice Segafredo Cappuccino..
I applaude those of you who guessed it: I got a bad grade.
I was perfectly satisfied with the assignment that I wrote. But apparently, the teacher disagreed. Now, I realise that the mature, adultlike thing to do, would be to realise that one can't always get a good grade. Most, or at least a majority, of history's greatest geniuses did lousy at school, or at least at certain subjects. Halldor Laxness, Iceland's nobel prize winner (renowned for his extraordinary usage of the Icelandic language) failed Icelandic in college...
But how did the ever-so-mature Maria respond to this bad grade? (Which was made even worse by sitting next to superbrain Una, whose project scored so many points with the teacher that the teacher requested talking with her about it after class! But Una don't worry, I still love you). Well, after I reached the conclusion that I was not going to get over my humiliation that day, I left the class, without even handing in the assignment of the week. Instead I went here, to a university computer lab, where I anxiously wrote a brandnew assignment, far better than the old one. Then I e-mailed it to the teacher, along with some excuse for why I left class.

Yeah, I behaved like a brat. So anyone is free to take a shot at me! Well, if you can afford it, that is...

Icelandic Nobel Prize Winner Halldór Laxness - Got a bad grade on more than one occasion

Posted by Maria at 04:40 PM  Permalink | Comments (1)
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I read somewhere that some of Einstein's teachers thought that he was "simple." All grades are, to one degree or another, subjective. Which is both their beauty and their curse.

Posted by: EdWonk at November 1, 2005 05:54 AM Permalink

October 21, 2005

On this day 1986.. (minus 1 day)

I got this idea this morning when I was at the gym. The radio is always on at the gym, but those who turn it on for some reason always like to listen to a radio station that doesn't play much music, and instead has all these 'daily topic discussions'. One of them is called "On this day",- meaning that events are mentioned that took place on this same day, only another year. So, I figured that I myself could add this to my blog as an occasional feature.
So, the events that took place on this day (minus 1 day) have to do with one of my least favorite people: You guessed it!
Indeed it was on this day that Mordechai Vanunu was reported missing, after having been seduced by a female Mossad agent going by the name "Cindy", but whose real name was Cheryl Hanin.
I will try to hold back my desire to smacktalk this guy too much (incredible how tireless I am where this is concerned), but I cannot resist briefly mentioning a few points, such as this article from BBC News (gotta love 'em):

Vanunu wanted to avert holocaust

"I felt it was not about betraying; it was about reporting. It was about saving Israel from a new holocaust."

In the interview for the BBC's This World programme, Mr Vanunu said he had no regrets over his actions."

Interesting that he would sacrifice so much for Israel, considering the fact that sources seem to strongly indicate that his sympathies mainly lie elsewhere:

"Mr Vanunu, who was born in Morocco, moved to Israel with his family in 1963 and spent almost 10 years working at the Dimona plant.

He came to the attention of the Israeli authorities for his affiliation to a group called Movement for the Advancement of Peace and his alleged sympathies for the Palestinians.

He was sacked from Dimona and set off round the world, arriving in Sydney, Australia, where he was befriended by Rev McKnight and converted to Christianity."

Posted by Maria at 06:30 PM  Permalink | Comments (4)
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Vanunu....Man I can't stand that guy. And to think, he was supposedlt in the running to receive the Nobel Peace Prize!

Anyway, came across this article in the Wall Street Journal today and thought you might find it interesting. Heck, even its subtitle is engaging.

"How did the Palestinians descend into barbarism?"


If you have trouble accessing the link let me know.

Posted by: adam at October 22, 2005 11:33 PM Permalink

Oh! And here's one on Noam Chomsky!


Posted by: adam at October 22, 2005 11:37 PM Permalink

The beautiful Mossad agent bringing the revenge of Israel to the traitor. Such a biblical thing...

Judith, Esther, Deborah... lots of femme fatales in the Bible.

Posted by: Kantor at October 23, 2005 09:56 PM Permalink

Adam: thanks, I'll check it out!

Kantor: True! :-)

Posted by: Maria at October 24, 2005 03:37 PM Permalink

October 24, 2005

A women's day off

I work part time for a company called "The handknitting association of Iceland". The entire staff consists of women, including the manager, all the ladies who knit the sweaters, hats, socks etc (all 2000 of them), as well as all the store workers and knitting/wool experts. In a way, one could say that my workplace 'lacks gender equality', since there simply are no males working there.
Today is a special day in Iceland, namely "Women's day off". The plan is that all the working women in Iceland (meaning pretty much all women, since the concept of a 'housewife' is practically unknown here), should walk out of their work places at exactly 14:08 in the afternoon. I asked my boss, Baldrun, if she's planning to walk out, and got the following reply:

Well I've interpreted "walk out" in the way that I should step out through the door and stand outside the shop. At first I thought I should do so. But then I thought to myself that if I do, everyone will see that I'm here working. So I decided I'll just stay inside, and keep my mouth shut about it.

Women´s day off October 24th
On October 24th, women will stop working at 14:08 and fill Reykjavik´s city centre to protest the difference in women´s and men´s salaries. "Why Women’s day off? Because:

….women earn only 64,15% of what men do
....women’s salaries are only 72% of men’s for equal working hours
….having children has a negative impact on women’s salaries but a positive one on men’s
....many women are insecure and endure threats of violence in their homes
....one of every three women experiences gender based violence during her lifetime
....women do not enjoy success in equal proportion to their education
…women entrepreneurs have less access to finances than men
….women bear the main responsibility for child care and domestic duties
....care taker jobs are among the lowest paid on the labour market
....women have a lower profile in the media
....a woman’s body is regarded as a commodity
....no woman has ever been a prime minister, a bank manager or a bishop
....women have never been 50% of parliament members
....women do not enjoy equal rights with men

I suppose the part about the prime minister refers to Iceland only, since the world has certainly had female prime ministers, as you can see in this List of Female Prime

Here you can see that Israel's Golda Meir was the world's 3rd female prime minister.
The world has also seen Female Presidents, where Iceland's Vigdis Finnbogadottir became the world's first democratically elected female president in 1980.

Posted by Maria at 03:34 PM  Permalink | Comments (4)
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Hey girl!

Why are there no house wives?

Posted by: Alice at October 27, 2005 12:07 AM Permalink

I'm really disappointed! I thought Iceland and all Scandinavian countries have more equality between the sexes.

Why on earth 14:08?

Posted by: Orly at October 30, 2005 03:56 PM Permalink

Alice: most families here can't afford having only one provider

Orly: there is less gender inequality in Scandinavia (and Canada) than other countries, but women are oppressed everywhere. There's no such thing as a society where women make even close to what men make, unfortunately. I won't write more for now. I just got out of a class in 'Gender Studies' and I'm really annoyed, so I might get carried away :)

Posted by: Maria at October 31, 2005 06:44 PM Permalink

And how many men were in that class??

Posted by: Orly at November 1, 2005 06:25 PM Permalink

Evaluating life?

Some lives carry more weight?.. In the eyes of some, it seems.

It seems like no matter how often one has the misfortune of witnessing how devoid of common sense human beings can behave, it will never begin to feel 'normal'. It will always cause a repulsive feeling.
Here is an interesting little article about a few women called Rachel..

Dead Jews Aren't News - by Tom Gross

Rachel Thaler, aged 16, was blown up at a pizzeria in an Israeli shopping mall. She died after an 11-day struggle for life following a suicide bomb attack on a crowd of teenagers on 16 February 2002.

Even though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.

Rachel Corrie, on the other hand, an American radical who died in 2003 while acting as a human shield during an Israeli anti-terror operation in Gaza, has been widely featured in the British press. According to the Guardian website, she has been written about or referred to on 57 separate occasions in the Guardian alone, including three articles the Saturday before last.

The cult of Rachel Corrie doesn’t stop there. Last week the play, 'My Name is Rachel Corrie', reopened at the larger downstairs auditorium at the Royal Court Theatre (a venue which the New York Times recently described as 'the most important theatre in Europe'). It previously played to sold-out audiences at the upstairs theatre when it opened in April. (It is very rare to revive a play so quickly.)

Continue reading article

Posted by Maria at 03:56 PM  Permalink | Comments (4)
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Typical or the Anti-Semitism on the left and in Europe in general. The "poor" palestinian terrorist scum can do no wrong. But even the most minor mindemeanor by the Israelis is flaunted in our faces. Its sickening. Keep up the good work exposing this stuff Maria!

Posted by: Kevin E at October 27, 2005 06:48 PM Permalink

The striking thing in that article is realizing how many women named Rachel were killed in the intifada.

Posted by: Orly at October 30, 2005 04:09 PM Permalink

Kevin E: thanks

Orly: my point

Posted by: Maria at October 31, 2005 06:41 PM Permalink

Ah, but in our totally unbiased British Media, and that pillar of exactitude in news broadcasting the BBC (otherwise known as the Labour Party Media Division), the suicide bomber did get a mention. His victims? You must be missing the point, in the thinking of our anti-Jewish Left wing media and politics, the "victim" IS the bomber.

But they are definitely not biased you understand, they just believe that the Palestinians are much nicer than those nasty Israelis.

Posted by: The Gray Monk at November 2, 2005 09:07 PM Permalink

October 31, 2005

Airport security here I come!

Lazy lazy blogger... (Me, for the record).
Where do I even start this post? I have been, and am (as always), very busy. It seems unreal how quickly time passes, and before we know it there's nothing left. I just need a greater amount of hours a day than 24 hours, I'm afraid.

A lot of things have happened lately, but they are mostly minor things concerning my studies, work or family, or the endless amusement it gives me to experience my boyfriend, Shlomi (with whom I am now living), making an effort to adapt to Icelandic culture & customs. I sometimes feel as though I'm on a bit of an "Anthropologist's field research", which certainly helps me remember why I chose this subject in the first place.
What makes the situation far more interesting, and what has got every bone in my body participating in the excitement, is the fact that our situation is soon about to turn around. For indeed, I am going to Israel next Sunday!!
I will unfortunately only be able to stay there for 6 days, since I need to get back to school, but every day will be carefully planned. On the first day, I will be attending a big Jewish wedding, the wedding of Shlomi's cousin. After he described the process of a Jewish wedding to me, I had a slight shock, and said he could forget it, that I wasn't going (but then I later changed my mind). I am used to "Icelandic wedding behavior", which is very very calm, quiet, civilized and quick! So eating and dancing until midnight?! I have decided to be "the weird foreigner in the corner"! But hey who knows, maybe a little of that Israeli craziness, is just what the doctor prescribed for this girl, who sits and types while listening to yet another snowstorm outside the window.

Posted by Maria at 06:39 PM  Permalink | Comments (10)
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Sounds like gorgeous blessings to me. All the best to u in Israel, Maria.

Posted by: Max L at November 1, 2005 12:38 AM Permalink

Is there any chance that you can give us live updates from Israel?

Posted by: EdWonk at November 1, 2005 05:50 AM Permalink

!!! ברוכה הבאה

B'rukha Haba'a !!!

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at November 1, 2005 10:27 AM Permalink

I envy you! I myself had to turn down an offer (about a month ago) to go to Jerusalem for a seminar in December all-expenses-paid. It just didn't work out, having two children and a girlfriend with a full time job. Have a nice stay!

Posted by: Torbjörn Karfunkel at November 1, 2005 11:13 AM Permalink

Next Sunday??? Wow! Gee! Will you arrive to Haifa? Email me an if you wanna meet. However, I will understand if in 6 days you won't have the time to meet all your friends in Israel... You have to be in a Jewish wedding... :-D :-D "Dancing till midnight"... Darling, in Israel people go out at 2am. Not that I understand why.

Guess it's not a religious wedding. Hope that it's a Sepharadi weddding, because let's face it, Ashkenazis don't know how to have a good time.

Anyway ENJOY!!! I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU!! :-))

Posted by: Orly at November 1, 2005 06:33 PM Permalink

PS I am sadly an Ashkenazi.

Posted by: Orly at November 1, 2005 06:36 PM Permalink

No pressure here... but there is one person you kinda blew off the last time you were here [looks around and whistles]. Any chance you could squeeze in a cup of coffee? We could even meet you in Jerusalem one evening.

Posted by: David at November 1, 2005 07:05 PM Permalink

Max: Thank you :)

Wonk: Ehrm, hardly!

Torbjörn: What a pity you couldn't make it!

Orly: "Ashkenazis don't know how to have a good time". Hehe if you say so. I might stay in touch if I decide on a trip to Haifa.

David: I would *love* to meet you and your family if it will be possible. Lets see how it goes!

Posted by: Maria at November 3, 2005 11:01 PM Permalink

Have a blast!

Posted by: Alice at November 5, 2005 06:06 PM Permalink

Welcome! Anything I can do to help, let me know.

Posted by: ExpatEgghead at November 8, 2005 12:58 AM Permalink
moon phases