Monday, March 19, 2012

What can we do?

My uncle recommended that I install a viewer's map on my blog. I liked how Palden has a Flag Counter for his visitors, so I adopted that idea. So far we have one flag from Palestine. Yalla internationals!

I also put a video bar on the sidebar, but the function is messed up, so sometimes you might see my YouTube videos, and sometimes you might see some weird thing about cars. Anyways, my channel is mobach18 and you can access it through any of the videos I post. Even though I made a channel called AlAqaba2012 for serious videos, I've only posted three there and can't seem to separate my silly videos from the serious ones. walla I just don't care.

I shot two hours of footage with my new camera, basically it was two hours of me and my American friends pre-gaming and gaming throughout Ramallah, then I accidentally reformatted my memory card in Bil'in the next day and lost all two hours. I'm hoping my friend can help me recover the files. That'll teach me to press buttons in Arabic. But I'm still moving forward (shway shway) with the idea of this website for Americans in Palestine. Technically I've also started the blog, but I would really like to make a legit website out of it.

Basically I'm frozen in promotional mode. I'm carrying around my new business cards, fliers and brochures for the guest house and I have no schedule whatsoever. I need to visit universities, information centers, cafes, other guest houses and hostels, send an article to This Week in Palestine, and not forget my cards at home like I did yesterday. I ended up at a conference in Beit Sahour called Encounter for Jewish Americans and local Palestinians and I had no cards!

With the money I got through the IndieGogo fundraiser, I bought the promotional materials, and commissioned an iron-worker in Tubas to make five bunk beds. It didn't take long to learn that Palestinians associate bunk beds with prison. What can we do, it's efficient.

I also put the Guest House blog on my blogroll. Now I'm uploading ALL of my Al Aqaba photos into the Al Aqaba Village Facebook group so I can link to all the albums on the Guest House website. Village website is still a mess but it should be up soon, insh'allah. My cousin Kai is helping me.

I went into Intertech today. Ghassan, one of the members of the Rebuilding Alliance board, referred me to his friend Marwan there to make my business cards, and now I consider Marwan a good friend. He travels all over Palestine and Israel and the world and takes amazing photos. Today in his office I heard Fairouz, the Lebanese singer everyone listens to in the morning, then it turned to a song I'd heard in his office many times: Que Sera.

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera...

My Israeli acquaintance who was dressed up like Mario for Purim told me that this phrase "what can we do" is "ma lasot" in Hebrew. I'm starting to say and think it more. What can we do? It's not in our hands. Even in the midst of a bitter land dispute, Haj Sami said, "this is not our land, this is God's land. What's with the God." God is at the tip of everyone's tongue here. Yesterday at this conference in Beit Sahour with Souli, Bader, and two of my American friends from church, Souli talked about how some Muslims say "bsmillah", in the name of God, before everything, before eating, before driving, before going to the bathroom, before having sex....I almost spat out my Sprite at that image. Would it be worth killing the mood just to see the look on his face.....

And what can we do? I said it to Souli that night after the laptops were put away and there was a silent alone-ness that we usually tried to fill. It had been a very engaging day, a day that felt good. We'd convinced Bader to get out of Ramallah and drive us to Wadi Qelt to join my church group on an afternoon outing. He blasted Usher most of the way there, while Souli was trying to point out all the valleys he used to walk through. Between the church group and the hotel conference that the rest of us crashed, there were a lot of connections made, and I think the girls enjoyed doing something new. He told me then that I was so good to him, and I knew what he meant. We'd been through so much shit in the last week, my clothes left the closet like a riptide and came back throughout the week, slowly, without emotion....

I knew he meant I was good because I didn't pressure him. Before last week it was a sore subject, but all I could do was shrug and say, "what can we do?" However much space we made would be the right amount, and it would never be zero. He smiled, and I felt like we were finally at peace.

For now, I'm sitting in Zamn Cafe, Adham (the guy in flannel that everyone avoids because he just sits there awkwardly) just left so I'm sitting here contemplating my next move. I'm visiting the U.S. Consulate tomorrow. Did you know our consular officials and their families can't enter the West Bank without an armed escort? Whilst the European officials just drive their private cars right in there whenever they want? Walla, my country baffles me sometimes...When I reflected on that yesterday I realized maybe it's not race and ethnic studies that really fascinate me. The Dirty War in Argentina wasn't about race, it was about a military government and the manipulation of fear. Maybe I'm just fascinated by fear. Anyways, I'm looking forward to my visit tomorrow and talking to the diplomats about the work I'm doing.

The guy at the next table just said, "sah, o la la?" which means, "am I right or not?" I'm getting better at droppin eaves...