Sunday, November 20, 2005

Thoughts while unpacking

Several days of spending several hours unpacking box after box of my life has given me a lot of time to contemplate the changes I have made, both recently and over the course of my life accumulating all this crap. I've found it to be a bittersweet time. A time of lingering grief mixed with relief and even a little excitement.

I'm adjusting to the shift from an academic-centered life to the illness-centered life as symbolized by my replacing the thesis material that I usually keep in the portable file on my desk with folders of Social Security and HUD paperwork. Accepting that since I don't have as much storage space in this apartment, boxes of my old Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew flashcards and textbooks, as well as notes from undergraduate courses can probably find a new home in my mother's storage shed as they will not be readily needed anytime soon. Unpacking novels first and placing them on the most convenient shelves where my Middle East section would have been before. Indeed, those books are still in their boxes waiting until I have the time, energy and money to get another eight-foot plank of particleboard.

But I have unpacked gardening and craft books that remained unpacked in my last apartment. As a student I never had time for them, especially as I was so sick I hardly had time to even be a student. But now, well, when I'm feeling good, I can make a new lampshade or plant a winter container garden if I want to.

And that's when I realized I was so relieved to finally not be a student anymore. Despite all the snide comments I'd hear from people that I was becoming a "professional student," it was not a profession I chose. I wanted to be done. To move beyond the ambivilance that comes with being a student to the permanence of being a professor. No, I didn't end up becoming a professor, but I am done with being a student (at least for the forseeable future). I have the stability one lacks while in school. Which is funny in a way because school was always what provided stability throughout my chaotic childhood (or lack of one) and in having to give it up, I was terrified I would lose that precious structure it brought to my life. But, you know, structure can be so overrated.

There are still a few more boxes to go through, more remnants of my old life to remind me of what it was like to be on the academic fast track. But now there's enough room in this new apartment to live the life of novel-reading and domestic contemplation my illness has brought.


I feel my body letting go of light
drawn to the wisdom of a harvest moon.
I feel it welcome the lengthening night
like a lover in early afternoon.

My dreams are windfall in a field gone wild.
I gather them through the lengthening of night
and when they have all been carefully piled
my body begins letting go of light.

Indian summer to leaf-fall to first frost
the memories that were carefully piled
become the dreams most likely to be lost.
My dreams are windfall in a field gone wild

now that memory has abandoned them
now that Indian summer, leaf-fall, first frost
have become the same amazing autumn
skein of those dreams most likely to be lost.

I feel my body letting go of light.
I feel it welcome the lengthening of night,
the windfall of dreams that have long been lost
to Indian summer, leaf-fall, and the first frost.

-- Floyd Skloot

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

In each others' hearts and lungs

Ha'aretz: Family of boy shot dead by IDF donates organs `for peace between peoples'

When Israeli soldiers shot and killed his son, Ahmad Al-Khatib remembered his older brother who had died of kidney failure from lack of a suitable transplant and decided to donate his son's organs.

"I don't mind seeing the organs in an Israeli or a Palestinian. In our religion, God allows us to give organs to another person and it doesn't matter who the person is," said Jamal al-Khatib, the boy's father, who added that he hoped the donations would send a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians.

And indeed, they went to three Israeli girls, two Jewish and one Druze.

It's not the first time those who have lost their lives to terrorism of either the state or individual sort have gone on to provide life for those on the other "side." On September 22, 2002, the Catholic news agency Zenit reported that the parents of a Jewish student killed in a suicide attack in Tel Aviv donated his organs, including a kidney that was transplanted into a seven-year old Palestinian girl. The year before that, the organs of a Palestinian man killed by a Jewish settler provided life for one Arab and three Jewish Israelis.

For those who think that Palestinian Islam is all about hate and revenge, consider the reasoning the family of the Palestinian man gave for their gift.

"I consulted the Muslim authorities, who assured me that the gesture not only could be carried out according to the Koran, but that, in addition, it is a meritorious and just act, regardless of the religion of the recipient of the organs,"

A sentiment shared by our own Holy Father while he was still Cardinal.

Yep. Palestinians and Israelis share more than just borders. They carry each others' hearts and lungs.

This was the point that my friend Nur Masalha (one of the nicest guys ever!) made in the current issue of the Nation regarding Iran's unfortunate comments about Israel.

Ahmadinejad's rhetoric...raises a key issue at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict: the need for Palestinian Muslims and Christians to make a clear distinction between our political struggle against institutionalized racism and ethnic cleansing in Palestine-Israel and the fact that we and the Israelis will, ultimately, have to live together as equal citizens under some form of secular democracy--rather than wipe each other out. Muslim fundamentalists (Ahmadinejad included) have miserably failed to understand the reality in historic Palestine. In the process of brutal colonization of the country, a Hebrew-speaking "nation" has emerged, with its own distinct language, culture and flourishing literature. There are 5 million to 6 million Hebrew-speaking Israelis, and no one has the right to talk about wiping them out. Acknowledging the current binational reality is completely different from legitimizing the colonial process by which this reality has come about.

You can build exclusive by-pass highways and walls higher than the old Berlin Wall. You can refuse to acknowledge the Zionist entity and establish diplomatic relations. But the plain fact of the matter is that the future includes Israelis and Palestinians together and there's no getting around it without genocide either way.

Just ask Ahmad al-Khatib, who sees his son in the little Jewish girl who has his heart.

[Cross-posted at Sollicitudo Rei Socialis]