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shabbos mincha

I went to Chabad House of København for Shabbos Mincha, et cetera, tonight. Unsure how to get in, wary of the utterly unmarked door and the apparently-armed possibly-Politi loitering outside to lend an air if not the reality of security, I rang the bell — surely a faux pas, disruptive of ritual, to say nothing of engaging electricity on Shabbos, but no one said anything about it to me. Not that the man who opened the door, muttering along to the liturgy through his teeth, could’ve said anything less. Le sigh.

I wasn’t thrilled with the service. To the upper balcony, we women were sent, not to one half of the downstairs pews demarcated with mechitzah for the pseudo-egalitarianism I prefer to accept. Most of my balconymates were dowdy, dowdy teenagers (or maybe early-twenties femmelets) paying me no mind and children playing too loudly while the men, below, raced through.  Afterward, the lean middle aged woman in a white head scarf — Orit! — asked if I’m Israeli.

I’m American, I said, omitted the US, and she said, You sing like you are Israeli. 

On the walk through the courtyards to supper I chatted with the rabbi, who invited me to give a Shavouos talk tomorrow night, and I said yes without knowing how I will. 

I sat to eat beside the man-boy who I’d guessed, from above, from his polo shirt, conspicuous for its gay chartreuse in the somber sea of black and white and how it bared his arms, would alone among them be willing to shake my hand. Alon is his name — Danish-Israeli — studying finance and working in programming — and he told me that what I’m doing is brave and exciting and asked, if I’m around long enough, whether I’ll help him with a writing problem. 

Orit and I talked across the table about the difficulty of taking the sort of leap that I am, of the necessity of changing one’s status quo, of not prolonging some numbing stasis, about how the United States embodies this sinister intersection of populousness and widespread sense of entitlement: the consumption, the emission, the imperative to put everything in evermore disposable packaging, to get an even bigger car. I noticed her declining the fish, the chicken soup, the salads with mayo, and asked about her veganism. She told me that in olden times all Danish housewives brewed their own beer at home, always in the same nook reserved for washing, and to this day any Danish laundry room is called the brygghaus

She talked about how her daughter and son-in-law are expecting a boy and won’t circumcise him. It’s like beating your child, she said they’d said, which hurt her. It’s their choice not to, she said, but to put it like this… She did not finish the sentence, and I talked about what I’m hoping to do with this journey and in life, hoping to help people isolate which parts of what they say are a constructive sharing of fears and which are something that will hurt. 

which tasted deliciously like feet

~ i wrote ~

And now I’m riding shotgun with (? What preposition goes there?) a guy named Claus who was some part of the prod-

[twelve and a half hours later]

-uction crew for this film Cedar was in Stuttgart to dance in, with Tara the PA in the backseat; we are — were — going to Cologne — we were going to Cologne — now I am in Cologne — the twelve-hour interlude was that Claus and Tara started talking to me and then we got here and I got settled into my little attic room in Claus’ house and then I went for a run in the fanciest graveyard I’ve ever seen and then we had a big delicious piecemeal dinner with his various housemates and an aerial acrobat who is passing through, including something they call hand cheese, which tasted deliciously like feet — and soon I will get into bed and fall asleep to the sound of rain on the eaves.

It turns out that the people sleeping throughout the three floors below know each other because they all do circus. Two of the housemates are jugglers. Claus is really happy working in film, but his first love is clowning.

and I said tagine

~ i wrote ~

Hi. I’m in the Sahara. Helping these Berber guys install toilets in the new toilets tent because the existing one got buried in sand. There is sand everywhere. It’s in my shoes and my socks and my bed and my hair and my teeth and building up behind my eyeballs. They don’t even fight it. Everyone just goes around barefoot except when the sand is too hot to touch, which is approximately between ten AM and six PM. Around midnight or one AM last night, when it had finally cooled off, we took a mattress up into one of the dunes to not bother the tourists who were sleeping outside and lay in the sand and smoked shisha and looked at the stars. Today for lunch we had a tagine because Aziz asked me if I wanted tagine or something I couldn’t understand and I said tagine. He says tomorrow I will be the one to make it, Inshallah. Everything is going pretty well given that these guys speak no English and I, no Arabic and no Berber; we’re getting by in French even though theirs is even worse than mine. Now I have to go because Souleymane has the hookah up and running. Sorry you’re not here. I love you,

Your sister

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