Monday, October 03, 2005

Our heads we hang in shame

I know you want me to speak of my almost-bum injuries but I’m afraid I won’t just yet. I’ll talk abt something far more serious. October, October, it’s that sort of month, and we’ve only just begun.

Literally, we’ve only just begun – it’s the first day of Rosh Hashanah, our New Year [you can hear the Shofar here], full of possibilities and responsibilities. Judaism is nothing if not thorough and joy should be accompanied by introspection and evaluation. Nakedness. And this is October, that sort of month, the month that will increase my heartache so much I feel nauseated simply writing this, and I still haven’t emailed or rang Lila, and it’s coming, it IS coming and no amount of calling Israel beforehand will help me, whatamIgoingtodowhatamIgoingtodo, so, as much as I am trying to rejoice and feel hope, and as much as I've had a fabulous first day at the university, as much as I feel this year will be academically easier, I feel serious and sad and soul-heavy and buoyant in that very frightening way (the tiniest slip and you’re gone, you’ll float away and be gone forever).

I have spoken before of the resolute way we have inflicted our magnificence upon others, yes? [Oh it’s not all horrid, you must see their smiles. You will love it, I promise – as a bonus you will be able to see a truly raw post HTML-wise, I knew not what I was doing then. I have come a long way.]


Let’s start with this, maybe:

Tarrafal Praia bonecadepapel

Gorgeous, I know. It’s in Cape Verde, one of our former colonies. I’ve never been there but I want to visit. Capeverdeans are famous for their beauty, you may even be enjoying her music right now, the archipelago is famous for its beaches, and these gates?

Tarrafal bonecadepapel

Ahhh, through these gates you enter its famous concentration camp:


Sand macht frei, it would seem, and our political prisoners were in dire need of liberty, as established by our dictatorship and enforced by our secret police. This camp had an added bonus, The Frying Pan, so called because it did exactly that, see, it fried the men it held within its walls. Our government honoured them today.

You can see its entrance in the picture below.


One of the prisoners (the white man; the black men were also prisoners there but during the colonial war) describes it thus:

It was a concrete cell, a cube with an iron door, a little slit above, a concrete ceiling and no roof. It was an oven in this tropical climate.. It was suffocating… there were days when the temperature approached 45º/113º… We sweated all day long and had to be naked… At night it all condensed and fell on us like a shower…

He survived The Frying Pan for 70 days, setting an absolute record. He was encarecrated when he was 18 and spent 16 years in prison. His father was there with him. His mother, his father's wife? I don't know. How do you survive something like that? How do we survive, full stop? And I am abruptly left without anything else to add so I'll just say, without the slightest trace of irony or cynicism


May this be an easy year to all of us, with nothing but gentle night ponies and fragrant flowers.

[Pics 1+2 from a blogspot Blogger, boneca*de*papel without the asterisks; the others taken from the net]


At 4/10/05 01:49, Blogger Dale said...


At 4/10/05 04:43, Blogger Henri-V said...

thanks for the history lesson -- I feel so ignorant. you are right though, there is so much about which to be hopeful. and humbled.

happy new year to you, too.

At 4/10/05 08:26, Blogger Udge said...

"Naked" sounds like a good start to the new year, even if it's just emotional nudity. Happy New Year, dear Johnny, and may it be a better year than 5765 was.

At 4/10/05 10:17, Blogger brooksba said...

Happy New Year to you Johnny. I do hope this year is better for you, for everyone. I'll be here if you want to talk anytime.

Thinking of you.

At 4/10/05 14:39, Blogger Diana said...

I did not know. How DO you survive?


Here, if and when you need me.

At 4/10/05 14:53, Blogger Bubbi said...

After everything is stripped bare--what is left is Hope.
How does one survive without Hope?

Happy New Year

At 4/10/05 15:12, Blogger cat said...

L'Shana Tovah may this year be full of blessing for you and yours.

At 4/10/05 16:14, Blogger CarpeDM said...

Please may this be a much better year for you.

Email me if you ever need to talk.

Love you,


At 4/10/05 17:09, Blogger Serialangel said...

Happy New Year, Lioness. You'd have thought as a politics student I'd know something about East Timor but I don't. The pictures were horrific and their smiles lit up my room. I could do with a fresh start, and some nudity too. We can all figure out another way to survive if things just aren't working.

Wherever you get your strength, from Lioness - bottle it! Talk to me about whatever you want, day or night.

Betty xx

At 4/10/05 20:11, Blogger 4 leaf clover said...

Happy New Year, dear! May this year bring God's blessing, strength and comfort to you.

At 4/10/05 21:04, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Yes, Happy New Year! (sounds of horns squeeling, confetti - what, no confetti on Rosh Hashana? Time to add a sparkling to the old time traditions.

At 5/10/05 03:46, Blogger twisteddragonfly said...

Hi J,
Just checking in. In answer to your question, whatamigoingtodo... You're gonna take a few deep breaths and then you're gonna take some more. You're gonna survive this too, if for no other reason than bcs you must. This is going to be on of those "God Said HA" months. This too will pass J. You know where to find me. (I'm just under the next book taking deep breaths too)
Hugs as always J.

At 5/10/05 20:58, Anonymous Manuela said...

Oh my... where to even start. As to what are you going to do? What comes to mind is something someone once said to me when I suffered a loss... it was one of the only things that really penetrated my pain at the time...

"You will never forget this. You will never ever get over this. But in time... you will learn to live with it."

Somehow this gave me some release... because although I was in so much pain at the time, I didn't WANT to 'get over it'... because that was just too disrespectful. How could I just 'get over it' when the loss is permanent. It's forever. Those words made it ok for me to feel the pain months later... without feeling like I SHOULD have been moving on.

I don't know if this will be helpful to you at all... but it's what came to mind when I read this poignant post.

(Oh... and I have to tell you... Ebony came HOME last night!)

At 6/10/05 20:10, Blogger Figlet said...

L'shana Tova, lioness (did you know that lion in hebrew is "arya", which also has the first four hebrew letters that signify the holiday of this month...all tying back to the phrase "when a lion roars, who does not hear it and fear?" or somethign like that, from hasidic scripture.

It was a cool little story told to us by Rabbi Lisa Goldstein (hooray modern judaism!!!!) this Rosh hashanah.

thanks for your thoughtful posts.

At 7/10/05 06:10, Blogger Lord Chimmy said...

Whenever I need a lesson in the human spirit I just come to your blog.

Happy New Year kid ;)

Hopefully, this year brings you a little peace.


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