I've discovered a new illness affecting many people I know, and probably untold more. After going through senioritis in high school and college, I've moved onto Chulitis. Chulitis (CHOO-lie-tis, "ch" as in the Scottish loch (the usual point of reference for this sound)) is an affliction ("-itis") which magnifies one's existing problems with Israelis and intensifies one's longings for Diaspora ("Chul-," a Hebrew abbreviation for 'outside the country'). Usually occurs within several weeks of a planned trip to Diaspora. For me, nomal symptoms include increased listening to country music, introduction of southern drawl in speech, and complaining more than usual (e.g., "Ugh, does he have to be talking so loud on a cellphone while wearing lime green Crocs and a bright red sarape?!").
Purim has come and gone, leaving behind a trail of broken beer, bottles, unexploded firecrackers, and one too many cowboy hats. In its immediate wake come the Kosher for Passover makeover in every supermarket. Mine is packed with all the usual culprits and some new ones: Packaged "cakes" and "cookies" that absorb every last drop of saliva in one's mouth; bottles of plam oil so saturated the fat globules are visibly suspended in solution; gefilte fish making their annual pilgrimage out of the dusty corner; sweet chili sauce and soup almonds; and so many other products made kosher only for Kitniyot eaters that the inevitable "Why can't I eat anything here?!" gets shouted in a Long Island accent at least every half-hour.At least twice a day, I pass the Prime Minister's Residence and whatever protest of the day that has set up shop alongside the security gate. The current one has been for the release of Gilad Shalit, now approaching his 1,000th day in HAMAS captivity. The entire scene is bizarre, especially after his family moved into the protest tent. Amidst banner calling for his release, buses of supporters pull up to an otherwise heavily-guarded area with business suit-and-M16-clad guards on patrol. Across the street is a counter-protest tent of the families of terror victims, plastered with placards calling fo no terrorists to be release in exchange for Gilad, understandably empty. Having someone like Gilad's father, often in the media, become the local celebrity is creepy. The discomfort that comes from watching people recognize him on the street and getting stuck behind him on the sidewalk is anything but comparable to what he's suffering, but at least has the capacity to humble the rest of us and remember the freedom we have.
That's it for now, have to finish some schoolwork before even thinking about packing for my trip to the States in a week. Campus is redolent of orange blossoms, jasmine, eucalyptus, and energy drinks guzzled down by students who star in their own fashion ads everytime they move and the hordes of Christian pilgrims are going to start rumbling in the streets with the twice-a-year holiday crowd who never fail to constantly speak slowly and loudly in English to anyone who remotely looks local.