Older Blogs (travel tales, etc)

THIS LINK IS TO THE OLDEST BLOG I HAVE: 7/2005 to 1/2009:    



Shoestring xenophilic wanderings. Cartophilic ponderings. Observations of a perpetual optimist. Purposeful urgencies of an austere polyglot. Allergic to boondoggle, flapdoodle, privacy, waste, and an over-inflated sense of entitlement. Donde vives? Yo vivo donde me coje la noche! I live everywhere at once.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


The last half of October had its climaxes. The TLC of NYC had me scheduled to appear on the 26th for having accumulated 'too many' DMV points during my early days of cab driving. Part of their blind campaign to rid the city of its 'reckless' hacks by summonsing everyone who accrued 6 or more points in a 15 month period, regardless of how long ago it was, which inevitably leaves a massive chunk of the taxi population either under suspension or revocation.

You'd think they'd have a problem filling all those emptied cabs with alternate drivers, but that's where the scheme behind all this comes into play. They are simply making room for the hundreds upon hundreds of new drivers they've collected application, exam, and licensing fees from. It's not about making safer city streets. It's the correlation between high workforce turn-over rate and government profit. Sure, some truly bad drivers will get caught in this cast net, but for the most part the catch will consist of responsible cabbies whose 70 plus hours of service per week more frequently predisposed them to lame cop traps.

In retaliation I collected a dozen solid testimonials from passengers during the last 11 taxi shifts leading up to my hearing. From beginning to end I'd treat each and every fare as if it were the most important thing to me in the entire world. Not too different than how I usually handle any fare. I provided just the right, customized amount of platonic interaction, geographical route conferring, smooth but swift maneuvering, help with doors and cargo, offered a receipt, a tissue, and any other possible thing I could do to make their ride the most enjoyable one ever.

Then, just as they'd start to exit, I'd hand them a card with my email address and politely ask them to send me a couple of sentences describing their experience in my cab, if they could find a moment. Most folks were eagerly enthusiastic to help me fight to keep my hack license, but only a handful actually came through with an email. On the eve of my court date I printed out the most compelling ones to show the judge. Plus my dispatcher at the garage had connected me with the best taxi attorney and the only one who had at some point actually driven a cab himself. Rizwan Raja got my case, a nearly impossible one to beat, dismissed within the first few minutes of the hearing.

For Halloween I surprised J9 at a costume party she was attending in her neighborhood. She thought I was in NY, but instead I had returned to RI with a ghoul mask and plenty of duct tape over my face. She was standing on the rim of the crowd closest to the live band when I danced up to her. She refused to take my hand, so I had her friend introduce me as Mohammad. That's when she pulled off my costume, confirming her suspicions.

The highlights of November included:

#1) An indie film shoot in my cab about a girl immigrating to NYC from Barcelona.

#2) My parents and sister move into an apartment on Devoe Street, by the Lorimer L stop, in order to escape from the bed bugs and abuse by the superintendent at the other place they had been living at by the Morgan L stop, since the summer. Never again shall they rent from heartless Satmar Jews. They love their new, community-oriented Italian landlords. In the transition it was my best friends in NY who gave us shelter: the generous Michael Duffer and Carly Hauger of Bedwick Bushvesant (Floridian expatriates like me).

#3) I surprised J9 again, by showing up at a show in Pawtucket she was attending, while she thought I was driving a cab in NYC. Few things in life compare with the natural high one gets from hearing one's long distance soulmate say, "I miss you so much" over the phone, and then acting on it by coming to visit unexpectedly within mere hours. In that particular trip to Rhode Island we scored several boxfuls of produce and fruits from behind a local supermarket, lots of which I took back to NY with me, to share with family, friends, and fellow taxi drivers. And then I surprised J9 a third and fourth time. Having a difficult time leasing a cab outside of the weekends, I drive the 3 and a half hours to see my boo in Providence. And each time I manage to trick into having little to no clue I'm coming. On the night before her press release I snuck into her room and tried to climb up the latter of her loft, but she called me right then and the ring tone gave me away. And just 3 days ago I intercepted her on her bike ride home from a 'Friends of the Library' meeting. I had made it to Smith Hill just minutes late.

#4) With the Muslim holiday of Eid falling on Black Friday (leaving over half the city's taxicabs driverless on the busiest day of the year), combined with several highly lucrative shifts throughout the month, the net income for November was twice the amount of any other month this entire year. None of this could have been possible without the rigorous defense of Rizwan Raja. I owe an entire month's worth of income, and counting, to that man's efforts.

It's now a week into December and I can report that I'm helping J9 drive her stock of handmade glass jewelry to the Bizarre Bazaar in Boston early tomorrow morning. On Monday I'll help her take the empty oxygen tanks down the street to get them refilled. By Tuesday I should be back in NYC, hanging out at the garage, trying to score a taxi shift. Day shift or night. I'll take anything I can get. It's the holiday season and every single hack out there is in town and doesn't want to come off the road until January 1st.

On Wednesday I plan to treat my folks to reservations at the Top of the Rock Observation Deck overlooking all of Manhattan. From the 18th through the 23rd or so J9, Yana, and I plan to go on a Corolla road trip to Montreal and perhaps Toronto. The week leading up to New Year's Eve I plan to either hitch hike or find a cheap flight down to Florida, so I can see my dear old beloveds in the warm paradise. Then I'll hitch the interstate to Texas for a cousin catch up (and my folks'll be there) the first week of January. Then it's off to Los Angeles again to see family there and help J9 with her big sale. Then it'll be all about saving up so I can travel to Europe and beyond in the later months of Spring and into the Summer.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Early October in Southern California

4 years and a half had gone by since I last saw my most delightful aunt and the flourishing family she had raised skillfully from scratch, but unfortunately only after I had moved 1,500 miles away and eventually even further.

My 2 only paternal cousins had transformed from children to full blown adolescents and a reunion felt long overdue. Not only with them, but with the City of Angels that had witnessed my early upbringing (age 4 to 11). 

7 formative years of my life that ended 17 years ago; followed by Texas (for 5 years), then Florida (for 9), then NY (almost 4 now). Life before L.A. had consisted of toddlerhood in Israel and infancy in Colombia.

So when Jenine expressed an eagerness to share one of her best friend's wedding with me in San Diego I jumped on the opportunity to combine that with family time, for a mutually memorable So Cal encounter. The region is home to both her maternal relatives and my paternal ones.

Round trip aboard Virgin America totaled only $230. A bargain and a very comfortable airline. That's coming from someone who hates flying, for its carbon footprint, and prefers not to comment on it. They even had Boing Boing (J9's favorite blog) on (in television form), which she invested in pink $2 headphones in order to watch.

We had been driven through the 5 Towns at 5 AM by Carmen (mother in no law). She had kindly insisted on it, even though Nassau bus #4 and the Q3 could have taken us to Terminal 4. J9 is fortunate to be blessed with such an incredibly loving mother.
My buzz clippers went straight through security as carry-on (which had been an impossible feat in the years after 9/11), so we were able to avoid checking anything in as cargo, thus maximizing our efficient exit time on the L.A. side.
Soon it was -53 degrees outside and we were headed west at 490 mph. Being the lifetime victim of geographical OCD that I am.... I tracked our plane's path, down to nearly every town we flew over, going back and forth between having my nose up against the oval window and matching the shape and position of everything 33,741 feet below with the active Google map on the built-in plane seat screen, nearly every minute of the flight.
OUTRIGHT VISIBLE FROM THE PLANE'S RIGHT SIDE: Kingston Bridge over the Hudson River in the distance. The Catskills. The Poconos. Lake Erie. The buildings of downtown Des Moines. The quasi sprawl of Omaha and Lincoln. Six other clearly defined towns the length of southern Nebraska. The Kansan towns of McCook, Culbertson, and Atwood. The Coloradoan towns of Flagler, Limon, Co Springs, Gunnison, Ouray, and Dove Creek. The magnificently Rocky peaks, followed by deep canyons and bluffs of Tselakai Dezza in Utah. An amazingly red landscape upon entering Arizonan airspace. The town of Page. A massive, cirquit board-looking dot near the northern horizon known as Las Vegas. We also flew right over the Grand Canyon and Big Bear Lake.
I always clap profusely as soon the airplane touches down. I learned this tradition during the tail end of a 14 hour flight 11 years ago. It's a beautiful way to show appreciation for the crew and for one's own life. Regardless of how many successful flights proceed around the world on a daily basis, one must never take for granted any part of such miracles. Nonetheless, on domestic flights, I've always ended up being the only passenger clapping awkwardly into silent air.
We hopped aboard a free shuttle bus, to the transportation hub, and caught bus #8 of the Torrance Transit, down Aviation Boulevard to Orly's cozy apartment in northeast Redondo. No one would be home until later that afternoon, but Orly left us a key under the doormat.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO URBAN PLANNERS: The bays at LAX-CITY TRANSIT CENTER really ought to be lettered, not numbered... so as not to be confused with the various bus route numbers. The language barrier is already enough of a hurdle for many Los Angelinos. I discovered an El Salvadorean lady waiting for Metro bus #6 at BAY 6, because she didn't know the difference. Three of her buses had come and gone from a different bay before she realized something was wrong. She was running late for her first day on a job and the anguish on her face made me cringe at civic planning gone numb. 

Orly's earthy decor and the little open invitation notes to scrumptious leftovers and showerings proved to be an instantly restful sanctuary for the jet lag in us. Not to mention my immediate crush on the 5 minute sand glass timer in the bathroom, meant to help save water. Simple yet profound!

Those first three days with my dad's beloved sister, her humble husband, and their distinguished children were packed with artistically inspiring show-and-tell from all sides. We had the pleasure of joining Orly to go get her feet massaged by the amorous and very transparent Dr. Chin of Acupunture Alley in the hills of Palos Verdes. Then we descended back into the urban basin for a custom tour of my distant childhood. I got to show J9 and Orly my old neighborhoods, Pacific Coast PreSchool, Eshelman Kindergarten, and Lomita Magnet School.

Orly also joined us for a trip to the Craft and Folk Art Museum on Wilshire, which was somewhat disappointing. I personally had more fun having met up with Netta for breakfast at the Overland Cafe earlier that morning. Netta is an incredible spirit who shared the same father as my dad and Orly, only a whole generation later. She's involved in the Yiddish language revitalization movement and frankly all things linguistic. That evening Ilan, my 13 year old paternal cousin, took the opportunity to show us his vast knowledge of the web and his motivational blog. Maya, my 11 year old cousin, also keeps a blog.

It was soon time to go further down the coast and meet some of Jenine's maternal (Filipino) kinfolk. We rode Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner to Oceanside, where her Tita Chel picked us up for a ride through scorched ravines to spend the night at her home in Temecula. Another aunt of J9's (Tita Bren) drove in from Nevada and joined us for a lovely buffet dinner. Being that this is the more Latin side of J9's blood line, they couldn't stop asking us when we'd get married and when we'd have children. I expect the same thing to happen when J9 meets my maternal (Colombian) relatives in Houston. As for the East European (Jew) sides of our families, there's more restraint in subject matter. J9's uncle (Tito Rommel) dropped us off at the Escondido Transit Center the next morning, for our continued trek south, to the wedding of Jenine's good friend (and fellow R.I.S.D. alumni) Susie Ghahremani.
We rode local bus route 308 to Solano Beach, transfered to the 101, then the 105, and ended our commute aboard the 38 in Old Town. From there we walked the mile and a half to our motel room (first time either of us made reservations for such a thing) in Loma Portal. It's there that we fell in love with the only fast food chain in the country worth patronizing: In-N-Out! And at the local Goodwill J9 helped me pick out a shirt and tie for the ceremony. Although we were just down the street from Cabrillo National Monument and Shelter Island, severe time limitations would not allow us to fully explore the natural beauty of the area.
The next morning we caught a route 30 bus to La Jolla, where the wedding would take place that afternoon. Susie's parents live on the ascent towards the Mount Soledad lookout point, so we walked up together and J9 stayed to help the bride prepare, while I continued all the way along endless private driveways, one of which belonged to Barbara Streisand, until I reached the summit, from which I could see the entire region, including the Mexican border.
The unlikely matrimonial setting included after-hours on the terrace, galleries, and lobby of the contemporary art museum. This would be my first wedding ever, aside from an obscure Lubavitcher function years ago. The vibe here was its own unique, secular blend of the bride's Persian American and the groom's New England roots. The vow coincided with a breathtaking sunset over the ocean, and was followed by a pretty meal and dancing.

The following morning we took the trolley downtown to a post-wedding brunch and walked around the marina with J9's friend Erin, who happens to live in Brooklyn. We then decided to jump in a taxicab for 8 blocks, so I could grade the driver on my standards of service. Although he was friendly and intriguingly Eritrean (as are most cabdrivers in that town), he scored poorly for not knowing his way around. We boarded a Greyhound up to Long Beach and rode Torrance Transit's #3 bus back to Redondo. It dropped us off at the municipal fishing pier, so we explored before stopping in at Captain Kidd's for a dinner of boned fish.
On our last day and a half in Los Angeles, we took the green and blue Metro lines to Little Tokyo and found colorful papers for Orly at the Kinokuniya bookstore. J9 then went to go meet up with an old friend in Koreatown, while I boarded Torrance Transit's #1 back to the South Bay for a one-on-one evening with cousin Ilan. Accidently forgetting Orly's papers on the bus must have happened on cosmic purpose, because what was supposed to be laid back cousin time turned into a maddening mission to retrace the bus's trajectory in a fruitless, but frolicsome attempt to retain lost items. Ilan got to see a much larger percentage of his metropolis than he ever had, as I maneuvered his mother's borrowed Cherokee along the endless blocks and byways. We ended up downtown again, for a new batch of papers and cheap cotton candy-flavored ice cream cones. We picked up J9 on the way back home and stopped at In-N-Out for Ilan's latest weeknight dinner outing yet, as a teen.
The following morning I had a much needed one-on-one breakfast date with my favorite aunt in the whole world, in which we had a real talk about matterful matters. We then got J9, and Orly gave us a ride to Santa Monica, where we'd pay friends Farida Paramita and Rose Sarita Shuman a warm visit before catching our flight back to New York. These two awesome ladies provided the perfect last minute multi-task rendezvous to wrap up our So Cal trip, and we were generously delivered to LAX with time to spare. It's humbling to have met the person who founded theinternational questionbox concept and her refreshingly empathetic partner.

It's sort of good that I don't have any of my own friends (that I know of) left in L.A. because there would not have been enough time to see them. Our mutual adventure to this corner of the country was quite the whirlwind experience, as it is. Much thanks to both Bressner parents for picking us up from Kennedy airport at midnight. To the Palacineri and Garcia families for hosting our stays. And to Susie and Michael for inviting us to your ceremony.



I attempted a free 10 day silent meditation retreat in rural Massachusetts, in an effort to curb inner swells of anger over still not having realized my lifelong dream of world travel (which I see as an essential jumping board for all future endeavors). My resentment was aimed at my well intentioned mother for bogging me down with guilt trips and expectations, and at my well intentioned partner for being on a slightly different wavelength on notions of self-sacrificial interdependence and the altruistic idiosyncrasies that define my life path. For all intents and purposes, I only lasted 36 hours at the retreat before breaking out like an escaped convict and returning to NYC with nothing but taxicab eternities in mind, racing to catch up with an ever evasive financial plateau from which I could take off into my nomadic yearnings. Giving up on the Vipassana course did not go well with my partner. She had hoped it would help quell my angst. But I have little regret for doing exactly what lacks in my life: following my instincts and being true to myself.
After getting back to NY I started fresh by switching taxi garages. Knackered from dealing with the Russian mob in Long Island City, I sensed the Greeks in Greenpoint were more of a family, which turned out right, although the general availability of cab leases remained just as scarce, due to mass unemployment having pushed people into this limited, but open-armed industry. It was also around this time that my folks moved back to Brooklyn from Queens, joined by my sister from Manhattan, in an effort to streamline the family budget. She is now past the point of no return in her college career, a Junior at Parsons for fashion design and she's stopping at nothing. I'm quite a proud brother, considering all the pressure she's been dealt by the curriculum and accompanying scene of pretense.

As for mother, I marvel at the fact she's lived free of television since the move, considering how addicted she had been. Being in her presence is a pleasure when one focuses on how adorably she butchers the English (she's had since immigrating in 1985 to learn). It also amazes me that she's lived without a cell phone for almost a year now, considering she was on hers more than any of us. Her dozen requests an hour, however, for favors she could easily do for herself, can indeed overwhelm even the most patient person on Earth. Especially her incessant need for me to search random data via Google on her behalf. And nothing under her ceiling ever remains where you left it. Half the time it ends up on the curb.
I've kept such a depersonalized lifestyle this long for two reasons. One, because NYC is my place of income, but renting my own place in this exorbitant city would castrate my savings and anchor away any hope of traveling. Two is because my father (who happens to share the same ceiling) is my best friend in the whole world. I'd do anything for him. And I know he gets depressed when I'm not around. Don't get me wrong, I know he must seek his own happiness. He's going to Houston for the winter anyhow. Hates the cold. I'm frankly impressed with how long he's lasted up here, considering how foreign the fast paced, in-your-face vibe is to his spirit. I do plan to finally 'leave the nest' soon. I need my own space to create my own projects. Besides, I'm 28 now. It's about time, I guess you'd say. Only question is, where? Not New York, unless a miracle sublet appears under $200. I want to live among like minds, where I feel inspired, but not expected to act a certain (subculture) way, as is often the case.
Though trotting the globe on an impromptu boot string remains my priority, there have been several smaller, less serendipitous, but just as enriching journeys within these borders that Jenine and I just simply had to collaborate on. A couple brief road trips and a pair of flights to the west coast. The privileged opportunity to visit a spectrum of mutual friends in the state of Maine. Our second 5 day excursion in the little blue Corolla, this time joined by our fabulous friend Yana.
First night of the trip (the 4th) we slept at Jake's in Portland, complete with hilltop fireworks. Half of the next day involved lake swimming and picking strawberries at the JED Collective in Greene. The other half mingling with Shawn at the school of painting in Skowhegan. We spent the night at Leanne's cabin in Canaan. Her uncle walked us through a soggy bog on the edge of his immense acreage in the morning with a field guide to wild mushrooms in his hand. That afternoon we drove to the Beehive Collective in Machias to see old friends and their fantastic artwork. Next day, on our way back down the coast, we stopped in South Gouldsboro to visit Mr. Spurlock and witness the advanced stages of kelp harvesting at Ironbound Island Seaweed. That evening we stopped at Svea and David's in Liberty and absorbed the awe of their ornate salvage depot. Our journey came to a closure with the birthday dinner of Jenine's dad back in New York.Pictures of that trip are accessible here.

Jenine attended our backyard warming party in Brooklyn (which had been a miniature landfill that we replaced with a garden) and met our new neighbors. It was also on that weekend that I spent a windy afternoon at Fort Tilden beach (a secluded stretch of Queens) with my family, on our only pilgrimage to the ocean of the entire summer (unlike our previous Floridian lives). Aside from all this and the 13 rambunctious taxi shifts, the other highlights of July were my 2 out-of-town guests, who each received a customized NYC bicycle tour with none else than the best guide to the greatest city on Earth (me). The honorable Daniel Robleto and the marvelous Maiqol Patino (my favorite maternal cousin), who also joined my sister and I on a half dozen hour exploration of Boston, followed by Jenine's golden '30 on the 30th' birthday party in Providence. And then there was Arni, the omniscient being who rode in the front seat of my cab for a full 12 hours. What a delight to have on board.

A happening month as well. I spent the first week pretending to live in Rhode Island. It didn't exactly call my name, but I can't rule it out, since this is where my partner loves to live. Honestly, I've always been attracted to two polar opposite environments. Ultra urban and ultra rural. I could see myself alternating between a modest farming community and a massively vibrant hub like Gotham or San Fran. And places like Philly and Austin are not excluded from the bidding, cause of the human warmth and innovation I've felt in those towns. And then there's the world. But I know one day I'll have to narrow it down and grow roots. So back to the month's highlights. Jenine and I flew out to Oakland and exhibited her colorful glass beads at the 3 day American Craft Council show, where I served as her booth assistant. And we got to seeHandmade Nation again.

That week we got to meet many of each others' local friends and explore their vicinities. The hospitality of the Prince Street house. Camping in their backyard, surrounded by fig and lemon trees, and a brambling flood of roses. Borrowing Sean's car to cover more ground. Wild berry foraging in the Berkeley Hills with Leif. Dim Sum and Daiso (Japanese $1.50 store) in Daly City with Crystal. Carrying Melody's new baby in Burlingame. Shooting pool with ancient pal Joy on Shattuck. Witnessing the incredible creatures of the aquarium at Golden Gate Park with Rain. Being admitted to the Exploratorium, free of charge. Taking Alex Calles up on his invitation to a lavish homemade dinner in Newark. Partaking in drawing night at Lobot. Refreshing walks through the Mission and Marina Districts. The farmer's market on Embarcadero. Lunch in Japantown with the awe inspiring El Purvis. Scavenging through the enormous Urban Ore, top notch local Goodwills, and other impressive thrift stores.
Soon it was time to make our way out to the annual makeshift city-state experiment. It would be our first time ever and with free early arrival passes, courtesy of the Emergency Services Dept., which we'd be volunteering for, to help set up medical stations. Upon posting a ride request out to Black Rock City, over a week before the 50,000 participants would arrive, a kind East Bay couple responded, wondering if we wanted to drive their old box truck out there for them, with all their provisions in it. It was just the miracle we were looking for. Space for our packs, our newfound used bikes, and ourselves. A bed inside the back. And they'd reimburse the gas. Only catch was that we'd have to bear the risk of it breaking down along the 315 mile journey over the Sierra Nevada and into the desert. We had to bleed the fuel valves once, but it was otherwise a success.
.….which is a flat, dry lake bed/expanse of absolutely nothing but dust that the event is held at. We got to work organizing the medical supplies neatly unto shelves and hammering stakes into the ground for the fire trucks to park in. That week we met an incredible array of radically self- reliant paramedics, docs, rangers, and public works crews that built a habitable environment from scratch. We watched the desert turn into a massively magical assortment of variously themed camps, complete with hundreds of monumental sculptures and one-of-a-kind art cars roaming about at 5 mph. We experienced a natural hot spring under a sky with the most brightly lit galaxy of stars possible, and received an astoundingly thorough First Aid training. All the while we were fed three square buffet meals a day and provided a room to fend off the rough elements.
The actual week of 'the Burn' we tried to attend as many of the workshops and performances as we could, despite the harsh skin rash Jenine developed. She was given a prescription to combat the irritation and found inventive ways to protect from the sun. The main idea around the event involved a profoundly liberal, temporary social structure that welcomed self expression in any form, devoid of taboo, so long as it didn't impede on anyone else's. My favorite moments/impressions were the mind blowing marching band competition, the intense acrobatic demonstrations, the fact that 80% of street traffic were bicycles, the pervasive recycling initiative, the blinding dust storms, the widespread neon and headlamp glow emanating from every body at night, and the dozens of domed dance floor structures streaming every flavor of eclectic techno in existence.

Toward the end we made every effort to find a ride back to NYC with someone willing to stay extra days, 'post-event', to help break down and collect MOOP, but east coast ride shares were scarce 'cause most folks had flown in. Alas we opted for an opportunity to split driving and gas with the peer owner of an old converted bus from Brooklyn. But nearly 400 miles later it overheated, due to a crack in the radiator. At a truck repair shop in Elko we learned it would take several days. Three of its 8 passengers made a sign and hitched west to catch a flight out of San Francisco. One jumped on a Greyhound. And we received a miraculous call from David Brandt, a dozen-or-so year veteran Burner who manages his father's buildings in Manhattan and had kept my number upon seeing it posted on the tribe.net ride share board. His round trip carpoolers had bailed out on the return so he was checking to see if we still needed a ride. The next day he picked us up in Elko and we rotated driving nonstop across 10 states in 48 hours. Wyoming sunrises are spectacular. Nebraska's air reeks of cattle scat. Ohio's fog is blinding.
Once back in NY I went straight to work with only two weeks to prepare for another mutually planned escapade and completely broke. I pulled 85 lucrative hours of taxi driving and then it was time for Jenine and I to attend her best friend's wedding in San Diego, coupled with a visit to my paternal relatives and her maternal relatives in the L.A. area. I'll write about our So Cal rendezvous of early October on the next dispatch. And the taxi stories haven't been churning out as often as I'd like, but the material is all collected and waiting to be processed, months worth! So please do check back with the Taxicab Almanac of NYC every so often, or simply subscribe for notifications. At this moment I'm fighting a summons issued by the TLC. I face revocation of my hack license and the city of New York faces losing one of it's brightest yellows. You can read up on it via that link above. And if you're a motorist in NYC, you might find my tips blog useful, which I co author with a fellow cabdriver.



This past April we (Jeninedad, and I) took a break from our respective cities (NYC and Providence) by manifesting a whirlwind adventure to go visit my magnanimously lifelong friends, Dawn and Danielito, on the farm where they live and work. Our old Corolla pulled off yet another miraculously flawless (except for a flat tire in Washington DC) voyage across 5 state lines and back. That car's been through a whole decade of extreme heat, hundreds of thousands of miles, and deep freezes. Philadelphia was first on our agenda. You see, Jenine and my father are two of my favorite people in the world and so are the people I know in Philly. We all have something in common: our love of D.I.Y. ethics and our knack for leading lifestyles of self sustenance and mutual aid. So I'd been yearning to introduce everyone and be led on tours of these thoroughly inspiring houses that my friends have managed to transform from rot and debris into toasty abodes, with a bare minimum of expenses, materials, energy, etc.. Shoog and Becka had lovingly prepared us matzo ball soup for lunch. We feasted on that front porch thatShoog is so fond of and got to see some of Shoog's awesome artwork upstairs. They serenaded us with their guitars on the rooftop and before long it was time to keep moving. Next up was Chip's place (the Black Squirrel), which he had a whole lot to share about (having rectified it from scratch). He too had artwork in progress strewn about and a rooftop view to rival Shoog's. The moment Jenine's eye caught sight of an antiquated sewing machine Chip had sitting in his living room, he offered to her as a gift. That made her day and I was elated for the connections being sowholeheartedly made between an old friend and a new life partner.

Soon we'd crossed back over the Schuylkill River and over to the Shoe Store, which is an old four story building that my friends Wiley and Trevor bought together a few years ago and revamped on the inside. It's important to note that none of these households have been spruced up on the outside, in order not to further contribute to the area's relentless gentrification. By simply being white in black neighborhoods they involuntarily attract growth speculation. But by making an extra effort to integrate themselves into the fabric of the community, while not lending themselves to the myth of urban 'renewal'.... and through edible gardening, these kids hope to turn the tables somewhat. They have a solar powered shower on their rooftop, which has by far the best view (of Philadelphia's skyline) of them all. I only had two regrets as we continued south that afternoon. There wasn't enough time to visit Shiner, Sarah Hope, Salihah, and Elaina. Fingers crossed for a next time before too long, with the presence of Jenine if that's not too much to ask.
Even though it's springtime and there's a lot to be done in preparation for the growing season, things we're really laid back on the farm because the weekend had begun, a time of rest. Although we'd come prepared to volunteer with some farm labor, it was also our little getaway from the stresses of big city life. I would have wanted to learn more of the details behind farming on that trip, but there simply wasn't enough time to learn a harvest's worth in 3 days. Saturday we were scheduled to help the neighboring farmer do some rock mulching, but it rained half the time, so we slept in, warm and snuggling in the Stone House. Double Delicious (Dawn and Daniel) gave us the best tour of the farm grounds anyone could have asked for. That evening we drove dad to the Chinatown in DC so he could catch a earlier bus ride back to NYC. Afterward we parked on the Potomac waterfront and watched a fireworks display on behalf of the Cherry Blossom Festival. On the way back to the little town of Purcellville I was being an anal orifice about the directions. I blew a small misunderstanding between us (on the map) into an unnecessary argument. I tried to pull over but there was so much shrapnel on the shoulder that one of our tires soon went flat. I was so emotionally distraught that I forgot to apply the emergency brake, so the car kept falling off the jack until Jenine figured out the problem. We later scored mad food at TJ's in Tyson's Corner and stayed up arguing quietly all night, until dawn, with little resolution. I don't even remember what it was all about. I've got to get my ego back down to manageable levels. It gets bruised too easily, perhaps because it's too big for its own good. So while Double D cleaned out the barn all morning, we slept right through. Howembarrassing.

That Sunday afternoon was on the upswing though. We all teamed up to get Daniel's belongings loaded unto one of the farm's half dozen trucks. He was moving out to one of the little sheds they had built for guest workers that week. It was on the very edge of the farm, next to a downhill thicket of woods. When we were all done unloading we sat inside together for a few minutes. In 10 minutes I shared with the 3 of them my history of a scarce and awkward love life. Then we all went out to witness an amazing sunset over the Blue Ridge. That evening we watched an Anarchist Yacht Club documentary while slicing up dumpstered apples to bake with crushedmatzah. I even had time to shear Daniel's scalp before he went to bed. On Monday we prepared lunch for the farmers, who had been in the fields from early on that morning. It's hard for Leos to get out a bad habit, like staying up late and sleeping in. We made strawberry salad andshroom/zuccini frittata. We would later say our reluctant goodbyes at the greenhouse and drive to Baltimore. Jenine had gone to MICA her first year of college and so she gave me a tour of a previous chapter in her life. I'm deeply enamored by the fact that she worked as a overnight security guard on her own campus and that she had also been a strongwoman in a circus at some point. We went into the American Visionary Art Museum, which is frankly one of the best I've ever been to. We got gizzards at Lexington Market and made our way back north. On hindsight, that trip would have been so much better had I not been so hot tempered all the time. Live and learn, but please (creator) don't make it take too long.

Old pictures I forgot about. Buried in the photo bucket since I returned from that trip across 6 countries in 6 weeks (2007). All I brought was a small backpack with a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and a map. The Inca ruin up there was one of the many stops aboard one of the two dozen buses that transported me across the continent. That particular bus went from Cuzco to Puno in southeastern Peru. That's Lake Titicaca in the background and a mask that I bought from an indigenous artisan who was selling her crafts on a sidewalk. I still have it, but I don't care for it much anymore. I'm willing to either give it away to you or to save it for use as a visual aid if I ever have a classroom to teach social studies. Sooner or later I'll end up doing some form of teaching, but most likely not in the traditional textbook regiment.

The Andean highlands of Peru made me feel as if I've been to Tibet, which I haven't. It's the fervid sequencing of colors found in local clothing and the stark terrain that fools my memory. I am always in awe of these high altitude cultures and their staunch livelihoods of survival. The character they've upheld over innumerable generations is so absent in the society where I live. I yearn just to be in their noble presence for even a few moments.I'm a sucker for cities that provide astonishing panoramas from proximal heights. I'm also a sucker for co-opting evanescent velocipedes to analyze the metropolis, before paying them forward or returning them home. The administrative capital of Bolivia served as host to both exertions. I bought the used bicycle at a massive bazaar in El Alto for 100 Bolivianos and proceeded to glide down the hill into heart of the city. Afterward I asked the bashful teenage waiter at a local eatery if he owned a bike. And you know what happened when he said no. Along my seemingly aimless walk through the capital of Ecuador I came upon this abandoned underpass, littered with rubbish. The love of perspective drawings led me to shoot the other shot, in which the mass of power lines shrinks into the urban distance and a taxicab blurs by.


 I desire budget travel adventures throughout the world in the next couple years. For now I'm grounded in New York City, with occasional pilgrimages to nearby destinations. Though I have not yet begun manifesting these journeys (due to the self-imposed financial burdens carried on behalf of struggling family members), I did however manage to hitch hike across every state in the union (except Vermont, Colorado, Missouri, Arkansas, and Hawaii) over the span of several summers, in between college semesters, from 2001 to 2005. I also spent 6 weeks on economy buses through most of South America (except Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana). That picture to the left is Cusco, the oldest town on the western hemisphere. That's been my one solo cross border run thus far. You can find those stories on my old LJ account, which I no longer use: http://inspirat.livejournal.com/. But you must scroll down to the beginning of 2007 to find them. I leave you with this silly picture of the moment when I gave the indigenous lady and her alpaca some Peruvian change, on behalf of all the Euro/Gringo tourists who photographed themselves with them, but failed to leave compensation.


I just learned that expression. It means refer to your notes. And mine say I've neglected to write my people an update since a while ago. So here's the gossip on Gil. This past January he met a startlingly lovable (and loving) person named Jenine. Up until that turning point he had somewhat ignored his love life (or lack thereof), instead focusing on the tasks at hand and trusting that if he fulfilled what the universe asked of him, the universe would take care of the rest.

For the past decade he'd been summoned to do things that were quite not exactly related to what he would have done had he only himself to listen to and worry about. He graduated from college (satisfying mother's desire), paid off his own loans, served as his father's right hand when his small handyman business sprouted, sponsored his mother's spiritual pilgrimage to the land of Canaan, and funded the scholastic needs of hisnewly enrolled younger sister. At least he gave himself the freedom of experiencing a somewhat wide gamut of occupational adventures in the process. As the groundskeeper of wise paraplegic's nursery, metal workshop, and ceramics studio... who eventually became Gil's surrogate grandfather. As babysitter of two terminally ill elderly men who wanted to spend all their time outside in the courtyard, against the nurses' wishes. He spoonfed them and was diligent about keeping snot out of their nostrils with the delicate maneuvering of tissues. He dug trenches on abominably muggy construction sites to make way for electrical wiring, while learning Haitian church songs from a coworker. Delivered fresh organic produce in a cargo van from a warehouse in Miami to residential addresses as far away as Key West. Served on a boat with 65 crew members off of mainland Alaska, yanking fish guts for about 16 weeks. On a bicycle, delivering envelopes to and from hi-rise offices throughout Manhattan. In a Mack truck, delivering furniture and boxes to and from suburban estates throughout New Jersey. And last but not least, the unforgettable exposure to urban realities that is life behind the wheel of a yellow meteorite (in NYC).

All the things he would have wanted to learn about during all these years were not covered in college. In fact, there isn't really much about the 66 or so months and nearly $30,000 he invested in there (and the extra couple years paying it off) that he can show for. This is not to sound bitter, but simply just to be honest about feelings. The only times he felt truly alive were in the 2 month gaps between semesters, in which he'd leave town on foot, with nothing but a change of clothes and a map, and explore his continent, dissecting it clockwise, counterclockwise, and straight through the interior over the span of 4 summers. He went by thumb (painted signs), surfing couches, and the serendipity of each moment. He learned immensely about the seemingly endless variety of lifestyles lived out there. And that was just in this country. He'd be left to wonder, to this day, what life might be like for people on the other side of the world.

So to get back to the point, it's the year 2009 and Gil is about to be 28 years old. He's still cemented in the ever repetitious cycle of giving most every ounce of his time and energy away to the family that raised him so lovingly and conscientiously, although weeds are finally starting to break through the slab. He might not have had an overly abundant childhood, but they were always there for him, and with the economy forcing them into foreclosure and insoluble credit debt over the last couple years, he's felt a strong sense of needing to chip in (to the max). This has meant the further delaying of his biggest dream, the one he always envisioned will act as the key to open all the other doors in his life, or at least put things in perspective and serve as a level to measure every future event in his life against. That dream is to travel around the world on a shoestring. Not something you ought to do after you retire, but rather first thing, before throwing down any anchors. His second big dream had always been to find his soul mate. And he'd always thought that by the time she'd come around he would have most of that wanderlust out of his system, thereby having the capacity to dedicate his entire being to life with her in it. Traveling together was also always in his equation, but not before enough solo journeys to stabilize his rampantly free spirit.

Since the utter delay of Gil's first life goal has run into and meshed with what would have otherwise been the euphoric smoothness of his second life goal, his newly found and incredible relationship (with Jenine) has suffered quite a bit of unnecessary turbulence, mostly in the form of his constantly reemerging anger and resentment over having been unable to do what he wanted in life up until now. He is so in love with this amazing individual and for so many delicious reasons. But in order for it to work, Gil cannot continue juggling several financial bowling balls at once. He must drop two. His little sister will have to rely on her own loans for her expenses and his parents will have to take accountability for their own thwarted participation in consumerism, however harmless it might have seemed when compared to other Americans.

Gil's time, energy, and money will have to pledge most of itself to the things that he needs and wants in his life. He has a road trip planned with Jenine to Maine, Vermont, Montreal, and the Adirondacks in the coming weeks. Another to Bear Mountain and Boston with his visiting cousins from TX at the end of July. A trip to San Francisco in the second half of August. Their first (and possibly last) time at Burning Man in September. Gil's starting to think they should also combine SF with a brief excursion to L.A. for a mutual 'extended family' visit, instead of him coming out west yet a second time in October, when she flies to San Diego for her friend's wedding. This idea stems from the fact that they don't need to be in Texas the second half of October anymore. And most important of all to Gil is their plan to visit western Europe together in the beginning of 2010, as the first of many mutual, transcontinental adventures. In between all the aforementioned dates lies the crucial taxi driving time that will provide the monetary means for extensive budget travel. This limited amount of time makes Gil's need to be selfish with his income for once and keep it for himself even more essential. He's living out of his car in order to save enough and remain mobile between New York and Providence (Jenine's town). They have the rest of their lives to travel, so what's the rush, you might ask. But it's not that simple.

They're both interested in having more demanding roles in life before too long, and that keeps the pressure on. He's been consolidating his belongings more rigorously as of late. He'll only be keeping around 10% of the hefty pile of audio casettes he's dubbed international sounds unto, off the radio for his ethnomusicological collection since he was 6. The rest he will fast forward through and jot down song names for mp3 attainment. He will read and give away most of his books. He will get all his eclectic scraps glued into his journals and perhaps even combine a couple of those. He's relegated his stash of VHS cassettes to the communal warehouse collection in Rhode Island. Once all he owns is neatly in boxes, in storage, or in new hands... and not in the trunk of his car, he will do away with the car as well, at which point he'll have to consider residential rent, which he will remain wary about spending on until a larger chunk of his wanderlust has been cured. Jenine is certain that his lack of having personal space is a large part of what makes him mentally agitated, and he would agree, but he hopes she'll remain understanding of the fact that global shoestring travel is by far a prime priority over living arrangements for him at the moment.

I have an obsession with maps. All you have to do is open one up in front of me and I become absorbed immediately by all the details. On my spare time I like to pick a random region of the world and memorize the names, boundaries, and cultural gists of every little municipality in that particular area. I never ever let a current event go by, that mentions a mysterious geographical reference, without investigating its whereabouts. For example, lately there's been a lot of talk about the violence occurring in the valley of Swat (and Buner). Not even I, an idiot savant of cartographic wizardry, knew exactly where that place was. There is no way in hell that an average American would. So I looked that one up and it lies in the vicinity where I expected it to be: In the mountains just north of Peshawar and Islamabad.

The other day I was fiddling with articles on Wikipedia and a touch of Google Earth, when I stumbled upon a little discovery that I don't expect nearly anyone in the world to have noticed, not even bonafide geographers themselves. The city of Palos Verdes Estates in the southern suburbs of Los Angeles is an almost identical dwarf of a territory known as Western Sahara, in terms of borderline geometrics and coastline positioning. But one is 5 square miles, while the other is 103,000. One is inside the 47th most expensive zip code in the U.S., while the other is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world. One is 78% white, while the ethnic makeup of the other is subject to political controversy because (perhaps embarrassingly) settlers from neighboring nations now outnumber the indigenous Sahrawis (nomadic bedouins of Berber heritage with a light genetic sprinkle of Arab). However, both have mostly rocky shores, replete with tall cliffs. One was incorporated in 1939 and designed by a notable team of architect and planner. The other has never formally formed a state in the contemporary sense of the word. It's been tossed around like a hot potato since the late 1800s, and even as far back as the time of the Pheonicians. Does that sound familiar? Look no further than Palestine. And this brings us again to yet another 'coincidental' similarity. But now it's a vexillological one. The Palestinian flag and that of Western Sahara are nearly identical. See for yourself. As you can tell, I not only have an addiction to maps. I have one to flags as well, among other things of geogra/anthropo import.


What is it with pretentious restaurants that have expensive menus and the audacity to use the term for 'slum' (in Brazil) as part of their name? I agree there's something sexy about slums, but there is nothing attractive about appropriating a word like that to represent a place where it costs a lot of money to be fed and have fun. I've noticed two such locations in NYC lately. One is "Favela Cubana" in the Village and the other being "Miss Favela" in Willie B. Perhaps if these places made direct and frequent donations to the impoverished communities in Brazil, it might fly. But I don't see it taking off the ground.

If I had to spend even a minute inside one of those restaurants and watch the giggly numskull or too important facial gestures of their yuppie and hipster clientele (pictured below), I'd be nauseated... thinking of all the lives lived by the skin of their teeth on the forgotten hillsides of the world. Because to me intelligence is not measured by degrees, IQs, or quick witted eloquence. Nor is wealth measured by how big a bill you can foot or how smoothly you're dressed (nothing against fashion as a form of art and self expression). They are both measured by how much you care, really care about people, all people. How big your heart is and how far you go to put that big heart to use in impacting humanity and the planet. That, my friends, is wealth and intelligence. And that happens to also be what is sexiest. And that is why slums can be sexy. Because everyone in those communities works together, looks out for each other, and makes fully appreciated use of what little they have.

Every Friday evening an air raid siren goes off in southern Williamsburg, marking the strict entrance into a 24 hour weekly period of austere contemplation and abundant adulation. I never hear it with my own ears, but did for the first time this past week. I'd make a trek over there just to hear it again, especially as part of one of my organized eco-urban bicycle tours of NYC. A sociological study of Ashkenazi Brooklyn. Oi Vey!

Near death experiences (or seemingly so) are so captivating to me because they usher in a renewed gratefulness for life, and it all happens in such slow motion. Like Moby silently watching a truck on the verge of broadsiding him while he's sitting alone in the backseat of a car with no driver, in that music video for the spiritual song: Porcelain. It happened to my sister, dad, and, I on the night we were to go pick up my mom from the airport after she'd spent 5 long weeks away in her native Colombia, getting her teeth fixed for a third of the cost. We were eastbound on the Jackie Robinson when we noticed that we had a flat, but there was no shoulder whatsoever. You know how narrow this parkway can get and how fast cars still go on it. Up ahead was the off ramp that would connect us to the westbound Grand Central, and a concrete slab just big enough for our little Corolla to stand while we jacked it up and swapped the spare. But before we could wrap it up, a car slid uncontrollably off the rain coated ramp and unto the field of mud, just inches away from us. This happened not once, but twice. And both times the cars were at capacity with crews of teenagers and pedal happy drivers. The three of us, graceful Avineris, just stood there and watched this occur, fully cognizant of our own mental powers and that of the Zohar we had with us.
"Anger is a serious, severe problem. If a person wants to work on himself spiritually, he can work on his anger. It’s considered a person is spiritual when he works on his anger. Rabbi Isaac Luria explains, the soul, that force within us, leaves the body when we get angry. The body cannot stay empty, so something else gets it – other god, gets in the body and that force starts to control the person to do different negative things. Anger comes first, then the person does negative things. Anger is most dangerous for the house, for the children, for the people. Anger is worse than anything." -KC


#1: R E D L I N I N G
An illegal discriminatory practice involving lenders who refuse to extend credit in "struggling" parts of town. They used to draw a red line around a neighborhood on a map, often targeting areas with a high concentration of minorities, and then refusing to lend in those areas because they considered the risk too high.

#2: S U B T E R F U G E
deception by artifice or stratagem in order to conceal, escape, or evade


Mom often requests hot tea. She likes it with honey, but she has habit of storing the honey jar in the fridge. This protects it from ants [and uncles (dad's joke)], but robs it of its fluidity. Solution is to place bottle beside stove top while water boils. Force squeezing honey out is now thing of the past. 

Here's a friendly suggestion for cleanliness. After defecation, get a few drops of water on your toilet paper because wetness facilitates cleaner cheeks. I used to say blow your nose to moisten it, but Jenine believes mucus might cause cross contamination of some sort. There is often enough water laying inside the sink or on the faucet mouth for you to dab. Hopefully you'll end up using even less toilet paper as well, considering that by squatting you're already using less. Another ECO tactic is to maximize your TP by folding it with each wipe, until most of its surface area has been used. You must be meticulous so as to not get any fecal matter on yourself. Or better yet, install a composting toilet and use the humanure for gardening.

Here's another way to be like Gil: While waiting for a subway train in NYC, scope out the rail pit for rat activity. If you see any, find someone with whom to impart the sight of such adorable critters as they uncrumple old wrappers. If the platform is vacant of humans, sharpie in this message: "let's share our waste with the rats. They too have the right to snack on something. Please toss your leftovers into the rail pit and don't crumple it up too hard. They don't have the luxury of thumbs." Just kidding. I'm not that kind of pied piper. Nor should you be. Couldn't deal with an infestation. The following words, in italic, were said by Kabbalah teachers, and are therefore 50X more insightful and enlightening than my eccentric, directionless spiel.....

With strength comes responsibility, so it's time to awaken to the idea of letting go of the ego. If you've ever tried to let go of the ego, you know it's like taking a toy away from a toddler. You can't just take it away…you have to give the toddler something else to play with.

Ask the people around you if they can list your best qualities, your inner gifts, quite simply: to enumerate the Light you reveal in the world. The more specific, the better. And don't stop there. Make copies of that list. Keep one in your car, at your desk, at your bedside - wherever you spend your days and nights, so you don't lose track of the gift you are to this universe.

Bamidbar: book of numbers (in the desert)Adam and Eve were these 9 ft. light beings. They were made up of the same consistency of our nails. One second of the sun's light can power the entire world for 1 year. The Rav speaks about the milky way and how it is 400x more powerful than the sun. The only thing more powerful than the milky way is our consciousness. Consciousness is endless. When we speak of Israel, it's not the physical land we are referring to. When we speak of Israelites, it is not about the Jews. An Israelite is a person who has the merit to provide the light force to other people. True sharing is becoming the receiver. Tip: midnight is at 1:16am. From then until dawn we can replenish our souls. Go to sleep and wake up during the spiritual midnight. Scan the Zohar for however long you can. At this time you will be fighting the negative forces and removing a lot of the desire to receive for the self alone. Fighting the tree of death consciousness. You will be transforming the energy of death into energy of life. The numerical value of Bamidbar is 248. Total connection to Chesed. Energy of the sh'ma. -Kabbalah Centre

Unfortunately with the time that people live, generation after generation, people who study the Bible/Torah, especially in Jewish tradition, people have no clue what to expect from this reading. In no other synagogue will this information be discussed – not because we are better or smarter, we have Kabbalah and Zohar, without which there is no full understanding of the Torah. Why is it not clear without this? The entire Torah has 4 levels of understanding – simple story, theory, hint, and secret- sod, which is Kabbalah. These correspond to the 4 universes – emanation, creation, formation and action – that's where we are, in action. People read the Bible like it's story that really happened. Sorry to disappoint the religious mind – Catholic, Southern Baptist, Jewish – the news is that nothing is as it seems to be. The story of Moses, leaving Egypt – if you relate only to the story you missed the whole point. The entire book is coded in Kabbalistic code.Kabbalah helps you to understand what is really going on in the portion."-Rabbi Eliyahu Jian
I never knew the Vietcong declared genocide upon the Laotian Hmong for siding with the U.S.A.. I only found out because I had the radio tuned to the right channel while actively hacking the streets of NYC in a yellow cab.

Repenting out of fear or awe is almost worthless. A first step, but it won't fix your history of negative actions. Dig deeper and do it out of love. Love for this flawless system the creator has put in place. Doubtfulness is the only real sin. When you help people who are suffering, first recognize that it's the best thing the creator could have done for them. Don't go around wanting people to suffer so you can be the good guy and help them. You should help people who are suffering, but from a deeper level of consciousness. Don't sink to the frame of mind that the creator is bad/nonexistent and you are the hero. (MY SYNOPSIS OF RABBI ELIYAHU JIAN'S LECTURE) 
Please visit the KC for deeper understandings. 
"One key aspect the media has failed to mention is why Hamas gained popularity among the Palestinian people. Israel was choking the territories by limiting resources and import/export into the region. Hamas then stepped in and provided basic things like medical care, food, sanitation when Israel, as the "mother" nation, refused to provide its own people (and yes, Palestinians still count as Israeli people for services such as water, electricity, social services, etc.) with basic needs, which can be considered an act of war. That's why Hamas party representatives got democratically nominated. The Israeli government failed its own residents." -JULIE THE BLOGGER


It's not taboo. It's a work of art. The careful evacuation of brown oil paint so that one long coil remains intact. The neatly discarded toilet paper, half submerged and half air dry. The varying monochromes of tainted water. The nice checkered tile background. It required acute concentration to keep the rectal muscles from chopping it short and deep abdominal respiration to keep it coming. Speaking of effort, you should know that it is essential to squat for proper defecation, each and every time you go, whether you're creating artwork or not.
But you don't have to take my word for it.....
And don't you dare take it for granted that your body does such an incredible, thankless job. If something goes wrong with your health, it might have been your enforcement of ignorance by forcing your body to eliminate waste in an unnatural, ineffective manner.

"There is no such thing as can’t, there is only WON’T. If we do the extra mile, if we take the commitment, there is a way to do it. The light never gives us something to do if we cannot do it! It’s only about how serious we are in taking the mission!
A spiritual person shouldn’t constantly look for the negative in other people. If a spiritual person is being harmed in some way, we should focus less on the harm and more on what we can learn from the experience. A spiritual person understands that the person who caused us the harm:

A. has their own process of correction
B. they are a messenger of the light
If we focus on the negativity of the messenger, we are missing the big picture, we are missing the lesson and we are missing the opportunity to grow."
-KC teacher

Hashem hu aqbar! This magnificent work of art was made by my favorite auntie, Orly Avineri. You can check out her other beautiful pieces via one of links below. The picture she used is of my great grandfather Shmuel, who left Romania in the 1940s and ended up in Be'ersheva.av