When Everything Breaks

jo's book in fire

 

The following things have broken in the past week:

My bicycle brakes: I’ve become a biker out of necessity. After a deal to buy a car from a Chinese diplomat fell through, I decided I better get over my mild fear of city biking. We simply live too far out, are not allowed to take buses, and unless I want to spend hours walking, or never leave my house, biking seemed the only choice.

Jerusalem is not a bike-friendly city. The hills are killer, the drivers aggressive, the walkers unaware. I am constantly yelling from my bell-less bike” On your left!” and “Coming through!” I’m relying not so much on my words being understood (English isn’t the first language of most here) but on my panicked tone carrying a sense of impending collision.

But really, the biking hasn’t been that bad. It’s an insanely good workout, and I have actually come to look forward to hopping on my bike. Then the back brake broke (a week after I paid $100 for the whole bike to be tuned up). So now only the front brake works. This can’t be good.

A vintage Dartmouth plate and a hand-painted plate from Segovia: I shattered two decorative plates on our hard tile floors while doing a little redecorating. I feel especially bad about the cool old Dartmouth plate Mr. Jerusal-Em bought from an antique store. It’s not the first piece of memorabilia from his alma mater that I have destroyed.

The dishwasher, parts of the wall, the hot water heater: Not to mention the ants that have invaded our kitchen and the old man urine smell that radiates from random drains in the apartment. I’m fully expecting blood to come out of the faucets any day now. Also: I’m keeping my eye out for frogs.

Four champagne glasses, a serving platter, six parfait glasses: Never mind why I thought I needed six parfait glasses. They met their demise, along with all the other glass things that were perched (precariously, I’ll admit) on top a somewhat wobbly shelf in our little pantry/storage room. Looked like a glass factory exploded in my kitchen. The Diplocats and I are lucky we escaped with our retinas attached.

A hand-painted trivet from Turkey: I broke it just an hour after the glass explosion! Seriously, nothing glass is safe around me.

My computer: So, yeah, I kind of buried the lede here. This is by far the most painful break. My computer foretold of its death for a few weeks -“Start Up Disk Full” – but I ignored the signs and didn’t back anything up. Because, apparently, I love catastrophes. All of it is gone. My book, yep, gone.

Why am I not riding my brakeless bike into oncoming traffic, you ask? Luckily, I have emailed out practically every section of my novel as part of my graduate program, so I am hoping I can piece most of it together from my Gmail.

I’m staying strong thinking of Little Women, when Amy tossed Jo’s manuscript into the fire. Jo cried. (I’ve cried three times this week). But Jo rewrote the whole damn thing and it was better than ever. Luckily, I don’t need to reconstruct (most of it) from memory.

So yeah, everything is broken. But most of it is fixable.

Em in Jerusalem

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