Aran lives on Kibbutz Eilon in the Western Galilee, at the northern end of Israel. He is the Research Director of an NGO called the Social Guard which monitors the parliamentary work of the Israeli Knesset. He’s also struggling to write his M.A thesis in political theory for the Tel Aviv University Philosophy Department. He is a former basketball correspondent and writer, as well as an ex-future writer.
1. Making Coffee
Writing for me starts here, with the morning coffee-making ritual. I have two macchinettas, a small one that makes coffee for one person and another that is good for two or three people; I rarely use the latter. Although I make excellent coffee, I was never a big coffee drinker. I can go days without having a cup, and it won’t bother me. The truth is that I like making coffee more than I enjoy drinking it. I find it to be a good way to get into a working mood. This is true for any kind of old-fashioned coffee-making process that requires some work and preparation, and not for instant frozen coffee.
2. My Beaten Down Old and Slow Computer
I am not a man of changes. I like my habits and I like it when things feel right. I bought this computer almost seven years ago, expecting it not to be as comfortable as my older Compaq laptop. But it surprised me and I took to it right away. I remember turning it on for the first time. It wrote LG – Life’s Good – in large bold red letters on the screen. I decided to name it Decepticon, because it is a lying machine.
I’ve written a lot on it, and I feel that to an extent all this hard work has been a joint effort by Decepticon and me. Most other computers – be they laptops or desktops – don’t seem to make my thoughts take form in words as clearly as my old companion does.
But it’s old, and its processing does come to a halt whenever things become busier. I’ll need a new friend soon enough, I’m just not sure how to know if it’s the right one for me. Some tell me that every computer will feel right after I get used to it. I despise this thought, although it does relieve some of the pressure of getting a new machine.
3. My Tomato Bush
It isn’t just procrastination. I really do think and articulate better when I walk around. I find it hard to speak on the phone sitting down, and if I’m writing stuff for work and need to think things through, it’s impossible for me to do it while seated in front of a computer.
During the past few months, ever since I moved out of the city, I’ve been grooming a tomato bush in my front yard. I planted seeds of tomatoes which I purchased at my favorite vegetable stand, in the Tel Aviv Carmel market. After a week or so, some seeds sprouted, and today I have a beautiful 65 cm (2ft.) tall bush, with some tomatoes growing on it.
Every time I need to get out of the chair in order to think, to take a five minute break or to make a phone call, I step outside and observe the changes and growth of the bush, and the tomatoes that are hanging on it. Then I can go back to focus on my work, while feeling thankful that – unlike the plant – I work indoors.
4. The View from My Living Room Window
Most of all, this window is a clock, it makes every part of the day feel different. It faces west, so it lets no direct sunlight in, in the morning. The roof tiles, which extend about two meters over the window, protect it from the midday sun. There are a couple of trees in the back yard – pomegranate, loquat – that block most of the late-afternoon sun. This means that mornings are shady, relatively dark, and just right for slowly easing into the workday. Throughout most of the day, the sun lights the trees beautifully. And in the hours before dusk, the trees outside the window are flush with sunlight, some rays making it into the house and into my eyes, creating en route strange yellow figures on the mosquito net. It’s a lot like driving west during sunset. But I don’t fight it; I work through it, because I know the day is almost over, and it’s time to put one last effort into the day, before I retire from my work station, defeated.