2 May, 2008 • 5:18 pm 0
I spent four lovely nights in Victoria, visiting my home, my friends, remnants of my plants. It was great to relax, fully embrace my dorkiness, play a lot of Scrabble, and fall back into a comfortable rhythm with my friends.
On the way back to Vancouver, I had to transfer buses as the Ladner Exchange. There, a woman and her college-aged daughter started pointing at me, then pointing at a fellow standing a few paces from me. I stealthily paused my iPod so I could casually listen in on what they were saying about us. The mother was saying something about my “beanie” and the “head dress” of the other fellow. (Based on what I saw, I assumed him to be Sikh, so that was in fact a turban.) I wasn’t the only one listening in; the other guy had been listening and caught my eyes when this was said of us. He stepped towards the mother and daughter to clarify things with them. But he didn’t know the words “kippah” or “yarmulke,” so in trying to explain that he wasn’t wearing a head dress, and I wasn’t wearing a beanie, the mother and daughter concluded that we were both of the same religion and were wearing variations on the same religious head wear.
At this point he looked to me, so I stepped over and tried to clarify. At some point the daughter had a “light bulb” moment and said something like, “Oh, like what the Pope wears?!” Um, yes. Kind of. Many religions have customs of head coverings and… I lost them. He looked at me and shrugged. The daughter started talking to her mom about an Easter “South Park” episode which claimed the Pope’s hat was pointy because the Pope had rabbit ears to hide. And I put my earphones back in and turned on my iPod.
It’s good to be back on the west coast…
17 April, 2008 • 7:03 pm 2
So here I am in Seattle, cleaning, kashering, and cooking. The kitchen is pristine. The rest of the house… not my domain. Because I’m not the one who will be eating in this house post-Passover, I’m allowing my host to have the final word on some of the halakhah. The result is the chometz cupboard and box in the fridge (stuff he’ll want to eat in a week, that’s expensive to replace, and needs to be refrigerated). Thanks to the internet, both the box and the cupboard have been sold. That is, he no longer owns a cupboard in his kitchen, nor does he own the box in his fridge. I had fun with it, drawing on the boxes:
Then we had to find a feather. Despite suggesting to a friend that “tackling a bird” would be a great way to get a feather, I was not about to attempt this method on my own. We went to a dollar store that had a craft section. Alas, no feathers. We checked a K-Mart, alas, no craft section. Then we went to a giant pet store chain. They sell birds and, sure enough, there were feathers at the bottom of their clean-looking cages. While I wandered amongst the cat toys, trying to decide which cat toy could be defeathered the most easily, my friend approached an employee. “I have sort of a weird question… We need a feather for a religious ceremony. And I saw some in the birds’ cages. Could we have them?” The employee found a second employee, who agreed. Minutes later, he was on his hands and knees in the bird cage (while we were both mildly creeped out because, you know, no matter how clean that cage liner was…) grabbing a half dozen colourful feathers from budgies. My friend and I both reached for the nearby hand santizer as a reaction, but it was empty. (Oh, and let’s not forget the smell in there. A customer’s big ol’ dog had decided the floor next to the bird cages was the perfect place to do his business, both businesses.) Hands were washed once we returned home.
And now we have tiny little feathers to sweep for crumbs with.
15 April, 2008 • 7:55 pm 2
Recently, I heard an interview on DNTO with someone who was described as a “professional house guest.” He has some very clear expectations for his ever changing housing: you offer him a place to stay, with a bed or couch, for a minimum of two weeks, and in exchange he has done everything from cooking and cleaning to washing dogs to home repairs and minor renovations. But he doesn’t stop there. He also has rent-free work space, which he got through bartering. He approached an organisation with a bit of extra space and offered up his services in exchange for a place to call his office. For them, he’ll stuff envelopes, do photocopying, and in general help with the tedious things that have to get done around the office but no one really wants to do.
When I heard this, I was amazed. By no means have I made formal arrangements with my fabulous friends who are housing me, but I have done a good deal of cleaning, cooking, and other errands (quite happy to chip in!). And, depending on when I start the count, I’ve either been doing this for three-and-a-half months or one-and-a-half, which corresponds to either ten or seven beds (excluding one nighters, such as spending a Shabbos night on a friend’s couch, then returning to my “regularly scheduled” friend’s motzei; Florida’s backyard or concrete floors; and the retreat cabins in Maryland). And I’m exhausted. Despite sleeping longer, and more regularly, than I have in many years, I’m definitely feeling the effect of not having a stable, regular place to call home. I shouldn’t be surprised – after all, only a few weeks ago, in Florida, I taught a lesson on the effects of housing or a lack thereof. But I really didn’t expect the results to be felt so quickly.
These past few weeks, I became intimately familiar with the I-95. Back and forth, Boston, to and fro, New York. It might not have been the most productive use of my time (though I did watch many movies, catch up on my backlog of podcasts, and write many a hand-written letter), but it had to be. I had hoped to be in NY for a couple weeks, visiting friends, interviewing, before doing the same in Boston. But, of course, interviews and social “obligations” in NY waded into Boston time. More time spent on the I-95. I came to realise that on a Sunday night, the Greyhound could leave Port Authority and reach South Station a mere 3.5 hours later. Unfortunately, I also discovered that a random weekday ride could stretch to nearly 7 hours.
These weeks have allowed me to catch up with so many wonderful people, I can’t begin to tell you. Unfortunately, the running around also meant that I couldn’t see as many people as I’d wanted to, nor for as long as I would have liked. But I will be back east, and hopefully with more time to spare. Highlights included beers and bocce in Brooklyn; a hasty retreat from a windy picnic in Portland; getting hooked on the Ultimate Spiderman series; being amongst many queer Jews (this ought to get its own post but, wow, was that great, especially after the long queerless months in Israel), doing Jewishly queer and queerly Jewish things; Paul Simon’s concert in Brooklyn, which made me feel utterly euphoric, happier than I had been in far too long; pastrami and knish adventures in the boros; taking dance tips from the old man at the Klezmatics and Joshua Nelson concert; ice cream; cuddles with Max and Benjamin; and walking to Brooklyn from the Upper West Side.
I’ve been in Seattle about eight hours now, and I’m already missing Boston and NY. I will return… soon. [photos here.]
4 March, 2008 • 7:26 pm 0
This photo makes me smile.
I found it on TFOFR‘s flickr stream, with the comment “The only headcoverings allowed in the church are headscarves” on an accompanying photo. So I’d taken off my baseball cap, which I’d intentionally worn in lieu of a kippah that day in Bethlehem, and put on a friend’s scarf. I love that the solution was crossdressing, of sorts.
27 February, 2008 • 4:49 am 0
19 February, 2008 • 3:32 pm 0
And what do you do when it’s sleeting and hailing and snowing and thundering and raining and crazy wind blowing all in one night? Go to a friend’s for a MEAT date! (You too can have a MEAT date: find a friend with a fleishig kitchen, cook MEAT for your friends, maybe make some ‘smores over the stove for dessert, drink a bunch of wine, neglect your Hebrew studies, and dance to the 80’s-a-thon on the teevee.)
Finally, we have some photos from ulpan at Hebrew University. Most of them are of the views, as requested by several of you. If you look closely, you’ll see a desert, goats, MS, and Palestinian neighbourhoods.
30 January, 2008 • 7:59 am 0
I’ve taken a few photos, but I’ll go out later and take more.
Last night, the temperature dropped about 8ºC down to 0ºC. The winds were impressively strong, breaking limbs off a few trees in the area. Around 2am, the snow actually started to stick in my neighbourhood. 5 hours later, about 5cm of snow had accumulated (and it’s still coming down!). It’s fluffy, wet snow; large flakes. And because the temperature is still hovering around 0-1ºC, there’s a lot of water everywhere; some seeped into the apartment from the mirpesset. The temperature is expected to drop, which means there’ll be ice everywhere.
The result of 5cm is that Hebrew University is closed today. (MS and I were discussing this possibility yesterday, and realised that a missed day costs us about $50. What are the chances they’ll make up this day?) And if the snow continues, as is forecast, classes could be cancelled again tomorrow.
And, because this is so rare, both of my ulpan teachers spent time talking about it in class yesterday. They both said that it’s normal for Jerusalem to get snow once every year or two. And they stressed that snow meant that everyone stays home, there aren’t many vehicles on the roads, schools are cancelled, no one goes to work, the city basically shuts down. Oh, and one teacher said that to be a Jerusalemite meant staying home and eating soup when it snows.
ETA: Jerusalem is very Vancouver-esque in its attitude towards snow.
11 January, 2008 • 2:23 pm 0
Yesterday, the posse battled 10,000 police officers, road closures, and a drunken pot dealer to get to Tel Aviv. Once there, we headed to the beach to watch the incoming planes, the setting sun… and to play in the water! Ok, so I was the only one who went in, but it was lovely. I frolicked, and they had an impromptu dance party. (“All we need is music.” – “There’s always music in my head!”) After dinner at an Indian restaurant, we headed to the theatre.
Avenue Q. In Hebrew. Amazing. Before hand, those of us who had seen the original version in New York had speculated about how the cultural references would translate. The first is that Gary Coleman was replaced with Michal Yannai. Michal was a child star in Israel who was riddled with gossip and rumours as a young adult (actually, even fairly recently) including a sextape (à la Paris Hilton). She poked fun at herself during the play, referencing nudity, her floundering career, and more that I didn’t catch. Christmas Eve, a Japanese character in the NY version, was replaced with Latina (name and ethnicity). Rod’s song about his fictional girlfriend in Canada has the cities changed – assuming that Israelis wouldn’t know Alberta and Vancouver, the cities were changed to Toronto (where she’s from) and Sydney (her name; I’m guessing the lyrics refer to Sydney, Australia, to make it obvious that he’s confused, and probably not to Sydney, BC). Some of the races and jokes in “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” were changed. The wedding was changed; BZ and I burst out laughing when the characters came out wearing kippot and the wedding was under a chuppah.
But it was pretty much the same play. And it will be playing in Jerusalem next weekend, January 17 and 19. If you want to go, and pay a reduced fare of 130NIS, let me know. I can give you a code that gets you that fare.
ETA: You can also read BZ’s review over at Jewschool.
[Photoset from the day, with commentary.]