Planning stuff

20 05 2007

So, this is basically a brain dump of everything I need to do while home:

– (Done) Replace my sandals.  The Teva flipflops that I love so much really only hold up to a years worth of wear.  Which isn’t bad, given that I live in them from spring to fall, but still, must be done. 

-travel clothes.  Lightweight tops that aren’t sleeveless or low cut.  Ha, like that will be possible….  Plan B: Knit lightweight cotton shrugs to go over sleeveless tops. 

-Go to yarn store. 

-Finish knitting shawl A, plan for shawl B to come with me to Israel.  sub-task) Figure out if I can fly to Israel with circular knitting needles in my carry-on bag. 

-(Done)Find a purse to bring with me.  Something big enough to hold a nalgene, and my notebook, but not awkwardly huge.

-Visit my friends, and HS teachers.  This is mostly done, but there are still a couple people left. 

-Pack.  Yeah, I’m going to ignore that for now.

-Make hotel/hostel reservations.  I really need to get on that….

-Find books to bring with me.  Yeah….


Back! (again…)

15 05 2007

Ok, so I have a good excuse for being gone so long.  I had no internet at home, since our provider was out of service for several days.  Yep.

 Anyway, I’m back now and preping for my trip to Israel.  I have so far gotten about a million vaccinations (well, three, but it feels like more), and made tons of lists of places I need to see, and things I need to get before I leave.  So exciting.  🙂

I’ve been home for a little less than a week now.  I hate packing my room, with a passion.  It was a bit easier this year than the last two, since I know I’ll be coming back to the same place, but even so, it’s hard.  You come into your room in September, and you unpack all your things.  You hang up your posters, and put your blankets on your bed, and turn on all your warm lights, that don’t flicker, and you put all your books on the shelf, and your food in the fridge, and the place becomes your room.  It’s not just an industrial dorm room, with no character, it’s your home.  And you live there for 9 months, and people visit, and you have dinners, and conversations there.  You study for tests, and write papers, and watch tv on your computer.  And then, after all that, after all that time making the room yours, you have to pick up, pack up all your things, put away your posters, and your lights, and your blankets, and your books, and you leave, and there’s nothing left in the room to tie you there.  There’s no longer anything in the room that says you lived there, nothing to speak to the things that happened there, the people who lived their lives there for so long.  And I know that the person who lives there after me won’t think of me anymore than I think of the people who lived there before I did (which is not at all, to be honest), and somehow that makes me sad.  I feel like in some way my whole life is being packed up, and put in boxes, that I’ll leave as little trace on the people there as I did on the room.  I know we don’t really keep in touch over summers even, how will we ever keep in touch after next year when we all leave, and start real life? 


At least I have a great summer to look forward to. 🙂  *Ignores existence of graduation*


8 05 2007

I’ll be in Israel this summer**!  WOOHOOO!!!! *Runs around room screaming her head off, laughing like an idiot.* 

Ok, I’m better now.  (Hee, the first time I typed that I typed pretty rather than better.  I amuse myself.) 

As you’ve probably all guessed, the MDA program worked out, and I’ll be in Israel for almost two months this summer; a bit over a month with the program, and a couple weeks after it ends touring around.  Amazingly, my parents are letting me fly out early, and come back late, which is more or less my dream trip.  I’m really blown away by how much trust they’re giving me with this.  They’re letting me fly to a country that they’ve never been to, which is at war constantly, alone.  As frustrated as I might get by them at times, they really do have an awful lot of faith in me. 

I spent yesterday working up a rough itinerary of what I want to do in my touring time.  It’s hard, because I don’t want to schedule too much in any given day, since I want plenty of time to just wander around.  At the same time, I feel like I have to do everything now.  It took me a while to come to grips with the fact that I can’t do everything this trip, and that I don’t have to do everything this trip.  I can always come back; this is not my one chance to see Israel.  In this case, that means no Eilat, no matter how good the diving might be.   It’s just too far away from everything else (How funny is it to say something is too far away in a country the size of NJ?) 

That said, there is no shortage of totally cool stuff to see there.  EEEE!!!!!!  *Starts planning with graphs, and calenders, and guidebooks, and maps, and notebooks, and lists, and pictures* 

I also feel about how I did about going to college.  I have this weird emotional disconnect thing going, where intellectually I know that I’ll be there, but part of me doesn’t believe it, and the rest of me keeps thinking that I’ll be living in another country(for college it was another state) for almost two months (4 years).  That’s really living somewhere, not just visiting anymore.  I’ve never been outside of the US for that long, or that far away from my family (where I can’t just call pretty much whenever I want) and without any friends I know there.  Yeah, I know lots of people with family there, and there will be plenty of people I can turn to if I need help with something, but it’s no one I’ve met before.  My best shot is that a few friends will be there on birthright part of the time, and another will be finishing his study abroad semester when I get there.  I’m really setting out on my own for the first time in my life, and part of me isn’t sure how well I’ll handle it.  What if I get there and I hate it?  What if no one on the program likes me?  What if I can’t actually speak any Hebrew, and I’m totally useless and stand out as a horribly rude tourist? I’ve traveled plenty, and know somewhat how not to seem like a rude American, but still.  The idea of going to another country and expecting everyone to speak my language seems so rude.  At least I’m not the sort of American who goes to Italy and eats at McDonald’s.  Although, I am totally going to get McDonald’s fries as a kosher McDonald’s.  I miss them so very much.   Wow, I’m rambling now, so I’ll stop. 

Feel free to leave suggestions of things I need to see while there!  You know, in Israel…  *EEEEE!!!!!!*

**barring last minute parents deciding I can’t go. 

Random musings on several things.

30 04 2007

Sorry I’ve been so lax about posting lately, classes are getting hectic, since this is the last week before reading period.  I don’t have a lot of time to be writing things that arn’t for class, and I hate the idea of writing junk just so I have something to post.  Hopefully I’ll have more interesting things to say later this week.  🙂  

One of my closest friends at college is a lapsed Catholic, religion major. He’s wonderful to talk to about religion (for me at least) because we can talk about it on both a personal “I believe this” level, and on an academic, intellectual level. 

We had a really interesting discussion the other day prompted by this video:

Ok, yes, it’s sort of going for cheap jokes, but it brings up a good point.  Yes, the are plenty of horrible, evil things in the world, and we can think about that, and wish it weren’t so all day long.  However, as Larry said “We’ve decided that they can’t hurt each other with just their thoughts.”  There are evils that could exist, but don’t.  A line was drawn somewhere, and yes, it could have been further along, but it could also have allowed so much more.  As another one of my friends (who, rather impressively wants to be a pediatric oncologist) put it, if we want to be able to live and grow, we need cells that divide, and with that, sometimes we will have cells that don’t know when to stop dividing.  Cancer is the price we pay for being alive, and being able to grow.  Evil, people making bad choices, is the price we pay to be able to make any choices.  Yes, it is horrible that people kill other people, but better that than we have been created without any empathy, better that than we be created unable to love and care about others.  I’m not going to go so far as to say, as Candide did, that all things are for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds, but things are not always for the worst.  We have the power to make things better, to improve our situation, even the things that seem so clearly to be “Acts of G-d.”  We can now build buildings that will stay up in major earthquakes, earthquakes that used to, and in some parts of the world still do, flatten whole cities.  We can treat cancer, we can vaccinate children against childhood illnesses.  It’s now the norm, the vast vast majority of children will reach adulthood.  Our concern is no longer will our children live, it’s how to give them the best education.  How amazing is that?  We are fixing the world, not quickly, no, and we have a long way to go, but when you look back and see how far we’ve come?  It’s an amazing journey.  True evil would be if we couldn’t do that.  This world is not inherently evil, not by a long shot.  It’s not perfect, but it is far from evil. 

I also talked to another person who asked me why I know so much about different religions.  Honestly, it was never really something I considered, but it is perhaps an odd thing to know about.  Having a reasonably deep and broad knowledge of various religions is certainly unusual.  Having thought about it, I’ve realized that at the root, religion is people at their most basic, at the deepest level.  It is what people hold dearest about the world, and what they believe most strongly.  Atheist, agnostic, or religious, whatever you choose to believe, you are playing for the highest possible stakes.  What motivates people on that level fascinates me.  What people believe, why they believe it, what they do because of those beliefs.  Especially at a time when people with increasingly radical beliefs are gaining more and more power, understanding where they are coming from matters.  If we can’t see what is  similar between their believes and our own, we can’t hope to communicate with them, we can’t hope to change things, and to change their perspective.  What could matter more than that? Religion is about what makes us the most human.  How can anyone not be interested by the fact that the 4 largest theistic religions currently being practiced are all (internally) monotheistic, that almost every culture has some flood story.  So cool. 

In an only slightly related subject, I saw a really wonderful production of King Lear the other night.  It was Lear as the deconstruction of the American Dream.  Brilliantly staged, a fascinating, and intelligible interpretation of the text, and some wonderful performances by the actors.  Shakespeare really did an amazing job of writing stories that speak to all of us, in whatever context they are placed in.  What a genius.

And now for some shameless bragging(Feel free to stop reading here): I had my voice jury for lessons.  Basically, it’s where you stand up in front of all the secondary lesson teachers, and sing for them, and they judge you and decide if you’re good enough to continue taking lessons.  It’s not that big a deal for secondary lessons, since if you’re making any sort of progress at all, you’ll get lessons, and my teacher doesn’t care about the jury for our grade, but it’s still nerve wracking for me since I hate performing, and having people judging me makes it that much worse.  Anyway, this year was the first time I’ve really felt that I did well at my jury. I came out of it feeling like I had done my best, and that I was happy with how I had done, regardless of what the jury sheets said.  Well, the good news is that I got my jury sheets back, and they were so incredibly flattering it was almost embarrassing to sit there while my teacher went over them.  The head of the voice dept at the conservatory (one of the top ranked music schools in the country) said I lovely clean voice, and that this semester showed I’d done “Fine work!!” (as my teacher pointed out, with TWO exclamation points!  TWO!! EEEE!!)  Anyway, it’s really exciting, since for the first time I really believe that I am actually talented at singing, rather than just having it be something I enjoy, but am not that good at.  🙂  Finally, years of work are really paying off.  Yay! 

Anyway, have a good week, and I’ll try to post a bit more regularly. 

Sunny Sunny Weather!!! :)

22 04 2007

So, the weather is beautiful out now.  🙂  Yay for spring finally being here.

I have a couple papers to write this week, and my voice jury on Tuesday (eek!), so I havn’t got the time to write too much right now. 

For now, go check out the JIB’s.  It looks like there’s some good stuff to look through there, far more interesting than I have time to be tonight!

Hope you’re all enjoying weather as nice as mine is this week!  I’ll see you all tomorrow.

Thoughts about the VT massacre

19 04 2007
  • First off, Liviu Librescu is a true hero, in every way.  In the midst of a tragedy, his actions stand out as a bright spot of the goodness there still is in people.  Hopefully that knowledge will help comfort his family.  (Chabad is passing on condolences to his family here.)
  • VT is being attacked from lots of angles by people saying that they should have done more, that this is their fault, that they were somehow responsible.  Speaking as someone living on a college campus, I’m not sure what else they could have done.  Yes, his teachers found him disturbing, but you can’t force someone to get psychiatric care.  It just doesn’t do any good if you don’t want it.  Could the school have notified students after the first shooting?  Yes, but I’m not sure it would have helped.  Most students don’t check their university email first thing in the morning.  A general email sent out saying “There’s been a shooting in one of the dorms” wouldn’t have given anyone useful information.  Even if I had gotten the email, which is doubtful, would I have stayed in my dorm room after having heard that there was a shooting in a dorm? No, sorry.  People have also said that they should have locked down the buildings, but if they thought it was a student, that wouldn’t help, since students have key card access everywhere anyway.  I live on a much smaller campus than VT (a little more than 1/10th the size) and even on my campus, it’s too spread out and too open to effectively keep someone from bringing a gun onto campus.  He had planned this for a long time.  He bought the gun a month ago, the fact that he killed about 2/3 of the people he shot shows that he knew what he was doing.  He didn’t wake up one morning and decide to do this, he planned it out, and he was determined.  There is realistically very little that can be done to stop someone who really wants to kill lots of people.  Honestly, I think the only thing that could have stopped him was if someone else had been carrying a gun and had shot him first.  It sucks, but it’s true.  I know people want someone to blame, but really the only one to blame here is the murder who did this.
  • Which brings me to my next point.  NBC is coming under fire for airing the photos and videos  sent to them by Cho Seung-Hui.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  Part of me feels like people in general want to know why this happened, and showing these videos can help give people at least some sense of that.  That said, I also feel like by showing the videos they’re giving him a platform to air his views, and giving him what he wanted.  Perhaps a better response would have been to just let him be forgotten.  I don’t know.  Goodness, this is complicated… 

Edited to add:  I thought this was clear, but apperently this subject attracts trolls.  If you post something that is written in an inflamatory manner, which offers nothing constructive to the discussion, and use an obviously fake email to post it under, I will take it down.  That is not to say that I will take down all posts I disagree with, since I have no interest in censoring people, but I will not tolerate unsubstantiated attacks on the news media, the US, or any other party.  If you have facts to back up what you’re saying, or even reasoned opinions I’m happy to let you post them, but I will not tolerate the online equivalant of propaganda, on either side.  Thank you.

What brings you joy?

19 04 2007

Saw this at Sweet Rose Ramblings who got it from Jack.  I have real things to write, and I will get back to writing them soon, but for now, I think this will do.

Things that bring me joy(in no particular order):

  1. Mountains
  2. Looking at the ocean, in any weather
  3. The smell of evergreen trees
  4. Bread fresh out of the oven
  5. Thunderstorms (Playing in the rain and puddle jumping!)
  6. Curling up in a blanket with Hot Chocolate, and a good book
  7. A friend trusting me enough to talk to me about problems
  8. The smell of coffee (or lattes…. Lattes are good…)
  9. Finding (kosher!) jelly beans on sale for dirt cheap after Easter.
  10. Finally being able to really sing well (rather than just carry a tune)
  11. The Theater
  12. Long intellectual discussions about religion with people who understand what I’m saying, but still aren’t afraid to question me
  13. Puppies (of all ages)
  14. That I have at least one friend who will never ever leave me, no matter how bitchy I am to her, and another who I can go months without talking to, and years without seeing, and yet, we’re still close. 
  15. My brother. 
  16. The rest of my family too
  17. Hiking trips in the dessert, where we follow a damp spot in the sand all the way until it becomes a huge river
  18. Rock arches
  19. Watching House/British television with friends
  20. Reading Hebrew homework and realizing that I’ve just been understanding it, not translating
  21. Hugs from little kids
  22. My stuffed animals (Yep.  I’m 21, and I still love them.)
  23. Learning something fascinating
  24. The moment when you can see a child make the connection between something you’ve just taught them and their world, and you know that in some small way you made a difference to them
  25. Knitting and blocking knit shawls (When you wash them, and then stretch them out as much as you can and pin them that way until they’re dry.  They go from being heavy and lumpy looking, to open and airy and really beautiful.)
  26. Wearing hand knit socks
  27. Swishy skirts
  28. My “happy music” playlist
  29. Reading outside on bright sunny days
  30. New fallen snow, before it gets old and grey
  31. Watching Disney musicals and singing along
  32. Wandering around campus singing musicals with friends (We did all of La Vie Boheme from RENT once.  Strangely, this makes people think you’re drunk.  Who knew?)
  33. That my friends are crazy without any sort of substances.  🙂 
  34. My basil plant.  It sits by my window, and smells nice.  And makes good pesto. 
  35. Lighting candles (For Shabbat and Holidays, or just in general.  Fire is fun!)
  36. Star gazing, when you’re far enought away from a city to see all of the stars, and you realize that the night sky isn’t really all that dark after all

🙂  Have a good evening everyone!