Sunday, February 28, 2010

Adventures at Home, Part II

I had - for a moment - forgotten about one other adventure that consumed my time while I was at home. That was my adventure into my previous adventures. For example, when my sister began reading from a children book that I brought home from Egypt called "Wild Animals". It described various types of animals from Hippopotamus to Snake. In Arabic. And in English translation. I render you here a copy of one said translation:

Fox family from dogs families it is about 27 kind famous kind red fox which live about 2-10 years. the size of the fox near domesticated cats nearly, the fox characterized by his small mouse and soft fur and thick tail, it is predator take the opportunity to get the hunted, it is consider harm upon the human, the foxes sometimes nourish on the insects an fruits the sound of the fox called lamentation, it is sharp voices the foxes warm the other foxes when they feel by nearing the danger.

I hope you, too, now have a taste of my adventures. This is not a joke. No wonder kids in Egypt can't speak English. Song: Dazed and Confused by Led Zepplin

Friday, February 26, 2010

Adventures at Home

So I've been home for almost a month now. And it's been great. I've eaten PCC food, drunk Vita coffee, played our beautiful in-tune piano, obtained an iTouch (!) from indulgent parents to whom I have very grateful, enjoyed siblings who make me laugh just by saying things like "Congrats! You've won a fish card!" and...had some pretty crazy adventures. I will tell you about two of them.

Adventure #1:
Substitute Teaching Judaic Studies at SHA (Seattle Hebrew Academy)
I was looking for employment when I came back to Seattle, and I'd taken a few (minimal) steps to secure some...but then this fell into my lap. My 6th grade Rebbe's wife had just had their fifth child early (on the bathroom floor, I might add) and he was due for his two-week paternity leave. And there I was. In Seattle. So he called me up, sat me down, and explained me me how weird his classes were. He now teaches the 4th and 5th grade (morning and afternoon, respectively) and he did things in class like name each of the Chumash worksheets for the fourth grade and make up a story with a moral for each one. I didn't realize exactly what he meant by "story" -- and got a little carried away with my shiny new mem-bet page. I told the story of "Meanie" the Chumash worksheet who had been asleep on a train from Rabat to Marrakesh when her life's work had been stolen from under her nose. To make it interesting I asked them for suggestions - just words to throw into the story, like on "Who's Line is it Anyway". SO Jay-Z ended up being the thief, and in the end he returned everything because he felt so bad at having stolen it. It was a crazy, involved story, and the moral ended up being something like "honesty is the best policy". I think they liked it.

Other things that I learned in school:
If you're a teacher, you have a lot of power, and if you have a sibling in school, she also might think that she has some power by virtue of your power.
That whole first existence/second existence thing -- very true.
It doesn't take a lot to get a kid suspended from elementary school.
I accidentally gave them 40 minutes of free recess.
I purposefully gave them 40 minutes of free recess.
I learned that you become an adult when you're 18, but a grown-up only once you turn 41.
I learned that I do not, never have, and will never have ADD. But some kids do. Some kids in my class.

Adventure #2:
Road Trippin' w/ mah sista down to Yakima to watch the Northwest Yeshiva High School's 613 Girls compete in the State Championship
Epic road trip down, deadly road trip back. Well not deadly - just frightening. I picked my sister up from school at 2:15, we got pizza for dinner and hit the road around 3. The game was at 5:30, and it takes about 2 1/2 hours to get through the pass and into the Yakima Valley. It was pouring - like God-was-angry-and-turned-the-shower -on-max-pressure-to-relieve-His-stress pouring - through the pass, and the balding tires of our Prius were hydroplaning something nasty. But once we got through the pass (with its beautiful vistas so lovingly captured by my sis) we hit I-82, and that's where things started to get weird. Here's a list of things we saw:

-A city called Thorp
-A truck full of Buffalo Meat "...just for the health of it" (yes, that was really their slogan)
-Antique Fruit (yes, that's how they advertised)
-A city called Selah (while listening to the Ben Folds album "Forever and Ever, Amen", strangely)
-A sign that told us "Chain Up Parking Area Ahead" (which we could only assume meant that if we parked there we'd have to chain ourselves to our car, or our car to the parking lot, or something like that)
-A road called Thrall
-Shrubs (that, if Mars really had water, would grow on Mars.)
-Anti-social houses (As in, they had no neighbors. At all. For miles.)
-A sign that said "Leaving Apple Maggot Quarantine Area" (we hadn't seen one that informed us we were entering said "Apple Maggot Quarantine Area".)
-A place that looked like a NASA space station that my sister, appropriately I believe, dubbed "Apollo Ono 13"

And then we'd made it to Yakima. The game was sad. We lost 25-62. Painful. But we had been in the 4th seat and we were playing the 1st placed team. So there was that. And they had Baskin Robins (Kosher ice cream!) as consolation for the Jewz. So then we got back in the car. But it was dark, and I was feeling ill, and picky about the music. So it wasn't a, well, pleasant ride back. But we made it alive back along I-82 without being trampled by any maggots or horses or buffalo health meat.

At the end of one month in Seattle I have picked up the pieces of my shattered cyber-life and am leaving America with the following important items: A computer (!), an ipod (yay parents!), a journal (thanks Estee!) AND...a passport valid for the next decade (!!!). And what I have now is Time. I have approximately four months to not be a University student. I will spend my Time reading, talking, researching, making music, and learning a bit of this and a bit of that. I hope you stay with me for the next round of this robin. I leave you with an old favorite that will mean more to some and less to others, but isn't it always that way? Here's "Time" by Ben Folds. (The last few minutes are nothing, and the song has nothing to do with Weird Al, I don't know why he's in the byline) Oh, and, just for kicks, some Billy Joel.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

I saw Dorothy's slippers in the American History Museum - they're considered a "national treasure" - so I figured I could justfiy the title of this blog. I was there because I was searching for Stephen Colbert's portrait. It has however, been taken down from both the American History Museum (he, too, is considered a national treasure) and the American Portrait Gallery, though I did see a great many hilarious portraits of this great country's presidents while I was there. My favorite was the room of recent presidents, and the only one grinning was, you guessed it: George W.

Washington D.C., emphasis on the D.C.
So my travels since Paris have been, well, varied. But American. I flew into DC and was reintroduced to American in the most blunt way. America's America is what I kept calling it. I got to see the Capitol Building, the White House, the State Department that only a few months earlier had sent me to begin my adventures in Egypt. It was, of course, surreal, but my friends were kind to me, and let me freak out in my own time, gently reminding me that yes, Starbucks ARE on every corner, and yes, cars DO follow traffic laws, and no, no you don't have to assume that every man is going to try and hit on you. Ahhh America.

The City Where I Can Love All My Penn Brothers (and Sisters)
And then I went to Philly. And had a blast. I would like to thank all my friends who paid for my hillel meals, those who hosted friends of mine, who hosted the meal that I orchestrated, and who let me cook and live in their houses. And everyone who I had coffee with. And to Lovers and Madmen, the greatest coffeeshop on (near?) campus. Tasty.
By the end of my week there I'd had a lot of coffee, but never enough of your wonderful, passionate, excited conversation. It's going to carry me through my next month of, well...sitting at home, reading, gchatting, and trying to make money. I feel like an unemployed person. Is this a taste of what will come when I graduate? I sorta like it.

And then I took a BoltBus to New York. What a joy, the BoltBus. Interent (if I had had a computer perhaps this would have been more of a joy...), comfortable seats, people who speak quietly, and let you try and sleep without offering to pay for your tea or trying to get you to teach them English. I slept. Sweet sweet sleep. Ahhhhh.

The Moments that Make Up Seattle
Most delicious moment: Making peanut-butter cookies, though 'making' might be an exaggeration for what I did with the cookies...
Most glorious moment: Running, this morning, around the loop and ogling the shining, placid lake that I love.
Most important realization: We travel wherever we are. Its all mental. I travel in books these days, but when I was in New York I traveled to my family and friends and happiness, in Philly I traveled through the minds of my friends, and when I was in DC I traveled through the (ever so breif) history of this country. Its all in your mind.
Most awkward moment: When my sister grabbed my weenus unexpectedly.
There have been many more, but for now, I leave you. This time with a song, once again: The way I've often felt over the last few the Kooks...Naive.