Tuesday, April 29, 2003

3am and I can barely stagger my way toward the computer. Not a touch of any alocholic or narcotic substances, excluding stacks and stacks of science papers exploring the mysterious identities of rhesus macaques and sheep and penguins and bottlenose dolphins and syrian golden hamsters.
Oh, I used to waltz myself through 1and 2 and 3 and 4 am with razorclarity and unmatched grace--well, maybe not grace, but flair. Yes, flair. I find now that midnight has passed, and I have become the squishy inert and unweildy substance of a pumpkin.
To new rhythms and glass slippers, leCHAIM!

Monday, April 28, 2003

why does rain make humans uncomfortable?
first answers: it is cold, it can make us sick, it ruins our clothing and our carefully crafted jerry curl.
second answer: out of a famous neuroscience experiment rises Difference. A pad constructed of metal bars next to each other. Each bar can be heated or cooled to its own temperature. A hand rests upon the bars. When all bars are warm, no discomfort. When all bars are cool, no discomfort. Then, warm and cold bars interspered, mixed across the board, warm at the same temperature, cold at the same temperature. The result? EXTREME discomfort.
I think our bodies are not ready to deal with certain kinds of difference. We can immerse ourselves in a hot bath or a cool lake and adjust comfortably. But, if somehow every other inch were cold, and every other inch hot, we would writhe and writhe. The same temperatures.
Rain is like that, I suspect. Your toasty skin confronts an unpredictable and uneven barrage of cold points. The problem may not be the cold, or the wet, but the difference between wet and dry, between cold and warm, scattered across your body faster than you can keep up with it.

i am full of hot air.
the z-pack fell for five consecutive days
upon unsuspecting subjects of a well-settled kingdom
few survived
wandering travellers from distant lands
cast themselves upon this deserted terrain
each of them with aspirations
toward the sands and the stars and the seeds of a pomogranite,
growing and spreading they met eachother
but the land could not grow
and did not know each other
and they did not know the land
these new nations
laid war upon the unclaim lands
war had its offspring not of them,
but in legions of waste spewed airborne

Sunday, April 20, 2003

i am leaving home today.(i am scared)
i do not know when i am coming back.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

In a conversation with my godfather, Mr. Harry, about science

Mr. Harry: Do you know the portion of the shmoneh esrei that begins modim anachnu lach
Ari: that’s my favorite part
Mr. Harry: Some say it is the most important part of the shmoneh esrei. It praises God for the miracles that happen—
Ari: every moment.
Mr. Harry: bechol et erev, boker, vetzohoraim. For most people, nature is just there. It just is. Some people have an appreciation of its aesthetic qualities, and that is well and good. But for most people….Do you see that leaf hanging there with that seed? Who has been thinking about it? Nobody. Genes? Genes!
At home, I found my father sitting with his guitar and a book of songs, in Yiddish and English. He told me that today is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Here are the words to one of the songs he played and sang for me, which he says was written at the time of the Holocaust. It has been played by many musicians, including my father and Joan Baez:

On a wagon bound for market,
There’s a calf with a mournful eye.
High above him there’s a swallow
Winging swiftly through the sky.

- How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summers night

Chorus: Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona,
Dona, Dona, Dona, Don…
Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona,
Dona, Dona, Dona, Don…

“Stop complaining,” said the farmer,
“who told you a calf to be,
why don’t you have wingsto fly with
like the swallow so proud and free?”

- How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might.
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summers night.

Chorus: Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona,
Dona, Dona, Dona, Don…
Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona,
Dona, Dona, Dona, Don…

Calves are easily bound and slaughtered
Never knowing the reason, why,
But whoever treasures freedom
Like the swallow has learned to fly.

- How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might.
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summers night.

Chorus: Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona,
Dona, Dona, Dona, Don…
Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona,
Dona, Dona, Dona, Don…

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

declaration rising between two waves of pollen in Rock Creek Park, 14 feet from the edge of beach drive.

circumnavigate my liliputian soul
if you can find it
in one of a million ions flowing through
one of tens of thousands of passageways
clefting two of one trillion neurons
(between one tenth of a thousandth of a second and the next tenth of a thousandth of a second)
that bathe happily somewhere above
the sweaty heaving of my fading fatigue "MICHIGAN" tee-shirt
in the two of grass blades
because a two washes easily
into a thousand and a tenth of a thousandth
when was the last time you recognized a thousand or a tenth of a thousandth of anything?
i suspect my statistics professor
he warns us not to dig for buried truth
i would like explore what is
between my two index fingers

Thursday, April 10, 2003

I have never really attempted to blog immediately after waking up.
Still generally glowing from my mountain adventure, I can already see the shabbat queen on the horizon.
Silly things yank at me.

Where is the graphing calculator I borrowed from my friend last semester?
How can summer remain such a distant and elusive mystery in April?
Should I TA Neuro 1 or try out for the orchestra?
Should I register to learn Proust, Joyce, and Faulkner, or Scandinavian lit?
Why did I not enjoy the Jurassic 5 show last night--even though half of Providence showed up, ecstatic?

But not too hard.
Spring weekend has arrived The sun has just come out. Funny, huh. Worshipping the sun is such common practice around Providence, where it tends to make itself scarce. People spurn rain and cloud bitterly, and await sunny days for elaborate and drunken celebration. Would people enjoy rain more if it was warm, like a shower? Or, alternatively, if people liked cold showers, would they enjoy the rain more?
I've also been thinking about where words come from. I usually do not hear them in my head, or have any sort of processed idea, before they start coming out. I do not even seem to plan what words I use. Brain Imaging and Language course has offered little clear insight--but that should probably be expected, given the magnitude of this mystery, evermore amplified by the broad brushtrokes of a giant electromagnet.
Ah, this is why I don't write until I have been awake for longer.
Here. I'll teach you a song. Then we'll both feel better.
"Kum kum kele, Kum kum kele"

Sunday, April 06, 2003

heene matov oomanayim. shevet achim gam yachad

if i had sat down last week and thought hard about how this weekend would end, I might have been able to anticipate the ending of the Jews In The Woods shabbaton, but I don't think I would have believed it. SItting next to Ben in a sauna packed with naked and semi-naked Jews from New England schools; the ice I had just rolled around in evaporating off my body; singing hee-ne matov with ruach that would pride a gospel choir.
I don't know if I have ever so potently experienced the sense of completion in the legions of the world, that covenenant of klal yisrael renewed upon generations. The essense of shabbat.
The shabbaton set expectations high, toward nothing less than a sort of Jewtopia, and somehow blazed right through those expectations.
Un-affiliated Jews, inexperienced Jews, orthodox Jews, reconstructionist Jews, convservative, reform Jews, renewal Sephardi Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, non-Jews.
Brown, Wesleyan, Yale, Vassar, Barnard-JTS, RISD.
All praying together. Eating, studying, sleeping, hiking, dancing, singing.
All together and compromises flourished easily and uninhibited, and everyone learned from each other, because none of us were that experienced with an environment this rich and challenging and loving.

The drive there was a test. Rather scary. An ice storm erupted as we entered the mountains of Massachussettes, and as we climbed in my trusty Camry, road conditions deteriorated rapidly.
As did the quality of our directions. We got lost numerous times. We arrived in the mountains within 15 miles of our destination by 4:30ish, and did not reach our destination until after 7pm. We skidded once and were saved by some feet from a collision. The windshield froze, and then the windshield wipers froze. At one point, we stopped on a hill so Zach could de-ice our view. Zach got out and almost fell over, but with all the slipping he managed to clear the winshield and the wipers. But when he got back in and pedaled to resume our climb up the hill, we found the hill and the trusty camry unresponsive to our request. We backed up some feet, and tried again. And then back some more and again, and back perhaps some part of a mile before we could turn around. We did not realize quite what was going on until we got out to find a house where someone could give us directions. We discovered the road--and everything around it, in fact--was covered in a solid layer of ice.
Out of cell-reception areas, pushing the edge of shabbat, we continued on carefully, climbing and winding about the terrain at rather unnerving angles.

But we arrived, finally, and Andy welcomed us into his home. Andy is Jewish, and he and his wife had just moved into their new home last year, in anticipation of their desire to have children, they told us, and start a family. They love their house, and were clearly nervous about yeilding it to thirty college kids for a weekend--they were teachers/guides of some sort at the retreat where we had been mistakenly been-double-booked, and so decided to welcome us in. They stayed elsewhere most of the weekend, urging us to love the house as much they did--with good reason. The house was unassuming from the outside, but spaciously framed by soft, smooth wood and centered about a room that extended three stories to the beams of the roof. Perhaps the only beautiful prayer space I have ever felt spiritually uplifted by. Windows offered panoramas of the ice-coated mountains, which rolled down, up, and away into the mist.

I have a lot of say and reflect about what happened, but much of that will wait a little bit. The providence ethnic arts festival is coming.
Shavuah tov.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Midnight in a tent, as in dreams, the range of worlds I will believe in expands. My senses take holiday from their daytime jobs and associations. The mating calls of bullfrogs can become the rumblings of a wandering bear. Wind riding over the tent lining is a wild horse trying to nose its way inside. A dewey, drooping pup-tent becomes a green womb, determined to birth me and Andrew Hirsch.

what is "yir-aht hashem"?