Monday, April 26, 2004

it is late, and i should appease the slumber nymphs that are tugging at the corners of my sweater, whispering in my ears that they need me to lose consciousness for a while so they can vanquish the itchgoblin from the back of my throat. but i need to get some things down. so much is happening, so quickly, I can't even begin to keep up.
jews in the woods was exhausting. planning up to it was sleepless and intense, and there was little real chance to rest when shabbat came, because there were just too many people to love (and quite a bit of coordinating to do as well). i did have a few moments of beautiful rest, with zach on the couch in the afternoon sun before everyone arrived, the nap with julia, the very short but deep hours of sleep with zach and ben and francis and abby. how i managed to come back, pull myself together, finish my thesis, and take the MCATs within a week is beyond me...but I suppose it is not then so surprising that I have been sick in the recovery for the past week.
tefila was enormously powerful. intense. the pairs that led most of the services worked so well together, with so many new melodies, with such overwhelming intention. our maarive service lasted almost an hour and a half.
late that night, i went out on a stargazing walk that took a bunch of us into the woods, where, after some solo meditation time, we came together in a circle and started a sort of improvisational chanting and singing like nothing i have ever experienced.
the most impactful part of the weekend for me was probably my conversation with francis over shabbat afternoon dishwashing. i asked what she thought of the shabbat and she challenged me like no one has in a long time--in a supportive but truly radical way. she questioned how it was we had created a community that was not bound by a purpose of social justice, that was not invested in common goals of tikkun olam. she explained that for her, spiritual communities begin with that centering purpose and extend out of it. i have been thinking a lot about that concept. whether or not i agree with that community model, her challenge resonated on a personal level and has been reshaping the questions i pose to myself. how do i live a meaningful life? what kind of impact do i want to have?
francis, and the spiritually-connected energy of Jews In the Woods, primed me to be blown away by the AIDS pandemic conference this weekend. I must have cried at every event I went to. Speaker after speaker rose to the podium to speak of the extent of human suffering, the immediacy and breadth and direness of the crisis, and their efforts to help--on a truly mind-boggling scale. Ira Magaziner took the podium and told us he would not consider his efforts successful until the Clinton Foundation was saving millions of lives every year. millions.
For the first time in my life, I connected to enormous sufferings that I have lived so superinsulated from. I had been, of course, vaguely aware of the situation before. But I hadn't connected. Now, I feel responsible. Now, I have something to rise to, to struggle with. I am not sure where these feelings will take me, but I am glad that the fire has been lit. The coals have been smoldering coolly in the sand for far too long.

Monday, April 19, 2004

My bread has not yet leavened, but it is already on my back. I have begun my wandering, vaguely aware of my search for the mountain, for revelation. But the shock of freedom has twisted my mind in upon itself, and I have been so immersed in trying to keep my head on straight as I am hurried out of here by the urgency of the moment, that I have not yet been able to look up to the horizon, to see what mountains may come. I know I do not want to leave, and that every part of me begs for more, with the intensity that your body begs with every inch for sleep when you are being wrenched from its deepest embraces.
I debated a bit on whether to post now. I am quite exhausted and a bit sick, desperately in need of sleep...but I also want to be here in this moment, to hold it close to me and keep it somehow. I want to keep this feeling of having just handed some little tome to the neuroscience department, of having lived eight hours of standardized testing, of knowing what powerful things have come and are to come, and colliding even here at this moment.
I have been missing from my little digital planet for so long that I feel the need to report, to catch up, the way old friends do when they haven't seen each other in a while, and need some context before they can really plunge in.

shakespeare: my parents are shakespearophiles. they've had a subscription to the shakespeare theater in dc for eons, possibly longer than I've been alive. As soon as I was old enough to sit in one place for an extended period (this took quite a while, I was a rambunctious yungun, and my tuchus had springs) my parents started taking me with them to shows. So Shakespeare is in me. And there are few things I love more, when it comes to shakespeare, than reading aloud. Along come Shakespeare on the Green Auditions every year, and every year I of course try out. My acting skills are nill. But I jump at run after, and slide tackle any opportunity to read shakespeare with friends and strangers for a few hours in an evening. This year, my last opportunity to audition, I decided that I especially wanted to have a lot of fun with auditions this time, to be especially over the top. I jumped and rolled and spun around, I slapped myself and, at one point, imitated a King Penguin's signature call for the directors I was auditioning for.
Oddly enough, they liked this, and for the first time, I actually got called back--much to my immense shock. Although I didn't get cast ultimately, I had an enormously fun time moving and playing with all the actors at callbacks. With so many people auditioning for a total of some 10ish spots, I was honored to get a chance to come back and do more Shakespeare. This is probably by far the best outcome, because I dont have time to be in a play right now, and because the part I got called back for (Baptista in a modern adaptation called The Shrew) would involve me being quite evil, which I probably would not be able to handle too well.

Spring break was rather intense. I spend long days writing my thesis, taking practice MCATS, organizing Jews In the Woods, writing fellowing, and feeling entirely overwhelmed. I had a meltdown early in the week, and was uncertain that I could go any further. But here I am. Thesis in, MCATs taken...and no matter what the outcome, I have learned and grown. I rewarded myself for finishing the first draft of my thesis with an excursion to Assateague with Ben, Benj, Rebecca, and Michaella. We slept 5 people in a two person tent, braved freezing cold and thick fog and frequent rain, to camp just off the beach, to pray to the echoes of atlantic waves, to eat uncooked chilli and to be very quiet with the sea. The following shabbat with Benj built off of this magical intensity--he always has songs of praise on his lips.

Its getting late, so perhaps I will defer my babble on fruity Jews in the Woods, my thesis (??), morgan, and tikkun olam until tomorrow, when I am better slept.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

This is not so much a post as a pledge to post in one week. I am having an intense week, and my hands still are having some I am going to try to hold on to all the sparks until I have some more time to reflect and focus them into digital sunshine.
reminders....shakespeare, camping, passover, fruity jews in the woods, morgan!, tikkun olam