Has it really been 20 days since I last posted? On the one hand, that seems unreasonably long. On the other, so much has happened over the past 20 or so days that I feel like it has to have been far longer.
And now for an update:
Days 1-2: Transit Strike, alas, continues. Slightly worn sneakers carry me half an hour by foot to the alternate site I got myself assigned to (so that I could actually call it a work day) and half an hour by foot back home. Day 1 also included a detour to Teachers College (I was sort of in the neighborhood) to order a document I need in order to get my salary up to where it should be. It also included a stop at the Bank Street bookstore on the way home. Did you know they sell packages of blank dice? With label stickers? They're great when you want your dice to only go up to 3 so that your students don't win the game too quickly.
On Day 2, (3rd day of the strike, as my last post was the first day), the strike officially ended some time during the day. It did not end on a more practical level until the following day, however, so my now considerably more worn out sneakers carried me home to pack a heavy suitcase, and then outside to catch a cab so I could catch the charter bus that I rode to where I spent the next seven days...
Days 3-9: USY Convention. For those who don't know, this is a gathering of over 1,000 Jewish teenagers (was it 1,150 this year?) from all across the US and Canada for a week of learning, praying, social action, socializing, and other general fun.
Day 3: Now worn-out sneakers and worn-out feet carry me all over the hotel as I help to get ready for the teen-agers, who will arrive on Day 5. This year, I got to make signs (as usual) with schedules, room info, etc. Then Shabbat began - but I will call all of that Day 4 (a la Jewish calendar time)
Day 4: Shabbat. A very special Shabbat that I look forward to every year. This is a day when my dress shoes get to carry my tired feet and body to amazing services (because the people on staff care) and some okay meals... but the special parts are the Friday night gathering in the director's suite (some of you know who the director is - but I will give no further detail in a public entry) at which home-made dessert foods play a starring role - my own bar cookies included. This year, I was too tired to enjoy all this - but I did enjoy a good night's sleep in the cozy hotel bed (mysticengineer
would love these beds - all poofy and squashy and down-filled. Those with allergies to down would probably hate them.) The following morning, I got to enjoy waking up when it was already light out, reading from the Torah - and pretty well, too, I think - and hearing my father teach about the weekly Torah portion - specifically about Joseph. There are times when I really love hearing my father teach, and this was one of them. He is all about group discussion, and it was pretty interesting to think of Joseph in new ways. One take on him that I really appreciated: Joseph as the equivalent of the straight-A student who wants people to like him, and thinks that boasting about his good grades is the way to get there - because he has little concept of how to be liked by others. Or something like that. Another interesting idea that came up: Maybe he wasn't in touch with his father during his time in Egypt because he thought his dad was in on the conspiracy - having sent him out to check on his brothers in the field (which leads to the pit and the sale and Egypt) when his dad knew his brothers disliked him. Shabbat also included an extra long nap.
Saturday night, it was back to work, getting everything ready for...
Day 5: USY Convention begins. The usual excitement. Plus an unusual event: family Chanukah party in Philadelphia with a combination of local relatives and cousins who were visiting other local relatives. Cousins as in three little kids who were very cute and photogenic. Yay digital camera! So the first night of Chanukah was really special.
Day 6: Convention, second day. A highlight: the keynote speaker was a family friend. She is disabled, and spoke about her experiences in USY, her disability, and her life story in general. The USYers gave her a standing ovation, and I learned things about her life that I never knew before.
Day 7: Convention, third day. Since the educational theme was disabilities, this day of social action projects, which carried groups of USYers all over the Philly area, ended with all of us at Temple University, watching a wheelchair basketball game. Then some USYers who won raffles got to try out wheelchair basketball for themselves. I got to give out boxed dinners. And then I got to help man the lost and found, which had tons of stuff in it, because things fell beneath the bleachers and had to be collected afterward.
Day 8: Fourth day of Convention. Concluded with a dinner dance. Loud and chaotic for the USYers, quieter for the staff - we ate, then began packing up - more wear on my shoes...
Day 9: Convention ended. We watched a fun video, then said tefillat haderech (the traveller's prayer) together before heading our separate ways until next year. I got to go home via NYC, so I could get my computer. Then home with my family for a few days (as opposed to at the convention with them)...
Day 10: Got to sleep in late. Put in an effort to find time for the purchase of new sneakers - except that my sister's coat made its way into that same lost and found (not via the bleachers, but because she was helping to sort the stuff back at the hotel and forgot to take her coat at the end of that) and so her coat was in a box, being shipped back to the USY office, so her issue took priority - but in the end, we got to neither.
Day 11: Quiet Shabbat with my family. After such an exhausting week, not nearly enough time to nap. Also gave my sneakers another good workout with a 30-minute walk to shul, and the same walk back. Wore my new Shabbat coat for the first time - and got snow on it! Managed to nap through an an exciting snowstorm in the afternoon. Also managed to get a ride back into the city that evening - New Years party at NU's - only she was sick, so we only saw her roommate. Fireworks from the roof of mbarr
's building - they looked small and less impressive than last year - I guess I wasn't in the same mood. Oh well.
Day 12: recovering from Day 11 - no, didn't have anything too toxic... - and also a little Chanukah get-together at mbarr
's apartment. They let me fry beignets in their kitchen. Much fun. Much tasty sugary goodness.
Day 13: last day to recuperate before returning to work. I think that was also the day I realized that wearing the sneakers was hopeless, as they had worn too far and were now rubbing my toe. Didn't do anything too interesting that I can recall.
Day 14-17: Back to work. Wearing shoes other than my sneakers. A different pair each day, as each set was rubbing in a different place. Also saw two doctors - turns out I have enflamed eyelashes - or eyelids, anyway. And $35 later (plus the appointment cost), I have a prescription cream to put on my eyelids. And was it on Day 16 that I went to Barnes and Noble and had fun buying calendars half price? A crochet calendar (as in, a whole box of crochet patterns that just happen to have dates on them) for myself, a magnetic poetry calendar, and two weather calendars for my students, since I may be teaching Earth Science next quarter. And on Day 14, I ordered new sneakers online.
Day 17 also included a trip down to JH's synagogue, and the usual hour walk back up - which my feet somehow survived.
Day 18 saw me reunited with rymenhild
, who was here too briefly, but who also got me back in touch with terriqat
, and I followed them back to their apartment after lunch for more hang-out time. That evening, rymenhild
was off again, and I got to see the second Star Wars movie (as in, the second one made, NOT Episode II) with friends.
I also began to crochet a mobius strip shawl. As mysticengineer
pointed out, this is not only a fun project for me, but a way for me to understand the mobius strip a bit better.
Day 19 was mostly spent cleaning up from Day 18. And I think I did some other random stuff too...
Day 20's big highlight was hearing Neil Gaiman speak at the 92nd Street Y. He spent a lot of time speaking about the writing process, which I found useful. And he is also rather entertaining. Plus, I got three books signed (two of which I have actually read before...) I bought all three at Barnes and Noble beforehand - and the best part was, one of them, Anansi Boys, was 50% off - just begging me to buy it! So that was a really great evening.
Which brings us to today. I wonder if my new sneakers have arrived yet...