...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Everybody had a good year; everybody let their hair down. Everybody pulled their socks up; everybody put their foot down (oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah)

1. What did you do in 2006 that you'd never done before?

I tried answering this question, but 1) some of the things I did in 2006 for the first time are not blog-appropriate, and to write about only the blog-appropriate without writing about the more delicate stuff seems kind of ridiculous; and on the one hand, who cares, but on the other hand, my brother reads this blog; and 2) 2006 (and in that I’m including my experiences in Chile, since I came back to the US in early January) was kind of like my own Bildungsroman, and it would be impossible to capture all of the new experiences and feelings, et cetera, so I’m not even going to try. I can say, however, that I grew up more this year than I did in any other year.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My New Year’s resolution was to lose the 20 pounds I gained in Chile, and not only did I not keep that resolution, but I gained at least 10 more over the course of spring semester after I returned. Yeah, “oops.” I don’t regret the Chile weight since each pound represents a delicious memory and that’s part of the experience: how can you fully appreciate Chilean culture without sopaipillas and manjar and empanadas? I gained weight spring semester because I was depressed and slothful and drank too much. So my resolution for 2007 is to not be depressed and slothful, to drink less, and to be more active and we’ll see where that takes me. Some other resolutions were of a more personal nature and let’s just say I accomplished a couple and am still working on a few big ones.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My best Chilean friend Ronald’s sister Waleska gave birth to a baby boy.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, although people close to me lost people they cared about and loved.

5. What countries did you visit?

I lived in Chile and the United States and visited Argentina, Uruguay, Italy, Greece, France, and Vatican City (it counts!) I probably traveled more this year than I ever will in any one year.

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?

An intellectually challenging, personally fulfilling job. But honestly, 2006 ended on a really high note; it would be hard for 2007 to surpass it.

7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 13: Carla and I return to the US. That’s honestly the only date that’s been etched onto my memory, and I think I might actually have it slightly wrong—it might have been the 10th or 12th. Which just goes to show, I’m not really the date-etching type. The first Thursday of every month is also significant for me now.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Returning from Chile knowing that I had lived that experience to the fullest, without any regrets. Embracing my Religious Studies nerdiness and deciding to dedicate myself to it; discovering my passion for Chassidus (Hasidic thought and spirituality). Pushing myself further academically this semester than ever before and succeeding; surviving spring semester 2006 without becoming totally embittered and disillusioned. Cultivating relationships and friendships with some pretty awesome people. Being open to new experiencs and just putting myself out there and going for it.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Losing touch with people in Chile, both Chileans and Americans I met there. The loss of my friendship with Ryan.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I got a yeast infection sometime spring semester; not a huge deal, and I think I blew it up to way bigger proportions in my mind, because of some things that happened in Chile which… most people reading this have already heard the story, with which I drunkenly regaled you all on my birthday. (Cringe; and I’m thankful Clay has a sense of humor.) I also thought I had mono, but it turns out…I didn’t. I’ve been pretty healthy this year, I guess.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Bus, plane, ferry, and train tickets that allowed me to crisscross South America and Europe. I guess you could say that it was really Karen McCarthy’s Mama Lola: Vodou Priestess of Brooklyn that convinced me I wanted to go into sociology of religion, which I’m passionate about; in that case, buying that book at Powell’s might be one of the most significant things I’ve ever done.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Many people, but especially those who faithfully and steadfastly pursued their own spiritual disciplines, practices, and studies; and encouraged me in my own.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

In a word: Ryan’s. (Let’s not pull any punches.) And sometimes mine, I guess, in response to Ryan’s.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Traveling, but it was worth it.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Returning to the US; classes starting again last spring semester; traveling in Europe with Sarah over the summer; visiting Peggy and Amy in Portland in July; classes starting this fall. I get really, really excited about thrilling intellectual exchanges with the many wonderful conversation partners whom I'm blessed to call my friends. Every week I get really, really excited for Bible Study for Hippies, for instance.

16. What song will always remind you of 2006?

That one J-Pop song that Chris always played last spring in our apartment; “Dancing in September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire (anyone who spent any time in the boys’ and my apartment last spring will remember this song); Lizst’s Hungarian Rhapsody; anything Disney; all of Jesus Christ, Superstar!; the theme song to “Step by Step” (day by DAYYYYYY by day!).

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Infinitely happier. Fall 2006 was the happiest semester I spent on campus, which was a pleasant and much-needed surprise, since Spring 2006 was the saddest semester I spent on campus.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter.
c) richer or poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Exercising, getting out of the apartment last spring, exploring Portland, pursuing spiritual practices. I wish I had started attending Shabbat services earlier, although maybe I wouldn’t have been spiritually or intellectually prepared for them last spring.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Crying, drinking, holding grudges, obsessing over Ryan and that whole thing.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family, in Eugene; nothing out of the ordinary.

21. Did you fall in love in 2006?

No. I fell in “really like,” though.

22. How many one-night stands?

None, ever.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

Honestly? Flavor of Love. I loved the show itself, and I loved that we would all watch it together and talk about it and quote it. I loved that it was kind of our thing, you know?

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Hate is too strong a word. I dislike some people whom I didn’t dislike at this time last year, but I try not to spend too much time actively disliking those people.

25. What was the best book you read?

Honestly, I read some fantastic books this year. I would even go so far as to say that 2006 was my best reading year. Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey Among Hasidic Girls and Mama Lola: Vodou Priestess of Brooklyn top the non-fiction side and pretty much convinced me not only of my then-emergent love of Chassidus but of my passion for the sociology and anthropology of religion, the area I eventually want to pursue in graduate school. Along the Religious Studies lines, I really enjoyed, and constantly reference, The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto. I loved Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and I cried like a baby at the end of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf was also moving and had a lot of personal resonance for me, inasmuch as you could pretty much cross out one the characters’ names and write “Jessica of Spring 2006” and it would work just as well. But for best book, I’m going to have to go with the big guy himself: Ulysses.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

The Velvet Underground, which ironically was also my greatest musical discovery of 2004, but I found “Peel Slowly and See” on mytunes a just few months ago, and I’m loving it.

27. What did you want and get?

I wanted to be in a not-fucked-up relationship with an intelligent boy, and I am.

28. What did you want and not get?

Enlightenment.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

I really loved Little Miss Sunshine. I'd like to see Science of Sleep again, too.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 21 on February 18. My mom stopped in Portland on her way up to Seattle to visit my grandmother over the long weekend; and we had dinner then spent the night at the Heathman downtown the night of the 17th. Ryan cooked a fancy French lunch the afternoon of the 18th, and Amy, Peggy, Anna, and Chelsea H. came over for that. We went to the Vagina Monologues later that evening, then a group of friends came over to the apartment for drinks (earlier that morning I went to the liquor store for my first legal alcohol purchase, for which, frustratingly, I was not carded). And believe it or not, I made it to church bright of eye and fresh of face the next morning.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Falling in love.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?

Jeans, shirt, jacket or coat. Sometimes a scarf. I guess I wear skirts more frequently—say, a couple times a month—now than I did before, which is the influence of Chile, but honestly, I have no fashion concept. The biggest “fashion” change I’ve made this year is that I rarely blow-dry my hair anymore and I hardly ever wear mascara, which I used to wear everyday. Who has the time?

33. What kept you sane?

Solitude, friends, and the pursuit of spiritual discipline. Reading. McSweeney's. Bible Study for Hippies and Shabbat services. Getting off campus, and those quiet moments on campus where the winter sunlight's streaming through the trees and I stop on the bridge over the ravine and just look at the trees and see each individual leaf illuminated; those moments of mysterium tremendum that Rudolf Otto gave me a vocabulary with which to describe.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Flava Flaaaaaaaaaav!

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

The presidential election in Chile and everything that went with it; migrant farmworker issues and the debate over illegal immigration; the recent death of Pinochet, ex-dictator of Chile. The fall from grace of Ted Haggard and evangelical culture in general, particularly the evangelical blogs and the evangelical teen discussion forum.

36. Who did you miss?

Friends I met in Chile; the friendship I used to have with Ryan.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

There’s no way I can choose something like that.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006.

It’s not very eloquent, but I guess I learned how to be more comfortable in my own skin and with myself.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Everybody had a hard year
Everybody had a good time.
Everybody had a wet dream
Everybody saw the sun shine.

Everybody had a good year
Everybody let their hair down.
Everybody pulled their socks up
Everybody put their foot down.

-“I’ve Got a Feeling,” The Beatles.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

RIP, Jared from Zoom

I was saddened this afternoon to hear of the death of Jared, one of the kids from the first couple seasons of PBS' old show Zoom, in a car accident. Andy and I watched Zoom for probably longer than we should have, and although we mocked a lot of the kids on that show (to this day we still make fun of David), Jared always seemed like a cool, pretty self-aware guy, and was by far our favorite of the kids. I always wondered what happened to those kids; according to the obituary my mom read in the New York Times, Jared was a third-year acting student at Julliard. Here's the AP article. God, that's sad.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

This week in God

Or, really, Saturday-before-last in God, when I experienced another incredible Jewish Renewal Moment (TM).

The last Saturday I spent in Portland, the day before I left for Eugene, I went, as usual, to Saturday morning Shabbat services at P'nai Or. Services there generally last about three hours, and roughly follow this order: singing and chanting in Hebrew from the siddur (prayer book) for about an hour; prayers; the rabbi's sermon (I sort of think that's the wrong word to use, not only because of the Christian baggage attached to it but because Reb Aryeh's sermons are more like discussions, with a lot of participation from the congregation and debate, but the only other word I can think of is farbrengen, which might have too much Hasidic baggage. If anyone reading this knows, feel free to tell me) for another hour. There are Hebrew and English bilingual editions of the Torah scattered throughout the pews so people can follow along. The last hour is spent with the Torah: first prayers are said and the Sh'ma chanted, then a couple people bring take out the Torah scroll and kind of process around the congregation with it while everyone sings and dances and claps. It's kind of like a mini-Simchat Torah; Chris, you would recognize the song--it's the one that we thought sounded like "The Boxer." When the Torah is coming around, most people touch their tzit-tzit (fringes of the tallis, or prayer shawl) or siddur to its covering and then kiss their tzit-tzit or siddur. Then the scroll is unrolled to that day's Torah portion and everyone gathers around the table and Reb Aryeh reads/sings from the Torah in Hebrew, simultaneously translating into English and offering midrash (interpretation). Then more prayers, the Torah is put back into the ark, more prayers, then everyone joins hands and sings this song that's goes something like "Odeyvot shalom aleynu, odeyvot shalom aleynu, odeyvot shalom aleynu veah ruah." That's an extremely rough transliteration but remember that my Hebrew vocabulary is limited to like less than 20 words. I do know that shalom means "peace" (I think everyone knows that) and "ruah" means breath/spirit, though. Edit: This is the song I'm talking about. It turns out that "ruah" has no place in it at all, which means I've been singing the wrong words. Oops! Nice song, though. And other than that my transliteration was actually pretty okay.

The thing about the Torah scroll that you might not know if you don't go to Jewish services or don't have a lot of Jewish acquaintances is that it's huge, and made of animal-skin parchment, with the Hebrew written by hand by scribes. All of the words, especially God's holy name (the Tetragrammaton) have to be very precisely written, and if the ink smudges they have to scrap that whole piece of parchment and start over. There's tons of rabbinic discussion and halakha (religious law) about scribal practices, including huge debates about how much ink should be on the quill before beginning the Tetragrammaton, because the scribe is not allowed to break the writing motion to redip (no double-dipping if you're a Torah scribe) and the thickness of the ink must be consistent throughout. All of this is to say that the Torah scrolls are extremely precious, very expensive, and fragile. Nobody touches the scroll with their bare hands, not even the rabbi, because the oils in the skin could smudge the ink. When the little kids are crowding around the Torah table, the rabbi's always reminding them not to touch it with their bare hands.

After the Torah portion last Saturday, something different happened. A young couple from the congregation had brought their three-month-old baby daughter and their toddler son to be blessed by the rabbi and the congregation. A few people spread out and held up a tallis over the family, as though it were a chuppah (wedding canopy); the rabbi asked the parents to explain the children's Hebrew names and said a few prayers and brachot (blessings). Then he unrolled the Torah to a significant passage, and directed the mother to lay her baby on the Torah.

He put the baby on the Torah!

With no kind of protective plastic layer at all!

I couldn't believe it!

As the little baby girl stretched and wiggled, he said a few more brachot and prayed that, just as she stretched her little arms out and touched the sides of the Torah, as she grows she might stretch and wrestle--like Ya'akov--with God, yet always remain within the tradition and within the bounds of God's love.

It was a really touching moment, and one of my favorite Jewish Renewal experiences yet. The fact that the rabbi would lay a baby directly onto the Torah really struck me, as did his midrash. When I saw Daniel that night, I ran it by him, asking if that kind of blessing of infants is customary in all Jewish denominations, or if it's just a Jewish Renewal thing. He had never heard of it or experienced it, so maybe it's unique to P'nai Or, or unique to the Jewish Renewal; regardless, what an incredible moment. And that night, as we were walking to his house, the only words running through my head were "Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu," over and over.

Monday, December 25, 2006

One year ago / Hace un año atrás...












Christmas 2005: Dispatch from the end of the world.

Last year I spent Christmas with my friend Juan Carlos in Punta Arenas, Chile's southern-most city; Juan Carlos has generously invited me to spend the holiday with him so that I could get to know Southern Chile and so that I wouldn't pass it solita (all by my little self), displaying the incredibly Chilean hospitality. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at his uncle and aunt's house, with his cousins and his grandmother; they were, like Juan Carlos and his mother and brother, so incredibly welcoming, and had even wrapped presents for me. I got an email from one of his cousins a in mid-January from his cousin Marcela a few weeks into January, soon after the semester started--her father, Juan Carlos' uncle who's pictured in the family shot above, died suddenly and unexpectedly, a tragic and shocking footnote to my Punta Arenas memories. She told me that my Christmas pictures were the last taken of him, and asked me to send her all the ones I had.

From top to bottom, the pictures are:

1) View of Punta Arenas on Christmas Eve. Juan Carlos' uncle picked us up from his house and drove us to this viewpoint so that I could see the city.

2) Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Torres del Paine is a couple hours to the north of Punta Arenas, near Puerto Natales.

3) Glacier Perito Moreno. This is actually in Argentinean Patagonia, about 5-7 hours east of Puerto Natales.

4) Wild alpacas near Torres del Paine.

5) Juan Carlos, center, pouring a brindis (toast) of champagne. His mom and his younger brother are standing to the sides.

6-8) Penguins on Isla Magdalena! I took a ferry out in the Straights of Magellan one day to visit a national penguin refuge. Tiny Magellanic dolphins jumped along side the ferry as it raced through the choppy grey waters. That island was probably the coldest, windiest place I've ever been.

9) There were a lot of alpacas in Southern Chile.

10) Juan Carlos' family: from left to right, brother, cousin, uncle, mother, me, grandmother, aunt. His other cousin Marcela, who was around my age, was out of the room, and Juan Carlos was the one taking the picture.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

A sniper in Eugene?

Yesterday evening around 5pm I was riding home from Valley River Center along the Mackenzie River bike path. A few blocks past the rose gardens, there was a police barricade set up across the path: flashing lights, a police car, and a couple officers standing around. One of them came up to meet me as I slowed to a stop a dozen or so meters before the barricade. "Can I get past?" I asked, thinking that, I don't know, someone had jumped in the river or something. "I wouldn't recommend it," the officer said. "There's someone up on Skinner Butte firing a rifle into this area." Holy shit, I thought. "Oh my God," I said. "Yeah. We'd recommend that you wait until we hear back from the officer we sent up there. If you need to get by, go back to the Washington Park area and head up on 4th Street. The buildings would offer you some coverage, probably, if he starts firing again."

I asked the officer it would be safe to head back towards Valley River, cross the bike path, and continue towards Alton Baker Park on the other side of the river, and he said that would be fine, so that's what I did. I heard sirens later, and I assumed that they were related to the gunman ("sniper" is my word; the officer never used it); I can tell you that when I rode over and popped an acorn a few minutes later, I damn near jumped off my bike.

I told me parents what happened after I got home. On the news that night, there was a brief mention of a report being called in on gunman on Skinner Butte, but apparently the police couldn't find any evidence and they think it might have been kids setting off fireworks. Regardless: scary.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

No comment

Me: "Mom, I'm seeing someone in Portland."
Mom: "Really? Someone nice?"
Me: "Yes."
Mom: "Not an axe-murderer, then."
Me: "Obviously not."
Mom: "Man or woman?"

Monday, December 18, 2006

No, you're schmoopie

Tonight my little brother's girlfriend Betsy came over for dinner; he cooked goulash, which is kind of a big deal, since it takes like three hours. Betsy brought a cake that she had baked for dessert. Aren't they sickeningly adorable? Don't you hate them just a little bit?

The real question is, why is Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause still in the first-run theaters?

As many of you know, one of my favorite things about Eugene is seeing crappy teen movies for $1.50 at the second-run movie theater in the next town over. I just looked on Fandango to see what's playing, and here's the line-up: Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, Borat, Flicka, Man of the Year, Employee of the Month, The Guardian, Open Season, School for Scoundrels, Flyboys, The Illusionist, Barnyard: The Original Party Animals, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Are you fucking kidding me? You would have to pay me $1.50 to see most of those movies. (Caveat: I have no interest in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and I try to limit my Will Ferrel intake to moderate levels.) All I want is a cotton-candy movie about sassy and superficial high school kids. Is that too much to ask??

And no, I haven't finished (...er, started) my Apocalypticism paper yet. Agenbite of inwit!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

"Agenbite of inwit. Inwit's agenbite. Misery! Misery!"

These are the two most heartbreaking, poignant, melancholy passages of Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf (the first passage) and Ulysses by James Joyce (the second). In the Joyce passage, "agenbite of inwit" is a Middle English phrase meaning "remorse of conscience;" "me" is Stephen Dedalus and "she" is his younger sister. Having brought himself out of the misery of his family and home, Stephen feels at once obligated to save his sister, drowning in poverty, and suffocated by the possibly that she might pull him back down with her. Reading the Jacob's Room passage was one of the few times I've cried this semester, so evocative is it of how I was feeling at the end of last semester.

****

…For she had loved too; and been a fool.

“One’s grandmother ought to have told one,” said Fanny, looking in at the window of Bacon, the mapseller, in the Strand—told one that it was no use making a fuss; this is life, they should have said, as Fanny said it now, looking at the large yellow globe marked with steamship lines.

“This is life. This is life,” said Fanny.

"A very hard face," though Miss Barrett, on the other side of the glass, buying maps of the Syrian desert and waiting impatiently to be served. "Girls look old so soon nowadays."

The equator swam behind tears.

"Piccadilly?" Fanny asked the conductor of the omnibus, and climbed to the top. After all, he would, he must, come back to her.

But Jacob might have been thinking of Rome; of architecture; of jurisprudence; as he sat under the plane tree in Hyde Park.

****

She is drowning. Agenbite. Save her. Agenbite. All against us. She will drown me with her, eyes and hair. Lank coils of seaweed hair around me, my heart, my soul. Salt green death.

We.

Agenbite of inwit.

Inwit's agenbite.

Misery! Misery!

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Is this the end of Judas + Jesus?"

Yes. Yes, it is.

Okay, so we had the long-awaited homoerotic leather Jesus Christ Superstar! singalong last night, and it was awesome. I hope everyone who came had a good time, and I think we can all agree that it's a good thing we decided to make this one a dry event, considering the ease with which we were soberly making up lyrics like, "Judas...must you betray me...with a blowjob?" and "Ah wish ah knew how to quit you, Jesus!"

Meanwhile, while Facebooking today, I realized that a girl from my Short Story class has the same name (first and last) as a minor Baby-Sitter's Club character.** Y'all, I must be stopped.

**Trivia! What's the name of the editor-in-chief of the Stoneybrook Middle School newspaper?

Edit: I was marvelling to Chris and Eric at the Religious Studies department party yesterday that my blog is in the top ten for several google searches on Ulysses: "Ulysses and menstruation," "Elijah and Ulysses," stuff like that. I thought it was weird, but now I understand why, having just googled "Agendath Netaim" (a phrase from chapter 4) and having come up with nothing useful. If someone had written a blog post about Agendath Netaim, I definitely would have clicked on that link--it would probably be a lot easier to understand, and clearer written, then 99% of the results.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Elijah is coming! Is coming!! Is coming!!!

Today in Apocalypticism, Kugler asked us to reevaluate John Collins and Co.'s working definition of apocalyptic literature: "[A]n apocalypse is a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world." Sure, ancient books like Daniel and Enoch and Baruch (what? exactly) and Revelation might contain all those elements, but apocalypticism as it manifests itself in contemporary culture, religious traditions, and literature rarely does. I mean, rarely are you going to find works that contain the both a priestly and a royal messiah, Gog and Magog, angels, demons, dream visions, journeys through heaven and hell, an Antichrist, etc, etc, all crammed into one work.

How, then, should be define apocalypticism? Kugler argued that it's better understood as a strategy, instead of a genre: the strategy with which, as one girl suggested, people understand the finitude of their own lives, protest their own deaths, and reconcile themselves to the nature of the world.

On the one hand, yes, I agree. But on the other hand--and I almost said this in class, but didn't--there are still contemporary movements and works that contain all of those apocalyptic elements. Just check out the last paragraph of chapter 12 of Ulysses, in which our protagonist and assimilated Jew Leopold Bloom flees the drunken and violent sheeplike men of the tavern and is swept up in a chariot vision, all whirled together and exploding like his Roman candle on the beach as he watches Gerty McDowell in one great blast of apocalyptic imagery and motifs:

When, lo, there came about them all a great brightness and they beheld the chariot wherein He stood ascend to heaven. And they beheld Him in the chariot, clothed upon in the glory of the brightness, having raiment as of the sun, fair as the moon and terrible that for awe they durst not look upon Him. And there came a voice out of heaven, calling Elijah! Elijah! And he answered with a main cry: Abba! Adonai! And they beheld Him even Him, ben Bloom Elijah, amid clouds of angels ascend to the glory of the brightness at an angle of fortyfive degrees over Donohoe's in Little Green street like a shot off a shovel.

I mean, in that passage alone you've got your Jesus imagery, you've got Elijah, you've got some Revelation thrown in (his clothing matches that of the pregnant woman clothed with the sun), you've got your angels and your heavenly journey. But the thing is, if you define apocalypticism as only a strategy, then I'm not sure that passage, or Ulysses as a whole, would count, because while it's chockablock with apocalyptic motifs, it's not particularly eschatological. The last image of the novel, the penultimate chapter before entering the washed-in-the-blood river of Molly Bloom's stream of conscious, is one of peace and rest and stability; Bloom and Molly lie in bed together, in their warm Dublin room: "At what state of rest or motion? At rest relatively to themselves and to each other. In motion being each and both carried westward, forward and rereward respectively, by the proper perpetual motion of the earth through everchanging tracks of neverchanging space."

Everchanging tracks of neverchanging space. What does that mean for Ulysses as an apocalyptic work, and what does that mean for Bloom as a symbol of Irish and Jewish messianism?

If I could answer that question, I would have a much easier time writing Kugler and Rishona's papers.

Edit: Man, does anybody know what I was talking about there? Yeah, me neither. Let's just chalk it up to contransmagnificanjewbantantiality. Here's the procrastination report: I have a seven-pager for Rishona due tomorrow at 6, and it's so, so difficult for me to start papers the day before they're due when I know I'll have a solid two hours tomorrow afternoon to work. But it's about Ulysses! and Judaism! And those are two of my very favorite things to talk about! Plus, I have to revise a few reading summaries for Paul tomorrow, and find my EB Tylor summary. Stupid Tylor. Though all things considered, I'm surprised I've only misplaced one of the summaries. Goal: Ulysses until 9, then coffee and revising my Hume, Durkheim, and Schleiermacher summaries. I would like to be in bed by 1am or 2 at the latest so I don't start hallucinating Peggy again.

Finishing off a semester of Feminist Theory with a rousing discussion of the Power Rangers...

Heather: "I never watched the show, but I did study karate under the Red Ranger."
Ali: "Oh my God! The real one?"
Susan, reaching across the circle: "Touch my hand! Touch my hand! Touch my hand!"
Heather: "He even put my belt on me."
Brandon: "The question is, did he take it off?"

A few minutes later, discussing who's bringing what to the final project presentations:

Kori: "Brandon, you bring decorations."
Brandon: "Oh, make the gay one bring the decorations!"
Kori: "No, just bring those blow-y things!"
Brandon: "Oh, make the gay one bring the blow-y things!"
Karin: "Well, you could bring hashbrowns."
Brandon: "Oh, make the gay one from Idaho bring the blow-y things and the hashbrowns!"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

When ben Bloom Elijah founds New Bloomusalem, homework will be abolished

This afternoon after getting back to campus I thoroughly cleaned my room, and not the kind of cleaning that's just moving around piles of stuff-I recycled, I threw away, I vacuumed. Then I ate dinner. Then I took a nap. Then I spent two hours reading the evangelical teen forum. Then I updated my blog.

It's almost as though I'm avoiding writing a paper about Jewish and Irish apocalyptic elements in Ulysses!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Good Shabbos

This morning at P'nai Or there was a special Children's Shabbat service before the adult service; if I had known, maybe I would have lingered over my breakfast a little more and finished drying my hair rather than rush to the schul--but on the other hand, listening to Reb Aryeh's discussion with the little children, I learned a few more Hebrew words, and witnessed one of my favorite Jewish Renewal moments yet.

When I arrived to the schul, Reb Aryeh was sitting on the floor with a circle of maybe eight or nine kids around him, mostly boys, mostly younger than six, mostly in kippot, leading a discussion on last week's Torah portion, Genesis 28, in which Yaakov (Jacob) has a dream vision of angels ascending and descending a ladder to the heavens. The Hebrew word for angel, malach, can also be translated "messenger," and as Reb Aryeh pointed out, the gematria for "ladder" is the same as "Mt. Sinai," which suggests a mystical equivalence between the two concepts. The kids hurled questions at the rabbi: "How can an angel go up the ladder and then down the ladder if they start in heaven?" "How can you go higher up the ladder if you're already at the top?" "How can you go further down the ladder if you're already at the bottom?" "What if you stay at the middle of the ladder?" Rather than discourage the kids or move on with his lesson, the rabbi encouraged them while deftly steering the conversation back to his original point: "These are such great midrashim; let's look at what Yaakov does here..." But the kids kept piping up, more and more until the rabbi cried out, "Oy, it's like I'm living in the Zohar!"

Friday, December 08, 2006

Such wonderful things surround you; what more is you lookin' for?

So Chris and Carla came over to watch and sing along to The Little Mermaid with Amy, Masha, Anna and me. And here's the thing: Scuttle the Seagull sounds exactly like a certain New Testament professor Amy, Eric, Chris and I all had last semester. Like, exactly. And this professor was prone to squawking and shrieking about things like his feud with now-dead Jesus scholar Robert Funk, the founder of the infamous Jesus Seminar, "kids these days and their teeny-bopper talk," Mediterranean types, the evil eye, giving the finger to scholars he disagreed with, how the wedding at Cana was a "major kegger," and one hilarious incident in which a drunk Bob Funk called him up and cussed him out over the phone. So every time Scuttle spoke, Amy and Chris and I all looked at each other and dissolved in giggles, and then when it looks like Prince Eric and Ursula-in-disguise are about to be married and Sebastian tells Scuttle to rally the forces and create a ruckus to stall the wedding? Four words: "STALL DAT JESUS SEMINAR!"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Maybe Aladdin should have wished for secondary sexual characteristics

...you know, like armpit hair. Or nipples.

Last Friday after the Taizé prayer service, Amy, Carla, Eric, and Chris (Chris, get a blog!) and I all went back to our apartment for something Amy and I have been anticipating ever since last semester: Disney singalong!! We watched, and sang, and recited Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. Tomorrow we're watching The Little Mermaid, and if you read this blog you're officially invited. So if you want to be "Part of Our World" come over around 7!!

Edit: I was under the impression that Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace was 1900 pages long. It turns out it's only 1079. Piece of cake! Plus, I have it on good authority that after page 300 or so it gets highly readable.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Morning by morning new mercies I see

One of my favorite things about my church, First Congregational United Church of Christ of downtown Portland, are the beautiful stained glass windows. I always sit on the left side of the sanctuary, so I have a great view of the huge, jewel-toned window on the right, which shows Jesus welcoming the little children to him. We don't have a large cross at the altar (a consciously-made decision that I disagree with) and I find that having an image or an icon helps me focus in prayer, so often during the prayers or the Doxology I turn my head towards the eastern window instead. (That window and I have quite a history: it also served as the jumping-off point for a Kugler paper about hermeneutical philosophy, entitled "Sunday Morning Epistemology: Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, and Stained Glass Windows.")

Today during the sermon, I and several others around me watched as the sun slowly came out from behind a cloud and illuminated the window. The yellow tones became golden; the muted blues and greens, unimpressive on a cloudy day, brilliant sapphires and emeralds. At one point, for several minutes, the sun's position was such that exactly half of the circular window was illuminated. There was a sharp line of shadow down the center of the window. Jesus glowed, while the people crowded around him were left in darkness. Slowly the sun emerged and the shadow was pushed aside; soon all were glowing with the sun, and it struck me that perhaps there could be no better metaphor for the coming of the Son of God into the darkness of the world.

After the service Dorothy, a friend of mine from the church, and I were talking about the stained glass window. I told her how I use it as a focus for my prayer and meditation and she nodded. "I love it, too," she said, "because we are all called to Jesus. No matter who you are or where you are, we can all be like the little children gathered to him...even Dubya could sit with him! Anyone!"

Amen, and may it be so.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

"He converted for the jokes!"

Tonight was the Black Student Union's annual Kwanzaa dinner--delicious, as expected, especially the orange peels stuffed with mashed yam. Before the dinner began, there was a short presentation about the history of Kwanzaa and a lighting of the kinara. Anna, Amy, Peggy and I (along with some other people) all read a brief explanation of one of the seven principals of the holiday and then, one by one, lit the candle representing that principal. I lit the first red candle, the candle of Kujichagulia, or self-determination.

Me, practicing beforehand: "Kujichagulia...kugjichagulia..."
Riana: "What are you doing?"
Me: "I'm going to light the candle for kujichagulia: self-determination."
Riana: "What, are you, like, the token Jewish person?"
Me: "I'm not Jewish--"
Peggy: "She's not Jewish, she just pretends to be."

It was a joke; it was funny; I laughed. But now let me hasten to clarify: I have never pretended to be Jewish. I joke about being a shiksa because I find it funny and ironic, since, except for dating a Jewish guy, I so emphatically do not fit the shiksa stereotype. Sometimes people mistake me for Jewish (it's all the Central/Eastern European blood, I guess) or assume that I come from a Jewish background, but if they bring it up or ask, I always clarify my background for them. I study aspects of the Jewish religion because I find them intellectually thrilling and I participate in Jewish spiritual activities, like going to Shabbat services at P'nai Or, because I find them moving and spiritually significant. And yeah, I added "Jewish Renewal" to "United Church of Christ" to the religion section of my facebook profile because I do attend Jewish Renewal services, and that denomination, for lack of a better word, is open to people of all faiths; going to Shabbat services is part of the spiritual discipline I practice. But I've always been completely upfront, both at P'nai Or and with the other Jewish people in my life, when the question has arisen of my motives, that although I respect and honor their tradition, I'm not of it. It seems important to emphasize now: I do not pretend to be Jewish.

Spanish tutoring

Lewis & Clark hires advanced students in every department to tutor more beginning/intermediate students. This year, I'm one of the Spanish tutors. I was really excited to be hired in September, but there are so many of us Spanish tutors (probably around ten or so, more than any other department) that I never got any jobs. I don't know if the other tutors were working. But now, as the end of the semester nears, suddenly all the kids in need of Spanish tutors have been crawling out of the woodwork, and I love it. I bring my computer with me to class most days and when I check my email constantly throughout the day, so I'm practically always the first to receive the emails sent out to all the Spanish tutor and thus the first to respond. I need the money and I'm a good tutor, so I feel absolutely no remorse for taking all the jobs I can get. Today and yesterday alone I tutored 4.25 hours. That's not a lot considering we only make minimum wage but, on the other hand, one hour of work at minimum wage pays for me to see one movie in the theater, so I'm happy.

If any of you who are reading this need a Spanish tutor, ¡llámame!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shiksappeal

I realized this afternoon that almost every paper I'm going to be writing from now until the end of the semester is, in some way, about Judaism. Check it:

Spanish 410: Major Periods in Spanish Literature: The use of the Judeo-Spanish language Ladino by the Sephardic Jewish communities of Spain as a means of preserving/creating identity. This is the paper that I'm currently battling against. I don't know. I kind of wish I had chosen an easier topic, or at least something more specific. It's due Friday at 5.

Religious Studies 401: Methods in the Study of Religion: Applying Weberian theory to the Lubavitcher Hasidic Jewish sect and the Jewish Renewal movement. Supposed to be due Friday, but I got an extension until next Tuesday, thank God. Plus, I only have to turn in a rough draft on Tuesday, anyway. But I don't normally write in rough drafts: I wait until I feel inspired then write the entire paper in one feverish, all-night sitting. So what I turn in Tuesday will more than likely be basically my final draft, for better or for worse.

Religious Studies 398: The Apocalyptic Imagination: The apocalyptic/messianic/eschatological elements in Ulysses. Am I crazy for trying to take this on? Maybe, but it's too fun and interesting to pass up--plus it's just close enough to the final paper I have for Rishona's class that it'll reduce the amount of original research/analysis I have to do, while being different enough that I don't feel bad/dishonest for doubling up on the topic. Speaking of which...

English 333: Major Figures Joyce/Woolf: The character of Bloom as a Jewish/Irish messianic figure, and the ways in which Joyce conflates the Irish hope and struggle for home rule with Jewish messianism. (Can you say "New Bloomusalem?")

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"There's just no other way to say it: Jessi's black."

Everyone, but especially Amy and Chris, should check out this page: "The Ever-Changing Face of Racial Equality in the BSC" (Baby-Sitters Club), a cover-by-cover analysis of the depiction of Jessi Ramsey.

Edited to add: This post on one of the LiveJournal BSC communities made me laugh really hard. Out loud. In the library. Screw you, Spanish paper due Friday!

no I said no I will Not?

My Joyce/Woolf class was just cancelled, and today was the day we were going to talk about Molly Bloom's final fifty-page, one-sentence interior stream-of-consciouness monologue, ending with the beautiful and perfect seven words "yes I said yes I will Yes." Sad emoticon :-(

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ceci n'est pas une pipe, et Thomas Kinkade n'est pas un artiste

I was googling Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light (TM) to find an image of a snowy cottage that was reminisicent of the Manor House, and I wound up on this page: "Religious Affiliation of the World's Greatest Artists." Okay, laughable to include Kinkade on such a list, but the intro explained that they were purposely including popular artists. But then, the site turned insult to injury: "Cassius Coolidge, Thomas Kinkade and Rene Magritte, for example, are certainly not considered as influential or as artistically brilliant as Michelangelo or Rembrandt, but their works are highly sought after and prints of their paintings typically sell better than many painters considered historically more important."

Motherfucker, I know you did not just liken Rene Magritte to Thomas Kinkade. RIGHT? Because those two should not be mentioned in the same sentence, ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever.

Lynette's a lover and a fighter!

(Recent plotlines on Desperate Housewives have involved Lynette Scavo trying to protect her children from the maybe-pedophile across the street. One of her kids--the non-twin, non-baby little boy--always delivers his lines with his face wrinkled up in this aw-shucks-ain't-I-cute voice with one eye screwed shut. As a result Amy and I mock him mercilessly.)

(Lynette says something about protecting her kids.)
Amy: "Even Winky?"
Me: "Hee, 'Squints.'"
Amy: "That's totally his Flav name."
Me: "Except Flav spells it with a Z."
Amy and me together: "...and a K."

Unrelated update: Yesterday Daniel told me that snow was forecasted for today, and I totally scoffed at the idea. Snow? Preposterous! I couldn't even see my breath! But when I awoke this morning it was snowing lightly, and now it's actually coming down pretty fast and thick, and it's sticking. I love it when it snows here: it totally transforms campus into a Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light (TM) snowscape.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Transcendence, immanence, Ulysses, Mircea Eliade, and my period

I consider everything I talk about here to be within the realm of polite discourse. However, I acknowledge that for some, it might be considered Too Much Information. Consider yourself warned.

I feel that, in a lot of ways, "transcendence" and "immanence" have been the watchwords of the semester. Traditional structuralist gender philosophy has held that men occupy a transcendent, objective, active space, while women are left the immanent, subjective, passive space: women are the subjects upon which men act. This framework quickly leads to the analogy/aphorism that women are to nature as men are to culture. I struggle against gender essentialism every day and I wouldn't describe myself as a structuralist. However, I do think that structures such as "transcendence," "immanence," "nature," and "culture" are useful and necessary as heuristic devises: you have to set up the structures before you can knock them down. I don't think you can be a poststructuralist without passing, however briefly, through structuralism.

One way that the nature/culture, immanent/transcendent dichotomy manifests itself is in the discourse surrounding menstruation. The other day in Joyce/Woolf we were talking about the Gerty McDowell episode in chapter 13 (recap: in a chapter designed to evoke the "Nausicaa" episode of The Odyssey, Leopold Bloom masturbates to the sight of young Gerty McDowell on the beach. See me if you want to read--and I can't believe I'm writing this on my blog--Bloom's ejaculation scene, because it's totally great); after Bloom's orgasm, his mind sort of drifts into this free-flowing, free-association string of thoughts and musings. In particular, he wonders why all women don't menstruate at the same time, since their cycles are controlled by the moon (there's a great passage later about the similarities between women and the moon; ask me if you're interested). We were discussing this in small groups, and one of the girls in my group was like, "Oh, if you live outside and subsist only on natural products then your cycle aligns to follow the moon." And in the group, I was like, "Oh, interesting. I didn't know that." But in my head I was like, "BULLSHIT!" I simply do not believe that women have an innate connection with the moon or with the earth on the basis of having ovaries and a uterus that bleeds once a month. I just don't believe it. Even Mircea Eliade, in The Sacred and the Profane, a classic tome of Religious Studies, propagates the notion that women have sacred knowledge, a kind of one-ness with the earth, based on their womanly essence, that men are not privy to.

Note my underlining of the words "innate" and "essence," though. Like I said, I'm not a complete gender essentialist, but I do think that women and girls are socialized to be hyper-aware of their connections with the earth and with the process of regeneration, more so than boys and men are socialized to be aware of their role in the life-giving process. As a result of the process of socialization, I think women are much more attuned to the processes of their own bodies, and the ways in which those reflect the processes of the earth. The fact is that women can grow babies in their bodies and men can't; the fact is that women have a menstrual cycle and men don't. I just object when the conclusions drawn from those facts are "...and therefore women have a sacred mystical unity with the earth and the moon."

I completely understand the emotional pull of those fictional immanent, essentialist characteristics, though. This month marks the tenth anniversary of my first period and I would be lying if I said that in the past ten years I haven't felt some sort of "mystical pull" or "earth-mothery" kind of feeling around the third or fourth day of my period. There is something incredible about the menstrual cycle in that way, that it's a ritualized process nearly all women participate in; it's something that, strange as it sounds, draws women together in both superficial and deep ways. Any woman who's ever been stuck in a public restroom without a tampon and has had to beg one from her stall neighbor knows the sense of cameraderie felt by menstruating women, for instance. Until I was seventeen, I could pinpoint the exact moment when the egg was released from my ovary every month (a sensation called Mittelschmerz, and I liked knowing my own body so well; I felt some sort of cosmic connection, each month, with women going through the same thing. It's hard to have those experiences and not come to gender essentialist conclusions.

Hard, but in my opinion, necessary.

Sometimes I feel like I'm not qualified to be a grown-up

I went grocery shopping at Fred Meyer's today and found myself paralyzed by the choices afforded me by the free market. And that's how I wound up with a yam in my shopping cart.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Whoops, I forgot to update yesterday

Or rather, by the time I realized I hadn't updated, I was in bed and exhausted. There goes NaBloPoMo, I guess. But some days I updated multiple times, so I think it should still count. Anyways, expect a post later tonight about transcendence, immanance, Ulysses, and my period. (Hey, throw a Hasidic Jew in there and you've got practically all my favorite topics covered!)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year when we go around the table and say what we're thankful for, everyone has the same response: "Family, friends, and health." And I thank God that I am blessed with those, as well. But sticking with the stock response, sincere as it is, risks eclipsing the more minor or more specific joys of the year. I will always be thankful for my family, my friends, and my health. But I'm also in deep gratitude for so many little things; those, I want to highlight now. This year, I'm especially thankful for:

1. The fact that I look forward to all my classes this semester. Honestly, even when individual class sessions are kind of a drag, I'm so happy with what I'm studying that the work never (okay, occasionally, but more rarely than usual) feels like a burden. I'm thankful that I pushed myself to take 24 credits this semester, that I trusted in my own abilities, ambition, and intellect.

2. For my professors, especially Kugler, Rishona, and Paul: incredible intellectual and personal role models; not only the kinds of scholars I want to be, but the kinds of people.

3. The fact that I read Ulysses, by James Joyce. I feel like an infinitely more educated, cultured person for having read that book; I'm glad that my life has a little more contransmagnificanjewbantantiality in it, and it has been (and will continue to be) the springboard for some awesome discussions, both in and out of the classroom.

4. Friends who join, challenge, and encourage me in cultivating/pursuing spiritual disciplines and practices.

5. Wednesday Night Bible Study for Hippies, even/especially the nights last semester when we were so caught up in the joy of communitas that we were in Mark's office until midnight without ever cracking open the Bible. I'm so thankful for my Christian friends, in general.

6. Daniel, and the time we spend together. As Julia put it in a facebook message after I updated my relationship status: "Yay for intelligent boys, cutely awkward moments, and escaping from the college bubble!"

7. Silly and serious debates about whether Ursula the Sea Witch can be considered a feminist icon.

8. The fact that my apartment's location is such that I walk over the ravine bridge to class every morning. There's something about the ravine in the morning, with the mist, and the sun streaming through the leaves, and the chill in the air; it's a kind of mysterium tremendum experience, I think: the awe-inspiring experience of the individual dwarfed in the presence of the Divine.

9. Stephen Colbert's li'l gimpy ear.

10. The opportunity to reexamine and reinvent what Lewis & Clark means to me after Ryan's graduation last spring; the fact that I didn't let the end of last semester embitter me completely.

11. Every chance I have to use the word "hermeneutic."

12. P'nai Or, tikkun olam, and my thesis topic in general.

13. Looking forward to the future.

14. Absurd discussions about things like the Flighted Baby Advantage, the Quaid-to-Quality ratio, Flavor Flav, who you would make out with in an elevator, whether Topher Grace is overrated as an actor/as an icon of our generation, the homoeroticism of Jesus Christ Superstar! et cetera.

15. Gossip and serious talk with my little brother.

And more. Feel free to post yours in the comments. May you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving; you have all been blessings in my life, and I'm so thankful to all of you.

Edited to Add: There's a lot more I could have written, but fifteen seemed like a nice number to stop at. But I want to add: CHILE. So much changed for me last fall, and even though most of it occured before Thanksgiving 2005 and, hence, fell under that Thanksgiving's jurisdiction, so to speak, I didn't return until the beginning of 2006 and the things I experienced and people I met in South America permanently changed my life and my outlook on the world. To say I'm thankful for those experiences, and thankful to the people I met there, would be, in Rorhbaugh's language, the understatement of the year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Hey, brother..."

It's official: my little brother has a girlfriend! He and Betsy updated their Facebook profiles!! EEEE!

Peggy: "Wow, so: it's been a good month for the Jobaneks."
Me: "Yes. Yes, it has."

I'm blogging from Eugene. My dear friend Becca came up from Corvallis to pick me up; the traffic was so heavy on I-5 South that it took us five hours to get from Portland back down to Eugene. Of course, we also made a detour at the Woodburn Outlet Malls and stopped for dinner, so it's not like that was five hours of solid driving.

Andy, my little brother, dishing: "...and then we went out to dinner..."
Me: "Where did you go? Did you pay?"
Andy: "Red Agave? It's a pretty expensive Mexican place. We split the bill, but my dinner was like forty-five dollars."
Me: "Good Lord. What did you have?"
Andy: "¡¡La nueva revolución!!"

Body parts that hurt

My right shoulder hurts. I think I slept on it weird or something.

Tonight I will be in Eugene.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Estoy contigo...Michelle!

"Estoy contigo" ("I am with you") was Michelle Bachelet's slogan when she was running for president in Chile last year. (And by the way, since I get a lot of google searches for this, "Bachelet" is pronounced Bah-chel-et. The most crucial thing is to pronounce the "t" at the end.) But who would have thought, last year, that Michelle would be reduced to posing for a picture on the front page of the New York Times in Vietnamese pajamas, with a suspiciously Will-Ferrel-in-Elf-looking George W. Bush? Amy has the photo posted on her door, and every time I pass by it I feel embarrased for Chile. You know that far-left candidate Tomás Hirsch wouldn't have stood for that shit.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Meditation on fame

There are two Quaids. There is only half a Quaid of quality. That is a four-to-one Quaid-to-quality ratio.

Edited to add: Amy: "They should put wings on wheelchairs. Then the cripples would finally have an advantage."
Me: "Can I put that on my blog?"
Amy: "As long as you don't misrepresent me. I'm not saying they should take the wings off animals and attach them to wheelchairs. I'm saying they should build robotic wings."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Except for the part where they're all lesbians

Peggy: "Jess, what are you doing tonight?"
Me: "Carla and I are going to a poetry salon at Mariah and Danica's house...we sit around and drink wine and read poetry to each other."
Amy: "A poetry salon? How very L Word of you."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Praise him with tambourine and dancing

A funny moment from Shabbat services this morning at P'nai Or, the Jewish Renewal congregation down the hill from campus:

[a debate breaks out between a couple people about the proper translation of a Hebrew verb in Psalm 148]
Woman: "Well, I think it's saying [whatever], but my Hebrew is a little rusty, so don't take that as Gospel..."
Reb Aryah: "Hey, we're not going to take anything as Gospel here!"

I really liked the service. I wasn't sure what to expect, because the only other time I've been to P'nai Or (and my only other Jewish liturgical experience) was when Chris and I went there for Simchat Torah. Today was a lay-led service, and although the rabbi was there, the service itself was led by two women members of the congregation. There were about twenty people there, mostly around my parents' age, although there was actually another LC student there (Helana). I noticed that all the men wore kippot, of course, but the majority of the women did, as well. Almost everyone wore tallit; I think in more Orthodox or conservative congregations, it's typical for only men to wear the prayer shawls. We all sat on folding chairs arranged in a circle and sang songs and prayers in Hebrew for the majority of the service, accompanied by the rabbi's guitar and tambourines and drums and using a prayer/song book with the Hebrew text, the Hebrew transliteration, and an English translation. I could mostly follow along with the transliteration, but when I got lost the kindly woman sitting next to me would point out where we were. Everyone, like at Simchat Torah, was extremely friendly and welcoming. I loved how debates and discussions about the text and its interpretation would spontaneously break out. Anecdotes and examples were drawn from sources as wide-ranging as the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, the Sefer Yetzirah, one of the two main texts of Kabbalah, and Hindu/Yogic breathing disciplines. For some prayers we would all stand; sometimes some of the women would be so moved that they would begin to dance and twirl.

The service lasted about two hours. I got back to campus a little before 1pm--normally the time that I'm waking up and dragging myself towards functionality on a Saturday. Sleep is always nice, but I'm glad I went to services: "Shabbat shalom" indeed.

Friday, November 17, 2006

And now back to your regularly scheduled reflections on the Lubavitcher Hasidim

About two months ago I spoke with Kugler, my Religious Studies advisor, about an idea for my thesis that I'm really excited about. I want to interview individuals within both the Lubavitcher Hasidic Jewish community and the Jewish Renewal community about how they understand themselves to be living within the tradition of tikkun olam, the Jewish theological concept that holds that the Jews have a God-given duty to bring healing to the broken world. Kugler said that it sounded like a good idea but that since ethnographical research is going to be a huge part of my thesis, I needed to talk with Paul, my Methods professor and the faculty member who's probably got the best sociological background, about how to ground my paper within a methodogical and theoretical framework. Kugler also thought that Max Weber would be the most applicable theorist for my project, and Paul, as we know, loves Weber. For various reasons, mostly intimidation-related, I never scheduled an appointment with Paul before this afternoon. I'm glad I finally did, though, because not only was it totally not intimidating, but Paul gave me some excellent ideas.

Weber, like the good structuralist he was, saw most religious life as fitting into one of two categories, or general orientations towards the world. It was either inner-wordly, or world-rejecting. Inner-worldy activism and practice is characterized by asceticism, Western religious traditions, and a commitment to activism within the world and within human society. World-rejecting practice is characterized by mysticism, Eastern religious traditions, and a focus on the unity of the soul with God/the divine. World-rejecting religion generally lacks to commitment to social activism that characterized inner-wordly religion. As I was explaining to Paul the differences in tikkun olam that I perceive between the Lubavitchers and the Jewish Renewal, the applicability of the inner-wordly/world-rejecting structures became more and more apparent. As Paul pointed out, it seems as though tikkun olam motivates those in the Jewish Renewal movement to a kind of inner-wordly activism that encompasses reconciliation in the Middle East, petitioning the government to raise the minimum wage, environmental convservation, interfaith dialogue, etc. On the other hand, tikkun olam among Lubavitchers tends to be focused on rekindling the sacred light of the neshama, or Jewish soul, within non- or less-observant Jews. The end goal of tikkun olam for Lubavitchers is the return of Moshiach, the Messiah. According to Sylvia, the Jewish Studies professor, the kind of environmental awareness and conservation that characterizes the Jewish Renewal movement is almost entirely absent among Lubavitchers.

Paul also mentioned that it would be interesting to look at which group is more rationalized or secularized, according to Weber's framework. Each group bears some of the characteristics of Weberian secularization and rationalization: the Lubavitcher concept of God tends to be more transcendent (and therefore rational) in scope than the Jewish Renewal, but on the other hand the Lubavitchers also place a much higher emphasis on orthopraxy (correct practice) than the Jewish Renewal folk do. An emphasis on orthopraxy instead of orthodoxy is a characteristic of more traditional, less rational (again, in Weber's terms) religion. Paul basically made the point that my likely conclusion will be that Weber's categories are too simplistic--he was a structuralist. But even if that's the case, the analysis will be interesting and fruitful.

All things considered, I think it's impressive how many days in a row I was able to update my blog without mentioning the Lubavitchers. Can I help it if Hasidic Judaism is one of my very favorite things to talk about??

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Windmills, weights, moons, mitzvot, Mormons, and magical realism

...All answers to the question, "What will Jessica be studying next semester?"

My class schedule ended up pretty okay. The only big problem was that Yoga was all filled up by the time I tried to register for it, so I had to take Beginning Weight Training instead for my last PE credit requirement. That's okay; it seems like a useful life skill to have, to know how to use the weight machines, and it would force me to work out more than I currently have been. The problem is that the class meets Tuesday/Thursday from 8 to 9 in the morning.

Eight.

In the morning!!!

I'm bummed, because if I didn't have to take Weight Training, I wouldn't have class until 1:50 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And I was looking forward to that because then I wouldn't necessarily have to spend Monday and Wednesday nights on campus. I'm going to have Astronomy, Post-Colonial Literature, and Don Quijote (my last class for the Hispanic Studies major) all in a block from 10:20 to 2:50 Monday and Wednesday, then Astronomy and Don Quijote only on Fridays. I want to take Susannah's Mormonism seminar on Tuesday/Thursday, but the registrar isn't letting me register for it because I've already taken her Seminar in Early American Religion and it's technically the same class number. But since it's a change of topic, I think they should let me take it. I'll talk with her about it. And, I'll be writing my thesis next semester as well (the mitzvot part of this post title).

Overall, I'm looking forward to next semester. So far, I love my senior year.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

contransmagnificandjewbantantiality

Hoo boy, I just read all of chapter 15 of Ulysses--that's the one that's in the form of a 150-page-long play--in one sitting. It only took me two hours, which I think is kind of impressive, but I was trying to keep my reading speed up and not get bogged down in the details. Now I need to decompress.

If you think I'm making up the word "contransmagnificandjewbantantiality," you need to read more Joyce.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Baaaa--" [flop]

This video is hilarious. Thanks to Amy for the heads-up.

Also, I'm a little baffled by the sheer numbers of people who find my blog by googling "The brain the brain the center of the chain." Homes, I'm the number one result!

I'm becoming more and more sure that I want to do Teach for America after I graduate.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Gloomy Monday

This afternoon I received news of two (unrelated) deaths. I didn't know either of the deceased, but both were loved ones of friends or friends of friends. One death was expected and came at the end of a long illness. The other was unexpected. I got the email in Spanish class (I took my computer with me so I could work on the Apocalypticism catalogue afterwards) and I nearly started crying right then. Please keep the families and loved ones of both in your prayers, and take care of yourselves; know that I love all of you.

"See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away" (Revelation 21:3-4).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

yes I said yes I will Yes.

Topics of conversation last night included, but were not limited to: Japanese pornography, Chilean telenovelas, Maria Izquierzo, Beverly Hills, 90201, French cinema, Russian cinema, Foucault, French postmodernism, David Foster Wallace, Jorge Luis Borges, metafiction, metaliterature, postmillenialism, premillenialism, the Millerites, Jonathan Edwards, "A Humble Attempt," "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Lolita, Nabokov, but most of all James Joyce and Ulysses: Joyce's epic project, whether Leopold Bloom is dirty old man, the correspondences with The Odyssey, Irish nationalism, Jewish messianism, transcendence, immanence, why all the women in the novel are on their periods, and whether Joyce is too allusive for his own damn good. Oh, I love it.

But now back to summarizing Jubilees and the Book of Enoch and the Sefer Zerubabel.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I think I'll just starve, thanks

From yesterday's article in Escapes section of The New York Times, "Setting Out Into the Wilderness With Only a Knife" by Jonathan Green:

"Mr. Nestor has regularly dined on pack rats, mice, and squirrels on his long sojourns intot he wild. 'When it's winter and there is no food on the ground, you have to eat that to survive,' he said, shadows cast by the campfire flickering over his face...'Mice are too small to skin, so you just throw them on the fire and eat them whole. Rats you throw on for 30 seconds to burn off bubonic plague, lice, and parasites and then skin them. If you're really hungry you just eat them straight down.'"

...BUBONIC PLAGUE?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Luckily, Portland State is just a bus ride away

Fridays I lunch host for the Admissions Department. That means I meet visiting students (usually there's only one or two or three at a time) at the Manor House at 11:45, take them to lunch in the cafeteria, and answer their questions about Lewis & Clark. Sometimes it's a lot of fun, and I really enjoy talking with the kids; other times it's like pulling teeth and I'm racking my brain for anecdotes to tell the unresponsive, unimpressed, sullen, or shy--those times we usually end up in awkward silence. I'm good at making conversation with strangers, but there has to be give and take, you know?

Today was more on the awkward side of the spectrum. No one really wanted to talk. I tried to make conversation with a girl from Idaho by telling her that one of my best friends is from there, and she was like, "I don't care about other people from Idaho." She sat in silence for a few minutes, looking around the Bon. The next time she spoke, it was to pronounce a judgment: "There aren't very many cute boys at your school."

It's not like I'm going to argue with her, but no one's forcing you to come here, missy. Hmph!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hermeneutic

It's totally my favorite word. I try to say it once a day, or three times a week at an absolute minimum.

Yeah, it's hard to think of things to post every day.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"What do you expect, Mother? I'M HALF MACHINE!"

Over the weekend my mom took Daxie, our cat, to the veterinarian to have a microchip implanted in her back. She's an indoor/outdoor cat and loses her collar pretty frequently, so we thought it would be a good idea to have some form of permanent identification. This afternoon, I got this email from my dad:

Just a brief note via electronic mail ("e-mail") that Mom had a microchip inserted into Dax the other day, right between the shoulder blades. This is in case she is ever lost, or more importantly, found. I've been trying to use the TV remote to make her dance, but no luck so far.

Hahaha!

Updated November 28: Several people have landed on this entry by googling the post title. So in case you're wondering: It's from Arrested Development, after Buster's hand is bitten off by a loose seal (get it? GET IT?) and he gets a hook to replace it. Lucille fires the maid after finding the two canoodling and gets a Roomba to replace her. But then she finds Buster in bed with the Roomba! When she confronts him, he responds with "What do you expect, Mother? I'M HALF MACHINE!" I hope that helps. :-)

Stephen Colbert is my TV boyfriend

WoooO! Democrats took the house!! yeah! And kulongsoski wopn goveronor, fuck yeah.

My friends Matt, Chris, and Steve came oer and Amy and I watched the daily show/colbert report special with them. Matt brought Bacardi 151 and wine and i had a loittle too mujch for a Tuesday evening, but it was fun, and we talked a lot after the show in the lounge, so yeah. I'm so excited an happy about th3 results of the elections. yeah~

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Max Weber: Super Genius!

...And speaking of intellectual crushes, today we started talking about Max Weber in Methods. Seriously, it would be impossible to overstate the love our professor Paul has for Weber; he's been talking him up all semester and even, on the syllabus, named this week "Max Weber, Super Genius." Today he gave a long testimonial about the effects of Weber's theory in his life, how The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism was the best book he read in his undergraduate years and how he remembers sitting in the library reading it and having this amazing moment of revelation that he wanted to devote his life to Religious Studies. It was awesome to see him get so excited and passionate, but also pretty hilarious, the level of his devotion; I wouldn't be surprised if someday the guy wrote a book called Saint Weber.. Some quotations:

"The world will never produce another scholar like Max Weber...he's the supreme, crowning achievement of the discipline...the unsurpassed genius of Religious Studies." (which prompted Eric to whisper to me, "Was Max Weber the Messiah?")

Discussing the differences in Marx and Weber's treatments of capitalism: "And who's right? Marx...Weber...Marx...Weber. Weber's better than Marx...nyah nyah nyah!"

"I'm being dismissive of Marx here...partly to make Weber look that much better."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Horizontverschmelzung (swoon!)

Discussing Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography by David Halperin today in Feminist Theory:

Deborah, the professor: "What did you guys think of Halperin's approach?"
Me: "I love the idea of writing a hagiography for your favorite intellectual. You know, we all have intellectual crushes..."
Deborah: "Really? Who's yours?"
Me: "Um...Hans-Georg Gadamer, the German philosopher..."
Susan: "You're blushing!"
Deborah: "In grad school I had a crush on Max Weber. I kept a picture of him and his wife in my study carrel."
Amy: "I have a crush on Alfred Adler."
Deborah: "Anybody else? Intellectual crushes?"

(silence)

Deborah: "Okay then."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Will all these dreams fit under one umbrella?

Fearfully and wonderfully made

There's something pretty incredibly about listening to someone else's heart beat, and hearing someone else breathe, and feeling his breath, all up close and personal--another kind of mysterium tremendum experience, I think.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday morning

Sleep 'til one, lay in bed and read my favorite evangelical blogs for an hour, shower, hot coffee and breakfast while reading Saint Foucault: A Gay Hagiography, music, clean room, snuggle under purple knit blanket while rain falls outside. Could there be a better way to spend a lazy Saturday?

Edit: I find it hilarious that I'm the number 1 result when you google "what is shiksappeal." But being a non-Jewish girl seeing a Jewish guy does not make me a shiksa, as this blogger explains.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Overheard in the Dovecote, and a conversation fragment from last night

Guy: "Let's sit in the corner. I love corners."
Girl: "Yeah, the corner is a good strategic position."
Guy: "The corner is pretty much the best part of anything."

I'm not the only one!

Me: ..."I don't think Tiffani-Amber Thiesson was on Saved by the Bell."
Daniel: "Yes, she was. She was Kelly Kapowski."
Me: "Are you sure?"
Daniel: "Please don't make me reveal the extent of my knowledge of Saved by the Bell."

I might have to start talking about Patrick Duffy at some point

Okay, I'm officially (as in, I just decided a second ago) doing NaBloPoMo. And if I make it all month, I'm gonna buy me a t-shirt.

Expect to see a sky-rocket in weird tangential absurdities. Peggy, I hope you're happy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mysteriummmmm Tremendummmmmm... (spooky!)

Today has been weird and disjointed. I was up late reading The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto for my Methods class, then I had to wake up earlier than normal to go see Wendy, my Hispanic Studies advisor. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I normally have class at 9:40, and as I walk over to Miller I pass dozens of people returning to their dorms, going to class, standing around, chatting, smoking, but today since I left earlier I was the only person on the foot bridge, the only person out on that rainy wet morning. It was disorienting. Then after Short Story, as I was walking to James Joyce/Virginia Woolf, I ran into a classmate who told me that the professor Rishona had cancelled class. On the one hand, I'm glad, because I still I had to write my reading summary on Otto for Methods, and it makes me nervous to try to cram that in to the 50 minutes between the end of Joyce/Woolf and the beginning of Methods (which, when you factor in stopping by the bathroom, going over to the library, getting set up, and printing out the paper, really only translates into a half hour of writing time). But on the other hand, I was disappointed to miss a class with Rishona, and she's not normally the kind of professor who cancels class). I hunkered down in the Dovecote for a few hours and got the summary done, but the change in schedule, combined with the misty hazy raininess, made the day feel very strange and unreal--made me feel like I might accidentally become detached from the day and float away somehow. "Jessica J. had become unstuck in time." That kind of thing, you know.

Methods was good, though. Rudolf Otto, a Christian theologian and a rough contemporary of Emile Durkheim and Sigmund Freud, developed this theory of the mysterium tremendum that's at the heart and inner core of all religious experience. It's a sort of mystical experience of awe and dread when the individual comes into contact with the supreme, sublime universality of the Divine. He describes it thusly:

"The feeling of it may at times come sweeping like a gentle tide, pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship. It may pass over intoa more set and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing, as it were, thrillingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the soul resumes its 'profane,' non-religious mood of everyday experience. It may burst in sudden eruption up from the depths of the soul with spasms and convulsions, or lead to the strangest excitements, to intoxicated frenzy, to transport, and to ecstasy. It has its wild and demonic form and can sink to an almost grisly horror and shuddering. It has its crude, barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again it may be developed into something beautiful and pure and glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of--whom or what? In the presence of that which is a mystery inexpressible and above all creatures."

I can't tell you how thankful I am that my undergraduate education in Religious Studies includes a dramatic reading of that quotation by Paul Powers. I'm not being sarcastic; it was great: tortured, Frankenstein-esque facial contortions, dramatic changes of voice and tone, the whole works. I bet he's great at reading books to his toddler son; you know he's the kind of guy who--as the kids I used to baby-sit would beg--"does the voices."

I repeat: Times New Roman is for pussies

Jason Gantenberg's letter to McSweeney's nicely parallels this post I wrote in September. In fact, it kind of makes me wish I had expanded my blog entry and sent it in. To read it, go to the Letters to McSweeney's page and scroll down to the third letter from the top. It's dated October 15 and begins, "I've been doing a lot of thinking lately."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The brain! The brain! The center of the chain!

Okay, so there was a post here about BSC slash, but I decided to delete it. If you really want to know, ask me, or Matt. But yes, it was about the Baby-Sitter's Club, and erotic fan fiction, and the phrase "The brain! The brain! The center of the chain!" so if you let your imagination run wild, you can probably reconstruct it for yourself.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Continuing the "If it's not about Judaism or the Baby-Sitter's Club, it doesn't go on the blog" theme...

This evening (Friday) Daniel and I went to Chaba Thai, a Thai restaurant in Northeast Portland. And I swear to God, when I heard the name of the place, the first thing I thought was, "Chaba Thai? I wonder if they named the restaurant after Shabbatai Zvi, the false Jewish messiah who converted to Islam in 1666 after leading hundreds of thousands of European Jews astray."

I think it's safe to say that they did not name Chaba Thai after Shabbatai Zvi.

Friday, October 20, 2006

This class would be a lot easier if I just had the whole Judeo-Christian-Islamic body of texts memorized

Prof. Kugler today in Apocalypticism, discussing Islamic apocalyptic theology: "Anyone go back to 4 Ezra to see if the Mekkan verses quote it accurately? Anybody?"
*crickets chirp*
Kugler: "Well, I did...and I have to prepare for four classes!"
Eric: "Hey, so do we."
Kugler: "Do you chair two departments, too?"

It was really funny.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Conversation between me and Frances yesterday

Frances: "Oh, I forgot to ask you the other day. Were you wearing a Baby-Sitter's Club shirt?"
Me: "Yes! I'm so glad someone recognized it. You have no idea how disappointed I was that no one commented."
Frances: "Well, I wasn't sure, so I asked Colleen, but she didn't know. You were giving your presentation, so I couldn't say anything during class."

Vindicated!

Hipsters, you're off the hook. Although I think I'll wear the shirt again and see if I get any more reactions.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Simchat Torah, take two

Note: This is copied and pasted, with a few minor revisions, from an email I wrote to a Jewish friend. Because of that, I don't explain some things, like what Jewish Renewal and Simchat Torah are. If you don't know, I encourage you to Wikipedia them.

P’nai Or, the Portland's Jewish Renewal congregation, meets at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church (which they call “St. Mark’s Shul” on their website—I love that) down the hill from campus. Chris and I left walking to get there a little before sundown at 6:11. We got there in plenty of time but the only people at the church were there for an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the community room. The sanctuary was completely dark, with the pews all in order, a big cross at the front, and the altar set up as though for communion, with the chalice and a loaf of bread; it didn’t look very Jewish to us, but then, religiously both of us are WASPs (she’s Episcopalian, and I’m Congregationalist…yeah) with a lot of theoretical knowledge about Judaism but almost no practical knowledge, so we thought we might be mistaken. Chris called her Jewish friend and he told her that the 6:11pm on the website calendar was probably just to inform people of the proper time to light candles at home, not that there were actually services at that time at the shul. We walked back to campus pretty disappointed. (I’m just glad we didn’t assume that the AA meeting was the P’nai Or congregation and join them—our mistake would be pretty immediately apparent, I think, and it would be incredibly awkward to leave in the middle of an AA meeting.)

According to the calendar on their website, though, Saturday they were definitely celebrating Simchat Torah at the shul. We talked about whether it would be inappropriate to go to P’nai Or for the first time on a holiday, but their website said they welcomed people of other faiths and people who knew nothing about Judaism, so we decided to just show up for the service and hope for the best. I’m so, so glad we did. I almost don’t even have words to fully describe how much I loved it. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming; the rabbi introduced himself to us and welcomed us; they were cool with us not being Jewish and not knowing any of the prayers or the liturgy or the traditions.

The service opened with the lighting of the candles and prayers sung in Hebrew, everyone (there were maybe 25 adults and ten kids there, but I’m bad at estimating group size, so who knows) standing in a circle around the Torah table. The rabbi directed four men to hold up the chuppah and said that we were going to sing to the Torah and welcome it as though it were a bride—the bride of the Jewish people, I guess. We all got into two lines, with an aisle down the middle; a woman holding the Torah walked down the aisle to the chuppah while everyone sang. After a break for dessert and conversation we all went back into the sanctuary and the rabbi explained that we were going to circle the room seven times with the Torah, each time dedicated to a different sefirah. (As far as I understand it, according to the Zohar, one of the principle texts of Kabbalah, the ten sefirot are envisioned as different emanations or energies of God, with each one corresponding to a different body part, color, gender, etc. They’re also arranged hierarchically from the female Shekhina, the sefirah that accompanied the Jewish people into exile up to the male Keter, the crown, which leads to the Ein Sof, or most holy and pure expression of God. Wikipedia can probably explain that way better than I can). As we circled the room we sang a song dedicated to that sefirah and were supposed to meditate on its influence on our lives. The sefirot songs tended to be slower and were sometimes in English—I recognized a verse from Isaiah, and the 23rd psalm; they were more like chants than songs. After making each rotation we stopped and began clapping hands and singing a fast-paced, joyous song in Hebrew while someone danced in the center of the circle with the Torah. The scroll was passed from person to person; whoever was dancing would leap and twirl with the scroll, stomping their feet, cradling it as though it were a baby, eyes closed, joyous, while on the edges we all clapped and stomped and sang and swayed. After the sixth rotation we processed outside the church into the parking lot, with the Torah under the chuppah; while cars slowed in the street to try to figure out what was going on, we sang and danced in a circle around the chuppah. We went back into the sanctuary for the last rotation, then a couple people unrolled the scroll and the rabbi talked about the importance of endings and beginnings and read the last Torah portion, simultaneously and seamlessly translating it into English, explaining its historical significance, and interpreting it. His interpretations definitely seemed to draw on Kabbalistic and Hasidic thought, but were grounded in a decidedly non-literal reading of the text—that combination is unique to the Jewish Renewal, as I understand it. After reading the last Torah portion he rolled back to the beginning and read the very first portion from Genesis.

The service lasted about three hours all in all. By the end my feet hurt from standing for so long and I was hoarse from all the singing, but happier than I’d been in long time. There was something about the celebration that was so pure and joyous, and transcendent and true—it was almost a mystical experience; the kind of experience I would have called liminal until reading Durkheim and Victor Turner made me doubt my usage of that word. I don’t know how much of that is a function of the Jewish Renewal-ness of P’nai Or, or if Simchat Torah is always like that, regardless of the kind of Judaism, but I’m definitely planning on continuing to attend services there.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Simchat Torah

Chris and I just got back from Simchat Torah services at P'nai Or. Oh my goodness, did I love it. Longer post tomorrow; check back!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hipsters, you let me down

The other day Amy and I were talking about the old-school Baby-Sitter's Club fan club we could have joined in the early 1990s. Neither of us took advantage of the opportunity, a fact I now regret because when you joined you got this sweet t-shirt with all the baby-sitters' signatures on it. Man, do I want one of those shirts. But then Amy pointed out that I already have a BSC t-shirt that I don't wear all that much: a black shirt with the Ramones' logo, only except for their names it says KRISTY CLAUDIA MARY-ANNE STACEY (the original four members of the Baby-Sitters Club) around the seal.

Amy: "You've never worn that shirt."
Me: "Not true! I wore it when we watched the BSC movie last spring."
Amy: "Yeah, and there were ten people there, and we were all drunk."
Me: "Yeah..."
Amy: "I dare you to wear that shirt in public."

So anyways, I wore it today, and you know what? Nobody commented. Nobody! And I had to give a mini-presentation in Methods, so it's not like people weren't looking at me. Amy thought that people probably just assumed it was the Ramones' logo, and I think she was right. But I was disappointed, and I'm going to keep wearing it until I get some comments. Hipsters: get on the ball!

Plans for Fall Break: Sleeping in, starting Ulysses in a coffeeshop on 23rd, finishing Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels, movies and Arrested Development with my fab roomies, Friday night Shabbat services at P'nai Or then Sunday morning worship at First Congregational, seeing Julia for the first time in ten months, many glasses of the finest wine $3.99 can buy. Bliss!

Who Loves the Sun?

Nabbed from the ladies of One Weigh or Another. The idea is you choose your favorite band and answer the questions in song titles from that group. I choose The Velvet Underground:

Are you male or female: There She Goes Again, Femme Fatale
Describe yourself: Pale Blue Eyes
How do some people feel about you: Run Run Run
How do you feel about yourself: Beginning to See the Light
Describe your significant other: Lonesome Cowboy Bill, Oh! Sweet Nuthin’
Describe where you want to be: Train Round the Bend, All Tomorrow’s Parties
Describe how you live: Head Held High, I Found a Reason, I’m Set Free
Describe how you love: After Hours
Share a few words of wisdom: Walk and Talk It

I tag Amy, Eric, and Peggy. So get to it!

Monday, October 09, 2006

You know you're playing Taboo with the Pamplin Fellows when...

"Okay, guys, it's like cell..."
"Membrane!"
"Mitochondria!"
"Um--ribosome? RNA! mRNA! tRNA!"
"Organelle! Nucleus!"
"No--simpler! Cell..."
"Uh--phone?"
"Yes!"

Friday, October 06, 2006

Not a robot

Glarkware is selling Not a Robot shirts again, for a limited time. I got one the last time around and I have to say it's one of my favorite shirts, because I always, always get reactions from passersby: "Your shirt only makes me doubt you!" "Are you sure?" etc. So, all of you, my dear friends, should get one, and then we could coordinate our outfits and make up a secret handshake and form a Cool Kids club and stuff. I mean, Chris and I already have matching Portland Farmer's Market bags, so we're halfway there.

Also, when I came up to visit Amy and Peggy over the summer, I saw another girl in the Powells reading room/cafe wearing a Not a Robot shirt. I totally wanted to go up to her and tell her I had the same shirt, but I didn't, because I am lame.

I'm ridiculously happy right now. I hope it lasts.

Monday, October 02, 2006

How to prepare for an all-nighter at the library

1. Procrastinate as long as possible. You should not head over the library any earlier than one a.m. For instance, you might watch an episode of Flavor of Love, then read some of Baby-Sitters Club #99: Stacey's Broken Heart, then spend half an hour checking out American Girl doll accessories online. You know, hypothetically.
2. Shot-gun a pot of coffee. Then make another pot of coffee and pour it all into a travel mug.
3. Change into the clothes you're wearing the next day. Long sleeves will help fight off the four a.m. shivers.
4. Braid your hair. When you run directly to class from the library the next morning, this will make it marginally less obvious that you haven't showered.
5. Roll up your toothbrush and toothpaste in a handtowel. See #4.
6. You should be carrying at least 20 pounds of books, papers, and computer accessories.
7. Go ahead and pack Stacey's Broken Heart in your bag. Who are you kidding?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Word to the wise (and sober)

When you make a conscientious decision to stay in on a Saturday night, so that you can study and make it to church well-rested and bright-eyed the next day, instead of going to Night 2 (ie, the drinking party night) of your ex-roommate birthday festivities, it is not wise to "pre-game it" with your roommates by drinking 3 shots of Montezuma, the classiest tequila to come in a plastic bottle.

Not wise, but oh so fun.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Bible is a foundational text of Western civilization. Stop whining and get over it.

Today in Feminist Theory we were discussing bell hooks' Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Great book, thought-provoking, challenging, blah blah. One of the last few chapters is about language as both oppressive and a site of subversion. bell takes a line from Adrienne Rich and expands on it: "This is the oppressor's language, but I need it to talk to you," or something like that. In our discussions, the guest lecturer brought up the example of the Bible, and how the first-year students were "required to read the Bible" in the new first-year core.

You would not believe the reaction. (Unless you are Amy, and have already blogged about it.) There was an audible gasp and a cry of outrage: "THEY HAVE TO READ THE BIBLE?!?!?!?! Oh, the inhumanity of having to spend six dollars on the Bible! The offense! The oppression! The tyranny of the white bourgeous males trying to beat down the free spirits with the Bible, that tool of patriarchal upper-middleclass privilege!

It was complete bullshit. Utterly. I could not believe the ignorance and close-mindedness of the reaction on the part of the majority of my classmates. It's just...I...I don't even know where to start. Here's on place to start, I guess (and what I ended up saying in class):

Whether or not you accept or consider the Bible as religious truth, you absolutely cannot deny that it is a foundation text of Western civilization, and you cannot fully understand...pretty much any element of Western culture, art, or literature if you do not have at LEAST a rudimentary grounding in the basic stories of the Bible.

I honestly think a lot of the people in that class thought that professors teaching the Bible in class is tantamount to inviting evangelical missionaries in to preach to the kids. Which is totally, totally false. If anything, I would be more concerned about professors denigrating the Bible and teaching it in a totally reductionist way, making fun of Christian students or Christianity, not realizing that there actually are people at this school with a religious commitment. I've already had this experience in several classes. As a practicing, commited Christian, I recognize how hard it is for religious students here, and how antagonistic the atmosphere often is. And as Amy pointed out, there's this assumption that all LC students are agnostics, athiests, or enchanted with this kind of hazy, don't-really-believe-in-anything-but-considers-one's-self-a-spiritual-person, vaguely Eastern-inspired "if it feels good, do it" build-your-own religion. And there are students like that here, but we're not all like that.

Plus, it's not like the first-years have to read the whole Bible. The exact books assigned are up to the professor, as I understand it, but one freshman I know had to read Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Romans, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians. That's not very much. (If it were up to me, I'd add Isaiah, swap Matthew for Luke, take out Thessalonians, and add in James. But then again, I'm from the United Church of Christ, and if you know anything about the denomination you probably understand why I would want to make those changes.)

It's just...God! That class made me mad.