...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, September 30, 2007

Sukkot, cell phone, moving


The Jewish festival Sukkot takes place this year between the 27th of September and the 3rd of October (or, if you prefer, between the 15th and the 22st of the month of Tishrei--it ends the 21st if you're in Israel). Yesterday P'nai Or held their Shabbat services in a community sukkah about two miles from my house, so I woke up early then bundled up to bike over in the rain. I'd never been in a sukkah or seen a sukkah before, so I didn't know what to expect--maybe something like a small hut or a lean-to. This one turned out to be huge and four-sided (according to Reb Aryeh the sukkah can be in the shape of any of the word's Hebrew letters), and covered with branches, leaves, hanging fruits, and fronds. Probably about thirty or so people were able to pack in. It was cold and a little drippy--the rain held off, but water from the previous night's rainfall dripped onto our heads from the overhanging branches and I was a little concerned that the Torah would get wet when they raised it up at the end of the reading. After the service, we all participated in the mitzvah of eating a meal in the sukkah--the rabbi's wife brought out some hot apple cider and some people from the congregation had brought hot matzvah ball soup, which seemed like the most delicious thing in the world on a cold Shabbat morning.

Fellow Hebrew Bible nerds (Eric?) might be interested to know that it's traditional to read through the whole book of Quohelet (Ecclesiastes) during Sukkot. The temporary nature of the sukkah is meant to remind one of the transience and immateriality of life, a favorite topic of the author of Quohelet. Tthe book is attributed to Shlomo, or Solomon, but as Reb Aryeh pointed out it's almost certainly pseudoepigraphic, as its lexicon contains words that didn't appear in Hebrew until centuries after Solomon's death--a fact that led one woman to crack, "Sure, but Shlomo was ahead of his time!"

Because the service was held away from the usual synagogue and there had been some miscommunication about who was bringing over the Torah and the siddurim (prayer books, with the Hebrew liturgy transliterated and translated into English), we had to start the service without either. The idea of getting through the service without the Hebrew transliterations in the siddur was daunting to me, especially since I hadn't been to services for the past couple months, but it turned out to be not so bad. I knew the opening blessing for Torah study, most of the Elohai N'shama prayer, all of the Ashray, and a significant chunk of the Yotzayr. By the time we got to the Amidah, the liturgy leading to silent prayer before the sermon, the siddurim and Torah had arrived. It was worthwhile for me, I think, to go half the service without a siddur and realize how much I've learned over the past year: at this time last year, I had only the passingest of acquaintences with Jewish Renewal and didn't know my n'shama from my nefesh. In fact, this Thursday is Simchat Torah, which was my very first P'nai Or experience; it's the one-year anniversary of participation in P'nai Or. I won't be going to this year's Simchat Torah, though: as it happens, that night is also Daniel's and my one-year anniversary.

Cell phone

I have a cell phone! After going back and forth about how much I really need one, how much I can afford to spend, what the best service provider is, what kind of phone to get, etc, I finally just biked over to the AT&T store on NE Broadway and bought a pre-paid cheapo Go Phone. The words "Go Phone" are thankfully not written anywhere on the phone--they make it sound like a phone for feisty grandmothers who would describe themselves as "always on the go," or little kids. You should call me, and we should talk. I don't want to write the number here but I'll put it on facebook or something.


Yes, I'm moving, again. Bleh.

Friday, September 28, 2007

maybe you know her?

A facebook message I received this afternoon, presented verbatim (I assume all Jessicas with ties to Eugene received this same message):

I've just arrived in Eugene from indiana in search of a beautiful flower named Jessica. I met her in tennessee about 3 months ago at a music festival and spent the most transcendental night of my life with her. You know, the kinda night that takes everything nightmare every dream every skeleton of what you once were every cocoon of the buuterfly you dream to be and swirls it all together to form some new colour on a new pallete called "here and now" "life" "love"... Well needless to say I've felt disasterously empty these past few months and cant quite go on gardening without her. Trouble is, all I got is her first name, that she graduated this year with some sort of bio something degree and lives in a renuvated warehouse next to the traintracks. My avenues of finding her are minimal, I'm relying greatly on the kindness of those around me. You probably dont know her but I've gotta try everything I can to find her, ya know? Thank you so much for your time, I hope you life will be blessed in many ways. If there is anything you ever need, I'll be around for a while and I'm always here for my family, feel free to ask.

thanks again!

blessing and peace,

Reuben S-------

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Clueless, loveless, AND faithless?

From "Dating: When Words and Choices Clash":

..."Are there some who are not even concerned whether the people they date are or are not saved? In such cases, the kindest I can say is that such are clueless, loveless, and faithless..."

I found that my life got so much more enjoyable and my spiritual life, more meaningful once I stopped believing in a vengeful, angry God and a literal hell. Obviously Phillips and most of the Christian bloggers I read would reject my theology, as I reject theirs.

Phillips rounds out the post by hoisting the old "Dating a woman is like test-driving a car!" canard, offensively as ever: "What would you think of a man who spends his free time going from car dealer to car dealer, checking out luxury cars that he will never buy?" As feminists more witty than I have pointed out, there's really nothing like that New Hymen smell.

Hat tip: Solo Femininity.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Occupational hazard

Every late-morning we spend an hour or so outside on the playground in front of the school. When it was time to go inside for lunch, C, my oldest and second-most challenging student, and I held hands and encouraged students to line up by the door. C and I were going to be co-line-leaders, so he was in a great mood.

"Uh, Teacher Jessica?" he said. He pointed to a small, round, scabby patch on the back of my left hand. "What's that on your hand? Do you got ringworm?"

Ringworm? I know it's not an actual worm, but still, are you fucking kidding me? Maybe I need to start a "Communicable parasites I might pick up from my preschoolers" tag.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Career meme

1. Go to http://www.careercruising.com/.

2. Put in Username: nycareers, Password: landmark.

3. Take their "Career Matchmaker" questions.

4. Post the top ten results:

1. Child and Youth Worker: Not a surprise. My actual job, Early Childhood Educator, was #36, but I suppose Child Worker is more or less the same thing.

2. Adoption Counselor: I could get into this. One of the jobs I applied for before I got hired at the preschool was working with an adoption agency. I didn't get a call back, though.

3. Addictions Counselor: Too depressing, probably. Plus, wouldn't I need first-hand experience with addiction?

4. Clergy: I considered going into the ministry for several years. Several people told me that they thought I should, or that I would, become a minister. Ultimately, I don't think I have a strong enough faith to lead others. When I told Kugler that, he said, "That's all the more reason you should consider it."

5. Psychologist: That's Amy's territory. Plus, I think it'd be a little late for me to take up psychology.

6. Sport Psychology Consultant: Um, what? I don't even know what this job is.

7. Librarian: Definitely something I would consider.

8. Dental Assistant: No. Just, no.

9. High School Teacher: Meh.

10. Anthropologist: I would love it!

Professor, my eventual goal, was listed as #11. I find it funny that it listed Gerontologist (#27) before Early Childhood Educator (#36). Maybe I'm working with people on the wrong ends of their lives...

Hat Tip: Mizz Marvel.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Oh, those crazy Biblical-era adolescents

Bible Gateway is a great online tool for checking various Bible translations, although for some reason it doesn't offer the New Revised Standard Version (the most scholarly-approved translation) among its options. When I find something proof-texted on a Christian site, I like to check it on Bible Gateway to see the verses in context.

One Reformed blogger, in anticipation of his upcoming wedding, recently quoted Proverbs 30:18-19:

"There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Yes, four which I do not understand:
The way of an eagle in the air,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the midst of the sea,
And the way of a man with a virgin."

I was curious how other translations dealt with the last word. According to my reference Bible, the original Hebrew word is almah, which it says means "girl, young woman, (in certain contexts) virgin." The New International Version translates it as "maiden;" the New King James as "virgin;" Young's Literal Tranlation offers the last phrase as "The way of man in youth," and the New Living Bible as "How a man loves a woman."

For fun, I checked The Message translation (er, paraphrase):

"Three things amaze me,
No, four things I'll never understand—
How an eagle flies so high in the sky,
How a snake glides over a rock,
How a ship navigates the ocean,
Why adolescents act the way they do."

HA! As our crotchety, Scuttle-voiced New Testament professor used to say, you might as well toss that translation in the Willamette River.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

If we survived pinworm unscathed, we can survive this

Oh, cruel irony! Almost a month after I suggested that pinworm might be a more gruesome counterpart to head lice, we have one confirmed case of--you guessed it--lice. It's in the other preschool class, across the hall, but that's scarcely a relief since we often combine classes in the afternoon. I got head lice, along with most of the rest of my class, in fourth grade, and although it's honestly not that big of a deal, I have no desire for a repeat showing. Of course, my head itches like crazy now. The glamor of teaching preschool!

(As it turned out, no one else in my class ended up with pinworm, thank God.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dog attack on NE 9th Ave

I had a scary experience this evening as I was biking south along NE 9th Avenue towards the Lloyd Athletic Club for my yoga class. Around 9th and Brazee, a large-ish, sturdy dark dog with the face of a pit bull appeared seemingly out of nowhere and began running alongside and a little ahead of me. It's discomforting to be followed by a dog when you're on a bike, but this dog seemed to be enjoying itself just running; I was more concerned with it getting hit by a car (it wasn't obeying the stop signs) as we approached the busier streets around the Lloyd Center than I was with my own safety. At one point the dog ran across the street to check out a pedestrian, then crossed back to continue running ahead of me. Around Schulyer, the dog spotted a woman walking a large white Siberan Husky-type dog across the street and ran over to them. The woman's dog jumped back and she yelled at the dark dog to go away. I had continued biking and was half a block down NE 9th when I heard barking, snarling, and the woman yelling for help. I turned back. The dark dog had the woman's dog's back in its jaws; her dog was lying on the sidewalk. Several passersby had rushed over. Someone had wrapped a spare leash (I saw a man holding his terrier in his arms, maybe he gave his dog's leash?) around the dark dog's neck and was trying to pull it off the woman's dog. Everyone was yelling. Someone was calling 911 and asking if any humans had been attacked. Finally they got the dog off of the other; the woman crossed the street with her poor dog, who had a dark gash in its back. The man restraining the mystery dog was yelling that it should be put down. "I'm probably a bigger animal lover than any of you here, but this dog needs to be put down!" It had no collar and no tags.

The police arrived within about thirty seconds. An officer put a muzzle around the dog's jaws and put it in the back of her patrol car. It didn't seem aggressive around humans (in fact, when I got to the gym I realized that in the confusion I got some dog slobber on the thigh of my yoga pants when the dog brushed by me en route to the patrol car; if it wanted to bite me it could have). I told the officer about how the dog started running alongside me and my impressions of what happened; she took down my name and address. The woman and her dog were across the street with a small group of concerned people. The other officer went over to talk with her. I just hope her dog is okay, and that both the dog and the woman won't be completely traumatized.

We had a strange dog appear this morning at the preschool, as well, right as I was guiding four kids out from our classroom to the playground. This one was wearing identification, and it seemed friendly too--after the kids were in the playground it let me check its tags. It was probably just a neighborhood dog that got out of its yard, but after the experience this evening, it's scary to think how easily it could have attacked one of the kids--not to mention how quickly a seemingly-friendly unknown dog can turn nasty.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wage slave

A couple months ago my mom told me about a conversation she had with my grandmother, shortly after I graduated and began working full-time at the preschool. "What's Jessica going to be doing in the fall?" my grandma asked. Mom snapped back, "The same thing she's doing now! Jessica's not a student anymore, she's just a regular person!"

The bloom is off that rose.

Yesterday morning and afternoon I was feeling pretty sick. I went downtown but I missed the shuttle up to campus (I wanted to go to services at P'nai Or) by literally fifteen seconds, and spent an hour or so wandering around Pioneer Place, all dizzy and weak-feeling. I took the bus home and threw up a couple times, possibly from the heat. I felt better in the evening and enjoyed hanging out with Daniel and Ethan, but I'm still feeling vaguely resentful of essentially missing out on the chance to enjoy Saturday morning and afternoon. Why couldn't I have been sick during the week, so that I could have the afternoon off? And then, of course, the realization hits that unless I'm seriously, violently contagious, I can't take a day off from work: I can't afford to miss the hours.

I love my job 95% of the time, but being a full-time student was much, much easier than being a "regular person."