The Wonderful World of Me

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Little Insomnia

So what has been happening in Reb Kessel's life of late? A little insomnia. I should be using these wee hours to work on my finals and do a little studying, but mainly I zone out or watch TV or read--I can go through one book in a night, an amazing feat for a slow reader like me. Though I have decided tonight is the last night I can putz around and not be active during these night hours. If I can't concentrate during the day, but I can't sleep at night, then the nighttime is my time.

Pesach was lovely. I was in Oberlin for the first half, in New York for chol hamoed, and in Philly for the end of chag. Overall it was a great holiday. The seders were interesting, the kids were intense, and the house was a zoo. But I loved it all. Philly, as usual, was relaxing and fabulous. I talked to Becky, who was entertaining both my grandmother and mother in Paris, and she was hilarious, or rather her issues dealing with them were hilarious. She is much more patient than I am, that's for sure.

Vacation is over (truly I can't believe two weeks have gone by) and now the last week of school and then finals are upon us. I have been chomping at the bit to get out of here this semester. Sometimes I didn't think I would make it. Now is crunch time, and I have so much to do it's overwhelming. But I will do it, and finish, and in a few weeks I will be away from here for over a year, a break I sorely need at this point.

I will be in CT this summer, working as a hospital chaplain, and I'm really looking forward to that, being useful and doing something for others. It will be me, my bro and my sis all living in the house together, something that hasn't happened in over a decade for that long a period of time. It should be interesting.

And yet again, I'm an omer superstar!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Am I boring?

So I think I may be boring myself with my entries here. I have tried to write a few times in the past few weeks, and the entries are snoozers. SNOOZERS! Coming from me, you may not believe it, but it's true. Even I can be boring. So I let them alone and hope inspiration will strike, but alas, that hasn't happened yet. And it's not like I have any papers to write which would neccessitate me avoiding writing them by writing here. The elements are against me! There is a tried and true writing technique, to just write no matter what and see where it takes you. How are you enjoying it so far? My mashgiach shift starts in fifteen minutes, so I can write for that long. Can you read for that long? Anywho, nothing so monumental or exciting has been happening. I did have the bird flu for a week, or mabe just a cold, I can't be sure, but it totally floored me and I spent lots of quality time in bed. Classes are going well, not much work to be done after midterms ended, and just biding time until Passover. I learned a great joke this past Friday, but since it's visual I can't tell it to you here, but ask me later to show it to you, if you remember. Note: the joke is totally inappropriate, just the way I like it. And what else? I was taking a mussar class this semester, which just ended and is continuing on, and I need to decide whether to continue on with them or not. I really enjoyed it, but it was also difficult for me, brought up a lot of my weaknesses, which is hard in and of itself, but to bring up those weaknesses in a group forum was a little overwhelming. And since I will be in CT for most of the classes, it will mean commuting, and I need to be honest with myself and think about whether I really care enough to schlep into the city on Sundays to continue. Phrasing it like that just gave me a little insight into what the answer might be. Hmmmm. Thursday is the JTS women's seder, and my mom is coming in to go with me. It should be interesting, and hopefully won't be too...too what I'm not sure, but too something or other. And Sparky is coming into town this week as well, and hopefully we'll get some nice bonding time. Since she's been engaged I haven't really seen her alone, so it'd be nice just to be girly and stupid with her. OK, not quite fifteen minutes, but enough to make me feel like I'm not neglecting you and time enough to grab a cup of joe before my shift. Smooches!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Purim Sameach!

I have had a lovely Purim so far. I LOVE not being in school. I'm in Philly, about to take a nap before heading to Teaneck for a seudah with Morris and the Marmors. The megillah reading here was so bizarre...crazy fast and in thick ashkenazis. It was almost impossible to understand. Then party chez Rachel & Morris, which was lovely. I looked crazy cute--I dressed up as the Milky Way, stars and glitter galore, and handed out Milky Way candy bars. Cute, right? I thought so. And I have given my mishloach manot and matanot levyonim, so all I have to do today is drink and eat it up. Fantastic! I love this holiday. It's truly amazing, partying, having a good time, taking care of others and tzedakah all rolled up in one. Mordechai and Esther knew how to make a holiday.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Second Year Slump

Getting back into the swing of things has been tough for me. First of all, I had one paper due each day last week, which didn't really give me time to ease back in. Plus, I really love being on vacation, being out there in the world, exploring and trying new things. Coming back to my everyday life feels boring and stifling. Plus, my second year anywhere is tough. In my second year of college, I wanted to drop out and studied abroad instead. In my second year at Oberlin I wanted to quit and got a lecture by Der Lehrer about why I should stay. At the end of my second year in Israel I left. So here I am in my second year of rabbinical school and feeling restless. Keeping my mind here and focused is hard, and just recently having that taste of French freedom makes it that much harder.

But I am trying to spice up my life here and make it more interesting, to stave off the antsyness a little bit. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will go to a concert, a play, a musical -- all these plans are still up in the air but in the works. And I am trying to reconnect to folks here that I like but haven't made the effort to see in a while. Though I will only be in the city a few more months (did I tell you I will be in CT this summer doing the CPE program at Norwalk Hospital?), I want to maximize my time here.

And that's all the news I have so far. Life seems blah, not much to report. I'm looking forward to Spring, and hopefully the flowers and the sun will make me, well, springy.

Monday, February 27, 2006

My Whirlwind Tour of Gay Paree

Sunday: arrive with sefer torah, get picked up by Becky and a group from the Adath Shalom Est synagogue who bring us to the Adath Shalom Ouest synagogue to drop off the torah, a little tekes there then on to the hotel. Walked around, got some dinner, walked around some more, slept.

Monday: meet Becky before class to get her laptop, write a paper for two hours in a cafe while she's in class, then went to see the film "The King"--so creepy. Then walking around the Islands--Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis. Then climbing up the Eiffel Tower, dinner and chilling with Becky.

Tuesday: Versailles, then dinner with Becky's host family. They are super.

Wednesday: Notre Dame and the crypt underneath with remains of buildings going back to the Roman period, Berthillon sorbet, Pere Lachaise cemetery (Chopin, Jim Morrison, La Colette, Moliere, Oscar Wilde, and an impromptu tour from a nice little old French man), Hotel des Invalides, Musee D'Orsay, then dinner and "Niagara" at a small arthouse cinema in the Latin Quarter.

Thursday: Picasso Museum (they had a fire alarm and I was standing outside in the snow without my coat for 20 minutes), then a tour of the Jewish Museum with Philippe and Jean-Claude, two of the folks who met us at the airport. Then walking around Montmartre, enjoying the transvestites and sex shops, climbing up to Sacre Coeur, coffee in a student bar, then back to Becky's to continue writing and watch Olympic figure skating with her host family.

Friday: shopping for Shabbat, the Louvre (freaking amazing), making arrangements for Shabbat (all in French, might I add), lunch and then going over to the Adath Shalom Ouest synagogue for services. Dinner at the Rabbis with him, his awesome wife and two kids, president of the shul, his wife and son, German rabbi and her husband, and us. Then Becky and I walking over 3 miles in the rain back to the hotel.

Saturday: sleeping, eating pastries, walking to the Louvre, Tuilleries, Place de la Concorde, Opera, Centre Pompidou, cute markets along the way, then back to the hotel for havdalah, then hanging out at different bars near the Bastille, then nice walk back.

Sunday: left. So sad.

Overall, I had a blast and rocked the French language, if I do say so myself. It was great seeing Becky all Parisian and knowing how happy she is. And I love vacation, just walking around, drinking espresso, being free of responsibilities. Alas, I am back here and working on finishing that paper that I didn't quite complete when I was away. But we'll always have Paris...