Thursday, March 31, 2005

Baseball season is about to start!

I love baseball. I discovered it relatively late (in my 30's) and have been an Oakland A's fan ever since. My first game was at Dodger Stadium, a game between the LA Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds.

Periodically, I still thank the friend who took me to that game for introducing me to baseball. She just went to spring training with her partner-in-crime, and wrote a report in her blog that is almost (almost!) as good as being there:

Linda: thank you for baseball.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

I am bone-tired, and I am only halfway home.

My student pulpit is 300 miles north of Los Angeles, and the drive up and back is a challenging routine. The challenge on the way up is to escape LA traffic and get to Merced on time, while taking enough stretching breaks that I can walk comfortably when I get there. The drive home, on Sunday afternoon, is a bigger challenge: I start out tired sometime after noon, and I need to be in class in Los Angeles, with whatever prep is required, by 8:30 am.

Some weeks I breeze right through it. One week a tire blew out, and I didn't get home until Monday afternoon. This is a more typical week, since we had Purimshpiel last night, and more Purimstuff this morning with the kids, and my neighbors at the motel had a baby. I kept waking up, looking for my crying baby, and then remembering that Jamie is 21.

So by the time I got down the road a bit today, I felt my eyelids fluttering. I stopped in one little town for a nap, after setting the alarm on my car and reclining the front seat. The nap helped a bit, so I drove on here to Tulare, where I have a regular stop at the Starbucks, for caffiene and an email break. It's 5 pm, and I've got, oh, I'd say three hours ahead of me, if I don't need any more naps.

The other side of the long drive is that it's full of wonders. Driving up, on Friday, I saw what this winter's monster rains have done to the wilderness lands north of LA. I drove through the sections of the Angelus Forest that burned last year, and saw the charcoal skeletons of trees surrounded by several shades of green, along with carpets of wildflowers. Everything is lush; the vegetation is drunk on rain. The Californian in me thought, "hmmm, large fuel load" (thinking ahead to fire season) but gosh, it's beautiful now.

So far on this weekend I've driven through three different storms, and seen two rainbows. That's a new record for me.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

My upstairs neighbors are very noisy. I know this because they are loud enough to bother me tonight, and I'm hard of hearing. My kids have mentioned the noise to me when they've visited, but usually it isn't a problem. Tonight that TV is really roaring.

Apartment living puts us in each other's faces (or ears) sometimes. Usually I think of that as a bad thing, although tonight I had some other thoughts about it. I remember when I was home-hunting in the summer of 2003, and a friend suggested to me that there was a sweet little house to rent in a great neighborhood. I was categorically not interested -- and a lot of it was that I feel safer in an apartment. As annoying as the upstairs TV can be, it's also a sign that folks are around. The walls are not paper (they're very nice plaster -- it's an old building) but they are thin enough for us to be aware of each other. I like that.

We human beings are social beings; most of us would rather have neighbors to fuss with than no neighbors at all.

Oh, and since it's St. Patrick's Day, a proverb that works for Israel, too: Ní tír gan teanga. [No nation without a language.]

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I turned 50 last Thursday, and it was maybe the best birthday ever. Linda, Maryann, and Aaron came down from the Bay Area to celebrate; we had a dinner party with some of my classmates, and then the next night Maryann and Linda swept me off in a limousine to dinner and a show. We saw Menopause, the Musical, and Aaron, who accompanied us, was the soul of patient, bemused gentlemanliness. [It takes a brave man to sit through that show.]

Birthdays aren't silly, and they aren't just an occasion for teasing about numbers, either. This year, it was reminder for me that I'm blessed with good friends and wonderful sons. I'm happy to be here.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Today was the first day of the last "quadmester" of Year 3 of rabbinical school. My class spent the past two days taking stock of where we came from, where we've been, and where we are going. It dawned on us that things are about to change. After this quad, we'll scatter for the summer. Several classmates are going to Jerusalem for a year. Another is moving to the east coast. The education students are graduating. And those of us who remain will have choices about our classes. We will have electives from here on, and there will be no more of the long days in a room all crammed together.

Those of you who have been following my adventures since Summer 2002 may remember that I wrote from Jerusalem that we'd become like a bunch of siblings. We studied together, we spent most of our waking hours together, and in that first year or so, we squabbled periodically. (OK, we squabbled a lot.) We've logged a LOT of hours together. Somewhere along the line we quit squabbling (mostly) and became more than just a class. We're not rabbis yet, we're at some interesting place in not-quite-land.

I'm coming up on a personal milestone, too: in a few days, I turn 50. I am absolutely certain that the person I was at 30 wouldn't even recognize me today. It makes me wonder what 70 will look like.

I decided in the middle of the last quad that these years will never come again, and that doing the program at a breakneck pace was destructive and pointless. So I'm slowing down, an extra year, to soak it ALL in. This week I mapped out my goals for the next three years, and I'm excited about them. Lots of learning and growing yet to do.