ALERT: this post uses Hebrew words, which are in Hebrew. The first appearance of the Hebrew word will be followed by the transliteration (and translation if necessary). This will also be true in future posts. (Honestly, this may make me go back to older posts and edit them accordingly. Or should I?)
So I finally decide to do a blog post of “the week that was,” just as I had originally planned from my “Response: One notrump” post. But, of course, life sometimes takes over, and the blog is merely a hobby. In fact, my regular journal takes a higher priority, but I might as well share some of the snippets from it from last week.
Just as I have seen much more meaning in the other Jewish holidays that have happened since I returned from Israel, I really enjoyed Passover this year, not only for the holiday part, but for the culinary experience I got to have. (Hey, perhaps I should augment some photos to this post. I’ll do that!) What I find really neat about the סדר (seder) is that even though there is essentially the same story in all הגדות (haggadot), each הגדה (Haggadah) has a slightly different way of presenting the story, and has different commentary. And each time you read through and experience the service, the experience from the previous year can color your interpretation of the story, or allow you to add details from your own life.
For example, the last few years I have heard different interpretations on the Four Children. One suggests that the Wise Child, despite asking about all the statutes, laws, etc. is somewhat missing the point by basically looking at the mechanical and technical aspects. This seems a lot like my way of thinking in certain situations, as I tend to get bogged down in details… if you will, seeing the trees for the forest. This year, the interpretation that sort of struck me was the idea of the Four Children representing stages of development… or at least the labels thereof. That is, “One who hath no capacity to inquire” is the baby who can’t speak yet, “simple” is the one in early elementary school who has curiosity but not necessarily analytical skills, “wicked” is the rebellious teen, and “wise” is the older teen who has had some experience.
Eating at the סדרים (sedarim— seder in plural) is also great because I get to be social and converse while eating. At the first seder, I had many familiar faces surrounding me, including Brandy, Sarah, Leah, Zach, and Naomi (forgive me if I have misspelled some of their names). The conversations are always random, but nonetheless interesting and they keep me engaged. We are all characters in our own right, and that makes it fun!
Of course, this meant that I also attended services on both Saturdays. Holiday services are enjoyable since they include הלל (Hallel), a collection of psalms for all Festivals that are mostly sung. I have also brought this fascination up in my posts from the High Holidays earlier from the year. Additionally, special things for Passover were done: during the מוסף (Musaf) service, טל (Tal–a prayer for dew) was on the first day, and שיר השירים (Shir HaShirim–Song of Songs) was done on the eighth day. Special additions to services are meaningful, although even the ordinary is extraordinary on the Festivals.
I have other thoughts from Passover, but since I said this was a “the-week-that-was” post, I should probably move on. I may touch back on these and other thoughts in a different post.
The last two years that I shopped for Passover, I got pancake mix at the store, but this year, since I was somewhat last-minute in shopping, it had sold out at Jewel-Osco when I went on the Wednesday prior to Passover. “Out of time–try and do better next time!” Sunday was a great culinary day for me, as I cooked chicken pot pie using מצה (matzah), as well as making מצה ball soup. Besides that, it was also a PERFECT day to go watch a baseball game, but unfortunately the ‘Cats got doubled up by the Boilermakers to get swept away in the series. When I got home, I finished the pie, but had insufficient time to make the soup. Farfel muffins were also on the menu, and they turned out well too, along with the pie. I wanted to have it with the moscato in the picture, but opened the top to find that I needed a corkscrew, which I neither own nor know how to use! On Sunday, I also played bridge like always, and the cards were generally on the opponents’ side–I was a defender in 14 of the 21 hands I played!
Also during the weekend, I was this week’s “quiz master” in MATH 234, which means I had to write the quizzes, write homework solutions, and grade the quizzes. It took me a long time to type up the solutions to the homework, and only on Monday did I find out that much of it was unnecessary for me to do. U G H. Of course, if you never waste time finding out that a project is unnecessary, then you are perfect, and nobody is! The other highlight of Monday was board game club, which Alex from bridge club recommended to me. I played the game “Bang!” which is similar to “Mafia,” and then played a few games of “Dominion.” The latter has quickly become one of my favorite games, since there are so many different strategies. Although I still haven’t won or been in a place other than last, I don’t care, as I improve each time I play.
Tuesday came, and the heavy TA work continued, because Lane was out of town so that I had to cover his 12:00 recitation in addition to my 11:00 recitation. They both went pretty smoothly as far as I could tell, although the amount of time that the professor for the 11:00 recitation gave I felt was insufficient for the students, although I still blindly obeyed his instructions. Granted, while grading the quizzes, in retrospect it was obvious that I was too harsh for everyone. I think I was fairly consistent, but next time I grade quizzes, I need to lay off the hammer.
Ultimate season is on too! On the Runge Kutters team, we played against Frizz in My Pants, and cruised to a 9-3 victory. It was a lot of running, which I am not used to, but I still had fun being a disruptive force on defense. I also caught my first career pass, which felt pretty good. Next stop will be a catch for a score! The culinary adventure continued after the game, with מצה ball soup and honey-orange salmon (pictured below). The work of the next few days was pretty much the same–back to research with verifying some results from a paper from Block & Keer. Sometimes, as I said earlier in this post, I think I get bogged down by the need to verify the details, but it seems that papers are often awash in typographical errors, and some of these are quite pernicious. The food adventures continued with the מצה פיצה (Matza-pizza) night at Hillel, and it was fun to chat, although it was packed in really tightly. I had only the dessert pizza, and decided to decorate it quite conspicuously, as shown below (that’s my name in Hebrew!)Thursday was a long day, as I had research in the morning, office hours in the afternoon, class in the mid-afternoon, went to Turin in the late afternoon (yes, indeed. Got a Trek bike on sale and am looking forward to riding again), and then had some leftovers before going to the A-Cappella for Autism concert. It was good, although it didn’t have quite the same vibe as last year–there were no autism stories, and there were fewer groups than last year. Still it was enjoyable, although only two songs were familiar to me (“For The Longest Time” and “Human Nature.”)
Friday was great, as in the morning, I had lox-and-מצה, where the former was homemade! I got my football tickets paid for, went to the police department to get the new Trek registered, and then came home for lunch. Surprisingly, I got some research work actually done from home! At student tea, we watched “Donald Duck in Math-Magic Land”, which gave nostalgia for when I saw it in eighth grade. Obviously, I saw it through a much different eye this time, but of course the cartoony aspects of it are still enjoyable.
At services, the דבר תורה (D’var Torah–sermon) was interesting in that it described counting up (as we do for the עמר (Omer–the 50-day period between Passover and שבועת (Shavuot)) as showing both where we came from and where we are going. It’s a journey! Afterward, dinner was great, and I found that it was engaging to get into various conversations about anything, from stories of home to geography, from translation and grammar to alacrity. Anything can be a conversation topic, and this sort of connection is one thing that שבת (Shabbat) means to me. I was so engaged that I was up and chatting until finally realizing I needed to get to sleep around 00:30 on Saturday morning!
After services on Saturday, I headed off to the diamond to see the ‘Cats in action against the Gophers. We had gotten clobbered in Game 1, but softball is funny like that in that it is easy to have two games of totally different complexion. And that is precisely what happened–in Game 2 Northwestern jumped on Minnesota early with a three-run shot courtesy of Marissa Bast, and then a four-run sixth contributed to a run-rule victory! I wanted to tailgate afterward, but because Passover hadn’t yet ended, and also because the skies looked threatening, I decided to just go home. Some chronicling was done then, and that brought me to the end of the holiday!