Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday in the park with Erwin (Schrödinger) - Part Zero

So, I occasionally attend the meetings of a group called “Philosophy in L.A.”, a discussion group that meets in a public “community room” in Santa Monica. I don’t remember how I first got on the mailing list of this group, but it turns out they are a Meetup group as much as anything else. At the first meeting I attended (topic: Gun Control), I made friends with a guy I’ll call Moses, and he mentioned that there was, in the same room but on different Sundays, a similar Meetup group that got together to talk about Quantum Mechanics, in case, you know, I was interested. Wow. Out of my league. But at the second Philosophy meeting I attended (topic: Loyalty), it became clear that another guy was there by accident, having gotten confused about the date for QM. No, that’s next week, said Moses, but stay and see how you like this one. The guy stayed.

Moses insisted I didn’t really need to know that much physics to come to the discussion. Many people don’t talk at all, he said. Ok. Did he sense my utter desperation for intellectual challenge? Don’t get me wrong; I love getting paid to teach dancing. It’s an awesome thing when your hobby can be your living – they actually pay me to do something I’d do anyway, something I love to do. But… let’s be honest. If my creative/artistic side wasn’t completely fulfilled in my first career in software, my intellectual side is surely unfulfilled in my second.

And that’s how I came to spend a bright and beautiful Sunday afternoon in September at the Quantum Mechanics Meetup (topic: Schrödinger's Cat and dual-something-something).

First big question: is Schrödinger correctly pronounced with a hard or soft /g/ sound? (Echoes of the big .gif or .jif debate, anyone?) I’ve always said it like the g in ringer, but the first guy to jump in with questions, let’s call him Wayne and more on him later, pronounced it like the g in ginger. Which is it, internet friends?

The meeting lasted about two hours, and I spent it in a state of almost constant amazement. First, I was here remembering and learning and understanding topics in advanced physics!!! Second, this kind of thing even exists! Random not-necessarily-scientists from all kinds of who-knows-where will gather together one Sunday a month to discuss PHYSICS! I spent quite a bit of time in this meta-space, thinking about the people in the room, and the room around the people, and how these things came together.

Serious idea: I should write a book about the whole Meetup phenomenon. I should go to tons of different Meetups, the social ones and the academic ones and the animal-related and the vegetable-related and the one for Girls Who Embrace Their Naturally Crazy Curly Hair (This exists. Locally.) I’ll notice the patterns, talk to the people, find the similarities and differences and the humor and the pain and just do an enjoyable and enlightening study of this intentional community thing that’s going on.

Serious problem with above serious idea: I’ve already used the word thing about eight times in this essay. Does anyone honestly think I could write a book?

More later, because Life. And attention spans.

Friday, August 23, 2013

I should just have an "egg salad" tumblr by now, eh?

And while we're here... tumblr? I hardly know 'er!

Also, this:
(Twitter? I hardly know 'er!)

Also, regarding the official inclusion of the meaning of figuratively into the dictionary definition of the word literally, I still propose beginning now to use figuratively in every day conversation, every day, as follows:

I am figuratively sitting at my computer right now. 
I am figuratively updating my blog at this moment.

And now, I am figuratively ending this random post and going to bed.  Gnight.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Two weeks down; two months to go

And so, a report on these past 17 days, in which I'm not in Israel for the first time but I am in Israel in a new way, in a living here kind of way and not just a visiting kind of way:

Today was a good day.

And how is that a report on 17 days?  The answer is that every day is different, and that even though I'm not really living here, I'm getting to experience many of the highs and lows of that experience, like trying to get normal easy things done in a place that is not, for me, normal or easy and in a language that is not, for me, normal or easy.

The first two weeks were quite vacationy, in a way:  a wonderful friend lives in a suburb of Tel Aviv, Ra'anana, in a big lovely airy apartment with all the modern conveniences, American style, and a big new car.  And said friend happened to be in the States for 13 of those first 14 days and was kind enough to lend me said apartment and said car.  I wasn't working, I had other friends in town from the States, and I basically went dancing every single night.  No hotel breakfast buffet, but otherwise not so different from past holiday trips here.  But occasionally, I had to do some small life thing, like FILL UP THE CAR WITH GAS.  Or BUY APPLES AT THE GROCERY STORE.  Or even, TAKE OUT THE TRASH.

At home, these are teeny tiny things.  In a new country, they're not, simply because things can be different in unexpected ways.  You put your credit card into the pump at home and they may ask for your zip code, which you enter without thinking.  Here, they ask for your State ID number.  Um, I don't have one of those.  You walk into the produce section of the grocery store and take one of those thin plastic bags for loose items that cost per their weight, and then you realize that the apples are loose but in small boxes... does this mean you have to buy the box and can't choose whichever and however many apples you want?

Now, these are really small things and easily learned, especially if you follow the advice of an Israeli friend of mine who told me this Golden Rule about what to do when I'm not sure I can do what I want to do:
It's Israel, so you do it.  If you get in trouble, you don't do it again.
(Except for parking, he added.  Don't fuck with that.)

Now, I know I'm already better off than another foreigner might be, being already used to things like the currency, the different electrical plug, the traffic lights turning yellow to indicate that green is next, NOT that red is next (oy).  But still, the little pitfalls can really get you.  It takes me an hour to buy things at the grocery store because I want to know how many calories in a thing:  here it doesn't say "per serving" and then right above that say how many servings are in the thing.  Here it says how many calories are in 100 of some unit, like grams maybe, and then you have to search all over to find out how many grams are in the thing - could be more than 100, could be fewer - and then do the math.

And really, I don't speak the language.  I read slowly, I speak slowly, and I understand slowly, when I understand at all.  And this is incredibly frustrating.

And the friend from Ra'anana is home so I've moved to what I thought was a studio apartment in Neve Tzedek but is actually a lot more like a small room in Neve Tzedek, and I don't have a car, and I'm working now, and things are suddenly a lot less honeymoony than they were a few days ago.

But then one day, maybe it's today, I take the bus to work and it's the right bus and I get there on time, and then I take students to an activity in another part of the city and that's also the right bus, and then I walk home from the activity without checking Google maps incessantly, and then I put together my new shelving unit from Ikea (ee-kay-ah) which allows me to finally unpack, and then I spend the evening with a new friend whose birthday it is at midnight.

Today was a good day.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Los Angeles, I'm yours... take two? Or, Things I Need to Do When I Get Back

On September 12, 2007, I blogged about living in L.A. for a few years and what I'd managed to do and see in those years and what I still wanted to get to.  Now that it's 5+ years later, I thought it would be fun to re-visit.  Original post in black; updates in red!

So, I haven't lived in Los Angeles for even three years yet (now it's been EIGHT!), but I think I've done pretty well at getting around and doing all the famous L.A. *stuff*. Let's take an accounting, because Lord knows how much I love lists:

As of last week (thanks, Scot!), I've been to the Hollywood Bowl four times, and I even performed there once (in SummerSounds!). I have not yet been to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I have now!  In fact, I performed there as well.  Amazing theater!

I've seen one concert at the Kodak Theatre (Shlomo Artzi and Shalom Chanoch) and I'VE PERFORMED THERE YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (with Keshet Chaim, opening the show for the Idan Raichel Project concert.) And now I've seen other shows there including the  Cirque show that currently occupies the theater full-time, but before that opened I performed there again in an incredible Israel 60 show that included Idan Raichel, Rami Kleinstein, and some of my own choreography!!

I've been to movies at the ArcLight (and Universal CityWalk), but not yet at the Chinese or the El Capitan or the Egyptian or the Silent Movie Theatre...  Been to the Chinese... but not the others :(

I've seen three shows at UCLA's Royce Hall, none of which I had to pay for. Twice I won tickets to dance performances (one FANTASTIC flamenco show and one pretty lame fusiony modern thing) from KPCC, and the third time my date had won the tickets on K-Mozart.  I've seen a few more shows there now, including Batsheva Dance Company, David Sedaris, and Barak Marshall.  Still haven't performed on that stage.

I saw Wicked at the Pantages, but so far I haven't been to the Ahmanson, the Ford, the Greek, the Mark Taper Forum or the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I *clearly* need to go to more shows. I have been to see the Groundlings.  I've performed at the Ford more than once now (I'm pretty sure a picture of my company rehearsing still hangs in their green room... even though I might have hung it myself as a prank!) and I've seen some great stuff at Dorothy Chandler. Gotta get to those others.

I've been to Universal Studios, Disneyland, and twice to Magic Mountain. I feel comfortable not even bothering to put California Adventure on my list, from what I've heard. I have fantastic memories of Knott's Berry Farm from when I was a kid, but I haven't been there in over a decade. I've been to the Magic Castle! Now twice! And more times to Six Flags, but still not CA Adventure or back to Knott's. Haven't been to Legoland either.

I saw Michael Penn and Patton Oswalt at the Largo.

Hell, I was here for hardly a year before I ended up dancing on TV: WEEDS season two, episode six. The creator of the show wrote Israeli dancing into the episode because of me. If that's not a good I-moved-to-LA story, I don't know what is.

I've been to a (two) Dodgers game(s) and a Kings game. I went to a UCLA game at the Rose Bowl (but haven't been to the Tournament of Roses yet). Still to see: Clippers, Angels, Lakers... Galaxy? Sparks? Yup.

I've been to the Getty (actually, I did that once before moving here, but also once since. Dying to go to the Getty Villa in Malibu (Did it, enjoyed it). I've been to the Craft and Folk Art Museum, and I saw the Magritte exhibit at LACMA. Nearly went in to the La Brea Tar Pits, but then didn't. Haven't been to the Autry yet.

I've hiked in Griffith Park and Topanga Canyon, but not nearly enough. I haven't been to the Observatory yet, but I really want to go  (Did it, enjoyed it). Also have not been to the Watts Towers yet.

*I've* spent a day on Catalina; have you? I'VE RIDDEN THE SUBWAY! (Turns out it's not just an urban legend that we have one. Who knew?)

The most true proof that I live here now? I've been a member of Bodies in Motion, World Gym, Barry's Bootcamp, and now, 24 Hour Fitness. Sigh. Latest and greatest?  Cardiobarre!  Oy.

I love it here; I'm lonely here.
(And I clearly need to spend more time near CalTech, because MY INNER GEEK IS STARVING FOR COMPANY.)

I don't think I've done many more Angeliney or Californiay things in these past five years than are listed here, but maybe it's just that I've stopped compiling the mental list.  I went skydiving at Perris Valley, I BOUGHT A CONDO IN THE VALLEY, I... well, I leave tomorrow morning for three months.  Strange time to be thinking about the fun-at-home, but you know:  I'll do anything, anything, before packing.  

Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go

So, thanks to a wayward link from, I accidentally watched this:

when I thought I was going to be watching this:

Honestly, I kind of loved them both, BUT KIND OF A DIFFERENT VIBE, NO??

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is it 9 Days To Go?

When I was 12 years old, I moved from New York to Florida. I kept in touch with some friends and because my father and family still lived in NY, I would go back to visit pretty frequently. I certainly was not the most popular girl at Wisdom Lane Middle School when I left at the end of my 6th grade year, but let me tell you:  going away and coming back does WONDERS for your popularity. I'd come up to visit and go to school with my bff Kathleen and I'd feel like the queen of the world - people who never spoke to me before I moved away all wanted a piece of me when I came back for these brief appearances! I have found this effect over and over again in my life and I am enjoying it now - having been away for three months (and having plans to leave again so soon), I show up to work or school or dancing and feel like a celebrity. Thanks, y'all!

Of course, I spend most of my time answering the questions of where-have-you-been and when-are-you-leaving-again. It's fun to refer to my weeks here in my own home as a "visit", like it's a stop on my travels and not a break between travels. And I keep thinking I should make one of those yes/no websites, like IS IT CHRISTMAS? and IS IT A JEWISH HOLIDAY TODAY?

But not for long...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

10 days and counting...

Did I mention that I'm going to be a HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHER while living in Tel Aviv? I know that idea doesn't conform to everyone's idea of a good time, but I COULDN'T BE MORE EXCITED.  I HAVE BEEN A SECRET CLOSET WANNABE HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHER SINCE... forever. My last stint doing anything like this was teaching 5th grade reading a few years ago at Heschel Day School. That was a great experience, and this new gig will be a dream come true.

So in this moment of literary delight, allow me to share with you the most incredible collection of artful book-porn I've seen! Not the usual library/collection/bookcase kind, but the real ART kind. It's all here at Take a look, and tell me which is your favorite!  Shout-out to my mom, who first alerted me to this, and whose favorite is the "awesomest book group ever."

(Definitely filing this away for future printing and hanging and decorating...)

Monday, January 14, 2013

11 Days to Go...

So, after my cross-country trip came my extended stay in New Hampshire and then a couple of fantastic months traveling slowly down the East Coast, visiting friends new and old and having a generally incredible time.  Lots of lessons to be blogged - don't worry, they're coming!  After my three weeks in Florida with my mom, I flew back to California, finally, and spent a night in my own home after so many months away!  Then it was couple days at dance camp, a week of Alonim Winter Camp and a great time teaching at Elderhostel (I love it every year - I get to see all my old friends!  Ha.), and then I IMMEDIATELY left for a 9-day stay in Panama with Lila.  It's been quite a trip... or trips, really.  Anyway, I'm home now for a very brief stint - less than two weeks! - before I leave for three months in Israel.  I've never been out of the country for anything approaching that amount of time and I am SOOO excited to finally do it.  I'll be the English teacher for American tenth-graders on an exchange program with Tichon Hadash High School and I can't wait!!  But I have so much to do to get ready... eeek!

I'll keep trying to catch up with the trips that have already happened and blogging the new adventures as they come, but at least now you've got the scoop!  I've had an incredibly rich and full few days just since I got back into town from Panama, and I expect the next 11 days to be just packed as well!  Stay tuned to this space...

and thanks for following along!