Friday, July 29, 2005

Hello Again! [Do you like my hat?...]

Hello there, once loyal fans, although of course, who the heck can get any loyal fans when they write four posts and then disappear for a month at a time and also I don't think that I have really found a niche here, so probably any fans are going to be my own personal relatives, but hello anyway!
There actually is a good excuse for my not having written for weeks on end and that is that I was trapped in a place without internet access. The story of what I was doing there is crazy and entertaining enough to make a really fun post, but having already summarized it for my friends, I'm going to be lazy and re-print the e-mail that I sent to them. Assume that anything you don't get is an inside joke, and I hope that my friends did the same, because it's quite likely that the whole thing is just incoherent:

As some of you may have found out at the wedding (which was, of course, awesome. Or in seminary-ish 'A-maaaaazing'), I somehow, and heaven only knows how, got hooked into the summer program that Meechal was pushing me into at the end of the year. The main pros of the program was that it would be learning all day, and the main cons were that I knew absolutely nothing about its legitimacy, it was far from my family, it didn't pay, and it was almost exclusively male. So course, I ended up doing it. So far, I am not sorry that I did, but it has certainly been a learning experience. The other eight or so (well, there were nine of us, but we have lost three along the way) members of the program, aside from being male, which I will get to later, are all insanely smart. I kid you not, I am convinced that I am by far the least knowledgable and probably about average to low intelligent-wise in the group. I try to convince myself that this is because most are post-college (i'm the second youngest), but frankly I'm not certain. They have, after all, all had the advantage of doing real learning their whole lives, while I have been stuck (not to sound bitter) learning a lot of mussar and hashkafa and soft thought and mushy chumash (I have no objection to real chumash, but I got precious little of that in high school), so I can comfort myself by that being their head-start. When it gets down to straight learning, I can more or less keep up, although I discovered early on that I have no real knowledge of how to learn b'iyun alone really in depth, so I am trying to teach myself in the afternoon. Our schedule for the past three weeks (we spend three weeks in one community and then three in a second one) was as follows: Shachrit at 7:00, after which breakfast/learning/free time until seder at nine, spent learning sources in chavruta with Meechal for the shiur, which is about the general topic of Lifnei Ivair. At 12:15, lunch until around 1, when we have shiur for two hours or a little more on sources learnt that morning. Then free/learning time on own while Meechal writes her thesis until Ma'ariv around eight, with an hour or so break when we all eat dinner. Stumble back to the empty apartment we're being put up in (actually part of a two-flat house and belonging to an almost always absent mother-in-law), and relax/read/independent learn and to sleep. Fridays and Sundays off, except for a communal shiur that we help people learn for Sunday mornings. There is another shiur Wednesday nights. In this new community, the situation is basically the same, except Shachrit is at eight and the house is occupied by really really nice people who are giving us rooms in their home. As I said, the program has been a learning experience, other than of course the actually learning which is incredible and intensive and intellectual and a lot of other 'in-' words. I have learnt, among other things:1) I am not a seminary type of person. Seminary was lovely, I was happy, but actually, I am the kind of person who is meant to be in a yeshiva, shtieging all day on one's own, never sleeping or having classes or decent accomodations, instead of all those classes and machshava and I don't know what. Someone should someday invent a non-ideological yeshiva for post-high-school girls, because I would totally go (or have gone, rather) (No offense intended to the wonderful year at Sha'alvot).2) I am a geek, not an intellectual. I have now met a lot of intellectuals, and a lot what interests them bores me. Many of the people in my program are into philosophy and deep stuff- very stereotypically Harvard, and I do not think that is my cup of tea. I like intellectual, deep discussions, but I do not read Dante or Levinat (some philosopher from France, I have discovered) just for the fun of it. They are boring.3) Although the male thing has not been as much of a problem as I feared, as I am currently somewhat comfortable with the other fellows (yes, that's what everyone in the program is called. It makes me want to burst out into he's a jolly good fellow) and I don't just sit about and cringe as I did the first day, but nonetheless, it's hard being the gender minority. Especially if the other members are guys and therefore stupid (nasty, but not entirely untrue). I do not refer only to their random wrestling at meals and so on, but also to the fact that they had no problem, in the first blinking week, loudly talking about how much better they think the program was without the recent addition of girls (I quote 'not because they bring the learning down, but because they make it not all one group'. Possibly a valid point, but not one that has to be made in my presence, and anyway, where does he want us to go instead?) Now that would not bother me so much since I know them and would just laugh and shake my head, but still no one can call it tactful. Lately it has gotten better and I can laugh or listen or participate in discussions of womens' learning without a problem, but it is always a tad awkward. But actually, they're nice people, so it's really fine. -ish. Ah well.
And the list goes on, but it's late and I'm tired and so I think that I'd better stop here.

Having, Actually and surprisingly, a blast,