Grade Update, My Donkey Jordy, Christmas in North Carolina, Aliyah & The Vatican Soccer Team

Grade Update

Arabic: A-
Fieldwork/Sociolinguistics.Paauw’s Course: A
…now if my other two courses would get their grades in, I’ll be very, very happy.

My Donkey Jordy

Long before I fell in love with Cows, I was a fan of Donkeys (I’ve always been a fan of animals, but these two specifically)…mainly, because my first real stuffed animal – which, I still have to this day, I got at age six…it was an Eeyore.

Well my Mom got me, possibly the best gift I could have hoped for this Chanukah…in Jerusalem there’s a refuge for Donkeys that have been abused and tortured where they rehabilitate these beautiful creatures. Mom adopted, in my name, a Donkey named Jordy (I even have a picture of him, he’s adorable). He’s adopted for a full year, which means that he has his food and his shots paid for so he can be a healthy Jordy. So if you find yourself in Jerusalem with some free time on your hands, go look for the refuge and say hi to Jordy for me (and perhaps donate your time, pet some animals, feed some carrots, you know the deal)…I plan on seeing him next December, so if you’d let him know I’m coming should you run into him, I’d appreciate it.

Christmas in North Carolina

For perhaps close to the past ten years, my Mom has been friends with Margie; over that time my Mom and Dad became close friends with Margie’s Family and Friends and our family has intertwined with her family in wonderful ways (we’ve attended each others weddings and other life events, vacationed together). Margie has a brother whom she adores. She also adores his husband. However, Margie’s parents were not as accepting as Margie (I say were, because their perceptions are changing) and they haven’t had contact with their son and their son-in-law for 25 years. Margie’s parents visited us for Thanksgiving this year and they got to know me, see how me and my Twin (Dave) and my Younger Brother (Sam) interacted and sort of get themselves comfortable with the idea of reconnecting with their son. We saw Hairspray with them (and while I won’t give away any portion of that show, because everyone should experience it first hand) I think that show also changed some of their perceptions of how people can relate to each other.

So Mom and I were invited to attend the reunion so to speak which is taking place in North Carolina on Christmas (Dad’s too busy with work to join us) so not only do I get to celebrate in someone else’s faith and traditions (which is always fun) but I get to be there to see something Margie’s been praying for, for a long time, finally happen. She gets her Christmas wish this year too…it should be exciting…and fun. The southern crowd is always a good time (they’re the one’s who got my Dad into Civil War Re-enacting)…besides, there’s always something charming about a southern drawl.

Aliyah: The Process Officially Begins

So I received the last email I required from Nefesh B’Nefesh to understand how the process of going to go from here-on-in; and of course the entire process, prospect and even the thought of going through with this is not only daunting, but totally frightening to me. Not because it’s not what I want, but because I’m intentionally going far outside of my comfort zone and the hallowed halls of ivory tower academia to pursue a dream, to roll the dice when I don’t know the outcome and to take a lot of risks. However, I also know myself better than anyone else does, and I know that if I don’t do this, if I don’t take this risk, I won’t be happy…I’ll always second guess myself and thats not something I’ll allow myself to do…I’d rather fail, than to never know what could have been.

However, the fact that my parent’s are more than supportive of me makes this much easier, and as my Mom says, I’m a planner and I’m organized (at least with my data) so I now know the next steps and once I get back to Buffalo the ball really gets rolling.

As of Today: 12 Months, 9 Days until I’m in the Middle East

I can’t even begin the application process for another few months (which I understand) however I can prepare myself for the process which is getting forms certified, copied, notarized, paperwork filled out and organized, financial papers and my medical history in order and of course getting all of that organized in a slim binder and prepared for the application process (the expense of doing all this is, thankfully minimal).

I’m entitled to five months of Ulpan for free at whatever level I enter at when I get to Israel which means it would behoove me to keep going with self study in Hebrew (I’m much stronger in Arabic as it’s the language I’ve pursued more seriously) which I can do (I have my textbook and I have the Rosetta Stone Software); doing so will only help me in the long run and will maximize my Ulpan experience. I’m also entitled to a certain amount of shipping; but it’s long been my goal to bring my stuff in a messenger bag and to live completely minimally (not like I own all that much furniture anyway…mostly a bed, a desk, and some dressers that I really don’t use but keep for decoration). I’m told I could move up to three shipping containers…to which I always sort of go “I don’t want three shipping containers of junk in the U.S. why would I want three shipping containers of junk in the Middle East?!” I’ll just pick up a new Hookah at some point when I get there, I just can’t see the point in bringing my crappy Hookah with me (I mean, I love it, but as far as hookahs go, mine’s a jalopy) when I can just buy a new one for cheap at the markets.

As far as my basic philosophy goes, the more I can travel with just a bag and a wallet (and bank account) full of cash, the better off I am. The way I see it, the lighter I travel, the easier my time will be. With the assistance of Pat (mr_weaselpants) I sold off most of my library (with the exception of books that are very important to me, or are professional reference). My professional reference books, while handy to have in the office I’ll one day have setup actually have all their information online and if I recall correctly my UB Alumni Membership will allow me access to the library’s online resources (including all the databases – JStor, LexisNexis, the OED Online and other books online) which means that they’ll grace my parents bookshelves until such a time that I’m totally setup. Most of my music can fit on a few mini-discs or on a web-server or a jump drive so I’m not going to lug a bunch of CDs with me (gryvon would you like to take possession of my CD Collection?). Of course, as it is, I don’t own too many things that are important to me (a lot of tchotchkes are just there for decorations) and the few things that I do, can normally fit into my messenger bag. My LiveJournal is a permanent account so I don’t have to worry about paying for that either and I’m sure if I asked Christie (gryvon) nicely to check my email and delete the spam mail for me she would every few weeks or so until I can get a reliable internet connection setup, so I’m not too concerned with my account being shut down due to lack of use.

Of course some of this seem silly, but the key to planning is to realize when the devil really is in the details.

I return to Buffalo on January 10, 2007. Classes start up again on January 16th. Over the period of four days (January 11-15, 2007) I finish streamlining what I own with the assistance of industrial strength garbage bags. I started a few months ago, and now that I’ll have a few months off I’m junking 95% of my apartment (donating what can be donated, selling what can be sold, trashing what can be trashed).

Other than that, as soon as I can start filling out the application I will, and I’ll complete it…and then there’s going to come a point where I finish everything, finish my courses, have nothing else to do but throw my hands up and go “Okay God, ball is TOTALLY in your court.” Fortunately I’m heading over with skills (Carpenter, Photographer, Pharmacy Tech, Paralegal, Linguist) and while uncertainty scares me, everything in my heart says that I’m making the right decision and I know this is the right thing to do; I also know that I don’t want to go for my masters or my doctorate until I’ve been totally immersed into the languages that I’m supposed to be speaking. I have to serve six months (according to their website) in the IDF since I’ll be 23 when I go over there. I’m okay with that too; I’ve always been a fan of running, jumping and climbing trees…and I’ve always been a fan of uniforms, so the two combined works well.

The Vatican Soccer Team

So according to this CNN article, the Vatican is thinking of starting a soccer team…I’m sort of curious as to what their uniforms would look like…maybe go back to those early crusade designs.