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It has been 24 years today since we immigrated to the US from Belarus. We traveled in just one day - a very, very long day with the time change and getting up at 2am - but still it was better that 6 months some people had to do just a few years before. My parents, three of my grandparents and I took a four hour plane to Shannon, Ireland (my first plane ride ever), then spent four hours at the airport and then took a 6 hour plane to New York, where after going through an interview by immigration officials we got to meet my uncle at the gate who drove us to our new apartment in Brooklyn. Two of my grandparents (his parents) were in a different apartment. In honor of the day, my Dad and I would always get a little cake or something to celebrate, so today my parents, who came over so Bear and my Dad could drive to pick up our new air conditioner, got a cake too and some other tasty treats.

It is so nice outside - not super warm but getting warmer with clear light blue skies. I spent the morning at the playground with Tanya, first my myself and then Bear came and then my parents too. Just a nice relaxing day before I get the last batch of papers tomorrow and get ready to finish teaching.

I want to catch up a little bit on the last few weeks so I though I'll write about our holidays first. We celebrate both Passover and Easter so we had a full schedule last weekend.

First Seder )

Our big celebration has been the friend one that I've been organizing for at least the last twelve years on the Saturday of the Passover week. This year it was just Marianna and her family and us and we went to Queens to Marianna's place since she has a big table and we usually gather there. It was Janna's birthday so she had plans and Yeva didn't really want to come since she didn't want to cook or hang out with so many kids (Galya is 5, Tanya and Ida are 2.5 and Mozen is 6 months). So I just split the shopping list between us and Bear got pretty much everything the night before.

My Dad was supposed to get kosher for Passover desert at Costco that week (I don't eat anything with flour or rice or oatmeal or corn on Passover) but it was all cleared out already, so I asked Bear to get me bittersweet chocolate chips and on Saturday morning I made flourless chocolate cake. I had some Dutch cocoa powder from Aruba from which I usually make hot chocolate, so I used that, and it gave it a good flavor. It was my first time making it but it came out alright and everything seemed to like it at the party. All the kids, except the baby, had some and liked it so that's a good sign. (I've been watching "The Great British Bake Off on Netflix lately, so baking feels a bit strange, if that is the right word.)

On Saturday, I had to go to the doctor's appointment at 11:30. My parents were supposed to come over to watch Tanya while Bear and I went, but my Mom couldn't, only my Dad drove over to take me which Bear fed Tanya and got her ready. Everything went well, I got a cute sonogram photos to show everyone, came home, ate lunch, got everyone packed (we were going straight to Bear's parents after so I needed to pack overnight stuff) and off we went.

Passover at Marianna's )

Easter )
bearshorty: (Default)
The semester is almost over. Classes are done next Monday, when I will give my final exam, and then I have to finish all the grading by May 11th. I just printed out the exam, so I'm all set in prep. Now just to grade Paper 5.

I've been a little bit consumed by watching Season 1 of "The Flash" on Netflix in the past week, so I suspect I will only start to focus on grading once I finish the final two episodes. I love this show, which is a little unexpected. But the villain is so, so good and the tension is built nicely. I'm a tad obsessed at this point, which hasn't happened in a while. Watching the whole season at once only confirms to me that that is how I prefer my TV now - all at once with no commercials. I think I will continue to watch this show just on Netflix, the same way I do with "Agents of Shield" - it just works so much better watching at my pace in a month, rather than over the course of the year.

It's Passover and I'm keeping it - so no bread or pasta or rice or oatmeal for me. It's been cottage cheese and eggs and cheese for breakfast and lots of potatoes. I do miss my bread - but it is only three days left. On Friday, we were still at my parents so we had a Seder there. My parents don't really like the whole ritual, just the food, so I did a very short version of prayers from my Haggadah. But the food, as usual, was delicious. Tanya really loves chicken soup (the other day, I was giving it to her at home and she wanted to say "Tanya is eating soup" and was trying to get to the Russian word 'to eat', saying the English one. So I helped with 'Tanya kushaet soup" and she corrected me with "bulyon," which is Russian for chicken soup. She cracks me up) and she really liked munching on mazza.

On Saturday, after my parents drove us home and Bear came home from work and food shopping, we drove to Queens to Marianna's for our friend Seder, which we do every year on a convenient Passover Saturday. It was a smaller gathering this year, since Janna's baby is only a few months and she opted out. It was Marianna, her husband Adama, their daughters Galya and Ida, Yeva, Bear, Tanya and I. The boys took care of the kids while Marianna and I with some assist from Yeva cooked. It was so nice just to cook together and talk.

Our menu this year was chicken soup with mazza balls, Ethiopian cabbage dish (potatoes and cabbage), asparagus, salad, baked wild salmon, mazza bread with mushrooms and onions, eggs and desert (I got a Passover cake in Costco). And I put together the Passover Plate, of course Adama got plaintains which we usually have every year too, but it was getting late so he gave us some to take home and Bear made them Monday. Lots and lots delicious food. I still did a shortened Seder since we had to leave by 8, but I got most important bits in.

Tanya didn't nap in the car on the way there and, of course, couldn't settle down for a nap in a new place filled with new fun toys, so she didn't nap. She did very well, surprisingly, and wasn't too cranky in the evening. She fell asleep right away on the way home at 8pm, went to bed quickly again once we got home and slept in until 7:40 the next morning - so she caught up on her sleep. But Saturday she was just excited to play with Galya and then Ida, once Ida was up from her nap. For the first time, Tanya was actually playing with others, not just parallel playing, but playing. Even last time we came for a visit, she was more cautious. This time, she even led Ida by the hand herself to join in some game. It was fun to see.

Yesterday, we went to the playground twice, in the morning and in the afternoon. And both times she started following two girls around. In the morning, it were sisters who were maybe 7 and 5, playing on the slide, and Tanya wanted to climb on the side like them and touch their jackets. And in the afternoon, she saw two other sisters, maybe 4 and 3, drawing with chalk, so she went to the opposite corner of the playground to her stroller to get her chalk, then ran to the girls and joined them. Offered them chalk, tried jumping/running after them as they jumped the chalk drawn numbers game. They were mostly puzzled but let her follow them, prompted by their mother. She is starting to join it, though.

And she is making more and more sentences - in present and past tense. And it's often so amusing to me. Yesterday morning, I was washing the floors and she would come up to me and try to grab the mop and wash the floors herself, saying "otdai shvabru", loosely translated as 'give me back the mop', kind of. It's funnier in Russian.
bearshorty: (Default)
Happy Passover and Happy Easter to those who celebrate it!

On Friday, I cooked for the small Seder for just me and Bear. I made mazza ball chicken soup with organic super fancy chicken I got at the local kosher meat store, baked sweet potatoes with oregano, made chicken legs and eggs, and harosset for the Passover plate. Pretty basic but it took two hours. We were leaving for the whole weekend, so I didn't want to cook too much.

On Saturday we drove over to Queens to Marianna's place, for our annual Seder dinner. I started hosting a Seder for my friends in 2006, and then in 2008, when I moved back with my parents I got my friend Marianna to host it. She has a very big table. And it evolved into this traditional get together on the Saturday of Passover every year. Most of the time we gather in Queens but sometimes others volunteered to host. I am the organizer of it all: I break down and assign what we each have to bring for our cooking adventure. I also lead the actual ceremony with my illustrated Haggadah book. We cook all together while husbands hang out in the living room and, lately, are in charge of the kids.

We usually have around 7 to 9 adults and now 4 kids. Yeva and Marianna are my best friends from the first day of high school. Yeva and I met Janna in college, but she knew Marianna's cousin back in Kazakhstan. It's a small world. So we and our significant others get together. We are all Russian Jews but none of our husbands are. Marianna is married to Adama, a Muslim from Mali, and they have two kids: Galya, almost 4 and Idalia, or Ida for short, who is 8 months (two days younger than my daughter). Janna is married to Bert, an American Protestant, and they have a daughter Jo, short for Josephine, who is a 1.5 years old. I'm married to an American Catholic and we have a 8 months old. Yeva used to be married to a Jewish guy but that was before our Passover dinners and her Jewish boyfriend now had to work.

This is a tradition I cherish and I was so happy to do it another year. It was a little hectic with 4 little kids and Yeva, as usual, was two hours late. She was bringing the fish. We usually make chicken but she wanted something different. Janna and family had to leave at 6, and with the babies fussing we had to have a short version of the actual Seder. But the food was delicious and the point is in hanging out and cooking together and just enjoying the day. I also keep Passover and don't eat any flour for 8 days, so I get to have a giant delicious meal and kosher for Passover desert.

We stayed until 7:30, Tanya's bedtime because we were driving over to Long Island to Bear's parents right after. So we fed her (milk and avocado), changed her, put pajamas on and said goodbye. The drive was a little less than an hour and she feel asleep on the way there. But she had a long exciting day and she interacted with so many people and other babies and then she got to her grandparents' house, which she probably didn't remember and seen grandparents and cat. So getting her back to bed was a big, big challenge. I couldn't settle her until after 11; she cried so much from everything and probably being overtired. So last night was pretty tough for both of us. Of course, she woke up with a smile on her face ready to celebrate her first Easter with her grandparents.

She got an Easter basket with a sheep and lots of books, played a lot, went for a walk with her Papa while I graded (so much to grade), hung out at the big table for big Easter dinner, starred at her Uncle John a lot (it was so funny, probably because he and Bear look similar enough to get her confused. John is 10 years older than Bear. Carrie, Bear's sister, who is 8 years older, is in prison right now for her 5th DWI but that is a whole other story). She had a big day and was getting pretty tired and cranky by 6pm. But tonight was like night and day from yesterday in getting her to sleep. She fell asleep in the car, stayed asleep all the way back to our apartment, slightly roused when I finally got her out of the car seat and took her jacket off (after I unpacked) and went right back to sleep in her crib. Familiarity probably made her comfortable.

And now, after doing some late evening prep for my classes tomorrow - how not to plagiarize my intro to authors from the assignment sheet in their papers, for example, and ever popular - what makes a good thesis, - I'm going to bed to face an extremely busy week of paper grading.
bearshorty: (Default)
Happy Passover! Today I made a festive meal with chicken matzo ball soup, mashed potatoes, chicken drumsticks, salad and mushroom/matzo bread plus the Passover plate. I'm all worn out. But here is another soup for the Soup Project.

Soup Project 2014: Soup 9 - Chicken Matzo Soup


2 chicken legs with thighs (I got Organic Kosher chicken in a local meat store)
1 large carrot, pealed and cut
4 sticks of celery, cut
1 onion, peeled but left whole
1 box of matzo soup mix (I used it to make matzo balls per instructions and added just a little soup mix to the soup)
2 eggs (for matzo balls)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (for matzo balls)
salt to taste


1. Take chicken out, take off the skin and wash it. Put it into a smaller pot with cold water and bring water to boil.

2. Once the water starts to boil, empty the pot, wash chicken again and put the chicken into the large soup pot. Fill pot with cold water and bring to boil. Then once the pot is boiling, put on simmer.

3. After about 30 minutes after putting large pot on the stove, add carrot, celery, and a whole onion. Add a little bit of matzo soup mix - but not the whole packet. Add salt to taste.

4. Meanwhile make matzo ball mix and put in the fridge.

5. 30 minutes after adding the veggies, take matzo ball mix from the fridge, make small matzo balls and add to the soup. Leave soup to simmer another 30 minutes.

6. Take the onion out with the spoon and throw it out. The soup is ready to eat. You can also add regular matzo to the soup once the soup is in bowls.

This soup came out very well, combing the best of matzo ball soup from the box and chicken soup. Plus lots of delicious boiled chicken.
bearshorty: (Default)
I have not been inspired to write lately, mostly because I'm tired when I get home from work and I just want to veg on the couch, read fic and watch "West Wing." But since I actually have time before my office hours come to an end today, I thought I'll put together a little update.

1. I've been sick for the last week and a half and it has not been fun. My throat hurt so much that I couldn't really talk for a couple of days last week. I even cancelled my history classes since it was kind of pointless to not talk in a lecture class. Bear is now sick too, so he probably got it from me. I'm just so tired of coughing.

2. On Sunday, despite not feeling 100%, I went to the Leonard Cohen concert at Radio City Music Hall. I spent a lot of money on that ticket (I did have great seats on the first row of the balcony) and I was not going to waste it. And it was amazing. He was better live than on his CDs which is not that common for musicians. And he made me appreciate his songs even more. For a 78 year old he was going up and down on his knees a lot and he sang for over three hours. The concert ended close to midnight. I loved it. It is just the great band with wonderful musicians, back-up singers and pure songs. My favorite bits were when he was reciting the lyrics to some songs like "A Thousand Kisses Deep" like poetry. I also got really emotional during "Come healing" and "Hallelujah." I knew all the songs, except maybe two, but I certainly got new ideas on them.

3. On March 28, I went to Manhattan for the Mark Tour event. Mark Oshiro from Mark Reads and Mark Watches websites was touring around US and Canada so I decided to go this year. It was a lot of fun. He read terrible fanfic like one with Batman/Robocop and answered questions. And I met some of the other people who read his sites. I'm shy in social situations where I don't know people (when I'm comfortable, I can't shut up - I'm such a Gemini) so I got a little flustered when I talked to him after the show. It was very nice to meet him in person.

4. Speaking of Mark Watches , he started covering "West Wing" in March. I had no intention of starting it but after reading his first review, I gave the pilot a chance. I'm on episode 7 of Season 2 now. I really like it. It's the characters - i like almost all of the characters, especially, Josh, CJ and Toby and I'm enjoying the stories.

5. On Saturday, March 30th, me and my friends did our annual Passover Seder cooking and eating a lot extravaganza. It is always so much fun. Marianna made a whole chicken this year, for the first time ever, and it was very delicious. Janna is pregnant and due in September. I'm going to pick up cross stitching again. I haven't done that is a while.

6. And speaking of Passover, I made so much food on the first night for the seder just for me and Bear. There was mazza ball soup with veggies, roasted potatoes, boiled geffelte fish, salad - too much food.

March was a very social month. We went visiting someone almost every weekend.

I have to go teach now. Crusades, here I come. At least the weather is finally lovely.
bearshorty: (Default)
Grading Day as Thursdays tend to be. But it was mostly fine otherwise. At least it was Rough Draft day in class.

I got grilled chicken and French fries for lunch and the guy looked at me like I was crazy when I told him no bread. Like he never heard of Passover (and where I live there is a sizable Jewish population).
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Last week really ran away from me, since I had to set up the new computer and grade way to much. So I was not in the writing mood. I still have lots and lots of work but I really need to try to catch up.

I posted the History Big Bang story today – I still haven’t heard from the artist but I’m just glad I got done in time. My lovely beta got back to me this morning. Big Bangs are too stressful for me, I think – I prefer shorter stories. Still, I’m happy it is done.

Today was the day of our annual Passover Seder feast at Marianna’s and, as usual, it was a lot of fun with all the cooking and hanging out. And Galya looked all pretty and cute at 10 month old. She is walking already and she basked at all the attention since all adult were playing with her at some point. I got her a little stuffed owl.

Getting to the Seder was a little adventure. Originally, after visiting my grandparents, my parents were supposed to drop me off at Yeva’s but, as usual, Yeva was going to go to an appointment and she forgot to tell me about it and it was just so much easier to call Bear and get him to pick me up at my grandparent’s house. It would be faster for him to drive straight there, and he also has a tendency to come an hour late but it was still the least frustrating option. And it is always much more fun to travel with Bear and talk about religion and other things, especially since we need to have that conversation with his mother about the ceremony.

At Marianna’s, there was lots and lots of cooking – we made chicken soup (I was much more active in really making it this time – it is really time for me to master soups), cutting up a lot of vegetables, making Passover plate and haroset, roasted potatoes, chicken legs, salad, mazza bread with mushrooms, boiled eggs etc. Bear actually could barely finish his plate which was very surprising.

So great time was had by all and we only got to Bear’s house around 11:30 or so.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Saturday, April 7th, 2012 12:30 am
bearshorty: (Default)
Tonight is the start of Passover and tomorrow we are gathering for our annual Passover Seder Fest with my friends where we cook all day and then have a gigantic feast and where I actually get to go through the whole Haggadah and not the fast version my parents go for. When we did our First Seder with my parents tonight – they just mostly wanted to eat as usual so I have to do a fast forward reading and ceremonies.

In the morning I went shopping for tomorrow (I send the list of ingredients each of us has to bring) and I stopped by my bank too. So all the chores are done. I just need to pack an overnight bag since I’m going to Bear’s afterward for his family’s Easter celebrations.

While the Seder itself was a bit too fast at home, as it usually is, the food was fabulous. There was salad, egg and fish and there were potato pancakes. And mazza, of course. And I make a great haroset (a mixture of apple, pear, walnuts, a little grape juice – tomorrow I will make the actual version with cinnamon and ginger. Mama doesn’t like cinnamon, so I have to be tame). There was also Passover cake!

I didn’t watch “Grimm” tonight because I was in the middle of Buffy’s “Restless” episode and I didn’t want to stop. So I’ll catch up on Grimm later.

I did finally finish my History Big Bang Highlander story, which I will post tomorrow. I’m just relieved I got it done on time. It is not my best story ever or anything, but I got it done, so yay.
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I do love last week of the writing class. The students discuss the final reading and take final exam on Thursday. All I have to do is collect the folders and write the exam. Hard work will start on Friday with more grading.

It was so warm, I wore a skirt to work. I rarely wear skirts. But I did with a pink shirt too. And stockings.

One of my history students, who didn’t do so well on the first paper, sent me a rough draft on his second. The problem was, as I discovered while reading this paper that didn’t really answer the assignment question, was that he really just plagiarized his paper from Wikipedia of all things. How think is he? Since it was the rough draft, I just sent him a stern email and gave him steps on how to actually answer the assignment question. But it was ridiculous.

Papa started watching the new “Doctor Who” episode in the evening and I could not resist seeing it again. We took a break at 8:30 to east some Russian easter bread Mama got at the store since Passover ended at 8:30 and we could eat bread again. Yay.

Here is the Dreamwidth meme that has been going around since I like it:

Why did you join Dreamwidth?

A friend of mine asked if I wanted a code. I said why not. I never joined LifeJournal before nor was I really active online other than lurking and reading a lot. But this seemed a place to start. And I wanted to catch up with my friend too. I got the code in the summer of 2009 but I didn’t start posting until September of 2009, using the start of the Jewish New Year 5770 as a starting date since I wanted a specific goal to keep me posting. My goal was to write about my day, every day, to keep track of my days and also to finally read the Torah, the first five books of the Bible while making comments on it. I did “WTF Bible moment of the day” for a while in the fall of 2009, and I actually accomplished that goal. And over time, I joined in more communities and got more friends. And started writing fanfiction too. So I feel like a bigger part of an online world now.

Why did you choose the journal name?

Journal name or my username? Journal name originally was 5770 since the plan was to write for a year and 5770 was the Jewish year from September 2009 to September 2010. Once September 2010 hit, I changed the name and the color of my page. As for my username, it is an in-joke between Bear, my significant other since college, and me. Bear is not his real name but I actually call him Bear in real life. I rarely use his real name with him (only in public or if I’m mad at him). He, in turn, calls me Shorty – which is an in-joke because I’m 5 feet 8 inches or 170 cm and only 2 inches shorter than him. We have fun with this. I can never think of names and titles and I really couldn’t think of something that described me, so I just combined the two. But in using ‘bearshorty’ as my online name, it stopped really being about the two of us and just became my name. And yes, sometimes the feminist in me rolls her eyes because my online identity began with the relationship and is boy-dependant (and my default icon reflects that relationship) but Bear and I have been together since we were eighteen and our lives are very intertwined while still remaining fairly independent, so I never feel like anything but myself even as part of a couple. I think being in a long distance relationship for so long also guaranteed that I, as a person, would not become lost in it. So that is the story of my username.
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Eighteen years ago today I came to America. I was twelve, almost thirteen. It was probably the most important day in my whole life.

Today was the day of our annual friends get-together Passover Seder. Marianna calls me the Captain of it since I organize it but it is really a group effort since all pitch it and cook something, even the men. We had eight people this year including myself and Bear, Marianna and Adama, Yeva and her boyfriend Vito and Janna and her husband Bert. And it was as usual lots of food, good company and general good time. And next year, with Marianna’s baby, things will change – not in a bad way, it will just be different.

Today started out very very rainy. Pouring rain. My parents and I were going to leave to go to Brooklyn very early in the morning since I needed to do presents shopping but the rain changed our plans. Instead I cross stitched while watching “Sex and the City 2” on HBO for a while and my parents did the shopping for me after I gave Papa a list, once they dropped me off at Yeva’s.

We did leave by 10:30 to go visit my Grandparents first. I’ve been so busy this semester that I haven’t seen them for a while and it was good to visit them.

My parents then dropped me off at Yeva’s since we were driving to Marianna’s together. I have a driving license but I never drive, driving in the crowded city area freaks me out, so I usually either take public transport or get a ride. Yeva is always notoriously late. She takes forever to get ready. (Bear has the same tendency) Once she was three hours late to my birthday party. Usually I would add two hours from the time I tell her we are leaving. This time I told her I will be at the house at noon so at least I know she would be up by then. And, of course, we didn’t leave her house until 1:30 at least and we still had to finish the shopping. At least I was productive while she was getting ready – I looked over a history rough draft for a student. This time we were only an hour later to Marianna’s place than I wanted to, so it worked out ok.

And we cooked a lot. Lots of deliciousness. The chicken legs turned out particularly well. And the wine was very nice. I led the Seder and then we ate. And Bert make a good key lime pie for us. I’m the only one that actually keeps Passover (I don’t eat bread all week, just mazza) so I just ate the insides of the pie, not the crust. The rest of the meal was kosher for Passover. Bear and I left at 10:40 to go to his house for Easter. We didn’t want to leave – we had a great conversation of weird food from around the world, but we did need to go home. Very successful gathering.

Some pictures )

Cross stitch: tan for Big Bear's nose and middle bear's head
bearshorty: (Default)
Happy Passover!

Tonight is the night of the first Seder. And for the next eight days I won’t eat anything with flower, corn or rice. So no bread for me. So mostly vegetable and lots of potatoes and lots of mazza. And that means bringing my own lunch everywhere. My parents and I do have a very basic Seder. We make mazza ball soup and have the fish and salad and egg. I made a Seder plate. I actually have a nice Haggada, a book that tells the ritual of the Seder meal (seder means order) with all different blessing and recounting the story of Moses. Passover is the recollection of the Exodus from Egypt but we talk of it as if it is happening to us right now. But my parents are impatient for the whole ritual. But that is OK, since my friends and I have a tradition of Seder on the Saturday of Passover, where we cook and cook and cook and then I lead the Seder in all its glory.

We always had some sort of meal around Passover/Easter time and I remember eating mazza when I was little. But my first real Seder happened when I was in London in 2000 for study abroad. All the Jewish students from the program, maybe ten of us, gathered for it and I enjoyed it a lot. In grad school, I started going to Chabad House for it. When I moved into my own apartment in 2005, I started hosting my own Seder and when I moved back home, I organized a Seder with my friends and since then we have it every year. I’m very much looking forward to Saturday.

I gave a lecture on Black Death today and then we had a discussion on the readings. Black Death lecture always goes over well. I postponed their Paper 2 because I didn’t finish grading Paper 1 yet, not that they minded. I did spent the morning grading Paper 1. Will do more Wednesday and Friday.

I caught up with “Brothers and Sisters” Poor Nora, she can never catch a break with any guys. That is a great plot twist with Michelle and Kevin and Scotty. I’m looking forward to it.

House S7E19 )
bearshorty: (Default)
Best line from one of my college papers I read today
“The Citadel has pros that make it look respected and it also has its cons that make it look like an asshole.”

Grading day again so I got up at 6am. 12 papers today but I got it all done. And today I got a fresh batch of papers so it never stops. I did write a new question based on articles by Leila Ahmed “On Becoming an Arab” and Gladwell’s “The Power of Context.” I’m asking them to consider “How does context influence identity?” And, of course, we spent a significant amount of time in class discussing what ‘context’ means (even if they just wrote a whole paper on Gladwell and ‘context’ is in his title. We also looked at the different types of context like environmental or political and what ‘identity’ means. I talked my question over with Emily, one of the other instructors. I do always like discussing my question with other instructors just to talk it out and make sure it would work. There is a lot to be said for collaboration.

Because Ahmed’s article assumes a general knowledge of history, geography and terminology which most students lack (and I’m always surprised at the lacunas in their history and geography knowledge) we went over some terms that popped in the essay. Like the difference between ‘Arab’ and ‘Muslim’ and where Arabian Peninsula and even Egypt were on the map. (I brought my Historical Atlas for them to look at because they needed to know where Ottoman Empire was and explain what Ottoman Empire consisted off and many couldn’t even point to Egypt). We went over World War I, World War II, nationalism, Balfour Declaration, Zionism, propaganda and other terminology. One class asked me to talk about different types of Christianity because Copts were mentioned in the article. While a part of me thinks this type of article is hard for them because of all these terms another and stronger part says that this is the type of stuff they should read in college and that we must expect them to learn.

Every year, my friends and I get together during Passover (usually on a Saturday) and have a Passover Seder (which I run because I have the book and it matters most to me. I actually keep Passover, foodwise, unlike my friends). This Seder is one of my favorite traditions of the year and I always look forward to it because we all cook together and make this gigantic dinner. And it is really a multi-religious fest since the women are all Jewish and our partners are Christians and Muslim.

Since I’m the person who usually organizes things, and especially this event, I usually give out grocery lists and generally make sure this event happens. So today I sent out Seder Menu for general approval.

Seder Menu )

In the evening, after all that grading I managed to watch some TV, including last night’s “Modern Family” on Hulu and "Community" and "Grey's Anatomy" on TV.

“Modern Family” I loved the table conversation. Two laugh outloud moments (I was watching the first half in my office at the end of my office hours since I was done with grading and needed a rest, and after one involuntary really loud laugh from me(Cam’s sarcastic line about getting another child from the Orient) I was glad it late enough for not many people to be hanging around the offices.

Ah, “Community”. You are such a nice fluffy show that understands the awesomeness of pop culture tv and movie references. No-no juice!

I had a minor panic over computer cord; I had to use a pen to move the inside where you connect the battery cord.

My jaw on the left side feels a bit stiff where it joins my skull. It’s annoying.

Today was a very long day.
bearshorty: (Default)
This was the eight day of Passover – last day to eat mazza. Passover actually went quickly this year. It helped that I could control what I could eat at home; it is always harder to eat at restaurants or cafeterias at this time.

I got to go outside to play for half an hour with neighbor kids. It is cute how they occasionally show up at my door and see if I want to play outside with them since I know the jump rope game. And I figure leaving the house to enjoy the sunny weather and do a bit of exercise. I cant believe how much energy I had as a kid to be able to jump so much. Now I get tired so much easier. Plus my center of gravity is much different.

“Changes” by Jim Butcher finally came out today and Amazon was nice enough to ship it so it would arrive on the release date. I couldn’t wait to see what happens so, for my sanity, I just skimmed the whole book. Wow, that was some good plot. And the cliffhanger! I realized that if I didn’t skim it, it would just drive me crazy. Now I can read the details at my leisure. Jim Butcher is really in control of his story, especially as he has a plan for 20 + books with three part apocalypse trilogy at the end. As his world is getting more sophisticated, his characters grow and clearly get older, which I just love.

Someone made this “Dresden Files” Timeline , which is very handy

Spoilers for Changes )

19 Nisan/3 April, 2010

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010 11:00 pm
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Today was the day of our gathering. We alternate apartments and hosts every year and this time we went to Marianna and Adama’s apartment. There were eight of us, including the hosts’ two little nieces. It was actually great to have little kids at the Seder because they were excited to listen and learn and search for mazza.

My parents drove me to Brooklyn in the morning since they had things to do there and I was going to Yeva’s place to get a ride to the party with her. My parents stopped by Brighton on the way because Mama wanted to get kulich (Russian Easter cake) for Russian Easter. Unlike Papa and I, who keep Passover and don’t eat bread the whole week, Mama is not opposed to a cake appropriate to the season. We have no bread in the house the whole week and Mama keeps Passover for convenience but she doesn’t really care about it. This year both Catholic and Orthodox Easter are right in the middle of Passover, so while I will eat the colored eggs I will hold off on the Easter cake until Passover is over.

When we went to a Russian supermarket to get Kulich, Papa and I wandered into a baked goods section where we noticed a Passover display. There were cakes and baked goods made with mazza meal just for Passover and they looked delicious. I wanted to pick some treats for the party (even as Janna was assigned desert; I couldn’t resist) and then Mama wanted the cheesecake. The service was a bit slow but we wanted to ask what the stuff was made of and how much it was. Two, two , of the service ladies had to comment in a very patronizing tone that all of these goods were made from mazza and not real flour, like we couldn’t read or we would never want to eat something like that. We had to roll our eyes a bit. What I bought, Yeva and I had for lunch as we drove to Marianna’s, and it was really delicious.

As usual, Yeva and I left later than planned. One must always add an hour or two to some people’s arrival time, like Yeva or Bear. For the most part I gotten to be more zen about it but still I was a bit irritable (but to a much lesser extent that I used to be). We picked up Janna on the way and then got to Marianna’s just as Bear arrived too. So we all came just in time to cook together. This part is always lots of fun. We have things we do every year, like chicken soup with mazza balls. This year Marianna wanted to make roast potatoes instead of potato kugel, and that was really delicious. We also had salad and chicken and soup and mazza bread with mushrooms and onions in addition to desert.

Overall it was a fun evening. I got to take a walk with Bear too after we walked Janna to the subway. We also decided on July 4th weekend for our New Hampshire trip so Yeva and I will start planning that soon.

We left quite late and I spent the night at Yeva’s place. I decided a few days ago against going to Bear’s for Easter, since I have to get back by 6pm on Sunday and his parents’ have plans for dinner and all. His Mom did send me desert treats instead, though, including a delicious caramel chocolate bunny.
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A few political links that keep me sane:
Medusa sent me this link and it is a good one. An open letter to conservatives.

Also this .

The rising conservatism of my father is really annoying and a bit disturbing. He even now refuses to see Nazis and communists as different no matter how many times I tell him that they are on the opposite side of political spectrum. He just says that they both suppress individual’s rights and conveniently disregards their economic differences. Like one can really separate economics and politics here. I think he argues with me on this for the sake of arguing. But since a few years ago when he started reading all kinds of conservative blogs and watching FoxNews his political views shifted to mine and my mother’s annoyance.

Tonight is the first night of Passover and the first Seder. When I was little my family gathered at my grandmother’s apartment for an Easter/Passover meal. There was mazza and a blessed Russian Easter bread cake too. And chicken soup in a cup. And my grandmother would make gefilte fish from scratch, with a fish head stuffed too, all looking at you with dead fishy eyes. Very delicious. It’s not like anything was religious in any way nor did we really have any rituals. We just gathered for a festive meal. Even when we came to America things didn’t change that much. We would have a special dinner on first Passover night but without any religious overtones. But the time I went to college I did start actually keeping Passover and not eating any bread for Passover week. That wasn’t always easy to do with dining hall food.

Things changed ten years ago when I was in London for my study abroad program. A quarter of the students in my program were Jewish and we ended up having a proper Seder. It was the first real Seder I ever went to with all the readings and rituals. And I really enjoyed it and since then I would try have a Seder every year. In grad school, I went to a Chabad House and a Hillel house and once just did the Seder myself. I found this amazing Seder book in on sale at Barnes and Noble based on medieval decorations with bird heads. Once I got my own apartment, I began hosting my own Seders where most people I invited weren’t even Jewish. Then once I moved back home, I convinced my friends to have a Seder together. Usually I would do a Seder at home with my parents and then on a Saturday during a Passover week, my friends and I would gather to cook together a huge meal and celebrate. And this year I will continue this tradition.

Cooking with my mother in the house is always so frustrating due to her incessant need to criticize everything I do. I made my potato kugel today and she just had to keep commenting on all the 'improper' way I was doing it. Argh.

Part of Passover is to tell the Exodus story. With modern technology this retelling has new forms. Last year there was a Facebook Haggadah. This year it is the story of Exodus in Tweets .
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I think this was the most hysterical New Rules ever for ‘Real Time with Bill Maher”. Usually I watch his show on HBO OnDemand about a week later than the show airs with my weekend breakfast, but the new episode from two nights ago was on while I was eating dinner, so I saw it tonight. This time there were no conservatives on the panel (usually there is at least one) which Bill Maher acknowledged. There was the head of Teacher’s Union which drew interesting conversation and general sense of happiness from Democrats getting their shit together.

“The Pacific” Part 3. This is my favorite episode so far, because it was not about battles but a sort of break in Melbourne. And lots of hooking up. It is a bit awkward to watch love scenes with my parents in the room, especially as Mama began to comment on how the characters just met so it was inappropriate of them to act that way. I do like all the little humor here and there too.

I slept in again today and it took me a long time to just get up and eat breakfast and shower. Finally after eleven I was all ready to get out of the house and go to the store with Papa since I needed to buy my ingredients for Passover Seder tomorrow. I make a potato kugel every year – this will be the fifth year. I actually make two in the last few years – one for our family Seder and one for the Seder my friends and I hold on a convenient Saturday during Passover week. I’m also in charge of making a Seder plate at home since I’m the one that cares about some ceremonial detail so I needed ingredients for haroset. Papa came along to help me carry the groceries.


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