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Sing To Me

I have a fun evening planned!

Last Saturday, at shul, I was given an aliyah, since it was only my second time there. For those who don't know, an aliyah is the honor of reciting the blessings over the Torah, and a lot of shuls give visitors and newcomers an aliyah if they want one. At Beth Shalom in Cambridge, you can either read or chant the blessing, and, as none of you will be surprised to hear, I chanted.

Well, after the service, a guy came up to me and said that he was the secretary of the choir that is associated with the shul, Kol Echad, and he said that, after listening to me chant the Torah blessings, he wanted me in the choir! Not only does this sound like a lot of fun, not only will it give me a chance to sing, which I love doing, but it's a perfect fieldwork opportunity, rolled up and handed to me with a bow on top! They rehearse every other Tuesday.

First rehearsal is tonight, about two miles away, so a nice healthy walk, since the bike shop is still fixing up the second-hand bike I picked out. I don't mind, actually -- since I've never been to the place where the rehearsal is, it'll be good to be able to walk the route the first time, so I can check my map if I get lost.

And here's something else. The dance class I'd picked out meets on Tuesday nights, which conflicts half the time with choir rehearsal. But this is Cambridge, and not Chicago, and it turns out that there are so many Scottish dance classes that I could go to at least four or five a week if I wanted to. And people do hop between classes. I can pretty much work out my schedule such that I can dance at least one night a week somewhere in Cambridge, and be part of the Kol Echad choir! Life is good here.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
dot_o_choillmor
Oct. 21st, 2014 10:43 pm (UTC)
Sounds great! And what a wonderful way to meet people.

I'm glad you're settling in well.

(Is the two-mile walk safe in the dark??)
frenchpony
Oct. 22nd, 2014 07:58 am (UTC)
The choir rehearsal actually turned into a funny meeting-someone story! The director of the Faculty of Music had asked me to sit in on a meeting with a potential PhD student (said meeting is today, in about five hours), because she was exploring the possibility of doing a thesis on the music of early British Reform Judaism, and he thought it would be useful to have me around to help her sort out her ideas and decide if the PhD process is right for her. I of course said yes. By complete coincidence, the choir director turned out to be that student! She recognized my name, and, of course, as soon as I start talking, people know that I'm North American, and it took her all of 0.75 seconds to realize that I was the postdoc she was supposed to be meeting the next day.

Well, we hit it off, as you can imagine. I really like her project idea, and I'm looking forward to the more detailed presentation today. She, in turn, loves my project idea, and we've started to sketch out how we can do some joint field and archival research in London. She also said that she felt much more confident about today's meeting now that she's had a chance to meet me informally first. Clearly, this position was absolutely meant for me!

(Is the two-mile walk safe in the dark??)

The walk to the choir rehearsal, starting at 7:30, didn't seem to present any dangers. Honestly, the worst thing that happened to me on the walk was that the data on my phone pooped out, so the map I was following reduced itself to a blue line without a real map, so I missed one turn right at the very end, but I corrected myself quickly, arrived at rehearsal on time, and all was fine. Biking it next time will be a tad bit hairy, but that's only because I'm not quite confident in my ability to bike on the left side of the road. And the choir director and her husband gave me a ride home when rehearsal got out at 10. It didn't seem dangerous, just late, windy, and less pleasant to spend forty minutes walking home at that hour than yakking in the car with new friends.

So far, Cambridge seems pretty safe in the dark. My biggest danger appears to be either getting lost or standing paralyzed on a street corner because I can't figure out where the traffic is coming from.
dot_o_choillmor
Oct. 22nd, 2014 05:03 pm (UTC)
What a small world! That's funny. How did the meeting with her go today?

I'm still glad you got a lift home, even if the area felt safe. I'd forgotten about you and the direction of traffic! LOL. Sorry, I shouldn't laugh. And to be fair, I spent most of my trip to Chicago bewildered by the same thing. Hopefully there's at least a cycle lane, which might help. In the meantime, befriend people with cars!
frenchpony
Oct. 22nd, 2014 11:02 pm (UTC)
It is a small world! A month in Cambridge, and already I'm starting to be able to play a bit of Jewish Geography.

Biking in Cambridge is going to be a whole new world of fun. There are bike lanes for part of the way, and lots of left turns, so those will be easy. There seems to be only one really hairy intersection, and I could just dismount and use the pedestrian crossings for that.

But I really am learning to look right before crossing the street, and I'm getting used to cars being on the left. (I wonder how it'll be when I go to Pittsburgh in November for SEM! I'll be all discombobulated!)
frenchpony
Oct. 22nd, 2014 11:06 pm (UTC)
Also, the meeting was a lot of fun. I think her project has legs. More importantly, the senior faculty guy also seemed interested. I could see the wheels turning in his mind while she talked. And there I was, asked to sit in as The Expert In The Field, being asked my opinion and everything. I felt so grown-up!
perelleth
Oct. 22nd, 2014 02:24 pm (UTC)
Good to see you're settling down so nicely. Did your stuff arrive at last?
frenchpony
Oct. 22nd, 2014 02:38 pm (UTC)
Stuff is still lingering in Customs. I hope that, at some point, I'll hear from the shipping company that it's cleared, and they can deliver it, but I have no idea when that might be.
(Deleted comment)
frenchpony
Oct. 22nd, 2014 11:04 pm (UTC)
I am having a good time! I'm meeting lots of new people and I'm finding friends and things to do and places to be and making all these little corners of a life.

And I'm working out just the right balance between cooking for myself and going to various college-sponsored dinners, which are . . . wowza. I suddenly have a much deeper understanding of the wizards of Unseen University.
rhobike
Oct. 23rd, 2014 08:07 pm (UTC)
So glad for you!
frenchpony
Oct. 23rd, 2014 10:35 pm (UTC)
It's a pretty sweet deal. I went dancing tonight, and I'm going to see about going to a different class on Monday, after the College's Governing Body meeting. There's a dinner after the meeting, but more than one fancy dinner like that in a week would most likely kill me, and I'm already signed up for the one on Wednesday. Far better to dance after a Governing Body meeting, I say!
fafojoy
Oct. 30th, 2014 03:29 am (UTC)
How wonderful for you how that all worked out! But I must admit d that my first thought was what are you doing going to Israel now!? You just got to England! LOL.
frenchpony
Oct. 30th, 2014 09:29 am (UTC)
No, two different kinds of aliyah! For the record, the way I grew up, the one that means "going to Israel" was pronounced "ah-lee-YAH," and the one that means "Torah blessing" was pronounced "uh-LIE-ah." I'll have to see how it's done in England, I guess.

And I am mightily enjoying England!
fafojoy
Oct. 31st, 2014 02:08 am (UTC)
Thank you for the difference in pronunciations – I did not know that. I hope your unpacking is going well and I look forward to seeing pictures of your new place.
frenchpony
Oct. 31st, 2014 10:33 am (UTC)
Well, as I said, the pronunciation is just how I heard it. It's not a hard and fast rule, because it's basically the same word -- "going up" -- used for two completely different things. I think that one might be a more Yiddish/Ashkenazi pronunciation and one is a modern/Sephardi pronunciation.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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