Grumpy

September 28, 2009 at 9:16 pm (Life) (, , , , , , , , )

grumpy This was my expression throughout the majority of the Torah services, Yizkor and Musaf and the beginning of the Avodah (at which point, we left).

I have realized I am not cut out to be the member of a congregation as large as this. There were well over a thousand people present. This means it is loud, people are always talking, it is hard for me to concentrate on the actual prayers and it is super crowded. There was absolutely no room for me to move during the Amidah. Someone behind me was constantly basically shoving their book into the back of my head.

Again, the rabbi felt it was appropriate to ask for money. During Yizkor. OF ALL TIMES, DURING YIZKOR. Did it ever occur to him how incredibly rude that is? People have passed away and we’re trying to say prayers for them, and you’re asking us to reach into our pockets? The man moved further up my list of Obnoxious Things And People I Dislike. This is a rather affluent community, I’m sure he could have asked for donations for Israel Bonds or their synagogue at some other point. His stories and interjections were absolutely moot, pointless.

If there is a God, S/He will not make me go back to this place. Ever. Please, please, please let me have transferred to a different school and a different community by then. I can’t deal with this again.

I made sure to email all my professors about my absence, so everything was alright on that front. I finally managed to weave my way through the automated phone system operated by TriCare in order to inquire about getting new contact lenses through someone here in the area. It seems they are willing to cover it, but I apparently still need to talk to someone back in Europe as to how exactly we want to proceed. Simple, people – I need to see an experienced ophthalmologist who can deal with eyes that have been operated on, have a high astigmatism and off-the-charts diopters. Ugh. I hate life.

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A Curious Case

September 13, 2009 at 10:52 pm (News) (, , , , , , )

By now, the news about Caster Semenya is all over the place. My main concern with the whole deal is how poorly she (YES, SHE) was treated and how much of a disgrace the IAAF and SA Sports Management have been in the matter. It is in extremely poor taste to publicly demand gender testing and then publicize the results without contacting the person first.

All I see right now is a bunch of smug people saying, “I told you so,” because they thought Caster Semenya looked “manly.” And a lot of people, like myself, who are absolutely livid about the way Semenya’s privacy was violated. Would it not occur to officials that, oh, a young woman who – as it turns out – is intersex and still a teenager might need time to adjust to the results of her testing? Homosexuals and transgender folk go through a lot of emotional turmoil trying to figure out where they stand on their issues; why should it be any different, if not even more difficult, for someone who has been harassed about her masculine appearance her whole life?

I’m absolutely tired of people basing their opinions on her appearance. So what if she has manly features? There’s plenty of heterosexual, gender-normative women who have many attributes we would describe as masculine. I know a lot of men who have very feminine features. Appearance has absolutely nothing to do with her performance as an athlete, her right to identify as the gender she feels she is, nor has it any implication to her sex. Period. It is one dead horse I wish people would lay off. Get over yourselves; it is inappropriate and uncalled for.

Semenya is not the first nor will she be the last intersex athlete. The question is, do we really have the right to take away the one thing she loves and does best – running in competitive sports? She has always identified as female, regardless of her genitals or hormone levels. Even if she does produce more testosterone than your average female athlete, she still has lower levels than a male athlete. What are they going to do, make her compete in the Paralympics? Ban her entirely? Open up an entirely different category for transgender and intersex athletes? I do not believe it would be fair to ban her from her vocation, she didn’t deceive anyone on purpose and she was abused by officials greedy for medals to be attributed to their nation, and abused by officials wishing to call more publicity to their organization. I hope to God that poor girl is compensated somehow.

I wish this would trigger intelligent discourse, but I know it will not because the majority of humankind is stupid.

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A Job Well Done

September 2, 2009 at 6:20 pm (School) (, , , )

Or not, which is more accurately the case. I had my first voice lesson for this semester. I walked into Dr. D’s office at nine o’clock sharp. She’s a dog lover. She has pictures of her now deceased lab and her current dog all over the place. When she asked me how my summer was, I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “It sucked, to be honest.”

It’s not exactly common to be that blunt here in the US. Mostly, we are taught to say “It was fine” and leave it be. I don’t believe in lying. I was being honest. The summer, for most part, did suck.

“Why was your summer so bad?” she asked.

I’d intended to just mention my root canal. But out popped “I had to put my dog down.” I immediately started welling up when Dr. D said she was so sorry, that she knew how much it hurts to lose a pet. I felt like an idiot. I didn’t want to say it, I don’t want to make my voice teacher aware of how emotionally unstable I was. I also don’t think I have ever been this lucky with an instructor. She didn’t try and coddle me, but she told me how sorry she was while I grabbed a tissue and wiped furiously at my eyes. I think performance and the ability to perform are intrinsically linked to your emotional well-being. This whole summer, I’ve felt like the music in me died, because I was sick in the heart and body. I’m getting better again, but it’s still difficult to do it.

I came out the lesson with no less than three songs to work on until next week.

“Ombra Cara” by Handel

“Heavenly Grass” by Paul Bowles (Part 1 of the Blue Mountain Ballads; apparently I am to learn the other three at some point soon, too.)

And I cannot, for the life of me, find a good rendition of Bononcini’s “Non posso disperar.” This is going to be interesting.

During chorus, Dr. D moved some new girl next to me after she admitted that she was completely lost. Why Dr. D did this is beyond me. She must think I read music and follow along better than I actually do. What happened to the girl the music teachers used to roll their eyes at because she couldn’t do anything worth jack?

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Day Terrors

June 10, 2009 at 10:30 pm (News) (, , , , , , )

I can shrug off many things, but the shooting at the National Holocaust Museum earlier today has left me shaken. Jezebel compiled a bunch of information on the shooter, James von Brunn. It turns out he is a white-supremacist, anti-Semite, pro-Aryan nutjob. The sole person he shot has died. His website includes gems such as:

The “American myth” (created by JEWS) alleging our Founding Fathers intended that all races, from pygmy to Ainu, be invited to our shores, is based on Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence: “…all men are created equal.” The meaning of this much quoted statement has been distorted by the ILLUMINATI which subjectively is re-writing history and wielding the “HOLOCAUST” like a battle-ax at the heads of those proclaiming genetic certainties: Men and races are NOT created equal. Jefferson’s statement can be understood only in context of his Era. Our Founding Fathers were Aryans, men of good breeding who understood, empirically, the great differences existing between strains of horses; strains of live-stock; races of men; and between individuals: knowledge confirmed today by the natural sciences of Genetics, Eugenics, and Anthropology. Hitler, as American boobs are beginning to learn, was not all wrong.

I am, in all honesty, terrified. The kind of hate-speech he promotes seems to be directed at me. I am Jewish – but do I not look Aryan? What about those who do not have the protection of such genes?

I did nothing wrong. I have never participated in conspiracies against anyone. I believe in social justice. He does not know me or my family, nor does he know any other Jewish family. He does not know our friends. This, however, would mean he had to think and get treatment for his brand of crazy.

So why does he hate us so much?

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Whinging

May 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm (Life) (, , , )

I must be getting old. It has never taken me this long to adjust to a new time zone. My head aches and I actually feel physically ill by the time I go to bed, which I try to postpone until ten. Yesterday, I stayed up until eleven and was about ready to throw up by the time I went to bed.

This is ridiculous. It’s like I’m some delicate flower, something I am decidedly not. I should be feeling dizzy and tired and cranky all the time.

Dear body, stop this madness immediately.

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Wipe Out

April 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm (Life) (, , )

Most of you have probably already heard about my spectacular tumble at the bus stop on Monday. If you haven’t, I can summarize: I was running late after Music Lab because we had more performers than usual and there was a long line waiting to get their cards punched. Then I had to make sure I had enough sunscreen applied to not char out in the 90° weather. When I left the building, I saw a bus pull up to the station and decided to hurry. I couldn’t read the sign on the front from the distance, so running seemed like a good idea.

I dashed across the parking lot – probably a good four hundred feet or more – and as I got closer, I saw it was my bus. Another speed burst! I reach the sidewalk and hurry along, when some idiot stepped out onto the sidewalk and kind of just stood around. I decided I could dodge him. A step onto the street was all it would take! So I did.

I overbalanced. I fell. I hit my hip and upper thigh on the edge of the sidewalk. I also pulled a muscle in my shin and sort of scraped the palm of my hand. I heard a lot of gasps and “Are you okay?” I was a little shocked, but that also meant I wasn’t hurting a lot. I waved all concern away, scrambled up and ran the rest of the way to the bus. Turns out I could have slowed down a little because some people were taking forever to insert the money into the coin slot. The bus driver looked very worried and wanted to make sure I was alright. I gave him a bright smile and said, sure!

The pain of my bruised thigh and hip really set in after about ten minutes on the bus. The fat middle-aged man who plopped down almost into my lap and subsequently sat on my leg for a split second before he moved did not help.

It’s only occurred to me now that, while I feel a little gimpy and my leg is pretty bruised, there was something profoundly awesome about the experience. I was not at all winded despite running like a maniac. The workouts have definitely been paying off and that makes me happy.

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Honors

April 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm (Life, Music, School) (, , , , )

My aunt and I went to the Honors’ Recital at my school’s music department on Friday. It kind of raises the question – what qualifies you as an honors’ student? Being at the school for a certain amount of time? All I know is that I was pretty disappointed in a few people who did perform. The instrumentalists did fine, but the three singers were kind of . . . meh.

The sad thing is that I knew two of them were much better than they presented themselves as on Friday. I’ve heard them practice. They were much better in the practice room than they were on stage. I realize nervousness plays a large role in performance, but seriously? It was lackluster.

Sigh.

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An Attempt At Vlogging

April 22, 2009 at 10:46 pm (Life, Music, School) (, , , , , , , , )

Because I am too lazy to type.

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Edumacation

April 21, 2009 at 6:49 pm (Life, School) (, , , , )

A certain quiz has been popping up on my Facebook news feed a lot lately. All my German friends have been taking it. As is the nature of all these quizzes, it is arbitrary and stupid; however, this one also takes on a whole different level of offensive.

The title of this quiz is “Which Gymnasium in Stuttgart should you have gone to?” A Gymnasium, in Germany, is one of the three branches of schools you are sorted into after grade four. Gymnasium means you most likely will be pursuing college once you graduate. It is a college-track system with a diploma, the Abitur, that will allow you to actually go to university. A Realschulabschluss or a Hauptschulabschluss do not do the same.

My point is not to discuss the extremely faulty German education system, at least not at this time. Many of my friends have been getting the following result: “$$$ Money makes the world go around $$$ – Abitur hat eben seinen Preis $$ Auf der M. kostet es eben etwas jedoch hat dann auch jeder eine Chance.” (Roughly translated: An Abitur has a pricetag. It may cost a little at the M., but at least everyone has a chance.)

Yes, I attended a private school. Yes, there was an inordinate amount of idiots at my school who should not have been let anywhere near the Abitur, but that is beside the point. The point is that I have never met or heard of anyone who had to do anything less than work for their Abitur. Getting your Abitur is a grueling task; this diploma spans two years, in which all your grades count towards your general GPA. You have five four-hour classes a week along with at least another four or five that are two hours. You take two exams – all essay and analysis questions – in the four hour courses per semester, and one exam per semester in the two hour classes. Again: ALL these grades count towards your GPA.

In semester four, you take a standardized exam – again, essay questions and analysis – in four of your five four-hour courses. German is mandatory (for this, you have to read certain books over the span of those two years and hand in a blank copy you can use during this exam), as is Math. An exam in a foreign language is also required. The fourth is one of your choosing; it can be a science (profile courses) or anything else (chosen). If you take PE, Music or Art, you are required to do a practical examination in which you complete certain hands-on tasks of your field. The Abitur is compiled by calling in state-wide teachers’ conferences a few years before a final is assigned. There, questions and topics and themes are brought together and it is left up to a very exclusive committee to write them. The day before the exam is given, a courier brings the double-sealed exams to the school where they are placed within a safe and not touched until the date they are to be taken. If it leaks, the entire state of BaWü is assigned a whole new exam.

I will not claim I did not have any free time when I worked towards my Abitur, that would be a lie. I usually had an easy time with academics. However, nobody did anything less than challenge us on a daily basis. I did less work than I should have, excelling in subjects that required little effort and almost flunking those that were hard for me. This is why I graduated with only an average GPA. My friend L. graduated with the best GPA, and that took a lot of effort.

A few years ago, a parent who had some beef and minor influence with one of the local newspapers pulled some strings so a reporter and a photographer ended up coming to school to write a profile on us. This article, as it turned out, held no praise for us – instead, it tore down every student who was interviewed, twisting words FauxNews-style and essentially blaming our school for all the evil in the world.

We were accused of being nothing more than a bunch of people whose main job was being heirs; who paid for their diplomas. One student in particular was interviewed, and his words were used as ammunition. See, at our school, we happened to have teachers who actually gave a shit about us. Our exams happened to be the week after Easter vacation, which meant our classes would not meet for two weeks before our Abitur finals. If we had any questions at a different school, we were hosed.

This student had been honest when asked whether or not attending this school made a difference. He said that, yes, it did. Our teachers cared. A lot of them invited us into their homes so we could do extra study sessions and voice any concerns we had. My German teacher, for instance, sacrificed an entire week of his holiday to go over the three books we’d had to read. He asked the church where he played the organ if he could have the classrooms in the mornings. My biology teacher made sure that those of us taking the Bio final had his mobile number so we could call him at any time. Germany does not have a private school email system for its high schools, so we received private email addresses. The religion majors’ teacher organized private study sessions.

All of this, mind, was unpaid. These teachers did it from the goodness of their hearts, and all they receive for doing so is scorn from a newspaper and the public. The year I graduated, the teachers weren’t even supposed to do any of what they had done for the classes before precisely because of the public perception of their work. They did it anyway.

My parents did not pay tuition so that I was guaranteed an Abitur. My parents paid tuition for smaller classes and higher quality of education, for teachers who actually worked with their students instead of just talking at them. I find the quiz on FB, to come full circle, incredibly insulting to the people at M. who do good, dedicated work, and to anyone who graduated at all. It took work. Money had nothing to do with it. I also wish my friends weren’t even taking that quiz because all they’re doing is perpetuating the stereotype of our school.

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Tonight, on AIM

April 15, 2009 at 11:40 pm (Life) (, , , , )

11:33:41 PM Daniela: OH LORD. Did I tell you about what I actually said to my music theory professor today? Hahaha.

11:33:48 PM Carly: nooo

11:34:03 PM Daniela: Okay. So. he’s a clarinetist.

11:34:15 PM Daniela: I knew a guy who played the clarinet who graduated with me.

11:34:30 PM Daniela: He was the most homophobic douchebag you could ever come across, so we constantly hounded him with blowjob jokes.

11:34:48 PM Daniela: So I actually went, “Sir, not to be crude or anything, but I’m curious. How many blowjob jokes did you get in high school for playing the clarinet?”

11:35:00 PM Carly: hahaha

11:35:05 PM Carly: you harlot

11:35:31 PM Daniela: Totally. But I was actually curious to see if it was something unique to homophobic/mean Germans or universal.

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