bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (RSL neil window)
1. NY Times article about preserving Auschwitz.

2. Excerpt from a diary entry of mine, Kristallnacht anniversary, Nov. 2001 - sophomore year of college:

Cut in case of sensitivities about agnosticism )
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
A little more than a year later, we finally finish the recap....

(Continued from here)

Days 15-20: Adventures with Roga! Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Jaffa, Jerusalem and more. )

The end!

Well, not quite. She graciously drove me to the airport in the middle of the night, and then there were the two flights home, for a total of about 13 hours in the air or about 19 hours from Ben Gurion to Warsaw to JFK. Plane ride fun included napping, reading most of Stiff, snacking, and talking with one of the girls on the flight who'd been on the trip too (there were four of us altogether).

And then I was home, recovering from jet lag, back to work, met [ profile] deelaundry at the end of the week for the first time—how times have changed!—and getting ready to annouce my departure for graduate school. And one summer later, we come to the end of the journey.

I suppose now would be the time to speak about what this trip meant to me, its good points and bad, the people I've stayed in touch with and the moments that have stuck with me for twelve months. But I think it's all embedded along the way and in the asides I've made in the last year. But certainly if anyone wants to talk about anything specific, I'm happy to.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Happy Groundhog Day! America's weirdest and most charming holiday. I wish I had time to go to this tonight.

Had a lovely time in D.C., staying with [LJ friend] and her family (so sweet!), visiting the National Institutes of Health to do what I had to do for school (so cool!), and dropping by the Holocaust Museum (so…not what normal people do for fun!). About the museum: ) I don't know. If anything, I've concluded that for me, going to museums is a less effective way to try to comprehend the Holocaust than reading memoirs or listening to survivors.


The SGA pornlet I wrote yesterday when I was supposed to be working on the stuff that I'm still putting off has so far only attracted five commenters. I wonder whether it was the timing (Superbowl), characters (het threesome) or warning (dubcon & kink).


Anyway, just to say that since classes start again tomorrow and I have, you know, a thesis to write, I will have to cut way down on reading the f-list, posting and writing fic for a few months—if I am responsible. Then again, when I panicked about schoolwork all through January I ended up writing more fics than in any other month ever, and I have chosen an elective partially because it only meets once a week, so maybe I will squeeze in some stories. But back to the responsibility thing.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
L'shana tova, anyone who's celebrating the new year.

Thought this would be a good time to finish up one of the remaining Israel trip posts. Continued from here.

Day 13: Masada, Dead Sea, Jerusalem. )

Day 14: Jerusalem. )

And after that, we had our last Sharing Session (omg), filled out evaluation forms that left little room for constructive criticism, changed into going-out-in-the-evening clothes, had dinner together at a cafeteria/restaurant back near Ben Yehuda Street, and were herded to a small bar/dance club, where we were instructed to remain until about 12:30 a.m., at which time we were driven back to the hostel, packed our stuff, and went to the airport to check in for the flight home at 3:00 in the morning.

Except for the few who were staying in the country—like me, itching to hang out with [ profile] roga and spend some time sleeping, God exploring some more of what I wanted to see, at my own pace.

Coming up in the next and final post…
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Yesterday, my boss came up to my cubicle with a graying, kipa-clad man in tow and said, "This is Mr. N, our building manager. His mother was in Auschwitz. I was telling him about your trip. You should talk." And left. Turns out the guy's mother lost eight siblings and her parents in the war, survived until liberation with one brother and that was it. She helped commit sabotage during a stint in a munitions factory at one point and was one of Mengele's "patients" because she had blue eyes, and she died while Mr. N. was young—but not so young that he hadn't learned her story from her. (That seemed unusual; you hear a lot about how survivors didn't talk to the first generation, and it's been the second generation who open dialogues about their experiences in the camps.) He talked about how his mother wanted him to know everything, and how he'd gotten stuck in Hungary (where his family was from; and how strange was that, to meet someone born to one of the hundreds of thousands of Jews famously shipped in to the freshly constructed Birkenau camp) as a Refusenik after the war when the Russians moved in, and how he came from the generation who never knew what it was like to have grandparents, so he's borrowing from what he knows of other people's now that he's a grandparent himself.

I'll say one thing about the March of the Living trip: It's certainly done its job in starting conversations.


Tomorrow I'll be turning 26 on the 26th (is there a name for that kind of birthday?). I wanted to write a story for the occasion, but I only managed a few hundred words of House-Wilson in what was basically a free day today. Nothing's biting. I'm considering being introspective and possibly angsty about where my desire to write fiction has gone and how it relates to things like performing for a community and getting bogged down in plot and characterization when it comes to sex stories instead of writing what I want without self-consciousness, but I think that belongs in a spiral notebook and not here.

On the plus side, there will be good food and Star Trek DVDs this weekend.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Following from the Poland set.

Day 7 (Israel Day 1): Airport, Sea of Galilee. )

Day 8: Golan Heights. )

Er, weird place to pause, but it's bedtime. More at some point, hopefully soon; we're not even halfway through yet. (!)

ETA: Part 2
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Continued from here; same warnings apply.

Day 3 cont.: Birkenau concentration camp. )

Day 4: Majdanek camp. )

Day 5 (Saturday/Shabbat): Walking tour of Warsaw. )

Day 6: Warsaw, Treblinka, airport. )

And then we drove to the airport and flew to Israel, where people stopped being depressed and started having fun. Israel was fun, and it was beautiful, but I enjoyed myself in Poland as well, if that's the right word for it. While I didn't feel very much while I was there, which was uncomfortable when we had our "sharing sessions," I was fascinated by the camps, seeing in person what I'd learned about, and grateful to have been able to visit them. Like our guide or team leader said at some point, visiting the camps made us in some way witnesses to the Holocaust, an especially important point now that the last survivors are nearing the ends of their lives. I chose this trip from among all the Taglit-Birthright options because I wanted to see the camps, so at this point I was satisfied and Israel was like a tacked-on bonus.

Which we will talk about another night...

ETA: here.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I'm home, I'm safe, I had a nice time, and I'm wearing clean clothes: Life is good.

Taking advantage of Jet Lag Day (i.e., no work today), I've uploaded the 900+ photos I took to my computer and am going through them to find good ones to show you all. Because we were almost always on the move and many shots had to be taken out bus windows and the camera doesn't like taking clear pictures without the flash and the contrast seems off, etc., they're not as great as I'd hoped, but they're not all terrible either. /disclaimer

So here we go: an illustrated recap of the trip, day by day. If anyone has any questions or wants to see more pictures, please speak up; there are many more where these came from, and I'm never sure whether I'm talking about what you're curious about.

Please be warned, some of the concentration camp images may be upsetting.

Days 1-2: Flight to Poland, drive to Krakow. )

Day 3: Auschwitz concentration camp. )

Okay, we'll break here at the halfway point of the Poland portion.

ETA: Next half is here.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I'm leaving for vacation in less than three weeks. Wow, does time fly.

Almost all of the Taglit-Birthright trips are 10 days, all around Israel. The March of the Living trip I'm going on is 15 days, starting with 5 days in Poland doing the concentration camp - ghetto circuit. (MOTL is the Holocaust-themed trip, as opposed to the others, which are mainly adventure/youth- or young professional-themed.) I'll actually be away for 20 days, since I've tacked on a few extra at the end separate from the group to visit [ profile] roga and possibly a relative or two and see anything I missed.

The itinerary was (finally!) distributed to participants yesterday, and I'm now thoroughly excited for the Poland portion. It's a strange word to use when you're talking about visiting historical sites where such horrific events occurred, but it's true. We're seeing what feels like everything: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and Treblinka, Krakow (synagogues & ghetto) and Warsaw (ghetto, cemetery, Lublin yeshiva, Old Town Market Square, services at Nozyk synagogue). I've studied the Holocaust in and out of school with an intense and morbid fascination for I don't even know how many years, and walking those grounds is going to be just amazing.

Oh, yeah, and then there's the neck-to-knees Israel adventure. It looks as though we'll be swinging by Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Massada, the Dead Sea, the Golan Heights, Galilee/Kinneret, Tzfat/Safed and Akko/Acre, with stops along the way at limestone cliffs, caves, river rafting, scenic views, hikes, a winery, markets... And at the end I fall into a coma, wilted from summer heat in thrice-worn clothes and jittery from constant exposure to 40 other people. Heh.

But no, I think that other than the temperature/sun and inevitable Zionist sales spiels (I do not like the concept of a "birthright" to begin with), it's going to be a fantastic time. Now that I've got the itinerary in hand and most of my questions answered and vague plans in place to meet a couple of LJ friends and a short list of things to buy, I'm really looking forward to it. PBS recently aired a "Visions of Israel" special that's two hours of aerial footage of the country, too, and I recorded that to watch before I go, to go along with a book of photos a cousin-some-steps-removed gave me for my bat mitzvah back in the day that I really should dust off and look at again.

...Was there a point to this post? I'm not sure. Maybe that tonight is an orientation for all of the Birthright groups in the city, and I'm supposed to meet up with one of the other MOTL participants right before, and possibly another one from Jersey over the weekend or next weekend. Until that mass email went out yesterday, I'd been thinking of "the group" as a faceless mob of 30-40 people who would just be there everywhere we visited. It hadn't occurred to me that it might include people I'd like.
bironic: Willow Rosenberg waving at The Bronze (hi willow)
Remix Redux signups are open! I tried it for the first time last year and had a wonderful experience, both in the remixing and in the being-remixed. I highly recommend it. It would be great to have more House people participate this year. *nudge nudge*

Hm. That does bring the total number of fics I have due by mid-April up to four (two House, one SGA, one TBA). Stay tuned for panicking.

Meanwhile, things are continuing to go well, if still pretty tightly packed. Last weekend my sister and I took our dad to see Young Frankenstein for his birthday, which he loved. Details... )

It's been a theater-full few months, and I'm really looking forward to what's coming up this month and in March: Patrick Stewart in Macbeth, Conor McPherson's The Seafarer (with Tritter!), and Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll a few days before it closes.

I've got most of my application in to Birthright Israel. I ended up going with the Holocaust-themed International March of the Living trip, which takes you to Poland as well as Israel. It's going to be fantastic -- if I get a slot. It's first-applied, first-considered, so we'll see. I'm hoping they'll take into account that this is the last year I qualify.

Have been doing beta work for people who were brave and industrious enough not to have backed out of [ profile] house_bigbang. Trying to plan out fic, and taking notes for posts I may never write. Read Rock 'n' Roll. Went to a terrible astronomy lecture. Had a lovely brunch yesterday in a retro French café with [ profile] scribblinlenore, [ profile] pun and [ profile] linaerys, in which many amusing topics were covered, from baseball history and Jeter/A-Rod RPF to cars to John Simm to our various works in progress to the line, "You pimped your mom into House slash?"

Not much else going on worth noting, except perhaps that Peanut Guy and I started carpooling today. We live something like three miles from each other; it's silly not to come in together as often as possible when gas prices are still rising and we're logging about 250 miles a week just to get to work and back.

In conclusion: Remix!

How are you?
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Has anyone ever gone on or know someone who's gone on one of the Birthright Israel trips, or know anything about the program(s)? I'm looking over the dozens of options while procrastinating on numerous other important things, and the choice is frankly overwhelming; plus it's hard to get a sense of the flavor of each program when most of them provide similar descriptions. Just wondering. So far I only have the recommendation of one friend, whose travel tastes are not quite my own (e.g. he likes clubbing). I'm thinking about going next summer before I'm too old to qualify, and hopefully finding a way to extend the trip a little while to visit some cousins and [ profile] roga. (I dreamt last night that I was on a birthright trip in Israel and found out that I couldn't stay longer without the tour or the something-or-other police would find and arrest me and I'd never get home, heh.)

ETA: I am strongly attracted to the March of the Living Poland/Israel trip, being focused as it is on the Holocaust and in historic and contemporary Israel under that lens, although (or perhaps because) I think it is different from the other Birthright trips in what it discusses and the places it visits.


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