Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mount Si+Indian Food

Today I hiked Mount Si with Miriam and Avi and ate some INCREDIBLE Indian food. The hike itself was a pretty good incline, but I thought they still made it comforable for walkers. It's just off I-90 so very close, and then the Issaqua Pabla's restaurant is actually kosher and right on the way so we stopped by for dinner. I'll just say this: I REALLY like hiking and I REALLY like food, Indian food being no exception. The hike of course was magnificent, as everything is out here, and the food was my favorite: a whole array of lots of strong, rich flavors--soft nan and rice, cheese and dried fruit stew on top, mango creamy yogurt...

Anyway, here are some pictures from Mt. Si:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The 4th

A moving day every year. And just one of the best days. Heralding the beginning of summer, friends, family, music, barbeques, of those days it's just so good to be alive and be here on this earth, soaking up the sunshine. Here in Seattle it could not have been more beautiful-- blue skies and 70 degree weather. Everyone said July 4 is the beginning of the sunshine and apparently, they are correct! I went to the above immigrant naturalization ceremony at Seattle Center. It was pretty moving. 525 people from 82 countries. One woman in her 80s. Lone immigrants from countries like Nicaragua, Egypt. Dozens from India, Russia, the Phillipines. The Seattle zipcode 98118 is the most diverse in the entire country.

And there was a real spirit of welcome. God, everyone here is so damn nice. Until I got out here, and even for the first few weeks here, I really rejected the steryotype that New Yorkers are speedy, cold, anxious and edgy and West Coast people are calm, chill, centered and pleasant. But honestly, I have to say...there is some truth to it. Today I really just felt like everyone was my best friend. I went with the Jewish group, who goes to support new immigrants in recognition of our own immigrant history, but the way I was sitting there with people in the grass, my hand basically under the next person's knee, leaning back into some other guy's personal space, I felt they could all just have well been family. I left my bag a couple of feet in front of me on the grass and didn't worry about it. I knew I couldn't  do that do that in Tunisia, or Bosnia, or Zimbabwe (or New York), or probably most of the other countries they were calling. There is something out here in Seattle so pristine, and pure, so trusting, and innocent. People are just not out to get each other, they actually are really out to be nice to each other. People don't yell or push. They're just pleasant.

Anyway, Happy Independence Day everyone. I pasted a poem below I wrote a long time ago about America after coming back from hearing stories at my grandparents' apartment one night. I wanted to hug America like people hugged Schindler, or the firefighter who resuced their relative from a 5th story window. But I couldn't hug a country so I wrote this. It's not good but its from the heart.

you held my grandparents to your breast
And said
don't cry anymore
don't run anymore
you can stay here.
you are safe here.
I put my hand over my breast and pledge allegiance
to your matronly shores.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eating Lettuce

Out here in Seattle I've had more time to just focus on good eating, so I've been trying to do that. Protein, vegetables, whole grains, water--that sort of thing. I subtly have noticed that I am generally more agile and I am sure the good eating is a big part of that.

But there is something particular about eating a lot of lettuce. When I take a great big wad of lettuce onto my fork, smush it into my mouth, and chew, I just feel so...animalistic. Like a giraffe biting a huge chunk off a tree and chewing away for the next hour or so. I mean essentailly eating lettuce is just eating leaves, right? And it just another one of those reminders that we are, in fact,...animals.

I just always think its funny when I notice this part of myself. Whether while eating, showering, sleeping. The part of myself that just needs what it physically needs and that's all there is to it. I feel like a big kid looking down at his little brother with a sweet, knowing smile, or a parent looking at an infant, like one day you'll grow up and realize there is more to life, kid, but in the meantime you are cute and happy to just be enjoying the rudimentary pleasures of life. My mind watches my body and I remember the lion, eagle, hippopotamus within me, stretching out their limbs into the morning sun.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Camp Letter from Seattle

Everyone has been graciously asking how Seattle is. Thanks everyone for the interest! Though I generally find these types of writings kind of dry, I guess a new city warrants at least one camp letter style post. The food is _______. The weather is _______. So, Seattle is...wonderful so far. As I've been telling everyone, it's good to be somewhere new, and the best words I can think of to describe Seattle are clean, green (in both senses), and spacious. From the second I touched down at the airport I was impressed by the spaciousness...the bathroom had about a mile between the stalls and sinks...I guess there just a lot outside of NYC. The Northwest is also home to a beautiful, expansive sky (I don't understand how the sky appears different in different places but it looks wider here) and on a clear day it is a magnificent blue with Mount Rainier in the backdrop (visible only 60 days a year apparently). The sun practically has to be begged to set (the sun always was that overeager servant), so it's basically always light, and when it does set it's a kind of burnish yellow-brown, different from the pastel sunsets of NY. Of course, it's Seattle, so there's a lot of grey, mist, drizzle, and some straight up rain, but I don't mind. More often then not the weather is some kind of strange unpredictable mix...a clear sky with huge grey clouds in its midst or the like.

To NYC though, so it shouldn't get jealous: Seattle may win for natural beauty, but it doesn't hold a candle in terms of nightlife and bustling-ness. As I am a huge nightlife partier, this is a huge disappointment...:) But regardless, I have to say, I was a bit surprised! Seattle is a big American city known for its live music scene and hipster culture, but there is no "midtown" or "village" equivalent...not even close. I went downtown last night around 11 and it was basically empty...the occasional open place but mostly sketchy people roaming around and lots of empty darkness. Not the late night concentration of restaurants, bars, theater, clubs, people and light open I am used to from NY.  It's good for me, though, I think I feel cooler here because there is not the big nightlife scene to feel less cool than?

I am living with 2 college students right off the University of Washington campus who are very sweet. Everyone I met has been friendly and the Jewihs community in particular has taken me in with warmth for Sabbaths and otherwise. The city's reputation for coffee, high-techness, and calm is well deserved and felt. As I don't want to post very long posts, I will sign off for now on the Seattle de-brief, but warm regards to everyone reading, and more to come on less dry topics!

Signing out

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First Post

This blog is named for the verse "Azamrah Leilokai Bi'odee," Psalms 104. It means  "I will sing to my Lord with my "od".  I always loved this. "Od" means "more," or "still", so literally the verse reads "I will sing to my Lord with my more," or something like that. I guess this could be interpreted in a bunch of ways. The two I can think of are "I will sing with my abundance/with that which overflows from me," or "I will sing with what is left/what still remains of me." One reading is burgeoning, the other precious, numbered, scarce. Either way,  the Psalmist manages to spin his amoebic "od" into melody. If the "od" is robust, as in the first reading, I imagine a third grade choir teacher orchestrating crazy children to sing something for the parents, or a novice in the kitchen throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. If it is limited, I think of women bubbling up whole meals from grass, Itzak Pearlman's, "make music from what remains," symphonic lives when we know "im bigvurot shmonim shana," even the strong ones live only to eighty. 

I thought this was an appropriate sentiment for beginnings, in this case the beginning of a blog and Seattle life and whatever after (I have just moved out to Seattle after leaving my job in NYC.)  I don't know what I will write. I don't know exactly what I will do in the coming months. To some extent this is the only way any of us can ever feel about our futures. I do know, though, that time chisels our "ods", the both scarce and flourishing, into definition, and when we look back, we can see something. We can hear something. I just hope...however I fashion my own mass of self...AZAMRAH...let it be a song.

Please harmonize with comments anytime. I much prefer if this would be a discussion forum as opposed to unilateral writing.