I love the weekend--really, I do. Being a student at HUC requires so much time, commitment, energy, strength, thought, work, etc etc etc, that by the time Friday rolls around, I can't help but love the 2 days I have to not focus on pushing myself (academically, anyway.) I've grown to appreciate my weekend more than I ever have before since our real schedules began after Sukkot break.
The first reason I love my weekend is Thursday night. For me, Thursdays are my hell days. I have 5 classes, which all require preparation (so my Wednesday nights are very, very busy.) I spend my Thursday schlepping from one class to another, with a backpack so heavy from books that my back literally hurts at the end of the day. However, come 6:30 Thursday night, I shove my backpack into a corner of my room and shout with joy that I not only survived, but have a whole weekend to look forward to. This particular Thursday night, Steph was visiting some of our friends in Tel Aviv, and I had the apartment to myself. I'd forgotten how nice it is to have an apartment completely to myself--don't get me wrong, I love my roommate like a sister, but I also love having my own space. I spent my Thursday night in complete solitude, cooking a healthy dinner, exercising (see below) watching movies, and singing loudly and with my door wide open. It was so wonderful and exactly the way I wanted to end my day from hell.
My Fridays usually begin with a voice lesson in the morning. My voice lessons are another thing I've grown to really appreciate since I've started school. I spend so much time thinking about the Judaic side of my program that I often neglect my singing and musicianship, which I hate. Friday mornings I have the chance to go to my lesson and just focus on singing, which is the real reason I'm here in the first place. My voice has grown tremendously in the last few months; the pitch problems I had when I arrived are nearly gone, and I'm exploring a softer, gentler side of my voice that I really love. My singing feels so free and easy, and my confidence in singing has slowly returned, which is the nicest thing of all. My teacher and I have formed a close bond, which is so important, and though she's tough on me to get things right I know that she deeply cares about my singing and about me as a person.
After my lesson, I head to HUC for my weekly training sessions with my personal trainer. OK, I know what you're thinking, but yes, I have a personal trainer. His name is David and he's a rabbinical student who spent the last 10 years running a personal training business in San Francisco. He's amazing--smart, very positive, and kind towards me, and he mixes in Jewish texts and prayers with the workout. He knows I hate exercise with a passion, but it's important to both of us that I make it a part of my lifestyle. He also helps me with nutrition and relaxation techniques to keep me calm during these crazy weeks. And, even as I sit here with sore legs from doing waaaaaay too many squats (with weights this week...oy vavoy) I know how good it is for me and I see and feel results every week.
This morning Julia and I sang at HUC Shabbat services, which was so so SO nice. I love singing with Julia; she's one of my closest friends here and has an incredibly beautiful voice. She's probably the most vocally talented of the 5 of us and is truly one of the nicest people I have ever known. We sang 3 duets together, and each of us had 3 pieces to sing on our own. Today was the first time I've sang on the bimah at HUC and felt completely comfortable, and I really feel as though I sang well because of that. I'm also quickly building my repertoire of Jewish music, which I am SO excited to share with everyone when I come home. Linda, some of the duets we sang today would be perfect for you and me...maybe we could sing some over my winter break???
I spent the rest of the day doing homework, preparing homemade pumpkin soup (not one of my favorite soup creations, but good enough none-the-less) and attending a Rosh Chodesh text study and comedy function. I'm not ready to go back to school tomorrow, but as long as I have these weekends to look forward to, I'll survive.
OK, I think I must get back to the Biblical Grammar homework I've been avoiding since I started writing this entry. Missing and loving you all...61 days until I come home! Shavua tov and chodesh tov (a good week and a good month) to you all!