Friday, January 30, 2009

A Week With the Dadster

Last week was probably one of the most exhausting but fun weeks of my life. In one week, Barak Obama became President of the United States, I gave my very first practicum at HUC, my dad came to visit, I ate a sandwich at Carnegie Deli (this is no small feat), saw Mamma-Mia on Broadway, saw Blue Man Group, ventured into previously unchartered NY territories, ate too many desserts, wandered around some very small parts of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and then some. It was crazy and wonderful and, as I mentioned, completely exhausting.

On Tuesday, a few hours after President Obama was sworn in (yay!!!) I recieved a special visitor: my dad. After months of planning, he'd arrived, and we spent the evening catching up over some Crock Pot chili (who knew I'd actually use my Crock Pot?) and dessert at the amazing bakery on the next block. Since it was a.) freezing outside and b.) the night before my very first practicum, we decided to keep things chill. I showed dad around the neighborhood a bit and then we came back and went to sleep (well, he went to sleep--I sang through my music and organized it a bit, freaked out for a few minutes, and then finally fell asleep.)

The next morning, I was out the door at 6:45 to get to school to warm up before my 8:15 class. After anxiously sitting through my 1 hour and 45 minute nusach class--which I normally love--I was rarin' to go. After 45 more minutes of my crazy pre-performance neurotic behavior (asking lots of silly questions, going over and over tricky musical spots, checking my hair and lipstick 20 times, drinking too much water) it was finally time to sing. My 3rd year colleague, Cheryl--who was also giving a practicum that day--came over to reassure me and remind me to PRAY. It was the best thing anyone could have done for me at that time. I settled my music and prayerbook on the lecturn, turned around to face the congregation, and began. I fumbled a little through my spoken introduction (I hate public speaking) but eventually found my groove as I began singing.

As a whole, I am happy with how the practicum went. The entire thing was sung too quickly, I think out of nerves and adrenaline, and I wish I would have taken more time in several spots. Luckily, my singing was consistent and my tone was appropriate for the text-based nusach I sang. Certain points were the tiniest bit pitchy, though I was always able to get back on track. I'm happy to say that Cheryl did as well as I did, if not better, and it was a successful morning of practica.

At the lunch review, the student body and faculty had many good things to say. Many people were impressed with the prayerfulness of my davening (yay!) though the faculty didn't like a few of the pieces I'd chosen. That, however, was much more my coaches' fault than my own. Overall, the peanut gallery was pleased and weren't afraid to tell me so. Yay!

One of the proudest moments of the day was when Shira, a 5th year cantorial student, complemented our class as a whole. She said that she was entirely impressed by our musicality, saying that she wasn't sure SHE could have done what we'd done when she was a 2nd year. I agreed with her completely--we really are a great group of women, and all of us have done well this year. Not that I'm biased, or anything ;)

For those interested, I do have a recording...let me know if you want one.

Cantor Fishbein in action

Dad and I after the practicum. I can't tell you how nice it was to have him there for support--and to show off my mad Nusach skills, of course :)

After the practicum, I was a bad student and cut classes the rest of the day (I only missed one hebrew class, don't panic.) Dad and I walked down Broadway, stopping at The Strand (an amazing used bookstore) and Max Brenner's (an Israeli chocolatier, where we each got a hot chocolate for the road.) We hopped on the train and came back to the apartment where we quickly changed clothes before heading to Times Square for a fun night on the town. We ran around a bit looking for a good show to see that night, and discovered that Mamma-Mia! had $30 student tickets! With my student ID, I was able to get 2 student-priced tickets for fantastic seats. We were SO excited. From there, we went to the Carnegie Deli, where we devoured one of their HUGE sandwiches. We walked around a bit, venturing over to Rockefeller Center, before heading to the show, which was fantastic. It was a great end to a great day.

Dad in a state of shock at the size of this monster sandwich.

Rockefeller Center Ice Rink

Thursday I had a normal day of classes and work, so dad was on his own. He managed to keep himself busy and joined me at HUC for tefillah and lunch. That night, we stayed in and ordered pizza and I made him watch Grey's and Private Practice with me. I think he was bored, but I was happy for sure :)

The next day, we ventured out early to go to Ground Zero. We weren't sure what exactly we were going to see, but we ended up going on a group tour sponsered by the WTC Tribute Society. It was a heart-wrenching tour led by a firefighter who'd helped to rescue victims. As hard as it was to listen to her story and relive the tragic events of 7 years ago, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have done it. Being in Columbia, Missouri at the time, there is no way I could have possibly understood the impact this event had on New Yorkers and the people who were directly involved.

Ground Zero

After a quick lunch, we hopped on the train to go to The Dakota and Strawberry Fields. After quick stops at both, we walked through Central Park to get to the Met, where we wandered around the musical instrument room and the European paintings exhibit. I LOVE the Met, mostly because I have absolutely no artistic talents whatsoever, so I highly appreciate beautiful artwork.

Strawberry Fields...forever. A tribute to John Lennon

Old harpsichords in the musical instrument room at The Met

From there, we decided to go see if Blue Man Group had tickets left for that night's show. Dad had seen a special on TV and was dying to check them out, so we did. Luckily, they also had student tickets, so we got ourselves tickets for the 10pm show. We had some time to kill, so we ventured to St Marks Place, which is a trendy, funky area of NYC. Many NYU students hang out around there, so it's very colorful and fun. We found an AMAZING BBQ place, and I treated my dad to a birthday dinner (his birthday was the following day.) We walked around for a bit and still had some time to kill, so we decided to get some dessert coffees at Think Coffee, one of my favorite hangouts around HUC. Their nonfat mochas=TO DIE FOR.

When we finally made it to the show, I have to admit that I wasn't that excited. I'd heard about Blue Man Group from a trip to Vegas a few years ago, but didn't really have any desire to see them. I was completely blown away by the show! It was so creative and fun and different, and both of us had a great time. I highly, highly recommend the show to anyone going to Vegas or NYC. After the show, my dad was SO EXCITED to meet the cast members and take pictures with them.

Dad and I with a very Blue Man...and yes, he's real

By the time we got home, it was well after midnight and both of us were completely wiped out. The next day, dad was scheduled to leave around 4, so we hung out in Astoria (after much debating about where to go to for a good brunch.) We went to one of my fave places in the neighborhood, with good coffee and great breakfast specials (what else do you need in life?) We walked around the neighborhood a bit, chilled at the apartment, and then dad was on his way.

I was sad to see him leave, as we had a really fantastic time together. Hopefully he'll be back for another visit soon!

BTW, at my practicum discussion Cantor Faith Steinsnyder mentioned that she couldn't wait to read the blog about the practicum.'s a shoutout to you, Faith! Glad to have you onboard as one of my faithful readers :-)

1 comment:

Dad said...

Tracy -
I had a great time also. And don't be so hard on yourself, your practicum was outstanding!