Year In Review (Abridged)

Yes, today is my birthday. I’m now 27, and over the hill. But, it’s a good time to start looking over at the year in retrospective. Most normal people do this around New Years for their respective calenders, but considering I’m still on an academic schedule, I get to go in the summer.1
It’s a little easier this year thanks to this blog. I’ve never kept a diary or a journal, but now I can actually look back at what I wrote and sometimes see a different person. Also, it’s been roughly a year since I started blogging. The very first posting on the old site was on May 15 2003, but things didn’t really take off until I moved to YUCS on October 20th. So as it turns out, August 4th is close enough to splitting the difference.
Right now, I’m not in the mood for anything shticky2 like top 10 lists or major meta-analysis, but I have been thinking about what this past year has meant to me, and the blog is a nice reminder of things. In the FAQ I explained “I started blogging primarily to improve my writing skills with minimal accountability. Meaning, I felt I needed a non-threatening public forum where I could speak my mind and not get vilified. (yet).”
I think this has happened to some extent. I’ve been getting better at writing out my thoughts, and perhaps as a consequence, I haven’t been lynched (again, I stress, yet). But in my creation of a personal forum something really strange happened:
People started reading the damn thing.
I’m not just talking about friends from the heights or YU, but completely random people. Even stranger is that these people actually like reading this blog, to the extent where on more than one occasion I’ve had IM’s pop up from people I didn’t know asking me when I was going to post something new. What has happened is that I’ve been able to not only maintain a semblance of contact with older Friends of mine, but I’ve some wonderful people through this. As sappy as it sounds, all the people who have commented or IMmed me to shmooze have had a profound impact on me this year3.
For one example, here’s a beautiful e-mail I got a while back from a fan of the chord collection:

    Greetings from Brooklyn, NY. I would just like to thank you for posting the guitar chords and transliterations of various Jewish songs on your website. I am a Catholic-raised gentile currently working for the Heritage for the Blind; my employers and many of my coworkers are Jewish. Since coming on board here a year and a half ago, I have begun a love affair with Jewish music. There is something about the music that speaks to me, despite the fact that I don?t speak Hebrew or Yiddish, and I don?t “understand” 99% of what I?m hearing. But…my soul gets uplifted at the sound of many of these songs. As a musician, I know that music can often bypass language comprehension, and speak directly to hearts. Five Towns Radio (www.fivetownsradio.com) has replaced Lite FM as the choice of listening music on my computer.

    I play piano, guitar, and sing. I?m often frustrated by my desire to play and sing various Jewish songs — because I don?t speak Hebrew or Yiddish, and I don?t want to mispronounce everything, I refrain from singing. I thought it would be easy to find a website or two that would translate/transliterate the lyrics to these songs into English. (A lyrics page in Hebrew won?t do me much good.) I spent some time looking for pages that transliterated the lyrics into English, and luckily I found your blog through Google.com. It is, as far as I know, one of the only sites online that provides guitar chords and transliterated Hebrew music. I?d like to thank you for posting the guitar chords and transliterations to songs such as Ana Hashem and Shiru Lamelech. I can strum away on my guitar, and sing, and feel that I?m not butchering the Hebrew words to death. Please continue to post chords and lyrics. Your hard work is deeply appreciated. Have a Kosher and Happy Pesach.

This entire year has been extremely important in my personal and intellectual development. I left a two-block ghetto in New York, and took several risks in moving out to Chicago. As a result, I’ve expanded my mind, met so many new people, forged countless positive relationships while reinforcing existing ones. I’ve been thinking in ways I haven’t thought before and I done things I’d never would have tried before and I’d like to think it’s had a positive effect on me.
Overall, this has really been a wonderful year for me, While hardly perfect, I will never regret my decision to come here. For those of you who follow my intellectual and emotional exploits, I thank you for your interest, feedback, and in many cases, friendship. All readers, be it fans or critics, have been of invaluable for helping me refine and articulate my ideas and feelings.
As far as what you can expect for next year, I have no idea4, but I’m certain it’s going to be interesting. For the growing collection of loyal readers, I will try to continue doing whatever it is that I’ve been doing up until now. From simple musings to academic discourses, this is a and will always be a window to my increasingly strange and ever changing world, my personal YUTOPIA.5

1. And Rosh Hashana is coming up….
2. Must be getting grumpy in the old age.
3. Some positive, some not yet positive.
4. Seriously, I really don’t. Job leads are better than no leads, but leads alone don’t pay rent.
5. With footnotes where applicable, and sometimes where they’re not.

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