Monday, February 7, 2011

Getting Back on Track Part I: Challenges 6 and 5

I'm only a little more than a month into this year's challenges, and I've discovered something important.  Staying with things that are hard to do is much tougher than just trying them once. But happily, this weekend felt like a chance to get back on track on a number of fronts.  Before the Superbowl was over, I had put in some time with three of this year's challenges, namely:

Challenge 6: Write a Book with SMC Students

On Saturday twenty of us had a four-hour writer's meeting. Here we're having a discussion about different possible book titles.

Challenge 5.  Become a Better Rock Climber

After ages of saying we would, this weekend Leah, Siham and I finally all went rock climbing together.  Leah's an expert, Siham had never been, but now we can't wait to all go the next time we're in the same place at the same time.
Challenge 2.  Become a Better Cook
Sunday night while the rest of America was eating chili, pizza and wings, we made noodle kugel and challah (pictured here) together with matzo ball soup and potato latkes for the ultimate high-carb meal
The weekend started off on a great note, because the Saturday MDG writer's meeting meant that a number of alumni authors were visiting from out of town and staying at my place.  Friday night first Shaleen, Kate and Julia rolled in, followed by Siham and Leah. Everyone had various things they needed to do Saturday morning (such as try to do a long run on the miserable snow-packed sidewalks outside), but brunch at Penny Cluse was obviously a non-negotiable necessity.

The afternoon writer's meeting was probably our most productive yet.  It last for four hours, and we went over chapter outlines, our book proposal, produced chapter summaries, worked through some logistical issues, and had a great debate over the book title.  We've got it narrowed down to two, but our final vote was a 10-10 tie, so we're doing a re-vote this week on-line to include the writers who couldn't make it to the meeting.
Kate took notes on the board for much of the meeting.  Here Connor's asking about something she wrote

Annie, Josh and Leah (three of the four members of the MDG 7 team) during the title debate

The MDG 5 team -- Siham, Amanda and Lauren -- working on their chapter summary.

Team MDG: Back row: Chris, Jason, Alexsis, Michelle, Lauren, Kate, Ben, Connor, Jerry and Jackson. Front row: Siham, Alyssa, Claire, Kate, Julia, Shaleen, Amanda, Leah, Annie and Josh
After the meeting was over, the plan was for a few us of to go climbing at the Petra climbing gym, but once we stepped outside we realized that a snow storm had started. So after a couple of hours of finding parking spaces that weren't in parking ban spots for everyone, those who were staying at my place went to dinner at the Farmhouse and then back to my place, where we were joined by a few other students and alum.

The next day Leah, Siham and I finally made good on a plan we'd been talking about for a very long time -- going rock climbing together.  Leah is an expert rock climber, and used to be an instructor for the Wilderness Program.  Siham had never gone, and I hadn't been since before Christmas.  Although Siham had her doubts initially, once she got to the top of her first route, she never looked back.  Leah taught us both a lot and we have all definitely decided that rock climbing will be an activity we will try to incorporate into any time we get together from now on. 

Leah demonstrating the flexibility and balance that is just one of the many reasons she is a great rock climber.

Siham, on her first-ever climb to the top of a wall.
Since this is getting to be a very long post, I think I'm going to split it and do a second one that covers the Jewish food cook-a-thon that Josh and some other friends and I did during the Superbowl last night.  In the meantime, I'll just close by noting that, thanks to some great students and friends, this year's challenges are getting back on track.  Weekend snow storm or no, the book meeting went off without a hitch, and it was great to have a chance to hang out with so many alumni; here's hoping the rest of the winter goes so well.


  1. Sounds like an action packed weekend, even with a snowstorm (we had one too!). I look forward to reading the Jewish cooking food-a-thon.

  2. That is the coolest college professor tattoo ever. It's just a cool tattoo.

  3. Love the picture choice. Siham: "Leah hold that pose!"

    I had so much fun, as usual. The meeting was very productive