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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tapestry Thread: light birthday edition

Today was my 19th birthday, twice over. Today was 21 February, which is my birthday. (My day always ends at 2 AM.) And today was also 3 Adar, which is my birthday by the Hebrew calendar. It's not common for the two dates to coincide.

Last night, my parents and I went to the Norman's steak house in Jerusalem. I wanted to go there because I love their Sirloin steaks. As it happened, they didn't have any Sirloin at the moment, so I settled for a Fillet Mignon. And my parents talked among themselves a lot, during the drive there and there and on the way back. It was a good meal.

The reason it was yesterday, rather than today, is that they were both going to be busy today. I was a little annoyed initially, because what's the sense of celebrating my birthday when it's not my birthday? I might as well go today to Norman's on my own- I wouldn't have had any problem with that.

But then the idea of being alone in the house on my birthday gave me an idea. See, I'd wanted to go to the Israel Museum ever since I heard about the latest (temporary) exhibits in the newspaper. I figured I'd go there on my own some day soon to check it out (I'd never gone there on my own before), but weeks passed and it never occurred to me to change "soon" to "now".

That was the idea which instantly popped into my head- why not go on my birthday? I didn't have any other plans. So I suggested it to my mother yesterday, and she said that sounded great and she'd give me money for it.

I woke up this morning earlier than usual (around 8:30), mildly excited thinking of the day ahead. I figured I'd go to my computer first and check out if the friendly folk at Adventure Gamers had wished me happy birthday. So I went to the computer room, passing by a few of the "Happy Birthday" signs my mother had put up along the way.

The first thing I noticed was that one of her signs was taped to my screen, completely covering it. She does like for those signs to be noticed. The second thing I noticed was the Gamecube-game-box-shaped gift wrapped up and sitting on my keyboard. Could it really be-? Wowsers. (I actually did tell my parents what I'd like, but considering what a hassle it is to get games to here it would still be pretty exciting if it were that game...) And I unwrapped it slowly, being careful not to rip the paper so I shouldn't see a little bit of it before I get the whole thing out. And I looked away as I took it out so that I could be able to see the whole thing at once. And it fell into my hands, and I looked, and I found...

A chocolate bar.

No, I'm just kidding. It was The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess! And could there be a cooler present than a Zelda game? (It's a rhetorical question. Yes, I know a time machine would be cooler. Now stop interrupting my reverie.) It was an exciting moment. And I wanted to play it right away, but there wasn't enough time if I wanted to get to get to the Israel Museum.

So I just put it aside and checked the forums. Sure enough, they were wishing me a happy birthday, and some of them in rather clever ways! It's good to have friends, is it not? And then I headed to the bus.

It'd been a while since I'd walked that way, watch ticking, black coat on, sun boiling (I was only wearing the coat for old time's sake), Game Boy in pocket. I can't say it was an entirely enjoyable bit of nostalgia, but I was glad to be going.

On the bus, I was quickly reminded of that irritant I'd forgotten: the tremendous sense of isolation. I remembered how there was a kid I'd see on the bus once every few years, who I could talk with (because he was hyperactive). (There were one or two times on Shabbats when I'd wondered who he was and how I could find him, since people I can talk to are so hard to come by.) His name was Moshe, I think. Or something else with M. Avraham? No, that doesn't sound right. Eah, who cares. And I left it at that.

A few minutes later, someone came on the bus who looked awfully familiar. I couldn't be sure that it was him, but then he did look.. um, familiar. I said that already, didn't I. He was hanging around with a whole crowd toward the front of the bus, and I was strapped into my chair toward the back. (It's good to insure you're not thrown around a lot when things get rough, kids.) I wondered when he'd be getting off.

As it happened, he was getting off at the Central Bus Station, same as me. And he got off before me, but happened to stop to tie his shoe. And I asked him if I knew him and he reintroduced himself as Moshe. And we got to talking, which is a big thing with me. I said I'd stop over some Shabbat- which will be much easier now that I actually know his name.

Then I headed over to the museum. I took the first bus that came that would drop me nearby, which meant I had some walking to do. Walking through a faintly familiar area? No problem by me. (The Israel Museum is next to where I went to school.) I asked for directions, just to be safe, because I hadn't wandered far from the school and didn't know for certain where it was. I was pointed in the direction I was going already, which was nice. I took a little detour through a tiny forest, and then I was there.

The exhibits were wonderful. First I went to (actually, more like "stumbled into", though by a coincidence it's what I'd read about in the newspaper and came to see) an exhibit of physical 3D models which were printed out of a computer, which I found incredible. Here they were taking digita files, virtual spaces, and turning them into physical objects in the Real World! Wowsers. That really sent me for a loop- I mean, here I'm putting up this wall between the two worlds, and then a magic printer is made (and it did seem more like magic then technology to me) which can cross it over! Wowsers. Some of the works were pretty, some were hilarious, some were inspiring, but most were really really cool.

The second exhibit I walked into was on how children have been dealt with in European art over the ages. Contrasting the portrayal of innocence in the 19th century with the more cynical perspective of the 20th century, comparing the near-complete disregard in the 17th century to dealing head-on with such issues in recent works. It was very nice too.

Then I went to an exhibit on Re'uven Rubin's early years, and exhibit on current Israeli photographic art dealing with political/social issues (which I couldn't make heads or tails of), a rather bland exhibit on surrealistic artists (not the art so much as the artists themselves) and capped it off with a look at the works of a very ambitious modern Israeli artist who isn't very good.

I spent three hours altogether in the museum, and I saw everything I wanted to see. All in all, a good time.

At home (which I reached only after much playing of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on the bus), Zelda was waiting. I disconnected the speakers from my computer and plugged them into the Gamecube, so that I'd get good audio. And then I started to play (with Eitan watching since, as for the past few months, I was asked to babysit him. He seemed to enjoy watching, actually.). It started out really slow-paced, puzzlingly so. (This is not a game for people who haven't played Zelda before.) It forced you through so many little insignificant tangents, you couldn't get anywhere.

Then the whole game flipped (before even the first dungeon!) and it turned out that this game was nothing like I thought it would be. It turned out, the whole opening section was sort of a fake-out. It turned out, it was really a ridiculously fast-paced game, and that whole earlier section was subtly designed to set up a dozen story elements as quickly as possible, yet effectively. Now that's the brilliant Zelda development team I know!

The game was interrupted (three hours in) by a phone call from my grandmother, wishing me a happy birthday. And it was only then that I realized that my stomach was rumbling because it was already 8:30 and I hadn't had supper yet. Yep, it's a good game.

After supper, I checked out how the Civil War comic book, which I've been following, ended. See, Marvel Comics was kind enough to release the last issue right on my birthday!- so that information was available at long last. And the question of who wins could not possibly have been answered better. It's the sort of ending that takes you by surprise, but it's the good kind of surprise, which makes sense with everything that's been written before.

And then (after a little more browsing) I wrote up this post here, because I couldn't have respected myself if on my 19th birthday I once again went for immediate gratification instead of doing what needed to be done.

When I woke up, I expected the day to be pretty good, but just how good has taken me by surprise. This is the best birthday ever.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be getting back to Zelda.



I've spent more time with Moshe since then (Always a good idea!), and I don't think "hyperactive" is the right word, even though I remembered him being hyperactive when we were in school together. (That might just be my faulty memory, of course.) Now I think he's more like me.


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