I actually had a fun weekend in many ways, even though I was knocked sideways by hearing the bad news about Alice in the middle of it. The death of a friendly acquaintance last week is hardly the sort of news that requires cancelling everything, but enjoying myself while feeling really tearful was a slightly odd experience.
We went out for the lab Christmas (!) dinner on Friday night, because it took us that long to get round to organizing it! Anyway, it was much better to go out in February than it would have been in December; for one thing, it provided a break in what would otherwise be a dull month, whereas there are plenty of parties going on close to the real Christmas. For another, it was actually snowing and looked appropriately Christmassy, which was not the case in December.
Another advantage was that we didn't feel obliged to eat traditional Christmas food, but instead went to a rather lovely Greek restaurant named Faros. The food was really good, mid-range in price by Stockholm standards, but just really tasty and the portions were exceptionally generous. They only had one token veggie main course, but that was particularly nice so I'm not complaining (really tasty aubergine bake, served with salad and fried potatoes and rice and tzatziki and dolmades and haloumi). The atmosphere is lovely, the place is set up like the hold of a ship, and is cosy without being cramped. And the waiters were extremely competent and professional and helpful. Oh, and there was Greek wine which was a lot less rough than I expect Greek wine to be. I ate far too much, which is rare for me; I have a big appetite and can usually manage a three-course meal without trouble.
I came home, and attempted to force some tea into my full stomach, and collapsed into bed not really sufficiently hydrated. So I didn't feel so amazingly bright and perky by Saturday morning, and it was really cold out, and I really wished I hadn't promised to be in shul so that I could lead the discussion of this week's Torah reading. In the end I compromised by spending an hour preparing the discussion, and therefore turning up only about half an hour before the end of the service, but in enough time to reassure people that I was there and ready to lead the group.
It went amazingly well. Not even well considering that I was underprepared and hung over and barely holding back from crying about Alice, but in the absolute it was great. We are up to the section of the Torah reading which contains a lot of detail about the construction of the Tabernacle and the sacrificial rituals, but I managed to get people really excited about this stuff which normally gets skimmed. We were talking about the priestly vestments, and we got into a discussion about the linguistics of colour translation, and the chemistry and biochemistry of making dyes from various molluscs, and the genetics of seeing whether people who claim to be cohens really do have a single male ancestor. And a little bit about the role of priests and sacrifices, and why we have rabbinic and not priestly Judaism nowadays but we sort of ran out of time for that part. The group were so disappointed when we had to stop, so I reassured them that we have weeks and weeks of similar material coming up. Reassured! I don't think I've ever seen people literally clamouring for more detailed discussion of the Temple rituals!
Then I went out with some of the people from the Progressive ritual committee in order to plan next week's service over lunch. We went to the not particularly exciting Asian buffet place, Rice, which had the advantage of being close, and relatively quiet. And it has nice miso soup, even if the rest of the food is rather mediocre. We did get a bit distracted from the planning by chatting though.
Afternoon was the secret Talmud study cabal, which was also a lot of fun. We completely failed to stay on topic, started having detailed discussions about ritual purity and Biblical plus rabbinic attitudes to sexuality, instead of the slander and leprosy material we were supposed to be talking about. But lots of people congratulated me on my intelligent contributions, which felt pretty good considering that there are some seriously high powered intellectuals in that group. We stayed for a third meal afterwards, the kind that rather resembles afternoon tea, involving mostly cake.
In the little space of time between the end of the teaparty and going to a dinner party, we tried to finish off the service planning we hadn't got to. Then on to EBH's for dinner. She had invited the whole Progressive committee so that we could have a proper chance to socialize without worrying about business. She'd cooked really delicious food, and there was more wine, and it was generally extremely convivial. I am getting confident enough with Swedish to manage a lively dinner party with everyone talking at once, even when I'm tired and tipsy, so this is a deifnite improvement over a few months ago.
By the time I got home at around midnight, I was falling over tired, and had the kind of headache you get from spending a whole day not being allowed to cry. Still, I feel like I was useful to various bits of the community, and I had a fun sociable time, and I generally feel positive about the weekend.
Today I looked after my cells, and played with the microscope a bit, which I always enjoy. And took things easy enough to spend some of the time chatting to various people. Life is good.