The Watchmaker of Filigree Street / Natasha Pulley

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Yes, yes, I know – I have been a terrible blogger. All my dreams and plans of documenting my amazing research trip in real time so as to save all of my impressions for posterity, and giving you all a little window into the life of a beginning researcher, went out of the window once I actually landed in England and became so preoccupied with my day-to-day reality there. The trip was amazing, and I am still harbouring a little hope that I will recap it in a couple of photo-heavy posts in the near future (just as soon as I finish this really stressful deadline-filled stretch of time that I’m currently in). In the meanwhile, here’s a little book review on the last book I’ve read.

From the description I was sure, for some reason, that this was a detective mystery book, so I was a bit surprised when it veered off in other directions. At first I was completely drawn into the world of this book. It had a Sherlock-y vibe – slightly dusted with charcoal, Victorian, taking place in Scotland Yard. The ‘feeling’ of the book – its setting, atmosphere, details, ideas, and language, are its best qualities. Its worst qualities? the narrative, which was overly twisted, and its internal logic. I am completely willing to suspend disbelief and delve into a world that works according to different natural laws, I only ask that it will be consistent and logical (the king of this sort of thing is Brandon Sanderson, who takes after the legacy of world-builders such as Tolkien). Here I felt that there was no such logic with the special powers of one of the characters who can “see” the future. I did like the inventiveness of Pulley, who based the science in her book on the Victorian notions of physics, and among them the idea of ‘aether’ an element that supposedly permeated all the spaces in the world. and was responsible for gravity and the travelling of light. I also liked the descriptions of Mori’s clockwork shop – cosy and whimsical, a combination of the British and the Japanese, it was one of the highlights of the book. One last thing I highly disliked was the way that Grace’s character developed; I really liked her at first since it is a tendency of mine to adore female scientist characters, especially in historical novels, but she quickly devolved into a weak and annoying character.

L. J. G.

P.S. – am I the only one who was really shipping Mori and Thaniel? At one point I was sure the writer was hinting at that as well, but I’m not sure if I imagined it

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Day 1 – Flight and Arrival:

Everything went more or less in the most perfect way possible. Yiftach stayed and worked from home on the morning of my departure, so we had some more quality time together. It was really calming to have someone else there help with cooking lunch etc. while I was attempting to finish packing my suitcase for a month-and-a-half-long trip. An hour before we had to go out we ate the pasta with tomato sauce and chestnuts Yiftach prepared and watched John Oliver wax poetic about Brexit and odd British politics (have you ever seen the political candidate Lord Buckethead? No? Well, look here).

For once in my life I have packed the bulk of my suitcase the day before, and this saved me a lot of anxiety on the day of the flight, and instead I could devote myself to more important matters – such as washing my hair, and deciding which books I would like to buy for my Kindle.

We drove to the airport and stood together in what I think was the longest check-in line I’ve ever been in – at least an hour and a half long. But the wait was made sweeter by having Yiftach with me, and gave us plenty of opportunities to hug, kiss, and say goodbye languorously, and not in a short, traumatic gesture. I was a bit worried of there being insane lines at the security and passport control – but I sailed through both in five minutes flat, and before I knew it I was on my way to my gate. It was exhilarating. Until now I’ve only ever flew abroad on my own once, when I was 19, and even then it was simply to meet my family in New York. I have never been out of the country on my own, and it has been quite a few years since that solitary flight. Everything felt new and exciting, being the Mistress of my own self, and I smiled as I settled down on the chairs besides the gate, pulled my kindle out of my handbag, and started reading ‘The Professor is In’ by Karen Kelsky.

I was extremely lucky in that on a chock-full plane, in the middle of July, I somehow found myself sitting next to an empty seat. It was a daytime flight, so I didn’t use it to curl up and sleep, but it did make the flight much more comfy since it gave me more space and wiggle-room, and allowed me to sit in all the odd (and quite flexible) ways I usually prefer. I spent the flight nearly finishing the aforementioned book, which is a sort of guide to PhD students on how to transition from the PhD to full-fledged academia. Those of my readers who are not familiar with the academic world are perhaps not aware that the job-situation is pretty dire – in the humanities many hundreds of qualified PhDs compete for every single opening. Unlike the 20th century, tenure isn’t at all a given, and many people spend years adjuncting in several places at once, while being paid a measly pittance. This book was written by an anthropology professor who decided to quit academia, and instead became a coach and adviser to academics. Her background as an anthropologist gives her a unique outlook at academia – she explores it as one explores a foreign culture and shows how things work beneath the surface. Although it will be years before I am on the market, I think this kind of knowledge is essential and powerful, and will perhaps help me plan the rest of my journey throughout academia. A lot of the knowledge about the inner workings of academia is nebulous, unwritten, and mostly you happen upon it by chance, or collect it painstakingly through conversations with mentors and those above you in the academic food-chain. It is quite unusual to get it all organised in a printed book.

The flight passed fairly quickly and comfortably, and even the food was great. I ordered the vegan lunch and it was surprisingly delicious! Lots of yummy tender tofu on rice, with sweet potatoes and sun-dried tomatoes, and beside it a tub of hummus and a small pita-bread.

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I’ve been a little apprehensive regarding passport control when entering the UK, worried that perhaps Brexit brought about more ill feelings towards foreigners, and stricter questioning. In fact there were signs all the way up the line warning of the new and harsher methods of interrogation, and asking passengers to be patient. I shouldn’t have worried. I filled my immigration card properly on the airplane, and when it was my turn and I stood nervously in front of the man examining my passport, he asked me what I was researching and suddenly I lighted up, and told him about my female entomologists with shining eyes, throwing words into the air such as ‘gender’, ‘imperialism’, and ‘social networks’. He smiled earnestly back, and waved me right on through.

From there I caught a train on the Piccadilly line, and spent my ride to Gloucester station reading ‘Strange the Dreamer’ by Laini Taylor. The train was hot and stuffy and smelled of stale sweat. It was a mercy every time it stopped and the doors opened, letting in a waft of fresh air. I had a short moment of elation when I made my way out of the station – all of a sudden I was out on the street, a very obviously London-y street. I walked for about 12 minutes to my hotel, which is actually one building of dormitories at Imperial College which is run as a hotel during the summers. By the time I entered my room it was nearly midnight, I was bone tired, and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I saw the room. It had no shower nor toilet, and the window was stuck.

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It was stifling. I went down to the desk, where I was told that there was nothing they could do about it until morning. I went back up, turned the fan on, and curled into bed with my book. Once upon a time I would have probably cried, or at least felt completely hopeless. But now, although I was slightly worried, and very annoyed, I knew that tomorrow would be another day, and that I will take care of this situation, one way or another. It felt very powerful to have that certainty, that things will be ok.

I fell asleep pretty quickly, and dreamt of libraries and blue gods.

J.

A week and a half to go!

With one week to go the trip seems very far away and way too close at the same time. There are still so many things to do! I need to return books to the library, and photocopy chapters to take with me on my trip. I need to buy toiletries, get a haircut, and finish buying all the various train tickets I am going to need. I also need to go to an archive in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. This one is not for my research, but rather a part of my work as a research assistant for a historian I work with. This will actually be the first archive I ever step foot in, and my task for the day would be to find information about a female botanist who worked as a professor in the Hebrew University way back in the first half of the 20th century. I am rather looking forward to it and hope it will make me more at ease when I go to archives in England.

In addition to all of these I need to finish grading my students’ essays from the last semester. I want to go on my trip with as little on my mind as possible, and right now, with only fifteen essays left to grade – it seems that it may indeed happen.

There are two more preparations which I have not yet really began – books and movies to bring with me. The books one chooses to take on a trip abroad are a very serious affair, as they will set a lot of the tone and atmosphere. I am thinking of creating a mixture of non-fictions (mostly guide books to dissertation writing), fantasy (my favourite genre), and a few children’s books. The reason for the children’s books? First of all, a lot of children’s books are awesome and one need not have an excuse for reading them! But in this case there is a reason for my wanting to bring a few British children’s books with me, and that is the fact that I grew up on these books, and they had a great influence on my development, and on my love for England, which brought me to where I am today and to my research subject. I grew up reading a lot of Enid Blyton, Edith Nesbit, Arthur Ransome, Roald Dahl, Frances Hodgson Burnett, etc., and a lot of my nostalgia is made out of bits and pieces of these books. What can be more perfect than revisiting Arthur Ransome’s books about children exploring the Norfolk Broads whilst doing so myself, on my days off in Norwich? What will be more magical than reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising chronicles in front of a fireplace in Wales?

As to movies, a year and a half ago I had a sudden yearning for period dramas set in 18th to early 20th century Britain, and I downloaded a lot of movies and tv shows, but never had a chance to watch them. They all remain, dormant, in my portable hard drive, and I thought that the trip will be the perfect opportunity to start delving into them. So said hard drive will be coming with me (also to act as a back up for the gazillion photos I will be taking in the archives), and perhaps I will keep a record here of the movies I’ve went through.

I need to go and get ready, because we’re going out with friends to eat vegan burgers (which are supposed to be really good).

Joanne

Off to the archives, or – my British summer

In two weeks I will be making my way to the airport to board a plane to London. I am travelling to England and Wales for a month and a half to do research for my MA thesis, and thought it might interest my friends and family, and maybe some other people as well, to see what I’m up to in my British and archival adventures. This blog will also document my adventures (if they might be called so) in applying to grad school in the UK and US for the autumn of 2018.

My research is focused on British women in science, more specifically on women entomologists (insect researchers), around the period of 1870-1940. In my work I try to determine how some of these women managed to enter the scientific community and take part in it, at a time in which women were largely excluded from science. I am going to do that by studying the women’s social networks (yes! there were social networks before Facebook), and in my PhD I will be using social network analysis (SNA) which is cool and uses coding and graphs to track social networks in a visual way. I am very interested in the role class played in these networks, and also in how imperialism got into the mix.

In this blog I will tell you of all the archives I’ll go to, but also of the other sightseeing, hiking, and shopping that I’m planning to do. I may use it to write a bit about my extracurricular reading (I mostly love fantasy and sci-fi), and my art (I draw, and paint). Besides that I am thinking of writing a bit about my research and how my thesis is developing, and about making my way in academia as a beginning scholar (i.e. conferences, grad school applications, etc.).

Hope you enjoy the ride,

Joanne Leore Green

 

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Incredible shrinking women, or – getting my voice heard

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I think this video is very important, I think this young woman is a genius, and I am so glad that this is going viral. It is such an important issue, feminism, and equality, and the fact that many people believe we have achieved this equality that we have been fighting for, for hundreds of years (doing research for a paper I stumbled upon the fact that not all researchers agree as to when feminism begun, the dominant view is that it started at the end of the 19th century, but some argue that it started with the quarrel de femme – “the woman question”, in France, 1450).

So we live with the sense that we are finally equal, men and women, living peacefully. I believed that, until I started to open my eyes over a year ago. I started reading feminist blogs, learning about feminist and post-colonial criticism of literature in university, I started looking around and seeing that actually all is not equal. I watched, and learned, and read about how women are sexually harassed in public spaces, even small things, like strange men commenting on women’s clothes, or shouting sexual remarks, or calling women “baby”, or “sexy” (for example). I experienced it myself, and finally acknowledged that I was experiencing it. I learned that women’s wages are still considerably lower than men’s, a condition which also has a trendy name – “the pay gap“. I learned that most movies do not pass the Bechdel test (does the movie have two female characters, who have names, and converse about something other than men – seriously, try it out, you will be amazed at how many movies fail at this). There are myriad examples, and these are just ones that I managed to fish out of my head right now.

A final example that I would like to talk about is academia (This site has some horror stories about what it is like to be a woman in academia). Going into the academic world requires you to make your voice heard, boldly. And that is a thing that I have always struggled with, and also the thing which touched me the most about this video. Lily Myers talks about women who shrink, so as to make more room for men, women growing thinner and thinner, being silent, being expected to “contain” men. And she also talks about women getting their voices heard, or rather – women being afraid of raising their voices, with a very poignant example: she says that she asked five questions in genetics class today, and all of them started with “sorry”, because as women in academic situations we sometimes feel the need to apologize for getting ourselves heard, almost as if our opinions are somewhat lesser.

Women have been holding back their voices for centuries, in the Renaissance it was not acceptable for a woman to write an original text, and women were actually forcibly held out of the academia and academic pursuits by not being taught Latin and Greek, *the* academic languages of the era, but only the vernacular tongues. But even then, there were a few exceptional and inspirational women, who learned these languages and found themselves a niche in the literature world, beginning with translation (which was somewhat respectable for ladies, since nothing original was written – although you should give them credit, they did find a way to put their original voice in through introductions and via the way that they translated, emphasizing certain things, while making others seem of less importance), and moving on to writing original pieces. These women inspire me and fill me with awe, like the woman in this slam poetry video, they make me want to go out there and show the world what I can do.

And so I have decided to acknowledge all of this, and make the conscious decision to get my voice heard in academia. I have just been accepted to graduate school, beginning my MA next October, and although I am rather timid and reserved, I have decide to make a change, to be more present, to excel, to stop being afraid that my opinion does not deserve to be heard. So I decided to publish my first article, I already have the basis for it and just need to develop and fine-tune it, perhaps I will elaborate in my next post.

So my plan to get my voice heard is made up of four parts: 1. Start writing more often in this blog, as an exercise in writing, and in getting my voice heard, 2. Work on my article and publish it, 3. Actually participate in my seminars this semester, I am clever, I have things to say, I’m not just a fly on the wall, 4. Speak out more in everyday life, complain if needed, and not just swallow it all and hold it in.

Because it’s my time to grow.

Love,

Leore Joanne

‘Life According to Sam’

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Yesterday night I watched a documentary with my mother, it was called ‘Life According to Sam’ and showed the life of Sam Berns, a kid suffering from progeria, and his parents, two pediatricians, one of whom started a clinical study for a drug that may help sufferers from progeria.

We were mesmerized. That kid, that fifteen year old kid, suffering from a rare and fatal genetic disorder (most don’t live beyond their thirteenth year), was so well adjusted, so happy, so clever. It was truly an inspiration, and made me feel both inspired to live life to the fullest, and ashamed, of my own little problems, that grow ever more minuscule in the face of what he had to go through. I was also very inspired by his parents, who, despite the difficulties, remained happy, good and optimistic, and raised such a wonderful child, giving him a truly happy life, albeit a short one. I must confess that when the movie just started I pitied them, and I pitied him, I thought it must be horrible, to be in this situation. But when I saw their wonderful family dynamics, and all the love that was shared between them, I realized this isn’t the case. Once he opened his mouth and spoke in front of the camera, he was so intelligent, so articulate, and so happy and hopeful. I understood that I figured it all wrong: that family was not miserable, for “having” to raise a disordered child, they were privileged to have known him, and to have felt and shared all that love and joy. 

There are a lot of lessons to be learned here, for me. Not to be so quick to judge, and not to be so judgmental in general; that what defines us are not the obstacles we face, but the way we handle them, and people who face adversities without succumbing to anger and pity, but instead use joy, love and laughter, have my utter and total respect; that a short life is not necessarily a wasted one, and this was important for me, as I am very anxious about growing older, and about death in general, we just need to find the happiness in our life, and strive to treasure every moment. Even when we get busy and focused, we should take some time each day to put things in perspective; and finally, that family is the most important thing we have, and we should not take that for granted.

After watching the film I googled Sam Berns, and discovered that he has passed away exactly a month ago, January 10th, 2014. It broke my heart. I knew he couldn’t have lived for much longer, but the film ended with him as a 17 year old, a brilliant student, dreaming of going to MIT. How I wish he could have fulfilled his dream. But I find comfort in the fact that despite all that, he had a very happy life.

I highly recommend watching this documentary, and here is a link to a short article about Sam, and how he became the “face of the disease” and made this rare condition (affecting only around two hundred and fifty children worldwide) more well known.

 

Leore Joanne.

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It takes myriad stories, to truly know another culture

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I have just watched this video, as part of a Ted‐talk‐binge, and it moved me. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose books I have not read yet, but am definitely going to now, is saying that we tend to misunderstand other people and cultures when we are offered only one view of them. She gives various examples, some of them funny and some touching, and I felt that I could both relate to her feeling of her identity being flattened out, and feel guilty of doing the same.

As an Israeli woman, I have, from time to time, come across people who view Israel only as a place of war, which is basically very untrue. Yes, there have been a lot of wars here, yes, the area is troubled, yes ‐ people I have known died, and I spent a couple of weeks in a shelter at one point. But mostly, our lives aren’t any different from the lives of any other person in the western world.

But this video touched me even more when I think of my trip to Kenya a couple of months ago. It was amazing, but at the same time I felt very uneasy a lot of the time. I didn’t always know how to take everything in, and I am sure that I have been guilty of seeing only one story, which is very easy when you visit a country focusing only on one aspect of it ‐ the wildlife, it makes the whole variety of human life in that country take a back sit. So I have only seen the people on the sides of the road as we were traveling from one game park to another, the hotel workers in the lodges, and our guide.
Thinking back though, I did TRY to get a wider perspective, I was feeling curious about the people of this country, whom I could only glimpse briefly through the car windows. I did so by getting friendlier with our guide, and asking him questions about his life, and family, his career path, and about life in Kenya in general. There was also one memorable evening, when I was still in the lodge when a guy came in for turn‐down service. I don’t know how, but we just started talking. He was around my age, in his twenties, and came from a tribal village. We talked for an hour, this was my first experience actually TALKING to a Kenyan, not just watching the display the villages put up for tourists (which I hated, because it made me feel so uncomfortable, and fake, and patronizing). He told me about his village, and how his family reacted when he left to work at a hotel, and how the language system works in a country that has a gazillion of them. The naming system, coming of age ceremonies and going to school. We covered a lot in that hour, and I think it belongs in the list of the most special things I have experienced in Kenya, together with our car being charged by a rhino, and a monkey stealing cookies out of my tray on the porch at six o’clock in the morning.
I think it was very important to me to get another view of life in Kenya, not just the game drives, the other tourists, and the people gardening on the sides of the roads. It is still not enough to get a real, rounded picture of Kenya, and is not even close to enough to getting a picture of the whole of Africa, which is why I brought back a few books that have Africa, or certain countries in Africa, as their main theme. It is something that I would like to educate myself more about, because I think that we (non‐Africaners) have no idea how diverse Africa is, and I would like to be less ignorant.

The San Diego blues

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One of the joys of being in a foreign country – discovering all those new birds, that you don’t have in your home country (of course other animals are exciting as well, but birds are much more commonly seen than any other species, except perhaps for insects), being surrounded by unrecognized bird songs feels positively exotic to me. Also the fact that San Diego has hummingbirds (!!) who sometimes come to our garden (we have rented a villa for our family), and that is way beyond exotic for me.

My room has a gigantic window, floor to ceiling, right beside my bed, outside is a tiny stretch of garden, and a small tree with purple flowers right across from me. I sit in my bed, delighting in the grey coolness of the sky outside, and look at the birds and insects (bees, and giant metallic beetles) that find their way into my small piece of sky.

I am on vacation, but have to write two and a half papers during said vacation, so while my family goes out to shop and have fun, I have to stay in the villa and study. Looking out into the garden, seeing all this life going on around me, all these animals I haven’t seen before, soothes my soul a little bit.

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Yesterday we went to San Diego zoo, one of the largest zoos in the world, and one of the zoos most active in preservation and breeding programs. We went with two small children (my nephew, who is one year old, and my five year old niece), so we sped by most of the exhibits, and I didn’t get to just stand and stare at anything to my heart’s content. But I did get something of the gist of the place, and I looked at the keepers, with the geeky khaki shorts they need to wear, and thought how lovely, if I could go back to this zoo someday as a veterinarian.

I find it hard to get into a habit of writing, especially with so many things happening around, but I know I’ll be glad later for documenting some of it, some day in the future, when I shall want to wallow in the memories. Perhaps I’ll write the next post about my library escapades in New York last week.

What I HAVE been good about was updating my instagram! So if you want to check up on me, look me up – www.instagram.com/leorejoanne

And now, my mom and sisters are going to Anthropologie and other exciting shops we simply don’t have in Israel, and I need to go back to reading and writing about the gothic in children’s literature, and the poetics of Charles Dickens in Bleak House. And when I finish both of those (next week), I can start comparing the presentation of hybrids (centaurs/fauns/mermaids etc.) in classical writings (ancient Greece), and in contemporary fiction (Narnia, The Magicians, Harry Potter, etc.). Only thing I can say is – at least I have really interesting subjects.

Have a magical day,

Leore Joanne Green

A little Gogol before bed

Had my second final of the semester today – ‘Fundamental Steps in Western Literature’, basically we have spent the year reading A LOT of classics, discussing and analyzing them. Among the texts we read: The Odyssey, The Iliad, parts of the Bible, parts of the New Testament, parts of the Qur’an, The epic of Gilgamesh, The Peloponese Wars, Plato and Aristotle, The Divine Comedy, Decameron, The Prince, The Canterbury Tale, Don Quixote and King Lear – and this list is still missing a few titles! Did I mention that was some crazy schedule? It was. Utterly crazy. But I enjoyed every minute of it. I think taking a course like this in University is a chance of a lifetime to read these ancient classics, which otherwise I would probably never have gotten around to, despite the best of intentions.

I spent the couple of hours prior to the test sitting in the cafeteria, sipping coffee and doing one last, slightly frantic revision. The cafeteria is on the ground floor, and has large windows looking out, onto a small garden. The sunlight was streaming in, and a tabby cat sprawled himself on the grass right outside the window. Don’t you find cat-watching to be such a stress relieving activity? It certainly made me smile.

As I studied I listened to my new favourite thing – instrumental mixes on 8track, these consist both of classical music, and contemporary music from movie soundtracks – Harry Potter has a fantastic score, and apparently so do a lot of other movies! The score in movies was never something that I paid much attention to, but now I am falling in love with these mixes. They give me a magical feeling, as though for a few hours I am transported with them to a magical world; I sit and study and imagine that I am in the library at Hogwarts. Well, I always was such a Hermione.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

1) http://8tracks.com/theelephantschild/make-believe – short and sweet

2) http://8tracks.com/thegirlnamedjedrzejko/ultimate-study-playlist-i – very long, six hours, I think? perfect for a long, serious study session!

3) http://8tracks.com/mhaigheo/hogwarts-library – this is the first of a three-part series called Hogwarts Library, just the name makes me happy 🙂 it is ultra short but I like hearing it on repeat

I finished the book I was currently reading on the train back home, ‘The Art of Hearing Heartbeats’, by Jan-Philipp Sendker. It was a wistful love story, light and sad at the same time. A very quick read, perfect for reading after a strenuous test. It dealt with that old idea of true love, absolute love, transcending time and distance. The only power stronger than fear. 

The next book I have picked out to read is the aforementioned Gogol, or more precisely – Petersburg Tales, a collection of short stories including such classics as The Nose, Diary of Madman and so on. I have never read Gogol before, but he is considered to be a genius, so I am excited to see how I will like it!

It is past midnight and everyone is sleeping, the AC is turned on, transforming my room into an icy cold haven (it is dreadfully hot and humid in Israel this time of year), curled in the thick blanket, my furry white cat sitting in my lap and purring, now is the perfect time to read and dream of Russia, and bid you adieus! 

All my love, Leore-Joanne

Dreams coing true – going on safari

A little hint as to what I’m going to be doing this upcoming September!

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

My heart is sick for places I have never known – Oxford, Africa, South America. There are places I’ve been dreaming of for years. Some of them I shall never reach, because they only exist in the land of imagination [Narnia, Hogwarts, Lyra’s world, Middle Earth], and some of them just don’t exist anymore [the Victorian period, carnivals in the 1930’s, 1940’s England], but those places that DO exist suddenly seem almost within reach, because I am travelling to Kenya this September! For a safari! I am going to see the Serengeti, lions and leopards, elephants, chimpanzees, wildebeest (isn’t that name just plain romantic?), I am going to see the people of the Masai tribe, feel the African sun, go on adventures and go to sleep in a lodge, in the middle of a reserve, right next to a watering hole, so that I can watch the animals come to drink right from my veranda!

I am so excited that I simply cannot put it into words. Yesterday I was commuting back home on the train after a test, I was listening to my ipod and ‘The Circle of Life’ from The Lion King came up, one of my absolute favourite songs as a child. I upped the volume and listened to it with my eyes closed, my chin in my hands. The sounds surrounded me and I became so ecstatic with the music and the thoughts of Africa that I was smiling and tearing up at the same time. The people sitting opposite me must have thought I was crazy, but I was just so touched, so excited, feeling all my dreams slowly coming true, happiness flooded me with a rush od adrenalin, as it sometimes does.

I have been nursing the idea of becoming a wildlife vet for a few years now, and before that of working in some national reserve in Africa, and BEFORE that, as a child, my dream was to do research as a biologist in the jungles of Africa.

Just a week before my parents told me that they are indeed going to Africa, but also taking me and my brother with them, I was standing with my boyfriend at the African exhibition at the Jerusalem Zoo, and asking him how he would like to live in Africa for a year, sometime in the far future. I was looking at the animals and dreaming. Dreaming.

I have been dreaming for years, I’ve always been a dreamer. But in the past year I have started taking responsibility, and turning my dreams into reality. It is a long long road, and it doesn’t always go smoothly, and there have been many a bump in that road, I have certainly not taken the direct route, I took “the road less travelled”, and it will take several more years to reach all of my expectations and dreams, but it is well worth it, and this trip just helps me remember what it is that I am striving for.

Leore Joanne.