In Which We Eat, Drive, and Eat

December 1, 2014

With my backpack on my shoulder and Ariella beside me, we walked over to 39th and Walnut where her sister, Dani was waiting with her car. The drive was quite enjoyable, Dani had good taste in music and her friend from med-school that she was driving home was really nice. We arrived in the early evening at the Biser-Kravitz-Levine residence in New Jersey. We hung around for a while not doing anything in particular, and then when Sarah came home (Ariella’s mom) we had some dinner and then went shopping for ingredients for Thanksgiving ‘Sheini’. Some of Sarah’s friends unavailable on Thursday night, asked for a second night of Thanksgiving so a second night (‘sheini’ in hebrew) was being hosted at the residence. That night I was up late working on all my assignments, realizing that the due dates were closer than I had previously expected.

The next morning I was up at around 10AM. Got ready, had a nice breakfast and was soon prepared to embark on the four hour drive to Bethesda, Maryland, with Ariella’s family. The drive down felt like it took a while. I listened to Billy Joel, got a tiny bit of work done on my laptop, and napped. It was a welcome respite, having the opportunity to do nothing for a few hours, and though it may have not been the most riveting of car rides, the opportunity to stress less was most welcome.

At around 5.30PM we arrived at Sarah’s family’s home, where celebrations were already underway. Fancy¬†hors d’oeuvres were being served by a Peruvian waiter, kids were running amuck and Turkey symbolism was everywhere. Ariella had made some delicious food for her and I given that the food at the meal itself was not kosher. The meal was a good opportunity to meet some more of her family and hear a little of their history. Sarah was pleased to explain to me all the connections and a bit of back-story behind everyone that helped me to place people. Particularly interesting was the oldest lady at the table, who had made aliyah from Europe (moved to Israel) before the war and had served in the IDF as a driver during the 1948 war. She also wanted to know about my family and how we had come to emigrate.

Following dinner, we drove right back to where we came from. Another good four hours. However with my workload, I couldn’t afford to go straight to sleep, so got to it for another few hours before collapsing.

Tuesday/Wednesday – Day 303/304

June 3, 2013

Tuesday I woke up pretty exhausted, checked out from the hotel and headed over to see Mum for the last time in the US. After lunch together, I caught BART with my belongings to the airport and after a few delays, landed safely in Philly at 1AM.

That night I slept in the Glouse before waking up decently early in the morning to meet up with Ariella and Raymond Habbaz at a house being rented out by a few members of the OCP. After breakfast and a few errands, we all set out to Holmdel, NJ, where Ariella lived, dropping Raymond off at his place just before we arrived. Ariella took the luxury of a shower and change before we continued onward to NYC for an event hosted by dreamit, a startup accelerator invested in a few Israeli companies.

I thoroughly enjoyed the event, getting to mix with both technologists and investors, and make a few good links for my future. One guy I met there, Nuesir Yassin, worked at Venmo, an online payments start-up and, offered to give me a tour the next day. I eagerly accepted.

After the event, Ariella’s mom, Sarah, again took me out to dinner with her before inviting me back to stay overnight. After much convincing I eventually agreed to stay on the basis of getting a chance to watch some of the new Arrested Development season with Ariella.

Sunday/Monday – Day 279/280

May 12, 2013

Sunday I realized that I actually needed to study for my final exam. I spent the entire day in my room attempting to make good on a promise to myself that I actually would put significant effort into it, however many distractions came up and I didn’t get far.

One lovely thing however was dinner that evening. At around six thirty, I received a message from Ariella, letting me know that I should dress up nicely and come downstairs to meet her Mum and Stepdad (Bob). After meeting them Ariella, Aviva, Louis and I piled in to Dani Levine’s (Ariella’s sisters’) car and drove off to the suburbs. As we drove further and further away from the city, the scenery improved dramatically with more greenery and nicer houses. Eventually we reached the center of a smaller town where we stopped in front of a nice looking restaurant named ‘Citron and Rose’.

While we had a bit of a wait before we reached the time of the reservation, once we were seated the service was very good. The wait staff were attentive and knew the menu well. Better than most of the kosher restaurants I’d previously been in. I ended up ordering a carpaccio followed by lamb as recommended by the waiter.

However, far more important than the delicious food was the company. Bringing friends to meet your parents can sometimes be a bit of a nerve wracking experience but at least from my perspective both Ariella and Dani’s friends were all on our best behaviour and the conversation was light hearted and enjoyable. More than anything, this contributed to making the evening wonderful and helpful in many ways.

Getting back I finally started to err.. study… err… read interesting academic papers in the field. Before getting to bed around two AM. Far too late for the night before an exam.

Monday I was up at eight, actually studying this time. I made a little progress, but nothing spectacular. At eleven I headed to Hillel for lunch, my last meal there, making sure to thank all the dining staff (Marti and Dottie specifically) for their efforts in making the dining experience such a communal and wonderful experience.

I raced off to Engineering to sit the exam, and while I felt it was fairly poorly worded, I still managed fine. Perhaps a little worse than I had hoped, but I still managed to leave well before one of the two allotted hours had elapsed. Ended up doing above average as I found out after exams came out. More than sufficient.

The afternoon passed in a bit of a blur, more time at Hillel, more time with Ariella and Yoni and an interesting coffee date with a certain Professor Max Mintz. Max Mintz has the reputation for being a very difficult but fascinating professor. An article in the New York Times mentioned him and his introductory discrete math course, noting that though he ran a difficult course and often took tangential routes to the subject material, he was respected as really knowing both how to teach and how to excite and interest students. After coming out of engineering I ran into Rigel Swavley talking to an older looking man, and so I asked him if he was indeed this legendary professor. He replied to the affirmative and invited me to his ‘office’, a nearby coffee shop. There we spoke for around twenty minutes on whether social media was filling an existing need or creating one. Most fascinating.

The evening was chilled, Ariella, Louis and I went to see Iron Man 3, which while not fantastic in terms of plot, was a fun action film and a good break from semester.

© 2012-2024 Shaanan Cohney