Despite being busy and sick for the past several months, Shiska Girlfriend and I have managed to make it to a few more Friday night services. Below you will find my best attempts to synthesize them into something that halfway makes sense.
1- We've now been to Evil Minion about six or seven times (including the first two I mentioned before). Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's crowded. Sometimes we recognize people we like (shout-out to Oyster and Chutzpaleh), sometimes it's people we wish we didn't (SG has had more run-ins with Prof. Ihateyou, and every time it reminds her that yes, she really, really does). We went two weeks ago and everything clicked quite nicely- just enough people, we found seats, and actually we got there ON TIME for a change (who knew that people adjust their davening times accordingly for winter? Not me apparently). The singing was awesome, (I like the improvised drumming on any available wooden surface, it takes me back to my first-grader days back when I used to brag that I could "play the bookshelf") and I'm slowly gaining davening speed, something that will hopefully improve should that damn Mishkan T'fillah ever get here. We still don't like talking to people. I still feel guilty for it. We will work on this. Incidentally, there are several interesting articles in Zeek about the rise of the independent minyan (sorry, minion) phenomenon. Check it out!
2- We've also spent a few more evenings at Temple GLBT. I also like these guys, though I don't quite feel like it's as much my "niche" area as some of the other shuls we've been to. But GLBT has been very nice to bring out-of-town guests to if they want a Shabbos experience, since it's big enough and user-friendly enough that no one ever feels awkward (and we get to pretend like it's all old hat for us). I will admit that the Giganto-siddur remains a little strange (though, as at Evil Minion, I often entertain thoughts of snagging/bribing myself a copy for at-home use. Curse you, CCAR press!). One night we brought my old friend Sam, who seemed to enjoy it. Highlights included a very strange monologue by a community artist that had painted a mural or wall hanging for the shul (possibly involving angels, I can't remember anymore). The guy went on a long tangent talking about how one day he discovered that "angels really are real," because he met an angel once. At this point we all thought he was going to say, "And his name is Ted," but it turned out he was serious. Wow. Then things started delving into transcendental meditation-retreat land and we got bored.
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Shiksa Girlfriend adds this interlude:
No, the deal with "Secret Angel Man" was that he was a congregant invited to give a... what's that word? Not sermon- no it does not rhyme with smash... drash! And he started with what we thought was a metaphor about how Jacob wrestles with angels and how God works in mysterious ways and how we deal with angels all the time and how one time he woke up to a beautiful morning and saw an angel sitting at the foot of his bed. At this point we all thought he would say something like, "And he's the love of my life, and he's sitting in the front row," but then he kept going and talked about how he had seen angels lots of times, and then things got weird.
Another evening saw us bringing a relative I haven't seen in forever to it. She got a big kick out of it because it was "way more California" than anything she's used to at her Reform shul in Texas (where'd I put that Shalom y'all t-shirt?). She even called a friend of hers afterwards to brag about how she thought that some transgender folks there might have been giving her weird looks because she was giving off straight-girl vibes (hint: no, they weren't).
3- I do feel bad that we haven't gotten a chance to spend more time with the ancients at Beth Elderly, because they really are awesome. The last time was for Sukkot where we all had such fun losing feeling in our extremities.
4- We've also had fun times wandering around in a neighborhood full of Orthodox shuls, though we've yet to go to any for Shabbos (SG says she feels uncomfortable sitting in a woman's section by herself, so this will have to wait until I can befriend either an open-minded Orthodox girl to go with us, or a Gentile girl whose interests/sense of humor are as odd as SG's).
5- Oh, and there are a few more non-O shuls in town we keep meaning to invade (including one presently under renovation to turn itself into a Jewish version of, well, this).
We'll try to be more punctual with the write-ups in future.