Thank goodness. First of all, while I love being away from New York, I do not love cats. Specifically my lungs/breathing apparatus do not love cats. I am still coughing. Awesome. You know that you're in bad shape when strangers on a plane offer you lozenges to get you to shut up.
Otherwise I enjoyed my time in the great state of Michigan, which apparently has the highest unemployment rates in the country (about 27%). You can tell that the economy is depressed, burned out and abandoned buildings sit on blocks next to office buildings. One of the strangest dichotomies that I've ever seen. Also strange: the statue of Joe Lewis' fist in downtown Detroit. It is just a huge, cast iron fist, which is directed at Canada. Are we saying "up yours Canada?" Because I could kind of get behind that. Not because I dislike Canada, but because immortalizing that sentiment in statuary is hilarious to me.
As for the Michigan Jewish community: there are a couple of them. Southfield, MI, a suburb of Detroit has the highest concentration. And some really good Kosher pizza. I suggest Jerusalem Pizza to anyone in the area. Also it is fairly near a good shooting range. Yes, I went shooting. I spent the holy Sabbath in Ann Arbor, and just like the small Orthodox townie community, I prayed at the University of Michigan Hillel. Which is brick, but the entry hallway sort of looks like a hunting lodge. The space for prayer is built along the same lines as my alma mater: a basic all-purpose auditorium which was converted via the introduction of a mechitza (the divider that is traditional between men and women in an Orthodox service) and some none-too-comfy chairs.
The service itself was quick, and mostly pleasant, although there were very few in attendance (in part because school was not in session). It was especially thin on the women's side. I was the only woman present until about halfway through the torah reading. And, as is common in small communities, a stranger invited me and my host to his house for shabbat lunch, but we already had cholent* at home so we politely declined. For the record, if I lived in Ann Arbor I would have gone anyway, for the sake of meeting people and making friends. Also because I don't love cholent. It was a nice little community, but not a good place to move if you are young and unmarried. And wish to be married. In the near future. To a Jew. Which is, as always a hot topic.
Speaking of intermarriage, I just watched Prime (or at least the first half, before falling asleep), which I think was brilliantly done. And not just because they make a 37 year old woman, and 23 year old man falling in love look believable. My favorite scene is when Uma Thurman is standing in just a t-shirt, asking the gorgeous Bryan Greenberg to come to bed, but he tells her that he just needs to finish this level (of a racing game on nintendo). The best line was possibly when Bryan Greenberg tells his mother (Meryl Streep, playing a psychotherapist) that the advice she gives him vis a vis marrying a Jew is not something that she'd ever say to her patients. That she is speaking in negatives, not positives, and that she is somewhat unreasonable on the subject. It highlights the generation difference in view on the issue. And is also a fairly good date movie ( I watched it with CJ), one which re-enforced my desire to only date Jews (mostly for simplicity's sake).
Go watch it.
*Cholent is a traditional sabbath dish, basically stewed meat, potatoes, beans and barley, seasoned differently depending on the background of the maker (Sephardic Jews tend to add prunes, apricots and eggs). It is useful because it can be made in a crock pot (slow cooking), toss in the ingredients and set it before the sabbath starts, by the time that lunch rolls around you have a hot stew ready.