This Town, This Night, This Crowd

I’m writing this on a plane again. This time I’m flying from Denver to New Orleans. I spent this past weekend in Denver catching up with friends and generally having a good time. No real reason for this particular weekend, though I was asked that a lot, but I wanted to see some great people. As seems to always happen with these trips, I started reminiscing about my time at DU/in Denver and that got me thinking about life, as I know it.

I am incredibly fortunate to be in the position in which I find myself. I have a good job (that I enjoy) with a growing company in an expanding industry. I have a loving and caring family who I enjoy spending time with. I have the best friends for which one could ask. And I have had some amazing experiences and a great education. I am appreciative of everyone who is a part of all of these pieces of my life.

Every time I go back to Denver I have a great time. With luck, that will continue to happen. I saw such great people and had a lot of fun. We are able to take advantage of what the city has to offer and I really do miss Denver. That said, this visit was the first time when I did not feel like I should be on campus. By that I mean that I did not have that bugging feeling about being in Denver, but not being a student. I guess that means I am moving on (it has been almost a year since graduation!).

Things are always changing. People are leaving Denver and I have found some who are returning. I realize that it is no longer the same, but Denver will always have a special place in my heart. I think I made the right decision to leave, to go back home, and to move beyond college (though I can still act like I’m in college if the situation is right). That said, I would like to end up back in Denver at some point. It is filled with potential. And I do want to keep learning and growing, while surrounded by fantastic people.

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San Diego

I am writing this on the plane back to New Orleans after having spent the weekend visiting two friends in San Diego. What a great weekend! I have had a few experiences lately that have made me reflect on how fortunate I am to have so many great people in my life. Jess and Ari just confirmed this for me again.

I really liked San Diego. It is a beautiful city. There is still much more there that I would like to explore. We went to the beach, saw seals, did a bit of hiking along some cliffs over the ocean, and explored a bit around Balboa Park. Obviously there are some big tourist draws that we did not do, but hopefully there will be other opportunities for that. What we did do is spend time together.

It’s been almost two and a half years since I’ve seen Jess and almost six years since I’ve seen Ari. That’s crazy! It was so good to see them. I love how we were able to pick up like we’d just seen each other – though, we did cover the highlights of the last several years. Hopefully it will not be so long until the next time.

I Close My Eyes And Smile

I close my eyes and smile.
Not because something amazing just happened.
Just because.
Just because I was thinking.
I was thinking about what makes me happy.

I close my eyes and smile.
You see, I was looking at old pictures.
Old memories.
Old memories of meaningful times in my life.
I was thinking about the people who are important to me.

I close my eyes and smile.
I hear music from my earphones playing softly.
Playing meaningfully.
Playing meaningfully through these memories.
I was thinking about how our senses are intertwined with memories.

I close my eyes and smile.
Not because someone just did something extraordinary.
Just because.
Just because they were, they are.
I was thinking about what makes me smile.

‘Til The Morning We Dream So Long

I have a new song stuck in my head.  And I like it a lot – but, more on that later.  I’m about to begin week four (of ten) of Spring Quarter.  I knew this quarter was going to fly by, but wow!  I have no idea where the time is going!  I feel like it should be week one still – my classes still seem to be starting up and wham!  The work hits.  I am researching for several projects right now, doing a case competition, planning an awesome Diversity Summit, looking/interviewing for jobs, and trying to make the most of my time here with my Denver friends.

Yesterday was interesting.  I had conversation throughout the day that made me want to go back home post-graduation to rejoin friends and family there.  Then I attended Shabbat 200, the University of Denver’s largest Jewish event.  Chabad plans it every year and we had a great turnout.  I spent time with great people (Jewish and not Jewish) at the event and afterward that caused me to reexamine my convictions from earlier in the day.  I know these major decisions should not be based on chance encounters or single events, but I have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by amazing people wherever I have lived.

No decisions yet.  Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to make some decisions on my post-graduation future very soon.  I am ready to end the uncertainty.  Regardless of what happens, I know that I will have to work hard to maintain relationships.  But they are relationships worth maintaining and that really is the point.

Lupe Fiasco has an incredibly catchy song right now: “The Show Goes On.”  It’s a great song and actually has a pretty good message.  It is also rather relevant in that it causes one to evaluate the reasons why we act the way we do.  It is definitely worth checking out (note that the language in the video and lyrics below is explicit):

LA-SER

Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!
Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

[Lupe Fiasco Verse 1]
Have you ever had the feeling that you was being had
Don’t that sh-t make you mad
They treat you like a slave, with chains all on your soul,
And put whips up on your back,
They be lying through they teeth
Hope you slip up off your path
I don’t switch up I just laugh
Put my kicks up on they desk
Unaffected by they threats than get busy on they ass
See that’s how that Chi-Town made me
That’s how my daddy raised me
That glittering may not be gold, don’t let no body play me
If you are my homeboy, you never have to pay me
Go on and put your hands up, when times are hard you stand up
L-U-P the man, cause a brand that the fans trust
So even if they ban us they’ll never slow my plans up!

Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!
Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

[Lupe Fiasco Verse 2]
One in the air for the people that ain’t here
Two in the air for the father that’s there
Three in the air for the kids in the ghetto
Four for the kids who don’t wanna be there

None for the n-ggas trying to hold them back
Five in the air for the teacher not scared to tell those kids thats living in the ghetto that the n-ggas holdin back that the World is theirs!
Yeah yeah, the World is yours, I was once that little boy
Terrified of the World
Now I’m on a World tour
I will give up everything, even start a world war
For these ghettos girls and boys im rapping round’ the World for!
Africa to New York, Haiti then I detour, Oakland out to Auckland
Gaza Strip to Detroit, say hip-hop only destroy
Tell em’ look at me, boy!
I hope your son don’t have a gun and that would be a D-boy

Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!
Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

[Lupe Fiasco Verse 3]
So no matter what you been through
No matter what you into
No matter what you see when you look outside your window
Brown grass or green grass
Picket fence or barbed wire
Never ever put them down
You just lift your arms higher
Raise em till’ your arms tired
Let em’ know you’re their
That you struggling and survivin’ that you gonna persevere
Yeah, ain’t no body leavin, no body goin’ home
Even if they turn the lights out the show is goin’ on!

Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!
Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

11:11

It’s 11:11 and it’s time to make a wish.  Here it is: a future of happiness, health, prosperity, love, family, and friendship.

I am in an interesting place in life.  I’ve finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Denver.  Yet, I am still here.  I am here working on a Master of Business Administration degree.  I really enjoy what I am learning.  But it’s different.  Mostly good different, but in some ways, just different in that I miss the way it used to be.  I have to start looking at the rest of life.  Next year no longer implies the classes I will be taking.  Now it means the rest of my life.

My social circles are constantly evolving.  I have recently spent time with both old and new friends in Denver.  I have gotten to know so many people over the past few years that it is sometimes difficult to balance all of my friendship commitments, but I certainly try my best.  I have grown with many great people whose friendship I value strongly and with whom I hope to stay friends for a long time to come.  I have also connected/reconnected with some wonderful people this past year.  I have found people who encourage, challenge, and love me.  I have found people who share and listen and support – relationships in which I certainly reciprocate these activities/feelings.  These are people not only from Denver or the United States, but all over the world.

I also talk with many of my good friends from home (St. Louis) on a regular basis.  People who I grew up with.  People with whom I have relationships and inside jokes that sound outrageous to everyone else.  These are people who I cherish and whose support I have appreciated while not always being physically present.  I am incredibly blessed by the people in my life.

Scouting has been a huge piece of my becoming who I am.  Many of the values and skills I have learned and acquired have been developed through the Scouting program.  My summers at camp led me to some of my best experiences and best friends.  I miss camp.  I miss the experiences, the impact we had, and the friendships we built.  I hope that I can reenergize my involvement with Scouting after graduation that my future children and millions of other youth will have the same amazing experiences that I had.

I work part time on campus and collaborate with students, staff, faculty, and administrators from across campus.  I have been very fortunate in the relationships I have developed over the past five years.  I have learned a lot and grown immensely.  I am understanding the value of individuals and groups and connections between them all.  It has been awkward at times though when I’ve gone out and interacted socially with other students who I have supervised or met staff or faculty “off the clock” – especially when they think I work full time for DU.

My field of diversity/inclusion programming, training, strategy, project management, etc. is incredibly rewarding and at the forefront of social change, while remaining incredibly challenging at times.  I can see the positive impact of my work.  I was once told by a mentor to think about my work, my capabilities, and my opportunities and utilize them in shaping and creating a positive lasting legacy at the university.  I believe that I am being successful at doing that.  Hopefully, others will agree.

In the midst of this I am looking to the future: what are my options for long term employment post-graduation (June 2011)?  I am trying to do everything I can to best utilize all of my resources, network, explore opportunities at every turn.  In this process, I am trying to determine my personal worth (read: what type and quantity of compensation am I seeking) while determining my values and the weight to assign to each of them.  Among the plethora of things I am working to consider are: family, friends from home (St. Louis), friends from Denver, friends from everywhere else, job function, job duties, living location, company culture, long term impact of short term decisions, company/job prestige, opportunities for personal and professional growth, and much more.

I have had conversations recently about how to represent yourself online.  I have professional and personal profiles online, all of which offer accurate depictions of me and my life.  Nevertheless, I am constantly impressed when I find people who can write honestly about their feelings and beliefs without fear of how they might be interpreted or any potential future repercussions.  I’ve tried to be honest in sharing my feelings in this post.  I hope to challenge myself to continue to do so.

So, here’s to the future!  While the future may be uncertain, I can always reflect on where I am, where I came from, where I am going, and the people and experiences that have supported me along the way.  If you are a part of my life, thank you!  I am who I am because of you.  There is so much more to say, but who yet knows what those things will be…

In the meantime, perhaps the following song will offer some insight into this path we call life:

How the time passed away? All the trouble that we gave
And all those days we spent out by the lake
Has it all gone to waste? All the promises we made
One by one they vanish just the same

Of all the things I still remember
Summer’s never looked the same
The years go by and time just seems to fly
But the memories remain

In the middle of September we’d still play out in the rain
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Reflecting now on how things could’ve been
It was worth it in the end

Now it all seems so clear, there’s nothing left to fear
So we made our way by finding what was real
Now the days are so long that summer’s moving on
We reach for something that’s already gone

Of all the things I still remember
Summer’s never looked the same
The years go by and time just seems to fly
But the memories remain

In the middle of September we’d still play out in the rain
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Reflecting now on how things could’ve been
It was worth it in the end

We knew we had to leave this town
But we never knew when and we never knew how
We would end up here the way we are
Yeah we knew we had to leave this town
But we never knew when and we never knew how

Of all the things I still remember
Summer’s never looked the same
The years go by and time just seems to fly
But the memories remain

In the middle of September we’d still play out in the rain
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Reflecting now on how things could’ve been
It was worth it in the end

 

Quote #22 – Friendship

I realized that I have not posted any quotes on here recently, so here goes:

“Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.”

– G. Randolf

I find this quote to be incredibly relevant to my life right now as I finish college and look to a future job and living location.  I have been reconnecting with old friends and making new friends, some of whom I most certainly hope to keep well into the future.  This complicates my life decision regarding living location/job but I have to trust that my memories will always remain and the relationships will continue to be built, regardless of geographic proximity.

Graduation Video

To celebrate Undergraduate Graduation this past June, me and four friends had a party at Hillel for our families.  Leslie made a video slideshow that has now been posted on YouTube.  It is quite good and brings back many memories.

Here’s to good times, great memories, and wonderful people:

Repost of the “Right Time”

I am finally making plans for my trip to Israel and England this Winter Break.  It is unlike me to have bought a plane ticket without solid plans, but I did so as to not pay double the price.  Now, I am in contact with friends to develop my plan.  I came across the following post on my Facebook profile.  I got home from studying abroad on December 26, 2008.  I wrote the post on December 28, 2008.  As I think about where I am going to be in Israel, this post certainly brings back memories.

I am hoping for a great trip, without the worries this post describes.  Hopefully, new memories will be made and I can rekindle old friendships.

Coming Home at the Right Time or the Wrong Time?

by Joel Portman on Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 12:51pm

I got home from Israel on December 26. On December 27 Israel launched a retaliatory operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip for its rocket bombardments against Israeli citizens, including 80 rockets in one day. Hamas’ rockets can now reach Be’er Sheva, the city I was in.

Here is an email I got on the security situation from the Director of the Overseas Student Program at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev where I was studying:

Dear Students,
The semester is over and some of you have left Israel, others are still here for a while. As you probably have heard, a little more than 24 hours ago the Israeli Airforce began its bombardment of the Gaza strip. This is the first phase of a military operation that is intended to restore normalcy to the Jewish towns that are adjacent to the Gaza Strip. As I write this, casualties on the Palestinian side are upwards of 230, the vast majority of which are men in uniform. On the Israeli side there has been one casualty in Netivot and 4 injured there. There is no indication at this time as to the extent of this operation. The range of Hamas rocket attacks have expanded their range to include areas that have previously been unaffected: Towns of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Rahat and as of this morning Beer-Sheva too, are now in the Home Front Command “at risk” category. This is not a cause for extra or new alarm, but for those of you who are still in Israel it requires the following awareness and know-how: If you can plan to be elsewhere in the country for the upcoming week (Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv or their suburbs) it is advised. If you are in Beer-Sheva or any of the other abovementioned towns and you hear a waving siren or a “code red” (“Tzeva Adom”) or big explosion search out and enter the nearest designated sheltered area (a “miklat” or “mamad” or “ezor mugan”). Most likely everyone around you will be hurrying to these locations. In their absence, go to internal rooms with fewer windows or staircases. Do not stay in a bathroom when a siren is heard. After five minutes it is permitted to leave the protective areas if no other instructions were given. To those of you who are still here I suggest all to get familiar with the instructions posted (in English) in the Home Front Command website at: http://www.oref.org.il/934-en/PAKAR.aspx There is good reason to be alert and informed, but there is absolutely NO reason to get anxious or panicky. If you are still here you have noticed that the Israelis around you are calm and they stick to their daily routines.

I urge you all to contact your parents and maintain in regular contact with them as they most likely are being informed by international news agencies (CNN and the like) which tend to paint a disproportionately dire picture of Israeli reality at times like these.
Feel free to contact me, Tzipi, Hila or Inbal with any question you may have.

All the best,
Shlomo

If you are interested in updates in what is going on, check out:
www.ynetnews.com
www.jpost.com

 

Brooke Depenbusch

Hmmmmmmmmmm

December 28, 2008 at 1:03pm
  • Kerrie M. Rueda

    Just glad you’re safe and sound. Looking forward to hearing about your amazing time in Israel.

    December 28, 2008 at 1:32pm
    Miles Brennan
    For the sake of science we need to test the association between your presence and peace in the Middle East: Accordingly, fly back to Israel, and see if the shooting stops
    December 28, 2008 at 4:12pm
    Tabi Southall
    Glad you’re safe Joel
  • December 28, 2008 at 6:17pm
    Barney Katzerman
    im at the airport now. Nitay and I went to the old city, apparently there were riots going on while we were there and didnt know it.  Glad to see your home. its really not as bad as it sounds, but a lot of ppl dont want their kids in uniform…
    December 28, 2008 at 6:45pm
  • Tess Cromer

    Wow, that’s intense…I’m so glad you are safely home.

    December 29, 2008 at 11:32pm
  • Quote #16 – Mitch Albom

    My friend posted this on her blog and I wanted to share it with you as well:

    “When someone is in your heart, they are never truly gone. They can come back to you, even at unlikely times.”
    – Mitch Albom, in his book For One More Day

    How true this is…

    Back in Denver

    Yesterday, I arrived back in Denver to get started for the new school year! I moved in to a townhouse about a 15-20 minutes walk from class/work. I am renting a room from a friend who graduated several years ago. We met at Chabad and he is originally from St. Louis! It’s a nice place and after relaxing from moving in taking longer than I had thought it would (of course!), I like it a lot.

    I am trying to catch up on life in Denver and with friends. This week is orientation, but because the schedule overlaps with Rosh HaShanah, I have to make up some sessions with other (earlier) groups which makes my life these next few days a little hectic. I have a lot of reading for orientation that I still need to do and prep work for my Statistics class, that I am a bit worried about. I’m sure everything will work out well though.

    It is strange not living in a building that surrounds me with students. It is definitely a different feeling that will take some getting used to. Many of my close friends are not here so I will need to reevaluate what I am doing with my time – new friends, homework, involvement, job search, etc. After being unsure about spending all summer with the family at home, I thought it strange when I realized that I actually miss my family a lot, now that I am back here. Soon enough, I will be too busy to think about all that!

    As I get ready for the new year of MBA classes and programs, I look forward to the future!