December 21, 2012

Break lifestyle

Being on break is an absolute joy. This week there were only a few people around, so I basically hung out with the same two people every day. I'd wake up around noon and talk to my two friends about how I'm  never drinking again. I'd spend the day lying in bed watching movies. Eventually I would get up and get pretty, then go off to dinner. Then we'd go out and dance until the wee hours of the morning, making temporary new friends to bond with for a dance or a drink. Wake up the next day around noon and repeat it all again!

Today one of my friend arrives from America for a stay. And my other friends are starting to trickle back in from their travels to foreign lands. So things are about to get busy, in the best possible way. We have sights to see and Christmas dinners to eat and brunches to drink! It will not at all be like my holidays growing up or the typical holidays in America. There will definitely be no snow. I won't be with my family, but with people I've barely known for a year, some of whom I've known less than that. The Christmas trees are all fake and the ornaments lack all sentimentality. Nothing about it will be traditional. But in a weird way, I delight in that.

I take far too much pride in being unconventional, perhaps. But at least this year will be more normal than last year when I was in India being rudely awakened to the meaning of "third world country."

December 14, 2012

Today's random sharings

Yesterday my taxi driver turned to the classical station, which I've never heard in a taxi before. My ex used to play that station when we were hungover and driving somewhere, but I hadn't heard it in forever. I was hungover yesterday, so it was appropriate for the driver to find it and it made me very happy. I tipped him roughly 25 cents as a thank you.

I'm currently on winter break, which is 3 glorious weeks in this land. I am poor, so I can't go anywhere exotic like many of my friends are doing for at least a week or two, but I don't even care. I am so excited to have zero responsibilities. I can just sit back and enjoy the classical music!

December 11, 2012

Income Based Repayment!

I just found out that I qualified for income based repayment for my enormous student loans! I have never been more excited about anything concerning my finances! My life is saved! If you don't know what income based repayment is, it's exactly what the words imply. I get to pay 15% of my income to my loans, no more and no less. And after 25 years, America will eat my debt.

Greatest windfall of all: my taxable income for this year is going to be very close to $0 after adjustments.

Now, obviously I can't rely on this plan for the next 25 years, especially if I ever plan to get rich. But with no foreseeable means of becoming rich, it's a pretty sweet deal that will allow me to save up a safety net for when I get fired again, etc.

I know it's impolite to talk about money, but I am just too excited about this new crutch. Anything to avoid paying that damn fortune I owe, haha.

December 09, 2012

Cutting Ties

I haven't decided if I'm going to be staying here beyond this year.

But I have given my mother permission to give away my cat. I got a cat when I was in graduate school and she is the most wonderfully friendly cat in the world. She's super needy and talkative, so whenever she happened to be somewhere besides my room and I wanted to snuggle, I would shout her name (which was Cat) and she would meow back, then come closer until she found me. It was like Marco Polo, except our roles were "Cat!" "Meow!" And I gave Cat to my mother when I first came here, thinking I would be back in a year, no big deal. But by this point, it's a hassle for my mother, and in the interest of simplifying life for all parties involved, I have accepted that I won't ever play Cat Meow with her again.

I have also tentatively declined an invitation to a friend's wedding. She was my roommate for 1.5 years of college and we went to Europe together and by all typical standards, I should definitely be at her wedding. But the wedding falls a month before I technically finish here. If I know I'm moving back to the States, I'm all for ditching out a month early. But if I'm staying, that's a terrible plan. Thus, the tentative declination.

It's slightly unnerving to be so untethered. It's like being in high school all over again and having existential crises about where I fit in. And exactly like in high school, there is no real good answer to those questions.

December 03, 2012

Conversion Challenge Accepted

There are many people who have attempted to convert me to Islam and all of my students are deeply confused by the fact that I'm not. I once received "A brief illustrated guide to understanding Islam," which attempts to use logic to prove that the Quran is flawless and therefore, holy. Another student offered to give me a Quran to study. And once a student tried to trick me into saying the Muslim creed. (I might not know much Arabic, but I can recognize the creed.) When I refused to say it properly, he was very upset.

It's like a challenge to try to convert me. I don't blame them. It's a great boon for their place with Allah if they teach others about religion. I just don't know that they realize that includes teaching, not just forcing someone to recite a creed or handing someone a book that they'll likely just throw away. (Although to be fair, I have skimmed my illustrated guide. Apparently the Quran is flawless because it likens mountains to pegs.)

I once had a conversation with a man in a bar about how I couldn't be a Muslim because I didn't speak Arabic. And he nodded sagely, then insisted, "But you could learn!" My half-Lebanese friend insisted that I didn't need to know Arabic to be a Muslim, but the man and I shook our heads sadly. And that's my newest escape. "Maybe when I learn Arabic I can be a Muslim...."