July 30, 2012

Travel woes

I spent five days in Chicagoland last week. There was so much silence. At night, I could hear my cat (who's staying with my mom while I attempt to sort out my financial life/career) as she walked across my carpeted room. There was also a lot of silence in conversations, as we drove places or sat in favorite restaurants or watched television together. I always find it slightly disconcerting.

This past weekend I was in Maine. The friends I went with are anything but quiet. It was disconcerting in its own way. If I never hear the word "wedding" again it will be too soon. I also don't need to gossip about anyone I went to college with for the rest of my life.

The process of getting to Maine was exhausting. I flew into NYC from Chicago around 1am, thanks to weather delays. I had slept 2 hours on that flight. I took a half hour taxi (which cost far too much money, but I needed to save time) to a friend's apartment where I slept for 2 hours. Then I took the subway to Grand Central and got on a train to Connecticut, which allowed me another hour of sleep. From there, I met up with my friends and we drove the 4 hours to Maine. There was no way that I was sleeping in that car, so I just had to suffice on 5 hours of terrible travel-sleep.

Getting back to NYC yesterday was also a pain, but at least it didn't interfere with my sleep pattern.

I am so tired of not being "home," if my place in Abu Dhabi can be counted as that. At the least, I miss having my own bed that I return to every night, in a room that is filled with only my things. It sounds pathetic, but it is absolutely exhausting to turn futons back into couches every day and pack a bag every week as I move on to the next place a friend so nicely lets me crash.

In the future, my travels will be very different. I will never have lay-overs, no matter how much money it saves me. I will stay in one place for at least one week, in a hotel where I don't have to clean up a single thing and they'll do my laundry for me. And public transportation will be out of the question when I have heavy bags to carry, no matter how overpriced a taxi may be. In the future, you see, I will be rich...

July 21, 2012

I have plenty of time to blog!

Being back in NYC this past week has been like returning home. This morning I went down to the bodega for a bacon, egg, and cheese and some toilet paper, which this man had to get a stick to knock down from its high shelf. It's a moment that I've had hundreds of times and I will always feel pleased in a NYC bodega. The only difference is that this time I was totally aware of how Arab everyone working there was and straining my ears to hear a word that I recognized. Their accent was decidedly not Gulf, so the only one I got was "yanni."

Seeing everyone has been amazing. They are all horrifyingly jealous of my stories. Including the time I was violently ill in India. They say things like "I wish I could travel." And I agree that it is an absolutely amazing experience. But I also envy them for getting to have stability and lives that aren't subject to change and uncertainty and constant newness. I suppose the grass is always greener.

It's been pouring for two days here and I love every minute of it.

July 15, 2012

Going home

The dates are ripe and it's time to go home. In a little over a day, I will be back in my precious New York City.

I couldn't sleep last night from the excitement. And also the anxiety. I haven't seen my friends in almost a year. I'm different. They're different. How do I catch them up on all of the insane things that have happened to me this year? Or explain my day to day life in this strange land?

There is no way to explain how normal it became to hear a call to prayer five times a day. To talk to a mother in a veil. To have a boyfriend who sprinkles his sentences with Arabic phrases without thinking twice about it. To avoid going outside for fear of heat rash. To maintain a Western lifestyle in an Islamic country. To run the line between appropriate to people of this country and appropriate to me. To teach children with whom I have nothing in common with, culturally. To see the date palms as they ripen.

My American friends are never going to understand. But I can't wait to see them all the same.

(I will be back in Abu Dhabi the second week of August. It's likely I won't update until then. Apologies.)

July 10, 2012


Today was officially my last day of work for this school year, alhamdulillah! I spent it sitting at a desk where I was supposed to hand out report cards. Roughly ten parents came to pick up report cards. Many of those who didn't make it to pick up the reports are travelling or will do it later, perhaps. But it is also very possible that many will just never pick them up because they're not interested in the results.

The first concrete road was constructed in Abu Dhabi in 1961. My mother was born 2 years after that. If my mother had been born 2 years after the first road of her country, I think my education would have gone down a little bit differently. And if that had happened and now I was a mother, (which I likely would be at 25 in this country,) I probably wouldn't care too much about a 2nd grader's report card.

I used to imagine that I wanted my children to never be as educated as I am. I wanted them to not be aware of the burden of potential and to just be happy. Ironically, I went into education because I think it is a solution to many of the world's problem. But on a personal level, I really wish I had spent more time just hanging around with people and doing stupid things. School is a waste of time. Alhamdulillah it's summer!

July 06, 2012

Arab men

Not only did I not get back together with my ex, but we exploded into a fight of terrible. And now he is stalking me. He won't admit that it is stalking and he doesn't seem to see his actions as a problem. And I am left behind closed doors wondering what the hell is wrong with me that I didn't see this coming. I should have seen this coming!

Every single person that I've told about it comments something along the lines of, "Well, yeah, Arab men..." Even the Arab man with whom I had a long talk about it, he said the same thing! Everyone just accepts that if you break up with an Arab man, he will not let you go and will harass you, as if you made some terrible decision, and he won't just let you get on with your life.

Stereotypes make it far too easy for people to brush off issues.

Today I discovered that if you Google "stalker cures," the answers are depressingly slim. Nobody wants to help the stalker, they're all just like "get away from him ASAP." And yes, obviously, but what about him? There's no hope for him? Isn't anybody else curious about what exactly tipped the scales from normal to stalker? Isn't anybody else curious about how to tip the scale back?

I should have gone into psychology. There is clearly a lot of work to be done there.