Saturday, December 29, 2007

I defintely haven't missed this.


Enjoying the afterglow of my first migraine in 6 months. One of the juicy ones you can feel in your teeth when you wake up. Moves you from debilitated to functionally blind in 6 hours, no money back.

I had complained about the weather in Kuwait being blisteringly ordinary, and the benefit I reap is that I don't spend a random day screwing my head back on when the air pressure changes. I had plans, plans plans for today. HAH!

We shall try again tomorrow.

I find it amazing that I have three days left here. Naturally, I want to go to Point Reyes, I want to see Pan Dyrektor, I want to take my old staff out to lunch, I want to spend an entire day Mud Skiing at Black Diamond Mines.

I purposely haven't written much about my visit to my old work. I guess I'll save it for my layover in New York. S. (3) is busy making mechanical sushi walk across her mother's head, insisting she has "friends" there. P. has mechanical sushi in her hair, and we're watching a cartoon involving animated vegetables performing acts of pointed altruism. No, no time here for thinking about...

mechanical sushi. God, I miss him like a sixth sense.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Blogging from Dixon

And it is cold, nasty and wet.

It is also 9:30 AM.

I got my car out of storage yesterday. The rear tire had a slow leak that needed a repair, so it wasn't as easy as "Here's your car, see ya!" or I would have had it on December 19th, 3:30 AM notwithstanding.

Once everything was fixed and tidy, once I found the freeway and the right stations on the radio, once I started The White Stripes and switching lanes at 80MPH (not KPH), I paused in my head and pondered the elation. What was it that that had me so pumped?

I have a car in Kuwait. I have access to The White Stripes in all their bass-licked glory.
I can go 80 MPH in Kuwait (125 KPH) if I really want to.
Three lanes instead of 4 don't make that big a difference
The sky in Kuwait is even bigger

So what was it that, even thinking of Kuwait, was getting me a little down?

I drove on, tracing the lines of the hills and trees on the 80 South to San Francisco. I had to make this run from Pittsburg to Sacramento at least a dozen times in the month before I left (70 miles round trip), cleaning my apartment and bringing stuff to storage. There was the memory of Pan Dyrektor too- his place was a regular stop before I crossed the bridge to Concord. I still have a hard time thinking he's not there any more. But good memories of sunny spring evenings, driving breakneck and bellowing tunelessly to songs like "The Reason".

You see, even in November I would pull myself up short. I was living in a foreign country, a chance no one (except M., maybe) could appreciate.

How. F--ing. Fabulous.

Yet I am, still, wrapped around the axle about stupid shit. Drowning in stupid shit. Failing miserably at seeing the beauty and possibility of my own experience because of, stupid shit.

Twenty hours and twenty thousand miles later, I'm asking myself about it. In a coffee shop in Dixon.

Why exactly would I care what people think, in Kuwait, when I don't in California?

I got called on it at 2AM, in a car on the Gulf Road. (Culture Note: Not everyone sticks to the "No arguments after midnight on a Thursday morning" rule of fair play.)

So why exactly do I care?

No punching, no kicking or biting is going to get me out of the situation I live in, in Kuwait. Which is balanced on gritted teeth and toothy smiles. This makes me feel pinned, which frustrates me even more. In fact, just thinking about it pisses me off. I hate being forced to care what other people think for politeness sake. Especially since I work with the building. It's the type of thing that will get me streaking the hallways by April. I am very, very tired of my living situation.

There is a certain amount of refreshment in no one looking at you. Refreshment, freedom, not being under a microscope. Here in the States, there is a blissful amount of "No one cares what you look like or what you're doing!" In California, it is more so. In Berkeley, you can walk around naked for a certain amount of time before you're ticketed by a mildly irritated cop and attacked by a mobile Social Services unit bearing clothing.

In Kuwait, it's not the people on the Corniche. Well, maybe the men because you decided to wear shorts to run in that day. It's not the people on Amman Street. It's the people you work with.

Maybe I'm just lucky, to be saddled with 8 floors and 28 apartments full of teachers over 50. it's like the guy in "Ikiru"- he stared at that girl like she was steak, but it wasn't sexual. It was because she was alive, youthful, fidgety, carefree.

Shed the faintest crack of joy, quietly, in my building, and it's like the sun on a cloudy day. Every face will orient towards That Smell, like bread baking, questioning, sight and hearing blind. Do not bounce, do not throw out your chest and breathe deeply. You'll have a queue of 'Takers" for your joy before you turn around and let that breath out. "How are you?" "Where were you?" "Who was with you?" 'Where are you going?" "When are you going?"

The living space is common property. Unofficially, so is your joy and your spirit.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

More back story

So I'm here in Clear Lake with P., B., and their daughter S.

I realized that I hadn't explained it, but we're working off a simply hellacious year by hot-tubbing and eating as much as possible. P & B being the ones who took care of my while I was sick- S. their daughter who built block towers on me when I couldn't move. The Divine Urge having provided for me thus far, has seen fit to supply me with "High Plains Drifter" on the telly and 3 lbs. of garlic goat cheese. With potatoes.

We were in the hot tub this afternoon, and it started to snow. That was really cool.

Merry Christmas. Hoping all my gentle readers are also equipped with cheese, potatoes and Clint Eastwood, at the least.

Such an amazingly long time

since my glasses fogged from moving outside to in...

Christmas Day

And it's quiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeet.

It also happens to be about 5 AM. Since I arrived in the Bay Area, jet lag blessed me with an unconscious state from approximately 9 PM PST to 4 AM PST. As the 3 year old I'm sharing residence with sleeps at 0 Dark Thirty and awakens at approximately "Coffee Grinder", her mother and I fixed it with a bag of Pre Ground from Starbucks. Now I have 2-3 hours of time to myself without the shell shock of a midget run-by, with my underwear on her head.

Busy residing, hot tubbing, eating copious amounts of ham and those teeny little chocolate chip cookies you get from Trader Joe's that are the world's best breakfast cereal. They come in a plastic package the size of a dutch oven; add milk and "The Bourne Ultimatum". You'll come down 3 days later in the rear seat of a Greyhound Bus, spare changing for organic celery and PBS access on the way to San Diego.

I used to laugh at people who fell asleep right after they ate. Up until about 6 months ago, I would eat and then feel like going for a walk. Maybe it's the first squeaks in my metabolism grinding to a shrieking halt, but staggering two steps to fall asleep on the futon after breakfast and waking up belching with saliva down my chin speaks less for me than for the cook. Who made it to his bedroom and crawled under the laundry before being located 2 hours later in much the same state.

Which reminds me...if anyone reading this has seen Pan Dyrektor, you can tell him that I'm coming for him. He's been hiding since I sang "Sto Lat" on his voice mail last September, and I don't sing THAT bad. T., if I have to drop another 2 grand to come back and kick your ___, it will be money well spent. Just make the Bigos.

Off to work up another appetite with a nice brisk walk. It is dark and cold- who wouldn't want to be wearing clothes and wandering around in the cold dark? This would explain multitudes about my dating prospects. That and the belching/saliva. Maybe I should just buy shares in a Retirement Home now...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

We're in Clear Lake, California.

The one thing I've noticed is how much energy I've had since I stepped outside on Thursday morning- the air here is definitely cleaner and less stale. I want to walk, run, be outside. Something about the air in Kuwait just makes one lethargic by comparison. Maybe it's just me, maybe I need a good bracing temperature to make my body wake up.

And I haven't stopped eating. Everything tastes good, I'm eating every fifteen minutes because it tastes so good.

One thing that people don't understand about somewhere like Kuwait, is that the flavors are very different. You can head down a strip in Fahaheel lined with restaurants that will cook you everything from "Hambuge" to Chop Suey to "Ohmlete", but it's not going to taste like what you thought you ordered. In Kuwait, you're using flavor combinations and spices grown with a minimum of water. Cinnamons and curries and tumerics and cardamoms and pepper. In the west, you'll flavor your meat with rosemary and thyme and green onions and chives and fresh sage.

Makes those ketchup flavored cashews from Kuwait absolutely pale in comparison.

I had my first glass of wine in 4 months. People have always teased me about how long I take to drink wine and things haven't changed- I'm one of those people that would order a half glass with dinner if I could because I like the way it makes my food taste, with a little afterwards. Did I mention I have about zero tolerance for red wine? Two glasses on a full stomach makes for a colorful evening. I can guzzle whiskey, no stomach for Pinot Noir though.

This resort we've landed at for the Holiday is quite nice, overlooking Clear Lake. It is a little like the Kuwaitis who "Go to Chalet" for the weekend. It's like a very nice, large apartment with a hot tub and pool and...a television.

Did I mention I don't own a television? I haven't for the past 5 years. Maybe longer. I like to read instead. The end result, is that I get hypnotized when I fall in front of one. Marketing is an astounding field! I just watched an 8' Cabbage Patch Kid sell car insurance. The mind boggles.

This made

every second of this journey, every penny, worth it.

"A small plant with pretty flowers is our undoing, frequently."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Flight delayed by 30 minutes

I'm going to start hallucinating in a few if they don't pour me on a plane. Six more hours to San Francisco? Ack no. That's twenty hours of flight time alone.

I went back to plug in my 'puter so a moving screen would keep my eyelids propped. All bets are off once I hit the seat. I also just paid a shameful amount for a turkey sandwich with performance issues.

I don't know what to say.

I'm overwhelmed.

This is JFK, Terminal Seven, Peets Coffee and free wireless. My hands are shaking from the sheer ordinariness. I nearly cried when I saw the coffee of the day for 1.65 (about 250 Fils) instead of 1 KD (3.65).

I'm back stateside, after a 13 hour plane ride complete with some moron who started screaming in the middle of the flight that an attendant had dumped a tray in his lap. In fact, this guy writes for The New York Times, virtually assuring I will never purchase that media outlet again, should I need it for a blanket in a snowstorm. I went back and made friends with all the attendants instead, who were pretty cool bunch.

To cap it off, we were stuck on the Tarmac for 45 minutes while someone (who thought they were slick) called the cops from their cellphone, then refused to fess up when the cops came ON BOARD looking for who did it. It's good they kept quiet so we didn't sicc the 5 eight year olds on them, who sat in back of K--- and I kicking our seats for the entire 13 hours.

On the whole, I would recommend Kuwait airlines. The food was pretty good, the legroom was adequate, the attendants were nice. The little TV's in the back on the seats didn't work so hot, but I read K---'s book on Islam for most of the way while she snoozed. That woman could sleep standing on her head, I kid you not.

The weirdest part so far has been seeing so many Caucasian guys.

The nicest part is that everyone (even the ones who did The Middle East Search On Me at the Security Gate) is smiling and not cranky or surly at all. I laughed through the search. They make it sound like a privledge... 'You have been selected for a special security screening...' . Bullshit. You just came from/are going to the Middle East, and why would you go there anyway? The good part is that you get to go ahead of about 300 people in line to be puffed by air and felt up by bored female guards. The sick part is that it's not 1/1000 of the trouble that K. goes through when he's trying to travel. He kept shaking his head over dinner- "You guys have absolutely no idea how lucky you are..." and he's right. We don't.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The world's longest, weirdest summer camp

That's how this feels...

I picked up my tickets last night. There it is in black and white: dates, times, everything. I will get on in Kuwait, land again in New York, again in San Francisco. I say to people in Sacramento and Pittsburg "See you Wednesday," and "See you on Friday".

For the first time on Saturday I used "Home" to describe Kuwait. I am at home. It feels like a home, my home. Now that I am evaluating what stays and what goes with me ("I need room in California for eight boxes of Stove Top Stuffing...") and I am dragging my feet about packing.

Part of it is purely physical. I dread the jet lag, the physical toll that traveling umpteen bajillion time zones is beginning to take on my body. Looking back on my first two blurry weeks here, knowing I would look back on them and they would be blurry, doesn't make it less painful than it was. One needs to do this either quite frequently (be a Airline Attendant) or once a year.

Let's not kid ourselves- it's ALL physical, because with very few exceptions during the time I'm gone I am going to be GOING. Seeing this person and that person and settling business matters and eating and drinking and tasting and remembering what to bring back and what to leave and did I get my Birkenstocks re-soled and spinach is hella tasty and there is absolutely no one here with a Dishdasha on. Whew.


Need running shoes badly. Woot. Coffee maker with timer too.

"Eaaartth be-low us, drifting FALLLLING whoooaaaa"

(Just kidding)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Hot Camel Action Shots (and a cow)

This was a trip out to a family farm near of those where your supervisor walks up to you Thursday afternoon and says, "Guess where you're going tomorrow!" and you say "Bed!" and she says "Try again!"

Seriously, the spread they put out for us was the equivalent of a wedding reception in the States. Then the family started to show up and we found out why...they had this eggplant salad with beets that I nearly climbed in the serving bowl, it was so good.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Four Months Later

Posting from Work- 15 minutes left on my Prep

and I forgot to make copies. Because I forgot my assistant needs her Prayer Break. Oboy.

Too much, too fast

Okay, now I have a car.

It's made all the difference in everything, in every way.

I also have lamps and a misshapen blanket on the wall that looks...well, like a misshapen, brightly colored blanket. It has served its purpose: people are more inclined to linger, smoke and eat in my flat for more than just the clean dishes now. Since my walls are cement, it conveniently covers up all the missing chunks of masonry from previous nail attempts.

I also have an account on Facebook.

(Hides face in hands)


Don't get me wrong- Facebook, Friendster, Myspace, all the same thing. My private, cozy little flat now has a wide gaping window in the shape of a laptop, sitting on my desk. I can almost feel the breeze through the screen.

With time, I will acclimatize. I mean, I held out for 2 years on the cellphone thing. I think I still hold the record for number of years employed without touching a work-email account.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Suffice to say, this is a Muslim country.

I've been on line, looking at websites and even the Yahoo! main page. They're offering tips for the perfect turkey, the perfect gift, estimates on how many people this year will be keeping the airlines in the air.

Then I look over my shoulder, out the window, and it's...sunny. Oh, the Harris (Building Manager) is shouting at a flock of kids.

Last night, I went out with K____ looking for Horse Riding stables and lessons. We ended up in Mabullah eating fair to decent Falafel, and went into a large grocery store (The Sultan Center) to find something to drink. While poking around looking for Dr. Pepper, I heard it: spun and twisted and dragged out over Muzac. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".

I nearly sat down in the middle of the Frozen Food Aisle, I was so surprised. In a store devoid of the faintest hint of Christmas, the glint of tinsel or lurid braying of advertisements, it was like a hammer between the eyes. Somewhere, with the weather getting colder, the relentless media is prepping the internal clock of a culture to go off. Time to: EAT A LOT. BUY WARM CLOTHES. BUY GIFTS.

Somewhere, it's Thanksgiving with broad leaves falling and cloudy skies dripping and warm smells inside. Not here, where the days drift away in the unchanging gentleness of life lived at night, by coffee and Sheesha. Kuwatis are night people.

We kept poking around looking for Dr. Pepper- K___ has a story about his "Wonderful Accident" of discovering Dr. Pepper while under duress in the canteen at Georgetown- and it came again. This time it was "Away in a Manger". A little jazzy, but still not very Arabic and not accidental. Christmas.

Somewhere, you know it's happening. But the complete absence of media surrounding it here gives it more the effect of sticking your hand in a mystery box. You know it's cold spaghetti, but you're still standing with your hand in a mystery box, watching the rest of the room with your hand in a box of cooked noodles...

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Tut tut, it looks like..."

This would be the first clouds I have seen in the sky since I got here. The occasion merited some pictures, breaking up an otherwise 'Groundhog Day' sort of rut. Get up; look out the window; it's sunny.

The second picture would be my classroom, without the charming monsters.

Good Morning, beautiful people!

This is myself, posting from the shotgun seat of Jude's car. Which means:

I have a wireless router

I have my residency

I have my Civil ID

Which means, futhermore and heretoforward, I have internet at my house.

No, you can't imagine my screaming happiness when they handed me my Civil ID, because it would involve envisioning my Butt Dance in my boss's office. Oooh yeah.

Kisses to you all, who have been so so patient.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Now that I have some free internet and free time

I'm at loose ends as to what to say.

You can definitely tell it is coming on Winter. It gets dark here by 5:30PM, but not the same way as California, where you have twilight. Here, it's light and then dark.

But the heat hasn't decreased at all- it was 42 C. on Tuesday. So like right now, I'm sitting in a coffee shop with Carla and it's about 17 C. Maybe even 15. I look outside, and the way the sun is, I think "Autumn". I will then step outside, and then think, "WTF?"

Culture shock- yes, so much I sometimes think I'll never get over it.I know that this will be mild compared to getting off the plane in San Francisco, though. Maybe I'll send everyone robes to wear when I deplane...(joking).

I can sit and type on my computer, and then look up and see a flock of women in complete Muhajaba (headscarf and face cover, black) doing their shopping, and I get that electric sizzle at the back of my brain as they swoop and regroup and separate like so many birds. (I would try and sneak pictures, but they are VERY serious about taking pictures of the women here- you can be deported for it.)

Or I'll be walking down the upper hallway at school, and my skirt is blowing around my legs and the palm trees waving, and the maids walking by in bright turquoise uniforms and I think, 'How the hell did I get here?"

Or sitting in the front office, watching a string of children clutching a fold in their daddy's robes as he walks out the front door, Ray-Bans and attitude all. No, sometimes I think I'll never get used to it.

Yes, I wear skirts now. And I wear makeup to work. Off time is spent in my steadily deteriorating cargo pants, which I am starting to patch. No, I'm not sending pictures of me in skirts and makeup, you sickos. Some things just have to stay in Kuwait.

My IEP season is upon me, not like in California when they are all scattered through the year. We take care of all of them in 6 weeks, I have to turn them in all at once. I'm about half done right now.

School starts again tomorrow- we have to be on the bus by 6:30. I'm not sure why this would bother me, but it does. I guess because 6:45 in California meant that I would open the school, or B. would be there, and people would gradually drift in by 8:30. In Kuwait, 6:45 AM means I'm at the mercy of every other joker on the bus who chugged a quadruple latte at 6:15 and want to chat about last nights' Choir Practice.

Can you tell I miss my privacy?

Things are beginning to fall into place. My bills and the internet and my health are settling down, I found a KILLER bookstore in the middle of Dasman District, down the street from school. One of those comfy hole in the wall places where you can walk in and spend 6 hours without thinking about it. I actually bought a book about the Library in Alexandria , the old one, not the one they just built.

I have a houseplant. I found a drycleaner. I made pillows. I made Beef Stew. I got sick and got better. With the (notable) exception of peeing around my apartment, I think I'm established.

I will say, though, you can't test anyone or yourself more throughly than trying to establish residency in the Middle East two weeks before Ramadan, on 100KD for 30 days. No car, no internet, no phone, in September.

You will question everything about yourself, down to weather removing your wisdom teeth at that particular dentist would have saved you 100 bucks 15 years ago. If you've had a creative past, multiply each incident by the air pressure difference in your apartment and on the street, which wreaks havoc with your emotions. Multiply it again by the number of teachers in one building who are older with sketchier choices. Put them on a small bus in 45 C; shake.

Oh, let the games begin. ;-)

Nope. Nothing out there.

Had to check.

Gir'giaan Evening photos

This would be Yours Truly, Priscilla, AK and Iman in the coffee tent during the Gir'giaan Celebration. The next one would be my immediate neighbors to the right, above and below in my building.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Eid Mubarak!

What does that mean?

(boing boing boing)

It's over, Ramadan is over! Things are open, wheels are turning, forced inactivity and stultifying heat complete! Finished!

A bit on the past few days...if there is anyone out there who can tell me how one acquires an infection in their sphenoid sinuses, just give me a shout. I'm trying to wrap my antibiotics around this one, and I'm floored.

I now have a great x-ray of my skull taped to the corner of my dressing table mirror, and a whole new type of antibiotic that I'm allergic to. But I feel better than I have since I landed.

About 10 days ago I started losing energy- all I knew was it felt really, really good to put the crick of my neck against the hard arm of my neighbor Judith's couch. I'd just lay there and doze during the evenings. I didn't have much of an appetite, and my whole body just hurt like I had the flu. Especially my lower back and legs. It felt too good to be laying down. I would fall asleep randomly on car trips out, and if you know me, that's an indication something is wrong.

The day of my last post, I went to my Assistant Principle and had her take me off all committees for the time being, thinking I was just working too hard and wanting to come back on an even keel. The next morning I woke up and realized I could not go in to work.

The Ministry of Education has a policy, that if you are sick for even one day you must have a signed doctors note. Otherwise, it is Leave and you must apply for it. So I stumbled next door and got directions from my neighbor, typed up some emergency lesson plans and took a taxi to the International Clinic.

It's a very nice clinic, very quiet and not like the whopping Kaisers and Blue Cross that we have in California. I was sent up to a waiting room, tenanted by two oversized African American men (from South Carolina), one woman and her daughter in headscarves, a man from New Guinea with a bladder infection ('TEN cups of water?' 'And don't use the bathroom')an irate Chinese man with a sinus issue, another woman with her daughter (about 12) who was snoring gently in the seat opposite.

About 9:30 doctors started to fly through doorways, on arrival. The mother with the snoring daughter roused her partially and pulled her inside by the arm, following a nurse. Women went to the woman doctor, the irate Chinese man went to a befuddled man doctor in half-glasses.

I sort of went to sleep until I was called. The woman doctor was the picture of grace and manner, sitting behind her desk, fingers spread on the top. "This is your first time in Kuwait? Welcome. What's the trouble?"

I explained, and she had me up on the exam table. She prodded my head (I winced) and then grunted. I was ordered downstairs for Xrays...

Guess what? the good news is that we found your sinus infection! The bad news is that it's in back! In back of your head!

Three hours and one allergic reaction to an antibiotic later, I was back out on the street with a new perspective on the holes in my head. They had skipped the oral, immediately putting me on intravenous meds, with the plan that I'd come back for IV meds for three days. However, the second day I started having chest pains and freaked the nurse out so badly she refused to continue. I knew it wasn't an allergic reaction (who wouldn't feel 8cc's of antibiotics being pumped into you by a nurse?) but they decided to go straight to orals after that. I couldn't say I minded- I mean that's 2KD for a taxi ride there and back, without arguing the taxi driver down in price.

So I'm much better. Ramadan is over, and I'm eating potato wedges in daylight at a cafe. I'm on vacation this week, and well rested. Can't ask for more than that. ;-)

Monday, October 8, 2007

We're at it again

I think I've mentioned in my earlier posts that I got sick. Ergo, some life changes and a sense of urgency about making my life a little more fulfilling and getting on the ball about doing stuff.

I've been fighting off a sinus infection for the past 10 days with less and less success. Actually, my body now does this thing where it determines I will sleep for 16 hours, no other symptoms, and this is my warning that I'm not well. I mean, I can tell. Little things, like my throat is scratchy or maybe I'm craving orange juice. Then it's a bit like falling off a cliff- I'll drop like one of those narcoleptic dachshunds in the films. I'll literally fall asleep standing up.

So a couple of episodes of sleeping, bent over my computer... you get that breath across the back of your neck all over again. You aren't who you were, your body isn't what it was. Pay attention.

To give this place credit, the weather is changing. We're back to 120 degrees during the day with 90% humidity. It will be like this for maybe another week, and then get ripping cold. About 50 degrees F. But it's wreaking havoc on everyone's bronchial system, what with the air conditioning and moving back and forth.

The good things that happened today, are that I got almost everything in my lesson plan for the day covered. The bad part about it was that it took so much energy I fell asleep at my desk. My assistant (who has been sick for the last month) came back to work, and she is beautiful and brilliant. She's like having a team teacher in the classroom, and we alternate implementing the lessons.

I forgot to mention- I'm not teaching Vocational. I'm teaching a class of 9 Mild/Moderate Learners, 11-14 in a contained classroom. It is taking a hell of a lot of work. Weekly lesson plans plus Semester Plans plus IEP's. Like I said, I have a beautiful and brilliant Assistant, who will be a teacher next year hopefully.

I was also just placed on a committee to develop a Language of Instruction for the school. It meets tomorrow, I'm too cynical to find anything but diseased humor in a committee of any sort. More later.

Fulbright stuff has been placed on hold. Too much trouble coordianting interviews and getting online. Continuing Polish at Berlitz for the time being, and another woman has offered to start conversational French lessons with me. I'll be in Poland this summer for at least a month for more intensive lessons, hopefully.

Looking at it, my plate is quite full. Eid starts in two or three days, which is a weeklong holiday. I'm limping towards it, then Christmas. I seem to have the planning well in hand, and the parents are getting to know me better. My biggest problem is my own standards, of course. That, and I have no car, no internet, none of my regular teaching resources and my stamina is shot.


Good night, all the beautiful people.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hello Beautiful People

S'good to talk to you again.

Lots of nothing has been happening here. Oh well, let's start off with Gi'rgian (hope I spelled that right). It's a holiday similar to Halloween, in which children dress up and go door to door asking for candy. There are no bad spirits or Day of the Dead tied in though- it falls midway through Ramadan.

My students are fresh out of Elementary School, so they like to pretend they're past Gi'rgian but they light up like candles when someone's mother shows up with little bags of candy. For myself, I've received a paper coffee pot filled with sweets, several bags of candy and get this: my OWN, GEN U WINE MODEL CAMEL. Complete with rider. And a basket of sweets and nuts.

Lots and lots of people had camel envy. Will post the picture. It's a prominent decoration in my living room right now.

The school had a bit of a carnival, complete with a sound stage, magician, booths, etc. The teachers were required to do Extra Duty. I was supposed to supervise the Magician's Show, but the magician didn't bother to show up until it was time for the Teacher's Bus to leave.

There was a tent set up, the whole Bedouin thing with guys serving coffee and tea. I was actually feeling very low, until a co-worker I talked with from time to time sat down and started talking about Sartre. So now, we have running conversations about the proper translation from the French of Satre and Camus. It is beautiful, truly. Makes me feel less lonely.

Another Co-Worker and I were bored on Saturday, so we went to Iraq. (Ducks) Aw c'mon people, you knew it was coming. We're only 150 KM from Basra. (Ooops, did I let that slip?) We didn't get into Iraq, we got to the immgration gate at Abdaly. Which is a gate about the size and condition of a run-down Condo complex. We have some pictures, but nothing that says 'Welcome to Iraq!' The weirdest thing was that the closer you got, the shorter the mile makers got.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Surfaced again

for those of you who haven't heard from me in a while, my mailbox has been on the blink and the server here is actually powered by sheep. So if you emailed me something, and i haven't responded, do it again because apparently all the lemmings are going in one direction now. Love me.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I can't believe it's a week since I posted last

Busy busy busy.

School starts tomorrow. I've been at my school on the equivalent of a Sunday, putting my room together. This would have been done on Thursday, but I was taken to have my Medical Clearnace done for my Work Visa, which was...a trip. Let me just say, that Civil Service is Civil Service everywhere. But there was a problem with my paperwork, which is why Constatin (the young PE teacher from Bucharest) (All of you guys shut up) and I ended up going as a twosome instead of a thirtysome with all the recent expats. With Constatin, I believe the reason was that they didn't like his picture. I assured him I liked it a great deal. He turned pink.

As you may or may not know, it's Ramadan. With Ramadan comes Ramadan traffic. Equivalent to trying to drive during Sturdays before Christmas. Except, in the United States they aren't fasting from Sunup to Sundown during 135 degree heat. Yes, this means no drinking water too, people.

So "the traffic is terrific". Another high point during Ramadan is the Imam cutting loose all day with his finest tunes. Usually, they just call to prayer 5 times a day. During Ramadan, it's time for Father Ahmed's Greatest Hits, no commericals. Thankfully my windows are doubled paned, and I'm quite a distance from the nearest Mosque (two blocks), but going to the Co-Op four blocks away is a journey. It's surrounded by four mosques, and catches the After Prayer crowd. This means that everyone not four wheeling in their '85 Cutlass in between buildings, is standing in line for fresh Labneh and Pepsi. SO think about how badly you want that loaf of bread, before you're willing to dodge the levitating buicks, 135 degree heat, and Jassem dropping his mic during "All I want for Ramadan is a new prayer rug."

God I hope I don't get deported.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A little time

In a Starbucks, no other flatmates trying to go six different directions. Nowhere I have to be.

The Good News: it looks like I'll have wireless in my flat (apartment) by September 26, which means much more posting of details I forget by the time I'm in a clean, air conditioned coffee shop (like the whole country smells like gasoline). I'll be responding to your posts and emails much more quickly.

Bad news? None really. Here are the things I miss: the way the Bay Area smells during autumn; ANY sort of reasonably attractive male; being able to go, where I want to and how without mortgaging my left arm; fog; pork products; red wine. The majority of these can be had in Poland, where I will go as soon as I can if I have to walk there on my own tongue.

Other than that, it is hot, dry and boring. For the life of me, they do not have Pickled Beets here, so those of you reading this take note and buy a couple of cans to send.

I managed to find a coffee maker for 1 KD 950 fils (roughly 10 bucks) and it's been doing a mighty duty in my house. Better and better, there is a coffee and sweet shop around the corner that will provide, measure and grind it for you. This coffee is indescribable- it's like invisible lightning in your veins, or the reverse of Creeper. Drink it, and find your furniture in the foyer, having scrubbed the floors of three rooms in your apartment five hours later when you come down. Yes, all of you will get some when I get paid. I promise.

On the note of sending things- I don't have an address. The building was built less than two months ago, and the ministry will get around to registering it sometime around the Rapture and Molasses in January. Were I to give you an address, it would read something like:

Around the Ah Noor Building
Right Turn Past Creepy Oversized Baby Fujifilm Sign
Dodge Stray Dumpster
In the Middle of Three Buhkalas (Corner markets)
Left Turn at Pothole 16
Salmiya District

And don't get me started on dodging dumpsters. I'm a champion dumpster diver, and these smell like they've been used as morgue wagons.

Ah. More later

Kuwait Tour, The Gulf

The first three pictures are of where we had our Welcome Brunch. yes, you can wander down and grab a Sheesa Pipe after your meal and look at boats you might or might not already own. The rest of the pictures are of Kuwait Towers and the Fish Market. Sorry for the delay, these are from a trip last Monday.

Get a look at the things in a net bag- that's a date palm, and those are fresh dates. The reason they are in a bag is that they belong to the King, and he takes them and gives them to the poor in all the Mosques during Ramadan.

Kuwait Tour, the Fish Market

Friday, September 7, 2007

Quick Post

This has been my first week of Semi-work. Kids don't arrive until the 16th.

Haven't forgotten about any of you- wireless is just ridiculously hard to come by. No pictures lately, either. Mostly, I've been getting my house together and I don't feel like showing you guys pictures of my laundry on the drying rack.

We went to the Friday Market today, and specifically the Carpet Souq. About a Football Fields' worth of every carpet, every color, every design you could think of, for sale. It is the most beautiful thing, all in silk wool and cotton. Yes, I bought one in gold and red and sage green. :-)

Thursday we had off. I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but the workmen who slapped the building together did not use (or believe in, or afford) dropcloths. No cleaning crew followed them either. So I spent from sunup to noon scrubbing out the living room, bathroom and kitchen. Paint on the tiles and baseboards, plaster and construction leavings. Cement dropped in piles here and there. I would have been better off abandoning the suitcase and bringing the toolbox.

Just a note- some of you whom I've called, have been sort of freaked by my vocabulary. It's changed. Let me help:

A Cooker= Stove
Pants, Knickers= Underwear
Peg= Clothepins
May-Oh-Naise= Mayonnaise
Chips= French Fries

Just ask me if I get totally off and you don't understand what I said. Oh, and even though it might sound totally revolting, here they dip their French Fries in mayonnaise instead of Ketchup. And get this- Burger King and McDonalds DELIVER.

The hardest thing for me to get used to is the Servant culture here. Ladies don't even pump their own gas- you stay in the car and someone else does it and you open the car window and pay. Someone is always there to carry your groceries, lift your things, watch your children, wash your clothes. Doing things yourself is markedly eccentric.

Last thing- I know I've mentioned that I want an FJ 40. Well, I found one to purchase, and I will let you know how it goes.

Temperature is still between 120-130. Kisses to all.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

First Day of Work (In 3 Pictures)

Yes, 30 foreigners on the bus. Bus breaks down on way to work. Cops come. Herd foriegners into shade. Rescue bus. Welcome to my commute.
My morning in three pictures:

Friday Souq (Market)

This was the Friday market I mentioned earlier. The guys at the top run around with green wheelbarrows, and they carry your things for a tip. I tried and tried to get them to go away, but lets face it- you really don't want to be carrying a carpet, two brooms, 64 hangers, three drying racks and a (malfunctioning) coffee grinder in 120 degree heat. Just suck up and use the damn servants.

I also don't know how to get the font to stop underlining, so forgive me.

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