Saturday, January 5, 2008

Another teeny little posty

Back in the classroom... God, the silence is ringing. They're all working/half asleep/absent. I am sick as a dog- caught a sinus infection on the plane. My assistant is sick too, so they're all nailed to chairs with worksheets for the next two hours until we can turn them loose in the Library.

The flight was long, long long. Complete with a surprise layover in Heathrow where Ka__ and I had to de-plane and re-plane. Heathrow officially being my Least Favorite Airport of All Time- it hasn't picked up since I was last through, going to Poland. They're still working on the same construction projects. When I went through to Poland, I got so lost I ended up outside the airport on the street and had to have my passport stamped to get back in. All I was doing was changing flights...

We narrowly escape the same fate, standing in Immigration and wondering out loud which direction to go in. The ladies in immigration were very nice and steered us back where we came from.

I ended up with another Ciocia sitting next to me, and her extraordinarily sick (but nonetheless, quite attractive) grandson in the last seat. Going to Madras, this time she was. Lost as a flake of snow in the desert, her grandson puking everywhere (this is how cute he was, pukage and all).

Friday, January 4, 2008

Teeny leetle posty

bfore i go to sleep. I'm back in kuwait. Someone stole some of my stove top stuffing. Bitches.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Waiting at SFO

for my flight back to New York, then Kuwait. I woke up this morning to the coffee pot making (what seemed like) extra liquid sounds. It interrupted some dream about floating rafts on the Great Lakes, and Barbie.

I've actually had an excellent morning. The storm that is supposed to dump 10' of snow in the Sierra's by Saturday night has held off, looks like it will hold off until after 12 noon, by which time I will be halfway to New York. Goodbyes and Check-In's all in order, no doubling back for a missed passport or missed clothing. Either they don't have the Middle East Special for security or I'll do it in New York, but that was smooth too. A good, CHEAP breakfast (with bacon and sourdough toast; I stroked them lovingly and said goodbye before stuffing them whole in my mouth) and then an excellent bookstore where they had a nice selection of books. True, the one I picked out cost a depressing amount, and reads like Science 1A at University, but maybe I'll get some teaching ideas out of it.

So I'm here at the gate, watching the clouds roll in over Half Moon Bay and Highway 92. I'm pleased that I got as much done as I did, but of course disappointed that it still wasn't all I wanted to do. There were more and more people I wanted to see...

Back to Marriage.

I was married once, briefly. Then I stopped. The reasons are simple but would take an entire blog post to do it justice.

I've been in several long term relationships, where being married simply wasn't an option. Again, the reasons are simple but would take an get it.

Relationships and the people you relate to, how you make friends and lovers is a ceaseless topic of interest among my friends in Kuwait. Weather you were raised with the idea of Arranged Marriage (K.) Eternal Marriage (me) Successful Love Marriage (Ka.), how we do it and make it last is a huge question. Cross Cultural, same culture, same gender cross cultural, are you giving up too much of yourself? Not enough? Want kids? No kids? Got kids? Willing to change (aka "Sell Out" to the dominant paradigm? To "The Man"? To an "Institution"? To bitchin' Tax Breaks?)? How much of yourself are you giving up? Will you find it again at 2AM ten years later, or when you walk in on your spouse on the toilet for the first time (or both?)

Right now, everyone's parents are seeing Empty Nest in full swing. No matter who you talk to, their parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, In Laws are looking, looking at each other for the first time in 20 or 30 years. Not over the head of a child or lessons or homework or carpooling. Some go looking for things to hold them together- V. mentioned her parents got a dog for that reason, and take it to Dog Shows. Some (like N's father and stepmother, about 3 years ago) simply drift apart and let the certificate hold them together. My own parents have opposite work shifts, stay in the same house but never see each other. My uncle is a Trucker, comes home once a month for a few days.

I talk to my Assistant, A. One of the loveliest, kindest women I've had the fortune to meet. She's from Islamabad (stuck there now), 23, has a 6 month old daughter and loving husband. She was educated in a Convent, went to University, and her marriage was arranged through a family friend when she left University. She has never been to the United States, and she asks questions about dating and having a boyfriend, because she's never done either one. She talked on the internet for a year to her (would be) husband, and then they were married. She's genuinely happy, can't fathom any other way to be. In the Middle East, you love the person you marry. You don't marry the person you love.

In that light, Pan Dyrektor and his...V. will certainly be very happy. They will slog it through, and grit their teeth, and barring any exposure to US Culture be quite successful with raising beautiful children in a tapioca colored world.

I talk to R___, and see her daughter and grandson, and her 25 years with her husband, and how vivid and original and interested she is in life and how happy she is ("You know, that's really relative gurl") and yes, the same end can be achieved through different means. Look at Ka__'s parents.

I spent two weeks with P & B, who just celebrated 10 years on New Year's Eve. They've had some trouble- the premature birth of their daughter, the death of another. And they slog it through too.

I've met countless lesbian and gay couples, who end up together for 15+ years. Couples unable to marry, yet slogging it through in absence of any social or cultural or financial support. And happy.

So what do I think about marriage?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Buckle your seatbelts, this will be a long one.

And this blog is about to get a bit more spicy...I did a straw poll around my friends while I was visiting. Not only are they dimly aware of my blog, most of them don't understand what the hell I'm writing. Students, they aren't reading. Thus unencumbered by duty to virgin ears (eyes rather) I will proceed.

I found Pan Dyrektor. Rather, he surfaced for air and sent me a very brief email on New Year's Eve, after a absolutely crazy day with P.'s family in a substantially smaller house. I called him- no reply.

I left Sacramento, pancakes and the fire alarm at 9 on New Year's Day; achieved Santa Rosa at 10:45 muttering 'Y'all wanna play games? M-F'er, we play that game where I kick your ass...". His house was ridiculously easy to find, all three project cars on the driveway. So I leaned on the doorbell.

Silence. Scuffle. More scuffling. Persistent soft scuffling that indicated someone was dragging themself to the door, painfully (oh please don't ring). It cracked, disclosing a Pan Dyrektor patently unready for sunlight.

He blinked twice. The second time brought me into focus, an enormous mass of attitude and rusty colored hair in a black cashmere coat, one shoulder on the door jamb.
He grinned slowly. "Josie?"
I didn't move from the doorjamb.

"Did you REALLY think you could not call for four months, and I wouldn't come kick your ass?"

He turned pink and shut the door behind him. He started to shift from foot to foot. Still pink. Still grinning (god, those ears). He made a slight gesture behind him at the door. "I'm with someone!"
"Honey, that's wonderful! That's great! I had a feeling something like that was going on. Are you going to marry her?"
"I HAVE to."
"Uh, no you don't. Where'd you meet her?
"She's from Russia."
(eyes narrowing) "She from Vladivostok?"
"Er, yeah."
"She's not the woman with half a brain that got thrown off her balcony, is she?"
"No! No! Are you kidding?"
I gave him a look.
"Hey, it's cold out here, do you want to walk a bit and then I'll take off?"
"No! No! Let me get some shoes and I'll come back out..."
"Comb your hair!" I called after him, walking over to lean against his Oldsmobile.
He came back outside. His hair, which had been somewhere between electroshock and The Sleep of the Heartily Laid, was now so thoroughly combed it dripped water on his shoulders. He continued to move from foot to foot.
"Look Josie, I want you to come inside, but could we keep know...we're friends...?"
I paused.
This middle aged, thinning haired Polish man with the improbable break-away basketball pants he would probably be buried in. Beginning to spread, so obviously in love, so wanting children. I took one finger and gently wiped a drop of water from his cheek.
"I almost called you K_; sweetheart, I'm not here to make trouble for you. That's the last thing I'm going to do."

"Her name is V___..." is that last thing I heard.

I had been expecting a middle aged, maybe slightly greying Polish woman. All business, and her business being management of Pan Dyrektor. What I got, was Kuan Yin.

Which is incorrect, because Kuan Yin is Chinese. V___ happens to be Mongolian.

Black hair dripping in a feathered cut to the middle of her back, flawless oval face and almond shaped (Hazel? Hazel?) eyes. Halting English. I had to consciously modify my handshake to a four finger squeeze. We sat down, she went in the back for a moment.
I looked at him. He looked sheepish.
"How old is she? How old is she?" I hissed, leaning forward.
He slunk down in his chair a little. "Twenty nine."
"What?" I commenced punching him until she reappeared. Pan Dyrektor, at last count, is 43.

Then followed the oddest, longest visit I've ever paid. Pan Dyrektor was very anxious to hear about my travels. V___ was anxious for a clue as to why exactly I felt entitled to lean on their doorbell at 11 AM on New Year's Day; ready to take him along to pee with her lest I commence sexual activity on the table in her absence. I was anxious to get Pan Dyrektor alone and slap him around some more. What. The. Hell.

When I picked up my things to leave, she offered to accompany us outside, forestalling the slap on the back of Pan Dyrektor's head (for at least another 6 months). She made sure to hang on him just enough. I drove away, the clearest thought in my head being, "What is it with asian bitches who play the piano?"

The piano and substantial amounts of sheet music being a new addition to his living room.


At a stoplight, I pulled down the mirror and looked at myself.
Pointy chin in a pale face and big honey colored eyes, black eyebrows like slashes and masses of honey colored hair. Alive and electric. So opposite from the soft, round face and restrained manner, dropped eyes and carefully listening ears. I laughed a little, chilled.

Is that what he was really looking for? Not just what he was looking for, that he desired and searched for and constructed a life around and brought to the United States? I sat back in the seat, still looking at myself. You might as well compare red poppies in the afternoon sun to a moonlit pool in the woods. Kali and Kuan Yin.

Slowly, slowly the pattern began to assert itself as I folded the mirror and proceeded onto the freeway. No, it was beyond clear that not only would Pan Dyrektor and I have not worked out, but that we would have broken each other's hearts trying.

He had his sanitized, pure relationship with a beautiful woman he hand picked, met her family, emailed for a year so there wouldn't be any mistakes, then wooed; guaranteed to stay on a pedestal and bear children in exchange for a passport and a loving Polish American husband. Not even despite her private feelings, but in complete absence of them. Should she stumble upon those feelings in the next twenty years, chance are she wouldn't recognize them for what they are. My mistake was underestimating how badly he wanted this.

I shook my head, aiming my car down Lakeville Road and meditating, still chilled. Appearances dictate they are fairly well matched, and have every chance of being quite happy. Pan Dyrektor has a woman he has complete control over, who can't run away (where would she run to?) or do unpredictable things (where can she go?) or break his heart (who could she do it with?). She seems to be willing to have it so. I have no sympathy for her.

But to say she's the polar opposite of me is to undervalue polar opposites. What the hell is it with Asian bitches who play piano?

I drove to R___'s house in Pittsburg. There were a number of people I needed to say "Bye!" to and I wasn't driving back down from Sacramento. R___ and I ended up going over to the Starbucks near my old work. I laid the whole story for her out, in the car.

When we got out of the car, we were greeted joyfully by two crackbunnies sitting in the front. "Y'all up in here ALL the time! Good to see y'all!" one said, looking at us in hopes our clothes would fall off.
R___ and I looked at each other, and hurried inside. ''Don't know about you, but I pulled into this country 10 days ago," I muttered. We ordered coffee and took it out the opposite door to enjoy her last two cigarettes. As we scanned for seats (there were many, no one out except the crackbunnies) I reflected on my last conversation with M. in this spot. Sighed. wondered if he'd found another Asian Bitch With Piano.

R__ and I settled in, talking about Pan Dyrektor, and her personal marriage of 25 years. She lit my cigarette and I happened to glance over at Crackbunny #3, lurking on the edge of my vision. Big mistake.
He lit up like a Christmas Tree and made a beeline for us, begging for cigarettes in Spanglish while never looking higher than my thigh. We refused him and pointedly went on with our conversation. He stood there. Staring at my legs. I started sucking down my cigarette, regretting I'd placed my wallet on the table in front of me. Mentally calculating my reaction time should he grab it. Then (since I smoke infrequently) regretting that I'd smoked too fast because now I was functionally blind.

"Was you name? Was you name?"
"I don't have a name."
"You no unnnerstan Englis? Was you name?"
"Look, I'm trying to talk to my friend. We don't want you here. We don't have cigarettes. Leave now," I said, starting to get up. He backed off. More because about six CHP had pulled up in front of the crackbunnies around the corner than because I would have been able to do anything. The man continued on around the building, sulking. I sat down heavily and looked at R___.
"I was going to complain about my self esteem, but apparently I don't have any room to talk," I said, dragging down to the filter on the cigarette. "How the hell did this thing go so fast?"
"Well, he sure did like your pants," R___ said, stubbing her cigarette out. 'Let's get out of here before he comes back."
"Did I really have 'Apply Here' on my forehead? This day has been the biggest mind f___k ever. What is it about me that screams 'Homeless People I Desire You Physically?' and 'As Soon As She Leaves I'm Going to Hook Up With That Russian Picture Bride'?"
R____ shook her head, looking down at her fingers. "I wish I knew what to tell you. That is some crazy shit."

R___ and I ended up going to a Thrift Shop, then I dropped her off and went to say bye to Andrea across town. I headed back to Sac around 6, dropped the bomb on P__ and B__, then went out for pizza and Russian Picture Bride digestion with P__, while B___ continued to try rebuilding the computer in the Living Room. He'd already cut himself once, and we judged it benevolent to leave and take the three year old.

We headed to the Spaghetti Factory, where S___ entertained herself by crawling under the table and surreptitiously coloring the mirror with her crayons. I made hand gestures, we digested, occasionally fished S___ onto the seat and poked Cheesy Noodles into her. We ordered some food for B__, took it home and I crawled into bed to ponder marriage in all it's forms.

"Mawwige. Mawwige is whut bwings us togwer today...mawwiage, that bwessed awwangment..."