Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Love of Irish Actors

I've always had a love for Irish actors. Maybe it's my Irish roots (details of my heritage here.) While the love of my life is the Egyptian man that I married, on screen the likes of Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Patrick Dempsey and Colm Meaney grab my attention. I love the coarse language and dry humor and hilarity of such dire situations in comical tones that usually fill Irish movies. "In Bruges" was right up my alley. Where else would you have two stoned Irish hitmen, a Dutch hooker, and a racist American little person getting high in a Belgian hotel room? F-bombs a-plenty.

I think I got hooked when I first watched "The General" with Brendan Gleeson. I wonder if the Irish were the original "black comedians." After seeing "Billy Elliot", "In America," "The Commitments," and "Waking Ned," I felt reconnected to my Irish comedic gene...you know, "me funny bone." I love the dramatic films, too. "Veronica Guerin", "Michael Collins," and even "The Crying Game," are movies I've seen at least three times each. But I think that my favorites are still the comedies. I just read about "The Guard" online tonight and I'm waiting impatiently for it to be released to satellite tv so I can see it. In the mean time, I'll just keep watching my faves without dropping my own f-bombs so my kids don't ask me if I'm feeling Irish.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weird = Me

Okay, I knew this. Hell, YOU knew this. You've read my blogs, so I'm not letting any new cats out of bags here. But I'll let you in on a little weird secret about me: I.like.math.

And I don't mean balancing my checkbook or converting grams into ounces. I mean ratios and percentages and quadratic equations. Solving for 'x' makes me giggle. I love algebra and statistics. I have been out of high school for *cough*25 years*cough* and haven't taken a college course in math in almost as long. I actually miss it.

All around me, mothers are clutching their hearts and heads and fretting about where they're going to find the money to pay for private math tutors for their kids. They complain bout how difficult the maths are this year. Personally, I think that they're making much ado about nothing. I don't mean that in a conceited "I'm smarter than they are" kind of way. What I mean is that these women don't even TRY to sit down and read the book that their kid is learning from. And I'm not talking about college age kids....I mean third and fourth grade. I just smile and nod and they think I'm the stupid foreigner. They ask me who is tutoring my kids in math and think I'm irresponsible and doing my kids a huge disservice when I tell them that I am. Truth be told, I'm cheap. Not frugal. C-H-to the EAP, cheap. I refuse to pay someone else to do something that I can do myself. Also, I have that whole "love invested" thing going on with my kids so I think I have more to lose than money if my kid fails.

I've been told on many occasions by teachers and other mothers that I am cheating my kids by not hiring tutors or teachers to help them with their math. My question is this: Why do we as women "dumb ourselves down" when it comes to math? Why do we leave it to the men to do? Since when is having testicles a requirement to knowing that the cubed root of 64 is 4? Are we not the primary caregivers/shoppers and home economists within our own households? Don't we know which detergent is a better buy because it costs less per ounce with the added bonus of working so well that we don't need to buy bleach?

Encourage your daughters in the math and science fields, Ladies. All it can do is raise their self-confidence AND the glass ceiling that might hold them back in future jobs.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wet Inspiration

Rainy City Street Pictures, Images and Photos
Walking home from dropping off the kids at school, the sky opened up on my head. A welcome change in weather, this rain. Hasn't rained since the last week of March. It's the end of September now. Just yesterday we were changing shirts every three hours because of the heat and humidity. Today the humidity is 100% and I'm liking it.

The coffee shop owner sweeping in front of his store ran under an awning to keep from getting wet and laughed at me as I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk staring up at the sky with a big, dopey grin on my face, water running down my glasses, cheeks and lips. He said I'd get drenched. I told him "Praise God. It's the first rain of the season and I got to witness it." He laughed and waved goodbye as I walked on. "Losing My Religion" by REM is a great song to listen to while walking in the rain. Although I tend to embrace the glory of God when seeing the beauty of His creation around me, so I guess their lyrics are lost on me. But the quirky and happy tune seem to fit.

I arrived home soaked, happy, inspired. The rain refreshes your mind. Cleanses your palate. Inspires your creativity. Awakens your inner monster.

Rain is erotic and sensual. Ever make love on the living room floor with the balcony doors wide open in the middle of a rainstorm? Try it. It takes things to a whole new level. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Autobiography of Omnivore Army Brat Turned Vegetarian In Progress

Over the last ten years I've been trying to write a book. I always intended for it to be somewhat autobiographical but not a completely actual story of my life kind of thing. I figured there must be someone out there in the world who would find a crazy American who turns Muslim vegetarian living the ex-pat life in Egypt raising 5 young kids mostly on her own and without the aid of alcohol to be kind of funny. But everything I tried to get on paper seemed to come out kind of stilted and robot-like. Maybe that was due to the name-changing and trying to protect the innocent (or guilty.) You know, where I sort of lost touch with the main character because she didn't seem like me anymore.

So a couple of days ago I sat down and screamed at all the kids to leave me alone. I was not "Mommy" anymore. Mommy left for a sabbatical and I was now to be called "Genevieve DuBois" and then told them all to go to bed. I typed my brains out. It didn't take long. Well, really, it didn't seem like it took long. I wrote for about four hours. And all of it's completely non-fiction. I just got motivated re-reading my post on MY HERITAGE and decided "Hey, my life has been REALLY interesting. Being an Army brat and having attended 15 schools in 12 years (yes, that is in fact true), I really might have something to offer the world in the world of literature. Well, maybe something to offer the world of paperback books kept in the basket of bathroom reading material, anyway." And so I wrote and wrote.

I've gotten about 13 pages done in a couple of nights. It's quite anecdotal and probably something that any military brat can relate to. (Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition. Get over it.) I'm hoping to pound out rest of it in the next few weeks before I start my usual practice of "Death by Editing."  As most artists are their own worst critics, I can make any draft bleed a horrible death of red ink editing and re-editing. But at least I'm writing again. And hopefully I'll actually publish this time around.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Red Tape and Traffic Jams

Buses, taxis, service cars, motorcycles, motorcycle-taxis, and horse-driven carts....
a motorcycle taxi Pictures, Images and Photos
Noise, pollution, heat, dirt, impatience, not enough room on the sidewalks...
Traffic Jam Pictures, Images and Photos
Sweaty, dirty, headache, hustling across the street trying not to get nailed by a mini-bus.

All worth it. I'm done with all the paperwork and running around. I managed to weave
my way in and out of, off and on and through all of the traffic, the government offices,
and all of the red tape. YAY. Ismail is now registered for school.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Heritage

When one crosses an Alabama-born, Army-brat girl of Irish Catholic redneck-lineage with an Egyptian Muslim raised in Greece, what does one get?

My family.

And now that I've converted to Islam, I think some people think I'm going through an identity crisis. I've been accused of turning my back on my heritage by several people. Mostly, they're family members. Nothing could be further from the truth. I embrace my Irish heritage, my Catholic heritage, my Alabama and redneck heritage and my Army brat heritage. However, I do not cling to them with a G.I. Joe kung fu death grip. I take what I value as most important in all of them and use them as I need them, as the person I've become...so far.

I mean, really. Aren't we all still developing as people the longer we live? Do we really just stop somewhere along the line in our personal growth and just not anymore? I haven't. Personal growth isn't height or shoe size. It's a work in progress. At least, mine is.

I love my Irish heritage. I love my reddish hair and freckles. I love that I'm a 4th generation American on my Mom's side. I love the width of my face and that I'm not usually offended when people drop the f-bomb. I love The Cranberries. I love that I've inherited the ability to look at a really bad situation and make a joke about it and carry on with life. I stopped drinking years ago. No reason to carry THAT particular gene around, right?

I was brought up Catholic. I was pretty involved in the church, sang in the folk choir, did readings at mass, taught Vacation Bible School and CCD, went on youth retreats and hung out with the CYO. I've since left the church for a myriad of reasons...all of them personal and none of them having to do with being "brainwashed" or "influenced" by my husband, any of his family, my friends, or living in Egypt. I still live by the same life standards by which I was raised. I treat others the way I want them to treat me. I try to turn the other cheek and think innocently of others, believing none of what I hear and half of what I see. As to the dogma of the Catholic church, I no longer embrace that at all. But having grown up in it and believing in it
for the better part of 34 years, I do still defend it when others, Muslim or Protestant or otherwise, speak
untruths about the beliefs of Catholics.

While Alabama and redneck do not necessarily walk hand in hand,  they happen to in my case. And I love
that I learned to parallel park in my Aunt Virginia's Chevrolet Suburban and that my cousin, Wendy, and I used to drive to the state store in Mississippi in her 1949 purple Mercury with white wall tires so big that the car looked like a giant jelly bean on wheels. I love that I am one of the few girls in the world who knows what a universal joint is and how important it is when you're trying to find a drive shaft that will fit on a 45 year old car. I love Mardi Gras in Mobile, the Fishing Rodeo on Dauphin Island, and water-skiing on Tea Lake. I love frito-pie at the ball games and the smell of pine needles and the sound of crickets and how it's common knowledge that an Avon lady's phone number is imperative in the summer months because how else can you keep the mosquitoes away without Skin-So-Soft bath oil and not smell like bug spray?

I love that I'm an Army brat and lived all over the United States and Germany. I love that I am adaptable to change and that I can speak four languages with a pretty good understanding of a fifth. I love that I don't have "roots" down anywhere in particular because sometimes those roots can tie you down. I love that I continued with the travel bug my dad "infected" me with. I saw a huge chunk of Europe as a child and I enjoyed it with all my heart. Since I became an adult, I've continued seeing the world and added more of
Europe and parts of the Middle East and North Africa. I like that my children are all bilingual, even my
autistic daughter speaks Arabic and English. She's teaching herself Greek and a little Japanese from subtitled DVDs. How cool is that? I love that I respect timetables and rules. I also love that I'm forgiving and can bend for situations where a particular due date was overtaken by events. I love that I went to a Department of Defense Dependents EURope (DODDSEUR) high school. I was exposed to world events as they happened,  politics, news, world history, historical sites like concentration camps, museums, and landmarks.
I love that we held our homecoming dance on a boat floating on the Neckar River and that we went to ski school in the Bavarian Alps. My father provided me with something so much more important than "roots."
He gave me life experience, strict rules and a view of the world so broad that it somehow made the world an amazingly fantastic place to live. Living around the world has given me self-confidence, self-esteem, and an ability to not allow fear to prevent me from doing what I want. Being an Army brat, the words "I don't know" were unacceptable. "I don't know but I will find out," was.

At current, I'm a redneck, Alabama-born, country-music lovin', hip-hoppin', hard-rockin', Irish-American Muslim mother of five, living in Egypt. I can cook, sew, sing, write, home-school, slaughter and pluck a chicken just before cooking it for you and rebuild an alternator on a 1973 Chevrolet Camaro! I am amazing. And I owe it all to my heritage.