Sunday, July 29, 2012

Coffee IS My Xanax

As I've mentioned, I'm fasting. Today is the 10th day of Ramadan. And so far, it's been fairly easy. We thought that it was going to be a bear with it beginning in the middle of July this year. But all in all, it's been fine. I guess that with the heatwave hitting in June, we've grown accustomed to not sleeping until around 4 or 5 in the morning because it's too hot. And then we get up around noon. I had someone remark to me that we aren't "really fasting" if we sleep all day...but we aren't "sleeping all day."  We're actually sleeping less. And
we aren't "eating all night." We eat at sunset (around 7 pm) and then again around 2:30 am so that we have something in our bellies before we sleep. The really hard part for the kids is water. And so as soon as the call to prayer at sunset goes off, they start walking around the house with a 1.5 liter water bottle in their hands and drink and refill and drink refill.

For me, the hard part as usual is the coffee. I am admittedly a coffee addict. And before anyone starts with the whole "you could start drinking decaf and eliminate caffeine completely" ideas or offering of 12-step programs (is there one for caffeine addiction?) I LIKE MY DRUG OF CHOICE. You have no  idea what it's like. I'm raising five kids in a foreign country with my husband working overseas and I am doing this stone-cold sober and without the assistance of SSRI's. Look. When I got pregnant with the first one 17+ years ago, I stopped smoking. I stopped drinking. (This made becoming a Muslim easy later.)  I cut back on coffee to only 2 cups a day while pregnant and 3 cups a day while nursing. (Damn. That kind of explains the ADD issues, doesn't it? Oh well.)
So, here's the truth that I tell my kids:  I drink coffee for YOUR protection! I do. It's true. I don't think that they ever believed that until today. I usually serve several types of juice at breakfast before I hand out plates. They get their choice of carob juice, tamarind juice, mango juice or Tang. Then they can switch it up and have another type. Whatever. The important thing is that they get that blood sugar up after fasting all day and juice is the quickest way to do that. Then we eat. While I'm serving plates, I'm usually making a cup of coffee at the same time. I drink coffee WITH my breakfast. Only tonight, the milk was disgustingly I dumped the cup down the sink after a swig. And then....OMG, is it possible?.....I forgot to make another cup.
I finished eating and then a little while later announced that I was going to nap for about an hour. I awoke three hours later with a throbbing headache from hell and feeling panicky and sick. I didn't even get off the bed. I handed my purse to the youngest and told him to go buy me a liter of milk ASAP. The oldest came in to check on me and I told him to go make me a cup of coffee. I'm on my third cup now and no longer resemble the pulsating swollen bruise on Tom's head after Jerry smacks him with a hammer.
So, you may ask, am I ready to give up my last addiction? NEVER!
But I am ready to make sure that we have fresh milk in the house before sunset!
(By the way, all of the above images are courtesy of user uploads to and are not my own personal property.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Respect for Elders

Elderly Hands Pictures, Images and Photos
So, yesterday was another scorcher and I opted to send two of my kids down to the corner store to pick up a bunch of stuff we were missing. They spent about 35 Pounds buying me groceries and complained that the owner was really crabby.  I blew it off and went about making breakfast (it's Ramadan and we're fasting until sunset) when I realized that I forgot to have the kids buy salt. I sent Ismail back down to the corner store to get me a bag of salt. He came home really angry but not raging (which is good for a 13 yr old boy who is learning to control his emotions.) He said that the dude gave him a bag of salt and he paid and then asked for a plastic sack to put it in. The owner of the store yelled at him, "It comes in a bag!" Ismail thought he was just clowning with him and said, "No, really. I want a bag."  The owner yelled at him again and got in his face this time, "I TOLD YOU IT COMES IN A BAG!"  So Ismail handed the salt back to him and said, "Then I don't want anything from you. I would like my money back." So the guy jerks the salt out of his hand and stuffs the money into it and says, "That's even better. Now get out!" (And here's where I got pissed.) He shoved him toward the door.

Ismail went to his biggest competitor across the street and bought the salt there. When he came home he told me that he was so mad and he wanted to hit him but he didn't. And he insisted that I go downstairs immediately and tell him what's what. I told him I'd do it later but that I needed to make fitar (breakfast) first and that I would handle it later that night or the next day. Ismail wanted to come along and I told him I didn't think it was a good idea. He was livid. He swore he'd never buy anything from that big jerk ever again. I told him that we're not going to call names because it's haram (forbidden) and this is a guy who is in his late 50's or early 60's. We need to calm down. I got him busy making juice and talking about other things and so it went. I didn't go talk to the man last night. I waited until today.

I decided to take Ismail with me. As we were walking, we passed the masjid on our street where many people were praying the Taraweeh prayers (extra prayers said each night during Ramadan) and we noticed that the store owner was praying from a seated position near the door. He usually stands and bows and kneels with the younger men in the masjid. We kept walking and I told Ismail that maybe it would be best if we just go to the store and talk to the owner's brother who also works there. That way he can act as an intermediary and present the issue to his brother with our concerns voiced but without the older man feeling as though he is being attacked. But his brother was not there. His son was. I spoke calmly and explained to the young man what had happened and he apologized for his father. I explained that I understand that the weather is so very hot and that the temperature inside the store is hotter than in the street. This combined with fasting can make for short tempers. However, as sassy and rotten as my kids are to me and each other at home, I know without a doubt that they do not get sassy and rude with elders. I have been complimented on this fact many times, even by the store owner. And if my son was out of line in any way, I will address the issue with him. But under no circumstances was the owner right in shoving him or touching him in any way.

The young man kissed Ismail on his forehead and apologized for his father's behavior. "Tont (Aunt), I am so sorry. But my father is under great stress right now. You see, he took my uncle and niece and grandmother to a cousin's wedding on the first of this month. I stayed here and ran the store overnight. They were in an accident on the way home and my father rolled the car 3 times. I left straight from here to the hospital and he didn't even know that my grandmother, Allah bestow her His mercy, didn't make it. I had to tell him when I arrived. My father has permanent damage to his spine and has broken ribs. My uncle broke his shoulder and my niece was cut across her lip and chin. My father went straight back to work and refuses to take any time off and if I suggest it, he yells at me or slaps me. But what can I do? He is my father. But if you would just forgive him. He is very angry and hurt and his nerves are not the same. And all that I can do is ask that Allah forgive him and give me patience to wait until my father is able to deal with this grief. You know that I love Ismail like my little brother and all of your children are always very respectful in this store. I'm so sorry."

I told him that I understand and said "May Allah bless him with patience" and then bought a few cookies and things that we really didn't need but as a gesture that we understand and are not taking our business elsewhere.  When we left the store, I asked Ismail if he understood what all was happening in the store owner's world.  He said, "Wow. He has had a lot to deal with in just a few weeks. I wonder if he has cried yet." I told him probably not or he wouldn't be so angry and grouchy. We talked about PTSD and grief and rage and how sometimes people blame themselves for things that were destined to happen. I asked Ismail if he was upset that I didn't go in yelling and screaming and that I bought from them. He said no. And that he understood that the best way to handle the situation was as I had done because it showed respect for everyone involved.

Thank God. I am doing something right. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sixteen Candles....

Sixteen years ago today, my beautiful daughter, Randa, was born.  She was my first girl, my smallest baby (oh, yes! a teeny, tiny 8 lbs, 13 ozs), my only vaginal birth.  It was amazing.  My husband was there, just like with all of the others. But also, my Aunt Virginia was there. She really helped a lot. And she didn't pass out at the sight of blood like my Uncle Tracy said she would.

Miss Randa was so different from her older brother. She got stuck in the birth canal and they had to use forceps to pull her out. The doctor managed to catch part of her eye and a nerve in her neck and she was born with a brachial palsy and looking like she'd gone a round with Tyson. She didn't want to be held much and I thought it was because of having such a rough birth. But she was one of those "hold me while you nurse me and then let me be" kind of kids. We exercised her arm several times a day and in a month, the nerves reattached themselves (Thank God) and she could use her arm all by herself. She started walking at 8 months, weaned herself at 9 months and ran by 10 months.

The years have flown by and I look at this young woman standing in front of me who still loves "Shaun the Sheep" and making weasels from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" out of play dough. Having autistic tendencies has not stopped Randa from becoming bilingual, from teaching herself to make  pizza dough from scratch, from bossing her brothers and sister around. Nothing holds my girl back.

And I cannot be more grateful for this beautiful, intelligent, happy, funny, and awesome girl in my life. Randa was a gift to us from God. And I praise Him daily for blessing us with her. Happy birthday, Randa.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Forgive but Not Forget

"To err is human; to forgive divine."
                        -Alexander Pope (1688-1744) 

(No, Snoop Dogg did NOT coin this phrase.)

My mom has always been a big  pusher of the "forgive and forget" policy. I don't really agree with it. I mean, if I'm in a place where I can forgive, I will. And I am a very forgiving  person. I guess where my issue lies is in the second half of it. Because I don't forget. And I'll tell you why. 

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
                         -George Santayana (1863-1952)

I guess I always figured that if I were to forget the offense that I had forgiven, that I was setting myself up for a repeat performance in the future. Instead, I try not to put myself in the same position that got me hurt in the first place. This is almost always easier to do with strangers and friends than with family. You know the whole "you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family" thing. Or was that "you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can't pick your friend's nose?" Whatever. The point is that, you sometimes find yourself forgiving people in your family merely due to some sort of familial obligation...or because you're required to according to your religion. (Guilty! --raising my hand.) But that wound is still sore and tries to scab over and it takes some time to heal but eventually you're ready to give that family member another chance. Or you choose to forgive them from afar...or ask God to do it for you because you just honestly cannot do it. And then decide to keep a safe distance where you haven't cut ties but don't go out of your way to initiate contact, either. You know, you'll go to the family reunion and be cordial to everyone but not invite the offender to be a really active part of your life, like birthday parties for your kids or to ask their opinion before you make a life-changing decision. 

Because with strangers, it's not that big a deal. You can just blow them right off because, hell. It's a stranger. You'll never see them again anyway, so who cares what they think? And you can sort of do the same with a co-worker that isn't your boss, because ultimately, as long as that co-worker doesn't sign your time sheet at the end of the week, you can probably just get even by hiding his or her coffee mug and then pretend you haven't seen it. 

Friends are trickier. We try, if it's a good friend, to discuss the issue with the person and hash it out. Probably the end result of that conversation will be a determining factor as to whether or not the friendship will continue. If it does, probably there will be apologies and forgiveness and if it's a good friendship, a conscious effort to not repeat the offense that caused the initial hurt. But really no one forgets. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What Randa Doesn't Sniff

I've talked about Randa many times before. She's my soon-to-be 16 yr old daughter. She is tall and beautiful and hilarious. She's also been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Delays with Autistic Tendencies. She's overcome a lot of her challenges/issues. Some are still giving her a hard time. On the speech front, though, she has made remarkable progress.

Most of her dialog comes from memorized movie/tv scenes. But she'll switch up words to fit whatever situation she's in.  She once watched an episode of that ridiculous show Drake and Josh from Nickelodeon where the two boys were stuck babysitting and they needed to check if the baby needed to be changed and one says to the other, "I do not sniff baby butt!" Randa laughed for about an hour after this. She also added it to her repertoire of smart alecky things to say to her siblings. So here is the list of things that Randa will not sniff:

"I do not sniff Samiya feet!"

"I do not sniff Ismail armpits!"

"I do not sniff Mohamed stinky mouth!"

"I do not sniff Aiman fart!"

"I do not sniff Mommy shoes!"

"I do not sniff stinky shirts!"

"I do not sniff horrible ugly beasts!"

"I do not sniff Baba socks!"

"I do not sniff Randa hair. It's got flies! Outta my face, Clown!"

"I do not sniff stinky cheese!"

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ramadan Kareem

Today was the first day of Ramadan! And I had doubted whether or not I could handle fasting in all this heat this year. But SOBHAN ALLAH! (Glory to God!) I did it. So did my kids! Even Randa did pretty well. She started drinking water around 2 pm and then asked me to make her dinner around 5. She ate her breakfast about half an hour before us. But she's starting to understand that Ramadan is about more than just pretty lights and lanterns and watching her favorite clay-mation shows about QUSAS ALANBIAA (Stories of the Prophets.) She has walked up to me and told me, "Mommy, Ramadan. It's no drinking and no eating. Food at the MAGHRIB (sunset)!  Apparently, her brothers and sister have been trying to explain it to her.

For those of you who are new to my blog or unfamiliar with Islam, Ramadan is the month when the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him.  We fast from food, drink, smoking, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset.  We also try very hard to reflect on our lives, on our faith; to read the Quran in its entirety and to not give in to the temptation to backbite, use bad language or argue or fight.  We also practice charity even more than usual during this month.

I am asked frequently about our fasting by my non-Muslim friends about whether or not children or elderly are exempt. Of course, children are not required to fast.  People who are very old or sick, pregnant women, women who are menstruating, are all exempt from fasting.  Because Allah is the Most Merciful, He instructs us in the Quran that if we are unable to fast, that we should feed an indigent person for the days that we are unable to fast.

My children fast because they want to.  My youngest has been fasting since he was about 5 years old. I told him that he didn't have to but he is so competitive by nature that he told me, "Mommy, Nada (his cousin who is a year older than he is) said that I'm a baby and I can't fast.  So I am going to fast so I can show her I'm NOT a baby!"  And he did it, too. He only broke his fast three times that first Ramadan. He then took to taunting Nada because she broke her fast five times that year. (Okay, so the reasons were wrong but he is now able to fast for the entire month regularly now and he's only 11.)

All throughout Ramadan, people practice charity. There are many who will set up tents in streets filled with tables and chairs and cook huge meals and serve the poor or homeless. It is not uncommon for people to buy bags of food, usually containing several kilograms of rice, dried beans or peas, tea, oil, dried dates, raisins, ghee, and salt and give them to poor families so that they have food for breaking fast during Ramadan. A lot of the larger grocers here in Egypt offer pre-packaged bags for around 30 Egyptian Pounds each (about $5.00.)

Also, you'll find a lot more extended family dinner get-togethers. Ramadan is a time of gathering and sharing meals. It is a time when we learn to go without; to be grateful for the fact that we have food and drink when so many do not. It also teaches us to be charitable.

At the end of Ramadan, we celebrate, at least in Egypt, by baking cookies and sharing them with family. I make a mean date-stuffed cookie that is covered in powdered sugar. But there are a lot of different types.

May you all be blessed during this Holy month of Ramadan.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

We're Having a Party Today

party hat Pictures, Images and Photos I have decided to throw a party today...just for my kids. I believe that they deserve it.  I know you think I'm nuts, right?  "All the complaining about them driving you insane as to how bored they are, even on their way home from the beach! Your kids don't deserve a party!" Au contraire, mon frere.

You see, most of you civilian types don't know what I'm talking about.  My military brat friends are probably laughing their butts off right now. Because they know that the above-pictured party hat will NOT be donned by my children. That's right, fellow BRATs.  I'm throwing my kids a G.I. Party.  They don't know what it is yet either. But you can bet, they won't be wearing headgear of any kind. (Don't worry, civilian people. I'll  provide a glossary for all these italicized terms at the end of this post.) But I will. THIS will be my party hat:
Oh, yeah.

Somewhere along the line, I got tired. Perhaps it was the fact that I realized I'll be 44 this year, AHEM! (29 for the 15th time.) Perhaps it's just the heat and humidity is getting to me.  The fact that we all shower 3 and 4 times a day, thus overfeeding the laundry monster towels and sweaty clothes requiring me to slay it repeatedly on a daily basis, has pushed me to the edge of my usually forced patience brink.  But now we'll add in the constant whining, bickering, insult-throwing, sassing, and fist-fights to the already fully packed list of tattles, complaining, and arguing and you've got a one word adjective that describes the situation I am in to a T:   Disrespect. 

I have noticed that lately I must call out the same name at least 5 times before I hear a half-assed "Ma'am?" in response. I know that if my face was on t.v. they'd hear me loud and clear. (And probably turn the thing off.)  When I ask someone to complete his or her dishes so that I can get dinner started, I either wait three or four hours for them to begin, or I get pissed off and ask God for patience while I wash them myself.  I get elated that I finally killed the laundry-dragon and burned its nest down and smashed its eggs only to walk into the boys' room and find its twin sister laying more eggs at the end of my son's bed in the back corner of the bedroom.....even though I told him THREE TIMES to get all of his dirty clothes into the hamper NOW so that I can complete the laundry.

These are normal issues that happen all the time, I guess. But we've also been dealing with an enormously abnormal amount of tattling, whining, teasing, slapping, farting on, fist-fighting and swear words. I am at a loss for words as to how much of it.  Maybe not.  Words seldom leave me. I guess to be more accurate, I'll say that I'm too humiliated to admit to the world how bad it's gotten. It's enough that my neighbors can hear the noise of bodies crashing against furniture and four letter words flying through the open windows (only because it's too hot to breathe with the windows closed.)  I'm very grateful that most of their insults and swearing are done in English because none of my neighbors speaks English.  Although they all probably know the bad words. (Thanks, Hollywood.)

I've put them on restriction.  I've spanked (get over it, those of you who don't believe in corporal punishment. I'm betting you don't have 5 kids separated by a year between them each and live in a foreign country and raising them alone. And if you have, oh well. Bygones!) I've taken away their meager allowances and computer privileges and television. I've encouraged. I've rewarded good behavior. I've talked with them. I've explained. I've done everything that everyone under the sun from Dr. Spock to Dr. Laura have suggested. (I still don't know who Dr. Who is, so haven't tried him yet.) So now, I'm going back to my own grassroots, sans the "beat the hell out of 'em" policy.  I am returning to the Army. 

Each GI will be issued a scrub brush.  Sassier GIs will be issued a toothbrush.  KP duty will entail scrubbing of tiles on the walls and floors.  All dishes will be cleaned. Stove top will be scrubbed.  Counters will sparkle and all duties will be completed prior to mess at 1800 hrs

Latrine duty will entail scrubbing of all tiles on the walls and floors, sink, toilet, shower and removal of all clutter, including empty shampoo receptacles that had previously been labeled as saved for refilling with water to fire upon passersby under the balcony.  Latrine will sparkle and all duties will be completed prior to mess at 1800 hrs. 

Day room police will entail removal of all dust particles from furnishings and appliances.  Windows will be cleaned and once floor area is completely mopped, all furnishings will be returned to their appropriate locations.  Any non-regulation day room items will be returned to their proper locations or will be removed by drill sergeant during white glove inspection.  Day room will be left in a clean, neat and outstanding condition prior to mess at 1800 hrs.

Any underbreath remarks, backtalk, complaints will result in disciplinary PT  following mess at 1800 hrs.  


*As suggested by my BRAT friends, I will not lie on the couch and eat bonbons throughout the party.  But I will definitely be reminiscing and once they fall asleep exhausted tonight, I'm going to email my dad and thank him again for being the hardass that he was.  If he hadn't been, I wouldn't be nearly as respectful a person as I am today.

Now, I'm going to "get this party started."

GLOSSARY (for you civilian types)-

G.I. Party - Army term meaning a massive cleaning session, usually carried out by an entire platoon.

Platoon - A subdivision of a company of soldiers, usually forming a tactical unit that is commanded by a lieutenant and divided into several sections; A movie about Vietnam that starred Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen...but that's not relevant to this blog post.

Headgear - Regulation hat issued by the military as part of the regulation military uniform; to be worn outdoors only

KP duty - Kitchen police; usually involves scrubbing pots, pans, dishes, walls, floors, peeling potatoes and cooking.

Mess at 1800hrs - Mess means meal; Mess hall or chow hall would be a military dining room. 1800 hrs means 6 o'clock in the evening.

Latrine duty - Cleaning of the latrine

Latrine -  Bathroom; WC; facilities; toilet

Day Room - The living room/den area where soldiers are allowed to "hang out" in the barracks; usually furnished with couches, chairs, tables, television, sometimes  pool table and ping pong table or fussball table and soda machines or snack machines. 

Non-Regulation Day Room items - Personal items that do not belong in the Day Room, this includes but is not limited to clothing, shoes, backpacks, scarves, books, pens, rocks picked up along the beach, the charger for your mobile phone that you always claim you cannot find, and toenail clippers.

Outstanding - Overused Army adjective that reflects good quality; antonyms for outstanding would be unsatisfactory, sub-par, and shitty.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Decision 2012

So, I'm sitting on the couch watching t.v. because that's what I do best lately:  Sit, sweat, hold down the couch while I stare blankly at the television screen wishing that Hell would just hurry up and freeze over (and by that I meant that it would just friggin' snow here in Egypt now in July!) I ordinarily don't like those shows like Dr. Oz or "the Drs." because I find them sort of knee-jerkish and that "truth in advertising" thing that Dudley Moore's character did in that movie "Crazy People"....where they ran an ad for Metamucil and it said:  Metamucil: It helps you go to the toilet. If you don't use it, you'll get cancer and die. 
And then there's a run on all the local pharmacies and Metamucil of course sells out completely. 
I don't like being told that if I don't use really strong anti-bacterial soaps that I will get some flesh-eating bacterial disease that will cause my skin to fall off my body and I shouldn't worry about how strong the anti-bacterial soap is and how it causes my skin to get really ridiculously dry and I can always slather up with this fantastic lotion after I wash my hands.  Of course, this would be followed by an episode of poisonous hand lotions and how they cause cancer. 

But my daughter fell asleep clutching the remote control with a kung-fu death grip and it was just far too hot to take those 5 steps across the living room to change the channel so I left it on.  And I watched Dr. Oz's Transformation Nation and they gave some guy $1 million because he'd lost so much weight. I think it was a little bit rigged. You know, who has the bigger sob story to go with their weight loss. Because this guy was apparently a donor match for his wife who has lupus and needs one of his kidneys. I was much more impressed with the woman in her 50's who lost 91 pounds after some bitch stewardess humiliated her on an airplane by yelling up the aisle to another flight attendant: HEY CAROL! WE NEED A SEATBELT EXTENDER BACK HERE!

Whatever. Dude won the money and now they can pay for the kidney transplant surgery. Good for them. And great for all those people who lost weight. And then I read about my friend, Holly (because, yeah, I consider you my friend) and how she decided to try Crossfit training at her gym.  (Holly has been blogging about her amazing weight loss journey and how she's lost 170 lbs!  She is amazing! And you can read about her BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE ON THIS LINK! )

Anyway, I am unhappy. I am overweight. I am sick of being really sweaty and hot all the time. I'm ready for air conditioning and living in a house with a yard.  I can't do much to change any of that right now. But I can change the overweight thing. And while that will lead to me being really sweatier and hotter, it may lead to me being happier due to the weight loss and endorphins released by exercise. It is simply a matter of choice.
(And maybe investing in Depends because let's face it: exercise-induced incontinence is kinda funny on other people but really kinda humiliating when it's happening to you.) I GOT THIS.

Friday, July 13, 2012


we were the same at one time.  shared ideas.  shared dreams.  shared music.  and even some bad experiences.  but you had more because you were older than i was.  and then you got married and moved away.  and i felt left out and unappreciated.  you didn't even invite me to the wedding.  but i never held it against you.  and we kept in touch.  and i visited you in your home far away in a foreign land and i recognized that you were hurting and distant and not at all yourself.  and i tried to help you bring the music back into your life.  you seemed happy with my attempts but still not happy.  and then later when you returned and things got bad and you decided to leave him, i was there and held your hand.  and when i moved we lost touch until i moved back.  and when i found out we were working in the same building i was so happy and tried to block out a weekly lunch with you.  and then you quit.  and got married again.  and moved again to a foreign land.  but we managed to at least exchange letters every year or so.  and i again came to visit you although only for a layover through the city you were in.  and when you were having a bad time and you called me out of the blue after not hearing from you in nearly three years and we talked for hours and ran up your phone bill to some ungodly amount, i felt as though you appreciated me as the friend i've always tried to be. but we had never shared with each other some of our opinions of the world and now after all of the years and shared moments and experiences you are clamming up and defensive when i ask why you've cut ties again except to publicly challenge my world views.  i am saddened that you seem to view a difference in opinion as a character flaw; as something that cannot be embraced as a part of me but only as a distinct black mark on what you think our friendship should be.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Funky Errands

Here is a journaled out version of what I did this morning. I'm telling you, I am exhausted just re-reading it. And I have a serious impulse to take another shower. But for any of you who don't believe that I'm as busy as I am, here's proof:

‎0800 Egypt Local Time (ELT) - Answered phone (wake up call from neighbor)
0830 ELT- Finally got my arse out of bed, showered, made coffee, got dressed and left.
0930 ELT- Arrived at school and picked up Mohamed's administrative records.
1000 ELT- Went to the high school to find out he's 4 points shy of being able to register there and unless the grade curve drops in the next couple of weeks, he'll have to go to trade school. This is not good.
1030 ELT- Arrived at bank, got number, found an empty seat right under the air conditioner vent. Very glad I brought my book.
1045 ELT- Smelly, disgusting guy takes empty seat next to me and proceeds to clear his throat and cough a lot. Begin to wonder if he has tuberculosis or just smoked too much hash last night.
1049 ELT- Smelly, coughing dude REMOVES HIS SHOES AND OH DEAR LORD WHY DID I LOOK? He hasn't cut his toenails in 6 years apparently. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
1055 ELT- Smelly, coughing brain surgeon wants to know how the number thing works...specifically, "How do the tellers know what number I have in my hand?" (Uhm, because you hand them the fucking ticket after the computerized number board announces that they're serving your number.)
1059 ELT- Wondering how Mubarak was so successful with his evil plan to make the majority of Egyptians morons.
1115 ELT- Smelly, coughing, toenails dude is now aggravating some young man to his right. Thank God. He'll now be coughing somewhere other than on my shoulder.
1138 ELT- Number 117 is called. I'm number 118 so I get up and run to the open space between the only two teller windows open waiting for my numer to be called.
1145 ELT- EFF-word. Apparently, numbers don't mean shit around here. 6 customers who've already been at the teller windows have been called back by name. What gives people? Whatever. At least the gnarly toed dude is hacking his lungs on me.
1150 ELT- Still waiting. What is that smell? OMG. It's me. I was sweating so bad outside that my sweat under all these layers of clothes (that are still soaked from while I was outside) all smell like Fritos. Wondering if the smelly, guy was really smelly or if it was just me smelling me.
1155 ELT- Really self-conscious now. OMG. Did I really forget to put deodorant on?
1202 ELT- NOW SERVING 118.....Oh, thank God.
1204 ELT- Exit bank and go directly to buy garbage bags, ground beef and cookies.
1217 ELT- Start pulling clothes off as soon as the front door slams shut. Shower. Dress. PUT DEODORANT ON....twice.

1300 ELT- NAP

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Brain Food...NOT About Zombies

ATTACK KIT COMMENT Pictures, Images and Photos
Reading is one of my all-time favorite things to do in the world. I think a dream vacation for me would involve a large comfortable couch in a large room with floor to ceiling bookcases covered in all of the books I am dying to read still.  Of course, in keeping with most of my fantasies, all 5 of my kids would be off in 100% completely safe boarding schools and the room I'm in would have 68 degree F air-conditioning setting that my husband would not be able to adjust.  (He can wear that stack of sweaters over there in the corner.)

I have this burning desire to just go to any of the major book stores and fill an empty shopping cart with one copy each of all the classics that I haven't read, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Dickens, and throw in some Shakespeare that I haven't yet shared with my kids. (They LOVED MacBeth and Othello.) I don't want to
buy Mark Twain because I have a huge collection of his books that I bought at a yard sale back in the early 90's. It was a big paper bag full of books for $5. WHAT A FIND! I also got a copy of  The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, The Last Days of Pompeii by the baron Edward Bulwer-Lytto, and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and Six Famous French Novels. Those are all on yellowed paper with that slightly musty "old book" smell.  I think that the French novels book was printed in 1903. Definitely worth the $5 spent, I'd say.  Anyway, I'd also pick up copies of the more recent books by some of my favorite bloggers that I've been wanting to read, like Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, Relative Insanity by Shauna Glenn, and the rest of Nuala Reilly's Fayette series. (Of course, she has to finish the fourth book in order for me to get the full series, so, COME ON, NUALA! Get the lead out!)

Living in Alexandria, Egypt with five kids (who really AREN'T in or even likely to go to boarding schools) on a very fixed income, I don't get to indulge in my reading addiction much. I occasionally cruise through the used book market on Nabi Daniel Street and come across some wonderful finds. (That's where I found the Shakespeare in an English as a Foreign Language edition, aka edited beyond belief with a glossary so that my elementary kids would spark an interest.) Also, I've found some fascinating old hardbound books, some from authors I'd never heard of before. My favorite among them is by A.E.W. Mason, an English writer. The book I found The Dean's Elbow is absolutely intriguing to me. It has some mystery, romance, scandalous relationships, and even historical technical information about the textile industry and perfecting dyes for fabrics.  (It was printed in 1930, so don't go reading it if you're looking for 50 shades of crap.) My most recent find was a new copy of Agatha Christie's The Man in the Brown Suit. I used to read Agatha Christie in 8th grade and throughout high school. I had kind of forgotten about her. You know until one of the Inspector Poirot movies would show up on television late in the afternoon. I found a stack of brand new (never been read anyway) Agatha Christie books I grabbed the stack...but after arguing with the bookseller over price, I ended up only buying the one.  (Limited income, mind I can go back and get another later. Maybe even trade back the one I just read, after the kids finish it.)

My reading "bucket list" has now become a "barrel list" and may soon turn into a "dump truck list." But that's okay. I know the answer would ordinarily be to order online but that gets costly when I end up paying more in customs taxes than the price of the book. It's cool. I'm not really complaining. I look at it this way, I'm going to get that fantasy book vacation, God willing, when we move back to the U.S. My sisters both have substantial book collections that I could borrow from and the library is a fantastic place for kids and me to visit. While I kind of envy the book clubs that my friends are involved in, I think more I miss the access to public libraries. Really, guys!  Take advantage of it this summer with your kids. While at first some of them may whine a bit, "But it's summertime! I don't want to read!" MAKE THEM. My kids all love the library. Even the one who hates to read (mostly because he has a few learning challenges.)  Let them pick out the books...or give them a selection of some that you really dug in school that you think they may enjoy. I did this with Ismail when we were back in Texas a couple of years ago.  I chose a few authors that I thought he may enjoy and he chose How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. He thoroughly enjoyed it and the exercise of reading every other page with me, awakened his hunger for reading again.

I recently bought a membership at the American Cultural Center library here in Alexandria. Once I get a few mandatory errands out of the way that involve school registrations and dental appointments, I am planning to make a regular bi-monthly trip with the kids there so that they can once again "get their read on." I have taken a couple of them to the Alexandria Library but I was so unhappy with the policies there that I swore I'd never go back. (One library is for kids to 12 yrs, one library is for kids 12-17 yrs, and the main library is 18 and up. Parents are not permitted to enter the kids library with their kids and kids are not permitted with their parents into the adult library. Also they have a sign that states the library is not responsible for kids while not with their parents?????? WTH????)

So I'm hoping that my children will bring their English reading levels up to as high as they are in Arabic this Summer. It's all about the brain-food. And no. I'm STILL not talking about zombies!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lazy, Hot Summer

It's about 4,000,000 degrees F outside (that's 2,222,204.44 degrees C, in case you were wondering.)  I melted four days ago.  But then I guess someone scooped up my big, ole puddle of body fat into a Nikki-shaped mold and stuck me back in the freezer.  Because here I am again....all corporeal and able to type.  Maybe there's something to this whole cryogenics thing, after all. Who knew?

So along with all the heat and humidity of Summer, comes the weird sleeping hours and laziness to a degree you would be flabbergasted over in the Winter.  It's just too hot to sleep or eat or cook or clean or hell, breathe, even.  The energy required to towel off after a cold shower just makes you get all sweaty again. So I'm thinking of waterproofing my computer somehow and just sort of staying in the bathroom until September.  Fortunately for my kids, who are concerned about privacy issues with me turning the bathroom into an office and it's the only bathroom in the house, I haven't figured the whole CPU waterproofing thing.  But let me tell soon as I do, they're peeing across the street at the neighbors' house.

For about 9 months out of the year, I'm a "get 'er done" kinda gal, to borrow from Larry, the Cable Guy.  I get up early and get some laundry hung while I pound back coffee after waking kids up one at a time to utilize the aforementioned one bathroom in a sort of assembly line fashion, get 'em off to school, buy produce and carry it all the 2-mile walk back home.  I have more coffee while I write on this blog or work on my novel or just screw around and catch up on email or Facebook. I always have laundry going and manage to get something started for lunch and the wash hung again before running out the door to pick the kids up from school.  I carry the dish-washing throughout the school year but during the Summer I delegate to the kids. This year, they've been pretty substandard (read: SUCKY) at completing their tasks.  Anyway, I am one well-oiled machine running this household until about mid-June. And then you can hear my gears grinding to a halt.

I don't sleep at night anymore. I wish I could.  It's just too damn hot. I sleep around dawn when the mosquitoes have backed off enough that I can open the windows so that the ceiling fans aren't just blowing hot air around. And I have so many things that I want to get done before noon...but unless I literally pull an all-nighter/morning-er I will never get them done. Sleeping from 6-12:30 isn't conducive to my errand list.

And that  perpetual lie I tell myself daily, "I'll just take a quick nap and get up at 9" isn't even fooling me anymore. Apparently, my subconscious has checked out with a quick "yeah, right!" retort and somehow the alarm never goes off.

So, what do I do? I may get off of here now and take a quick nap so that I can get up at dawn and "get 'er done" but that's not bloody likely. My youngest has sort of pushed my hand at making him an apple  pie by peeling and cutting 2 lbs of apples and if I don't do it now then they'll go bad and I'll feel guilty for wasting food.  And then Ismail has the clippers all set up for me to give him the mohawk I've been promising to give him since Summer started. *sigh*

I wonder if  Pinterest has any computer waterproofing pins.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


My heart is someone placed a wheelbarrow full of bricks on my chest after making me to lie down in the soil on my back. Unwanted tears are streaming down my face and my breath is shallow.  I don't have a real reason to cry.  Nobody died and I'm not physically hurt.  I feel like an idiot as the salty tracks reach my mouth and my nose clogs up and I realize we don't have any tissue in the house.  I called just to hear their voices; just to wish them a happy anniversary and to tell them I miss them; how much I wish I could be there.  He couldn't handle my teary voice and gave the phone back to her.  I hope I didn't make him melancholy, too.  I just need them both to know that this girl inside me, this girl of long roots, who has lived every place and who is still from no place in particular, that when she gets homesick--- it's their home she's missing.