All your dreams will come true. Trust me.

I bought a used car in September. I’ve parked it under a tree everyday for the last 3 months and it showed. Bird poop and caked dirt, and leaves in every little crevice.
So last month, I decided to wash my car. I asked the guy who sold it to me and he said, oh sure. There’s a little place around the corner. You can do it for like 20 bucks. 
How long does it take?
Oh like an hour, maybe two. 
Two hours! Twenty bucks??
Look, I get that that’s like a good deal here or whatever, but it’s crazy. In Dubai, I used to get my car washed while I shopped for groceries. Park my car, tell one of the washers 30 minutes, pay him 5 bucks and by the time I returned, he’d be drying my tires. I know! Why aren’t these guys in Houston?? (Teenagers! I have a business venture for you. It’s genius.) So of course I let another rainy dirty bird-droppy month and a half go by, and I probably would have let another had I not happened to mention my filthy disgusting car to a friend, and how I couldn’t possibly afford twenty bucks AND two hours.
Just use one of the quarter washes. 
What?
Yeah, it’s like right down the street and it’ll be like 5 bucks.
5 bucks! And no waiting??And three months later, my car is washed. I did it myself. I paid with a credit card.
I even wore my red heels.

As I was hanging up the vacuum hose, one of the attendants said to me, Remember, this is going to be the best year ever.
The best year ever? I repeated.
All your dreams will come true. Trust me. 

Well, I never got that in Dubai.

Here’s to you, 2014! Don’t be the best year ever–I don’t want to peak at 26–but do be the best yet, and remember that my dreams include car washers at HEB.

Happy New Year!

IMG_5464

 

On second thought, some pretty stellar advice.

Today at a store, the man behind the counter asked how I was doing. Good, I said. You?
Today’s my anniversary. How could it not be good?
Congratulations! How many years?
34.
Wow. So, any advice?
He paused. Shrugged. Then said, I just got lucky. We got four daughters and we’re all like this (he gestured to show they’re a very close family).
I thought it was pretty much the worst non-advice, but then he followed it up with: I just pay attention to them. My wife’s been my best friend for 35 years, and my daughters all love close and I give my time and attention to them. I think the best thing you can do for people is pay attention. 

Me too.

A bed. A place to sleep that is not the floor. Home.

When I left my former life, I only took what could fit in a few suitcases. I lived in furnished apartments for 8 months, and then moved to a bare apartment with hardwood floors in Houston. I didn’t have a mattress and why didn’t I buy an air mattress? Because it like seemed expensive and hard and really, the floor was at least as comfortable as the mattress I slept on in Cairo for four months. Why spend the money? I’d rather wait until I could afford a real mattress.

So, since early September when I moved in, I’ve been sleeping on a folded up comforter. I came home tonight to my neighbor saying, I got a package for you (he collects them so they don’t get stolen from my doorstep. I don’t even ask him to, bless him.). And he pulled out a giant box and I said, That’s a really big box for something I never ordered.
That’s because I didn’t.

Mail order bed :)
That’s an air mattress, by the way.

Thank you, James! 
Goodbye, hardwood floor! My back and I will not miss you.

 

Empathy through Literature: #1 The Thirteenth Tale

“When I came to myself Dr. Clifton was there. He put an arm around me. “I know,” he said. “I know.”

He didn’t know, of course, Not really. And yet that was what he said, and I was soothed to hear it. For I knew what he meant. We all have our sorrows, and although the exact delineaments, weight and dimensions of grief are different for everyone, the color of grief is common to us all. “I know,” he said, because he was human, and therefore, in a way, he did.”

-Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

Unwisdom.

Wisdom I’ve gained since turning 26:

1. If you must wax (and you must wax): Hard wax.
2. If you must buy dresses (and you must buy many): eShakti.com–custom sizing.
3. If you find yourself home alone one night with only Netflix to keep you company, do not watch X-Files.
So unwise.

Win win.

Laser Razors with complementary calculator
Laser brand razors! Now with calculator!

The Middle East loves packaging.

Like when you go to the grocery store in America, the goal is to get as many goods into one bag as possible without ripping the bag or crushing the bread. Here, the philosophy is to use as many bags as possible so the items never come in contact with one another.

Today I bought two bottles of water, a little container of juice, a can of soda, and a bag of jellybeans (it’s been a stressful week). He pulled out a bag and started putting the water in, first one bottle and then the other, and I said, You can put everything in the same bag.
Meaning, of course, for him to put everything in the same bag.
He smiled at me and said, I know. Then pulled out a smaller bag, which he then filled with my junk food. When he was done, he handed me only one bag.
See? His smile said. Everything in the same bag.

Right. I said, and smiled.

Everything in the same bag, and we used two.

10 days to America.

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

― Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

I’m ba-ack.

I kind of hate to make this announcement. It’s presumptuous on at least 10 levels and I’m uncomfortable with presumption on at least 20. Yet, here I am. But not because I presume anyone is reading this, or that anyone who is cares (although if there are, they probably do. And, hi! Thanks for sticking around.). Rather because, you know, this blog is for me. It was conceived as a way to keep people in touch with the awesome months of travel I planned (er, “vaguely notioned”)) after graduating from college years ago. But always always it’s been for me. It’s been fun for me. It’s been contemplative and reflective. It’s been an outlet. It’s been my journey.
And on that journey, I wandered into a new place, an unexpected kind of scary place, and stopped writing. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I kind of put everything on pause while I figured myself out again.
Which I haven’t finished, of course, but I made it out of that scary, bewildering place. What a difference two years makes.
——
Last I wrote, I was headed to New York for my birthday (24 woooo). And then I never wrote again. (You were all like, did she make it? Was BoM as awesome as everyone said it was? Did she at least get some cake?? Yes. Yes. No 🙁 ) I don’t really know what to say except that it changed me. I came back completely rejuvenated (probably from meeting all the BoM cast members. Boo ya!). The stress I had been carrying over the last two years , that has been weighing me down and filling me with anxiety–I figured out how to deal with, how to overcome it. I realized that the life I had been living was not (at all!) the life I wanted to be living. I headed in a new direction.
And it was kind of tough, as new trails tend to be, and so my thoughts were deeply contemplative and introspective–far too weighty for this ‘blog fodder’. Sure filled up some journals though.
At the end of that year, I moved into a new apartment. I worked less. I traveled a whole lot more (in retrospect, far too much. I am so tired of traveling.), and llved , to the best of my ability, the life I wanted to live. I took more, greater chances. I made my best efforts to give back ( and forward) the love that my friends had shown me. I, finally finally, made plans to leave.
And at the end of it, I left. Me and my several suitcases (talk about bag fees hot damn!) moved to Cairo. For four months I studied Arabic. Finally! And on the side I started writing articles for gooverseas. I met awesome awesome people. I worked to keep up valued relationships across the distance and the despite the crappy Internet connection. I got a new job, this two-month summer gig I am doing this very moment. I moved to Oman. And in just four weeks–four little weeks!–I’ll land in Houston and my 9 years in the Middle East will be done. I’ll start all over again, this time with more vague notions but a much better sense of direction. And, significantly, a partner. A man. I’ll tell you about him sometime. Probably 🙂
I really have no idea what’s in store. I’m just excited to be here writing again. It feels like home.
—–
The other reason I hate announcing I’m back is that it implies I am back, a consistent blogger (um which I never have been), writing here. Truth is, I don’t know if I am. I want to. I intend to. But I have learned that I make a much better blogger when my expectations are low. So, maybe I’ll see you around.
And maybe I won’t.

(But I really hope I do.)

* *i just realized it’s been exactly two years since I stopped blogging. What does that mean? Oh, mysteries of the universe. I do love you.

Ma yinfa3sh

That is what I say about vodafone’s USB internet shtick. I haven’t posted much lately, though there’s been tons to post about, because I haven’t been on the internet lately, because of vodafone.

Advice: if you come to Egypt, and want to use the internet here, do not get vodafone’s USB deal. Get real internet. Or borrow your neighbors. Do anything, really, except rely on the monthly USB shtick from vodafone.