Dear Reader,

I’m home. Home! I love home.

I’m sitting at my kitchen table and the only sound I hear is the clock ticking on the wall. Soon, though, it will be joined by the air conditioning.
My dad cooked two great meals today, and even served me a small omelet for breakfast this morning. (How do you spell “omelet” by the way? I thought it was “omelette”. Blogger thinks otherwise.)
I watched 30 Rock and napped on the couch this afternoon.
And this evening, we had some friends over and visited for a few hours, all in the comfort of our living room.
It’s so good to be here.

I stopped posting because my writing was becoming increasingly bitter. Every time I sat down to compose something, all that would come out was a stream of vile obscenities directed mainly at Jordanian men, Jordanian internet, and Jordanian taxi drivers. I imagine I’ll post them someday–perhaps in whole–but for now I want to remember the good things.

Like ice cream. So much good ice cream in Jordan.

The falafel place I went everyday after class.

My roommate, who was so very good to me.

The blue sky.

The breezes.

My amazing teacher.

And all the cool places I went (namely: Petra and Wadi Rum).

Tomorrow, I’m going to the store with my mom to buy a novel. I am so excited.
Pictures to come.

Until then,


The Best Story Since That One about the Creepy Cab Driver

in case you missed that story
My mom is the director of a small and relatively new university library in the Gulf. It opened a few years ago to wide acclaim because not only is it the most gorgeous library since the Library of Congress, but it’s one of few libraries (by US standards) in the region. There isn’t a great demand for books in an oral culture, you know?

Before it opened, there was a promotional DVD made highlighting the building’s beauty and state-of-the-art technology. Well of course this required students to fill the video conferencing rooms, and sit in the fancy new presentation rooms, and to demonstrate how to check out a book—using the self-checkout stations. My mom volunteered me for that particular role and I gladly complied because self-checkout stations are the greatest library innovation since the barcode scanner.

What I didn’t know was that this video would be shown on the local television station. In fact, it wasn’t until several months later that a friend facebooked me with news that she had seen me on Sharjah TV checking out a book. I responded by telling her that I had also been featured in an interview with Campus Journal—a newspaper distributed to colleges and universities in the Emirates—so no doubt, what with all that media attention I’d received, I was well on my way world domination. One obscure media outlet at a time.

Since then (2006), I have been mentioned in half a dozen more obscure publications and was once spotted in Yemen on an Indian television station talking about how America really isn’t a nation of haters because Look! We have a statue of Liberty!

It was about this time that I defined “world domination” as “appearing on al-Jazeera speaking Arabic.”

Well, last week I got pretty close.

I was walking with some friends to grab lunch from the cafeteria on campus. On the way, we stopped in front of a crowd of women holding signs bearing a language we couldn’t read. Wait, does that say Hijab? Oh yeah! And I think that says—Killed?!

And then a woman, wearing clothes that covered all but her eyes, tapped me on the shoulder and asked if she could talk to me about the hijab. Imagine, for a second, this scene.

Me, in my slightly-tanned-with-freckles skin and red hair, wearing black capris and a purple scoop-neck tee. And her, in black gloves, abaya, and headscarf, nothing of her body visible but the eyes.

As she related to me in broken English the story of Marwa Sharbini, it occurred to me just how expressive one’s eyes can be.

She wanted to assure me that the hijab is not a symbol of oppression or terrorism. I responded to her, in Arabic, by saying that I knew it symbolized neither of these things, that I’ve lived and traveled in the Middle East for years, studied it in school, had lots of Muslim friends, and know quite well that more often than not, women wear it with pride. I understand, I told her. It’s a good thing.

She smiled, thanked me for my time and returned to the demonstration.

I was about to rejoin my own friends when another woman stopped me. She had overheard me speaking Arabic and wanted me to let her record me on video talking about the hijab issue. Because, you see, she is a program producer for a radio station in Jordan as well as a blogger for al-Jazeeratalk. Of course, I had no idea what “al-Jazeeratalk” was, but it had “al-Jazeera” in it so how could I pass it up?

Well obviously I couldn’t.

And it’s not in Arabic, and it’s not quite al-Jazeera. But get on my good side now because damn. I really am going to take over the world.

(I come in about two minutes in to the report whose link has since passed, allahyerhamu.)

Back on the Arabic Wagon, and this time with Big Results

Happy Belated anniversary to my sister who, as of yesterday, has been married to dear old Tim for two years. Woohoo!


Yesterday, a guy stopped me on campus.

Marhaba. He said. Weyn mudarraj (something indeciferable)

Me: Um…Ma barif?

And then I think he caught on that I wasn’t Jordanian. He said thank you and walked on.

First time I’ve ever been mistaken for  an Arab. I am making progress.


UPDATE 5/2015: This link is now defunct 🙁 But had you visited in Juny 2009, you would have see me, in red hari, capris, and sunglasses, in a little interview talking about the hijab. I summarized it here:

And because that last post was so successful…

Including one of me! I have so many of me now, it's….well, it's never happened before. But here's a tip: if you want to be in pictures, don't be the only one with a camera.
This computer is sloooooooooow. Just like the rest of the computers in this country and so I'm going tobounce. Go home, eat lunch, figure out how the heck to cram all these photos onto my maxed-out hard drive. Maybe watch star trek 🙂
Update coming soon, internet-God willing.

This is from July 1st. I don’t know why I’m only now getting around to posting it…

Happy first of July!
I’m sad that I won’t be around for Fourth of July fireworks. But not That Sad because Free Fireworks Every Night here in Amman. But on second thought, That Sad because July 4th might just be the best holiday in Amreeka.
So, today I ate an exquisite falafel sandwich for .25JD. Which is like…well, cheap. Yay! And it’s right near campus so guess what I’ll be having for lunch the next 5 weeks. Aw. Yeah.
In other news, I went downtown tonight and had Chinese food for dinner and ice cream for dessert. I love Chinese Food For Dinner And Ice Cream For Dessert. It’s even better than Cheap And Delicious Falafel Sandwich For Lunch. Yes, that good. (Hey, I just discovered I have only 2 USB ports on my laptop. Suckfest!)  Then we went walking around downtown Amman, which is pretty happenin. Also, have you ever lived in a city where you can just wander around downtown and then suddenly be like, oh, what is this? Why, it looks like evidence of a former civilization! Ruins, folks. Right down town, and i don’t mean The Ghetto. I mean like bona fide Roman ruins. Just fenced in next to the sidewalk, not unlike an unruly rotreiler. Hard to come by good pictures at night with no tripod, but maybe I’ll post some anyway. I’m emailing these posts to my blog so I’m not exactly sure how the whole picture deal works, but I’m crossing my fingers that this will work because Dang these pictures turned out better than I thought. [EDIT: Didn't work. Boo.]

This weekend I’m going to Wadi Rum, which is some big desert place. I’m excited for several reasons:

1. I really do like the desert.
2. One and a half whole days without getting honked at by passing cars.
3. Beautiful Pictures 🙂
And because my dad insists that “several” means “exactly 4” then I guess I’ll add this:
4. No class Sunday morning. Yesss. I still haven’t written about this teacher. I probably won’t until I’m out of the country, because publishing less-than-savoury posts about my teacher using computers provided by the institute at which he teaches—well, it’s a bit like taking a handgun to my foot, I think.  I’ll close with a confession: Right now, nothing sounds better than curling up with a nice paperback edition of Twilight.

Oh, how I long for you, Salt Lake City Public Library.

Snapshots From My Life. Sort of.

Hi Folks,
Since I don't have any real pictures to upload—-hold on. Since I have pictures to upload but can't because What Is It With The Internet In This Country?? then I'm just going to have to tell you a bit about my life as though these words were snapshots.
The other day I was in a taxi and told the driver I was married. Married! Me! It’s the weirdest lie I’ve ever told.
The elevator in my apartment building doesn’t have a door inside so you can see all the floors as you pass them. Riding up to my apartment is almost as good as riding the elevator in the public library down from the fifth floor.
My roommate banned me from Television. Sigh. I miss it. I only had it for two days and then one day she came home and was like, It’s not just your brain that’s rotting.
Then she told me I could only watch it when she’s not home, which is like 3 hours every afternoon and I can’t even watch it while she’s sleeping because like here is the television and here is the door to her bedroom—which she leaves open when she sleeps! No television, no internet—no hot water even! And you should hear how I have to wash my clothes.
We don't have hot water in my house except for the shower. In fact, the one modern piece of technology we own besides satellite television is an instant hot water heater right next to the shower head.
Yesterday on my to school, I saw a fat Jordanian walking along the other side of the street and looking straight at me! When he saw me notice him, he winked. I gagged.
Everyone thinks I'm German, Russian or French. Only after the third guess does anyone think to say “Amreeka?” I'm not sure what to think of this.
Last night I took a taxi to my friends house and the talkative drive told me all about how much he looooves action movies. He owns 400 DVDs and you know what? He doesn't even sleep. He puts in a 12-14 hour day, then goes home and watches the action films. I said, Eh. I'm not much into the action films.
That's because you're a girl, he said.
Actually, I think it's because I like to sleep.
I bought myself a copy of The Alchemist for my birthday. Good book.
I'm now getting kicked off the computer. Gah.
I'll work on a post about Syria. There are a lot of funny stories and snapshots in that one.
This weekend I”ll be in Petra. More wonderful pictures you don't get to see. Hooray!

J is for Jor–Irritating

I’m in a remarkably good mood right now, all things considered. I mean, there’s this Sally Fields movie on right now and her character was on the phone while her daughter was being murdered. Like, screaming, struggling–the whole bit! But on my lap is a smallish computer which I am using to access facebook and write this entry. So I missed the most horrific part–I think. I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t try to gauge the horror factor and should instead just settle on, Who the crap wrote this?

Look, the point is: my apartment doesn’t have internet. Like, none. And not anticipating this scenario–ever, not even in my tamest dreams–I didn’t bring any good literature with me. Also, completely forgetting how freaking exhausting language training is, I neglected to bring entertaining alternatives because, like, of course I’ll be able to spend 12 hours a day studying Arabic!


But I do have TV and I have spent a few to several hours this week getting reacquainted with this piece of technology. I mean, it’s been 4 years. I can’t just rush back in to this, you know? Right so, last night I sat down to watch So You Think You Can Dance and squealed because Oh My Gosh! SYTYCD! On TV! In MY LIVING ROOM! You’re squealing now, too, I know. Well, turns out that MBC is showing LAST season’s, which would be major demerits except that I didn’t have a TV last summer either so any season’s a good season, right? (Wrong. I actually did see season 2, which was the summer of 2006 which just so happens to be the summer I was at BYU doing an intensive Arabic course. ) But then! This couple was about to go out and Samba and the music starts and the camera cuts to some guy sitting in the audience. Wait, what? And then they show the couple twirling, and then another cut to that guy, and then a cut to the sign, and then Cat Deeley walks out and is all , That was awesome!


Um, I don’t know if that’s ever happened to you, but it is not awesome.
A few numbers later, Joshua and his partner did a 12-second Rumba. Have you ever heard of a 12-second Rumba? No, you haven’t. Because it doesn’t exist!



:0 :0

But wait, there is more.

Tonight, my roommate and I sat down to watch an MTVArabia special about Michael Jackson and they bleeped out words. Words like, “Gay” and “bisexual” and “crotch“. And more than once, “sexy”.

All I’m saying is, don’t get too attached to your oversexed culture. Because one day, you could be watching TV in Jordan. And when that day comes, you’re just going to be all alone in a hotel room watching some creepy movie about your murdered daughter. And then you’re going to be SO GRATEFUL that those censors did not let those filthy words hum across your tympanic membrane.

Off to Wadi Rum in a few hours. Pictures when I return!