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!

Last night I made a shocking and horrifying realization: Amiyya and Fusha are two separate languages. And all these years spent carefully memorizing the vocabulary and mastering the grammar of Fusha hasn't gotten me any closer to becoming fluent in the language. Because this Fall, when I commence my study of Amiyya, I'm going to have to start all. over. again.
Before I confuse you too much, let's get this out of the way: 'amiyya' is the colloquial Arabic–or so they told us in school. Actually it's the spoken language, which they also told us in school. But what they didn't tell us was that 'amiyya' is a whole new language. Like there aren't just 'some' differences in grammar and 'some' differences in vocabulary. No, there are a few similarities. And the rest? Entirely different.
Fusha (not foo-sha. Foos-Huh), by the way, is completely ridiculous. Fusha literally means “the most eloquent” and the rules and much of its vocabulary are derived from the Qur'an. But because back 1500 years ago there was no such thing as a satelite, because indeed there was no such concept as a spherical Earth, the guys in charge of making up new words came up with “manufactured moon.” If I may just ask, WTF?
The past two days in class we have been going over vocabulary words for all the furniture in the house. We'll be like [word for couch] and he'll be like ah, yes. Also, in Amiyya [word for couch] is [entirely different word for couch]. I have a list of 63 words and 59 of them are completely different words in amiyya. The other four may–probably do–have amiyya equivalents, but I missed them because I didn't write fast enough.
So if any of you are considering studying Arabic, just don't. Just stop now and go back to Spanish.  Because dang, you will never learn Arabic.

I have no internet; I only have a computer.

28 June 2009
Dear Diary,
Today was great. In our afternoon class, Quteibah, one of my two instructors, taught us all the gruesome ways people could be put to death. By guillotine, decapitation by sword, firing squad, hanging, and a few more methods of decapitation. And I thought the electric chair was inhumane.

This evening, I was pleased to realize that other than on the JD and a half that I spent on water and juice, I didn’t spend any money today. Suck it, Taxis!

Also, You may be pleased to find out that I showered yesterday. That makes Two times in three days. Hear that, Guinness? Call me!

I’m in my new apartment now. Hooray! I haven’t seen my roommate in a while though. I wonder where she’s gone off to? I’ll post pictures sometime. First I should take some. It’s about a 20-minute walk to class—downhill this time—and it’s near a main road—op! Speak of the Devil, there’s the roommate! So what was I saying? Oh right, so a downhill walk as opposed to my crazy uphill one in Utah. That’s pretty cool. And I’m just a few houses away from kind of a busy road, but it’s far enough that I’m not bothered by the noise.

Or at least, that’s what I was telling people before I moved in. Last night was my first night here and I was all excited to sleep in my new bed and wouldn’t you know it? HONKING. Honk! Honk! Honk! Honk! Honk! Honk! (pause.) Distant honking. Cheering. HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK. (pause.) Distant honking. Cheering. HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK. For like 45 minutes! And then, right when I thought all was quiet in the night, the clapping began. Clapping, cheering, music—I can’t take these jubilees! What about my beauty sleep?!

Luckily, I sleep like I’m intoxicated so when the time came to sleep, sleep came.
So all is well—exceptionally well, really, since I didn’t have to deal with taxis today.
Oo, except for one thing. You know that 30 Rock episode where Liz Lemon is supposed to write something for Jack because Jack needs to impress some people but Liz doesn’t make it to the meeting because she stayed up watching Tootsie with Floyd and so Jack pitches a 3-hour Salute to Fireworks but then his fireworks show scares the crap out of Midtown because fireworks in April in Rockefeller Square? So Geiss takes away his responsibilities as head of Microwave Oven Programming. Yeah, well, that’s sort of how I feel. Like, someone is doing a salute to fireworks but instead of one 3-hour special it’s every freaking night. The mayor really should call Jack Donaghy and get the whole thing shut down because it’s going to freak out all my relatives who don’t need any more convincing that the Middle East is full of mad gunmen bent on enslaving Western civilization.

Hah. Just one more funny thing before I sign off. Straight from that very episode:

Jack: I want you on this, Lemon. Those jokes you wrote for my Mitt Romney fundraiser—they were top notch.

Liz: Those weren’t jokes. That was an appeal for a return to common sense and decency.

Jack: …Well they got big laughs.

Ho man I love that show.

Reasons I Didn’t Shower This Week

You think I’m joking…1. In hopes that this layer of grime will obscure my fair skin.
Today was the dirtiest I’ve been all week. It was hot today and I was wearing a black shirt and flip flops. My feet were filthy, as were part of my calves, since I was wearing capris. I was sweating like crazy and my hair was messy and all kinds of unkempt. But none of that kept the Lebanese cab driver–who had leather interior and NO A/C–from telling me about his hot Italian wife and his Iraqi wife and how if he didn’t have kids, he would take me traveling with him. I thought, For a man with two wives, you really don’t understand women. You’re 15 years older than I am and fat with greasy hair, TWO WIVES and children. Do you really think I’m interested in traveling with you? And then he offered to buy me lunch. Blease, blease I bay, no broblem.
No, I’m fine. Thanks. But no. Really, no way. Not even a chance.
It all worked out in the end, though. His meter was broken and initally he wanted 3 dinar to take me downtown because its veddy far and I look rich and all he has is this cab. I insisted on 2.5 because I don’t even have a job, not even a cab! He cleverly dodged that subject with tales of his hard life with his Italy Wife who is veddy byootiful with hair like mine, not red but, how you say? And then he told me all about his shop in Italy and all the money it makes but how his Byootifull Italy Wife drinks and go to disco and this problem because she drink wine and wine and wine too mosh!
When the cab pulled up to my street, he asked, How mosh?
Two and a half I said, handing him a five.
And two and a half it was. 😀

Maybe next time I’ll go two weeks without washing my face…

2. Easier styling.
I have these bangs that always hang in my right eye, throwing off my depth perception and field of vision and turning me into an utter bloody klutz. Plus, it’s hot over here and so I keep all my hair pulled back and off of my neck. My bangs, though, I usually fix with a barrette. Today, however, I discovered that after a week of oil buildup, the barette was no longer necessary. Awesome.

3. Water is scarce in the Middle East. It’s only a matter of years before wars are faught over water rights and sources, so I’m just doing my part to keep the peace.

4. Oh yeah, and this:
I’ve never had to stand in the shower and worry about falling in the toilet before…


A REAL Hostel!

Hostel Kitty attacking my shoelace I’m staying in a hostel in downtown Amman until I find a place to live. Right now there is a kitten on my lap playing with my camera wrist dealie.

My battery is almost dead. Inshallah, I’ll have a real place this weekend.
Until then, I’m happy with this kitty.
🙂 [kitten not pictured]

The Day of Nothing

Last night I stayed up past midnight. This morning I slept in till 9:15. In the meantime, I was sleeping through my roommate’s snores.

This morning I had pancakes for breakfast. Thick ones with not a lot of syrup. It reminded me of Saturday mornings in California when my dad would sometime serve up a big batch of pancakes.
But mine weren’t in cool shapes.

I did a lot of time-wasting this afternoon. I watched the Daily Show and 30 Rock and surfed the internet. Then, once the afternoon was good and wasted, I wandered around outside and took pictures.

Arabs are a suspicious bunch, but I just walked around with my camera anyway. I figured they couldn’t suspect me of being a spy if I wasn’t acting like one.
So I took a picture of this guard:

(Actually, the real reason it’s blurry is that I was being stealthy about it. So much for bucking suspicion.)

There are some of this flower right outside this house.

And they smell even better than they sound.

I got back before sundown and realized I have to pay tuition tomorrow. $715 in cash. So I went to an ATM, but they were all out of big money. So I took out about $340 in twenty dinar notes. I was anxious the whole way home.

Just now, Sister Boyd came in and told me they found a cockroach in their room. She thinks they brought it back with the boxes but be on the lookout just in case.

Now I have to take a shower, and soon after I will go to sleep.

But all I can think about are cockroaches crawling up through the shower drain and scuttling across my bedspread.


I should never have watched Men in Black.

As Per Request

Viewing Israel through barbed wire
A shot from 2007


I’m in my bedroom now, sitting with the windows open and listening to the Arabic wafting through the curtains. No wait, now it’s just honking. Ah, the city.

I got to Amman on Monday morning and this is the first chance I’ve had to be on the internet. Let this be a lesson to you: cherish your internet connection. It is a wonderful luxury.
Amman is a great city. It’s big and full of cars, noise and cigarette smoke, but it’s got a good feel to it. It’s hilly and green, and every time I crest a hill, I expect to be able to look out onto the ocean. Such a disappointment to be in another landlocked place. Ah, well.
Today I was supposed to have orientation. I arrived at 10 AM and found a posting on the door:
Orientation postponed till tomorrow. Suckers.
The days have really worn me out. It’s not hot–low 90s, probably–but walking around in the sun as much as I do takes a lot of energy. So does getting used to a new place and language and taxis. The last two nights I’ve been out by 10 and up by 8. Today I didn’t do much AND  I took a nap so even though it means I’ll regret it tomorrow morning during my placement exam, right now I’m happy to be up late.
I’m staying at the Amman Centre right now, which is a church thing. The church isn’t allowed to Proselytize here, so they just have a humanitarian thing going on. I’m in a two-story building and the bottom floor is the living space, and the top floor is church space. The missionaries are Brother and Sister Boyd. Interestingly, they are from Utah and not just from Utah, but right down the road from a family I know in the Emirates (who also have a home in Utah). Small world. This weekend I’ll move into my place. I’m pretty sad about that because it’s so homey here and Sister Boyd makes such great food.
I start class Sunday. I’m not really excited because bleh. Work. And no more homey home! But the campus is really nice and it’ll be fun to get back into Arabic.
More interesting updates to come.