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.

One More Day

Glimpse of Petra Treasury

Tomorrow at this time, I will be in Jordan. WOOHOO!

Initially my mom wasn’t going to allow me to go to Jordan until I had secured housing. Initially I was going to buy my own darn ticket and go anyway.  But as I put off the housing search and the date drew nearer, I won without a struggle. So tomorrow, I’ll arrive in Jordan completely homeless (!). I’m pretty excited.
But, really, not completely homeless. There are lots of Mormons around and one of them is even going to meet me at the airport. So though I may be arriving homeless, it’s unlikely I’ll be spending my night on the street.
So that’s good.

Jet Lag’s a—well, you know.

The past few days are hazy.

In fact, last night was the first night I didn’t pass out on the couch. I haven’t even been eating dinner I’ve been so tired. The tug of some whacky circadian rhythms have had me out by 7 PM each night, tossing and turning through the wee morning hours, and out of bed by 7 AM.

The heat is stifling. I’ve woken up several times during the night with a sore throat, chapped lips, and a lovely sheen of sweat, especially around my hairline. Ah, long hair in summer.

I can’t remember much, but I’ve been taking lots of pictures. Here’s what I gather I’ve been up to:

Sahara Mall with my Mom to see Up.
We stopped at the food court.
I took pictures of the train at Adventureland.

Malls in the Emirates are not just for shopping. In fact, I think shopping is really just a bonus. Malls are really a big air-conditioned refuge for kids to eat and play.

Hence the mini roller coaster:

Another day, I had lunch with my very first college roommate. We happened to walk past the Deans List board (yes, so few students actually make Deans List that all the names fit effortlessly on one board).
Commentary was scribbled in all over the place, but this was our favorite comment:

Diana’s name is circled–presumably by Diana herself–and an arrow points to this note:
Yay!! =) Note: 3.92 =p (hate me)
Another arrow appears at the top and draws the reader’s attention to yet another message written, we can only presume, by an indignant engineering student. It reads:
LoL ur CAS !!!11! ur 4.0 is Engineering’s 2.0 loL
It’s a gem, this one. First with the typo-exclamation points, and then with the butchered English and finally with the presumption that Diana’s near 4.0 humanities GPA (CAS=College of Arts and Sciences) is hardly worth a scoff over there in COE (College of Engineering). Really? COE is SO MUCH HARDER than CAS that it has rendered you entirely inept at English? Well, next time you want to LoL at a CAS(!!!11!) student, I’d like to see you write a dozen 8-15 page research papers–properly spelt, cited and punctuated, and without resorting to plagiarism. Then we can have a nice little chat about GPAs.


At some point I went grocery shopping. This can also be done at the mall. At any mall. Seriously.
I find this to be a particularly interesting food:

The sun, the moon, the whole sky looks different over here. I think it’s all the dust in the atmosphere.
Whatever it is, it makes for some cool pictures:

I didn’t shoot it in Black and White, nor did I edit it later. That’s just how it looks.

This was just yesterday, so it just happens to be fresh in my memory. One of my former professors took me out to dinner to celebrate my completion of college. We passed this house along the way:

I like the blue glass.

And this one, too:

I have a thing for ridiculously spacious homes. (More to come.)We decided to dine in Sharjah, even though half of the restaurants in Sharjah failed their food inspections. Heh.
It’s just that we’d heard such good things about Qanat al-Qasba, and it did not disappoint.
Her daughter really enjoyed the dancing fountains:

While I found the ferris wheel (Eye of the Emirates) particularly photogenic:

The Journey: Photo Essay

Read about it here.
Goodbye, Salt lake City!

This was the flight I was supposed to be on…

Instead I flew through London, a place of strange seating customs

I think we replace “flush” with “start the wave”

You know how when something, say in an airport bathroom, is broken, we slap up a sign that says Out of Order ?

“Out of Order” the British way


And not only were there vending machines at the gate…

…a Book. Vending. Machine.

Mmmmm….airplane food…

My favorite part of flying Emirates is the starry ceiling.

Ah. Home sweet home…ish.

The Journey of 8,000 Miles Includes 7 Times Through the Security Line

View from SLCArrive: Salt Lake City International Airport, Noon.


One o’clock, decide to watch Arrested Development on my laptop.
Turn on laptop; realize charger is still plugged in. At home.

Nearly 3, Roommate Amy drops charger off at airport.


Return to gate to board plane. Learn that flight has been delayed 3 hours due to mechanical problems.
Go to United ticketing desk and get rerouted from Frankfurt to London.


Fly to Denver.


Eat candy.
Fly to London.
Go from terminal 1 to ticketing desk in terminal 3.


Wait in line for 40 minutes.
Discover United did not give me Flight Interruption Manifest. Must go back to terminal 1.
Miss 2:15 flight.
Booked for 5 PM flight.
Take bus (again) to terminal 1.
Terminal 1.


Take bus to terminal 3.
Terminal 3.


Get boarding pass.
Hang out for 2 hours.
Discover just how weak the dollar really is–while munching on really expensive candy.
Spend the London-Dubai flight watching 30 Rock, Marley and Me, and Taken.

Arrive in Dubai at 3 am (1 pm Utah time. 25 1/2 hours since leaving home).
Wait for luggage.
Wait for luggage.
Wait for luggage.
Discover 1 piece is still in London.
Fill out paperwork.
Leave airport just in time to hear call to Fajr prayer.
Get home just shy of 5 am (Dubai time).

Grand totals:

4 airplanes

7 times through security.

31 hours from home to home.