Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Next?

“What next?” my restless soul moans.  Not in a “what will be dumped on me next” way, but in a “What is my next chapter going to be?” way.  At a major crossroads where some decisions may or may not be mine to make.  Wanting so not to be anxious or afraid but open to the adventure.  The world is full of possibilities.  All over the range, though, after some of the living situations I’ve seen in the world, I am well aware that my range does not likely go as low as the Kibera slum in Kenya, nor as high as the gold laden lattes at the Emirates Palace. 
Kibera Slums
Nairobi, Kenya
24k Gold Floating on Latte
Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Having been the sole supporter of my soul and physical needs for, well, for a long time, part of me is very tired.  Weary of having to be the one to worry about the next chapter.  I wake up with a start from dreams of falling out of planes, of waking up in unknown alleys, of being so far underwater my lungs are bursting.  And yet if I wrote you my life it would contain chapters of adventure and life sustaining connections and being provided with more than I could ever imagine.  Even in the darkest chapters there have always been souls to enter along side with me and walk me through to the light.  When threat of losing it all (and I don’t just mean my house and income and dear friends and mother…I also mean my mind and my will to live) was at my doorstep, the largest presence both of and not of this earth held me in His hands and here I am.

Finding so much joy in a sexily posed naked chicken that it makes me want to quit it all and go arrange food in erotic positions just to get enough money to squeek by.  Wanting to hire one of my most admired photographers to teach me how to capture the things that nobody else sees.  Dreaming of finding a way to swap my cottage/house in the northwest with a footloose soul in Vicenza so that I can just live fully and deeply for a year in that mental zone where everything is fresh and nothing is for granted.  Dreaming of roaming the States in a travel trailer gathering stories for fodder. 
Vicenza, Italy
And then I land back in me.  The me who obsesses over Facebook chatter, caring sometimes more about how a post will be perceived than what I wanted to say.  The me who is so easily hurt by things not meant to hurt at all but still feed on my leftover teenage awkwardness, embarrassment and feelings of inadequacy.  Gnawed at by questions around whether people are just nice to me because they actually like me or because they pity me.  Then I remember, I am still in His hands.  The one who planted the seed of curiosity and quirkiness that makes me fantasize about posing naked chickens.  The One who placed for me to discover a potato shaped like a bird.  I’m tentatively raising my hand “Hey God.  What next?  I’m ready. I think.”

Ramblings courtesy of encouragement from:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Just Write - Sept 20

Doing time at a desk, writing technical for a living.  Living technicalities. Hate it.  Soul pushes at the skin and rebels at the desk.  Give me a window.  With a lake view.  How I miss my home.  Miss my dog, my so called Muse who would force me out into the fresh air.  Outside my head and my bed to see what God has put in front of me.  I need to write and read surely as I need to breathe.  I need to do the things that rob my soul so that I can afford to nurture a soul that has been robbed.  Vicious cycle. 

Here I am a fish out of water.  A fish in the desert.  So obviously different from those around me and if God, this is to teach me a lesson, then I am now knowledgeable (and will spell check that one Sistah before I print).  Holly says these trials are an invitation from God and sometimes when she says that I just want to say “Well I’m not in a partying mood, God.  Invite someone else.”  Though I know she’s right and I have grown something awesome that I don’t know what to do with.  Some sort of empathy for those who are fish out of water.  But I miss my nest.  I miss my tribe.  I miss growing gracefully in a place where I can contribute and give. 

“Of all the things I lost, I miss my mind the most.” Was my favorite bumper sticker.  And is it freakin’ silly to be missing my dishes?  Because what I want to unpack first when I get home is my plates and bowls and mugs and set a gorgeous table.  With candles and wine glasses and bacon and friends.  When I cook here, often sharing with a grateful flatmate, it isn’t the same as dinner parties with my tribe.  And while the masses around me eat out of discount market plastic plates, if they are lucky, or ornate gold leafed French china (is it French or is it Chinese?) at the other end of the spectrum,  I am an ungrateful child for my Ikea plates.  Ikea everything in a flat that is temporary and thrown together but fine.  I want my white stoneware.  My lettuce leaf salad plates.  My Swiss dot bowls gleaned from a sweet beach town shoppe (spelled shoppe of course).  As long as I am missing, I miss my Eiffel Tower Lamp, my pink leather armchair and my lemon boxes. 

 Now back to the tables and statistics and links to Appendices and Figures and reports that nobody will read as here they are all about the weight of the document and the graphics and the bulk of material that says so much but means so little and in the end won’t really mean much as they’ll do what they were planning on doing all along. 

For Heather @ the Extraordinary Ordinary

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On Passing 9/11 in the Middle East

The alert from the Embassy notes to use caution
Heightened Alert Status they call it
And somehow I feel safer here than I might at home 

The Middle Easterners whom I know,
And  whose paths I cross, are not a threat
At worst a recoiling (as when forced to stand too close in an elevator)
Typically an indifference (no eye contact)
Often casual conversation (about the hot weather)

Sometimes real relating conversation (rarely, but some treasured sometimes)
Only occasionally a mean taxi driver from Afghanistan or thereabouts
But mostly the drivers are friendly once I show my friendly cards in hand 

I do not like living here
It is not home
It is a sentence that needs an ending.
It is sometimes anxiety, sometimes frustration
Often surreal
An opportunity.  A blessing if I look hard enough. 

I know I have not done enough personally to heal the wound
Only the little things to indicate there is not hate
There are only people: me and them
Side by side
Hopefully enough

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One Girl's So Called Life

I work with a brilliant young engineer recently graduated from the University in the most conservative Emirate (think State) of the United Arab Emirates.  She is sharp, optimistic, and charming.  Hiring her was one of the first things I accomplished in my assignment here and I attended her wedding just within weeks of my arrival, before she had actually started working for us.  Though she holds a Jordanian passport, she was born and raised here in the UAE.  Though her hair is always covered with a scarf, she does not wear the full abaya that indigenous gulf women wear.  She dresses quite modernly, though arms and legs always fully covered.

Yesterday she told me of a panicked call she had gotten from a college peer of hers.  This young woman had called my friend because of a dire family situation.  Seems she had just recently gotten hired by a company here in Abu Dhabi.  Her home is in Sharjah (the most conservative Emirate, about two hours drive from here) and her family very, very conservative.  She had had to get permission from her father to take this job: in this country, if you are not a UAE citizen (we call them “locals”) you must either have a company sponsor or be sponsored by a father or husband.  The sponsor must show proof of employment and therefore indirectly have a local sponsor.  Though her father had originally signed the official documents agreeing to let his daughter take employment with this company, after two days of her commuting to Abu Dhabi, and starting the process of finding housing here, they had changed their mind.  They did not want to allow their daughter the freedom to be out in the world, so far from home (about a two hour’s drive away).  After three days on the job her mother informed her “if you go to work you will be disowned from this family.”

My co-worker told me that during college this gal’s parents were also very protective of her.  She could not openly go out places with other female students, no unchaperoned activities.  She was basically forced to be dishonest, just to have any social life, even though it did not include meeting men in any way, shape or form.  No level of trust.

This young lady decided to go on to graduate school because the only other option open to her was to stay at home and wait for a marriage to be arranged.  So she went to graduate school and got a degree.  Then she went to look for a job.  And now she is in this place: deciding on a career or being abandoned by her family.  She is truly between a rock and a hard place in the truest sense of the words.  She told my friend “it makes me just want to marry some old coot to get out from under this control.” 

I do not know this young lady, but I want to bring her home.  Give her a room and a life where she can breathe and have hope for a future.  It is hard for me not to see so much of the customs and regulations here as projection of the oppressor’s own depraved tendencies.  “You cannot be trusted to be in the presence of someone of the opposite sex because I could not be trusted in the same situation.”  It’s stories like these that bring me to my knees in thanks that I was born in the time and place and to the people I was born to.  Praying that this girl will find some light showing the way out of this tunnel.

Montestigliano Wine Tasting

(Inspire by notes in the book)

The evening that will end
With the memorable quote
"Kiss my husband again,
I didn't get a picture"
Started with the wine tasting.

Ah, the wine tasting,
In which different continents
Sat side by side
And talked of the tracking of the "tears"
Which track down the side of the stemmed glass
(Otherwise known as the wine's legs,
But here, in Tuscany, they are tears.)

My notes note the almost bitterness of the Venacia
The Refola, Chianti, the Colinesse we count
The seconds it takes each to settle down
To the bottom of the glass

My friend's notes in this little book
Get looser and loopier with each glass
As do we
"Buttery" "Spicy" "Sweet" undertones which
"rounds out the aggressiveness" of
...something illegible

"In this one,
her legs are tighter together"
"In this wine we age the juices separately before we blend"
And I look around the table at my friends
And the two couples from England
And think it is also the same

My sister
After a contemplative sip
Pronounces "I taste
A handsome Italian farm worker"
And it's up the downhill slope from there.


Inspired by the book

The borrowed four month old on my lap
On the train from Delhi to Hadiwar
Is named Rinjin which means rainfall
Her grandmother tells me

Beautiful, both of them
In a world where I am coming from the desert
It is the most beautiful name
A gift in a name called rainfall
And a borrowed four month old on my lap

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

So Many Shades of Green

(inspired by the book)

"So many shades of green"
My poetic son sighs at the sight
Of the Scottish Highlands.
Today we are talking.
Yesterday we had words.

Angry words
Over my voiced sadness
At the sight of an old man
In the Edinburgh train station at 8:30 a.m.
Ordering a Scotch at 8:30 a.m.

He said it was none of my business
To be sad over early whiskey.
I rile at his notion
That my feelings over such things are not right.
Not so much over his defense of an alcoholic old man,
But his nerve to judge my feelings over such things.

But today we both see green.
So many shades - so many feelings
All green.