Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The clock is ticking and I want it to stop

I am really nervous about Hassan leaving for the US. I told him that I cannot imagine living here without him - for obvious reasons, but mostly because I love him and will miss him terribly. He and I have never been apart for this amount of time - maybe 2-3 weeks when he would travel to Cairo on vacation, but not longer. And definitely not apart when it comes to parenting. We believe in the tag-team approach to parenting. I don't know how Mira will take this. She is not saying much right now, but come tomorrow and Thursday she will be devastated that he is leaving.

All I care about is Hassan's safety. I have to worry about him again in the States where crime is much higher than it is here. In Egypt, everyone is safe anytime of the day or night - together in groups or alone - woman or man. There is absolutely no tolerance for crime in this country. I don't know if that's good or bad. An American teacher in my school last year was carjacked on her way to school. She went to the police station and they immediately pummeled the man who carjacked her. Interesting. I'm not saying it's right, but it's sort of a relief that there is a zero tolerance policy.

Sure Hassan will be able to shop in the US for a few things I want - Bath and Body Works moisturizer, Yankee candles, whatever it is that Mira wants - within reason of course, some embroidery machine supplies, and the old standard of "3 buck Chuck." Hassan said that he will drive to Waldorf at some point and get some really good steaks.

I need to look on the bright side of this and make the best of it - it's only for 3 or 4 months and when he returns it will almost be spring here - sandstorm season but who cares as long as my habibi (sweetheart) is back safely in Cairo.



Friday, November 24, 2006

And the countdown begins . . .

Hassan will leave at 4:00 a.m. on Friday morning, December 1. Fortunately I will not have to work so I can take him to the airport which is only 15 minutes away from my home. I will sleep the rest of Friday - as much as I can because I usually don't do well until he lands wherever he is headed.

I need to check out the TSA website for "allowed" and "not allowed" travel items as well as the whole carry-on baggage issue which has drastically changed since we traveled a year and a half ago.

Mira is very upset Hassan is leaving. She cries a lot and says "Daddy's not coming back." I try to comfort her as much as possible. Then I tell her that he's leaving to bring her back a lot of things that she wants (kind of, because everything is available here in Egypt). Mira's list includes PlayStation 3 (no way!) and Skecher tennis shoes (why? I don't know but I don't think she's getting them).

I've been having a lot of deja vous lately - I think I'm a little overwhelmed with everything going on here. Some people say that deja vous are a kind of hiccup in the brain, but I don't know for sure.



Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Meme

I am really stressed out right now -- between Hassan getting ready to leave and many events taking place at school I am an emtional mess. So I found this list on Layla's blog and thought it would be fun to do for a change.



20 years ago, I:

1- was 23 years old.
2- had a two brothers who were 25 & 26 years old and two sisters who were 19 & 17 at the time. (ok so I'm the middle child)
3- wanted to fun and was very selfish and judgmental.

10 years ago, I:

1- was 33, married to my habibi and in my dream job not knowing life was about to change forever.
2- watched my mother quickly decline after a battle with cancer and spent just about all my free time with her.
3- bought our first house.

5 years ago, I:

1- was 38, married and in our dream house with unfortunately the nightmare yardwork that came along with it.
2- thought I was happy where I was but felt there was still something missing -- something more.
3- knew that life for us would never be the same after 9/11.

3 years ago, I:

1- was 41 and working part-time in a job I really didn't like very much.
2- realized that materialism isn't everything.
3- knew life would change and we would be moving on, which was not easy for me to come to grips with.

1 year ago, I:

1- was getting to move to our new flat.
2- was 42 and saw Mira change from a little girl into a young lady who is into rainbows, mermaids and unicorns.
3- was beginning to realize that I have to make the best of my life here in Cairo.

So far this year, I:

1- bought a really great sewing machine.
2- started wearing hijab.
3- lost an additional 10 kilos to bring the total to 30 kilos (approx. 60 pounds).

Yesterday I:

1- woke up at 5:00 a.m. getting ready for the school day.
2- told Hassan that I love him.
3- tickled Mira.

Today I:

1- got up at 3:30 a.m. (slept too early last night)
2- made a pot of coffee which I will consume before I leave for school at 7 a.m.
3- sat outside on my balcony and listed to the Adhan for Fajr prayer in the dark looking at the stars (my favorite time of day).

Tomorrow, I will:

1- go out with friends.
2- update Hassan's lists before he leaves.
3- remember to be grateful for everything I have been given.

In the next year, I will Insha'Allah:

1- continue to lose weight.
2- have three quilts finished.
3- see my family in the U.S.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hassan's Travel Plans

So it is confirmed -- Hassan needs to be in Washington, DC by December 3 - that's the day he will start work. The contract is for three months. He wll return sometime in early March -- ahh, the sandstorm season in Cairo.

He is searching for a flight to DC without having to travel through JFK. He's not worried about packing -- just my shopping list (thank you Habibi!).

I cannot believe he will be leaving for three months. This is a surreal experience for me because we have never been apart from each other for more than a few weeks at a time. After almost 14 years of marriage, another first. How many more "firsts" am I going to experience in my lifetime? I do not know. I am always up for an adventure and a good time -- ask anyone who knows me, but the worry over him flying always stresses me to a breaking point.

Depending on his flight time, I may or may not be taking him to the airport here in Cairo. Actually we live 15 minutes from the airport, so it is not a big deal to drive him, but it is very emotional for Mira. It might be better for all of us if Shabaan drops him off.

Get out the winter coat, gloves and hat. It's going to be a cold transition from Cairo to DC.



Thursday, November 16, 2006

Al Jazeera in English

After much anticipation, Al Jazeera has begun broadcasting their English speaking channel. It is very interesting. It seems as though they have a lot of British reporters on staff. I have not seen many American reporters yet, but I am sure they are out there somewhere. I have only been able to catch the hourly news so far. Al Jazeera is well known for its documentaries.

The channel has already interviewed American troops in Iraq, covered up to the minute bombings of Palestine, in addition to the awful situation in Sudan, explaining how one refugee camp is split in two: one side for the peace agreement, one side against. The weather report even covers Cairo. The Arabic Al Jazeera channel never covers Cairo -- apparently they do this on purpose (maybe they like Egyptians or maybe the sun always shines).

I do not know if it will be available in the US, but here in Egypt it is broadcast on Nilesat. Of course, it's free to air. No subscription is needed. Check their website www.aljazeera.net/english.



Saturday, November 11, 2006

Change is in the air -- In more ways than one

On Election night, November 7, my youngest sister in the US sent me the following message on my mobile: “I just voted and change is in the air.” I thought this would be the perfect title to a blog entry concerning the elections.

Thursday morning, Hassan phoned me at school and said that he heard from his boss in the US and they want him for a contracted period of 90 days, beginning as soon as possible. Now that's "change in the air."

When we moved here a year and a half ago I was told by women in my email groups that I needed to wait a year or two -- you will see your husband go back to the US and you will want to stay in Egypt. I thought no way -- Hassan is so happy here he would never go back to the US for a good job. I will be the first to leave and take Mira with me and he can stay here in Cairo. I got close to leaving a couple of time but never followed through on any urges. In all honesty, the move from the US to Cairo just about drained every emotion out of my heart.

Well, those words are ringing true and I cannot stop and think about how right the women are in my situation when it comes to an American being married to an Egyptian.

Since yesterday we have been making lists of things to take, things to buy, things to do before leaving Cairo, things to do in the US, and things to bring back.

In the meantime we are making sure "all our ducks are in a row."

Insha’Allah it will all work out.



Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fun Day and Photos

We had a "fun day" at school today for the elementary and middle schools. It was nice because I was able to take my camera to work and snap a few photos of students. I just had to get a photo of my dear friend Reham and me. I call her "Spicy" because her sense of humor and personality is quite sharp. She calls me "Mimi" because she wants to.
Also is a picture of Mira who won an award for best costume in her class. She was really excited.

One of the Kindergarten teachers gave me a carved pumpkin - a jack'o lantern from the Kindergarten party. It really made me homesick - so a friend of mine
lit the pumpkin for me so I could see it light up. It was lovely. Thank you my friend.