Monday, August 27, 2007

How much stress can you handle?

Last Tuesday I went to school - it's orientation time. Mira has been going with me. Tuesday we came home from school and I was starving.

During the summer it's too hot to eat anything heavy so most people just eat one meal a day and drink large amounts of water. It is a habit I fell into naturally -- fruits, cheese, bread, and water. Sometimes fuul. That's it for one day.

Tuesday I came home starving. So I ordered a grilled chicken - ferakh meshwayya from El Haty, a well known grill restaurant in Cairo. I love their chicken - especially when Hassan's here and we eat it together. I was eating the bread with tahina and I heard a crack in my mouth. Well, it finally happened - I broke another tooth.

This tooth was next to the one I broke some time ago. No more playing around -- it was time to go to the dentist.

I was so worried about school - I went on Wednesday, which was a field trip to the Pyramids and Sphinx in 100+ degrees. Mira and Jasmine came along and had a great time. Actually I went for them because they really wanted to go.

There I am, hot as hell, walking up the hill, with a broken, throbbing tooth, in 100+ heat, dehydrated, dreading the afternoon trip to the dentist.

I have bad experiences with dentists - you know, childhood memories of novacaine and the drill hitting the nerve from a cavity.

I had no choice anymore. This had to be taken care of. I went to the dentist and he pulled the tooth saying "You can come tomorrow (Thursday) morning or September 2 to get your teeth fixed." I thought about it for approximately 1/2 a second and answered "Tomorrow." I know me - if I wait I will never go back.

So I went to the dentist the next day and he started the procedure for two implants. Well, it would have taken only 15 minutes but there was a problem with the bone. At one point he even got out a little hammer to pound at the bone in my mouth - the worst part of it was that he kept showing me the progress. Ugh. I can go without the details.

Alhamdulillah I have 4 stitches, two temporary crowns and virtually no pain whatsoever.

In addition, I am reconsidering my job this year. It just isn't working out - I snapped at work yesterday and I'm sick and tired of fighting the Egyptian way of doing business. Just because other people have to deal with it doesn't mean that I have to also. I work because I love to work and I'm dedicated to what I do - but I need to decide when it's time to stop being a pushover and doormat and get some brass balls to say "no." I should have listened to Hassan in February when he told me not to return to work. He was right.

So I called in sick today - my mouth is swollen and throbbing and in pain from the stress of school and we're still a week away from students arriving. Oh well.



Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What kind of friend do you want?

Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants to have friends, but at what cost?

Whenever a situation arises when I question a friendship I've made I think of the following:

1. Do I want a friend who tells me the truth?

I absolutely want a friend who will tell me the truth. No question about it. Someone who is thought provoking and even challenging at times is a friend worth keeping.

2. Do I want a friend who tells me what I want to hear?

No. If you tell me that I've lost weight when in fact I know I've gained weight, or that my knee socks and clogs look nice, get going.

3. Do I want my friend to lie to me?

Never, especially if my daughter is involved.

Someone who I consider a real friend lied to me instead of telling me the truth. Maybe they lied to me to spare my feelings, or my daughter's feelings, but nonetheless it was a lie.

Single-parenting even on a temporary basis is not easy, especially in a foreign country. These past months have taught me a lot about who I consider my real friends.

My definition of a friend is:

1. Someone who will help out without wanting anything in return.
2. Someone who calls just to say hello.
3. Someone who offers constructive criticism.
4. Someone who shows compassion.
5. Someone who tells the truth.
6. Someone who accepts me as I am.



Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rome wasn't built in a day and neither were my kitchen cabinets

I consider myself to be a very patient person, but even a patient person can get pretty frustrated living in Egypt trying to get kitchen cabinets installed. We've been in this flat for 1 1/2 years and we've been living with the bare essentials: one small countertop w/ matching top and bottom cabinets, very outdated and worn, but useful, a large table used as a countertop, a small table which holds my beloved $9.99 Kmart Sunbeam coffee maker, a stove, a sink, and refrigerator.

When Hassan was here the one thing I demanded (yes, I can be demanding) was to have a kitchen installed -- ok, well, not installed but hopefully installed before he left on July 4th to return to the States. Well, the kitchen was designed, submitted, and money paid down for our new kitchen; however, it was not installed by July 4th.

Before Hassan left he had an understanding with the builder that the builder would take and dispose of, however he wished, of the old cabinets, sink, table, and matching 6 chairs which were sitting on my balconies for the past 1 1/2 years. Last Thursday the kitchen cabinets arrived -- did I mention only the bottom half was being installed? Ok, no problem, I'll take half a kitchen and countertop.

In any event, Shaban, thanks again, was overseeing the entire project, including the installation of the cabinets. Mira and I were excited as we saw the truck pull in with the cabinets on board for all our neighbors to envy (yes, envy) because I always envy any of my neighbors getting cabinets and countertop installed hoping one day it would happen to me too.

So the cabinets were unloaded and left downstairs. Shabaan arrived in the apartment, 4 or 5 floors up w/o steps, depending on what country you're from, and I was very happy to see him. I told him that I cleaned out the kitchen stuff (ok, crap) and had it packed away in various areas of my flat. I then reminded him that the builder was going to dispose of the dining room set (oh, I forgot to mention the large buffet Mira's using in her bedroom as her "catch all"), cabinets, sink, and anything else I could dispose of while I had use of the truck. Shaban told me, "Oh, the truck already left."

Ok, I was frustrated but pleased to see the cabinets. I told Shabaan that old stuff can be stored on the front balcony until the builder installs the top half of the cabinets.

So, the day was long and exhausting, but I was left with what I think is a beautiful kitchen in the making. I asked Shabaan if the builder needs anymore money. Shabaan, being the ever-so-wise Egyptian man says "Don't give him anymore money. I am going to talk him down." My kind of man!

I asked him what the timetable is for the rest of the kitchen. I told him I know Egyptian time schedules and realistically I'd need it installed before the beginning of Ramadan (because nobody works for a month except my school). He said that he already told the builder he has one week to install the remainder of the kitchen.

So here I sit with my Fred Sanford balconies waiting and dreaming for the rest of my kitchen cabinets to be installed, but more importantly to have the old stuff removed. Oh yes, and to start cooking, which I've already done and is such a joy, but don't expect me to gain any weight because I'm not turning back to my old habits, no matter how tempting the food. I love to cook and I love to eat, but not to that extent.

Oh, and I can't wait to start splurging, and the first thing I'll buy is some great Egyptian bakeware.