Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dejavu' in the worst way!

I find it absolutely horrifying that I only just mentioned our house burning down when I was a teenager in a previous postwhen lightening struck mothers house burned down yesterday. Thank God she was over here at my sisters house when it happened as Im not sure she would have been able to get out...apparently neighbors said it went up like a torch and was completely gone in no time. She has lost everything for the second time in her life...I cant imagine what she is going through. She was more upset that her cat got caught inside when normally he prefers to be outside...she feels guilty for not shooing him out as she usually does when she leaves. She is shell shocked...and I dont have a clue what to say that will penetrate her fog and make even the slightest difference to her.

On top of this horrible event I was even more disgusted at the way the whole area was full of people sitting down and chatting, smoking etc watching a womans life reduced to cinders...I even heard a few cold hearted jokes about there being a burn ban in Texas...really people!...I just dont understand the human tendency to revel in other peoples tragedies...I realize these people could most likely have doen nothing to save her house...but why sit around like it was a day at the park cracking jokes such as that...for what purpose? To lighten the mood? I just wanted to scream at them all to go away and come back when they had a bit more compassion rather than jokes...!

So here we are...Im newly arrived in Texas trying to start over from car, no job (till my SSN comes in) and no place to live (cant rent or anything without a job or down payment etc) Im staying with my sis in a crowded little house...7 of us....and now my mom is homeless and for sure she could stay with us but the house is bursting at the seams as it is...I feel alot of resentment is already brewing at the forced crowding etc...adding one more could be the straw on the camels back so to speak. We are making calls fast and furious trying to find arrangements for her...for us...but there seems to be nothing. Everything is for sale...nothing for rent. I feel my head is about to explode from all of this...I feel bad in so many ways...I cant help but think..."whats gonna happen next to us"....damn!

And for sure in the back of my head...always always playing over and over...did I do the right thing by moving far it doesnt look good.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Homeland Security my ass!

I have been in this country now for over 2 weeks and have just only now come to realize that my passport is defective. I have no idea how many people...supposedly security concious people...perused my passport between Bahrain airport and the DFW(with stopover in Paris)...not to mention the number of people that have given it a once over every time I have used it for ID purposes....and not one of them noticed anything suspect.

I must admit that while still in Bahrain I did notice that my passport seemed alot skinnier than usual...but didnt give it much thought. I had more things of interest on my mind than a suddenly skinny in what to take and what to leave...and the ever present turmoil of painful choices made and tears to deal with. The state of the passport was not even registering on my radar of things to worry about.

So...when I finally just stopped and took a good look at it I realized that there are pages missing from it. 4 pages to be exact. The pages that had stamps on them that are now missing dont interest me near as much as the fact that the first two pages are missing as well...the page that has my signature on it and personal info. I have wracked my brain but have no idea when those pages went missing in my passport as I used it quite often in Bahrain and remember seeing those pages not long ago...but the fact that it "got skinny" while still there means they went missing at some point before I left....hmmm? I smell something fishy there...

I remember travelling to America in Feb after 9/11 and the amount of security checks was astounding not to mention damn time consuming...but for the most part travellers took it all in stride....but the fact is my passport was not only looked at but every single page was scrutinized and seemingly was it this time all though I must admit I didnt pay as close attention to security checks as those fear filled months so soon after was just something I waited through and then picked up suitcases and trudged to the next one(I might have been a little more alert and on my toes had I known my passport had a potential to set off some security alarms somewhere)....then again its not my job to spot the potential "terrorist threats" now is it?

After watching newsreports all these years about Homeland Security and how it was making many American lives miserable by its all encompassing presence in their lives...Im really quite surprised...shocked...and actually quite pissed off that my passport breezed through the whole trip and subsequent ID checks without so much as a raised eyebrow...WTF!!! Homeland Security my ass...somebody needs some job training...and apparently I need a new passport.

I supposed I should be nervous trying to use it as I dont have any other form of ID at the moment...but if past experience is anything to go shouldnt be a problem...sigh!

Now only one more question to ask...obviously someone tore some pages out of my passport who might that be...and for what reasons? Anyone?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I need to just...breath

We spend our whole lives living with regret of some kind or another over choices we made. Everything from haircuts we thought would make us beautiful to handing over our hearts to someone that didnt deserve it. Most of the time we can get past the bad choice with grows back...all we have to do is put up with the sympathetic remarks until it does...or wear a hat. Broken hearts are not so easily dealt with...but time eventually mends every broken heart...either time or death..either way we eventually get past it. We regret our choices when they affect just us...but what about the choices we make that affect other people as our own children?

I could not adequately describe the turmoil that my family has suffered through this past 2 years...actually this past 20 years...since I made the decision to marry someone that I knew would make me miserable...but felt powerless to choose NOT to marry him...childhood trauma and all (another story)...but because of that decision...or lack there children were destined to suffer. My suffering at the hands of that abuser is nothing compared to the systematic destruction of each and everyone of my children in one way or ripples in a pond when a rock is thrown in...wave after wave of destruction...and not a life boat in sight to save the day.

I have personally had mountains to climb over that took great effort and much self growth...some of those mountains have proved nearly impossible...some Im not sure I will ever crest the summit...but they are my deal with or not...the decision is always mine....but I sometimes forget that my children have their own mountains...mountains no child should ever have to deal with or ever even see in their personal horizon...Im sometimes quite selfish and feel that I must deal with my own mountains before I can even think about giving them a hand up over their own. Because of my selfish choices...choices that I mistakenly believe only affect me...ripples have been set in motion...ripples like a relentless tide that is eating away at what little family unit we have left.

My life has been plagued with guilt...guilt over choices I have made...or didnt make...that have affected my innocent children. I sometimes feel Im doing the right thing and down the line I realize I made a mistake...maybe I suffer but they suffer more. Sometimes I feel even if it causes pain now...eventually it will work out and the pain will be something long forgotten...but it usually turns out that the pain is pretty much here to matter what choice I make...and my children suffer.

So many many anguished cries of "why me"..."why us" that I feel as if my heart will just squeeze into nothing from the pain...a constant ache of such magnitude that life without pain has become something to dream about...yearn for...aspire to. If were so easy.

I have reached a point in my life where Im frozen with indecision. I thought the tough decisions had been made but they are nothing to the fresh ones that have come raging on like flood waters...I cant even catch my breath from making one heart wrenching choice when Im dragged under by another wave of indecision.

I feel like to move forward will lead me to an all consuming step back would send me over a just stand still will send something plummeting from the skies straight for me...

If only I could stop thinking...stop moving....just stop...make the world stop spinning...I need to catch my breath...collect my thoughts...figure out the right thing to do....I need to just....breath.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fly Like A Noodle...

For anyone that has ever flown international...they are fully aware of just how uncomfortable coach seating is for the weary traveller. Sitting in that cramped little space for 7, 9, or even 11 hours is just plain other word for it. A friend of mine has made the trip back and forth from the states numerous times this past 2 years and I have no idea how she can put herself through that ordeal time after time. The only part of the whole experience that makes it bearable is being able to watch that little tv screen that shows the little airplanes progress across the globe. First crossing the middle east over into Europe and then onto America...the heart just feels lighter and lighter the closer you get to the east feel positively bubbly when you reach official American airspace....nothing like coming home.

Anyhow...I was going to write about the trip over on this post but I will leave that for another time...I just have to make some comments about my first week home and the things Ive noticed that are so different now...and that are different from over there.

1. Driving hands down is a major difference here. I no longer feel like every person that is anywhere near me is a potential threat...they very well could be but I dont have that defensive feel that is part and parcel of driving in Bahrain.

2. There is so much green its like the world turned green...a nice change of pace from the sand color Ive been use to all these years. However...with green comes bugs and let me tell you...everything in Texas is bigger...including its bugs. Ive never seen such big spiders...bees...wasps...not to mention the sheer quantity of insects. Bugs are litterally falling out of trees and getting kicked up in the grass as you walk...I dont mind bugs themselves...but for someone thats allergic to some of them...its a little harrowing to be ducking and dodging the constant on slaught....eeek!

3. It cost and arm and a leg to eat at fast food here....on one hand thats a good thing as I now cant afford over here the junk food that is quite cheap over there and a terrible mainstay of our diet....but on the other...I want to have a go at all the foods I missed pace myself.

4. I love being able to walk down the street...just wandering along with no purpose in mind...with my head up...taking in the sights...not worrying about what Im wearing...whose watching and will be passing judgement on me walking for no apparent reason...or who I might be with etc....cant explain how much of a burden that has always been....and how much more enjoyable walks are when none of that matters.

5. A big change I notice from when I was in school is that the school are hyper alert about safety now. Could be due to the recent spate of shootings etc that are a constant reminder that bad things can happen anywhere...but going through the process of putting my son in school I got to see the day to day activities and everything is geared for safety of the student...teachers...and visitors. Will definitely take some getting use to...alot of rules...but kids are adaptable so I dont expect too much trouble for mine.

6. Everything...anything...cost a lot. ugh!!!

Those are just a few observations Ive got so far. My internet connection really sucks so Im writing this with the net going off and Im getting frustrated and not able to write really what I want to...Im ready to chuck the laptop actually. I hope that improves as keeping in touch with everyone and keeping up the blog etc are very important to me.

7. The internet cost alot too...damn!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A heart divided...

Well, dear readers...its like this...after 22 years Im home. Back in the good ole U S of A...back on familiar territory and taking a good look around me and seeing whats up...whats different...and thinking about what Ive gained...and more importantly...what Ive left behind....and my heart is divided.

The last few days have been a whirlwind of packing...throwing things out...making arrangements for other things...saying goodbyes...or not (Im not too sociable remember) and trying not to think about how choices made means consequences suffered. While Im am happy to be home...a very big piece of my heart remains back in the land of sand and camels...of hijabs and beards...of gawa and kobuz. While I may not miss the land itself...I do miss the friends I made...the people I have loved and the three people that have kept a piece of my heart firmly in their know who you are.

Long time expats will tell you that going home after years abroad can be as much of a culture shock as arriving fresh faced and expectant on foreign shores...the kicker here is that I have been a foreigner for 22 years...longer than I was actually in essentially I still feel like the foreigner...a little uncomfortable...a little hesitant...not exactly sure what to expect. Rather a surreal feeling to be home but not "feel" home. I hope it comes in time.

The somewhat different aspect to this whole thing is that previously evertime I have come back to visit...or even when we stayed almost two years...I had the ex to make the whole experience painful and other words...he was determined to make me act like a a foreigner...and Arab while in my own country in his attempts to keep me Muslim like (lets not forget he did not hold himself to those same standards) essentially I was an American in America living like a foreigner...does that make sense? This is the first time since I left home April 11 1987 for an unknown future in an unknown land...that I will be able to live in America...experience the tender age of 40. Like I said ....surreal.

I will keep you posted wth my progress...and tell you about my trip over in my next post...some interesting things to remember.

The only question now is...will this momentus life change be worth it in the end...or will I eventually arrive at the conclusion that my dreams of coming home should have remained just that...dreams...and the life I was living in Bahrain wasnt as bad as I always felt it to be...we shall see....hmmmm?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Things I lost in the fire

When I was 16 our house burned down. What I remember about this horrible time in our lives was how devastated my mother was about pictures she feared she had lost. Pictures of my sister that had passed away when she was 5. From all the things in our house, and my parents were fairly well off ...both having pretty decent jobs at the time, so our house had lots of things that many of my friends did not... those pictures were the only things my mother cried over. Later she was nearly hysterical when she found her pictures had been smoke damaged and a little singed...but were still in good shape. She clung on to the photo albums for the next few days while we stayed in a hotel and my parents went about the business of starting over with almost nothing. I hate to confess to this...but I wasnt nearly as affected by that fire as I know I should have been. My most pressing concern was when I would be back in school...a burned down house meant only one thing to my abused mind. I was now forced to stay in constant close proximity to my father. While my mother was crying and moaning over each remembered item that was now gone forever...plagued by thoughts of "what if" in what if we had been in the house at the time...sleeping ...we could have been killed...I was trying to figure out how best to "disappear" in a small hotel room with nowhere to hide.

My father, who had the worst temper at the best of times...was on a rampage. Determined to discover how it had happened...ready to blame a myriad of causes...from faulty wiring to "suspicious people" he had seen near our house at one time or another. We lived outside town in a fairly isolated area...and didnt get many visitors. Later my mother, my sister and I got the suspicious feeling that my father himself had actually burned the house down. Some odd behavoir on his part seemed to confirm this fact to us...but of course we never let him know we suspected him...nor did we indicate our suspicions when the fire marshal came out to investigate. Funny own father tried to pin the fire on me by laying suspicion at my feet with a few choice phrases to the fire marshal. However, when he asked me to sit with him in his truck and answer some questions...even though I felt as if I was probably guilty of something (authority always makes you feel guilty even when your not) I also got the feeling that the fire marshall also suspected my father...but couldnt prove it. My father was an abusive psycho...but he was smart as hell. I had no problems believing that he was quite capable of burning down our house and making it look like an accident....or even pointing the finger of guilt my way. Thankfully the fire marshall did not pursue that particular line of thought....but I digress...

One thing I learned about that fire though is this...many many things we think of as important in our lives...things we just cant 'live without" are for the most part...a waste of space and money. We lost a great many things that day...we lost nearly everything...but I still had my mother and my sister...all those things were hardly worth a passing thought. I may have missed my new clock radio I had bought with babysitting money...and my school jacket...yearbooks...personal little knick knacks accumulated over time...but as days...and then weeks passed...they just became "things I lost in the fire". I got over it and moved on.

Right now Im sort of experiencing another kind of "fire". Im busy with the process of moving from one country to another. Im going home. However I find that I dont have enough money to ship my many years of accumulated things home and so I must go through them and decide whats "important" and what are just "things". I would hate for anyone to have to try and take on this emotional and heartbreaking task. School reports for 5 kids over 15 years may not be "important documents" but they are memories...memories I have to leave behind because every pound counts. The many many books I have that are like long time friends...are now gone over with a fine tooth comb...only the most beloved are making the trip with me...the rest must be given away. Oh it pains me to leave my books behind....sigh! For sure my photos are going with me...and I have alot of them...but I have been forced to go through even them and get rid of duplicates and those that are "without purpose". Every corner of the house...every shelf...every drawer holds memories of some kind or another...and I must make the painstaking decision whether or not that 'memory" is worth paying for to ship across the globe...every pound counts...aarrgghhhh! My heart is on fire....damn!

Things I lost in that fire many years ago still cross my mind on occasion but for the most part I dont think much about it...Im hoping that the devastation I feel for the things I lose in this "fire" will eventually fade with time too. Most of these things are attached to memories of my children in some of course the pain is so much worse then lost year books or clock radios...but as long as I have the memories still locked in my mind...then the fire cant touch them. Im good...but oh how my heart burns....damn!