Thursday, December 16, 2010

What would YOU do?

This is an interesting experiment in which people in a compound are subjected to loud drum music...and then on a different night...subjected to what they believe is domestic violence going on. People felt quite all right to bang on his door to object to his loud music...but not one person bothered to come complain about the assumed violence taking place in that same apartment.

It reminds me of my own home growing up...none of our neighbors ever bothered to respond to the violence Im sure they could hear coming from our trailer (trailers are not spaced that far apart for the most part) and neither could others who could see our bruises and injuries bother to inquire beyond the surface as to how we always seemed to be bruised and injured *hint hint much*.

How do we as a society decide on what we get involved with and what is none of our business? Loud business....domestic violence...close my windows and pull the shades....hmmm.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Can finally take that breath Ive been holding...whew!

Free at last free at last....Lord have at last!! From homework, studying, and finals. For awhile anyhow. Will have to turn around and start all over again come mid Janurary...but for now...deep breathing exercises are in order....and a little tv watching...and some cinema viewing...and bookstore visits for books I WANT to read and time to cook a meal that doesnt come in a box or fast food bag. ugh!!!

*whose idea was this anyhow?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Funny thing happened on the way to Christmas....

*I wrote this for my college paper-enjoy

The holiday season is upon us once again and as I drive around seeing the beginnings of holiday cheer being strung up on houses and trees aligning the streets, I can not help but think of holiday seasons of the past. Growing up in my house meant that holidays were a hit and miss affair. Depending on my father's mood, which could change like the weather in Wyoming, we might get to celebrate with reasonable good cheer, or watch dejectedly as he flung our decorated tree out the front door yet again complaining about the space it took up or the fact that it was just a merchandising gimmick for the already rich. Unlike most children my age I did not look forward to Christmas in quite the same light. For them it was charging into the holiday spirit with a mix of family visits, shopping trips, holiday music playing non stop and possibly church attendance and other religious gatherings. For us it was more or less tiptoeing into it with shopping squeezed in when he was not around, decorating when he was not watching television, phone calls having to do in place of family visits that we rarely were allowed, and the only gatherings we took part in were usually done at 3 a.m. as he drug us from our beds to stand at attention while he prowled back and forth with one of his many guns in hand as he ranted on yet again about how ungrateful we all were and he would be doing himself a huge favor just to blow us all away and be done with it. After 2 or 3 hours we would be allowed back to our beds but sleep was a long time coming. Not to mention on those Christmas mornings that actually did arrive with tree and gifts intact, I do believe my sisters and I engaged in the quietest present opening finale ever in the history of children and Christmas.

My married life was spent overseas with a man and in a country that did not celebrate Christmas or the holidays (though generally the expat community took part in a more subdued low key scale) as the major religion followed was not Christianity, which means it has been over 23 years since I have been free to celebrate this holiday free of stress and with my own family traditions. Of course at this time I have no family traditions concerning the holidays. I am lucky that I am free to create my own, to take on those aspects of the holidays which appeal to me and discard the parts that do not. I do not have family clamoring for me to do things "how it has always been done" nor do I have that frenzied aspect that has me creating lists and "checking them twice" and wondering who I left out of the holiday card/gift giving round. This first real holiday will be baby steps for me. Tentative forays into the great unknown, grabbing onto familiar objects along the way to ensure I have the support I need to take my next step. First I had to buy a tree.

The other day I went to the store to buy decorations for that first tree I have ever bought and walked up and down the aisles for an hour picking up and discarding a myriad of decorative choices having no clue what I wanted. It seemed that decorating my own tree was going to be a lot harder than I thought. I wanted it to be perfect but had no idea what perfect was. Eventually I came home with a string of lights and two boxes of colored bulbs and that was all. A week later the tree has the lights and only 4 bulbs on it as the placement of those 4 bulbs took me to levels of anxiety I have only ever felt while trying to fit in all this college homework with deadlines ever at the forefront. I told myself I would not get sucked into the whole holiday season stressed out nerve wracking aspect of it but the fact that I can not even decorate my own tree without needing a time out in between bulb placements does not bode well.

I visited the stores on Black Friday and could not find a single item that I felt required my hard earned money to be sacrificed for. I came home with some paper towels and some jingle bells that hang from my front door...and a little jingle that hangs from my backpack. For some reason, as I pushed my empty shopping cart through the throngs of frenzied shoppers, I kept thinking to myself, is THIS what I have been missing all these years? Shopping for things I do not need for people I do not particularly care for, or do not care for me, and putting myself in debt that I might pay off just in time to do it all again next year? I was the only one in the 12 items or less lane as I paid for my items and left. I could not help but notice the cashier eyeballing my mostly empty cart and giving me a sad look as if she "understood" my situation...possibly that I could not afford to fill my cart like the other 99.9% of the stores customers?

Because my children have not been raised with that holiday expectation that builds up as commercials and radio jingles bombard them with the latest "must have" as the magical day draws closer, inquiries as to what they would like "from" Santa have been met with shrugged shoulders and the rolling of eyeballs. It apparently pains them to humor their mother and let me have something on this list I am meant to have. My list is empty just now...all though underwear and socks are always holiday gift giving favorites. I am sure they will receive those with the same amount of joy that I did when I parted the colorful paper, opened the red/silver/green box and discovered clothing as my reward for being a child and having wants and desires that did not include cotton or the words "one size fits all". I guess my habit of gifting them for bringing joy to my life all throughout the year has sort of turned them into cynics about this whole end of year gift giving extravaganza. Darn spoiled kids!

So every night as I pass my still yet undecorated tree and tiptoe by my sleeping children that are most likely NOT dreaming of sugar plum fairies, it is only 3 weeks until Santa arrives and "good will and peace on earth" least for a little while. For one brief moment we can forget CNN and it's nightly round up of mans inhumanity to man across the globe. We can skip right over FoxNews and get our source of entertainment from family and friends that make us laugh and feel good rather than just laugh from sheer jaw dropping idiocy. We can put aside our differences and focus on our similarities and let the small stuff slide off our horrible holiday sweatered backs. Later we can drive through neighborhoods and admire other people's ability to defy gravity and put lights in places only squirrels should have access too or who seem intent on spreading the message of Peace on Earth to any lifeforms that may be passing by our galaxy and happen to look down and see a house with enough lights that the glare on their spaceship window causes them to crash into a passing weather satellite.

As each of you head into your own holiday season and pull out your well worn family traditions concerning it think about how those traditions came to be and whether or not they are a true reflection of what the holiday really means to you. As we are all struggling to get through this recession the best way we can, consider trying to experience a Christmas season that is less focused on "things" and more on feelings and that good will everyone keeps going on about, including myself..and if you hear someone walking down the hallway here at college jingling all the way...that would be yours truly.

Have a wonderful holiday season and try to make at least one person smile that maybe has not had a reason to in a good long while. That is a gift worth giving.

p.s. for those curious enough to consider the "hidden meaning" of this I don't consider myself a Christian and see enjoying the Christmas season as an affirmation of that...I just happen to like twinkle lights and decorated trees and the general atmosphere of "be kind to others" mentality that seems to take over this time of year. I enjoy the to speak...and that has nothing to do with religion...and probably despite it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Transitions and a mother's heart

From the moment of our conception we start experiencing transitions from one phase of life to another. We transition from the womb to life on the outside; from childhood to adulthood and then to old age, from good health to bad health and the list goes on. For every transition we experience we learn something new about ourselves. As youngsters we covet being older, but then when we are older we pine for our youth. When we are in good health we try to not think about the "what if's" of bad health and then when we do fall ill we look back and play the "if only" game. If only I had taken better care of myself. Transitions are sometimes slow and barely noticeable and others are lightning fast and leave one out of breath and trying to make sense of what just happened. We don't always see them coming. We might even think we are prepared for one when it does happen but find out later we had no clue. Somethings just can't be prepared for.

I have experienced many transitions in my life, too many to mention here, but suffice to say this latest one is really hitting me where it hurts. I am, what is referred to as a non-traditional student; an older adult who has returned to or is attending college for the first time after a long period of time away from an educational institution. For the past year I have been juggling various roles that I must "play" in order to fulfill my dream to have a degree and better my life. I have been a full time employee at night, a full time college student during the day, and a full time mother for 23 years. Somewhere in there I find some time to sleep, I think. It has been hectic and stressful and some days I wonder what I'm giving myself all this grief for, on purpose. I've heard various rumors that it will eventually be worth it. Right now it's still too early to tell.

All of this stress has been compounded by the fact that my own children are reaching an age where they are looking to the horizon and wondering what's on the other side. I have heard about the "empty-nest" transition but nothing has prepared me for the truly empty feeling that results as one by one my chicks try their wings and head for the sun. The fact that those maternal strings seem so easily cut after all the pain I have gladly suffered to keep them tied securely leaves me feeling lost and somewhat useless. I'm sure that many of the students attending college now are experiencing this new transition of being away from home for the first time. Many of you probably looked forward to this new phase in your life and thus packed your bags and closed the door behind you without thinking too hard about the consequences; about the ones you left behind. Every new phase in your life leaves a ripple affect and those around you feel it in their own way.

It is the cycle of life that a mother nurtures and cares for her children and prepares them for the big world outside her heart. She does what she can to ensure they have the skills they need and at least a basic understanding of how the world works. She tries to teach them people don't always play nice and being hurt is going to happen. Then she teaches them how to deal with that hurt. She spends every waking moment of her life trying to improve the lives of her children and giving them a safe haven from the world and all it's dangers. She does this without thought of reward or the losses she has endured in order for them to prosper. Then suddenly she looks around and finds that her nest is empty (nearly) and all that she has left are the echoing voices of her children in every room of the house and the always present pain of being a mother in her heart.

If you are somebody's child, and you know you are, stop and think for a moment about how your latest transition may have affected those closest to you. As you face each new challenge and reach for the future with open arms...take a moment to think about the two open arms that are now empty waiting patiently for you to remember her and come back and fill them again. She would never stop you from living your life but she still wants to be a part of it.

Have you called your mother today? Have you given her a hug lately (if you can)? Have you stopped to think of her knowing full well that she has never stopped thinking of you? Transitions are never easy for those concerned but a heartfelt call home or an unexpected hug certainly soothes an aching heart.

People tell me there is a light at the end of this paricular tunnel. That may well be true but for now, it's still pitch black.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bullying: An epidemic?

*this was written for the newspaper*

Suicide among college students has always been a heatedly discussed topic due to the perceived causes; too much stress, too much homework, peer pressure, parental expectations, scholarships on the line and the list goes on. This past week has brought another cause for those statistics to rise even higher; the continued bullying and forced outing of homosexual students. Most often by other students using social media outlets, such as Facebook, My Space, or even Youtube to expose a fellow students sexual orientation and laugh it off as a joke. In just a matter of a few weeks 7 suicides have been reported at various colleges around the United States; all of them were homosexual students that had been bullied or outed prior to their suicides.

Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, recently committed suicide by jumping off a bridge after two of his fellow students secretly filmed him engaging in a sexual encounter with another male. They invaded his privacy and put the video on the internet for all to see and comment. The two students involved, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, are facing up to 5 years in prison if convicted of invasion of privacy. Clementi is the latest in a string of suicides that has the gay community in an uproar at the continued ""othering"" of homosexuals and the forced outings and resulting abuse or deaths as a result. Mass media and the ability to see things streamed live on the internet has given people a voracious appetite to see ever more personal and "real" moments in what otherwise should be personal and private matters. Anyone with a cell phone or video camera apparently believes they have the right to film at will and upload at leisure without a second thought to the consequences.

We have to ask ourselves at what point do we step back and let people have their privacy? When do we stop and tell ourselves that this is not our business, nor the business of anyone else? We have no right to see it much less put it out there for others to see it and judge? For most people, seeing a link or a Youtube video highlighting just such a private moment causes not even on moment of hesitation before happily clicking on it to view someone else at their most vulnerable. Do we ever wonder if that person or persons in the video gave permission to be filmed? Do they know it's now there for our viewing pleasure? Obviously not always or people like Tyler Clementi wouldn't feel suicide was the only way out of his shattered world.

People might ask, why did he kill himself over a video? Why are those 2 students blamed for his death? They didn't throw him off the bridge or even encourage him; all they did was film him having sex and put it on the internet for every homophobic gay hating basher to come along and point a finger and judge him. The comments left by said viewers were disgusting and a painful reminder of just how far we still have to go in accepting sexual orientations other than hetero. Also, we have to consider that Clementi, and other such victims, hadn't disclosed their sexual identity to their own families and this forced outing had sent them into a panic that spiraled out of control.

Whatever the reason Tyler Clementi eventually came too before climbing onto that bridge we can be assured of one thing, when we bully, when we tease, when we judge, when we hate, when we treat people who are not the same as us as "less than" or "inferior" we might as well be putting the bullet in the gun ourselves, handing them a glass of water to down those pills, or even giving them a hand up to climb on that ledge.

We are guilty when we use words to hurt, to diminish, to destroy self esteem. Tyler Clementi had a right to be who he was. He had a right to engage in private matters without fear of being videoed and exposed. He had a right to assume he had the rest of his life to figure himself out and decide for himself what he wanted to share with the world and what he wanted to keep to himself. Those two students took that right away and the result is that Tyler came to the conclusion the only choice left to him was to end his life.

College is a new and exciting experience for most students. Away from home for the first time, experimenting and discovering who we are while navigating the corridors of college life. Most of us are using this experience to better ourselves and improve our own lives; others are wasting this opportunity to play with the lives of others with disasterous and even fatal consequences. Most of us have grown up sufficiently to be socially acceptable members of society. We have learned how to "live and let live" and accept every person as an individual with the right to choose who they are; if we don't like it we can walk away. Bullying someone, or invading their privacy because you find what they do different or abnormal or even humorous might seem inconsequential to you, but have you thought would it would feel like if you were the one under the spotlight?

What are you doing with your college experience

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Totally off the wall post...but I've got a question....

I was having a conversation with some friends recently and one thing led to another as conversations tend to do and the "things our parents did when we were young" came up. We entertained each other with the totally oddball behavior one or the other of our parents did or the things they subjected us too etc. Nice to know I didn't have the only set of crazy parents out there...but that's not the point of this post. In the middle of all this joking and laughter I threw out something my dad did and incidentally my ex also engaged in that behavior...something of which I could never understand and never liked...anyhow.

Both of them traipsed around the house in their underwear. In front of us...the kids. (father with me and my siblings, and ex with our children)...and even sometimes when a rare friend came over...they got the wonderful vision of father/ex in his underwear too...though in this regard my ex might have restrained a little more.

Soon as I threw that into the conversation they all stopped laughing and just looked at me and simultaneously said...ewwwwww!!! Apparently none of their fathers/husbands ever did that. Go figure.

Anyhow, question for you people...did any of your dads/fathers walk around in their underwear in front of you, the kids, the neighbors etc? Or is that another characteristic of the sort of men I spent my life around? Fun!

Just wondering if there is some sort of pattern in there...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What can 4 billion dollars buy?

*This article has been chosen to go in the local paper again. My third one. Woohoo!!*

Another season of campaigning has come to an end. After months of being bombarded with radio announcements, roadside signs bigger than life, and a war of words that left my head spinning, I finally scoot on down to the polling station to cast my very first vote. At the age of 41 I am starting a little bit late in life having my voice heard and hoping my vote counts but it seems I got back just in time to witness a truly historical campaign first. Nearly $4 billion dollars spent by various electoral hopefuls and while I'm no expert on politics and what makes the process tick, I can't wrap my head around that number without asking myself a few questions.

Last I heard we were in a recession and the average American citizen was either struggling to pay the bills, struggling to find adequate health care, or struggling to stay employed. We are told over and over in many different ways that we need to cut back on our spending in order to get through this rough patch. This is sound advice anyone would accept willingly who knows anything about budgeting and planning ahead. Personally I do not have any form of health care because I can't afford it. My biggest fear is getting too sick that staying home and roughing it out with over the counter medication just won't work this time. My apartment complex just raised the rent again by $45 dollars. Compared to $4 billion that's not even a drop in the ocean but it certainly has me scrambling to see where I can cut back even further on my spending to find that $45. I also had to tell my children that I couldn't afford to buy school pictures this time around because paying the electric bill was the difference between lights on...and lights off. While I sit here trying to juggle my bills and the needs of my children and the cost of going to college and keeping gas in my car to get me to work and college and back, my mind keeps returning to that colossal number; $4 billion dollars.

If there is $4 billion dollars floating around out there that can be spent on campaign ads, bill board signs, full newspaper spreads, hand shaking back slapping parties, finger pointing and reputation shredding commercials, and to build those little wooden platforms that would be candidates stand on while making all those soon to be forgotten campaign promises...why isn't there $4 billion dollars to spend on improving the quality of education our children receive in school? Why isn't there $4 billion dollars to spend on providing health care for those that need it most but can't afford it? Why isn't there $4 billion dollars to build more shelters for abused women and children in this country. Currently there are more animal shelters in the United States than shelters for battered women. Most importantly, if there is $4 billion dollars floating around out there being freed up to donate anonymously to campaigns that will soon be forgotten why can't those same anonymous donors donate that same amount of money to those items I just listed where the effect will be longer lasting and more appreciated?

As I walked into the polling station with that number rolling around in my head along with the names and promises of each candidate up for election or re-election, I couldn't help but think one thing. Why is it that Americans can always find money for the things that don't matter and can't be used to improve our lives in anyway, but always manage to find that extra buck, or 4 billion of them, tucked away somewhere for those emergency situations; like a much needed mocha latte frappacino...or an election candidates future vote?

Friday, November 5, 2010

When all the little things add up to one defining 6

Now...where was I? Oh yes...about a month after I arrived in Bahrain I woke up with an intense ear ache. I had spent a considerable amount of my childhood suffering from very serious ear aches and so this was nothing new but this was the first one in a very long time. My husband was at work so my SIL and her 13 year old daughter took me to the local clinic.

For anyone that has never been to a clinic in the middle east, let me describe it somewhat. (at least the one in the area we lived in at that time) It was a very long building with a maternity section to the immediate right of the entrance doors...and a long hall with doctors offices going down the left side. Right in front were the reception desks and chairs to wait your turn. For some reason the air conditioning is turned up to sub zero if your in the clinic for any length of have to get up and go outside in the searing heat just to thaw out. (no lie, I did this many times over the years) There are, of course, the requisite crying babies, the multitude of flies hanging out, and the long wait for your turn.

All though eventually this particular clinic would get renovated and upgraded, back then it had a very third world feel about it. By this I mean it seemed sorely under equipped, not much offered in terms of medications (panadol was/is given for absolutely everything), and doctors never spent more than 5 min with you if given half the chance. Not to mention they never bothered to actually look up at you in a focused way so you felt they even took in the fact that you were male or female. Half the time he/she would start writing before I even answered a question posed to me. I always wondered if mind reading was one of the skills taught in Bahrain's medical college.

Anyhow, all that would eventually be par for the course, but during my very first visit I knew none of that. I had a horrible ear ache and wanted pain relief ASAP. When it was my turn to go in the doctor's office the niece came in with me (usually a family member does...or even the whole darn family) in order to translate if needed. We sat down and the doctor started speaking in Arabic first but then switched to English at my request. When I told him what was wrong he quickly set about looking in my ears and asking questions pertaining to my ear. All very professional and appropriate...right?...but then (you knew it was coming right) when he started to prescribe some anti-biotics and pain killers I quickly mentioned that I was pregnant because, while not knowing a whole lot about what medications can affect your pregnancy, I knew some could. I wanted him to know so he could adjust accordingly.

As soon as I mentioned my pregnancy his whole demeanor changed. Up until that point he had been rather staid and uninterested in me...just enough to deal with my problem and that was it. Suddenly he stood up and asked the niece to leave the room as he needed to examine me. She hesitated but he fairly hustled her out of the room and closed the door behind him. Up until that point in my life the only "intimate" sort of examination I had ever under gone by a doctor was during my entrance exam into the military. The doctors checked everything...and I mean EVERYTHING!! I had my first pap smear during that examination and I clearly remember the doctor calling for a nurse to come in, though there hadn't been one with us before then. I found out later that, to avoid malpractice or accusations of impropriety, a doctor will always have a nurse standing by during these sort of everything is on the up and up. (no hanky panky) As a tangent I might mention that giving a teenage girl a pap smear without warning or explanation is almost an assault on her body as far as I'm concerned.

Anyhow, before I knew it I was stretched out on a table and he was lifting my shirt up. Now here was an ENT doctor, who I presume focused his training on body parts found from the neck up, lifting my shirt to examine me from the neck down. I didn't understand why he felt he needed to examine me at all. I was there for an earache and not pre natal care...and yet I was in a foreign country and maybe they do things different here. It's not like I had a whole lot of experience being pregnant to judge whether or not this was appropriate....but it sure as hell didn't FEEL appropriate. I very much wanted to question the purpose of this exam but my tongue was glued to the roof of my mouth and my heart was trying to get up there as well.

I assumed he wanted better access to my abdomen so when my shirt kept rising up and over my breasts I was shocked. What the hell was he checking for now? I reached up to pull my shirt back down as an automatic reaction but he tsked me and raised my shirt again. I bit my tongue and laid there apprehensively. This was a doctor after all and he knew better than me about medical procedures etc...not because I didn't understand the WHY of what he was doing didn't mean there wasn't a reason.

In no time at all he had exposed both of my breasts and was giving me a breast "exam"...which amounted to little more than a very thorough massage on his part. I have since learned how to do a breast exam of course and nothing he did that day even came close to resembling one. It was also the longest breast "exam" I have ever undergone since. I might point out that he never once touched my abdomen.

After I was declared "healthy" he pulled my shirt down and went back to his desk and finished writing up the prescription and saw me out the door. My husband's niece was standing right outside and had a nervous look about her. She seemed relieved to see me emerge and quickly looked back and forth between the doctor and I. Of course eventually I would learn that men and women just do NOT spend alone time together...even if one of them is a doctor. She knew me being alone in there with the doctor could cause a great deal of trouble for me but also, due to her age and gender, felt she couldn't refuse the doctor when he asked her to leave. So she stood outside the door counting the seconds until I came out. (she told me all of this much later when her English improved as did our relationship)

Hours later when my husband came home I told him about the doctor appointment and what had gone on. I also described the breast exam and almost before the story was out of my mouth my husband was firing questions at me. What did he do? Was my niece in there with you? and of course....Why did you let him? In the next instant he was out the door.

An hour later he came back thundering and slamming doors. According to him this is what happened. He went back to the clinic and stormed into the doctor's office ready to defend my honor...or so I'm told. Actually, in the Arab world, the man's honor is the only one that counts...and all the women that "belong" to him fall under that sense of honor and anything that happens to "his females" equals happening to him. My husband went down to there to confront the breast exam that "he" was forced to endure. Hard to explain but there it is.

Of course the doctor had no idea who he was and who his wife was until he said the magic words...American woman. How many American women do you think sat in his office that day much less let him feel them up? Obviously the doctor knew he had crossed the line with me and with his culture but apparently figured I wasn't a Bahraini...and I was probably wouldn't mind or object. He forgot to consider how his fellow Arab/Bahraini brothers react when their women are dishonored. Once again, according to my husband, he went after the doctor who ran around the desk and out the door and down the hall with my husband in hot pursuit. After having a foot race down the hall past all the shocked onlookers I'm assuming...he caught the doctor down by the reception desk and preceded to give him an ass kicking. Security came running and tried to break it up but when they discovered what the good doctor had been up to they stood back and let the ass kicking commence (according to husband...who knows). End result? Doc was eventually asked to go practice somewhere else, husbands honor was vindicated and I was left to ponder this new incite into this possessive/jealous male oriented culture....with my two healthy breasts to keep me company.

Of course writing about this incident reminds me of another one that happened not too long afterwards. My husband took me to the local market in Manama, Bahrain's capital and main city. The traditional souk, of Bab al Bahrain, is mostly made up for walking shoppers as the streets are very narrow and the parking is impossible. People generally park away from the souk and just walk all around it with their bags etc then make their way back to their cars... hoping they can remember where they parked.

When we arrived in the afternoon and began our shopping, the streets were full of Bahraini's and non Bahraini's crowding the sidewalks and spilling into the streets forcing what few cars had braved the throng to inch along. I was enthralled by this new shopping experience....row upon row of shops...all selling pretty much the same thing as far as I could see...with a different shop thrown in just to keep you interested. There were spice shops with product displayed outside on the sidewalk. Towers of colored spice mounds were colorful and intricately designed. It's a wonder the slight breeze didn't blow it all away. Luggage and toys had to be stepped around...pots and pans, brooms and dustpans....and the ever present racks of clothing that had styles I had never seen before...and some of the worst English spelling on them I had ever seen. There were things I had never seen before so was in a constant dialogue with my husband wanting everything explained. We spent about two hours in the souk, just buying a few things, but it was very exciting to me just to take it all in. Such a different sort of shopping experience.

It was then I realized the sidewalks and streets were thinning out somewhat. We weren't quite bumping into people left and right and most of the "thobes" and "abayas" (Bahraini men and women) had gone. There were still a few stragglers but mostly what remained were groups of Hindi and Pakistani men and the like. Very few women remained at this point because Mahgrib adhan had gone so everyone was leaving for home or the mosque to pray. (I'm assuming) I would not be exaggerating at this point to say that in my immediate area I was not only the only female present, but one that stuck out like a sore thumb.

My husband said we needed to go so began making our way back to the entrance of the souk and to the car. Just before we reached the entrance I felt something that took a few more steps on my part to fully understand. Someone had just grabbed my butt and squeezed it. For a second I thought it had been my husband but quickly pushed that thought away as I knew he would never do such a thing in I guessed it had to be someone else obviously. Still not believing what I felt had actually happened I looked back over my shoulder to scan the immediate area....and just a few yards down the street was a man looking back over his shoulder at ME....and smiling. Now up to that point I would have just brushed off the incident as my imagination or a mistaken "bump" (though I knew it was more than that)...but the smile on his face completely blew me away. It was one of the first incidents (along with the doctor) in which I would come to realize that men in the middle east cannot keep their hands to themselves. I don't give a shit what they say about the culture protecting women and treating them better than the Big Bad West etc...but believe me....I have never ever in my life had my body assaulted in so many ways as while walking through a souk, standing in line, passing a man for whatever come to expect it almost. A slight brush up, a probing finger, or a out right cop. I won't say you ever get use to it...but you do come to expect it.

His smile pissed me off...almost telling me...yeah I felt your what are you going to do about it? I'm also going to make the claim here that because I'm NOT an Arab there seem to think I'm quite open and willing to be felt up and won't care too much to make a big deal about it afterwards. I might point out that I have shown a great many of them that they are wrong in this belief. However, at that moment the only thing I could think of to do was tell my husband....

He stopped so quickly I nearly ran into the back of him as I had slowed down while looking over my shoulder. He quickly turned around and yelled at me to point the guy out to him. Well there was no need really as the guilty party might as well of had an arrow over his head pointing downwards....the guy had gone stock still staring at my husband with an ashen look on his face. Apparently it was then he realized I was with a Bahraini...and he knew as well as anyone what was coming next. This man was not a Bahraini btw...if I had to guess I would say a Hindi...but not sure. Anyhow, for about 2 seconds they were staring at each other...and in the next the guy had turned and bolted down the street with my husband close behind.

I was shocked not expecting such a quick turn of events...watching them weave through what remained of the pedestrians and hearing my husband bellowing at him to stop. I looked around and noticed now I definitely was the only female remaining...and the sun was quickly disappearing over the horizon. It was getting dark and I was alone in an unfamiliar idea where the car was and afraid to move anyhow even if I did. All I could see were curious groups of men looking at me and hear the fading voice of my husband in the distance. The irony of the fact that he was leaving me alone among a crowd of men as the sun went down while he chased down another one hit home to me. I wanted to laugh but really didn't feel like it just then.

If I had to guess I would say I stood there in the middle of the street doing a pretty damn good impression of a woman turned to stone for at least 20 min before husband came back...with the terrified ass grabber being dragged along by his torn shirt. A small crowd of men were close behind. My husband was sweating and breathing hard...shouting at the man with every step...the man was begging and crying (I assume...didn't understand his verbal language but his body language was universal) and the crowd of men were shouting and raising their fists. Only later I would learn that they were actually pissed off at my husband...not the man he was dragging as I had assumed. Turns out they were from his country and were showing solidarity by coming to his defense...though I noticed none of them actually did more than shout and show anger.

My husband dragged him right up in front of me and began shouting at me...asking me what I wanted done with him. Did I want his ass kicked...did I want him arrested...did I want him killed? The man was trying to reach out and touch my feet and kept up his begging...I realized he was saying sorry over and over again...but it was coming out as "sowwy"...and he had tears and snot running down his face. I was still shocked, afraid at the violence I was seeing...and so scared after being left alone for so long...that I just wanted to get out of there. My husband screamed again asking me what did I want him to do with the man....

"Just let him goooooo!!!" I screamed back. My husband yelled at the man to apologize...which he did with even more earnest...and shook him by the shirt like he was a rag doll. My husband yelled at me if I accepted his apology or did I want more. I quickly said I accepted it and it was then my husband shoved the guy away who then sprawled in the street...and the group of men quickly surrounded him. I thought they were going to start beating him too but they picked him up and helped him leave...all the while shouting back at my husband as he continued shouting at the man.

He turned and stalked off for the car and I was left to quick step behind him to keep up. He barely said a word to me and I got the feeling I was guilty of something too. As we sat in silence in the car on the way home he fumed...his anger was palatable and I could feel the heat radiating off of him. I sat in silence believing a single word from me would cause an explosion of sorts. When we arrived home he stomped upstairs not even bothering to wait for me...I quietly followed behind not knowing what to expect.

It was the first time what I wore outside was put up to questioning. Apparently my jeans and tshirts were causing too much trouble...while I was not asked to wear the abaya at this was the start of a campaign in which the ultimate goal was to get me in it. If only I knew then what I know in to keep the peace is tantamount to giving up...but more on that later.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

To dream a little a dream....

As the last page slips into the tray she gathers the pile up, straightens them up, and lays them down on her desk. She sits awhile just looking at them and not thinking a whole lot about anything much. For the moment the "what if" game is being silent and her thoughts are wispy things that have no substance.

She reaches over and takes the single white envelope from the edge of the desk and writes an address on it and then her own. She picks up the papers and starts to slide them inside...but hesitates. After a moment she sits back with the papers and once again begins to read what she has written...though she has read it many times already. It has been a long time in coming....making the journey from the darkest recesses of her mind to the white pristine papers in her printer.

As each word of each line skims across her vision her mind instantly plays out the scenes of her life; the good, the not so good, and the ones she wishes she could forget, but of course, that will never happen. Some things are with you forever.

She reaches the end and once again straightens the pages into an orderly pile....and slips them into the waiting envelope. Along with the papers she inserts her hopes and dreams that within these pages her future lies. That the events of her life will finally have meaning because to believe it had none is more than she can bear.

She lays the envelope down while she dresses but can't help looking over now and then...and realizes the power that is contained within those pages. The power to change her life...the thought frightens her nearly as much as it sparks a bright light of hope within her heart.

She slips on her jacket and collects her keys then walks over and stands in front of her desk looking down. The sudden urge to just chuck the whole thing in the garbage can at her feet is so strong she realizes her hand is already reaching out to do just that before she can stop it...she snatches it back and takes a deep breath. A small pep talk was in order...and she gives it and listens patiently to it before grabbing the envelope quickly and heads for the door.

As she sits in her car she tosses it carelessly into the passenger seat...almost as an after thought. If she dwells too long on its importance she feels she will lose herself in the enormity of what she is about to do...and of course back out while she still can. Backing out is NOT an option...just start the car and get moving.

Traffic is sufficient to require concentration but she still manages to steal a glance or two at the seat next to her. The closer she gets to her destination the harder her heart pounds until eventually she can hear neither the sounds of traffic nor the negative voice in her head that has been her constant companion these long lonely years.

She pulls up into the parking lot and snatches it up and quickly enters the building as if the hounds of hell are on her heels. She can't help but glance over her shoulder...just to make sure it IS just her imagination.

She arrives at the counter and thrusts the envelope that contains her life at the surprised employee. Almost instantly she starts to grab it back as if discovering her child in the arms of a stranger. She catches herself and steps back from the counter and plasters a smile on her face to put the cautious employee at ease...or so she hopes.

Uhm....can I help you, he asks.

Yes...I would like to send that by registered mail...she answers quickly. She is pretty sure she sounds least to her ears...though they are full of the sound of her beating heart.

Ok...fill out this paperwork and that will be $6.80...and it should be there by Thursday, he says as he places a sticker on her life and sets it behind him on the outgoing mail shelf. She looks at it sitting there and can't help but imagine the little adventure it is about to embark on. Once again the analogy of a child comes to mind...her child is venturing out into the world and she won't be there to keep it safe. Her heart not only pounds but squeezes too with pain and trepidation.

She quickly looks away before the tears that threaten start to fall. You would think she had just laid baby Moses in a basket preparing to push him off into the unknown waters the way she felt.

She fills out the paper work and pays the fee then turns to walk away. She can't help but look one more time at her hope for the future lying there so innocently on the shelf. Such power in that envelope...she is amazed there isn't some sign, almost biblical in nature, that would indicate the essence of what those pages contain.

She gets back in her car and starts the engine. Buckles her seat belt then turns the radio on. Checks her mirrors before pulling out and heads for home...and it is only then that she allows herself to dream a little dream.

And the waiting begins....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is There a Trevor in Your Life?

I love spending time on Ellen Degenerous's offical website (http// ) because, not only are the video's of her show and things she has done so funny, she also puts things on there worth watching that aren't always so funny but very important. ( I might add that I have been clicking away on her tickets calender for a year now and no luck...always full or I'm doing it wrong. Hey Ellen, could you hook a girl up pleeeeeese?)

A lot of people who "know" her have heard her speak out against bullying and she has admitted that of course she suffered that as well when she came out as a lesbian in Hollywood just when she was becoming well known and famous. She says she was shut down and nobody wanted to touch her after that. She suffered adult bullying and I happen to know personally that it hurts no matter what your age is.

She showed them though and came back bigger and better than ever. In your face Hollywood!!!

However, dealing with this bullying when you are young can be life altering...even life ending. You are made to feel different, or when people perceive you as different, their "normal" reaction is to isolate you even more. To ostracize you and make you feel that your difference is somehow your fault, your problem, your defect. You must deal with it alone, or change and become "one of them" in order to be accepted.

For a young person this forced change can be the beginning of the end for how they perceive themselves. When you are different (as judged by society) everything else connected with you appears "off" or nuanced into suggestive meanings. Your every step, word, or thought is made to feel skewed or somehow shameful. Your not "normal" and boy don't the bullies let you know it.

On Ellen's website she has a short film called Trevor(for some reason my copy paste abilities are suffering today, but you can find the film on her website or Google of course). This is a film about a teenage boy just coming to learn that he is possibly gay and the repercussions he suffers because of it; both from this parents and society (school mostly). It's poignant because throughout Trevor tells himself that he "looks normal" and "feels normal" but apparently everyone else can see something different about him that he can't see himself, otherwise why would they treat him as they do?

The film is almost lighthearted in it's acting but the message is strong and in your face. Not everyone is "like you" and who are you to demand that of anyone anyways. Why demand people be "normal" because what does normal mean anyhow? Normal to you (any you) means to bully people into changing themselves to suit you and make you happy. So is bullying a characteristic of "normal"?

When you look in the mirror do you see "normal" or is there always something about you that you would change, and are these changes possible; like losing weight or cutting your hair, or something impossible like changing the color of your eyes....or your sexuality? It seems bullies, both adult and children, demand we change things about ourselves to please them in some way.

If you are gay, change that because I am not gay and everyone should be like me. You might not be gay, but you're a homophobic hateful bully with a black heart that cannot accept people for who they are without taking it personal and wanting to force them to change. Why should I be like you...are you normal?

I loved this short film because it says so much in such a short time. The message is direct and easy to understand; not everyone is the same and what a better place the world is because of it. We are not all cookie cutter personalities with desires and dreams that match...what a boring world it would be if it were.

For those of you who point a finger at those of us who aren't normal (and yes I include myself because...really...there isn't too much normal about me. I'm fucked up in so many ways you don't even know), when you look in the mirror are you completely satisfied with the person looking back at you...or is there something...just a little something, you would change to better suit your idea, or societies idea, of what constitutes "normal"?

Nobody is perfect, we all have our flaws, but when you look at me (any me) with my short body, red hair, long spindly legs, stutter, freckles, pudgy belly, gangly walk, non stop tick, bad teeth and bad skin, green eyes, blue eyes, brown sexuality... when you look at me and don't like what you see and decide you have the right to point it out and demand I change it....let me ask you this....why should I?

Do you stay awake at night unable to sleep because I wear clothes that offend you, because I have thoughts that offend you, because I dance, talk, laugh, sit, eat or do nothing at all and that still somehow offends you, or is it because I found love, the hardest of all emotions to find, keep, and cherish, with someone you don't agree with...and you find that the biggest offense of all. Why are you losing sleep over this...why are you shaking your head, clenching your fists and feeling a sense of revulsion at my happiness and gratitude that I. Found. Love.?

Why are you standing there feeling superior that you are hetero that you are "normal" and that you are doing God's work by sending me and my "type" to hell simply because I love? God created me with the ability to love...He did not create me with the ability to choose whom I love. Why should I be punished for His omission?

When we are young our parents tell day you will grow up and find someone to love and who loves you. What they don't tell us is that society must first agree with our choice because society has a say in who we love...even though we ourselves have absolutely NO say in who we fall in love with. Is loving someone something we choose? Can we point at a person and say..."hey, I think I will make myself fall in love with you today"....can hetero's do that? I'm guessing they can because they seem to assume gay people can do that too.

I cannot stand people who bully, people who judge, people who spend so much time up on their "holier than thou" soapbox that they can't live among the rest of us.... without looking down.

Must we always find reasons to look down on people...why not find reasons to look up to them instead? I find that the kind of normal everyone should strive for. The world is in the fucked up condition it is today because we spend so much time looking for differences in each other that we miss all the similarities.

Speak out against bullies...even if you don't like something you see in others...neither you nor anyone else has the right to demand they change it. Even if you use God as your "excuse"...just turn a blind eye to someones "defect", to their gayness, just like you turn a blind eye and keep silent about so many other "un-religious" actions so many of your faith engage in. Just add this one to that list...won't ya?

Or does that and let live thing ... just pertain to YOU and your "lifestyle choices"?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell...a letter to the paper

I will be the first to admit I know very little about the political process and what is required to make a law a law...or to reject a proposed one etc., but I do know what "separation of church and state" means and I do know that BECAUSE of separation of church and state, religion shouldn't play any part in law making in THIS country based on that fact.
I know...try telling THAT to the Christians. *sigh*
Now, due in part to my boring night job, and my new found interest in my politics class...I have been reading the paper more in hopes that all that is confusing will become more clear.
I chanced upon this letter in yesterday's Casper Star Tribune (I'm starting to see a trend here) and it really made my blood boil. (another crappy pic, sorry) Now, according to this gentleman (and I use the term in the loosest possible way) he is quite happy that the Don't Ask/Don't Tell rule in the military was upheld. According to him, the military is NO place for homosexuals anyhow.
In case it's too small to read (I'm sure) his words are, "I am a veteran who shared open showers. It is uncomfortable knowing of a gay man showering in the same 12 shower room. If heterosexual soldiers are attracted to females and forbidden to shower with them, how could it be acceptable for a gay soldier, attracted to men, to be allowed to share showers with other male soldiers?"
Now here's what I'm thinking...see if this makes sense. Gay men are attracted to...oh say...OTHER gay men. If YOU are not gay, chances are other gay men will know it and not bother themselves checking out your "goods". Having said that...who the fuck cares if they do check out your have been subjecting women to the lecherous male gaze since the beginning of time so why cry foul at the very thought that it might get turned on them in some way?
Not to mention, chances are this particular man shared many many showers with gay men while in the military...and just didn't know it. You know why he didn't know it? Cause gay men look just like everyone else...naked..and with their clothes on too for the most part. Also, as far as I men don't make it a point to proclaim their homosexuality while in showers with 12 other men. Just doesn't sound like "good manners"...or even safe for him to do.
This man also goes on to claim that allowing gays in the military (as if there aren't any right now) would require "separate showers, bathing schedules, and living quarters". He claims then gays would claim "discrimination". Ya think?
My question is...why would it require those things? A gay man is still a man...still got the penis and absence of breasts (generally speaking) so he is, in fact, still male...he just happens to like males and not females. How does that translate into requiring separate everything to accommodate them?
His last line is quite the doozy actually. It's the one that really pissed me off. He says...and I QUOTE, "If they don't announce their homosexuality, then I won't announce my heterosexuality."
I was like...huh?
You just announced you heterosexuality by writing this letter. You announced it by declaring NOT being a heterosexual is somehow wrong. Heterosexuals announce it every single time they try (or do) pass a law that makes being hetero the norm and being gay abnormal. By allowing religious thought to invade our political process to the extent that laws are formed and enforced based on some biblical proclamation that being gay is wrong and deserving of punishment is DECLARING your heterosexuality every single day and forcing that declaration down the throat of every citizen of this country whether they like it or not.
Heterosexual Christians (of which this particular writer doesn't claim to be a Christian but I sort of read it in there...maybe that's just me) believe they have the God given right to enforce their ideas of what is normal and what is sinful onto the rest of us...and by prohibiting gay soldiers from declaring themselves as gay...they are, in fact forcing govt to accept church into every little facet of the political process.
To me that sounds anti American govt. Why do we allow it to happen? Why have we allowed Christians to take over the law making decisions of this country when clearly not everyone who lives and are forced to obey those same laws are not Christian and probably don't believe the same things that the Bible claims is true?
If the American Constitution declares that there will be "separation of church and state"...and we are governed by that constitution...why do we have laws that make being gay illegal? Or somehow sinful? Or that forbid them certain rights that heteros enjoy? or? or? or?
Possibly I still have a lot to learn about politics but could someone explain this to me....I'm not getting it.
btw..back to this ex-veteran..he is a homophobe...and THOSE are the sorts of men that shouldn't be allowed in the military...wonder how many of them are though?
grrr...for some reason my paragraphs won't ....paragraph...sorry for the looooong "paragraph"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Religious Satire?

This was in our local Caspar Star Tribune yesterday. Sorry for the bad quality but I had to take a pic with my phone. At the moment I just want to hear some comments from you guys. See what you think as to whether this is an accurate representation of both religious communities or not.
My short answer? Yes....and NO.
What do you think?
btw I forgot to note the artists name and now its rather hard to see down there but Im sure someone can make it out who has better vision than I do.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yaaay!!! I'm a citizen!!!

Today in our government class our instructor sprung a pop quiz on us. I passed it (yay) but what was more surprising to me are the number of students that didn't. From our class of around 30, the show of hands indicated at least 23 did not pass...and the rest of us by just one or two answers.

What was this pop quiz that saw so many failures you ask? It was the exam given to would be U.S. citizen hopefuls before they can precede on to the next step of swearing their oath of allegiance. It consists of 10 questions and at least 6 must be right in order to pass. I got 7 right....and this actually surprised me because it has been a very long time since I sat in a govt. class...much less thought about any of those subjects asked about. I was even more surprised that those high numbers that failed in our class were mainly younger students that probably had govt. classes within the past 2 or 3 years...not to mention some of those questions were pretty basic information.

Shades of Jay Leno's stupid Americans segment came to mind...seriously...very sad.'s the questions we were asked. I want you guys to answer the questions as best you can...WITHOUT googling (yeah that means YOU) just to see how "American" you are and to judge whether or not you could pass the same test would be Americans have to pass to be considered American citizen criteria.

Try not to look at other people's answers least not until you hit submit. I won't put the answers until some people have had a go.

1. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful.

2. How many amendments to the constitution are there?

3. How many House of Representatives have the power to vote?

4. What are the rights of a U.S. citizen?

5. Who has the right to vote?

6. Who is one of the 3 authors of the Federalist Papers?

7. What territory did the U.S. buy from France?

8. Who was the president during WWI?

9. Name one of the territories of the U.S.?

10. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?

Just so you know, I missed #'s 3, 6, ad 8...which I thought wasn't too bad. How well can you do?

Have fun...remember...NO cheating!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coolred and the year on.

Can anyone remember what they were doing one year ago from today? For most of us that wouldn't be easy, too much going on in life to remember what we had for lunch last week much less a year ago. However, when something truly momentous is going on...well that makes it somewhat easier to recall certain details.

For those unenlightened as to the finer details of my recent past...go read this ....and then a little more here just to get all caught up, more or less.

Go on...I'll wait. *listening to Amy Winehouse*

So, you up to speed now? Good. My children and I arrived back on American shores one year ago today (OK on the 20th but we left on the 19th and Ive got homework to do so this is being typed in between Spanish and Pyschology) and to say that the past year has been just as eventful as the lead up to us arriving here is a misnomer. It's been one roller coaster ride after another...with no end it sight.

I thought I would do this post sort of in a "the year that was" kind of thing with some updates as well. I want those that contributed good wishes and hard earned money to hopefully realize they helped put a family on the road to a very different life...and definitely for the better as far as I'm concerned.

Well let's see. One of the hardest things for me to get straight in my mind every single day of my life that I REALLY am here. I wake up in the morning...go to college or work or the mall...spend the day doing my thing...then lay in my bed at night and ask myself the same thing again and again..."am I really here?" The answer is always yes...but it doesn't make it any easier to believe.

For 23 years while living in Bahrain I dreamed of coming home and STAYING home. Several times I did find myself in the states again, but circumstances prevented me from staying beyond a visit (another post there I suppose), mainly the fact that my children were still over there. There was never really any choice in the matter. Where they were is where I had to be...simple. I could never make the final move to America unless and until ALL my children were with me. This, of course, meant I made several trips back and forth over the years, but never with the understanding that THIS time I was staying for good. In the back of my mind was always the "return date" to head back to Bahrain. I guess my dream was, in travel to America and have NO return date on my ticket. A one way ticket in other words. Obviously that finally happened and here we year on.

I suppose I could do a post full of links to certain events this past year but that would be a pain for me ( I have yet to learn how to link without much hair blog is the worst for it I know) so instead I will just do some highlights of the past and updates of the present and some wishful thinking for the future possibly. Here goes.

1. Kids and I arrived tired, travel worn, and rather wrung out after that truly monumental 23 hour combined flight and layover.

2. Stayed with an old school friend of mine for 2 months while we sorted ourselves out. She was a true friend by giving us a place to stay when we got here...without which I would have hesitated to even make the trip in the first place. Having said that...11 people in a trailer does tend to cause stress and hurt feelings. We did OK considering the forced closeness and differences my kids had to get use to.

3. I managed to get a job working in a gas station/convenience store fairly quickly. I have quite a few posts in the archives detailing interesting customers and what not...there's even a post about 3 men coming in and robbing me...then returning the next day as if nothing happened. Still mad about the police not showing up when I called them. grrrr!!!

4. My 2 high school kids settled in fairly easily tho there were some incidents of name calling..."terrorists" was thrown at them a few times but the principle of the school sorted that out right away and things settled down. My son, Zack graduated later that year with near perfect marks. Not bad considering the upheaval he endured at the start of his senior year, not to mention having ALL his classes in English for the first time ever. He is one smart cookie. Handsome too. Anyone need a smart handsome about 5 to 10 years? LOL

5. I bought a new (old) car in late Nov. as I had been forced to walk across town to get to work after we moved into our apartment at last. My feet were just not happy to accept a 2 hour walk ahead of an 8 hour shift...I was forced to buy the car before they mutinied completely on me. Less than 2 weeks later I was coming home from work at midnight and was struck by a teenage drunk driver. Thankfully I wasn't hurt too bad but he didn't have his seat belt on and suffered some serious injuries. The consequences from that accident have been serious and on going...something I'm still dealing with no end in sight just yet. *ugh*

6. I made the decision to enroll in college for the Spring '10 semester as it was something I have always wanted to do but never got the chance. I was rather hesitant considering my age and how long it's been since I sat in a classroom but felt the only thing stopping me was ME...and went ahead and signed up. At the moment I'm focusing on Psychology and Journalism majors...but nothing set in stone just yet. I see so many interesting classes I would like to take...and am considering the option of making a career out of being a college student. LOL The first semester was hectic juggling work, kids and college. I felt at times I wanted to either quit work and focus on college (if I could afford too *sigh*) or quit college and just live my life as it was. Quitting the kids wasn't an option so they were stuck with me. I eventually sorted myself out and got everything done. I even managed to finish that first semester on the Deans List. woot woot!! I've started my second semester and so far, the way things are going, I will enjoy my 5 mins on the Deans List and consider it a fluke. Spanish is HARD!!! *ugh*

Oh yes, my two oldest kids also joined me at college and so it was a family affair. We all managed to finish our first semester on the Deans List soooo yay us.

7. My best friend from Bahrain came to visit me twice so far. Once by herself and once with her children over the summer. Her second visit coincided with my mother coming to visit as well. Those couple of weeks had their ups and downs but we had some fun. I noticed my kids were very happy to see her...I guess she brought a "touch of Bahrain" with her...and reminded them of who they are. (as if they could forget) She is just about the only family they still have over there...and she isn't even related by blood....just by love...and that's fine with us.

8. One by one the older kids have all found jobs and so we are scratching by...doing OK. I can't complain but if I could have a home to call our own...that would be icing on the cake. Living in an apartment has many of which is that the local cops consider this their "donut shop" and spend copious amounts of time here for various reasons. I would just like to have a permanent home and decorate accordingly...with a dog in the front yard and a swing in the back.

9. My daughter has decided it's time to get married and so is busy making plans to get that process done. Hard to believe my "baby" is all grown up and taking the marital plunge. If it were up to me I would forbid her to marry...I'm somewhat jaded in that area...but it's not up to me and I can't put my animosity for all things marriage related off on her. I hope she is happy and content. That's all I can say.

Oh yes...he better be good to her...I can wield a mean baseball bat when pushed. I'm just saying.

So that's it pretty much. I could give you all the nitty gritty details (and there are some of course...maybe for another time?) but basically we are busy getting on with it. Right now my oldest son and I are combining college and full time work...daughter will join us again as soon as she gets this little marriage thing out of the way...LOL. Rest of the kids are doing their thing and we are taking it day by day.

Again I want to reiterate that I wish for those people who helped us get here and thus changed our lives (for better I hope) will appreciate the fact that their efforts were a stepping stone for all of us. There are a couple of friends who went the extra yard, and you know who you are but wish to remain anonymous but a shout out for you all the same. You know who you are.

I hope we are deserving of the trust you placed on us when you made the decision to share your monies or your good thoughts with us way back when I asked you complete stranger to many of you...and just a blogger to many others. Your trust in me and what I asked of you was much appreciated and the ripples are still occurring.

Thank you all.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

College Class Update

I've started my second semester of college after a very hectic first semester. It took me awhile to find my groove that first semester; find time for work, homework and family. As I said...HECTIC!!

Anyhow, just to wave my own flag for a second here, after all that headache, stress and much hair pulling, I did manage to finish the semester on the Deans List. don't ask me how I managed that because I haven't a clue. But still, yay me.

Side note...the only thing that stopped me from finishing with ALL A's was one certain speech teacher that gave me a B in his class. I hate to admit I have serious doubts as to whether I deserved that B. I did flub the first speech (deer in headlights remember...ugh) and got a C but I got A's on the next two and A'ced the the final as well. makes me think he had other issues with me (possibly my connection to Arabs/Islam that he showed obvious dislike for?), but I don't know for sure so I can't say.

Anyways, new semester new stresses, new likes and dislikes etc. Here's a second week into it run down.

Algebra I & II. This class isn't really a class. It's all done on line with a teacher circulating the class encase anyone needs help. No lectures, no examples on the board with detailed explanations etc. I'm a visual person so this is very hard for me to deal with. I'm finding it difficult to understand the rationale in mixing numbers with letters and calling it math. Ugh! It's even more confusing to me because I use to be an ace at math, a whiz, somewhat of a genius actually. When I was young I could do complicated math problems in my head people! No lie. When I was a mere 6th grader I was placed in 9th grade Algebra, which did nothing to make friends for me. For some reason 9th graders did not take kindly to a puny 6th grader showing them up. I mostly kept silent after realizing that just because I was smart didn't mean I had to show it. (oh the memories) I would have to venture a guess and deduce that my "math muscle" has atrophied due to inactivity and such. In other words, Use It or Lose It! I lost it. *sigh*

Good news is that this class is taught by my previous math teacher so we have a relationship established already. She is a good instructor so I'm confident things will go smooth.

Technical Writing: This class is about learning how to write business correspondence, ads, memos, things meant to be published in other words. So far it comes across as very odd. The instructor gives very strange homework that many of us have concluded makes no sense based on what we were taught in class. He also is a very sedate, methodical instructor. a.k.a. boring. I could fall asleep in the time it takes him to get his point across. Most of the students in this class are the same ones that were in my English Comp class last semester. While that class was Las Vegas with its funny lectures, jokes, and all around feel good atmosphere...this one is like a trip through Mr Rodgers Neighborhood...with Mr Rodgers leading the way. No excitement, no laughter, just information given in slow monotones and glazed eyes and big yawns are prevalent. I don't particularly care for this class at the moment but it's required to full fill our English credit so what can I do. Get it out of the way I guess. *sigh*

Spanish I: I actually love Spanish class despite my struggle learning foreign languages. Arabic definitely did not come easy to me (still struggling with that..ugh) but our instructor is a bubbly, sexy energetic Latino woman and she makes all the difference in how the class runs. It's interesting to note that Spanish and Arabic have very similar grammar rules. It's also a "what you see is what you get" in terms of spelling etc. There are no silent letters in other words. I like the class a lot and hope I can learn sufficient Spanish to converse with my many Spanish speaking customers. However, I noticed that I definitely need to be in class and learn the material first hand. The two days I missed for various reasons could be viewed quite well on our first exam. I did well on the sections I was in class...not so well on the sections I was not in class. I vow to not miss any classes if I can help it. I also noticed that she doesn't spend much time on any given section. The first day we were learning vowel sounds and basic Spanish rules...the next words...and the next we were expected to be reading and reciting whole sentences. Obviously it's going to be a speedy train to the final got to be there for the whole ride. LOL

Soy optimista!!!

Wyoming Govt & Politics: I have to admit right here and now that I know very little about the American govt system and how it operates and came to be what it is. Other than what I learned in 9th grade govt. class I have little experience with it. My only excuse being that I have been overseas for all of my adult life and busy with other things...ahem. I thought the class would be boring but it's actually quite interesting. Of course this doesn't mean I'm going to find it a breeze or anything but at least I won't be falling asleep in it as I see many other students doing in that big hall while the lights are off and projector on. LOL The instructor is quite dynamic as well so that's helpful. He is making a potential "dry subject" (at least to me) engaging and thought provoking. Also, it's actually two classes; one day a week are a combined class with several lecturers giving their opinions etc about current events or politics etc, which helps keep boredom at bay with every new face etc; and we've got a once a week class with our own specific instructor fine tuning what we heard in the lecture hall...with his own added commentary. So it's interesting and I think I will learn a lot about politics before I'm done. They also aren't afraid to speak of "controversial" issues and let us comment on those subjects too so that's always fun to be able to speak freely with learned people about certain subjects. Right now we are discussing the topic, "what's so great about being an American and is our democratic system any better than what passes for democracy in other countries?". Fun stuff.

College paper: Of course I continued with writing for the school paper. I was also made Assistant Editor this semester as my instructor really likes my writing. She hinted that I will be made Editor sometime in the future if I continue in this vein. I found it funny that I actually don't always get a chance to look at the college paper once it's published and so was actually surprised to see the last one published from last semester had the whole mid section spread dedicated to one of my articles. She never told me she was doing that so had no particular interest in making it a point to see the paper once it came out. I generally tend to write my piece then let her do what she wants with it and leave it at that. I guess as Asst. Editor I may have to change that blase' attitude. LOL

I just want to point out that that particular article was me blathering on about how I feel every American needs to get a passport and leave the bubble that is America and see the rest of the world rather than rely on such things as Fox News and Oprah to fill them in. Most Americans will never leave their hometown, their state, or even their side of the continent and so obviously will never leave America for any reason. This is to our great disadvantage as the world is made up of more than just America and how can we know a people or culture unless we get out there and experience it? Just a thought. Anyhow....

Developmental Psychology: Same instructor as my previous psych class so at least I know her exam style etc (all from her lectures, the text is more of a back up reading sort of thing). She is very interesting and makes this class enjoyable. Psychology is just fascinating to me and I look forward to it. This class focuses on child development from conception to teen years. After having 5 kids and 'seeing it all" so to speak...I'm hoping it won't be too hectic as far as needing to study etc...but who knows. Last semester my first exam in college was one of hers and I completely bombed it. Got a D simply because it had been 25 years since my last exam and over estimated my abilities...what can I say...I use to be a whiz on past glories obviously doesn't pass exams for you. LOL Got down off that high horse REAL quick and buckled down and learned how to study all over again...or should I say for the first time...LOL. I never actually studied when I was younger...I hate me. Ha ha so do I remembering my cavalier attitude towards studying back then. The ego of youth and all that. Anyhow I like this class and look forward to it.

Well, that's it for now. A little run down for ya. My attitudes about each class may change over time (looking at you Spanish) but for now that's it. Wish me luck.

*side note. My boss moved me from the branch on the other side of town to the one just down the street from me. This means that, not only can my kids come walking down to visit me since during school we don't always get meaningful time together, it also means I don't have to hurry back and forth all the time to make it to work etc. More time to stay at college and get work done etc. Bonus. Down side...these customers are not nearly so interesting as the ones at the other store. *sigh*