On What I’m Doing Now: Too much has changed

Standard

Wow, a lot has happened in the past few, for one thing I am NO LONGER and ex-pat!

ha ha… and not a moment too soon. Ex-pat life was getting to me in ways you can’t even imagine. It’s a relief to be done with that place. I never felt home. I never felt at-ease, not completely.

My leaving was bittersweet. I haven’t been able to come into focus on a lot of things. I have grown so much over the past few years. There were some important milestones that I reached while living abroad (this time). All of that is not behind me.

But the experience took a heck of a lot out of me too. It’s like the older, wiser me, still has plenty of battle scars. I wonder what this will mean for me and life adjusting back into being an American. I’m living in the US, but in a different place than I have lived before, and trying to navigate life as the “new” girl. It was just three years ago that I was excited about moving to the UAE and giving this American life the big eff you… ha ha.

Maybe worst of all, somewhere along the way, I lost my will to write. I still can’t tell if it was because of self-sensorship, or just working full time or what. Maybe I just didn’t have anything to tell you all.

The urge to write something, to force myself to write something came today as I finally removed the last vestiges of my life there from my life here. A few FB friend deletes aside, I should be good to go in a very little while… ha ha.

So what happened?

Alhamdullilah for the past… now I look forward to the future.

 

 

She Did it!

Standard

I am breaking my hiatus to mark the moment: Hillary Clinton is accepting her party’s nomination for presidential candidacy.

My emotions are not as strong as they were eight years ago, when Barack Obama accepted his nomination. But, I am relieved and happy and pleased for her: As a woman, as a fellow Wellesley alum (Go Blue!) and as an American. It’s about darn time. To be honest, regardless of your views on her politics or “trustworthiness” she’s smart, she’s capable, and she’s had to work twice as hard to get to this point in her career. This election is making me reflect more on my feelings redarding racism vs. sexism. Being at least a double minority gives me the dubious honor of sifting through what he purported causes for discrimination against me might be.

But I’ve grown up in a family and community where women hold up half the sky. And so, I have never questioned that women are just as good (and better) than any man. Perhaps in time that will be something to post more about.

hillary-clinton-01-800

I don’t post political stuff (or anything anymore for that matter )… but stuff is in the oven, it’s just gonna take a little bit to get those buns perfectly golden brown before dropping some new entries.

Suffice it so say, so many changes are afoot. I am saying Alhamdullilah, for me, for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Here’s to one heck of a presidential election season.

#ImwithHer

Better Late than Never: On Indonesia and Malaysia

Standard

I’m baaaack! from where?

Well from Indonesia and Malaysia. No, I didn’t go to the resort towns, this trip was really to see my friends from my Qatar program. It was great in a lot of ways.

I think I’ve mentioned how much I regret not doing this trip sooner, but it is what it is. Overall, it was nice to go where I really felt wanted. All three ladies appreciated my trek to see them and it was great catching up. I’m happy I also have a more positive Asia experience to add to my list now. China was weird… I have never felt so utterly different from everyone around me and clown-like (heck even on this trip a little Chinese child looked at me in horror as she pointed at me and told her mom whatever the heck she said to her… sigh… but that was in the airport. And it doesn’t really matter). Thailand as a place was great, but in retrospect the circumstances around my going and my company during that trip weren’t optimal, to say the least…. I should never have gone. sigh. First world problems, I guess.

So it was great to walk down the streets of Jakarta, alone, black woman with natural hair and no one batted an eyelid, little children didn’t run away from me down the sidewalk. Everyone minded their own business. It’s a feeling a girl could really get used to… ha ha… but in Indonesia the language barrier was real and the currency had a lot of zeros in it, so I was always getting confused… ha ha. I am so happy I had my friend to take me around and translate.

here are some pics of my experience… Food, the view from my hotel room window, the national monument as I rode by (I did see it up close, but either I or my friend are in those photos so not posting them up… nope, nope and a family with a child on a motorcycle. Ya’ll I saw babies, I mean like 6 month old kids riding motorcyles standing up and it wasn’t a thing. ha ha… but people drive a lot slower there. Oh yes, and the Cathedral. The National Mosque of Jakarta is right across the street from a catholic church (pictured below). I didn’t go inside because it was Good Friday and services were being held all day long :-/…. but it’s such a great testament to the religious tolerance in the region. I loooooooved it. (sorry no mosque photos as I am in all of them… ha ha)

 

20160324_13245920160325_16524020160325_16420520160325_13312020160322_213420

 

Malaysia was more developed, and even less people giving a shit about a black woman being there. Here I met up with my friend who is still a single lady, so the spots we hit up kind of reflected that… ha ha. (I mean don’t let your minds go too crazy, she is Muslim and wears hijab so we weren’t doing anything too out of this world… ha ha). Like Jakarta, I stayed near the city center, and it was awesome.  Food was great, the twin towers (which the UAE totally copied for their burj Khalifa and water show  ha ha), the view from the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and the outside part of the National mosque of Malaysia.

20160328_21033420160328_20273120160327_16110620160326_193046

 

The trips were great, but they are honestly probably the last one I will do for a while. I enjoyed my time, but I was tired out (and gained 2 kilos!)…. It’s taken me about a week to get back to normal (including weight-wise).

If I could sum it up I would probably say Indonesia is older-feeling and the social stratification was more apparent there, but it was very clean and I think I enjoyed the food there more.

Malaysia was more modern, and the racial diversity was all around us (including tons of Arabs presumably there on holiday, I have heard Arabs say they love Malaysia, but my oh my, they were not lying… there wasn’t a single day that went by that I didn’t hear tons of Arabic or see tons of Arabs) the foods were a mix of Asian cuisines: Malay, Chinese and Indian.

All in all a great experience, I would definitely go back to either place as I barely scratched the surface of what there is to see (and eat!)… ha ha. Alhamdullilah I made it this time.

On planning my next Trips

Standard

In case anyone was wondering… I am feeling a lot better… (cricket)…. Being my own psycologist/psyhiatrist is just fraught with moments of deep reflection and falling into the despair that may come with those reflections. I am a work in progress…

Anyway,

While I am in the MENA region, I should be taking advantage of this and travelling. Due to a lot of different reasons, I didn’t go all the places I would have expected to go by now: I went to San Francisco last year for Spring break, but I wish I had used that time to go to Indonesia and Malaysia instead.  I also went to Thailand in September, but I really again, wish I had done Indonesia, Malaysia or Turkey instead.

But wishes don’t wash dishes.

I think I hinted in one of my more brooding posts about going to sub-Saharan AFrica. That is still on the table although figuring out the details of this trip has been a bit more cumbersome due to the nationalities of my travel buddies.

And then an idea came that I have never really responded to before, but makes sense… Gazelle wants to go to Iran! ha ha… yes I really do. I mean when next will I have the chance? I don’t plan on learning Persian or working in Iranian affairs, so it’s not a professional opportunity that is likely to pop up. So yeah, the visa process sucks for Americans but if I can swing it, I might to Iran…. BY MYSELF this summer!

I am not scared of Iran or Iranians, but I am curious as to what it would feel like as a black woman traveling alone to country like that… where black Iranians exist, but probably not a lot in the capital.

Turkey is still on my must-dos as is Jordan.

I wanted to head to Tunisia, but that’s a place I feel like I would probably have the chance to visit again, maybe even under more feasible travel circumstances. So, yeah some dreams are dying so that other dreams may live… ha ha.

On one year Anniversaries: I wish I had a time Machine

Standard

I am always trying to explain my funks. And it hit me today, as I made plans with friends for spring break (might actually make it to Sub-Saharan Africa this time around!)

It’s been a year since I started making really bad decisions. TBH last year from January – end of September is a stretch of time I deeply and bitterly regret. It’s not like good things didn’t happen during that time. They did. I accomplished some goals.

But if I was balancing on a scale, the effed up decisions I made have had long-lasting impact. (Maybe I should be over it by now. But I am not, and since it’s my space, I will bitch and complain and reflect on it until I decide that I no longer wish to do so).

 

Anyway, I am a little sad because I had been doing well. But curiosity got the best of me this weekend and stared in the face of what I last year thought (foolishly) would not be something I would have to face. And I didn’t stand tall, unfazed; I crumbled worse than Fetta.

And once I crumbled with such ease, every insecurity, every doubt, every blame that I rightfully (and maybe even a few that I wrongfully) deserve just came in and set up house. In the end, I am not enough. Not for me and not for anyone else apparently.  I am neither kind nor smart, nor important, no matter Viola Davis says (ha ha)….

proof of lack of kindness: karma is a bitch, so this must be for ish I pulled. proof of lack of intelligence: Well, honestl what’s saddest of all is how long is taking to figure this out. And lack of importance: I am writing a cryptic as hell post about some cryptic ish that no one else cares about or is dealing with but me….. sigh.

Sometimes I dryly says that if my life was a movie title it would be “a series of unfortunate events” and sometimes when I’m super bitter I add, starting with the holiday season in which I was conceived (well just doing some math as I was born in September, I figure the holiday cheer had a hand in my creation … never asked though… ha ha).

I wish I could do better. That I had done better, that I could be better. Not so much for anyone’s aggrandizement, but for my own. I’m not sure when I became a flagellite but here I am (writing blog posts instead of working😕 ) back in the same rut of anger and frustration.

Like I said, I bitterly regret last year… right now it feels like the damage is irreparable. Or maybe I am just acknowledging this fact.  But there are few things worse than feeling like the only thing that would help would be to jump into a time machine. I would warn my past self not to go to X or Y. To forget about Z. I would beat the optimism out of her and throw off her rose colored glasses and stomp them to bits. I would connect the dots better for her. I would show her the face of the future that I have seen.

And While we are on the Subject: Sketchy, old(er), Arab Men

Standard

I have talked about a strange dynamic between me and Arab men. Some think I should be honored to be with an Arab man since my inferior African genes can get an upgrade a la mixed children. Some think this, but also think that I am not soo AFrican/black since I speak Arabic. It’s the equivalent of white people not saying your not black, black.

Something that has happened to me on more than one occasion is that Arab men, specifically older Arab men try to hit on me in the grocery store. Yes, the grocery store. I gave this preamble about racial dynamics because I think it’s pertinent in this context.

There’s a socio-economic hierarchy based on race and nationality here. I defy these paradigms because I am a black American woman who doesn’t necessarily look like a black American (whatever the eff that means).  If I’m speaking ARabic, then I am a Sudanese woman. If not, then I am just African… ha ha.

If I am in the grocery store and bagging my own groceries because I don’t feel myself to high and mighty to do them myself… then I must be a maid…. see where I am going with this?

If I am a maid, then I must be easily swayed by cheap shit and flashy talk. Sigh.

Case in point, last Friday I went to the grocery store, wearing a brace on my wrist that I had injured exercising. (Gazelle is trying to get into shape, ya’ll but it’s not working😦

I bagged my own groceries and pushed my own cart out into the parking lot, because I didn’t have a lot of stuff and figured I could load the car myself. This older, (Arab) guy who was behind me in the line catches up to me and asks if I need help. Now, because of how I had noticed him hovering near me in the store, I was afraid he was gonna try something. And he did not disappoint.

I smiled and said no, and he exclaimed, when he realized that I wasn’t gonna push the cart down the sidewalk (i.e. I wasn’t going to take the cart to my home, but rather to a car)”Oh you have car!??”

GAzelle is already annoyed at this point and so I just roll my eyes and say yes, and ignore him. Then once I reach my car he is still nearby and proceeds to declare that he is looking for someone who will “work with him.”

I give him a blank stare that says “WTF does that have to do with me?”

He then responds, sounding hurt and a bit offended, “You don’t want to work with me?”

I am so annoyed at this point that I blurt out with as much attitude as I can that I already have a job so I am not in the slightest bit interested in working with some damn stranger.

He finally takes the hint and walks away at some point, as I load my groceries.

I hate incidents like these. And no amount of white-washing will make me believe that it’s not tied to race. I get singled out because they assume that I am desperate and can be taken advantage of and men like this dude in the parking lot make me sick. I hate to just go to the stores that western ex-pats shop in. I like having access to things that make the local color of this city so vibrant. But the reality for me, as a black woman with African features, is that I have to dress the part.

Again, I am in a brooding introvert era in my life right now and out of fucks to give on Friday morning when I’m just trying to get my stuff before the after Friday prayer rush. But usually I make sure to hold my keys in way that they are visible and to wear jewelry. The keys so these predator men know I have my own car and therefore am not looking for a ride from strangers so need to even ask. The jewelry so they know I can buy my own gold and will not be wowed by H&M accessories. Blunt as this may sound, this has largely worked for me. But those days when I let my guard down… ish like this happens.

It’s not just old Arab men (although it happens with them quite bit, to me anyway). I have had brush-ins with older European men as well. But again, Gazelle is not looking for a sugar daddy. There are plenty of young women here paired up with super old men to let me know that there are many who willing to go that route, I wish these guys would not get their wires crossed.

I am not interested in whatever “work” that creepy guy at the grocery store was trying to employ me to do. I just want to be left alone. Sometimes dealing with these social dynamics that are fraught with this snap-second judgements based on your perceived nationality…. make me let out such loud sighs.

 

 

 

 

On Second Thought…. Eff That…

Standard

I realize that as woman, or maybe a person I am continually trying to make peace. It’s this proclivity to let bygones be bygones that mired me in unnecessary stress.

No need for total details, I guess, but needless to say I no longer feel bad for supposedly hurting someone’s feelings. Why do so many men feel that it’s their right to have the woman they want when they want?

Eff that!

I was contrite, and tried to assuage male egos, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I did nothing wrong. Man meet’s woman. Man wants woman. Woman is not sure she wants man. Woman is clear about needing more time. Man does not respect this. Woman is fed up with feeling rushed so she tells man (very nicely) there is the door, you can see your way out (because if you want something within a certain time-frame, and I am not sure I want those same things, and am not ready to make a snap-judgement about it, why not save us both the time and trouble?)… but yeah, Man behaves like man-child.

or take this scenario

Man meets woman. Man wants woman. Woman is very clear from the get-go that she does not want man as anything other than maybe a friend. Man pretends to be ok with these boundaries. Man continually crosses these boundaries. Woman gets mad, but tells man firmly, “Please don’t do x, y or z, I don’t like and I don’t want it.” Man gets offended.

or this one

Man reaches out to woman he as known for many years. Woman is very clear about boundaries and not wanting Man to get the wrong idea. Man continues to push, even though he claims woman would be the perfect match once he rids her of some her backwards/incorrect ideas (which also happen to be central to who she is as a person as they form the premise for her morale compass and worldview!). Again, woman lets man know that, No, it’s not like that, and it will never be like that. Man continues to push boundaries. Woman breaks down and practically tells man off. Man gets offended. …. but wait, she had been telling you No, No and no.

In any number of these situations (yes, situations plural, this has happened to me more than once, more than twice this year alone :(  I have been made to feel at-fault. But actually, Gazelle has absolved herself of all these “sins.”

I am done apologizing. Eff that. and frankly, Eff them!