Countdown to the End: How I’m Doing

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I wish I could say I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on life and such, but I have not. Work eats up my life, and my weekends are waiting. I can’t believe I haven’t written anything since My Europe trip… but I do have a nice-ish update…

I am going to have my last entries be about being a black woman in … wait for it… Oh my gosh, this is so exciting…. CUBA baby!

This negra is going to have tons of Tumbao!  and I will be going with some friend from my program in Qatar. The past ten years have been a bumpy ride…. but I feel like Cuba will bring this full circle. I started this blog as a bored Arabic student in Yemen, just a year into graduate school (and 20 pounds lighter :-/ )

But hey, I am nearing my Jesus year (33) and have seen, felt, heard and written a whole lot. Stay tuned for my prep for the Cuba adventure!

 

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This is about to be Me!!!!!!!!

(Still) In Europe– ON Finding Elucidation in a Jet-lagged dream

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Well my week in Dublin came and went… Ireland was great, from what I could see, unfortunately everything closes early besides pubs, so my work schedule didn’t really allow for much of anything else.

My impressions of Ireland though is that it’s pretty meh weather, very friendly people (or at least less of a culture of otherizing than what I experienced previously… it was great to walk around in space where I was only 1 of a very few number of black people and it was not a big deal… the other black people didn’t make eye contact, didn’t try to connect since we were the only ones of our race in a hostile space… ha ha… but everyone else went around their business: I never felt otherized).

Food was ok, but from what I understand, traditional Irish food is a lot of stews and a lot potatoes.  I didn’t really eat much of that… it was more hotel/restaurant food. I think I should have stayed through today (Saturday) so that I could really get a feel for the town.

I did go to the city center my last evening there and thought it was really cute (too bad again, everything closes so early…. 7pm ! on a Friday night!)

But something else happened during my trip, that I wanted to codify, a little bit. Laying in my lovely hotel apartment (it had heated floors!… ha ha, and a pretty comfortable mattress,  but overall I think it was a little hyped up… not complaining though it was lovely). I have been thinking about a  few things… related to my “new  year” philosophy.  I have had a disquieted spirit for a few weeks. Well, not disquieted really but there was some stuff I was trying to make sense of, because I felt overwhelmed and preoccupied by a a lot of different thoughts. The anxiety has been building, tbh, I was looking forward to going to Dublin and the subsequent vacation. It wasn’t just one issue, really, it’s a bunch of separate ones, some interrelated, some not. But it all felt so daunting.  Anyway…

Jet-lag is weird… I lay there that first night in Dublin, desperately trying to sleep and focus on sleep. But my mind kept staying super active, and going everywhere but to counting sheep. And boom somewhere around three AM I realized two important things: The first, about an issue that has lasted the past couple years. I have been trying to resolve it within my heart and mind, and succeeded only to a certain extent. But there was sort of a final piece that I realized, acknowledged and came to terms with and I immediately felt a source of peace…. The only hitch is that I also shared what I had realized that morning… In a manner that I thought was tactful with the other person involved… And their reception of it is still TBD.:

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FWIW… LJC if you happen to be reading this, I meant what I shared, but hope it wasn’t taken as an insult of any kind. I thought sharing was what you wanted, but maybe not… Ironic though, when I finally feel like the issue is completely resolved that manages to have (potentially) cringeworthy repurcussions. I can see how it can feel dragged out and maybe even like some sort of attack. Am hedging my bets that this is not the case here, that this is not how you read things. But I know that everyone has to do what they have to do. Sigh.  With that said, I value you and your friendship greatly.

And it would be really sad if as everything was making sense to me, the craziness of it made you say, fuck this…

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Can’t put it back, honestly I wouldn’t want to… There is a freedom in pointing out certain things… At least, I hope all parties can see this.

 

The other issue, is a newer one, in a newer dynamic that I am still trying to figure out… but as I tossed and turned, I figured out what I need to do for now… Some rules that I needed to clarify for my own self.  Gazelle figured out what she’s doing!!! —- in a situation where I didn’t realize there was figuring to do.

So it’s  a little crazy that it took traveling almost 5,000 miles to help me realize some key things that have been weighing on my subconcious. Still a lot of other things to sort out, but checking off two things from the list still feels good.

 

And now I am taking it easy this weekend. Breathing in and out… hoping for the best.

It’s Official: Europe Bound

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Yup I will be doing a short sprint in Europe in a couple of months! (not mainland Europe but whatever). Looking forward to seeing some family in the UK and being in another country that I have never visited before.

 

I didn’t expect to be kicking up my travel shoes again, but here we are. Thank God I have a new, very warm winter coat.

Better Late than Never: On Indonesia and Malaysia

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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)

 

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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.

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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

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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.

Counting My blessings… I still Am

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Even if I am not mentioning them as much on the blog. My head is filled with a lot of stuff and that’s making writing a little harder these days.

Realizing that some blessings are bittersweet: being able to help someone in need, but feeling completely drained afterwords, hearing someone say “I love you” and mean it, but not in a context that’s wholly understandable or digestible, talking to a friend you haven’t heard from in ages, but leaving the conversation feeling sad that this person totally dismissed and invalidated your lived experiences and goals,  having someone link your blog so certain posts are all of a sudden getting a lot more traffic, but that traffic bringing in some ignorant comments… ha ha. sigh.

I’m still here, that’s a blessing in itself.

I’m thinking about visiting somewhere in the MENA region probably. I recently discovered that there are black (as in Gazelle-black!) people in Tunisia, so all of a sudden I have a desire to go there… ha ha… But Turkey might be nice as well. It might be a nice change of pace to be in a non-Arab Middle Eastern country. Then again, I still haven’t made it to Jordan (although Jordan for whatever reason hasn’t held much appeal for me. It might have to do with some strained relationships I’ve had with Jordanians in real-life… ha ha….who wants to be reminded of all that????… sigh).

But these travel plans also, are in some ways bittersweet… sigh. At any rate,  I’m still here. I that’s a blessing in itself.

I feel like I am scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one, but at least I tried.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Feeling Validated

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It was refreshing a few days ago to have a few different conversations with single women I know about life and love and standards of beauty. It was the first time in a long time that I wasn’t served cold platitudes of “Oh but Gazelle, you are beautiful!” (and what does me or you KNOWING how amazing I am have to do with society’s tendency to pick apart the notion and dump it in a trash heap?)

Or, “You don’t have to be statistic if you don’t want to be, just get out there and try.” (Um, ok. Yeah all I have to do is get out there and keep going at it. Why didn’t I think of that??? Gee, your advise is amazing.. cue the rolled. eyes… ha ha).

or the worst of them all “But so and so is a black woman and she doing just fine.” (Oh, ok so by your logic, we have a black family in the White House, so all black people in America are doing just fine socially, economically and politically, and if their not, then it’s their fault??????)

So conversation one, was with an Asian friend. Whenwe were talking about I was no longer on a dating site (all halal I assure you…ha ha) that she is still plodding through, she at first was very frank with me and told me that she didn’t think I tried enough. We are friends and I get it. I am grateful for her honesty. And even more grateful for the chance she gave me to explain why I just am not all Pollyana about this stuff anymore:

I come from a place where people like me more often than not end up alone, and I have made peace with it. I’m an educated black woman with African features and a curvier (and by no means fat… I am still really confused as to when one became a euphemism for the other… sigh) figure. I don’t know when people who look like me were ever in, but we’re not the “it girls” of today. And Apparently the dating/courting scene is a lot more superficial than I thought when I was younger, fresher and more optimistic. And my younger, fresher, more optimistic about live and love days were when and how I discovered these noble truths (and yes, I realize that they don’t have to be truths for everyone).

And I feel super respected for once

But yes. I am the person least likely to get an OK Cupid Reply. I am more likely to have fewer matches on Tinder.  And the same goes for any other dating site/arrangmeent/set-up in the virtual world or in the real one. I am just not who most people think of when they think of the girl of their dreams. Don’t get me wrong, I am the type to get hits now and then, from way to old pappi picantes and other inconsiderates who haven’t read my profile. Or even worse from random men who think a way to a woman’s heart is through vulgar messages. :-/… but that’s every woman’s lot these days.

Wow check out those figures! Why am I so complacent about being a statistic???? Shame on me, GAzelle …ha ha

Don’t get em wrong I am not a pessimist. But I am damn sure a realist. My predicament is not unusual but it felt good to talk to someone that didn’t judge and didn’t call me a whiner. Instead she just said “oh, I didn’t know. Sorry. I guess I understand a little better now.” She told me not to give up hope (yeah girl, too late… ha ha… And the well just marry a blue collar guy solution is well… meh.. it clashes with compatibility, I think).

Another friend, one whose physical characteristics are closer to mine gave me understanding nods sighs. Can I just say it felt good to be validated. To not even have to explain myself and defend the validity of my own lived experience!

I’m not delusional. I don’t have low self-esteem (I will kick someone to the curb with the quickness!) I don’t have too much self-esteem. I’m just real. and as for her, well she too is trying, putting her best face forward and herself out there being open to love.

Somehow other people here me (complain) about my dating/lackofalovelife woes and ASSSUME I am not proactive or assertive or optimistic at all. WRONG

I understand how things work. And although I wish they were different, there’s but so much I can do to fix where I fall on the totem pole.

Actually Eff the totem pole!

My problem is actually that all of these concerns fly out the window far too quickly when I’m in certain settings and situations.

Sigh. At any rate, I’m just gonna live life and be me. If that means finding and marrying somebody (educated) that I love and who loves me back, and has the same values that I have, similar passions (broadly defined) with whom I share a mutual attraction then great. But Gazelle can do but so much.

Actually, the only thing Gazelle can control is Gazelle. I started this blog with woe is me, will I ever find someone posts. I’ve posted periodically about the fish that had to be thrown back in the sea (and not quite so much about the ones that never too the bait, since I’ve chosen this rather crude analogy… :-/

But it’s been over 8 years and I think I don’t want to spend to much time thinking about what I already know. For now, it’s enough that my experiences and perspectives were validated. Someone out there knows that life for me, is not about trite platitudes doled out as advice or other people’s lives held up as examples for me to follow (without consideration for the privileges we do not share).

My experiences and the viewpoints that have developed as a result are valid.

Now if I could only decide between (re)downloading Tinder onto my blackberry… or signing up for another service….

Or maybe  should just hold my American passport up in a bunch of profile pictures (that should have them rolling in) ha ha… #Youneverknow 😉