Monday, July 31, 2006

God, the Church and Me

I will preface this blog with this statement: I love the church. I know that there are many parts of the church that are imperfect at best and completely screwed up at worst. But for better or worse, the church has been a huge part of my life for, well, my whole life. The church has been where I found community, where I learned about so many things from theology to spirituality to social interaction to my own strengths and weaknesses.

Currently, I am struggling with the pending changes soon to take place in my life and situation. And once again, my church family has been there supporting me through this whole process. How have they been there for me you ask? Well, really the list could probably go on forever. But a few examples are when my community here does things like throwing a going away party for me, when individual friends go out of their way to spend time with me before I leave, when people show real concern/excitement about my next step in life and how I'm feeling about it all or when a friend looks you dead in the eye and genuinely says that they are going to miss you. The church community here has made me feel truly appreciated and loved. They have prayed for me and with me. They have been my family this last year and a half. But the church does not stop here in Maadi. I have been supported and loved all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. There is, of course, my family family. And they let me know in every skype conversation and every email how much they love me and look forward to my return. Then there is my church family in Augusta, which is mostly spread between the three Vineyard churches there. They do their best to support me through the distance in emails and in just reading and commenting on this blog. And really, it means a lot to me. Then there is the Kauffmans. They are my second family. I wish I could marry in, but both of their sons are too young for me. Anyways, they are there in emails, offering possible options for the next step in my life and praying for me. How much support and affirmation can one girl get? So all this to say. . . I love the church and have no idea what my life would be like without it.

So a few days ago I was sharing with my freind Emma how scared I am about going home and about leaving Egypt. So she suggested we get together and pray before I left. We set up a time and place, which was this morning at the church. So at 10:00 am this morning, Esther, Emma and I all sat down to pray. Emma shared some scriptures she thought might be relevant to what was going on in my life and I talked about all my doubts and confusion. We prayed and at the end of it, I really did feel more at peace about the move back to the states. Partially just because I had someone to talk out loud to and tell them my reasons for going back, which in turn reminded me of my very good reasons for going back. Partially it was the prayer. Emma and Esther prayed about things that I had not even thought to pray about. They prayed about real challenges I will be facing that I had not even considered. And I prayed out loud things that I have been praying silently for the last month. Why does it seem that there is some sort of power in saying things audibly? God can hear our silent prayers too, so why do the silent and audible prayers not feel the same? I'm sure it has more to do with me than it does with God, but I still don't get it. Anyhow, God really gave me some peace through this time and spoke to me through Emma and Esther.

One main idea that really stood out to me during this time was that as a Christian, my identity is really found in God. It is a simple statement that I have heard and known as long as I can remember. But even in the simple things, I need reminders from time to time. My identity cannot be found in another person. My happiness cannot be based on how much money is in my bank account. My feelings of worth and value cannot have their foundation in a title I'm given or a position I hold or any other status symbol. My contentment cannot rely on where I live or what jobs I am currently doing. My sense of self cannot even be defined by my knowledge or past experiences. It is really only to be found in God. All the others are temporary solutions. They change, they fail, they let you down. Then you are left feeling confused, frustrated and disillusioned. So if I am finding my self and defining myself in God, I won't be measuring my happiness by whether I am living here or there, by whether I am teaching or making coffee for a living. I will be happy and content no matter what the circumstances are because God is God and He doesn't change. So the concept is simple, but the exocution of it can be hard. We'll see how I do with that.

A second idea that was impressed on me during this time was a simple sentence that Emma prayed for me. She said that God would use me in peoples' lives by me just being me. I am naturally a doer. I have to being doing things, proving my worth, and pulling my share. That is not a bad thing altogether. But sometimes I do put too much pressure on myself to perform and if I can't meet these standards of performance I then feel like a failure. This is not good. This is not what I believe God intended. Emma's prayer reassured me that the pressure is not all on me. God can and will use me by me just being who He has made me to be. I don't have to put on pretenses of being perfect or super holy. God will use me even with my flaws. I don't have to be involved in 17 different areas of ministry for God to use me. I am even free to take time off from "ministry" and God will still use me.

A third reminder I got from God was given to me through Esther. She prayed for my relationships within my family. Esther has known me a long time. She even lived with my family for a little while. She knows the ins and outs and all the dynamics that go on in my family. In particular she prayed for my feelings of responsibility within the family. I have somehow deemed myself the glue that holds things together. I am the mediator, the go between, the peacemaker. When things start to fall apart, I feel responsible, like I have somehow let the family down. When my little sister feels unhappy with her life, I feel guilty because I am not right there to cheer her up. But the reality is that when I am there, although she is glad to have me there, she is still unhappy with her life. Her life is not my responsibility. Her life is not my responsibility. Her life is not my responsibility. Her life could not be my responsibility even if I wanted it to be. I have to tell myself this over and over and over. As soon as I really accept this truth, I will feel a huge load off my shoulders. But honestly, I still am carrying around feelings of guilt about this and I don't know how to let go of it. I'll get there someday. Sigh.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Match Maker, Match Maker Make Me a Match

Let me start this blog by saying that Chelsie Pridmore and Dottie Lee are a terrifying combination. Of all the girl friends I have, I think I plot more evil schemes with her than with anyone else. And that's really saying something, because I have had some scheming friends in the past.

Chelsie and I already made our mark in Maadi Community School with our practical jokes. So now that it is nearing my time to go, we simply had to have one more ultimate practical joke. And oh, this one was brilliant.

Only a week and a half ago, the church got a new youth leader and a new youth intern to come out and start working with the youth here. They are nice guys, but my first experiences with them have just been a bit different than I normally would have with people I am just getting to know. So it had been this weird sort of mix of thinking that these are completely nice guys who would fit in great in our circle of friends, yet still feeling uncomfortable around them (it's just too long of a story for me tonight). Anyhow, Chelsie has had a few conversations with them about how they didn't want people setting them up or match making them. And we all know how it is in the church. There are like 20 single girls for every single guy. So I can only imagine the scenarios that arise from these circumstances.
So Chelsie and I invited Travis and Kelly (or should I say "so and so" and "so and so #2") over for dinner and some games of pool. We told them that we would get a group of people together and it would be a fun, relaxed, hang out night. In our defense, when we invited them it was completely innocent and with pure intentions. But our evil sides quickly got the better of us. So we told T and K to come over at 6:30. We told two of our unsuspecting girlfriends (Adiam and Alexa) to come at 6:45. Then everyone else we invited we told them to come over at 7:15-7:30. We spent half of the day in preparation. Grocery shopping, cooking a nice meal, picking out the nicest table setting, placing candles all over the apartment, buying a flower arrangement, picking out the evening's sound track (Toni Braxton, Enrique Inglesias, the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, Seal, etc.). Chelsie and I dressed up nicely and did make up, and generally made the effort to look like we had gone out of our way to look nice. We set the table for four, lit all the candles and waited for our guests/victims to arrive. T and K were supposed to arrive first, but it turned out that the girls (A and A) came early (at 6:30) and the boys were a few minutes late.

So the four of them are there with us in the kitchen. I'm cooking, Chelsie's getting drinks and then she shoos them out of the kitchen, insisting that I can't get my cooking done properly with all these people in the way. So they move out to the living room, while Chelsie and I stay in the kitchen. I might mention that the two girls don't really know each other, nor do they know the guys. Chelsie and I really are the tying factor, but I give them credit that they made pretty comfortable conversation for being practically strangers. So then we serve the meal. At this point, they are realizing that there are six of us here but only four place settings. They are like "aren't you guys gonna eat with us?" And Chelsie just replies with something like "no, we just really wanted to do something special for you all tonight" (all the while Seal and Dirty Dancing are playing in the background). It was apparent that at the least, Travis was catching onto what we were doing and maybe Kelly was too. Poor Adiam was completely confused. Alexa was just happy to be eating. So we scurry back to the kitchen. Chelsie did a marvelous job of making the evening weird and awkward. She would occasionally go back to the dining room and offer them more salad, drinks, etc. I, however, could not bare to look at any of them without laughing. Back in the kitchen, Chelsie and I giggle and then we try and come up with a good way to just end the joke. We decide that we will change back into our jeans and t-shirts and fix out plates and just go sit down at the table with them. No sooner do we change than our next guest rings the doorbell. It's Matthew. We grab him and bring him straight to the kitchen. We are explaining to him what is going on when Esther arrives. So she comes to the kitchen too. They get a brief overview of the scheme and we all fix our plates and sit down at the table. A minute or two passes, before we just tell them what was going on and we all have a good laugh about it. After that we only had one more guest come (Shariff). The night was really fun. We told some of our most embarassing moments (Matthew won with his story of having diarrea in front of an entire Indian village). We played pool, smoked sheisha and just enjoyed each others company.

Luckily for Chelsie and I, none of these people were offended by our rediculous schemes. It was all good fun and makes for a good story. Yay. I am happy.

The Simpsons

The Simpsons: an endless source of genius quotes, an all-American classic, a great way to bond with other like-minded, sarcastic Americans (and Brits who like to laugh at the laziness and stupidity of Americans). Here are a few quotes for your entertainment.

"Bart, with $10,000, we'd be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things!"

"Dear Lord: The gods have been good to me. For the first time in my life, everything is absolutely perfect just the way it is. So here's the deal:
You freeze everything the way it is, and I won't ask for anything more. If that is OK, please give me absolutely no sign. OK, deal. In gratitude, I present you this offering of cookies and milk. If you want me to eat them for you, give me no sign. Thy will be done."

"Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen."

"I know what you're saying, Bart. When I was young, I wanted an electric football machine more than anything else in the world, and my parents bought it for me, and it was the happiest day of my life. Well, goodnight."

"Your lives are in the hands of men no smarter than you or I, many of them incompetent boobs. I know this because I worked alongside them, gone bowling with them, watched them pass me over for promotions time and again. And I say... This stinks!"

"That's it! You people have stood in my way long enough. I'm going to clown college!"

"God bless those pagans."

"Oh, everything's too damned expensive these days. This Bible cost 15 bucks! And talk about a preachy book! Everybody's a sinner! Except this guy."

"It's not easy to juggle a pregnant wife and a troubled child, but somehow I managed to fit in eight hours of TV a day."

"I can't believe it! Reading and writing actually paid off!"

"Don't let Krusty's death get you down, boy. People die all the time, just like that. Why, you could wake up dead tomorrow! Well, good night.

"America's health care system is second only to Japan... Canada, Sweden, Great Britain, ... well all of Europe. But you can thank your lucky stars we don't live in Paraguay!"

"The code of the schoolyard, Marge! The rules that teach a boy to be a man. Let's see. Don't tattle. Always make fun of those different from you. Never say anything, unless you're sure everyone feels exactly the same way you do."

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Drama Factor

The drama factor in my life had gone from 0 to 60 in the last three weeks or so, but it finally seems to be coming down now (please, please, please let it be so). It was just one thing after another with me saying something stupid and hurting someone or me (with the best of intentions) just making a bad judgement call or me being publicly humiliated. So now (fingers crossed) all the people I upset are no longer upset with me. Fortunately, my bad judgement calls seem to be smoothing themselves out despite all my stupidity. And the humiliation, well, that's really up to me to just get over it and get over myself. So I'm doing my best.

In other news, only 9 days till I am back in Georgia. I am an emotional roller coaster at the moment. I feel horrified at the thought of leaving Egypt for good. I feel like I am so ready to see my family that I might burst out of my skin. I am dying to be immersed in my own culture. I am dreading being immersed in my own culture. I feel this. I feel that. I feel. I feel. I feel. At the end of the day I am so sick of feeling, I just can't feel anything at all. I need some clarity.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Shrek's Onion

As I am a first grade teacher, please indulge me by allowing me to use an analogy Shrek used. Shrek said that ogres are like onions. . . they have layers. Well, in that case, Dottie is like an ogre. As people get to know me, there are layers that they are gradually exposed to over time. It might be something a little like this. . .
Layer 1 (the outside): Dottie is very quiet.
Layer 2: Dottie is quiet, but smiles a lot and seems to be a generally happy person.
Layer 3: Dottie is friendly and laughs at everybody's jokes. She is an all around good girl.
Layer 4: Dottie is a bit of a workaholic, but once you get her away from work she can be spontaneous and lots of fun.
Layer 5: Dottie cares about people.
Layer 6: Dottie is easy going and doesn't take life too seriously.
Layer 7: Dottie has a serious problem about being unable to say no to people.
Layer 8: Dottie has a serious independent streak in her.
Layer 9: Dottie has a suprisingly dark, sarcastic, semi-crude sense of humor.
Layer 10: Dottie has unpredictable mood swings.
Layer 11: Dottie has a tendency towards self-defeat and depression.
. . . and the list could go on and on about all the ugly things about myself that I don't openly expose to the general public.

The point of all of this is not to show that I try to hide things from people, I don't really think of it that way. You see, I am more than willing to show these sides of my self. It is nice to know that somebody (or a few somebodies) really know(s) you, warts and all. However, there is a natural progression to these layers. Intimacy with others should not be forced and if the intimacy is one-sided it is even worse.
So what happens to Dottie when someone who is at let's say layer 2 or 3 slices through to something like layer 9 with no regard to the natural progression of things and no knowledge of all the other layers they missed along the way? Well, Dottie would feel like she is walking around in Cairo in nothing but her underwear while everyone else remains fully clothed.

Destined to Fail

Yes, that's me folks, destined to fail. It doesn't matter if I try really hard to be good. It doesn't matter if I try to be a good friend. It doesn't matter. I just fail. All my attempts a goodness go utterly wrong and end up being the exact opposite of what I intended. Can anyone else out there relate?

Four Words

1. Chelsie
2. is
3. a
4. traitor.

She knows what I'm talking about.


Okay, admit it, who of you remembers what NKOTB stands for? Don't be embarassed. Don't be shy. There were millions of other New Kids on the Block fans who were right along there with you.
So my new kid on the block just moved in last night and I have to say that she is an absolute doll. She is from CA and studying photography. She came to Cairo for a month just before she spends a semester studying abroad in France. She is a few years my junior and I feel like a surrogate big sister to her already. She is a very warm and open person. She is so excited about being here and asking all the questions people ask when they first get here. I'm really happy to be here to help her out some and just have a good time with her.
I took her grocery shopping last night and on the way we ran into some friends of mine. They were on their way to go bowling and get dinner, so we joined them. It was loads of fun. A great way for her to start her time in Cairo.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Revolving Door

Since we moved in this apartment at the end of December, our place has had a revolving door.

January-March. . . Sara, Esther, Dottie. At the end of this time Sara moved back to the U.S., much to my dismay.

March-June . . . Esther, Dottie, Fiona. Esther left for a six week visit to the states during this time, so it was really Fiona and me accompanied by Esther's stuff. At the end of this time, Fiona unexpectedly had to move back to England.

July . . . Dottie, Esther, Revo. This was a crazy month for us all. Esther came back in the 2nd week. I left for a week and a half for Dahab and Alex. Revo, a friend of mine and Esther's, stayed with us for a good part that month. Esther left again to house sit for some friends of ours. It feels like we are in and out of the apartment, but not really living here.

August . . . Esther, Dottie, Dorothee, a girl who I don't know her name. This coming month (as you all know), I leave after one week. A girl who is only here for a month will move in today. Dorothee will move in sometime in the middle of the month.

The future beyond that. . . who knows.

All the moving in and out has made living here interesting. At first I think of all the inconveniences of switching things up so much and getting used to living with someone only to have that person gone and you have to get used to someone else. But really it hasn't been that inconvenient. I have enjoyed living with each and every person thus far. It has really been good and I think this place has been a huge blessing and an answer to prayers for all of us who have come to stay here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Welcome to Junior High

My life today has been a junior high tv special.

Scene 1:
(Friend calls me on the phone)
Friend: Hey how was . . . blah, blah, blah, none of anybodies business?
Me: Oh yeah it was good . . . blah, blah, blah, irrelevant information. . . but I don't think that me and so and so get along very well.
Friend: Yeah, I got that.
Me: How did you get that? Did he say he didn't like me????? (shocked and horrified because nobody ever says they don't like me and I am a compulsive people pleaser)
Friend: Well, he thought maybe he had upset you.
Me: Well. . . he was kind of annoying and you know how my emotions are always written all over my face.
The phone conversation went on for another 15 minutes discussing the details of the situation.

Scene 2: 20 minutes later
(Friend calls back)
Me: Hey, whats up?
Friend: Well, don't worry I called so and so. He wasn't there but I left a message with his friend to tell him that you are not upset with him and that his comments and suggestions were very helpful, but you were just annoyed with his way of presenting them (or some BS like that).
Me: So did he talk to you after that.
Friend: Yes, he wanted to know the exact details of what you said and wondered if I was feeding words into your mouth.
Me: But he knows I'm not mad at him right. This really isn't the big deal that it is being made into.
We continue laughing for five minutes about the rediculousness of this he said/she said craziness.
(So and so and his friend who took the message walk into my friend's office whilst we are laughing hysterically on the phone (he works in the same building as her).)
Friend: Oh guess who just walked in (she puts me on speaker phone). . . so and so and his friend (so and so #2).
Me: Hi!
So and so: Hi Dottie!
(Friend and so and so talk briefly about whatever they need to.)
So and so: Bye Dottie!
Me: Bye so and so!
(So and so and so and so #2 leave the room. This is followed by bursts of giggling from me and friend.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

I like myself and I don't like myself

Public announcement number 1: I like myself.

I like myself when I say to myself, "Why don't you think of something nice to do for somebody else? Nothing major, just something that would let people know that you do care about them and are interested in them." So I said that to myself today and I decided that after worship team practice I would invite anyone and everyone on the team to join me for a cup of coffee at Grecos. So I did, and five of us went for coffee and carrot cake. We had a great time discussing everything from politics and war to our favorite actors and actresses to cultural differences to music and many other things along the way. So I got home and had to pat myself on the back and wonder at why I haven't been doing this all along. Why is it that now that I'm in my last two weeks here I suddenly feel like making new friends and getting closer with the friends that I haven't been super close with?

Public announcement number 2: I don't like myself.

I don't like myself when I am inconsiderate of the people who care about me the most. I had to grovel at a good friend's feet today, because I blew her off just before I left for Alexandria. Why did I blow her off you ask? Well because I was too much of a chicken shit to stand up to another friend and tell her that I couldn't leave earlier than planned for Alex, for the simple reason that I had already made plans with another friend that evening. Sometimes I am really inconsiderate. I don't like that.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Woo Hoo!

I did something today that I never thought I would do. . . I drove in Egypt. So it was only for twenty minutes and not in Cairo. That is all beside the point. I drove on the same road with all the crazy Egyptian drivers. I suddenly feel brave and able to conquer the world. ;O)

Alex Part II

So here is another blog I wrote a few days ago. . .

I’m still in Alexandria and I’m still completely enjoying the apartment, the sea and the sun. The only thing I could think of that would make this trip even better would be internet access. As it is, you will be getting this post about three days after it was actually written (maybe two). But no internet is a small price to pay for all this rest and relaxation.

All the quiet and all the lack of busyness gets me to thinking. For me this can be really good or really bad. At this point, a large portion of my thoughts are on going home. I think about obvious things like where will I get a job, should I work full-time or part-time (since I want to go to school as well), and what extra activities will I get involved with. I wonder how long I will stay in Augusta. Will I settle down now? I don’t think so. I don’t feel ready for that. Will I be there for the two years I tentatively planned on being there for or will I change my mind and drift on to somewhere else sooner than originally planned (possibly California with Rosemary and Sara)? Will my family feel hurt if I do that? And then I think about the down sides of moving from place to place gypsy style. I get that sense of loneliness. I feel like wouldn’t it be better if I had someone who was going with me to all these places, someone who would be a constant fixture in my life. Honestly, this is the first thought I’ve had about marriage, since I don’t know when, that made me really look forward to it and not just dread it. Maybe I’m growing up or maybe I am regressing. I think there is a fine line between the two sometimes.

A Blog From Alex

I'm now back in Cairo. The trip to Alex was wonderful. It consisted mostly of sitting an watching tv, practicing guitar, walks on the beach and a little swimming. I wrote a few blogs while I was there, even though I knew I wouldn't be able to post them until I got back. So here is the first one.

I’m here in Alexandria. The weather here is beautiful. The summer sun is strong, but the sea breeze effectively counteracts the sun’s heat for the most part. We are staying in a spacious apartment which overlooks the Mediterranean. Everyday I ask myself how I got to be so damn lucky.
I wasn’t always so lucky. Growing up, my family always stayed in the cheapest possible option (as you do when you are a family of six). And, whether it was the beach, an amusement park, the mountains, or whatever, we always managed to be staying at least a half hour drive away from our daily activities. This meant that our family of six would spend a good chunk of the day squeezed into a vehicle that was only meant to seat five. Our hotel/motel was never big enough for our family, but cost efficiency was the concern, not comfort. Inevitably, Tommy (my younger brother) and I would always be the ones to take the floor for our bed. Julie was the oldest so she had bed priority, and Mary had back problems so it would just be cruel to make her sleep on the floor. My memories of childhood vacations rarely include being amazed by nature’s beauty or building an enormous sandcastle or having a particularly marvelous time anywhere. The memories are things like mom and dad fighting because dad forgot to bring the checkbook, feeling car sick, and being disappointed because we were staying at another hotel that didn’t have a swimming pool.
I try to think of happy vacation memories and I come up with two. The first is visiting my Granny (mom’s mom). She lived with one of my aunts first in Maryland and then in Pennsylvania. I did not particularly like this aunt and her husband was big and quiet and, as a child, he intimidated me. This aunt had two children who I never really connected with. But I didn’t really mind the rest of the family, as long as my Granny was around. Granny loved all of her grandchildren so much. She used to have us sit in her lap, even when we were way too big and too old to do so. She made the twelve hour trip in the car all worth it. The second is visiting my Grandma Lee (dad’s mom). We didn’t visit Grandma Lee every year. The drive to Wisconsin was longer than the drive to Maryland, plus (who are we kidding) my mom usually called the shots and she didn’t get along with Grandma Lee very well. But one Christmas, when I was about 12 I think, we visited Grandma Lee. That was my first white Christmas that I remember (I may have had one or two when I was too young to remember). I remember being incredibly happy to be there and have snow on Christmas day. Since that Christmas I have only had two other white Christmases when I have visited family in Pennsylvania. Christmas is my favorite holiday and it is even better when it snows. But anyhow, I find it sort of sad that in 18 years worth of family vacations I could only think of two happy memories. I feel like either my parents did a bad job of planning our trips or I was just an ungrateful child who refused to be optimistic about life. The truth is probably a little bit of both.
But since I have become an adult, slowly but surely, my luck has changed (that or I am just much more optimistic about life now). And so currently I find myself staying at no cost in an apartment I could never afford. And to add to the bliss of it all, I am staying with people I enjoy being with. How did I get so lucky?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dahab to Alexandria

Well, my final trip to Dahab is over (sniff, sniff). I had a great time. Did a few dives. Snorkelled. Endured the hassle of the workers and one very drunk German man. Actually made my peace with the cats who constantly are after your food. Got a tan. Slept alot. Read The Color Purple. And talked to my mom and older sister on skype. The trip, as usual, was worth it. I am really gonna miss Dahab.

I am back in Cairo now, but only for about 24 hours total. In the morning I leave for Alexandria with Esther, Revo and Revo's sister (I forgot her name). I don't know how much I'll be able to blog while I'm in Alex. So if you don't hear from me for five days, it is most likely because I don't have internet access.

Other than that, my thoughts are mostly on going home. I think I'm starting to be ready for it. I will miss Cairo and my Egypt experience, but there are a lot of good things about going home. And Egypt, whilst being a load of fun in many ways, can definitely wear you thin sometimes. Here are some lists.
Reasons I am ready to leave Egypt. . .
1. I am tired of feeling like a freak show. White people are constantly stared at.
2. I am tired of always needing to be aware of other cultural backgrounds. I get sick of worrying whether I am offending someone in someway or if I have sent them the wrong message by my actions/words. Yes, you still have to be aware of this in the states, but on a much smaller scale.
3. I am tired of knowing in the back of my mind that I am leaving. It's hard for me to build on relationships with others when I know that my stay is temporary and many of the people I meet I may not see again. I'm sure others have a hard time building relationships with me, knowing that in a little while I'll be gone.

Reasons I am excited about home. . .
1. My family.
2. My friends.
3. Good mexican food.
4. Chick-fil-a (this vegetarian's weak spot).
5. All the modern conveniences (dryers, dishwashers, my hair straightener, central heating and air, my own car and the list could go on and on).

Friday, July 14, 2006

It Must Be Love

I'm here in Dahab safe and sound. I didn't know it was possible to really love a place so much. As far as the otherplaces I've lived in or visited, I may love the place mostly for the people and memories I have there. In Dahab it's different. I could come here with any number of friends or with strangers or by myself and still have an absolutely wonderful time. Dahab is just beautiful. But I have to admit that Dahab was even better when Sara was here, she is my ultimate Dahab buddy.

Yesterday I got on the bus in Cairo at 4:50 in the afternoon with Renee (who I worked with at the school) and three of her friends. We finally arrvied in Dahab around about 3:00am. That is a hell of a bus trip, but only Dahab could be worth it all. After that we got settled in our hotel, which is the nicest one I've stayed at in all of my six trips to Dahab. We are staying at a place called the Bedouin Lodge. It is not extravagant, but it is clean. Renee and I are sharing a room and we have our own bathroom and a little balcony (with a lovely view overlooking the car park). Most importantly, it has an AC unit! As you can imagine, this is essential for the summer weather in the Sinai.

This trip I have vowed to do as cost efficient as possible (within reason). I brought my own kettle so I don't have to spend excess money on decent coffee. I am only eating out once/day and buying fruit and stuff at the grocery store for other meals. All of this is to justify spending lots of money on DIVING!!!

Anyhow, Dahab is pretty empty compared to other times I have been here. I'm not sure if it is all to do with the bombings last April or if it is a combination between that and the summer heat. Anyhow, it is kind of sad. There is this wonderful place with wonderful diving and snorkeling and desert trips, not to mention all the restuarants, shops, hotels, etc., and they are all quite empty. It's not totally deserted, but definitely doing a fraction of the business it had before. Oh Dahab, I still love you. I won't desert you.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The General Update

1. Esther is back in Egypt safe and sound. Revo(one of our friends) and I had tried to suprise Esther by picking her up at the airport, but it all went miserably wrong. Esther's flight was two hours late. We were at the wrong terminal. We had no information on her flight outside of her expected arrival time. Esther assumed that her cab driver (which I was supposed to arrange for her) had already left, so she got another cab home. Revo and I waited and waited and watied at the airport (until like 4:45 am!). Finally we left. We got home and found Esther stranded outside of our building because the locks had been changed while she was away. I felt horrible, but Esther was really ok about it all.
2. I leave for Dahab tonight! I'll be there for about 5 days. I am definitely doing some diving. I am definitely getting some sun. I am defintely taking lots of pictures.
3. When I get back from Dahab, I am going to Alexandria for a few days with Esther and Revo. Revo's family has a place in Alex. It should be a fun weekend trip.
4. I am currently in an internet cafe and I just realized that the Egyptian guy sitting next to me is looking at lingerie adds. He caught my attention because he keeps making random comments like "This is very good!" and "Wow!". Creepy. I am leaving soon.
5. My teaching certification is coming along just fine. I should be done by the end of the summer. Yay!
6. I still don't have a job for when I get back. Yikes!
7. I had horrible nightmares last night about being shot and dying and another one about being infected with horrible diseases.

So that's the latest with me. Next time I write it will be from Dahab!

Monday, July 10, 2006

My Happy Place

Well, it looks like it is going to work out for me to visit my favorite place in the whole wide world one last time before I leave Egypt.
I am going with a friend and her friends to Dahab at the end of this week! I love, love, love, love Dahab. A big smile is all over my face.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Esther!

I miss you! Come home soon! I hope you like how I've rearranged our apartment!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Introducing. . .

Ladies and gentleman, now for the moment you have all been waiting for. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to my very first ever. . . STYE!! That's right folks. Yes that growth on my eye is not actually a wart, that swelling is not from my last fist fight and the pus you might see oozing out is not actually from a zit or a blister. . . it is my stye.
Does anyone know of any remedies for a stye? This thing is semi-painful, pretty much gross and completely irritating.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Slowing down

Life is slowing down for me a bit, which is nice in a way. I enjoy the business of all the social activities, I really do. But even I can't move at that pace forever. So this week's drop in socialization has been nice. I've still spent quite a bit of time out with Chelsie watching the World Cup games, but that's about it.
This week I have actually had the time to cook proper dinners, clean my apartment, rearrange furniture, and work on writing some music (a few things I haven't really done regularly enough). Also, a friend helped me discover how to switch my tv system so that it will play American movies! Yay! My life is complete! I get to watch movies in the comfort of my own home! I haven't been able to do that for 6 months and now I feel like this is my own personal Christmas.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The 4th of July

Needless to say, the 4th of July is not quite the same in Egypt as it is in the States. No fireworks and basically almost no one celebrates it, naturally. The US Embassy threw a celebration last weekend, but since my passport was still at the mogamma, I was unable to attend the festivities. I wasn't too bummed about it. It would be hot. There would be free food that I couldn't eat (since I am a vegetarian). There would not be fireworks. There would not be any beer. And what says "independence" better than fireworks and beer?! So I went to the Rugby club to watch the World Cup games instead.

So tonight my 4th of July celebration consists of me cooking dinner at Chelsie's for a couple of friends and then going to the Rugby Club to watch the World Cup.

Anyhow, the count down till I leave Egypt is down to 1 month and three days. YIKES! I am trying to be really positive about the move, but I am a bit scared. Scared of the Job Hunt. Scared of the depression I stuggled with for the year and a half I lived in Augusta after college. Scared of feeling like I don't fit there anymore. Scared of not being able to support myself. Do you ever know without a doubt that you are doing the right thing, but feel scared to death of it? Most of it is pretty much irrational fear, I confess. But it's there none the less. I try to cover it up with plans to get involved with this, that and the other. I look online for auditions for choral societies and theatre companies and ballroom dance classes. I try and force the excitement of going back with thoughts of dishwashers and dryers and Mexican food and being able to read street signs. Sure I am genuinely looking forward to be an active part in my family and friends' lives in Augusta, but still I am scared.
And inevitably, the thoughts of all the things I will miss about Egypt come rushing into my mind. The Red Sea and Dahab. Feluka rides on the Nile. The school I worked at, the kids I taught and the wonderful people I worked with. The church and all the interesting people I met there and the community I found there. The excitement of living abroad. The feeling that everyday pushes me out of my comfort zone a bit, everyday is some kind of a challenge. The life I have made here. I came here with an absolutley clean slate and was able to make my life whatever I wanted it to be. I loved that. I needed that. Honestly I have loved Egypt from day one and had only a few moments of frustration with it since. I never once regreted coming. I never once questioned what God was thinking when He brought me here. It was obvious. It was clear. So I can only hope that this next phase of my life will be just as clear. It might be. It might not be. And just because it isn't always clear, doesn't mean that it is not where I am supposed to be. Alright I'll stop babbling now. Happy 4th to all you Americans!

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Part I Conveniently Forgot

The part I conveniently blocked from my mind this past week, was one of the main reasons behind all of the social events. It was my last week with at least 5 of my good friends here. Four of them are traveling for the summer and won't be back until after I am gone for good. And my roommate Fiona is moving back to England. Goodbyes are hard. I'm not really good at them. I'd rather just pretend we didn't have them.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Birthday Week

I am of the opinion that during the week of your birthday you should do at least one thing that is completely spontaneous, spend as much time as possible with people you really enjoy, let go of feelings of responsibility for at least 5 consecutive hours, and laugh heartily as often as you can.

For my birthday this year, I met and surpassed these goals. It has really been one of my most fun, memorable weeks in Cairo. And that's really saying something, since Sara isn't even here anymore.

Sunday night I went to the rugby club with my friend Chelsie to watch the world cup games. We ended up making some new friends there and staying out till 4:30 in the morning (which is unheard of for me, these days I am normally in bed and asleep by 10:30.

Monday was my b-day. I managed to wake up and go to work. We were all a little cranky at work this week. It was our last week and so we have all been feeling the stress of getting those final bits and pieces and loose ends put together and in place. Anyways, we had a farewell lunch for the staff that day and it was very nice. Also, I got tons of ecards and emails (1 from Dorothee, 1 from Hanson, 1 from my sister and her family, 1 from Gary and 15 from Chelsie) and Chelsie also brought flowers for me to work. That night we had a dinner party at Chelsie's house. We ate koshari, played pool, danced, smoked sheisha, and had an all around good time.

Tuesday was work again and the impending feeling that I would never accomplish all the things I needed to by the end of the week was growing. Still I put in my days work and went over to one of my coworkers apartment for dinner and a movie. It was Lesley, Dorothee, Heather, Kelvin and myself that ended up going over to Irini's. We had a great time and Irini has a cute little girl (about 4 years old) who spent a good part of the night using me as a lifesize barbie doll and fixing my hair. We watched "Walk the Line", which I have been wanting to see for ages. It was really another nice evening. The time crept up on us all and I was shocked to realize when I got home that it was 2:30 in the morning.

Wednesday another day at work. I started to really feel that I would get the important tasks accomplished and that the only things that might not get done were fairly inconsequential. It was a good feeling. That night I got to talk to Sara on the phone, which made my month. And late that night I went out dancing with Matthew, Dorothee, Lesley and Kareem. We had an absolute blast. We went to After 8 to hear the Riff Band (my favorite). I ended up staying there until about 3:00am and then going on a spontaneous feluka ride on the Nile. It was again 4:30 in the morning before I g0t home. Unbelievable.

Thursday I still managed at work, even though I had probably only slept a total of 15 hours this week. And I even managed to get all of my work done. A very, very good feeling. That night I took it easy. I went home, napped, watched a movie I borrowed from a friend and went back to sleep.

Friday lunch was a farewell lunch for my roommate, who unexpectedly learned that she has to move back to England in 4 days time (a long story). Friday dinner was watching the Germany/Argentina game at TGI Friday's with a group of friends (yay Germany!). And after that I went over to Heather and Kelvin's place for a movie night. It was great. Heather and I stayed up until 3:00 watching funny, girly movies. I spent the night here and now we are about to watch another movie! I love this week.