Counting Sheep (Or Poker Playing Sheep)

It’s 1am and I’m sitting here in bed staring at an intensely bright screen, listening to my husband sleep (and yes, it’s not a quiet sleep) and trying to will myself to get some rest before I’m rudely awakened by Jo, the cereal monster at six.

I’m too wired, I don’t know why. Or wait, I do know why; today is the first day of my ADHD medication, the city is flooding and every half hour they evacuate a new neighbourhood. All minor things really, but I guess they are contributing factors to me setting up a poker table for the sheep in my head.

Oh well, maybe I should join them. Looks like they won’t be going back to jumping fences anytime soon.

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Time to Plan a Trip

It’s 9:30pm and thankfully both kids are in bed. Or are they?

Stomp, stomp, stomp… I can hear Adam’s feet pounding down the stairs.

“Mommy, I can’t sleep”.

I sigh and get comfortable for our daily fight about bedtime.

“Go, lie down in your bed and try again.”

“But I have something to tell you. It’s important”

Again, same old ground “You can tell me tomorrow.”

“But I’ll forget!” If the pitch of his whine is any indication, this is a life and death matter. But since this is an extremely recurring matter I now know that a comet is not falling from the sky and charting a course straight to his bed.

“Okay Adam, what is it?”

“We need to go to Mexico.”

Mexico?! Coming from a kid who thought he could catch a plane to Egypt to say hi to his cousin and we could pick him up in two hours before his bedtime. Really?

“How did you learn about Mexico, Adam?”

“From my friend, Layla in class. She didn’t come to school all of last week because she went to Cancun with her parents.” Cancun, wow, this guy’s geography is really good for a first grader. “And you know, she even went to Disneyland. You never took us to Disneyland. I want to go there.”

Oh the joy of peer pressure at such a young age. “You know Adam, maybe one day we will all go to Disneyland together.”

“When? Next week?”

“No sweetie. When Jo turns three. In about a year.”

“A year!!” The ‘Whine’ is picking up pitch “But that’s too far away!”

I’ve had enough. I’m giving up my Bones episode for this. Definitely, not.

“That’s it Adam, go to sleep. Now! We’ll talk in the morning.”

Fifteen minutes of sulking, moaning and stomping later I finally get my peace, quiet and dead bodies.

The next morning, a still sulky Adam comes down looks at me and mutters,

“I’m still sad. I miss all my friends and family in Cairo. And you don’t want to take me to Mexico or Disneyland or anywhere!” accompanied by the strategic tear.

It’s going to be a long day…

The Crazy in the Photo

It’s been a Bones marathon at our house for the past few months and since we are people that love our blood, gore, corpses and absence of emotional content very much, we’ve been quite happy and satisfied. That is until two nights ago when I watched episode 9 ‘The Doctor in the Photo’. Remember when I said lack of emotional and dramatic content is a key factor to my escape tv? Well, that episode broke the rule. I’ve been hashing and rehashing in my mind plot lines and quotes from the episode:

Sweets: The mental analysis of Lauren Eames: She was highly controlling and she was stressed …. To deal with this, she emotionally detached herself and made herself to not care. In order to start feeling nothing, she began behaving erratically, in order to feel something – anything…

You may not be a Bones fan and I wouldn’t blame you so I’m not going to go into details about the episode. The above lines are self explanatory anyway.

Normally I watch episodes and then forget them a minute later. Which makes following highly plot based stories a huge nightmare. But this one touched something and it made me stop and think. About regrets (which I convince myself that I have none of) and about emotions – or lack of.
I’m not an emotional type, whether by nature or by an excellent suppression system I’ve highly developed and perfected over the years, beats me.
I can’t deal with pain. Subconsciously and almost automatically I push it aside and bury it somewhere deep inside. It’s gotten to the point where I stop feeling and stop thinking.

And when the character of the psychologist Sweets said the above mental analysis a ping set off in the back of my brain. Aside from the anger and frustration issues that I have, the rest if it is me! The adrenaline rush and pursuit of any kind of thrill; roller coasters, bungee jumping, hanging outside window ledges from 10 storey buildings. And these were no easy feats for a girl with motion sickness and a fear of heights. And let’s not go into the self-cutting. Maybe I was just looking to feel anything.

Hopefully I’m older and wiser now. And I am trying to make a conscious effort to stop the logical rationalization. There will be times where I will mentally stop myself with
‘No you are not pushing that aside. You need to stop and think how you feel.’

To wrap up…

Micah: How’d it work out? Brennan: I listened to the universe. I felt something. I’m sad. Micah: That’s so much better than dead. Or even dead inside.

One Blue Line? Two Blue Lines?

I’m late. Not for an appointment, or for the bus, or for anything else for that matter. I’m late for that monthly visit that makes all women worldwide wonderful people to be around.

I’m 5 days late for my period. And as a result I’ve been frantically peeing on pregnancy sticks non-stop for the past five days as if getting rid of all that pee on a stick will bring my period around.

Am I pregnant? No! Do I want to be pregnant? Hell, no! Or I don’t know! Or maybe? I’m just so confused and apprehensive and freaked out that I don’t know what I want. Ironically if I do get pregnant it will yet again help me defy all conventions and medical norms by getting pregnant on an IUD. My first two kids were almost miracles, since I was told I would not get pregnant without fertility treatment and both times I was surprised by the little blue lines on the stick without once popping a pill.

Back to the pregnancy scare. Ironically, I’ve been throwing around the idea of a third kid to my husband the past few months, partially to see how it sounds aloud but mainly to see him freak out and go into a deep sweat. But now that it may be true, I’m turning into the coward that I know I am and calling a do-over.

I’m probably not pregnant. The probability of it happening with an IUD is pretty low. My period is probably just taking it’s sweet time to get ready, in the mood and come, much like my arrival to all my appointments. But that’s too much probably’s for me to live comfortably. I need it to come now and I’m willing to do anything to get out of this waiting phase. I wonder if a rain-dance will work? Or does it work like child birth? Do spicy food and sex hurry it along? Should I try jumping up and down?  I’ll try anything to keep me from going crazy.

And so I’m off to the drugstore to buy yet another pregnancy test. I think they’ll start offering me a buy two get one free promotion to help me out after all the money I’m spending on this stuff.

 

Ungrateful And Bored

Man-(or woman)-kind are greedy, ungrateful beings; they always want what they can’t have and hate what they currently possess. Take me as a prime example; for the first six months after I moved to Calgary I was lonely and depressed. I didn’t know anyone and no-one knew me. I was a social outcast who didn’t have a friend to call my own. And I was a bitch about it. Complaining to myself, whining to my husband and nagging to everyone on my blog. I was pathetic and pitiful and thought I would die alone, never having experienced the joys of a coffee date with a friend.

Fast forward to 8 months later, specifically Wednesday, May 8, 2013, I get a call from a lady I met briefly at a henna party two weeks ago. She’s excited to meet me and because she spent the first year living in Calgary all alone, she’s decided to take me under her wing. So she proposes we do something on Friday evening. I’m flustered at her kindness and somewhat ashamed to tell her that I already have friends over for a BBQ. She then proposes Sunday. And again sorry, no can do, I’m going to BBQ in the park with another group of friends.

I decide not to tell her that the Sunday before I had another group of friends over for an Easter party, the Friday before that I attended a BBQ and the Saturday before that we had a party evening over at somebody else’s house. It would have seemed so mean to tell her that my social calendar is so full that I actually don’t want to attend half of the things I’m committed to.

And here is the proof that I am an ungrateful human being. Not a long while ago I would have killed to talk to somebody other than my kids and hubby. Now I’m complaining that I meet the same people too much and I’m already bored of them. But who can blame me. Come on. Who gets together every other day with the same group of people. Don’t they run out of things to say?

Unfortunately I know myself. I like to surround myself with a wide range of friends because, except for my really close friends, I get bored of people way too fast. My biggest worry when my husband proposed was that I can’t be married to one person for the rest of my life. What if I get bored? Thankfully it hasn’t happened yet, but I’ll keep you posted when it does.

I’m coming across as a complete ass, right? I swear I’m not that bad once you get to know me. Just don’t get that close, I don’t think my social calendar can handle too much more of this n

The Geek Squad

I live in a quirky little household. Me and my husband were the poster children of geeks as kids – probably still are. It’s something we enjoyed and are proud of. We have storm troopers lying around the house, a subscription to Wired and National Geographic, a library of books lining the wall of our home in Cairo and a large number of electronics and gadgets that would put an Apple store to shame. Our favourite TV shows and movies have to involve vampires, werewolves, dead bodies or some kind of fantasy creature.

And our eldest has taken after us in alarming ways. Not a big sports fan, his Netflix account is littered with documentaries and animal shows. His room is full of Star Wars lego and figures. And his library of choice has a majority of encyclopaedias and reference books. Jo on the other hand is not looking so promising – he’s probably going to grow up and become a dance club bouncer – so for the sake of this post I’m going to pretend that he’s totally like us.

So with all the above characteristics you can predict what are reaction was when we found out that one of the Calgarian bookstores was going to feature a visit from Star Wars Storm Troopers and Darth Vader! The minute we read that, it was Geek Squad on alert! The whole family got dressed up and off we headed to meet our heroes.

Please don’t judge us.

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A Beautiful Day Cures Everything

The weather is gorgeous these days in Calgary and I’ve been running around the city, allegedly finishing off errands but in reality I’m just enjoying this good spell and don’t want to be cooped up indoors. And when I do get home, I take my laptop and sit outdoors on the patio, listening to the birds and Matchbox 20, pretending to work, taking my jacket off as the sun comes out from under the clouds and putting it back on when it goes hiding, being healthy and drinking green tea (along with frosted shortbread cookies) and all-in-all daydreaming about how peaceful life is without Jo. So here are the highlights of my day;

I’m supposed to be working on my website. My designer needs my notes and guidelines within two weeks and I haven’t even decided on a blog name yet. Let me tell you it’s proving to be a big pain in my ass trying to brand myself or what I’m going to be doing. How do I put an adjective on me when I’m so flighty and rebellious that I refuse to be defined by a mere adjective, verb or noun? I’m probably going to end up calling it ‘Reem’s jumbling mix of things that are totally unrelated’.

I went to Chinook today. Not by choice but because I had to exchange Jo’s new sneakers for a bigger size and the branch near my house didn’t have his size. It took me 20 minutes of driving around the parking lot trying to find one single empty parking space. By the state of the parking lot I imagined Chinook would be a stampede of people who decided to play hooky on a Tuesday afternoon. Surprisingly Chinook itself was pretty calm and empty. And then I realised where the masses and hoards were hiding; Target! The first three stores opened today in Calgary and apparently all the Calgarians decided they had to go experience the novelty of shopping in an American department store that wasn’t Walmart.

Passing through Shawnessy Boulevard on my drive home, I saw the bouquet of flowers leaning on the street corner and I remembered the horrific accident that I saw there two weeks ago; In the back of my mind, I can see the sun and the light breeze pulling at the paramedics hair as she bent over the prone little body of a three year old girl in the pretty neon hoodie. The traffic lights above listlessly turning from green to yellow to red and then back to green again on an empty intersection that only had a toddler lying in the middle of the street and the emergency responder who was trying to fight for the little girl’s life. The little girl lost the fight the next day in the hospital and I wonder what nightmares the emergency responder lives with now. It put a damper on my day, It had taken me 10 days to stop thinking about the accident and being depressed, but I resolved to go home and enjoy my kids a little bit more because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Did I mention how much I’m enjoying the quiet with Jo in daycare? 🙂

 

 

Watch Out for the Bomb!

If you’re following the news in Calgary – which, unless you’re stuck here, you really shouldn’t give a damn about – then you would have heard about the bomb scare we had last week. Apparently a guy trying to get into the court house was carrying a suspicious looking package that led to the whole surrounding block being evacuated. They even brought in a futuristic looking robot to pick up the package and take it to safety – it was a scene straight out from the Terminator.

The police handled the matter perfectly well – aside from giving out any useful information about who the hell the guy was and whether the ‘suspicious package ‘was actually a bomb (they confirmed 3 days after the actual event that it wasn’t a bomb – apparently it took the robot three days to come back with the package to them) and thankfully no-one was hurt, but you know what was the first thing that came to my mind when my husband called to tell me about the bomb? Not that my husband was only a couple of streets down and her could have gotten hurt – although that would have been more logical-so please don’t tell him that. But all that came to mind was me hoping that this wasn’t another crazy muslim, terrorist, AlQaeda-going-crazy-and-killing everyone scare.

You see as a practicing Muslim, these things hit home really hard. And while the Boston Marathon was a nightmare to the USA and everyone involved and my heart goes out to all the victims and their families, it worries me on a personal and general level the emerging perception of muslims as a race.

This is not a political blog, nor a serious one for that matter. So I’m not going to go on about the future implications of Islamophobia and the racist undertones. Hell, even purely muslim countries are extremely Islamophobic which is an ironic paradox and hypocritical, to say the least.

No, what worries me is that a bunch of crazies are defining what the world thinks of me and setting the standard for ‘people like me’. You see although I’m a die-hard rebel and refuse to confirm to any preconceived set of ideals or norms, I will only use one label when identifying myself; muslim. It’s not about what I think of other people, or the world as a whole, or what I wear and eat (although that does weigh in) but it’s about who I am at heart, what I strive to be and what keeps me strong. It’s a very private and personal thing, and if you knew me personally, you would know that I don’t look it, or go around saying it, but I’m proud of the muslim in me.

So that’s why the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard about the bomb was that it would be pinned on another crazy Islamist fascist. And while it didn’t turn out to be that (I actually don’t know what it turned out to be), if it had the whole media would have gone crazy analysing Islam, muslims, their faith, their thinking, their hijab and practices, and how it is all so backward. Much like Boston, no one would have stopped and called these bastards what they really were; a couple of crazy, delusional, sick assholes, who in no way represent any type of human being. That’s it, full period.

Fact; Egyptians Ladies Love to Bellydance

In my quest to assimilate to my new life here, my introverted self has taken a vow to break out of my shell and get to know some new people. And even though I may grudgingly resent having to change out of my pyjamas most of the time and go and meet somebody or another, I have been somewhat consistent to my vow. So it’s along that line of thought that I forced myself last Saturday to shower (which I try to do regularly), put on make-up (which I try to never do at all), get into some nice clothes (didn’t put on heels though – that would have been over-kill for me) and go to a henna party for a girl I don’t know organised by a girl I don’t know and attended by a bunch of other girls I also don’t know.

What’s a henna party you ask? Well it’s an Egyptian – or the Middle Eastern – version of an all girls bachelorette party. Except that this particular bride-to-be was not actually a bride-to-be but was in fact already a bride, or the more accurate description would be a happily married wife of over a year. So why the henna? Because her husband was in Egypt most of the past year and was just recently able to get to Calgary. So obviously the Egyptian community ladies jumped at the chance to get together, dance like crazy, eat just as crazily, get henna tattoos (I have no idea where they found a henna lady in Calgary) and make dirty jokes about sex.

Back home in Cairo I usually tried to avoid these parties like the plague; I don’t dance, hate most arabic music, hate all loud music, don’t usually eat that well at crowded functions, hate gossip and find the not-so-subtle sexual belly-dancing half naked ladies prancing around a put off (I seem like such a prude – I assure you I’m not). Which are all essential ingredients for a successful henna party.

So there I was on a typical cold Calgary evening after having driven 45 minutes to get to the party room of a typical Calgarian condominium when I walk in and a blast of pure Egyptian social frenzy hits me. I did my dues, talked and chatted around for an hour and then got the hell out of there.

I walked into my house at midnight to find my husband sleeping on the couch. He woke as I came in and sleepily asked me how it was;

I shrug off my coat; “For the last hour and a half I felt that I was back home in Cairo.”

“Then you had fun, right?”

“No, it felt exactly like home, but not in the good way!”

Frost-bitten Toes & 50 Shades of Grey Party Game

I’m half Canadian and that means that the minute the weather shows the slightest promise of being warm, I act like I’m living in the tropics. And here I am living up to those exact expectations, sitting in Starbucks beside the window in my shorts and t-shirt, enjoying the sun and freezing my toes off because the Starbucks air-conditinoning is cranked up to high. And now I have a very valid fear of getting frost-bite in my toes even though it’s almost 20 outside. My Egyptian half just looked at the past sentence and laughed it’s half head off. Almost 20 and I think it’s summer? Anything below 25 in Cairo and that means winter is not over. Ah, the paradoxes of coming from opposite sides of the world.

So why did I start with a meangingless – although totally Canadian (minus talk of hockey) rant about the weather and coffee? Because I just don’t know how else to dive back in after a 3 month absence. I feel ashamed, embarrassed and somewhat of a loser being gone so long, but…. and there is always a but – I had very valid reasons; my mom, sister and her kids were visiting for two months and ensuing family drama happened. As well as being totally tied up emotionally I was their 24/7 tour guide/driver for most of their visit. And then the two weeks afterwards were dedicated solely to the clean-up and detox that the house and myself needed to go through.

And on top of that I am half-heartdely frantically trying to get together everything I need to start my new blog so I can go live somewhere within the next couple of months.

So I make no promises, because I am obviously crappy at keeping them, but I really, really want to be back. And now that Jo is in part-time day-care (which is screwing my over financially – but keeping me from going insane), I’m hoping that I’ll try be more consistent.

So I’m signing off because for the past 15 minutes the Fifty Shades of Grey Party Game that is in the board games display in front of me has been calling out to me to go have a look. I wonder what people do when playing that game. Answer kinky sex questions? Or act out scenes from the book? Now that would be one interesting party game.