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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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!”