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.

 

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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

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.

Breakdown of the Mommy

I’ve been gone an embarrassingly long time. Drowning and ebbing between bouts of depression and handling a house and kids (sometimes I feel I should never have gotten kids) I am barely staying afloat and breathing.

So I stopped blogging. Partly because I can’t handle the pressure of another to-do. But mainly because in my whirlpool of self-pity I’m torturing and punishing myself by avoiding things that make me happy.

Anyway, I will be back – but in awhile… I need some me time desperately. And obviously my life as it is now is not really working – you can tell by the screaming, unkempt maniac I’ve become. So, I’m seriously and aggressively looking for a day care for Jo. For him as well as me. He needs structured play and a person who is happy to spend time with him. Not a depressed mommy who just wants to be left alone. And that will hopefully give me the down time I need to be me and do things I want, after which I’ll be happy to see my kids and husband. Happy to spend time with them. Happy to smile in their faces.

So once I get that in place, I’ll be back to this blog. I’ll also be doing some major changes around here. I’ll be keeping this blog for writing, thoughts and personal photography and I’ll be starting a new baking, cooking and crafts blog – with an Middle Eastern & Islamic festivities and celebrations vibe (at least that’s what I hope – keep those fingers crossed).

So until then (which I pray to God is close), sallam (Arabic for a casual good bye that is not for long) and may the force be with you.

Portfolios & Skinny Cows Go Hand in Hand

This weekend was just plain crazy! On top of all the errands I had to run, I also needed to finalise my letter of intent and portfolio for the grad school application deadline which is tomorrow.

Now I knew that I was going to be really crammed for time with two kids, a house to run and a portfolio to do. So I sent a scanned copy of my printed portfolio to a friend in Egypt and asked if he could do me a huge favour and make a new Photoshop one for me. My friend said yes, I was indebted one huge favour, but I could rest easier knowing that it was going to be done by someone else and I could focus on writing a killer ‘Letter of intent’. Then Friday afternoon I got my portfolio back and I cringed with horror. I could tell that my friend had put in a lot of effort to help me out, and I was appreciative, but I was also devastated. It was so not me. And now I had only two days to start from scratch and put together a hastily constructed portfolio.

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My friend’s well meaning design

Thankfully with some help from my awesome husband I was able to finish it at 1am last night and get it uploaded on the admissions site. It meant a sleepless and stress-racking weekend. But at least I was done. And the effects of that weekend have finally caught up with me today; I’m moping around the house trying to get anything done but failing miserably. I could barely get myself to write this blog. I have chicken thawing in the sink taunting me, my house is upside down due to the post weekend antics of two boys (Monday is my house cleaning day) and I’m eating like a pig.

Portfolio - first page copy

Right now I’m contemplating pulling out my Skinny Cow ice cream from the fridge and plonking down in front of the TV with Jo and an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and I realised what exactly I was signing up for. One weekend of stress-filled deadlines and I’m already acting cuckoo. How in the hell am I going to survive two years of grad school – that is if I get accepted of course.

Oh well – what’s done is done – now where is my Skinny Cow ice-cream?

Road Trip

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Picture this; a scenic drive along the Mediterranean. Lush, green mountains on your left and a breathtaking drop to a sapphire blue ocean on your right. Passing through quaint Italian, Spanish and French villages. Absorbing the countryside and getting charmed by the cultures. Driving for hours on end and stopping for a picnic on the grass under the radiant sun. Finding a storybook B&B to stay the night in and then waking up refreshed the next morning, ready to do it all again.

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Now imagine this with two, screaming and fighting boys in the backseat.

Me and the husband have been planning for our dream vacation; two weeks of driving through Europe. Stopping wherever we fancied and taking up the architecture, sights, scents and tastes of the historic cities and villages. Start in Spain, and end up in Germany or Belgium or Denmark or anywhere, it doesn’t matter as long as we enjoy the ride in-between. It has been on our minds for so long that we can almost taste it.

But then we had two wonderful, boisterous, driving-us-insane boys and the trip keeps getting postponed. First it was when Adam turns 6. Now it’s when Jo turns at least 8 (he’s a joy to have in the car). And that’s six and a half years from now. The thing is, even though I know it will be a highly educational, once-in-a-lifetime experience for the boys, I just realised I don’t want to do it with kids at all.

What brought on this realisation? Well, on Christmas break we drove over to Vancouver. It’s a 12 hour trip one-way that cut through the Rockies and not much else. Whenever we told anyone we were driving they looked at us as if we were crazy. But we were unfazed. After all, we love driving. Come on, our drive vacation is to drive for two weeks. Right? Wrong. Try driving 12 hours with two bored kids.

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Adam began asking ‘When will we get there?’ 15 minutes after we left Calgary. Jo had finished all his snacks 30 minutes into the ride and was on a sugar high. The boys started fighting and I was going crazy. Thankfully we were prepared. Cars 2, Ice Age 3 and three repeat performances of Toy Story 2 (most of them running at the same time), plus multiple stories read, snacks that turned the car into a travelling garbage can, a Galaxy Tab, an iPod, Adam pretending that he’s a news reporter with Jo screaming the accompanying sound track, four children’s song albums played, one stop at McDonalds and we were thankfully at the halfway point. After that it was smooth sailing, me and my husband switched places (I was driving the rest of the way since my husband is notorious for falling asleep at the wheel), and the kids went to bed. And I drove the remaining 6 hours in peace and quiet.

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I still want to do my Europe road trip but now I’m thinking of ditching the kids before I do it or waiting until I ship them off to college before I can start living again. It also makes me sympathetic with my husband who freaks out at the idea of a third kid. All he can think of when I say baby #3 is,

‘Oh my God, that’s an extra three years added on to my life sentence. Please don’t do that to me. I want to be free.’

 

Back to School

I’m finally taking the plunge!

I’m collecting my scattered wits, my dried-out intelligence, my non-existent attention span and I’m going back to school.

Or at least I’m attempting to go back to school. I don’t know if they’ll have me or not.

I’m applying for the Masters of Architecture at UofC and the deadline is in one week. I have to bring my portfolio up to par, craft a killer letter of intent and then get off my procrastinating butt and submit everything before the deadline.

Ya, good luck with that.

If you know me, you’ll know I have quite a challenge ahead of me. Why? You ask. Well, let me list them for you:

1. My GPA is below the required minimum. By quite a bit. Don’t look at me like that. You try going to a university in Cairo and studying in Arabic which sounds like gibberish most of the time while trying to handle the tsunami of culture shock without it affecting your GPA.

2. I don’t have a lot of professional experience as an Architect. Technically I have none. But I’m versatile. I have tons of experience at other things, like wiping snotty noses and baking burnt cookies. And in today’s global arena, isn’t that a good thing?

3. I’m old. I mean really old. Way past my prime. At 33, that’s like what in dog years? Dead, I think.

4. While I do have a portfolio of sorts, I took a look at the ones they had for examples online and practically had a heart attack from the awesomeness and creativity of their work. My stuff in comparison looks like Adam’s crayon drawings. And believe me that’s bad because Adam has no artistic talent. We actually use colouring and drawing as punishment.

5…… Need I go on?

My husband says I’m needlessly putting myself down. I tell him, ‘I’m just realistic. But I will do my part and apply. Then see where it takes me.’

So here I am, persistently plodding on and preparing all my stuff. Trying to be the best I can. Now if only I can drag myself back to that letter of intent and convince myself to actually write it. I’ve done all my research, everything is right there in my head, but I just can’t bring myself to commit. After all, rejection is a bitch. And even though I’m mentally prepping myself for it, I still really, really want this. So my subconscious, crazy, doped out brain is trying to defend me from that hurtful rejection by encouraging above-mentioned procrastination. After all, if I never apply, I’ll never get turned down, right?

Well I’m off to reason with my crazy brain. If anyone is out there, wish me luck, and keep your fingers crossed.