Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's two hours til midnight on December 31st here in Amman. Happy 2010 everyone!

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's a Small World After All... at least in Amman

So I brought my mom some extremely good looking glass ornaments and decorations that I got downtown in Amman from a delightful Armenian man named Kokozian, who makes and paints all his own goods. She pulls her present out of the box, gave the customary ohs and ahs and then said, "Wait a second. Kokozian. Doesn't your Uncle Jim know him?"

The back story is that my Uncle Jim also spent a year in Jordan a few years ago. He apparently found the same shop Lena, Heather and I found and became fast friends with Kokozian. Unbeknownst to either of us, I found the same shop and befriended the same man. Kokozian was so fond of Uncle Jim that he called him his brother and gave him free stuff to send to my grandparents, who he called his parents.

I can't wait to get back to Amman to tell Kokozian that I'm the niece of his friend Jim. My wasta continues.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Re-Entry

So here I am, curled up in my comfy bed, deep in the heart of West Texas. I went to a club last night to dance the night away with my best friend, who has barely left my side, my brother flew in this evening, I've spent lots of quality time with the 'rents, and, best of all, I have my kids rolled up into balls, sleeping happily against my legs.

My first meal in the U.S. was a rush to Chick Fil-A after my plane landed in Dallas at 10 p.m. But my first REAL meal in the U.S. was what I've been craving for four months now: Tex Mex. My family and I went to On the Border last night, where I salivated over a plate of Southwest Chicken Tacos. Today, we went to see The Princess and the Frog (cute, but somewhat forgettable) and thus had to go out for Cajun food tonight. I have plans to visit Rosa's, another Tex Mex place, and Saigon Cafe, a Vietnamese place, in the next few days, and Jimmy promised to make a vegetarian lasagna for me soon. My culinary dreams are met. My mouth is loving America, even if my stomach and my waistline are not.

Some things I've noticed about being back in America, in no particular order:

1) Your cats will not remember you if you are away for five months. Then they will start to remember you but will be pissed off at you for leaving. It will take a good two days for them to consent to sleeping with you. This process can be sped up by offering kitty treats.

2) Holy water pressure, Batman! I didn't think our shower in Jabal Amman was that bad, but compared to my parents' shower, it's a mere trickle. I can rinse my hair in about ten seconds flat. AND I don't have to wake up 45 minutes early just to turn on the hot water. Wow.

3) There are a TON of freaking squirrels here. Silly critters. And there's a serious lack of scruffy cats.

4) No one walks. Anywhere. At any time. And they stare at me when I do. And I actually miss walking around Amman just because.

5) Everyone speaks English. And they do not respond to "Shukran," as evidenced by the bartender who gave me an extremely funny look when all I did was thank him.

6) On that note, it's harder to stop saying "Shukran" and "Yella" than you might think.

7) I am now behind the times when it comes to the latest cool songs to dance to in nightclubs.

8) I love happy hours in America. $2 well drinks. Heck yeah.

9) These drivers are passive. And relaxed. And do not attempt to speed by each other or run over pedestrians. Surreal.

10) I have lost the art of friendly conversation with overly chummy Texans. They now think I am rude despite the fact that my Texas accent is indeed coming back. Must curb that before I attempt to teach anyone English again.

Overall, life is grand.

Recap: Ending the year in Jordan

So December turned out to be a busy month for me, what with Christmas parties, packing and school stuff. We did have a Christmas party in our apartment that was a roaring success, despite (or perhaps because of?) the crowds of unknown people who showed up at our apartment.

I finished up all my Christmas shopping, much to the anticipated glee of my family members, especially my brother, who will be stoked when he opens his gift. I'm sure.

But the highlight (almost) of my preparations for leaving Jordan was my last day of school before I took off for America. It turns out that my kids absolutely love me after all. I was treated to a day of powerpoints on how much they would miss me, love letters telling me I better come back and a surprise party in one class, complete with presents and food galore. This makes coming back to Jordan a whole lot easier!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Everything in Jordan is an Adventure. Even the Internet.

So for two weeks now, we've been without Internet at the apartment because we were deciding what to do with our old Internet and figuring out how to get a new Internet service.

The provider we used at our old apartment is a satellite technology, which means that we basically have a modem router that collects an Internet signal from outside, not from a land line or cable. But I wasn't sure if we would be able to pick up that signal from our new house. I asked around and was told to check with the biggest service provider. I wandered over to their store, didn't like what I saw (they said we would have to wait EIGHT DAYS for Internet! Pff!), and called our old standby.

First of all, the dude on the phone asked where I lived. I gave him a detailed mental map of our area, down to the school across the street and what I could see out my window. He said that only parts of our street were covered. So they would have to send a man out to see if we were even on the right side of the street for a signal. A'adi.

So I waited around for the gentleman to show up. He did, brought a modem with him and proceeded to tell me we have an excellent signal in our TV room. First bit of good news all day. We discuss prices, grab the contract and are ready to go. And then he asks to see my residency card. Oh crap.

"Um. Ha ha," I said cleverly. "I don't really have one yet. But we are right now in the process of getting them!" I added with a feverish grin, all the while thinking I would cheerfully hold everyone involved in my residency application process over hot coals if I would not get Internet until I was a resident. "Do you want to see my visa? My passport? Anything? Ha ha?"

It turns out that no, the visa was not good enough. Neither was the passport. I finally had the bright idea to pull out Heather's contract with the school to prove we worked and lived here in Jordan (the fact that we were standing in the living room of my apartment was apparently not enough proof, nor was the pile of cash I was attempting to hand over.). This is good, the guy said, but I need to know that you STILL work here. (Apparently the fact that the contract was until June of next year wasn't good enough either.)

(P.S. The guy was actually super nice about all this; it was just a frustrating situation.)

So we worked out an arrangement where I would keep the modem, pay him the money and then go to school the next day and get a letter from my boss that said I still worked there. We signed the contract, and everything was peachy.

But why on Earth is nothing in Jordan ever simple?

Random Bits of News

First of all, a big hip-hip-HOORAY because we finally have Internet at our new apartment! No, it is not wireless yet, and yes, only one of us can be on it at a time, but it's a start. It's a start.

To make matters even more attractive, we also have HOT WATER! Today was the first hot shower I've had since Thanksgiving. It was nice. It was very nice.

I also got a great haircut today from an excellent hairdresser. So my hair is clean and curled AND I took a hot shower. Life is good.

We did have a bit of annoying news today. Heather, Lena and I had asked for some days off before Christmas so we could all go home and see our families. We are leaving on the 18th and are all coming back the 30th, 31th and 1st, respectively, because we had to be at school on the 2nd. NOW they tell us that we don't have to be back until the 4th. I know it is just two more days, but I would have really liked to have spent that time with my family. Uncool. And the reason behind the change? Shockingly, the school realized that the 1st of January is New Year's Day and thus a holiday. Who would have guessed it.