A Wedding and Other Mysteries

August 27, 1999

As you can see, it’s been a while since I had time to write, and I haven’t written in my paper diary at all, so this will have to do for that purpose too! Fortunately I know Dad will archive every word I email, probably also on paper, so it will work nicely. And now I will try to answer your questions about my daily life.

It actually feels really busy, although now that I’m thinking about writing it down, it doesn’t sound really busy. Maybe it’s that everything moves so slowly that time itself seems to go faster. We have class every morning and then go home for lunch, the biggest meal of the day. I take a nap or read every afternoon between 1 and 3. Then we usually Continue reading

Sometimes the cheese works

The Close-of-Service “Letter to Yourself”
(Cross-posted at my other blog, Thoughts Redacted.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2001.

It’s your (my) last day in Bayt Yafa. Surprisingly typical: I had breakfast upstairs. We watched the new miniseries, but it isn’t as good as the old one with Abu Sfooh. I came downstairs to clean and the girls came with me to help and wouldn’t be deterred. Lunch was mensaf upstairs. We made potato pancakes from the mix I had. The whole family sat around the living room, tv on but ignored, and discussed food, politics, and my personal lack of a husband.

Now I’m sitting in my disturbingly bare living room writing this. Outside a child is crying, cars occasionally drive past, men are walking home after the maghreb prayers, and the guy in the house around the corner is practicing his flute-pipe, as he so often does. The sun has set. Somewhere not so far from here Continue reading

My Mountain, My Obsession

One day, after I’d been living in Dir Edis for several months, I was standing outside my house waiting for my Pickup Truck Escort For Respectable Ladies on the way to school, and I happened to look northward and discovered: a mountain. It hadn’t been there before. It was just suddenly there — in the distance, true, but undeniably mountainous.

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I knew there were mountains in that general direction, but I am not great at math and even worse with spatial organization, so it had just never occurred to me that I ought to be able to see them. And I’d gotten so used to the blurring that is the almost-perpetual condition of the desert horizon that it had never really occurred to me that the haze might be hiding something.

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The Delay

It is hot, and I am in the first minutes of what is going to be a long day of travel. They’re expecting me in Namus, and I’ve only just left Dir Edis after a long wait in front of the little post office. I should say: a long sit on the step outside the post office, watching the ants go into and out of their holes. I’ve been here two years now and sometimes I worry about my fascination with the ants.

So I am relieved when the bus finally arrives. It’s a bus I don’t recognize and the driver is identifiably religious, wearing the hat marking him a hajji and a long white dishdash, with his red-and-white kaffiyeh wrapped over his shoulders. He also has a vague bruise in the middle of his forehead. I know it’s completely unfair, but I’m always a little more wary of men dressed like this, I guess because they seem more likely to be offended by anything I do wrong. So I avert my eyes as I hand him my coins and sit down demurely several seats behind him.

view from roof

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