Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blogging Therapy

I decided that affiliating my real name to this blog might have not been the best idea ever.  I wish I could be more anonymous in order to have real blogging therapy.  Yet, this was the route I chose so I must deal with the outcome.

Am I inadequate? Probs. Or maybe not at all... we were all made with the ability to do literally anything and everything we need to do.  The universe is folded up inside my soul right? Yep... why abase myself? Because sometimes on cloudy rainy days when your stomach makes weird noises, a person tends to be a Debby Downer.

Can't love just leave me alone for a minute? I'm young, impressionable, and lonely.  I feel like Jordanian culture pushed me into a trap of longing for a relationship, which makes for innocent victims and broken hearts.  When there are people in your life you can see yourself building a family with, a life, happiness you don't want to just pass by, but at the same time you don't want to try and build that when you aren't ready for it.  I don't know where I will be in on January 1st, 2012.  How can I plan that with someone?  I don't even know where I'll be next summer - I hope it's home.  I hope it's also filled with a sense of purpose and accomplishment, but I can't say that I feel very accomplished now.

I'm supposed to be here and active in service and instead I'm inactive in everything accept trying to learn how to be a 50 five and six year olds' teacher. Which really, I'm so blessed to even have the chance to do!  I want to be a teacher and a path has opened that has enabled me to do it... what more could I ask for?  The stress and everything else is difficult, yeah, but just the chance to educate little ones makes me so full of joy.  It makes all the other stupid mistakes seem meaningless.

I have decided that determination means a lot and steadfastness means even more.  These tests and challenges are such blessings and provoke so much learning.  Alhamdulillah! I am so blessed.  I just now ask for a little more guidance and support so I can turn these tests into a path of service and prayerful action.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Understanding My Realization

I wish I had something interesting to post about but I feel like I am finally settling down and nothing is happening in my life.  Yet, I know that is somewhat completely untrue.  There are things happening everyday, all the time.  Even as I sit here in my apartment living room, I can hear the mis-happenings of the boys school next door - see there are things happening, even if we don't see them.

So, what am I doing in Jordan? So far it feels like I am only complaining about missing home and the crazy stressed out life of being a KG2 and Grade 1 teacher to the "privileged" children of Jordan.  What happened to my service? Well, I don't know how to be of service here. My Arabic knowledge is sub-par and continues to get worse - why haven't I become active getting a tutor?  (Goal this week: post want ads for an 3amiya tutor with regular meetings and forced conversation.) I am going to start Ruhi Book 3 soon, which will make me feel like I am doing something - hopefully I can put together an English children's class. Yes! Combining spiritual education with English language education is right up my alley.

In the end, I am beginning to look at service differently here in Amman. Of course there is a need to build study circles, Jr. Youth groups, children's classes and the like, but there is also a need to just be a good example - to meet your neighbors, socialize with them, deepen the conversations you have with them and be well... different.  This culture is beautiful but it is sometimes stained with materialism, flattery, and dishonesty.  I want to be a person that is teaching kids and engaging them in their education within a system that shovels information in their head like it's an overstuffed suitcase makes this quite challenging.  It took takes a toll on one's spirit and I learned that reflecting that light more clearly everyday can be service.  I want to work on that type of service also, it's just as important.  It's just as needed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top Five

So, what can I blog about this week? With a ridiculous amount of free time on my hands, I honestly don't know what to do with myself in Amman.  My Christmas was decent, but uneventful. (Well, I take that back. Being surprised with a gift of a real live cat was an event, but one I didn't know how to handle. Let's just say the cat isn't in my apartment and I can't commit to take of one for the next 15-20 years.)  My American BFF returned home to Winona, Minnesota in hopes of a white Christmas surrounded by friends and family - yeah you can color me green.  We became pretty close over the last three, almost four months and I am going to miss her like all heck.  She was the one I went to with anything and was always willing to listen. Besides that, sometimes she made me look not-so-bad when she would pour her heart out to me about living in the Middle East and how blondes just don't integrate well.  Now, here I sit in my bed in my two bedroom apartment in Amman while my roommate is in Irbid visiting her family without much to do but a new knitting project.  Oh, don't let me forget to tell you about the paint set, canvas, brushes and paper I got as my make-up gift - AMAZING. I'll probs just paint the empty lot across the street from my window, it depicts Jordan so well.

In reflection of all this pouting, I complied a top five list of things (in no particular order) I miss the most from home while chatting with a friend this morning:

That's right I took a senior high school portrait (2004) with my bimmer.
1. My car
Oh you little 1984 or 1991 (depending on the day) Bimmer with your adorable double headlights and kidney bean grill, how I miss you! You toted me around town with so much pride and dependability. Not to mention convenience, and if I was back in 1994 I'm sure I would look baller also.  I now realize and completely understand the awesomeness of having a car and a good one at that. Amman is not kind to pedestrians, bikers, or the public transit commuter.

2. Hometown friends
Oh gosh the hilarities of American friends are just so special in their own right. The humor that is mutually understood is probably what really makes me homesick.  Why can't It's Always Sunny make sense to everyone here?  Or why can't I just have a morning hang out session? Hey, American friends! I just wanted to say I miss you!

What more could a girl ask for but the best superstore ever?
3. Target
How can one NOT love Target, especially Super Target? It's far superior to Safeway, Carrefour or Cozmo!  Screw WalMart - Target is where it's at! With it's fashionable, yet affordable clothing, fresh produce, the best brands of make-up and not to mention all the home stuff  (I always ends up spending $50 on just clearance items), one can not deny the genius of this store. I swear that if anyone of you Jordanian residents to visit Target just one time, you'd fall in love.

4. My Dad's ridiculous made up words
Koot Waddler, grundles, grindage, elroy, la-zag-nah, Mac and D's, Wendle's, Bemkins - just to name a few. I love my Dad and his adoration for cars, B movies, Davanni's pizza, Coca-Cola, and vocabulary.  I miss all of this even more because there is no American even remotely understanding of his humor, never mind a Jordanian.  I love him and think he's one of the most hilarious people ever.  This is just one of the thousands of reasons I am attempting to convince him to visit Amman this spring - any other suggestions on how to persuade him?

5. Salt water taffy
This just doesn't exist in Jordan. MA FEE. There is none. It's not here.  It's not even in Safeway or Cozmo grocery stores.  I love it - especially the blue ones... and Ick! I am not a fan of the yellow banana flavor.  One of the best candies EVER (and I really like candy).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shaping Perspective

I have been lacking inspiration for a blog post for quite some time. It's been incredibly too long since my last update and a lot has made my life busy.  A new apartment, new job, and the beginning of bummin' out because my closest friend in Amman leaving to return to Minnesota in less than a week. So, I put it out there on Facebook for suggestions of topics to write about.  The best reply out of two was from my high school English teacher, who was probably the only teacher I admired and always was disappointed I didn't meet her until my senior year.  She suggested I write about three people who vastly changed my perspective. I thought to make a few categories: friend, spiritual, and other. Here I go:

1) Afsaneh Zaeri.  I met her in early 2009 on a study abroad program to Amman, Jordan. She was in my Arabic classes, which I found to be an instant clan of American students that suffered the long process of learning a language so complete, precise, and encapsulating that a mind raised in American English finds it near impossible to learn.  She would arrive late about 50% of the time, but always with a smile on her face. And not because she thought she could get away with being late, but because she was just genuinely happy.  Our friendship continued after we returned to the states and become a spiritual sisterhood.  I have learned so much from her brilliant soul: humility, love, service are just a few to name.  We have had conversations that have changed my attitude towards the world and how I live in it. She introduced me to one of the greatest gifts I know: the passion I have to seek truth.  I still remember that day during my first fast and we sat together with another great friend in a church in Minneapolis after visiting a very special spot.  It was that day that inspired a change in my perspective that could have never be created in another way.  I learned so much about life and what my role is to be.  I discovered so much about what it means to have true spiritual friends that are rooted deeper than any other relationship I have ever had.

2) Abdul Baha'.  He was the first central figure of the Baha'i Faith that I read.  I read his talks in America and then in Paris.  I feel completely in love with every word.  I was enlightened to know that a faith could grasp these concepts of oneness of humanity, oneness of religion, and oneness of God.  All the concepts he spoke about I already agreed with, I was hooked.  I wanted to learn more and more, read more and more, be more and more.  My journey to find the truth was already ignited in Amman and now after reading Abdul Baha's writings, I was surely on my path to find it.  It took ego out of the picture and put me in a place where I was a part of something larger than myself.  My life isn't about my success or failure, it's about how I can contribute to the progression of the unity of mankind.  I am a servant to a cause greater than the human race has ever known before.

3) Palestine. Now, I know Palestine is not a person, but it isn't just a place either.  It's a feeling, an understanding, an experience, a soul rejuvenating aroma.  The days I spent in Bethlehem made my heart fill with a joy that I have never thought I could know before.  I describe it simply like this, "With each step my soul rejoiced.  Each time my foot hit the ground in Palestine, my soul overflowed with happiness, love, compassion, mercy, and understanding."  Living two and a half short months there made me long for a chance to return and drown in the amazing beauty that is the Holy Land.  Each city allowed my spirit to obtain a different quality.  Haifa, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Yaffa, the Galilee, Jericho... each made my self become re-born into a person with more capacity to learn. I would do just about anything that can expand mine or others' capacity.

There are a few more people that come to mind when I think about this idea.  Who shaped my perspective on life?  I think I could write about least 2 or 3 more entries describing 3 people each time.  I love learning about people and having those conversations that are deeper than the average, "How are you? How is your work?" I love to grow with friends, it's probably my favorite thing to do. EVER.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

Being sick away from home is not easy.  It doesn’t matter if you are a student at your university a few hours away by car or in a foreign country; you want someone to take care of you. Even a sinus or upper repository infection can get really nasty, like the one I had last spring that found its way into both my eyes and made me look like a burnt out cokehead.  Luckily, with that one, the parents I nannied for at the time never said anything about my blazing red eyes for 3 days before I went to the doctor and got drops for them. Anyway, point of the story: I am sick.

So, a dear friend took me to a 24 hour clinic in Marj Al-Hamam, just outside of Amman.  Let me tell you, I was slightly afraid of the quality of health care I was about to get, but it was only 10JD (about $14) without insurance for the visit including an injection.  We walked into the clinic and found the doctor waiting behind the desk in the waiting room that looks like it was from 1983 with fake flowers adorning the corner.  On the wall a tube TV was mounted flashing images of L.A. from the program “The City” on MTV Arabia.  He greeted us without a smile, my friend asked where the doctor was in Arabic and the man behind the desk led us into the exam room, apparently he was the doctor.  It looked like a scene from a really bad horror film.  Light blue, white and stainless steel was the color scheme of choice. The early 30-something year old doctor with slightly red hair and blue eyes asked my friend what was wrong with me and than told me to describe my symptoms in less than perfect English.  As I told him what was wrong with me, I noticed his toes peeping through his sandals and I thought to myself, “Isn’t that breaking some health code?”

First, I told him I had sinus pressure, cough, runny nose, and aches in my legs. So, he checked my blood pressure, but not my temperature, listened to my lungs only from the front of my chest, not the back, and looks in the back of my throat, but didn’t feel my throat glands.  I even know to do step number two of all those things! Then he asked, “Do you prefer shots or pills?” My reply: “Why? What are you giving me?” He looked at me strangely like he didn’t understand and so my friend translated; he said shyly that is was antibiotics.  My friend started to talk to him as he was filling the needle and I mentioned I couldn’t have blood thinners – he had no idea what I was saying.  I explained by saying something about no aspirin and then he questioned me slightly annoyed, “Why not?” I told him why and mentioned, “Ya know, if it makes a difference.” He, still annoyed, said “It makes a big difference.”  Then I watched me crack open a small glass bottle the size a Barbie would use to christen a cruise ship with, and put its contents into the new syringe along with the antibiotic.

He struggled, constantly stopping to flick the syringe to get the air bubbles out and filling it little by little.  I was getting incredibly nervous by this point thinking, “What the hell is he putting in me?  What kind of antibiotic? He didn’t even ask me if I was allergic to penicillin.”  Here comes the kicker: the shot was to go into my ass, not my upper arm. WHAT! Who does that? I thought we stopped that in like 1912? He asks if I want my friend to do it.  Who, at the time to make this social situation just slightly easier, was playing the role of my fiancĂ©.  I looked at my friend, “What? Hmm… I guess the doctor knows best. But have you done this before?” My friend replied, “Yeah, I have given a shot to myself a ton of times for B12.”  So I told the doctor, “I don’t know, I mean I guess he could.” I looked nervously at my friend with the “Save me now” look and he interjected, “No, no, it’s best the doctor does it.”  Whaaaat? He was supposed to save me! Did I get the facial expression wrong? What is happening?  I’m in a sketchy Jordanian clinic with a doctor, I feel doesn’t know anything – which to find out on the ride home he graduated from Damascus, not the prime choice for medical schools in the region – and now I have to get a shot in the ass from this red headed Syrian educated doctor as a young foreign girl in a male dominated culture? What am I doing here?!

That being said, I probably shouldn’t have pushed it yesterday. When I get really tired my patience is at a minimum and 5 and 6 year old kids are probably not the best to be around.  Even 5 year olds that form full sentences with capital letters, commas and full stops, understand missing addends and tens and units.  The last lesson of the day was completely horrendous.  Constant disruptions, talking, moving around – and this is REVISION!  It’s supposed to be easy, if they were taught well in the first place. Unfortunately, that was not the case – they were spoon fed the information, they don’t know it. So each revision exercise has turned into a mini lesson and takes an exuberant amount of time, plus I teach too slowly.

One tends to snap and every single day this week in the last lesson I have snapped.  I feel like that pink tweed wearing crazy teacher from Hogwarts.  Has anyone ever seen me yell at a classroom full of kids tell them they have the worst behavior in the world?  Could you even imagine me doing so?  Well I have and I feel like an awful person exactly about 3 seconds after.  I made two kids cry! What can I do? They don’t want to listen to me, my incentives barely work – I had to take away star row and a special treat on Thursday.  I kept them in from activities and sports day practice AND THEY STILL DON’T CARE! They have literally worn me out down to the point of getting ill. I’m not even getting into my Grade 1 class!

This leaves me sitting in bed at my new home without internet typing this post in MSWord feel much better than yesterday, but still taking a day to recover.  But I’m so thankful for the blessings I have here. I have found a wonderful down to earth roommate, a decent home well within my budget, a good job, and so many tests.  I am learning how brilliant young children can be and how to try and deal with them within a particular school that says they value their capacity but may not treat them like that.  Today is a day for me to refresh Jr. Youth Animator training and find my inspiration again and understanding of what education means.  I don’t want to go back next week freaking out again. I won’t allow it.