Source: Hospitality and Humor in Cairo
Click on the link to see my guest post on Mohamad Al Karbi’s blog. I was moved to tears by his post about his Syrian father’s death recently – Home is where the heart is
Two news stories made me have hope for my country. The image above is of a little boy cleaning a Jewish headstone at the cemetery in Missouri. Many of the headstones had been desecrated in a hate crime. A Muslim activist group has raised over $100,000 dollars to repair the damage. One Jewish lady interviewed on CNN intimated that the various bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers were damaging to the Jewish communities psyche. Who is doing it? I am pretty certain that white supremacists are at fault and hoping that the Muslim community is blamed.
This sacrilege got front page news, as it should but just a week ago, the town mosque in Victoria, Texas burned to the ground. At this stage they don’t know if it was arson or an electrical fire. The Rabbi handed over the keys of the synagogue to his friend, the Imam, so that the worshippers would have somewhere to pray. Other Christian churches followed with similar offers. A crowd-funding effort has raised over $850,000 to rebuild the mosque.
All of our hearts should be singing at these kind acts following at least one hate crime. The world looks at us tentatively with current political tensions very high. Are we Russia’s friend or not? I hope we treat them with the same suspicion that we have always done, along with any other state that wages war or terrorism on innocent people. It feels as though people who have been bigoted and racist in private are emboldened to come out from their filthy shadows.
I was the victim of a white on white hateful moment this past Sunday. I was sitting at the traffic lights waiting for them to turn. A truck screamed past me on the left turnaround lane and the passenger was shouting filthy cuss words at me whilst giving me the finger. Initially, I had no idea why until Teddy explained that he had been in the inside right lane wanting to cross over but I was a couple of feet away from the car in front. Why didn’t he beep or flash and I could have moved up? He looked just like you would imagine, white skinhead with tattoos – just as well he didn’t know I tick the Hispanic box, eh?
As I was walking today, I tried to assess my reaction to this. Firstly, I was shocked because I have never been the recipient of such undeserved rage in the place I live. Then I was angry – really angry. I started to imagine what I would have liked to have done. If we had been in a carpark, I would have gone straight up to him and told him how disgusting his behavior was. If he attempted to hit me, I would have kicked him in the testicles to down him and then would have beaten his face until it was bloody. I am just an ordinary person who has self-defense skills and I have had to defend myself with violence on a couple of occasions. Mostly, I just dream about Barbie dolls or Syrian limo drivers.
This is what happens when you live in a hateful society. Be kind to your friends and neighbors, give a stranger a smile.
I am struggling to write and read just now. Many apologies to all my wonderful followers and those I follow for being absent. I have talked about my chronic anxiety and depression many times so no need for any further explanation. Between sad bouts, I experience moments of great happiness, for which I am thankful or life would not be worth living. These are some of my recent moments.
My lovely neighbor with green fingers gifted me this tree a couple of years ago because it wouldn’t thrive in her garden. I was very anxious because my fingers are not green (blackish) and then this year we had flood, excessive heat and finally a terrible cold snap. Some of my tropical plants died but the lovely Laurel has new growth and exquisite lavender flowers. They have an intense fragrance which my neighbor could smell as she approached my house. I now just buy plants and ask my gardener to place them in the right spot – it is working, so far…
The Dead Grasshopper
This poor little green person probably did not survive the hard frost and fell out of our house planks. He was perfectly preserved and so green. Normally these noisy critters frighten me because of how they jump but I do like their songs. It was fun to really examine his little body and hold it. There truly is beauty in death. After I took his photograph, I left it on the rock. When I went outside later, some lucky bird had eaten a freeze dried snack. I wonder if she thought, “they are usually juicier than that?”
The Tulle Filled Nest
This is a photograph of my front door decorated for Valentine’s Day. My Mountain Laurel neighbor loves to decorate her presents with ribbons and tulle – almost too nice to open. I keep them to use myself and had created a bow with pink and white tulle sitting atop the beads. We had a windy day and suddenly the bow was gone. A squirrel or bird probably has a pink tulle lined crib and I just smile at the thought. Maybe they also had the freeze dried snack…
The Syrian limo driver
During my recent contract work, I was paired with a Syrian-American limo driver. He was courteous, respectful, articulate and charming. You probably expect me to say something about executive orders and how nice Middle Eastern people are but the truth is he was Cougar Eye Candy. I am purring softly as I write this. He was tall, slim and handsome with dark hair, white skin and the most exquisite grey/green/blue eyes with long black eyelashes. I flirted outrageously in Arabic and English, wondering what I would have done with him were I 30 years younger…
The Spanish Translation
In a previous post, I talked about the coffee barista from Jerusalem who is Muslim. He works at my local Argentinean/Venezuelan Café. Those two sentences somehow encapsulate the interesting diversity of Houston. This week I went in for my usual cappuccino and he was serving on his own. The lady in front of me could only speak Spanish and although coffee guy looks Hispanic, he can’t speak it. I offered to translate and I think I got three beef empanadas correct. The lady looked Latino/Indio and was utterly confused by the blonde Texan lady translating to the ‘Spanish’ guy. It’s a wonderful world.
More happy moments to come…
Nothing I do can get me in a festive mood – I am so grumpy that it is funny. Every year I love decorating my 7 foot tall, expensive, fake tree decorated with ornaments from our childhood and from all over the world (but not this year). I create a snow village under the tree that occasionally a cat has peed on or wrecked. One year our little Egyptian terrorists (cats) raided Bethlehem and the nativity scene. I used to say that I was spiritual or an atheist depending on my snarky mood but now I know I am a lapsed Catholic doomed to spend eternity in Purgatory or worse…
Most years I host a Christmas party in the house but this year Teddy said ‘No’! He was quite right – that would have tipped me over the edge. While he was in Scotland on business, I decorated ‘somewhat’ with my best ornaments hanging from our chandeliers. I even painted our outside furniture and adorned the porch with some discreet fairy lights and decorations.
As most of you know, I volunteer at an airport which is a hub for Latin America, in particular. I love it or I wouldn’t still be doing it after 8 years. I wore my regulation Santa hat (apparently my reindeer antlers don’t cut it??) and my red and black banded tights, with my non regulation miniskirt… The first person that irked me was another staff member – I was racing across the terminal to help someone and I said, “Ho ho ho!” to him. He responded, “Or something” with no smile, looking at me as though I was a ‘Ho. WTF! This was balanced by another staff member who stopped me on my return to ask me if the elves were still on strike – the kids loved that.
I often work in the international terminal when the Central American flights come in. This week it was something special, with Abuela’s (Grandma’s) in full traditional clothing coming in from Guatemala and El Salvador. Many families had traveled with their whole family from other states just to meet their precious relatives who they may not have seen for many years. Children from this region look entirely Maya and one little poppet who looked adorable in a little white furry jacket. She looked like a little Maya angel tree-topper. After three hours, I wondered if the Maya gods would reward me for sacrificing one of their precious children…who were now screaming and kicking my door (I am jesting, of course). To my credit I kept smiling and reassuring everyone in bad Spanish that their relatives would be out soon – (hopefully not from holding cells).
It was perhaps all the Christmas social events leading up to now that provoked this Krampus spirit within me. I am feeling very sensitive and every thoughtless comment bothers me. You will love this one, “I preferred it when you were the happy, smiling Kerry”. Really, really?? Guess what, me too!! “Your hair is getting a bit long”. Are you my stylist? Poor Teddy said, “You have spilled something on the floor”. Biting sarcasm ensued regarding my qualities as a serf to his Highness.
Driving is always bad here but right now there are demons at the wheel. Why don’t you all go through the red light – it’s only there for decoration? What terrible gift are you going to buy that’s worth racing for – just use Amazon like a normal person. They employ demons to drive their trucks… Now the weather Gods have turned on us. It has gone from freezing to about 80 degrees – everyone is sneezing, wearing fleeces with sandals. Today, I tried to turn the tide. I went to my favorite coffee shop to speak Arabic to my Palestinian friend. I can tell he is missing Jerusalem – it’s colder there. Then I went to the Salvation Army kettle and chatted to the old man about the stupid weather. I asked him if he needed a cold drink because it was so damned hot! I passed by the pet store and bought Toffee a knitted toucan filled with catnip. Katniss got a knitted dog because I thought she would love to savage one…
On a more serious note, I am deeply saddened that road rage or any bad mood could make someone fire a gun and kill a child. Even worse, kill innocent shoppers at a Christmas market or attack fleeing evacuees in a war zone. It is within all of us to find our inner angel and love our fellow man. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Super Solstice to all!
I was going to complete my week’s blogging with some more flower photographs but I had a precious moment today that I thought I would share with you. Those of you who regularly follow my blog know that I have been unwell of late and seem to be having a protracted recovery. This week I have turned a corner and regularly walk to the local cafe for a delicious cappuccino. It was previously a bakery and the owners retired. We were all excited that a new Argentinean bakery and coffee shop was opening.
It has been an instant success both with regular gringos and many different Latino people who live here. We have a local wealthy population of Latinos who have immigrated from countries that are unstable, such as Venezuela, and also from Mexico. I really enjoy hearing all the dialects chatting about how delicious the pastries are. They have a funny chalkboard outside that implores us to eat pastries because skinny people are easier to kidnap. The nice young man, who I assumed was Latino, asked me if I would like a pastry. I said, “I would but I am not going to…” The man next to me said, “Didn’t you see the sign outside saying skinny people are easier to kidnap?” We all laughed and I told them that I lived too close to the cafe to regularly eat pastries.
The young man asked me where I was from (Scottish accent) and I, in turn, asked him. To my surprise he said Jerusalem. “Arabie or Hebrew?”, I asked. His face lit up with delight when he realized I spoke a little Arabic. I wished him a good afternoon in Arabic and he beamed. Eventually (good coffee is slow) my coffee was ready and I thanked him in Arabic. He said, “It is so lovely to speak Arabic!” We forget that immigrants can feel lonely in their new country and, let’s face it, Arabic speakers are not particularly popular right now. I was always very grateful to Egyptian taxi drivers speaking a little English to match my little Arabic. Pay it forward, folks and have a good weekend!
This was the best I could do with a hastily taken photograph that wasn’t sharp but I hope you get the picture. I have not been blogging much recently and the reason why was I submitted my resume to an events company and they asked me to interview. My dear friend had just gifted me a gorgeous Michael Kors dress that fitted beautifully. It had a high neck and long sleeves – perfect for an interview but I had no jacket. I decided to go to my favorite thrift store and found a jacket that was brand new, with the tickets on, ($200) for $10 – what a find! The company offered me the job (which may vary) on the spot but mostly I will be meeting VIPs at the airport and making sure they get safely to their destination.
My first weekend was chaotic – two major events were in town, flights were delayed by weather and the road conditions were terrible. I discovered that night driving with a new lens is difficult. I can see much better but there are flashing halos everywhere. To my utter surprise I like my new job and hope they like me. In the midst of all this my husband launched our new website on Friday and we have our first customer! I will focus on that in the next post but once again thank you to two friends, one who recommended me for the job and the other for the gorgeous dress. Not only that, they were supportive and loving in the midst of my angst.
You know that question was rhetorical. Who doesn’t want to sleep with a cyborg in bright pink PJs? For those of you who are new to my blog, I had three bad things happen recently. My husband was laid off from the oil industry, my beloved mother in law died and I unexpectedly needed eye surgery to treat a subcapsular cataract that had formed in my left eye. Everything had to happen quickly to take advantage of our existing health insurance and last week I had eye surgery on Wednesday.
We turned up at the clinic and things proceeded quite quickly…until they couldn’t find a vein. After two attempts, the charming southern anesthetist was called and inserted the IV. This meant that my pre medication, commonly known as a medical margarita, was late in being delivered. The schedule was a bit off and suddenly I was being raced into the operating theater. Before that, I had been asked on numerous occasions which eye it was, confirmed my identity and was reassured that no-one was going to take out a kidney. From previous procedures I knew I wasn’t as Margarita ‘happy’ as I usually am and was a little concerned.
I was taken first to the laser which was going to chop up the cataract and the remains are vacuumed out. Despite the numbing drops and the pre-med I was completely aware of what was happening and could even feel a slight burning at the end of the laser procedure. Utterly terrified I kept completely still and followed all instructions. Then I went across the room to another bed where the new lens was implanted into my eye (until death, I hope). I kept hoping the happy juice would kick in but no….I was utterly aware of everything. It was like torture but with no pain. I felt the various procedures, one by one and although it was fast it felt like an eternity.
At the end, the operating staff said I was a perfect patient. I can only hope I react the same way at my next torture session when China finally invades the US or whatever other scenario the crazy people envisage. The next day I saw my eye surgeon for a follow up and even he looked horrified that I had been quite so awake. They need you to be in a twilight zone so that you can follow instructions precisely but feel relaxed. This was not like Lasik – then I was so happy I thought I could fly.
The very nice silver lining is that my sight has been restored and I am writing this WITH NO READERS! My baby blues still look adorable and I am recovering very quickly. Drove to the surgeon the following day; been out for my long walk with sunglasses and a hat. I have myriad eye drops to take for weeks to come to prevent infection, inflammation and general mayhem. This is America – it cost a fortune but it was done almost immediately and by an excellent surgeon who I could choose. We paid extra to have the laser seal the wound with no stitches which usually means a quicker recovery with less complications and discomfort.
They had to dilate my eye hugely for the surgery and I looked like a Betazoid on Star Trek with one enormous black eye. This photograph was taken the next day and even the surgeon was surprised that it was so dilated. When I was young and frisky, guys used to ask me if my eyes were black but I was just so excited that my pupils dilated hugely. Perhaps they still do…. 🙂
Finally – many thanks to all my followers who have been so solicitous about my surgery and other health problems. It has been much needed salve in my current wounds and has helped keep me afloat in a very difficult time in my life. It is hard to imagine the kindness of strangers and those who have become good friends. It is a testament to the goodness of people and I very much appreciate every single comment and ‘like’.
PS My surgeon’s name was Kwok and he marked my eye to make sure they did the left one.