Monday, September 6, 2010

Hi all...I know I was meant to be better at this blogging thing...but quite honestly it's tough trying to get time to write. Between traveling for the month back in the states (the story of which I will regale you with shortly), to working, to partying, to trying to get to sleep before midnight...well...blogging kindof takes a back seat. But, here I am. tonight I was at dinner with two friends. One of whom is a new friend. She is an aide worker who has lived, among other places, in Afghanistan and Lebanon. She was living in an area of Afganistan where the local gang guys took over the neighborhood for weeks...and she tells this story with a smile on her face. (cool!) I also found out during this conversation that she's Quaker!!! Didn't see that one coming. But after hearing about the belief system of the Quakers I can understand how she got into the area of employ that she did. Cool Cool chick.

We alked about what has been gong on here in this part of the world and I am struck again by how clueless I really am...and that's by design. I don't really want to know. It's easier not to know. Until it's in your face.
I met a guy the pool at the Intercon. Cool guy. Hip. Loud. Crass. Lebanese. Scarred over half his body. His man chest has scars on it that look like he had a bad breast reduction. I asked our mutual friend about it.
Turns out when he was 8 and living in Lebanon he and his brother were wandering around the neighborhood. His brother found something...roundish...smallish...and cool looking. He was tossing and catching it when he missed the catch and it dropped to the ground. Exploding. It was a cluster bomb dropped by the US during one of the skirmishes there. Blowing up both brothers.
Thankfully the one I met (obviously) survived. he was put back together. he smiles every day. Tells dirty jokes. has a good career. But after speaking with him for just a little while I wonder if he is ever going to be put back together...on the inside.
That's when the reality of the situation here in the middle east hits home

I was having lunch with a friend. He's Jordanian. Sweet guy. Funny guy. Very western in his thoughts, his manner, his behavour.
All he wants is to get out. He was born here in Qatar, but he is Jordanian. I have a hard time understanding that. In the US ifyou are born there you are American. No matter where your parents are from. But not here. And for Jordanians its hard. Having been born here he is still considered a 3rd class person. Not even a citizen. He's not allowed a real job. He is treated as an outsider in the country to which he was born. Because of his heritage.
He doesn't belong here. Anywhere in the middle east. He's western thru and thru, yet he may never get the opportunity to realize his full potential simply because of where his passport was issued.

I see that alot here. Most people here are really from here... but some... some just shouldn't be here. They are too western. Too open. Too liberal. And yet they are trapped in a society they don't really identify with. Because of who their passport says they are.
Because of the few radical idots who make the rest of the world afraid of everyone with the same heritage.
That makes me sad.

So...just got back from my trip home. In a wasn't very fun. But I am glad I got the things done I set out to do.
Landed in NYC. Spent a few days with Karen which was nice, although I only made it into the city once. Bklyn is good but I really need a car there.
Got my things from Len's moms'. That was tough. She's been my surrogate mom for 8 years. And to say goodbye to her was hard for me. But I'm glad that I am FINALLY (i know guys i know) moving past all of that.
Toni came from Ohio and for one day the three of us were together again. The u-haul drive to Ohio was Toni drove the whole way...THANKS TONI.
It ws lovely being in Ohio. I really have to say I do like it there.
Now for the real fun. So a person I had met here in Doha, but who lives in San Diego came to Ohio to make the drive with me back to AZ. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to get my car to Az...dunno why...but I digress.
It was meant to be a fun trip. It was meant to be a getting reaquanted and see if we still really dig each other trip. IT WAS NOT!
From the outset this guy was my idea of not fun!
Let's just say...the first 20 miles of a 6 day journey included being lectured about why women should NOT have the right to their own bodies. (abort or not to abort...that is the question) now...what ever your beliefs may or may not be...don't bully me into thinking yours are right. I will come back at you like a spider monkey. If you know me at all you can imagine how much FUN it was to be in that car.
"If a woman chooses to have sex then she must take responsibility for her actions. She can always give the baby up for adoption after she gives birth if she doesn't want it". "A woman having the choice removes all choice for the man"
let's just say it was 6 days of really good practice in self control.
Don't getme wrong...this person in my car was not an evil person. Not a bad person. Just a very .... er ...self rightous person.
A gentleman. Handsome. Talented. Just I think I need to ever travel with again.
Let's just leave it at that....

The drive from Ohio to Az was 6 days. Two nights spent in Nashville. What a shame about Nashville. What a shame about most of the middle of our great country. The drive was in some ways heartbreaking. The amount of jobs lost because of what is happening to our economy.
Entire shopping malls closed down. Independatly owned shops boarded up. Rows upon rows of them. In any given shopping area...the only storefronts open were nat'l chains. If there were 20 storefronts in a stripmall...3 might be open for business.
It really made me afraid to think of coming home and trying to open my own shop right now. But then again i have a friend in Nyc who is opening 2...hmmmmm....

I did write a bit while on the trip and am posting it below...unedited... because it's how i was feeling at the time.

And on that note my's midnight. I need my sleep.

Oh p.s. I am going to be back in Az for back surgery. My mom is still hanging in there...and I met a great guy from Oz...I'm telling day I will live there!!!!
See you for the next installment of Aloha Doha....very soon...
I swear...
no...really, I won't wait so long next time...
trust me!!!!

So I’m into the last day of my first week back in the states… been in nyc so far…and haven’t done much but will try to remember what transpired day to day.

Day 1- Land. Karen picks me up from the airport. We go to her house and then directly to the little bar across the street that she has dubbed her second home. Nothing too exciting.

Day 2- same. fall asleep at 5pm and don’t wake till 7am….

Day 3- beach with Steve Billman. Had a nice day. Haven’t been to LB in a long time. I can’t believe how expensive things have gotten. $12 to get on the beach. We pick up Karen’s friend Tally from the airport. Now there are three of us in the apt. Dinner with Albie and then to bed.

Day 4- head to the city. Nice day. Again didn’t do too much. Lunch w Nadia, drinks with Chip. Off to Deva to get a haircut and say hi to the crew…dinner with Shari, Marion and Vanessa. Take a cab back to bklyn…only the cabbie gets lost and I end up at lga for 2 hrs. have to jump in another cab to get home.

Day 5- Karen, Tally and I head to North Jersey for some horseback riding. What a beautiful day. You can’t believe you are in Jersey where we were. DoubleD Ranch. Nice folks. Nice horses. Sad story. The owner was told a few weeks ago that he only has until Jan 18th to live. He has pancreatic cancer. You can’t tell at all. He’s very kind, strong and looks healthy as a horse with a great disposition. Our guide told me as we were on our ride. We rode for 7 hrs. Tally almost fell off. I almost killed a horse by letting the reins slip over his head and he stepped through. That was scary. But we got him out.

Day 6- Boooring. Bfast with Karen. And that’s about it for the day. I proceed to have 4 mimosas and then 3 vodka martinis….i’m asleep by 3 in the afternoon. Bday dinner for Kristen at ACE hotel then swing 46 with Tommy.

Day 7- Beach with Karen, Tally and Tommy then pick up Toni and the airport. Dinner then sleep.

Day 8- now Toni and I are waiting on Karen to get her butt out of bed so we can get to LI, get my scissors sharpened, pack up the uhaul(first get the uhaul), grab a bite and head back to bklyn.

Leave tomorrow. All in all it’s been very expensive and I haven’t really done much. I guess they say you can’t go back for a reason. I love my friends. I love nyc. But I really can’[t believe I managed to spend over $1000 just eating and drinking. Ok, I did buy a tomtom ($250). And a sonicare toothbrush ($250). Oh and the horseride($200)

Today is the packing. I am not looking forward to facing Len’s mom. She has been like a mom to me as well for the past 8 years…well…. On and off. I know she’s disappointed things didn’t work out between her son and I. I know she feels like I might be taking it out on her by taking the bed… I am looking forward to talking to her. Saying goodbye and hopefully sharing with her my feelings and thoughts and letting her know that no matter what she is and always will be important to me.

Ok, so…Sun went smoothly. Went to Li to get my things. It was great to see Paul and Cindy. I just wish it was for a different reason. I am so grateful to them for holding my things at their house for this long.

After that went to Jackie’s…Len’s mom. It was hard seeing her to say goodbye like that but it was good as well. I had a talk with her and let her know that no matter what she will always be important to me and if she ever needed anything she should be sure to let me know.
She told me I was like a second daughter to her. I cried a little bit..because that’s what I do…ugh.

Karen kept my bed. Now she no longer lives like a wolf puppy with a little nest on the floor…lol

Toni and I left at 5 am the next day. It was a nice ride. (she drove the uhaul the whole way) wow… I forgot what it was like to pay real gas prices…!!!!

It cost me $200 just in gas for the uhaul. This trip is more expensive than my trip last Aug to S.Africa!!! And I’m not really doing anything.

So here we are at Toni’s house. Gosh it is beautiful here. I am so proud of her. The three of us, Toni, Karen and myself were having a reminisce the other day and we all remarked how Toni was always the wild one. The one who was lost. Karen was the one who needed….just needed. Help. Attention. Justification. Money. Etc.etc.etc.

And I was the mommy. I took care of everyone. I had my shit more together than the two of them combined. I was the voice of reason. I was the one who picked up the slack…financially, when things needed to be done. When someone needed to be reigned in…etc etc etc.

And now….Toni, the youngest of the three is the most mature. The most established. The one with the husband, kid, three dogs, beautiful house on 3 acres, horses, travels…etc etc etc. She is now the wise sage. The voice of reason for us other two.

Karen has had a few hard years where she became a bit of a recluse… but she has pulled herself out of it. Gotten a place to live that is more like an adult. It’s more together. As is she.

It’s in Greenpoint. Great neighborhood. Great flat. She’s a bit more savvy with her money. She’s toned down a little.

Then there’s me. I have regressed. I used to be the one who was together. Now I feel like I’m lost all the time. I was the one with the cash. Now I’m the one wondering what the hell happened to making good money. Don’t get me wrong…I love traveling. I just feel like I’m stuck in a job with no profession. I don’t want to be behind a chair for the rest of my life with nothing to show for it.

I’m afraid to decide where I want to plant roots. I’m afraid to start a career…open my own salon…alone.

Im afraid of failing. I’m afraid of tying myself to a place or a career that I will hate. I’m afraid of not living up to my own expectations so therefore I’m afraid to have any expectations of myself. I’m afraid of growing up and I’m scared shitless that I never will.

When did this happen? When did the fearless Niki leave and this scared one enter?

I want a partner. I want a home. I want to live like a responsible adult with goals and dreams.

I want to travel. I want to be free. I want to live life on my terms.

I need to feel useful. I need to be productive. I need to give and receive love.

So day two in Ohio. Yesterday we got in about 3 in the afternoon. We showered and went for sushi. By the time that was over we were wiped out from the day.

Today we got up at 8 30, went to plant flowers for Toni’s sister in law, unloaded the truck, took it to the truck return place, came home, went back out to pick up wine and Chinese food(yay), ate and before I knew it it was 9pm. I’m pooped.

I wouldn’t mind moving here. But again I’m afraid. If I were to move here I would want a house. And that would require money which would require a job. That offered more than a commission. And that doesn’t happen.

I really need to open my own place and I’m afraid of that. How do I do the research? How do I know where to go? How do I start? Ugh…

Ok… so last night we had a “dinner party” of sorts. We went shopping and i cooked. Yes folks, me.. I, myself, cooked for 7 ppl. Four types of fish marinated in my own recipe…

White wine, lemon, honey(lavender in this case), minced garlic, honey mustard, horseradish mustard, salt, pepper, and some herbs from Toni’s garden. A mozzarella caprese salad (mozzarella, duh, fresh tomato, onion, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts and asparagus) for that I made a balsamic reduction with honey and jack daniels.

Grilled up some sliced onion, carrots and yams with an oil, balsamic, brown sugar, honey, garlic glaze. Yummmmmmmm

Before we(I) cooked we went to the back of the property and did some shooting. Yes, we’re hicks (and I am still one at heart) Such a good time. And I did pretty good too I have to say.

Rode a little bit yesterday. The horse (Gabe) tried to buck me off..apparently my leg is too soft for English and to strong for western Gabe. Lol

Today was nice. Went to the barn and rode a bit. Mostly just sat in the sun and read my book. Toni says I don’t know how to relax, and that she is going to teach me the fine art of relaxing. Ha, this coming from the woman who starts most of her days at 6 am and doesn’t stop till after 10 at night. I have to say I am soo impressed at how she manages to get EVERYTHING and I mean everything done that is on her agenda, and make it look so easy. Not only does she work 5-7 days a week caring for 20 horses, teaching lessons, creating and prepping summer camps at the barn, she alos takes care of the 11 yr old daughter, her husband, three dogs, a large house, 3 acres of land that she is landscaping herself, grocery shop, etc. She still finds time to go shopping for plants for her sister in law, as well as go over there and plant them for her, take care of her mother and me while I am here and still has time to sit and read and RELAX. Oh, add to that kickboxing in the summer and snowboard lessons in the winter. I don’t know how she does it.

I work 5 days a week. 10 to 7. And I feel like have no time for anything for myself. I have a lot to learn I guess.

Ok. So rode and read. Trying not to freak out about the fact that I am almost 2 weeks into my vacation and I feel like I haven’t really done anything. I feel like I should be looking for extension clients, or taking more classes (although I did take one) or SOMETHING.

We are going swing dancing tonight maybe. Should be interesting. It’s held at the local Jr. High school…lol

I do like it out here. So green. Almost countrified like the west but still with some citified refinements in the way people deal with one another. Not backwoods. The other night toni, Olya and I went to River Run, it’s a bar up the street. They had the “Girls gone Wild” van there doing their tour of the U.S. we went just out of a morbid sort of curiousity. Ugh. That’s all I have to say about that… lol

But fun nonetheless…

Sitting here I am thinking about my life. I am happy with the adventures I have had. This one, in Qatar is great. But I am realizing (belatedly) that all of the moving, running, searching has all been in an attempt to learn who I am, but also a good way of avoiding learning the very thing I seem to be seeking. I don’t know if I am any closer now to that goal than I was at 20. In fact I think I am farther from knowing myself, what makes me happy nad what I want out of life than I ever was because I feel like I have lost so much time looking for it, I have lost sight of what I was looking for. Oh gosh, does that make any sense at all?

So, E. V.T. is joining me tomorrow. Let’s see how that goes. It’s been over a year since we met but we have never really spent much time together… 4 days in a car ought to be a good test to whether or not you really like someone. Ugh

Oh boy oh boy oh boy…so I am currently driving cross country with the Republican poster boy!!!! Nice enough guy but man do we have very very different views on …. Erm…. EVERYTHING!!!!

I don’t know when I have ever felt so passively judged before…oh yes I do… but we’ll save that for another time.

So I am currently in Dallas…well on the outskirts of Dallas at E’s brother’s house. He lives here with his wife and kid. Great house. But I remember why I don’t like suburbia. TOOOOO many malls….tooo many chain restaurants. Tooooo little diversity.

So we went from Ohio to Nashville. Nashville is not how I remembered it from those many years ago. It’s still cool-ish, but very commercialized. And much smaller than I remembered it. From there we went to Memphis. Did the Graceland thing. Disappointing. I have decided once and for all that I don’t like touristy kitsch. And that when vacationing cities are not my choice destinations. They are all the same. Where ever you go in the world. Eat, drink, look at whatever it is they say that city is known for…which, quite often is much less appealing in person. Memphis was sad. Graceland was so much smaller and cheesier than I expected.

From there we went to Little Rock. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how quaint, clean and friendly it was there. But also really shocked at how modern and fancy it was. Again we only spent a night in the city center of each place so I have no idea what the town as a whole was like. They all looked the same, same shopping, same downtown area. Same crappy food.

Now we are in a suburb of Dallas. Nice. Wealthy. But the same. Bleh.

I do have to say this is not how I envisioned my trip. I was looking forward to taking the back roads. Seeing the country not just the cities off the highway. I can’t even quite remember why I thought this was a good idea in the first place. But I am thinking that if I come back to the states Ohio, Nashville or Little Rock might be some good places to start.

Went to an Aveda salon here ….Tangerine. Got a blow out and pedicure. $90!!!! That’s on the outskirts of Dallas! That says something is wrong with the prices that we are charging in Doha. We def. need to raise our prices just a little bit.

I am looking forward to getting home. Seeing my sister. Seeing my mom.

Az was good...Hot..114 some days...but good. This is probably the first time I have gone home and just really enjoyed being with my family. I spent some real quality time with my sis and my mom. And i didn't feel trapped. Like gnawing off my own arm. Like filling every spare min. with someone other than family in order to get away from them. I just simply enjoyed them for who they are. And WOW what a different feeling it was.

Every time i have gone home in the past it was hard. It felt smothering. And, in the end, when it was time for me to leave...the fighting would start. I realized on this trip that they love me. They miss me. And when I leave they are hurt that I am abandoning them again to go and live my life without them. And when I come home they feel that I STILL live my life outside of them. And it hurts them. That makes me sad.

But because if this it makes going home hard for me. To know that ther will be fights just when I'm ready to leave. To know that they are hurt...I feel bad. I feel guilty. I feel.

So I don't go. I don't go so I don't feel these things.

But this time i didn't feel like that. It felt good.

Saw mom's dr. He said she could have only 3 months to live....or it could be 12...he's not sure. It depends on her. How she cares for herself. If she changes some things to reduce the swiftness of her decline....or not.

I need back surgery.

Spent some time with a friend...he's such a good guy. Just in a shitty place in his life. Aren't we all?

It would be great to be with someone who was in a better position than me...for once. Someone who can make me a better person instead of it always being the other way around. Pha.

Leaving today. I don't want to go back to Doha. But I can't honestly say that I want to stay here either. I'm 40. I don't have a whole lot longer to figure my shit out before I become a walking cliche.

I'm gonna miss you guys this time. I'll see you soon.

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