Life as Resident Tourist

Wow do I understand how it feels to be an immigrant now. I can’t believe how impatient people can be when you can’t speak their language. Recently I have encountered a couple of folks who were not patient enough with my clunky arabic and instead of slowing their speech they just got louder, as if I couldn’t hear rather than couldn’t understand. It was uncomfortable. And their body language was clearly showing me that they thought I was not only deaf but stupid as well. I am actually trying hard to learn Arabic. And I wanted to say, “Hey. I’m not just a stupid foreigner. I love and respect your language. Give me the benefit of the doubt, or at least the benefit of our common humanity.” But of course my Arabic is not that good yet.
I recently met a woman who has changed from full time activist and work-a-holic (her words) to no work and staying home. She has 3 kids but all are in school or daycare, so she is on her own and for the first time in her life she is looking for friends…like me. Or, as she put it, “I am trying to connect with housewives…” Housewives. She said the word like it was a slur of some kind. And frankly that is not the word I would use for myself. Stay at home mom, that’s me. It implies a job (I hope) and a purpose. But housewife? Someone bound to the work of the house, not educated, with narrow horizons and limited interests? Someone who listens to sappy love songs on the radio and longs for another life–one of freedom from the mop and scrub brush? Someone who actually mops her floors? Not me. I was almost insulted and would have been if not for the fact that she is not American and so does not share my connotation of the word. Surely SAHM is a term that Americans have coined to soften the other way to say it: housewife.
I wanted to say, “Hey Lady. I am not a housewife. I chose to raise my kids myself, which is a full time and demanding job and I left a full time and demanding job behind happily in order to do so. I may look disheveled but that’s just the playground dirt. I may seem discombobulated but that’s just the sleep dep.” And then I would prove my point by not finishing any sentences and falling asleep at the table.
moment of brilliance. 12:am
At the end of a long day I lay in bed and considered something that was bothering me. Why is anger hard to let go of? Particularly when I feel that my anger is justified and fully supported by facts I find it hard to let go of. I practice yoga to find balance and connect to the divine and LIVE my highest value, and that practice has allowed me some perspective on attachment (especially study of the sutras). I can see clearly the way to keep anger alive and I can see clearly how I could let it go completely. Why, in the heat of the moment, does it feel so satisfying to fan the flames rather than douse them? Don’t you find that to be true? That you can feel the anger well up inside you and it is easier to be angry than to let it fizzle quietly? It feels good to stay the same, to stay angry, because that’s the deep groove worn by time and habit. To change and evolve is much much harder.
People say anger is a good motivator for change, especially righteous anger. But is it anger or simply the clear recognition of a situation that is the motivator for change? Right now I feel that anger is just a reaction, and a distraction from the truth.
So the burden is of course not how not to get angry, but how to choose the best path in dealing with anger. Maybe not getting angry at all comes later down the path?
Playing in the wadi

My 2 kids, in the shade of an olive tree.

Happy boy.

Laila running away. Always running and running. “Look at this running!” she says.

Mana’ish. A great snack at the park. It is a round flat dough covered in toppings and put in a hot wood fired oven on round rocks. The bread then becomes kind of pitted as it takes the shape of the rocks it was fired on (a bread without toppings called Taboon) and the toppings become hot and melted like pizza. We usually get egg and cheese and olive oil and spices or spices and white cheese. It is so delicious. My kids love it.

Sufyan robot walking

Me and Laila at the Ottoman Courthouse.

inside the ottoman courthouse is a library for kids. Laila is not so much about the sitting still to read and climbed in and out of her chair and ran around.

But Sufyan LOVES to read and he and his Sido read books for an hour.

The other (unrenovated) rooms at the Ottoman Courthouse.

The view from the outside

And finally…

I always wondered where Santa spent his vacations!

5 thoughts on “Life as Resident Tourist

  1. Being a foreigner without a grasp of the language definitely made me feel like a child. I couldnt express any complex thoughts, and I sounded as though my thought processes were as limited as my vocabulary. I had to do a lot of affirmations at the time! I am smart, damn it! I also had the economic advantage and free time to take intensive language classes at the beginning so I have a lot of sympathy for people who can't be bothered to study the language because they either can't afford it or must spe their time working (at home or outside of it)I Germany, my occupation is considered 'hausfrau' -AKA housewife. Still not comfortable with that, but it is part of the tax system here. It feels like a big label they stamp on me every time we need to fill out some official forms.

  2. I would love to go to library with you when I get back. Before I left I had a really bad experience with the language barrier. People told me that it just showed the other persons ignorance, but it felt like it just showed my ignorance instead. My pride was hurt, badly. Amazing to have to learn a language and humility at the same time.

  3. thanks for the perspective, AstroYoga. I love the affirmations, including the damn it. ;-)Yes, sunmademomma, the library would be GREAT for an adventure for us all!~come home soon!Kia: More than a house cat? just barely….hehehebut yes, more. tje: you know I can't wait to show you all the awesome food here and sitting together to eat is just what we will do.

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