Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Adusting to Change

I went to a talk on culture stress last night. There wasn't too
much new information becuase of my psychology background,
but we did get to take this really interesting test. It evalutates
how much "change" you are going through and determines the
effect it will have on you. Different experiences had a different
point allotment and at the end I added it all up for my final

A score of less than 150 indicated a one in three chance of having
serious change in health during the next two years. A score of
150-300 indicated a chance of one in two. A score over 300
meant danger; there was an 80% chance for a major health
change (disease, surgery, accident, or mental illness) in the next
two years.

My final score: 415. Uh oh...

Take the quiz yourself here

There is also an additional 50 points for having to speak a
different language for everyday living.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


There are very few Middle Eastern foods I know how to make, but one has become a staple in my diet. Really, I eat it almost every day, so I figured I would share the delights of it with you! (Keep in mind this is the "Sarah version" so I don't actually measure anything but I'll try to estimate for your sake.)

Lentil Soup (a3ts):
3 cups of lentils (I prefer brown, but orange works too)
5-6 cups of water
*boil the lentils in the water...for a really long time
2 white onions cut in pieces
3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
*saute in oil until brown
*you can also add carrots, zucchini, or watever else you want, though I wouldn't recommend potatoes

*add onions and garlic to the lentils and continue to let it boil. At this point, I add a lot of cumin (maybe 4 tsp.), salt (maybe 3 tsp), black pepper (maybe 2 tsp), and chili pepper (maybe 1-2 tsp.). Really, this is all up to your personal taste. I like spicy!
*sprinkle in about 2 T of flour to thicken the soup.
*cook until the lentils are soft, but not mushy
*squeeze a fresh lemon over the top when you eat it. (I'm not big into sour, but I think the more lemon the better in this one!)

And there you have my most common Middle Eastern cuisine food! Let me know how it goes if you make it!

Also, check out my first ever crocheted hat! Not sure when I'm going to wear it considering that I live in the desert, but it was fun to make!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A story with a moral.

So, our toilet had been on the fritz for the past couple of weeks,
which left us having to use the bathroom without a window in the door (i.e. gaping hole). I said I was tired of
taking care of all the house issues and being alone with strange men, so when the
girls wanted the toilet fixed they could take care of it. So Sarah brought the plumber
one night to have a go. After a lengthy discussion of him repeating the same thing
over and over to me and me still trying to understand, I finally told him, "et
fadell" meaning, "go for it" having no idea what I was giving him warrant to do.

Next thing I knew, he called me into the bathroom and the toilet was in the middle
of the bathroom and the stench was horrible. Then, he told me to look inside. What?
Aren't you supposed to not have the people watch this? Anyway, he stuck his pliers
into the toilet pipe and pulled out a mid-sized towel and...think about the strangest
thing to ever find in a toilet...a casette tape holder. I'm not even exaggerating!!!!
We haven't been able to flush our toilet paper for the last 5 months becasue someone
flushed a towel and a casette tape holder down the toilet! I said, "ya salem" many a
time and then left him to re-attach the toilet to the wall.

We were all in Amy's room with the door closed until he called me out again, an hour
later. I just about passed out because of the smell. This time, it was the smell of toilet
cleaner. I'm not sure which was worse I think he used 3/4 bottle of it to clean the floor (which, actually was really great of him because no one has ever cleaned up their mess before). We spent the next
24 hours with all the windows open and burning candles and incense and finally, I think
the stench his gone. We are also overjoyed because we can flush our toilet paper!!!

Moral of the story: don't flush towels and casette tape players down someone else's toilet.

p.s. On a completely different note, I became a vegetarian the other day. Long story...

Monday, January 22, 2007

I could hear the angels singing!

Today, I went to, yes, STARBUCKS!!!! The moment I walked in the door I was overwhelmed with the joy of the coffee shop of all coffee shops and had to hold myself back from kissing the floor. Unfortunately, they didn't have chai or soy milk so I had to pass on my very, very favorite drink in the world, but I cherished every drop of my grande non-fat vanilla latte. I kid you not, I even brought the cup home with me.

I brought my Arab sister with me. We sat in the comfy chairs sipping our latte and mocha and I felt as if, for a moment, I was actually in a place where people could understand me and I had a car and there were even mountains outside I could play in. I tell you, nothing could get me down after my Starbucks!!!

The last couple of days have had challenges as well. Our toilet broke, I got screamed at by a neighbor because our house-cleaner cleaned our rugs over her balcony (oops!), and she also dropped a rug that got stuck dangling on an electric cord on the 2nd floor.
One of my roommates said she would take care of everything, but didn't, so I had to approach our neighbors this evening and use a squeegee while dangling over the balcony to retrieve the run-away carpet. I triumphed rather quickly though and returned the carpet to it's rightful place--under the couch. Today, I got lost on the way to my sisters house (again!) and had to get out of the microbus because he was turning around. Fortunately, a guy walked me to the place I needed to get to, though I think his motive was more in effort to find a wife than humanitarian. Nevertheless, I made it there with no major problems.

Really though, all the problems of the last few days are forgotten as I relish in the precious hour sitting in heaven today--oh, I mean Starbucks.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Things are looking up

So, my computer is back and better than ever! They uninstalled some things and installed
some other things, so now it actually moves faster than a snails pace! We have a new washing
machine that is really pretty (which is clearly, the most important thing to consider when buying
a new washing machine). Saad will never come back here because the washing machine
will no longer break. The oven now smells of brownies rather than burnt quiche.

Also, my roommates and I decided to fully re-arrange our house today, as well as our bedrooms.
After a LONG talk with our landlady we got her to get rid of some things and my bedroom is now the old dining room, and Sarah has my old room. I also have new furniture and a room that actually has natural light. I'm quite thrilled.

Honestly, it's been the hardest week in a very, very long time. They say culture stress happens within 3-6 months of settling in a new place, and I'm at 5 1/2 months so I figure I'm pretty much on schedule. Nothing in particular has "set me off" but it's just been hard to get up, hard to go out, hard to study Arabic, etc. My roomates have been so gracious and patient with me when I just need to be alone, or I need to re-arrange the house, or whatever. My plan in this season is to feel what I need to feel and then move on. I will continue
to study Arabic even if I don't want to and live the life I have been given for the day. I will
continue to "drink it in."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another lovely day

A brief update:
  • computer is still broken and in the hands of some man...somewhere...hopefully being fixed
  • our washing machine really hit the bucket and now we are without one altogether for who knows how long
  • our oven still smells like burnt quiche

On a lighter note

  • no one has stolen my identity yet
  • I finally have some winter clothes (thanks to some faithful friends who delivered them from the states for me) so I'm no longer freezing cold all the time--not to mention some Starbucks coffee!!!!
  • My wonderful parents are flying me out to meet them in London for my birthday and I'm making a stop in Germany to visit Kylene and Mandi as well! I'm definitely ready for a break from the Middle East.
  • I still really like Arabic though I feel a little less proficient than normal today, though I did manage to buy a sack full of cinnamon sticks today (I underestimated how much 1/4 kilo would be)

Awkward moment of the day: Saad (creepy washing machine guy) came today and poked around in our bathroom and I made him tea as usual. Afterward, he wanted to use the phone, which is also normal. As he was talking on the phone, I realized he was standing in front of our newly-decorated wall. Amy, as an early valentines day present, printed up a ton of pictures of us and put them up on the wall to make our house feel like more of a home. There's one section devoted to silly pictures. This section includes me making a number of silly faces and wearing a number of silly outfits. And where was Saad standing? Right in front of the silly section! Looking at the pictures!!! I blushed and turned around, forgetting about it, until our new boab/doorman (whose name I can't seem to remember so today he told me to call him Sim-Sim, which means sesame seed) came to help Saad move the washing machine out and also noticed all the pictures. Oh, when will it end?

Monday, January 15, 2007

It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day...

In the last 36 hours:

  • a letter with my bank account number, name, address, drivers license number, and social security number are in the hands of a mean person who stole a friend's briefcase in Atlanta
  • my computer melted down and I have no internet (I'm presently using my roommates computer)
  • i tried to bake a quiche and it overflowed, not onto the oven floor, but directly into one of the three dime-sized holes that leads to the inside of my oven and is completely inaccessable
  • our washing machine broke for the 3rd time in 2 weeks which means Saad (a very creepy man) has to come over again

On a lighter note:

  • I made a quiche!
  • my roommates are really great...even though we're not the coolest cats on the block

Thursday, January 11, 2007


This is the city I live in...and the air I breathe in everyday. Bummer. I won't even get started on the toxic water I'm drinking.

On a lighter note, it makes for great sunsets!!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Near Disaster

It all started Friday morning when I went into the kitchen at 6am in order to wake myself up for a 7am language lesson (some sort of punishment, I think). As I walked in, I noticed a bright red, flame-like glow coming from the hole in our wall that holds all the wires. Everytime the refrigerateor would hum or I used the electricity in the kitchen the glow would become brighter. As I was experimenting with this, I also noticed the smell of burning plastic. Next thing I knew, the kitchen light wouldn't even turn on and was just flickering. I, using all of the common sense I could muster, turned off the light switch and left for my language lesson.

I returned a couple of hourse later to an even stronger smell of burning plastic and a brighter flame-like glow. I mentioned it to Sarah my roommate, and it turns out she has about as much common sense as me and also turned out the lightswitch and left the room. We began to explore a bit more and as we looked closely at the the hole in the wall, we realized that we had a "live wire" which was burning through the wire that connected to our light. I mentioned that if there was an electric fire, we could just put it out with water so it was a good thing we were in the kitchen and Sarah kindly informed me that, actually, water doesn't put out that sort of fire. We proceeded to spend some time trying to figure what exactly does put out an electric fire. Baking soda? No, that's a grease fire. Hmmm.

Consequently, we decided to shut off the electricity in the kitchen and made a long trail of powerstrips to my room in order to keep the refridgerator cold. We also moved our teapot into the hall. I called the landlady and, I quote, "You must find Waleed. He is near your house. I cannot help you." So, now begins the search for Waleed. Unfortuantely, my search proved fruitless the first day so we spent the night hoping for no problems. (My roommate Amy also returned from the states and we found that the electricity turned off in the kitchen is also the electricity in her room. Bummer.)

The search for Waleed continued with no avail on Saturday afternoon, though I was closer. I actually found someone who knew him, but he was gone when I tried to find him. At this point, it was about 9pm and we were in my room while Amy was doing laundry. We opened my door to find the bathroom filled with smoke and a really horrible stench of burnt plastic. Keeping our heads about us, we ran around the house screaming and I turned of all the electricity. I grabbed Sarah, and once again, went on the search for Waleed. This time I was able to find him and, to my great joy, was able to explain everything that happened in Arabic, and he was actually able to understand me! He promised to come soon.

Sarah and I went home and I donned my trusty headlamp (which apparently, is only cool if you live in CO because my roommates thought I was crazy) and we waited for Waleed. Ten minutes later, he came to the door and, with no fear, turned on all of the electricity again and went to work in the kitchen. 1/2 hour later, he emerged with a mangled wire that I'm pretty sure had already been used for a number of years before they put it in my house. The kitchen was fixed! Then, onto the washing machine. He opened it up and explained that water had been pouring on the wires which caused it to melt-down and now it is moot (dead). Uh oh.

We thanked him profusely and paid him $6 for his work, returned the teapot and other kitchen items to the kitchen, and went to sleep still not knowing how we would put out an electric fire, but confident that we wouldn't have to for a couple of weeks at least.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

2006 In A Nutshell

Casette Tape (yes, I actually own one!)--Sa3d
Song--All We Need, Charlie Hall
Dance Song--Hips Don't Lie, Shakira
Fictional Book--Palace Walk, Nagib Mafouz
Non-fiction Book--Autobiography of a Soul, St. Therese of Lisieux
Drink--Pearl Tea
Pick Up Line--"My heart is on the floor because of you" complete with him acting it out
Coffee Shop--Starbucks
Meal--Dad's mongolian chicken
Burrito--I'm a Chipolte convert
Concert--Mohammad Hameke and Sa3d
TV Show--The Office
Internet discovery--skype
Means of transportation--donkey
New word--Malesh (meaning, no worries)
Run--along Lake Michigan
Trip--Mt. Sinai and Dahab with Kristen
Party--my going-away one of course!
Place to relax and hang out--Lauren's cabin in Breck
Accomplishment--helping to build a house in Mexico
Holiday--4th of July with the girls in Frisco
Laughs--anything involving a story from my roommate, Sarah
Juice--fresh pomegranant
Hang out--Grizzley Rose
Pair of shoes--Dansko's, except they make me even taller
Gift--the scrapbook from my not-in-highschool-anymore girls

Movie--Little Man (I had no choice in the matter)
Song--London Bridge, Fergie (Do people really listen to this stuff?)
Pick up line--"How much would it cost me to sleep with you tonight?"
Food--fish snakes
Meal--all the parts of a cow people in the states throw out
Outfit--gray shirt under black shirt, black pants with a brown skirt over the top. Where's Kylene when I need her to help me get dressed?
Accomplishment--becoming a seminary drop-out
Altercation--throwing myself inbetween two groups of guys about to fight
Taxi ride--getting lost for over an hour without my mobile or any Arabic knowledge
Thing to sleep through--earthquake (how cool would it have been to be awake???)


Hero--St. Therese of Lisieux and my language tutor
Highest Mountain climbed--Mt. Bierstadt
Countries Visited--4
Contintents Visited--4
Seas crossed--3
Cars stuck--2 (one in a Mexican trench, the other next to a lake in Nebraska--both with my not-in-highschool-anymore students)
States visited--10 at least
Greatest extravagance--Housecleaner
Highest temprature outside--approx 114
Embarassing moment--throwing up on top of Mt. Bierstadt
Weddings participated in--3
Sketchiest situation--getting lost in the most dangerous part of the city...at night...alone

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy 2007!!! It's been a busy last couple of weeks for me, so this will be a fun-filled blog post!

First of all, my dear, dear friend Amanda came to celebrate Christmas with us. She just left today and we had a blast together!

Dec 23
: Paid a visit to the animal crulety center--oh, I mean, the Zoo. It was fun and we got to get really, really close to the animals but kind of sad to see how poorly the animals were treated. I don't really even like animals and I felt bad for them. The highlights were the regular cats in cages--don't they have enough of these wandering the streets here? Also probably the spider monkey and the angry roaring lion. I did my best to steer clear of the birds because I didn't feel like getting bird flu that day.

Not really sure what animal I'm feeding.

This guy looks like Chewbacca (from Star Wars)

Just in case you considered it...

Dec 24
: Christmas Eve party. I made mom's fudge and it actually turned out. We also went to church, but it wasn't like home. Fun all the same though!

Dec 25
: Spent Christmas with some friends. We played games, ate brunch, and watched Little House on the Prairie. Trust me, it was more fun than it sounds.

Dec 26: Everyone (except me, for some strange reason!) from Christmas Eve and Christmas got some crazy stomach flu so I spent the day caring for some sick people. We had to postpone our trip to the Red Sea and devoted the day to sleeping instead.

Dec 27-29: Headed to a villa on the Red Sea to relax. We watched a lot of movies and just hung out and talked. It was nice to get out of the city.

I couldn't pass up this photo op.

When we got back we visited the Citadel with some friends. I can't really explain, but it was one of the most challenging cultural experiences I've had here. I have a tendency to learn the hard way. All in all, it was a good time though. The view of the city was spectacular.

Dec 30: Another challenging day. It was a festival where everyone sacrificed animals in the streets, so everywhere
I went, there were goats and cows being slaughtered in the streets. I had to step through pools of blood and everything. Our building still smells like dead animals and blood. Everyday offers a new experience!

We also went with some friends to "Garbage City." This is the place where all the garbage collectors live and sort all the garbage. It left me speechless. At the top of the area, there is this church that was carved out of a mountain. It can seat up to 17,000 people and was really amazing. The people were wonderful, and some man even offered to give me a tattoo, assuring me the needles were clean. I decided to pass on the offer.

Photos don't do it justice.

A view of garbage city. If you look close, you can see it is literally a garbage city.

Playing at the playground at the top of the city.

A view of the city. Amazing, eh?

Dec 31: Spent the day with some friends, went out for dinner, and had a relaxing New Years Eve. I hardly made it into the new year, I was so tired.