22 April 2007

a comedy so dry and black.

I've been trying to finagle my way into becoming invaluable to the UNHCR and thus being included in the carrying out, not just the planning, of a policy workshop in Erbil (that's in Iraq, for my geographically-challenged readers) in June, conveniently when UF and CIEE no longer own the full potential of my passport. Don't worry, it's probably not going to happen, but a girl can dream. On a related note, planning this workshop bears a striking resemblance to kindergarten lesson planning. Keeping the kids engaged and on track for three days is quite a challenge. We've entertained the notion of candy rewards for right answers. (Only quasi-seriously).

Someone here mistook me for a Republican. Not merely a conservative, but a die-hard Republican. What's happening to this world?

Urinalysis costs a mere 2 JD ($2.80) here. Had I known, I would have waited until I moved here to do all my Peace Corps medical tests. Let's hope cost is not correlated with quality.

I've plugged McSweeney's before, but I've gained new readers since then...

Words I see when I write the words "Intelligent Design" while squinting.

We have ways to make you talk.

An open letter to officials of the United States government regarding what's new in my reproductive area. (an oldie, but goodie)

An open letter to Dick Cheney. (see also all other "Open letters to people or entities who are unlikely to respond)

20 April 2007

my new pet.

This is borderline nauseatingly cute. I just want to kidnap him and bring him home with me.

PS. I promise I'll get back to the subject of Jordan soon. We had Arabic exams all week, and my Radical Islam mid-term is next week, so it's been busy in that uneventful sort of way. The Amman International Dance Festival is probably the coolest thing to ever come to this city. We saw the premier last night - a performance by Candaco, a UK company with disabled dancers. It was amazing. The festival runs the next two weeks or so, and similar events are happening in Beirut and Ramallah. There's a modern workshop tomorrow that I'm hoping to go to, which will be embarassing since I haven't really danced in a few years, but also fabulous, since my not dancing is one of my few regrets from college. Better late than never, I suppose.

19 April 2007

cute knut.

My favorite city in the world now has yet another reason to love it - Knut the polar bear cub. He was born at the Berlin Zoo in December and subsequently rejected by his mother. Just google him and revel in the adorableness. There are videos on youtube too.

Radical Islam quote of the week: "[explaining an Arabic term for illness in reference to a fictional Muslim man]...like cancer, AIDS - well, not AIDS since he's not a homosexual." It was a close tie with a lengthy lecture on how Israel kills civilians too, so it's not our place to condemn suicide terrorists. I beg to differ, but then I do hold the radical view that murder is wrong.

The Amman International Dance Festival starts tonight. I'm so excited!

17 April 2007

my bad.

I may or may not have committed a hilarious, but culturally inappropriate social mistep yesterday. I was in the gym locker room, halfway through changing into my workout clothes, when I turned to the side and noticed a woman praying in the corner, slightly behind the column of lockers. I definitely put my less-than-adequately covered body between her and Mecca. I'm not sure, but that's probably not encouraged. Whoops.

In my defense, it's a locker room. Where else am I supposed to change?

PS. The Arabic root for Shia is the same as the one for communism. It just keeps getting better.

13 April 2007

gun control and sex education.

...Two things in which I believe whole-heartedly. Below, meet two individuals unwavering in their dedication.

[edit: the youtube video won't imbed for reasons beyond my technological comprehension. Go to www.youtube.com and search for "DEA agent shoots self in foot" to get the full experience. Trust me.]

The Muslim Dr. Ruth.

PS. Happy Friday the 13th!

12 April 2007

mostly, the view is accurate.

On my way over to Matt's for his last night, I had the best cab driver ever. We got stuck in traffic for a royal motorcade some 30 cars long, and he launched into a tirade about wealth disparities in Jordan:

"They have so much money, so many cars and big houses, and some people don't have food, medicine, houses. Spoiled princesses. It's good that we all live togetherm, in the same place. Everyone works hard, what makes them special? I'll tell you what's good about not having money. No one follows you, no one stares at you. You can just live."
As I took my poor, non-royal self out of his cab, a car of Saudi men (as evidenced by the license plate, I'm not stereotyping) drove by staring, and the one in the back hung out the window to make a valiant attempt to grab my ass. Money or white skin, either one appears to warrant *special* attention.

Funny story about Ramen noodles over here (yes, I eat them regularly) - they all come with 3 - 4 seasoning packets. Some oil, some broth powder, some chili flakes, and maybe some soy sauce. The HKJ is just a fancier place, I suppose.

Pictures from the engagement party are ready for your perusal. Quote of the week from Radical Islam: "On the day of Judgment, the Jewish savior will be the Muslim antichrist." I'm paying him for this.

10 April 2007

something vague that we're not seeing.

I went to Aqaba and my neighbor's engagement party last week, but I already wrote about that and saved it on my computer, so I'll post it when I'm at school tomorrow. I'm not moving to Doha next year - Fulbright rejected me, so good riddance and hello rural Africa (in sha allah - still waiting to hear back from Peace Corps). Matt's leaving in two days, which is sad for many reasons, the least of which is that I am now the lone non-smoker in what we've affectionately deemed our derka family. As a parting gift, however, he took Candace and I to AMIDEAST to talk to his boss about getting jobs there now and for the summer, and she's excited about having more english and SAT/TOEFL prep teachers. And she pays real money, which is even better. Speaking of jobs, Candace teaches ballet for little kids at a center here, and her boss may hire me to teach the "Creative Kids" class she started but is now too busy to teach. It's a modern/lyrical/interpretative hodgepodge of creativity and imagination with small children. Anything to get back into dance, I miss it.

Since it's spring break, I haven't been to radical Islam in a week. It's been fabulous. So here's a useless Arabic word pair for the week instead of an infuriating quote. Nadama means "to regret or feel remorse," and tanaadama means "to drink with others." This language is great.

09 April 2007

happy (belated) easter.

The holiday here in the HKJ passed uneventfully, as it typically does for heathens like me in America. Cadbury eggs are 1 JD (~$1.40) and there are no Peeps at any price, so I didn't even get to celebrate the one part of the holiday in which I actually believe. Probably better for the 'ole waistline in the end.

We spent the holiday weekend in Aqaba, Jordan's only port town. We stayed at a Bedouin campsite, got attacked by mosquitoes, went snorkeling, fended off the shababs overwhelmed by the sight of bikini-clad women, and generally had a great time.

Zahara, my Iraqi neighbor, had her engagement party last week - it was quite a cultural experience (see pictures). The family certainly has money, if what we saw was just a precursor to the wedding. The engagement party is a rather formal affair - it was held in a hotel ballroom with a catered meal, a dance floor, and an array of haram dresses. We stressed about what to wear for over an hour so we could be appropriately covered. Turns out, we were being silly. The party was women only, save the finance (Omar) and brother-in-law, so Zahara, along with several other women, were not wearing hijab with their short, strapless, or halter dresses. This is technically pretty normal in a testosterone-free environment, but although no other men were invited to the party, the waiters and videographers were all non-familial men. One more example of the non-universiality of Jordanian social rules.

Dress code and sexual apartheid aside, the entire party was one long moment of cross-cultural awkwardness. As expected, we were the only Americans. Probably the only non-Iraqi or Jordanians too, if I were to wager money on it. We got there at seven with the intention of leaving after dinner so we could make it home at a reasonable hour. We did leave after dinner, but that ended up being almost midnight. Things got started late, then a flower girl came and scattered petals for the happy couple's path into the room. Next, two different couples danced before the group dancing began. And continued. Arab women dance indefinitely and monotonously - they stopped briefly for Omar to give Zahara a necklace and earrings (no ring until the wedding) and have a couple's dance to "Unbreak my Heart" (which wouldn't have been my first choice), but then picked up again and didn't quit until the cake. A five tier wedding-style cake (pretty, but sadly not very tasty) was brought out by the wait staff, then cut (pansy-like) with a sword by the fiance.

One last tidbit about weddings before I bore you to tears - the traditional gift for the bride's engagement party is jewelry, particularly gold. Sounds lovely, but it's actually so the bride has some wealth of her own in case things don't work out. I suppose it's a nice gesture.

03 April 2007

language just happened, it was never planned.

(but now it's inadequate to describe where i am.)

Jordan and its poor quality of instruction aside, Arabic continues to fascinate me. For those who have never heard me explain this, Arabic is fun because everything is organized according to three letter roots. From each of these roots, an entire series of related words can be derived - up to ten forms of verbs, adjectives, a plethora of nouns, etc. As you learn certain patters, it becomes possible to predict and relate meanings of words in a way you just can't in English. A classic example - the root "to study" also includes the words for to teach, lesson, school, studies, etc. Often, the relationships are obvious like this one, but sometimes they're much more entertaining (and revealing). Some favorites I've recently discovered:

The verb 'ajarra means "to be weak;" from the same root, 'ajeera is the buttocks of a woman. Ahh, but it gets better...

A mushkila is a problem; a shakila, however, is a flirtatious woman.

Perhaps the most revealing - the verb khadhara can mean either "to be parayzed" or "to confine to women's quarters" depending on the context. The nouns for stupor and women's quarters are in the same family.

Moving off the topic of women, sometimes the relationship is obvious in a roundabout way - the verb samma is "to be/become deaf," while a different verb form, samama means "to make up one's mind."

Finally, this one is just funny. The verb tafala means "to live as a parasite," and a tifl is a child.

PS. It's great to be a Florida Gator, especially in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan!

PPS. I posted more pictures from our day at the Dead Sea for your amusement.