Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Year Two: One Week Down

We have now been in Kuwait one week and in some respects it seems like we never left. Many of the people we taught with last year are still here and that makes it sweeter to return. Our apartment was in fine shape, the cat was fat and happy (as happy as cats can be, right?) and we are all up to speed with groceries, water (a necessity here) and working on the internet access dilemna. Life does indeed go on.

It feels so good not to be new, which is no knock against the 09-10 "newbies". It's just that the look of utter amazement, sheer panic and culture shock on their faces are a raw reminder of what we went through...and I don't want to go back there. Sorta like not wanting to relive junior high again.

The students appear on Sunday and that will be the real test of how much we want to be here. There are some minor snafu's--like David doesn't have a classroom, or a computer or a light switch for that matter (his room, which is a small building, was literally moved 20 feet over and in order to move it they had to completely dismantle it!)And I am still trying to access files that I should have access to, but either can't remember what I was told or the files have been deleted. You know, little stuff like that.

The humidity of earlier seems to have gone away, at least I can walk out of a room to the outside and not have my glasses immediately fog up. The workers are complaining about the heat...easy for me to criticize from an air conditioned office.
I can't imagine what it must be like to run a jackhammer or move file cabinets or carry heavy water bottles when it's around 120 degreesF. And may I never have to know that!!! (which is not knock against manual labor, I just know that I would not do well at that job).

I guess it's frightfully calm here, meaning that we are either used to the heat, the humidity, the sand, the sounds (the calls to prayer aren't even waking us up!) and the cultures. Oh no...that leads to mediocrity and boredom!!
Stay Tuned to see how we handle this dilemna!!

Thanks for reading this blog. I know that the every day happenings in the desert may not be much excitement, but I sure do feel better knowing that someone on the other side is reading this!! Have a cup of coffee and take a moment to look at the green/lakes/hear the birds wherever you are and be thankful! As for me, I'm headed off to enjoy the iftar (supper break at the end of the day in Ramadan)


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hotter Than...Usual

Kuwaiti couple walking along the Arabian Gulf.

We're Baaaack!! And the temperatures have conspired to give us a huge welcome home hug. The humidity is soooo thick (how thick is it?) It's the "walk out of your office and your glasses fog up-take 5 steps and wipe the sweat off your neck" kind of humid. Even the locals are complaining (And many of them are wearing abayas and dishtashas as you see in the picture above) As for now, I'm listening to Christmas music in an attempt to cool off. I'll let you know how that goes. We had blocked this part of Kuwait out of our memory banks. The cold, windy days at Lake Lida seem like heaven now.

Things faired well over the summer. There's been major construction at our school. which is pretty cool. And, to everyone's surprise, the remodeling is way ahead of schedule. Unbelieveable!!

Our cat did well, our apartment wasn't cloaked in dust like I feared (*thanks for the fab cat-watchers!) and we're starting to see familiar faces. I'm beginning to get a handle on my job as Activities Director for the school, got my own office and fancy business cards. If they could see me now...

My goals for this year are to continue to appreciate Kuwait for what it has to offer us, to meet more Kuwaitis (if that's possible) and to learn more about the culture. I will also get back on my exercise regime in an effort to lose the pounds I gained eating pork and drinking beer this summer (but thanks for the friends who made that possible!)

Tonight we are invited out to supper with all the newbies. My goal is to give them words of encouragement. Boy do I remember last year at this time if someone had waved a ticket to the US in front of me, I would have snatched it up so fast, the sand would have whirled! Patience and Confidence go a long way to making up for that!

SO, here's to Year Two and what it brings us. We feel more confident in our decision to return here for another year. We are looking forward to getting reaquainted wiht our frieds. Hey--maybe we'll even get another cat (David-are you reading this? What do you think??!)

Cheers from the Desert

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Ben arrived from the Middle East Tuesday afternoon to a rousing greeting from friends and family. Although we were unable to be there in person (we were flying back to the Middle East!), we were there in "Spirit". Pictured are
Peggy Dilly Wagner, Ben, Mini-Me (Mom), Great Nephew Nik Guttormson, Nephew Scott Wagner.
In a "full circle" note--Peggy was with me the night I gave birth to Ben (he's born on her birthday!) It was only fitting that she was my stand-in Mom.

Praise God--he's home!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On the way Home

Ben and his Grandma Maxine

Our Senior Airman is in the air on his way back to the US of A!! We are so proud of him and wish we could be there to hug him in person. If anyone wants to join in the celebration, he'll be in the Fargo airport at 1245 Tuesday!! Cheers to all the 119th coming home...welcome back to "reality".

So Long

It's hard to put into words what it means to return home. We've had a wonderful summer, filled with friends,family, places, events, food, wine, pork--all of the things we missed for the past 10 months living in Q8.

But now the time has come for us to pack up and head back into the desert.

I'm too overwhelmed at the moment to try and compose what I want to say but as I came across these photos taken last summer at various spots around PR, it reminded me that the Beatles were right..

LOVE-It's really all you need

thank you PR for reminding me of that

Falling Not Far from the Tree

Mother and Daughter circa 2007. Still one of my favorite shots

When we became parents 21 and 16 years ago, I didn't think ahead to what it would be like to have children growing into adults. It's proved to be interesting, insightful, a little frustrating sometimes but NEVER boring.
Having Ben in Iraq and engaging in mostly electronic has proven frustrating but I am appreciative when I think about other "wars" and how there wasn't the immediate electronic access opportunities. I am grateful for what I read from Ben but would give anything to see the whites of his eyes. Unfortunately that will not be until December as he is returning the day after we leave for Kuwait (deep sigh)

Anyway, my point is about my children's humor (don't get me started on how I feel about Ben's arrival!)

Now I am finding that electronic communication with Anna has proved to be insightful and humorous.
Recently we even amused each other by playing the "facebook Chat" game while in the same house!! (I was upstairs, she was downstairs and we were communicating with each other!) We enjoyed it, David thought we were crazy!

I got this "joke" on my facebook recently. Fortunately (or unfortunately) she is developing the same sarcastic, sick sense of humor that David, Ben and I share. This post is from my daughter....

"Mother! so, I have a joke for you.
A mother passing by her daughter's bedroom was astonished to see the bed was nicely made and everything was picked up. Then she saw an envelope propped up prominently on the center of the bed. It was addressed, "Mom." With the worst premonition, she opened the envelope and read the letter with trembling hands:
Dear Mom: It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my new boyfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with Dad and you. I've been finding real passion with Ahmed and he is so nice-even with all his piercings, tattoos, beard, and his motorcycle clothes. But it's not only the passion Mom, I'm pregnant and Ahmed said that we will be very happy. He already owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. He wants to have many more children with me and that's now one of my dreams too. Ahmed taught me that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone and we'll be growing it for us and trading it with his friends for all the cocaine and ecstasy we want.
In the meantime, we'll pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Ahmed can get better; he sure deserves it!! Don't worry Mom, I'm 15 years old now and I know how to take care of myself. Someday I'm sure we'll be back to visit so you can get to know your grand children.
Your daughter, Judith
PS: Mom, none of the above is true. I'm over at the neighbor's house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than my report card that's in my desk center drawer. I love you! Call when it is safe for me to come home."

"Mother-thought you would be amused by that. Love, Anna"

She's right, I was amused. But more so because she thought I would be amused. Humor will get you through anything.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

...Another "country" heard from

NOTE: This is written by Anna's good friend A, who I would gladly adopt for a son. His parents are involved with the German diplomatic corps and are now stationed in Saudi Arabia. A is describing his impressions being in a compound and then leaving the compound. Great writing from such a young man. A--you can come and cook for me anytime!!! My kitchen is your kitchen!!


I am living in a music video without the music. Something worthy of Rammstein. Well, maybe not quite to that extent but to some extent. Smallville. Everything is so perfect in this compound and yesterday I went into the catacombs. Also known as the mall. A mess of black and white swirling on a tile floor. Children weaving between with those neon bright helium balloons. A few steps further those ragged men with their flocks of loony toons and herds of vicious children snapping. Here I am, brown, blue, confused. All around the White Creatures, the Black Creatures, their offspring, and eyes. Welcome to the Raven's Buffet.
So many eyes, a real variety to choose from. Juicy brown ones, cold blue ones served with a side of reproachful glares. Chef's special served half priced today: Doe Eyed Virgin Eyes with a pinch of abuse served fresh with organic prejudice. *Garlic optional*
Its hard not to notice eyes when that's all you can see beneath shrouds of white or shrouds of black. Wrinkled eyes, young eyes, eyes bleeding mascara, foggy eyes misted with age. It doesn't get any better? You bet it does. Sleep deprived, young juicy eyes, eyes of gals, and eyes of guys, cigarette and smoky eyes, filled with truth or dripping lies. Well the buffet closes a few times each day. The holding pens with their neon garments are locked as daily prayer commences. The white creatures flock through a portal and disappear while the black ones sit on the floor, some with foreheads pressed eastwards. Others chatting amongst themselves. Offspring and Tweety Birds jitter impatiently. Afterwords it is off to the perfumery where attendants with friendly smiles press on and on with bottles in hand ready to blind, felate, or stab you all to ensure a single purchase. Purchase "White" by Aigner under the pushing kindness of a Lebanese salesman. Bloodshot blue eyes... To him every cologne was "very very nice" the only problem is discerning to which the statement actually applies. After the purchase a slow retreat is planned.
The stores are vomiting color and black and white consume it, leaving no trace beneath the flowing fabrics. Having enough of catacombs and claustrophobia we leave the colony to thrive in their color consumption.
On every intersection a different dining oppertunity. Golden Arches, Red Fronted Monarchs of Burgers, Small living establishments of Pizza... everywhere. Flowery language aside: I advise Baskin Robins for its good creamy ice cream which beats that of Kuwait however McDonalds has never tasted so bad. I wonder how much they had to pay to be able to put up their slogan in Riyadh. Fast food aside, Daytime aside, living aside, reality aside. I embrace dreaming now. Goodnight fellow creatures.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

T minus 7 and (not) counting...

photo taken through the back of my favorite chair at Lake Lida

One week left in the US for this year. When we landed in June,it seemed like we had the whole summer to play, rest, visit, eat, drink beer, etc. Now we're down to 7 days. I'm still thinking that I can make one trip down to Minneapolis but I'm not sure how much more energy this ol' girl has!!

Visiting last weekend with one of my oldest closest friends "ol pain in the ass" (that's not his name but it's how I refer to him) and his lovely wife was a wonderful respite. No stress when you're with an old friend. Or at least the only stress was whose turn it was to get up out of the chair and get the beer. Lots of laughter, some serious catching up, lots of relaxing.

I've discovered the greatest joys of having old friends is that you can really really tease each other and not have to worry about "auditioning" for friends. The people we still have in our lives are there because of our long time knowledge of each other--or even in spite of it!! I can't expect to replace that with people I've only known for 10 months!

One time, a friend quoted this saying to me:
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Once you figure out what it is, you will know how to respond to them.

I may have quoted this last summer when I was running around trying to say goodbye to everyone in my life. I'm not saying goodbye this summer because I've proven to myself that the important people will be around for another season OR, hopefully a lifetime.
So I'm just saying "so long"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Missin' the Arab Times

I love reading the Kuwait paper on Friday mornings. Their style of writing, along with the sometimes outrageous articles, make for great reading and outbursts of laughter. This morning, while in a bout of insomnia, (hence all the recent postings you see on the blog), I found this on a kuwait blog (thanks Desertgirl). I share it with you just so you can laugh out loud too!
To quote my bro Pete "You can't make this @#$% up!"

Restaurant Sells Heroine-tainted Food to Customers
Arab Times, 29 June 2009, Kuwait :

Restaurant selling heroine-tainted food to customers
A well-known restaurant at an unidentified location is said to be serving food to customers tainted with heroin, reports Al-Shahid daily quoting reliable sources.

This, the daily said, is done to attract more customers.However, the daily added acting on information and armed with a search and arrest warrant by the Public Prosecution raided the restaurant but nothing unusual was found.

The daily said the owner of the restaurant is an influential personality and reportedly got information from security sources that there would be a raid on the restaurant.But the daily quoting a worker, who did not disclose his name, has allegedly admitted that the owner mixes ‘something’ in the food and calls it a special spice to make the food tasty.

Mourning with Humor

Recently we had a memorial service for my mother in law, Maxine. We were lucky to have our dear family friends from Ohio with us. As we walked (and walked and walked) to the location chosen by Maxine to spread her ashes, we paused to rest. In a moment right out of "Grumpy Old Men", Family Friend Mr H, himself 82 and in the beginning stages of alzheimers, turns to PapaCB (who is a spry 84) and says "Charlie, I'm going to die before you because there is no way I will walk this much for you".

Later in the evening, some of us toasted her with a glass of Scotch, her favorite drink. As I am not a Scotch drinker, I may have filled the glasses a bit too full. Keeping in the spirit of the event, Mr H looked at his very full glass and said "That's okay, Maxine and I have just enough to drink."

Here's to good friends and what it takes to properly say goodbye to someone. RIP Lady.

50 IS Nifty!

Celebrating turning 50 with my neice and nephew this past weekend was a blast! Having family around this area makes for some great parties. For the past few years I have been trying to gather family members at NON Funerial events to celebrate. I am so thankful for them and for the fact that we LIKE each other as people AND love each other as family!!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Canoeing the BWCA with five other fearless, strong, fun women was definately a high light. We WERE the WWOB!!!* Women Without Bras...
Saving Our Bras for Sunday!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Things I am enjoying and wishing for

Pictures taken
1) at our 28th Anniversary on July 24
2) my son and husband in 2007.

We're greatly enjoying our time here this summer, as you can tell by the lack of photos and comments. I'm taking time in my life to live life instead of always having to photograph it! Okay so I've also got about 1400 shots from this summer so don't think that I've completely lost contact with my Canon.

Our son is supposed to be here on August 15th. We're praying,hoping, crossing our fingers that we will get to see him before we leave on August 17th.

I've spoken often of the phrase "inshallah" which is Arabic for God Willing. I am hoping that my God is willing for me to see my son for 36 hours!!

Hope you all are enjoying your lives.