January 31, 2010
Well – we continue to be very busy. Our house now has… da da DUM … ALL NEW WINDOWS. Holy crap are windows expensive! However, I’ve gotta say, they look great! Our old windows were aluminum double panes that had popped their seals, and were COMPLETELY fogged between the panes. The new ones are CLEAR! What a concept. And we got wood lining and casings for all the windows, so we now have finished looking windows with frames and sills. It is AMAZING what a difference it makes!
We have also managed to get 2 armoires – one for gozi‘s closet and one for a linen closet. The house is beginning to look like we actually LIVE in it, as opposed to simply squatting amongst the boxes.
Life also rolls along. We’ve been busy. Work (as always) takes up way too much of both of our time. However, along with work we’ve managed a few fun things. Last weekend we went to a (very) short concert at the Triple Door by Phoenix. I have to admit – I’d never heard of the band before, but we are KEXP members, and it was a special event for the members – so we went. It was really good. It was unfortunate that the show was only about 4 or 5 songs long – but the band was running off to a sound check for their evening concert at the SoDo Showbox in Seattle. After the concert and some sustenance, we went to the SAM (Seattle Art Museum) for the Michelangelo:Public and Private and Calder exhibits. Both were excellent – I’m really glad that we didn’t miss them.
This weekend has been a little less cultural. Yesterday was a great class for me on pruning fruit trees. Yes, I’m trying to learn to take care of gozi‘s plum tree! Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to HIRE someone to come and try to fix nearly 10 years of “letting nature take its course”. AFTER THAT, I’ll try taking over to maintain the tree. I learned a LOT in a quick 2 hour class. I’m quite excited about the whole thing. I’m also looking at a few other classes about gardening etc. just to try to maintain my sanity and make the property look good!
The culmination of this weekend…
Yup – we are the proud season ticket holders for the Rat City RollerGirls! Goin’ to the Derby this afternoon! Too much culture is not good for one – a little red-neck strikes a good balance. At least that is what I’m telling myself.
And so the saga goes – still missing Cairo (in some ways), still trying to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing here (although my student evals from last quarter were pretty good – only REALLY pissed off one student), and wondering what I want to be when I grow up.
January 14, 2010
One of the things that I commented on LONGLONGLONG ago in the blog was that, in Cairo, and in association with the University, we had incredible opportunities to see music and lectures and theatre.
Life has been so crazy since coming home. This seems counter-intuitive. We CAME HOME. It should be easy and familiar. And yet many of the cultural and social interactions – beyond Happy Hour or Third Tuesday – have been elusive since coming back. I don’t know if they were any easier in Cairo, but we certainly partook of them FAR more frequently than in Seattle.
In the fall, we “missed” an opportunity to go to a fancy multi-course, Tom Douglas food event with beer pairing. We just never got around to getting the tickets. And then it was too late. We justified our frustration and disappointment by saying that the tickets were TOO expensivo. Then, after the fact, we consoled ourselves because we heard that it really wasn’t that good. Saved by the critiques of others!
Friends have recently been discussing the joy of going to see the Seattle Symphony. It is relatively inexpensive, not that many people go, Benaroya Hall is beautiful, and the symphony is actually pretty good! All of this sounds really promising, but……………..it still doesn’t happen.
Somehow the planning becomes too onerous, the tickets too expensive, our time too short.
Well, recently we decided, “What the hell…” and got tickets to a Seattle Arts and Lectures event. A community dinner on Monday and a lecture on Tuesday. The dinner was catered by, none other than, Tom Douglas at the Palace Ballroom in downtown Seattle. The event and lecture were by Jane and Michael Stern – of “Road Food” fame.
The dinner was… yup… road-type food. Chicken fried steak finger sandwiches on buttermilk biscuits with onion gravy, deep fried pickles, pickled okra and a BBQ’d pig with 3 kinds of sauce. There were not all that many people at the dinner – it was kinda pricey – but we REALLY enjoyed it. AND, with all our recent whinging about being tired of being viewed as “fascinating”, we were in a social situation where we knew NOBODY and pretty much everyone had a story to tell. It was fun to be anonymous for a while.
The lecture was an ex-temporaneous, hilarious, rambling discussion by Jane and Michael Stern about their food travels throughout the United States. They covered myriad subjects, decades, vehicles and misinterpretations (“Jewish tea”). We laughed until we hurt.
The odd thing, for me, was the familiarity of many of the situations, stories and faux pas’ that they described. In the last 3 years, we have had many of the same – only in another country. It gives me pause, and makes me think that, perhaps, our stories are worth telling – but alas, we’ve no writer between us. The blog will have to do.
This event has spurred me to start looking at other lectures, events and generally fun things that are NOT our daily (or worse yet, work related) lives. We don’t need to move half way around the globe to find great culture, we just need to open our eyes.
January 12, 2010
Yessir, that is me!
I am now the proud owner of a BRAND NEW (not even new-to-me) LEATHER chair for the living room!!!
I had a chair that I loved before Cairo. It was called a “chair-and-a-half” and was big enough for me to snooze comfortably in. I also had the hassock that went with it, so there was ample room to spread out. AFAIK, our friends who bought it are still getting great, comfy use out of it. But so far, I had not found a suitable (in comfort) replacement.
Since arriving Stateside, gozi and I had settled for the quick and easy Ikea solution
Cheap, mostly comfy and easily obtainable. However not a “hanging out reading for hours” sort of chair. We’ve been looking on Craigs list, at used furniture stores etc for the right chair for each of us. A few weeks ago, gozi found a leather wingback recliner at a consignment shop. Nice looking, leather and a good price. Only down side: babyshitbrown. He is very happy with it.
Today I brokedown and spent more than I wanted to (I am VERY cheap since returning to the States!) and got the chair that I (not-so-secretly) knew I wanted.
Mine is dark, espresso brown and really comfy.
Gotta go now, already falling asleep in my awesome, leather chair.
I’m so grown up now! HEEHEE
January 10, 2010
For those who have been to Cairo, the traffic is… utterly indescribable.
(**Previous picture of Cairo traffic deleted at the request of its owner** Above left: from http://www.stanford.edu/group/ccr/blog/2009/10/traffic_in_cairo.html; above right: from http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/1999/444/eg13.htm)
Between the pedestrians, the blackandwhite taxis, the other drivers, myriad delivery scooters, the police “directing traffic” (often while sleeping), the occasional donkey carts and bread boys (who carry pallets of bread on their heads while riding bicycles) and complete lack of or, at least, lack of attention to anything that resembles “rules of the road” it makes Cairo a very interesting place.
It is not unusual to see 4 or 5 cars abreast on a (nominally) 3 lane road. Some of them may be driving in reverse, to get back to the exit or side street that they missed. And even MORE interesting is how NORMAL all of this seems after having been there for a while.
Seattle’s “traffic” is laughable after Cairo. And, more to the point, it is difficult to understand or navigate. People stay in lanes. People stop for pedestrians. Jay walking is a ticketable offense. No-one uses reverse on the highway. Sidewalks are not for parking, and pedestrians in the street confuse Seattlites. One would think that these rules would make it easier – but, in my view, they prevent actual forward progress from happening.
When I see Seattle “traffic” I see this:
whereas when I see Cairo traffic, I see this:
We are modified by experience, and you can never TRULY go home. I think my views of traffic may reflect this.
Kullu zahma. Ana mabsoota, awy!
January 8, 2010
Seattle is still a bit of an oddity to me, but, only5+ months since returning, I am attempting to get things figured out again.
My job is going fine. I haven’t seen my evaluations from last quarter, but I felt the whole thing went pretty well. Only real issues: a LOT of students dropped the class or did VERY poorly. Then again, I also had a substantial number of 4.0 grades – so perhaps it balances out. The quarter system is REALLY FAST compared to the semester system. And the breaks are so short!
Besides that, classes and students are much the same. Upper class Egyptian kids or community college students, the problems are just about the same. Language issues – both spoken and written. Lack of study skills. Outside time demands (my CC students are frequently raising families and have full time jobs – kinda different from my Egyptian students!). Reticent attitudes about engaging in INQUIRY.
The last is the one that pains me the most. The idea that people don’t want to find out the answer seems unfathomable. Student attitudes of “Just tell me the answer/what is on the test” without an interest in the HOW or WHY is, literally, hard to imagine. And yet, every term, there are a few students whose small epiphanies are sufficient to keep me at the job.
Then there is the personal readjustment. I am dealing much better with getting out in “this culture” than a few months ago. I’ve FINALLY gotten back to regular swimming at the Y and yoga – both are as much for sanity as for fitness – although I am certainly in need of the fitness. We have been slowly refurnishing our house after purging nearly everything in the move.
Sunday knitting at our local is starting again and there is decent beer and wine here – so life is not too bad. I still miss Cairo and the friends we left there. Insha’allah I’ll get to go back soon for a visit, but in the meantime, Seattle is feeling a lot better (and wetter) than when we first got home.