Sunday, August 1, 2010

Arab-American or American-Arab

Such a mess.. sad to say that I don’t have a true “culture” but it didn’t seem as important until I moved here.. or is it the reason I moved here? Hard to say…

Your culture defines you in this country.. and I guess anywhere.. but for some reason I struggle to define myself.. yet continuously find the need to..

In America I was strange.. I ate different food.. celebrated different holidays.. listened to different music.. my culture was a HUGE part of how I grew up.. but of course not to the extreme of people who actually grew up in this country.. does that mean it counts for less?

I was raised not to call myself an American but an Arab-American! Were they just words? Nobody seems to believe them but me… but in my heart it is SO strong!

I am not someone who really believes in religion but there is no doubt in my mind that my kids will be raised Muslim. I will show them the beauty that I see in my religion.. the morals.. the ethics.. the “magic” for lack of a better word.. My children will grow up to be proud Muslims like me!

My kids will be raised to see the beauty in the culture. They will see it through my eyes.. the eyes of their ancestors.. and the eyes of every Arab around them.. they will see it from someone who gave up an “American” life because of the love of this culture (which.. im sorry.. is at least more than I can say for some of the people here who dislike this culture and always fight with me about my decision).. My children will grow up to be proud Arabs like me!

In America I was Arab and here I am American.. unless u are in this you will NEVER understand how frustrating that is.. do I not have a say to which culture I belong? Can’t I have a mixture of both instead of not being good enough to be either?!

Not to mention the Iranian parts……

Monday, July 19, 2010

Home is where the heart is.. or is it?!

I have said it a million times before: it is IMPOSSIBLE for someone to understand what it is like to move to a different country unless they have done it.. it is the biggest mental F@#% UP ever!!

My sister sent me an email from America.. she wrote “when im here, Jordan is home and when im in Jordan, America is home” She hit the nail on the head! Is it possible to lose your home? Because if it is I am DEFINITELY suffering from this…

I have spent 23 years in America, that is home! I have spent 2 years in Jordan and have grown up in those 2 years more than I have in 23 years and can’t imagine living anywhere else, that is home! I’m a mess..

I am supposed to be visiting “home” soon and I am excited/scared/nervous!

I am excited to see my parents, my sisters, my friends! I am excited to drive through the streets that I know so well, shop at the amazing stores, eat at the amazing restaurants, be in awe by the amazing Manhattan.. I am excited to sleep in my bed! Lay on my couch! Watch my TV!.. I am excited to see grass! See bodies of water! See buildings that are so tall you feel dizzy when looking up…. I am excited to go home!

I am scared to be disappointed. I am scared that I will go back and realize that I was forgotten because at the end of the day life goes on.. I am scared that nobody will have time for me.. I am scared that I will count down the minutes until I am back in Jordan.. I am scared that things won’t seem as magical once I am there.. I am scared that I won’t want to leave.. I am scared to go home!

I am nervous because I know that when I go from one home to another Jordan will become a blur.. a dream.. and that is the scariest concept I can think of. As soon as I see the skyline of the city or the half burned lights of Cross County I KNOW that Jordan will feel like a land far away that barely existed.. it always happens and it is always mind blowing. Things there feel so natural, so normal, so relaxing and I have to struggle to remember my life here.. I am nervous to go home!

To be continued from my other home….

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Tomorrow is a big day for me for 2 reasons.. first it marks 25 years of life.. but more importantly it marks 2 years to the day that I have been in Jordan. July 7, 2008 I was on an airplane going from New York, America to Madrid, Spain to Amman, Jordan. (My mom tried to convince me that having my birthday on a plane would b fun and involve cake.. both of which were definitely not tru!)

I don’t really like my birthday.. I guess I took after my dad.. I don’t see the big deal in birthdays.. its just another day.. if anything I dread it because it usually ends up crappy.. last year’s was HORRIBLE..

Its funny how when ur young all u want 2 do is get away from ur family and celebrate ur birthday with friends.. now that im older id give anything 2 celebrate my birthday with my family.. homemade cake.. presents from people who know me better than I know myself.. msakhan on the table for dinner (my favorite!).. laughing till it hurts.. fights here and there.. amazingness…..

I’m excited 2 see what this year has in store for my birthday.. but I am almost sure that it will involve a lot of sleeping and self loathing….. =)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Why did you choose Jordan over New York?

I have never been more sick of a question in my life! I am not only sick of it because I have been asked this question a million times since I have been here, but also because I have NO IDEA how to answer it…

People love to assume things.. I guess it makes them feel smart, analytical, or intuitive to try and figure me, or anyone else 4 that matter, out.. like my own personal psychiatrist.. I always have people assuming they know the reason why I am here.. why I left New York. . I love hearing their explanations…
  • running away from the police
  • running away from a boy
  • running away from my family
  • running away……

    I am not saying they are ALL wrong.. mayb all of them in one way or another are right (except for the police one =P ).. I am pretty sure I can name 50 different reasons why I now live in Jordan.. but can I name THE REASON? The one thing that made me choose Jordan over New York.. I don’t think it exists honesty..

    I can list off the shallow reasons: the food.. cheap argillah.. the entertainment.. the weather.. the sites..

    I can list off the cultural reasons: the strong arab roots.. the language.. the religion (though I am not religious)..

    I can list off the reasons why I left America: desperate need for a change.. grew up too fast.. boredom.. it was then or never..
    But when it comes down to it.. those are just things I list when I try really hard to look for a reason.. I don’t think they really played any large role in my transition.. the honest truth is it was easy.. I think that’s y I did it.. some things happened between facebook.. meeting a random person.. a job interview.. and strangely coincidental situations that made it impossible not to consider it.. I spent at least 2 weeks while on vacation here not being able 2 eat sleep or do anything else at all because all I did was question whether I could really do it or not.. drop my life without even saying goodbye and stay in Jordan.. was I that exciting? Was I that daring? Was I that brave?..... I guess I was =)
  • Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    I almost forgot...

    The other day I was asked a question about America.. and I almost forgot.. I almost forgot the answer to the question.. did I almost forget America?

    I almost forgot
    what it was like to hear everyone around me speak English, so easy to communicate
    …it was replaced by the sound of Arabic, beautiful but I still cant speak it!

    I almost forgot
    …what it was like to call up my parents and see them anytime I want
    …it was replaced by skyping my parents when we find a suitable time which is hard because of the time difference

    I almost forgot
    …what it was like to walk around the streets of Times Square, still amazed after the thousandth time
    …it was replaced with walking around Jabal Amman, amazing in its own way

    I almost forgot
    …what it was like to walk down a street and not be noticed
    …it was replaced by male eyes watching every step

    I almost forgot
    …what it was like driving around the streets of Yonkers, I knew them so well
    …it was replaced by driving around circles 1 through 8, I always get lost!

    I almost forgot
    …what it was like to order Chinese food or pizza to be delivered on a lazy day
    …it was replaced by shawerma and falafel, and of course Tazej

    I almost forgot
    …what it was like to order a large iced coffee from DD at all hours of the day
    …it was replaced by tea and Nescafe from street venders

    I almost forgot
    …what it was like to hang out with all kinds of friends doing whatever, never being judged
    …it was replaced by hanging out with all kinds of friends, doing almost whatever, but being judged

    I almost forgot
    …what it was like to go to a bar after work with coworkers to unwind
    …it was replaced by argillah/hookah cafes after work with coworkers to unwind

    I almost forgot
    …what it was like to be surrounded by people who knew close to nothing about my culture
    …it was replaced by people who made me feel like I knew close to nothing about my culture

    I almost forgot
    …what it was like to live in America
    …that is something that can never truly be replaced

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010


    One of my closest friends just came home from Saudi Arabia.. He surprised me with a new car he just got for himself.. it’s a brand new.. red.. limited edition.. black leather/red stitching.. PORSCHE.. its beautiful.. I realized cars in Jordan are VERY different..

    Most people in New York City don’t own cars because there’s no place to park them and its easier to take a subway or train everywhere… I understand that.. in Yonkers almost every1 owns a car but they’re normal cars.. a Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda.. stuff like that..

    In Jordan you have to pay customs when buying a car that are around 65%.. this makes a car EXTREMELY expensive yet most people drive luxury! Jordan is not a rich country.. of course we have our very rich people but as a whole it is not that wealthy.. yet MOST people in this country drive amazing cars!

    I can maybe name 1 or 2 people in New York that I know who drive a Mercedes or BMW or Lexus… in Jordan I feel like MOST of my friends don’t only drive a Mercedes but they drive the brand new limited edition S class.. or the only of its kind Range Rover.. or the fanciest BMW on the market that looks nicer than my apartment in and out!!

    I get very jealous…

    (i did get him 2 promise that if he were to buy some1 a porsche id b the first person hed buy 1 for!) =)

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Expectations on females..

    Obviously Jordan is a country which contains a deep culture, and a strong religion. As much beauty as this brings, it also brings stress and pressure to levels which are sometimes unbearable.

    I am still not sure if this is a bad thing or a good thing. For a while I really appreciated it, thought it kept someone on the right track, taught some1 respect for themselves, but lately I think I am changing my mind… I think, like most things in this country, it is taken to an extreme..

    When you put limitations and restrictions on things, you sometimes make them worse than they are. I see my American friends putting up pictures of themselves in bathing suits.. they’re beautiful.. never once did I lose respect for them because of these pictures.. seeing the comments underneath, there is no1 referring to them in a negative way, or a disrespectful way.. its normal!! .. nothing strange.. nothing bad AT ALL.. in Jordan on the other hand, you can see a picture of a girl with a turtleneck.. showing NOTHING.. and theres 50 comments underneath from guys talking about how sexy/hot/etc. she is! THERE is the disrespect.. so mayb it is not the picture.. or what is shown/not shown in the picture but it is the culture and the taboo we put on looking at girls in such a way here that makes guys want to do it more…

    Girls and boys start dating usually around the age of 15 I guess, in most if not all cultures.. some start a lot younger and some start a lot later but I think that is about average.. is there something wrong with that? In America it is very normal for your mom to take a picture of you kissing your boyfriend to show everyone how “cute you guys are together”.. it isn’t something to be ashamed of.. holding hands in public.. hugging.. cuddling on the couch with friends around and your parents walking in and out while watching tv isn’t a problem at all.. in Jordan if you are known as a girl who once had a boyfriend your labeled as “not decent”.. let alone do ANYTHING in public.. it is extremely rare to see any of that affection.. and its something I really miss.. seeing the openness and comfortableness of people in the streets.. sometimes its nice 2 hold hands.. and cuddle on a couch.. even if just with a friend and not a boyfriend at all (I don’t think that could ever really be possible here!!!!)... of course there are some exceptions...

    I guess its another one of those things that I think people here need to relax about.. and after writing this and rereading it 10 times I have officially decided that I do not agree with the way it is done here! Kissing and cuddling and bathing suits are things that I support =)

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    never could i have imagined..

    A Tuesday night.. sitting at a table with AMAZING people.. laughing.. argillah.. frozen lemon with mint that has melted.. sliced fruit on a plate.. overlooking the Dead Sea.. breathtaking atmosphere..relaxing after a day of barbequing (heshing and neshing).. and all that was running through my head was where I was 2 years ago and where I am now…

    Never could I have imagined… it’s a phrase I think about A LOT.. never could I have imagined that life could be this amazing.. never could I have imagined that the decision to move to a different country would end up being the best thing I have ever done.. never could I have imagined that I would meet some of the most amazing people in the world!.. never could I have imagined that I could b this undeniably/uncontrollably/unexplainably happy…

    I sat there not wanting 2 let the happiness that I felt show in a dorky smile that would make no sense because I was in my own world.. I sat there smiling bigger than I ever have in the inside.. i cant even begin to explain what was running through my head.. everything i have experienced.. the people i have met.. the things i have done.. i cant explain how much it meant to me to be where i was at that point in time.. i cant explain the thoughts and emotions that i was feeling..

    I am not sure if it was the dead sea right under me.. the BEAUTIFUL place I was in.. or the perfect company I had around me.. but at that moment life was more than perfect..

    I sometimes wonder if this is all a dream.. and if it is a I hope that I never wake up…

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Women's Bathroom

    You can never come close to predicting the experience you’re going to have when moving to a different country. I would have never expected my situation to turn out the way it did….

    Along your “journey” you learn SO much and notice SO much and experience SO much.. things you couldn’t even imagine before leaving..

    Of course I can write forever about the differences I have noticed between Jordan and America; the big things are easy, the religion, the food, the culture, the lifestyle.. but it’s the little things that I notice that make it really special..

    The women’s bathroom:

    There are 2 things in Jordan about a woman’s bathroom that are different than America.. both of which really show the purity of the culture in some weird way..

    In Jordan many women are traditional and tend to be religious, I am not sure of the statistic but a large amount of women cover their hair for religious reasons. I know it is supposed 2 be because they do not want to be looked at as a physical object and it allows them to be more modest in a way but I find it mysterious.. what is under the cover? Blond? Brown? Red?... Curly? Straight?... Long? Short?

    The girls’ bathroom is a place to not only go to use the bathroom but to check your makeup and hair, so it is quite normal to see these women fix their hair cover and sometimes even remove it.. I don’t know if it is weird or what but I love that.. its like I was let in on their secret.. I saw something many others cant..

    Another cultural thing when it comes to women is smoking. It is not THAT accepting for women to smoke, of course A LOT do and it is fine but the more traditional women won’t smoke in public or will hide the fact that they smoke. When in the bathroom I think it is funny that the place is COVERED with cigarette butts.. it looks like the floor of a bar (when smoking indoors was legal in America)..something im not used to seeing in a bathroom of a restaurant or cafe..

    It seems as though, in Jordan, the bathroom is an escape for women, a place where they can let their hair down and enjoy a nice cigarette.. no judgment.. unless it is coming from other women which is a whole other story! =)

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010


    I remember:
    …explaining that I wouldn't be around in the summer
    …the long plane ride;I already missed my dad, my friends, my toys
    …my grandfather’s run-down/old/amazing house
    …the paint smell from the furniture stores on our block
    …the streets, watching those around me; they were so strange
    …card games with my cousins, I never really had cousins at home
    …tabla and dancing and beats and rhymes that were so new to me

    I remember:
    …looking forward to the summer in a far away land
    …appreciating it from a deeper level
    …argillah for hours whether in homes or cafes
    …my first lemon and mint, never tried that before
    …the food, the culture, the richness
    …the boys
    …hating to leave

    I remember:
    …missing it when I was home
    …deciding whether I was strong enough to make the change
    …endless nights of contemplating the decision: home or far away
    …signing the contract followed by an immediate rush to get settled in
    …saying goodbye to my family
    …the fear of my first night alone
    …the dread of maybe one day regretting my decision

    I remember:
    …nights filled with laughter and excitement
    …meeting people who would change my life: for the better or worse
    …getting used to the way things work, it’s indescribably different
    …working in different jobs, driving different cars
    …feeling as though I was no longer a stranger
    …forgetting what it felt like to not live here
    …feeling at home
    …being happy

    I have experienced so much... I remember so much.. I shall never forget…

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    A weekend in the life of me.. here in jordan :)

    I was told that my blog is really sad.. I don’t mean for it to sound sad, if anything it should be the opposite.. I am in love with this country and even though I miss America I still do not plan on going back anytime soon… So this post will b about the good/amazing things going on lately..

    So I can easily say that this weekend was one of the most amazing weekends ive ever had.. 2 years in this country and it still amazes me that I am daily reminded of how much I love being here and how amazing life is..

    So this weekend was down to the roots of why I love this country… its just simple.. even though my weekend starts Thursday after work I would say it started Wednesday after work..

    Wed: Some people from work and I went to smoke argillah.. it was supposed to be a 2 hour thing, we rushed out of work so that we can sit and be done by 8.. this 2 hour thing ended up lasting until 2 in the morning.. argillah/hookah and RANDOM conversations.. perfect way 2 end a busy day at work..

    Thurs: Had some friends over my place.. met a new girl who was really nice (u meet new people DAILY in this country!).. then we got a bottle of wine.. played card games.. watched movies.. and squished 3 people with argillah and blankets and pillows on my TINY balcony that is in no way big enough 4 that.. it was AMAZING.. stars were out.. we just smoked and talked and laughed.. one of the best half hours of my life.. we then went back inside, put on another movie and passed out (amazing sleep!)..

    Fri: Slept in, then we woke up and went on a hunt for breakfast.. ended up in downtown amman where the streets were FULL of people shopping in flea market style streets.. I could have stayed there for hours just watching them.. we got amazing food from a famous hole in the wall.. sat in the car and ate.. then headed to the zoo!! Most ghetto zoo ever!.. cement blocks stuffed with animals.. sad yet cool because you could see lions and tigers and bears and they were close to you!.. not across miles of grass in huge exhibits.. we then went back 2 my place and had nap time! It was great.. then woke up and ended the day the best way we know how.. argillah =).. then dinner!

    Sat: Food shopping and cooking with my sister.. family bonding time =).. then met friends at a café for argillah and to watch the game! More RANDOM conversations and celebration dances.. my weekend couldn’t have ended any better..

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Search for a companion...

    I live alone, it gets lonely sometimes.. I dont really mind being alone but sometimes its nice to have another living thing around you...

    I had a cat but I wasn’t home enough so it wasn’t fair for my Kitkat..

    I had fish but they died because I forgot to feed them =( and they were not the best cuddlers!

    Birds are too loud for me and hamsters are too fidgety.. so obviously my only option, in order to have some form of affection and companionship, is a snake!

    I want to buy a snake and it seems to be close to impossible to do that here!!

    Snakes recently became illegal to sell in Jordan, JUST MY LUCK! My sister and I scoured many pet stores asking about them and we were shown lizards (the guy referred to them as dinosaurs) and eels and were promised lions but no snake!

    One guy tried to sell me a “belady” snake (a Jordanian snake) but it was ugly and eats just bugs.. where’s the coolness in that?! I want to feed it mice for some weird, sick reason.. if I get a snake I want a badass snake not a wimpy bug eater!

    As we went from pet store to pet store all we could think about was how easy this would all be if we were in America.. a 10 minute trip to petco or petsmart (is it pets mart or pet smart?!.. thats always baffled me) and I would have my luzluz in my arms to cuddle with before I went to sleep at night.. BTW I plan on naming this impossible to find snake Luzluz which is Arabic for lumpy or fluffy or something along those lines..

    I will not give up on my search!!! I will find a snake in Jordan!!! And if not.. I will reach an all time low and just fold one from paper and cuddle with that when im lonely… (that’s how I fixed my dying fish issue)

    Im baaacckkk...

    It has been a while since I last wrote in this thing. SO much has happened, I can’t even begin to explain how the last 4 or 5 months have been, nor will I even attempt to try. I am not sure why I stopped writing in this; I think I ran out of things to say? Maybe I ran out of time? Maybe I just got bored? Or maybe the pressure of attempting to be entertaining got to me.. I am not really sure but regardless here I am again…

    Quick update for my many many fans (meaning only my parents after I force them to read this!).. life is the same.. one crazy rollercoaster! And im loving every minute of the ups and downs..

    I am working with the same company but I just received a promotion and now work more with business development.. I really love it, its new and exciting and fun.. and I think im good at it Try out our new software and let me know what you think.. Genie Timeline 2.0.. if you really really like it.. I can give you a free license key for the professional version..

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    American food in Jordan

    Mcdonalds in Jordan is very famous.. as in America.. (especially in my company.. we order it DAILY..) but it is considered the pricier of the fast foods I guess because it is the same prices as America (when converted) but salaries here are much less.. In Jordan there are 2 differences in Mcdonalds, first there is this AMAZING sandwich that is wat I mainly order.. it is a Big Mac Chicken.. its like a Big Mac but with a different sauce and 2 chicken patties.. its soooooo good.. we also have a McArabia.. which is a grilled chicken patty in a pita bread/gyro type of bread.. im not 2 crazy about it.. we have burger king and kfc and all the other fast food places but they’re the same as far as ive noticed.. we don’t have taco bell :( (my favorite).. or wendys :(..

    Ive mentioned this before but we also have Fridays, Applebees, Bennigans, Chilis, and Ruby Tuesdays here but they are considered very fancy restaurants!! That kills me.. I remember going to those places when I was in high school and had no money!! Here its considered a fancy place 2 go out for steak or something..

    The other difference in food here is chocolate!!! Its horrible.. im not normally a big sweets person at all!! I don’t like cake or candy that much but my favorite chocolate in America was always kitkat.. NOT ANYMORE.. in Jordan Hersheys and all other chocolate brands double the sugar content.. that’s wat it tastes like at least.. they say that depending on the country and how much they like sugar, companies alter the amount of sugar in the product.. I guess arabs LOVE their sugar caus I feel like im biting in2 sugar cubes when I get a kitkat or any other kind of chocolate.. definitely miss an American kitkat!

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