"there is no sahil."

Friday, May 11, 2007

tired and unispired

May 10, 2007

Leigh Ann and Briana just left yesterday after a whirlwind 2-week visit. I stopped to think today and realized that I have 20 days left of the “program,” and then it’s summer; my last summer as a college kid. Ridiculous.

Honestly, I didn’t really know what I would be doing this summer and I toyed with a lot of ideas and I wish I knew the sequence of events for myself now, but I still don’t. Stuff’s higher up in the air by the day. It’s not a huge deal since it’s really only 2 months and 2 weeks—I officially finish here May 30th and I’ll be back at Smith August 19th, but it seems like a crucial chunk of time to me right now. Wouldn’t any free time after a year abroad and before a last year of college?

To make it harder, I thought my best friends would be off and away again this summer working and interning like they were last year when I was actually at home, bored and worked to death, but it sounds like they are all going to be home for most of the summer.

I have been away for a pretty long time I guess.

The past couple of months have been wacky and quick. The spring has been so different from fall and winter when life here was so nice and slow and I had so little to worry about; my mind was on autopilot with adjustment and taking in the big picture at first, and then the subtleties and details of the city and my family and Jordanians, studying here and there, and becoming friends with people. Now my days are packed and my schedule is almost smith-like; in part due to the CIEE academic schedule but also by my own doing with putting in extra at my internship, studying more away from my house and trying to keep up friendships with both American and Jordanian friends, doing conversation club and going to lectures and events, and taking an extra colloquial class. Over the last two weeks when my friends were visiting we took a weekend in Damascus and another in Tel Aviv, totally worth it but I should be catching up on work now. Somehow I make time for the important things like blogging and reading the NYTimes most-emailed articles.

To expound on my clash agreement (April 22nd): Recently its been hard to brush off recurring moral and cultural issues here. It may have to do with the fact that I’ve been here for almost nine months now and my naïveté and easy-going attitude that allowed me to let things slide by earlier in my time here has just worn off and worn out. Niqab still bothers me. I still have moments where I have to suppress the urge to yank off niqab when I see women trying to drink with it on, or coming in through the guarded gates at the University where they are supposed to check IDs. Conversation club still shakes me a little bit, like the astounding opposition to inter-religious marriage that 19 year-old Jordanians voice. A couple of months ago we had a scenario in conversation club where we had to play jury and decide the punishment for a series of crimes. When we came across the one about two 18-year old college freshmen that were raped after leaving a bar at 2am on a Friday, and students said that they thought the rapist probably picked the right ones if the girls were out that late by themselves, it served as a reminder of the difference in attitude and social customs here. When we were sitting at the Jordanian-Syrian border a couple of weeks ago, we watched SUVs full of Saudi men drive through all day, many on their way to Damascus for prostitution. What a farce.
Recently it's becoming clearer how difficult it is to pinpoint a middle ground in society and social lifestyle here with which I am comfortable. Growing up catholic, there have been tons of things that I disagree with in the doctrine and fine print, and for me its been okay to set that stuff aside and extract the teachings of my religion at their most basic form to learn and live with. It's harder for people to do that with Islam today.

April 22, 2007

New and exciting in life:

Still waiting on some answers before I actually figure out what May 30th through August 19th will hold.

On Thursday, my friend and the legend Leigh Ann Gardiner will arrive with Briana all the way from Varanasi, India. They, like all normal college students and study abroad students, will be finished with their studies. They are staying here for TWO WHOLE WEEKs which I just had a minor freak out about how best to occupy, knowing that Amman can be exhausted in 2 days and that I’ll be in school for these two weeks. I think that we will head to Damascus first thing on Friday morning, which should be perfect since I just got word that it is a long weekend. That way we can do that and still be able to go to Jerusalem the next weekend, and perhaps we will meet up with dear Sidnie Davis (Smith 08) and my friend Nikita from the UNU conference in November.

My brother William is looking at colleges! Woah, nelly!

I saw an excellent presentation on the Nabateans and Petra over the weekend. What a life to be an archaeologist and live dig season to dig season. I’d imagine it’s a bit like being a cartoonist in the early days or working in art restoration. I’d run out of patience and smash something.

In other news, after all this time I find myself closer to Samuel Huntington. It’s a lot easier to oppose the Clash of Civilizations in Religion 246: Islam and the Challenge of Modernity, than in Amman.


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