Saturday, June 30, 2007

Weekend Blog

A hectic week and it's ending on a sad note. My husband is officially depressed. His father has some health issues and it's getting everyone down. It's getting me down too.

Have been trying to cheer him up and rapidly running out of ideas. This side of him is new to me. I've seen him tense, angry, cold, withdrawn. But sad & bored & listless is new. He's not in the mood for anything & keeps making dark, fatalistic, philosophical comments about the meaning of life response to anything you ask him. It's freakily deep & depressing & unlike him.

I feel lost. I know it's selfish but I keep thinking wait a min, he can't be feeling hopeless, he's my rock!

Yesterday I came home from work to find him watching TV. I asked if he didn't go to work today. He said no, he didn't feel like it. I had to bite my lip to keep silent. I mean, I'd been calling & calling his cell all day and he never picked up. I could've asked why, if he was home all day, he didn't return any of my calls but I told myself not to give him a hard time when he's so down.

For the next 2 hrs, I tried everything doable to distract him. And failed.

Me: 7abibi, what do you want?

I felt bad. It came out sharper than I meant it to. I didn't want him to think I was losing patience with him. I just really wanted to DO something for him. I hated seeing him like that.

Him: A double whiskey.
Me : You feel like getting drunk?
Him: Yeah.
Me : Ookayyy.
Him (smiling): Don't look so worried.

I wanted to cry. Even his smile looks sad these days.

Me : Wanna go out?
Him: No. I'll get completely drunk. And you won't like it. Only laziness is keeping me.

It wasn't the time for me to lecture, nag or otherwise give him a hard time.

Me: If it will really make you feel better, I'll live with it.

Him: For real?
Me : Yeah. But just this once.

He gave me another one of those tired smiles but didn't say anything.

I tried to make conversation for a little longer. At one point, I was suddenly given a shut-up-woman-you-talk-too-much kiss. Being very familiar with those, I left him alone, watching TV. Lately, he seems to spend all his time watching TV or sleeping. And he rarely feels like talking.

Just after Isha (Evening prayer), two of his friends dropped by (A & B).

I always knew my husband drank once. I'm not sure how much or how often but judging by the friends he has left over from that era, it must have been quite a lot. And so I can never be 100% sure how much of a temptation alcohol is for him or how much he can withstand it.

After what he'd said earlier about being in the mood to get drunk? Those two were the last people I wanted to see. Was afraid they would start drinking infront of him any minute. They know we don't serve alcohol so they tend to bring their own beverages when they feel like alcohol which is often. And despite what I said, I really, really, really didn't want him to drink.

But what to do? They were already there. Fact of life. Deal with it.

It's funny the way I always end up cooking elaborate meals when we have them over. The need for an excuse to spend time in the kitchen instead of in the living room trying to be a good hostess. That's kind of a pattern with me. If you are a visitor I like and am comfortable with more often than not, you'd get sandwiches or take-out for dinner. If I am not comfortable, I take refuge in the kitchen. It's a perfectly legitimate excuse to escape unpleasant company. And so you get better food.

I guess it's kind of counter-productive though, isn't it? If you feed people well, they keep coming back, no?

Last night, I made a special effort though. In addition to the normal reasons, I thought having his friends over might give him more of an appetite.

I started to hear voices raised in argument. In Swedish. A little later, I heard laughter. His. Well, good. Except I won't pretend it didn't hurt that they managed to make him laugh when nothing I did seems to have worked.

Maybe I should start on my Swedish lessons?

Then I had an unpleasant thought. Maybe that was drunken laughter? Quickly, I went into the bedroom & SMS-ed him: are you drunk? Instantly he SMS-ed back: No.

I was about ready to serve dinner by then, I called him over to come help me. They all came to help. I couldn't smell any alcohol. I looked in the living room where they'd been sitting. Nothing.

Good. Unusual but very good.

B managed to corner me alone in the kitchen. To apologize, he said, if he said something wrong the other day. IF?

I hate it when people I dislike apologize to me. Because then you have to act like you're a big person & say it's ok. There's no other response to an apology, is there?

I essentially just gave him my back, pretending to be busy in the kitchen & mumbled dismissively: "Doesn't matter. It's not important."

Liar, liar, liar. Like I haven't obssessed and obssessed about that conversation. Like he didn't really upset me. Like he doesn't always get under my skin not just by putting down women in general which being a woman, I can't help being affected by, but also the way he's always so contemptuous & dismissive of his own partner of the moment, both to her face & behind her back. Infront of all of us. ESPECIALLY given the fact that, he always seems to pick girls who wear their heart on their sleeve, really appear to care for him & deserve much better in my opinion.

He said something to the effect that he knows I can't stand them.

Good I thought. Am glad that message is coming through alright.

Then he said: Bas yigoloon khatir 3ain, tokram alf 3ain. (Arabic expression meaning that sometimes you have to be nice to 1000 people you don't like because of one person you do like. In this case, I guess he means we should try to get along for K's sake. )

Which pissed me off. I thought it was really presumptuous of him to tell me what I owe my husband. Did he think that was a lesson I needed HIM to teach me? If it wasn't for K, would I put up with the likes of him for 5 MINUTES? Would I? Hell, no.

Me: Wala yihimak. Law million 3ain. (Essentially, that I'd be nice to a million people not just a thousand if that was what it took.)

For some reason, that made him laugh. He said I was very diplomatic, that he noticed that I didn't try to deny I can't stand them but it was good to know I wasn't planning on making things difficult.

Then he left. Before I could set him straight. He kept saying I couldn't stand them. Plural. That was wrong. He's the one I can't stand. The others are nowhere near as provocative. I may not enjoy the lifestyle but at least, they're always nice to me personally. The guys that is. The girls I normally just feel sorry for.

The rest of the evening went along ok. After dinner, we had tea & sheesha. No one was drinking. The general convo was nostalgic. About their families, their life & times, a lot of shared memories. I guess that was triggered by my father-in-law's illness.

I learnt a few things about K and his family that I didn't know before. There were a few laughs. But it was sad. I kept wanting to cry & throw my arms around K. But something told me that wasn't what he needed then.

I wish I knew his family better. Before I fell asleep, I resolved to make a real effort when we go this summer.

And I really hope my father-in-law will improve. Yarab.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Saga Continues

In a recent convo with D & M (Best Friends), I brought up the issue of whether or not me & K look oversexed to them. I said I knew we weren't but I wanted to know if somehow we gave that impression.

The word itself meant to them what it meant to me - given the tone of voice & facial expression of the person who said it to me. It meant two people who are all about sex to the point where it's sordid & cheap & embarrassing to others.

You see, I know couples like that.

The answer was something like of course not! you guys are not oversexed, you're just mushy.

Great. I ask my best friends in the whole wide world if am an embarrassment to them & the answer is yes but not in the way you think.

Ok guys. Forget I said anything. Sorry I asked etc....

They both don't think we overdo the physical contact/public displays of affection - which is good - but they did give me some examples of our perceived mushiness/oversexedness around others:

1) We get caught looking at each other a lot.

Guilty as charged but surely it's not a crime to make eye-contact with your partner?

2) We speak in whispers. A couple who appear to have so many secrets are either oversexed or mushy.

We don't have secrets. It's just a mannerism. I am very soft-spoken by nature. In response, he's learnt to lower his voice to a whisper when he's addressing anything to me. It started out as a joke actually. I'd speak & he'd whisper back:"Why are we whispering?" or something stupid like that. He'd be making fun.

Then it got to be a habit. And now we always talk like that. We might be talking about whose turn it is to take out the garbage and we'd still whisper it to each other.

And people would think we're whispering sweet nothings or something dirty.:)

3) I do the day-dreaming & smiling to myself thing a lot when he's not around.

And people think that means I'm indulging in erotic fantasies about him? What dirty minds!

Actually, I do not have those types of fantasies anymore.

I have the occasional wet dream about Russell Crowe in Gladiator though. Which is weird because Crowe is fair & I am physically geared towards dark guys.

When I was in Europe, I kept dreaming of this guy I kept running into at the lift in my hotel. He was staying on my floor. When I first saw him, I thought what a good-looking man & then forgot about it as soon as he stepped out of the lift. But then he kept turning up in my most x-rated dreams. So the next time I ran into him I paid a little more attention.

This one is also weird. He was dark but very young. 24 or 25 at the most. I've never been attracted to younger guys.

And anyway, these are dreams. As in while I'm asleep. I don't really do waking fantasies. About anything. If I look faraway or preoccupied while I'm awake, am thinking about something that actually happened. Remembering - worrying more often than not -rather than fantasizing.

When I first saw K, I had a few weeks of very intense erotic dreams & fantasies. Day & night. I was very attracted to him. It didn't worry me much because as can be seen from the examples above, that sort of thing happens to me quite often. Usually it goes on for a while & then I get bored & it stops. It gets the guy out of my system. In K's case, I didn't really think I'd ever see him again so I didn't try to fight it. I told myself it was better to let it run its course. There wasn't anything emotional or hearts-and-flowers about it. It was pure sex.

The first time I picked up the phone & heard his voice, those fantasies/dreams stopped. I was up most of that night, analyzing & disecting the brief telephone conversation, kicking myself for being so rude & demanding to know where he got my number etc.. when I was infact happy that he remembered me, made the effort to get my number & called and of course, absolutely terrified that he'd never call back, wondering what I'd do then, would I call him & apologize? Then kicking myself again for wanting to start something when I knew I was leaving the country etc.....

From that point on, I was so overwhelmed by our relationship, the speed with which it was developing, my insecurities, my commitment-phobia, the choices I had to make, the fights, the wedding, etc.....that it seemed like there was no room for living in a fantasy world. Reality was too overwhelming.

And then there was the fact that our first kiss gave me more of a phsyical high than all the fantasies put together. I guess that when he became an actual part of my life, the fantasies lost their raison d'etre & just died of natural causes.

I told him all this one night during the honeymoon. A tactical error, I later came to realize. My husband is big-headed enough without being told things like that. Of course, he was intensely curious. He wanted to hear details of all my fantasies. I sat up all night struggling to remember everything for him because he took so much pleasure in them.

Now am going all nostalgic for the point in our relationship where I would openly say things like that to him.

These days if he comes home late, I pretend to be asleep so he won't think I have nothing better to do than wait up for him, or accuse me of trying to control him etc...I would never fall asleep before he came home. I'd be too worried. But I'd never tell him that. And I've trained myself not to call him without a very good excuse so it doesn't sound like I'm calling to find out where he is or to check on him.

I've been called obssessive, needy, neurotic so many times - both by him & by other people - that now every expression of emotion or vulnerability has to be carefully weighed because there are a hundred & one ways in which it can be misinterpreted & not really appreciated.

Now that I've thoroughly depressed myself, I'd better try to get to work.


Thursday, June 21, 2007


The key to our bedroom door is missing. We noticed when we first moved in and we kept meaning to do something about it but never got round to it. We didn't need it. We live on our own. And our house guests are usually far too polite to come near the bedroom - let alone walk in without knocking.

Last night, my kid sister did just that. She barged in on us, I mean. I saw the light from the corridor outside and I heard K yelling at her to get out. But it didn't register. It was a really, really bad time for me. I mean, at that moment I could have cared less if the entire population of Abu Dhabi Island PLUS the Mainland were to walk in through the door.

When I felt him getting up, I nearly burst into tears. He mumbled something(I have no idea what) in what was supposed to be soothing tone of voice and then he was getting dressed. He went after her. I heard more yelling, something about knocking etc....

He came back in & said I'd better go see what's the matter with her, that she seemed to be sick or something.

That was when I opened my eyes & the whole thing hit me like a truck. Oh my God. OH MY GOD! I DID burst into tears then! Of mortification. I never wanted to see her again!

Him: Yinfa3 kida? Hiya 3amalsa t3ayat hinak winti hina? Tab a3mil eh ana dilwa2ti? Di eh 3ailti elmaganin di?!!(He's saying that she was crying over there & I was crying here & what was he supposed to do, that we're a crazy family.)

I paid no attention to that.

Him: 7abibi, mish wa2to, elbint shaklaha ta3bana begad. 2oomi shofiha di masa'oliya mish 3ayzeen mashakil allah la yisee'ik. (Sweetheart, this is not the time. You have to go check on her. She's our responsibility.)

Me(screaming): ASHOOFHA?!!Roo7 inta shoofha.(Check on her?!You go and check on her!)

Him: Mish 3ayza t2ooli fi eh. Maksoofa bayin.(She doesn't want to tell me what's wrong. Maybe she's embarrassed.)

Me: Maksoofa? Hiya maksoofa? (EmbarraSsed?SHE'S EMBARRASSED? )

Him: Momkin ti3a'ali ba2a? Fi eh ya3ni 3ashan da kolo?(Calm down. What's the big deal?)

Me: What do you mean? People can just walk into my bedroom & watch me having sex?!!

Him: Allah! Wihiya mal ahlaha? (It's none of her business what we do.)

Me: Oh just forget it.

Him: Momkin tibatali gnan?!!(Again telling to stop acting crazy.)

I was already getting up though, scrambling to pull something on.

I didn't think there was anything the matter with her. I thought she did it on purpose. And I was going to have it out with her.

Well, I was right. She lied to him. She wasn't sick or anything. She just told him that to make him stop yelling at her.

The real reason was that she needed to make a long distance call, she said.

There's a history to that. The first few days she was here, I noticed that she was on the phone long distance a lot. When I checked our phone bill, the numbers floored me. I never knew it was even POSSIBLE to run up those kind of numbers in a couple of days. She was on the phone with her friends in Casa. 4 or 5 hours a day. At least she said it was her friends. All the calls were to the same number & I have a feeling it's a guy but no matter.

So I managed to hold on to my temper. I didn't want to fight when she'd only just arrived. So I did an ostrich act. I just pretended it didn't happen. Two day later, I checked again & she was still doing it.

This time, I confronted her. She denied it. Flat-out. Said it wasn't her. That's something else that drives me nuts about her. She'd lie to your face like that even though she can see that you can see the truth. And she wouldn't waver.

I didn't push the point. I thought ok fine, now she knows I know she'll stop, right?

Wrong. She didn't stop. Not for a single day.

Didn't bother to talk to her about it again. Why bother? I just locked our long-distance calling facility and told her that when she needed to use it she should tell me so that I can be around to make sure she keeps it within reasonable limits. I told her she could have 30 min long distance per day. If she needed more than that, she could buy phone cards out of her allowance. We both gave her money when she came & I know my parents wouldn't have sent her over here penniless.

So now she calls me up at work & whines that she needs to make a call NOW. And then starts to whine even worse when I explain that I can't just walk out of the office & come home to unlock the phone for her whenever she wants. She'll call me 6 or 7 times a day at work.

At home, she'll wake me up if I'm asleep, whining about needing to use the phone.

And then last night. The last straw.

It's like she's sworn not to let me have a moment's peace until she gets what she wants.

All of this just because I won't let her run up a Dhs.10000 phone bill? She's like a junkie who hasn't had her fix!

I told her this is it. I've had it, that she was going back just as soon as I can get a flight for her.

We had a screaming match last night, of course. Complete with her throwing things at me. It would have degenerated into a physical fight if K hadn't managed to restrain us & bundle me back into the bedroom where I sat up smoking in bed for an hour before I could calm down.

He was smoking too. At one point, we looked at each other and burst out laughing. The two of us sitting up in bed - sleepless & smoking. Physically & emotionally frustrated. All because of a 16 yr old kid. Pathetic. Funny in a sad bizarre sort of way.

Today, I am left with the mother of all headaches. Sexual frustration does that to me. And it doesn't look like anything is going to get done about it anytime soon. I won't feel comfortable enough with her in the house. Even if we manage to lock the door, I wouldn't trust her not to be listening in at the keyhole. I have absolute faith in her power to think of something to rattle me at the worst possible moment.

And I won't send her back either. Was just bluffing about that. Am all talk. It would upset my parents if I sent her back like this. They had high hopes that me & her would have a grand reconciliation etc.....

Fat chance. If we make it without one of us committing fratricide, that will be something.

Oh God. 5 more days of this. What am I going to DO?!!!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Me: K?
K: Aiwa ya basha.
Me: Do you think we're oversexed?
K: Over eih yakhti?(Over what?)
Me: Oversexed.
K: Tab 2oomi. 2oomi ya bit i3milili kobayit shai. Balash 2albit dimagh. (Go make me a cup of tea instead of bothering me with nonsense.)

I guess that means no.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Talking Too Much

So this weekend I got a short break from my sister. She went camping & touring the Northern Emirates with my uncle for the weekend. I knew it meant I could relax because:

1) Am not around. If she senses I don't approve of something, that's all the motivation she needs to take it to extremes. My sister deliberately does things here that she's not allowed to do at home - knowing it will get her in trouble with my parents - just so she can get me into trouble too. She knows that because I brought her over here and because am supposed to be the big sister, everyone will hold me responsible for any outrage she perpetrates while 'in my care'.

I can't BELIEVE I brought this on myself. I am never, ever taking responsibility for her like this again. The next time I invite her to stay she will be over 21. If we're still speaking by then.

2) She always loved my uncle & tends to behave like an angel with him.

So I gave in to my husband's request to be his date for a beach party with his friends. Not exactly my idea of heaven but I felt I owed it to him because he's been kind of neglected since my sister came. She's been taking all my time & attention plus she stresses me out & I know I've taken it out on him a couple of times. And he let it pass. I just hope her visit ends before I've really pushed my luck with him.

So as I said, I owed him. If I didn't, I would have tried to find a way to wriggle out of it. Being around these particular friends of his wasn't exactly what I needed to unwind. I have misgivings about them but because they seem so important to him, I have to be civil. And I have to look like am enjoying myself. It's quite an effort actually.

I toyed with the idea of inviting a few of my own friends to act as a cushion & minimize my exposure to his friends but he told me it was a private event, by invitation only & that we only had two cards. So be it, I thought.

Now I don't swim in public. I am 30 years old & I've long since established the limits of what I'm comfortable exposing in public. A wet swimsuit is not within those limits. I grew up swimming at the Ladies Beach, the Abu Dhabi Ladies club, Ladies Day everywhere else or private pools/beaches. And I'm happy with things that way.

So what do I normally do at beach parties - given the fact that I don't drink either? I eat, enjoy the music, dance, smoke shisha etc....Last night didn't work out that way. None of them had any interest in dancing & I couldn't very well dance all by myself, could I? No fun.

And they all spent all the time in the water, which left me sitting on the beach by myself & left my husband torn between babysitting me & his obvious desire to be in the water too. The fact that I did not fit in with this group could not have been more glaringly obvious.

In addition, it was so hot & humid that night that I was stifling & sticky in my dress. It was the kind of weather where you should either be naked in the water or indoors with airconditioning.

No matter. I tried to put a brave face on it. Spent a lot of time on the phone & then ended up striking up a weird conversation about black magic of all things - with the bartender. Usually, I complain about running into people you know everywhere in Abu Dhabi. That night, I prayed it would happen. Nothing. Murphy's Law etc....

I got so bored, uncomfortable etc...that when guys would come up & ask me to dance, I was almost tempted. But I got a funny feeling that dancing with strange guys might not contribute very many positive things to my marriage.

I did not want to say I had a headache & go home early because I'd done that once before with the same group of people. It was too lame an excuse to use twice.

And then B.- one of my husband's friends - joined me at the bar. Terrific. Small talk time. In that weather, I wasn't exactly in the mood.

I was still trying to think of something to say when the matter was taken out of my hands.

B : Why don't you live a little?
Me: Excuse me?
B : Chill. Have a drink. Get in the water.
Me: Thanks but I'm fine.
B : Sure. You're just fine sitting there sweating.
Me: Really B., you don't need to worry about me. Am a big girl.
B : I mean, look at what you're wearing. It's not like you're mit7ajba. You're not so holy. But you think you're somehow more moral than the girls who are out there having fun.

Me & this guy tend to argue a lot. But usually about abstract, general issues. He's never criticized me personally before. And I also avoided getting personal with him up until that moment.

However, I wasn't going to sit there & let him put me on the defensive that way. I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine. If he could criticize me then I had a mouth too & he wasn't a saint.

Me: So how come you're dateless tonight? I thought this was a couples thing.
B : I got friends in high places.
Me: I guess S.(his gf) couldn't make it?
B : I don't know. I didn't ask her.
Me: Why not?
B : No reason. Know what? Maybe I will ask her.

So he picks the phone, calls her, tells her he's at a this party & has an extra card & does she want to come. And she says yes. No questions asked. He gives her some directions & then hangs up.

I stare at him.

Me: You're not even going to go pick her up?
B : Nah. She'll get a taxi. She's a big a girl too.
Me: She must really care about you.
B : Wa omoorhona mo3alaqaton biforoogihina. (A quote essentially meaning that women's affairs are linked to their private parts/sexuality)
Me: You're so gross.
B : Yes. I know. Holy L. So much above it all. So much better than everyone else.
Me: I never said I was better than everyone else!
B : No but you act like you think it.
Me: What? Just because am not wearing a bikini & don't appreciate your sexist remarks?
B : Ah so now I'm sexist.
Me: What you said about women & sex was very sexist & you know it.
B : I think I see where you're coming from. When you and other women criticize men all the time for being hormonal, sex-crazed creatures, that is fine & egalitarian. When a man points out that women can be just as bad, all of sudden he's a Talibanist?
Me: I didn't say you're a Talibanist.
B : Figure of speech, L. You called me sexist. The Taliban are the ultimate in sexism.

I didn't know what to say to that. I was confused but still very angry.

Me: I just think it's wrong when a relationship is based on using each other for sex. A man who respects women wouldn't think like that.
B : Oh come off it L. Look at you and K. You two are so oversexed.

I should have put an end to the convo there. It was getting way, way too personal.

But I was too stung by what he said.

Me : We are not oversexed! We're in love. How dare you?
Him: Yeah, let's see how that works out when the sparks have stopped flying.
Me : They won't!
Him: Oh, they will. They always do.
Me : So what you're trying to say is nothing can exist between a man and a woman but sex?
Him: 'Course not. There's money too.
Me : So those of us who are not nymphomaniacs are prostitutes?
Him: What's wrong with nymphomaniacs & prostitutes?

At that point, I knew I had to end the conversation. I just got up & walked off on him. I was so angry I briefly considered snitching to my husband, telling him that his friend called me a prostitute. But I took a walk to calm down & decided that:

1) Since I was constantly complaining that they let my husband tell them what they can or can't say infront of me, I couldn't exactly go running to him the first time one of them speaks to me out of turn.

2) B. was probably more than a little drunk.

3) It was my fault for giving him the chance to prolong the conversation when I knew that his views on women are rarely pleasant.

Now am left with the unpleasant sensation of having talked too much & heard too much from someone I barely know & don't really like. If only I could roll back time.

Oh and then there's also the fact that my dislike of these people's company clearly isn't as well-concealed as I thought. Which is not going to improve future social situations, is it?

Could the guy have been so drunk that he simply wouldn't remember anything? What about the rest of them?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Happy Families

I speak to one of my parents everyday. And I email my brothers on a daily basis. But me & my sister ignore each other.

Sometimes, I ask my mother how my sister is. Mama will ask her to come to the phone & speak to me. She'll almost always say something mean like that she doesn't feel like it or she's busy etc...loud enough so she's sure I can hear. Upon which my mother will tell her off & she'll come to the phone. You can imagine the conversations we then have.

It drives me crazy. This feeling that someone is mad at you for no reason. That you're being punished/stonewalled permanently. I can't leave it alone. So I launch a charm campaign. Phone calls, SMS, cards, funny emails and presents. Lots of presents.

Little by little, she begins to thaw. She's never demonstrative. The best I can hope for is this grudging acceptance, that if someone says she should speak to me or asks her about me, I don't need to be afraid of her answer.

And that she will occasionally refer to me as her sister. She hardly ever does that. I remember that when her friends would come over to our house growing up, she would introduce us to them as 'my brothers & L'. Like I was another guest or something.

So now I know that when she uses the term 'my sister', it means we're in good shape.

But the thing is, as hard as I try to stay on speaking terms, it never lasts. She'll let it go on long enough that I'll start to hope for more. Then she'll do something that will ruin it.

Like now, I thought things were going so well between us that at her request, I flew her over her to stay with me for 2 weeks so she can see her friends & do some shopping.

In the few days since she arrived, she has created so much mayhem that I'm forced to think it is a bit more than teenage rebellion. There really is something very wrong with her. It's not natural for a kid her age to be so cruel & manipulative.

I feel so torn. One minute, I want to send her home & never see her again. The next, I can't bear for her to go away on bad terms. I want to keep her here until somehow it's all fixed. Sometimes, I'm asking myself, is it my fault? After all, I WAS jealous of her. I did have trouble accepting her. I did ignore her for years. But I never hated her the way she seems to hate me. NEVER.

It's like she keeps setting me up for this. Leading me on to think we can be close & then slapping me down with so much hostility. I feel stupid, used.

And I'm ashamed of it. For God's sake, I am 30 years old & she's 16. She's a kid. I should know how to deal with her.

My worst fear is that if she doesn't grow out of this soon, she's going to wear me out. She'll make me give up. I don't want to but this is so painful. I can't keep going through it over & over & over again. And if I stop trying, I know she won't try. So that means what? That we'll stop speaking forever? That we won't be part of each other's lives? That one day I'll be saying 'my brothers & L' too?

That seems so bleak.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Saturday Night

Saturday night, we went out to meet some friends at a club. Very nice evening. Being with lots of people you know and running into lots of people you know as opposed to sitting by myself drinking coffee & smoking at a club in a foreign capital where I know so little of the language I couldn't respond properly to friendly overtures if anyone was inclined to make them and am left painfully aware of the fact that am not the most scintillating company when I can't understand a word of the conversation around me.

However, being out on the town with the ones you know and love does have its disadvantages. Like when your husband decides some guy walking past was peering over your shoulder into your cleavage & glares at the guy so fiercely that - this being UAE - a bouncer instantly materializes at your table, asking if you want to complain.

Bouncer: Law fi 7ada za3ijkon. Law eldemoselle bada tishtiki mafi ay moshkila. (If anyone is disturbing you or if mademoiselle would like to complain).
K: Shokran bas hiya mish mademoiselle. Di elmadam. (Thank you but she's not mademoiselle. She's my wife.)

Upon which the bouncer proceeded to ignore everything I said, giving me his back while he finished a conversation with my husband that ended with my husband saying he wanted the guy thrown out.

The bouncer goes off, gets 2 other bouncers & they throw the guy out. Just like that.

It made me FURIOUS because I was sure the guy did NOT peer over my shoulder. If someone was peering over my shoulder from behind DOESN'T ANYONE THINK I WOULD HAVE NOTICED? My husband is just paranoid.

But no one would listen to me when I tried to say that. Not my husband. Not the bouncer. Not my friends. No one.

In my fury, having failed to get through to my husband, I actually went up to the bouncer & subjected him to a tirade - the bulk of which I doubt he heard because the band was back on by then and the music was deafening. In the end, he basically explained that even if the guy hadn't done anything, my husband clearly thought he had and if one of them hadn't been removed from the premises, a fight might have broken out which the bouncers simply won't have.

What could I say? That if one of them had to go I personally thought it should have been my husband because the guy didn't do anything? I was tempted but it seemed disloyal. Instead I mumbled something feeble about how my husband would never resort to violence etc...and the bouncer just smiled at me patronizingly. Defeated, I went back to our table where I sat fuming.

My husband was silent but all our friends took his side, saying they'd seen the guy peering over my shoulder. I am still not wholly convinced. I mean, how could that be? I would have felt SOMETHING. Breath. A shadow. SOMETHING. But I mean 9 people sitting & standing in close proximity can't all be wrong can they?

On the way home, I was silent, staring out of the window. K said that when he gets into fights I don't like it. And when he reacts in a civilized manner, complaining to authorities - no violence, I don't like it either. So what was he supposed to do when someone harrasses me? High-five them? The answer I wanted to give was no let me handle it. I've been taking care of myself for the last 30 years & I've gotten pretty good at it. But I was suddenly too tired and vaguely depressed to bother.

Seeing his point, I decided the fact that he didn't try to hit the guy WAS commendable and a great improvement. Not only did he not hit the guy, he didn't even swear at him or otherwise abuse him which is the least one has learnt to expect from him. Definitely a behavior trend I wanted to reinforce. So I decided to stop complaining.

That's not to say HE had no complaints.

Him: Shoft ezay elragel kan fakrik mademoiselle?(Did you see how the bouncer thought you were a mademoiselle.)
Me (hopefully): 3ashan shakli sgeera? (Because I look too youthful?)
Him: La ya madam. 3ashan mafish wa7da mitgawiza mo7tarama btilbis zayik.(No because no respectable married woman would dress like you.)
Me : Do you mean that I'm not respectable or that all unmarried women are not respectable?
Him: It was a joke.
Me : So you really have no complaints about my dress sense?
Him: I didn't say that.
Me : I'm sorry. What DID you say?
Him: Let me see. How can I put it? I much prefer it when your chest is covered in public.
Me : Well guess what? So do I.
Him: Khalas. Fain elmoshkila?(Great. So where's the problem?)
Me : You think it was all my fault.
Him: What?
Me : Back there. In the club.
Him: Your fault how?
Me : You think that if that guy really did what you said he did, the reason was that my top was too low.
Him: 7abibi I am not interested in his reasoning. I didn't like him seeing your chest. Wala howa wala ghairo.(Or anyone else) Mahom illy kano a23deen ma3ana ma 3amaloosh zayo bas ana ma kontish mabsoot ya3ni in inti a23da kida 2odamhom.(The people we were with didn't do what he did but I still didn't like you sitting infront of them like that (with uncovered chest))
Me : Tayeb if I go out with you in my jalabiya and someone still harasses me?
Him: Yakhod 3ala afah(Egyptian expression meaning the guy should be or would be put in his place I guess). Bas 3ala2al ana hab2a mitdayi2 min 7aga wa7da mish min 7agat.(But at least I will have one thing to be angry about instead of lots of things.)
Me : 7abibi, I don't have a chest. I'm flat. You MUST have noticed.
Him: You are not flat.
Me : No?
Him: No.You have enough for me. And you clearly have enough for that ******* back there. Good enough reason to cover up.

But I didn't care about the guy in the club or women's rights anymore. There were more important things at stake.

Me : How can you say am not flat when you know my cup size?
Him: Your cupsize is too small for you.
Me : What?
Him: Your bras are always too small for you. Why don't you try the things I got you? You never wear them.

I don't. He's bought me lingerie a few times. I wear the knickers and other stuff but never the bras because they're all the wrong size I thought.

Me : Well, they're too big.
Him: Try them.

Out of curiosity, I went home and did. The size I usually wore was 34B. He'd bought me 32C. The fit was about the same to look at. But I had to admit the one he bought was more comfortable.

I couldn't believe the miracle so today at lunch, I went to Marks & Spencer to see a 'lingerie specialist' - a woman who measures you and helps you to find the right underwear sizes to buy. She took my measurements and voila. She suggested 32C.

I was so pleased I ended up buying about a dozen new bras from M&S. I know the difference isn't much but the psychological effect of graduating from B to C was an immeasureable boost to my self-confidence.

Is it possible that all these years I've been wearing the wrong size bra? I thought back to what made me settle on 34B. And then I remembered. It was my mother's size. My first bra was stolen from her. And I just kept on buying the same size.

He may be a male chauvinist with a violent streak but not only does he love my hair, he also thinks am not flat. Thanks to him, I don't FEEL flat anymore (Size C is officially not flat). All my life I've agnoized over my dimunitive breasts and frizzy hair. And now I am free. How can he not be The One?

P.S. Torn between gratitude for the miracle he worked for me & wondering exactly how he became such an expert? I mean, the first bra he ever bought me was way before I'd let him anywhere near my chest and it was size 32C which means that:

a) He can tell just by looking.
b) He didn't learn from me.

I mean, I can't tell other women's sizes just by looking. For years and year, I got my own size wrong. My mother got my size wrong. Even the M&S 'lingerie specialist' had to use a measuring tape to tell me. But he gets it right on the first guess. With no help from measuring tape or other, more advanced technology. Go figure!



So I've been in Europe for 10 days. Business trip. Got back the day before yesterday. It's strange how much more exciting and enjoyable such trips are when you're single and living with your parents. Now they're just a dreaded inconvenience.

Have I lost my passion for travel? Don't I want to 'see the world' anymore? I guess I do but not on my own. There I've said it. I kept beating myself up about it but sadly said self remained imprevious to such violence. I think the feminist in me is officially comatose. Not only did I miss my husband in a further demonstration of my utter & dysfunctional emotional dependance on my partner, I also missed our apartment. A lot.

I find I can't exist in a single room anymore. I grew up living in a room in my parent's house. When I was in the US for college, I had a room in my brother's apartment. When I went home (Morocco or Algeria) for holidays to visit my relatives, I stayed at a room in somebody's house - usually a grandparent. Everywhere else I've ever travelled I've stayed in a hotel room.

Then I got married. I experienced having a whole apartment to call mine and do as I wish with. Khalas. Am now a new woman. My previous history is no more. A single room cannot contain me anymore. Everywhere I go, I want 3 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a balcony & 2.5 bathrooms.

Am so glad to be back. So glad I decided to skip work yesterday. Just like that. Switched off my cell. No call, no show. It was great to feel I can. Freedom is a beautiful thing no?

Life being what it is though, I happened to go online very late last night and found this email:

Dear L.,

I have been trying to reach you on your cell phone no.xxxxxxxx but it appears to be switched off. I believe you were expected at the office today Sunday 03 June 2007. Dr.xxxxxx(My Manager's Manager) has some urgent work for you. Please contact the office asap.

HR Manager

So of course I stressed about it the rest of the night & failed to get any sleep.