Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This week

I sat with a complete stranger in his living room as he got drunk and cried like a baby while his wife - a new friend - was inside packing up to leave him. Said wife is now staying with me while she looks for a place.

I know why she had to leave him and I thought I agreed with her reasoning. But how could she? If she ever loved him - or even if she didn't - how could she withstand seeing him in so much pain?

Not sure whether I should admire her strength of mind or be put-off by the apparent lack of concern on her part. She doesn't seem unhappy to me at all. Nothing like you'd expect a woman whose marriage just broke down to be. And that makes me uncomfortable somehow.

But then I don't have all the details. Who really knows what's going on in a marriage? Other then people involved. Sometimes not even them.

Look how much I don't know about mine.

My husband isn't happy she's staying with me. Or maybe he is unhappy that he'd never heard of her until he called and I was out and she happened to answer the phone.

But not as unhappy as I was to go on facebook and find pics showing work that he's been doing on his house. Not his parent's house. His house - which is about an hour's drive away. If he can get away to paint and change wallpaper and work in the garden and fix things there then why can't he get away to see me?

I don't know. I just don't like it that he's been getting out so much and is not 24/7at his father's bedside. Only I'm not going to say anything. Just like he didn't say anything about the friend he doesn't know who is staying with me.

More things I found out about him that he hasn't told me and that we have yet to discuss:

1) The drinking has stopped but he doesn't pray anymore.
2) He reads a lot - mostly work-related stuff.
3) H's going back to work in May.
4) He hasn't looked up old friends or let anyone know he's back in town. And when people find out and call or come to visit he generally doesn't like it. He tends to do everything on his own and avoid company as much as possible.
5) He's converting one of the bedrooms into a walk-in closet for me. Spends a lot of time working on it.

No.5 is exasperating. I am always complaining about all the stuff am having to get rid of because his old room can only hold so much and I don't want to take over his parent's house with my stuff. So he decides to do something about that. Great. Wonderful. But why not SAY SOMETHING? I mean, doesn't he think I need to know that I now have all this extra space and may therefore keep some of the stuff I'd planned to get rid of?

So what DO we talk about? Lately not very much. We keep it light and meaningless. I spend a lot of time thinking up things to say or text that will make him smile. The exercise makes me smile too.

I email him lots of pics. Sexy pics. Funny pics. Sometimes he sends me pics too. The pics seem to set the tone of our next phone call.

He still makes me laugh as effortlessly as he always could. Provided of course I don't ask too many questions or 'act like a wife'. And provided I don't cry or go all emotional and yucky on him.

Doesn't always work of course. Still happens that one of us is in the mood to push it and then things can really degenerate.

There's still a lot of unacknowledged tension just below the surface which is why talking about anything heavy isn't really an option.

Labels: ,

Friday, April 25, 2008

The General Aim

"the general aim of the jihad and the mujahadeen is to strike at the foundations and infrastructure of the Western colonialist program or at the so-called world order.... Their defeat means, simply, the elimination of all forms of nation-states, such that all that remains is the natural existence familiar to Islam, the regional entity under the great Islamic state."

Osama Bin Laden

I came across this quotation in a magazine article and I have so many questions:

1) The Muslim zealots who secretly or not so secretly sympathize with Bin Laden because they see him as 'standing up' to the evil, colonialist West, how many of them are aware of this 'general aim'? Do they WANT to see the destruction of their nation-states? Do they WANT to see it dissolve into a regional entity under the rule of Bin Laden or someone like him?

Do Egyptians want to see Egypt dissolve? The Saudis? The Syrians? The Iraqis?

The 'Islamic World' is a term that includes some of the most tribal, clannish, prejudiced people in the world. Even within the same village, people don't want to be ruled by someone from another family or tribe, let alone give up their whole country.

2) Do most Muslims realize that by issuing this sort of statement - and then following it up with random acts of violence - these people are infact declaring war on the existing world order i.e. the rest of the world IN OUR NAME - even though we never gave them a mandate to and most of us have no idea what they are doing?

Do we realize that their ultimate aim is to provoke the rest of the world to declare war on Muslim countries so Muslims will then have no choice but to fight back? That this is their idea of how to unify Muslims?

Do the Muslims who are always feeling like victims and complaining about Islamophobia realize that there are - among our own numbers - those who see Islamophobia as a good thing and want to see more of it?

I could complain about Islamophobia. There are times when I've gotten the distinct impression that one of the factors complicating my immigration procedure is that while some of the caseworkers can't quite find anything to indicate that me and my husband won't be able to integrate well or will be murdering moviemakers or cartoon artists or our female relatives to save our 'honor', they've had bad experiences with Muslims in the past and they've read all the wrong stuff by Muslims.

Instead I find myself much angrier at those Muslims who create the kind of ill-will that the rest of us then have to suffer from. I think of how they feel free to bring down reprisals on the heads of innocent people in so many parts of the world. Bloody, disasterous reprisals that make my own troubles seem inconsequential. I think of the way they start wars they know they can't win and then run away and leave innocent civilians to bear the brunt while they move on somewhere else to start a new war.

I've been reading them a lot lately - something I've mostly avoided in the past only because I find them so distasteful. And the more I read, the more I find that the underlying theme is that they want us to hate and be hated.

And all for what? Nothing? Perpetual strife and war as an objective in itself?

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Squandered Thoughts

I keep thinking about useless things and pondering useless questions. It's a waste of thought and energy I know. I should stop.

Like now. At 2:30 in the morning, I start wondering why I now only use my side of our bed, never yours. I'm obssessively careful not to disturb your side of the bed. Because maybe if I don't roll over into all that empty space I can continue to deny on some level that it IS infact empty?

Our bed. Is it even still that? I mean this bed has to go - just like everything else in the apartment. You will probably never sleep here again. So does that make it my bed now because I am the one sleeping in it? Or is it still yours because well, you did buy it? Our bed, my bed, your bed. None of it sounds quite right. I guess it's just the bed now.

God knows I am no stranger to sleepless nights. But sleepless nights with you sleeping next to me were so much easier.

I know you need me too. I know because our need and our frustration has turned into this great wall between us. It's such hard work now to even talk over the frustration and the noise of how hard we're both fighting to keep from taking it out on each other.

Am I supposed to feel better because you're miserable too?

Our last time together was good and bad that way. Good because while a part of me is still mad at you for giving me up and not looking back the way you did, at least for 10 days you did give me your full undivided attention. Physically and emotionally, you gave me 150% which I guess is the only way you do things when you do them at all. You really took care of me.

But it was bad because I knew that the minute it was over, you were going to give that 150% somewhere else.

All in all, it was good while it lasted but bad because I knew in the greater scheme of things, it wasn't going to make things any easier.

Is it too much to ask that you learn to share yourself out better? Am I wrong to want 75% all the time rather than 150% for 10 days and then nothing for God only knows how long?

I love you.

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 05, 2008

California Dreaming

Convo with male hairdesser:

Me: Excuse me this is my husband calling from overseas. I have to take this call.
Hairdresser (switching off the hairdryer): No problem.

When I am finished with the call:

Me : Ok now. Sorry about that.
Hairdresser: So your husband is away?
Me : Yes?
Hairdresser: Do you want him to come running home?
Me : Uh..
Hairdresser: Go home, put on a little make-up & take a pic of yourself in this same top you're wearing now and send it to him. I guarantee he will be with you tomorrow.
Me : ok thanks.

And I bury my face in my novel to discourage further discourse.

A part of me is vaguely depressed because I can remember a time when if I wanted K with me and he wasn't, then it really was no more complicated than a nice top, a hairdo and some make up. Actually, scrap the hairdo. He likes my hair natural, preferably wet or as wild as possible, which means virtually no effort on my part.

Why have I stopped blogging? Because when I try to write I sound like a broken record. What more is there to say? I've said it all before so many times.

Instead I go for long drives on the Corniche listening to California Dreamin (and similar) full blast over and over again. I find comfort in the strangest things lately.

In all our 8 months apart, he hasn't been out to visit me once. And he has no plans to anytime soon either. He's no less stubborn about delegating his family responsibilities to siblings or other relatives.

A while back, I was talking on the phone with his bro who was staying with K and their parents. He was telling me that he'd have to be getting back soon because his wife was going crazy. It hurt because am going crazy and it isn't causing K to budge an inch. So does it mean that K is just more stubborn and immune to feminine hysterics than his bro or that his bro loves his wife more than K loves me?

And still no light at the end of the tunnel as far as my immigration is concerned. It has cost us quite a lot of money so far because it seems he had tax issues to resolve before he could sponsor a partner etc.... I can't believe how high income and property taxes are in Sweden. And he was contesting some of them (successfully am glad to say) and so things kept dragging on and the red tape kept getting thicker and thicker.

What with that, and the fact that when I told him about some of my financial woes, he decided to settle everything immediately on the grounds that the longer we leave them, the more we'll end up paying in interest and finance charges, well, we're both a lot poorer than we started out.

That's all sorted out now.

But I keep expecting something else to pop up and delay things again. The average waiting time has now expanded from 9-12 months to 12-18 months. It seems that we - and others like us - are having to pay everytime somebody manages to defraud or abuse the system which doesn't seem fair but whatever.

And I am now left without access to my usual sources of comfort - i.e. shopping and pampering myself. I am on a very strict budget. I've never owed anyone as much as I now owe my husband and it's making me very nervous. I'd like to have enough money when I leave here to be able to at least offer to repay him. Whether he'll accept any money from me or not is another issue. He seems to feel that it's his responsibility as my husband to settle my credit cards. I don't know. Maybe he's right. But given his present circumstances and the fact that I didn't spend any of that money on anything worthwhile, I don't feel entitled to keep his money.

Besides, I've lost my appetite for shopping. The pain of packing has accomplished that. Now when I see new clothes, I think oh no, more stuff to pack and I shudder.

Today I did have my hair blowdried - for free. A long-forgotten voucher I got as a birthday present from a girlfriend. It's amazing the money-savers you manage to find when you're taking apart your home and you're broke.

And I did get that raise at work so that should help. The one positive outcome of the long wait is that every extra month I get to work improves our financial situation and gives me more to start with when I finally get there.

I've also been doing a lot of things I know he wouldn't like. Or at least he wouldn't have liked in that other life when our lives were less seperate and we were so close that practically everything I did elicited some kind of response from him.

Now he sometimes feels too distant to be affected by any situation I put myself in.

For the first time in my life, I don't have a family or a husband to answer to, so it doesn't seem as big a deal if I go clubbing every night and then attend after-parties at the homes of complete strangers where people routinely get drunk and hit on me. Over the last few months, I've discovered that the most unlikely people will hit on you given the right blood alcohol level. The funny thing is, I've become so detached and numb that instead of being upset or stressed by it, I am finding a strange kind of pleasure in how much it now embarrasses these people to be around me. I am enjoying their discomfort. It amuses me.

It's a big change from where I used to be. The old LouLou would have panicked. She would have blamed herself for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as she was raised to do. And she would have felt guilty and never wanted to see anyone who had witnessed any of it ever again. Sheer guilt would have caused her to confess to the men in her life - if only to be reassured that they can still love and respect her after they learn of her lapse. She would have found redemption in that.

But the new LouLou doesn't care. She feels it's just one of those things. She feels it's ok to be in any situation as long as she can handle it with minimal harm done. And that those who don't like it should be there for her so she doesn't find herself alone most of the time if she doesn't go places they don't like with people they don't like.

She has no urge to confess to anyone. And when her uncle, the only male of her family still resident in Abu Dhabi got to hear about a couple of escapades and confronted her, she wasn't at all fazed by the fact that he seemed to think she must have gone insane.

I have a feeling that while I wouldn't go out of my way to let my husband know, if he did find out and if he did freak out, I'd react the same way I did with my uncle. The thought is nowhere near as intimidating as it would have been once.

Besides, I am not even sure he WOULD freak out, the way the old K would have.

After all, I am not the only one who has changed over the last few months, am I?

Labels: ,