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neurotic Iraqi wife

January 31, 2008

A True Iraqi...

Wow, what a day. There was a 10 minute hail storm at lunchtime. I ran to the glass door and looked outside, it was amazing! Iraqi guys started saying with excitement in their voices, Haloob… haloob, which basically means Hail. Then the sun shined and I was trying to look for the Rainbow, unfortunately I didn’t see one ;-(

I’m not usually a fan of Thursdays (except maybe it marks the end of the workweek, Yaaaaaaay) cuz its always filled with meetings. Some can drag on forever with people repeating themselves over and over and over and over and over (You get the point). I wish theyd talk about substantial issues, rather than email protocols which they have mentioned a million times. And I also wish that they themselves practice what they preach.

Today though, was abit different. To mark the 30 Jan 2005 elections, someone came up with the idea of celebrating it each year and together with the elections, which I personally am not proud of even though I was one of the many people that got excited to finally have a say in my country (little did we know then) a woman decided to “celebrate” the unity of the mixed nationalities that work here from the Iraqis, to the Brits, to the Aussies, to the Americans, South Africans, Indians etc. The celebration also coincides with our month of Muharram which marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and the beginning of the horrific sectarian war.

Usually in Muharram, people cook large amounts of food (Qeema and/or Hareesa (Barley mixed with either chicken or lamb)), in really big pots and distribute it among the people as an act of solidarity and sharing. Im not really a fan of hareesa, and Im definitely not a fan of hareesa mixed with dust, and muddy rain!!! But what I really find amusing about this whole thing is the actual act of stirring the pot. Myth has it, if you stir the pot and make a wish (a murad or nithir), it will definitely be granted! People started stirring the Hareesa pot since yesterday night. I instead waited till this morning and went out in the rain just to stir the pot and make the same wish yet AGAIN. I think its been in line for the past three years now, waiting very patiently for its turn.

The meeting that I was dreading had a different flavour this time. Yes they did talk about the usual boring stuff of emails, expenses, travel etc but today they recognized someone very special. M, used to sit next to me. He is originally from Mosul, but lives in Baghdad, infact he lives on the exact same street we used to live in. Not only that, but it was only 2 weeks ago that he told me, his parents apparently knew my uncle and my grandfather really well. They (his parents) even stayed at my grandfather’s house back in the 60’s! What a small world huh! So M to me is a very special young man.

Before I go on vacation, I asked him to fill for me while Im away. Not only his English is immaculate but his attention to detail is just astounding. And I thought I was fussy!!! But I found someone even fussier. At first he wasn’t too enthusiastic thinking that no one can do what I do, lol. And no one can be “in your face” the way I am when I need some information cuz M is an extremely shy person. But wwwwwwoooooow, the work and the professionalism he exhibited while I was away blew everyone’s mind. So today, management decided to recognize his great efforts. It also acts as an encouragement to all the other Iraqis we work with. The look on M’s face when his name was called out was just priceless!

M has also applied for the Special US Immigrant Visa. He is now waiting for an interview date to be set. Unlike many, he is not that enthusiastic about it at all. Yes he wants to leave Iraq so badly but no, he doesn’t wanna leave his parents behind. So he is kinda hesitant about the whole situation. But learning from Dr A’s experience and the other Iraqis who left without a specific plan in hand, M has been adamant in finding a job way before he even sets foot in the US. I and others are lobbying for him big time, although I know he doesn’t need it because his intelligence is very apparent. He will be a great asset to whoever takes him. His thirst for knowledge and attention to detail, is very rare to find, especially in the circumstances that he lives in. But M is a fighter, a survivor, and most importantly an Iraqi. A true Iraqi…

Footnote:I beat HUBBY's ass at backgammon lastnight, Yaaaaaaaaay...Revenge is definitely sweet ;-) Im hoping there will be an encore tonight, hehe.
posted by neurotic_wife at 4:26 PM 7 comments

January 30, 2008

The Lucky Dice...

Part 2

Dec 20 – Jan 6
They say home is where the heart is. Yes, definitely Abu dhabi is my home, there is no doubt about that. My heart is always with my parents, my siblings, and ofcourse HUBBY. It really was good to just relax and switch off. And switch off I did. Even though I’d check my work email from time to time, but there was no yearning nor that weird sense of missing that I used to feel before.

We also managed to attend two weddings. I usually decline all sort of invitations due to the constant feelings of guilt. But this time I said to hell with it. I cant lock myself up anymore. It aint doing any good to me, nor is it doing any good to anyone. It was also the first time HUBBY and I go to a social gathering together as a married couple which was fun cuz almost 4 years of marriage later, we still had people coming over and congratulating us. I also came to realize when youre stuck in the GZ prison for a substantial amount of time, you become devoid of all the social skills you came to master in adulthood. Except for one topic, yup, Iraq. In every Iraqi gathering, be it a party, a meeting, even a funeral, we Iraqis can never have enough of the political BS talk. And BS we did...

No trip is without a hair glitch ofcourse. My hair needed a lot of care and attention. Without going into the boring details, all I need to say is, in three days, I went from the light brown hair I was, to the darkest brown with yucky bright yellow blonde highlights, to black with grey tint (YUP), to what it is now. And believe me it was not a fun experience. If you were an avid reader, you’d know how important my hair is to me. Infact anyone who knows me personally, from family and friends would know what a big deal I make about it. Apart from the colour, the cut was just another horror story. You know how in the Simpsons, when Homer looks at food and says something like “Mmmmmmmmmmm, FOOOOOOOOD”??? Well I guess when the hairdresser saw MY hair he probably had the same reaction “Mmmmmmmmmmmm Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaairrrr” and the cruel scissors gobbled away my long long locks!!!

During my stay in AD, I believed it was high time to visit an ENT Dr. after the daily nose bleeds Ive been experiencing for the past 7 months. And I tell you, sticking an endoscope into one’s nostrils was no fun experience. I was also asked to have a CTScan so the Dr can be sure of his prognosis. An operation was necessary but I opted out. I decided that any major stuff can wait till after I leave Baghdad. Instead I was put on medication. The nose bleeds have diminished, thank god for that. I still get them, but not on a daily basis.

I guess when youre having so much fun, time passes real fast. I extended my vacation to a few extra days so I can spend more time with my family. My marriage also seemed to have benefited from that. I guess it took us almost four years to get used to each other’s ways without the critical lenses we used on each other at the beginning. Maybe its age, maybe its experiences, I don’t know, but I certainly have become more relaxed. Relaxed and content. And for ME to be content is a miracle to say the least. A few days before I leave, HUBBY looked at me with bewilderment and said “Shit Neurotica, we didn’t argue at all this trip!!!You didn’t nag, you didn’t complain, you probably pouted only twice or three times and that’s because of your hair saga. You are more affectionate, more caring, Im shocked!!!, no, shocked is an understatement ” I just smiled, cuz I too was shocked!!!

Yup, the nagging and bitching stopped. I no more complain about the dozen empty coke cans scattered all over the house. Nor the shoes or clothes that are thrown about. I even surprised myself when the dryer tore one of my favourate jeans and my reaction was just a mere shrug…Im still critical though, mostly of myself but to a far lesser extent. Maybe the 33 is a magical number afterall, who knows…

Saying goodbye to family and HUBBY was very difficult this time. I hate goodbyes, and I hate leaving everyone I care for behind. I wasn’t looking forward to going back to the prison at all. Infact, time and time again thoughts of quitting was always dominating my mind.

Jan 7 – Present
Coming back wasn’t fun. Again RJ flights were getting cancelled etc. but thankfully I did make it without any drastic drawbacks. The first Friday I was here it snowed. I didn’t witness it because I was famished for sleep, but I did see the few white flakes that remained on the ground. As for work, well its back to the same monotonous unchallenging job. How I wake up to face yet another boring day is just beyond me. The only thing I look forward to is my chats with HUBBY and playing backgammon. I also discovered some herbal vitamins on drugstore.com that I decided to give a try. Im so against these things, but I came to realize that at my age, I should be far more active, far more energetic. And to be honest, these are really good. Kinda uplifted my spirits as well.

As for the blog, I decided to post something everyday. Kinda like a diary of whats happened at work, certain political views or my life in general. Not that its gonna be interesting, but I feel, in a few years time, when I’ve put my little girls to sleep (Yup I want girls) I would sit, read my words and smile. Smile and remember. Remember this weird phase of my life. It will also give you an idea about some of the characters I work with and events that take place in this prison, taking into consideration opsec details ofcourse. So Im gonna start as of today.

Today
Its an awfully quiet and slow day. That’s how it is over here. You get days where you cant even scratch your head because of the time constraints and the amount of reports requested, then you get an extremely slow phase. It’s a cycle I guess. Everyone seemed bored out of their wits which made me feel abit better. My friend V who is in NYC right now enjoying her vacation called me up to tell me all about the healthy stuff she put herself through, or shall I say all the healthy torture??? V is a health freak!!! From cleaning her colon…YUCK…to peeling her face. I didn’t tell her about my vitamin intake, but Im sure she will be very proud!!!

The Col came back a few days ago and the nervous hype of his comeback has fizzled down now that all the people he didn’t really get along with were moved to different positions in the other part of the complex. He seems to have had a good time on his vacation, which is a great relief to all. Atleast there isn’t much of the cursing and the name calling going around. Thank God for that. I am extremely shocked though to find out that there’s someone around here who has been ratting people. He did it to me, and now it seems he’s done it to someone else I know. In normal circumstance I wouldn’t be that surprised nor would I have cared much cuz Im very confident of the work I do and deliver. But the shocker is the person in question himself. I don’t know what happened to him lately. He has become a complete stranger to me and others, and that’s sad. Very sad…

Anyways, its time to leave and go to my room. Im gonna try and beat HUBBY at backgammon on skype. The games became extremely interesting as of late. A few rules were added which I wont disclose here, hehe…Yesterday the dice was on his side, and I paid a heavy price, hopefully, today I’ll have the better hand of Dice…The Lucky Dice…
posted by neurotic_wife at 6:10 PM 10 comments

January 23, 2008

A Comical Charade...

Back in November I decided to take a long break from blogging. It just wasn’t doing anything for me anymore. Instead of feeling better and more relaxed after writing my ideas, opinions, and complaints, it aggravated me. Frustrated me. People put me down continuously, and although Im a fighter, I can only take that much before I explode. Unfortunately I did run out of steam and energy. My words weren’t making a difference. I was dumb to think I can change the world!!! But after two months of hiatus, I decided to come back. Hopefully this time the posts will be different. Just to recap what happened in the past 2 months of my life, here are some of the highlights which I will write in two parts.

Part I
Nov 17 – Dec 6:
Work was getting far more stressful and exhausting. Tension between some of the US govt Leads and program managers escalated to a new high. Nasty words were being exchanged across the room on many occasions which made all of us in the vicinity very uncomfortable. I just couldn’t wait to get away. Come December and I started getting myself ready to meeting HUBBY after the longest three months. From waxing to plucking to shaving to scrubbing to doing my nails. I felt like I was getting married again. A bride on the verge of meeting her husband for the very first time, lol.

Dec 7 – Dec 9:
The big day arrived and after a sleepless night of packing, I finally made it to the airport. BIAP was as always a packed place with people pushing and shoving trying to get in line. Unfortunately, all the RJ flights on the previous day were cancelled and so they had to place all those passengers on the flight I was booked on. I was extremely flustered and so not ready to wait for the next flight. Fortunately, having been through this havoc many times previously, I had made the decision of purchasing a business class ticket instead which kinda holds a better chance of a guaranteed place on the plane. Arrived in Amman, checked into the hotel and the waiting for HUBBY began. He was arriving a few hours after me. When I heard that familiar knock on the door, I jumped and ran to the door. It was extremely comforting to be once again in HUBBY’s arms. Felt like another honeymoon ;-) Next day we boarded the plane on our way to AD.

Arriving in Abu Dhabi was just bliss. I was finally home. My mom apparently spent days upon days cleaning and renovating our small shell of a flat. The minute we opened the door, our mouths fell agape. It was like entering into a completely different place. I felt as if I was on a home makeover show. I LOVED IT. My mom on the other hand had ulterior motives. She went through all that trouble so I wont ever go back to Baghdad again. She made the place homier, livelier. And honestly, I was really considering not going back. December 9 was my birthday. Best part of it was being with HUBBY and my family. As with every birthday, all the kids (nephews and niece) came over to help me out with blowing the candles. And ofcourse with all the frenzy and the kids’ spits from trying to blow away the continuous flaming candles, I still managed to make a wish.

Dec 10 – Dec 19
The fourteen hour flight to Australia began. Two hours into the flight, and 2 still nox tablets, HUBBY was fast asleep. I on the other hand, watched about 4 or 5 movies and had a minor panic attack due to my breathing problem. An hour or so before landing, HUBBY wakes up only to look at me and say “Wow, are we there already? I didn’t even feel a thing!” No kidding!!! And there I was, bloodshot eyes about to kill someone. Arriving into Sydney was a huge disappointment at first. Weather reminded me so much of London. Dark, gloomy, cold and rainy! I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is supposed to be summer time! The only long sleeve clothes I had, was the denim jacket I had on!!! This is NOT good.

Our hotel was situated in the Rocks area. First day we walked to pitt street and checked out the shopping. If anyone was looking at us with a telescope from the moon, he woulda seen 2 zombies walking aimlessly amongst the busy shoppers. I was so out of it. Next day we took a city tour and visited many of the famous landmarks. That same day, we managed to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb. The whole process took about three hours. It was an amazing experience. The weather was still bad though and I literally froze my ass ontop of that bridge. One important and extremely vital footnote that no one mentions to you before the climb is “AVOID walking AFTER climb. YOUR LEGS WILL KILL YOU”. Yup, and so for the next 2 days, my calves felt like a 2 ton rock. I couldn’t even lift my legs without flinching with pain.

The Blue Mountains was somehow a waste of time since the weather wasn’t being helpful. There was fog and rain everywhere. Miraculously though, the sun shined on us the next day. Yaaaaaaaaaaay. We took a ferry and visited the zoo. We also enjoyed a cup of coffee overlooking the harbour. It was beautiful. Ofcourse no visit to Sydney is worth it without visiting the Opera House. I fell in love with that structure. I fell more inlove after listening to the story behind it. Sadly though, we had to leave Sydney and head to Cairns.

The hotel was amazing over looking the pier. We managed to do everything on our agenda. Visited Port Douglas, HUBBY snorkeled in the most beautiful reef in the world. I just sat on the boat watching him. I would have gone down too if it wasn’t for my panic attack regarding my breathing problem that I have been suffering from. By the end of our trip we were so ready to go back to AD and just relax. The jet lag totally killed us in Australia. On several occasions, I would take the opportunity of lying in bed while HUBBY checks his work emails. He’d murmur something like “Cmon honey, lets go out for dinner”. My reply was always “Ok sweetie, lemme just finish watching the Simpsons and I will be ready to go”. Before the episode is even finished I’d be already in la la land while still wearing my jeans, jacket and socks. Any attempt from HUBBY to wake me up and help me out of my clothes resulted in a few kicks where it really hurts, hehe. Poor HUBBY, he had to learn the hard way in not messing with my precious sleep!!!

I will stop right here. Part two will follow in the next post. Before I go though, I wanna comment on the changing of the flag. Its totally ridiculous for the parliament to pass that law. Instead of wasting time and money on what colour should go where and what the stars should resemble, they should figure out how to protect the innocent people that are dying day in, day out. The flag wont protect the school children that are becoming a continuous target of death. The flag wont bring back electricity in this severe winter that we are witnessing. The flag should be the last thing on their darn agenda. But do they care? Does anyone care? Its going to be almost 5 years, 5 years, and the Parliamental Charade continues. And it is a Charade. A Comical Charade…
posted by neurotic_wife at 5:46 PM 36 comments