Friday, June 25, 2010


Isn't that what we're all asking? I spent six JDs to get driven around Amman to find some landmarks for my new map. (Dinos aren't inspiring me as they should in the embroidery department lately). I saw three Starbucks. Cultural centers. Shopping malls. Traffic circles. Most things looked like government buildings. Up near Shari'ah Mango I found a beautiful little crack in a wall with a view of the city like little post-it notes layered over each other on my wall when I have eight thousand things to do. I don't know how many thousands of people are in Amman. I can't even identify the prominent physical features of the local residents. I still don't know which traffic circle I live closest to. And most importantly I need to find something to do between the hours of 3:30 - 6 am. (While the gym is technically a two bedroom apartment that I have the key to, it is "closed" then).

To be clear, Amman is more like stacks of the post-its that Dad gets free from the pharmaceutical companies. Those are all one color. Guess which color.


I am becoming the kind of woman that takes pride in her home.
This morning I cleaned the kitchen floor tiles with a sponge that may as well have been a toothbrush. The garbage leaked yellow and someone had dragged it across the floor. I got on my knees to clean that disgusting mess and when my hand grazed past the water cooler I felt a tingle. When I reached back behind the cooler I felt a jolt like sizzling streak up my arm and the loud humming noise of the cooler stopped and the machine turned off.

I think I stole the powers of the water cooler.
I am either going to die or I now have the power to heat, cool and dispense water at will. I am becoming one of the X-men.

It is enough to have Amman outside of my windows. I can calmly take care of my own things inside, unaware of the world out there and who those people are and what the signs say. Along with my heart, I think I left the knot in my stomach in Tangier. There is something about this city that is just interesting enough to keep me content and just boring enough that spending a day at the apartment cleaning, cooking  NPRing, writing, reading, working, googling miscellaneous questions, instant cappuccino and serious arabic homework multitasking, doesn't feel inappropriate. In fact, I have as of late been feeling particularly munaasiba. There is no imaginary street kid tugging at my sleeve asking me for a euro and beckoning me towards the Kasbah.

It is safe to say that my relationship with cities can be self-destructive. Of course Tangier was the love of my life, and that held a certain kind of pressure. It was a destructive relationship. But I know I'll be back. Because they always come back.

And it was too tempting to play a part. It was like they wrote it just for me like directors do for Penalope Cruz. I didn't know exactly what I was getting at, but I had some help from my friends. The help is what dragged me down in the end. You are, in the end, just like the company you keep.

Everything feels brown and simple and I am enjoying the simplicity of it. I have only been here for a week but I can imagine never leaving and not feeling bad about it. If I stayed, it would be because this is the type of place God wants us to live. This is a desert.

I joined a gym. It might break me if I wasn't one of the X-men. Took a walk down to Souk-Al Medinah, a small shopping area a short walk from Hay Alkharabsheh and bought single pieces of fruit from a few of the vendors. I bought a titleless film for a dollar starring Miley Cyrus.

This time last week I was in Budapest. The women don't usually go to the mosque in Jordan unless there is a women's area and they don't reappropriate it on Fridays to accommodate the men. I could get all dressed for it and look for one. I could keep a set of clothes with me in my purse just in case I'm out of place. Which is usually a safe bet.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


He huffed and he puffed and he blew your house down.

It took me an hour to convince the personnel at the Ferihegy airport that they weren't allowed to lock me in the airport overnight. A boy who looked like the alienesque guy from SNL gave me a voucher for a cab after watching me cry for ten minutes. Everyone outside the airport doors seemed genuinely disturbed and the crying upset them.
I was escorted to the nearest hotel which turned out to be fully booked with a drunken wedding party. The second place had a room for me with a little black box hanging precariously in the corner, occasionally playing English music videos.
The alleycats looked like albinos.

The cats in Amman look relatively healthy and there aren't many. When I look out my bedroom window I can convince myself I'm in Tangier. The building across the street is encased in three tiers of curved wall like the one that says Tanger Danger across from the Cervantes. Except this one is a parking garage and I'm pretty sure they sell heroin out of the back windows of the one inTangier.
The sky behind it fades into white at the horizon so the hill looks like it was cut out of a magazine and glued on.

We prayed at three different masjids on a tour of Amman today. We drove through mountains. They could have been sand dunes. If I were in a better mood I might describe them as compiled mounds of diarrhea. Everything here is the same color.
My polaroid is lost in my lost luggage. I brought my last five packs of film that expired last year and travelled through as many airport security lines as I have, except they had to be huddled up in the corner of my carry-on trying to stay quiet like battered children hiding in the attic. I can see them wincing in the past tense.

The film is damaged enough that ninety percent of the pictures are sepia toned brown squares and ten percent are vague outlines pushing through a sepia toned cloud. I like these. I like them enough that I keep these packs of expired film with me and make sure they are hand-checked at security and wrap my polaroid in shawls and towels so I can pack them for faraway countries to return with eighteen brown squares representative of that country in sepia tone.

It's called the white city but really everything is brown. What I mean is, nine times out of ten I can take a picture of something and that thing will be brown. There is wisdom in the losing of it. I would have been driven to look for flashes of color or starkly contrasting objects. I wouldn't have noticed much else. Plus, what's the fun in a picture that doesn't know how to lie?
I have another camera back home and I'll save the film for October when the berries ripen in the backyard.