It has been a while. I've missed writing so much that I feel slightly out of touch. Or maybe it's that I feel very out of touch in my life generally. Whichever the case, if I wrote all that I have waiting inside from what I've done and seen and felt since I 'left', I'd never get it all out. And I need to get it out so badly that I took a Zipcar and rented a computer to do so...
Thus short scenes for now.
*Oh, and I've made major and minor changes to names so I don't out my friends. And being that several things happened a good time ago, it may be slightly adjusted to fit my failing memory. Okay? Okay.
awesome pad thai lunch in Tenleytown with Reea and Leila before Reea goes back to Cairo
"Yo, Reea, I need your address. So I can write you and remind you what's going on here."
Yeah? Well, it's Reea AbuKasim*...
Do I need to write it in Arabic?
*giggles from Reea* no, silly. Write it in English.
i finish addresses and write name in Arabic, doodling.
Oh, wow, you write really well in Arabic. That's better than I would write it.
MashaAllah. Yeah even after all that class in Arabic, I can't write well. I can read Qur'an but writing...
Same. Where did you learn?
Alma Mater, two semesters before I decided to actually try and graduate on time. Is that how you would write it in Arabic?
Yeah, except it's with a 'Q'.
What is it with Egyptians and 'q'? You and Mahmood both dropped the Q off of qari on the trip. And now you write your name with a Q... so would it be AbuAsim, then?
Yeah, they do, don't they?
No, its AbuKasim with a K. My friend writes it with a Q in English and I'm like, "who is this person?!" Yeah, and we turn J to G. There is no G inside Egypt.
So you all go to Goomah on Friday? Ohhhh man.
Awesome qari's though. Or Aris.
Speaking of aris, you know who's a good one?
Mahmood surprised me.
Is he a good ari?
(Reea and I at once) Incredible. MashaAllah.
The song "Party like a Rockstar" zaps my eardrum. I switch to the other ear, as my sister's voicemail clicks on...
This is To's phone. My phone is currently broken? So if you would, leave a message, and also leave a return phone number.
The cellset bounces off the bedquilt onto the pillow and almost misses slipping to the hardwood floor.
Getting to work, part I
I'm due to clock in at 2:30 PM, and leave my house at 1:45. I decide to be smart and spend the $18 on a cab from my hood and be on time instead of chancing the metro.
"You're headed to Old Town, so you might want to take 110."
"110? If it is on Washington, it will be better to take the GW Parkway."
"Are you sure? Last week GW was backed up."
"I am positive, miss, you will be faster this way. The parkway, it turns into Washington."
"I just don't want to be late, if you can get there safely and quickly, take GW if you want to."
The driver lets out a half-impatient breath and turns froom N. Moore around past the Church Atop The Gas Station and heads toward the Iwo Jima and the Rt. 50/I-66 George Washington Parkway connect.
"Ay, Señor!" It seems sequential. Blink at the crunch screech sound. Then my neck stretches forward, barely convincing my head to stick with my torso while it starts, what the?!!? and time gets back on track.
"Are you okay?" I ask the driver, who's yet to say a word. He nods, snaps the belt, parks the brake and gets out to flay the cabdriver in the same colors who's rear-ended him, both in rapid-fire Urdu.
Ten minutes later they walk back and open my door.
"Miss? You are all right? Are you hurt? Do you need the hospital?"
It's 2:13 on May 31st, the day my insurance from Previous Job ends. I pray I'm okay, tell the driver to keep going or I'll be horifically late. They hang back as I, more than a bit hysterical, call my store.
my neck is sore. The driver isn't convinced, and tries to start the car toward the hospital. The engine refuses to turn over.
My store manager's voice is mercifully reassuring.
"Thank you for calling The Grocery Store in Alexandria, this is Lisette, how may I help you?"
Hey, Lisette, it's Twenny.
Hey Twenny, it's Lisette.
I'm supposed to be in at 2:30, but I'm in a cab and we've been rear ended on GW Parkway. I think I'm okay, but my neck is sore and I may have to go to the hospital.
I'm soo sorry, I dont' know if I'm going to make it on time.
You're on GW Parkway? in a cab? Rearended? Don't worry. Thanks for calling. Take the time you need, just call us back if you're not going to make it at all, okay?
Okay, go get better!
Thanks Lisette. You rock.
I call my mother and ask her to pray. And then pray myself until the engine turns over.
In my InBox:
Taraal Firaun has invited you to an event: Notorious Male Arabs Discussing Stuff.
To accept this FaceBook invitation... blah blah blah.
"SalaamuAlaikumHey, Taraal, what's going on?"
"Yo MAMA, who you think it is? It's Twenny, are you at the NOMADS concert?"
"Oh, hey, Twenny, what up girl? Alaikum Salaam...Naw... I decided not to go."
"What?! You made a big deal and invited me, and now you're not going? Elle said you were going, that's why she's so upset she couldn't go."
"I know, but my brother didn't want to come, I wanted to go with him and Elle..."
"You should still go, though. I love their music, and it's supposed to be $15 at the door."
"Aiight, I'll check it out, keep your phone on."
forks clink at the pad thai lunch.
I can't believe we only met in April. I'm so glad I went to MSA.
Same. I almost didn't go.
Me, too, mashaAllah. I thought it was going to be all about dating and stupid guys looking at girls.
Well, it wasn't. But remember that first couple of hours?
WE were all looking at guys, too! Hello! Wasn't it the first couple of hours that Elle and I ended up talking to guys without even meaning to?
Oh man. Yeah it was like that, huh?
Egypt isn't like that, huh?
No way. I miss it but I'm going to miss you guys.
Yeah, that's right, are you coming back?
I want to come back for Christmas break. (Leila and I wince)
What do you call it?
Yeah, I say winter break. I mean, since I don't celebrate Christmas...
Hmm, you know who else is going? You're going back, Namita is going, Mahmood is going, Elle is going...
You guys are going to have a party without us!
Hmm. Maybe we should meet up while we're there.
I think Twenny and I need to get tickets!
Eh what Twenny?
Nothing. I think I need to get over the whole 'I need to get married' thing.
You know, Egypt is a big place...
Dude. I don't want to think about that too hard.
You know, I need to think about losing some weight. My mom is gonna look at me at the airport and put me on a diet.
I WISH my mama would look at me and put me on a diet. I hate controlling what I eat. That's why I love Ramadan.
Yeah? I always eat too much during Ramadan.
Makes my stomach shrink. I always end up losing 25 pounds.
Yeah, and it's getting hotter then, right?
Isn't it supposed to be late September this year? That's going to be warm.
I'm sweating already.
Wait until June July Ramadan. I've been trying to fast lately, and it ain't easy. It's not really even summer yet.
I know, right? I was born during Ramadan, apparently.
Your poor mom.
Well, she wasn't Muslim, right?
No. But are there extra blessings for that or something? To be born in the middle of a summer Ramadan? Or, shoot, being pregnant in the middle of the summer? Can I get some of that for her?
*laughter all around*
Getting to work part II
"Bonjour, thank you for calling The Grocery Store in Old Town Alexandria! This is Zeke TheBoyManager, what can I do for you today?"
Hey Zeke, it's Twenny.
Hey Twenny, what's goin' on.
I'm on the Metro. It's stuck at Pentagon City on a 30 minute delay.
Thirty flippin' minutes.
So you're going to be how late?
*sigh* I'll take a cab. I hope I'll only be 10 minutes late, but I doubt it, since everybody and their mama is trying to do the same thing.
Well it's Saturday and we're really busy.
I know. That's why I left an HOUR ahead of time, but apparently the Metro people have big ideas, doing track work on the busiest line on the biggest graduation and tourism weekend ever.
Get here when you can.
Okay, will do.
I squeaked in only 5 minutes and twenty dollars after I was supposed to. Zeke has my till ready and waiting and slips me into the rotation almost before Lisette can notice I'm late.
Walking back to my house from a successful teaching interview on the insanely close N. Moore street, wearing nice interviewing clothes and what's probably a distracted expression.
I barely turn my head "Wa Alaikum Salaam" then think about it and turn to at least give a charitable smile to the brother who's greeted me.
The security guard is uniformed, spic-and-span right up to his hat, outside of the garage where the cars of the Pentagon workers laze all day while their owners either bark or follow orders in the buildings I see from my bedroom windows. I'd've mistaken him for a black man, like so many others who always try to holla on the Metro, the street, their cars, but...
"How are you today, sister?"
"I'm doing well, and yourself?"
"HamdulIllah. Sister, where are you from?"
Here we go. "I'm American!"
"American? From where?"
"Nam, inni Amrikiya, from Ohio, thanks."
"You look nice in higaab."
I flash back to Reea and laugh. I'm not mad at his look, subtle and yet definitely appreciative.
"You're from Egypt, right?"
"You've reached five one three, seven seven seven, ninety-three, eleven. Please leave a message after the tone. BEEP!"
Hi, I just wanted to say h--
Twenny, don't hang up, baby.
Hi Baby! How are you! It's good to hear your voice.
That's good. Pray for your brother. He's really frustrated right now, since I had to drive him to work today out in what your father calls EastWestJesus. He needs a car.
(we both crack up)
Mama! It can't be that far! Is it? Is it out past Kings Island?
It's further than that- I said East West Jesus! Past Mason, all those folks. And you know your brother, he wants what he wants right this second.
I know. It's hard being like that, I can relate though I'm not that impatient. It's hard not having what you need. I'll talk to him.
So how's the job search?
Looks like I'm going to get the ESL job, but they're going to hire me as an independent contractor.
Oops, I don't like the sound of that. Next.
Okay, I'm listening.
The first three monthly are considered probation. After that I get to join the staff with a W-2. T And it is right near my house, and I won't have to quit at Grocery Store, so I can get their benefits and still have fun while I work SOMEwhere.
*sigh* Okay... Did you get the email I forwarded from your father? He's always thinking about you all. There's a job that would be perfect for you, in recruiting.
Yes, I just haven't had a time to open it. Comcast is trying to cut our internet, and my roomie's computer hasn't been connecting. I go to Kinko's next to my job, but it's expensive.
Why don't you ask your Aunt to use hers?
I dont' have the time. I work at night.... and to tell the truth, I just really want my own. I'm really feeling baby bro right now. Cars and computers are expensive yet necessary and personal electronics, and it's hard dealing without your own to do with as you please.
I hear you. I'll send you some money...
No. No, Mommy, I don't want to ask you for money. I'm just saying it's hard is all. That's why I'll be working two jobs again. I can get it if I work hard enough, right? Just... keep sending the job applications, I'll make it work. Can we talk about that?
...The thing about this job is that it's here. You wouldn't have to see your father and me all the time, though. Your sister and brother are here and we don't see them all that much.
Mommy, my problem with your house isn't YOU. If y'all moved here I'd be a happy chick. My problem with Cincinnati is the city itself. I feel so stuck. As much as I complain about taking hours to get to work here when it takes 15 minutes in a car, at least I have that option. I don't want to end up like JW, all frustrated, with no cultural options.... I'll fill out that application, though. It does sound like me.
(at the Grocery Store, one of my co-workers has returned after an absence.)
"Hey twennyGirl, wah'ya'doin'? Y'work tomorroah?"
"Hey Timo, nope, no work for me! I'll be preparing for this class I have to teach starting next week though, that or sleeping."
"Den I wanna see ya at the reggae club, yah, nonna dis Ah Gotta Work, nonna dis sleepin'."
"Um... I dunno, Timo. I want to go, it sounds cool, but..."
"It doan' go long. Start 'bout 10, I never stay past 11:30."
"I'll think about it."
Timoteo... now there's something I'll get into later. Last night I watched 10:00 come and go. I wish I could say that I didn't regret it, but it gets back to that one theme...