Life

The snake plant has a story. When I was visiting my mom last summer, I wanted to bring home one of the plant’s “babies” but couldn’t figure out how I’d keep it alive in the ~30 hours of my journey home (or how to not get caught and potentially in trouble for bringing a plant overseas). So I’ve sort of been searching for one for a while here, and yesterday, I finally found some at a nursery – but the guy wanted close to $50 for one plant. And he wouldn’t bargain and wasn’t particularly nice. I went to a couple other nurseries on the same road and found a place with one lonely snake plant left and got it for $10. Mission accomplished.

The tenants renting our old apartment downstairs moved out this week, and since it’s largely furnished and decorated with our personal things, I took this as an opportunity to reclaim some textiles and switch things up a bit. I was missing my kilim pillows and rugs from Egypt.

I also added two new plants to the bedroom, and they make me so happy every time I see them that they deserved a photo shoot.

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Life

Oh, hello, February – the first month of 2018 has gone awfully quickly. I mostly attribute this to my long work hours and studying as of late. I revamped this blog over Christmas and New Year’s, when everyone was out of the office and no one was responding to emails. I’m a much better blogger when I’m unemployed (shocker). Sigh, the life of a freelancer. Those people who keep elaborate gratitude journals and somehow do photoshoots of themselves everyday? Who even are you?

Toward the end of December, I found out about YearCompass from a friend. I promptly downloaded it, printed it out and started filling it out, only to abandon it halfway through. I did finally finish it last night. Not necessarily a planner, it is helpful for looking back on the previous year, learning from it, and sketching out what you want the coming year to look like.

But this week, I mixed up the due dates for my term papers for grad school – I thought it was due February 15, and actually it was due the first. After a couple nights staying up writing until 2 am, I thought maybe I need a better way to keep track of this stuff. They ended up giving us a last-minute extension until the 11th – but still. Continue Reading

Life, Middle East

Trauma, or at least stress, is something I think about a lot. My immediate instinct is to say that my job is not as bad as it could be – it generally involves me looking at or editing graphic images from war zones, filming, photographing or interviewing people who have undergone pretty extreme physical or psychological trauma, or on the “light end,” editing lengthy reports about issues like child poverty and child marriage. Because data and sociological reports are so much less taxing than the particulars of narrative work. I see videos of horror-stricken Syrian men holding children’s limbs in the aftermath of bombings – I’m not there myself. I meet children who will need physical therapy for years to come as a result of their traumatic injuries – but I’m not the one who was injured.

Which brings me to this quote I read recently:

“Almost every trauma survivor I’ve ever had has a some point said, “but I didn’t have it as bad as some people” and then talked about how other types of trauma are worse. Even my most-traumatized, most-abused, most psychologically-injured clients say this… What does that tell you? That one of the typical side-effects of trauma is to make you believe that you are unworthy of care.”

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Packing Lists, Travel

When moving between countries, I don’t always succeed in packing light, but I kind of feel like I’ve mastered packing my under-seat carry on bag. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten something out of the overhead bin during a flight, so I always like to have these items ready to go, easy to access from my seat. Some of these are necessities for any trip, but others will make long-haul flights in coach ever so slightly more luxurious, or at least comfortable. Continue Reading

Europe, Travel

I’m only exaggerating a little when I say I spent two weeks in a town as small as Muenster, Germany, and barely saw it. I have embarrassingly few pictures of the city, hit exactly zero historic sites – and that’s because for 14 days straight, I was in class from 9 am to 6 pm. When I left my Air BnB in the morning to walk the 20 minutes to the city center, everything was still closed, except for a few cafes and grocery stores. When I headed home in the evening, it was dark, and many shops were closing up. I was so busy I never even saw the main part of my university’s campus. Continue Reading

Food, Middle East

The Middle East, as you may be aware, has some amazing food. I’ll admit, I get sick of eating the same thing over and over, and right now, I pretty much can’t eat anymore felafel and hummus. But I have had some truly wonderful meals here, and most of them have been in someone’s home, in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, or even cooked out in a field. But if all else fails, there is really nothing quite like a bowl of fresh figs, ripe to bursting, still hot from the sun hitting the tree in a village in western Turkey.

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Packing Lists, Travel

I’m not the kind of person who travels 80% of the time for work, but living in Jordan and doing a master’s program in Germany, I do travel internationally several times a year. It’s great, but costs add up (which I know now, since I made a grown up budget in Excel today) – and one way to save yourself time and money and general frustration is to pack light. Says the girl who almost never succeeds at this.

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Life

One of my big goals this year is to not buy any clothes (or unnecessary home decor/trinkets) for at least six months. Right now, the only thing I can think of that I might need is a water-repellent/windbreaker jacket for working in the field and frequent travel. Realistically, I could probably go a year or more without new clothes; I’ve purged a lot and could probably get rid of more.

But, not wanting to get rid of a whole lot more just yet, I’ve pulled about half of my clothes out of circulation and put them in storage, so I have about 35 items in my wardrobe to wear currently, and I’m going to try hard not to add anything (even from existing clothes) to that until the end of March (unless summer arrives freakishly early, in which case, we’re all screwed). Yes, I am three years behind this trend, but this is me writing about a capsule wardrobe.

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Life

This New Year’s Eve was spent almost exactly the same as the previous year: me and Layth on the couch, under blankets, watching movies until we dozed off. Since he’s recovering from a cold, that means he was snoring by 8 pm.

But this time last year we were bracing ourselves for him moving to Saudi Arabia for work, which meant I’d be more or less on my own in Jordan. We dated long distance for a long time, but after a year or so when we hadn’t spent more than a few days apart, the distance was daunting. But we both knew it was the best thing to do. At first, I cried a lot and kept making coffee for two people in the morning instead of one, and cried over the wasted coffee.

But family invited me for lunches and sent me home with tupperwares of leftovers to make sure I wouldn’t starve, I still had my job and friends, and in mid-January, I brought a pet rabbit home to keep me company. Said rabbit is now best friends with my mother in law’s cat, and they hang out on the regular.

2017 took me to Jordan, Turkey (twice), the United States, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Germany.

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