relationships


Yesterday night was I think the first time me and my little one year old nephew really started to bond. It was a fun and exciting experience where we had one on one play time. Granted it was only for 15 – 20 minutes but it was a fun time. Its hard forming a relationship with a child that lives miles away and being an aunt was an abstract concept until they arrived earlier this month. 

 

 

I have played, cajoled, cooed, and carried him this past week. But it was like carrying any child. But last night the fact that he was able to recognize me and want to be held by me was such a nice change and we had such fun.

 

Its funny my stance on kids was and still is so long as they go home. But I think that infants and babies are not my thing, regardless of how good I am at putting them to sleep or burping them. I like them when they are little children able to communicate and exchange ideas and thoughts with me. I love having conversations with kids and talking to them. It’s a very rewarding experience. So I guess I am now really looking forward to the little prince growing up a little bit more and being able to say more than ba and anda and such; coz that when the real bonding will start for me.

I live in many worlds, and so I interact with people of all sorts of color, creed, socio-economic status, privilege, nationality, and sexuality even. I have traveled enough places to know who I am, but to also appreciate others and respect the differences between us. And mind you, I am not infallible; I have my moments of judgment and prejudice. But it seems the more I look around me I see more tolerance and more intolerance. Our society is at odds with what it wants to appear like and what it really thinks. Let me explain…

 

I work with underserved, underprivileged communities, more specifically with kids in these communities. I find the experience very rewarding and very enriching. These kids may not have the same opportunities as west Ammanis, dress in the same way, speak a coarser tongue or what have you. But they have the same ambitions, dreams, hopes as you or me. I love engaging with them because they are more real and genuine in their expressions of who they are. Yet these same kids are discriminated against, marginalized and sometimes disenfranchised because of their socio-economic backgrounds.

 

Look around at the domestic and manual laborers we have in the country and how we immediately discriminate against anyone from the same nationality or ethnicity is something I abhor. Not everyone who is Egyptian in the country is a laborer, not everyone in the country who is Pilipino is a domestic worker. And don’t get me started on how we treat them when they do these jobs. We as Jordanians are no better than any of them. It doesn’t matter if we have blue collar or white collar jobs we all work to make a living and if some of us work with our hands and other with our minds then that is how it is. It doesn’t make you less of a person because you clean toilets or carry cement. I think all these professions and the people that carry them out are worthy of respect since we are trying to make an honest buck.  
 

 

Take out the profession from the equation and you will also find that Jordanians are racists! Yes I know this is a very strong and serious generalization, but you are more than welcome to prove me wrong. Just look at the reaction of Jordanians towards a western looking blonde and a dark African looking person, or an Asian person. We are always quick to ask “where are you from?” and that question then leads to pigeon holing a person into our social status hierarchy where the western blonde ranks very high and Asians and Africans rank very low depending on the country they are from and what the stereotype for people from there is.  We are all guilty of it… even myself.

 

And when it comes to sexuality the amount of people are homo-phobes, hetero-phobes, bi-phobes that are out there is annoying. Each wants to be accepted within their own group and is not accepting of others. Straight people are afraid of gay people and have no understanding of what gay is. Gay people don’t really like straight people and will most likely try to stay in herds of their own kind. What difference does it make who you take to bed?

Once again I realize that these are all gross generalizations. And not everyone is a racist, or a phobe of some sort, or a classist. But I constantly see people talking about acceptance and tolerance of themselves for being something or other. Yet when you look at their behaviors you realize that they too discriminate against one group or another, for some reason or another. I really think that if we focus on our accepting, respecting each of our differences instead of focusing on our sameness the world would be a happier place.

This past weekend I met the youngest person I know. I met baby Melon, who is still a baby in the womb. I had the privilege of escorting the expecting mommy to her doctor’s appointment. I’m not one to get excited bout babies or child birth and anything revolving around this topic, but I must say this was exciting. 

As the doctor moved the machine around the belly we got to see the baby lying there sleeping. We saw its hands up near its face, its long legs (takes on after the father there :D). We also glimpsed the baby’s belly and its tinny tiny stomach. But the most exciting thing was its face, there it was with eyes closed, a cute little nose, its chin, a big forehead, and little lips. It was a cute thing sleeping in there. We even got to see the baby’s brain. That visit was the coolest thing I did this weekend.

As we left I look over to my friend and told her its funny, I cant relate to babies in general, but this one is different. My relationship with Melon has started before the baby has come out into the world, and I think that will make all the difference.


By the way we call the baby Melon because we don’t know what gender it is yet and that how it will be until Melon pops out and says hello with a big old scream.

I am a selfish woman, sometimes even very selfish. This, I know, is a very strong statement. Strong because we, as a society, view selfishness as a very negative trait. We are taught at a very young age to share. As Arab women, we are taught at a very young age to be selfless, and place others constantly before us. There is a high value on the happiness of those around us, and as young girls we see and learn that a woman who sacrifices and puts her family, friends, and others in general before her is a virtuous, good woman. Selflessness is a highly prized virtue. Well I disagree, and I disagree strongly. I think being selfish is a good thing. 

I regard “I am a selfish woman” as a very positive affirmation of all my accomplishments and life achievements. I think it is completely and utterly OK to place a high value on the things you want, your desired achievements, and to go after them. One’s own priorities may not match those that are around them, but let me ask you this: when someone asks you to take their needs into consideration first, is this not selfishness on their part? I think it is. So why is it OK for us to come last then?

I used to be very selfless. I would place a much higher value on the happiness of others and their needs. This usually meant that I came out last if I even got a turn. I was a pleaser. If decisions were being made everyone’s contributions, needs, and or feelings were considered, by me, before mine. Sometimes, actually most times, this left me feeling frustrated, angry, or just disgruntled.

Today, I have put my foot down. I won’t do things I do not want to do. If our interests are at odds then I place a high value on my needs first and then consider the others. I am the most important person to me. Just as you are the most important person to yourself. Each one our universes revolves around us. I recognize that and for that I am called selfish. It is a tag I have no problem wearing, because I may not come out on top every time, but I sure as hell don’t come last every time either. 


Finally, I would like to say that putting myself first does not in any way mean that respect, consideration, or compassion for others is thrown out the window. It’s just that now the parameters of how my life and my decisions are made are different, and for that I am a very selfish woman J.

A woman’s relationship with her breasts and how she adorns them is a very complex one. We want support, sexiness, beauty, lift, size all rolled into one. Everyday a multitude of women put on a bra, myself included. I do not remember a day when I went braless. Even at the beach I have a special beach bra that I wear under my bathing suit unless there is one sewn into it.

I am thirty one and I have been wearing bras since I was 10 years old! I remember vividly going to a department store and buying my first bras with my mother. It was a very strange experience. There was the confusion of size and which ones to get. We poured over the training bras section religiously. I looked at all these nice pretty bras and lacy ones and sexy ones, even at that young age I knew I wanted something saucy. But somehow with the shame were are taught about our bodies prohibited me from asking for them from my mother. I knew that disapproval would be swift in coming if I voiced these desires. We ended up with two very practical white ones and on beige bra that clasped at the front. I loved that one it was so cool because it was different. Thinking back I cant help but smile and say how tame!

As the years went by my mother continued to supervise my bra purchases and sometimes we even exchanged some. The ones we bought were boring, so I always managed to borrow the lacy black ones and the pretty ones from her bra drawer. Sometimes she never noticed and I got to keep them. But with time the size of my breasts grew bigger and bigger and we could no longer share.

With the breast growth came bra independence too. I would go out and buy my own support and this is where the real dilemma started. I had boobs that were not the standard B or C cup that is Jordan and so finding a bra became a major drama. I bought any bra I could find. But they had to be functional and functionality didn’t always come with form and style. But there will be bras I will never forget, my flowery Hawaiian bra that I bought because it was so colorful. My strapless push up bra that made a shelf out of my breasts and brought them all the way up to my neck, the comfortable cotton ones that had very thin straps and I could wear under tank tops. And then there was the satin black one that made me feel so sexy.

My relationship with each of my bras depends on its color, shape, size and use. I have a whole range of them. There are some that I have in every color imaginable including teal! I love my breasts and my bras, sometimes I wish I can go with out one. Will I ever get the courage to let these babies roam free with out any support, who knows. Until then this woman will need her support system in all its colors, shapes and sizes.

I have a tailor in Jabal Amman, and I love dealing with him. He does alterations and fixes the odds and ends of clothes that need an extra stitch. What’s special about this man is not his tailoring but rather his method of communication.

When I walk through his door I neither knock nor call out, but rather I appear before him. In complete and comfortable silence we sign and gesture through pleasantries, needs and deadlines. When I leave we both have smiles on our faces. If you haven’t guessed my tailor is a deaf mute.

Every visit to his shop is a relaxing experience in silence. We communicate the necessary and so the relationship we share is simple, straight forward, easy, and honest. There is no fuss, no pretentiousness. We are friends without knowing each other’s names and in that anonymity there is a familiarity that I love.  In our silences there is ease. I enjoy visiting my tailor in Jabal Amman and the big smile in his eyes when I visit reflects the same J, so here is to the tailor of Jabal Amman.

The other day I was helping a friend organize her pictures. She is never far away from her camera and is ready to snap away when you aren’t. We can always depend on her to capture and document the moments of time that we are all together.


After we were done organizing I started to sift through the albums, and there it all was. I laughed, smiled, was horrified, was shocked, and was sometimes surprised at what I saw. Our friend has documented our lived through these pictures, the good, the bad and the ugly in full color. I saw all of last year’s memories in front of me. Things I thought only existed in my faulty memory, and things I had deleted from my consciousness were all there. There I was, as were others, forever immortalized in full color prints, sorted chronologically and filed in indexed albums. 


I am not sure how I feel about the whole matter. I used to be a believe that if its not worth remembering then it wasn’t that good. However with a faulty memory my belief faltered. Seeing some of those pictures I was able to relive some great emotions and good times. I was also seeing some really bad fashion choices, bad hair days, and not so great poses! All of this was now immortalized.


I’m horrified that not the best of me is preserved. But does it really matter? It only shows I’m human and thus flawed, not always picture perfect. The other more important question for me is Do I want to relive all the emotions and feelings of the past? Do I want to go back in time to the things I want to forget? Isn’t forgetfulness a blessing?

The flip side of this is since we forget there will always be a record. We’ll be able to see old friends and new, people who have come and gone from our lives. A history in pictures serves as a reminder of who, what, where, and how, and somehow that’s not a bad thing at all.

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