Monthly Archives: February 2012

A state of mind address

Yes I have been quiet.

Do you know that I have been writing 3limes an average of two times a week for close to four years? (This is post # 425.)  And in that time I have written about the rain, the desert, Carnival, liming, zebras, lions in trees, car crashes, teaching teens, raising my girls as reluctant expats, the longing feeling for home, the getting used to the new, the craving for shiny shops and culture, the scary driving, the Canadian Lakes, the roads of London. I have taken many photos, sometimes inserted a book review or poem we are studying in class. I have told stories and hopefully amused and given some picture of what this crazy expat life is all about.

But there is a lot I have not said. I have not shared the tears, the heartbreak, and the true aftermath of all the goodbyes. I have not always told you everything about the schools where I teach, I couldn’t. Early on I made the decision that this blog would not reveal the personal, and I would not show photos of my family or tell you too much about them, outside of the anecdotal. I have held back, time and time again. There is an information overload out there; blogs, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, Stumble On, newspapers, Arts&Letters Daily, photography…the list goes on, the words tumble and crowd and fill me up ‘till I can’t hear the quiet anymore. And I have not been quite sure where I fit into the noise.

This is not a place for cute pics of my kids or the meal I made last night. This is not the place to fill you in with details of my weight loss, marriage, sex life or tearful rages. This is not the place to write about the days when I am too sad to write. So it is a place for stories, observations, a place to mark my days and remember what it was like. To try and find the pretty and keep moving. And recently I haven’t been very good at doing that, because I haven’t, honestly been doing a lot of seeing and doing.

I work. I work hard, hello IB? I deal with lazy students, incompetence, entitlement and bad manners. But I also teach open minded, wise, brilliant students, mainly girls, mind you, that open my eyes more than I open theirs. Teaching in this school has taught me more about the Arab and Muslim world than I could ever imagine and it has spun my ideas in circles many times. But I cannot write about these students, or this school. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right.

I go home and I take care of my lovely girls who work hard and discover and learn and sometimes get sad and homesick but mainly are good and fine and happy. I cook for them, I wash their clothes, and I shop, help with homework and drive them all over the place. I do the Mom thing, the best way I know how. And sometimes I fear it isn’t good enough. Don’t we all?

I take care of my husband and love him up the best way I can. We love and laugh and read and watch movies and sometimes we look at each other and wonder how the hell we ended up here, in this life, living in this country. Sometimes I am in a time warp, driving in Bahrain and suddenly, in a flash I am simultaneously driving down a red dirt road in Kampala with the sun glinting off the rain splattered giant leaves. And there is that woman with the bananas on her head, and there are those children laughing and carrying water as the sun begins to dip. Or I am driving the girls to school in Montreal and the snow has turned to slush and we are listening to our favourite morning show. Or I am thinking about my day in this school in Bahrain and suddenly in a flash my worlds are colliding and I am back in a class room in Port of Spain, bare feet on blue carpet, hum of the air-conditioner, sun pressing against the window panes. And then quick flash, I am back in Montreal in a classroom of 32 girls, chalk on black skirt, wooden desks smoothed by the hands and pens of time. I am talking to a new friend here and then bang! I am in the garden of my dear A, back in her lushness in Kampala and we are sipping Espresso and watching our kids jump on the trampoline. Or bang! I am sitting on the wooden floor boards of my Montreal house with my best girl friends and the kids are tiny, barely toddlers.

Too many worlds have happened too fast. I am shell shocked.

Shall I tell you all this? Shall I tell you about my new exercise regime? My careful monitoring of everything I eat so that it is I who controls my body and what goes in it? My fantastic Latin Dance Class? My battles with teenagers, the constant negotiation and mapping of life with a teenage daughter, the sad, too sad week in school last week when I watched my dear students deal with a grief they are too young to comprehend?  Shall I write about the friends I miss and wish I could see again? Shall I tell you about my worries about the Summer, when I will go “home” to Montreal, to a place that is no longer home, where I have no home and hop from friend to friend in the hope that please can I not offend or disappoint anyone this year? Can I please NOT piss anyone off?

No. I cannot tell you everything that is in my mind, this is not that kind of blog. And I cannot tell you what I do every day because it is, quite frankly, boring. And who wants to hear what I am making for dinner? Or what I taught today? Who wants to see the photo of Princess in her cute new skirt or hear about how much sand we swept up from the front steps yesterday?  There are plenty of blogs like that, this is not that blog.

So where does that leave little 3limes? Faltering on her balance beam, not entirely sure which way to fall.

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Filed under Being brave, pen and paper, personal

Lists, old and new

I have been quiet, shedding layers of time and memory and feeling rather retrospective. Memory is on my mind. Perhaps it is because we are touching the cusp of a big 20 year anniversary: 20 years ago this week Handsome and I started our journey together in Egypt. It started in Dahab, took a long bus journey to Cairo followed by an 18 hour train trip to Aswan and then onto a Feluca ( sail boat ride on the Nile.) Many planes, trains, automobiles, donkeys, snow sleds, jeeps and rickshaws later and here we are in a funny circle: back to the Arabian Sands. I was 22 and had no idea where my life would take me but we shared a love of adventure and we both embraced the new. If we were to write a bucket list back then it would have included a lot of travel, children, exciting jobs ( his an intrepid journalist and mine a writer and a drama therapist) a sejour in Italy, a parachute or two and some rather romantic notions. Well things often work out differently once life throws you a hoop or two and 20 years later we have done many things not even dreamed up on a bucket list and made a few new lists too.

I once had the good fortune to teach a highly talented girl, hungry for life and on the brink of many a success. She writes a lovely blog and recently wrote her bucket list. These are the dreams of a 19 year old girl, a young lady of fortune, talent and opportunity. Reading this list I was transported back in time to my own eyes-wide-open -with-wonder moments and I remember when I was 19 I longed for a magic crystal ball to tell me what my future would be and if it would all be okay. In the end it all turns out…as it does, whether we tick off our list or make new ones.

Here then is her list. I am awed by her choices, her dreams and the charm of her wishes.  Can you remember yours? Is it very different now?

BUCKET LIST:

  1. Go to Venice- not only for Carnivale ( which is a must!) but to learn, to be inspired and to write.
  2. See the Northern Lights
  3. Go to Australia
  4. Decorate my very own apartment
  5. Celebrate each Carnival around the world
  6. Ride the Orient Express train through Europe
  7. Publish a best selling novel 😉
  8. Live in an apartment with my sister
  9. Get my British Citizenship
  10. Become fluent in a second language and then become fluent in a third language
  11. Learn how to play an instrument
  12. Meet my favourite author
  13. Create one work of art of which I am proud
  14. Do a night dive and a wreck dive
  15. Travel in Space
  16. Make a profit at a casino
  17. Sleep under the stars ( ignore the mosquitoes, the discomfort and all the monsters obviously hiding in the shadows.)
  18. Go on a road trip
  19. See my favourite musician perform live
  20. Found a charitable organization
  21. Travel to Antarctica and see the penguins
  22. Sponsor an endangered animal and travel to wherever it is in the world to meet it
  23. Sing Karaoke in front of a crowd and not be ashamed
  24. Make a positive difference; in one person’s life, in many people’s lives, in a town or a country or the world
  25. Be remembered for something great

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Filed under How old am I?

Scenes from a Bahrain Sunday

I have clambered out from beneath a mountain of report writing, exam marking and planning. And now “hello fresh air!” I have a whole week off to breathe.

The winds have been wild; sandstorms blew sand from furthest Arabia into every corner, crevice, nook and cranny. We are sweeping sand and dust away and with it the cold wintery air. I heard from a wise man that the winds signal change and that a new season is around the corner.

I got a bit down, doldrum like. Bahrain was feeling small, dusty, dry and too quiet. I was dreaming of my perfect Sunday; a walk in a frosty park over leaves that used to crunch and past skeleton trees mourning their leaves; of a warm coffee shop with muffled chatter and a book shop with tables piled high, the smell of invited hope and paper. I was dreaming of a friend and a hot pot of tea. A week of time stretches before me and it winks at me with space and possibility. I am strange, alone in my house rather than at my desk, with peace and quiet rather than a classroom that twitters with teens. It tastes bitter sweet to have this time; like a dipped toe in a another’s life. I wish to spend it with friends who pop round for coffees and catch up but they are an ocean away.

So as always, to shake off the cobwebs I went out to find the pretty. Yes the grass is always greener, isn’t it? I know that the walk in the London park would be too cold, the friends would be busy, the books too expensive, the gallery closed. Princess told me, with all her wisdom, that we need to be happy with what we have. Thanks to The Prophet’s Birthday we all had a bonus Sunday off so we headed off to see something different.

Here then are my weekend moments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bahrain, Finding the Pretty, When the rose tint fades