I’m Still Deciding


studying Business Comm. to the scent of amber-honey

I recently got asked what I want to be when I grow up. Short answer: I don’t know. Long answer: some people wake up as toddlers and know what they want to be and they make it their reality. Others, think they know and jump into that for a decade or two. Some like to jump around or stall (that’s me), and others never find the motivation to begin.

I enjoy procrastinating and making excuses. I did plenty of both in regards to going back to school. Maybe I had enough inner discipline to teach myself (how we learn most things – talking, eating, driving, etc.) or job applications tell me I need a bachelor’s degree or five years experience, so I went with the faster option – a two-year degree. Is it really a job I want to do, perhaps not, but it’s in the direction of what others seem to want for me…

I struggled with this decision, and I still do, but I’m currently enrolled in three classes. It took a lot of effort on Caleb’s part to get me there, and for that I’m grateful (even if I don’t express it enough). It’s a chance to get out of the house. Though I could be out getting paid at a job and gaining experience or squandering another opportunity, it’s easier to pay someone else to take up my time than to job hunt – at least it was for me at the time.


a cup of zen to keep me going

I’m beginning to see how sociologists label some people as Stability Seekers. We are willing to do the same thing every day because it works, even if we don’t completely agree with it because it’s a comfort zone. I’m happiest outside of that, brain and body, so I should strive to keep them there. Change might be slow, but it should be a definite part of my goals to achieve.

I signed up for Business Communications (how to email) and Business Law (haven’t started yet) and Sociology (the nature of human nature). Two classes relate to one degree and since the third class I needed wasn’t open for the short-term I signed up for another that ties into many fields. I was nervous about class on the first day. It had been five years since I’d sat in a classroom on a different coast going for a different degree.

My first class is on Monday and Wednesday nights and taught by a man raised in the 80s who wanted to major in history. We went around the class sharing something about ourselves. It’s an older crowd; people who have found their way back to school. The guy in front shook Obama’s hand and sits beside his son who graduated high school a year early and his daughter who’s got a year left.


Sociology 101, notes in class

The girl up front is someone I recognize from boot camp (12 years ago) and stayed in the Navy for 10 years before getting out, helping friends run a business, and then selling her portion. One guy has three high school diplomas from three countries. Another taught himself how to play piano, starting at age 6, because it was available in church. My statement would go along with the other uninteresting ones in the room, but I was impressed.

The attitude of the room is laid back and the professor wants lots of participation in conversation. I have to hold my tongue frequently to not overwhelm the meaning of the lesson and the few others when they speak up. I thought three hours at a time would be too much, but the time flies and the mid-class break affords us a moment to catch a glimpse of the debate being shown on the TV in the break corner at the end of the hall. My class is being taught at MCRD (the Marine Corps Recruit Depot) and is twenty minutes from home via highway.

I get spoiled by the first week of free parking for Sociology and drive around the City College campus for 20 minutes to find a $10 parking spot 15 minutes away. I would buy the parking pass, which I should have done online already, but I don’t want to be late to class. There are three rows of tables and the ones on the right are filling up with girls on the left. My night class is 2/3 women, but the majority of Business Comm. is guys. The professor engages with us while we wait the ten minutes for the official start time of the class.


hello outside

This room feels different. The walls and floor are gray, as are the shades covering the window, so though I want to feel gloomy (remembering the happiness this color brought me in my childhood bedroom) there is a young woman upfront commanding my attention with her smile, accent, and outfit – only on Tuesdays. Something about me stands out and I will be the first name she learns, minus Paul, whom she already knows. It could be the fact too that I think I’m the only one in class with notes.

A girl in the corner discusses technology that’s been around for a decade as if it’s been around as long as math, and part of me thinks about how difficult this class could be for someone if they were unaware of these processes, now so simple to parts of society. I’m told to bring in a résumé for review and to prepare for a presentation at the end of the semester. I can feel my heart rate increase, but there’s also a sense of calmness. I knew this was coming and I’ve handled it before – and I asked for it.

The night class waits for the professor to dismiss us. This class makes a racket to shove their notebooks back into their bags to hurry off somewhere making the professor apologize (as they leave early). I suppose there’s an interesting factor in returning to school every couple of years, and taking a random class, to gain insight into the older teenage norms of what will soon be released into the real world. Most of them aren’t engaged in the class, and at least six were on their phones.


I’m in classroom Delta

I gather my things and make my way to the accounting office to buy my $20/semester parking pass. Then I have to walk across campus to the police office, going through the cosmetology building (maybe not bad to paint hair and nails for a grade), to pick up my sticker. It’s a good thing I didn’t settle for the two-hour parking, as I’ve definitely gone over that limit. I head for home to get lunch before buying a $50 access code to my partially online class.

I look forward to the lessons learned in and out of the classroom. Caleb is doing physical therapy for his back (really hurt it on a diving trip), so he’s been taking the car to work (no riding bikes in the morning together) and is gone before I wake. I pack his lunch (when he doesn’t) and then we get to make dinner together before he goes to bed and I go back to reading. I’ve got a stack of books I started before class, the textbooks needed for class, a PDF version open in a tab, and recently stumbled on Kindle for Android – I’m addicted.

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Till It’s Gone


I’ve heard it before. You don’t miss something till it’s gone. It’s not that I don’t miss my blog, but I feel that I have writer’s block. I look back on all the amazing things I wrote about and feel sad that I don’t have those memories now – or the option to reread them would be more accurate. I could change that, and I should, but I’ve tried multiple times to go back into the past. I shouldn’t focus on it, as the present is more important, and is where I’m at now.

The only person I have to blame for this is myself. I can’t blame it on moving to another country as that gave me plenty of blog fodder, though surprisingly my statistics tell me that I published the same amount of posts in 2014 as I did in 2013. It wasn’t till 2015, when my mom passed in March that I was only able to push out 13 posts, and those were about countries I’d been to outside of Bahrain, but not complete stories.

I found my time there interesting and blog-worthy, and definitely had lots to say about my mom – her life lived and all the opportunities to share with her that are now gone. I cried for months, and I still do some days, though I know it won’t bring her back. I found it hard to do things I’d grown accustomed to. Everything – food, writing, sleeping – reminded me of her, so I spent hours working out in an attempt to escape the pain that only time will help to lessen the burden – or be a constant reminder of their absence.



I published a post upon return to the States in hopes it would motivate me forward. I was halfway through a second post when I got criticized for the first and it’s been a draft since. I’d like to think I take constructive criticism well, as I want to learn from my mistakes (if I won’t take advantage to learn from others) and perfect the me in what I do. I realize it’s our faults, as much as our perfections, that make us who we are. In that case, I don’t want to get rid of mine. I want my identity to shine.

They, people who have suffered loss, say it takes at least a year to heal. I’d agree with them, mostly. It’s been 17 months and I found the move back to the States more stressful, hence the inability to write about. I didn’t know where to begin. I pressured myself to jump back in, full force, but to what. I hadn’t been in school full-time with a full time job and a hundred hobbies before I left, so why the rush.

I was worried about being stagnant. It was an ok excuse, though I always got puzzling looks  (and sometimes jealous ones), while overseas, but back to the homeland I felt I had to make up for that time. I realize now that I made the decisions that were right for me at the time. I have no regrets and am in no rush to change who I am. Yes, I want to grow and learn, but I shouldn’t do so at the expense of my mental health.


Some people use age as a point of acceptance (they keep the cards they’re given) and others use it as a trading point to change their situation – something we should all constantly be doing. I signed up for classes to change mine and force socialization (since I’m paying to attend). I look forward to what the future brings, which is hopefully more posts from me – regardless of what the critics say of my grammar, content, or writing style. I’d like to see them live my life and then write about it in a way that inspires others as I have to get out, or stay in, and do; to see their world from another perspective.

Good luck to those that are trying daily to be the change they want to see. Here are two quotes from inspiring authors that seem fitting.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Will Durant

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” – Gretchen Rubin

Posted in Education, Events, Family, Friends, History, Inspiration, Media, People, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Hello America

Amsterdam airport

I’ve been gone for 25 months and already back for three weeks. Bahrain was more and less of what I expected. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the educated, employed, and well-traveled people there. I want to be more like them. I’ve got lots of untold stories that I hope to share in the future, but I wanted to share a bit of my transition with you.

We knew, Caleb and I, that we’d be gone for two years, though one of us would’ve preferred less work there and more road trips here. We were locked on Bahrain without the ability to drive through Saudi and take the dogs with us. We found out in April that we’d be moving to San Diego. Caleb couldn’t contain his excitement, though he had applied for Hawaii, Spain, and Japan to soothe my wanderlust.



I didn’t feel ready to return, so I didn’t help with our personal property (mattress, clothes, dishes), our car, the dogs, the plane tickets… until it was too late. Caleb spent hours each day telling others to do their jobs so we could finally leave this island. June 16th came and Caleb was ready. I was unaware of the export form needed for the dogs.

Four days later and my ticket is only half confirmed. I laughed like a loony and left the airport again. Between Ramadan (holy month for Muslims) and the Fourth of July (which affects the base) I would get stuck waiting on phone calls, paperwork, and payments between the short working day. Finally, the guy in SATO (smart ass ticket office – or whatever that stands for) got tired of the back and forth and called the airline directly. He said I may only get to Los Angeles, but I’ll be in the States.


at Dad’s office

I made sure he had the correct credit card info and went back by the vet. The stress was turning my brain to mush. I would spend the mornings running around in the heat and the evenings with my dogs on my friend’s couch, which would’ve otherwise left me homeless, but I had plenty of offers for a place for us. Thank you to those people and I hope we meet again. The vet rushed my paperwork through as understanding of my situation, as she’s going through crap as well and is higher ranking.

With all things in order, Caleb and my dad found out I was on my way to the States as I pulled up to the airport. I was tired of the constant questioning without having answers. My flight was confirmed and not delayed. I sat for 2-3 hours on the ground in Dubai before going to Amsterdam for stroopwaffles and gouda in the airport. I landed in LA as my dad was on his way to San Diego to meet me in an hour only to be told that I didn’t have the proper boarding pass, my dogs paperwork wasn’t sufficient, and no one bothered to grab my bag.


tea in pajamas

I called my dad and had a pbj at the USO while waiting on him to arrive in a red convertible Camaro. Real life is so much better than Skype, we hugged. We had to drive a distance out-of-town to find a room for two nights, one so I could relax now and the second to calm down after a day in traffic to visit two synth stores.

We drove into Phoenix and Caroline walked in the door from work. Some days went by in a blur and I was soon in a Mazda 5 one-way rental to San Diego. Our old house had just been put on the market early and it was first come opportunity. We took it as a six-month lease and that gives us time to get situated and figure out if we want to stay there or relocate. I stayed in a Motel 6 and ate at Denny’s before returning the car to Phoenix.

art in San Diego

art in San Diego

My dad’s friend, Sonal, was in need of someone to help watch her store again, this time selling ice cream, and my dad knew I needed the distraction and a place to sleep till my bed arrives. I agreed to three weeks and her family will manage the last one. I’ve had plenty of time to read, enjoyed the rain, and a day in my dad’s office playing in Blender.

There are things to get used to, but it’s not where the guy is to pump the gas, but what’s my zip code. It’s not the overwhelming amount of cereal options inside the store, but the size of the aisles, the cheap fresh fruit, and the homeless people outside. There’s been no traffic and I can hear Arabic as if it were, “eh or a’boot” in Canada.

the drive between

the drive between

I work from noon to 9pm with Monday off. I have time in the mornings for a workout, shower, breakfast, puppies to play with and walk while I learn Spanish, and watch music tutorials over dad’s shoulder. I then either get a ride and am dropped off early or I leave the house at 11am for a 40-minute walk to work.

I have a long list of goals that I hope to accomplish today, next week, next month, and for coming years. I had gone by the SDSU campus but it was Caleb who got me prepped to sign up for classes in the fall. I think I almost forgot how overwhelming this process could be and thought it’d be easier without the navy in the way of the payment processing. I suppose we shall see.

walk to work

walk to work

How do I feel now that I’m back? This country has made great strides in moving forward in every direction, though sometimes it seems certain areas move slower due to greed and ignorance. I don’t want to be another name caller but a part of the solution. I met plenty of people who would love to be where I’m at – the land of opportunity. It would be rude of me not to take advantage of my situation. I’ll be here for a couple of years, or days, as no one can predict the future, but I’m hoping to make the most of mine.

Posted in Animals, Art, Family, Food, Friends, Holidays, Media, Military, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Making Friends at the Beach


morning panorama

I grabbed the small white blanket and the red pillow to sleep with – one under my head and the other over my feet, leaving Hello Kitty pajamas to cover the rest of me. I had my alarm set, but would wake up before it. I thought I heard them moving around at 7:45 and passed the time reading ‘The Castle’ by Franz Kafka. They had offered to take me to some of their favorite places today, and I’d be napping at 9:30 when Misha emerges.

She makes eggs with peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Ben washes dishes, and I make toast and tea. I spread plum jam on one and peanut butter on another. I add milk and honey to my cup. We grab our plates and walk upstairs to the roof to enjoy breakfast in the sun with a view of the construction of a building that will block the bit of ocean seen over the other apartments. Sometimes they enjoy watching the men at work as a pastime.


near Al Khiran Resort

Back inside, I shower in their bathroom because the guest one has no hot water. There’s not much pressure either and I’m grateful for short hair and realize this is what will take Misha so long – she has thick and longish hair. I use this time to read some more. I can’t tell if I’m intrigued or want to put the book down, but the protagonist has me hooked on the mystery of his drama.

Meanwhile, we’ve decided to join a group of people going to Al Khiran, just 18km from the Saudi border, to spend the day at the beach – partly because it’s a 40 minute drive one-way and already noon, and because I had planned to spend the day on a boat and under water diving with Nautilus at either Kubbar or Qaruh. The trip was cancelled due to high winds (only on weekends) and I was grateful I had called and saved myself bringing a bag full of gear I wouldn’t use.


playing paddle tether ball

The convoy arrives at 12:45pm and the couple rides in one car and I get in the back of another. My driver introduces himself as Mostafa, but his friends call him Steve. He’s from Egypt and his other passengers, Özge and Gonca, are Turkish. They’ve all been here less than a year and I give them an earful to listen to till we decide on music to get us through the desert covered with power lines, dotted with tents, with all the residential areas and factories along the coast.

The resort is clearly marked, from the highway, but the road we take leaves us guessing if we’re in the right place. We park in the dirt lot, grab our stuff (if the car carrying it has arrived), and walk past the construction ditch and tarp area to the clean sand with two other groups on it. They’re to the right, so we go left. I’ve put on sunscreen and brought my shawl, and though the group might’ve forgotten to bring cooking materials, there’s not a lack of shade for me to sit under with the two large umbrellas – if we can keep them standing in the wind.


staying shady

Steve has brought paddle tether ball, Misha and Ben brought their dual line kite, and those of us not getting in the water are snacking – on a Greek sandwich and a juice box. Some will read, walk, sing, snack again – two green apples and a rainbow popsicle to give me the energy for talking, taking pictures, and waiting for the food to arrive at 5:30. Some people agreed to go for burgers and Chicken 65 and we will dance ourselves into the darkness.

The dad that brought his kids will help unbury his son and help clean the sand out of his eyes that his brother dropped on his face while the rest of us pose for a memorable photo of the strangers we called friends for an afternoon. We grab our trash and chairs and say our Arabic goodbyes in the parking lot. I get back in Steve’s car. He lives close to my next hostess and has agreed to drop me after stopping at Misha’s for my bag.


Ben with kite

We reach Fintas at 7:45pm and agree to meet Hussein and Ashraf at Layali Al-Helmeya (also the name of a popular Egyptian drama series) after dropping Özge and Gonca to their place. Lioba, a teacher I’ve messaged via couchsurfing, and her friend Theona, will meet us at the cafe. We share a rice pudding with ice cream, and then we share another. Lioba will get one for her dinner and I order hummus Beiruty and take most of the bread with me when we leave at 11pm.

The other guys have gone, but Steve agrees to drop us each at our own after taking us to see the Kuwait Towers at night. They’re open till 11:30pm, but no admittance with only five minutes left. I don’t blame them; we can come back tomorrow. Shelley, a Canadian transplant, has called Kuwait home for ten years. She was ready for bed, but is up and delightful when I arrive at midnight.


blue, gold, and yummy

Her house is as colorful as her personality and as soon as I’m shown the toilet and the couch, she’s off to sleep. I admire all the handmade rugs (not her craft though) and the magnets on her fridge. I find a bright Bazaar Magazine Kuwait and will read through it about art, travel, and food to unwind. There are events here – if you can find the people and ads that know about them – such is the case in the Middle East.


Kuwait Towers

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No Wait for Kuwait


Crossing Arabian Gulf St. looking west

Caleb and I got Open Water Diver certified and the urge to do so every weekend now is strong. Caleb looked into Oman, where you can dive with four of the seven sea turtle species, but the timing wasn’t right. He’d go back to work and I looked into Kuwait – a country that has some dive spots of its own, and a place that’s new to me.

I tried Airbnb – again, and again I was disappointed. The man raised the price and changed the days. Luckily, this time, I had two girls willing to host me in different parts of Kuwait, which would be helpful in keeping me close to the dive port, Al Kout, and then closer to the downtown area of Kuwait City.

I booked my ticket for 9:50am and would start packing 11 hours before I was due at the airport – and at which time I still didn’t know how I was getting there until I talked to Quinn going to Dubai who would be taking a taxi at 7am. We agreed to ride together and have breakfast while we wait – eggs on toast at Sky Restaurant – all these flights and I didn’t know this place existed.


Marina Crescent

Our gates were switched and Quinn waited with me, while we sipped down frappuccinos, till I was the first to board at 9am. I would move from a middle seat across the aisle so that two sisters could sit with their mom. The staff member of Gulf Air was kind to offer to look for another seat for me, but it’s only an hour flight and I have plenty of space to read a bit before I fall asleep.

I land in Kuwait at 10:45 and am welcomed with 2G Internet speed. I get in line and feel out of place without my work visa. The customs agent tells me to go upstairs, with the other tourists, and get my visa there and then I can walk through the VIP line. I don’t need to buy the stamps (entry fee), but the guy next to me is nice enough to let me look at his. I’ve only planned on four days and am granted three months.

I get my bag scanned and am surprised when I look up to see so many American restaurants – they have Taco Bell out in town here (where in Bahrain it’s only on the military base). I was going to rent a car, but Kuwait is one of the picky countries that wants me to get an International License (issued from the same country as my driver’s license). If only I’d have gotten a Bahraini one upon arrival, since I didn’t get an official CPR card, I could’ve gotten one issued at the traffic school here.


Marina Beach

I had contacted the Kuwait Embassy, went to the traffic place in Bahrain, and called AAA in the States and I got the same answer each time. I didn’t bother with Budget Rental, since it was their website that told me the rules. This would give me the opportunity to take public transportation – and I walked past the row of taxis and the cars parked in the shade to the bus waiting to leave – packed with male workers and their boxes.

I showed the guys my map and they helped me with the bus route. It’s 250 fils (83 cents) each time to get on a bus – length of time unlimited. Women have a right to the front seats – I thought the man was being kind giving up his, and I was grateful to have access to the window and the stairs – where all the action is – and views of the traffic and parks with their carnival rides, which we’ve passed two so far.

The bus will stop where people are, or want to be, as long as police aren’t present. The driver holds a few fils and the tickets in one hand, and the wheel in the other. The duct tape holds the rest. One guy jumps from the bus and tears the knee of his pants. Then a woman sits next to me and complains when the school children hop on for a free ride – which apparently is the hassle-free method for everyone.


broccoli, udon noodles, chicken

I’m dropped to a bus stop with no idea where I’m at, but it’s only seconds before the next bus, 66, arrives. Kuwait’s buses are frequent, but the route that should’ve taken 25 minutes by taxi will take me an hour, but only cost 500 fils. I ask the driver if we’re still going to Salmiya and request Marina Mall instead as we pass through Hawally. He drops me at the crosswalk at 12:30.

I walk into Kababji Lebanese Restaurant to pee and end up ordering two tiny pastries (one the size of my palm) instead of the eight-inch pan-size I’m used to for 400 fils. This will give my phone some time to charge as having unknown plans and 38% battery can be risky. I walk through the mall’s parking lot, past the ladies section (and wonder if this is woman privilege or segregation), and into the sun on the other side.

I have to go inside, past the Cinnabon (800 fils later), and up the escalator to take the foot bridge across to Marina Crescent. My first objective was to find nature, with tourist sites nearby, to keep me busy till I meet Misha and Ben (couchsurfing couple) after work. They finish at 2:30, but are ok with me taking a cab to their hard-to-find place alone – and I’m still going on the non-plan itinerary at this point.


wall art in Fintas

I put my feet in the sand and look left to the sheesha boys, right to the exercise guys, and in front of me is waves and lots of coast guard ships. I look down and one of the pebbles is winking at me. It’s nice to be on a beach that has more birds’ footprints than trash on it. My return trip will be through the inside of the mall, and past Pinkberry to try their lotus flavor, and settle on the pomegranate. I should take it easy on the junk food on the first day, but I feel balance with walking.

That treat will cost me 2.150KD and I finish it while waiting on the fourth bus to pass that’s not going my way – and that’s when I notice the bus stop down the street. I get into a taxi and the driver says it will be 3KD to get me to the British School of Kuwait – and a 15 minute ride is only 1.5KD. We negotiate that I’ll pay two or get another taxi. I don’t know if it’s language barrier, inability to read maps, or a basic lack of knowledge about his route, but I’m concerned if we’ll find the school until I see all the buses and children.

I hop out and put the cash in the window. I give up my driver’s license for a blue visitor badge so the guard will unlock the door and let me in. I ask a group of teachers for directions to the toilet and then squeeze through the students upon exit. I’m looking down the hallway at ‘The Great Fire of London’ when I hear my name behind me. Misha and Ben are curious to my plans and we agree that Ben will stay for CrossFit while we take a cab home because the museum nearby doesn’t open for another 1.5 hours.


ablaq technique of Islamic architecture 

Misha invites me home and offers me drinks and books; and views of the highway from her corner window that is filled with the plants that survived. She shows me her wall of maps, flags, and memorabilia from their travels – together and alone. We talk about work and our history, and then we get into the kitchen at 4:30pm to prepare dinner – a stir-fry that’s done when Ben walks in the door. I talk the most, so I’ll be the last to finish my second plate before we get ready to go out.

They’re exhausted from the week, but figure 6:15 is too early for me and agree to walk to the beach. Along the way, there’s a red brick wall with two windows in it. The women’s side has newspapers and there’s a baker in the men’s window giving a guy 15 pieces of fresh bread. Ben buys us two to share and I tear into my half as it cools in the night air.

It’s nice to take our shoes off, all of us wearing Birkenstocks, and listen to the waves. We find a Yoda in the sand and start towards the house. We passed some women with cake and candles and I stare more this time passing. My curiosity is rewarded with a photo and a piece of their celebration – one of them is a bride-to-be. It’s chocolate with nuts on the outside and reddish with maybe dates on the inside. It’s delicious and I share.


swing circle in park

We take a shortcut through a park – either one in the making or it’s been deserted – and stop at the corner store for milk, bread, and eggs. Misha comes in at 8:20pm to let me know they’re going to sleep soon. I’ve also spent the last 40 minutes unwinding, but I’ll stay up till 11:30 and then switch couches to find a more comfortable sleep.

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