August 2006

So apparently I’m not quite as much of an anti-girly girl as I originally thought, judging by the comments I got back! 🙂 I officially stand corrected, although I would still like to stand firm with the claim that I am not, and never have been, perky. Anyone who has every seen me before 11 in the morning will no doubt back me up on that one.

For everyone who is wondering, Christian Lauboutin (spelled it wrong yesterday) is a shoe designer…something akin to Jimmy Choo I guess, ridiculously overpriced and all over the style pages right now. There’s an example to the left.

On a completely unrelated note, I read an article in “Natural Health” magazine today that made me so happy because it said that not only is coffee not bad for you, it’s actually quite good for you and you should drink lots of it and even incorporate it into your cooking. I can’t even tell you how happy that made me, since the longer I’m here working ridiculous hours seven days a week the more I love coffee. Especially since I don’t like soda or any of the Red Bull-esque energy drinks, which seem to be the other preferred method of caffeine delivery. I’m conveniently choosing to ignore the fact that there are probably sixteen thousand other articles out there explaining why this research is completely wrong and coffee is, in fact, the devil’s brew.


…there is an equal and opposite reaction.

We all remember that from high school science, I’m sure. What’s interesting to me is how true that is of the human mind as well. Take me, for instance. I’m not an overly girly girl (I can hear my sister snorting whatever she was drinking right now and thinking to herself “not OVERLY?! You wore all gray for like five years!”). I’m not into pink, I’ve never been one for “girls’ night out,” and before I got out here I couldn’t have told you who Christian Laboutin was to save my life. The crazy thing is, being out here surrounded by men who, for the most part, pride themselves on their toughness, and women who often seem to be trying to keep up with the guys in terms of being one fo the guys, I’ve become more girly.

Honestly, I’m a little disturbed by the whole thing. All of a sudden I have this overriding urge to prove that I’m NOT one of the guys, that I don’t want to dress in cargo pants and hiking boots every day, that I like heels and dresses and feeling pretty. Those of you who know me, back me up — I am not one to say things like “I want to feel pretty!” It’s very strange. I suppose it’s a contrary streak in me, but I find myself thinking more about make-up and shoes out here than I ever have before in my life. It’s really sort of bizarre.

I’m hoping it’s temporary, that once I’m back in a normal place where no one stares at you if you should choose one day to wear heels, for instance, this will all pass.

Of course, that said I still cringe when I hear one of my new female co-workers saying something like “we girls are going to make this part of the office all feminine — we might even paint it pink!” in a very perky voice. So maybe all hope is not lost. I have yet to become perky as far as I can tell. If and when that happens, then I will truly be lost.

Funny how things look different when you’re standing in a new place. Take bottled water, for instance. That’s all we drink here, although the water in our apartments is safe enough for washing and cooking, we’re not encouraged to drink it in large quantities. So where do you suppose we get our water from? Some of it comes from the UAE, which makes sense given their high standard of living, but we also get water from….Pakistan and Uzbekistan. I personally find that somewhat hilarious, as those are not necessarily the first places I would have thought of to find sparkling pure water. Even better is that apparently there was some sort of scam being run by one of the Pakistani water bottle companies (or someone using their packaging) wherein they used the water by making an opening in the bottom, refilled them with tap water, and then resealed the bottom. The other drama is that of late we discovered that some of the UAE water bottles had the tops of the caps sliced off, were used and refilled, and then the top was fitted back on cleverly. And the circle of life continues. You have to admire the sheer ingenuity of whoever it was that decided it would be a brilliant idea to go to such lengths to steal bottled water and then sell it back.

Living here is helping me to get over some of my germ phobia, since the sheer variety and hardiness of the microscopic organisms here is mind-boggling. One of the girls in my office got a parasite that was so nasty she had to take arsenic for a week to get rid of it. Apparently the arsenic left a very distinct metallic taste in her mouth that made her lose her appetite during the treatment…note to self, should I taste metal in my mouth I need to check my food sources more carefully. Luckily neither Danny nor I have tangled with anything worse than a temporary bout of upset tummy (trying to keep this site family friendly… 🙂 ), but we do still have ten months to go. It does put things in perspective, though — germs on sponges (one of my personal pet phobias) pale in comparison to giardia or parasites requiring arsenic to kill them off. I’m not promising to embrace sponges any time soon, but I’m learning.

One trend among my co-workers that I refuse to adopt is the Purell craze. Seriously, people Purell their hands after shaking hands with people, before and after eating, and whenever anyone near them get sick. They also overuse antibacterial soap to a degree that makes my crunchy granola side shudder. Not to mention the fact that the embassy doctor seems to think that Cipro is the cure-all for everything from strep to an upset stomach and hands it out like candy without even doing a culture first. As if this country didn’t have enough problems, we need to introduce resistant strains of bacteria? Yikes. I’m all for cleanliness, but let’s be reasonable…

A few weeks ago I decided that since I was eventually going to have to go off of my antihistamines anyway, and we’re currently living in a place with very little in the way of plant life that I could be allergic to, I might as well go ahead and quit now. It also seemed a little silly in a place where the only thing that really seems to flourish is dust to be paying money to ship bottles of antihistamines every month. What I failed to factor in is that maybe my body, which has had those magic pills coursing through its bloodstream for the majority of my 27 years, would not be quite sure what to do without them. The last time I didn’t take antihistamines on a daily basis was in ’99 when I lived in Israel for six months (mostly because I forgot to bring enough with me), but right about April when the entire Mount of Olives burst into bloom, I remembered that I was horribly allergic to olive trees and suffered accordingly until my then boyfriend (now husband) sent me the contents of the entire allergy aisle at CVS and I could once again control my body’s overreaction through drugs.

So the first two weeks of druglessness (okay, I still haven’t given up my Flonase yet, but one step at a time, people!) went pretty well, but as I was getting ready for bed last night I noticed that bending over to wash my face caused an uncomfortable rise in pressure in my general sinus region. I took a Sudafed this morning to hopefully stave off what I suspect is the beginnings of a sinus infection, but will have to see how well that works. I’m hoping maybe it’s just that I slept longer last night than I normally do or maybe the altitude is getting to me, but we’ll have to see.

My question is this — is there some way to train my body not to freak out just because I’m not taking pills to control its level of histamine production and will eventually have to cut out the Flonase as well? I know some antecdotal stories about eating local honey every day (not an option here, as we can’t buy most local produce and I’m not even sure that bees survive well this high up in the air…I know mosquitoes don’t) and using saline nasal spray, but is that really the best I can do? I’d like to believe that my system will eventually just calm down and learn to deal, but don’t want to spend the next however-many years that I need to not have those drugs in my system going from one sinus infection to another, either. And I’m guessing that this is about as good as it’s going to get when it comes to lack of allergens…I shudder to think what’s going to happen when I return to the pollen soup that is DC in the summer next year without my trusty little white Zyrtecs to defend me.

It’s also funny how accustomed one can get to relying on something like that. My husband has never consistently taken any medication for long periods of time, and he still thinks it’s somewhat strange that I can’t travel without my little pharmacy. I guess it is strange when you think about it, and on general principle I don’t like the idea of having to take medication every day. Some of them I just have to accept for the time being due to our current living situation, but that doesn’t mean that I like it. Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn Tom Cruise and start railing against all medication, but it is sort of a weird idea that I rely on these little compounds to make my body work normally.

I just looked at my last post and realized it was a month ago almost…that would explain all of the “where the heck are you?!” e-mails that I’ve been getting. Apologize, I was traveling for work and not able to keep this updated while I was away. But I’m back now, and getting ever closer to our next R&R! We’re a month out now, which is pretty exciting although still too far off for my taste. In the meantime we’re living vicariously through planning all the details of where we’ll stay and where we’ll eat and where we want to go walking (the most crucial part of our vacations these days, since we can’t walk around outside here for more than a hundred yards without running into a wall…).

I bought a couple of new carpets during my trip, which are slightly impractical since they don’t both fit in our apartment here, but I really loved them and figured it was worth our while. It’s so nice to be back home, though, even though it’s a temporary home. Being away from Danny always makes me realize how much I enjoy his company. Not that I don’t know it when I’m here, but I start to take it a bit for granted until I’m surrounded by other people for most of the time and then I realize how much more fun I have with him than with anyone else. The other cool thing about being gone for a little while is that when I got back there were several packages waiting for me, including a care package from my grandparents and one from my in-laws, and I love getting packages. Danny saved them all up for me because he knows I love to open them up, even when it’s something I’ve ordered. I’m like a little kid that way, I guess. 🙂

The weather here has been slightly wretched for the past several days — the lack of humidity is one of the better points of living here, and the fact that once the sun goes down the nights are really nice because it cools off, but it’s been really humid since I got back. Feels a bit like being back in DC for the summer.

I started reading a book during my trip that I was so interested in that I ended up ordering it online. I haven’t gotten more than fifteen pages in, but once I finish reading it I might have to try my hand at a book review on here. It’s called “The ‘Great Satan’ Vs. the ‘Mad Mullahs’: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other.” The author is an anthropologist, and he examines the rhetoric used by the United States and Iran about one another and how that’s impacted the course of their relations since the Iranian revolution. I don’t know much more than that at this point, but I’m really excited about getting to read the rest of it, since it seems like a really well researched book.