I don’t care how my feminism makes you feel

I winced at the pain of the tattoo machine on my soft forearm and my phone buzzed.

“You discriminate against people based on their DNA? How much more shallow can you get?”

41jdoc6unol-_sx342_A man I barely know is railing against the statement “The Future is Female” which I posted on the way to my appointment and against the fact that I have chosen to tattoo it on my body. I did it because I have fought and worked on behalf of women since I was a teenager. The feminist struggle has been the defining feature of my adulthood. I did not have much to say to him at that moment. I was busy. Still, this is one of the most common accusations that the privileged hurl at marginalised people when we fight for our own causes.

Let me be very clear. Marginalised people reserve the right to demand the fight for the rights of our group without giving a second thought to the feelings of our oppressors.

I was raised by diplomats, so my habit through the years has been to make sure that even when I was engaged in activism, no one felt hurt. I have not stopped caring deeply about individuals, I think that is why it has taken me so long to get to this place. Still, the years of running up against my detractors and being personally attacked for my beliefs has allowed me to cease caring.

The same goes for “Black Lives Matter”. It has been such a flashpoint because black Americans have grown tired of tiptoeing around the issue and watching their brothers and sisters be slaughtered in the street. Everyone who reacts to that statement with the earnest insistence that “all lives matter” is simply wishing for a time when their feelings mattered more than the lives of bright young people cut down by their government.

My beautiful picture

They do not.

So no. I don’t care about how my feminism makes men feel. No part of me is sorry for that, and the men in my life who stand with me in the fight are not threatened by that. If you are a member of an oppressive group- be it gender or race or whatever, you are either an ally or an enemy. It is easy to identify the enemies by their reaction when people stand up for themselves. Call it harsh, but we have wasted so much time worrying about the feelings of white men. Hoping that maybe by not angering them too much, we may get away unharmed. That did not work, with every polite comment our cause was made weaker.

That is precisely why I chose to put The Future is Female on my body for all time. It allows me to sort my enemies from my allies quickly. I have no desire to spend time with someone who does not believe in my right to stand up for the rights of female presenting and bodied people.

Sorry not sorry, boys.

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To the mothers who chose to wait

 

The question “Who is Mother’s Day for?” seems like it would have an obvious answer, but for me, that’s not the case. I usually spend this day with my mother, a powerhouse of a woman who raised me in nine locations across the globe and still managed to be there for us despite spending a quarter century doing one of the hardest jobs on earth- being a US Diplomat and working in Systems-a field dominated by men.

I have the best mum, and that’s one of the reasons I want to be a mother myself- more than anything, I want to pass that love forward. Today though, I am not only thinking only about my mother, but about my own experience of motherhood. In the summer of 2012, my birth control failed and two weeks after a tumultuous breakup I found myself pregnant in a city where I barely knew anyone, my mother was three hours away by bus, my ex was refusing to speak to me, and I had all of two friends in Philadelphia. I found out rather unceremoniously- I had gone to the hospital with stomach pains and while in the ER, a male nurse opened the curtain around my bed and said “You’re pregnant”, then walked off.

With those two words and my world fell apart.

I was in a daze from the morphine I needed to to survive the pain, and I had no idea what to do. My mind raced through the problem, I was still in University, I didn’t have a dime in the bank and I was pretty sure my parents weren’t down with abortion, but then again,they’d never talked about it. After what felt like an eternity, a doctor came into the room and told me that the pain and vomiting were likely just me overreacting to morning sickness, and they would discharge me immediately. That felt wrong, but I’m not one to question a doctor so I went home. I was in excruciating pain for days after, and I finally broke down and tried to get a public bus to the hospital. I was so delirious that a fellow passenger removed me from the bus and brought me to the hospital herself. She was the first in a long line of nameless women who I will always love for what they did for me. When I arrived, I was nearly triaged back to the waiting room- until I mentioned I was pregnant.

I don’t remember getting up to the tenth floor, but when I came to my senses and the pain subsided, I was in the most peaceful hospital ward I had ever been in.Everyone was smiling, the nurses and doctors were taking my pain seriously, and maybe it was in my head, but I swear there was soothing music playing the whole time. That’s when a sweet, hijabi nurse walked to my bedside and said,

“How are you feeling, mama?”

That was possibly the strangest moment of the whole ordeal, I knew I couldn’t have this baby. There was no chance I would, but that word sent me to a place I wasn’t ready for-motherhood.

I smiled and said I was alright. They had learned that I had appendicitis and it was extremely serious. I called my mother, who did not yet know I was pregnant and was scheduled for life-saving surgery early the next morning. Now, until you have waited for your card-carrying Republican, somewhat sex-negative (or at least, I thought) mother to meet you in the maternity ward of a hospital, while pregnant and single, you do not know the meaning of the word anxiety. It didn’t take long for her to realise what was happening, and through my tears I had the sweetest realisation- my mother was on my side. Right now, we had to get this appendix out of me before it killed me, but we talked about what I would do afterwards and she was completely supportive. She admitted she hadn’t really thought about it, but her willingness to be ok with my choice makes me tear up to this day.

The next few weeks were a blur, I got out of surgery and would have to wait almost three weeks until I could have the abortion. I was stuck on my couch, seven weeks and pregnant waiting to get to ten before I could go to Planned Parenthood. I wanted to be at home with my mother, but my parents lived in Virginia and getting an abortion there was complicated and difficult. My only option was to stay in Philly.

When you have an unwanted pregnancy, there is an overwhelming sense of urgency. You want it done and over with. Every minute you spend pregnant is strange, emotional, confusing and heartbreaking. I sat on my couch for weeks, and during that time I was a mother. I do not think that the tiny soon-to-be baby inside of me was biologically anything more than a rough sketch of human life, but I loved her.

Every day, I spoke to her. I explained that I loved her but couldn’t be the mother she would need. I fell asleep with my hands over my bandages, sending vibrations of adoration. Despite all of this, I was never unsure of my choice and after the time had passed, I went to the Philly Planned Parenthood with my girlfriend Amanda and started the process of getting an abortion. In Pennsylvania at the time, they made you get an ultrasound to see your foetus and then sent you to “counselling” to make sure you really wanted an abortion.  I powered through. I wasn’t able to be put into twilight sleep for the surgical abortion since the clinic was booked up. I would be awake, which scared me but I was ready to be strong.

The room was sterile, there was a doctor and a lovely young woman who smiled at me and said she was there to hold my hand. I lay down on the paper lined bed and he put the cold forceps inside of me. The pain of dilation was intense, and I held onto that girl’s hand like my life depended on it. I don’t know who she was, but I love her for being there for me. After what felt like forever, the vacuum began to roar. I was clenching my teeth, I was trying to stay strong. Afterwards, I stood up and my thighs were covered in blood, I wasn’t ready for that- it looked like something out of a slasher film. The doctor said that was normal.

I sat in the recovery room, cramping and listening to my iPod. I wasn’t mourning, I was grateful. Abortion isn’t easy and it doesn’t come without a cost, but because of my abortion, I am able to have the life I do. I will choose when I have children and on the days when I get sad about it, my partner looks at me and tells me what I know to be true- that little baby is going to come back to me. I love the child I never had. I know now that it’s possible to love something more than anything in the universe, the love of a mother is incomparable and I tasted it- that’s why I know that motherhood will be the greatest thing I ever get to experience.

To mothers of children who never were, to the mothers who chose to wait- happy Mother’s Day. Our stories aren’t told, and I want to be open about what its like to not regret your abortion, but still have learned motherly love from the experience of pregnancy.

Note: There were many things about my experience that illustrate how horrible the politics of getting an abortion are for women. First, I nearly died because of the epidemic of doctors not taking women’s pain seriously. I was forced to have the abortion far from my family because of the variation in state laws, I was also forced to get an ultrasound that I didn’t want. I had to experience this wide awake because the Planned Parenthood in my city was one of only a few clinics and was overbooked- unable to serve all of the women who needed them. Lastly, because I couldn’t afford the abortion (which is why I didn’t have the child) I was paying off the $900 bill for nearly a year after the ordeal. Every time a bill came I was reminded, and I was lucky enough to have a campus job that allowed me to pay it off eventually. 

Thank you to all the women who got me through this, during and after. I have so far confided in just a few friends, but they all provided me with incredible support to deal with this, to Michele M, my roommate in Philly, Amanda M, Samantha T who was the first person I told after I left the hospital and walked into her place of work nearly crying, Liv and Erica who visited me in the aftermath, and my mother who is one of my best friends and champions. To my Alway Something Girls- you know who you are, you were so important.

 

Capsule Wardrobe Experiment: February-April 2016

I have always owned too many clothes. I never thought of this as a particular problem; I have always been in the habit of constantly accumulating clothing and then periodically purging my closet and trying to start over again. Even when I packed up my life into a backpack and moved to Palestine with 20 or so pieces of clothing, I found myself accumulating as soon as I arrived. When I ended up in Europe and started making money again, it was even worse. A year into my time in Germany, my closet was overflowing and I was taking over more and more drawers in my partner’s and my shared bureau. Ben and I have been talking about how we need more storage and I assumed that was right until I heard an interview with Caroline Rector on The Lively Show and heard about her experiment with a seasonal capsule wardrobe. Recently, I have been trying to go deeper in my life instead of always attempting to be expansive in every way. This idea resonated with my new mindset so beautifully that I sat down to pare down my options to 37 pieces, including some repeats I love within the week.

I have always had clothing in just about every style, but as I looked through my old photos and compared them to my new capsule wardrobe, my style jumped out at me. I always thought I was too eclectic to have a cohesive style, but I was wrong! I have always owned and loved mariniers, button-down shirts, blazers, lots of navy, and pops of colour. I can recall individual items of clothing that I loved so much I can still remember all of their details. A JCrew Navy canvas jacket, a tan circle skirt, a grey cardigan, my skater style dresses I had made in India, and my favourite navy gingham button down. My style was just hiding between the mess of distracting trend pieces I couldn’t stop buying.

I feel so liberated with this wardrobe, everything I put on feels like home and looks like me. I am not grasping for a style I just don’t resonate with and even more interesting for me, I feel like this style is not weight dependant. I often look back at photos of me before my illness, at 19 years old and I think “I can’t wear that anymore”.

It’s wrong. My thought that capsule wardrobes can only work for the skinny, or for women who never change size is wrong.

I put my smaller clothes and my summer pieces in the cellar of our apartment building. I feel so confident knowing that I can go back to those pieces because I KNOW I will change weights. I always have- that’s my body.

I am so excited about this change; I’m looking forward to thinking less about clothes and more about who I am as a person.

 

Want to try it yourself? Check out Unfancy’s guide here.

The evolution of my style 2007-2016

Recline

I do not know how to abandon my fervent search for impressiveness. I want people to look at me and tell me they don’t know how I did something, or better- continually bring up my experiences and successes like I’m some wunderkind for just doing the things I have just been presented with in the course of my life so far.

I want to be extraordinary, and it’s currently making my life hell. I can’t even fathom spending GOD FORBID THREE WHOLE YEARS here in Frankfurt. Here I have my life; I have my partner in life, and I am terrified just to relax for a minute, let alone a few years because I think it’s too “average”. When I left the United States, I chose to move to the most stressful, complicated and rewarding places I have ever been- the West Bank, Palestine.

Palestine is everything that I love, and my busy addicted brain was getting a daily dose of my favourite drugs: constant stimulation and praise from the people I had left behind. When I got stranded in Germany in January of 2015, I was terrified because I traded those things for quiet and unimpressive surroundings. A year later, I am even more scared.

I find myself already desperate to get out of Europe and keep fighting my way to some success, as defined by my high-achieving parents who are my role models in this regard. There are so many things that excite me- the list is long, and I have no idea which ones I should pursue. I get equally excited about public diplomacy, women’s rights, photography, food, marketing and wine. I do not have a calling.

Maybe I just don’t know what it is yet, but at 25, I refuse to let myself believe that it’s OK to opt out of the race to succeed for a few years. I have a fear of being overtaken by my peers, compared to whom I already feel woefully inadequate. I went to high schools that produce incredibly successful global citizens, and in those places, I was attracted to the people who were driven, smart and successful and unsurprisingly, have become very successful in life. My Facebook feed is filled with individuals who are exactly my age whom I wish I could be.

I am filled with envy, and I am terrified of underachieving. I come from a family and a background where I wanted and want for nothing. I have a safety net so why shouldn’t I continually, obsessively, work hard to achieve a specific kind of success?

I would not even consider taking a break from that mindset if I weren’t being forced to see it for what it is. My anxiety has grown into a monster I can no longer control. My life is one huge case of FOMO (fear of missing out), and until I can let go and allow life just to happen for a while, I am afraid I will continue to suffocate under the weight of my expectations for myself.

I do not know how to trust life. I don’t know how to trust that just taking care of myself and not obsessively seeking warmer weather, busier streets and more difficult work will not derail my entire life.

I’m living in a world of high achievers; I hear about the importance of being successful before I have children, so it’s harder to stagnate when I have a family. I hear about going to grad school sooner rather than later, I hear that I need to be working towards a goal with every step I take, but I don’t even know what that goal is right now.

I honestly am not sure how to go about reclining and allowing myself room to grow, heal and find what truly drives and inspires me. All I can do is try.

 

Holy Land

Everything here is holy, every mountain is named in my Bible. This is the promised land. I was warned that this place might not bring me any closer to religion, that it might wreck what I had instead of strengthening it as so many of the faithful hope for when they come to Israel and Palestine.

This weekend, I made a pilgrimage of sorts to an organic farm that sits precariously on the edge of Bethlehem. Comfortably and entirely in Area C which is under full Israeli control still. On Wednesday, my colleague told me about a farm where she said I could camp. As a girl who grew up in jungles and deserts and around campfires in every imaginable corner of the earth I was very interested. I adore my city with its hilly roads and bustling souk but I was ready to get out into nature. It’s a tricky thing with land so divided, settled and tightly controlled.
So, on Thursday I went into town to pick up a minivan-like inter-city taxi to take me to Ramallah. The drive there is lovely, winding and devoid of too many checkpoints. It is my favorite, probably because I can be so distracted by the scenery I don’t notice the countless close calls we have with oncoming traffic which is really something.

In Ramallah, I walked up to the taxi station only to find were about 5 times more people going to Beit Lahem than there were taxis. After 45 minutes of waiting, I talked my way into a car whose driver had just returned and was charging everyone all 5 shekels extra to make the trip. We grudgingly gave in, it would be evening soon and I wasn’t t trying to make this trip in the dark thankyouverymuch. The trip started out normally enough, but a sudden stop in traffic and an ominous message on the walkie-talkie and we were off-roading it. There was a checkpoint up ahead, so we careened precariously up above the highway on dirt roads. Occasionally the driver would jump out, cursing under his breath to move rocks or goats from the roadway.
This particular detour let out at the entrance to a settlement. We tried to blend in with the outgoing traffic which won’t be stopped by soldiers. Everyone stares, we were the only non-Israeli car on the road.

After another checkpoint, a spectacular wadi and an hour of driving we arrived in Bethlehem and I found a local cab to get me out to Area C and Hosh Yasmin. The sun was setting as we pulled up. I arrived just in time.

Hosh Yasmin is heaven on earth. It sits on a hill overlooking a valley and I could see a city in the distance, though I didn’t know whether it was Ramallah or Jerusalem. The farm feels like it’s a million miles from everything despite the fact that I can see the massive wall, and I noticed that I was, for the first time, on the Israeli side of it. The farm has been threatened by bulldozers multiple times but it dates back to before 1948 so Mazan, the owner has been able to preserve it and keep it open to both Israelis and Palestinians.
I dropped my backpack in my tent and ordered dinner- the food here is legendary. Farm to table is a common enough concept here, but Mazan takes the concept very seriously and I was excited to try it out. I ordered a lamb dish and hummus. The lamb reminded me of my mother’s pot roast. It tasted familiar but distinctly Levantine- the smokey lamb contrasting with fresh pomegranate and parsley and coriander leaves. It’s heaven.
After dinner, they bring me homemade Arak- a liquor common throughout the Levant, Turkey, and Greece in different forms and with different names.

The next morning I woke up at 6am and strapped on my backpack. I was determined to walk to the Church of the Nativity and get out of town before the crowds began to bear down on Bethelem. I walked for an hour and a half, though an Israeli neighborhood and past a massive sign warning me I was entering Area A and detailing the illegality of this crossing for Israeli citizens.

There is a wall here. It is a large, foreboding one. You know it, it’s a tourist destination in its own right. Great street artists have emblazoned it with their work alongside the rough spray paint scrawls of whoever gets close enough. I strolled past, stopping to take in its sheer size only for a minute before turning back to my mission.

After crossing the entire city of Bethlehem on foot, I arrived at the church. The church where Jesus Christ was born. The man who I’ve known like an old friend my whole life, the man whose words written in red in my holy text guided me as I grew up in the church. I didn’t know what  I’d feel, but at 8:30 in the morning I was in the church with a solitary Armenian nun. She didn’t speak English but we exchanged greetings in our less than perfect Arabic.
She led me down to the underbelly of the church to the spot where Jesus is believed to have been born. A posse of Eastern Orthodox priests trailed in, one by one, preparing for a service. I slowly lowered myself to my knees in the back of the small, dark, stone room and prayed, it seemed like the only appropriate thing to do. I watched the service from my small corner and didn’t understand a thing. It was powerful in its sheer ancient-ness, these priests have shared the sacred sites of this land for generations. I think of the long history of battles for control, the complex patchwork of competing sects and faiths, conquerors and conquered who have shaped this place. It was beautiful and even among strangers and unfamiliar ritual it was exactly what I had been seeking.

 

On my way out of the church, the buses carrying tourists from Israel were arriving.
I let out a sigh of relief, I had made it just in time- before the magic would be shattered by the noise of tour operators and gawkers.

 

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When you leave it  all behind for somewhere brand new, a lot of things happen.  The experience can swing from loneliness to closeness. I’m fascinated by the way expatriate life affects different people. I’ve been slowly documenting the day to day of the expat English teachers at my private school, here’s a peek of what I have so far.


I’ve found someone downtown who will develop my film and work with me to decide what to print and how. The old guys at this photo shop are wonderful. They started gently questioning my choice to  use film, but once I pulled out both my OM-1 and my Nikon they seemed to understand. I’m excited to have partners instead of a nameless developer and printer. Soon, this collection will include shots from my last few rolls. It’s a slow process here in Nablus though. 

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BREAKING BREAD AND CLIMBING WALLS. I WORE, I THOUGHT, I SAW.

A lot. Considering it’s nearly 90 out and sunny all day. Of course, that’s pretty normal. Nablus is definitely on the more conservative end of the list of middle eastern cities and because there are so few westerners here, all eyes are on us. I try to err on the side of caution with my dress, as a teacher of young women I want to make sure I look like a role model as much as possible. I was able to convert this into an outfit which enabled me to scale the side of a building, though.

It’s all about versatility, right?

I thought

Boycotting Israel is a lot harder when you’re in Palestine. Nablusi stores are boycotting Israeli products and I’ve found myself staring blankly at the grocery store knowing well that the Israeli apple juice tastes a million times better than it’s local equivalent and feeling a tinge of guilt. I inadvertently purchased all Palestinian goods this morning at the corner store and Oum Sana at the register praised my choices profusely. I blushed. It was entirely a coincidence. I don’t know how to even begin falling in line with the boycott movement that my students and colleagues adhere to- everything here seems to be Israeli. We are, after all living on land they control at the end of the day. I do feel as if it’s important to stand with my hosts and avoid that gorgeous juice with Hebrew written on the label, so for now that trip to Super Store is a little more complicated, but that’s what you get in a complicated land.

I saw

I spent the night watching the clouds on the roof of the boys’ house. They live in a slightly dilapidated apartment, up the mountain from the school where we all teach. Seemingly ancient stone steps lead up from the road, around a sandstone wall to their gated doorway.  The boys; Alex, Harry and Spencer are a comfort to have in this city and in the school. Their huge terrace, tucked behind lush trees is our refuge. At night we take off our ever present cardigans, exposing our shoulders to the cool summer evening air. It’s wonderful, far from the prying eyes that follow us on the street. We ate dinner by candlelight- a huge pot of lentils and fresh bread. Bright Eyes played in the background. Funny how being thrust together in a strange new country results in a closeness I didn’t find in DC for almost a year.  After dinner, we climbed up window bars and found ourselves on the roof watching the clouds and the stars that peeked out from behind them. It was a simple kind of communion. I was covered in dust- a smell I didn’t know I loved. It reminds me of being a child in a string of crowded cities, dust clinging to my hands and feet. Being up there with my thoughts, the heavens and a few new friends- I felt like I was home

Nasser House: a love letter

 This is my happy place.
Darting up the ancient, stoney stairs up away from the road, I approach Nasser House. Down in the city we jostle in and out of traffic and ignore the catcalls, shake off the stares. Up here, tucked behind the behemoth of a Nabulsi mansion that belongs to the landlord, things are quiet and they are decidedly different. We all love this city, we love the crazy roads, the bustle of the souk. We love these people who have taken us in and allowed us to call their land home, despite their home shrinking every day.
Still, when I pass through the gates of the Nasser house I feel a shift somewhere deep. It’s safe to shed my cardigan. My bare shoulders greet the midday sun which filters down through the leaves. These trees give me the privacy I require for this act of rebellion. In the few short weeks since we arrived we have eaten, smoked, made fires and taken refuge on this patio. We burned sappy sticks on the plastic table and accidentally created a fireball, leaving our place of communion in waxy ruin. We cleaned it, carefully, lovingly. It was like a christening, now this table is ours, all of ours. We’ve started to carve into the soft plastic. A tree, a feather, a Palestinian flag.
This house is ancient. The elderly woman who lived here passed away, she was the mother of a friend and so the house feels different than the rented flat that most of us live in. The other flat is cold and always empty despite 8 residents. We’d rather be here. Nasser house is vibrating with life, uncontrollable and unownable. It’s history is bigger than all of us put together.
There’s a mobile on the patio now. Alex, a goofy bespectacled Wisconsinite, who seems to have lived countless lives in his 24 years, made it of sticks and found red pantyhose. Spencer, a quiet, funny ginger from New York put up his prayer flags. There are scraps of paper taped up on the walls inside, a great college of found writing, sketches and memorabilia. Every time I come over, the collection has grown.
Today it finally feels like fall, I woke up from a cat nap on the patio to return my cardigan to my shoulders, and all around my little glass of tea there were yellow and brown leaves. It could not have been mistaken for the autumn I learned to adore in the United States but maybe it was better.

THAT AJANIIB LIFE: DAY ONE

 

One of the benefits of my lifetime of nomadism is that I quickly settle into any new place, I’m not easily fazed or made wary of newness. I still see each new city he way I did growing up- so eager to soak up every little thing, to find rhythm and find home. Ever since I stepped on a plane out of Egypt I have missed living in the Middle East. I didn’t know where I’d end up- Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine but as soon as I graduated from college I started to look at how I would get where I wanted to be.
I did not think that I would end up in Nablus of all places, and that it would feel so…right. It’s been a day, so these are of course, first impressions. I’ve spent years ready to return to my comfort zone- learning a new city, speaking in broken Arabic, the constant stimulation of living somewhere new has been absent for so long. I think that’s the source of the calm and sheer contentment I feel.

I should have done this sooner.

Morning ritual on the balcony.

Nablus itself is terrifically charming- sand coloured 5 to 10 story buildings climb up two mountains on either side, the roads twist up the hills and cats dart between stalls in the souk. We live partway up one mountain, the top is covered in scraggly evergreens and there’s a Samaritan (yes, those Samaritans) village up there. Our apartment is huge, with large windows we keep open all day. Naturally, we are between a house with a whole brood of roosters and a mosque- 5am is rough right now. I’m sure I’ll learn to ignore it.

The community of expats (the word for us in Shaami is Ajaniib) at Teach for Palestine and another school at which I’ve taken a part time teaching position has so far been wonderful. At TFP we live in two apartments next to each other, it’s been wonderful so far to be able to sit in the kitchen talking until late at night all together. Between TFP and Pioneers Baccalaureate School we represent about 2/3 of the total expat population of Nablus and we’re less than 20.

Due to some border control issues, PBS was unable to bring a half dozen or so of it’s volunteers and needed help to teach English in their lower school.
I have never thought about teaching little kids but given my boundless energy and patience with little ones, I volunteered to teach one section of the second grade class.

Pioneers Baccalaureate
School

I’m slightly terrified, in a healthy way. I’m also totally excited to do something completely different for eight hours a week.

Seriously, anyone with advice for teaching little ones in general or teaching english please reach out to me. I’ll be very well equipped by the school but I’m sure there are tips and tricks people have picked up along the way.

For now I’m desperately in need of a nap, I start teacher training tomorrow so we’ll see how that goes.

Exploring the Old City

 

 

PACKING, PURGING AND THE JOYS OF LETTING IT ALL GO.

I’m two weeks out.

I’m packing all of my clothes, all of my art, furniture and beloved textiles away.
Every day my walls are a little more empty and my living room, more cluttered with boxes.
I love it.
A lot of things about this move have felt at once rushed and too slow, and that’s where I am right now. According to my planner I have 14 days until I get on a plane to Tel Aviv, too much time to already be packing everything I own but also so short that I need to quickly buy and arrange everything I can’t when I’m overseas.

The closer I get to the move, the less I think I’ll be back in the US when I tell people I will.
I’ve arranged an internship at a newspaper for the winter in Morocco- a place I’ve always wanted to live which will take me to at least March. Talking to my mother, who is herself packing out for a move to Germany with the State Department, I started considering a move there to teach English after I finish my TEFL. American University here in DC has a distance learning MA in International Relations that I could pursue anywhere in the world with decent internet. That prospect has seriously altered what I’m considering for my future. I can see it, teaching English in Bonn or Amman and taking graduate classes. What better way to learn? It sure beats living in the US on a tight budget and doing the old school university thing…again.

For now, I’m registered for a November GRE in Ramallah. Study tips are welcomed!

Travel planning is like a drug, now that I’ve begun I refuse to stop adding destinations. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so at liberty to chase what matters to me.

This past year in the US has been a long layover between university and adulthood, despite all the “adult” things I committed to doing- job, apartment, happy hours- that’s not who I am at 24.

So here I stand, among my boxes, ready to pack them away for a long time.

I feel free.