Friday, April 29, 2011

"Take that thing off your head because no man will want to marry you as long as you're dressed like that!"

Any excuse to include a picture of chocolate
If I had a Lindor truffle (my preferred currency) for every time an older, "wiser" woman said this to me, I'd be a little more than pleasantly plump. I can't say that this kind of thinking comes as a shock to me. Nonetheless, I always find it disappointing. I think the fundamental difference lies in who you're trying to please. These types of women are aiming to please men, essentially people. I, and many others like me, are aiming to please God.

This post is not about religion; nor is it about wearing hijab versus not wearing hijab. Rather, it is about knowing yourself and avoiding the self-betrayal that often results when we look to others to define and validate our success.

Regardless of one's degree of spirituality, it cannot be denied that striving to please people is the quickest route to unhappiness, frustration, and very often failure. You will never make everyone happy. And what's more, even if that elusive feat were somehow possible, it would not bring along with it satisfaction. True satisfaction is the product of strong convictions reinforced by corresponding actions. In other words, you need to know what you want, what you believe and live in a way that manifests your principles.

Back to the point: If my goal in life were to "catch a man," I would have long ago traded my flowing fabrics for something a little less subtle. That is not to say that I intend to remain single for the rest of my life; but I refuse to believe that in order to attract a man I must make myself so irresistible that he has no choice but to marry me. (Anyway, that's a bait-and-switch if you ask me, but that's another story.) Furthermore, there are plenty of things men find attractive that have nothing to do with appearance. Yes, intellect and insight actually count for something.

So, what about those men that supposedly won't give us a second glance because the first was nothing to write home about? Well, needless to say, those guys aren't even on my radar. I do believe that it's possible for a man to respect me for my choice rather than write me off for it.

And what if he doesn't exist? What if the old women are right? What if I become a crazy cat lady? That's life. More than anything, I will be content knowing that I stayed true to myself and my beliefs. The outcome is irrelevant.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Signs of Summer

I was recently reminiscing about those old Ball Park hot dog commercials that used to air in the nineties. Every year, around May or June, I'd get so excited the first time I saw one because that meant that summer was right around the corner. Whether its summer or devouring a fuul sandwich, I enjoy the anticipation of something almost as much as the actual experience. So, as I anxiously await the arrival of summer, here are a few signs that it's fast approaching in Egypt.

The (in)famous Egypt smell
That familiar scent that greets/assaults you when you first arrive in Cairo seems to be much more potent during the summer. It's that blend of dust, pollution, and the occasional burning incense. I won't lie; for some strange reason, I love it. 

The empty streets of Cairo
Did I say "empty"? That's correct. As the weather begins to heat up, all the vacations spots along the North Coast or Red Sea that have become ghost towns during the winter come back to life. Cairenes who either can't or don't care to leave just yet get to enjoy the city as it was meant to be. Traffic is lighter, lines are shorter, and parking is a lot less frustrating. My sister says Cairo should take advantage of this mass exodus and "lock the doors" and whoever is out is out...forever. We can dream I guess...

The first lizard of the season
Even though I'm used to seeing lizards back in California, something about the ones here in Egypt makes me jump every time. The unsettling sight of a tiny lizard scurrying up my building, making its way up to my house, has made me the door/window Nazi. No one wants to see the chaos that ensues if I hear that someone has left a window or door open in the house.

The great uniform switch
This is one of my favorites. After a winter of gray weather and black police gear, you wake up one spring morning to find that the entire police force has swapped out its winter wardrobe for crisp, white, scorching-Cairo-heat-friendly uniforms. I wonder how they synchronize that. I wonder if one guy ever got confused, or didn't get the memo and came out wearing his black winter uniform and got laughed off the street. Anyway, aside from the obvious practical reasons, the white uniform reminds me to get my summer wardrobe out too! (This year the change is particularly welcome, as all the incriminating images of the police during the revolution feature them in their black uniforms.)

That mysterious trail of ants
One day soon you will likely fall victim to the following scenario: Oh, there's an ant on the remote control...That's random. [Insert your method of bug-killing here.] Oh, there's another one on the vase. Hmm, weird. Wait, there are, like, five on the coffee table. You finally catch sight of the ashtray and realize you've left an empty candy wrapper in it and are now under invasion by about 36,84793 ants and their closest relatives. I can't count how many cans of Raid I've wasted because I can't seem to remember that when the weather starts to warm up, just talking about sweets will bring an army of ants right to my doorstep.

There you have it. There are probably many more, but I'm gonna go take advantage of the empty streets, right after I secure my doors and windows...