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1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
3. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
4. No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
5. The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Saturday, September 18, 2004
A backlog of blogs. I am writing furiously to stave off the boredom, but the main matter is getting to a computer. Forgiveness please.
From September 15/04
It is 1035pm right now on Wednesday night and I am exhausted. This is my Friday night and boy I am feeling it just now. This week went well, no issues except for the fact that my grade 9 class has a couple of real "gems." Today I was up at 450am to walk the dog, on the bus at 630, teaching from 730am to noon, supervision at noon, and then marking until 230pm. I then caught the bus home, walked the pooch, came home, got back on the bus to go shopping, spent too much money shopping, worried about money all the way home on the bus, got home, walked the dog and am now no-showing at a party because I am feeling anti-social.
The bus is getting to me. Other people, Marc and Jan, are feeling it too. Too many people, too little space, and some people won't shut up. Jameel, a teacher from TO, needs to stop acting like he is in my grade 9 class and start listening with his mouth shut. Pim, one of the teacher's wives, if from Thailand and has limited English skills. She does however, make up for this with volume. So now we have poor and loud English. Wonderful. Add to that she’s pregnant, and throws up every time she rides the bus. Just ducky.
What is with these guys? It is an odd group of male teachers. Two guys moved to Thailand to teach and got married to women that barely speak any English. I am a cynic, so I am instantly thinking gold diggers here, but maybe love does cross language barriers. I doubt it, but I have been wrong once or twice in my life.
It's odd, the perception here is that my two times a week chats with Megan are something to be scoffed at, as if I am playing a losing game. Many of the teachers here are single and older, and I suspect they think that love is nothing more than a Hallmark commercial. I rather resent the fact that people bug me about keeping in touch with Megan. I guess they don’t know very much about me or us, but still, if you are bitter about love, don't take it out on me. So far everyone has been treating me well, it's just that occasionally the subtle comments cut a little too close to my shield.
It's just a little frustrating. I know I'll catch heat for not showing at this party, but I need my space too. The bus, the school, I can’t see these people every minute of every day, I need my alone time. Dog Monday is awesome.
I get to chat with Meg tomorrow night and I can't wait. The people here are okay, they are treating me fine, its just that I need to talk with Meg frequently to ensure a nice mental balance. As balanced as I can get anyway. The time we talk is like a little oasis of calm in this unfamiliar desert country, and I treasure the time so much. In fact, time has become my tool, as I mark it along, drawing ever closer to home.
This is a ramble blog, it is sleep-deprived and cranky. I am going to read now, finish my Churchill bio and chill for the rest of the weekend. I need some classical music right about now. 123 more days from Sunday until I see my Megan again. Insomniacs of the world, good night.
From September 17/04
Oh am I blue blue blue today, and I don't know what brought it on.
I am smack in the middle of a three day weekend, something I ought to be enjoying. Yet I sit here, trapped without transportation, unable to think of anything but home. Today is a bad day, too much time and too little work to keep my mind from thinking about how many hundreds of days it is until I see my homeland again.
I talked with Megan last night, which was wonderful as always, but the hangovers kill me. Everyone here says that the best way to stave off the homesickness is to stay busy, to go out and meet new people. I did that, I am doing that, but I need my alone time too. No matter what I do, going out or staying in, I feel uncomfortable. When I am out, I feel like I am not in control, waiting for the group to decide something. Yet when I am in, I am in control, but my heart grows heavy as my mind refuses to stop.
So I am wishing this weekend would end, because when I am at school, I am busy, too busy to think about shit that makes my eyes well up. I am handling the workload just fine, but I just want it to be October, the psychology of a new month would help move me along. I hope so anyway.
It is 145pm right now, meaning I have another 7 hours to go before I can go to sleep. I am going to walk to the Internet place and check who loves me today, and then I have to walk the dog. Tomorrow I am going to go to the Hilton in the morning and relax all day, hoping that gloomy thoughts are held at bay by opulence and water. And I hope that I can start to shake this static, these feelings of confusion and regret, sometime soon, burying them under work and writing.
Good afternoon, I miss you.
From September 18/04
As many of you were shocked to discover, I have gone upscale. No longer will you find me enjoying simple pleasures such as reading a book, listening to good music, or walking my dog. No, I am upscale now, having joined the elite ranks of the Hilton Beach Club, here in the sand-strewn city of Kuwait.
Nah, I am just kidding about all that upscale stuff. Yes I did join the Hilton, but I still walk around in my 3 year old underwear. Gross, but back to the main topic. Yes I did join the Hilton and I just returned from a lovely Saturday break of about 4 hours, wherein all I did was lay on the beach, under the shade of a giant umbrella, and read my book. Then I got hot, so I went for a swim in the outdoor temperature controlled pool. Then I read some more. Then I was hot again, so I went swimming in the Persian Gulf. Then I read some more, had a shower, and came home.
Just a brief interlude here. The Hilton is the whitest place in Kuwait, with lots of foreigners here for one reason or another. I have noticed a few things. One, old obese hairy men with German accents always have the most beautiful, model proportioned wives I have ever seen. Two, the women here, especially the ones in their mid 20s to the mid 30s, carry themselves like they have money. It is hard to describe, but there is something about them that says they expect to be staying at the Hilton, wherever they travel. I suspect that they would get their German boyfriends to kick sand on my pale white chest if I ever attempted to strike up a conversation with them. Not that I would, Megan, jeez. My girl skills are weak and rusted and my teacher's paycheck would certainly result in laughter and mocking at my expense. So I just read, wondering about money and all its trappings.
Back to my mini vacation. Yeah, it is a tough life. It is something that I would have never considered if I was in Canada, but here, with so little to do and so much noise everywhere (car horns, screeching tires, accidents) that a little solace on the beach suddenly becomes very important. The most interesting part was the transportation issue, which can be a problem as we are still relegated to the little school bus for most of our trips. Or we can mooch rides with people who have cars. But today, my roomie Marc and I were not in the mooching mood, so we hopped aboard the city buses that run right in front of the apartment building, paid our 150 fils (about 60 cents Cdn) and instantly became the most watched people on the shuttle.
Down the road we went, it was only about a five minute drive, and we hopped out of the still rolling bus. No problems. Chill at the beach for four hours and then we are standing on the side of the road, waiting for another bus to come along that we can flag down. The buses here are pretty good and fairly regular, but this time, we were waiting for about 15 minutes. Nothing. Then a little pickup truck comes along, flashing his lights at us.
In Kuwait, pretty much all Kuwaitis are employed at a good salary by the government. One of the most odd jobs is the truck drivers. Driving in little four door Nissan or Toyota pickups, these guys seem to do very little else except drive around aimlessly all day. I am sure once in a while they are asked to actually transport something, but I have yet to see anything in the back of the pickups. So, as a way of staving off the boredom of aimless driving, they are always honking their horn at you as you walk along, offering rides. Little bit of money under the table, plus they get a conversation too.
So one of these pickup trucks pulls over and the guy behind the wheel offers us a ride. Ignoring my mothers voice as it rings in my head, Marc and I tumble in. 300 fils is the deal we work out, which is the total it would have cost us to take the bus. The guy accepts, thankfully, as this is all the money I have on me. So off we go in this rattletrap little truck that probably has not been serviced since Saddam was calling the Crown Plaza home.
This guy seems okay, talkative, telling us that if we ever need a ride anywhere, just to call him, no problem. He neglects to offer his phone number, but maybe we just are supposed to call random numbers and hopefully he will answer. He asks were we are from, what state. I tell him we are from Canada, paranoid to ensure he does not think we are American.
"Ah Canada, I have a cousin there, in the air force," he says, making a little flying motion with his right hand while looking directly at me, sitting in the passenger seat. I worry that an accident is forthcoming, but he turns his attention back to the road.
"Uh, where does your cousin live?" I ask, just to keep the awkward silence from growing ever longer.
"I dunno, something that starts with a T," he says.
Marc, ex of the military and having been silent the whole time, probably wondering what I have gotten us into, says, "Is it Toronto? Trenton?"
"I dunno, too long ago since I heard from him. Canada, that's all I know."
Our short ride is over quickly and we hop out at the light across from our building, thanking him and dumping a handful of coins into his hand. "You call me anytime for a ride, okay?" he shouts as he pulls away. We still do not have his phone number, but we are polite Canadians and wave good bye to our driver as he careens down the road, cutting off one of the city buses that must have been behind us the whole way.
And that, ladies and gents, was how I spent my Saturday afternoon. An experience all around.
A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at
10:36 PM ~~
0 bonsai trees
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