Friday, June 25, 2010

Monday and Tuesday and a bit of Wednesday and Thursday—or—my whole week has blurred together and I need more sleep

This is me on my birthday. I look tired because my birthday was on Tuesday and we got in on Sunday night. But look how green Utah is—they’ve had a wet spring, apparently.


We spent all of Monday running errands. First thing in the morning we showered in water that didn’t smell like fish or dirt or chlorine and then we headed to the DMV to renew my driver’s license that I never use. We had heard complaints of the enhanced bureaucracy at the driver’s license office so went early in the day to have plenty of time to wade through it, reminding ourselves before we left that bribery is really illegal here.

Renewing my license was so easy, though. Nothing can compare to Egyptian bureaucracy, except for maybe the bureaucracy found in other third world countries with corrupt governments.

So, we breezed out of the DMV, hopped into the car, popped Miriam into her car seat (Rachel was staying to play at Grandma’s house), and turned on the…*choke*…*sputter*…*clunk*…and turned on the…*choke*…*sputter*…*clunk*…and turned on the…oh, never mind. We called Karen.

She was out shopping with Rachel for new shoes. Somehow or another Rachel’s shoes had shrunk and her toes were hanging over the front of her sandals. I don’t know how that happened.

Anyway, they were available to come rescue us, so they did, and we abandoned the car at the DMV, dropped Rachel and Grandma off at home, and headed to BYU so that Andrew could officially get hired. We are very happy that he has a job. Very. Happy.

I visited with my old colleagues while Andrew ran about campus getting all his paperwork in order and then we…did something else?

My memory is seriously so foggy right now.

Andrew didn’t work on my birthday since he hadn’t been approved to work yet. Instead we went out to see Toy Story 3 at a movie theater. That’s the first time we set foot in a movie theater since…before we left for Egypt. It was a good movie.

We also ate at 5 Guys Burgers and Fries. It was amazing.

Everyone here has super crazy customer service personalities. Our cashier was more excited about our food than we were, although I think I may have weirded her out a bit, too.

“I’ll have a little cheeseburger…no! Bacon! I’ll have a bacon burger.”

“Oooh!” super-energetic cashier squealed, “That sounds soooo good! What toppings do you want?”

I told her.

“Oh, good choices! This burger is seriously going to be soooo great! I can hardly wait!”

Ummm…who is eating? Me or her?

It was slightly bizarre. And it happened again at Payless Shoes.

I left my Sunday shoes in Cairo. On purpose. They were thrashed. I had had them since before I got married. And I loved them. Alas, they were at the end of their life. And Payless was having a big sale so I found a cute pair of mini heels for only $7.

The saleslady was pretty excited for me. She walked by while I was trying them on and mentioned that they looked great. Then she left because salespeople aren’t quite as pushy as they are in Egypt, which I really appreciate because I can’t shop while a perfect stranger is hovering over my shoulder and/or foisting other products at me.

We walked up to the cash register and handed the saleslady the box. She opened it up and peered inside.

“Oh! I’m soooo glad you got these ones!”

She was squealing, too.

Maybe everybody knew it was my birthday and that’s why they were so excited for me…or maybe Americans are just excited people. I can’t tell.

While we were gone Karen tried to make a surprise cake for me but found that watching two little girls multiplies preparation time by three or four. I didn’t mind that it wasn’t a surprise, though. I was just happy that someone made me a cake (Andrew tends to forget that part).

My family and the Tangreens came over to share it with us. Don’t mind the lack of pictures. I gave the camera to Andrew.

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Rachel was excited to meet her cousin Kayl. She had met Michael, Richard and Diana’s boy, in the morning, as well as his cousin, Emily (who we introduced as Rachel’s cousin to avoid confusion) and was looking forward to meeting more cousins.


Later Auntie Josie showed up with Rosie in tow. I told Rachel that Rosie was her cousin, too. Rachel thought that was the most ridiculous idea ever. Rosie is thirteen years old and is as tall as me now—I hardly recognized her!—and all the other “cousins” that Rachel met had been 2-year-olds. Clearly Rosie was an odd cousin to have since she wasn’t two!

It was a good birthday—and it was so nice to spend it with family. Our family just keeps growing and growing, at least from Rachel’s perspective. We’ve tried to keep Rachel in the know, but that’s hard when all she sees are pictures.

She spent yesterday afternoon having a pool party at the Gillespie’s with her second-cousin Michael and his cousins Emily, Adam, and Jamie. She had a blast and loved being surrounded by her “proper” 2-year-old cousins. I’m not sure how to break it to her that none of those children actually live here. All of their families just happened to be in town visiting from out of state.

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Let’s see…what else have we done? We went to the park, as I think I already mentioned. And? I took pictures.

The girls are mostly enamored with the swings. There weren’t any swings at Maadi House, the swings at Victoria College were nothing more than dangling chains since all the seats had long-since broken, and there are a total of four swings at al-Azhar park to share amongst thousands of children. Needless to say my girls have not done a lot of swinging in their short little lives.


Did you see that sky? Talk about blue!

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I may or may not have gotten too caught up in giving under-ducks to Rachel, neglecting Miriam’s swing until it stopped swinging altogether. She didn’t seem to mind a bit, though, and decided to take a little nap.


We left the playground to visit some horses. Rachel insisted on pushing Miriam in the “new” stroller—everything that we left in storage is new-to-us again…it’s kind of exciting.


The landscape seems to be something from a strange dream. Snowcapped mountains, blue skies, green fields…I must be dreaming and I kind of understand how people would ask me if we were from the “wild” west. After living in a concrete jungle for so long it really does look rather wild, doesn’t it? I think so.


We played at the playground at the elementary school for a while. It was in sad, sad shape and reminded me of Egyptian playgrounds—ply boards were wired to openings that once led to slides, big chunks of the playground were missing, the boards were all rotting. It was gross. We only played at that playground for a little while before abandoning it in favour of the grass.


Rachel collected pine cones, but only after I convinced her they weren’t camel poopies. She was sure there were camels around somewhere because there were horses…and we all know that most horses live at the pyramids, which is where camels are.


Rachel is wearing a sweater because she insists that it’s cold here. And it is, at least in the mornings and evenings when the temperature drops down to the 50s! That’s like, what? January weather in Egypt—it definitely calls for a sweater!


  1. No swings? That is a terrible existence. That is a extraordinarily beautiful sky.

  2. Happy quarter-of-a-century b-day! :)

  3. Oh miss those mountains. A little twinge in my heart right now. I hope Rachel is normal because Grace is just like her :) She is always complaining about being cold and wears hoodies all the time. I think the air conditioning just puts her body in warmth conservation mode! Happy birthday!

  4. LOL @ the customer service differences. While most of the time, it feels like fake "manufactured excitement", it's still better than having the salesperson not give a damn what you bought!

    But taking everything into consideration, I think I still prefer authentic expressions of joy.... Even though a smile when dealing with customers won't hurt!

  5. And those mountains look like a computer wallpaper.... gorgeous!!!!!! Reminds me of the first time I saw a deer crossing the street when I moved from the concrete jungle that is Cairo...

  6. I'm sorry I haven't seen you yet!

  7. You're making me jealous that you live in Utah now. :)

  8. How wonderful it is to be home! I remember when I got home the first place I went shopping was Target for a friend's wedding shower, and I was AMAZED that I could walk around the store and look at whatever I wanted without someone rushing up to me telling me that they knew exactly what I wanted :)