Monday, September 03, 2007

The last days of summer....and freedom

A rundown of the last month of summer

A man offered to check me for ticks; unfortunately, he made the offer to 20,000 other screaming fans, most of whom were far cuter than I. But, Brad, if you ever want to capitalize on your suggestion, I’ll make sure the effort isn’t without its rewards.

Rain. It appears to be the year of disaster for Minnesota, so the alleviation of the acute drought by torrential rain was only fitting. We were not flooded like those in southern MN, but Chaska was enshrouded in a gloomy cloak of rain, dour clouds, and thunderstorms for several weeks. We lost power, heard tornado sirens, longed for the sun, and became pale.

And then there was sun. For the last week, nothing but glorious sun has beamed down from the heavens with nary a cloud in sight. And I’m tan again, alhamdulilah.

The magical world of satellite television was installed on our roof, enabling me to watch Country Music Television, NASA, and, oh yeah, Al-Jazeera. Yes, at odd hours of the night, I can be found glued to the latest documentary on the occupation forces in Palestine, the Great Satan that is the West, some arcane Arab poet, or occasionally, something more relevant, like the news. Do I understand it? Yani…It’s just like Heba’s media class all over again, except there is no Professor Heba to act out obscure media terms and no Deya with whom to whisper and write messages. Given my travel history (Jordan, Egypt, Israel, etc.), phone records (lots of overseas calls to and from the Middle East), and our sudden subscription to Arabic television, I feel like it is only a matter of time before a black van is sitting across the street, just watching. In fact, isn’t that one I see right now…

The Great Minnesota Get-Together. Yes, for non-Minnesotans, the State Fair is just a hokey, slightly pagan ritual that, verily, doesn’t make sense. But for those few, proud Land-of-Ten-Thousand-Lakes-residents, the State Fair is the event to anticipate all year and savor when it arrives. You can buy anything on a stick- deep-fried candy bars, sloppy joes, turkey legs, hotdish, pickles, key lime pie- to name a few, and renew your faith in this great state. Yes, there is something special about gathering with your fellow Minnesotans and participating in our favorite pastime, standing and eating. Truly, we gather in subversive clumps around the pronto pup stand and gobble down our food before lurching on to the next food stand, stuffing our face full of deep-fried Spam curds, and waddling down the road in search of the next food to consume. And we’re so nice about it! We drag our little children along for the day, push Tommy and Suzie along in their strollers, smile at random strangers, strike up meaningless conversations while waiting in line for the next artery-clogging treat (Gee, what a beautiful day! Oh, such cute children, where’re you all from? kida…), and apologize abjectly for the slightest infraction or bump. In between food fests, we wander through the animal barns, the Miracle of Birth Center where something is always popping out, the corny 4-H displays, the various horticulture exhibits, the carved butter heads, and amble through the shops under the grandstand, wondering we’ll put the sushi maker we just purchased. And, at the end of the day, after we’ve stuffed the last Sweet Martha’s cookies into our faces, we wearily stumble to the shuttle buses and clamber aboard, still unfalteringly polite, glare at the obnoxious drunk in the back of the bus, cover our children’s ears and tell them that’s what happens when you don’t go to school, and disembark with a thanks to the driver and a good luck to the random folk you befriended on ride. Several pounds heavier, we drive home and wonder why we ate so much, and then dream about next year…

Waxing. Still painful as hell, but somehow more pleasant (and expensive) in America. And that’s all I’m going to say.

Good News! Mom had an MRI about a week ago, and the chemo and radiation have worked their poisonous magic and the cancer appears to have gone into remission (double Allah Akbar!), and we’re all so thankful and grateful for everyone’s thoughts and prayers! Without the network of unflagging support and generosity you all have shown my family, I don’t think we could have made it this far. Thank you! And now, because Mom’s an indomitable spirit who likes to travel (sound familiar), we’ve got a Caribbean cruise planned for January and a European Extravaganza for early next summer. Yee-haw! Only one more round of chemo and then Mom’s hair should come back for good and I can start dragging her to the Community Center to work out ;-) But, I guess that would mean I would actually have to go as well…

Shopping. What, Wawa, shopping? Back to school, of course, at Barnes and Noble, Victoria’s Secret, Archiver’s (that’s a scrapbooking store), Ann Taylor Loft, Express, Bath and Body Works…Ok, so maybe not all of it’s for school ;-)

Tomorrow (AHHHHHHHHHHH!) school starts again, and I begin my final year of undergraduate education at the University of Minnesota. On Thursday, I fly out to D.C. for a long weekend of ‘job hunting.’ Well, four hours of it, anyway. The rest of the time will be spent doing what I do best ;-)

One more year. Insha’allah.