Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lebanese Food and Listlessness

I've spent most of my Saturday being a good-for-nothing, web-cruising schmo. If I could get paid for listening to podcasts about the economy, the news of the world, and the quirky lives of everyday people, to read Huffington Post and the Drudge Report, and to travel the world, I would be in seventh heaven. I did make a bit of headway on my Somalis in Minnesota paper. Did I mention that my native state is home to the largest population of Somalis in the United States? Aside from this, I threw in a load of laundry and went out for Lebanese with my friend Edward from California. The glamorous life I lead!
Finding it hard to gather my thoughts and throw myself wholeheartedly into my research, I wondered about listlessness and agitation that probably relate to my thoughts about whether I'm doing the right thing or in the right place or where my future lies. Sometimes, this feeling masquerades as boredom. "There's just nothing to do here," I think. Wait, wait, wait...nothing to do in one of the most storied cities in the world where there are millions of other people? I make the excuse quite a lot that I don't like wandering around alone. Really, though, I've made enough contacts, acquaintances, and friends that I could always be up to something if I got on the phone or sent an email. And on top of that, of course, are a million topics to be researching and as many opportunities to be explored or applied for. When this wave of reality crashes down, it's a matter of not getting overwhelmed because that has the same effect as being bereft of ideas--paralysis and inaction. It's a game of taking the right risks and getting my act together, and what a game it is.
Another thing I was thinking about that was borne of my conversations about life and politics with my Egyptian host counselor and her family as well as an email from one of my great-aunts is the sheer depth of experience of each person in the world. Our interactions with others on a daily basis are often cursory and perfunctory, leaving us with no clue about the hopes and dreams, hardships and successes of those we encounter. I think this is part of the reason I have a mania for meeting new people and maintaining old contacts. I love to really know people and speculate about what makes them tick. This is hard to do when I'm complaining about their country (in the case of Egypt) rather than listening to what matters to them. So, I'm trying to focus on meeting more Egyptians and deepening friendships I've already made. All of this while pounding out three research papers and other assignments--who has time to be bored?!
Sorry to my readers for waning introspectively loquacious, I do hope you're all still enjoying the blog.

Researches find larger-than-expected proportion of religion conservatives in Egypt, Jordan; define this group as "extremely religious individuals who do not approve of gender interaction, expect others to follow religious practices and override their personal choices for religious beliefs"
Piracy off the Horn of Africa a continuing threat to the world at large and to the Egyptian economy
UN Secretary General calls on Israel to allow humanitarian access to Gaza

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