Holiday Blues

What is it with the holidays that makes people go looney? I was happily savoring a cup of coffee in a Starbucks mug a friend of a friend gave me for Christmas and suddenly I’m in a flood of tears and reminiscing again. Phew! This is getting really old. 

I wanted to blame it on the season or the weather but that didn’t help much. So I decided to blame it on the mug:

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Of course, this ain’t my mug. Mine is white and pale. The person who gave it to me saw me browsing over the shelf when we visited Starbucks one night. He decided to give me the one that HE liked, not the one that I liked. I’m such a sucker for Starbucks tumblers and I would’ve jumped for joy had he given me the gold Christmas tumbler that looked so jolly Christmas-ey. Anyway, now his white mug is out of sight. I I tucked it under the bed where I can’t see it after concluding it was jinxed. 

I guess it was the usual depression kick I get when I’m not very occupied. I got on the phone with my husband and listened to him repeat himself ten times over about ‘things getting better.’ Will they still really? I mean, it’s one thing to have someone beside you to comfort you when you’re down not to mention shower you with stuff you hardly need just to cheer you up and it’s totally another thing on my side of the fence.

The other day my roommate was complaining how she has a lot of tidying up to do because  she can’t find her bed under the laundry she hasn’t had the time to fold. I told her I intentionally do not fold my clothes right away so I am all cramped sleeping and I get to fool myself that I am not alone.

So I cried my eyes out again last night after talking to my future ex and now I need a ton of cucumbers to make the bags go away. Now I realize it never helps to be around people who would remind me why I am where I am right now. I should go far away to  a Neverland where I can forget about 2012 altogether. I found this nice post on my friend’s FB timeline, this would definitely be in my 2013 resolution:

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Gratitude

So we got our salary for the month yesterday. Winter break officially starts today and we had our last day of work for 2012 celebrating the school’s successful inspection last week (hoorah!).

Before heading to the park where we were supposed to have fun, games and food (that mainly means biryani and drinks), we had to stand in a long queue for a paycheck that I calculated would be gone with the wind by tomorrow. I went along with two new staff whom I just got to know this month. One was our computer lab assistant and the other was a new teacher.

Hira, the lab assistant, started working with us in November. She did not receive any pay than month, as the management said that was still her “training” period, where, as the only person in the laboratory, she technically took charge of training herself. Nonetheless, she dealt with the inspection week gracefully smiling at 40+ teachers telling and yelling they need a projector in class pronto. And we only had 5 projectors. How she managed to sweetly say no to those who wanted her to be a genie and make projectors appear when they need one (I being one of them) is beyond me. Most teachers in school can be really mean and I often wonder if they attended a how-to-be-mean seminar or they just don’t know how to translate manners in English. Hira was just great under pressure, hands up, really.

Shakra, the new teacher just came this month. She is newly-married and still in her early 20’s. She’s taking over my Grade 4 Math class (they gave me a Grade 5 class in place of it). I had such a hard time with that section because a lot of them don’t understand English. For a while I was lost and I felt like I was not getting through but after two months of routines and truckloads of patience,  students whom other teachers said were ‘too quiet’ and ‘not exerting’ effort in their classes were actively participating in mine. Darn I’m going to miss those kids.

Because she has only served roughly two weeks in school, Shakra wasn’t sure if she would get her salary. Most teachers don’t at that stage. She hoped against hope when she stood in line with us.

I got mine first. I was happy I had money to send to my mom who’s been complaining about how expensive my younger son’s vaccine was and that my older son’s school fees were collected early. When you’re running a household with two kids and two nannies, managing the expenses can be really tough (love you, mom) especially in the holiday season when suddenly nothing is cheap. I held the precious white envelope so tightly, wishing that I had more to send.

Hira, as usual, smiled happily when she got hers. She did not say a word but the skipping she did on our way back to our building said it all.

Shakra was just ecstatic. She hopped and jumped and said “I got my salary!” like a broken record while she giggled. This was the first salary of her life.

When we finally reached the staff room, Shakra took her phone and called her husband. After that she called her mom. Then her brother…and pretty much everyone in the family. She was so happy with the white envelope she received, which, when she counted, was not even a third of mine. I know she has a husband who provides for her and she probably does not have to spend a penny on household expenses but still, I marveled at how she was so proud and happy of what she had. I felt so little. I should be happier.

Sometimes I tend to focus too much on the burdens I have. Sometimes I forget how great a place I’m in. Sometimes life gets so busy I hardly notice the droplets of blessings God sends.

I am thankful. I ought to be. 🙂

A Self-Proclaimed Day Off

I did not go to work today. Nope, I’m not sick, thankfully, and I don’t really have any urgent errand to do. I just didn’t feel like going to school today. It’s a little irresponsible, I know, but after more than a month of stressful, sleepless nights working on student write-ups for the SEN (Special Educational Needs) Department which I’m in charge of, one day to sleep a few extra hours is much deserved.

The school I work in has painstakingly tried to move mountains in a span of five months. Everyday there’s something new here and there. One day I was like “Oh, what’s this Vision-Mission up the wall?” or “Wow, there’s tissue in the washroom!” and “Huh? Where did that playground come from?” Everyone just went crazy preparing ‘good’ lessons, too. We were up for another inspection from the government and the school had consecutively failed in this the past 3 years. Failing again might mean shutting us down for good. And the management wouldn’t want that, would they?

So after weeks and weeks of being chased by the higher ups to organize the SEN department (which I single-handedly put up from scratch when I got hired last September) and making demo lessons for the teachers in between…I just want to….sleep.

So what’s up for today? Nothing much.

After I brought food for lunch which is basically dried fish, fried egg and fried rice (yum!). I packed the cargo of goodies that I’d be sending my dear mom and kids. Mom wanted it to arrive before Christmas (she’s actually thinking that I sent it already) but, no time to pack the past month right?

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And after packing each perfume, each lotion, each chocolate box with bubble wrap, and putting everything in the box which now weighs more than me, here it goes:

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That bag on top are chips that did not fit in the box anymore. They’ll come in handy the next time I get stressed.

The first cargo box that I packed all by myself! I missed the extra pair of hands that used to do the packing for me but…can’t rely on those anymore. So proud. 🙂

I wonder when they’re going to pick this up?

Updates

WHERE I AM – Alone. I have moved out, finally, Eid al Adha. My husband helped me move my things to a new bedspace. Yep, just bedspacing. I did not want to get a room just to be left alone all the time. It’s a waste of space (and funds). 

My typical working day starts at around 5:45 am. That’s when I snooze my alarm. School ends 130 and I reach home about 2pm-ish, have lunch, take a nap, then go to tuition at around 4pm, then another one at 7pm. I’m juggling 3 jobs now that my dear hubby is out of work. I reach home 10pm, eat fruits for dinner, then work on my lesson for the following day. I work too much, but it helps keep my mind off you-know-what so I welcome the exhaustion.

Since moving I have learned to use the washing machine (that’s a milestone, mind you). I cook for 1, shop for 1, everything for 1. I have re-learned how to enjoy eating out alone, something that quite surprised me when just recently I realized it.

During weekends, it’s normally still work. Sometimes I get to go out with a friend, and her friends around the city. We go to the beach, do some barbeque-ing and go home brunch time the following morning. And then I sleep the whole day, hate myself for doing so, and cram for school work the following day. 

I lack sleep, too tired to cook a meal, barely have enough time to socialize or clean up my space…but am HAPPY. 🙂

 

WHERE HE IS – with her. They had their second big fight Eid Al Adha. That’s why he was able to help me move. He wanted us to get a room, because he said he will not go back to her anymore, but thankfully, we were not able to find a decent one. It puzzled me at first, with the thousands of available rooms here how could we not like one? Three days later, they were back together. That explains it, I thought. God is so wise, ain’t He?

 

When he decided to get back with her I told him not to come and see me anymore. Just tired of it all. But we talk everyday, say “I miss you” and “I love you” just the same. We just don’t see each other, and I think it suits both of us well. One day, one of us will get tired (if not both of us) and realize we have already grown apart. Until then, I accept this situation, as it seems this is where God wants me to be for now. When the time is right He will take me out and lead me to where I should be. What’s important now is that I’m healing – slowly but surely.

 

 

 

Does Money Really Make the World Go Round?

I grew up in a simple family. We weren’t rich, but Alhamdullilah, we were never hungry. My parents brought us up with only the basic necessities. They gave priority to what was important, leaving luxuries out of the picture. Education was a major priority. All my brothers went to private schools. I didn’t but it did not matter – back then I did not know the difference. I’d like to think that it did me well. Studying in a public school made me realize I was luckier than most kids. I had classmates who would be absent for weeks just because their parents could not spare even a few coins for their school snacks.

In college I went to a private school and had friends who drove their own cars and had the latest gadgets (but I’m not talking about laptops or celphones, they weren’t in circulation yet heehee). The cool guys had ‘beepers’ – not sure if you can remember them, though. Oh how I wanted to have one! I remember saving up my allowance so I buy a blue transparent type. But by the time I had enough money, I decided it wasn’t worth it. Who’s going to beep me anyway? So I spent my money on school bags, and books, and food. Oh, and I treated myself to a movie occasionally. And I was happy.

When I started working and had my first paycheck, I thought that was too much money I could spend. I felt like I already had everything I needed. So I asked my mom to save my salaries for me, telling her that she can get any amount for herself should she need any. When I needed to buy a desktop, I got one. When almost all my colleagues had a cell phone, I bought one (more out of necessity than luxury, really). I think the only lavish thing I got for myself (if you could even call it that), were braces. Mostly, I spent money on food. My mom always told me to strip myself off everything else but never to feel guilty about buying food. I think that’s wise.

It was when I got married that I started realizing how important money was. Now I am starting to fear, not for my own but for my kids’ future. I get frantic when I use up all the money I have in my bank account. Who wouldn’t?

Thankfully, God always provides at the time when I need it the most. He has been good, and I have always felt blessed.

I have always been frugal, having been raised the way I was. When I used to ask my husband (when he was still visible in my life) to accompany me to the mall because I want to buy shoes, or bags or clothes, he would laugh and say – “You’re just going to look – you never buy anything.” He knew me so well. I had two pairs of shoes – one for work and one for going out. I had two bags, for the same purpose. The cell phone I have now is sooo outdated. Even my laptop is Jurassic.

I think I was never rich because I never wanted to be. I just wanted to have enough. I am content that I am able to provide for my children, that I have a little amount saved up for the rainy days. Of course I want to be able to have my own house, to have my own car, and possibly to have my own business when I retire. That’s pretty much it.

But with the recent events that happened in my life, I’m thinking now how poor I must be. To lose a husband, friends and family for someone who happened to ‘have more than enough’ is just depressing. It’s the rich who have many friends – money does make the world go round. I remember the other girl asking my husband why he doesn’t want to leave me when I don’t have “anything” and she “has everything.” Sounds true, but not quite.

I am blessed. The friends I have around are real friends whom I can trust my life with. They are not around because they know they can get something from me but because they truly care. Those who left my side and got bought off would one day realize what is truly important. Money is just for the bills – you can’t buy real friends with it.

I have nothing

Finally, a chance to write! How long has it been?

Things have gotten really crazy since I shifted work last September. I have not had the chance to cook a decent meal for myself, not had the chance to get enough sleep, not had the chance to even open my mail! But things are getting so much better…

I would like to begin with an important thing that I missed to write. My in-laws. I think I already mentioned before that my husband’s brother stayed with us in our flat. Last Eid, their younger sister came. This sister used to stay with us before as well. My husband stopped communicating with her when she opted to leave a good job here to go back to our country and run after a husband who beat her and left her half dead while she struggled to keep their second baby alive in her tummy. She lost the baby. I guess we shared stupidity in common that’s why we got along very well.

Anyways, she was back. And she needed a job. My husband forbid me from helping her in any way. He said we ought to teach her a lesson make her regret her decision to leave her job for her good-for-nothing husband. I knew my husband loved her deeply and was just playing tough. I know his heart would soften when he talks to her. So he tried hard not to.

When I finally had the chance to see her, she asked me if what she heard were true – about the other woman, that is. She said she never believed what she heard from the other sisters because she knew how much her brother loved me. I swore she almost flipped when I confirmed it.

I told her everything. – how it began, how I learned about the news, how I struggled to keep myself sane, and how I was still hurting. She could not believe her ears. She was totally stunned at how much her brother changed. She said she would like to meet the girl and show her who’s boss. She told me to be strong and to fight for my right. After a long time of being alone, I finally found an ally in the family.

After about a month of job hunting, she confided that she was pregnant again. Everyone knows she can’t find a job in that situation. She had plans already, stupid ones, I have to say. I gave her advice, though I knew she would stick to what she wanted. She was stubborn and selfish – runs in the family. She was desperate, as she did not want to go back to our country with nothing. She said she would rather risk being illegal here than go home. She was determined but anxious, and I knew she would grab anything, or anyone who would be able to give her a visa.

I tried helping her by asking out for jobs. No luck. As I was always busy I hardly noticed that almost a week had passed that I have not heard from her. I gave her a ring but she did not answer. It was after another week when I learned from my husband that the sister I trusted was already rubbing elbows with the other girl. My heart broke. The other girl paid for her air fare and overstaying fees (which was not small amount of money, mind you) and promised to give her a job after she gives birth. Can’t top that.

A week after she went home, my husband’s brother called. Although it was not his thing to do, he apologized to me for what his siblings had done. He said he will always be loyal to me, for the good things I have done for him, and will not leave me the way his siblings did.

A few more weeks and I learned that he moved in with my hubby and the other girl. The girl owned the flat and said my brother-in-law could stay there for free. In this country where room rates are sky high, who would pass up on free board and lodging? My heart broke for the nth time.