Wednesday, 17 July 2013

End of an era

It took me a long time to write this post.  I have a habit of hoping that if I just carry on and do the best I can and don't acknowledge that there's a problem I can't solve, it will work out okay, but that's not always true.  Pretending everything's perfectly fine when it isn't is not a good problem solving strategy. 

So, it looks like Jordan is no longer feasible for me.

I was taking (completely unnecessary) Arabic as a second language classes in the summer semester.  Or not taking, as happened more often, I registered and attended for a few weeks and then taking the bus and being around people and noise and sitting on a hard chair all day trying to pay attention with my back screaming at me and then taking the bus again and doing homework and then doing actual work and dealing with the usual bullpucky at home took their toll and I was no longer able to drag my carcass out of the house, which was not that big a deal because I graduated with honours from the last level at the language centre a few years ago.  I kept registering in the courses one semester (the shortest one) per year so I could renew my student visa and make contacts, I did a number of translations for teachers at the colleges I attended. 

The courses cost JD150 per semester, then JD250, and now JD750 (around a thousand dollars), and I would have to sign up for two semesters and actually attend, which is impossible for several reasons:

1. That is a stunning amount of money.  I have not made that much in all the time I've been here.  To put it into perspective, I have a decent apartment in a nice area in a quiet building close to a major university, and it costs me JD100 per month, utilities included.

2. I work, freelance, but I do work, and I have demonstrated several times that I am unable to work and attend school at the same time, and if I don't work I don't get paid and can't survive.

3. I was previously attending college classes, despite not being registered, because it's what I came here to do.  I wouldn't be able to do that if I had to go to classes at the language centre, and even if I had enormous amounts of money, I am not interested in sitting through basic Arabic lessons full time all year.

There are a few other options for renewing my visa in Jordan:

1. Enroll in university.  Not currently possible, because I have not been able to get the ministry of foreign affairs in Ottawa to authenticate my diplomas.  I have no idea what their problem even is, all they have to do is stamp them, this is not that difficult.  It was previously possible to register with unauthenticated documents while waiting for the documents to be authenticated, because it is a ridiculously byzantine process and commonly takes years, but the rules have apparently changed and Jordanian universities/colleges will not do that anymore.

Enrolling in university would also require me to find a scholarship, of which there do not appear to be any at this time.  Everyone I've talked to says they don't have any more to give out, partially because Jordan has been flooded with even more refugees in the past few years and non-Jordanian Arabs qualify for scholarships for foreign students.  Which I don't begrudge them at all.

There are plenty of people lining up with potential husbands for me, who they say would pay for my education (they frequently say that, and then don't.  I've seen this happen often enough.  Especially if they refuse access to birth control, and the girl gets pregnant immediately.  There goes that hope right out the window.  She could demand a divorce if she specified in the marriage contract that he would pay for her education and he didn't keep to the terms, but then she's divorced and has small children and no support, in a society that heavily stigmatises divorced women and has a huge surplus of poor unmarried girls). 

Marriage is my other option for renewing my visa, and my reaction to that is basically nopetopus.gif.  I am physically and constitutionally unable to fill that role, and I'm not interested in being treated like property again.  Been there, done that, ripped the T-shirt up for rags, it was a piece of junk anyhow.  If someone was willing to sign a marriage contract with me to put an end to my visa troubles, and let me live my life?  Maybe I'd do it, maybe we could be friends and partners, but people don't behave that way.  That's not what they want when they marry a lady.  Also, I'm not able to make enough money in Jordan to survive, nor am I able to go to college, so staying here would probably be locking myself into a dead end.

When I found out that the visa requirements had changed (without warning, as they always do), I began looking at options outside of Jordan.

 - Egypt: was tentatively planning on going there, but that's no longer an option.

 - Syria: hasn't been an option for a few years now.

 - Saudi Arabia: ahahahaha no, why do people keep suggesting this.

- Turkey: expensive, has actual standards and requires qualifications I don't have.

 - the UAE: had a couple job offers here, none of which I was qualified for or capable of doing.

 - Canada: I could possibly borrow money from family to go back, but I would have nowhere to go once I got there.  I can't go back to the places I used to live, the intelligence service there was a hassle, I have no means of financial support, there are people there who I'm very glad to be half a world away from. 

And I'm not ready to give up on my education and my beginnings of a career here.  I would feel terrible if I gave up and went back to a place where I wasn't safe and have no future.

This would be a lot easier if I was either wealthy, able-bodied and healthy, educated, or had Muslim family here.  As it is, I'm flat broke and not in good health and not interested in trading my body, so I've had to turn down all the offers I've had so far.  Yes, I could take a job I'm not capable of doing and hope it takes them a while to fire and deport me, but that is really a terrible idea (which hasn't stopped several people from suggesting it.  No, the problem is not that I'm not trying hard enough to succeed).  Also, I don't have money to travel.

And my visa expired nearly two months ago.  Damnit.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Dreaming: Pirates

I dreamed I was riding in an empty Greyhound-type bus around the logging roads of the town where I grew up, which were now paved, and empty of logging equipment and vehicles.  I had a little black cat clinging to my shirt.  The bus driver was a woman and speaking English.  People rarely speak English in my dreams anymore. 

I got off the bus and went through one cramped room after another in the little corner groceries on the outskirts of that town; they'd added on quite a few rooms since I'd last been there, with no obvious planning, and crammed them full of drygoods, mostly tins of fava beans and cellophane-wrapped yellow boxes of al-Ghazaleyn tea bags.

There were pirates, in the drygood stores, all of them male with multicoloured dandelion hair and sparkly teal eyeliner.  I wish I could pull off coloured eyeliner.  I only remember one pirate clearly, but he was a gentleman and a scholar and agreed with me that al-Ghazaleyn was way better than Lipton, even though it was cheaper.  Lipton is weak and insipid no matter how long you steep it, and it doesn't cover up the taste of the alkali in the water.  And to hell with supporting American brands anyhow.

I believe they were book pirates, rather than the maritime robbery sort of pirates.

I have no idea why I keep dreaming about riding in vehicles on the logging roads outside Bigotsville.  Those flamboyantly gender-presentation-ignoring pirates would definitely not have survived long there.  A shame.