Tis the season


 I've successfully made it to my favorite season here in Year Two for me in the Middle East. The weather is cold (mid 80's during the day to low 70's at night), all the windows are open to let that cool, fresh air escape into my apartment, I have Christmas lights strung up, etc... The highlights though are certainly my cats- which have magically turned into lap cats this year- only when it suits them of course... It generally suits them when I'm on the couch reading, on the computer researching or in bed sleeping- which covers a lot of time while at home.

     Speaking of reading, somehow I've finally broken the spell I've been under for the past few years entailing only reading about politics and ancient history- mostly concerning the MENA region. I have Mademoiselle S to thank for this.  Let me just say this so you all know.  When I step foot into your house for the first time, I'm scanning. I'm scanning the kitchen, living areas, all the nick-knacks, etc.  I'm scanning to get an idea of how you live. I find this fascinating because we are all divided up ethnically, culturally, regionally but we all find ourselves in some of the same old, familiar patterns that give us comfort.

     For instance, it generally makes me nervous to go into a super clean, organized household.  I get over it, of course.  I think we all have this vision of what we want to be a part of.  I mean sure I like looking at architectural magazines and see these fantastic shots of modern living with the absence of tchotchke (I just looked up that word for spelling purposes and found out that it is specifically a Jewish-American term, which I find interesting because I heard this word as a kid growing up and we weren't Jewish) on every flat space that really doesn't serve a purpose but to clutter open space. The reality though is that I need to live, and I enjoy seeing how others live in their dwellings.  I like to see what's out in open view.  These are the most useful things I find.  For some it's the channel changer/tv.  For many here in this part of the world, myself included, it's incense burners. The favorite couch has the best view. The displays of items collected on travels (this is a big one for me in my particular dwellings), etc.

     So at Mademoiselle S's family home, I zeroed in on her cat (hard to not single out as it's the largest kitty kat I've ever laid my eyes on) and on her bookshelf. Yes, the coveted bookshelf.  To understand the dilemma of having to move and needing to get rid of many books... it is THIS dilemma that I love to find in other people as well.  It's like an instant attraction...

     Speaking of attraction, another side story here. I was at City Center with Angie-baby a few weeks back and we were having coffee at Starbuckys when we both spotted it. Him. HIM. Yes, the Purple Shoes man in the thobe with something unfamiliar in his hand.  What is that he is carrying that is not a phone?  Closer look please.  Stay discreet please.  Slowly turn chair around for a better look.  Oh my goodness!  It's a book!  It's a literature book! Yes, instant attraction.  I, we actually, admired from afar for a good, long time... To finish off this tangent so I can get back to my previous tangent (this post), I will say that Mr. Purple Shoes was spotted yet again at City Center last week.  Angie-baby spotted him while Mademoiselle S & I were busy being lame and not spotting him.  We've decided Purple Shoes is a regular at City Center, and perhaps Starbuckys. We will continue on with our reconnaissance mission concerning this unique specimen.

     So, there I was petting a 30 pound cat that likely has caused a permanent divet in the bed as Felix no doubt has a favorite spot in the bed. My eyes were naturally scanning the room.  It looked lived in.  I always like that.  I love to see what people surround themselves with that are useful and purposeful.  After trying to ignore the books for a long enough time (I was, of course, fascinated with the kitties of the house), I went to sit on the floor in direct view of the bookcase.  I started out slowly, but as I scanned titles, I touched every book. This is like divulging a dirty little secret with a definite kink to it- touching others books.

     Books tell so much about a person.  I mean, look at Purple Shoes.  Someone I don't even know, but had this ultimate trifecta going on: purple shoes, a book, handsome.  It's an unbeatable line-up really.  The man likes to read books- at the mall (okay, I admit the mall thing is a bit weird as I don't particularly care for mall rats).  Still, I want a closer look.  It wasn't just a cool iPad cover, was it?

     Back to Hamad Town.  So, this bookshelf had many 'foreign' books in that there were a lot of titles that I wasn't familiar with.  Or, I was familiar with, but haven't read as they weren't my genre of choice.  As I looked at the plethora of books, I wondered why I haven't read some of the titles.  Why wasn't modern literature my genre?  I instantly knew that I must read some of these coveted titles and educate myself of something that was clearly lacking in my personality, I suddenly decided.  What would I do if I ever had a casual conversation with Purple Shoes and Toni Morrison was brought up?  What would I do?  Would I try to bluff my way through the conversation?  Come on, I didn't even know that she was African-American... We left Mademoiselle S's house late that evening.  I was carrying a copy of one of her favorite Morrison books, Sula.

     Fast forward today this same encounter with Purple Shoes and I would say, "Yes!  I found 'Sula" to be a bittersweet sign of the times of post World War I in the American Midwest."

Tis the season- to read.