two homes.

October 8, 2014

I hate the movie Juno.

I liked it when I first saw it in the theater. Or at least, I didn’t hate it. I found it quirky and charming, exactly what it was intended to be. I liked the sweet, simple soundtrack songs by Kimya Dawson. I liked Juno’s cheeseburger phone. I loved the retro-esque (and subtly subversive) window art at Bren’s nail shop. I had to blink back a tear when (spoiler alert, but not really, because if you’ve even seen a preview for the movie, you know that Juno does not get an abortion) Juno goes running out of the abortion clinic and Su-Chin calls after her, “God appreciates your miracle!” (And I’m pro-choice.)

But when I watched the movie a second and a third time, I noticed something that I hadn’t paid too much attention to when I saw it for the first time, and it really stuck under my craw. (Again, spoiler alert, but you know what, this movie is like, eight years old or something. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can’t hold me responsible for spoiling it for you.)

No one tells Paulie’s parents anything.

This kills me. I cannot stomach the way the movie is basically like, “Well, Paulie’s mom is fat and ugly and doesn’t like Juno, so it’s okay that no one tells her that her son knocked up his friend and now they’re giving the baby away and she will never know that she has a grandchild out there.”

Am I the only one who thinks that this is just terrible? I mean, I’m fat. I’m probably going to get fatter. I’m probably not going to like all of my kids’ friends. Does that mean I don’t deserve to be informed if (God forbid) my child has impregnated or has been impregnated? There’s this one scene where Juno comes over to Paulie’s house, is basically a rude little snot to Paulie’s mother–because remember, Paulie’s mother is fat and ugly and does not like Juno, although I can’t say that I blame her, given how completely entitled Juno acts when she comes over to visit Paulie. If you totally disregard what I say to you and then dart past me and run up the stairs in my home, damn straight I’m going to chase you, you little brat. Who the hell do you think you are? And quite frankly, I think Paulie’s mom was much too nice when she didn’t knock down the door to Paulie’s room after Juno slammed it in her face. I would have dragged that girl out of my house by the belt loops of her edgy army surplus cargo pants.

And then, after Juno slams the door in Paulie’s mother’s face, she sits down and actually tells Paulie that her parents have agreed not to “rat him out” to his parents! Because, you know, Juno’s parents are cool.

No, Juno’s parents are horrible. Horrible.

I mean, I’m all for privacy rights for teenagers. I don’t think that I am entitled to read everything teenage Lavender writes on her computer. I don’t think that I am entitled to scour teenage Lavender’s phone for evidence of transgression. People, including teenagers, are entitled to private thoughts, private communication, private feelings, and private lives.

But I do draw lines. Pending reproduction and trouble with the law are deal-breakers. I want to know about those things, especially when my children are teenagers. Yep, I am entitled to know about those things. Paulie’s mom was certainly entitled to know about those things–especially since Paulie was still living in her house, eating the Hot Pockets that she bought for him, and wearing the running shorts that she laundered in color-safe bleach for him.

But there’s this one line in the movie that redeems it for me. Just one. It’s when Juno says, “I never realize how much I like being home until I’ve been someplace really different for awhile.”

And when Juno says this, I just want to hug her and cry and say, “Oh, little Juno! I know how you feel, spirit sister!”

We’re back in Missouri for a few weeks, and it feels so great to be home. Because Riyadh is undoubtedly someplace really different that I’ve been for awhile. It’s not inherently better or worse. It’s just…well, really different.

It’s strange how some of the superficial things I always said I missed when I was back in Riyadh are the things that I don’t care so much about now that I’m here. But there are other things that I didn’t even realize I was living without.

Like fresh Ozarks morning air. No desert dust. No city traffic exhaust. Just air. Heavy with dew. Clean. It’s so weird how you can almost taste the air when you breathe it. And it’s even weirder how delicious it is.

As if the universe is trying to really hammer home how much I am missing when I am away, I have had almost no issues with allergies, asthma, or migraines while home on this trip. Generally, I’m so busy self-medicating here that a return to Riyadh is at least a relief on that front. But this time, it seems I won’t have that ease to cushion the blow of having to leave my home.

My home.

I’m so deeply conflicted.

When we landed in New York, I had an interesting little conversation with the passport control officer at the window where we got our passports stamped. He thumbed through our passports, looked at our border declaration form, and then looked up at us, confused by where I had written “USA” as our country of residence. Yes, I know that sounds nuts. Obviously, we live in Saudi Arabia. But identifying Saudi Arabia as my country of residence felt so…final. Like I was somehow permanently discarding my American identity (which, of course, is ridiculous).

“So…” the officer said. “Which of you live here?” He looked at Saleh and said, “Do you have a green card?”

“I’m a citizen. So is our daughter,” I said. I pointed to our (American) address on the form. “That’s our house. It belongs to us.”

“But…you’re not residents?”

I froze. I must have looked like a deer caught in the headlights, because the officer said to me gently, “It’s okay. You can say that your home is in Saudi Arabia.”

I let out a deep breath. “Yeah, I guess technically, we do live in Saudi Arabia.”

The officer crossed out “USA” and wrote “Saudi Arabia” in its place. Then he continued with the process of stamping our passports and said in a jovial voice, “I thought so! Because if he doesn’t have a green card, he can’t be a resident, and I’m sure he doesn’t want to live away from his girls. He would miss you too much!”

“That’s true!” Saleh agreed.

The officer finished stamping and handed the stack of passports back to me. Smiling, he said, “Welcome home!”

I wanted to hug him.

Yes, I am home. But on this visit home, my third since I moved to Riyadh, I feel more acutely than ever that Riyadh is home now, too. There are constantly little things that remind me of Riyadh, or make me think about how different Riyadh is. There are moments when I think about how much southern Missouri is a part of me and has shaped me in ways I never even noticed until I left. There are moments when I think about how I don’t know how I will be able to bear having to leave it. And then there are moments when I think about how I wouldn’t be able to bear never going back to Riyadh.

I don’t want to leave.

I don’t want to stay.

I don’t want to leave.

I don’t want to stay.

It’s so hard. But it’s okay. The transition to having two homes is never easy, and like it or not, I have two homes now. And no matter where I am, home is waiting for me. That’s a really nice feeling.

photo 7 750x562 two homes.




oops…i did it again.

October 1, 2014

Yep. It’s true. My blog got another makeover.

I know it seems like I redesign my blog constantly. It seems that way to me, at least. But it also seems like with each redesign, I go more and more minimal. So, perhaps optimistically, I’m hoping that this redesign will stick for a reasonable amount of time.

If you follow me on any type of social media, you may have noticed that I’ve been moving back toward using my logo. I missed my logo. Yeah, it’s childish and cutesy, but dang it, I love it, and I think it represents me and my blog very well. (You can read more about how it came to be here.) Thus, when I started looking into a redesign, I wanted to find something that left the focus on the content but still gave my logo a chance to shine.

So I sought a new look for The Same Rainbow’s End that balances the minimal with the whimsical. Yay! I’m pretty proud of myself because I had more of a role in this redesign than any other since I made the migration from a blog to a self-hosted blog.

In keeping with the transition back to using my logo, another cool new feature around this here blog scene is the addition of a shop. See? It’s right up there in the menu bar. Here you can purchase a variety of items with the logo. If you’re a Saudi-American family like we are, you’re on your way to becoming one, or you’re just a fan of the blog, you might want to check it out. Who knows? You might find something you love there! I’m also toying with the idea of tweaking the logo in order to add more products that reflect the diversity of bicultural relationships. So if you or your significant other is not American or Saudi, but you would be interested in items that feature the same design with the flags of your own home countries, let me know. (My first goal is to add Saudi-Australian and Saudi-Canadian items, just because I know a lot of folks in Saudi-Australian and Saudi-Canadian families!)

Like the last time I did a redesign, I’m doing a giveaway to celebrate. A little over a year ago, I took a photo of a cute set of magnets on my mother-in-law’s refrigerator and I posted it on Instagram. At the time, I was really surprised by the number of likes it got! I even saw it being taken and shared by some folks on Facebook. Mr. Mostafa and I were pretty shocked at how the photo grew legs. Apparently lots of people were fond of that adorable little Arab couple!

Thus, about a year later, Mr. Mostafa was out and about, and he called me, all excited. “Guess what?” he said. “I found a perfect giveaway for the blog!” And he brought home a brand new set of those cute Arab refrigerator magnets.

So now, you can win the set and put them on your own refrigerator! You just have to do two things: like The Same Rainbow’s End on Facebook (if you haven’t yet–if you have, then you’re already partly entered in the giveaway!) and like the giveaway photo on the Facebook page (be sure to click on the photo first). Easy sneezy, right?

arab couple instagram photo1 750x750 oops...i did it again.

So, yeah. That’s all there is to it! Just click here to go to the Facebook page, and the giveaway photo is pinned to the top! (One more thing: if you share the photo on your Facebook timeline, I’ll give you another entry in the giveaway! Just make sure your privacy settings are set to public for that share, so I can see it.) The giveaway ends later this month, on October 20. If you’re the lucky winner, the magnet set will be mailed to you as soon as I get your address!

Thank you very much for being a reader of The Same Rainbow’s End. I appreciate it more than I can say.

Now to get back to last-minute suitcase packing…we’re leaving on a jet plane in a few hours! Squee! Soon I will be reunited with not only my family and best friends, but also Junior Mints. There’s a big ol’ box of Junior Mints waiting for me in my home in the Ozarks. And that alone is going to be one very blissful reunion.


happy 84th birthday, saudi arabia!

September 24, 2014

National Day in Saudi Arabia is on September 23 every year. In Riyadh, this means lots and lots of celebration. There are festivals, fireworks, and just general revelry, with everyone wearing green and waving Saudi flags.

This year, we didn’t want to be out late and get stuck in the crush of celebratory traffic, but we did want to get out and about and see a bit of what was going on for National Day. So in the afternoon, we headed to historical Diriyah and walked around the festival grounds there. There wasn’t a whole lot going on at that point in the afternoon, but we enjoyed the scene anyway!

Lavender was rockin’ her National Day t-shirt.

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There were about ten camels on the festival grounds, all decorated up for National Day. Some were resting, while others had riders on them and were walking around. Lots of pictures were taken of the camels. Yeah, it’s Saudi Arabia, but it’s actually not typical to see camels (especially highly decorated ones) walking around in the streets of Riyadh.

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There were a bunch of classic cars and trucks parked around the grounds, too.

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I was kind of amazed by this random legible footprint in the sand. Yeah, you can call me lame; it’s okay.

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I like that red bag.

saudi national day red bag 750x562 happy 84th birthday, saudi arabia!

There was some pretty serious sand castle building going on.

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And I’m not exactly sure what this guy was building, but the mud he was using in between the bricks looked just like peanut butter, and it made me hungry.

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Every kid had some sort of National Day decoration.

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When we were there, they were still setting up for the parade through Diriyah that would take place later.

saudi national day 750x562 happy 84th birthday, saudi arabia!

This is where that chair ended up–a whole roadside row of them. Mr. Mostafa guessed that the mayor of Riyadh would be in attendance for the National Day procession through Diriyah happening later in the evening.

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Saudi Abbey Road.

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I loved that baby’s ruffled, colorful little outfit.

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There were horses, too! Mr. Mostafa said to me, laughing, “They don’t look much like your dad’s horses, do they?” Nope. They were smaller and skinnier–not unhealthy skinny, but thinner than the horses back home on the farm. That’s partly because Arabian horses are naturally a bit shorter and less stout than Quarter horses, but it’s also because my dad feeds our horses like they’re kings. And that’s one of the reasons I love him.

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Happy National Day, everyone!