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My Dearest Martha...

Written on: Wednesday April 22nd, 2009

A journal entry from: Damascus Syria!

Well, I promised my dad that I would write a new blog entry tonight. Unfortunately the powers been cut so I'm proceeding with writing all this out on paper. I'm strangely lost as to where to begin. Since the last time I wrote, I've considered many different topics for my next blog entry ranging from how I've become so jaded by funny things I accept everything as normal now to an academic discussion on how awesome my 21st birthday was. Knowing my self better than to believe that I'll actually come back in enough time to touch on all of them I'd like to try and bring them up in this entry. But before I do that, I'd like to mention the novelty of writing English on paper by candle light. First off it's a huge shift for me to be writing much English at all, my hand wants to begin on the right and move left and the letters feel strange and clunky. I'd additionally like to think that there's a degree of romance in writing back home from a strange country by candle light. You know, like all those history channel letters that are always read by someone with a southern accent and begin with 'My dearest Martha, *Cue cannon sounds/drums etc* the war has been hard on us these past few years, General Lee thinks we'll make it but I have my doubts *cue flute*" Unfortunately my handwriting while unique looks nothing like the cursive that these men seemed to pull off with such ease and the trail of blood and olive that is streaking my page is hardly battle worthy (more on that later).

I will say that writing by hand is keeping me in a rather reflective mood so I'm going to reflect a little bit on how I've changed in Damascus, or try to see if I have at all.

I'd like to think that this entire process has matured me. I've lived in a foreign country for 8 months and I've surrounded my self with people that are all older than me. Unfortunately there's far too much evidence to the contrary to back that up. For instance I've learned to cook and that's good unfortunately when things happen like I slice my hand on broken glass while cooking, rather than address the problem and clean and dress the wound I grabbed a clean sock (the only clean cloth within walking distance) pressed it against my hand for about 30 seconds and then continued cooking while attempting to drop the blood on the kitchen floor as opposed to my pan.

I've started a shopping list which I guess is a step up from the impulse buying that I'm used to. At least I thought that, and then I looked at my shopping list

Turkey

Cheese

Silly Hats

Twinkies

Bread

Babies for ransom

Olive oil

Sexy Shoes (Loafers)

 *That's verbatim my shopping list no lie*

Yeah, Damascus has done crap for my maturity. 

A change I've noticed that I'm not at all happy about is the fact that I know longer find anything funny. I know it should be funny, I just can't laugh. I've finally reached the point where I've seen too many strange things that nothing surprises me. My tutor tried to show me the manly way to hold hands with another dude or kiss him on the cheek; I should've found it hilarious...Nothing. My teacher invited me to go bar hopping with him, should have laughed the idea off...I seriously considered it. I had the best kid in my Arabic class propose that America invaded Afghanistan to sell opium. I should have laughed out of the room, I debated the topic.

This is a genuine problem guys! I've been here for so long that the strangeness of Damascus and Arab culture is totally normal to me.  I need to vacation some where for a little while get out of the city and all that jazz. I think it'll be good for me.

Now, I know all of you guys are wondering about my birthday (and if you weren't you are now). I'm not going to lie it was a blast. I decided to do something I can only do in Syria so I went out to Palmerya and had some drinks out on the ruins that night with a group of close friends. Probably one of the cooler experiences of my life. After that I also got to explore a bit more of the ruins as well as touring around Syria a bit. My Arabic has improved by leaps and bounds and that's an awesome thing, I can argue with people, make corny jokes, even command a crowd all in Arabic. I'm rather pleased with that development.

And with my new level in Arabic comes a new level at the University as well. Granted it's awesome to be one of the better Arabic speakers at the University, unfortunately though the higher the level the cockier the professor. My teacher began the first class of the first day with the sentence 'I have a lot of money' which was later followed by 'I don't make mistakes in Arabic'. He's absolutely entertaining to watch and seems to like me because I'm one of the more active ones in the class. He also deemed me to be a professor of women. I have no idea why, but he just seems to think I'm a pimp. The purple suit and cane that I wear on a daily basis aside I'm rather surprised by it.  That said I can't say I've suppressed the idea. We began with review which in this class means writing sentences until you die. Rather than try, I've decided it's best to just write as much BS as possible, ranging from 'I cry every night because monsters live under my bed' to 'I speak Arabic so women will respect me in bars' I think it's sentences in the latter that give me my pimp reputation. I get the feeling though that in practice Arabic has very little effect on women. 

Well that's a quick update on my situation, how're y'all doing and let me know what's going on back home!

(I apologize for this being less funny than usual; apparently I'm more comedic when writing on a computer than I am on paper) 

 

From Josh on Apr 22nd, 2009

Paul...you are the pimp of my dreams. Which, to be honest, is a sad thing. If you need a laugh, think of Todd.

From Josh on Apr 22nd, 2009

...Todd in Syria that is.

From PFA on Apr 22nd, 2009

We really miss you around here and look forward to having you back at USC... That will finally answer the question all the new people have been asking - "who's Paul?" Be safe... Peace!

From Marin on Apr 22nd, 2009

I'm so glad you'll be home soon, Paul!!! South Carolina is far better off when you're here. Here's something that's guaranteed to make you laugh: What did the fish say when it swam into a wall? Dam!!! You know you chuckled at that!!! Looooooove you!

From Ellen on Apr 22nd, 2009

can't wait for you to come home and celebrate your 21st!!!! love yaz!

From Sarah on Apr 23rd, 2009

My new goal for the week is to make you laugh somehow via Skype. But until then... mental image my non-coordinated self playing drumset... your side should need stitches now.

From Jane on Apr 23rd, 2009

You may be the most unique person I have ever encountered...I am glad you assimilated well in Syria. It will be interesting to see what happens when you come back home to the States :D Best wishes!!!

From JackAttack on Apr 25th, 2009

That's right...you know my new name is Balla! (Jacqueline Blanc should stick to her own colloquialisms...) my reactions to this post - hahahaha! You're teacher thinks you're a pimp?! Huzzah! My life - passed my voice jury! And I can't wait for you to get back!

From Amanda on Apr 26th, 2009

You should vacation in Australia and New Zealand? Of course, I have no idea why I'd pick those 2 countries. O:-) lol. I'm so glad to hear you're doing a lot better with your Arabic! I know that's a big deal for you. It definitely seems like your hard work is paying off. I'll ttys. :-)

From Farheen on Apr 26th, 2009

Heyyyy.. you're coming home soon! though I'd let you know.

From Susan on Sep 9th, 2012

We like your adventure, if interested check out our current contract. If may be of interest to you. http://www.WorkForBackpackers.com Apply if interested. Please include BLOGGER in the future travel area. Thanks, Susan HR