How are wars still a thing?

I’ve spent far too long today reading articles about this whole Syria business. (I also fleetingly thought about how close I am to Syria in distance. When you drive to Karpaz, the edge of the island, you can pick up Syrian radio stations.) And most of the things we’re doing as part of our “wars” are technically illegal. So how are wars still a thing?

When I first started reading, I was genuinely confused about why exactly it was so terrible that it was chemical weapons. I mean, the death toll is still under a hundred. (Which sounds callous, but way more Syrians died trying to cross the Mediterranean last year, so why does the world care about this?) So Google told me that apparently the big fuss is because after WWI, everyone got really turned off by the horrible after-effects of gas warfare and considered them the most taboo. And then around the Cold War, people decided it was time for everyone to destroy the chemical weapons they were all secretly making. Which is of course an absurd idea; why would a country willingly give up all its weapons on faith that everyone else is doing it? Syria claimed to have destroyed all of their weapons, but gasp shock, that was a lie. (Nobody’s shocked by that.)

And then I started reading about how Trump did zero of the things necessary to make his retaliation legal in America. Although presidents do that all the time and people barely even register it. But the domestic legality is actually moot since the attack is internationally illegal. The UN did not approve it and it wasn’t self-defense, which seems to be necessary. And yet nobody seems to be talking about how insanely illegal it was. Instead, countries are praising him. Praise for an illegal attack.

Although we’re constantly bombing in other countries. So why is that legal? Well, apparently we justify those by saying we’re fighting ISIS or Al Queda or whatever. And this was clearly a Syrian airbase, not anything we can pretend was related to terrorism. But then if you shift your focus to the “War on Terror” it becomes clear that tons of civilians are being killed. Around 1,400 civilian deaths in March in Syria and Iraq. And it’s not entirely clear if we’re actually doing anything to reduce terrorism.

I just don’t understand war. And I tried really hard today to wrap my head around it, but I can’t. The numbers don’t make sense, the justifications are bullshit, everybody knows they’re bullshit and they don’t care, and in the end, a ton of people die. People who have nothing to do with what everyone else claims they’re fighting for. The distinction between civilian and soldier makes me feel so sad too. Because soldiers agree to fight someone else’s fight with their suddenly expendable lives. If I ever had a child who wanted to join an army, I would be so absolutely furious with them…

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Well, now it’s official

Seychelles was awesome.

If you weren’t aware, Seychelles is a bunch of islands off the Eastern coast of Africa. Most people island hop, staying a few nights on a few different ones. We did Praslin, La Digue, and Mahe, in that order. (Most conversations with people there start by sharing your itinerary of islands.) Those are the main touristy islands, and La Digue was our favorite, just like it’s everyone’s favorite. (La Digue is tiny, so it’s a thing to rent a bike and bike around in this quaint, picturesque way.)

Throughout the islands, we went to an insane amount of beaches. We drank a lot of wine and beer on said beaches. I buried bae in the sand and got bitten by all the bugs. We fought the waves and lost. My favorite beach was probably the one by our hotel on Mahe because we could walk to it and there weren’t many people on it.

We didn’t only go to beaches though. We saw some old, huge turtles at a park on La Digue. We ate on a mountaintop on La Digue and saw bats flying around in the dusk sky. We hiked through a jungle on Praslin and saw the coco de mer.

And we officially got married. (I’m barely sunburned in this picture. It got so much worse. And I looked like a raccoon for like two weeks when we got back. Gotta prevent those cataracts though.) So now we’re officially stuck together, for better or worse, through sickness and health, etc. etc. Amen.

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End of Term

I’ve been very stressed out this past week. It’s because it’s the end of the term here. Which means reports. And since I’m a classroom teacher here, it’s a considerable headache. I had to grade exams in all of the subjects. And they were not easy to grade. And then I found out they hand-write the comments on the reports here… and have no electronic grading system to calculate final grades… and I’m sitting here with a blister on my pinkie, looking at my not-as-neat-as-it-should-be handwriting scribbled all over these reports, wondering why I had to waste four hours doing that and what exact number I should be putting down for the grade…

It’s not even done yet. But tomorrow it will be. And Tuesday we hand out the reports. And Wednesday I fly out of this freezing country occupied territory to visit the warm islands of Seychelles. Alhamdulillah.

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It’s been awhile

Sometimes I fall off the face of the Internet. I get tied up in my own life. We went back to Abu Dhabi for winter break about a month ago. None of my closest friends were in town, using their breaks to travel to other countries, but we still got to be in Abu Dhabi. And we decided that we’re moving back ASAP.

The reason we’re in North Cyprus is solely on the basis of bae having a scholarship to a school here. (They give out scholarships to basically anyone, it’s not an impressive thing.) But the loneliness of living here is not good for us. People here are tied up in their lives and their cliques and it’s hard to break into their circles. Plus if I’m completely honest, I don’t care to break in. I find it far more relaxing to stick to my routines and fall back into being introverted than to really stretch my extroversion to reach out to strangers. I’m relatively ok at becoming friends with friends of friends, but I just don’t have the outgoing nature to reach out to silent strangers across the room.

Plus this country is awful and inconvenient. Plus the weather has been disgustingly cold and rainy. Plus bae’s school is a total scam, really. Plus my salary is a total scam, really. So… back to Abu Dhabi seems like it will make us happiest.

To be honest, there’s a million problems with the plan to move back to Abu Dhabi. Not literally a million, but enough. But it’s the best option.

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My mom voted for Trump

If you looked at my Facebook newsfeed on election day, it seemed impossible that Trump would win. All the people I knew from my high school in Illinois and college in New York and post-grad program and years in New York and the Americans I met in Abu Dhabi… all of them were full of #imwithher. Of course, in hindsight, I have very left-leaning Facebook friends, who do not represent the majority of America. (And the right-leaning ones are posh enough to silence their tendencies. #secretballot)

(Full disclosure, I am a Republican-leaning person on many issues and have a general disdain for the Democratic party. And I never vote. I can’t pretend every vote counts and I abstain in protest. Plus, I’m registered in Illinois where the Democratic mafia has a stronghold forever. Vote early, vote often, as they say. My not voting and being Republican tends to invalidate my opinions to many people, so if that’s your position, assume it.)

When Trump won, I was shocked. Jaw dropped, knock me over with a feather. Even though I had once verbally predicted that Hillary would lose. I had been suckered into a political conversation with an American teacher who was new to Abu Dhabi and raving about Hillary being the next president. (Even though I literally said “don’t get me started on politics.” I hate talking politics. Especially with people who think every vote counts and wear buttons that say it. She was that kind of person.) This was maybe six months before anyone was announcing their presidency, but Hillary was obviously going to run all the same. And I had (probably very rudely) scoffed at the teacher’s enthusiasm for Hillary. I straight up told her that America was so not ready for a woman president. I told her that the Republicans would run a white-looking Hispanic man and totally crush her.

I’d then gone home and researched possible contenders and decided that it was going to be Marco Rubio.

When Rubio dropped out and Cruz was winning, I was shocked. He was Hispanic, sure, but he wasn’t even born in America. What the fuck was the Republican party doing? And then, somehow, he dropped out too. And somehow, an orange clown won. And I was flabbergasted. This was not the politics I knew…. Who would vote for such a creature?

My mom, that’s who.

When she told me she planned to vote for him and I asked her how she could be so dumb as to vote for Trump, she said that she had looked at his healthcare plan (She works as a medical transcriber for a hospital, so I suppose that’s something she has some knowledge about and feels invested in.) and it seemed legit. She said that her boss had met one of Trump’s health advisers at some event and liked him and found him knowledgeable.

She then said, “Plus I don’t trust Hillary.”

I was furious at her. Literally furious at her. She has brought up her vote for Trump twice with me, and both times I couldn’t even pretend to talk about anything else. I just kept berating her for her idiocy, unable to change the topic or let her do the same. It was just so unfathomable. I’m still angry about it. Even though her vote had no effect on the blue state she votes in, her vote had an effect on my feelings towards her. This morning she asked if bae and I could come visit this winter and I responded with all sorts of bitterness over the impossibility of him getting a visa. And then sarcastically ended the email with: “Trump will fix it though, I’m sure.”

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this new reality, to be honest. That the majority really doesn’t see a problem with someone like Trump. Someone at work asked me how I felt about it and it was small talk, so I gave a vague answer of, “We’ll see how it goes, I guess….” Because I have no clue what’s coming next. Probably nothing of significance. Surely not the doom that many are prophesying. But it’s not going to be fun to watch. It’s going to be uncomfortable and make me nauseous and make me #expatforlife even harder than before. And I already hashtag that pretty hard…

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