Why Write?

Originally, I created this blog to document my trip to India. Upon my return, I realized that I couldn't shake the writing bug.
So, feel free to read about my adventures in India and stay tuned for my traveling updates!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Story Untold

Many people have wondered what has happened to me over the last few years. So much of my story has remained hidden from the world. Maybe it’s time to share a portion of this story? The portion I am willing to reveal is a mere summary of a very long book. This book doesn’t have a title, nor are the pages filled with actual writing. No. The pages. The details. The truth. All of that still remains buried in the dark corners of my mind, covered in a tangled web of ancient tears. Tears I no longer shed, but the pain of the past still remains.

So, where do I even start? Perhaps I should start with the first time I heard the word Bahrain. It was in April of 2010. I had no inclination where this tiny little nation was located on the world map. The only reality I knew at the time, was that it was taking away someone very important to me. Someone I did indeed, end up loosing along the way.  At that time, I was a rosy eyed naive teacher living in Hawaii. I had a good job, I had a fiancĂ©, I thought my life was figured out. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

But, how was I to know that? How was I to know that the word Bahrain would hold the highest of highs and the lowest of lows? Or, that the next three years of my life would revolve around this tiny gulf nation? That over time, my dreams would come to a screeching halt. That I would sacrifice so much, to end up with nothing. That I would leave my warm life in Hawaii, a job that I adored, to marry the man that I loved with all of my heart. A man, who was supposed to be there for me thru thick and thin. Someone who I had already given four years of my life to.

But people change and nothing in life is certain.

I learned very soon after my wedding that my significant other didn’t truly love me. Two weeks after I was married, my EX told me he didn’t know if he wanted to be married or not. He had made a mistake. I will spare you the details of this horrific chapter and leave it at this: I had just spent my life savings on a wedding, my life was on hold, and I was very confused.  I didn’t know if he wanted me in Bahrain, if I was moving with him to his next duty station, or what the future held. I was a mere puppet on a string.

Thankfully, I still had a small fire burning inside of me. 

Since so much of my life was uncertain, I decided to travel. And travel I did. It was my escape. It was the one thing I felt I could control. At times, while I was waiting for him to make up his mind,  I felt like I was bartering with God. I was in the middle of a war-zone. I was fighting a battle. Something I still believed in. Love. Marriage. Vows. I thought if I was strong enough, if I was faithful enough, if I was good enough, if I was patient enough, I could win back his love. It was a battle I fought and lost. At least it was a battle that I believed in. Now to be fair, I made mistakes too. Believe me, I'm no angel. There were things I could have done different to make it work and I said and did things that made the situation worse. I dealt with a lot of anger and disappointment during this time. But, that's in the past now. 

After visiting my EX in Bahrain during the summer of 2012, I came back to Colorado, to prepare for the move to his next duty station. My bags were packed, the boxes were ready for the movers, and I had job interviews lined up. I barely heard from him for a month. I spent sleepless nights wondering what was going on. Had he changed his mind again? I finally got a call and it was the same tune, he still didn't know what he wanted. Enough was enough and I had an epiphany. I was living my life for someone who didn’t care to have me in theirs. I was on hold. I was a side note.  I was an after thought. It was time to confront my fears and fly back to Bahrain...this time with a surprise ultimatum. Yep, I showed up on his doorstep to profess my love one last time, but I was firm. “Either I am going with you to Florida as your wife, or I am staying here and accepting a teaching position.”  He didn’t like either option; I couldn’t win.

So I stayed and the adventure began.

Dancing Away My Past :)
I embraced the reality that I would indeed survive this twisted nightmare. The journey took me through a maze of turns. I twisted and snaked my way along the path. At first I crawled through the mud, through a tricky obstacle course. After I pulled myself up from the mud, I started walking. Then I skipped, a feeble skip at first. But nonetheless, it was a start. Eventually, I found my song again and I danced my way along the path. 

After my significant other left Bahrain, I was there on my own. But, I wasn't alone. I came to love the people. I came to love the food, the music, and the diversity. I accepted it all.

This world, no matter where you reside, holds good and evil. Each culture has snap shots of humanity, good and bad. In the end, I believe we are all the same. 

While on my journey, I discovered the best of friends. I found friends who gave me the strength to carry on. Friends who listened to me, gave me a roof over my head, and accepted me for me. I learned what it felt like to be extremely sick, sitting in a foreign hospital, miles from your family, with a friend comforting you. While in Bahrain, I found out how strong I really am. I drove a beater car and lived life on the edge. Each morning, I saw tanks on my way to work. One day, a bomb exploded in the lot next door.  But, I did it. I survived. I learned that I will be okay. 

So, it is now the summer of 2013.  It has been a little over three years since I first heard the word Bahrain. In the course of three years, so much of my life has changed. I now have some wrinkles. I am ashamedly a bit more plump than I would care to admit. While in Bahrain, I definitely made some mistakes and I probably have a few regrets. But, I am happy and at peace.  I am whole again. 

At this point, there is no turning back. Only acceptance, lessons learned, and some new sturdy boots for walking towards my next destination. The new boots I am wearing have trampled the past into the ground. I would like to think that I left Bahrain with my guns blazing and a new fire in my heart. 

Bahrain, you have transformed me, and for this I am thankful. 

Yes, it’s true. My fairy tale Cinderella story may have turned into an epic horror film. However, this movie eventually transformed itself into an adventure saga. All the while I starred as the heroine. Of this I am sure.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Perfect Proposal

Rose petals sprinkled on the ground. A poem read in perfect rhyme. Sweet nothings whispered into the wind. A man on bended knee making proclaimations of undying love. And a woman. Oh, a woman, who is desperetly lost in the eyes of her true love.

I bet I have your attention, right? I hope you're thinking of your favorite love story. I know I am a hopeless romantic. However, what I'm about to tell you is nothing like the Notebook or Romeo and Juliet. In fact, you may need to shift gears and think something along the lines of Arabian Knights meets Tom and Jerry.

For some strange reason, I keep getting marriage proposals wherever I go. One, two, three proposals since living in Bahrain. Yes, it keeps on happening. Do I emit a vibe or something? Easy target? The word, "visa" stamped on my forehead. Who knows?

So, yesterday, I received a proposal from a man I hardly knew. In fact we had just met. His name was Hassan and he was my taxi driver. I didn't see this one coming, that's for sure.

This is how it happened. I had gone to a party the night before and left my car at my friends house before we went out. So yesterday morning, I had to retrieve my car. Feeling a little bit groggy, even after two cups of coffee, I ventured outside to hail a taxi. In Bahrain, there seems to be an endless supply of taxi cabs parading the streets so I had no trouble hailing one. What's the first thing the guy says when I get in the cab, "You are a most beautiful woman." Well, that woke me up out of a fog, let me tell you! "Oh great, here we go again" was the only thing that popped into my mind.

I tried to focus on the mission, to get my car as quickly as possible. I gave him directions to my friends house, trying to keep my eyes focused on the road. As we drove along the bumpy, littered streets, I listened to the comments, let's see what were they again? "You are my most beautiful customer…You have made my morning…You are kind and beautiful. You can call anytime and I will take you wherever you need to go."

Finally, we arrived at the destination, and he blurted out, "You need a man, a good man. You need a husband to take care of you. I would be most happy to marry you. It would make my heart happy." 
"Ummmm thanks," I muttered as I shoved 2 dinars into his hands and jumped from the cab. Talk about awkward!!!

So, it may have not been the most romantic of proposals but I sure got a laugh out of that one. I think I can afford to be picky now. At least I have options. NEVER A DULL MOMENT IN BAHRAIN!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Travel is My Drug

Confessions of a Travel Junkie

Sometimes I wonder exactly what my problem is. At times my spirit seems so restless. I crave change. Why do I feel the urge to explore? Will it ever disappear or is it just apart of who I am? Maybe I need to check myself into Travel Addiction Anonymous or something? 

Over the last two months,  these questions have haunted my mind. Honestly, since the last time I made a blog post, my life has been pretty normal, apart from the fact that I live in the Middle East. Yes, I have witnessed the protests. Yes, I have maneuvered my car through the littered streets of Bahrain. Yes, I have come in contact with the smoldering embers of the tire fires that frequently pollute the roadways. I even pass armored vehicles on my way to work everyday. But none of it phases me anymore, not even the suggestive comments and stares that I endure from the men here. It's all common place. My life has become simple…routine…  I go to work. I eat. I dance. I spend time with my friends, who are fabulous by the way. But I guess I have a problem with normal or something because I'm feeling the need to
"go" again.

Ever since High School, I have fed and nurtured this urge and somehow it's taken me all over the world. I have lived in so many random places it's almost ridiculous.  At times, this appetite for change and travel has raged out of control, only subsiding after a dramatic feast of sorts has taken place. Randomly moving to New York for a year or spontaneously traveling to India are a few feasts that I can think of. Other times, it's been a quiet subdued hunger like when I lived in Hawaii. There I was satisfied with exploring the other islands, making trips to see family on the mainland, and a few trips overseas. Whatever the case, it's always there, brewing and bubbling within me. I plot. I scheme. I dream.

Sprinkled across the globe, are a trail of memories and friends that I have left behind. Maybe I just like adventure? Maybe I can't sit still for too long?

Butterfly Girl. That's the nickname my family has bestowed upon me because I can't seem to stay in one place for very long.  I flutter. I float. I glide. Maybe it's my parents fault? Yes, I'll blame it on them. They are the same way…traveling here and there. But are they as extreme as I have been? Where do I draw the line? More importantly, should I draw the line? Sometimes I ask myself if I can live a normal life again. I've lost sight of what that looks like anymore.

My time in Bahrain is coming to a close and my teaching contract is up the end of May. Come June 1st, I will be nestled onboard a 777, headed back to the States, where I plan to assimilate myself back into the American culture. Hawaii, Virginia, San Diego? Where in the world will I end up? I'm not going to lie, I'm a bit apprehensive. I have spent the last year and a half living abroad and part of me is nervous because I don't know if I'll like it. Will I even fit in anymore?

One thing is for sure. I am not the same girl who came to the Middle East in January of 2012. I have lived. I have loved. I have laughed. I have longed for. I have lingered. I have lost. I have soared through the pain.
Just like the caterpillar, yearning for transformation, I have been reborn into a butterfly. I have learned to accept the unexpected. I have learned to open up my heart again. My wings are stretched wide. I am now ready to fly. The question is, do I land on the next fragrant flower that comes across my path? Do I stay a while? Or, do I keep on flying?

Butterfly Girl

Your parents brought you home, on a July afternoon
Nestled in a blanket, like a butterfly’s cocoon
Held in arms of comfort, to shield you from this world
So fragile, butterfly girl

Three years old and grinning, spinning round the living room
Arms outstretched like wings, you danced sweetly to a tune
Caught up in your colors, we watched you spin and twirl
So brightly, butterfly girl

Butterfly girl, you’re growing so fast
Charming the world, as the days pass
Each changing wind, making you strong
But, please don’t fly away for too long

Now that true colors are here for all to see
Cherish every moment that sets your spirit free
Cause your Mom and Dad will tell you that it goes by in a whirl
We love you butterfly girl, we love you butterfly girl

Written By: Annie Bauerlein
* My Aunt wrote this song for me on my 16th birthday *

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Girl on Fire

I am now convinced that I am a GIRL ON FIRE!  

"She's just a girl and she's on fire
Hotter than a fantasy, longer like a highway
She's living in a world and it's on fire
Fill with catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away" ~ Alicia Keys ~

Do you know that song? The Girl on Fire song by Alicia Keys? That song came out last October, a monumental month for me. I won't indulge in the details but lets just say it was a month of big decisions.  Every time I hear this song, I am reminded of the woman that I have become. I am reminded of the power that I possess within. I am reminded of my strength. I am reminded of the journey that I have walked down. I am reminded of how happy I feel right now. 
So all of this talk about fire, really got me thinking about my life. I feel like I'm on fire. Seems like the flames have consumed my past and what's left is someone I hardly even recognize anymore. My dress,  like my life, has transformed itself into a blazing sense of purpose.
I used to wear a shimmery white gown, perfectly ironed, no wrinkles or creases. Now, what's left of that dress, has turned to ashes. I am wearing a bright red, fire breathing dress. I have become one with the flames.

 Last night I had a rare few hours by myself. I spent a glorious evening at home doing nothing in particular. The last three months have been a fury of activity for me. I haven't allowed myself that much down time. Honestly, I have probably had the best three months of my entire life. I can't remember the last time I felt so free and happy. Too much fun = recovery time! So, last night I caught up with old friends on Facebook, dug into ancient pictures, and drank a glass of wine. I felt comfortable in my own skin. It was nice. 

I thought about life and what I want to do from here on out. I thought about the juvenile plans that I had for myself when I graduated from high school. Have I strayed from those goals? What about my goals in college? Am I doing what I'm "supposed" to be doing? It's funny because I used to dream of one day being a journalist or an actress. Somehow I found myself in the role of teacher. How did that happen? One of my college professors used to say that teachers are all frustrated actors in disguise. And I have to ask myself…is this true? Is that why I became a teacher? Ha Ha! Who knows?

Whatever the case, I never in a million years thought I would one day be living and teaching in the Middle East? I thought I would have a family and four kids by now, settled safely somewhere in the United States. You know living a normal life. How did that train get off the track? How did I find myself alone in a foreign land, thousands of miles away from my family, friends, and the "normal" life I used to have? But, you know what? Now that I have experienced the world, I think that life would be boring. It no longer suits me. Weird. Someday, I will tell my story and I intend to write a book about it.

It's interesting. The events over the past few years have simply set the stage for what I think I'm supposed to do with my life: TRAVEL, TEACH, and WRITE. As I was looking through my pictures tonight, I was reminded of the adventures that I have had. I  stepped back and allowed myself to recall the memories that I have made along the way. The countries I have visited. The people I have met. The ones I have loved. The ones I have lost. The lies I was told. The abuse I endured. The happy moments created. I tried to accept it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Would I really be where I am today, following my destiny, if all of these things hadn't happened? The answer is no. 

Yes, maybe I don't have the life that I dreamed of having when I was eighteen; but somehow it's more fulfilling and adventure packed! Maybe I don't have a family, a house with a white picket fence, and those four boys I wanted to have. But wow, I have done some crazy stuff:)! I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world because they have made me who I am today. 

Maybe I have given up on the dreams I used to have or… maybe … just maybe … I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this very moment in time? Somehow I feel like the travels of Miss Amy have only begun!!!!

She's just a girl and she's on fire
Hotter than a fantasy, longer like a highway
She's living in a world and it's on fire
Fill with catastrophe, but she know she can fly away

Oh, she got both feet on the ground
And she's burning it down
Oh, she got her head in the clouds
And she's not backing down

This girl is on fire
This girl is on fire
She's walking on fire
This girl is on fire

[Alicia Keys]
Looks like a girl but she's a flame
So bright she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
You can try but you'll never forget her name
She's on top of the world
Hottest of the hottest girls say

Oh, we got our feet on the ground
And we're burning it down
Oh, got our head in the clouds
And we're not coming down

This girl is on fire
This girl is on fire
She's walking on fire
This girl is on fire

[Alicia Keys]
Everybody stands as she goes by
Cause they can see the flame that's in her eyes
Watch her when she's lighting up the night
Nobody knows that she's a lonely girl
And it's a lonely world
But she gon' let it burn baby burn baby

This girl is on fire
This girl is on fire
She's walking on fire
This girl is on fire

Oh, oh, oh...

She's just a girl, and she's on fire

Sunday, January 13, 2013

This is How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch 
You really are a heel
You're as cuddly as a cactus
And as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch 

It was Christmas Eve. The night before my debut as the Grinch who stole Christmas. It was 1 a.m. The stockings were not hung on the chimney with care because:

A: I don't have a fireplace
B: I didn't have any stockings
C: I was boycotting Christmas

The blinking Gulf Airlines sign, perched on the peak of the nearby building, projected the counterfeit luster of the mid-day sun into my cozy little room. I closed the curtains and gingerly placed my costume on the edge of my king sized bed. Green leotard. Check. Santa corset. Check. Green hair dye. Check. Long creepy nails. Check. 
Tomorrow was Christmas and I was armed and dangerous! 

At six in the morning, I was awoken to the Call to Prayer. The prayer radiated loudly from the mosque a few blocks down, reminding me that I was celebrating Christmas in a foreign land! The Muezzin, sang the prayer in a loud methodical tone. I sure was a long way from home. 

Allahu Akbar
(God is Great)
Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah
(I bear witness that there is no god except the One God)
Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah
(I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God) 
Hayya 'ala-s-Salah
(Rise up for prayer) 
As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm
(Prayer is better than sleep)

As the prayer continued to carry on, I closed my eyes and thought about Christmas. I thought about my family. I could almost imagine what they were doing at that very moment. With a 9 hour time difference, it was still Christmas Eve for them. Then I thought about my Dad, who was in Hong Kong. I made a mental note to call him but knew he would most likely beat me to it.

My Mom was probably baking up a storm. There would be Christmas music on and snow on the ground. Some of my siblings, remember there are seven of us, would most likely be gathered near the fireplace. They would probably be playing Monopoly, which ALWAYS causes a fight of some sorts. And of course there would be something random going on, like there always is at my parents house, homemade beauty treatments…facial masks… sing alongs… shooting potato guns off the deck. Basically, my family is cRaZy! 

After my nostalgic moment, I decided to get the day going. I called up my friend and ordered him to come over for breakfast. So what if it was 8 in the morning! I put on my Santa hat and starting cooking breakfast. We blasted Christmas music in the kitchen and danced around like little kids! I felt a little closer to home. Then it was off to my boss's house for a Christmas brunch. More food. More Christmas music. More friends. Who could ask for more? 

After brunch, it was time to start cooking for our dinner party. Metaphorically speaking, my roommate and I put on our chef hats and GOT BUSY. We spent the remainder of the day in the kitchen preparing a turkey dinner. I even set up the dinning room table with the only Christmas decoration in the house, a snow globe. Ha Ha! Yes, even the Grinch wanted the table to be "properly" set up. 
Basically the rest of the day was a fury of activity. 8 dinner guests turned into 12. No problem! We had more then enough food to spare. Dinner turned into dancing in the flat. Dancing in the flat turned into, "lets go out!!!" The Grinch and her friends danced until 5:30 in the morning! 
Can you say turkey dinner, mulled wine, and dancing the night away? That's how the Grinch Stole Christmas in a foreign land!

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Sunday, January 6, 2013

India, You Will Always Be With Me

Even though my trip to India has long since passed, I still carry the memories with me wherever I go. 
It almost feels like India has become a part of who I am. Living in Bahrain gives me a daily reminder of my time there. Over the past few months, I have found myself befriending any Indian I come in contact with. Now I have new friends in my apartment complex, at the convenient store, and even at work. I guess I'm just drawn to "anything" or "anyone" Indian.

The kids who live across the hallway from my apartment can be quite loud, especially on Saturday mornings, when I'm trying to sleep in. Even though I often have to cover my head with my pillow to temporarily drown out the noise, I somehow manage to get out a laugh or two. They sing, dance, yell, and even ride their bloody bikes around in the hallway like it's a three ring circus! For the most part though, I don't mind because it reminds me of India!

This past summer, I became friends with the Indian men who worked at the corner convenient store. They were the first people to find out about my trip to India.  One evening, I burst into the store and exclaimed, "I'm going to India!" They told me all about their families and gave me pointers on visiting the country. When I came back from my trip, I showed them a few pictures. They were astonished that I went all by myself. I have since moved apartments and don't get to see much of them anymore; but,  I try to stop by to say hi every few weeks or so.

I'm now friends with the Indian servers at the Subway restaurant near work! They know me by name now and the moment I walk thru the door, they make me my favorite sandwich. I have discussed India with them as well. They always humor me when they tell me, "You are our favorite customer!" I think I promised one of them that I would give English lessons. Speaking of which, I need to get on that!

I tutor two Indian students, Vismita and Visrutta. They are five year old twin girls and probably two of the cutest kids to walk the planet. Even though they know my name, Miss Amy, they still call me "TEACHER," "TEACHER," "TEACHER," whenever they need something or have a question. They even do the bobble head when they speak. If you haven't read all of my blogs, you may be confused by my reference to bobble heads. When an Indian speaks, they wobble their heads from side to side. Always reminds me of the bobble head figures that people place in their cars. I think it's absolutely precious.

Bobble Head Reference :)

So you see, my Indian Adventures have continued and India will always have a special place in my heart!