Death; what is normal?

The last time I posted it was about the normalcy of life and how we’re in a simple yet satisfying routine of sorts. And then, because the philosophical side of my mind is always hard at work, I started to wonder what really quantifies normal?

Several months ago I went into the hospital for a minor, planned procedure. The procedure went terribly wrong and I was not only in the hospital for several weeks, but at times, there was the question of whether or not I would actually make it. I recall being transported to the local trauma center where I was certain I was being taken because I was dying. I felt as though I were dying. I can’t think of better words to describe it other than I simply had no energy left to fight. I could feel anything that once resembled me slipping away. I remember telling the Nurse if I were there to die that was fine, I could handle that, but that I needed her to contact my family as I wanted to see them all one last time. It was my way of accepting what I felt was inevitable, but also being allowed to take everyone’s face with me when I left. Several months later, here I am. Home. Healthy. And feeling about 90% ‘normal’ again.

On the left column of my blog home page, I have a ‘blogroll’ or a list of blogs I followed often. I created that list when I first started the blog and haven’t updated it in a few years. Some of those blogs still exist, others don’t.

When a person starts a blog (something that has been replaced by vlogging) we generally do so because we love to write, find our minds are often filled with random thoughts; sometimes important, others not at all. But most importantly, I think many of us started blogs as a way to not just vent our frustrations, but to share our experiences with others. Perhaps it was our way of offering guidance or advice even if no one was asking for it. Either way, blogging allows random strangers worldwide a glimpse into our lives. And when people follow blogs regularly we begin to feel as though we know the writer on some level. We can identify with some of their ideas or thoughts, or even accidentally find solutions to our own problems through their mistakes. We often feel some kind of ‘like’ towards the writer even if we’ve never communicated with them at all.

memory

A couple of years ago one of the bloggers I followed religiously passed away from cancer (Americanbedu.com). She was married to a Saudi man, lived in Saudi for years, and moved back to America once her husband passed away. Neither of them was old or unhealthy. They simply both lost a very long, painful battle to cancer. Carol (American Bedu) had friends and family who attempted to keep the blog alive after her passing, but it just wasn’t the same. I believe the domain has since expired and the content is gone. Every one of her thoughts, memories, and life stories — gone.

Just last week another blogger passed away from cancer. Nicole Hunter-Mostafa (thesamerainbowsend.com) was young, also married to a Saudi, and was pregnant with their second little girl when complications started. Because I don’t know her or her family I can only speculate about details, and, well, that’s just disrespectful. So I’ll share what I do know based on her willingness to tell her story to us readers. Nicole appeared to be a very happy person. Her blog posts were always uplifting and upbeat. She wasn’t one to do much ranting, even if she had things to rant about. She was so in love with her husband and their gorgeous little girl Lavender. She was thrilled to be pregnant again but her blogging slowed down immensely. She had a number of complications which resulted in extensive pain for her. She cut her summer USA trip short to get back to Saudi for pain treatment in the last few weeks of her pregnancy. Her last blog post was an overview of all she had endured but no mention of cancer. Her daughter was born not long after and she shared that with everyone on Instagram. Then, suddenly, all of her social media accounts were gone and months went by with no updates on the blog. Obviously, considering we don’t know one another, this shouldn’t have made a difference to me one way or another. But as I said before, we develop a ‘like’ for the writer of the blogs we follow. We wonder about them and hope they’re doing well. Sadly, in Nicole’s case, she wasn’t doing well. And last week, she too lost her battle with cancer.

Perhaps this is incredibly selfish of me, but because Nicole was such a brilliant writer who created beautiful images in my mind with her words, I wish she had blogged. I wish she had shared her last months with us. I wish I had known whether or not she had known. Did she know she had cancer but chose to avoid treatment as a way to save her daughter? I wouldn’t be surprised — she was deeply in love with her babies. Or was the cancer diagnosis as unexpected for her as it was for her readers? Again, I didn’t know Nicole but I am deeply saddened by her death. I loved her style of writing. The way she could create a picture book of stories with just her words. Magnificent. My heart aches for her family.

I’m not going to end this post with a sappy cliché about hugging loved ones, last days, etc. But do that anyway. And do it often. We really never know when our normal may not be recognizable.

My open letter to Rosie

Note: Though I stopped blogging a while back, recent events prompted this unexpected post.

Dear Rosie,

Over the past several days your real identity has been revealed and for some reason you like to believe I’m behind this ‘outing’. However, if you must know, I’ve known your real name for well over a year. I’ve also known the real story — the job loss, the fake marriage, the pretend-a-vacations, and the fake bags you purchased for yourself. So, why, if I’ve known it all for a year did I opt to keep it to myself? Well, what purpose would it have served to share that information with others? One other person knew, we discussed it, observed the outrageous lies, and concluded you’re a very lonely middle aged woman who quite possibly needs psychological help. What more could we do? Especially since your hatred for me has been evident for quite some time… even when you pretended it didn’t. But, rest assured, Rosie, had it been me who outed you, I wouldn’t be ashamed to admit it. However, doing so would have been malicious, and that’s just not my style.

For well over a year, Rosie, you’ve invested not only a great deal of time into creating an online fantasy life, but also into stalking my real one. And, well, honestly, I’ve never thought too much about it until now with your recent libelous statements against me. You’ve even gone as far as to utilize copyrighted material belonging to me without permission. Instead of spending countless hours thinking of ways to attack me or save face, why not accept that you simply went too far? Issue an apology to those who deserve one and let it go. Stalking, harassing, and attempting to defame me are never going to make you who you pretend to be. I’m not your enemy, Rosie… you are.

Since your identity has been exposed (2-3 days ago now?) it appears as though you’re spending every waking moment either covering your tracks, fabricating Facebook accounts, deleting social media accounts, or generating more fake silliness in an attempt to divert the attention from your 4 year long fraud. Relax. Yeah, you’re probably panicking right now while scanning every lie you’ve told in your mind, wondering how you even managed to keep that story straight. It’s possible you’re even questioning your own sanity. But again, relax. As you’re feeling as though your world is crumbling around you, it’s really just beginning. Now, instead of faking vacations, husbands, and outlandish gifts all while scurrying around location spoofers on Instagram, you can actually focus on the real you for a minute. Yeah, the real you. The Rosie who actually has family and probably some real friends who care about you. You can embrace your time back home with your family instead of spending hours a day thinking of new ways to make random strangers believe you’re still living in Kuwait… or married to a ‘well known’ Kuwaiti.

As for me and your attempt to divert the attention from your fraud; why bother? Regardless of what you say, post, generate, create, or fabricate at this point it doesn’t take away from your blatant dishonesty and deceit. And chances are, after your years of lies, no one will believe you anyway. Furthermore, many of the people you’re attempting to discuss me with actually know me in person… they too are laughing at your efforts. Again, relax.

So, if I’ve known who you are all these years why wasn’t I the one to ‘out’ you? Well, to be honest, as silly as your lies were, they never affected me personally. As a matter of fact, the only problem I had with your deceit of so many was your target audience. You made a mockery of a culture that many of us hold very near and dear to our hearts. You created an unobtainable fantasy and shoved it down the throats of young Kuwaiti girls who long to have what you pretended to have. You faked a fairy tale marriage that just doesn’t exist. And in a culture where marriage is such an important factor, and divorce is quite frowned upon, you left young women who idolized you questioning themselves and their self worth. You left them wondering why they weren’t worthy of an ‘H’ — especially when ‘H’ was from their very own culture. Those same young women, some who were married while being a fan of your blog, possibly endured the normal ‘roller coaster’ most relationships go through and wished they had been so fortunate as the American who married the perfect ‘H’. You created unrealistic expectations in their mind by getting lost in your own fantasy. Little did they know that same American was a 43 year old woman living in her parents house in Florida blogging in secret from the rest of her family.

As a blogger, especially one in a country as small as Kuwait, there comes a certain responsibility. Unless, of course, you had prefaced your posts as “fictional reading purposes only”. But you didn’t. You went to extremes… unhealthy extremes, in an attempt to defraud an entire nation. Or at least anyone interested in reading your posts.

Being discovered as Rosie, the 43 year old liar who lives with her parents in Florida and was never engaged or married to a Kuwaiti should be the least of your concerns right now. Instead of pulling your hair out while trying to cover one lie with another and another, why not contemplate the feelings of the people you’ve hurt with your fraud? Or consider reaching out to the numerous women who write to you for marriage advice, or advice on relationships with a Kuwaiti man and extend an apology for guiding them with lies? Or, what about the people who accepted you into their private lives via social media? Those who allowed you to view their private Instagram accounts and see photos of them, their families, friends, work, etc? Those who shared their real name with you while you hid behind a curtain of fabrications? Why is it you’re rushing around to protect yourself from further humiliation but aren’t even thinking of how you must have made so many others feel? Shame on you, Rosie. Shame on you.

And though you’re certainly feeling intimidated right now, it doesn’t mean you’ve been ‘bullied’. It simply means, that somewhere deep down inside, you always knew that I always knew. But rest assured, I wasn’t the only one. However, playing the victim card right now doesn’t bode very well. While you attempted to write the memoirs of an imperfect angel, you really generated enough material for a Lifetime Movie with a bad ending.

Quite sadly, the real you was probably a fairly normal, easy to relate to person. But that’s neither here nor there. Anything that once resembled ‘normal’ has long since been lost in the myriad of lies and extensive perpetration of deceit.

You, like so many other typical contractors, were offered a job in Kuwait. And though mediocre, it was still far more than you could have hoped for back home. You moved to Kuwait with zero travel experience and little knowledge of the culture yet soon became consumed with what you saw on the surface; Bugattis and maids. You never took a moment to learn or understand what was real. You got sucked into the material life you were never afforded as a typical, middle class American. And with that, you were lost. Yet what you failed to realize was behind all the ‘glitz and glamour’ portrayed on the surface of Kuwait is a very deep rooted culture. One that you never understood… or cared to understand. You felt that displaying lavish gifts you pretended ‘H’ purchased for you was evidence to random readers of his ‘true love’. Yet if you had any understanding of the culture you would know far better and you would realize how foolish it all looked. You would also realize by claiming a desire for privacy due to your pretend-a-husband’s ‘well known family’, then posting Whatsapp messages of a sexual nature for all to see was a direct contradiction. But who can blame you? You were lost in a world even you had no control over. You had obviously been hurt, mistreated, and probably dumped by a number of men and started feeling quite foolish as you looked back over your ‘He wants to marry me!’ posts. You had to connect the dots in some manner.

Unfortunately, Rosie, had you stepped up and said, “Hey, peeps, here’s the deal… ” you would have been respected and probably even liked. Women all over Kuwait could have related to you, sympathized with you, and extended a hand. But instead, you allowed your pain, bitterness, and obvious jealousy to become a tool to deceive so many with. Again, shame on you, Rosie.

Finally, don’t fret. There will always be another expat in Kuwait City… it just won’t be you.

The Instagram life.

It’s no secret that my blogging habits have changed dramatically over the years. Especially this past year. With the move, the businesses (I’ve just expanded and in the process tripled my workload), and now… the MBA studies (my 2nd Masters, go me!), blogging has really taken a backseat. I’ve also found Instagram to be a much simpler way to share bits of my life with those who might be interested. I’m also toying with the idea of a regular Podcast but face the same time restrictions.

No, this isn’t the end of the blog. I’m not going away yet. But, I really can’t continue to invest as much time as I once did. However, I will be more active on Instagram — until the next ‘big’ thing comes along. I believe it’s referred to as ‘instablogging’. I can certainly understand the appeal; one click posting, make an impact statement, and tie it together with a relevant photo.

I’ve always blogged for my own therapeutic reasons as well as the hope I might provide some insight to a random reader. Blog stats have never been important to me (I’ve actually never once even checked them). For that reason I’ll continue to randomly post when I really need to vent, and I’ll also answer emails. Though please be patient, my plate is a bit full right now.

Feel free to follow me on Instagram. Especially if you love super duper adorable pets 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you there!

Sunshine and warm weather

After what feels like the longest Winter in history, we’re finally experiencing some very welcome Spring weather. Sunshine, warmth, and even a little tan while working in the yard.

My husband and I have spent the last few (freezing) months discussing our plans for Spring landscaping. Strange how motivated one can get during ice storms with no electricity. We’re off to a really nice start with the Organic herb garden already planted and the veggie garden starting to sprout. I’m finally on board about getting chickens after a year of convincing by my husband, The idea of hormone/chemical free eggs is appealing and much more in line with our healthier lifestyle. He also wants goats but we’re not quite there yet.

Overall I’m feeling like a completely different woman than just a couple of short months ago. My entire outlook has changed. I’m far more positive. And a feeling of peace and happiness are pretty much the norm now. I’m still struggling with a bit of anxiety — waiting for something bad to happen — but I’m beginning to let that go. I’ve been wondering if I might have been suffering with a bout of seasonal depression. As much as I love rain, snow, and cold weather, this Winter was painful for me. Physically and emotionally. I also attribute better food choices and more exercise to my overall ‘good’ feeling. Amazing how ‘blah’ I felt while consuming processed sugar and simple carbs.

Oh, and social media has caused me to want to vent lately but I’m just not in a vent’y mood. Though I admit, I do occasionally call a friend just to have a good bitch, moan, and complain session — about everything under the sun. My husband has zero interest in the ‘girly’ things going on in life.

Speaking of social media, I called a dear friend of mine last week only to feel as though I was speaking to someone I had never met before. We’ve known one another since we were 15 years old, remained really close regardless of how many miles were between us, and if we would lose touch for a few years we always managed to find one another and catch up in no time. We’ve always been excited to hear from one another so this ‘attitude’ I was getting just wasn’t cool… at all. We’ve been speaking a couple of times a month quite regularly lately and all seemed to be going just fine. Yet with this last call there seemed to be a lot of underlying hostility, ie. them: “I’ve always known who I was and I haven’t changed one bit since we were 15 years old. You, on the other hand, didn’t have a clue.” Ouch. I mean, no, I didn’t know who I was when I was 15, who did? My friend didn’t either but who was I to shoot down their egomaniacal moment? But more importantly why attempt to insult the 15 year old me… that was ages ago. And what did I do that was so horrible then? And WHY would someone still be holding onto it without making an attempt to resolve it over the past couple of decades? Perhaps I’m just being sensitive. Either way it felt a bit hostile. Oh yeah, social media… my friend has a blog about a topic I find to be rather interesting so I commented. Nothing offensive or out of line, just a comment from one friend to another. I received a phone call explaining that their social media life and me are two different entities that shouldn’t cross paths and how terrible I was for commenting on their blog — though the comment was never approved or posted. Whaaaaaat? Ummm, not my fault if who they portray themselves to be in social media land is different than who they are in the real world. But wait, they’ve always known who they were, right? OK, so I vented… a little!

So yeah, that’s life lately. Gardening, enjoying the outdoors, and realizing old friends might be crazy friends.

Meeting a blogger…getting a friend.

A few years ago I posted about a blog I really enjoyed reading. Since losing all my previous content I can’t link back to that post. She’s a wonderful American woman married to an amazing man and living in Kuwait together. They both have a soft spot in their hearts for animals which can lead to having a personal zoo if you’re not careful. Especially in Kuwait where animal cruelty, neglect, and abuse are rampant.

Currently this lovely couple is home to 6 dogs and a cat. Yes, SIX dogs! Like most expats they live in an apartment which isn’t the most ideal situation for being the local animal rescue. Her entire day literally revolves around animal care from their first feeding in the morning to their daily run in the desert. She even made them seat belts.

I remember when they got their first puppy and she blogged about her new little baby (Mushkila). The intention, I do believe, was for them to keep this puppy and give it a forever home. Then along came their ‘temporary rescues’ one right after the other. Anyone who loves animals, lives in Kuwait, and gets their hands on a rescue rarely has the heart to re-home them. Especially back into the same environment they were just rescued from.

Several months ago the wonderful woman behind the Great Adventure blog had mentioned her desire to find good homes for at least 4 of the rescues. She wanted them to go to a home they could live forever with a family who loved and appreciated them the way they should be. She even offered to ship them anywhere in the world just to ensure they have good homes. Her kindness is unmatched.

I mentioned the situation to my husband who agreed having another dog wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Melicka could always use a friend (the cats need a break) and someone to run around our massive property with. I told the lovely blogger our situation and gave a little background on our animal personalities and asked her which dog she felt would fit best into our family.

Long story short… they’ll be arriving next week! She and her husband have managed to get Health Certificates, crates, and airline tickets for 4 dogs (and themselves) to fly to the US and live out their lives with loving families. This logistical nightmare is certainly very costly for them accompanied by quite a bit of stress. But at the end of the day I believe they would do anything to ensure their rescues have good homes. We’ll be taking one, and the other 3 are going to different homes around the US. My husband and I will be meeting them in DC to help out with crates and transportation, or anything else we possibly can.

Over the years I’ve met several bloggers and generally find myself initially drawn to their blog for the same reason I meet them in person; positive attitude with a good heart. We’re looking forward to our little ‘road trip with a purpose’ next week.

“A Letter To Miley Cyrus” [re-post from I Am Rihanna]

Since the VMAs on Sunday night it seems the only topic anyone (including respected news networks) is discussing is Miley Cyrus and her antics. And, well, her oddly shaped butt, but that’s not what this is about.

Sadly Miley appears to be going down the same path as Lindsey Lohan and Amanda Bynes. Even more sad I have a clue who these people are or the status of their life. But when we’re bombarded with it via media, we just can’t help but to know.

Another blogger took the time to write a ‘letter’ to Miley and post it to her blog. It’s well written, not insulting, and really puts things into perspective. I actually enjoyed reading it and kinda hope Miley stumbles upon it.

In case you missed the performance, here ya go [link].

People ‘without’ — In Pictures

This morning I found this post on Mark’s blog over at 248am and had to share it.

The pictures were taken by renowned Photographer Greg Constantine who started working on his project ‘Nowhere People’ in 2005. The series currently featured at Aljazeera.com focuses on the Stateless (bidoon) of Kuwait. I’m hoping the brilliant work by Greg will help to bring more international attention to their cause and the gross violation of human rights.

Sex and Beyond: Saudi Arabia [Blog]

There are a few blogs I read while having my morning coffee as if they’re the daily newspaper. Most of them are even more interesting than the daily newspaper. And many of them I wish would blog more often.

Recently I stumbled across Sex and Beyond: Saudi Arabia and find myself addicted. I love that such taboo topics are discussed openly and without judgement. It’s refreshing and long overdue.

Hoping you all enjoy it as much as I do.

Carol (American Bedu) has passed away.

Carol’s family has done a wonderful job at keeping her reader’s updated over the last few days. Surely this must have been difficult considering all that was going on in their lives and dealing with their own pain.

Sadly, as of today, Carol lost her battle with cancer and has passed away. For anyone who has ever read her blog you’ll know this is a great loss. Fortunately she was surrounded by loved ones to the very end. Wishing her family peace and condolences during this time of mourning.

Their post can be found here.

A beautiful tribute/obituary was printed in the ‘Arab News’. [full article]

Tragedy in the blogging world — American Bedu

For those who aren’t familiar, American Bedu is an American woman who was married to a Saudi. Sadly her husband who she loved so dearly lost his battle with cancer a few years ago. American Bedu (Carol) was surely devastated, but was then diagnosed with cancer herself. She’s been battling the illness for years.

Throughout her struggle with cancer, Carol has managed to maintain her blog and provide incredibly helpful information to her readers. She’s never complained, never given up, and never said a negative word out of frustration with life in general. Instead, she’s taken what would have broken most of us and allowed it to be her strength.

Unfortunately Carol has recently been hospitalized again and her family stated the prognosis isn’t good. But at this time it is her wish to leave the hospital and stay in her home with her cats. For her to do this will require 24/7 care which can be incredibly costly. This is where we can help. Please consider donating any amount at all. Please allow Carol to return to the comfort of her home.

The page for donations can be found here or in any one of the links above.