Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Death and the Expat

After four years, this settling down thing still chafes. As one fellow expat says “it’s like being squeezed into a box that’s too small” and she is talking about returning to her own community after several years abroad.

I think I wasn’t wired for settling down.

Even changing the furniture around, which I start doing after a couple years in one place, doesn’t really satisfy that urge for new challenges, new ways of thinking, a need to be on your toes, to be observant of all around you because nothing is the same as where you came from.

But one thing about settling down is a huge challenge – death.

When you are living in Expat World, death barely touches you. For one thing, you’re in a working environment, which implies you are young enough and healthy enough to be working. If someone dies, you fly back home and grieve the person, then fly back to where you are working and life goes on. That person isn’t missing from your daily life. You are distracted from grieving by the differences; there are not so many things around to remind you that the person is no longer there.

Being settled, it is an entirely different story. You get used to people, and then, often suddenly, that person is no longer around. You’re still going to all the places you used to see that person, but that person is not there, and never will be again. You think “I’ll just call so-and-so” and then you realize she’ll never answer your call again.

This is all new. Sure, expats move away, but there is always that chance you will run into them again – happens all the time in Expat World. You can call and make plans to meet up somewhere, you can gather for kids weddings. In settled-down world, death puts a big stop to that. It’s a screeching, endless dead-end.

I lost a friend this week, a woman who has been kind to me since the day I walked into the church. She made me feel welcome and she made me feel loved, and like I belonged there. It wasn’t just me, she was kind and welcoming to everyone, and a lot of fun to be around. I hugged her the day before she died as we had a quick greeting in the Parish Hall. I adored her, and I admired her, and she leaves a big hole in my heart.

I don’t wish her alive again; she lost her husband just months ago, and I know in my heart that my grief is my own, that she is happy to be with her departed husband. But this death stuff is painful. It makes me want to run get on a plane and go somewhere else, to go away from this infinite feeling of loss. To my chagrin, I also think this is a piece of growing up that I ran away from for a long time, and am learning later in life than most people.

We are still grieving the loss of Pete. He is buried in the butterfly garden, so he is nearby. We second-guess ourselves all the time, going over our choices, regretting having caused him any pain and anguish as he lived his last week. I hear the tinkle of his little name tag and forget it can’t be Pete; my husband steps over where he would lie in the hallway, equidistant between our offices. This death stuff is hard.

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July 31, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Flounders at Pensacola Beach, Revisit

Pensacola Beach gets crazy this time of year – and what is not to love? Days of sunshine, surf temperature in the 80’s, and fine white sand, really white – it’s gorgeous.

If the Blue Angels are flying, or if it’s the 4th of July weekend, we can forget about the beach – the traffic over the bridges to the beach is blocked for miles. When the Blue Angels were flying, we could see the traffic backed up all the way to Cervantes, in central Pensacola. People were gridlocked on the bridge, and just watched from there – there were no more parking spots, none, out on Pensacola Beach.

But the madness has passed, normal times have returned, and I have a yearning for Flounder’s Fish Tacos. Ahhhhh, comfort food, with so much lettuce and tomato and salsa that it SEEMS healthy, even though the fish is undeniably . . . umm . . . . er . . .. fried.

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These are listed in the appetizer section. Who on earth could eat this as an appetizer? At my hungriest, I can eat two, and still have one to take with. But so delicious, so perfect for a hot summer day.

AdventureMan has the seafood platter, which he loves, and he, too, has plenty to take home, the portions are so huge.

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Life is sweet – we found a parking place close to Flounders and while it was a drizzly day, it didn’t rain on us. Flounders was full of people, but not so packed we had to wait for a table. Service was, as always, fast, fun, efficient and very welcoming – they are so attentive, no matter how busy.

We left happy, and once my fish taco meter starts going up again, we will head back.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Eating Out, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Weather | , , | 2 Comments

The Macaroni Grill in Pensacola, FL

For the most part, AdventureMan and I stay away from national chains. One time in the last couple of years we tried Olive Garden, and, like many of the chains, they had gone to using “pre-formed” meats – how do you think they got all those dishes to look so uniform?

But Macaroni Grill is – or was, it’s all unclear now – a part of the Outback Chain, and Outback will always have a place in my heart because of their open-handed support when I worked for an educational foundation, raising money for scholarships. They were a joy to work with, and so generous to our scholarship recipients.

So we decided to give the Macaroni Grill a try. Here is what the entry at the Cordova Mall looks like.

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I had the Caesar Salad, which was very good, fresh, great dressing:

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I also had the Chicken Marsala, which had three chicken cutlets, real chicken, not pre-formed, not identical, with angel hair pasta. The Marsala sauce had barely a hint of Marsala, but it was pretty good. I’d prefer a little more Marsala taste. It was plentiful, and I had enough left over for dinner, too.

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AdventureMan had the lasagna, which he said was really good! His portion was so huge, he also had enough for dinner and I don’t think he was able to finish it, there was so much.

00MacaroniGrillLasagna

Service was prompt and efficient. We asked the server if all the food was prepared here, or prepared elsewhere and sent semi-prepared, and she said, with great pride, that all the food was prepared daily, on-site. You could see into the open kitchen, and chefs and assistants were back there busily preparing meals – all a good sign.

We probably won’t go back, just because there are two or three other Italian places in town we like better, but it is a perfectly decent restaurant with above average food, very clean, good service and convenient if you are at the Cordova Mall.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Cooking, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Shopping | 1 Comment

Eid Mubarak 2014

To all my Muslim friends, may your celebration be full of family and all good things with which God may bless you!

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July 28, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Eid, Faith, Friends & Friendship | 4 Comments

“Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor . . . “

Who are we?

I’m listening to a heartbreaking discussion on National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm show about the masses of children heading toward the southern border of the United States.

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Anti-immigration is nothing new, not in the United States, not in newer countries. It is shocking to me, however, that people who came from somewhere else are so strongly opposed to allowing these desperate children in. If they are running for our border – and they are – they are desperate. They are desperate to escape violent death, and death by starvation, death of the spirit eeking out a living day to day.

“They come here for a hand-out!” is the most common complaint.

Read your American history. Very few immigrants – your ancestors, American citizens – arrived with money. Most relied on friends, family, the immigrant community, social services – whatever they needed to survive until they could get on their feet.

And get on their feet they did. Immigrants to America come here to work hard, believing that working hard will give them a chance at a better life. Your ancestors and mine – they came and worked hard, scraping together the money to build a business and/or to send their kids to schools. If you’ve ever attended a citizenship ceremony, you will love the jubilation. They don’t want a handout. They want a chance at building a decent life.

So now it’s “I’ve got mine, go back where YOU belong?”

When I grew up, not even in the United States proper, but in a U.S. territory, we sang a wonderful song, from a poem by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, which is on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty:

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Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I’ve never forgotten those words we all sang as children. The immigrant flows into America are our life-blood. You can keep your stale traditions and meaningless pomp, she cries, send me those willing to work hard and yearning for freedom.

How can we refuse CHILDREN seeking asylum? Each child we feed, house and educate will have a chance to become contributing citizens. The face of our nation is changing, has already changed greatly and will continue to change, and what we choose today will have a critical effect on what our society will look like tomorrow.

Do we still yearn for liberty for all? Do we want a highly stratified society where some are born to high paying jobs and others relegated to trades (I’ve seen how this works in another country; it’s stultifying.) Restricting access to all that we enjoy will create a wholly different society, a zero-sum-game society, where your loss is my gain, instead of an everyone wins society, where my success lifts you, too. Our country thrives on the creation of wealth; ideas are generated, resources and labor pools are created, they are not finite, they transition. Immigrants fuel the kind of innovation and population flow that keeps the lifeblood of our country flowing.

My family has been in the US a long time. We qualify as daughters-of-just-about-everything. We were immigrants; we were not native-born. The entire United States, other than the First People, are immigrants. We are immigrants, all of us. It makes us strong.

July 28, 2014 Posted by | Character, Charity, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Leadership, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Spiritual, Values | | 4 Comments

Pensacola July Sunset

It’s a sunset, yes, but it’s all about those delicate opalescent colors.

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July 26, 2014 Posted by | color, Pensacola, Photos, Sunsets | Leave a comment

Contemporary Art Bike Racks – Another Reason to Love Pensacola

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These are so cool, on every corner south of Garden on Palafox. They are not only handy for our urban riders, they LOOK great, very svelte, minimal. Very cool. Woooo HOOOO on you, Pensacola!

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Environment, Exercise, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Parenting, Public Art, Road Trips | Leave a comment

The Tin Cow on Palafox in Pensacola

It’s not a bad place. The service is fabulous. The restaurant is often packed, and has something for everyone.

I have one complaint. I don’t often eat hamburger, so I saved my July hamburger to eat at Tin Cow, which I had heard totally majored in hamburgers.

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Here is the interior on a busy Saturday – and. thanks to the renaissance of downtown Pensacola, it looks like every Saturday is a busy Saturday, and that is a good thing. We got there early, within half an hour every table was taken and people were lined up outside to get in. Here is what it looks like inside, before every table is taken:

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They have a great menu for children, children are welcome and well taken care of. Another positive for the restaurant – we saw people of all generations and genders there, all having a great time, all enjoying the Tin Cow experience.

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They have a huge menu. There is a have-it-exactly-your-way menu, where you pick every little thing, and then there are about thirty hamburger theme choices, and for the vegetarians or non-beef eaters, there are alternatives. Truly, there is something for everyone. It can be almost overwhelming, but truly, you should be able to find something to order.

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Here is AdventureMan’s hamburger and fries. The fries were good.

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I had a hamburger and salad. The salad was really good, notably good because it was just a little side salad but really good.

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Everything was good – except for our hamburgers. As we ate, we looked at each other in dismay. The burgers weren’t even grilled, they were maybe fried, and had no taste other than the condiments. I was especially dismayed; what? I had wasted all my beef calories and cholesterol on a mediocre hamburger?

It must be us. We love the burger at Apple Annies, at the Seville Quarter, and at Red Robin. We think Sonny’s has a pretty good burger. But the Tin Cow is supposed to specialize in burgers, and this one was one big disappointment. I hate to even write this review, because to us, everything else was so good, especially the service. But . . .

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Cooking, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Restaurant | , | Leave a comment

Miss Zainab from Iran, My New Found Friend

LOL, you want a new friend? You can have mine:

Hello

I believe you are the one i’m searching for
Assalamu”alaikum,

I am miss zainab from the country Iran, your profile caught my attraction,
please reply to my email address (zainabbolhassan33@hotmail.com) so we can
communicate easily to know each other the more, i promise to also send you my photo for you to know me. Remember that distance, religion or tribe does not matter in life but true affection is everything we need to live our life and be happy.

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(zainabbolhassan33@hotmail.com)

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Lies, Scams | 2 Comments

Pope Meets With Sudanese Woman Condemned for Apostasy

I am not Catholic, but what I love about this humble Pope shines through in these photos – the Pope, the revered leader of the Christian world, is standing, while the family sits in his presence. His loving actions speak loudly. You can see all the photos on AOL News by clicking here.

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ROME (AP) – Pope Francis met privately Thursday with a Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence, blessing the woman as she cradled her infant born just weeks ago in prison.

The Vatican characterized the visit with Meriam Ibrahim, 27, her husband and their two small children as “very affectionate.”

The 30-minute encounter took place just hours after the family landed at Rome’s Ciampino airport, accompanied by an Italian diplomat who helped negotiate her release, and welcomed by Italy’s premier, who hailed it as a “day of celebration.”

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the pope “thanked her for her faith and courage, and she thanked him for his prayer and solidarity” during the half-hour meeting Thursday. Francis frequently calls attention to the suffering of those persecuted for their religious beliefs.

Lombardi said the presence of “their wonderful small children” added to the affectionate tone of the meeting. Ibrahim was presented with a rosary, a gift from the pope.

Ibrahim held her sleeping infant as she stepped off the plane from Sudan, which had blocked her from leaving the country even after the country’s highest court overturned her death sentence in June. An Italian diplomat carried her 18-month-old son and they were followed by her husband, Daniel Wani, who is a citizen of the United States and South Sudan.

Ibrahim and her family are expected to spend a few days in Rome before heading to the United States.

Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but whose mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, was sentenced to death over charges of apostasy. She married her husband, a Christian, in a church ceremony in 2011. As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith.

The sentence was condemned by the United States, the United Nations and Amnesty International, among others, and both the United States and Italy – a strong death penalty opponent with long ties to the Horn of Africa region – worked to win her release.

Sudan’s high court threw out her death sentence in June, but she was then blocked from leaving the country by authorities who questioned the validity of her travel documents.

Lapo Pistelli, an Italian diplomat who accompanied the family from Sudan, said Italy was able to leverage its ties within the region. “We had the patience to speak to everyone in a friendly way. This paid off in the end,” he said.

July 24, 2014 Posted by | Character, Charity, Civility, Community, Faith, Family Issues, Interconnected, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Sudan, Women's Issues | Leave a comment