I am a really good driver (and by driver, I mean liar… because I can’t drive for sh*t)

I don’t get to drive in Saudi Arabia because I have this little thing called a vagina. Yep, you guessed it, women can’t drive. A six year old little boy can get behind the wheel and drive his mother or sisters around and it’s ok, but a woman can get stoned or whipped for doing the same… normal? Kids don’t have to sit securely fastened in a car seat; hell, they don’t even have to sit down! Most of them hang out of the windows and sun roofs and press their faces up against the windshield, but women can’t drive… normal?

This is probably the one thing that is totally sexist but does not bother me one bit. There is seriously not a single ounce of my being that makes me want to chant and burn my bra in a feminist craze because I am being discriminated against by not being allowed behind the wheel. In fact, my dream city is one that does not require me to have a car because I am a really really good driver (driver, liar, potato, po-tah-to).

To be completely honest, I have a hard time walking without running into walls or furniture or something else that is completely obvious, so navigating a killing machine that can go 100+ mph is not exactly something I think I will ever master. But, and here is the fun part, we are back in the USA for Ramadan and my husband does not have a valid driver’s license over here! So I am forced to drive us everywhere we go, and “Everywhere” has included a tour of the entire Southeastern United States that has taken us from North Carolina, to Kentucky, to Georgia, to another part of Georgia, back to North Carolina, to another part of North Carolina, etc etc etc. Get the picture?!? It has literally been hell on wheels.

My husband has proven his sainthood time and time again this past month, but I feel his patience may be wearing out. Deep breaths, eye rolls and “seriously?!?! Do you have to ride so close to them?!?!” has become the norm for our excursions. I am sure there are women out there who would feel bad for giving their husband motion sickness or mini heart attacks because they drive like a lunatic, but I am not one of those women. I had totaled 3 cars before I turned 21 and I’ve been a passenger in accidents that have totaled 2 more cars. That’s 5 accidents that have resulted in car deaths and I am still kickin’ just fine. So chill out. We’re going to be fine. At the end of the day all I have to say is… there is a reason we have cruise control in our cars, and other driver’s need to get with it… rain is not a reason to act like you have forgotten how to drive… the right lane is for us maniacs who feel the need for speed, so if you are slow as molasses MOVE OVER… and if you are in your car, presumably you are needing to go somewhere; so please drive like it! This might sound like a little bit of road rage, but I can’t help it. I am from North Carolina = the Mecca of NASCAR. Land of Ricky Bobby “I want to go fast!. Get with it or get off the road.

So forgive me when I take the turn a little too sharp and we hop the curb, or when I slam on brakes because I am distracted by a pretty flower, or when I swerve a little because I am driving with my knee so I can put on lipgloss, sunglasses and fix my hair at the same time. Try to chill for a second and realize that we aren’t going to get hurt, we aren’t going to hurt anyone else and that I will get you to the destination in a timely fashion. And if all of that doesn’t help… just remember we go back to Saudi Arabia soon and I won’t be back on the roads for another year. Kthanksbuckleupbye!

whatever you do… do it LIKE A BOSS!

I am a big fan of being intentional. With that being said, this whole post could now go one of two ways. Option #1 – super sweet and heartfelt Hallmark card-esque. And if that were the case, I would say things like “don’t take advantage of the people who are in your life; be intentional about those relationships.” blah blah blah. And while I think that is all super important, I think those kind of pep talks should come from someone like a pastor or Oprah or the Dalai Lama… and because I am none of the above I will give you my point of view of what being intentional is.

Be intentional… Brittany Style! Step #1 – changing the phrase. I like to say it with a little more sass and swag, so take “be intentional” and swing it with a little flare to sing out, “Like a BOSS!”… trust me, you will feel like a boss and being a boss feels ah-may-zing! Step #2 – develop your signature facial expression. You should be able to scream “Like a BOSS!” without uttering a single word. My signature facial expression consists of a steady smeyze (smile with your eyes), a half joker smile with puckered lips and a little head nod. LIKE.A.BOSS!

Now that we are up to speed on that, let me enlighten you on everyday situations you can handle like a boss…

– Over Eating: Don’t ever feel bad about eating an entire tub of ice cream ever again. You ate that ish because you wanted to and you finished it because it was darn good. So when you scrape the bottom of that carton and realize that you just smashed 80 million calories in a single episode of Grey’s Anatomy, be proud and announce to the room (even if it is just you and your cat) “LIKE.A.BOSS!”. Boom! You just took control of that situation and bossed what could’ve been a complete melt down of tears and guilt into a victorious moment… and I am proud of you.

– Going #2 in public: It happens to everyone and I am here to tell you, it’s ok! We shouldn’t shame ourselves or others about dropping a stank bomb. Do you have any idea how bad it is for you to hold that stuff in?!?! We are talking about serious medical problems. So next time you are in a public restroom and you hear someone doing work in the stall next to you, don’t laugh or gag or talk to your girl friend about how bad it smells… just give that stall door a high five and encourage your fellow female by saying “Yes mam! LIKE.A.BOSS!”. And then walk out… quickly! Once the poop is verbally recognized, face to face contact should not be made. Awkward! —- And if you are the pooper and you happen to catch eyes with a co-bathroom goer while you are washing your hands, do not say a word! Speaking only invites the kind of awkwardness that ends in uncontrollable laughter. And while I appreciate these kind of insanely uncomfortable moments, not everyone does, so have some respect and use your signature “LIKE.A.BOSS!” facial expression… and once again, exit the bathroom quickly! I am not a fan of engaging in any kind of bathroom activity with strangers for more than 10 seconds. You never know what kind of George Michaels freak could be in there.

– Staring: I hate when people stare at me and then look away when they think I caught them. You aren’t doing me any favors by doing that. You look embarrassed and I am left wondering “what was that about?”. If you are going to stare, stare hard; stare LIKE.A.BOSS! If I am going to stare at you, it is because something caught my attention and I am not going to look away until my curiosity is satisfied. I don’t care if it is awkward for the person I am staring at; I am usually staring because there is something awkward about them. I’m going to stare at you like a boss until I can figure out what the heck is going on. And if you want to get on your sassy-horse and ask me a dumb-ass question like “What are you staring at?”, I will let you know. “I’m trying to figure out how much hairspray you used to get your teased mess of a weave to sit like that on your misshapen head. Fascinating!”. Try me, trick! Trick, try me! So when you stare, I encourage to stare LIKE.A.BOSS!

I could literally go on forever about doing things like a boss, but I won’t keep you all day. I realize that most of you are reading this while sitting at your work computer and that your boss can, and probably will, come around the corner at anytime and realize you are wasting “valuable” company time. So when he/she asks you what you are doing, I want you to keep this blog up on your computer screen, turn around slowly in your chair, stare at him/her LIKE.A.BOSS and say, “You look great today! Have you been working out? I am going to get some coffee, can I get you something too?”. Stand up, smile and walk away quickly. They won’t have a chance to slam you for wasting company time (thus saving your job… honestly, nobody likes unemployment), they definitely won’t have time to tell you if they want coffee (thus saving your dignity… you aren’t their servant), and all they’ll be able to remember is that you complimented them and left them smiling… LIKE.A.BOSS!

Don’t send a man to do a woman’s job

I love T.V. More specifically, I love cop shows on T.V. Law and Order, CSI, Criminal Minds, Gangland, Lockdown, The First 48… you name it, I love it. I will watch them all day and then stay up all night with nightmares, and then do it all again the next day. I love to experience the vicarious thrill of the hunt for a criminal, it gets my adrenaline pumping and I feel like Janessa Bourne (that is my female alter-ego for Jason Bourne). And even better than the rush I get from watching the good guys catch the bad guys, I get to sit and watch how absolutely stupid the officers are.

The staged/scripted drama shows are super entertaining but they don’t show how stupid detectives really are… that is where Crime and Investigation Network comes to my rescue. It is basically a bunch of shows with camera men following detectives as they try and solve crimes. They inspect the crime scene, question suspects, tell family members that their victim has died.. and these guys are a hot mess.

The men on these shows are as arrogant as arrogant comes. They want to play games with the suspects, act super tough, boss their co-workers around and IF they have a female partner, you better believe she won’t be the one asked to do the questioning or the driving. I’m not a crazy feminist, but these dudes need to pop off and let a woman do her thaaaanng! Let her get in the interrogation room and ask some questions, let her drive the car and for heaven’s sake… let her tell the family when something’s gone down!

I just so happen to be watching one of these shows as I write this post, and a male detective literally just told a victim’s wife, “he expired”. Are you effin’ kidding me?!?!? You are, presumably, trained/coached on how to break the news to family members that someone has died and the best you can stutter out of your stank coffee breath mouth is “he expired”?!?! Who says that?!?! And how do you expect the wife to react to that?!?! “Ok, 10-4, Roger That, Over and Out.”???

Personally, I’ve never had to be told that someone has died… but I have had my fair share of awkward encounters with male professionals. My first gynecologist visit was with a male doctor. In my head I thought “This will be great. I don’t want anyone making small talk about my yaya and trying to relate to me while they are down there doing whatever they do.”, and at first I was soooo right. Plus, he had Wanita, an awesome black and sassy nurse who made me laugh and put my nerves at ease because if we are going to be honest, going to the gyno as a naive little 21 year old virgin is intimidating as all heck (yep, my first gyno visit was at 21… I would’ve waited longer but everyone started freaking me out with crazy horror stories)! Fast forward one year later and I had my first yeast infection (oops, I probably should’ve warned you this part would be a little graphic!) and because I had never had one before, I was convinced my yaya was disowning me and jumping right out of my body, therefore I made an appointment to see the doctor. Wanita, my nurse/homegirl, prepped me and checked me out before the doctor came in and she basically laughed in my face telling me “Oh that’s nothing, baby! Haha”… whew! It was nothing. I just needed the doctor to come in and say the same thing and I would be on my way! —- Doctor comes in, does his little doctor greeting, asks why I am there, I tell him and his exact words were, “Whoa! You have a raging yeast infection don’t you?”. I could’ve punched him in the face and died right there, and Wanita looked like she was going to go all Compton on him, but instead I replied in true Brittany fashion, “Is that the medical term for it?”. ASSHOLE!!!!!! Acting like he can say whatever he wants because I am wearing a paper gown and I have my glory spread wide open?!?! Fully convinced his manhood is crumbling in STDs and that he is just taking out his rage on every patient he sees who isn’t scarred by gonosyphaherpelaids… I switched to see a FEMALE doctor. Female parts, female doctor… that’s my new motto.

So here is my proposition for the world… hospitals and police stations need to hire people SPECIFICALLY to deliver bad news to families. They would sit down with the families and talk them through the news, and then if the family has specific questions (i.e. medical related) they could speak to the socially awkward detective, doctor or whatever. And because I am all about equal opportunity employers, so I am not saying that these people need to be women… but if they are men, they need to have an abnormally high estrogen level. And if by some freak of mishap in the world, a socially awkward and/or emotionless person needs to deliver the news, I think the receiver of the news should have all rights granted to be able to slap them in the face and say, “YOU KNOW WHY!!!!”. I feel like this would eliminate these situations that are cold and awkward and extremely uncomfortable. Deal???

Jeddah – part 2

I am all about going local. I like to eat at the local spots, hang out at the local spots, support the mom & pop shops, stay at the local hotels, etc etc etc. Basically I like to blend in like a local wherever I go. I feel like it brings a more authentic experience and, let’s face it, the stories are always better when you are staying at a place like “The Hawaiian Hideaway” instead of a big name hotel, like The Marriott (a lesson I learned long before my traveling began courtesy of Saved by the Bell). But after checking in to our local hotel in Jeddah, my views on “going local” might be forever changed.

My sweet husband booked our hotel in Jeddah exactly like I would’ve. Location, reviews, price were all taken into consideration and eventually a local hotel was chosen. I was pretty pumped about it because it was near an old market and near the public square where they perform the death penalty (not that I was trying to see anyone die, I just thought it was interesting) and lots of other fun little local places of interest. So we get to our hotel and check in, a sweet little Indian bellman takes our bags to our room and we tried to settle in (a.k.a check out the wifi so we could plot our course for Daniel’s meeting the next day). First fail, the wifi password doesn’t work. No biggie, we’ll just go downstairs and use it in the restaurant area.

At first glance, the restaurant is really cute; TV’s, little glass bistro-esque tables and waiters in fancy pants uniforms. The waiter brought us some menus, we ordered some cappuccinos and then !BAM! it was like we were in the middle of plague. FLIES EVERYWHERE! Ugggghhhh, you have to effin’ be kidding me! Flies are everywhere in this country and it drives me nuts, but the amount of flies that were swarming around us was Biblical. Vomit in my mouth! After about 20 minutes of “shooing” the flies and waiting for our coffees, the General Manager walks over to us and starts saying how much he loves America and that he lived there for years and that he loves Southerners (well duh, who doesn’t?!?!) and call him  if we need anything and blah blah blah. Yea buddy, I need three things STAT! I need a password that works with the wifi in my room, I need a fly swatter and I need my coffee I’ve been waiting on homeboy waiter to apparently harvest, roast and brew my drink!

To move things forward you basically just need to know that the coffee came, tasted like a treasure chest full of butt-holes and we left to go find The Mall of Arabia (a.k.a Heaven). Buuuuuut upon arriving back to the hotel that night… we went to our room and both of us were tired from traveling all day and stressed from dodging the death traps on wheels (a.k.a cars) and we just wanted to go to bed. That would’ve been perfect if I hadn’t of had a friggin’ allergy meltdown when we walked back in the room. It’s like suddenly the reality of what a local hotel in Saudi Arabia actually is set in… stank nasty dirty!

Sweet Daniel ordered some tea to our room for me while I blew more snot out of my nose than I ever knew I was capable of producing. Seriously… I went through two boxes of tissue! Do you have any idea how many tissues that is?!?! Daniel started to get worried that maybe we should change hotels but it was clear he was so exhausted so I just kept lying and saying “I’m fine. It’s no big deal.” and he went to bed. I stayed up trying to empty my nasal cavity but in between my flying phlegm I noticed that there was some sort of gunk on the walls and that the chairs and couch looked less than clean and that there was an unGodly amount of dust and sand-ish mess on the window sill area… and the wifi still wasn’t working! That was it… I was going to talk to the front desk… this is crap!

Fast forward again… I am downstairs trying to tell the front desk guy about how stank the place is and that the wifi aint working, and clearly there is a language barrier because he tells me he doesn’t know and can’t do anything. Ummmm excuse me?!?! I tell him I have his boss’s card and I will be calling him immediately and I turn to walk back upstairs and Daniel is right by my side. Sweet angel… he is exhausted, but he will be damned if he lets me go and get  myself killed from being a sassy mouthed American in this country. Fast forward again… Daniel calls the General Manager, we get a new “cleaner” room (no feces on the walls, no sand dust… just dirty sheets and fruit flies! — I am literally dying at this point) and we just make do. I figure it’s only two nights, it won’t kill us, we might laugh about this later, blah blah blah. Eff my life!!!

Moral of this tragic story? Unless the local hotel is “The Hawaiian Hideaway” from Saved by the Bell, go with what you know. Good reviews don’t mean a dagg-on thing. And let me just be really clear for a minute, I MIGHT have been okay with this situation had we been paying like $20/night but this was not a bargain hotel… it was the same as most other name brand chain hotels in the city. Lesson learned and next time will be less of an authentic experience and more of a hygienic one… and I am totally cool with that.

PS – I NOW think the whole experience was comical… Daniel still isn’t laughing.

U.S. Consulate

I love to travel and see all the different freaks that make up this grand place called Earth. Sadly, I have not done as much as I would want to have done but I am making my way. My beast of a husband, on the other hand, has pushed his passport to the max and is officially out of pages so we made a little trip to the U.S Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to have them add more pages. While I know that traveling in Saudi Arabia is never as smooth as you hope for, I admit I was pretty pumped because Jeddah is supposedly the most Western city in Jeddah. Apparently there is a huge mix of ethnicities and the people are really relaxed (and by relaxed I mean a lot of women do not cover their face and you can actually wear a colored/patterned Abaya without being stoned to death), and they have a lot of restaurants! I am a full fledged fat kid at heart and I am proud of it! I literally think about food like 70% of my day… don’t judge me!

So we flew to Jeddah and once we arrived in the airport we walked over to the car rental section to pick up our ride from Hertz… Or at least that is what our confirmation said. Surprise #1 – there isn’t a Hertz in the Jeddah airport! Mother of God it’s starting… let the cluster fudge begin! Lucky for us, I befriended a sweet little Pakistani man and he called Hertz (10 minute drive away from the airport who didn’t have any record of our reservation) and told them to come get us. About an hour later we finally had our car and we were on our way to the consulate. I just knew it was going to be a magical place. I was imagining Disney Land wrapped in an American Flag and people with a non-regional dialect… I can hear the sweet sound of our National Anthem just thinking about it!

After 30 minutes of navigating the insane traffic we were coming close to a building that was laced in barb-wire and had men with AK-47s on every corner and wall. This is not what I pictured at all. Where are the flags? Where is the music? Where is the picture of Barack Obama (the king is literally plastered all over this country so I thought it would be a nice gesture of them to give us at least one of Barack)? So we pulled up to an entrance and I asked a nice Arab man strapped with an automatic weapon where we need to go to add pages to our passport. In his heavy accent, he told me to go to the other side of the building, so off we went. At the other side of the building another Arab man with not so good English greeted us and simply said “No. Cannot come.”. Ummm WTF?!?! Sir, we is A-muricans… this be our building… I’ms a comin’ in! And basically 5 minutes of broken English later, we realized he was saying that we can come in, but our car can’t. They seriously just need a sign that says that.

We parked at the hospital across the street and played “Is It Time?” crossing the street (“Is It Time?” is a game I made up that basically only applies to those times in life when it is questionable if you are going to make it out alive. You know, the times when you just keep asking yourself “Lord, is it time for me to come home to you? If so, can you just make sure I just black out and not feel anything?”) and made our way past 4 armed guards to the entrance. At this point my dreams of Disney Land were still in full effect. I was thinking that maybe the armed guards and barb wire was just to put on a tough front… and then my dreams were quickly shattered.

Surprise #2 – The U.S. Consulate aint nuttin’ but a DMV. Old stanky building, outdated posters, stank plastic chairs, plexiglass, take a number DMV! Ugh, this place needs a makeover immediately if not sooner. I am embarrassed that this is the first impression people get of America when applying for a visa. Somebody please call Martha Stewart or Nate Berkus or heck, I’ll do it (thanks to Pinterest I feel like I can conquer any DIY renovation!)! I would like to put someone like Paula Dean at the front door to say “Welcome Yall” and “Yall come back now, ya hear?!?”, and I want the guy behind the plexiglass to look and sound like Robert Redford, and I want to hear Beyonce jammin’ on the sound system. These people need an All American Experience and to be frank, after being in this country for nearly 6 months now, I needed one too!

The U.S Consulate let me down and I knew the only thing that could pick me up out of my miserable state would be some American food. Lucky for me there are a slew of chain restaurants surrounding the consulate… Chili’s, On The Border, Fudrucker’s, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Fridays, Applebees, Baskin Robbins, Hardees, etc etc etc. And after stuffing my face with some Southwestern Eggrolls and Queso Dip, I.FELT.TERRIBLE! Don’t get me wrong, I totally appreciated the feeling of being home, but there is so much more to being an American than sub-par chain restaurant food that makes you feel like a bloated mess. So in edition to a DIY renovation, I am advocating for some local restaurants to make their mark in Saudi; Indochine, Flaming Amy’s, PT’s, Circa, etc.

So far I’ve been in Jeddah for 6 hours and I am hot, tired, disappointed and gassy… stay tuned, it get’s so much better (take note of the sarcasm)!

Guest Bloggin’

I was a guest blogger for my dear friend, Denise, a few months ago and recently I had the opportunity to do it all again… so I did! Denise and I have a friendship that is easy and natural. She is one of those people that you can go months or years without talking to, and then everything just falls back into rhythm when you see each other again. I’ve learned that those are the friendships that mean the most and last the longest and I am eternally grateful. Denise is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met and I can’t even hate her for being so pretty because she has the kindest soul that is just infectious. She decided to do a series of posts from her friends about “What I have learned since I said I do” and the advice her friends have given is so perfect for a newlywed, like myself, and great reminder for those couples with a little more tenure! Check out her blog http://gratefullyinspiredtheblog.blogspot.com; I promise it will make you smile and you will feel like Denise has been your friend forever. Here was my post…

I’ve only been married for a little over a month, so when Denise asked me if I would want to write about what I’ve learned since “I do” I just laughed. Advice is supposed to come from people with lots of experience and time tested theories, right?!?! Wrong! Lucky for yall I am extremely opinionated and always pumped to share my point of view. In a nutshell, what I’ve learned since I’ve said “I do” is that IT.GETS.REAL!

My husband and I live in Saudi Arabia and it is just a mess over here. The desert aint no joke sista; it is H-O-T-T hot! I’m talking like a daily heat index of 125 degrees. So while most newly-weds are busy nesting and practicing their baby making skills, I am literally laying on the tile floor in a pool of sweat because our air conditioner has broken for the millionth time and I am convinced I am going to die of a heat stroke! That’s right, you can just call me The Sexy Wifey a.k.a it just got real.

This is a country where the food can be questionable at best. There have been quite a few date nights that have been cut short because one of us have suddenly lost all color in our face and began sweating profusely. The race home is always an exciting fight for your life as we dodge the wreckless drivers on these no-rules-roads (seriously driving laws basically do not exists here), and !BONUS! once we get home we are reminded of our lack of privacy. We live in an apartment that has one bathroom, so guess what?!?! it.gets.real.

I think the first moment I realized how real it really is was when we were unpacking our bags in Saudi and Daniel opened my suitcase to find 80 tampons; he was horrified and I loooooved it! I thrive on awkward moments. Not the awkward moments that hurt somebody’s feelings, but the moments that bring in a physical uncomfortable-ness that leaves you teetering on laughing or running as far away as possible. I still laugh out loud when I think about his reaction, “Who needs that many?!?!”. Ummm this girl does because True Life: I live in a country that does not sell them! Poor Daniel, he just found out that it.gets.real.

But getting real is what makes this journey a lot of fun. It’s not all about the tragic (a.k.a. hilarious) moments of life; there are the sweet moments too. Like when he prays for me or when he is talking to his friends or family and casually refers to me as his wife or when he grabs me for a random slow dance in the kitchen… that stuff is sweet, but the real stuff is funny! And I fully admit that I live for the surge of fear and adrenaline that runs through my veins when I realize, “Holy moly… I am married… legally bound… ‘till death do us part… grow old with me… make some babies… living in Saudi Arabia… married!”, is what keeps it fresh and it is definitely what keeps me laughing.

“Sexiness wears thin after a while, and beauty fades. But to 
be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, 
now that’s a real treat.” –Joanne Woodward

 

 

 

Change of plans

You know the saying, “God laughs when you make plans.”?!? Well I think my husband laughs when I make plans. Every time I have these grand visions of what something will be, Daniel changes it all. The changes haven’t been bad and in the end I am totally grateful, but it’s getting a little “special”.

My first vision was of us going into the Peace Corps together. Before we started “dating” (I say “dating” because our relationship started as long distance. Lots of emails, Skype, BBM, etc. No real dates until after “I love you” was exchanged.) Daniel and I both applied and were accepted into the Peace Corps. During the time when we were finding out where we would be placed is when things started getting serious between us. Blah blah blah, fast forward, we were both told that we would be going to North Africa! Holy Moses! This was fate… and then came reality… a few weeks later Daniel’s recruiter told him that she was changing him to South America. We were also informed that we cannot intentionally be placed together unless we have been married for over a year. I am convinced his hooker of a recruiter was trying to push me out of the picture. Joke’s on her… who’s the wifey now biiiooootch?!?!

My next vision came when Daniel moved back to the USA. It was magical! We got engaged and began “planning” where we wanted to get married and live and etc etc. Then !BAM! he got offered another contract back in Saudi Arabia and off he went. WTF?!?! I get engaged and he leaves me?!?! This is not the way it is supposed to work! Damn you bad economy! 

Just a hop, skip and a jump away was my next vision. This one included Daniel and I leaving Saudi Arabia and moving to Shanghai. Daniel lived in Shanghai before and loooooved it, and I love almost anything Asian so it all sounded good to me. I actually got hooked up with an awesome job teaching English to a bunch of little kindergarten Chinese nuggets, and I was pumped!!! And then… Daniel broke the news to me that he was getting nervous about moving and the changes it would bring to our bank account. Socially speaking, China would be awesome for us… Financially speaking, it don’t do jack for our bank accounts. 

So that is my most recent change of plans. No China. Staying in Saudi. And here I am, just rolling with the punches. Wamp Wamp :(