Still alive. I still only get to the netcafe (Rabiah Cafe; if you're ever in Irbid, look it up) about once a week. So I've really only missed updating about half a dozen times, in terms of cafe visits. I'm otherwise doing quite well and travelling a bunch. I owe you guys the tales of weekends in Israel (Tel Aviv, twenty minutes in the Old City of Jerusalem, the beauty of actual diversity and being out with John as a couple), Aqaba (Jordan's port city, lovely, carries duty-free booze and allegedly also hot Arab girls in bikinis which I was apparently on the wrong beach to find), Petra (amazing, actually not just the one famous gate carved into the cliff face, but in fact a whole ancient Nabatean city of cliff-carved buildings), and various exploits in Amman (capitol of Jordan, fairly lame, includes a totally soulless shopping hell called Mecca Mall).
I've also got plenty of social commentary to make. I just had a conversation with Andrew (one of our Fulbrights, from Virginia) about how young people here are not expected to be self-sufficient until they're about 25 and graduated from college. Everyone at Yarmouk commutes from home, even if home is in Amman, an hour-and-a-half bus ride away. The only students living in the dorms are foreign students (like us) and children of professors. You live with your parents, that's just what you do.
Jordanians also don't start co-ed education until college. All grade schooling is gender-segregated, and you can see the effects of this system in people's behavior. You know how fourteen-year-old boys treat girls? With a combination of derision, terror, awe, and total incomprehension? That's how twenty-something Jordanian men treat women their age. And when I told a small group of women (non-Jordanians, even: a Syrian, a Moroccan, a Sudanese chick, and a Frenchwoman) that I had a boyfriend, they were impressed, as if I had done some kind of big-kid thing that they weren't allowed to yet, like biking without training wheels. A friend of mine and John's* is throwing a party this coming Saturday in which he plans to have games and prizes and very organized emceeing. The games include dancing and limbo competitions, karaoke, and charades. I kept flashing back to middle school, when such games were somewhat acceptable for a (gasp!) Boy/Girl Party. I kept waiting for the drinking and making out and getting high to come into anyone's heads...and it never did.
Yet somehow, the rate of people buying condoms is apparently comparable to the States. I'm mystefied. This country is bizarre. And I crave General Tso's.
*This is Ash, from Dubai in the UAE, probably the most Westernized, liberal city in the most Westernized, liberal country in the Middle East. He's cool. When he played a song about fucking for us at work, he apologized constantly for its obscenity (cursing and explicitness), and it took ten minutes of convincing for him to tell even one remarkably clean dirty joke in front of me. Madness.