Summer Reads / #quarantinereads

I started this blog in 2012 to document my Peace Corps experience in Ethiopia. Up till that point, I had unsuccessfully kept a journal during various periods of my life. Never for long and never with much detail. Even this blog has received makeovers and has changed purposes over the years.

And it seems that’s about to happen again. My last flight was from Sri Lanka to Jordan on January 2, 2020. Best case scenario, my next flight will be to the United States in December to visit family for Christmas, but even that is looking less and less likely.

We had to cancel our summer plans in Europe: Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and some undetermined stops in Scandinavia. Luckily, we had only booked our month-long Airbnb in Leysin, Switzerland and our gracious host refunded us the entire amount. I know plenty of other people who were not as lucky with their travel cancellations.

So, what are we going to do this summer? Keep our asses inside our home in Amman, Jordan. In March, NPR reported that Jordan has had one of the strictest lockdowns worldwide, and they didn’t even know the full extent of it.

Yes, we had two weeks where it was illegal to leave our home. No, there were no grocery stores open. Yes, the government drove around with bread (that citizens had to buy). No, we didn’t get any in our neighborhood and that was after 10 days of zero access to food/water that hadn’t been purchased prior to the lockdown. Then, neighborhood groceries opened up before supply chains were reinstated, leading to crazy long lines (our worst was nearly three hours).

That said, our lives have definitely improved since those first three weeks. Larger grocery stores were allowed to open, water delivery was reinstated, food delivery was reinstated, restaurants were allowed to open for delivery (hello pizza and Indian food!), and for the last two weeks, we’ve been allowed to drive on alternate days. We still cannot travel outside our governorates, masks & gloves are to be worn at all times (though that is not consistently enforced), and we were supposed to be allowed to drive every day, but one dude threw a party and ruined it for everyone. But that’s a different story – reminiscent of “And this is why we can’t have nice things.”

We’ve been able to buy a treadmill and I now start every morning with 30-60 minutes of yoga. Except on Fridays, when I’ve taken up kickboxing. At times, my life feels unrecognizable, and at other times I’m struck by how little has changed.

Yes, teaching school online was a bitch. I’m grateful there’s only four days left of our school year. And while I have no idea what to expect from next year, I’m still grateful for the privilege there is in teaching overseas: Only one of my students moved to a different time zone, all of my students were offered home use of their school-issued iPads (complete with all apps they would require), strong internet connection at nearly all my students’ homes, and involved families. I know this wasn’t the case for many teachers in the United States.

So, as the school year winds down and I’m faced with a summer at home, what am I going to do? Well, we’re still under partial lockdown and are only allowed outside from 8am to 7pm. This would seem like plenty of time, except this last week has been solidly in the 90s and that makes it way too hot to just “chill” outside. Meaning, we’ll stick to what we’ve done for the last two months: Stay indoors.

Luckily, with the allowance of driving, I was able to swing by my school and stock up on some summer reads:

-Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
-The Power by Naomi Alderman
-In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood
-Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
-Fatherland by Nina Bunjevac
-The Gremlins by Roald Dahl
-Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman
-Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
-Chocolat by Joanne Harris
-The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
-The Leavers by Lisa Ko
-We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
-The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oats
-A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
-The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
-Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
-The Imitation Game by Jim Ottaviani
-You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
-Palestine by Joe Sacco
-Ramayana by Arshia Sattar
-Dry by Neal Shusterman
-Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
-Zahra’s Paradise by Amir Soltani
-Red’s Untold Tale by Wendy Toliver
-Fractured Fables edited by Jim Valentino
-The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
-Make Lemonade Trilogy by Virginia Euwer Wolff

I’ve used this blog to recommend books before including: Lindy West’s Shrill, Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies, Melanie Thernstrom’s Halfway Heaven, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild & Tiny Beautiful Things, poems by W.S. Merwin, translations from Two Lines, and the entire collection of books I read during my Peace Corps service (not all of which were recommended!).

Looks like this blog might be returning to those roots with a summer of zero travel and zero teaching. The only thing to interrupt me is nine weeks of grad school classes. I’m sure I’ll be able to squeeze in a book or two : )

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  1. Crazy times, for sure! It’s so great to be able to keep up with your life through your blog! Prayers for a healthy summer! Love to the two of you…

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