“It was Christmas Eve, babe, In the drunk tank…”

I know I put up this video last year, but my mood seems to be oddly the same this year:

The weather in Amman has gotten completely wild, to the point that the wind was literally blowing me sideways as I made my way down the street and to the house (I could point the taxi driver in the exact direction of my home, but I’m embarrassed by my accent. Plus, I save an extra 10 piasters.). There might be snow at the New Year, or else that’s just a wild rumour.

I’ve been reflecting on what a naughty girl like me would like for Christmas, or what she even deserves for Christmas, in fact. I’ve gotten a pair of lovely pearl earrings from the wonderful Nadia Dajani store, but my Christmas is simply incomplete without a proper hot shower.

I don’t think I’ve had a proper hot shower in about a month, actually. Possibly more. Now that I feel like I’m getting sick, I am already anticipating another cold one with dread – you know that stabby feeling? The stabby feeling that cold water makes on your already aching body? Yes, that.

OK, so who has hot water? And who wants to invite me in for a hot shower? I’ll bring my own towels and shower accessories, and promise not to let any hair get into the drain. I’ll even sing bloody carols for you. In authentic Ukrainian. Whether in the shower, or out of it, whichever you prefer. The only rule is: no pervs need apply, and your bathroom cannot have cockroaches in it. Or any other livestock, come to think of it.


Seriously, the day I feel warm again around here is the day I just might have to “create a brand new God and worship him with piercing cries,” as per Nabokov. Such sad irony too: “Ooh! You’re living in Jordan! You must be sweating off your short-shorts as you stick an angel on top of a palm tree!” People really don’t know anything about this region, do they?

Oh, but I am being a bit of a bah-humbing bore over the holidays, am I not? The truth is, I’ve been depressed out of my skull, and life has gotten very strange all on its own accord, and I have deeper conversations with my own internet trolls than with anyone else (well, there are a few people who are gracious enough to notice my desperate need for verbal communication, and there are also Morse DVDs from a lovely store over by Whispers Restaurant, but still). And I have no one to blame but myself, either.

I’m remembering those 8 years before my parents decided to pack their bags and head back to Ze Mozerland; 8 Christmases that felt like home, complete with tree and a big chewy bone for the dog that once saved my mother’s life on a dim stairwell in Kyiv, complete with fireplace and a dark wood out back, where a garland of lights winked up at the stars and the stars winked back down, and I was just a girl, dammit, with plans for the future like everyone else.

I alway felt like I tolerated Christmas much better than my hip, ironic friends, probably because its significance was different for me, growing up. I am still smarting over that time I was told, in my own home no less, that I had to turn off my ridiculous Trans-Siberian Orchestra playlist, lest the ambiance of the occasion (a holiday pot-luck, for God’s sake) gets polluted. I always look back on that moment as a moment of disconnect between a post-Soviet immigrant and most of the people I knew (not that all post-Soviet immigrants like cheesy Christmas music).

And now I’m playing all of my Trans-Siberian, and Robert Earl Keene, and the Pretenders, and Ukrainian choirs, and Alvin & the Chipmunks (yes! Shut up!) and there is no one to complain about it, and that’s somehow even sadder.

Jordan is a great place to spend Christmas, though. You do feel closer to God here, if you are so inclined, and there’s hardly a better time to talk to God than during the winter holidays, I think. Of course, whether or not He or She is actually interested in talking back is another question entirely.

I was up at Umm Qais a few days ago, which looks down over Lake Galilee. And while I was there, walking among the ruins, I snapped this photo:


And I asked, “tree of life, or tree of death?” And an entire family of birds rose out of the branches as I snapped that photo, and I thought, “tree of life.”

And that must mean something, no?

8 thoughts on ““It was Christmas Eve, babe, In the drunk tank…”

  1. Best Post of 2008,

    made me teary eyed, sad and joyful at the same time

  2. natalia – i am saying this with the best intentions: stop. stop complaining about how you don’t have hot water. many people don’t take hot showers for their entire lives. think about them. think about the local jordanian population. you will feel better. using your blog to find a place to take a shower is shocking, even if you’re only kidding. why wonder why many local people treat you as nothing short of a prostitute? your depression is the direct result of your self-absorption and not wanting to accept the local way of life. your picture is beautiful, but christmas is a meaningless holiday anyway (very meaningless in the middle east) and tasteless holiday videos don’t make a difference. sorry you feel this way, but you are right, you only have youself to blame. that’s what it looks like. sorry.

  3. Dude, you are such a tool. And the fact that you’re using a proxy to leave your tool eruptions all over the place is somehow even more pathetic. Also, hilarious. ‘Cause you obviously still think that I’m not on to you. That’s the only reason I keep you around, honest.

    Merry Christmas. 🙂

  4. Natalia: Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and for much improvement in the New Year for yourself and those close to you. I hope your depression lifts and you do find the resources for a hot shower. 🙂 It sounds like Jordan is an interesting place to spend Christmas.

    Cranky Liberal: You need more real-life social contact with healthy people. Christmas could be an opportunity to do that in your area (it’s not meaningless after all, is it?).

    Christmas, by the way, is not “very meaningless” in the Middle East. Christianity originated in Palestine and, until 1948, there were literally millions of native Middle Eastern Christians, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Assyrian/Chaldean/Nestorian, or one of the pre-Hellenic Christian sects, and there are still millions of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

    Christmas is what you make of it. So again, Merry Christmas to all bloggers, readers, and commenters of good will, and even to you, Cranky Liberal. Maybe you can use this Christmas to make productive contact with the real world.

  5. Wouldn’t it just be easier if you fixed your boiler?
    Otherwise for a hot shower u could join a gym or go to the Turkish bath near the 1st Circle?

  6. NOT my boiler. Boiler does not belong to me, hence I cannot fix it (or do anything else around here – until I can move out next week, that is). I was thinking about the Turkish bath actually. Thanks for reminding me.

  7. I would have offered you my shower, but I don’t know how you’d get here, and once you did you’d join the rest of us in dripping sweat and cursing the Christmas heat.

    Nothing makes me feel as geographically separate to the Northern Hemisphereans I talk to online as the images and words shared about winter Christmasses! Craving a hot shower on Christmas day is such an alien concept to me.

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