Monday, May 18, 2015

Life, lately

It has been too long since we updated our blog!  We have been so busy over the past few months, it's been tough to update.  But in carrying with the mission of our blog, we are getting ourselves motivated to pick it back up!  We do love to browse through our old posts and reminisce over the fun times we've had.

Last month we took a trip to Storm King Art Center.  I'd been wanting to visit that place for years!  And finally on the first nice day of spring, we met my mother and spent the day admiring the sculptures scattered across the grounds, and then took a picnic break for lunch.  It was such a fabulous day out of the city!






Sadly, the following day, my mom took a spill and broke both her arms!  Ouch!  She had to have reconstructive survey, and spent days in the hospital, only to be followed by (ongoing) weeks of recovery.  She has been in great spirits and stayed with us for a couple of weeks up until Mother's Day.






Then we participated at the Cooper Union Block Party.  We manned the jello carving contest booth, and got to silk screen our own tshirts.  The day was so fun, and Bib thoroughly enjoyed himself-- he kept saying that in Egypt, shutting down a city street and having a party would be illegal.  Lately, we've been having such special NYC moments, activities that are unique and so New York.  I'm so happy to be back, and I'm so happy that we are living it all to the fullest!




For Mother's Day we all went to brunch in Jersey City, along the waterfront.



Saturday, April 11, 2015

DC!

Now that things are a bit more stable, we are starting to make travel plans, and take trips over the weekends.  For Easter weekend, we decided to take a trip to DC to catch the cherry blossoms and visit our dear friend, whom we met in Egypt.  It was a great time, and the weather was beautiful, but we unfortunately didn't catch the blossoms.

After a full day walking around to see all the sights, we spent our second day lounging over brunch with friends.  I even was able to reunite from a great friend from high school-- we hadn't seen each other since 2001!
















Saturday, March 21, 2015

bibi's back!

i got a job.  i got a job on the spot, at the exact job that i wanted.  this was the 88th job that i applied to.  when i started looking at jobs from cairo in june, this was the job that i wanted.  i didn't go back to my old companies, because that felt like i would have come full circle, instead of feeling like i left and my life changed, and now it's moving forward.  but i got desperate at several points.  terrified that i missed my opportunities, and started applying to those old companies. 


it took me 5 months to find a job, and it was the most humbling experience of my life.  i never wish unemployment on any person or couple.  it is seriously debilitating and depressing. 


but it's over!  i called bib after i got the offer, while walking home.  i literally threw my hands in the air and shouted, "NYC, I AM BACK!"


time to go shopping...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

One year down...

Last night we celebrated our first anniversary! A whole year has passed since our beautiful Cairo wedding; since we danced under the stars, right along the Nile River, and almost set fire to the hotel when the wind sent our flying lanterns in every which way. Surrounded by our family and friends, we danced to and celebrated every unique detail of that wedding, all of which, we custom picked. It was such a beautiful day, just bittersweet that I was missing family and friends from home.



Since then, everything has happened to us. So many changes, so many life events, so many ups, so many downs. 'They' say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, and with everything that we've withstood, the fact that we survived is a testament to marriage and our relationship to each other. Marriage is really hard, but so is life. 

The first anniversary gift is traditionally paper, so we started the day by going through our wedding photos and selecting the ones we would gift ourselves and print. All our picture frames are finally filled with beautiful pictures of us on our wedding day, on safari, and from our past. Then we gifted each other with books. Bib gifted me a cookbook that I fell in love with, but only ever mentioned it to him once. Now that we live in NYC, I've been on a quest to learn the authentic Middle Eastern recipes we enjoyed while living in Egypt. Olives, Lemon & Zaatar is a book filled with beautiful recipes and stunning photographs, I've been obsessed with it since I first read it. His plan is to have us visit the chef/writer's restaurant and have the book signed.

We topped it all off with a wonderful, romantic, candlelit dinner and listened to a mix of jazz and Fayrouz.


Traditionally, you're supposed to eat the top layer of your wedding cake on your first anniversary, but since we had to eat it early and leave it behind in Egypt, I tried to recreate a version of the cake we ate on our katib kitab (legal marriage) day, with the colors from the wedding.  Admittedly, my color and decoration skills reflected nothing close to what I was trying to achieve, but the cake was delicious!





I realize that it has been nearly half a year since this blog was updated, and since so much has happened in between, I will be catching you up and filling you in!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

the move to astoria!

admittedly, the beginning of our relocation to nyc wasn't great.  neither of us had been having much success finding jobs, and we were tired of crashing with either of my parents.  it felt like we were dating teenagers, staying in my childhood bedroom.  and having limited funds means having limited fun. 


we were so uncomfortable, we were getting really grumpy.  at one point, bib told me that our move to nyc was supposed to be a fun adventure, but instead, we were broke and bored out of our minds in the suburbs.  finally, things got so uncomfortable at my dad's house that I woke up one morning and told bib, 'fuck it, we're going to look at apartments this weekend.' his words really resonated with me, and he was right.  it was supposed to be an adventure.  so i told him that we should take the risk and get an apartment, that way we force ourselves to make it work, rather than sit around and be bored and mopey.


so we got to it.  we drove all over nyc... through every potential, affordable and unaffordable neighborhood, to help us decide where we would want to live.  bib was sold on astoria.  the neighborhood-y feel, the liveliness, the restaurants, the everything!  we looked at a couple of apartments in sunnyside, because lately so many articles rave about the huge apartments and affordable rents there, but no matter how big those kitchens were (they were huge!), there was nothing that we liked about sunnyside.  nothing to do, one train that never runs on the weekends, and for god's sake, every building that we walked into smelled like curry.  and i am not being racist, i love a good curry, but i just don't want to smell curry or smell like curry everyday.


in 1 day, we saw about 8 apartments, and the last one was the one.  it's just around the corner from the last apartment i lived in, before i left for Egypt. it's in the perfect location, and the landlords (a young, newlywed couple, like us) live in the building.  they renovated before we moved in, so we were able to choose our own paint colors too, and got a brand new apartment for our new adventure.


so how did we get the place without jobs?  with money!  in nyc, you have to show your income and that income needs to be at least 40x your rent.  if it isn't, you can always get a guarantor, someone who will sign for you, which we did.  we also had to put an extra deposit down, so in the end, we had to give up 4 months of rent upfront.  it was the last bit of my savings that saved us.  and then bib got a freelance job the week after we signed!


the move did have some bumps though.  the day we moved in was god awful, all the roads were blanketed with black ice.  there were accidents and pile ups the entire way from nj to Astoria.  it was so bad, that i cancelled the guys i had hired to help, in fear that they would get injured and sue us!  worse than that was the whole storage situation.  thanks to my dad and one of his (many) ex-bitch-wives, i lost almost all my clothes, my mattress, sofa, and vintage mirror, when they poorly threw all of my possessions in a storage right after i left.  so many things had to be replaced.  on the one hand, it was a disaster because we did not budget for this at all.  but on the other hand, we were able to start from scratch and furnish our whole home together. 


we decided that we weren't going to go cheap and buy all ikea stuff that would need to be replaced in 2-3 years.  when we do things, we go big, we do it right.  so, to crate and barrel we went.  and how did we afford this without jobs? with zero interest credit cards!  after over a decade of excellent credit history, it paid off in my time of need.


we're still not finished decorating and furnishing, but the place is so cozy and it's so us.  it is so amazing to come home to our home.  our first real home since we've been married.  just in time for our 1st anniversary!  we are so happy with our place and our neighborhood, that not a week goes by, when we're walking around town, or lounging in our living room, that we don't say how much we love it.  the smells, the sounds.  astoria is home.


i've said over and over that i've never loved living anywhere as much as i love living in astoria.  and while i will admit that astoria has improved since i was away, the truth is, it's so much better, and i love it all so much more, because of bib.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Christmas & New Year


carrying on our tradition at the nutcracker ballet







bib's first time ice skating


opening presents!



on king's day, bib one the feve!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Reunited...

On November 21st, after 6 weeks apart, we bibs were finally reunited together!  Bib's visa finally came through (much sooner than we thought), and he got on a plane as quickly as he could to join me in NYC.  (see the end of the blog post for more details on this visa)***

It's unnatural for soul mates to be separated, regardless of the circumstances, so it was such a great relief to be together again!  I didn't want to be super cheesy and come to the airport with balloons, so instead, I flooded the ceiling of our rented apartment with them.  We stayed in a cute little studio apartment in LIC, found on airbnb, and got a sense of what could potentially be our future neighborhood.  We walked along the river, had breakfast at a diner, and did all sorts of New York-y things.  I baked his favorite cookies and got all his favorite snacks to greet him in his new home.





It turned out that dear friends from Egypt and France were in town the weekend he arrived, so we were all able to meet for brunch!

having fun with reha before bib arrived!



Met with a whole new kind of extremely cold weather, we headed straight to the mall to buy bib his very first winter coat, hat, gloves and scarf!  Within his first week, the day before Thanksgiving, it snowed, and bib got to experience snow for the first time in his life!




You can guess what I was thankful for, this Thanksgiving.  Although it was so different and bittersweet to celebrate Thanksgiving without our close group of friends in Cairo, it was so nice to celebrate it together, and with my parents.  Here's to our new life in Amreeka.


***13 months after we began the paperwork for bib's visa, he received his I-130 immigration visa and was able to come live in the states.  It's a long, detailed, and intimidating process that documents every tiny aspect of our lives on paper, and considering the fact that we filed everything from Cairo, it was difficult.  I can't even count how many trips were taken to various government offices, translation offices, the US Embassy, the banks, the post office… you name it.  But although some people suggest using an immigration lawyer, we didn't find that it was necessary in our case.  There was one little screw-up on my part that caused a 60-day delay.  But otherwise, we were able to provide all the documents ourselves.  Days before I was scheduled to leave Cairo, we learned that his application was accepted and being forwarded to the US Embassy in Cairo, where they would schedule his interview and process the visa.  Great!  Except, days later, once I was already back in the states, I learned from an NVC representative that sometimes it takes the US Embassy 5 months to even schedule the interview.  Especially now, with many of the embassies in the Middle East shutting down- everyone was being routed through Cairo, so the US Embassy was backed up and jam packed with appointments.  Panic definitely set in.  We knew that there was no chance of having an October date, so we crossed our fingers for November- but knew it was a long shot, based on that information.  I started writing Congressmen, Senators, and was even thinking of returning to Egypt if it meant we would be apart for 5 months!  (My Congressman did respond to me and did contact the Embassy, but it was too soon for any strings to be pulled).  But by some miracle, when I called the NVC that first week of October to check on our status, we learned that he had been scheduled for the very first date in November.  November 3rd at 7:30am.  I'll never forget the feeling when he called me at 3am (E.T.) to let me know he got the visa.  All I said to him was, "Oh my god, I'm going to go throw up. I'll call you back."  And my mom, having overheard this, burst into the room, afraid it was bad news!

When he arrived, they stamped his passport with a temporary immigration visa, and within weeks, he received his green card and social security card in the mail.  The information online is very confusing and limited, but we were so careful and detailed that it all worked out in the end.  It's a very tense process to go through, and I feel for all the mixed/immigrant families out there who go through this too.