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I am wondering what on earth possessed me to call this “My Life in a Nutshell.” These are enormous nutshells! I have always been verbose.

See, what happened was that I had about a month of non-stop activity and some major event every single day, including weekends, so I took a day off. I didn’t get out of my pjs and I slept 12 hours and then took a nap. And the next day I decided that I would write one blog post with several events in short paragraphs called “My Life in a Nutshell” but then it got a bit long so I posted it. And here we are on part 3 now. All of them full-length at least. Sigh.

Why part 3? Because, in case you care, chronologically this happened just after Part 2 but before the normally-named blog post “Things to Carry.” And I do regret the nutshell theme. But, in case you care, parts 1 and 2 are there to be perused. Of course the only connection between these is in my own head.

Today’s (final) installment is:
Henna Party

The day after the Eid party, Ilsa and I and all of our friends are invited to Mona’s for a henna party. We went once before, in September, and everyone had such a lovely time that we decided to have another one. “Bring your friends,” Mona urges. She lives in a small apartment and I happen to know she has invited all her children’s teachers plus all her teachers at the community college, where she is taking writing, communications, and grammar classes. So I let Ilsa bring one friend and figure that’s good for numbers. Mona is a little surprised that I didn’t bring more people. I forget the plate of cookies I’ve made on my kitchen counter. This is fairly typical for me, I’m sad to say.

When we get there, only 2 extra women have come—her son’s 3rd-grade teacher and one of hers from PCC—plus of course several other Iraqi women, all of whom I know from my class. The PCC teacher is French, so we talk a little in French, which reminds me of how quickly I’m forgetting it now that I’m not using it. Le sigh. I resolve to read some books in French and listen to French radio. So far, I haven’t done any of this. I call Ilsa in to chat in French with her lovely little accent.

First we dance. Then we eat. Then it’s time for henna. Mona and Sophie (Egyptian-American and bi-lingual) were very disappointed with the henna last time, and they have gone to great lengths to get good henna this time. They mixed it with lavender and tea-tree oil and it smells gorgeous. Again, we have bowls of glitter to sprinkle on. Mona starts with her son’s teacher, and we all stand around and admire, and eat too much, and the children (Ilsa and her friend, Mona’s twin daughters, Sophie’s daughter) grab their own henna packets and start decorating each other’s arms, legs, and necks.

refreshment table

It takes a while to do everyone. As before, some of us go a bit risque—I get Donn’s name written in Arabic on a part of me usually covered by my shirt. Last time Maude got an elaborate “necklace” on her decolletage but today there isn’t time. The other teachers leave; a 3rd one comes late. Maude has offered to go last, and by the time it’s her turn, Mona’s husband and son have come home so she only has a small one on her hand. Mona never does get to have her own arms decorated, but she assures me she doesn’t mind at all and we’ll do it again soon.

adding glitter

ilsa got her name in arabic on her hand

The henna is excellent quality and leaves gorgeous, deep brown patterns that last a long time. I have more pics but I don’t like to post pics without checking with people, so that’s it for now.


November 2011

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