Googling my mother, not Elizabeth Fernea

Curious if my meta tags and html text were correctly being indexed on Google, I did a search for my mother’s name “Liz Lobban” and was happy to see one of my web pages came up first in the search. As I scanned the page in the 10th or 11th spot, I found the entry below.

Middle Eastern Women and the Invisible Economy: women and … – Google Books Result

by Richard Lobban, Elizabeth Warnock Fernea – 1998 – Social Science – 302 pages. This collection examines the “invisible” women of the Middle East and their vital economic activities.

My life is full of surreal occurrences so this is just par. The universe brings me some interesting bits. You see above that my mother’s name is listed above created by the combo of Richard Lobban and Elizabeth Warnock Fernea. I don’t know Richard, but Elizabeth Fernea was the college professor at the University of Texas in Austin who deeply influenced me towards a degree in Middle Eastern Studies. Her books told stories of an American woman being dropped in the middle of the East and she survived. Her teaching style involved always allowing you to try for a better grade. I tried to take every class she offered and remember her being kind and serious, but really hoping to teach you something. I took her words with me to the Middle East and survived living in the West Bank, Syria and Jordan and took her teaching style to many of my own teaching experiences with children and adults.

Elizabeth Warnock FerneaI’ve search for her name a couple of times in the last 15 years, but Google fate would send me her way and yield a fantastic article from further searches reminding how positively she affected my life. How high she raised my standards by just giving me a chance to do better and not acting like the only person in the world who knew about the middle east. She was humble and fascinating and I believe she was the director of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies with only aB.A. She inspired me and motivated me with her gentle ways.

The most cherished thing I share with Elizabeth Fernea is her love of the Arab people and this area of the world. The Middle East is old school and serious and dangerous and spiritual and amazing. At many stopping points, it can be completely opposite of America but so often exactly the same thing. We all want safety and prosperity for our families. Food on the table. Bills paid. Someone to love. Music to dance. Something to be happy about. Some people care about the past, others the future. Some are good. Some bad. Some happy, some angry. Separated by space, language, the spices in the food and the sewing of the clothing, there are uncles and aunts, grandmothers, secret loves and forbidden taboos. Often the evil practices of rulers and military/government brand a whole culture withthat set of values. I don’t particularly want anyone to think President George W. Bush’s affairs represent my beliefs or life choices. Hell, I don’t want anyone to think they know be because I live in Texas, but I don’t have to tell any of that to Elizabeth Fernea. In fact, she is one of the people at UT who taught me to embrace the rest of the world without all the “give peace a chance” hippie stuff.

So if you think the towel headed, camel jockeys of the Middle East are all looking to blow up a building you should read one of Fernea’s books or try to catch find one of her films. Especially if the only info you get about this part of the world is on CNN or the nightly news. You’d get a more accurate account from the Daily Show. Elizabeth Fernea deals in real lives and history and the richness that makes the East so fascinating.

Cheers Elizabeth Fernea! You continue to inspired me.


Elizabeth Warnock Fernea: Part of it all
She slips between countries and cultures with ease, never fully belonging but always at home

The Middle East’s Secret Weapon

Lebanese singer/model Haifa Wehbe

The Lebanese people are all very beautiful but she is mucho caliente.

 Habibi means “my love” between my ears, but it says
here it is “my beloved“. They use this word a lot in arabic
songs with this type of music. I used it a lot to talk about the
European boys with my friends from Spain. Just for fun.

*I had to come back and add this*
Didi by Milk and Honey not Cheb Khaled

Cheb Khaled – Didi

When I was in the Middle East in 1993, the song Didi by Cheb Khaled was all the rage. While I didn’t get to see this guy live, I heard him everywhere on the streets and in peoples homes. This makes me want some good swarma. And for those of you who think all Arabs are terrorists, check Khaled out. He and many like him are trying to have a good time and be happy. Arabs remind me a lot of Mexicans in their family, culture and religious habits, except the Mexicans drink tequila five times a day (Muslims pray 5 times a day facing Mecca) and have more fun at the beach.

I took Arabic for 2 years at University of Texas Austin and then a summer semester in Amman, Jordan at the Univeristy of Jordan and I have no idea what “Didi” actually means. Ha! Can you see why I make web pages now???!!! I do know Cheb Khaled means Young Khaled and he’s from Algeria.

If you ever make it to the Middle East, you can’t miss Amman or Petra or Jerusalem. They are as important to the world as Rome in tracing our past.

This is a random video I really like that supports my claim Mexicans and Arabs are a lot alike. Seems like they filmed Sabado Gigante in this same studio. Djeloul – Aakel Fiha Ya Galbi Live

Up Hill to the Holidays & Petra

Yippeee for the New Year!! The holidays were an uphill climb. Funny how midnight, some champagne & a few kisses can wash all that away. 

 I felt guilty for not being hyped for the holidays. The war has screwed up our economy &  minds. The best thing about the writer’s strike is I haven’t been watching G.W. bumble thru his life on the Daily Show.  The holidays are about Jesus being born to save our cold black souls &  spending time with family but of course commercialism is a bitch. Jesus ends up strung up in blinking lights & credit card statements are as long as Santa’s Naughty List.

Petra, Jordan - 8th wonder of the world
Photos by Beth Been

When I start feeling sorry for myself, I usually end up thinking about the  Middle East. I have a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies & studied Arabic at the U of Jordan in 1995. I went to Israel, Jordan and Syria. Countries centuries thick in war teach you to appreciate life in America. We have the most wonderful lives and the best plumbing ever.

During “the most wonderful time of the year” I kept thinking about Petra, Jordan. You’ve seen it in Indiana Jones and the last Crusade. I’ve seen in twice in person. I don’t really care for ruins. I don’t give a crap where the house used to be. I like the whole house with all the stuff in it so I go to the museum but Petra is amazing. There are many fantastic things to see but I kept thinking about the 900 steps in Petra  you have to walk up to see the Monastery.

Your are in the desert & there’s no shade unless the Arabs ask you in for tea. God is Great. I can’t remember what the steps represent but I kept thinking of them at Christmas. You don’t really know how far you have to go or even why you are doing it in the first place. You have to pass the Treasury on the way to the steps and when the walks over (am I talking about the mall or the desert?) you will be at the  Monastery. You walk and you walk and when you finally get to this holy place, you walk out and you can’t immediately see the building. It’s hidden to the right of you. It’s magnificent. I specifically  remember this walk because a woman with us was wearing jeans and literally melting from the walk. She sat down at the end of the path and didn’t ever walk down to see the Monastery.

The reason for the whole walk was down a hill and around the right corner and she wouldn’t budge. While I was looking at the building, I could see her just to the right of the whole thing. What am I babbling about? For me, if I am going to walk all that way, I have to complete the journey to bask in the glory of the holidays or a religious monument or anything and yes I do still have some presents to put in the mail!!! HO HO HO!

 Check out Petra. It’s almost as cool as the Dome of the Rock.

Amazing 360 Image

Petra – 8th Wonder of the World