Monthly Archives: January 2014

Pressure is on…

I stumble out of my car this morning, hoist my too-heavy laptop bag over my shoulder and almost have a heart attack.

“Congratulations!” yell two of my favorite co-workers, whom I rarely get to interact with.  “We’re so excited for you.”

It’s dark, it’s early, it’s Monday.  Maybe they’re happy I made it in.

Turns out my principal mentioned in an IB planning meeting that I probably won’t be here next year because he thinks I’ll get the job.  It was brought up because my position will need to be filled, and they’ll have to find someone who can run our weekly news program, yearbook, IB film and you know the whole teaching thing.  The good news for me is the job can’t be posted until I actually resign.

“But, I haven’t gotten the job yet.”

“You will!”

Okay, so I guess the question I should ask then is who wouldn’t hire me?  I’m fabulous (except for when I’m not, and I totally have my NOT days — especially now that my mind keeps wandering).

Anyway, I’m honored the principal is rooting for me, but wow if I don’t get this job everyone will know I flubbed this interview.  Oh well. I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it, and, well, I guess I could use it as a teachable moment with my kids (show them how I move on from a failed attempt — um, while wheeping uncontrollably).

Now, all I need are my letters and authenticated papers.  I’m a little stressed over all of this.  Good news is I’m also swamped at work, so the kids will keep me busy until my little trip to L.A.

and just for the record … I am still enjoying living now (whew!).  I had a blast at the Color Run this weekend, and I’ve read there’s one in Abu Dhabi too.

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Hot/Cold … today/tomorrow

The east coast is freezing again while we’re loving our 80-degree days.  I’m in limbo with the interview prep — waiting for my authenticated papers to come back, waiting for my principal and district letters, waiting to find out where I’m interviewing.  Yesterday, I called ProEx in D.C. to make sure they got my cashier’s check and documents.  They did, and they’ve already gotten my papers stamped at the state department.  Next up is the UAE embassy, and then my paperwork will make its way back to me in Phoenix.

It’s surreal knowing that while I’m still turning on the a/c in my car, my credentials are being stamped by folk who spent their morning cussing out Mother Nature for icing their windshields.  It’s weird having my stuff stamped at all.  That master’s diploma I sent has, until just a few days ago, spent its days turning yellow in a box (thank God I still have it!).  Now, it’s notarized.

I’m having a hard time focusing at work.  Let me rephrase that:  I’m having a hard time focusing ON work.  Kids want to goof off on the Internet; I want to browse blogs and Facebook pages.  They have no idea that I totally get their pain when I tell them to get back to work.

We’re finishing up the yearbook, and pretty soon it’ll be time to start planning for what we’re doing next year.  Thing is I might not be here next year.  I soooo want to stop class and say, “hey kids, guess where I’m going?”  But, I can’t because I just might not be going anywhere.

I also really need to live more in my now, and stop this daydreaming nonsense.  I’m constantly torn between what I need to be doing to make today work well, and what I’d like to be doing for my tomorrow.  I cannot believe taking this step has become such a big deal in my life.  I also applied for a journalism position at a community college, which would also be a great opportunity, but am I checking my emails/voicemail to see if they’ve contacted me yet?  Nope.  It’s all about Abu Dhabi, which is crazy because just a few months ago it’s the college job I would’ve obsessed over (although I doubt as much).

I’m typing this up at the end of a busy day because I thought I’d figure a way to re-balance myself, but now I think it’s just to share my insanity.  When you make the decision to do something as major as this it totally takes over.  You are constantly hot and cold on your decision — one minute it’s all about the fun (work and play) stuff you’ll be doing, the next it’s oh-my-god this is going to be so flipping hard (and then the “is there danger in this?”).  One minute you’re bragging to friends, the next you’re defending your decision because not everyone gets the whole wanting to go to the Middle East thing.

Apparently, I am since I’m soooo bipolar on everything right now.  If I do decide to publish this post (because I just needed to have this conversation with myself because right now there’s no one else to talk to about it — solidifying the whole why yes I AM crazy thing) it’ll be to let others know that once you click submit on that international application, it’s not just some thing you did on a whim.  It’s some major life-changing shit.  Sure, you may never get the job, but that isn’t going to stop you from inhaling everything — and I mean everything — there is about that job and that country. It’s also not going to stop you from seeing your own world through different eyes.  As my kids used to say (it’s old slang now) this shit’s cray, cray.

Ew, a Facebook alert from one of the abu dhabi groups just popped up — time to go see what other applicants are typing!

It’s a date…

The big interview is 1 p.m. February 13th.  Now, the real fun begins.  Tomorrow I let my principal know I’m interviewing.  It’s not a big deal, but I still feel guilty.  You see I launched the journalism/film program, and I’m getting ready to move into a brand new building with my new multi-media lab.  I actually have a pretty sweet job.  Seriously, I teach electives all day long, and I get paid extra for it since I’m in charge of yearbook and our student news program.  I’m good at this, and I’m trusted/respected (well at least I think I am).  It’s all good, yet tomorrow I go public with my Abu Dhabi obsession.  It shouldn’t be a big surprise since I’ve always been open about wanting to teach overseas after my youngest graduates (this May).  

But anyway, insert happy dance.  Interview is on the calendar!  Now, the mad paper race begins.

I need an intervention

Holy Hell I’m obsessed.  So, it’s the end of the day, and I have no students.  I was working on the ton of stuff I need to work on, but my mind kept wandering — go check your email maybe the interview dates are in, check the google community maybe someone said something, go stalk another blog, oh what the hell go google Abu Dhabi news.

What is wrong with me?  This is ridiculous.  IF I get the job it’s NINE months away. Just the other day i was reading my gazillionth blog on living/teaching there and I broke out in a sweat.  It was a doozy of an adventure gone way wrong.  The poor woman, who seemed flexible, kind, open minded, and all the things you need to be, didn’t last her first quarter there.  This could turn out to be a really bad trip — sober!

And, yet, here I am still wanting to do this thing.  It’s not just me though.  The google community and facebook groups I’ve joined update frequently with ‘I made it to the next step” posts.  We’re a bunch of salivating freaks who apparently love to be tormented with waiting and the unkown.

You see some of the folk who were hired for January still haven’t even gotten their departure tickets yet.  Sooooo, I’m going to be doing this waiting, stare at my inbox thing for a long, long time, unless, of course, I blow the interview and find out fairly quickly that this little escapade has run its course.

I guess it’s good to be going through this what-if obsession.  I am soooooo totally bipolar with it.  One minute I’m fantasizing about having a bright-white apartment all to myself, the next I’m like what am I going to do without my mother/daughter wine sessions or family movie nights?  One minute I’m teaching editing techniques (like I should be), the next my little brain is cooking up ELL projects.  One minute I’m revving my car into 6th gear (good God I love that car), the next I’m like holy shit I’m pretty sure I’ll be hugging the right lane over there.

Anyway, you get the point of my ramble.  I have Abu Dhabittis.  A desert city far, far, far away is interupting my desert city living here.  And now I have to get back to my Phoenix world and attend a training session on some software I will,hopefully, not have to use next year.

Abu Dhabi Attraction

Written on December 26, 2013

So why apply to teach in Abu Dhabi?  I’d be lying if I said the tax-free money didn’t tempt me.  It’s a pretty sweet financial deal.  It’s also a perfect place to travel from, and with all of their vacation days (and that paycheck) I’d have time and money to see parts of the world I’d never be able to see on my American salary.

 BUT, I have to live and teach there, while my family goes on with their lives here.  It’s a two-year contract, so I better make sure my reasons for wanting to go are deeper than money and travel.  I’ve read the horror stories.  I could end up in a crappy apartment  infested with roaches while teaching in a school where I’m resented by the local staff, administration and students (which truly would be the worst, well I guess there’s always worse, but let’s not go there). I could have a nervous breakdown in my rented Peugot because I’m stuck in the inner circle of the roundabout from hell, while everyone else zips around me at 100 miles per hour (I’ve heard driving there is insane).  I could go postal on the Internet guy whose a week late arriving at my apartment only to tell me he’ll need to get another guy to come out who will also not know what to do (see expat teachers I HAVE been reading your blogs).  There’s a lot that could and will go wrong, so what makes this still appealing?

  •  I’m in awe of their government’s dedication to educational reform.  What they’re trying to do is truly amazing.  It’s beyond expensive, and I’m sure to many it seems like a billionaire’s pipe dream that will never come true.  On paper it does what so many of us in the U.S.claim to be doing, plus it financially rewards its teachers for attempting to do it (well its foreign ones; I honestly don’t know what native teachers make).  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m totally aware that what’s on paper and what happens in reality are two different things, but by golly (how’s that for using more g-rated language) it IS on paper, with paper backed by gold (I guess I should say oil).  They mean business with this.
  • I’ve always been a ‘new’ project starter.  Every job I have ever had has lead me into leading/launching something new — in many cases something I proposed (which isn’t the case here, but I’m totally cool with being one of the spokes in someone else’s wheel).  How incredibly cool would it be to be part of something as big as education reform in a country so completely different from my own?  Would I be able to bring any of this back to my own corner of the world? 
  • UAE’s history:  This country is younger than I am!  I’m fascinated by what I’m learning about it, but because I’m a newbie to its history/culture I won’t embarrass myself by writing about what I think I know.  I do know its people are incredibly patriotic, and that by all means regardless of whether or not I get the job, I have to experience National Day at least once in my life.
  • If I’m going to grow and try something new it should be in a Muslim country.  While I’m fairly certain the only bad girls of the burka I’m going to find are the expat ones, I’d like to learn more about the women behind the perceived masks.  I’d like to see how they see the world, and, well, learn from it.  It’s time for me to take my westerner’s veil off and experience life from the other side of the world.
  • Last but certainly not least, I’ve read that 85 to 90 percent of the population is expat.  When the non-homeness of it all gets to me (and it will — how could being so far away from everything I know and love not be a sore spot?) there will be others to turn to for help.  There will be people there who get me and my retarded ways, and I there’s.  Plus, on the really tough days, I could put my expat liquor license to use and buy a bottle of wine to enjoy in my apartment with the spray nozzle thingy next to the toilet (something every expat blog has pictures of, and I hope to one day show off my own sassy sprayer).

 Another plus to all of this is my family totally supports me.  They know I’m not abandoning them, nor they me (um, they might actually like the idea of Mom being so far away for a while).  We’re already dreaming about their visits and trips we could all take together — now mind you I haven’t even had the in-person interview yet, so it’s all just fun-time daydreaming for now.

 And, on that note, I need to get back to the reality of my today.  There’s a stack of documentary scripts I need to read and assess for my very stressed, American students who’ll be graduating into their real worlds in just a few, fast-moving months.  Oh how I’ll love and miss those little buggers as well.

December 23/2013: Wheels on the bus go round and round

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to travel, love to laugh (loudly), love to learn and love to, well, talk about unmentionables.  It’s no big surprise that I’m stalking international teaching job sites, blogs, you name it.  If you teach overseas and blog about it, chances are I’ve stayed up past my bedtime reading about your life — and I thank you for that.

What no one in a gazillion years would suspect is that I’d apply for a job in the middle east.  I’m not what comes to mind when you think of the women underneath their abayas.  I love pork, alcohol and raunchy folk (god bless you all).

BUT, here’s the thing I also am genuinely tolerant, respectful and curious about other people’s cultures. I don’t want to “save” anyone, just share with and learn from them.  I love who and what I am, and part of what is good about me is I never stop loving and learning from who and what others are.  I thrive on the chaos of making the unknown known.

Soooo, here we go, after years of checking out expat teacher blogs and recruiting agencies, I hit send on a TeachAway application.  A week later I was interviewing via the phone with someone in Toronto, and now I’m on a short list (not bus), being considered for a teaching position somewhere in Abu Dhabi, including its outskirts.  So, yep this time next year I could be staring at the waters that lead to Iran, or watching camels race across sand blown in from Saudi Arabia.  How poetically insane is that?

I honestly don’t know where any of this will lead, but I do know just applying for the job has already set the wheels of change into motion.  Even if I don’t get the job, there’s no turning back now.  I’m officially moving into the next phase of my life, whatever that may be, and I’m embracing every moment of my now as I can.

It’s the day before Christmas Eve, and I’m spending it with my daughter (whom I love beyond words.  Seriously folk I made this person, who is an amazingly, complex, wonderful soul — and then I made two more versions, with penises.  I’m going off on a tangent now, so back to my abu application). I would’ve loved today even if I didn’t apply for that job, but now it means more.  Yesterday I baked cookies while my sons watched football, and my heart warmed every time I heard them yell over a play.  Later while watching a movie, I didn’t get annoyed at their bitching at each other because I also noticed Kyle leaning against Aaron.  They’re almost men now, but they’re still boys with each other, which they always will be.  I’m rambling off onto thoughts about my children while trying to conclude this post, but that’s okay because it is all connected.  My life, my choices impacts their lives, their choices (oh good God now I have to think about how my own mother’s path intertwined with mine, but let’s save that for another day).

And this is why applying to go overseas now is a good thing — where I go isn’t as important as the fact that I do try to go.  It’s something I have always wanted to do, but I’ve put it on hold for the right reasons (and I’m sooo glad I did; I may have ‘made’ my kids, but they’ve molded me into something better than I was before them).

I need to give them the space they need to discover their paths forward while I continue to find mine.  It’s a wonderful gift to show that our dreams don’t die, and that, yes, we keep moving forward, even when our bodies age (oh cellulite how I loathe thee), because a good life does not stand still in traffic; it manages to continually roll to where ever it needs to go (even if it doesn’t quite know where that is).

And now for whatever reason I’m off onto another tangent.  That silly little song I used to sing with my kids (completely forgot about it until now):

 and the wheels on the bus go round and round

round and round

round and round

all throughout the town.

And the people on the bus go up and down…

 So, yeah, our wheels are turning and we’re moving forward.  Holy hell that’s exciting and scary and amazing, and oh wow how truly lucky and blessed am I?  Or, is it just insanity?

Hi there!

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Well how creepy is that?  A big ole picture of teacherly me staring at you.  But, it’s all I have for now, and embarrasingly it’s the one I attached to my TeachAway application (my roots are showing and why are my  hanger straps out in full view?).  I’m so calm looking sitting at my desk — um, soooo not the way most of the day is spent!  Anyway, since I’m officially obssessed with my Abu Dhabi application, I’ve decided to start up a blog on it.  !

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