Monthly Archives: November 2016

Still Thankful…

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A selfie with some of the crew.  Three of us are at an American football game.

We didn’t feel like throwing our annual Thanksgiving bash at my complex this year.  Ashley has moved to another place, and Haneefa and I didn’t feel like doing all the party prep.  Instead 10 of us rented a 5-bedroom apartment in Dubai, and 11 of us feasted and got merry together.  Of course we had a great time.  Oh, and we got to Skype Suzanne whose back in the states.  We missed having her with us, but we’re so happy she gets to be with her family this year.

It was great to be with my UAE family, but I’m really missing Joe and the kids.  Kaylene and Kelly cooked dinner at their place; Joe and Aaron joined them and Kelly’s mom.  It looked and sounded like they had a great time.  Kyle was busy in Sedona.  On Saturday Aaron moved into his first apartment, so all of my children have officially flown the coop — how weird is that.  Joe was there to help him, but it’s weird for me to not have been there to see him off.  Hahaha perhaps Mama bird just wanted the chance to do that final shove out of the nest.

I’m so hoping I’ll get to spend the holiday season with my family next year.  Three years away is perhaps too much.  Regardless of where my next job is, I will be home for Christmas next year.  InshAllah Halloween and Thanksgiving as well, but that all depends on where my next job will be.

I’m in an odd place right now.  I’ve stopped putting in applications at other schools because Joe and I have decided that he will continue to work until I begin my next job (and I’m so glad he’s willing to do this! it was his idea).  We’re hoping a DODEA interview will come up last minute , and that I’ll be free to take the job.  Anyway, in a perfect world I’ll get to be a housewife (with grown children on their own!) for a few months with a miraculous January post.  For the first time in my life I’ll be a kept woman, and I am soo soo soo good with that.  Unless, of course, a job comes up that I can’t refuse.  Then Joe will be the kept one.

The odd place I’m in is being excited about reuniting with my family for more than a few weeks while at the same time being depressed about leaving here.  I know that once I come back from Christmas vacation time will fly by — and that’s a good and bad thing!

Work has been busy, but by Tuesday night I will be finished with this trimester’s real work.  All I’ll have to do is proctor and mark some exams, and plan for January.  In a few days my friend Brandy and I will be decompressing in Cyprus — woo hoo!  And two weeks after that I begin my Scandinavian adventure.

So, my depressed side doesn’t get a whole lot of time to pity party.  And, on the plus side, friends I’ve made here are now also family, so we too will celebrate together again.

How many revelers can you fit on a Dubai balcony?  Some of our food and a glimpse of our apartment’s view.  Dubai is always so good to us.

it’s a Moon Rising…

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The super moon rising from behind the mountains that border Oman.

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Good Evening Al Ain!  The moon winking at us in all her glory.

Tonight was our turn to have fun greeting the moon, so here are some shots of what we howled to in Al Ain.

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Some non moon Al Ain pics…

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A view of the city with the moon behind me — still quite purty.

 

And last, but not least, the sunrises are pretty darn awesome too.

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Speaking of which I’ve get to get up for work tomorrow, so time for me to sign off. But yeah those reds I’ll get to see from my balcony while sipping some chai.

Hopefully, all of you got to enjoy the moon as well.  These are the gifts we have to hold on to.  Night everyone!

Just this once…

I hate talking or writing about politics because I know that there is no longer any room for debate.  There’s the side I’m on, and the other side.  There’s a whole lot of other stuff in between that both sides could agree upon, but vitriolic words metaphorically built that wall some politicians (and one incoming president) claim we should build — keeping Americans, not illegals, from moving forward.

I can’t ignore what is affecting my, and millions of other, lives today.  So, let me get my political shit out there, and before my Republican friends decide to skip on out of here, know this post is not about bashing you (I actually believe in the less government part of your original ideology) — it is about being honest with what I feel is wrong with us today.

I believe Winston Churchill is credited with saying something along the lines of the most powerful weapon is words:  they begin and end wars.  Sorry I googled and couldn’t find the exact quote.  Ancient Ashanti kings had spokespeople speak for them because their words were law, and it was better to have a filter to prevent irreparable oratory.  Words are everything; language is what makes us gloriously and horrifically human, which is why — believe it or not— I carefully choose what I post publicly.

I would never, ever vote for a man like Trump because he so carelessly throws his words around not giving a damn to what damage they might cause.  And before anyone begins with the ‘so, you think Hillary would do better’ replies; this isn’t about her.  So bear with me.  Maybe Mr. Trump’s word choice is deliberate and he has no plan of following through with any of what he’s claimed — maybe he wants to grow rainbows and cure the world with lots of peace and love.  Maybe he’s smarter than all of us, and knows he has to tap into our hatred to bring out our peace.  Yeah I know that’s probably all bullshit, but a girl can dream. I don’t know what President Trump has in store for us, and to be honest it isn’t his words that scare me the most; it’s our reaction to them, and then his reaction.  And by our I mean my side too.

I was in the middle of teaching my sweet girls in a rural, Islamic, Middle Eastern town, when I heard the news.  Like millions of others I was mortified, shocked, and profoundly embarrassed — I may have even felt true despair (something foreign to me).  I thought and felt a lot of the same as everyone else on ‘my side’ of things.  But, then I saw my side publicly grieve and lash out at the other side, and while I agreed with their anger, I was mortified to see what some of them were saying  (to my Democrat friends, bear with me here).

I know this is hard for my side to believe, but believe it or not there are actually good people who voted for Trump.  (don’t delete me yet I’m getting to the misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, bigoted stuff)  It hurts me to see us lash out at each other for letting this happen.  I do not in any way, shape or form agree with a vote for Trump, but that’s my right.  And, it’s my fellow American’s right to vote the way they like — regardless of how dangerously wrong or uninformed I might think they are.  And, I certainly don’t want anyone lashing out at third-party voters either.  While I also didn’t like any of their candidates, they are right to demand for other party options — something has gone very, very wrong with our two parties in control.  The past few presidential elections third parties have been brought up, and the message is always you’re right, things are messed up, but don’t cast third-party votes during a presidential election.  It’ll only hurt the cause; let’s work on this outside of a presidential campaign.  And, then it all gets forgotten, so yeah people are pissed.  So please,  do not condemn Americans for thinking beyond the box.

We are never, ever going to move forward if we cannot stop blaming the other side for our problems, and we’re certainly never going to be able to discuss, debate, COLLABORATE on anything if we’re articulating only our anger and hatred.

That said, there is the sad reality of how many people do believe in some of Trump’s spoken and twittered nastiness.  Yeah, yeah, yeah some folks voted for him because they thought he’d make good business sense and some believed Hillary would do more damage, but let us be totally honest here:  too many of us really do hate ‘them’ (insert group of choice here) and blame ‘them’ for all that is wrong in our world.

So let’s go back to the hateful words that helped get Trump elected.  Please do not demonize those who are currently protesting (I’m not including anarchists in this sentiment — those who destroy property and attempt to wound anyone in the process are there for the wrong reasons), and if you think there wouldn’t have been rioting if Trump lost you are sadly mistaken.   Please do not tell those who didn’t vote for Trump to suck it up and quit being sore losers.  This isn’t about that at all; it’s about wanting the world to know that America does not stand for ignorance and prejudice, even though it is obviously a very real problem in our society.  If you believe prejudice isn’t as big a problem as ‘they’ say it is, you’re in denial.  We need to figure out a way to quit blaming the other side (whichever one you’re on black/white; man/woman; immigrant/american born; christian/islamic, gay/straight; etc/etc. ) and find our common ground, which is so much bigger than the bits that divide us.

There is so much more that I want to write about what I believe and why, but we live in an Internet world where even I struggle to read anything that isn’t easy to scan (another  issue that connects to our current issues).

We know deep down in our guts what the right things truly are to do, but it’s just so damned hard to do it right, so we do the easy thing — we fight, we blame, we do everything but pull together.  Even when we claim we’re screaming and fighting for American values (speaking to all sides here, not just the other one).

And since just this once I’m sharing my political views I also really want to be totally honest about what I feel about those who berate me or think I’m weak because I want to have a more balanced society. It takes courage and hard work, really emotionally-draining hard work to implement solutions that benefit more than one side.  I am so sick and tired of my views being turned into a joke or touted as unrealistic, sappy, tree-hugging, hippy, peace loving bullshit.  As if wanting peace was a bad thing.  There is nothing weak about who I am or what I believe in. Jesus, if you’re one of his followers, kind of spoke to this.  So, to those of you who dismiss me as a do-gooder who doesn’t know what the real world is all about, I have just one thing to say:  Fuck you!  Just this once I’ll let it out.  I’m human too.

But if you truly want to discuss our differences and see how your point of view and my point of view can join and make our country great again, I am so in. I might even buy you a beer, or hell I might even marry you (just ask my husband, a republican who also opted out of voting for Trump).  And oh my God if our new president can manage to do that while making decisions that will help our country heal and grow and move forward, I can find it in myself to respect his work.  I will never forget, forgive or like him for the things he has said, but I can support a presidency that works for all of my country’s people and doesn’t shred our constitution.  And that’s just it we don’t have to like each other, but damn it people we do have to work together, or there won’t be much of an America to do anything with. I so hope and pray we find our way forward.  I have never meant this more:  May God Bless America — please.

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Image taken from Wikipedia.org

I’ve got a hand gesture for you…

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Last week the UAE showed the world — well the UAE anyway, the rest of the world’s media didn’t seem to pick up on this story — it’s hand gesture for tolerance.

You see this Islamic Middle Eastern country has a governmental department dedicated to spreading tolerance.  Ewww and get this it’s led by a woman:

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, who is the UAE’s Minister of Tolerance, announced the charter, explaining that it will aim to combat bigotry, extremism and racism. She also highlighted how the charter and the discussions around it will work to highlight the true essence of Islam.    

Quote taken from WhatsOn Uae.com (click here for more on this)

I’m not gonna lie when I first read about the hand signal I rolled my eyes because who needs this?  And what kind of fluff is this?  And, before anyone comments or messages me:  No, I’m not typing that this country is perfect.  It has its bigots, just like every where else in the world, and it has its inconsistencies — but now I’ve got a hand sign I can flash to someone being intolerant.  So there — might even be more powerful than the illegal middle finger.

I am sharing this because wanna know what did make the headlines in my home country?  Green Starbucks cups!   It seems there’s drama over the new cup, which features a drawing of a bunch of different folk, which is meant to represent our freedom to be who the Eff we are and emphasise our need to, you know, tolerate one another.  Some don’t like the color, some don’t like the people on it, some think its a political ploy, one Internet troll posted it was anti Christmas because green is the color of Islam (I thought it also was connected to Christmas) and the idiocracy goes on,  blah, blah, blah.

It’s a coffee cup — it’s not religious or social propaganda.  No one’s indoctrinating anyone into any shit, and no one is hijacking Christmas.   And, I know — please God tell me I’m right on this — that the amount of people who really got ticked off and believed all this anti-Christmas crap is miniscule.  But, you see it is being covered (although thank God not extensively) and it is being discussed.

When I find myself in conversations that inevitably include someone saying something along the lines of “why don’t they (Arabs/Muslims) do more to speak out” against insert terrorism group of choice, I always point out they do — it’s just not covered in whatever whomever I’m speaking to is watching, reading or listening to.  Arab countries lose their young in the war against extremists (not to mention their people and land tend to be the victims of terrorist attacks), their leaders speak up against the atrocities, and they invest in programs that emphasise the Islamic principles that are identical to some of our christian ones.  I’m not just typing this to be all peace and lovey — people here are just as ticked (if not more) as people back home, and they want what we all want:  to live their lives without violence.  So when trolls post shit like not wanting to associate their faith with another one it ticks me off because all faiths are about unity and doing good in this world.  Idiots who contort that and do other things in the name of God do not represent their alleged religion.  Um, just like, I hope, big talking heads who spew more nastiness do not represent we the people (had to throw that in there so close to election day).

Now I know flapping my hands like a dove isn’t going to stop terrorists, just like the color of a coffee mug isn’t going to destroy christianity, but the fact that we’re allowing ourselves to continually get riled up over messages that divide us is a problem.  The stupid Starbucks mess isn’t the issue — the fear, hatred, ignorance that feeds this is.

What I’ve decided that I want for Christmas is every country to have its own Ministry of Tolerance.  If we all got serious about this and put real political clout behind it imagine its potential.  I know there I go being all peace and love on you again, but aren’t we allegedly entering into that season?

And for the folks back home who will be voting this week (citizens living overseas have already done so), please remember to not vilify your fellow citizens — including the folk who didn’t vote for your guy or gal.  We’ve gotta get a grip and throw more tolerance versus Eff you out there!

Field trips,applications, halloween and birthdays!

This is probably the hardest time of year because it’s when I get the most homesick (it comes in waves).  Two of my children have birthdays — Kyle’s was on Tuesday and Kaylene’s is today.  When they were young I always threw them a combined halloween/birthday party — until they started requesting something different (but that didn’t stop me from inviting folk over to get all ghouly).  I love, love, love halloween, so having two kids birthdays near it always just made it that much better.  I’d dec out my house and whip out the crock pot because this is when it gets chilly enough for stews and fires — in Virginia it was our wood stove; Arizona it was our outdoor fire pit.  Plus, who doesn’t like having glow-in-the dark witches and frankensteins hanging all over the place?

October through Jan 1 is just one excuse after another to snuggle up, eat hearty foods, sip good whatevers, laugh and love with the good (who sometimes drive you crazy) people.  We do it here too, but it’s not the same.  Besides it’s still too warm for any kind of fire other than the one heating up the shisha coals or burning in our Fall-scented candles.  That said on halloween I had a lovely dinner with Shannan and Ian, and we wtf-ed over Westworld episodes.

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and ewwwed over these cookies I found at Abelas, a store that caters to expats.

During the week Haneefa and I shrieked and questioned life while watching Black Mirror episodes (if you like freaky shows like the Twilight Zone, give this one a looksie; it’s on Netflix).  We’ve got the chamomile tea, a/c blasting (to make it cold) and fuzzy blankies to snuggle with, but, no offense to my friends, I’d still rather have my burly man there rubbing my feet.  Somehow I don’t think my friends would continue coming over if I plopped my feet on their lap and gave them lotion, and since I enjoy their company I’ll just continue rubbing my own damned soles (but Joe your time is nigh!).

This country also has its fun times coming up.  Yesterday was Flag Day, which is when the UAE celebrates its patriotism by showing off their flag and getting all giddy over their citizenship.  I learned yesterday that it’s also a son’s way of honouring his father.  Way back when the former sheik passed away and the responsibility of ruling this country transferred to his son, the new sheik wanted to do something that commemorated who his father was, so on his version of a coronation he created Flag Day.  I think that’s pretty cool.  From now until January festive lights and flags will pop up all over the country because coming up December 2 is National Day, the UAE’s birthday.   So it is festive here, and it is cooling down, and it’s good to see my students having fun, but as nice as this is it’s all not ‘my’ holiday.  I’m honored to take part in it, but I’m really missing doing my traditions with my American brethren — although I am glad to not be part of the heated political rants (inshAllah that nightmare will be over soon — yeah yeah I know the uglies will keep on for awhile but a girl can dream).

I missed watching the cubs win, but another teacher friend of mine watched the last few minutes of the game with her students, and they all cheered — bringing two worlds together for just a bit during something called the World Series, so see good things are happening.  Opposite cultures can rejoice together.

As for what else I’ve been doing:  last week I got to go on my first field trip.  It’s always difficult to get a trip approved, and there’s always so much that needs to be done in the classroom, hence the reason that my first one is during my third year here.   Our theme this trimester is careers, so we took the girls to a career fair in Abu Dhabi, and it was a great experience for them.  They got to mingle with universities from around the world — including my Alma mater VCU (how exciting that was for me) and a university from Arizona (good to speak to a Flagstaffonian) and I got to share something new with them.   I really think this is the best part about teaching — when you can connect the real world to what you’re boring the hell out of them with in the classroom, and they finally see that oh wow this stuff is actually cool.  Yesterday two of my students from last year popped in, and woo hoo they told my class to pay attention to my grammar and essay lessons because they’ll need it next year.  HumdaAllah dots are being connected!

20161026_145001 How do you feed 50 hungry girls at a very busy, small gas-station McDonalds?  You get the food to come to you!

On a bittersweet note I’ve decided this is definitely my last year here.  I will forever be grateful for this experience and will always have a soft spot for my girls here (if any of you are googling and stalking me, I expect to see you do great things! Now khallas with the social media and get back to studying).  It’s time for me to move on to another experience, so the search for where I’ll be next year is on (and the better news is my man will be with me).  I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m applying to international schools with good reputations (and, well, salaries and benefits as well — Mama likes to eat and travel) and DODEA.  Joe and I will discuss any offers that come my way and plan from there.   We’ll see where it all leads to next.  The only thing that’s certain is that 2017 will include a whole new set of new!

And that’s all I’ve got for you for this week.  Ewww, and I typed all of this while sipping a velvety pumpkin-spice latte, so life is still very good and almost autumnish.

 

 

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