How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Friday, September 21, 2012

Weekend Update

Good news: We received our furnishing allowance money yesterday and can now start moving out of the hotel!
 Bad News: my account has a block on it and I can't access my money because some moron at the bank branch seemingly misplaced the copies of my passport and stamped visa (I'm not the only one this happened to- there are other equally pissed off teachers in the hotel). I was told I had to take the copies to the Al Ain Mall branch last night. The service rep at the bank made copies of my copies and then told me, "Inshallah, you will have block removed tonight". Block is still there, so don't give me anymore "Inshallah" doublespeak. I have four days to get out of hotel and have no access to my money.

Internet/cable guy still hasn't been out to the apartment to complete the installation of services.. maybe tomorrow afternoon?

Am bracing myself to place a call into the dentist's office and try to get another appointment (although at this point maybe I should just leave the tooth alone, be very gentle with it for the next twelve weeks or so, and just have it fixed in December when I go home for a visit).

Last night at Applebee's it took fifteen minutes for a waitress to even take our order, forty-five minutes for the food to arrive, then they threw out my leftovers that I had asked them to put in a go tray, then it took thirty minutes before they got the check to us. They didn't get a tip

Seeing a pattern here?

I am taking out my own twisted, ill thought revenge by blasting "Big Balls" on the CD player as I drive around. I don't know what kind of revenge it is; it just makes me feel happy to sing, "But we've got the biggest balls of them all" at the top of my lungs.
A friend and I are going to The Rugby Club tonight for a drink and to socialize with some other expat teachers. I am leaving the Go Cart car at the hotel and we are taking a taxi. I am predicting a cherry vodka and Sprite in my future. I spent part of the day sleeping trying to keep Arthur under control, and I had some really weird dreams.  

Observation: Night arrives early here  By six thirty or so it almost completely dark- then Al Ain comes to life. People all over the mall last night at almost 9:30 p.m.

Another Observation: there is a skating rink in the Al Ain Mall..  so very surreal to walk into the mall from 108 degree weather and see pre-teen and teen girls skating around on the ice pretending they are in some kind of Disney on Ice show, while Ariel's singing mermaid voice blasts over the speaker system.

Another Another Observation: I really need a pedicure...

P.S Went down to the lobby to meet a friend and decided to check the ATM.. I can now access the money! Went to the mall and bought some towels, bath mats, and soap. Tomorrow I go order my mattress. One step closer to getting out of this hotel.

P.S.S Sorry I was so complainy and bitchy and just a really not nice person. I'm happier now. Funny what a little certainty and people doing what they say they are going to do can do to improve your overall outlook on life.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

They're Coming to Take Me Away.. AHA!!

     Written Sept 18, 2012

I am not fit to be around other humans beings.  Before I got back to the hotel after work today, I went by my still empty apartment to meet the internet/cable guy so he could get everything turned on. Before he left, he told me, "It work tomorrow. Meet me here tomorrow same time" . Okay.. He gets in his car. I walk out of the building and some other American teachers ask me what he said. I told them, and they rolled their eyes and laughingly said, but I didn't think it was funny at all, "Don't believe him. You won't see him for a week". They gave me a phone number and told me to call it TONIGHT and let the cable/internet provider know that the guy did not finish the work and how he promised to be back tomorrow.

     Then the dentist's office phoned (I so chipped one of my bottom teeth last week, while flossing, for God's sake) and a lady who could not speak very good English (after all I am not in America or Kansas a.k.a Middle Georgia anymore) and informed me that my appointment was "cancel" this Friday. No reason given- just "cancel", and that I needed to make "other"  appointment with "other" dentist in same office.  I tried to explain to her that my Blue Cross insurance had made the appointment and that the dentist I had the appointment with was the only one my Blue Cross insurance covered. I did not use the words "y'all" or "reckon" or the phrase "fixin' to" at all. I promise.  She told me, "You no understand. Make appointment with other dentist here". I again explained the situation sssslllooowwwlllyyy and with no trace of a Southern accent, and she again insisted I make an appointment with another dentist in the office. Again, I explained even more SSSSSLLLLLOOOOOWWWWWLLLLLYYYYY that Blue Cross would NOT cover to pay another dentist, and she got all quiet and said, "Insurance no cover?"  BINGO! We have a winner! Then she got all quiet on me. I thought she had hung up. I said, "Hello?" and she abruptly and briskly commanded,  "Call next week and make other appointment".

     Fine, my tooth is still chipped and I am scared to bite into anything harder than yogurt for fear of shearing my poor little tooth the rest of the way off.  However, every cloud has a silver, (or somewhat sparkly, if slightly tarnished), lining and the happy news is that I have stopped chewing mindlessly on my cuticles; a habit that drove Dear Husband insane.  I might have to go get a manicure now that I don't have to be embarrassed about my poor tattered cuticles. Sort of like cleaning the house before the maid comes over, but I've never had a maid, so I don't know how that feels.

    After the visit with the cable/internet guy and the pleasant chat with the dentist's receptionist, I headed to the hotel. On the drive back, while pushing my little Go Cart rental like a demon possessed through rush hour traffic, blasting AC/DC the whole way and screaming/singing at the top of my lungs, "In the beginning, back in 1965. Man didn't know about rock and roll show and all that jive..."  something just snapped..
     Everyone in the next two lanes tried to figure out what in the hell was up with the middle aged (I am not old yet), obviously bottle blonde lady in the pretend Chevy, who was head banging, and taking corners like her ass was on fire.  I merely smiled and pretended  I was Bon Scott (before he died in his own vomit in a car. I don't think he drove too much after died..), cruised on in my own little AC/DC world, parked the car in the hotel parking lot, cocooned myself  in my little room, and nuked a can of soup in the microwave (I took it out of the can first... the soup, not the microwave. ). I found the soup at Abela market yesterday (Heinz Winter Garden.. yummy) and I highly recommend it to all new teachers going through vegetable withdrawal.  

After I ate, I sat down to check Face book and saw where one of the other teachers had posted that the rest of the new teachers needed to check our ADEC emails because some of us have to go back and have our medical checks done again (We had to have medical checks when we first arrived in Abu Dhabi to make sure we don't have TB or Bubonic Plague or something like that) .

     I think I might be one of those people who might have failed the medical test thing. I probably have an email waiting for me right now, but I can't get into my ADEC email. It probably all started when the nurse at the medical check asked me if I were pregnant and I looked at her in horror, raised one menopausal eyebrow as best I could (never could pull off that Spock thing, but always wanted to), and said, "I hope to hell not". In the UAE. In a Muslim country. While they had my passport. Good thinking, idiot self.

     Anyway, I have been telling everyone for years now that I have some rare, incurable disease, other than "Arthur", but no one will listen to me and I'll bet they all end up feeling really stupid when I have to have my medical check repeated because it turns out I have the rarest disease in the world and they all get jealous because the AMA writes a super long, in depth article about me and I (Female, Aged 50, case number 46733920885372) become famous. And everyone will be BEGGING for my autograph and I will have to hire huge seven foot tall security men to protect me from all of the salivating paparazzi.

See why I didn't go out again after I got back to the hotel room this afternoon? I cannot be trusted around other human beings, at least not within the next twelve hours.  The voices in my head won't shut the hell up and now I have a Bon Scott complex and am probably dying from a rare incurable deadly toe fungus or hair cancer. And my tooth is still chipped.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Just Another Manic Sunday (?)

Really difficult to watch the news and see protestors burning the American flag in Egypt, Yemen, and other countries.  Four Americans dead, and who knows how many others. So sad and so indicative of the evil and harm that misdirected and misguided zealots can impose. 

There's an informative NPR article interview with President Mohammed el-Megarif of Libya who called the attack preplanned by Al-Qaeda.  He insists that the outrage over anti Prophet Mohammed film was nothing more than a "red herring" used to cover the fact that the American Embassy attack in Libya was preplanned.

On a personal note:

Felt a little strange going to work on a Sunday today, but then again I am no longer able to keep up with the days of the week well.

Today went well with the girls. There is one tenth grader I am going to have to get firm with. She pulled out her laptop during break and was blasting music (American pop). Took me by such surprise and shock that I didn't know what to say to her. Tomorrow nice "Miss" goes away and firm "Miss"  rears her head. I thought I had to deal with kids sneaking music into class only in the States..

Every morning we gather for a morning assembly at 7:45 a.m. All of the staff and girls (K-12)  meet under a huge awning in the courtyard. The girls line up by their respective grades, a staff member reads aloud to them, they all chant something (I don't know what they are saying)  in unison, their national anthem is played, and then one of the girls reads a verse from the Qur'an. I enjoy the time and think it's a good way to jump into the school day.

Lining up in the morning 

I did teach the girls how to do The Hokey Pokey today because, as we all know The  Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about! They laughed and giggled and had a great time. By the end of the song they were singing all the way through.

Here's one of  my classrooms. The teachers change classes- not the students. This is the tenth grade room.

 We have two breaks every day for about fifteen to twenty minutes each. On the first break the girls grab a tiny sandwich and drink from the small canteen on campus and they sit in the shade and visit. It's not lunch; just a midday snack. They eat lunch at home around two or three p.m.

Today's' first break:

Leaving campus today as I stood by my parked car (that must have been 135 degrees inside) I too this photo of the view from the school. Beautiful, but desolate and haunting.. the colors in the sand seem to shift colors from deep red to orange to beige.

 On the way home I stopped off at the Abela grocery store and found a Marie Callender's chicken pot pie. My heart almost skipped a beat!! I picked it up to make sure it was real, and then took it immediately to the checkout line. I brought the frozen pie back to the hotel, popped it in the microwave, and six minutes later PRESTO!  It comforted me immensely.  Then I took a nap.

The nap was a giving in to "Arthur". He has been trying to bite my ass again and I won't let him. I am sure I have just physically worn myself out these past three weeks, in addition to the mental stresses of trying to get used to a new culture, food, school, co-workers. I feel as if the entire underside of my ribcage is inflamed and it hurts to take a deep breathe. A good night's sleep will help a great deal.  I have twelve years experience in dealing with "Arthur", so I'll get through this flare. Just a thing!!

I really miss My Jim.

Friday, September 14, 2012

News From The Oblivious American

Kind of disconcerting to log onto CNN news and see all the protests and violence being carried out in various locales in the Middle East and not be a little apprehensive. I mean, I feel safe. I drove all around Al Ain today, shopped, walked all over the hotel and no one acted or behaved any differently towards me, but I do have to admit that being an American here makes me feel a bit like Hester Prynne with a great big "A" emblazoned across my chest. "A" for American, not adultery (had to make that clear!). I am going to start telling everyone that I am Canadian.  Canadians have a shit load of fresh water in their country (the next great resource in the world after all the oil runs out) and they don't piss anyone off by invading other countries or getting heavily involved in foreign policy. No one remembers that they even exist. They just sit up there in the north quietly minding their own business while the rest of the world uses up all the oil and water gets scarcer and scarcer. They are the next world super power, mark my words. Fresh water will rule in about thirty years. That is why I am trying my damnedest to befriend as many Canadians as possible while I am here. I drink A LOT of water. But I digress...

If I didn't make it a point to read the news daily I would have no idea of the existence of the protests. But, to be fair to my little ignorant self, people here could be talking about anything within earshot of me and I would just happily skip along, oblivious in my own little world. I only understand a few Arabic words. I mean, I even have a difficult time adjusting my ear to the accents of the wonderfully charming Irish teachers here, so a totally different language is just going to confound me even further.  Someone could be standing right behind me in line at the Carrefour talking about the little blonde American  woman who looks a little clueless, and how wouldn't it be cool to kidnap her and hold her hostage for a Twinkie ransom (they do not have Twinkies here.. I looked) , and I would just smile at them and offer to let them cut in front of me because they only have three items to my ten.  

I just read on CNN where a Kentucky Fried Chicken was torched today in Lebanon. I don't think it had anything do with protests.. It is bad, yucky, disgusting tasting chicken. KFC here sucks.. It was probably set on fire because The Colonel didn't reveal the secret recipe when the owner bought into the franchise and everyone is pissed off that they can't get the REAL stuff. 

KFC in Abu Dhabi. I ate here. Never again.

Did I mention that it is HOT AS HELL here? And I mean that in every sense of the word. It is no longer just a concept to me. I actually know what "hotter than hell" feels like now. It's hot, take my word for it. It was 108 today.. in the shade. Driving home from work yesterday, squinting across the endless  red sand dunes while the sun blazed a hot searing white heat, my eyes started watering and the landscape started taking on a dull haze. I had sunglasses on, but I guess Dollar Tree sunglasses don't cut it in this environment. By the time I reached the hotel I was certain that the sun had burnt out my retinas. I took out my contacts and my eyes watered and stung all night. Today I bought a relatively good pair of sunglasses. They aren't Ray Bans, but they're better than what I had. Sunglasses here are not just fashion statements. They are as necessary as the ever present bottle of water everyone has by their side constantly.

 New sunglasses

 And today I conquered driving on round abouts!! I am victorious. I am woman. I am super UAE driver. The little Chevy I rented doesn't have much power though. I really need a Masarati. I don't think Dear Husband would agree, but wouldn't I look cool as shit driving around in a candy apple red Masarati, taking on all those Al Ain round abouts, peeling rubber on two wheels,  whipping that beautiful hunk of metal across three lanes and cutting off all those little wuss 1.4 liter go-carts that masquerade as cars? Hell, yeah.

This is the little pizza place I have come to love. It in the middle right with the red circle sign.. Only about three blocks from the hotel, but that three block walk can feel like ten when it's 108 degrees and climbing..

 It is almost ten p.m and I just remembered that I forgot to take my dirty work clothes downstairs to the little laundry. Almost every business and store stays open until eleven or twelve here every night. Takes some getting used to, but I like it.

And how cool is it that I am sitting here in the UAE and I am jamming out to Aerosmith's "One Way Street"?
Signing off from Al Ain......

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Quick Update and Check In

Just a note to say that with the world chaos going on that I and the other teachers are very safe in the UAE. Work day was normal. Taught my girls, had a few items delivered to my apartment, then came back to the hotel and had a nice microwave dinner (Chef Boyardee spaghetti I brought from Georgia).

I haven't heard anyone mention one word about current Middle East happenings, and I work with teachers from Syria, Egypt, Jordan, etc.

I did drive in Al Ain for the first time last night and that was scarier than the reports on CNN. Drove ten minutes from the hotel and it took me two hours to find my way back. I hate Round Abouts and no left hand turns. I am still traumatized. I think my poor hapless passenger/victim now hates me (sorry Suzanne, and also sorry to Kathy who was my passenger/victim today..).

Brown gravy mix in envelopes
sweet pickle relish
regular loaf of bread (they have something called "milk" bread here... WTH?)

And I need to buy a pair of GOOD sunglasses. These cheap ones I have aren't cutting it; the sun is too intense and I feel like my retinas are scorched.

And I chipped my bottom tooth and have an appointment to get it fixed with a dentist in NMC Medical on the 21st (appointment was made by my United States Blue Cross Insurance and the dentist is conveniently located next door to my hotel) The entire chipping the tooth was another "WTH?" moment because when it occurred, I was flossing. I was doing what the dentist told me to do...

My girls at school are lovely, sweet, polite, endearing, and eager to learn. I love them already. They are the highlight of my day.

It is Thursday night now, and time to start my weekend (our weekend is Friday and Saturdays)! Sounds exciting to be half way around the world in an exotic locale on a weekend, huh? But, the truth of the matter is that about all I am going to do is sleep.  Yep, that's me.. the party animal.

Adjustment issues are starting to rear their ugly heads  Believe me, culture shock is REAL. Fortunate in that I am in the hotel with some great teachers/people from all over..

Had dad on my mind a lot lately.

Aloha, y'all.

P.S Love you, Daddy...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Mostly Photo Entry with Commentary.

 Nothing much to do yesterday so I went to the Mushrif Mall with a friend and her son. This fish tank kicks the hell out of any fish tank at Bass Pro Shop!!

After the mall, it was back to the hotel for pool happy hour. Hanging out eating almonds and sipping a mint vodka for a bit, then all I wanted to do was lounge on the beach, listen to music, and read..

So, that's what I did.....

After awhile the sun started slanting dipping gold on the horizon.... time to go back to the room.

Leaving the beach: the view from the beach to the hotel

the scenery from inside the glass elevator going up to my floor...

Another day in Abu Dhabi.. waiting to be moved to Al Ain, waiting on furnishing allowance so I can purchase stuff for new apartment and arrange delivery.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. I am getting quite good at this. I figure that waiting in a five star hotel and doing jackshit are pretty closely related. And I do jackshit quite well.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings, and Still in the Hotel in Abu Dhabi

September 5, 2012
Arrived at the second day of new teacher orientation at a model school in Abu Dhabi today. The school is indeed beautiful, well supplied, clean, airy, and sunny.

School where had orientation and where we stopped up the toilets..

 As soon as we were seated in the auditorium, all of us western teachers immediately received instructions on where to dispose of toilet paper (and it’s not in the toilets) and instructions on how to use the “butt sprayer”.

Seems the influx of Western teachers yesterday stopped up the toilets in the school with our strange habit of flushing t.p.   The UAE doesn’t have the necessary underground sewage system to handle flushed toilet paper, so after people take care of business, so to speak, they squirt their behinds and other “parts” with a small sprayer affixed to the wall next to the toilet.  Then they pat dry and dispose of the t.p in a small t.p receptacle/trashcan next to the toilet.  We received rather detailed step-by-step instructions on the fine nuances and skills it takes to actually use a butt sprayer. My friend, Suzanne, insists that her past experience in yoga has assisted her greatly in perfecting the butt sprayer technique. 

First time I attempted the technique today I missed a bit and ended up spraying my leg because I was holding up my to-the-floor skirt with one hand (the stall floor was wet from the sprayer) and trying to position said sprayer with the other.. Kind of hit and miss (literally), but I shall practice and I shall persevere. I am going to sign up of for yoga classes once I am moved to Al Ain.

example of a butt sprayer

At 4 p.m, when the orientation session was over, I, along with more than a few other teachers, rushed outside into the 105 F temps. The school air conditioner was so cold that my feet were starting to turn blue. The scorching heat outside hitting my skin was almost a blessed relief. I didn’t know that an air conditioner could be set on such low temps.

Tomorrow morning we are meeting in the lobby at 6:15 a.m so we can board buses for the hour and forty-five minute ride into Al Ain to attend a regional meeting, and hopefully have a chance to see our schools.  The other teachers and I are keeping our fingers crossed for the furnishing allowance to arrive in the next day or two and for ADEC to move us into hotels in the cities where we will be teaching.
This entire experience is indeed a “process” and does much to help teach patience, or drive one insane. I am still waiting to see which will claim me…

P.S Look at the huge figs I found at the grocery store!!!

September 6, 2012
I tried to post the above entry last night but the internet at the hotel kept going down. We did not receive our furnishing allowance today and I wasn’t able to visit my school.  Maybe the furniture allowance will be in Saturday. Insha ‘Allah.

Went to regional meeting in Al Ain today by bus. A long, hot, dusty ride in which I passed the time chatting with other teachers and gazing out at sand dunes, sand dunes, and more sand dunes. Saw more than a few camels on the way.

The camels..

All of the Al Ain teachers (including me) at the hotel still don’t know when we are being moved to Al Ain, and that was just reinforced today at the meeting. School starts Sunday and we were told that we might be in Al Ain by then, but if we aren't, then that information would be relayed to our principals and we would not be required to report to our schools. Who knows? I could be in Abu Dhabi one more day or for five more days.  I don’t have any control over this.

 It was still a productive day at the regional meeting in that I was able to meet a few other teachers who live in the same apartment building as I will be living, and I was introduced to the other EMT (English Medium teacher) who is at my school.  She is young, enthusiastic, and seems full of energy. After lunch there were a lot of us who ventured outside to get warm.. This school was cold too, although not as cold as the one the previous day.

Western teachers trying to warm up from the cold school.. it was 104 F at this time.

So now it is six p.m and I am back in the hotel in Abu Dhabi. I am exhausted, but I have tomorrow to sleep late, watch movies, and do nothing, because Friday is the holy day in the UAE, much like the United States Sunday. Now I just have to decide if I want potato chips for dinner, eat in one of the hotel restaurants, or actually want to get a cab and make my way to one of the malls and hit a food court.

 Yes, they have The Colonel. He just forgot to give them the secret recipe.

 Subway is here too!

 Sidenote and observation: Just because a person keeps insisting over and over again, “I am culturally sensitive”, does not make it true.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Deep Thoughts

I don't think I have ever written two entries in one day on this blog, but I took an afternoon sabbatical, locked myself in my hotel room, and have been contemplating. Yeah, I know.. I could burn some brain cells that way.

Things I don't understand:

1. Name brand high end items like Coach or Gucci.. Do you know how many books I could buy for the price of one Coach bag???  The Coach bag will some day end up discarded and forgotten. The knowledge and entertainment I gain from reading stays with me forever (and I'm not talking Danielle Steele or that Fifty Shades of Grey garbage). I proudly carry the bag I bought at Claire's, and yes, it always has a book tucked away inside for emergencies. Currently it's The Dressmaker of Khair Khana.

2. People who value material items over experiences and knowledge. Guess this really goes back to item number 1, huh?

3. People who have become so locked into their own little world of negativity and bitching that they wouldn't be able to see the silver lining if you shoved it up their ass in a dark alley during a full moon. Sliver linings have an ethereal glow, don't you know.

4.People who ONLY see things as ALL positive- think Pangloss in Candide: "All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." No, it's not.  Optimism carried to the extreme bugs the crap out of me and makes me want to bang my head against a cement wall. Or better yet, bang the heads of the eternal optimists against a cement wall.  There's such a thing as too much silver lining...

 I am a realist and know that "shit happens" sometimes, but life is never all bad or good. It's a fine mixture and each of us, if we stay in this earth long enough, end up taking turns at being the fire hydrant or the dog.. and life ain't fair.

6. Pretty, intelligent women who think they have to pay dumb and clueless. I can't dwell on this subject too deeply because I will end up banging my head against a cement wall if I do.

7. Why people would even consider eating fried chicken livers and gizzards, chitlins, pickled pig's feet, caviar, and feta cheese. I think my deep thought process just hit that cement wall.

Rub a Dub Dub...

And this is how I dry my laundry in a Five Star Hotel when I have a One Star budget.... after foot stomp washing it in the tub, of course.

I miss my washing machine and dryer. And my stove.. I want to cook. I am so tired of take out food.  I found myself walking around the grocery store today checking out the vegetables and mentally preparing a homemade stew.. then I bought a prepared sandwich from the deli so I would have some food later this evening.

First official day of work is tomorrow with the Bedaya (beginning of the school year conference for all teachers).