How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Vodka Saves, and So Does Jesus

September 28

I'm dead in the water as far as internet service goes right now. I moved into my apartment in Al Ain yesterday. I spent the night in my own bed last night and I swear it was more of a coma than actual sleep.  It's been a difficult week.  Such a  difficult one that that when I was talking to Dear Husband on the phone the other night I started blubbering and crying. I was so exhausted and overwhelmed by all that has happened in the past five weeks. I was hanging by a thread, and then my computer wouldn't power back on after work and I thought it had crashed, (ended up that I only had to take out the battery and reinsert it.).  Thinking my computer had crashed meant no more skyping with husband, no more emails- it meant I was virtually cut off and truly alone. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Poor Dear Husband took the brunt of it, although I did try to control myself a bit, for his sake. I mean, I knew there was nothing he could do about the computer or my stress, but when I heard his voice, I just cracked. At least it took my thinking my computer has crashed to push me over the edge. One new teacher recently fell apart because her stapler broke.

My days have consisted of getting up at 5:30 a.m, running down to the hotel restaurant and grabbing muffin to go with my hot tea, picking up another teacher who rides with me, driving fifty minutes to school, teaching amidst a severe language barrier, driving home around 2:30 p.m, phoning the internet company (I hate the internet company... simply hate them) , meeting delivery people at the apartment, rushing around from store to store buying all the items I need to set up housekeeping, washing my clothes by hand, trying to scrounge up dinner. I am finally able to get off the merry-go-round around eleven at night, and I fall into bed exhausted. I love to shop but it has gotten old real quick. I have bought everything from a bed, couch, refrigerator, washing machine, office desk and chair to soap, coffee cups, wooden cooking spoons, and clothes pins.  Just when I think I have everything I realize I need something else, and it's back to the mall.  Today I realized I needed a printer and a GPS. The GPS is a must have as I am tired of getting hopelessly lost, driving in circles, while crying and cussing.

The GPS is a necessity since there is no real addresses system. Addresses are a vague, rumored concept. You can't just tell someone, "I live at 566 Broad Street" and expect them to find you. House numbers or business numbers simply do not exist.. The directions here are more like this: "Go to the Twan Roundabout, turn at the Abela grocery store, go down about four blocks and it's the orange building with the brown car shades" and then you give them the plot number (I still haven't figured that one out, so I won't even try and explain) which consists of about thirty five numbers.   Seriously, that is how I give delivery men directions. And the amazing thing is that they actually find my apartment after about six or seven phone calls. in which they ask me over and over again to repeat the directions.  .]

 The delivery men, as good as they are at delivering and setting up furniture, can be quite frustrating with the six or seven phone call thing. I bought some furnishings last week and I arranged for it all to be delivered yesterday. I told the salesman at the store that I wouldn't be home from work until after three thirty and to hold delivery until then.  At one thirty p.m I received a phone call on my cell at school. It was the delivery man. In a thick Indian accent he told me he was on his way to my apartment and then he kept asking me something else.  I could barely understand him and had to ask him four or five times to repeat himself. I felt bad for him, but I honestly could not decipher what he was saying. I finally figured out that he was asking me to verify directions and then he said, "I come now", quite matter of factly. I told him I couldn't possibly be at the apartment until at least three thirty. He called me back three more times before I left work and two times while I was on the road in heavy traffic. Each time I told him "After three thirty". The last time he phoned I was so frustrated I just hung up on him. Then the Carrefour delivery men with the washing machine kept phoning also.  I hung up on the Carrefour man the third time he called. When I arrived at the apartment the furniture delivery men were waiting by my door amidst a wall of boxes. One of my neighbors said they had been waiting for hours. They came into my apartment carrying the boxes, pulled out all kind of tools, and went to work. While they were working away the Carrefour men came in with my washing machine, so I had six men working in my apartment at one time. I finally just grabbed a book, settled onto the couch, and tried to stay out of their way.  In about an hour and a half I magically had furniture and could wash clothes, and the men hauled the boxes away.

And then yesterday I bought a bottle of vodka and a Jesus.....

Kiera, my neighbor and a fellow teacher, asked if I wanted ride with her to try and locate a place called Spinney's. Spinney's is known for catering to Westerners in brand name foods from American, Ireland, and Britain. It is also known for its pork room where non Muslims can buy actual bacon and pork chops.  But, Spinney's is best known for its alcohol sales. Yes, alcohol, as in liquor. And although I have never been a big drinker, after some of the stresses I have experienced since arriving in the UAE, having a bottle of a little "something something" tucked safely away on a top kitchen shelf  is almost like basking in the well cocooned security that comes with having dental insurance right before biting into a sticky, hard candy coated apple. I needed a bottle of security within easy reach in my apartment, especially attractive when you know having such bottle is frowned upon and difficult to acquire.  So, Kiara and I went out in search of Spinney's. Thanks to her GPS, it was pretty easy to locate the building, but locating the store itself was a bit of challenge. There is no sign above Liquor Spinney's. Nothing to mark it as Spinney's.

      Kiera parked the car and we started noticing quite a few people coming in and out of a little unassuming side door. Each person who came out of the little door was carrying a small thick plastic black bag and looking very furtive and shiftless in the way people have when they think they are pulling the wool over someone's eyes. Kiera and I both agreed that that little door must lead to liquor. When we entered I felt as if I had been thrust back into America's 1920's Prohibition Era. Everyone in thee store seem to glance up and cast a discerning eye towards us, but then dismissed us and quickly went back to the task of scanning the fully stocked shelves. The bottles gleamed like jewels. Whiskeys were grouped together on a wall that consisted of five shelves. The same for vodkas, wines, rums. There was Russian vodka, Italian and South African wines, American whiskey's. Irish Ciders and beers. I browsed every shelf and read almost every label before picking out a blue bottle of Skyy raspberry vodka.  Kiera picked out a bottle of wine and a bottle of whiskey.

We approached the counter cradling our "contraband".  I had a sudden and swift feeling of being whisked back  to the summer of my sixteenth year when I tried to buy beer at a convenience store. I was summarily turned away with a brief reprimand and a derisive sneer from the convenience store sales clerk that summer. That humiliation has stayed with me to this day and haunts me when insecurity snags my sleeve. Anyway, I approached the checkout counter at the liquor store, and the male cashier  didn't even  glance at me. He rang up my purchase and I paid, half expecting any second to be asked for my alcohol purchasing license (that all persons are supposed to have in order to purchase alcohol). I don;t have one, by the way.  I was prepared to say, "Damn, I left it in the car" and exit quickly, but the cashier never asked. I paid, waited for Keira to pay, and we walked away with our own thick plastic black bags in hand, glancing furtively and sheepishly at patrons entering as we exited.

We stowed the precious alcohol in the car and then headed to a discount home furnishing store. I still need a chest of drawer to stow my clothes in. I didn't find the drawers,  but I did find a Jesus refrigerator magnet. His arms are outstretched in acceptance and love, and  the yellow halo around his head sparkles with glitter.  I bought him. I mean, I had to. He was calling to me. So, now I have a security blanket bottle of Skyy vodka resting on my kitchen shelf and a Jesus magnet watching over me (for a while anyway.. I have a friend who needs Jesus more than I do right now). And I bought both in one night in a Middle Eastern Muslim country. I am quite smug about it. 

And I haven't even opened the bottle.. yet.

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