Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why Men Marry Bitches

I read two books in one day the other day: "Why Men Marry Bitches" and "Eclipse", which is part of the Twilight saga.

I have to admit that men baffle me. They baffle me because I always see them walking all over nice, giving and loving women, and chasing after and giving the world to more self centered women.

According to the "Bitches" book, men take "nice" women for granted and are bored by them, while they find self-absorbed women ("Bitches") more challenging and therefore worth loving and worshiping. So I guess this means I am doomed to a lifetime alone. It is my instinct to try to put other people's needs before my own and to love someone with all my heart if I love them. One of life's big ironies is that this means I am doomed to never be loved or cared for.

:( I'm not feeling very happy today.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Vindication and other things

So I have a lot to report

# 1 I have been vindicated... my "oh so much more professional" replacement quit after telling the boss off :)))
she told me before she left to go back to her country "that man thinks he is a god and everyone else is a cockroach" She told me that he threatened her before she left about revealing any of his shittiness or dishonesty and then she walked out on him. I am not sure what precipitated the whole melt down, but she the little local girl helping her said that he got angry because she wasn't taking her computer home and wasn't answering his calls after a certain time, so he told her that even if she is using the toilet she should answer!!

So now his office is back in a mess. He has no one on which to take out his nasty little temper, because the girl sitting there until they find someone new is a local, and he is too scared to treat them as shittily as he treats others. That might be why he sent an edict to my present supervisor saying that I must return there to work "until he finds someone new." Imagine the nerve, thinking he can tell me how useless I am, fire me, cut my pay and then make me return and put up with his shit again for less money?? I went straight to the HR and told them there was no way I was going back there and that they have no right to mess with my life like this. Seriously they are asking for a "postal" situation. For some reason he is hell bent on placing a westerner - preferably an American there.

#2 My dad is out of the hospital - his growth is still in his abdomen, but he is out for now at least. I hope he wont be back for a while.

#3 I went to see New Moon. I bought the Twilight book, way back when, got bored and didn't finish it - and I love to read. So, I never paid the movie much mind. But then it came on TV here - MBC channel (Yeah MBC), and I watched it and I have to say that it was quite good and romantic - I have always had a thing for vampires - they are kind of tragic monsters - human but not human, that destroy what they love. The kids watched it with me and liked it too - which quite frankly surprised me and New Moon was rated PG 13 so I took them.

Well this move was even better, what I saw of it at least, the problem was that no one else in theater was there to actually watch the movie. I really don't understand these people here. They pay 30 dirhams a ticket and then talk on their cell phones the whole time, talk to each other and get out of their seats about 100 times for trips to the snack counter, bathroom and God-knows-where else. The most annoying are the little local couples on dates. They go to the movie because its dark in there, and no one will see them on a date that they aren't supposed to be on. I know they aren't married couples, why would a married couple choose to pay to go to movie so they can sit and talk? They can do that anywhere they want. I got out of my seat to complain about twenty times because the couple in the row behind us and the couple in the row in front of us were talking so loudly I couldn't hear the movie and their cell phones were ringing every 5 minutes. The couple behind refused to move when the Indian attendant told them that they are bothering me. They have no respect whatsoever for the Indian and Filipino movie theater staff. By the end of the movie my blood pressure was surging and I had the worst headache from tension and rage. My six year old son was better behaved than all of the adults in the theater (aside from me of course).

My high blood pressure actually started on the way to mall. While waiting for the traffic light, one guy in the lane next to me decided that he didn't want to wait for a green light anymore and he was just going to go, but the problem was there were two cars in front of him so he started honking wildly at them until they went - even though the light was still red, and cars will still coming across the intersection from the right to left where they still had a green light. I closed my eyes and winced expecting any minute to witness a horrific crash.

Adding to my pressure, at the mall while sitting on a bench waiting for the movie, 3 couples decided to just take over the three seater bench I was sitting on with the kids. They pushed my little one and my purse clear off the bench and Salman was sitting on, literally, one inch of bench. They attempted to shove me off as well until I said - EXCUSE ME I AM SITTING HERE! DON'T YOU HAVE ANY MANNERS? Of course that was a rhetorical question, since they obviously didn't have any. They seem to operate on a "my butt is bigger so that means I get to push you off the bench" rule.

#4 In other news, my lawyer says my divorce should be final by December, but he has been telling me that it will be done by "next month" since May so I will only believe it when I see it.
My "husband's" birthday was on the 21st, so I called him so the kids could talk to him. He told me, "thank you for letting the kids talk to me," I told him, "it could happen more often if you ever bothered to call." He said "ok I will." I said "you always say that and nothing changes" He said "you will see" .... well Eid just passed and he didn't bother to call them. I guess he was expecting me to call and pay the long distance bill. He didn't even sms us... what a cheapo. He added Salman on Facebook, but he deleted the friend request. His sister also added Salman and Salman deleted her friend request too, yet he still chooses to believe that it is my fault he doesn't communicate with his sons, though the only time he does talk to them is when I pay for the call and I force Salman to talk to him.

Salman left his Facebook open the other day and one of his annoying cousins there came on and was trying to talk to him. I told Salman that his cousin said hi, he told me just reply hi back. Then he asked Salman how old he is now, again Salman told me to reply for him, I told him "11" and the kid then wrote that he is 13. Now I know for a fact that he isn't because he was born only a couple of months before Salman and his parents got married AFTER I did and my 13th anniversary is this coming friday. So I told him "how can you be when you were born at the end of 1997?" then he told me (thinking I was Salman) "no wonder your dad is here and not with you, you are so stupid" - what a nice family they are... and not too bright either - his parents clearly aren't so good with the math since he said they told him he is 13 now.

#5 They say chocolate is a substitute for love - that must be why I just polished off a whole bar of Lindt dark mint chocolate.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Dad's Pancreas

It has been so long since I last posted, that I don't actually know where to begin.

I have been distracted by a lot of personal issues and feeling kind of down.

The foremost one being that my father is quite sick. When I was a little girl, about 30 years ago, when he was around the age I am now, he developed pancreatitis, and had to make frequent trips to the emergency room, which at the time, was just up the road from us. In fact, I have a memory from back then, it was on a weekend, maybe we had just come home from church, and he was standing outside and holding his stomach and then he came in and told my mother rather calmly, I think I am having another attack, I am just going to walk up to the hospital. I didn't really understand what was happening, but after reading about pancreatitis and how painful it is. I wonder at how he managed to appear to so calm, or even walk himself to the hospital.

According to Wikipedia, the symptoms of pancreatitis:
Severe upper abdominal pain, with radiation through to the back, is the hallmark of pancreatitis. Nausea and vomiting are prominent symptoms. Findings on the physical exam will vary according to the severity of the pancreatitis, and whether or not it is associated with significant internal bleeding. Blood pressure may be high (when pain is prominent) or low (if internal bleeding or dehydration has occurred). Typically, both the heart and respiratory rates are elevated. Abdominal tenderness is usually found, but may be less severe than expected given the patient's degree of abdominal pain.

Now alcoholics can develop pancreatitis, but that is not the only cause for it, and it certainly wasn't so in the case of my father. My father had given up alcohol completely in his twenties. On one trip to the emergency room, while he was doubled over in pain and vomiting, a judgmental ER doctor came and looked at his chart, I guess he had told the nurse his history of pancreatic attacks, and laughed at him and said "I guess you had one to many, eh buddy?" When he got a momentary relief from hurling, my Dad looked up at him and calmly said "no my pancreatitis is of undetermined origin." One thing I will always admire about my dad is his ability to calmly react to offensive people.

Anyway, it was determined that his condition would require surgery and removal of most of his pancreas as it was abscessed. There were two surgeons for him to choose from, one up in Boston and one in New York City. He opted for Boston, because my Mom's sister lived up that way, outside of Boston and he and my Mom had decided that My mom and all of us ( we were 5 kids at that time) would stay with my Aunt and Uncle while he had his surgery and recovered.

That was a long and depressing summer - or that's how I remember it anyway. My Uncle Tony isn't the easiest person to like, and he has always seemed to harbor a special disdain for my Dad, and liked to mock him and poke fun at him about his religious beliefs. He must have talked negatively about my dad in front of his kids too, because I always noticed the way they spoke to him was less than respectful, as if they were dealing with a half wit - and my father is anything but that. To be fair, I don't think Tony likes many people; I don't think he likes, Dave, my other Aunt's husband either - who, incidentally, has been my dad's best friend since they were 3 year olds taking tap dancing lessons together - but he is less easy to poke fun at, what with being a successful doctor and all that not to mention at that time a "rational" atheist (after experiencing something he considers miraculous when treating a patient he later became and still is a Christian - along with my Aunt). Anyway, Tony is just... well mean is a word that comes to mind. You know... the kind of person who teases kids just a little too much and with a kind of malicious gleam in the eye - well, he was that kind of person.

What I remember from that summer was, aside from visits to my dad where we gawked at the tubes going into his abdomen - for a while after the surgery he wasn't allowed to eat or drink so they had to feed him through a tube, was being put to work in Tony's rather large vegetable garden, picking string beans and weeding. The only person who was exempt from this was his daughter Mel, who was his obvious favorite, her older sister - who was obviously not is favorite - had to join us. I remember her protesting and asking "Why doesn't Mel ever have to help" I also remember Mel lying on the sofa watching TV and smugly smiling as we all trooped out to the fields. My brothers have an additional memory of having Tony tell them to chop wood and then mock them for not being strong enough, like his son - All of my brothers are younger than I am and I was only about 8 or 9 at the time , and his son - my cousin - was a teenager.

They removed 3/4 of Daddy's pancreas that summer. The remaining portion, continued to function and produce enough insulin for several years and he had no attacks. It eventually gave up when I was a young adult and he had to start taking insulin shots and digestive enzymes. When he visited us in Zanzibar about a year and a half after I was married, he was still getting used to the routine of taking his enzyme tablets and regulating his sugar, so that it didn't dip too low after a shot. One the one hand my dad has some form of OCD, so anything he has to do routinely, he makes a ritual out it, and he was also obsessive about the way he packed and stored his insulin. I still remember the little cooler he kept in our refrigerator and him nagging my mom about how she packed. But on the other hand he is absent minded - or rather has a "one track mind" as he likes to call it, where if he is concentrating on one thing - like reading a book for example - which he usually is, he tunes out everything else around him and gets lost in what he is doing. This made for a kind of dangerous combination, when it came to his insulin. He would ritualistically take his shot, but then start doing something and forget to eat and several times his blood sugar dipped dangerously low, before he snapped to it and remembered to eat.

While visiting us in Zanzibar, my dad struck up a friendship with one of our neighbors, a taxi driver named Babu Ali (which means Grandfather Ali - I'm not sure why since he was not a grandfather and had a baby named Suleiman who was the same age as Salman was at the time). My dad would pay Ali to drive him out to the jungle - Jozani Forest - so he could go bird watching. Sometimes Ali would go with him on his nature treks, other times he would leave him there and come back to get him later. On one of his solo missions, he suddenly became lightheaded and felt like he was going to faint. All alone, in the middle of the forest, he realized that in his excitement to get out the door and on his way, he had forgotten to eat after taking his insulin. On the verge slipping into a diabetic coma, he frantically searched his pockets and found a pack of gum, and he popped all 5 pieces into his mouth, fortunately, the sugar coating on those 5 pieces was enough to keep him conscious.

He also often forgot to take his enzyme tablets before eating. He was supposed to take them an hour before eating - that was the problem - he would forget until it was time to eat because we didn't have a fixed meal time; especially since my parents were visiting, the time we ate depended on what our daily activities were. Or we would be out and decide to eat out and he didn't have his tablets with him. If he didn't take his tablets he could have some pretty serious diarrhea. So he got this idea in his head that if he popped the tablets in right before eating or after if he didn't have them with him at the time, it was better than not taking them at all, and then, after dinner, as soon as he got the chance, he would go and do head stands with his legs in the air, theorizing that it would mix the tablets and the food in his stomach around better. I'm not sure how effective that was...

About a month ago, my dad started having stomach problems again and the pains became severe enough that my Mom decided to take him to the emergency room a few weeks back and he has been in the hospital since. Some kind of initial test or scanning indicated that his pancreas was "swollen"; further scanning / tests indicated that he had a growth the size of a man's fist on the pancreas and, from what they could tell, it was pushing on the bile duct and somehow this was causing some kind of spillage of bile to somewhere it should not be going and that was damaging his liver and causing jaundice. The growth, from those initial test was determined to be "precancerous" or slow growing, but my mom was told there is always a possibility of such growths becoming cancerous and fast growing. They decided to do surgery, but once inside they saw: the growth was bigger than expected and engulfing the bile duct; it was surrounded by blood vessels and therefore could not be removed; looked like it would eventually grow to block of his stomach. So they did some rerouting of the digestive tract. He was recovering for the past few days, but then he suddenly showed signs of an infection and his oxygen levels dropped and he was moved back to ICU the day before yesterday. They found some kind of blockage in his gall bladder, and did another procedure and now he is recovering from that.

So I have been worrying about him a lot, especially since it has been more than two years since I have seen him. I was supposed to go this summer, but thanks to the @%&@ I work, I was deprived of my vacation and tickets to go home.

I feel sad because it seems that even if he is OK for now, this THING growing in his abdomen is there to stay and eventually it will rear its ugly head again to cause more problems. He is only 67 now, but it doesn't look like he will reach 93 like his dad...

I feel so helpless, all I can do from here is wait, and worry and pray...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Time Flies...

Everyone knows the common saying, "time flies when you're having fun" but the truth is, it flies when your not having fun too. When you get older it just plain flies... perhaps that is why I have noticed that people just say "time flies" these days and leave off the latter part... most people aren't having fun most of the time.

In fact, during the time of life in which we have the most fun - when we are little children - time doesn't fly at all! Years took forever to pass by when I was small.

Anyway, now I am almost 38. The 7th will mark 38 years since my mother gave birth to her second child, who was supposed to be a boy (because my parents already had a girl) and for whom they already had a boy's name picked out. Luckily for my parents, three boys followed right on my heels, and I think that was more than enough for them so that when little girls 3 and 4 came along they were a relief from the constant mischief making.

The 7th will also mark 20 years to the day since that same girl, who was supposed to be a boy, was climbing Mt. Kenya and met the boy who would, 7 years later, become her husband and 10 years later break her heart and 16 years later disappear.

It will als mark 1 year, since what I thought was the first of many happier birthdays to come, when I received a gift that meant the world to me, and still does, only now it makes me sad to look at it because it embodies all of the hopes and dreams I had at that time, which have come to naught and reminds me of how alone and uncertain I feel again.

So, I'm not looking forward to my birthday. It is a yearly reminder of my failure - my failure to find love in particular, but all of my failures in general as well, since my poor track record in personal relationships has shaped the rest of my life.

Perhaps if I was home, it would be a different thing, I would have my family with me, and I could celebrate with my Grandfather, whose 93rd birthday was on the 3rd of October. Last year, he celebrated his 92nd with a big shin dig. This year they are throwing another big bash for him on the 9th - it will celebrate his birthday and mark the opening of the visitor's center at the urban wildlife refuge named after him. The park was named after him - and a statue of him erected in his honor - for an important environmental law he passed, 38 years ago. For him, his birthday is a yearly reminder of his accomplishments. He can look back with pride on what he has achieved over the years.

I called him for his birthday this year, and even though he is 93, he still is as sharp as ever. I am happy that with age, his mind has not gone, I think for someone like him that would be a great loss and tragedy. I hope I will see him again before his time comes. It makes me sad to realize that, having lived well beyond life expectancy for the average American man or woman, any day could be his last. I wonder how he feels when (if) he thinks of that. I wonder if he thinks about how time has flown and wonders where all the years have gone, since he was a handsome star pupil in his highschool in Portage Wisconsin.

He doesn't believe in God. I always wonder where he thinks he will go after he draws his last breath, and if he is scared. I wonder what God thinks of such a man, who in spite of not believing in Him, has lived a more moral and upright life than most, respecting His creation and fighting to preserve it, refusing to backdown on issues he knew were important and sometimes forgoing the power and wealth that would have accompanied doing what was expected in order to do what he knew was right. I hope God is understanding. I love my Grandfather.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dishonest Mechanics and other random topics

Why are people needlessly dishonest? Is it really a good business practice as a mechanic to steal from your customers and do shitty job of fixing their cars so they never come back again? I mean can that really be good for business?



I got my car ( that was rear ended) back from the mechanic, only to discover that the light on the right wasn't fixed - and they had glue the glass / plastic covering for it back together instead of replacing it with a new one and that the back door doesn't open. I just don't get it... why would they do that? I mean, do they think I will EVER take my car back to them after they ripped me off like this? I wonder if I am allowed to put the name of the garage here... just to warn other people... "A" took his car there too, to be fixed for something, and they did a crap job on his as well, it started smoking so badly he had to abandon it in the parking lot of a mall somewhere in Dubai - he ended up having to replace the engine later - which might have been what it needed all along, and if they had just told him that and done a proper job of repairing it, then he would have saved money, but no instead they decided to do jack shit and take his money for it.



Anyway... now my registration is up, but my car still isn't fixed so I can't renew the registration ...not sure what the hell I am going to do... :(



I have a new housemate. Which is good, because every bit helps when it comes to paying the bills. She is American too and works for the same company I do and is being dicked around by the management too. So we have a lot in common. She is really nice. I realize I like having other people around me. For some reason I have been isolating myself ever since my Sudanese friend moved away and my Egyptian friend just stopped talking to me for no reason after she found cooler, younger friends who liked to go out to bars with her - I'm a teetotaler, so I guess I wasn't much fun. I have no clue why she did it. Funnily enough, my Sudanese friend told me the Egyptian one would do this to me, but I didn't believe her. Anyway, now I have someone to talk to again - the only problem is that we end up gabbing so much we forget the time and then I suddenly realize it is way past my bed time. And that is probably why I suddenly get so sleepy at 3 PM on the dot every day. Today, I actually fell asleep at work in the middle of editing a newsletter article - I was literally typing in my sleep. When I jerked out of it, I saw I had typed a few words of complete nonsense. "Akkdrwn dfak"



This used to happen to me back in my University days. I fell asleep in Chemistry class every blessed day, no matter what I did, I couldn't stay awake. I tried everything, eating before class so my blood sugar would be up, still fell asleep. Not eating so I was really hungry, hoping that the hunger pangs would keep me awake, no such luck. I tried dressing warmly, so I didn't feel too cold and I tried dressing lightly so I was a bit too cold for comfort. But no matter what I did, I fell asleep. My notes for that class were absolutely useless. Sometimes as I wobbled in and out of consciousness, I continued writing notes. I am sure if I saw them now they would be pretty hilarious looking, but I remember going to study for my exams and looking in dismay at the notes that after a few words tapered off into complete nonsense and then just a line sliding off the page.



Another reason why I am falling asleep at work these days is that they have moved the whole marketing section, and now I am in an office with two guys who are graphic artists who don't make a noise all day. It is so quiet in there that I feel like I am making a huge ruckus when I move a piece of paper and the sound of my shoes when I get up to get a glass of water or use the rest room is like I am stomping all over the place. Sometimes the wife of one of the guys comes in, (she works in the company too) during her break, but he doesn't talk much to her either, so she has taken to pulling a chair up to my desk and talking to me. It's not that he is rude though, in fact he is quite nice and calm. It's just that he is one of the most mellow people I have ever met. Oh and he makes yummy, homemade, caramel fudge, which he shares with us.



The good thing about my new office though is that it is on the 2nd floor and the elevator is so slow; so being incredibly impatient, I am taking the stairs a lot and that hopefully will have a postive effect on my back side. It is also good because it is far far away from my former boss - if I am lucky, I will never have to see him again. The other day I was walking between buildings and he pulled up into the parking and started honking at me and I pretended I didn't see him and kept walking so he had to drive after me and roll down his window and shout to me :) - he couldn't remember the name of some hotel he had stayed in before in Switzerland and wanted me to tell his new PA. Why can't she just look in the god damned contacts file that I made in outlook. Its not like I had anyone helping me out. Oh yeah, that's right, she is a computer 'tard. Yesterday she sent me invoices from the travel agent asking me to verify if they were accurate - again, if she knew how to use her outlook properly this wouldn't be necessary since I filed all of his old emails regarding his trips in one folder there. He also told her to ask me for some CDs that someone had sent and she came and told me that she was looking for some CDs from Austria and I was like 'what the hell? Austria?" because we had no dealings with Austria while i was there. So she went and told him that I don't know and then he summoned me and when I got there he asked me where the CD's from Prague are - so it seems she needs a little geography lesson along with a basic computer packages class.



My 38th birthday is coming up next week, and I'm kind of depressed about that. My mom said she sent me a package, I am hoping there is some nice outfit or something in there, so I can get a little excited. I haven't bought new clothes in so long, sometimes I suspect people are snickering at my out-of-date style. If it weren't for the Christmas and birthday packages from back home, I think I would be a total fashion disaster. Speaking of new clothes... Fatema's big wedding is finally coming up next weekend, and I don't have a THING to wear! I dug out some old dresses that I bought quite some time back, and by Arab standards, they are just plain dull - they also seem way too low cut, and I don't remember them being like that and I cringe with embarrassment at the thought that I actually wore them - Lord Help me, I am getting really old and turning into quite a fuddy duddy.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

RAGE

I am just so full of rage and fury right now. I imagine that I feel the way postal workers must feel right before they .. well.. go postal.

They pay me so little now at work that I can't afford to send my kids to school. Nor can I afford the tutor who used to teach them at home. That means that I have to go home straight after work to teach them, but for some FUCKING reason the ASSHOLES at work think I should happily stay after for 4-5 hours extra like i used to for half the pay this time. I feel so mad I could literally kill someone. Especially since everyone in the company just got a bonus "for their hardwork and dedication in the past year" except for me. I can't tell you how hurt and angry and thoroughly enraged I feel about the way I have been treated. I try to ignore it, but I can feel it building up inside of me, and I feel like I am going to snap soon.

I don't know how to describe how I feel except that I am clenching my teeth as I write this because I want to so desperately smash and destroy everything within reach including my cell phone and this computer. I am so tired of people walking all over me and taking advantage of me, that I am afraid I will kill the next person who tries it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What's up with that???

I spend a lot of time wondering What's up with that? about a lot of things that happen around me here. Things like....

1. The lady who replaced me is from South Africa and is a Muslim - a convert obviously, since she is from an Afrikaaner background. I don't have any problem with that part; acutally, I don't have a problem with her at all. But what I find weird is the way she dresses. I mean, she just wears regular western clothes - including shirts with very short sleeves, sometimes made of kind of sheerish blouse material so you can kind of see her bra through it. Sometimes they are low enough you can even see a peek of cleavage too. She also wears trousers that aren't super tight (she is about 50 after all) but definitely show her shape. Her hair is cut really short too, and she doesn't wear hijab, so you can see her whole neck and ears and all that. Considering that I am always freezing in the arctic climate we have in the office and thus wear long sleeves with sweaters over them most of the time, I usually am dressed more modestly than she is. She is fasting during Ramadhan, but she is still dressing this way. So every time I see her, I wonder what's up with that?
If she was born into a Muslim family, I wouldn't wonder as much, because people don't always buy everything they are taught by their parents. That is why you find a lot of nominal followers of various religions. They say "I am Christian" or "I am Muslim" or whatever for the sake of family or culture but they haven't really taken the time to believe it and love it for themselves. But converts are usually very fervent and very strict. And I guess, especially in the case of a religion like Islam, which doesn't just lay down what you should believe but also seems to have a lot of lifestyle rules for dress, diet, etc. that are religious mandates, I alway assume that people who have chosen that religion would follow everything. Anyway, I just find it odd... and I'm incredibly nosy so I really want to know what her reasoning is there...

Speaking of her. I went up to her the other day to ask her how it's going - I actually meant Ramadhan and all that - but she thought I was talking about the job. She confessed (after only one month in that position) that she is beginning to regret taking it or wonder why the hell she left teaching. I didn't realize she was a teacher before, when she told me, I said "you must be nuts, if I had the teaching certfication, I wouldn't even consider this kind of job." So - again - what's up with that?! I mean who in their right mind would leave working with children and having nice hours and the whole summer off, to working for corporate @#%&@s?

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2. I have road rage, I really shouldn't drive. The traffic isn't even bad here, but I still am impatient and angry when driving. Of course, it is largely due to the inordinate number of idiot drivers on the road. No one here drives normally, it either has to be way too fast or so slow that the driver could literally get there just as fast walking. There was this car going around the round about in front of me and it was literally going around it so slowly that it was jumping around - like it would if you tap the gas and then braked immediately and then did it again repeatedly. Lord help that driver if he /she ever finds himself in Dubai at the Trade Center roundabout .

Of course my favorite two types of driving related idiocy are
1) when someone in the middle lane manages to hog all three lanes at once. He wavers back and forth between them, not allowing anyone to get around him because they can't anticipate which direction he will meander next.
2) when you are in the fast lane and someone in the lane next to you is sooo desperate to get in front of you (though you are driving fast) and get around the slow poke in front of them that they gun it, quickly swerve in front of you but then immediately brake and proceed to drive as slowly as the person they were trying to get in front of, who is now driving exactly beside them in the other lane - thereby trapping you at their turtle speed. Or you are happily speeding down the open highway, no one in front of you, no one behind you, and a car waiting to turn onto the road, hits the gas really hard just so they can get out infront of you but then does not continue to accelerate - forcing you to brake really hard. Really, WHAT is up with THAT?! Why do they absolutely NEED to get infront of you only to slow down? Why if they think it is their god given right to drive at the speed of an inch worm on tranquilizers do they need to be in the fast lane, why couldn't they have let you pass first? Why can't they just pick a lane and stick with it?

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3. The Chairman - HH - walked up to my desk on Sunday and asked me "you, what's your name?" and I said "qadfjafkljaslfj" and he said "what?" and i repeated "qadfjafkljaslfj" and he said "not kadfjafkljaslfj?"(alternate pronunciation of my weird name) and I said "well you could say it either way" and then he just walked away. What is up with that? I've been paranoid ever since. Are they plotting something new against me? Not that I know that he he was in on anything that has happened to me, but who knows ... And I have been working here 15 months and he only thought to ask my name now? Today I found out that some staff have been invited to the Palace for Iftar, so another paranoid thought crossed my mind that maybe he had suggested that I be put on the list, but since I wasn't invited someone *cough CEO cough* chucked me off of it. But then I think, Why the hell would he care if I was put on the list or not? He didn't even know my name until this past Sunday.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spunky and Sleepy - photos

Well the babies (kittens) are sleeping on my lap (see my previous post below) and here are some pictures of them



The cats here have such big ears - makes them look kind of like gremlins - but cute ones.

Spunky (the one behind) is a very adventurous little fellow. Earlier he was attacking my hair. After that, he started licking my arm and purring and he was kneading it with his feet, then i realized he was trying to nurse on it - it was so cute and sad. I think he thinks I am his mom now. When he wants a nap, he keeps coming to my lap.
I wonder what happened to their mother. I feel so sad about their little sibling who died and the other one who is lost and possibly starving to death out in the heat somewhere.
Sleepy is kind of feeble, but she does appear to be getting stronger, she doesn't roam around as much as her brother does - and yes Spunky is a boy - he has the tiny little minature parts to prove it.
They have been eating tiny bits of cat food and drinking rainbow milk diluted with water. I also gave them some egg yolk mixed with a wee bit of milk. Does anyone know what to feed kittens? There isn't any kitten food in the grocery near my home.
FYI, for those who don't know, canned cat food smells A LOT better than dog food. If I was starving and had no choice but to eat either cat or dog food, I would opt for the cat food any day. The chicken in gravy actually smelled and looked like chicken in gravy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Max the Cat Killer

Last night I was sitting in my nice black pleather easy chair, when I heard children's voices outside - it was kind of creepy, but I thought it was my little guy's voice carrying over from the other room or he was running around outside trying to stalk his older brother in one of his elaborate play fantasies. He had dashed by me several times before already with toy guns and swords of all shapes and sizes stashed in his underpants, which doubles as a weapon belt and stuck down the back of his shirt. So, I ignored the voices, until ping! something hit against the window glass behind my chair, and I heard a voice say ..."excuse me"

Anyway, I sent Salman outside to see who it was. There was an Arab woman of some sort and child or two outside our gate. I am not sure what Arab nationality they were, it was dark and I am no good at telling Arabic accents from each other - except sometimes I can tell someone is an Egyptian. Anyway, they said "cat - you have cat?"

I told them "No! I have a dog" then woman looked at me and laughed, "no" she said "you have cat! I put cat inside"

"what?" anyway, somehow she let me know that she put 4 kittens in my yard. I told her "why? i have a big dog, I don't want your kittens!"

After that, I tried to look around, but I couldn't hear or see any kittens - it was too dark in the yard. So I thought maybe they had escaped to another yard - like that of the cat lady behind me. In the morning, there was no sign of the kittens either, so I didn't think more of it. But in the afternoon, they suddenly emerged - and the maid spotted them, but not before Max saw them first. By the time I got out there, there was one dead kitten lying to one side of the yard and one wet, muddy and badly shaken one huddled against the wall. I banished Max to the kitchen (because it has doors on either side that can close him in) while I tried to think what to do with the live kitten. Then I remembered that the lady had said she put 4 kittens in my yard - got to love how selfish some people are... but there was no sign of 3 and 4, and the live one I had didn't seem OK.

I called Salman to come out, and he asked me where the dead kitten was. I pointed to the side of the yard, so he went over there; and that was when he spotted # 3 hiding behind some cement slabs heaped near the wall. We never did find / spot # 4. I hope he / she is OK. Meanwhile, we have two very tiny kittens - one of them very energetic and curious (#3) which we called Spunky and the other one that we have called Sleepy because she just lies there and a cat killing dog. Strangely enough, they are all the same color, Max and Spunky and Sleepy. However, this arrangement obviously can't go on for long or another one of the kittens will end up dead if they unwittingly cross paths with Max again. And I can't expect Max to be reasonable and understand that they are just babies, it is normal instinct for him.

They are adorable, and I am so mad at that woman for just dumping them in my yard without even checking if I could care for them or not - or if there was a dog in our household.

The cat lady behind me gave me a cat carrier box to borrow for a couple days to keep them safe while I try to figure out what to do with the, and as I write this, Spunky is sleeping on top of Sleepy (keeping warm I guess). Max looked very offended when he saw me bringing the carrier in with them inside, and he was sniffing it all over the place - though he didn't seem to be getting aggressive - his tail was still wagging while doing it.

If any one of you living in the UAE is interested in adopting a very tiny kitten or two, let me know. They are so small, they aren't quite sure yet how to chew and basically just lick up their food.

I was supposed to go for a manicure today, because I have an interview tomorrow evening, but I had to deal with this, so I guess I will be going with chipped uneven nails - great! Thanks so much cat dumping lady...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Almost famous

I just took my boys to see GI Joe "The Rise of Cobra" - Name any super hero, action, kids movie that is rated PG or G and I have seen it. They are pretty much all I get to see as I don't have someone to go to other kinds of movies most of the time. This movie wasn't anything great - it didn't bore me, but I could have lived without seeing it. It was just there.

In the past couple of years, of this sort of movie my favorites have been the Batman Movie with Heath Ledger (because his joker was just awesome - really he totally overshadowed the guy who played Batman. I don't think they should even have the Joker in any other Batman movie because I really don't think anyone else can do it as well as he did) and Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr. He is another great actor - though a mess in real life if what you read in the tabloids is even half true. I guess like other kinds of artists actors are often emotionally unstable and tortured people - hence the messy lives and tragic deaths (like Heath's RIP).

Once they had a contest here in Dubai. There was supposed to be some kind of movie being filmed here starring Downey Jr, and they decided to cast the female lead locally. So a local paper sponsored a contest and called for women living in the UAE between the ages of 25 and 35, with dark hair and dark eyes, fluent English and "athletic" builds to send in their photos - head shot and full length shot. From those, they would pick some women to come in to audition. I remember my co-worker reading the article out loud in the office.

At that time, I was working for the Sheikh, and he was out of town, so things were a little slower in the office than usual - hence more time for gabbing. Anyway, we started joking around about sending in our photos. She told me that she and her friends were all going to send theirs and said "you have dark hair and eyes - you should just try it." I was like "yeah right.... they need someone with an athletic build." I still have no idea what an athletic build is supposed to be - when I hear it I Imagine some chick with really toned and kind of muscular looking arms. Anyway, as a lark, I ended up sending my photos in - the full length photo wasn't even a proper one - I was seated - but I didn't have any other photos, and it wasn't like I took the contest seriously enough to run out and get one taken.

Quite a bit of time passed, and we forgot all about the contest. The Sheikh returned, and we were right in the middle of a big event to which he had invited HH Sheikh Mohammed. I was checking my e-mail, and I got one that I almost overlooked because I thought it was junk mail. It was from the contest organizers telling me that my photos and initial self description had passed the first round of screening, and they would like me to come down and join other selected women for the first round of auditions. I just laughed. I showed my co-worker, and she tried to convince me to go. BUT the audition was on a work day, and the Sheikh - normally a really good natured guy - was more than a little tense; plus we were working way over time those days as it was to get the event off the ground, and as my luck would have it, the auditions were to be held in the same place where the Sheikh was going to be on the same day promoting his event. I couldn't bring myself to ask for the day off, given the time crunch we were in at work, and I am not the type to do something - like play hookie - and get away with it.

So... I didn't go, and I didn't think about it again... until I saw Iron Man, and Salman was asking me what the name of the actor who plays Iron Man is. When I told him, I remembered this - so I told him about it too - he was so mad at me

"Mommy" he almost shouted in frustration in the middle of the theatre, and then told the little guy "Mommy almost got a chance to be in a movie with Iron Man!!" (a bit of a distortion of the actual story) which then got my little one to also yell "Mommy!" in disappointed outrage. I am flattered that my sons think I would have made it all the way, but at the time I was a newly single working mother - my husband having taken off only a month or so before that, and I didn't think it was worth it to risk the job I actually had to go for an audition that I was not certain to pass. For all I know, they called half the women in Dubai for the audition. Plus, I think I made a good decision - I don't think that movie ever got made - or maybe it did and I just missed it - which is very possible since I only get to see kids movies most of the time.

From time to time, my boys remember this story, especially whenever they see that actor or some reference to Iron Man on TV and yell at me again for not going and ask me, "Why?!!". In their minds, I almost met Iron Man and was almost a movie star - and, for that, they are torn between feeling I am slightly cooler than they thought before and being totally frustrated with me for blowing it all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Further Update

Well first of all, on the job front: As I mentioned before, my current employer has offered me another position but with crappy pay, and I flipped out about that so they raised it a bit, but it still isn't that great, though for some reason my basic pay is higher than it was before. I asked the HR if this was some kind of trick on the part of the management, because quite frankly, I don't trust them at all anymore, and they were like "no, think of this as a second chance," but that really annoyed because the implication still is that I f**ked up, and I know I didn't. Second (and third, fourth and fifth, sixth, etc,) chance is what they gave the useless chick who used to handle their PR, who couldn't write English or Arabic Press Releases who didn't come to work half the days of the week and showed up a couple hours late on most days she did come. They gave her LOTS of second chances and they didn't demote her - no when they moved her out of PR, they PROmoted her. I on the other hand was never late, came to work even when I was sick, and regularly stayed 3-4 hours overtime. And there were the times I did other people's work, at the last minute too to make sure it was done on time, and not once did anyone say good job or thank you or appreciate it one little stinking bit.

Like once HH had to do a speech, so in the evening, after hours, he asked the PR girl to write one for him (for the next day) and she told him it would be ready by noon. And, well, she is good at a lot of PR things, but writing isn't her strong point. So the next morning at around 11 AM or something, she sent me this speech for HH, and I looked at it and right away saw that part of it wasn't that great and part of it looked like it was copied from somewhere else. So I took a suspicious section, copied and pasted it to google, and found out it was copied word for word from some Dean's (of some University in the US) speech. In other words, it was plagiarized. So, I had to re-write the WHOLE thing; it was about noon when I realized that most of it was plagiarized and that the whole thing would have to be re-written, and HH turned up exactly at 12 asking for it. She just nodded towards me and told him I was "checking it", so of course it looked like somehow I was the hold up, the one who was behind on my work. Anyway, I managed to rewrite it and do a pretty good job, if I might say so myself. My boss ended up finding out about it, but he never gave me any kind of credit for it. I don't think he even realized that it isn't everyone who can write a speech at the last minute - or recognize a bit of plagiarism. In fact, as I recall, he didn't know what the word plagiarism meant. Ahhh, I still get so mad thinking about it all.

Their whole attitude towards me just pisses me off.


Then I got that offer in Abu Dhabi, but honestly, the job sounded like a nightmare - 66 hours a week minimum. I am just totally exhausted - after 6 years of stress and spousal abuse and then 4 years of single parenthood at the mercy of jerk bosses (particularly this last year of hell) - I just don't think I could take that. I honestly need a vacation, but I haven't had one in years and I can't afford one. Also it was for a construction company, and all of the other employees were men, including the HR people and receptionists. So, though I would be spending most of my life there, I would not be likely to have loads of friends.


Then, after that, I got an offer in Dubai, but it was originally as much as the offer here (with my current company) and came with a longer working day, a 1 & 1/2 day weekend (as opposed to a 2 day one), and no health insurance for my kids - like I have here. So I refused that, then they raised it a bit, but not by enough, because one thing I remember is that, back when I didn't have health insurance for the kids, somehow any bit I saved ended up going down the toilet in medical expenses for them - one of them needed an operation, or just the routine kids' sicknesses. They also would not provide the annual ticket for the kids. And if I stay here, I can afford a better living space than I would there for the same amount, so we can keep our dog, Max, for now. Though eventually, I guess I will have to leave this place because my eyes are really having problems here, and I don't have a good feeling about it anymore after being treated this way.



So I accepted the new but crappy offer with my old company - at least I won't be reporting to the same guy, and I said I want to have as little to do with him as possible. I will be on probation again for 6 months, so I guess if something better turns up I will / can take it.



Now this one company has called me today, I interviewed with them before I got the offer from my current employer, but I thought it had gone nowhere. Now there is a possibility of a job with a good package, but it is a short term contract. So I am torn about what to do. Because staying here will mean JUST BARELY scraping by every month (if that) but I will be able to relax my mind for a while, come home at 4 (2:30 during Ramadhan - woo hoo!), while going there will mean being able to (hopefully) save some money, but it also means that in nine months I will have to stress out about finding another job (again).



So that is my work-related dilemma. Any thoughts?



As for other things:



Max likes chocolate chip cookies. (Who knew that about dogs?) I made some (from scratch thank you very much) and my maid kind of overcooked the first tray, but then I showed her how they should be when they are removed and the next tray was awesome. Anyway I was standing in my kitchen scarfing them down and totally destroying the headway I have made in the past week (lost another 2 pounds!), and he was sitting there watching me eat them. So I tossed him one and he ate it. He also likes chocolate milk.



As I also mentioned before, I had a car accident last week, and now the back of my car is all mangled and my own back is hurting as well, though getting better slowly. It seems it will take couple of days more to feel better. Meanwhile my car will take a couple of weeks - just great.



It seems that one of the officers took a fancy to me, which was (is?) kind of awkward. After the police dropped me home after the accident, I slept for a while, and woke up with even more back pain. Then the bell rang, and Salman went to answer it. He came back and told me that there was "some Arab guy in a black car" asking for me. I went out and there was this black car with some guy in a Kandora sitting in it and grinning out the window at me. I stared at him blankly thinking "who the hell is this?" until I realized it was one of the police officers who had dealt with my accident - the one who spoke very little English and had driven me in my car back to my house.

Somehow he managed to communicate to me that my report was ready and they needed me to come to the Police Station to sign it so they could release it and said he had come to take me because my car was too messed up and my back was stiff. So we drove there in awkward silence. He asked me "you OK now?" about two or three times, and I told him "no, my back and neck hurt more now." He stopped and bought water at some little shop and gave me a bottle too. I was thinking ... "okay... its not like the police station is hours away," but I guessed he was thirsty and didn't want to look rude only getting some for himself. Anyway, the trip to the station turned out to be pointless, because once they found out my back was still hurting they said I should wait - not sure why, no one at the station had excellent English skills, but it had something to do with them asking me if I " want anything from him (the other driver)" - maybe in case I have some kind of medical problems related to the accident, so I could claim them against his insurance too. So the police officer took me home again. This time he stopped to buy himself cigarettes and offered me one, I told him "No thanks I don't smoke" then he took some rather indirect and meandering route through a neighborhood and stopped at somebody's house, rang the doorbell, and waited a while and smoked a cigarette, meanwhile I was just sitting in the car wondering if he forgot I was there or something and why I needed to accompany him on the rest of his afternoon errands.When we got close to my house again he asked me (again) "you OK now?" I told him, "no back still hurting." The he reached over and touched the back of my neck - and asked me "hurting here?" and suddenly I felt SUPER uncomfortable. Luckily we pulled up to my house at that point. Then he told me I should put Vicks on my neck, and I said "OK, I will thanks" and was getting out of the car. THEN, he said "put Vicks and massage" and I said "OK thanks I will have my son do" and THEN he said "ana (and pointed to himself - means "I" in Arabic) massage you." For a split second I was dumb struck, a combination of being creeped out and just plain shocked. I didn't know what to do. It never even occurred to me that a police officer would do that, and I got all confused thinking that maybe I did something wrong by going with him to the police station, but I thought he was helping me out in the capacity of a police officer and not in the capacity of some guy who wanted to jump my bones. I don't react very well in situations like that, so the best response I could come up with was to play dumb and pretend I didn't get what he meant, so I told him, again, "yes thanks, I will have my son massage",

At that point, Max heard the car and my voice outside the gate and started barking up a storm. The officer looked a little concerned. "You have big dog?" he asked. "YES!", I told him, "VERY BIG." "I afraid dog" he told me. I don't think I have ever loved Max more than I did at that moment.The next day I went BY MYSELF with a taxi to get the police report. The two officers on duty spoke maybe 10 words of English between them. The one typing up the report asked me "you age?" I told him "37" he stared up at the ceiling in puzzlement. "three" "seven" I told him, and again he stared up tracing imaginary numbers in the air with his finger like he was trying to recall what they should look like. "Thelatha - saba" I told him. I know that isn't the right way to say 37 in Arabic, but it was the best I could do and he seemed to understand what I meant.

The day before yesterday, I took Max out for a walk, and when I got back Salman told me that police officer had come by the house AGAIN. I don't think I have any more business with the police regarding my accident so I am glad I wasn't in. Salman told me that he told him that I was "out" and then the dude was like "but her car is here" and then Salman told him "no outside for exercise, walking the dog" and he was like "oh" and went away (yay Max). I have to say, I feel a lot safer having Max than I did before I had him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Yet another Awesome day in the life of ..me

OK, if I didn't believe I am cursed before, I do now.



Guess what happened to me today?



You can't imagine? Well let me tell you...

I was driving along, minding my own business, on the cornice road - which has those pedestrian crossing elevated paths with flashing lights that are supposed to make you slow down . I wasn't in any hurry, just going to buy a map from the gas station to see if I could figure out how the hell to drive to Al Taweelah from here. So I was moseying along in the slow lane (or slower lane since you are supposed to drive slow on the road in general) and just as I am coming to an intersection the light turns yellow, so it was one of those situations where, if I floored it, I could get through the intersection before it turned red or if I braked quickly I could just stop. I opted for the second choice since I was not in my speed demon mood today.



Apparently the guys in the car behind me were also considering the option to floor it and had decided to go for it, assuming that I was in sync with what they were planning... so I stopped and then wham! I heard the back of my car crumbling, my neck and back and jerked forward and I found my car being pushed into the intersection - which, thankfully was a T- intersection and I was on the top part of the T so it was as bad as being in the middle of a normal intersection.



The people in the car behind me were "surprise surprise" young local guys (who else needlessly tails people and guns through almost red lights?).



Now I was having a pretty bad morning to begin with, for one thing I have PMS or, more accurately, CMS (current menstrual syndrome), for another thing, everything else that has been going on doesn't exactly have me in the best of moods, so the realization that now on top of everything else, I don't have a car, just pushed me over the edge, and I started to cry. I just sat there and cried. I vaguely remember one of the guys saying something to me like "you didn't see light" and snapping something back at him like "YES I saw it, that is why I stopped, you didn't see ME?" followed by "DON"T you DARE try to blame this on me" and then I went back to sobbing.



So there I was in my smashed car having a break down in the middle of the intersection. The police showed up after about 10 minutes or something. The first one out of the car greeted the two guys and right away they launched into their side of the story in Arabic, I got the feeling they were trying to pin it on me somehow which pissed me off. Then the second officer got out of the car. He could speak some English so I told him that I would like to know what they are saying and then I just started crying again. I don't think any of them knew what to do with that... so anyway they told the guys they would make the report and they could pick it up from the station, they told me the same thing but I said "how am I supposed to driver safely with a stiff neck and no brake lights?" (they were lying in the road) - not that having brake lights had done me much good - but I could just picture myself being rear-ended by yet another car on my way to police station, which is on a much faster moving road, because I had no brake lights

So then, after I mentioned my neck, it occurred to them that maybe I needed to go the hospital. They had me park my car along the cornice, and then they drove me to the Emergency Room. At the hospital they took x-rays of my neck and back. Nothing is broken but the Dr. said I am having muscle spasms. My favorite part was when the nurse (a niqabi) asked me in front of the Police Officer if I was married - I don't know what to say about that in my current situation - so I told them - well not really, I am almost divorced. Then she asked me if there is any chance I could be pregnant and I was like "no way" (barring immaculate conception that is) and then she asked me when my last period was - because I guess she didn't believe me - and i told her "now" and she made me repeat it about 5 times - louder each time. So by the time it sunk into her that I was as we spoke menstruating, the whole room, including the police officer who brought me there knew it as well. That was GREAT, though I am sure the police officer must have been thinking - ok, well that explains the crying.

Poor guy had been really worried and had called his friend, another police officer who had been to the US many times (after he found out I am American) to reassure me that the accident would not be blamed on me.

Then I got a shot in my butt - and they sent me home.

Anyway, after that they took me back to my car, and one of them drove me home in my car. They told me they would let me know when the police report would be ready and bring it to me.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Old Family Photos - My Parents' wedding





As a change from usual moaning and groaning and fretting about my life - and to take my mind off of it, even if only momentarily, I am going to do something a little bit different.


My Aunt "E", my father's youngest sister has been going nuts scanning old family photos. I don't really have many (any) of my parents when they were young, so it has been nice to see them, plus my dad has been sporting a Jesus look for most of my life so it is nice to see his face for a change.


The thing I like about old photos, is the way they dressed (old photos BEFORE the 70s that is). Everyone looks so... clean and proper and ... decent. Makes me wish I would live back then when things were simpler and marriages were more likely to succeed.


Anyway, since I enjoy looking at old photos (of my own family and other people's as well), I thought I would share some with you. The first batch I will share is my parents' wedding, since without this happy occasion, I wouldn't be here today. Enjoy!



My mom and her bridesmaids (my aunts) at her wedding rehearsal. In this picture they are all wearing scarves on their head because the wedding was in a Catholic Church and in those days you had to at least have some sort of token head covering.


Both of my parents were raised as Atheists, but Dad has always marched to the beat of a different drummer. When he was young he was drawn to nature, and this love of nature made him realize that there must be a God. After reading all about different religions, he settled on Christianity. At first he was attracted to the Catholic Church, mainly because of St. Francis, who was known for his love of nature. This is why they were married in a Catholic Church. After their wedding he donated all of their wedding silver to the Church, much to my grandparents' dismay. He left the Catholic Church later, after further reading of the bible convinced him that certain practices were not necessary (confession to a priest, etc.)




This is my Mother with her father. He died when I was only 8 years old, from lung cancer. I just remember that I loved him most of all my grandparents. We (his grandchildren) called him Bobby, just like our mothers had called his father Bobby. He and my grandmother (whom we called Mimi) lived across the street from us when we were little. My earliest memory involves him. I was less than two and my older sister - who was only three - caught me licking the sweet pink coating off of my grandmother's iron tablets. She ran and told on me, and my parents were worried that I had eaten some of the tablets. What I remember is my grandfather quickly picking me up by my heels and whacking me on the back to try to get me to spit out what ever I had swallowed. I thought I was being punished at the time.





This is my parents' wedding party. The bridesmaids are all my aunts. The one all the way to the left in the top picture and on the right in this one directly above is the older of my dad's two younger sisters "K". The one with black hair next to her is my Mom's oldest sister, Shannon and the one next to her (red head but you can't tell here) "MK" is the middle sister and the maid of honor. The groomsmen / ushers are my dad's brother "G" (next to my dad), next to him is Dave, MK's husband and my Dad's best friend (the three of them were in the same class in high school); Larry - the son of my Mimi and Bobby's closest friends and like a brother to my mom and her sisters; Shannon's husband Tony; and my Dad's and Dave's friend "C" (RIP). C was a very bright and handsome young man with a lot of potential (went to Harvard), but he married a selfish and manipulative woman who later broke his heart, and eventually, he killed himself.



This is the happy couple with my dad's mother's parents. We called them Old grandmother and Old grandfather on the farm. Old grandfather died when I was a baby but Old Grandmother lived to a ripe old age.










My parents were only 23 and 20 years old when they got married. My Dad first saw my mom when he was invited over by MK one day. He and Dave and MK were best friends and he had asked MK to accompany him has a friend to a school dance. His best friend Dave ended up taking MK home after the dance. He saw my mom again later when after graduation MK threw a surprise birthday party for him at home. He said he remembered seeing my mom sitting at a table studying for her final exams. Looking at these pictures, I can see why they fell for each other, they were both really good looking people! (of course I might be biased :) )


My Dad and his brother "G" . My mom said that she was really upset with G because my Dad was very excited and nervous before the wedding so G kept handing him drinks - Champagne. So he was a little pink in the face and tipsy during the wedding. He stopped drinking alcohol altogether not long after that.



Both sets of my grandparents at the wedding. The taller couple is my Dad's parents Grandpa and Grandma (as we called them.) Of all of them, only Grandpa is still alive today (93 years old). Bobby died first when I was 8. Mimi managed to live for 10 more years and then passed on from cancer as well. Grandma died when I was 23. Grandpa has remarried a "younger woman" who is now 73.




Help! I need to pack

Well, I need to start packing up the entire contents of my house. I don't know where I am going but I have to pack all the same. I don't know where to begin.

Does anyone know where I can get large boxes and / or those large canvas bags that people sometimes pack things in?


I have to find a new home for Max too. Which is sad, since we just found him again, but I doubt I will be able to live some place where he can stay. Most flats don't allow pets - especially not big ones like Max.

So if anyone knows where to get those boxes or bags - or if anyone knows of someone who would like a really sweet and beautiful dog - please let me know.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cost of Living in Abu Dhabi?

By the way, as I mentioned below, I was offered the job in Abu Dhabi. Can anyone familiar with Abu Dhabi tell me how much a person needs to earn to be able to live in a 2 bedroom apartment there, send two kids to an OK school, pay a maid's salary, and hopefully save a little bit each month?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Max is BACK!! and Update # 2

First of all thanks to all again, and for those of you who were concerned about Max, he finally came home! A lovely British family found him. Thank God it was a British family - Brits tend to be dog lovers - at least that is what I have observed from the ones I have seen / met here. At the very least they aren't dog haters.







At work on Monday I told them that I really don't want to come in anymore since I don't see why I need to be there, and I had nothing to do. I had been helping the PR lady with the newsletter - by proof reading and editing all of the different articles for the columns in it and that was finished so I didn't see the need to be hanging around.



They asked me about the offer they had given me and I told them, excuse me I only got it on Thursday afternoon and I asked for more information and for them to increase it and they haven't got back to me on that, so how can I answer them? I also told them that I can't give them an answer on it right away because I haven't had the time to go out and see if I can find any other accommodation that will fit into my new greatly decreased budget.

Now here is what they are offering me - pretending to be magnanimous - termination - plus the new crappy pay or termination plus one more month pay off. They will also pay me off for my leave days that I have built up and not used. They will not however give me my return tickets for me and my boys that are part of my contract with one year of work (I have worked more than one year) They told me because I am terminated they only need to give me one way tickets but the cheapos are not giving me the actual cost of one way tickets - which cost almost the same as return tickets - they are halving the price of a return ticket which is completely wrong. I told them that I don't see what the hell my annual ticket which is one of the benefits offered in my contract has to do with me being terminted, the reason I hadn't taken my leave yet was that Fatema had been on the verge of quitting since January, and I couldn't leave her alone in the office because I was afraid of what they would to to her. THEY were the ones who refused to find a replacement for her and took advantage of her good nature (she was waiting train her replacement) to force her to stay there 6 months longer than she wanted to stay. So now they are cheating me out of the tickets that I was planning to use to send my kids home and hopefully bring them back again once I got things sorted out (God willing). Furthermore they told me I don't get my gratuity - gratuity is a payment equal to one month's basic salary provided you have worked for a company at least one year - this is mandated in the labor law and yet they told me "you haven't worked here three years yet so you don't get it". I also found out that according to labor law if they terminate me illegally, without any prior warning letter, I am entitled to three months pay off (it is like a fine they have to pay for doing that.) So they aren't being magnanimous in what they are offering they are being cheap and dishonest. And technically, since they are still treating my case as a termination and rehire, if I take the new job with them, I would be entitled to all of those things anyway.




Anyway, back to Max.


I was really worried about him - especially after the Russian lady who owns the hair salon nearby called some of her friends who live in the area and asked if they had seen him. She is married to a local and knows many people who live around there. One of them, who knows what Max looks like said she had seen him on the corniche roaming with two other dogs on the loose. This really worried me since the corniche is across a rather busy road. I know he is smart, but Billy was smart too, and she got hit by a car. So Salman and I dashed over to the corniche and walked the entire length of it and back again calling "Max!" at the top of our lungs. People were looking at us like we were a couple of weirdos. I asked some of the people walking there - ones who look like they might be people who exercise there regularly if they had seen him, both of them said they had seen a dog lying in the grass and one of them said she saw a kid kicking it. This really upset me, because it made me wonder if he was hurt that he would just lay there while some kid kicked him.



Anyway, in spite of walking for almost 2 hours - we still hadn't found him. Salman was really upset and said he was angry at the maid. (I suppose anonymous will accuse him of abusing her too now based on that bit of information.)





Someone I met on my walk suggested I call the municipality in the morning to see if they found him, so that is what I planned to do. I was really hoping they did have him, because I was beginning to lose hope.



The next morning I had to wake up bright and early to leave for my interview in Abu Dhabi. "A" called and said he was on his way from Dubai to pick us up and take us (God love him). I had decided to let the maid go to Dubai for a few days to visit her sister and told her the evening before to be ready by 7 AM or "se-ven morning time" in maid speak (yeah that's right anonymous). She was really happy about that. So of course at 7:05 AM, the kids and I were showered dressed and ready with our things in the hall and the maid was nowhere to be seen, so Salman went and knocked on the door to her room. At 7;15 AM she showed up in kitchen in her pyjama's. I asked her "why aren't you ready?" and when she stared at me blankly, I followed that by "why you no take shower and wear your clothes - you go like this?" her answer "I make breakfast for you" - this she is saying while looking at the cup with eggshells in it from the breakfast that I had already made and that we had just finished eating. Since when does she make my breakfast? I would like to know. Luckily "A" was late - usually he isn't and he doesn't like for people not to be ready when he shows up so she managed to get ready before he arrived. If she hadn't been, I wouldn't be surprised if he had left her or told her to take a bus to Dubai. I KNOW anonymous - the horror of it! I am such a horrible person for wanting to get to my job interview on time!!

Anyway the job interview went really well , they offered me the job right on the spot! The pay wouldn't be bad either if it was in Dubai or here, but for Abu Dhabi it isn't so good because of the cost of housing - really, it is insane there and this job has long hours and only Fridays off. Plus almost all of the staff are men - so its not like I would even be able to make friends on the job. So, I am going to be barely scraping by, I might as well be doing it here in a bigger house and coming home at 4 PM every day instead of 7 PM. But still it felt really good to be offered - and on the spot too! Especially since the Deputy Director at my current place of employment told me "you should just take our new offer, you wont get offered anything anywhere else" Since in money terms this AD offer is substantially higher (though not in real terms in view of the hours and cost of living), I feel like going into the office and waving it in her face. God the way they undervalue people and drag them down is really something!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Missing Dog - Max is gone :(

Well, as if I didn't have enough to deal with at the moment. My dog Max is missing - either someone stole him or he is dead somewhere.

I got a nasty message from some anonymous freak earlier - who flipped out at me for saying that it bothered me that my maid was chatting on the phone with local boys and I find her a little strange. Apparently the ranting anonymous knows SO much more about my maid and my life than I do.

So, for my anonymous "fan" (ha!), if you read this, you are going to love this one, I wonder what you will write in response. My maid let the dog out of the courtyard and into the street. I have a feeling she did it on purpose, because she is incredibly stubborn and thinks she knows everything better than I do, but she might have done it on accident (when taking out the trash) - whatever the case, either way I am pretty sure she knew what she had done and instead of letting us know, she went and took and nap and then two hours later "innocently" alerted us to the fact that he was missing.

I got home at around 5. Max was in the hallway of the house as he always is during daylight hours because his fur is too thick, and I am afraid he will get overheated. We have a tall wall around the house and big black iron gate, so there is no way for him to get out of the house unless someone opens the door to the house and then opens the gate. as well He can't do either of these things himself as he lacks the necessary appendages. The last time I saw Max, he was lying in the hallway staring at me as helped myself to a mouthful of chocolate whipped cream. Then I went into my bedroom with my boys. They were with me the whole time, so I know they are not responsible for letting him out.

Next thing I knew, I was getting ready to take Max for his evening walk, and he wasn't anywhere to be found. Of course the maid, did the usual - blame the kids routine - she lies a lot and blames the kids for it. Like the time she called Ethiopia from my phone - she said my six year old did it. That was just plain stupid for her to even try to convince me that it was him. As if I can't tell who is responsible - the six year old boy or the ETHIOPIAN adult. I was more mad about her lying than I was about her making the phone call. Best part of it all was that she had a received call from the SAME number on her mobile phone.

Now there are a couple of reasons why I am certain it was the maid who let (threw) Max out. The first one being that kids were with me, so there is no way they could have done it. The second being that she has tried to do it before because she stubbornly insisted that he would come back on his own, and I had told her not to do it several times. The third one being that Max hates going out in the heat and only goes out if someone deliberately makes him go out / or takes him out for a walk. Even if he is not on his leash and the gate is open he doesn't go outside unless someone makes him do it. And the fourth one being that when The kids and I went out to run look for him, she suggested we look in certain direction - one that would have actually been the last place I would assume he would have gone (I was looking behind our street in the neighborhood where we usually walk him.) But lo and behold, after not finding him anywhere behind the house, we went in the direction she said and we asked one of the shop people if they saw him and they said they had seen him walking that way a couple hours before. So I think she let him out - maybe even took him out on his leash and then loosed him, saw which way he went, took her nap, and when she woke up, was surprised to see that he hadn't returned on his own and then tried to cover her ass.

But it's not like I am stupid. because, unless we have a ghost in the house who can open the doors, she did it, there really isn't any other explanation. Plus now she is walking around looking guilty - I don't think she meant to harm him; she just thought she knew that he would come back
We looked everywhere we could thnk of for him and asked people we saw on the road, but aside from the shop attendant, none of the people we spoke to had seen him. I hoped that he would wander back at night, but he never came. I am so worried about him. I hope he didn't get hit by a car. I wonder if he is out there somewhere and is hot and hungry and doesn't have water. I couldn't sleep half the night, and then when I did, I dreamt that I was looking for him and I found him and I was so happy, and then I woke up. He really was the sweetest dog, and I miss him terribly.

Salman is really upset, and he was more upset when the maid tried to accuse him of doing it...

I hope someone found Max and is taking good care of him. One thing that makes me feel better is that I know he is a beautiful dog and that people used to stop and ask me for what amount I would sell him. I hope one of them found him.

If anyone reading this lives in Ras Al Khaimah and has seen him, please let me know... you can see his photograph in my earlier post "Max and me."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Update

First I want to say thank you to everyone who responded to my last post. I honestly didn't expect anyone to read it, much less really care what is happening in my life over here in this little corner of the world. You all have given me a fresh outlook on humanity.

I was raised in a conservative family, with nice honest, God fearing, and quite frankly, naive parents, who sheltered me from a lot of crap. Growing up and living in the real world has at times been quite tough and shocking. I had just naively expected that things like hard work, honesty, being a real friend, etc. would be appreciated, but I had found that it was often quite the opposite, that many people look for those traits, not because they appreciate them, but so that they can exploit them. So I have had many rude awakenings in my life.

My circumstances since my husband left have not helped. I have realized that being a single mother who is just desperate to care for her children is something that many people will try to exploit - particularly employers. They think "oh she can't lose her job so we can treat her as badly as we want." I don't think it is a coincidence that I have had mostly bad employers since my husband left and mostly nice ones before he left / before I knew he wasn't returning.

Anyway, once again thank you all for letting me see a kinder and better side of humanity again.

As for an overview of my situation and an update:

Well as you all know, I was forced to go into work so I could make sure that everything is smooth sailing for my replacement. Any little question she has, any little thing she is trying to find, she comes running over to my desk to get the answer and 99% of the time I have the answer for her. This is not how it was for me when I joined. Because my boss is habitually monstrous to the person in that position, most people haven't stayed more than 6 months and the longest has been a year - or two years if you count Fatema, but she as not working directly with him the whole time. Because of people leaving, quitting, being sacked abruptly, there was never any proper hand over from person to person, the newcomer was always saddled with piles of crap -with no explanation as to its relevance and sorting through it became secondary to current crap that was being piled on daily, so often it remained untouched, until they like their predecessors were sacked and so the mess remained and grew. Because I managed to last a year, I did manage to sort through quite a bit of it and get the junior office staff to clean up a lot of the mess.

When I joined, the shelf in our office area was literally exploding with junk - old newpapers, magazines, company profiles, random documents, you name it - it was all jammed on that shelf, and I being new wasn't sure of the relevance of many of the things on it. I went through some things, and threw away what I could tell was not necessary, filed some things that looked important and I nagged Fatema until finally, when we got the trainee in to help us with a lot the daily and petty takss, they got the rest done.

There were stacks and stacks of unfiled business cards. There wasn't anyone to give me a frame of reference for the old ones that were collected before my time, but I did manage to make a shared contacts folder in Outlook that he could access with the cards from the past year - or the important looking ones - less important cards were given to the trainee to enter into a more general database. Because he was always bleating about how he is "visually oriented" I even made the online cards look like the original ones so that when he looked at them they would look familiar, when possible we also saved photographs of the person the card corresponded to (to jog his visual memory).

Before I came, they were not using the Outlook to manage calendars, I made it so that I and Fatema and his deputy had direct access to his calendar, and we could makes changes to it as necessary - and since he is constantly cancelling and postponing and double booking himself, this was necessary. It also made it so that everyone who needed to could see what was going on in the office by way of meetings. I also got access to most of the directors' calendars so that, when scheduling meetings that required the presence of many of them, it was easier to schedule a time that was convenient for all.

When this lady came, I gave her a detailed description of projects currently underway and briefed her on their history and what is the expected next step - no one did this for me. Everything I learned on my own. Fatema was as helpful as she could be, but since she hadn't been handling his emails or projects and had only been assisting with a few things, she couldn't really help me with the sea of unfiled e-mails floating in his inbox. But I filed literally thousands upon thousands of unfiled e-mails so that they would be easier for him to find and, now, her. All of these were huge and ongoing processes that were constantly being interrupted by the daily stuff.

But I got credit for none of the above. Instead I was blamed for things like the time he forgot to pick up his own wife and son - which I described in an earlier post; Or for Fatema's sudden quitting; Or for the fact that he would completely forget something about which I had spoken with him in detail - sometimes on more than one occasion; or for the time one of his big shot directors was with him in London and had behind my back gone and cancelled and rearranged his meetings there and then forgotten to tell him or me about it - (for that I got a phone call where he screamed at me about how incompetent I am); or the time the same director called from overseas and said he needed to talk to him about something and he said he would call him as soon as he got in the office and so when I reminded him about it when he got in the office he screamed at me for what I still don't know; or the time HE gave Fatema the wrong address for his grandmother and then his mother told them she would pick it up from the office herself (instead of giving the right address) and then didn't for a couple weeks; and countless other inane things like these.

So now, miss replacement gets to come and sit at the nice clean desk - which I did her the favor of leaving in an orderly condition (unlike my predecessor who left me with drawers, in and out boxes full of miscellaneous crap of unknown importance or significance. If she needs something from the shelves, it is right there where she can find it, because the shelves are labeled nicely. There are also soft copies of many important things stored online on the shared folder that was created while Fatema and I were there. And of course, I made sure I showed her how to access them - while explaining how to use a calendar notification and how to put her phone on silent!

Anyway, the past few days I have been sitting at some desk loaded with crap from God Knows Who back the corner near the PR officer and the Technical and Legal Advisors. He doesn't usually wander back that way and that is fine by me, since the sound of his voice makes me cringe.

I read through my employment contract and noticed the termination clauses, and sure enough, they have fired me illegally since there is supposed to be an investigation and review period followed by a warning period, before termination. I also read that since company provided accommodation is part of my contract, I should have at least one month still after termination in my house. So I called up the Accounts and HR and blasted them about the situation with my landlord and housing. So they sorted that out and I now have housing for a few more weeks at least. Though not much, it is better than nothing. Then I made sure to tell a few key people, who would run to him with everything I said, that I know my termination was in violation of my contract AND labor law because there was no cause for the termination - according to the termination clauses - and because there was no reason for termination mentioned on the termination letter - not mention that it isn't actually my name at the top of the letter, since they mispelled it horrendously.

So on Wednesday, Miss Replacement comes stomping over to my desk and summons me into his office. So I made sure I rolled my eyes visibly - they told me not to SAY anything but no one mentioned facial expressions.

Then I went in there. I was wearing 3 inch heels - so he made me sit down in the boardroom. I realized later he was using his classic intimidation method on me. He always makes you sit down - especially if you are taller - so he can feel big - and then he sits too close and having his ugly face so horrifyingly close is enough to make people like me panic and just want to get the hell out of there. Anyway, he then says to me "where's M" (HR coordinator). And I am like "how should I know?" Then he says to me " So what can we do for you?" and said "I didn't ask to come in here - you called me in" then he went on about how they are thinking of giving me a new position within the organization - editing - and would I take it? And I said "how can I tell you if I would take some offer I haven't seen and a job that hasn't been described to me yet?" then Miss Nosey Pants Replacement butts in and he carried on with his conversation in her presence which I thought was highly inappropriate and she sat their nodding as he started (showing off for her) asking me if really think I can manage the new position and do a good job (the implication being that he highly doubts I am capable of doing anything well) and she sat there nodding and clicking in agreement, and I wanted to smack both of them.

Of course, I know he is covering his ass. Obviously, if I had committed some kind of infraction or done something illegal or wrong that was truly worthy of termination, they wouldn't need to offer me anything else, but he knows that I know that my termination was illegal. So he has come up with a clever way to cover his ass AND humiliate me at the same time - offer me a lower paying job.

Anyway, on Thursday, I was sitting at my desk again. And he came back that way looking for the Legal advisor, and then popped over into the accounts sections and then he came over to my desk - which he didn't even need to do - and asked me how I am doing and I didn't even look up at him - I said fine in a very unfriendly voice and didn't greet him or ask him how he is in return. I hate how pleased and satisfied he is that he has gotten away with being a jerk yet again.

Towards the end of the day, HR called me to come up and they gave me this shit offer of less than I was making before I took this job, with a basic salary lower than I have EVER got before. So, having not slept at all the night before, and being in a pretty crappy mood, I flipped out and told them to they can keep their crappy offer since I can't really provide for my kids on it and that I am SICK of their games and that since they have pretty much messed up my life and I have nothing to lose I am going to make sure I take the company and my boss down with me if I can and I won't give up until I do. Then they got all concerned trying to calm me down and I told them, are you people sick, deceiving someone into giving up their stability in Dubai to come up to this place and then doing this to them? And the the HR manager - it was her last day of work incidentally - said, well you didn't have to take the job and come here, And I said, "well I wouldn't have if you people hadn't lied about the position and the boss." I said, "when a boss has a history of doing this kind of thing to people, you have an obligation to let them know this - and if the person is a mother with children who depend on her, you shouldn't even bother trying to recruit her - you all KNOW what a jerk he is, so everytime you recruit someone you know that he will do this and you KNEW my situation, so you should have realized that something like this might very well destroy my life or cause me severe hardship. Now I am stuck up here in the middle of no where with no where to go!" I was yelling. Then I told them that since he is an employee too, he should be subject to rules and restrictions on his behavior and not be allowed to just abuse his power at will.

So now they are going to ask him if they can at least make it as much as I was earning before I came here, which really won't help since my rent there was very cheap, my kids' school was 1/3 cheapers and the Water and electricity bills and other expenses were much cheaper in Dubai too. But maybe I might be able to squeak by on it until I find something else. But I don't know if he will agree to it or not anyway, probably won't knowing him.

Then in the afternoon, Miss Replacement very condescendingly asks me "did you have time to consider what Mr .. talked to you about yesterday?" and I looked at her and said "I am not allowed to discuss this issue with you" and then I said "or rather, I am not allowed to discuss my true feelings regarding this situation with you" and her eyes got all wide and she said "oh!"

Now I still don't know where I stand or what to do. I don't know if I should take the job just to hang on for now - but I am afraid it will put me in more debt to live here when I can't really afford to. .. I think every month I will use all of what I earn plus a bit of the paltry settlement they give me for my old position.

I have been thinking about how I want to change my life for good. For a long time, I have wanted to become certified to teach English as a second / foreign language, but I never had the time or money for it. I still don't have the money, but I can't shake the idea. Being a teacher would be great - I could sponsor my kids easily - no questions, no leaving it up to the whim of some official or another and If I could get a job at a school, I could get discounted tuition, and hours that are great for a working mom. I have been looking for online courses that I might be able to take gradually, but I haven't found anything for sure yet.


Oh I have a job interview in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, I have no idea if it will be a good job or not, I certainly hope so, because if they drag me all the way there and then tell me that they are looking to pay 2,000 dirhams, I am going to be pretty upset. I told them what I was making here though, and they still called me back about the interview, so I am hoping that means they are willing to pay close to that at least! So if you all could please pray for me, though I don't want to have another bad job, so please pray for me that if I do get any future job offers they aren't from monsters in disguise like this last one.

And that's the latest with me... In short, I'm still alive and trying to figure this out...

OH and I peeped in my boss' webmail and lo and behold the HR has sent him templates for NEW contracts which make it easier for him to do this to people (meaning they can't accuse him of illegal termination with this new contract). Nice how they are facilitating his behavior.