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

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.