Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Well, Christmas has come and gone in the blink of an eye.

I had an ear infection and sore throat right before hand, and I was totally stressed out from work, so I didn't manage to get the presents wrapped and under the tree until after midnight on Christmas Eve - well technically very early Christmas morning.

Thank God for the boxes from my mom and sisters arriving on the 23rd, otherwise things would have looked a little bleak under the tree. Speaking of my boxes arriving, the customs official wanted to charge me like 200 extra dirhams and I asked him "Why? They're gifts?" and he said "Under $200 gift - over charge" But each individual box was under $200 dollars and they didn't come from the same place, I just happened to pick them up on the same day. It makes no sense. The same three boxes, if I had picked them up on separate days, would have been free.
They also included the cost of posting the items with the actual price to calculate the duty - nice :(

Anyway, I decide to just cook a little meal for myself and the boys, but then I ended up inviting another American friend and her family because she wasn't at all prepared for Christmas thanks to her sons having chicken pox. Mine already had it, so I figured there was no harm in inviting them. I also invited my Jordanian coworker.

I cooked turkey, corn pudding and mashed potatoes (with sour cream) and then apple crisp and cheesecake (baked New York Style) for dessert.

My maid announced that she is going home for a vacation. First she said she would be gone for two weeks, then one month now it stands at month and a week, who knows what it will be next. This means I have no one to watch my kids while I am at work. S is almost 13, though, so I guess he can babysit for little D. My main worry is what they will eat for lunch and dinner - that's pretty much all she did for them anyway, cooked. Otherwise, she was in her room watching TV. I am hoping, though, that after she has a break, she will be in a better mood and work better.

Finding a maid is not such an easy task in RAK...

I need a vacation... a real one, not a trip back home where I will end up sitting at a computer doing my work the entire time. They don't respect my right to have a proper leave here. Even when I am on sick leave they bug me and nag me about deadlines.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I can't believe another Christmas is almost here again... though I am not particularly looking forward to it.

I am so tired of spending holidays alone. But at least I got to have a real Thanksgiving this year - one American friend from work had a gathering at her place - so it was me and my two boys, her and her husband and her two boys and a Latina American and her two boys and then a bunch of non Americans - an Iranian - who said "oh ver deed you find dis biiiig cheeken" when she saw the Turkey - :)) (she's so cute), a Mauritian, a Bulgarian and a German woman and her daughter.

It was quite a nice gathering - all the nice people that I like from work - none of the mean gossipy ones. I also thought it was cool to celebrate what I think is one of the nicest North American cultural holidays with so many non-Americans. Setting one day aside to have a feast with friends and thank God for what he has given you in the past year is something nice that I think anyone can appreciate. I am not saying that you shouldn't be thankful all the time - but making a special occasion to do it is nice too.

I made one hell of a delicious pumpkin pie (if I might say so myself). Of course, like all things - especially desserts - that are extra delicious, it is quite fattening. My secret - substitute cream for some of the evaporated milk.

Anyway, good time was had by all - afterward the host went for a walk and the children were upstairs playing and we ladies had a fine time dancing to Latin, Arabic, Turkish and Indian music.

The next day we were invited to yet another Thanksgiving dinner, which was also nice but quieter.

I love turkey....

speaking of turkey, since when did it become the norm to serve gravy from a jar??? For me that's paramount to sacrilege - throw out all the nice juices and flavour from the turkey and serve some ... goop.. from a can... luckily, my hosts had not yet thrown out the drippings and I was able to make real gravy for them - which I can safely say myself is 1,000,000 x better than canned crap. Is gravy-making, like sewing quilting, bread making becoming a lost skill? I certainly hope not. But just in case, I have already taught my sons to make it - and that importance of making the real thing... so let's hope it will stay alive for at least one more generation beyond me.

All this talk of turkey reminds me I need to skiddadle out to Carrefour and get one for Christmas before they are all gone.

**********

On an entirely different note... I am having some trouble with my maid and I am not sure how to deal with it.

She is a nice lady, but lately she has become incredibly lazy.

For example i noticed this growing dirty gray patch on the kitchen floor. So I asked her to clean it... it felt kind of sticky - it's still there. I tried cleaning it myself - it isn't hard to do, which means she didn't even try.

I went on vacation for almost a month and I came back and my clothes were just jammed in my closet - not put nicely - jammed. (And she got paid for that month by the way).

When I wake up in the morning, she is asleep. When I come home from work, she is asleep... any time I look for her, she is in her room with the door locked. I think she stays up all night watching Ethiopian TV and then sleeps all day. What bothers me more than her laziness is the way she acts so put upon.

My son got ringworm recently from the cat. Although they have their own room, my kids sleep with me (don't like to sleep alone :(... ) So she only has to tidy up one room really. I told her that while he has ringworm, the sheets have to be changed every day. She had a little hissy fit about that - changing sheets of one whole bed every day!! Imagine that! When she first started working for me, they slept in their own bed, and I had another lady staying with me - so she had four beds to make - but for some reason this was an intolerable request from me.

She recently bleach the bajesus out of a pair of my work pants because she was too lazy to separate the clothes for washing and just dumped them all in the wash together. She then complained to my boys about how it was my fault for "hiding" my pants in the sheets. And I didn't even get mad at her or say anything, I just told her "ok, please check better next time."

She moved the racks for drying clothes under some tree where the clothes now get covered with little seeds and crap while they dry. I think she did this because it is right outside her door so she only has to walk a couple feet to get to the them. I had put them under the car park because the sun doesn't hit them directly and they don't fade there.... in her new places they get some sun and all my clothes are looking dull in colour. I told her i would like them dried in the previous place and she told me 'no this is better'... Mind you the car park is only another 15 feet away .... if that.

Just in case anyone is wondering.. I pay her waaaay more than anyone else I know pays their maid, and I don't boss her around - though it seems I may have to start. Also unlike many maids in other houses, she is free to eat whatever she wants... something she takes full advantage of - the other day I found out she's been feeding the boys several day old leftovers of chicken while she ate all the (fresh) steak herself - her reason? Because she doesn't like chicken as much as beef (Never mind that the boys also prefer beef).

The good thing about her is that she is honest, I can trust her to be alone in the house and she is basically a nice person - though she seems to be in some kind of funk lately. I also know she would never hurt my children and she is a pretty good cook - when she wants to be. She watches cooking shows sometimes I think, and then tries out little things she sees on them, which is nice.

I really don't know what to do. I don't know how to be bossy, but I am getting tired of things not being done - it has gotten to the point where I spend my weekends cleaning because I am not happy with the way she does it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back in the UAE...

Well I am back in the UAE again...

Vacation went by so quickly. My dad had is surgery a week after I left, and they thought it was successful so he was at home recovering, but now he's back in the hospital again - his body is refusing food. Anyway... I just hope he will be OK. Before I left he gathered all of his children around - except for my older sister who wasn't able to come - and he was talking like he might die. It kind of scared me.

I have a complicated relationship with my father. On the one hand, I love him and I know he loves me; on the other hand, he is a bit difficult. For one thing he is definitely the source of the OCD that runs in our family - and the older he gets the more Obsessive he seems to get. On top of that, he has diabetes and doesn't feel well - fluctuating blood sugar levels make him quite cranky at times. I just wish that when I do get to see him, it would be easier to have a good time with him.

Anyway... now I am back in the UAE.

Some of you have commented on my long absence from blogging - well part of that has been due to the fact that I am not well.

Back in July, after a very traumatic personal experience, I developed a problem with breathing. It started out as a pain on the left side of my chest when I breathed in. I thought it was perhaps gas under the ribs and ignored it. It got worse, to the point where I was having a big problem breathing and my left arm started to ache as well. I have never had a heart attack before, but when that happened the description of chest pain plus left arm pain came to my mind, so I decided to visit my doctor. At the doctor's clinic, they couldn't come up any reason why I was feeling this pain - they did an ECG, took an x-ray - everything appeared to be normal. I was advised to go to the emergency room, which I did. They kept me there for several hours and ran the whole gamut of tests again - plus some blood tests - only thing they could find at the time was that I was mildly anemic and my ESR was more than 4 times what it should be. ESR = erythrocyte sedimentation rate. ESR is a test that indirectly measures how much inflammation is in the body. However, it rarely leads directly to a specific diagnosis, so that didn't tell them much. I also tested positive for rheumatoid factor (yay :( - lucky me). After giving me some injections - of God knows what (but at least it made the pain go away) - and several days sick leave - they sent me home.

Anyway, since that time I haven't been feeling so well - extremely fatigued, sometimes milder chest pains... I went back to the hospital for several follow up visits - my ESR stayed high though it dropped from over 100 to 50. Since then, it has been hovering at 50, which is still more than 2 times as high as it should be. A CT scan revealed a bit of pleurisy of my lungs (inflammation). My doctor was stumped... until I showed up one day for a follow up.

Now, my whole life, I have been one of those unfortunate individuals who blushes really easily. But lately I been getting a reddish kind of rash across my cheeks - I also have become increasingly photosensitive. When I showed up that day, my rash was in full bloom - so my doctor asked me if I had gotten it before. I told him, "yes".

Since then, they have diagnosed me with SLE - systemic lupus erythematosus - though the test results have not been conclusive. Apparently high ESR, rash across bridge of nose and cheeks (butterfly rash), pleurisy, anemia, and fatigue are all symptoms of SLE. It is a disease of the immune system - an autoimmune disorder - where the immune system, in effect, attacks the body - not just foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. It can be fatal - but varies greatly from person to person. Stress is a big trigger for it - so I guess the events of my life over the past few years have contributed to this. I think it has a genetic element to it. My grandmother had it, and my cousin has discoid lupus (mainly affects only the skin).

Anyway, that's just one of the things I've been dealing with... so I hope you will all forgive my absences from time to time.

By the way, what happened to Aalia's blog? :( I can't open it anymore... If you read this Aalia.. I hope you're OK and are happily reunited with your son now. I would like to be able to still read your blog, but if not... God bless you. I just want you to know, I think of you often and hope things work out for you.

God bless the rest of you as well....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Well, I finally made it back home after more than three years away. I do so right after this recent hurricane / tropical storm hit the east coast, so it was much colder than I expected. I spent the first several days bundled up in whatever clothes I could pile one on top of another in front of these little space heaters that looking surprisingly like real wood burning stoves.

I saw Grandpa - he's so old now... makes me sad... don't know if I'll ever see him again after this visit. I wonder what it feels like to have lived a few years shy of a century...

I also found out my Dad will be going in for surgery a few days after I leave... God help him :(

The boys are having a great time. S thank God has not yet reached the age where he sees girls as intimidating alien creatures - he just sees them as other kids and likes playing with them - I am not sure about some of the little girls though. He was sitting squashed into an arm chair with my friends daughter - who is already sprouting little booblets and though I think he was completely unaware of it she was blissfully aware of how close she was to him.

We've been doing a hair experiment - growing his hair out so that it is long - he had a mop of ringlets and he looks quite cool for a 12 year old. I think the small girls have taken note :)

Meanwhile little D has a gang of small kids who think he is super cool. Which is nice for him compared to back in UAE where the only kid they play with is a chunky 9 year old who treats him like crap and tries to exclude him from everything. My friend's son Moses announced loudly last night at my birthday dinner (yes I AM officially 39 :( ... ) that he and D are BFFs - I think he has been hanging out with his sister a little too much.

I went to the mall the other day - though I live in the land of malls - still was nice to go to one here. I love the store Anthropology - too bad I can't afford anything there ..... luckily I got some nice things for my birthday.

I have been having a love affair with bread since I got here, Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin Swirl to be exact... but all the bread is so much better here. Without even realizing it, I had cut most bread out of my diet back in the UAE - just because it isn't very tempting. But here I am gorging myself and unfortunately my waistline is taking note.

Well that's all for now... actually there is so much more but i don't know how to write it all here

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I have a zit

On my chin... and it hurts...

In other news. The Big Boss's third secretary has left - not sure whether she was fired or quit - guess it doesn't really matter - one or the other is bound to happen eventually and the only difference in either scenario is - the person tells him and chooses to leave at the same time or tells him off and doesn't choose to leave at that time. The key to staying there is to NOT tell him off - but that's virtually impossible - because his behavior is so out of line.

The head of my department has been fired - with no warning and for no real reason - just the usual dirty politics / mutiny based on personal vendettas and orchestrated by unqualified underlings who don't appreciate the structure imposed by someone who actually knows their job and comes from a professional background ... I feel bad for him. This happens a lot here - currently at least two other departments are in an unsupervised mess (as we are about to be) due to similar crap. It's funny how they think it is better to leave a department without supervision or run by a totally under-qualified deputy than keep the director until they find a replacement.

I'm depressed by it all - he was the only person capable of judging my work and who gave me constructive feedback. Can't wait to see which yahoo will be stuck there until we find a new director - (IF we find one).

God help us all....

Monday, May 10, 2010

This made me sad

A very sad article - this poor Bangladeshi man and others like him pay small fortunes (for them) to come to Dubai and end up living as beggars...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Update

Well it has been a long time since I have visited my blog. I apologize to everyone who wrote anything to me and I didn't answer - I have had a lot going on.

I am still working at the same place I was when I last wrote. Settled into a routine (rut). My ex boss is now on his 3rd PA since me (it's only been 9 months!) - so, yeah, that's pretty hilarious. I realize now that how long someone lasts depends on how long it takes them to tell him off. Obviously I have a lot more patience or ability to put up with crap than most. I also realize that probably means I put up with more than I should.

My new boss is better, but I have a hard time feeling content here and I always expect the company to try to screw me over again.

The kids have started taking riding lessons and my oldest is doing quite well. He goes for jumping. The stable owner - a talkative local man in his early 50s - says he is a natural and he sees a potential jumping champion in him. I think he thinks he will be as small and as skinny as he is now forever - but I'm not banking on it. My father is 6' 2" and his father was about 5' 10" and his dad was close to 6' so I don't think he'll be perfect jockey size forever. Anyway, he is enjoying it so that makes me happy.

The stables are a really nice place for kids - lots of different kinds of animals there and the owner loves his horses and loves teaching kids to ride and passing on that love of horses.

One of the many things I have been dealing with is that someone I trusted a lot turned out to be a completely horrible person - a con artist really. A long while back I let him drive one of my cars - since I wasn't driving it at the time - but then when I asked for it back, he didn't return it for 6 months! Would have kept it forever I think if I hadn't found out where he lived and was keeping it and showed up there and made a scene and threatened to call the police. What kind of loser takes a single mom's car? My youngest needed an operation so I wanted to sell it to pay for the operation. The look on his face was priceless though. He never expected me to find him or to do anything so drastic. People think I'm all mild mannered - they think they can push me around. This is because I prefer to try to solve problems the most civil way possible, but some people don't understand this and they think I am weak - they never see it coming when I hit back. :)

On the downside, he had a bunch of traffic fines on the car that I had to pay and he had totally destroyed the car so it was next to worthless - as I drove off in it he told me "Inshallah you will not get even 1 dirham for it." what a man! He knew I wanted to sell it to take care of my child and that is what he had to say? And he brought God into it! Some people have no shame.

However, not everyone is a slimy creep. A truly good friend of mine said he would help me sell the car once I got it back, but once he saw the condition it was in, he bought it from me at far more than it was worth - saying he will fix it up and sell it and get his money back. He also paid the fines on the car. Now there's a gentleman for you... what a contrast!

I guess I should sleep now... so that's all from me - for the time being.