Tuesday, July 10, 2012

...the end of the year

Tomorrow is the last day of my contract for this year.  I made it.  Whew!  There were times that I wondered just what in the world I had done to myself, but overall it has been a good experience.  There is really no reason for us to be at school this last week. We are all just sitting around, drinking coffee, talking, reading, and playing on our computers. I laugh at myself because even right up to the end I expected different outcomes.  I thought we'd have these two weeks without students for planning and preparing for next year.  But when I came in last week and saw that our computers were boxed up, ready to go into storage I knew that our work was finished. 

It appears that no one in our English department has been transferred--a very good thing.   I am grateful for the women in my office--they are kind, generous, and funny. We make a good team and work well together. I look forward to next year--there are even rumors of us having our very own classrooms!

As positive as the year has been, I am ready to get out of here for a bit.  Next stop--Paris!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

...working out

I have been going to the gym at the hotel out where I work on a regular basis since September. When I first went I asked where the ladies dressing room was, and was directed to a room clear across the courtyard. I was put out and argued with the guy--wasn't there anywhere closer? Nope, ladies must go across to the ladies room. So I adjusted, and every day walked across to change then back to the gym to work out. They saw me. They knew I was there most days. Then, last week, out of the blue, the door to the ladies room was locked! So I walked back to the desk and asked what was going on. The young man, with a big smile on his face, said, "Oh! We're getting massage!" (Like that was great news for me! And no one thought to tell me the room would be locked?) I asked where I was to change my clothes and he pointed to the mens' room. Really? (Very few men came all year, but lately there have been more guys.) I said I wasn't comfortable changing there, now that so many men were coming. "Hmmm," was his response. 

He had no solution for me, so I walked down the hall to the restroom by the restaurant. (Cool, diners get to see me in my workout clothes!) The next day I changed at school before leaving, but that isn't convenient either--I like to run errands while I am still in my dress and abaya. So I argued with the guy at the desk some more. He still had no solution. 

The next day he wasn't at the desk so I knocked on the mens' room door and went in. I opened the door to the restroom area (where there are locked doors and privacy) and saw there was a man sitting on the john! Gaaa! (He was behind a closed door, but seriously, there was no way I was going to saunter into the next stall to change my clothes while he was there.) I immediately went to the main desk of the hotel and spoke to a woman there. She was horrified that there was no changing room for women and said she'd speak to the manager. I went back to the gym and the young man assured me that he would be there each day to make sure the coast was clear. Each day I get there and he either waves me in or I knock loudly on the door before entering (because he's not always there as promised). It makes me shake my head. They go to such lengths to keep men and women separate here--why would they think it's ok for us to share a locker room??? Crazy. I guess the massage room is almost finished and I'll be able to go back to changing in that restroom once it is.

Update:  I have permission to change in the ladies room once more. I laughed out loud when I entered--not a thing had been done! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Living and teaching here have gotten easier with time, but I'm learning that the final trimester is more stressful than the other two.  Not only is it getting hotter than heck, it's also time for evaluations, and folks are worried about having a job next year.  The eval process is different than at home, although they're trying to Westernize the process.  I was told to create a folder of evidence for my meeting with the principal.  No problem.

What I didn't realize was that we'd also have to create a department folder to give to the principal for her meeting with whomever is doing her evaluation.  Today was pure craziness.  The amount of stress in our little office was through the roof as we scrambled to pull "proof" from our own folders, make copies, and create a (redundant) department file. 

Someone on a FB page recently suggested that we write haikus about our experience here. This was my contribution: 

Shifting sands of gold
Glowing in the morning sun
Fill me with delight.
This morning's situation didn't inspire such sweetness and light.  Here is the "hai-cuss" that a coworker and I came up with:
Assembly report,
PDs, activities too,
 I cuss all day; sh**!

Whatever it takes to keep us sane, right??  :-)

Here are a few more that I wrote for the FB group:
I have finished, Miss!
Me!  Pick me! Meena?
Shoo?  Shiani…? (shrug).
(Meena is the name of a student, shoo = what, shiani = how do you say.  Meena often shrugs off my attempts to involve her in class activities.)
Adventure brought me,
Frustrations, daily: Khalas!
Girls tug my heart; “Stay.”
(Khalas! = enough! or it's/I'm finished.)

Two suffocated!
But treated for running tears
Were released, healthy?
(A news article about a chemical leak at a school had me in stitches.  While it's not funny that two people had their respiratory systems compromised, the English(?) that was used to describe the situation cracked me up. Uh, doesn't one die when suffocated?)

And just for the heck of it, one last poem about those darned files:
Stuff, stuff, stuff that file!
Pictures, reports, data too.
Proof we’ve done our jobs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

...a jersey I have no use for (right now)

I was in a cranky mood when I came home today. The girls are not the problem--teaching in a different system with insane paperwork (from which I had hoped to escape) got to me. I sat down to read emails and opened one from elevengear.  They have a fun new jersey printed with haiku that customers have sent in.  I want to buy it just to see if mine made the cut. I have no need for anything related to cycling at this point in life, but puttering around on the elevengear site was a nice distraction. I feel better now.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

...things that make me smile

I am really behind--in several areas of my life--and the blog has suffered. I promise a real posting soon, but in the meantime, here is a list of things that make me smile.  I'll try not to repeat anything from earlier "things that make me smile" posts, but if I do, it's because they make me smile on a consistent basis.  Here goes:

  • Interrupting a game of street cricket on the way into my neighborhood.  I have seen street football, street soccer, street baseball, and street hockey, and now...street cricket.  Game on!

  • Having two weeks off for spring break.  It means our school year extends into July, but those two weeks were sorely needed.

  • Traveling to Istanbul during spring break.  (I know, I know I should have written about this already, but I've been busy, ok?)

  • Experiencing a traditional Turkish bath at the oldest bath house in Istanbul.  Wow.

  •  Spending time at the beach in Dubai. The hotel behind me in this picture charges about 10X what I paid for my budget room.

  •  Skype. Have I mentioned how much I love Skype?  My internet was down last weekend and my sister and I had to resort to an old fashioned phone call.  Thankfully, the internet is working this weekend.  Two planned calls down, one to go!

  • Planning our much-awaited trip to France and Italy in July.  We have been saving for this for over 5 years, and this is the year!

  • A totally unexpected, late-night downpour, complete with thunder and lightning!  I woke up with a start, thinking that one of my hot water tanks had burst a hose again (they do that on a regular basis) but soon realized the noise was coming from outside.  I got up and sat out on my patio ledge for a bit to enjoy the show.  It has been overcast and cool all day today (after being in the 90s this past week).

  • Snail mail. My mailbox was full this week--graduation announcements, Easter cards, newsy letters...ahhh...feeling the love.

  • Picking up an apple at the local store and seeing the familiar "Washington Apple" logo.  Many of my former students and their parents work(ed) in those orchards.

  • Ten weeks of student contact time left. (This also causes some anxiety--so much to accomplish in a short period of time!)

  • TurboTax.  Easy, correct information on how to file an extension and get the tax-free allowance for working overseas.

  • Audio books on my Kindle.  The 45 minute commute each morning and evening is no big deal now.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

...bookshop conversations

There are many "bookshops" here in Madinat Zayed, but don't get the mistaken impression that we have our choice of Barnes and Nobles-type shops in which to while away our time.  The bookshops are actually school supply stores--selling paper, notebooks, markers, folders, etc.  They are all about the same, although one might have a certain item that I'm looking for that the others don't carry.

What distinguishes one bookshop from another is the level of conversation one is able to have with the proprietors.  The owner of the shop that carries colored index cards doesn't speak English.  We communicate through acting things out, pointing, and the calculator.  He has a broad smile and produces the desired objects with a flourish. We are both delighted when he understands me.

In another shop is a well-educated young man who is working in his family's business just until he finds a job in his field of engineering.  He speaks Arabic, English and German.  His English is excellent and he loves to talk about languages. We talk long after our transaction is complete, and probably longer than would be considered proper.  How nice it would be to sit and drink coffee together and talk about cerebral things--but it can't be done. Not out here in the rural area, anyway.

I don't go to the third shop often, but when I do the conversation goes something like this:
Clerk: Hello, how are you?
Me:  I am well, and you?
Clerk:  Germany?
Me: No, I'm from America, but my grandfather was German.
Clerk:  How many years you have--30?
Me: You think I'm 30? Thank you, but my son is 28, so that isn't possible.
Clerk:  You much little.
Me:  You think I look young?  Thank you!
Clerk:  Where your wife?
Me:  My husband? He's in America. (Lying through my teeth, but it must be done!)
Clerk: Oh too bad, much problem.
Me: Yes, it is too bad. (Not really, since he doesn't exist!)
Clerk:  You go Dubai?
Me:  Sometimes.
Clerk:  You go Abu Dhabi?
Me: Yes, I go to Abu Dhabi sometimes.
Clerk: Dancing?
Me:  No, I don't go dancing. Do you?
Clerk: Oh, no, no, no.

Then we smile and nod and he shows me my total on the calculator.  I enjoy these exchanges so much that I purposely wait awhile before going back--he doesn't seem to remember that I'm not from Germany, and he hasn't figured out yet that my long-awaited husband still hasn't arrived.

Sometimes, for convenience sake, I pick up needed supplies at the department store in Abu Dhabi.  That's not nearly as much fun as going to the local shops.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Been there...

Done that...

And got the T-shirt!