On the buses

We have a bus route coming to our complex. This may not seem very exciting, and actually for me personally, it isn’t. But for my maid it’s the most exciting thing to happen since, well, since she started working here. Historically she has relied on her boyfriend (man with a truck) to pick her up at weekends and take her to see her sister on the other side of town. He works every other weekend so on the ‘off’ weekend she sits in her room for two days, and goes nowhere. He left for Sri Lanka last month and is gone for eight weeks, so the announcement that a bus route is starting as of tomorrow was met with great excitement, and we duly began the process of procuring a bus pass for her as quickly as possible.

Easy, right? Wrong. In order to apply for said bus pass, we needed approximately twice as many forms of ID as it took to buy our house:

– Application form, signed by the applicant and the sponsor

– Passport photo

– Copy of applicant’s visa

– Applicant’s photo ID

– Copy of Sponsor’s passport & visa

– Proof of home ownership

– Letter of authorisation from sponsor (as IF she could get all the rest of this stuff if we DIDN’T authorise it!)

– Administration fee of Dhs 50/ £8 approx.

I particularly love the admin fee. Look how much scanning and photocopying I had to do. They merely took this giant bundle of paperwork, stuck a post-it note on top with our villa number written on it, and told us it would take a week to process. A WEEK.

What I particularly love about this scheme is that it assumes all the users of said bus are leaving our complex to go somewhere, then coming back. On a fail of epic proportions, they have failed to provide anyone with the means to travel in the reverse direction to visit the complex. Which effectively bans my maid and others like her from any kind of social life within the community, which I feel very strongly is their absolute right to have outside of working hours, the same as anyone else. This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this issue. I had to screech at the security office several weeks in a row when she first came to live with us, because despite the fact that I insisted her boyfriend was coming to our house on a private matter, they refused to let him and his truck through, on the grounds that ‘the truck is painted with a logo, madam’.

I understand it is a private community and they don’t want the DVD lady and the carpet man and a thousand landscapers touting for business  each and every day, annoying the residents and clogging up parking bays. But when you have to provide everything but the kitchen sink for a one-way bus pass, I feel things have gone a little far. What a shame, that such a great addition to the community is tarnished by the prejudice that my maid and thousands like her must come up against every day, to feel such a second class citizen that she can’t even ride the bus without our permission.

I hope this bus pass is gold plated.

 

Seven signs of summer

Well summer is most definitely here in good old Dubai. I know this, because:

1. The air con in my car isn’t making the slightest bit of difference to how hot I feel until about 20 minutes into any given journey

2. I am continually torn between making conservative, middle eastern friendly wardrobe choices vs. putting on the skimpiest outfit I can find that still avoids the mutton dressed as lamb look (although clearly this is not a universally thought through decision judging by some of the outfits I have seen lately)

3. I am thoroughly irritated by the majority of people who I come into contact with – not the ones who are actually my friends and therefore decent, kind, considerate human beings, but rather the selfish, rude majority that seem to delight in crossing my path of late.

4. No one has conversations any more, it is just a series of questions surrounding leaving dates, summer camps and Ramadan

5. I found a dead roach in the kitchen today. Good news is, it was dead; these days I tend not to panic too much about internal pest control until a six inch diameter spider drops in for coffee or a squadron of the little cockroach critters take up residence under my sink.

6. I have opened excel up on my computer to start planning the great migration. I dream about being a wilder beast, I’m pretty sure they don’t need a spreadsheet.

7. My skin has assumed the sweaty pale pallor of a sea sick sailor, as the sun shines every day but its too damn hot to stand in it. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink springs to mind…

Traditionally this is never a great time of year. Everyone is fed up, hot, tired, homesick and busy as hell. I may have fallen into the whinge-trap myself for various reasons, some valid, some because I am an attention seeking missile when i’m unhappy, but mainly because I just need a damn good holiday. But there have been worse years. I’m not limping to the finish line quite yet. And with three weeks to go until we hit the beautiful Tuscan countryside, I feel I might actually get there this year with my sanity vaguely intact.

Vaguely. Don’t get excited. There’s still time.

You know you’ve lived in Dubai too long when…

Several people ‘shared’ this link on Facebook this week, about the fifteen signs you’ve lived in Qatar too long. Several of them could easily apply to Dubai and a few of them could probably apply to many expat experiences, but just for the sheer hell of it, and to celebrate the seven year mark, which we reached sometime last week, I thought I would do my own list, most of which I can honestly say has happened since then.

You know you’ve lived in Dubai too long when:

1. You are intimate with the footprint of Mall of the Emirates to the point where, if a shop closes for renovation, you will trawl backwards and forwards for twenty minutes thinking you must have lost your mind completely to be making such a rookie error in not locating it instantaneously.

2. You completely miss your turning off the motorway because you are still navigating your way to Dubai Media city by sighting of the now-demolished Hard Rock Cafe.

3. Your three year old insists on using an umbrella to shield him from the six drops of rainfall at school drop off, and you are inclined to agree with him.

4. It’s 40 degrees outside and you haven’t put the air con on in the house yet

5. You can’t remember what a Marks and Spencer ready meal looks like, but you do know you miss them

6. You’ve stopped tracking the exchange rate, and converting dirhams to pounds/dollars is only used in case of emergency when the dirham figure sounds too scary, e.g. hotel reservations, school fees, shoes.

7. It’s been two weeks since your last mani/pedi and you are actually, truly distressed by the state of your feet and hands.

8.  Your three year old asks you what you are doing with the maid’s things when you get the ironing board out. Then asks what the iron is.

9. You are not surprised when the first item on the news is not the Boston marathon bombers, or an earthquake in China, but a sales report on the latest high rise development in Old Town.

10. You are not surprised by anything very much.

11. Moaning about the quality of driving is what other people do while you sip a latte and thinking about trading in the car for a faster one.

12. When the following things are exciting:  Fresh vegetables like kale, which you haven’t seen in nearly a decade; the opening of interchanges that have taken four years to complete; summer clothes arriving in the shops before Easter.

13. When the following things are not exciting: Fountains, Afternoon tea, Barasti, fast cars, Dhow cruises, suntanning, gold anything.

14. You don’t think it’s weird you haven’t been to a liquor store to buy a bottle of wine since 2006. You don’t think it’s weird that you can’t without your passport, a license and a letter from your husband saying it’s okay.

15. ‘Fresh air’ is described as anything below 30 degrees that doesn’t smell sulphurous or contain 95% sand.

Former Hard Rock Cafe Dubai - demolition

What did you do with my signpost? (Photo credit: Danny McL)

Friends and farewells

I’ve been really lucky in the past seven years. Whilst I’ve said goodbye to a few people here and there, friends have tended to drift in and out of my life as circumstances have changed, rather than be ripped from my side and onto a plane, never to be seen again. However, my time has come. This week sees me saying farewell to my oldest (okay, second oldest) and best friend in Dubai, and I am so very, very sad to see her go after so many shared years.

Good friends – really good friends, that know you and understand you  and are committed to you – are hard to come by in expatland. That’s not to say she’s been consistently brilliant – sometimes she’s been downright lousy lol… But like friends anywhere, that’s not always the thing that matters. Our friendship is about our similarities, our personalities, who we are, who we have grown into. Our shared love of laughter and honesty and housewifery skills bordering on Stepford territory. Our tendency to bury our head in the sand and close up the doors in times of personal crisis instead of asking for help or support. Our mutual experience of arriving in Dubai and making it our home. The importance, above all else, of our children.

English: Glass of White Wine shot with a bottl...

I suppose I’ll have to drink the damn thing by myself now… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I admire my friend and am proud of the woman she has grown into during the time we have known eachother. She has made wonderful friends and a beautiful home and ‘kept it real’ for her children, who are the least expat brat-like kids you will ever meet. Her Dubai journey is a different one from mine, but no less arduous. Despite the many things that have shaped her in the past seven years, in many ways she leaves as she arrived – a willowy, determined, vivacious woman who can’t take her liquor. She has never deviated from her Aussie down-to-earth no-BS attitude and is always the person who will make me laugh, make me feel comfortable, make me feel loved.

We were talking a few weeks ago about leaving (trying not to cry) and the thing she fears most about going home is not fitting in. Ironically the very thing we feared when we arrived in Dubai. Only I think going ‘home’ is worse, because as much as we haven’t changed, there are ways in which we have, irreversibly, far more than we realise at the time. I can see the attraction now, of moving ‘on’ rather than ‘back’. We are simply not the same as when we left and it’s hard to start over in a place where your brain tells you, you shouldn’t have to. Things are the same, yet different. We have seen and done things our family, friends and neighbours will never see, and we have done it alone, often without their support or guidance. We have coped with stress of being away from all that is loved and familiar, beyond the realms of many people’s imagination. As someone with childhood friends who have inexplicably ended up scattered to the four corners of the earth at one time or another, I can say with some confidence that expats the world over share this common experience, this perilous journey; to have to make your home somewhere else in the world, and then go home again. (Or not… It is never an easy or obvious choice.)

My friend will leave for Brisbane next week. And I will eventually leave for London. Of course we always knew it would happen and have often joked about who would manage to get out of here first. The chances of us seeing each other again are slim, although I hope that we will. If we do, it will be different again. Our lives will move on and we will make new friends in our new homes and reacquaint with old ones and we will use these new relationships to cope with the struggle to reintegrate. But no-one can replace the good friends you make as an expat, which is what makes returning home so daunting – on that side of the journey, they won’t be there to meet, or make friends with. And often, other expats are the only ones who ‘get it’ – who understand just what you are feeling – on the way in, while you are there, and, I’m pretty certain, on the way out as well.

So I can only wish for her what I wish for myself one day: that the landing will be soft, and that one day in the not too distant future she happens to meet a friend of a friend who suggests a glass of wine in a local bar; they talk and laugh and the company feels like putting on a pair of old shoes – familiar and comfortable. She once wrote me a card which said “you made it ‘home’ for me”. Well ditto, my lovely friend. It won’t be the same without you. x

Fashion victim

Do you remember being seventeen? I do. Vaguely. I was finishing up A-levels at a girl’s grammar school where I never really fitted in with anyone (although I’m not sure anyone else did either) and more interested in boys than school. I drove a beige mini cooper with a maroon top that broke down on a regular basis, usually when I was hanging out late at my friend’s house and had to get his dad up at 2am to jump start me and send me on my way. I had an unsuitably ancient boyfriend who worked in the city and cooked me cheese on toast with herbs on at the weekends (the height of sophistication when you’ve never even boiled an egg) and I earned enough money waitressing at a variety of pubs in the area to pay for the car, until I was old enough to pull pints and graduate to the heady heights of ‘barmaid’, when I used to spend my wages on drinking pints when I wasn’t serving them.

I wore jeans, t-shirts, or long paisley skirts with tassels on, and owned a short black skirt for work. On my feet were usually a pair of ‘chinese sandals’, awful flat misshapen things from Chelmsford market for a fiver, that were almost compulsory for every sixth former. I used to occasionally trade these in for a pair of jazz shoes to dance in, or boots, if it was wet weather.

When I was seventeen, my idea of a career was non-exisitent. I had no idea what I wanted to do, I didn’t mind too much, and nor did anyone else. I wrote a diary, not a blog. I didn’t know about fashion and fashion didn’t know about me, and we got along fine that way, because I was young enough for it not to matter. I thought the pink and orange chiffon top I bought for a party at Chelmsford City Football club was the height of sophistication. I owned a black cotton bag with sequins on the front (again from the market) and lived in my black cardigan with buttons down the back until it rotted off my shoulders. My hair was curly and out of control and done by my mum’s friend when it was done by anyone. I owned eyeliner and mascara and an old Clinique lipstick from a multi pack my mum didn’t want. I danced to the Happy Mondays and the Farm and mixed Bacardi into a bottle of coke to take to parties.

I was considered fairly cool, I think, although slightly odd (not much has changed in 20 years). How would have I described my personal style? Top Shop meets Miss Selfridge. Whilst I’m aware than a few decades have passed since then, and we are admittedly living in a very different place to the chavland of my youth (although sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference), I wonder at what strange creatures Dubai has managed to produce, for example the teenager I happened to stumble across on the back pages of Grazia Middle East this week:

‘This trendy twin describers her personal style as classic and minimal. “I tend to stick to a monochrome palette when dressing.” she says. Here, she works her style magic with this ultra-feminine white and nude ensemble. She teams a slouchy white tank top by Michael Kors with a pair of cream lace trousers by Cameo, adding a vintage Chanel belt to nip in the waist. She finished the look with a pair of nude Louboutins and a beige Chanel bag.’

You’re seventeen, FFS. You’ve got years to covet nude Loubs and neutrals. Go out and get yourself a pair of Havanias and a crop top from H&M and have some fun, girl. And give me your wardrobe. I may be old enough to be your mother but I’m not above borrowing your clothes.

Flowers and Whistles

It’s always good to read what other Dubai bloggers are up to. For one, it helps me appreciate I am not the only one out there going slowly la-la, increasingly reliant on shoe shopping and sauv blanc to cure the ails of everyday expat living/parenting. Secondly, it gives me all kinds of ideas of things to do and places to go, that I didn’t even know existed. And better still, what can be struck off the ‘to do’ list because it’s crap/expensive/hot/busy. So when my pal over at Circles in the Sand wrote about a new horticultural extravaganza that had opened up just down the road from us, I decided to give it a try. Armed with a bottle of water and enough antihistamine tablets to cure an elephant of hay fever, my son and I and our friends set out this afternoon for the self-proclaimed “most beautiful and biggest natural flower garden in the world”.

English: A Petunia sp.

Like this, but more  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sounds dubious? Well it’s very pretty. And big. It feels like you are standing in the world’s largest hanging basket. There are pyramids, birds, heart shaped archways, and even a set of flower power painted cars, all full to the brim with flowers of every colour. Sustainable? Well, the developer claims the huge site is using waste water to keep the gazillion petunias flowering. But natural? In Dubai?

Natural or not, the ‘Miracle gardens’ were, indeed, miraculous. If slightly incongruous. Like a giant ski slope protruding into the sky, or a huge offshore development built into the shape of a palm tree, a massive garden of flowers is one of the last things you expect to see on the side of a motorway in the desert.

But miracles come at a price. Dhs 40, to be exact (they charged my 3 year old full price to enter). And honestly…the experience was average. Maybe if our kids hadn’t been swiped by over-enthusiastic filipinos and used as props for photo calls, or had a whistle blown at them near- continuously by the rather protective security men, I would feel differently.  One particularly enthusiastic guard saw the kids coming and proceed to stalk us, literally manhandling the boys off the grass and picking up long dead plants and shaking them at us, motioning that our children were ripping them up. Now, our kids are good kids, and they knew not to pick the flowers or run through the beds – but it’s a field full of flowers. If there is an opportunity to climb, or run, or play ‘driving’ on the grass that runs between displays, they are going to take it. What they don’t do is rip plants from the ground. It was all a bit OTT for a few limp looking petunias.

After we lost the nazi gardener at the floral pyramids/Tele tubby caves, we decided to finish up and nipped to the snack tent to feed the boys ice cream. We hoped this would distract them from running around any more, which I thought should have been the point of all that open space. It didn’t. They ran around the tables and chairs instead. A learning moment might be that a few more bits of miraculous grassy areas wouldn’t go amiss, and neither would a play area for the little ones if they want to keep the beds free from wandering feet.

All in all, it was a pleasant hour spent herding small children away from the very things we had come to look at. The kids enjoyed it though and the ice cream was a welcome respite at the end. Would I go again? Maybe, if they add some more facilities and put some signs up that tell you what the rules are instead of blowing whistles at me. As for the big claim made by it’s name – well, for my money, the miracle will be keeping it all alive through the summer.

A little ‘me’ time

Firstly, apologies for the radio silence. Things have been a little hectic due to visiting relatives, theatre performances and the small matter of a 4000 word short story to write for my degree portfolio. Not to mention the PTA obligations, Sports day, International day, and the various overseas train smashes concerning future schools, renting houses and sick family to manage.  Blogging has been beyond what time has allowed. And so when it came to dress making, I figured it was time to outsource.

I have a perfectly good sewing machine at home, I just have no inclination to do anything more complicated than table runners and cushion covers. On the tourist trail to Bur Dubai a few weeks back, I came across a particularly spectacular bolt of patterned silk (well they said it was silk) for a mere £7/m in the fabric souk, and decided to get a jump suit copied I’ve been wearing almost non stop since I bought it nearly three years ago.  For Dhs 250 (about £40) I will have a brand new swishy silk pantsuit to play in, made to measure and cheaper than the original one. Tick in the box for supporting the ‘local’ (chinese) economy while I’m at it.

Having visitors, especially first time ones, often opens my eyes back up to what’s around and gets me out of my self imposed local living rut. Going down to the creek always reminds me where we are, that we aren’t just in this little bubble, that there is a lot of other real life to see out there. Of course it’s full of touts trying to sell me pashminas and boat rides but if you get past that you can really enjoy just being part of the city, haggling for fabric and riding the abra alongside every other creed and colour who is crossing the creek for one purpose or another.
Somewhere lurking near the opposite end of the expat spectrum, during my blog hiatus I was also part of Dubai’s first Short+Sweet theatre festival. A great initiative to encourage local people to write, direct and act in a series of 10 minute plays, it was a spectacle of good, sometimes great, and some downright awful entertainment, but it was ours. Five years ago or so there is no way the city could have even conceived of hosting a festival like this, and it is really exciting to be contributing to the arts scene and (hopefully) changing it for the better. This weekend was spent performing and at and participating in the Emirates Literature festival, another fantastic example of how much things have moved on in the past few years.
And so that’s the end of my excuses; why the dog ate my homework etc. I now have three glorious weeks of relative relaxation, or two weeks of holiday and a  ‘reading week’ as its called in university circles.  I’m looking forward to it: gym, spa, vacation in the desert, and maybe even a trip to my beloved but much neglected mall. The year has certainly got off to an intensive start but it’s been incredibly satisfying too. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so full of ideas and optimism for the time ahead.
It’s also fair to say I’m knackered. Pass the wine someone…

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Popcorn

Dinner, anyone?  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apologies for this fleeting post, and for the completely unoriginal title, but it’s been that kind of week. Just when I thought this place couldn’t give me anything else to laugh/scream/sob about, it comes up trumps once more. I kid you not, here are some of the completely stupid things that have happened to in the past seven days that just make me want to bang my head against a wall.

– I tried to mail a birthday card to my aunt in Mallorca and the post office informed me that they no longer deliver to the Balearic Islands. EH? I thought the point of a postal service was that they mail ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. They helpfully suggested if I put ‘Spain’ on the envelope, it was nearby and might get there.

– Overheard at a party on Saturday:

“I ordered a pizza and a salad the other day and they told me they couldn’t deliver the salad because it was raining.

“What about the pizza?”

“Oh yeah, they brought the pizza.”

EH?

– On the subject of pizza, our local take out place made waves this week by encouraging people to take photos and text whilst driving. Their genius ad campaign, later removed from their website after several complaints and an article in the local newspaper, read, “Catch us on the go! If you’re on the road and spot us, snap a pic and share where you were!”

– Our gas bottles were replaced on Tuesday and the regulators on the bottles changed at a total cost of Dhs 750 (about $200). The oven has since performed its own comedy show every time I use it and I am only able to light one gas ring OR the oven at any one time, or it all trips out. This is making cooking tricky and I have visitors arriving in the morning. Not an auspicious start. Upon recalling the gasman to sort it out, he blamed the electrics and told me to call the electrician. The electrician came and told me there are NO ELECTRICS to fix and it’s the gas regulator inside the house that is the problem. The perfectly functioning regulator that went wrong on the very day the bottles were changed, what a co-incidence. No-one can tell me who the hell fixes these but clue: It’s not the gasman and its not the electrician. Is there a regulator-man I wonder? Answers on a postcard please.

I’m sure there were more; these are the stand-out moments. It is no small wonder I look as deranged as I do, if you throw in hours devoted to PTA, the 2 days of acting work that meant I had to entrust someone else to pick up my baby from school for the first time (emotional stress = 8.5/10), the guys that were supposed to come and remove half a ton of broken furniture from the house and forgot after I waited for 4 hours for them to show, a monologue to write and about 400 pages of reading to get done by the weekend. Did I mention I have visitors arriving, or that my husband is away until Friday morning, meaning I am completely sleep deprived, slightly grubby and suffering from mental exhaustion due to single parenting the ‘Child Who Wouldn’t Stop Asking Why’? I would worry about the lack of food in the house but there is nothing to cook it with, so, you know, whatever.

I refer you to the title and bid you goodnight.

 

 

 

Where the streets have my name

A fellow student interviewed me yesterday as part of my course introduction – and the fact that I live in Dubai wasn’t a defining feature of my profile. In fact it wasn’t even mentioned. I always thought living abroad was a major contributor to my world as it exists now, but on reflection, maybe it isn’t. I think it has definitely shaped the person I have become, but it is becoming very clear: the fact that I live ‘here’ and not ‘there’ is no longer the most important thing in my life. It’s time to face facts: I’ve been gone too many years for it to matter a lot of the time.

I remember coming back after a trip to the UK – maybe the second year we were here – and seeing the city on the way home from the airport and thinking it felt like I was coming home for the first time. I’m not sure I really felt that way, maybe I did – but there have been many days since then I have wept for times lost in the UK and for the absence of anything like a ‘home’. But time moves on. These days I mourn upon leaving either country and miss them both equally when I’m gone, albeit for different reasons. I don’t feel one is any more ‘home’ than the other. In fact, often the UK feels distinctly more foreign to me these days than Dubai. Not just the everyday practicalities of how much a pint (milk or beer) costs, or how to work an Oyster card, or how turn right on a filter lane at traffic lights, but far more subtle things, like humour. It sounds a strange thing to say but you really have to be tuned into a place to get its humour. Dubai is still a small town but there are so many different cultures, and a lot to learn about what people find amusing. It’s taken me a while but I like to think I’m ‘in’ on the jokes these days. On the other hand, not living on our peculiar little island in the North sea, there is a lot of funny that you can forget, or get out of the habit of, if you’re not there to practice.

One thing is for sure though, whether you get the humour or not, you know you’ve been living somewhere waaaay too long when they name a street after you.

The Al Fay Road

Year end

And so, another year is nearly over. I feel like i have been saying this every day since thanksgiving, but I’m now officially at my traditional end-of-year breaking point. In fact I think I’m already broken. I thought i had more left in me but no: it would appear from my general inability to think straight or summon up the energy to do anything- anything at all – that I’m done for the year, and being away from home is only serving to highlight that fact to me.  In all ways I am kaput. I am the holy trinity of broken – in body, blood and spirit.  And although I would not lay the blame at the door of our trip, I appreciate this now-familiar feeling is cyclical and that the process of reenergising can only begin when the heady combination of christmas and travelling has finished me off entirely.

I can hardy believe it really, that a full twelve months have sped by since i last sat writing a similar entry surrounded by icy winds, warm fires and the american side of the family in Salem, MA.This year finds me sitting in the confines of a little wooden cabin plonked in the middle of a golf course in the deepest depths of Essex. We’ve enjoyed a great Christmas so far; starting with 40th birthday celebrations (not mine, I hasten to add!) where I got to catch up with most of my best and oldest friends in the world, followed by family galore for the past few days. And we still have the arrival of the final ‘nana’ (aka the mother in law) to come, which (and no, I am not being paid to say this) will be a wonderful second half to the festivities. After that, however, it is with a big grin on my face and testament to how much has changed for me this past year, that I think I will be glad to go ‘home’ and get 2013 started.

For starters there’s the weather- I’m surrounded by perpetual dark and cold and much as I’m enjoying the apocalyptic rainfall, it has to be said I’m rather missing the sun. Although to be honest I’m missing my housemaid more. And my shoes. And for the love of turkey, i have to stop consuming carbs and chocolate and alcohol as if they were actually part of my 5 a day, and get some exercise.  I admit, I could have done with a tad more toning at the gym this past month than I strictly bothered with, but i managed to make it this far without breaking out the spanx. Five days in the uk have changed all that. You know those ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures you see in the magazine classifieds for liposuction? Well before, I was the ‘after’. And now, I’m the ‘before’. For the past few days, I have been sporting a look that would have you think i was about six months pregnant, a combination of too many chips and dips and a frightening quantity of built up gas from excessive Brussels sprout consumption. Words I thought I would never say: I need to go back to Dubai so I eat less.
Jet lag and lack of sleep combined with drinking shed loads mean not only am I the generous side of svelte, but I’m also exhausted. Christmas + pubs  + the unpuritanical  approach to alcohol consumption at any time of day or night by my family = broken liver. My body is working overtime to deal with near continuous alcohol processing, and this, combined with sleeping in a bed made for Hobbits and a duvet that may or may not be possessed by the devil, is destroying me. I feel a desperate need to lie in a quiet room made of ryvita crackers and peppermint tea and sleep until 2013.
Finally, my spirit. Transcontinental travel with a three year old at the end of a long year followed by intense concentrations of family could have been stressful, if indeed I had the energy to work up a sweat. Instead I have let most things wash over me, my biggest decisions so far being whether to buy brandy mince pies or normal ones and if I should bother with the strictly come dancing final having missed the rest of the series. This is a sign of true knackeredness, that I have retired from decision making, organising, or being bothered about very much at all, in fact.  I have let my son climb over furniture, watch too much tv and eat rubbish all day in a bid to have a quiet life. I have mentally turned off, tuned in and dropped out. I stare vacantly at the textbooks I should be reading before Jan 14th and keep hoping they will be digested intravenously somehow so I don’t have to go to the bother of picking them up. The last of my brainpower went into writing gift tags and I am frankly struggling to get the end of this post without passing out over the iPad.
What of next year? I  can see its shape forming slowly, rising out if the fog that currently occupies the place in my head where my brain should be. I am excited to be involved in so much but pretty nervous about how I will cope. It’s going to be busy, hard work, and fun, and with less time for reflection as a result. I worry something will have to give and I have toyed several times lately with the idea that maybe this blog has run its course, that the tortured ramblings of my earliest posts have slowly been overtaken by slightly smug ‘my life is awesome’ entries that might produce nausea and vomiting in readers prone to that sort of thing. I fear the idea i started with, of writing about the trials of ‘trailing’, is no longer valid. The self-therapy worked, the angst is gone, so what now? But I’m not sure I’m ready to give it up just yet, or maybe it is not quite done with me. After all, why should trailing just be about being miserable? It doesn’t have to be a car crash to make it interesting. (Right??)
Right now of course, i am a bad judge of everything, and making time management decisions (well any kind of decision really) will be left for another day. I am running on empty and waiting for the chance to refuel. This little period between Christmas and new year seems to me to be the ideal time to hit rock bottom and start figuring out how to climb back up again. And you know what? I am more than happy with that idea. The idea of being broken. Because really, I’m not broken at all. Just the opposite in fact. 2012 has been a special year for me in many ways. I have met fun, extraordinary people who make me laugh out loud. I have learned, finally, to embrace the art of being an expat, a mother, and most of all, myself. I achieved my goal to make the most of being in Dubai, to make the most of my capabilities and talents, to become confident in myself again and to actually enjoy life. The only thing I failed at was learning to play tennis, but you shouldn’t rush these things.I have had the best year of my expat life and I’m convinced 2013 will be even better. I can see with increasing clarity that you get out what you put in, and I am determined this year should be all about doing both in huge quantities. I have missed so much of life by wishing it was different that its time now to embrace the fact that it IS different, and all the better for it.
Wishing you all a happy new year, full of energy, creativity, love and laughter. See you when the fog has cleared.
Ruby slippers.