Tigress without a noose

Photo by Ali Pazani on Pexels.com

I used to be a woman of lux but now I am quite the hag. The COVID has turned me upside down and made me terribly sad.

I hate you COVID. You’ve reduced me to nothing and left me like curbside trashion. I swear there is nothing else in this world that I hate with such a passion.

Continue reading “Tigress without a noose”

Everybody Get Footloose! with The Abu Dhabi Choral Group

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I was a young girl in a Midwestern Baptist town in Illinois. A town filled with old blue haired ladies, dogs that nap in the street and a local preacher who relied upon the generosity of the parishioners for cookies and meatloaf dinners. It was a town not too dissimilar from Bomont. It was a stereotypical farm town upbringing with Levis, boots and beer, and all the crazy shenanigans that bored country kids get themselves into.

My high school crowd could easily be identified as those that would leave our community and those that would stay. In October 1984, just as the corn was harvested from the fields, Footloose came to our uniplex theater and provided those that would leave the hope that even small town rebels with a big city itch could have a future out there somewhere beyond the wheat and the soybean fields.

Fast forward 35 years and I am half way around the world, in the Middle East, at the New York University Arts Center watching a cast of 30-40 expats with a Russell Stovers box of accents, perform Footloose. A movie so Americana that I can smell the hay.

Continue reading “Everybody Get Footloose! with The Abu Dhabi Choral Group”

To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before

You might be surprised to know that the quality of the expat experience revolves around one thing and as it turns out this one thing is the glue, the ultimate party popper, and the generator of gargantuan good times. It’s the thing that keeps us sane. Continue reading “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”

Dear Brad Pitt

IMG_0450It is official.

Brad Pitt has ended his filming here in the UAE. I wrote this little note hoping to clear up a few things he may have found confusing. We love it when Hollywood visits the UAE. Ciao Brad! Come back again sometime soon and don’t forget to call 🙂

 

Dear Brad Pitt,

You may not know it but I know someone who knows someone who had an undercover snuggle with you at Mizzou (University of Missouri). Not that I heard any details or anything but these things tend to stick out in my mind. Just like the time when Oprah Winfrey and I were dancing nose to nose and while I had my eyes closed she walked off leaving me dancing by myself on national television. It was kind of embarrassing. Maybe I deserved it because I closed my eyes. Who does that when they are dancing with Oprah? Continue reading “Dear Brad Pitt”

The Poop Plane

If there is ever a reason not to leave the UAE it would be that we are totally spoiled to luxury airline travel. It’s like an unfiltered Camel cigarette. It’s powerfully addictive. One flight and you are hooked — and sadly, so are your children. Remember when American Airlines would pass out little toy airplanes to the kids on board the flight and their faces lit up like a Christmas tree? Not anymore of course, because they are broker than Cooter Brown but at the time we thought it was a really, really big thing. Then imagine the first time my little Mini Me boarded an Etihad business class flight. It was like the Christmas of his dreams — his eyes were the size of saucers as if he were staring at Santa Claus AND his eight tiny reindeer. The personal seating pods, the stylish decor, the supermodel flight hostesses with impeccable British-trained manners, and the sound the seat makes as your bottom hits the well-fluffed cushion. I can almost envision Robin Leach sitting next to me giving me a big thumbs up.

Continue reading “The Poop Plane”

15 Best Things About Being an Expat

 

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For those on the outside, the life of an expat seems glamorous or exotic….grass is always greener….right? Truthfully, it is a never boring set of challenges that keeps us slightly addicted to the what’s next lifestyle. Here’s my short list of things that make being an expat so great. I am sure I am missing a few things so be sure to share your own thoughts in the comments.  Continue reading “15 Best Things About Being an Expat”

That’s a Pisser

images-3“That’s a real pisser!” Mini said to me.

Whoa…what do you mean that’s a real pisser? I am no Lily Librarian. I have seen and heard a fair amount in my life but I didn’t expect my ten year-old to use the word pisser straight in my face. Continue reading “That’s a Pisser”

50 Countries

Something wonderful happened last week.

A large group of children and parents gathered for a bite to eat. Well, it was a little more than just food it was something much larger and interesting. It is what we call International Day and it is always a spectacular display. Over 50 nationalities side-by-side sharing cultures and traditions the expat way. Continue reading “50 Countries”

Be Careful Over There – What?!? I Live in the UAE!

Be careful over there! my American friends said to me. As if the Middle East is simply one big mosh pit of danger, mayhem and debris.

Be careful doing what? I thought to myself. Choking on lobster, slipping on a marble floor, or poking my eye out with a canape skewer?

What exactly do they think could happen to me? — I LIVE IN THE UAE!

Oh, no, you’re mistaken. I don’t live in Saudi Arabia. I can drive here. It is fine. And I don’t wear an abaya. Although on a bad hair day it sure would be a snap. And if I decide to do so it does not effect my feminism. My human rights are not limited as you might think they would be. I just can’t look like a harlot when I’m walking the streets. So far that hasn’t been a problem for me.

None of the craziness you see on TV is anywhere near me or my family. This is the wealthiest place in the world. There are no beheadings or prison camps or things like this you might read. I am perfectly safe here — I LIVE IN THE UAE!

In the UAE, they prefer that I not scream obscenities or flip my middle finger at the crazy new driver that cut me off at the pass. Yes, in the States I would shout, shake my fists, and tell them to kiss my arse.  But I really don’t miss that privilege and it is okay by me, if we all focus on a little more civility. You see, it is a conservative place in many regards. They prefer if we all do not behave like total schmucks, lugheads or goofs. In fact, everyone here uses their manners and are extremely gracious; they call me madam and my husband sir and they go out of their way to please us.

They must be thinking about Iraq or Iran and they are as close to the UAE as New York is to West Virginia; although, you must agree, there is a huge difference between them. If you lumped New Yorkers and West Virginians together, any American would tell you they have nothing in common. They may be the same religion and in the same country but there is a world of difference between them. We live in a bubble, a very expensive bubble it may be; that separates us from the rest of the Middle East. Life here is grand we have no complaints. We live in a world of over-the-top excess. Free from the badness many nations face.

There’s no danger here. We are a very happy bunch. We shop and we explore and we eat fancy brunches. Tell the media how happy we are and to stop lumping Muslims together. There’s nothing threatening about being here. Get out your maps and look into it. Get on a plane and come visit us.

We are here of our own choosing we like our little Utopia. Please save your be careful over there for someone who needs it. We are living the dream. Please come and see it!

We love living in the UAE!

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5 Things to Remember When Your Expat Family Comes Home For the Summer

 “Gone Girl” was filmed in my hometown…how exciting! Stay tuned for more on this subject.

Whew! The summer has come to an end. And for most expats we are very excited to get back to our own lives. Not that we don’t love you. Not that we didn’t love visiting you. But the summer exodus to our hometown is absolutely, positively, exhausting with a capital “E”. Ever wonder how it feels to be a displaced person no place to call your home roaming from place to place? Well, we do. Not that we don’t love you. Not that we didn’t love visiting you. But coming home is kind of weird.

Continue reading “5 Things to Remember When Your Expat Family Comes Home For the Summer”

Just Like Me

Something strange happened this week.

Twice I was in a room filled with people who looked just like me — and it was odd. Nobody with dark skin. Nobody with a Middle Eastern accent. Nobody dressed in their country’s native clothes. Only white people, in white people clothes, having white people conversation — and I was bored.

Since I arrived in the Middle East I have been immersed in a melting pot of cultures and I have not stepped outside my melting pot since I arrived. Here in the UAE, my norm has been a mosaic of languages, clothing, and exotic features; all of which I now consider ordinary. One day I asked my friend Wlede, “Is this dress too African for me?” Of course not! was the response. In the States I would have received many stares for exploring fashion outside of my own ethnic group. Here nobody raises an eyebrow. Many days I ask myself, “Who have I become? Do I even still feel American anymore?

I never realized the extent of our global education until Max called out to me, “Yalla habibi! (Come on my loved one — which, as a nine year-old boy, he obviously didn’t quite understand or he wouldn’t have said it.) Another day he tossed out a “Ya know mate” that would rival any Aussies’s. And then he surprised me with the British terms keen, trolley and trainers almost in the same sentence. Who is this kid?

Raising an expat kid is different. They absorb the culture of their classmates and sometimes identify it as their own. They will swear up and down that they are from countries outside their home. Laura, my Italian friend, has three children who assumed they were Chinese. Imagine explaining to your child that although they’ve lived in China all of their lives, they are not Chinese. Interestingly, in their little view of the world they do not recognize the difference.

My friend who is a kindergarten teacher asked her class, “So class where are you all from?” One little boy screamed, “Exxon Oil!” While another little girl with a Texas accent said, “I’m from Saudi.” Many American children of teachers teaching internationally and other expats living abroad have never lived in the United States. They’ve lived here and there around the world, moving from assignment to assignment. Kerstin, my American friend whose children have never lived in the USA said, “I hated it when my kids lost their Aussie accent!”

Of the nineteen children in my son’s class there are probably ten different ethnic groups represented. During holidays the children disperse around the world to visit family or vacation in far away places. The cultural experience an expat child receives in the UAE is unmatched. Yes, we are living in the Middle East but we are truly receiving a global education due to the overwhelmingly large expat community. We are a melting pot larger than New York City. And fortunately for me, I am learning to pick and choose the best each country has to offer.

When deciding to move internationally, our goal was to create a global citizen. Someone who isn’t defined by geographic borders, an inherited culture, or misinformed by the evening news. Someone who is as comfortable in Dubai as he is in London. Someone with a kind heart, an accepting spirit and a thirst for knowledge and exploration.

And then one day Max said something to me that was so British it made me smile.

I realized with the quip of his little British slang that this experience was achieving its bloody goal.

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The Expat Trade-Off

IMG_0012_2Life is a trade-off. I have the Maldives and you have Miracle Whip. You have NY&Co and I’m trying to squeeze my arse into French fashion. Expats do not have Girl Scout Cookies, Andes Mints, and beef that tastes like home. Chili powder, Cheerios that taste right, and good New York bagels. Pork? Forget it! Whatever they do in the UAE twists the taste into something unrecognizable.

We traded a country that operated pretty much like a well oiled machine for a multi-ethnic experience where we only comprehend answers to questions, directions, and a restaurant menu about thirty percent of the time. And since we have no other choice, we have learned to trust people with things that would absolutely shock Americans. 

Yes, we live an exotic life.

 

Which may sound like a dream to some, yet in reality it is a trade-off for things expats hold dear but gave away for the experience of traveling the world and seeing places and things many only see when they close their eyes.

Loved ones die and we are not there.

Families have holidays, weddings, reunions, birthdays and graduations; and we wish them our best from across the globe.

We miss the loved ones we really love, the ones we only like to see once a year and even the dysfunctional ones that cause more grief than good. We miss them all.

But we get to see place like the Maldives, Malaysia and Rome because they are as close to us as Florida, California and Mexico are to you.

Two of the top regrets for dying people are they wished they would have traveled more and they wish they would have lived their lives authentically. I believe I am doing both — but it comes with a price.

Expats trade the comforts of home for the excitement of the unknown. Instead of regular hugs from grandparents, our children see Buddhist temples, ancient history and the wonders of the planet many children will never experience.

But they miss hot dogs. Doritos with the good cheese. Chicken in the Biscuit crackers.

Life is a trade-off. You can’t have it all. We chose the Maldives and you chose Thanksgiving with family.

The best thing about this experience is that we can both live vicariously through one another. Keep sharing your pics of home cooking, family get-togethers, your dogs and your other experiences; and I promise to show you the world.

Deal?

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The Abu Dhabi Choral Group’s “Anything Goes”

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Abu Dhabi Choral Group did it again with this year’s performance of the 1934 musical Anything Goes. Packed full of Cole Porter classics, the Anything Goes cast of 35 performing members not only belted out the old showtunes but they also busted out the tap shoes too. In the 6 years I have attended, I must say, ADCG definitely upped the entertainment factor this year with their incredible dance choreography and their flashy new focus on costume design. You really never know what you’re in for because ADCG has undeniably been the best little community theater group in the UAE for 41 years — and that is certainly something for Abu Dhabi to be proud of.

Continue reading “The Abu Dhabi Choral Group’s “Anything Goes””

AmStur Caviar’s Masterclass

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Last year, the price of oil dropped to $40 a barrel and since then life in the UAE has been a little boring. My big fat extravagant Abu Dhabi life changed overnight as companies cut budgets, friends left the country, and the expat mood as a whole turned a little sad. That was until my lucky day when an acquaintance reached out with a champagne and caviar event. Continue reading “AmStur Caviar’s Masterclass”

ADCG’s The Addams Family — snap, snap

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They’re creepy and they’re kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They’re altogether ooky,
The Addams Family.

Their house is a museum
When people come to see ’em
They really are a scream
The Addams Family.

(Neat)
(Sweet)
(Petite)

So get a witch’s shawl on
A broomstick you can crawl on
We’re gonna pay a call on
The Addams Family.

 

 I personally love kooky, creepy and ooky — and apparently Abu Dhabi does too because not only has it been all over the local press, but Monday night’s Addams Family performance was a packed house! (and pssst…alert the tabloids. Even people from Dubai were there. Shock I know!)

In its 39th season, the Abu Dhabi Choral Group is our hometown amateur choral group which masquerades as a theater group — yet they perform like they’re getting paid for it. The ADCG’s diverse membership which spreads the globe with 15+ nationalities gives you your moneys worth in a juggernaut of community talent who all pitched in from the ground up to create the dark comedy that has fascinated so many of us since childhood. ADCG director Cameron Toman chose a hysterical plot line that focuses on Wednesday Addams played by Katy McCants Floyd, who is all grown up and falls in love with the normal everyday guy Lucas Beineke played by Jordan Murray. As we can all agree, blending families isn’t easy, especially when you’re the Addams Family so the production focuses on their attempt to tolerate each other and in the process highlights just how normal kooky people can be and how kooky normal people can be. Parents take note, athough the performance focuses on the creepy and kooky the storyline is family friendly and the comedy will give everyone in the whole family a big laugh. Unless you are repulsed by the word sh%t which was spoken 2 times. Then maybe you should stay home and polish your work loafers or something.

“I took my sister, daughters, and their BFFs to the Addams Family musical. While the Folklore Theater looks unloved from the outside, the inside is cosy. The show was Amazing! The actors knew their lines, the live orchestra, the costumes, and the props and stage….everything was great!” — Louet Colaco

Everyone I know who hasn’t been to an ADCG performance asks the same question, “They’re a choral group…right?”

Yes, by name they are a choral group but in reality they are far, far, more. The ADCG 50+ members have come a long way since 1977 and this multi-talented group seems to have a special synergy (pardon my 80’s word) that sizzles on stage. For example, the incredibly talented Alana Barraj who played Morticia and Shea-Lea Saunders who played Gomez, perform as if they have been on stage together for years. Barraj never disappoints. As in previous performances her vocals make me jealous and her delivery is impeccable, regardless of whether she is playing Elle the bubble gum cheerleader in Legally Blonde or the dark and controlled Morticia Addams — Alana is spot on. My obsession though for the Addams Family production came in a surprise package, and that is the fiery performance delivered by Shera-Lea Saunders. I loved Gomez — loved everything about Gomez. Maybe it is because Saunders created a sexy little sweetie pie Gomez that appeared half Prince and half Ricky Ricardo. The Spanish accent cracked me up and the performance overall was absolutely charming and a delight to watch as Gomez struggled to control the women in his life.

“Watched it on Friday with my girls. Loved it!” — Ghawiya Umm-Julia

“Amazing staging and an innovative take on the Addams Family. Loved the costume design. Do something different this weekend and book your seats. It’s fabulous!” — Teige Osborne

I asked my friend which character was her favorite and she immediately replied, Uncle Fester. Unlike the original Uncle Fester who had a fetish for explosives, the ADCG’s Uncle Fester played by Rami Al Shihabi was a gouly teddy bear. The dark cupid who confessed his undying love for the moon. His smooth melodic voice warmed our hearts and his gentle spirit was definitely a crowd favorite as everyone cheered for his corny plan to follow the moon.

Although I do not have time in this post to give adequate praise for the entire cast and team, the outstanding performances given by each and everyone of the members and the many hours of work dedicated to the set and production did not go unnoticed. And although the Folklore Theater is just what a community theater should be, a weathered and worn old building held together with the dreams of those who may move on to bigger ambitions, and supported by those of us who understand the importance of community Arts, the ADCG deserves a bigger stage. Although, I believe, anything more would take away the grit of doing it for fun.

To wrap up this freaky and kooky review, I have one last thing to confess. When I love something I want you to love it too. And I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed with the Addams Family. Not only is the ADCG a compiled membership of our teachers, employees, and co-workers; and therefore we should support them. It is also such a refreshing change from all of the world class stuff typically offered in the UAE (never thought I would say that…).

When I go see an ADCG performance I feel like I took a Chicago subway to a community theater somewhere in the inner center of the city. And for a change, it feels really nice to witness something so organically creative.

Only two shows left! Get your tickets for the May 19th and 20th shows.

Principle cast members not mentioned but certainly appreciated:

Jenny Murray — Pugsley Addams

Angie Abraham — Grandma

Cat Downing — Lurch

Kathleen Moran — Alice Beineke

Gerard Fee — Mal Beineke

The Addams Family at Abu Dhabi Folklore Theatre, behind Al Wahda Mall, on May 19th and 20th. The Show starts at 7.30pm. Tickets prices are 100AED for adults (110 online); children under 12 pay 75AED (80 online).

Visit platinumlist.net or www.abudhabichoralgroup.com for tickets and more information.

 

It’s a Chinese New Year!

People, hold on to your Red Fire Monkey because it is Chinese New Year at Teatro!
The “Year of the Monkey” begins on February 3 and continues through February 12th, and Chef Ted Espiritu of Teatro Restaurant at the Park Rotana will celebrate with special menu items for the New Year. I was invited to taste these delicious bites from the Far East and as always, it’s good. This unique A La Carte menu for the occasion consisting of Chinese dishes including Crispy Aromatic Duck with Green beans in Ginger Sauce, Hunan Steamed Fish with Tofu in Tou Ban Jan Sauce and Five Spiced Crispy Squid. Continue reading “It’s a Chinese New Year!”

Merry Christmas to our Muslim Friends

cropped-img_4606.jpgIt’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere we go
Right here in the Middle East its such a sight to see
Santa Claus, dancing elves, and mistle toe Continue reading “Merry Christmas to our Muslim Friends”