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”

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 πŸ™‚

 

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”

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”

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”

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? β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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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