Archive | March, 2012

vacation? family trip? yes.

So we took a family trip to the Maldives.

Yes, the Maldives. The islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean that are sinking due to global warming and where, just before our trip, they had an itsy-bitsy coup and ousted the president. The coup was fairly pleasant, as far as coups go (although probably not for the president, who now has to live in an ordinary place like the rest of us, instead of in paradise), and life along the atolls seems to have continued more or less as it has before.

Before we moved to Abu Dhabi, Husband and I daydreamed about a trip to the Maldives. We figured it could be his Big Treat for turning fifty (or maybe we call that a consolation prize?), an reward for moving the entire family to the middle of the freaking desert, a second honeymoon…we had all kinds of rationalizations reasons why we should go to the Maldives.

Then reality hit: we have children. And unless we planned to leave them in our apartment for five days with several boxes of Fruit Loops and a few computer games, we were going to have to bring them with us.

My visions of canoodling on deserted beaches and romping in azure water with Husband vanished, replaced by images of me sitting in a sweaty hotel dining room ordering yet another round of chicken nuggets while my children argued about how unfair it was that his portion of french fries was bigger.  My romantic vacation had morphed into…a family trip. Continue Reading →

Read full story · Comments { 9 } on March 29, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, expat, family, Kids, Travel

Happy Mother’s Day

No, I haven’t gotten my calendars confused.

In the UAE, today, March 21, is Mother’s Day.  Somehow, google knows that:

It’s a pretty cute drawing, google-guys, I have to say.  But it’s not as good as this one:

My first Arabic Mother’s Day card.  Graciously, Liam translated for me because he knows I can’t read Arabic.

My habibi.

 

 

Read full story · Comments { 3 } on March 21, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Children, expat, Kids, UAE

maybe THIS murder will change things?

I wasn’t going to write anything about Trayvon Martin. His murder happened a long way away, and the newspapers here in Abu Dhabi are filled with plenty of stories of murder and mayhem (Syria, anyone?). Plus, you know, he’s African American and the murder happened in Florida, and so really, who am I, as a white woman in the Middle East, to weigh in on the terrible thing that happened to him and his family? Isn’t that the way the logic goes? That if it doesn’t directly relate to our lives, we don’t get involved?

Maybe I could say, as Mom-101 did so persuasively, that I’m a mom and so one mother’s pain is also my own.  Or maybe I could say that I’m a mom who wants her sons to grow up without fear of someone thinking they look “suspicious” (my kids have darker-than-white skin and shiny black hair.  They don’t look African American but I suppose you could think they look vaguely Arabic. And you know that all Arabs are terrorists, right?)  Charles M. Blow, in the Times, writes about his fear of his own children ending up like Trayvon…I suppose that all parents worry that something terrible will happen to their children, but for some parents, that worry is more real than others.

Here’s the thing: it seems to me that as long as our country refuses to moderate its insatiable appetite for guns,  all our children are at risk.

Because beyond the simple heart-breaking fact that Trayvon is someone’s son is the fact that his death is–again–about our country’s love affair with guns and vigilante-ism, about our insistence that “they” (whoever they are at the moment) are dangerous and that “we” are always on the verge of being attacked.

Frightened people imagine attackers everywhere, which seems to be how George Zimmerman, Trayvon’s killer, looked at the world.  Zimmerman saw Trayvon as the boy was walking home from the convenience store, where he bought Skittles and iced tea; the gated community neighborhood was unfamiliar to Trayvon because he was visiting, spending some time with his father and his father’s fiancee.  Mr. Zimmerman, a volunteer for the neighborhood-watch patrol, saw Travyon walking home and thought he “looked suspicious.”  Now, in some places, “neighborhood watch” means folks strolling around the block chatting with their friends and picking up errant trash.  In this neighborhood, though, the volunteer had a concealed weapon and was cruising around in his SUV.

What made Trayvon look suspicious? I mean, Skittles are a pretty friendly looking candy, don’t you think? Well, apparently Trayvon was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, with the hood up. Up, of course, is a clear danger signal. I’m sure the color of Trayvon’s skin had nothing to do with Zimmerman’s concern.

Well, folks, we know how it ends. What with one thing and another (and in defiance of the police operator, who told Zimmerman to stay in the car until an officer arrived in the neighborhood), Zimmerman got out of his car, chased Trayvon, and then Trayvon was dead on the ground.  Zimmerman claims he shot the boy in self-defense, which when you kill someone in Florida can be an extenuating factor.

Self-defense? A 28 year old man with a gun against a 17 year old unarmed boy?

Zimmerman has not been arrested and no charges have been filed against him.

The Republican nominees for President have not said a word about Trayvon. I guess they’re too busy discussing the best ways to keep women barefoot and pregnant.

Astonishingly, however, Obama hasn’t contacted Trayvon’s family either, which reveals (again) the minefield created when racial politics intersect the politics of gun control.

Trayvon–and all the other children who have been the victims of gun-related violence–deserve more than silence. What happened to Trayvon deserves to be screamed about, shouted about, twittered, tumblr’d, pinterested, and facebooked. He deserves more than his own hashtag (although he’s got one now); and his family deserves more than the police chief saying “the evidence doesn’t establish so far that Mr. Zimmerman did not act in self-defense.”

If Zimmerman hadn’t been armed, Trayvon would be alive. It’s as simple as that. I realize that I’m shouting into the howling wilderness, but I’ll say it anyway: with stricter gun laws, Columbine would have ended differently; Virginia Tech would have ended differently; and so would have that Florida evening in February.  Remember how after Columbine and Virginia Tech people were sure that this time, gun laws would become stricter?

Should we even bother to hope that Trayvon’s death might finally, finally stir people to speak out against the gun lobby?

I know they say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But you know what? It’s really hard to kill someone with a bag of Skittles and a hoodie sweatshirt.

 

Update: on Monday, the US Justice department opened a probe into Trayvon’s death. George Zimmerman still sleeps in his own bed, in the comfort of his own home.  Update unrelated to heart-breaking tragedy: yeah write is open for linkups, so click on through and follow the conversation.  Then come back on Wednesday to vote for your favorite posts.



Read full story · Comments { 32 } on March 18, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Kids, Politics, ranting

I’m in two different places this week and I don’t even have a time-turner!

I don’t have a time-turner, but I AM turning back time this week.  Jamie, from My Chosen Chaos, has a great series on her blog called “If I Could Turn Back Time” (and yes, now YOU have the Cher song running through your head too).  She invited me to guest post in that series–and then reminded me that I’d agreed–and now my advice to my eighteen-year old self is up on Jamie’s blog.  So you should click over and read my advice to my younger self, think about your own younger self, and then click around on Jamie’s blog.  There is lots of good writing there to be discovered!  Thanks, Jamie, for the invitation.  Thinking about being eighteen again makes me wistful (to have all that still living still in front of me) and horrified (to go through all that crap again? no way!).  What would you say to your eighteen-year old self?

Also this past week, I was in an actual newspaper, with an actual column. And a by-line! You know, maybe that whole “death of print” thing is a little premature. Because being in print?  Exciting. More exciting, frankly, than hitting “publish” on this blog, even though I love doing that, too.  The UAE local paper is called The National, and my piece ran as a Comment essay.  You can read it here and then you should probably just go ahead and send the link to all your friends too, and maybe “like” it on facebook, too, while you’re at it.

It’s been a big week, although I’ve been distracted by work–can you imagine? a job? sheesh–and so have missed linking with Stasha’s listicles for the second week in a row (and thus missed this classic piece of advice: no woman has ever shot a man while he was doing the dishes. Sing it sistah!) Plus I only barely linked up with yeahwrite.  Bad, bad, blogger.  I’ll do better next week, promise!

Read full story · Comments { 1 } on March 16, 2012 in Abu Dhabi

where do I live?

I live in a country where women who have sex without marriage are considered prostitutes, while men who have sex without marriage are considered “just doing what men do” and in many some cases hold government office or are celebrities.

I live in a country where abortions incredibly difficult to get, even in the case of rape or incest, unless you are wealthy and able to travel great distances to find a doctor.

I live in a country where money governs absolutely and low-wage workers are barely recognized by the legal system.

I live in a country that spits on the illegal immigrants who do the dirty and dangerous jobs that natives don’t want to do because it’s, you know, dirty.

I live in a country where skin color determines the quality of service you receive in a store, at a restaurant, at a hotel.

I live in a country where men’s voices are heard more loudly than women’s voices.

I live in a country where God gets invoked as justification for laws and policies that serve the rich and powerful, not the poor and meek.

I live in a country where the voices of reason and progress struggle to be heard over the voices of extremism and zealotry.

Here’s my question for you: am I talking about the United States or the United Arab Emirates? Lately it’s been getting more and more difficult to see the difference.

 

I’m linking this rant–inspired by Rush Limbaugh, Rick Santorum, the Tea Party, and an assorted cast of American right-wing zealots–to yeah write #48.  There are lots of other posts at yeahwrite this week who AREN’T ranting, so you should click through and read what they’re saying this week. Then come back on Thursday and vote for your three favorites!

Read full story · Comments { 23 } on March 13, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, expat, Politics, ranting