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Tag Archives | language

here we are…year two and year fourteen

The eagle has landed. Elvis is back in the building.We are back in Abu Dhabi.

We got back to Abu Dhabi last night: four people, eight suitcases, eight carryons, a duty-free bag o’booze, and assorted aches and pains from sleeping where god didn’t intend people to sleep: 37,000 feet above sea level.

Okay, it’s a lot of bags, but it’s nothing compared to the entrance we made last year, which I’m sure the luggage handlers are still talking about with horror. But yes, vows were made about packinglessnextyearforsure.

We spent today, the 29th, in a blur of jet-lagged exhaustion, exacerbated, in my case, by the fact that Caleb came into our bedroom about every thirty minutes, starting at 1:30 to loud-whisper MOMMY I DON’T WANT TO GET JET LAG. By 3:30, all vestiges of patience had worn off and I snapped: “you HAVE jet lag. THIS is jet lag and what do you want me to do about it?” Then, mommy remorse set in, I let him clamber into our bed and taught him how to count sheep in order to lull himself to sleep. Although in his case, he counted lego figures rather than livestock. I lay there and wondered at what age a person could responsibly give a child an Ambien. Or half an Ambien?

But of course, we don’t have any Ambien, so my musings were purely theoretical.  When I told a friend today about my drug dilemma, he said “did you try Bambien? That’s Ambien for kids.”

Bambien. Josh, you’re fucking brilliant. Call Big Pharma in the morning and pitch that sucker.

We tottered through the day and took the boys to dinner at Olivella’s, the pizza place that opened near our apartment, which the boys claim is almost as good as what they have in New York. And walking home, through the damp soft air of an Abu Dhabi summer night, we saw a lopsided moon rising between the buildings.

Husband pointed to the moon. “That’s a gibbous moon,” he said to the boys. And then we laughed.  A long time ago, on a New York evening, a similarly lopsided moon rose over a different set of buildings, on one of our first dates. “That’s a gibbous moon,” I said to him. Husband, being an English professor and general all-around smarty-pants, scoffed at the word “gibbous” having anything to do with moons. Reader, he didn’t believe me. But dear reader? Words are my thing – and love the word gibbous. When he realized that I was right, Husband says he had the first flash that maybe he’d met his match.

And match we did. Fourteen years ago, we got married. I don’t remember if it was a gibbous moon that night, but matching my words with his was one of the smartest choices I’ve ever made.  Happy anniversary, Husband: our second year of Abu Dhabi life, our fifteenth year of marriage, yet another gibbous moon. It’s going to be a good year.


Continue Reading · on August 29, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, family, marriage, 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.



Continue Reading · on March 21, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Children, expat, Kids, UAE

versatile? c’est moi (and no, I don’t know how to say it in arabic)

It’s (another) beautiful day in Abu Dhabi but I’m gloomy. The semester looms, the unfinished manuscript(s) languish, the (feral) children bicker, the husband business trips, I drive around doing errands.


Then I get home and discover that a woman who writes a column called mynewfavoriteday emails me to say she’s giving me an award: Most Versatile Blogger. I like this woman’s writing, admire her story, and am all kinds of flattered.

See? Even with a badge and everything:

Versatile. I like that word. Versatile as opposed to the words I more frequently use to myself when I describe this blog–random, scattered, diffuse, unfocused, niche-less, grab-bag.  But versatile? That’s…groovy, flexible, hip, MacGyvery.

So thank you Shannon, for a much-needed lift and now for the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Yay for fifteen new writers.  Ugh, seven things about me.

About Me:

1. I can pick up almost anything with my toes. My feet seem very close to our monkey ancestors.

2. In some parallel universe where I can sing (or even lip-synch), I’d like to be a rock star.

3. Turning forty felt fabulous (probably because I spent so much time alliterating) but I’m already fearing fifty, which doesn’t happen for two more years. Fifty feels…final.

4. Writing a blog is the closest I will ever get, I imagine, to being an eighteenth-century gadfly, ala Addison (or Steele).

5. I have really good name-face recognition, which is one of the greatest assets I have as a teacher (besides my total brilliance, of course): students realize that I’m going to know if they’re not in class.

6. I love awards shows (and the crucial pre-game commentary).

7. I have a crush on my new iphone.

And now I’m off to spread versatile joy around the interwebs.

Continue Reading · on January 11, 2012 in Abu Dhabi

the signs are clear…the meaning, not so much

Traveling to another country–traveling anywhere–creates the opportunity to learn new phrases and traditions. Sometimes, though, things get lost in translation.


“How come no one takes anything from those shops,” Liam asked me after we gone through customs in Abu Dhabi and were standing outside waiting for our cab into the city.

“What shops?” I wasn’t paying attention; I was too busy breathing the warm air, tangy with the smell of the ocean.

“Those duty shops, in all the airports? How come no one steals the stuff?”

Now he had my attention. “Well, all those things cost money. You have to pay the cashier and–”

“What cashier? You mean someone works there?”

I nodded. Comprehension dawned across Liam’s face. “I didn’t think anyone worked there, you know, like it wasn’t anyone’s job. Like, free of duties, right?”

Reminded me of my friend S., whose mother, a number of years ago, was extolling the delicious eggs she found at a small country market in Maryland. “They’re wonderful,” the mother said, “but what’s a range chicken, do you think?”  My friend S. stared at her and the mother explained: “They’re free range eggs, and they make great omelettes but I’ve never heard of range chickens before.”  Clearly the store needed to re-think the placement of its hyphens. S. brought her mother to the store where she paid for about a week’s worth of not-free free-range eggs.

Example II: This sign, from the mall near to where our apartment is in Abu Dhabi. The sign hangs just inside the entrance to the mall:

What do you suppose happens in the romance room? If we were in another country, I’d guess hookers, but given that we’re in the UAE, I’m thinking not. Maybe it’s the place where men and women go to hold hands?

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Continue Reading · on April 21, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, expat, lost in translation

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