Schmutzie writes a blog over there in the upper-left quadrant of North America, in Saskatchewan (a word that is worth saying out loud); she writes well and wisely about everything from photography to toe socks, design to cats. One of the many projects you’ll find on the masthead of her blog is “Grace in Small Things,” which is a “daily reminder to take notice of the positive things we tend to overlook. You are hereby challenged to find the joy in small things, because life is short and love is large.”
Not bad advice, right?
On the 12th of October we will have been in Abu Dhabi for two months. Somedays it feels like we’ve been here forever in a good way and sometimes it feels like we’ve been here forever in a bad way. I’m afraid that lately my emails home to friends have sounded whiny: living here is haaaarrrd, I’m lonnnnnely, I miss my friennnnds… Like that.
So I think it would behoove me (behoove, that’s another good word, isn’t it?) to start looking around this new world where I live and finding myself some grace notes, dammit. It might not make the whining stop…but then again, it might (another good anti-whining device? Click over to the GIST website and listen to the ukelele version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I dare you not to smile.)
The gauntlet Schmutzie throws down is five things: find five grace notes in your day, your week, your whatever. Here goes.
1.What I see when I walk out of my office:
It reminds me that I live in a very new city in a very ancient part of the world.
2. This billboard, which I also see every morning. The question sort of reverberates around in my head: where is my moon? where is my moon? where is my moon? where is my moon?
3. The smiley-face and question mark (it’s not a photo reversal, that’s how the question mark is drawn in Arabic) decorating the hood of this Porsche:
4. My younger son’s feet: perfect, smooth, curved, elegant:
5. The fact that I can get camel milk at the grocery store and drink it in the coffee I get from the Lebanese coffee roasting place. Camel milk. Me! A nice girl from the Midwest, land o’cows, drinking camel’s milk. Funny, the journeys we take:
Where have you found grace these last few months?
Husband and I decided on a splurge during our visit to Abu Dhabi – a splurge underwritten by some research monies he has for an article he’s working on (seriously! About Arabian Sands, a book written by an Englishman who wanted to map the part of the Arabian Desert known as Rub Al Khali, or The Empty Quarter. This section of desert is shared by Saudi, UAE, Yemen, and Oman, and is larger than France, Netherlands, and Belgium put together. It has more sand than the Sahara, even though in square miles Rub Al Kali is smaller. More important than any of those facts? It’s stunningly beautiful. Gobsmackingly, jaw-droppingly, did-you-see-that beautiful).
Underwriting—or as we like to call it, corporate sponsorship—firmly in place, we made a reservation at Qasr Al Sarab. We reserved a car service to drive us out there—it’s about two hours outside of Abu Dhabi city, and neither of us are equipped, legally or psychically, to drive in the UAE. First surprise: when you reserve “a car” in New York, you get some version of an over-scented Lincoln Town Car. Here? We got a beat-up Toyota station wagon with anemic air conditioning. We also got an upclose and personal introduction to highway driving, Arab style: drivers pass one another whenever they want, wherever they want, with a simple flash of headlights to indicate their intentions. The vehicle in front slides over to the right (without slowing down), the driver behind speeds up into the lane of oncoming traffic (regardless of traffic in other lane), goes around the too-slow vehicle in front, and then slips back into the correct lane. I stopped watching after a while because I didn’t want my panicky gasps to distract the driver and get us all killed before we arrived at the resort.
Wait. “Resort” is TOTALLY the wrong word for where we arrived after our death-defying desert drive.
We arrived at…time out of mind? A place out of time? The corporeal equivalent to you-have-been-reborn-as-Brangelina? Continue Reading →