Tag Archives | New Year’s resolutions

a saturday morning view

So the boys started this morning at a soccer–dammit, football–school about 20 minutes drive from our apartment.  As I sat there staring into the morning sun, I realized I was looking at my new life in a nutshell:

a football field (okay, that’s a holdover from my old life); a construction site (sometimes it seems as if the entire city is under construction, one way or another); sunshine; and Islam, in this case the Grand Mosque, built in honor of Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the UAE.

I live in a Muslim country–the call to prayer sounds five times a day, women walk around swathed in black, the grocery store has a specially designated “pork room” for non-Muslims. So on the one hand, the influence of Islam seems inescapable.

But like this image of the mosque that hovers only in the background, it’s possible, as a non-Muslim to go about daily life as if you lived in, say, Santa Barbara or something (but with fewer women in tank tops).  I can buy liquor; I don’t have to cover myself in black to go outside (although frankly, with all the holiday eating, an abaya may soon be my only sartorial choice); I don’t have to be escorted everywhere by my husband (something for which we are both grateful).

In fact, it feels a little strange, this ability to float along the surface of life here without having to learn more about local culture–but then again, even “local” raises a question: in a country where about 85% of the population is non-native, what exactly constitutes “local culture?”  Drinking camel milk and eating dates can’t be the extent of “local-ness,” can it?

At the moment–probably because I’m still so new here–I’m more intrigued than frustrated by what I don’t know; I like thinking about the complicated collisions that happen between ancient worlds and modern. I don’t know if I will ever understand this part of the world–maybe I’m doomed always to look at it from afar. The Grand Mosque, in my photograph, looks like it’s just on the other side of the construction site, but in fact, it’s at least a few miles down the road.

There’s a great writer in Canada whose blog is schumtzie.com.  Last month she wrote about her guiding word for 2012. Her word is “shift.” I like that word a lot–shifting paradigms, shifting perspectives, shifting attitudes, tectonic shift…it’s a good word.

If she hadn’t chosen “shift,” I might choose it for myself.  But instead, thinking about the mosque, thinking about this odd place where I find myself these days, I think 2012’s guiding word will be: discover.

Look underneath, look within, explore, reveal…all of those are embedded in “discover.” That’s what I’m going to do in 2012.

What would your word be?


Continue Reading · on January 7, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Discoveries, environment, expat, me my own personal self, religion, Travel, UAE

Monday Listicles: (un)resolute

Well actually in Abu Dhabi, it’s Wednesday now, so I’m a tad off the mark in terms of the whole “Monday” thing.  Good thing I haven’t resolved to be more prompt this year; I’d hate to have blown it before the end of the first week of 2012.  Stasha and Theresa, from This Mountain Momma, have collaborated on a topic that seems utterly relevant: resolutions we have no intention of keeping, pretty much ever. Or at least not in this particular lifetime.


1. Give up cheese
I grew up in northern Illinois, where it’s not a meal unless a dairy product is involved.  If I gave up cheese I might starve.

2. Give up sunbathing
The damage has been done: hours and hours and days of baking in the sun, slathered in baby oil and sometimes holding a it foil-wrapped album cover under my face to make sure that every inch of me got baked (remember albums? So much more useful than a CD and way more useful than an MP3 file).  Now I live in perpetual summer– my only concession is a face cream with SPF.

3. Give up bread and bread-related products
I’d rather sell my children.

4. Stop spending so much time with this newfangled Internet thing.
But then who would I talk to?

5. Learn to meditate.
Love all that stillness and focus, concentrating only on the breath–was that a ding announcing a new message? Did someone comment on my last post? Do we need milk? More cheese?

6. Learn to scuba  dive.
Confession: the idea of being in all that water scares me. Plus did you see that movie? Plus sharks. Plus weird tentacly things.

7. Accept that the Kardashians deserve all the attention heaped on them by the media.
It would be easier to believe that the world is flat or that the Easter Bunny is real.

8. Learn to troubleshoot my own tech problems.
But if I did that, then what would Husband do for fun? He wouldn’t be able to mock me, or sigh in a long-suffering way, so for his sake, I will maintain my learned helplessness.

9. Give up my love affair with my iPhone & be friends with my little Nokia clamshell.
Ha! The new one–iPhone4S (I like to think of it as iPhone 4 Steve) is out finally in Abu Dhabi, so pretty much right after I write this post, I am hauling ass to Etisalat (the AD phone company) to get myself a new iPhone that will work here. Anyone have any suggestions for new apps?  And do we think that Siri will speak to me in Arabic?

10.  Stop making resolutions.
But I love lists! If I were brave, I’d make a list like Eden Kennedy (that’s the Fussy lady), and commit to loving everyone and tell the truth, but I think that is too much for me. How about I just resolve to stop yelling at my children. Or at least, I won’t yell at them on an hourly basis. How about once a day? That’s a resolution I might be able to keep.

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Continue Reading · on January 4, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Children, Monday Listicle, tech life

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