Wednesday, May 23, 2007

One More Day

So, it’s Wednesday night, 9:30. I watched Coronation Street and then an episode of Friday Night Lights taped from last night, had dinner, did the washing up, shaved and have my clothes laid out for a 5:00 start in the morning. I’m burning a couple of CDs I’ve downloaded over the last week while I write this. Usually I get in bed about 10:00 with a nightcap and the book I’m reading and then the lights are out about 11:00. Exciting, huh?
It’s been one of those weeks at work. What can I say, they happen. A contributing factor is that 3 classes graduate next week and that always seems to ratchet up the tension a bit. We’ll survive it. Last weekend David, Lorin and Pat came down from Sharjah and joined Phil, Enma and I at Finz at the Rotana Beach Hotel for a birthday dinner for Lorin and anniversary dinner for David and Lorin. Everyone was late, so I was forced to have a vodka martini before they got there and then another one, of course, once we all get settled in at table. Started with ½ dozen oysters then some white wine and the catch of the day, grilled, then chocolate mousse for dessert. Everyone had a good time. We laughed and talked about old times and future plans and summer vacation.
Tomorrow, Thursday, is last day of the work week. Dinner is going to be at Steve, Leah and Hannah’s with Phil and Enma and me. I’m looking forward to it, a true family dinner. Then I will probably spend the rest of the weekend with the wagons in a tight circle watching a little TV, reading and working on the computer, the usual. The valueless joy of not hearing my name called.
Next weekend will be goodbye to David and Lorin’s flat and garden. I have a feeling it’s going to be a weekend to remember, but most of it will be lost in an appropriate haze of alcohol. I’ll drive up to Sharjah next Thursday after work and that night we’ll do a private family-type goodbye to the place and all we’ve shared there. Friday night will be an open house type-thing with people from the campus. Saturday will be a day of recovery and then Sunday back to Abu Dhabi for work on Monday. It’s our long weekend. I’ll try to take pics. I have pics also, before and after, from Finz from last weekend and will try to post them this weekend along with a longer, more coherent post. It’s 10:00 and time to make a drink and read myself to sleep.
Below are links to a few pieces I’ve read over the last week or so. Check them out. They’re worth the ten minutes. I’m reading Fiasco by Thomas Ricks now and so I’m feeling a highly political post coming on. I’m about half-way through it. Why isn’t most of the Bush government in prison? Maybe reading the Impeachment post by Gary Kamiya linked below will help explain, maybe not.
More soon.
America’s Long Iraq Nightmare by Patrick Cockburn
The Matt Drudge Primary by Michael Scherer
Paul Wolfowitz’s Fatal Weakness by Juan Cole
Why Bush Hasn’t Been Impeached by Gary Kamiya

Friday, May 11, 2007

David and Lorin's Garden

Ex-pat life can be many things. Lots of interesting people are met from lots of different countries who are living here for lots of different reasons. You meet a lot of people who are here one year and then gone the next. It’s been my experience that you keep a small core group of friends who become your extended family and support group and you feel lucky to have them there for you. Phil and Enma, Steve and Leah and Hannah, David and Lorin—they are my family here. Birthdays, Christmas, Thursday evenings, among other events, are spent together. Laughing and drinking and eating and smoking and talking about what’s what.
A couple of weekends back I went up to visit David. Lorin was away in Canada for what I call the Festival of the Dead. It’s a Ukrainian Orthodox religious festival, okay. They live in a two-floor flat on the American University of Sharjah (AUS) campus in University City, Sharjah. I well and truly hate the drive up from Abu Dhabi. I always leave Sheikh Zayed Road at the Jebel Ali South exit and take Emirates Road, fighting the traffic up Emirates Road to Sharjah. It can be a dangerous drive, as most can be here in the UAE, but I’ve been driving here for a long time and I know the tricks. Timing is important. If I can get away from work a little early, then I can miss the rush hour traffic and just have to deal with the long line of huge cargo trucks, which by law are supposed to stay in the right lane. But, once I arrive at David and Lorin’s place at the AUS campus, it’s like being on holiday. I joke with them that the faculty at AUS, like Embassy employees and W., live in a bubble, and they do, but it’s a very pleasant bubble.
The spare bedroom is called “Jack’s room” and that’s where I dump my stuff and change out of my work clothes and then go down to have a quick bite of lunch with David, along with a couple of beers, and then return to my bedroom for a nap.
Hey, I love my afternoon nap. For one thing, I wake up at 5 a.m. every workday and when I get home from work I want a bit of sleep. I wake up from my nap about 5 p.m. and have the rest of the evening to run errands, work on the computer, watch TV, read, etc. Besides, when I first came here to the UAE, everyone napped in the afternoon. Nothing was open. The country basically shut down for the most part from about 1 – 5 p.m. That’s not the case now. The shopping malls and the business urge have changed all that. Anyway, after I wake up from my nap at David and Lorin’s, I wash my face, push down my hair with a little water and head down to the back garden for a cigarette and a jar of Starbuck’s mocha latte that I picked up at the little petrol station near campus.
David and Lorin will be moving to a different flat soon and I’ll lose that garden. I love their garden. I sit on the little covered patio and smoke and watch geckos and birds and just relax.
We have shared so many wonderful times in that garden. A few months back we returned from dinner in Dubai about midnight just as a storm was hitting. They followed me to the garden so I could smoke and we watched this amazing lightshow of jagged, Hollywood-perfect lightning hitting all around us in the outlying desert and the rain washing down everything. Lorin said she loved the smell of rain on dirt and that it reminded her of the village in Canada where she grew up and where her family had a farm. One night Lorin and I sat on the patio and watched a major wind storm wreak havoc with the fan-leaved palm trees which loom tall just outside the garden wall. It was beautiful.
We’ve gotten so drunk in that garden. Continuing on from dinner and sitting outside and drinking and talking. Talking about the past, the future, our jobs, our friends (the ones still here in the UAE and the ones who have moved on) and everything we’ve shared over our 15 year friendship. We’ve laughed until we’ve had tears running down our aging cheeks and sometimes we’ve just had tears running down those same cheeks because we also share our problems.
I’ve told Lorin that we need to do something special and memorable to give the flat and the garden a proper goodbye. I’m hoping that works out. I want to spend a little time alone in the garden one last time, having a few cigarettes, a few drinks, and remembering all the great memories that rest inside the walls of that garden and the decaying cells of my brain. If it works out, I’ll take pictures.

Just a couple things more.

Bushies Behaving Badly by Holly Allen, Christopher Beam, and Torie Bosch

This is a handy guide to all the various Bush administration scandals. It’s a truly amazing list of sleaze.

Also, I’ll post the link here and on the list to the side for the website of an Abu Dhabi-based artist. His paintings are truly original, refreshing and reflective. You can order directly from his website. If anyone based here in the UAE knows where he could have a bit of free exhibition space for a short time, I’m sure he would appreciate it. The website address is and its user friendly. Check out his paintings as well as his sculptures. He’s going to be famous one day and buying one of his paintings now will prove to be a good investment, I’m sure.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wednesday Quickie

Allow me to whine about not having any time to write. I haven’t posted here for over two weeks. I’m, check that, I have always been a faithful journal writer and haven’t even opened my journal in over two weeks. This weekend I have a dinner party on Thursday evening and then I plan to spend my weekend at home and sit here for several hours updating this blog. There are more pix I’ve wanted to add to my albums. I deleted my lists several weeks ago because I wanted to re-do them and haven’t had the time to do that, either.
I just wanted to do a quick post because there are several links to very good stories that I’ve been accumulating and I want to post them before they’ve expired. The first one is about Google. I prefer Google, using them for blogging, my email and my photo albums. Here’s a link to a posting on new personalized tools available at Google.

Google Expands Personalization With iGoogle

I haven’t explored the iGoogle options yet because of time constraints, but am hoping to check this out this weekend.

Apes May Lead to Origin of Languages: Researchers

As most of you know I teach a foreign language and this is an interesting piece on the possible origins of languages.

Last Refuge of the Scoundrel by Gary Kamiya

This guy is one of my favorite journalists and I always look for his pieces at Salon. This one concerns the labeling of Democrats as defeatists because of their growing opposition to the Iraqi debacle. Check it out.

Mission Accomplished Speech

This is great. Read this. This is the verbatim transcript of the monkey’s Mission Accomplished speech after he swooped down on the aircraft carrier and he stood before a banner announcing Mission Accomplished which was of course put up without Karl Rove’s knowledge.

A Tale of Two Horrors by Gary Kamiya

This is a very, very powerful piece on the Virginia Tech massacre and the reaction to the loss of life. It brilliantly and movingly compares that reaction to our increasing numbness to the deaths of thousands of Iraqis for whom we have no names. It speaks to a loss of humanity. Just read it.

Bill Moyers

I don’t have access to American PBS so I haven't seen Moyers new series. Evidently he has returned with a new program and one of the first episode dealt with the complete and utter failure of the American press to objectively report on the lead-up to the war in Iraq. This article offers some background on that episode. Basically, as you know, the Bush junta fed the American press the information and they fed it back to the American people, few if any questions asked. Your press failed you.

Bush’s Favorite Historian by Gary Kamiya

This is a very interesting interview with the British historian who has been a favorite of leaders from Bush to Pinochet to Sharon, some of the great butchers of our time. He is a very interesting read and I’m going to look for his books on my next trip to the book store. Evidently his most famous book is one on the Algerian war for independence from the French.

The Bush Beat by Glen Harkavy

This blog was a great read on the Village Voice and then it was abruptly dropped when they went through some management changes. Well, it’s back now and it’s just as good as ever. The above link takes you to his posting on Israeli torture of Palestinians. It’s eye-opening. Bookmark his blog because he’s good.

Lou Dobbs A Call to the Faithful

Lou Dobbs writes about the dangers in the ever blurring lines of separation between church and state. It’s been an obviously growing danger for years and I think Dobbs just jumped on it now because he pissed off the religious hypocrites and they’ve gone after him. It’s still a good read.

Well, that’s it. Maybe part of the reason that I don’t have the time to write is that I read too much. Anyway, it’s time to make a before-dinner drink and then cook it and eat it. The usual. Cheers. More later.