aruan: (Star Trek - a word please Spock)
Fell off the one-a-day photo wagon because B. decided he's going to steer me right out of the endless to-do list-induced paralysis by opening the throttle on getting moving-related stuff done from the minute we get up until we collapse back into bed. But today was Guilt-Free Monday with [personal profile] khaleesian, and I traded picking up a prescription and buying shipping containers at Ikea for cupcakes and Supernatural. Also, she helped do my dishes, because she's the best kind of weird.

Speaking of weird, Groupon Middle East is truly strange. They offer the usual restaurant deals and discount vacation packages, but the other day I could buy an honorary doctorate degree ("in virtually any area of study or discipline"). Today, it's "glamorous bra straps" (strings of rhinestones, fake turquoise stones and other sharp objects obviously dreamt up by someone who's never needed any actual support from her lingerie). Yeah.

Day 6: My favorite building in the Emirates. )
aruan: (SGA - still the sun shines down below)
Had a little extra time at work last night and caught up on as much Tumblr as anyone can (do any of you keep totally up to date on your friendslists? Because I follow 67(!?) blogs and am never better than half caught up.) But I had to stop when I got to Monday because the hugely talented reapersun spawned Red Pants Monday, devoted to art of John's red Y-fronts, and this past couple weeks have been particularly racy. (And an angsty bonus with accompanying new Mumford&Sons single that only made the post-Reichenbach feels worse.)

In returning to the US news, it's going to be monstrously expensive to export our cats from the UAE. The American veterinary clinic quoted us almost $3,000 - we'll see if the Brits can do better. But for serious, their rabies shots are current, we already bought travel crates; all they need is some paperwork, a health certificate and a ticket for a cargo ride (airlines don't allow any animals except falcons in the cabin in the Middle East). Yeesh.

Since the worst of summer's blazing heat and stifling humidity seem to have broken, our coworkers have begun fattening up the office for the coming winter, I guess, because today's food treats were doughnuts from not one but TWO establishments: Krispy Kreme, and only marginally healthier baked doughnuts from a new shop. I had a hole from the former and half of a sugary doughnut from other and pretended that didn't add up to enough calories to make a difference in the universe. Shhhh.

Two videos making me smile: Gangnam Style, a kicky bit of K-pop that is surprisingly subversive, and [personal profile] absolutedestiny's Ballroom Blitz songvid to the original Ghostbusters movie. The bridge you guys, Ray's little face.

Day 5: View from the hallway in front of our room at Le Méridien. )
aruan: (XMFC - I'd know you anywhere)
Over a nearly six-hour lunch-turned-dinner with [personal profile] khaleesian today, we talked too loudly about fandom, she fretted over my lack of sweaters for New York, we toasted to mutual regrets of omission rather than commission, and managed not to cry on each other while saying I love you, man. Sniff.

Then she showed me the episode of Supernatural where Sam and Dean are the stars of a novel series and promptly discover they-know-we're-brothers-right? fandom, and I had to hide behind my fingers for a while. Why anyone thinks it's a good idea to enlighten the actors and production team of a show about what we do in their sandbox will never make sense to me.

Day 3: Marina Mall (February 2008) )
aruan: (Sherlock - 221B)
There are nice bits: discovering things you don't remember owning, the satisfaction of filling garbage bags with stuff to donate, the even deeper satisfaction of shredding papers. But there are things I don't quite know what to do with, like our kitchen utensils, and getting boxes won't be as simple as going down to our local liquor store (pro tip: liquor bottle boxes are small and study, making them excellent for hauling books.)

It's also more than a little bit tedious, and we may have come here with four suitcases and two carry-ons but that's certainly not how we're leaving. So, it's been half and half between doing legit moving preparation and laying on the sofa with a cat sleeping on me, rereading the sensation of falling as you just hit sleep, the post-Reichenbach story of my HEART.

And now, your daily dose of the 'Dhab.

Day 2: Our office for the first month (January 2008). )
aruan: (Captain America - into danger)
It may not look it, but I'm trying to find my way back to fandom, which has become a lot of work these days. I've been noodling around with Adobe Premiere, wading into Tumblr and generally being the same emotionally unstable wreck as the rest of Sherlock fandom. As for my own thoughts, I'm drowning in half-written entries and a lot of other half-formed musings that haven't made it onto paper.

But! I come with glad tidings - my stint in the Arabian sandbox is coming to a spectacular end, with the husband officially an employee of the mayor of New York (it's so much less glamorous than it sounds, but all true!) as of yesterday. This development is both a dream come true and the making of a truly epic existential crisis for me, but more on that later. Because in the interest of getting back into the habit of writing something other than SEO-friendly news copy, I'm starting a 30-day countdown (we had to give one month's notice) with a daily photo of our lives since arriving in Abu Dhabi almost five years ago. So you can all experience what you haven't been missing out on. Yay?

Day 1: Abu Dhabi International Airport's international terminal, January 2008. )
aruan: (Iron Man - hello Tony)
I have a new buddy in the Arabian sandbox, [personal profile] khaleesian, who quotes everyone from Tennyson to Tupac and has Russian talent, whatever that might entail, at her disposal. Scary and smart! And excited about things like driving a car and living in more than 850 square feet after several years in London, so I really ought to stop harshing her buzz. It'll be all mint lime juices and balmy summer nights from here on out, promise.

We met up to see This Means War last weekend, and honestly I think the movie would have a higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes (26%) if it had been marketed to the right audience. Which as far as I can tell are slash fans and social anthropologists. )

Basically, we spent the film alternating between:


and


Ah, Benedict Cumberbatch. Truly a man for all seasons.

peekshurs

Jan. 9th, 2010 01:11 pm
aruan: (no Earth-bound misfit I)
Grievous oversight: Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] without_me and [livejournal.com profile] wovenindelibly for the virtual snowflakes - they reminded me of the people I love here. Need to get out to see you ladies again sometime.

A little catch-up, and a little working ahead in the book, as I'll be on a mountain this weekend on the UAE/Oman border celebrating my second wedding anniversary. This is our second try at it, since on the actual date in mid-December we were rained out. In the desert! We're thinking of it as a good omen.

Day 7: A photo that makes you happy

Kittens' first Christmas. )

Day 8: A photo that makes you angry/sad

A dying way of life. )

Day 9: A photo you took

My favorite thing to do at DragonCon. )

Day 10: A photo of you taken over 10 year ago I'm on the wrong side of the world for this one - all my photos are in albums in storage, or with my marginally computer-literate mom. But basically, 10 years ago I was 17 (OMG rly?) in the 10th grade, just settling into my first real relationship, which would last for more than a year, defying the closed campus rule to eat lunch at a pizza place across the street, getting into Nine Inch Nails and taking my first Psychology class. I recommend the 101 level to everyone - it's so useful for making just a little more sense of the world. Mere exposure effect explains to much, and knowing about the bystander effect could save a life someday.

Day 11: A photo of you taken recently

Gentlemen, start your engines. )
aruan: (did I leave the artifact on?)
Day 6: Whatever tickles your fancy I really should have read this list before committing to it. Um, we're on Season Nine of another rewatching of SG1, so Daniel and Vala are always good for making me feel fuzzy inside. Our kittens, Barry and Sam, who greet us at the door and sleep at the foot of our bed and enjoy just lounging around the house as much as we do. Lindt chocolate truffles. The rare beer or glass of wine, since I have neither a car nor an alcohol license. Shopping in Dubai. The cool weather right now that makes the city a little less oppressively stagnant and eases the reek of rotting garbage. The 'Smores Pop Tarts that come in my in-laws' care packages. My awesome purple rock star handbag bought at a total bargain at Debenham's. The Norlander bread from Spinneys, dense and earthy and perfect with butter. My "I walk the line" playlist that gets me to work every day. Successfully healing a hard fight in Warcraft. Brandon's bad puns.

Since moving to Abu Dhabi, I take more pleasure in small things, because the big ones are so far away. More than anything, living here has made me better at internalizing my happiness in accomplishments, rather than going out to seek it. Because besides being far from home, working at a newspaper can be incredibly depressing - people dying of exposure from India to the UK, food aid stopped to Somalia, 45,000 Americans dying prematurely because they don't have health insurance and can't afford treatment. And here, in a completely incomparable but still significant act, the security guards who patrol (and smoke in front of) our office all day didn't tell anyone about a box of four newborn kittens, so young their eyes weren't even open yet, abandoned in the front courtyard. It's been cold enough for a jacket, and they were meowing constantly when one of the designers found them on his way out. Why not say something? Call someone? Maybe the security people couldn't do anything, but all us expatriates inside known to take in strays sure could. In this case, the best thing we could do was take them to the British Veterinary Clinic, where they were put down - still a far more dignified end than dying of exposure or starvation.

Everywhere is another sign that people don't care about each other, the environment, the greater world. Granted, the overwhelming majority have pressing problems of their own, but is there no drive in the average person to at least look around themselves and see a way to help?

As with all generalizations, the above wasn't fair to all the aid organizations, volunteers and good samaritans who DO notice the need around them. But when my distraught colleague called to tell me the above story, I was almost not surprised - and I that's not the opinion I want to have of people. I never want to live in a world where mewling kittens are ignored. Newspapers do help with that, but I don't feel like I'm doing enough. Can career ennui set in this early?
aruan: (Default)
Hubby and I finally got our curtain situation sorted (yes, we have lived in the apartment for almost a year), and on Sunday the good men from around the corner at Al Rehab (yes, Amy Winehouse does pop into my head with alarming frequency) will come by to install them.

Until then, dreamed last night that they showed up while I had to leave the house, and Brandon let them do whatever crazy thing that passes for interior design when an Indian man is trying to visualize what a Western couple would find fashionable. Needless to say, I came home and burst into tears because everything was covered in red and mint green overlaid with shimmery black lace. They even hung curtains on the living room wall that has no window.

That was probably not normal, but with this country, you can never take anything for granted.
aruan: (Default)
Lightning + the world's tallest building = Ooooh
aruan: (rockin' the space-time continuum)
Because you can't very well open a $1.4 billion hotel with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, could you?



Record for largest fireworks display? Check. Worldwide champagne shortage? Check. Lindsay Lohan and Robert de Niro in the same room? Why?
aruan: (making pie helps me deal with life)
I have ennui, as they say. It's a combination of seasonal affective disorder - summer is dragging endlessly - and stress from the new weekend edition job, which we've been telling people is about two weeks from launching but will take a minor miracle to actually happen. Which we're going to have to find some minor deity to produce, because the advertisers sure expect to see it on their doorstep come Nov. 15, but until then it's Nathan and I designing pages over and over again as various editors reject them.

But work stress is never new. The malaise comes mostly because my birthday kicks off my favorite time of year. I can drive with the convertible top down without getting sunstroke, and walk down the street without sweating after 20 seconds - yes, fall comes even to Florida. The weather starts getting brisk, bringing pretty scarves, gloves, sweaters and jackets into stores, which are laden with seasonal decorations for three months between Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Seasonal music is everywhere; municipalities wrap light poles and palm trees and fences and any other permanent structure in twinkling lights; the theme parks hold Halloween events. The bowl of mixed candy from Disney and leftover trick-or-treat bags that lasts into February, everything smelling faintly of pine, two months of holiday meals where all family members are obligated to be civil. Going to county fairs and driving around neighborhoods as the plastic reindeer and inflatable Santas come out.

Here, however, the calendar turned to October and no one toned down the sun (really, all this money and no one's figured out how to climate control the city yet?) The malls decorated for Valentine's Day, but Halloween is asking a bit much. There is plenty of cold weather gear making its way into stores, which is always good for a laugh but little else. A theme park, the yen for which is probably not something those who didn't grow up taking family AND school trips to Orlando can understand, is in the works but won't open for another few years. And our families, not to mention my mother's cooking, are three continents away until whenever we can wrestle some time off next year. I haven't seen a front lawn since Germany.

Surprisingly though, Christmas decorations are trickling into stores - as a matter of fact, this was the heartening sight in the international terminal of Abu Dhabi airport when we arrived last year:

Didn't smell like pine though. )

And I was surprised to see a traditionally clothed Emirati couple with their two daughters dressed as a cat and a devil, of all things (with horns!) during dinner at Fuddrucker's on the 31st. Randomly, in front of Marina Mall a smattering of carnival rides has sprung up that we won't go near given the dubious nature of quality inspections in this region, but it's nice to drive past and see thobes billowing on the tilt-a-whirl. There's "season festival" tea at the supermarket that smells a lot like nutmeg and cinnamon. And as silly as it sounds, the holiday events in World of Warcraft (trick or treating! costumes! zombie invasion!) have helped me feel not so isolated. I think the key is to buy a little tree for home (Ikea already has ornaments), wrap my monitors in garland at work and put carols on my iPod. And Ned just gave me an idea - pie might be the answer to it all. There's got to be a can of pumpkin somewhere in this country.
aruan: (rockin' the space-time continuum)
Occasionally, living in the richest city in the world is awesome, because party planners usually make it worth the while of whatever American musical act is currently touring to come play on their lawn for an evening.

Do I need to warn for caps and photos? Am drunk on open bar and high on 80s rock, so consider that your fair warning.

God, I've missed live music. )
aruan: (Default)
The DubaiOne channel is running a mashup preview of its movies for this month set to Rihanna's Shut Up and Drive, featuring clips from Gone With the Wind, Scooby Doo 2 and Monster's Ball. It's like the most perverse fanvid ever conceived.
aruan: (work oh work)
The thing about Ramadan, which restricts eating and drinking in public (along with swearing, chewing gum, clothing that exposes the knees or shoulders, and displays of affection), is that it perversely leaves you constantly hungry and thirsty for everything. Being technically a government office, we are expected to toe the party line, but there is a curtained back room for the 95 percent of the newsroom who are not Muslim where we can, you know, replenish that 20 percent of our body weight lost through sweat on the walk to work in 110-degree heat. Seriously, not drinking in this country before everyone owned an Escalade had to be dangerous.
aruan: (this is my church)
Here in Abu Dhabi, we send each other off on our two-week vacations home with this: "Hope you get some rain."
aruan: (Default)
Alison was at our favorite margaritas-by-the-pitcher haunt El Sombrero the other night with another co-worker, who passes for a reasonable facsimile of me if you don't know us. So Alison orders our usual pitcher, and the waitress responds, "One glass with no salt for your friend?"

Seems the wait staff know us just that well. And while it's no different from a barista learning your order, I feel a little like a lush.
aruan: (ohgodWHY)
In that it hasn't collapsed around us yet. Found out tonight the real reason why the doors to the garbage chute have been locked on every floor since the week we moved in - not because of some lazy residents tried to put too large items in and blocked it entirely, oh no. It's because the chute ends in a 90-degree angle. But then, we shouldn't be too surprised with the results when you've got cheap, unskilled laborers constructing something they probably have not made acquaintance with in their lives.

[brr]

Jul. 5th, 2008 04:15 pm
aruan: (maybe this is the time I won't)
It's a little hilarious that even as temperatures have reached 120 degrees in the past couple weeks, I huddle in a wool coat and pashmina over a glass of hot water (that I do not drink, only replenish when cool) in the office. I'd laugh, except being cold is about as much fun as sweating.
aruan: (work oh work)
'You must come with us' | The Guardian

It's interesting that the police chief would rather implicate himself as an anti-Semite and paranoid than own up to their real motivations - as a white-collar worker albeit in the capital, I can tell you that whatever the professor found in his interviews could not have been overwhelmingly positive.

But it doesn't even have to be overwhelmingly so - besides oil, all this country has is its image, which it works extremely hard to cultivate and tolerates no blemishes on. When we run an even mildly critical story, within the week if not the next day the sheikh outlaws it or the ministry concerned declares a crackdown or a study into the situation. They convene committees, pledge funds, tighten security and perform raids. Basically, they do everything one could expect of a perfect, responsive government - not that the Emiratis are worried, whatwith their spectacularly lavish welfare state. But whether any of their pretty promises will culminate in real change will make the paper a very interesting read in the next six months to a year.

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