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.