Monday, October 31, 2011

NaBloPoMo, anyone?

Please feel free to use this image on your own blog!

I'm going to try to post every day in November. It's called National Blog Post Month and I did it in 2008, 2009, and 2010. I think this year will be a real challenge, but I'm willing to give it a try.

Who's with me?

Update: The following people are with me.

Bryan (we will accept his offering as being on behalf of Chris, as well)
Craig (I am going to take this opportunity to point out that Craig has not blogged since January 1, 2011, so his NaBloPoMo posts should be GOOD.)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blue Eyes, a Count, and the Cuban Missile Crisis

A Pair of Blue EyesA Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Third reading.

This is one of those books that I like to read every couple of years. There is something so relatable and beautiful and tragic about the story, and it is so splendidly written that it is a joy to experience. Chapters 21 and 22 are some of the finest chapters in classical literature, in my opinion. They bring everything together so perfectly and then turn the story on its head.

One of my favorite passages:

"There are disappointments which wring us, and there are those which inflict a wound whose mark we bear to our graves. Such are so keen that no future gratification of the same desire can ever obliterate them: they become registered as a permanent loss of happiness."

A Pair of Blue Eyes is a great read no matter what mood you're in. Romance, deception, misunderstanding, drama, tragedy - it's all here. My favorite Hardy for sure, and one of my favorite books in general.

I'm still waiting for someone to make this into a movie, by the way.

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second (or third?) reading.

Is TCOMC freaking long, possibly even overlong? Is it overwrought and at times ridiculous? Is its attitude toward women occasionally hilarious/offensive, even for the time period in which it was written? Are some of the events that take place in TCOMC hugely irrelevant to the plot and highly improbable? Yes.

Despite all this, is The Count of Monte Cristo one of my all-time favorite books? OH YEAH. I can't get enough of it, even though it's 1200+ pages long. Long live Edmond Dantes. I just wish someone would make a movie that is worthy of the book.

Life: An Exploded DiagramLife: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I liked Tamar by the same author well enough, but Life: An Exploded Diagram read like a very bad The Book Thief. It's a pity, too, because the premise - young love during the Cuban Missile Crisis - is quite good. But I didn't care about any of the characters. They were oddly drawn and underdeveloped and did not inspire sympathy. The story was dull and cloudy and muted, like I was trying to read it underwater.

Plus, I am so tired of books (YA ones, especially) reaching outside of their purview to include hints of sex, whether it fits or not. For example, check out this ridiculous specimen from page 266: "By the time I was delighted by the belated arrival of my pubic hair, the United States had developed rockets that could travel eleven thousand kilometres to dump four megatons of explosive onto Russia." The book was full of allusions like this, wedged and jammed into the prose wherever the author felt like it (which was often). Less pubic hair, more Cuban Missile Crisis, please.

(And now I hate this book even more for making the composition of such a sentence possible.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28th, outsourced

We don't have them here (that I've seen, anyway), but these Coke Freestyle machines intrigue me. Here is an article where some food critics take pop super seriously and taste-test all available beverages from a Coke Freestyle machine. Mmm, caffeine free diet Coke with raspberry.

Luckily for me, there is no real fashion runway on the sidewalk outside of Magdalena's school at drop-off in the mornings. However, I will say that the muhajibaat have a major advantage over us infidels because if they're wearing their pajamas under their abaya, or if their hair is a mess under their veil, nobody knows about it and they still look fabulously put-together at 7.45am. Hmph.

Remember when TV shows used to have episodes that were like extended "The More You Know" bits? Shudder. [HT Eric D. Snider]

Some guy drove his Honda Accord 1,000,000 miles. Neat.

This week's I-saw-it-everywhere-at-once link is Cheese or Font? Try it - it's strangely addictive.

My blog friend Jessie (who I've never met) used to live on a Caribbean island and there was this one beach that was right by an airport. Like RIGHT. BY. AN AIRPORT.

Another guy I've never met but whose blog I enjoy always writes about scary stories from his life around Halloween. Here's his most recent post. My favorite one is this one, from 2005.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Miriam's school is off tomorrow in honor of the Diwali holiday. Also in honor of Diwali, they decreed today a uniform-free day, meaning the students could wear whatever they wanted to school. Miriam was so excited about that. She thought for a while about what she wanted to wear, and finally decided on her Indian dress (that we bought in Qatar) because, after all, it's Diwali.

Jeremy and I had momentary concerns that this would somehow be wildly culturally insensitive, but neither of us followed up on them beyond having Miriam ask her teacher if she could wear an Indian dress to school on Diwali. Her teacher said yes, and that was good enough for us. After Miriam got on the bus this morning, I went to trusty Wikipedia and read that it is traditional to wear new clothing on Diwali, so I think the white girl wearing an Indian dress should go over just fine.

Happy Diwali! Holiday season has definitely started here. Diwali, then a whole week off for Eid in early November, then Thanksgiving (though that's hardly a blip on the radar here), then National Day (a big deal since it's the UAE's 40th), then Christmas. Woohoo!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What do Bill Gates and Queen Rania have in common?

Teaching is going so well. I'll tell you what, I love teaching, and I love teaching in the UAE. I know the answer is probably "a lot of places," but allow me to rhetorically ask you, where else, when you assign students to give a presentation on a successful person they admire, would you get a variety such as this?

Quite a few students talked about successful people who are not famous, like dads, moms, and aunts. I loved just sitting there and listening to them talk about someone they admire, and why. The most entertaining presentation was the one about Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, aka Dubai's crown prince, aka the UAE's (and possibly the entire Gulf's) most eligible (albeit engaged) royal bachelor. His picture (third one from the top, above) went up on the first Power Point slide and half the class - the female half - about sighed itself out of their seats. After the presentation, the students got into some kind of minor dispute about something His Highness did and it only came to an end when one girl snapped, "He's handsome, so maalesh [no problem]!"

Like I said, I love teaching in the UAE.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween preview

In the 12 months since last October, I've learned that if I want to hit the jackpot with Western-themed holiday swag (or black beans), I need to go shopping in Dubai, not Ajman or Sharjah. I was at Carrefour in Mirdif today and I could hardly believe the (well, relatively) huge display they had of Halloween stuff.
Of course, I didn't buy a single thing, but it was a nice gesture. All I'm really looking for is an eyepatch to complete Miriam's pirate costume, but I haven't been able to find one. At this point, I may just have to jerry-rig a black sleep mask and call it good.

On the other hand, I had absolutely no trouble tracking down a flowing yellow scarf for Magdalena to use as hair for her Rapunzel costume. It even came with sparkly jewels tacked on it.

I also found two very tiny, very cheap pumpkins. They're technically Indian pumpkins but they'll do. We'll see how they carve.
I'm so glad to be having some Halloween success already! Many thanks to Dubai for catering to to the strange holiday-themed whims of us Westerners.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bilingual schizophrenia

A classmate presented this article (Aneta Pavlenko (2006). "Bilingual Selves." in Bilingual Minds: Emotional Experience, Expression and Representation), not me, but here are some of the interesting things I gleaned from it.

Basically, this lady Pavlenko did some in-depth research via questionnaires and surveys and found that a lot of bilinguals (anyone who can function appropriately in two languages in different contexts, remember) experience a metaphorical schizophrenia, in that they sometimes feel like a different person when they speak each language. This effect is intensified when bilinguals have learned one language in one context, and then moved on to another, separate context that is removed from the first and then learned another language. (This is as opposed to someone learning two languages but using them both in an ongoing manner in a bilingual society.)

For example, she told of a French/English bilingual author who was writing his memoirs. He put them down in French initially, and then went back and started putting them into English. As he finished some early chapters, he realized that the stories that had emerged in each version were so different that you could have mistaken them as coming from two different authors. For him, language was more than a medium in which to tell his story: it was a lens through which he focused the story.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21st, outsourced

Hooray for unstructured play time for children! On a related note, boo for homework for those same children.

Reading this - about why it's so hard to take an original photo in Tehran - reminded me of all the challenges we face when trying to take pictures in certain countries. I've become quite skilled at the inconspicuous snap but there are so, so many photos I haven't been able to take that I regret to this day (like the armed guards standing outside the McDonald's in Beirut - we tried to get a clandestine shot, couldn't, then asked them if we could take a picture, and they said no).

This is one of those things I heard about from three sources all within about two minutes of each other. Social media is like that sometimes. GUY ON A BUFFALO. [The first HT award goes to Miss Nemesis]

Good for this personal trainer for making himself obese on purpose so he can understand later what it's like for his client to lose a lot of weight. Also, crazy! [HT Kathy]

It's just as well I don't have a lot of links today, because this one is GOLDEN and can take up a lot of your time if you let it: The Many Faces of Fear. Personally, I've had it open in a background tab for days now and every once in a while I click through a few. There is so much to love about this feature. I love seeing how many of the guys are holding their ladies' purses. I love seeing who is trying to make a break for it and who is trying to climb inside the wall and who is frozen in fear. I love seeing how it seems to be a common impulse to hold on to other people when you are scared. I was also fascinated by the clothes these people are wearing. I've been away from North America for over a year now and seriously, is that how people there dress these days? Isn't this haunted house in Canada, and isn't it October? Why are everyone's shorts so short? Anyway, the website is a little glitchy but I promise you will want to look at every single one of the 147 photos, one click at a time. [HT Sarah Olson]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Non-alcoholic malt beverages

Non-alcoholic malt beverages: they're big here. They take up a good swath of the drinks aisle at Carrefour.

The thing is, I secretly love this stuff. When we lived in Egypt, I drank it a lot. I can't remember the brand name, but the flavor was pear and it was sooooo goooooood. Really, it was just another kind of pop to me.

Then my brain made the connection between malt and beer and I started to feel guilty about it, but only in a secondary sense. It was more that I felt guilty for not feeling guilty about drinking non-alcoholic malt beverages. It reminded me of the way I felt drinking mugicha in Japan, or whatever that fake Postum stuff was in Siberia. I wasn't doing anything wrong, but I was getting all defensive in advance against the stupid (but possibly well meaning) people who would try to tell me I was.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

100% humidity

Maybe this isn't a surprise since I don't check the weather status multiple times a day, but I have never once caught the status at 100% humidity. Even when it felt like 100%. Even when I was sure it was 100%. Even when it was so humid that we woke up to water dripping down the outside of the window panes and our sunglasses fogged up when we went out of doors. Every time I checked, it was 89%, or 94%, or 96% once, I think, but never 100%.

Well, this morning, I was so sure it was 100% humidity that when I got to class (the one I teach), I used the classroom computer to check. And what do you know: it was 100% humidity! Of course I was doomed to finally catch the weather status at 100% humidity on a computer where I didn't have an opportunity to grab a screen shot and email it to myself. So you'll just have to trust me.

Here's some visual proof:
That's what 100% humidity looks like. When the air is saturated with moisture, it can't accept any moisture from you, so you sweat a lot. As I was walking to work, I could feel myself collecting condensation on my eyelashes. It was crazy.

So now I've for sure experienced 100% humidity. I feel like I've joined an elite club, though I'm not sure membership is to be envied. Honestly, I try not to moan about the humidity here too much because I know it's good for my skin. I'm sure it's keeping me well preserved and young-looking (ha ha) and it's nice because we don't go through quite as much lotion or chapstick here.

So at least there's that.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day of reckoning

Today was the day our car registration expired. By some miracle, we'd managed to get our Emirates IDs and take out a new car insurance policy for the next year, just in time. It only took fifteen minutes (!!!!!!!!!!!) and 440 dirhams to walk out the door of Tasjeel with our new car registration. I still can't believe it was that easy.

The reason I called this post a day of reckoning is because the traffic fine system here is tied to your registration. You can rack up as many tickets as you want during the year, but when it comes time to renew your registration, you will have to pay them. Every once in a while they give a half-off amnesty for the fines but some people still pay a lot because of the ubiquitous automatic speeding cameras that are on all the freeways here.

In theory, you can check online to see what your fines are so there aren't any huge surprises when you show up at Tasjeel, but I knew that I wouldn't breathe easy until an actual employee told me the fine total. I felt so happy today when they said I only had a 50 dhs fine from when we had some trouble topping up our Salik toll gate tag a few months ago. I had thought I got flashed by a speeding camera last spring, and there was also the matter of when a Sharjah police officer took down my license plate number as I was fending for our lives in some particularly insane Sharjah traffic vortex over the summer. Apparently, neither of those things mattered because the 50 dhs Salik fee was all there was. Woohoo!

The best part is that now I know for sure there aren't any speeding cameras on Immigration Road toward downtown Sharjah. It's a new road, and there are signs saying that speed is controlled by radar, and the speed limit is a ridiculously low 60kph, but I've never seen a speed camera so I always go about 100kph (and so do my fellow motorists). I guess today was proof that there aren't any speed cameras there...for now.

So long, car registration process and speeding ticket (non-)surprises. Until next year! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rethinking bilingual acquisition

Watch me turn a presentation I gave in class last week into a blog post this week! Don't worry, it's interesting.

The class is called Bilingual Education, and although it is difficult and time-consuming, I am learning so much. Linguists can sometimes be snobs about who is and who isn't considered bilingual (please don't ask me how many languages I speak unless you have 20 minutes to hear the answer), so it was nice to discuss it in class and decide that anyone who can use more than one language appropriately in different contexts is a bilingual. Congratulations! It turns out that the idea of a perfect or balanced bilingual - someone who is exactly, equally competent in two languages - is a big fat myth, or at least a great rarity.

Friday, October 14, 2011

October 14th, outsourced

RAIN MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER. I need to find a computer screen the size of my kitchen window and set it to this website at all times. [HT Steven]

There is so much to enjoy (from a safe distance) about this story involving two women who got involved in a bleach-and-chlorine battle at - wait for it - Wal*Mart. The funniest part may be that Wal*Mart released a statement saying that it does not expect this type of behavior from customers. Um, you guys? Have you ever been in one of your own stores?

Here's your chance to eavesdrop on what writers around the world are saying about the United States.

I am so grateful for the internet, if for no other reason than that it makes old photos like these (from WWII) available for everyone to see and appreciate. Seriously, some of them almost brought me to tears.

Have you met Feminist Ryan Gosling yet? You should. [HT a few people - it's one of those things I saw everywhere at once]

Psst: Haiti doesn't need your yoga mat. Speaking of donations to other countries, I once saw a guy in Jordan wearing a shirt from Sequent, a company in Oregon my dad used to work at.

I am considering printing this (You Don't Need the New iPhone) out and having Jeremy recite it as a calming and preventative mantra each morning. [HT Tim]

Perhaps there is such a thing as The Declining Hotness of Flight Attendants. But not at Emirates Airlines, where (the partially substantiated) rumors are that you have to be a certain age/weight/height to be hired, and you can't be married, and you have to reapply lipstick every two hours, and you are encouraged to flirt subtly with the male passengers.

I'll leave you with this video of two Mormon missionaries singing a (truly atrocious, sorry, it needs to be said) version of "A Child's Prayer." Sometimes we forget that missionaries are just regular 19-, 20-, and 21-year-old guys. This video really reminded me of that, right down to the fact that they were driving while they recorded this. [HT Kyler]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sometimes it's nice to be a woman in the UAE

Every once in a while, it works out to your advantage to be a female in the UAE.

We went to get our car registration renewed yesterday. Of course we were not so naive as to think that we would get it all done in one trip. Oh no. But we did expect to get further along in the process than we did, which is to say, nowhere. The helpful folks at the UAE equivalent of the DMV (it's called Tasjeel) told us that they couldn't renew our car registration until we obtained an Emirates ID.

Obtaining an Emirates ID is something we've been putting off, oh, since the day we arrived in Sharjah. Every time I looked at the process involved, my eyes glazed over and my brain broke and I decided to just put it away for another day...or week...or month...or year, as it turned out. It wasn't just me playing the procrastination game, either. Participation in Emirates ID was supposed to be compulsory by December 1, 2011, then sometime in January, then July, and then they said they'd start levying fees and disconnecting mobile phones, and then even those deadlines got pushed back.

But they caught us with the car registration loophole. The guy at Tasjeel gave us directions to the nearest Emirates ID building, which led us to the middle of the desert until lo and behold, a nice office building loomed out of the sand. We headed inside and that's when I realized how nice it was to be a woman at that particular time and place.

The process to get the ID involved taking some numbers from a machine and waiting in a series of lines. However, the lines were separated by gender. I had to go upstairs; Jeremy waited downstairs. Since there are at least twice as many men in this country as women, his lines were a lot longer than mine. In fact, my lines were nonexistent. I breezed through the entire process in about 35 minutes. Jeremy never got past the first step. He said he came very close to holding up his high-numbered ticket in front of the waiting masses along with a 100 dirham bill ($27), and seeing which patron with a low-numbered ticket would take him up on his offer. Bureaucracy tends to make us lazy like that.

In the end, he didn't buy an advanced place, and we left the building without his Emirates ID because - shocking, I know - we had other things going on in our lives that prevented us from spending 4 hours at a government office.

Now we're left with the lovely situation of our car registration expiring on the 17th, which means Jeremy's Emirates ID has to be issued by the 16th, but since his residence visa is dated the 18th, those two intervening days will cost us a whole year's fee (100 dhs), and now that I think about it, if the kids' fees are the same as the adults, we will end up paying 1200 dhs ($326) plus typing fees for Emirates IDs for our whole family which makes me die a little bit inside.

Here's hoping for success on the car registration front, at least!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stuck in a (welcome) classics rut

For some reason - perhaps because of the recent upheaval in my personal life - all the books I've read lately have been old favorites, mostly classics. There was Wuthering Heights, then a jump forward to The Guernsey blah blah blah, then a jump back to A Pair of Blue Eyes, and now The Count of Monte Cristo.

I've only read TCOMC once, a few years ago, and I decided back then that it was my second- or third-favorite book, behind Les Miserables and possibly A Tale of Two Cities. I remembered that it was bloated and overlong in areas (especially those pertaining to the use of hashish), but I also remembered that it was AWESOME. The humanity and principles of revenge/forgiveness on display in this book are so deeply moving that even its format as a serially published novel can't dilute its message.

I expected TCOMC to suffer from a second reading. Instead, I find that I am just as riveted as the first time around. Perhaps even more so, because I can anticipate with glee (or abhorrence, or grief) the events that are just around the corner for Edmond. The last few nights, I've gone to sleep in my comfortable bed thinking of Edmond in his filthy jail cell. I've wondered what it would be like to spend eight years secretly learning foreign languages from an old man in the cell downstairs, never knowing if I'd be able to gain freedom and use them in the outside world. And even though I knew that he would find the treasure on the Island of Monte Cristo, I, like Edmond, had to take a break from the part where he is digging and strikes a wooden box to collect my thoughts and tell myself that I wouldn't be disappointed if nothing came of it after all.

This, my friends, is the definition of a good book, one whose essence seeps into your daily life and colors all the moments it can, both sleeping and waking. I'm glad to have a go-to book like this one to turn to when all I need is something familiar, diverting, and thought-provoking to read at the end of the day.

And since TCOMC is approximately 3700 pages long, it looks like I'll be going to this go-to book for a few weeks yet.

Who has read this book and thinks it's awesome? Mediocre? What's your go-to book these days?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The oddities of a British education

Actually, some of these might not be oddities because I don't have much (any) experience with American schools within the last 12 years. It's possible that all of these are standard operating procedure in the US these days. But here are some things that strike me as interesting or quirky about my kids' British-curriculum/culture schools.

1. I got a note from Magdalena's (British!) teacher one day that said Magdalena "wasn't too keen on" her carrots at lunchtime, and that she had "slightly soiled her knickers." Even though the news was bad, I kept reading the note over and over again because I got such a kick out of the oh-so-British delivery.

2. The girls both have something called a Journal, which is sent home with them every day. The teacher writes notes in it about their progress (or soiled knickers; see above) or what they did in class that day or what events are coming up. I have to initial that I've seen the journal entry and respond if I want to. The teacher initials any comments that I send to her. It's got a bit of a middle school passing notes air about it but at the same time, I love having a reliable, constantly open channel of communication to my kids' teachers.

Friday, October 07, 2011

October 7th, outsourced

Did you know Steve Jobs was half-Syrian? Really, he was. (HT Suzanne)

Do you need some help finding a book to read? NPR is here to save the day. (HT Andrew)

If this list is later debunked as being totally false and inaccurate, I don't want to know about it. My favorite word was "layogenic." [HT Nancy]

Seriously, I'm not trying to mock anyone, but I don't really understand the rabid devotion on display in this video about Eva Longoria's recent visit to Dubai. Maybe some of those people - the kids especially! - need to find a more substantial role model.

"The Hispanic piranha prom had one Jew person" and other brilliant mis-lip-readings of Michele Bachmann. [HT Eric D. Snider]

My younger brother and sister have done goofy poses for automatic roller coaster souvenir photos, but this one was the cleverest one I've seen recently.

I can only vouch for the first few pages of these hilarious response signs, but wow, are they funny (and the ninth one down looks suspiciously like something seen on the BYU campus).

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Birthday Review: 30

Yesterday was one of the best birthdays I've had in recent years. I worked extra hard on Tuesday (and played catch-up today) so I could take the day off from all duties that allow such a thing. Sadly, this did not include laundry, general tidying up, and routine childcare tasks. However, my kids are juuuust old enough that they are starting to understand, "It's mama's birthday today so you need to be on your best behavior."

I pampered myself with 30 whole minutes of pilates in the morning, then got myself over to the campus ladies' salon to spend the gift money from my MIL on my annual pedicure, as well as my first manicure in 11.5 years. It was a glorious and cheap hour, and there is something about salons in Arabia that I just love. The windows are all shuttered, the women go in, the hijabs come off, everyone's chatting in their own dialect, and we see each other in all our raw, unpolished, unplucked, unstyled beauty. I have to confess, though, that having to carry on small talk with the manicurist/pedicurist falls under my personal definition of hell, so I risked offending them (it was two separate people) by reading a book the whole time (The Count of Monte Cristo).

I was lulled by the tender attention to my nails into a curious state of bravery, and decided to get my face threaded. I wrote that sentence in an email to my mom and she replied, "what is 'face threaded'?" as if it were some bizarre unit of language that defied comprehension. I'll tell you what 'face threaded' is: it's where they remove hair from your face using a thread. Really! It's a traditional method of hair removal in the Middle East and although I have marveled at it for years, I have never had it done. And wow, is it painful/amazing. And thorough. And a great cultural experience.

I spent some time in the kitchen making this beauty: Peanut Butter Cup Caramel Shortbread Bars, and the best part is that I only had to make a couple of ingredient substitutions.

Then the kids came home from school and we oohed and aahed together over a few small gifts - a new office chair, an Amazon gift certificate, a pretty bookmark, a spa gift certificate (can you tell living in Dubai has changed me?), and a bag of frozen onions that saved me at dinnertime. The best gift of all was the array of thoughtful emails from old and new friends collected by Jeremy and shared with me. It goes against my nature to just sit down and read nice things people say about me, and I actually put off reading the document for a while. Then I read it once and put it away again. I think I'll revisit it from time to time when I need a little boost to my sense of self. To all those who participated, thank you. I have to say I was surprised and amused at how many people mentioned my singular and ready way of laughing. I do love to laugh, so I'm glad people notice when I do...I guess?

Here's me at age 30, holding the pan of Peanut Butter Cup Caramel Shortbread Bars, minus the portion that I ate ALL BY MYSELF, thank you very much. No makeup, I didn't fix my hair all day, and my garments are hanging out of my shirt. It's as genuine as it gets.

Sometimes the day after a birthday can be a bit of a let down, but I woke up this morning ready to be 30 years old and feeling good about 5 October 2011. It didn't hurt that first thing this morning, a co-worker mistook me for a (freshman!) student as I left my office. Yep, still got it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Farewell, sweet and twenty

(Sweet and twenty.)

Today is the last day of my twenties.

Part of me is resisting subscribing to the standard cultural aversion toward aging. Of course I'm not thrilled that my body is getting older and necessarily moving toward reduced functionality, however miniscule or far-off that prospect is. After all, whatever age-related challenges are ahead, they are closer now than they were last year.

But another part of me is mourning the passage of my twenties for more than just the "haha, groan, I'm another year older and this time, for the first time, my age starts with a three" reason. Pretty much every major event of my adult life happened in my twenties, so I am sad to see the end of that decade.

(Also, the disconnect between my real age and my self-perceived age is undeniable now. I suspect I will feel like I'm a twenty-something for a few years yet, especially seeing that I've only recently accepted that I'm no longer in my early twenties.)

What's to come is still unsure. Even though my twenties were jam-packed with adventure and change and growth and challenges, I bet my thirties will come up with something to entertain me.

So hooray, I'll be thirty tomorrow, and proud of it. Bring it on.

Monday, October 03, 2011


I've been dying to blog about my new job. I'm teaching two sections of a class at AUS this semester - a study skills class for brand-new students. I didn't know I got the job until the day before classes started, and then I got right into teaching, and then I wasn't sure what I would allow myself to say publicly on this blog about it, and now two weeks have gone by and I haven't written a thing. I've already realized that I can't be so cavalier about blogging a real-life job involving real-life people who could conceivably stumble upon this someday. Luckily, I don't have any complaints. The stuff I want to blog about is mostly how adorable my students are, and what it's like to teach Emiratis, and how I feel about having a "real" job now, and how I'm still figuring out how to juggle all my life roles.

Let's see what I can tell you.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Shakespeare, Brontë, Guernsey, and Third Culture Kids

Shakespeare: The World as Stage Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting. This book wasn't about Shakespeare so much as it was about books about Shakespeare. I thought the approach was odd at first but I ended up really liking it.

Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among WorldsThird Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book really helped me understand what our family has been through all these years of going back and forth between countries. I thought maybe it would have nothing to say to me that I didn't already know from living this life, but I was wrong. I especially appreciated gaining some wisdom about my kids' feelings and needs, both now and in the future.

I do wish I could have gotten my hands on a newer edition, though. All that talk of staying in touch with relatives via fax and photographs was a little awkward.

Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second (or possibly third) reading.

I'll tell you what, not a single likeable character in this book and yet, I love it. It's not that I unequivocally enjoy every train wreck of a book out there - Anthony Trollope's books, for example, make me want to claw my eyes out for hatred of all the characters. But Wuthering Heights is different, somehow. Again, love it.

Also, re-reading the book made me want to re-watch the 2009 BBC Wuthering Heights. I recall not really caring for it but on a second viewing, I liked it. It's a bit much at times - a lot of wild, wind-blown hair and sobbing out on the moors - but with Wuthering Heights, you can't really go just halfway, now, can you?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Original review (July 2009): Oh my gosh, I loved this book. I haven't enjoyed a regular, non-YA fiction book as much as this one in a looooong time.

Second reading, Sep 2011: Still love it.


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