Coming Around Again

Perhaps you may recall the blog post in which I told the story of the cab driver who was in trouble for something and how I called his agency to compliment his skills and kindness. Here’s that post. The story was picked up by Tempo Magazine here in Abu Dhabi. I’ve often wondered what the outcome was…

Finding Amna Alblooshi

I work with a mysterious woman named Amna Alblooshi. She’s a graphic designer for Khalifa University and she  makes my written work look so good. I don’t know much about her other than she’s 28, single, and getting her master’s degree in Art History at the Sorbonne here in Abu Dhabi. She works all day at Khalifa,…

Going Dry in the Desert

Who could possibly move to a virtually dry country — where alcohol is a sin (haram) — and find a way to drink themselves silly? A place where you have to skulk into a windowless nonchalant building on some side street and carry out your booze in a telling and shaming solid black plastic bag? A place where…

Picture this.

The  most exciting things about today were that we snorkeled in the morning and then watched a salamander square off with a spider during our late lunch.  Otherwise we just stared at the beauty around us as we drove around the island. I think this may be my 50th birthday present as well as Allan’s 70th. …

A Long Time Coming

Back in 1986, when I first was accepted into the U.S. Peace Corps, the head office said I was headed to the Seychelles to teach swimmimg to children on the main island. The Seychelles?  I’d never heard of it. But then again I was only 20 and hadn’t heard of much.      The Seychelles is an archipelago…

A Shitty Morning (WARNING: Gross Content)

Maybe I shouldn’t have had the strawberry camel milk for breakfast yesterday because something went very wrong this morning. Woke up happy and early. Sipped Starbucks coffee and watched CNN. Took painful note of the escalating problems in Yemen, about 1,000 kilometers to our south. Woke David up for his first day of spring-break camp. Instead…

The Empty Quarter is Full

A few weeks ago, we had a sand storm that lasted for days. The situation made me claustrophobic. The sand was closing in — making it hard to see, drive and breathe. I felt panicky enough to take a tiny dose of Xanax, a medication I no longer seem to need on airplanes. (Though that may…

The Al Jazira Ladies’ Swim Club

It’s 10:10 p.m. and I’m wide awake. What could possibly keep me up passed my regularly scheduled bedtime of 8:30 p.m.? Only one thing. A swimming pool. Tonight, I had the great joy of coaching a dozen female students from Khalifa University — although I had not anticipated joy being part of the equation. Actually,…

Happy Birthday to D & Happy Mother’s Day to Me

March 21 is Mother’s Day in the Middle East! And 11 years ago today I became a mother to David Beauregard Nicholls. It was the first day of Spring, yet it was snowing in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The doctor delivering him was born in the Philippines, just like me. After David’s lunch party today, all the…

My Great Menopause-Induced Cultural Faux Pas

Dears, It finally happened. The thing I dreaded most. Well, almost most. I’ve dreaded a lot more things more vehemently. But I sensed this moment would arrive even before I arrived in Abu Dhabi. The weather is heating up in the UAE, and so is NSB. Between my internal fire and the Emirates’ outside temps, I’m drenched…

40.5 Hours in Cairo: Revisiting the Dead

Dears, This trip almost didn’t happen. Between a stomach bug and threats of terrorism, I nearly cancelled our trip to Cairo. But when my father died, just about 3 years ago — from complications of Alzheimer’s disease — I swore to impart my son David with adventure, not fear. I had my doubts, though, but after much…

Easy Lessons that are Hard to Learn

Dears,  For the last three decades I’ve had the exact same hesitations when faced with unloading the dishwasher. I don’t feel like dealing with you. This is going to take forever. I’m just not up for it.  But once I commence with what actually is a painless and fleeting process, my thoughts swing in the opposite direction. I love putting…