Friday, June 27, 2014

We're off on the Road to Rhode Island! We're driving 9 hours on 95.

These world travelers are headed to Rhode Island for our yearly dose of Americana. That is right, Foreign Service Officers are required to travel to the States for a minimum of 20 days a year so that we can maintain our American identity and not "go native". Since we have been in DC for several months we are heading to the center of the universe to get a good dose of quahog before continuing onto the land of the dragon.

One day I will make a video of the kids singing, but for right now they just sing the first two lines. Sure the whole song is great, but truly, they do not need another word for poop, they have enough of them already.  In the future I plan to use the show as educational punishment whenever the kids lose touch with their roots.

So without further ramblings from me, because this posting is going nowhere, please join us for  a Family Guy sing-along thanks to youtube and Family Guy wiki lyrics. Forgive me Seth MacFarlane for stealing your brilliance for my own ends. Oh and Seth, if you do read this blog, I love you.


Brian: Listen kid, there's- there's something I've been meaning to tell you. It's not easy for me to say.
Stewie: Oh God, you're not coming out of the closet, are you? Oh God--why does everyone always come out to me?
Brian: I just wanted to thank you for everything you did today. I know this whole trip has been a mess.
Stewie: Well, it hasn't been all bad. I must admit, there have been some moments that were, dare I say fun?
Brian and Stewie:
♪ We're off on the road to Rhode Island ♪ ♪ We're having the time of our lives ♪
Stewie: Take it, dog.
Brian: ♪ We're quite a pair of partners, just like Thelma and Louise. 'Cept you're not six feet tall... ♪
Stewie: ♪ Yes, and your breasts don't reach your knees. ♪
Brian: Give it time.
Brian and Stewie:
♪ We're off on the road to Rhode Island ♪ ♪ We're certainly going in style ♪
Brian: ♪ I'm with an intellectual who craps inside his pants ♪
Stewie: ♪ How dare you! At least I don't leave urine stains on all the household plants ♪
Brian: Oh, pee jokes.
Brian and Stewie:
♪ We've travelled a bit and we've found ♪ ♪ Like a masochist in Newport, we're Rhode Island bound ♪
Brian: Crazy travel conditions, huh?
Stewie: First class and no class.
Brian: Whoa, careful with that joke, it's an antique.
Brian and Stewie:
♪ We're off on the road to Rhode Island ♪ ♪ We're not gonna stop 'till we're there ♪
Brian: Maybe for a beer.
Brian: ♪ Whatever dangers we may face, we'll never fear or cry ♪
Stewie: ♪ That's right, until we're syndicated, Fox will never let us die. Please?
Brian and Stewie:
♪ We're off on the road to Rhode Island ♪ ♪ The home of that old campus swing ♪
Brian: ♪ We may pick up some college girls and picnic on the grass ♪
Stewie: ♪ Uhuhm, we'd tell you more, but we would have the censors on our ass ♪
Brian: Yikes!
Brian and Stewie:
♪ We certainly do get around. ♪ ♪ Like a bunch of renegade pilgrims ♪ ♪ Who are thrown out of Plymouth Colony. ♪ ♪ We're Rhode Island bound. ♪ ♪ Or like a group of college freshmen ♪ ♪ who were rejected by Harvard and forced to go to Brown. ♪ ♪ We're Rhode Island bound... ♪ 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tatooine is Really UAE!

Having just arrived back from Emirates, I of course have Star Wars on the brain. As every red-blooded Earthling knows, Star Wars VII is currently in production. Maybe not everyone knows that it is hidden somewhere in the desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Therefore, with the Tatooine sand fresh between my toes, I realized that I still owed Ted a Star Wars movie.

When Ted was an infant, possibly before he was even born, I started to consider how best to approach the Star Wars problem. This was often debated up until his fifth birthday, the date I had arbitrarily picked for his indoctrination into Star Wars lore. Do we introduce the movies as we experienced them, IV-VI, or as they were intended I-VI?

There are those that will still argue with me, but unless you are going to watch the movies with my kids, my final judgment stands. My rational is thus; the movies defined childhood for my generation and the next one. Ultimately, I have to accept that they are infact children’s movies. We loved them as kids for the humor and the action. As teenagers we saw the beauty of the Force and idolized Han Solo's resistance to authority. The next three were terrible, they didn’t reach the adult audience, they didn't have the layersf. Still, kids loved them.  Yes, the epiphany that Darth Vader really is Luke’s father is lost, but kids don’t really care about that stuff anyway.  When Disney announced that three more movies were forthcoming, my decision was made. My kids would see them in order through the end.

When Ted turned five I started the movies. Someone would take Josie out for something special of her own and then Ted and I would make Star Wars an experience. I would try for the projector or popcorn, but the first movie was most memorable. We watched in a Jo’burg hotel room and halfway through the movie the computer battery died. I plugged the computer into the transformer and within 5 minutes the transformer blew up. I had to air out the room and then find an Apple store to replace the fried cord before Ted could finish the movie. I stalled for a while, trying to avoid movie III which was dark and scary for a five year old. Over the course of the year, we fit all five in. Today we watched VI.

Ted constantly asks questions not at all relevant to the story and talks over dialog. Yoda is dying and all Ted can do is chatter on, “Is Yoda dead? Is Yoda dead? How is he going to die?” “No, damnit! You just missed the line ‘There is another.’ That is huge to the story line.” Good thing I can quote all the missed lines, there were a lot today. He doesn’t care. He loved the Ewoks and laughed when a storm trooper would die in some comical way.

Watching the movie today brought flashbacks of playing with my cousins. They always had the best toys. They had the Jabba the Hut that slid over a box/pit hiding an imaginary Rancor. I think they had speeders and the Ewok village too, but it was Jabba in his lair that I remembered in detail today. Could even remember the smell. You know, that indescribable, plastic and rubber, new toy smell. We played for hours with those figurines.  I distinctly remember the Ewok Adventure movie being overhyped and terrible. We hated the movie, but still pretended to explore with Wicket. 30 years later, I still remember his name.

Watching the movies with a child confirms my belief that this is a series for children. Kids in almost every culture know them, whether in Tunisia or UAE. I am looking forward to sharing Star Wars with Josie next year.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Can You Find Me Now?

I love my cell phone. It does everything from keeping up with friends to babysitting my kids. Still, traveling to new countries I am reluctant to get a local sim card. For one week and a handful of calls, the purchase seems silly. And yes, I am stubborn. I grew up before cell phones and want to believe I can function without one.

After relating my experiences on my last trip to Spencer, he pointedly asked if I had finally learned my lesson. Maybe I did learn my lesson, but I am stubborn and have a point to prove.

So there I was, second day in the Middle East, first day in Dubai. After a fantastic day working with great people, and no, I am not just saying that because I discovered a blog reader there, I decided to explore the souk. I wandered along the Creek and admired the woodwork. The boats were really cool. Some appeared cobbled together, but there was real artistry in the carpentry work. The entire trip I saw no large trees. Where did these boats come from?

The Creek leads into the textile souk. From all accounts, the last great souk in Emirates. Terrible at bartering, I wandered in and out of shops. I really wanted a mosaic lamp, but settled for pillow shams and matching ceramic for a small fortune. After exploring the attic of one shop I decided that my next formal dress must be custom made in Dubai. A future posting is in order.

With fancy dress balls whirling in my head, I walked to the Dubai Museum to meet my ride to Abu Dabhi. No car. I walked every entrance for 20 minutes. No car. Between entrances I checked the packed parking lot. No car. The whole time thinking about what I would do as a kid to find someone- basically keep looking and don't panic after 20 minutes. Finally, I had the brilliant idea to go into the museum, where I handed the man behind the desk the contact sheet and asked him to make the call. Sure enough, the car was parked in the back of the lot awaiting a call to come forward. He had called the Consulate to say the crazy American girl he was meeting was missing, but didn't think to use his own eyes and legs to get out of the car and walk to the museum. Thanks buddy. I can function without a cell, apparently no one else can.

In Abu Dhabi I was able to rely on the hotel. Calls to work were easy, there was a phone in my room. Calls to me were another matter. Wednesday after work I rushed back to the hotel to change clothes for an art opening. I didn't think it would be appropriate to attend in the clothes I wore while climbing scaffold, so I rushed through the hotel and screeched to a halt at the reception desk. "If anyone calls, please put them through to my room." Seemed straight forward enough, but it wasn't.

Quickly, I threw on more appropriate attire, washed my face, and put on deodorant. Each step, was later determined to be a waste of time. Running downstairs for my ride, I went straight to the concierge desk at the taxi stand. Concerned I would miss a call or the car, I hovered at the desk. Frequently told to go and sit, I pestered them about incoming calls. When the car arrived a half hour later, I was informed that they did try to call. Five times they called to say the car was going to be late, but the person at the desk was not able to find me. Really? The theme- if only I had a cell phone everyone would know how to find me.

Made it to the reception and the event was worth the earlier confusion. I had a nice time chatting until I remembered I was supposed to be working and then did a little of that to. Not acclimated to the heat, my attire consisting of pants, my lightest pair of dress pants, and a summer weight sweater to cover my arms, was not a wise idea. Half of the opening remarks were completely drowned out by my own thoughts focused on the pools of sweat collecting in places that sweat had never pooled before. Knowing that people were standing behind me seeing the dark spots expand behind my knees, I began to reconsider Abu Dhabi as a future posting.

United Arab Emirates was a soft landing into my first Middle Eastern experience. I met some great people and found that I really enjoy the work, if only I could write my reports as quickly as I write this.  In another blog post I may discuss how an offer of beer and brunch by a kind soul got me to ditch my entire tourist itinerary or how Mandarin at FSI is the worst form of Chinese torture. Excuse the typos and oddly placed woods, I write this entry on my phone while watching the kids play at the park.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


With less than 30 days left in DC we are all going through the usual effects of being short-timers. Usual for us, but maybe not for everyone.

I burn bridges.  Usually I start to fan the flames about six months out. Three months ago, I started a new job. Bad timing, those people will only know me with one foot out the door.
The kids are crying over old friends. They are asking to Skype with buddies they left a year ago. They have stopped asking for paydates as the last day of school gets closer. They desperately miss their cousins and have yet to say "good-bye".

Currently, I am trying to make the most of our last weeks in DC. We have tickets to two plays next weekend. Today we went to the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic. Every evening for years I have played classical music as they settled to sleep, so it should be no surprise that both kids went straight to sleep at the beginning of the concert. Josie, was out before the first note. Almost two hours later they woke up and enjoyed the finale. Ted is quite goods at picking out the individual instruments from the notes.
A giant group birthday party for Teddy and his two best buds will mark the end of our TDY language DC tour. His birthday is always a big send off. This time we will be literally sailing of into the sunset, complete with water cannons.