Monday, December 7, 2009

City of Gold

I've been back in the salt mine for a week now. I'm not going to lie about it - there was NOTHING in me that wanted to come in last Sunday, and I pretty much didn't want to again today. I felt the sort of panic I had five years ago on Sunday nights in Korea when I would linger at dinners with friends after church, putting off the moment when I hit the road to Bundang and it would become all too clear that before I was ready, I would be back in front of eight adorable Korean children that I was utterly unprepared to teach.

I spent a lot of time thinking about teaching over the week off, mostly because I didn't want to come in and put any work towards it. Don't get me wrong. I love children, but sometimes I wish I could just scrap the lesson plan and let us go wild, and who cares if we get paint all over ourselves and the school?

So I thought about it a lot and talked about it a little, and the mirage, the dream job of someday making my living by illustrating, is still wavering in the distance, and if I can just break out of my inertia, if I can build up that portfolio, I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it wouldn't be a mirage, it would be as real as that city of gold down the coast there that I've now beaten footpaths down. Really.

Speaking of which, it really, TRULY was amazing. Some of y'all (hi Christa), have heard me boast on countless occasions about my navigational skills (in the dark, one hand tied behind my back, etc...) and it is good to know that they haven't suffered any in the last three months. Driving in, I missed our exit (the roads veer off at inopportune moments, and could be signed better), and yet I managed, with just one quick glance at the map to get turned around and find the way into Mankhool. There were moments in which I may have been approaching the state of "lost," but these came as a result of listening to my menfolk. Yeah, I should know better. At least Socrates actually knew where we were and was able to get me unlost when he was the responsible party...Tony, on the other hand, was pretty hopeless. Of my three objectives for going to Dubai (belly dancing, Korean food, and shopping), I only achieved one (but you should see how kick ass my bed looks with the red bedspread and new pillowcases.

Entertaining myself since returning to RAK hasn't proven too challenging. I cooked twice last week, chili on Monday for the lot of us, and curry on Tuesday because Socrates and I were both bitching about how we didn't have anything to eat...well, it turned out that I had everything I needed to make curry except chicken, and I knew that he had a ton of meat sitting unused in his freezer, so we collaborated. However, my last week's amusement also came at a cost paid out by others. Particularly...well, I have a bad habit of baiting people, particularly those who kind of annoy me (yes, I should know better, but what can I say, it entertains me). So when a certain friend sent out an email about doing a secret santa amongst our "friendship circle," there's a very good chance I might have hit "reply all" and got up on my soapbox about socially coerced gift giving (something which, as you may know, I feel quite passionately about). Which pissed the person in question off - they called me melodramatic (well, duh. that's one of my more endearing qualities) and questioned whether or not they were right in the first place about Americans. Christa, the two of you would have a lot to talk about, I think...but then, you always managed to maintain a good sense of humor about my quirks, so maybe not.

We actually had a little Christmas barbecue over at Dean and Michelle's new palace that night - it was lovely! Well, up until the part when I got stuck in the corner behind two people who had eyes for only one another. When they started sucking face I lost my patience and, when they came up for air, I told one of them to trade me spots so I could enjoy the conversation on the other side of the porch. In the process, that individual managed to miss the chair entirely and almost became the next round of barbecue. I won't spell out exactly why, but there may have been one glass bottle lying around that he was directly responsible for emptying.

The next morning found me up early if not bright for a grueling 6 hour marathon of church (8 if you count the ride to Sharjah and back). I call myself bad attitude girl and don't particularly like the fact that I have a sort of confrontational relationship with Mormon culture right now, but really? Sitting around for two hours afterwards doesn't make me want to be there. But I accepted the assignment to speak this Friday, anyways, and I accepted the calling to teach the youth Sunday school. The funny thing (well, not funny "ha ha" funny) is that after sacrament at 11:30 I gave a lot of thought to leaving, catching a taxi, and going home. After the fact, I wished I would have...but I was planning on going to Quiz Night at the Golf Club, and I thought the fact that I stayed the extra two (excuse me, four) hours when I wanted to leave might cancel out the fact that I was breaking the Sabbath. I guess that's what I get for justifying.

Quiz Night = EPIC WIN! For denizens of RAK that are Quiz Night fans, I just have to say this: don't take on a Mormon girl and her back-up (Socrates, John, and Melissa) on a Christmassy quiz, cause we will BEAT YOU DOWN. The end.

That said, I was in a good enough mood to put up with our Professional Development Super Saturday, which, as it turns out, was not as painful as I was expecting. A little shopping and lunch at Manar Mall, and a bit of beach time...but not too long, because I got a text from Trish asking if I was interested in going to the Dubai Film festival at Madinat Jumeirah. Can I get a "Hell, yeah!"??? Dude, the place was unreal, and don't even get me started on the view of the Burj al Arab looming up behind in the dark, I should have spent one of my afternoons there during the vacation, but I digress. We saw Mother and Child, which was one of those twisty movies that takes three storylines and weaves them together. It was good, but it made for a late night, and was followed by another late night, in which I attempted to be a good little trooper and go to a PD seminar on reading in Dubai, that we never actually made it to, and I'll spare you the recounted misery and tell you that at least I got to buy myself a book and found a Godiva chocolatier at which I bought one person's Christmas gift, so not a total loss, but I was definitely glad to spend the night at home (more or less) last night.

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