Monday, December 29, 2014

Specifics

Howdy
I've heard that depending on the need languages develop nuances to help us communicate better.  In Ohio just the word snow will mostly suffice for the winter precipitation we get.  Sometimes its sleet or freezing rain, but mostly its snow.  Wet snow, dry snow, powder but basically its all variations on the same theme.  Maybe we just don't get enough snow to really worry about the lack of flair this limited vocabulary illustrates. Its been suggested that the Inuit use upwards of 50-100 terms, Inuit Words for Snow and Ice.  A lot of people think this is just a trope. It can be hard to explain most of this terminology since our own languages prevents us from fully understand the differences between pirtuk 'blizzard, snowstorm' and pirrelvag- 'to blizzard severely.'  Beyond snow there's also 12 Wonderfully Quirky Words with No English Equivalent. Fisselig is my favorite. 
This German adjective means "flustered to the point of incompetence." It's different from English words like jittery, Rheingold says, because "it conveys a temporary state of inexactitude and sloppiness that is elicited by another person's nagging."
Where am I going with this awfully big tangent?  I have a point, I promise. I really like words.  I like new words and better words.  I hate when I'm thinking or feeling something that I just cannot describe to my own satisfaction.  I feel there is no way to express myself accurately. You'll notice I say "I mean" a lot.  Its a habit born of the frustration of not being able to communicate effectively.  


Hiraeth is Welsh , pronounced [hɨraɪ̯θ]
I've been home for a month now and I have this strange sensation.  I'm not homeless since I have a home. However I still find myself thinking about where I am and how I got here.  I think about where I was and why I left. I wonder why lives in my apartment in Franklin and who lives in my apartment in Doha.  Neither place is my home anymore, each had issues like a toilet that leaked or lightbulbs that seemed  permanently burnt  out. Yet I think of them wistfully as if they no longer exist. Oddly I don't know that I would or could go back to either of them. I don't think they would feel like my own spaces if I did. Until recently I didn't have word for this peculiar absence.  How can you miss what was never really yours? How can you miss what you don't want back? Is this hiraeth, an amplified sense of sentiment? Maybe Hiraeth (Welsh), originated in the same manner as Saudade (Portuguese), Morrina (Spanish- Galacian) and Dor (Romanian) as each can be traced, at least vaguely, back to the specific loss of a homeland. Hiraeth can be specifically used to mean you miss Wales.

Since I have a degree in English I think I'm well qualified to create some new words to define things in a more exacting manner. I love the word 'horrocious', its a blend of horrendous and atrocious and I like to use it when something unspeakably gross happens.  It hasn't quite caught on yet. 

I'd love a words for the following situations :

Awestruck at the Aquarium
  • When you are hungry but nothing looks good so you just don't eat
  • When you spend the whole day deciding what to do but never actually do anything
  • Happy crying
  • the sensation of the pressure changing almost imperceptibly when someone opens a door
  • delighting in something that should be scary and still sort of is but you like it, like thunderstorms 
  • when you are cold but sweaty at the same time

I think if we had more of the right words to use we wouldn't misuse some many other words like awesome or magic.  Awe is a profound state of nearly overwhelming emotion, your hamburger probably isn't awesome.  It doesn't make much sense the way we use wonderful either.  Are you actually filled with wonder? Magic is a delightful and creative art that influences the way we perceive and understand the world; yet people use magic to describe sporting events.  Save your words, use them correctly and people will understand you better.  

If you are truly speechless, its ok to just stop talking. 

Laura


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Unexpected Mail

Howdy
Two weird, and possibly related, things happened this week.  Both of which involved the mail. When I was in Qatar I got mail occasionally.  

When I moved in November I missed a letter that was in transit.  I assumed I would never see it again.  It was mailed from Ohio November 13th and arrived in Doha on the 19th.  I fly home on the 25th and somewhere in the middle the letter and I missed each other.  Qatar's postal service is growing but lacks a lot of aspects I take for granted in the US.  It is uncommon to see mailboxes at residences or to receive mail regularly. Although the letter didn't contain anything on monetary value, mail had been a very important part of living overseas.  I was sorry I wouldn't get one last letter from home.   


Wait a minute Mr. Postman
So just to be strange I got two things in the mail but they didn't arrive at mom's house where I currently live and lived before the move.  No, they showed up on two different days at my sister's house.  The house of the darling mail slot thats not in the door but in the wall of a hall closet. Now if you weren't aware I have quite a fondness for postcards.  I have several hundred, maybe up to a thousand.  I have postcards from many countries and now I have a postcard from Qatar.  The post card is from Souq Waqif the famous market in downtown Doha.  Also on the post card is FANAR, Qatar Islamic Cultural Center in Doha (Fanar on facebook). Famous for its beautiful sea shell like spiral, Fanar is a fantastic landmark for both the downtown and the souq itself. Special thanks to my coworker to whom I was never able to say goodbye in person. 

Perhaps the lone postcard is not so mysterious in the greater scheme of things but when the letter from my sister arrived things got really strange.  Here is the kicker, the letter is in another envelope with no return address and it has your standard US postage, not an international stamp.  The post card and the letter are not in the same handwriting but they both have the same post mark.  Both items were mailed from within the United States.  So while the postcard's author is known, I haven't a the foggiest notion how the letter made its way back to Ohio.  I'm really happy to know that at least two people were involved in getting this letter back to me.  I assume it was the efforts of another coworker but since the letter was mailed back to my sister and not my mom its really hard to guess who it could be. 


Good news will come to you by mail.

 I didn't want or expect much in the way of presents this season.  The best gifts are always surprises so in a funny way I got my wish after all. 


Laura


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hiring Librarians - Job Hunter Interview

Howdy
For those who know me and have worked with me you might be aware that detail work is challenging.  I lack the amount of focus necessary to sew, bake or write neatly.  You will often find me standing at my desk so that my bottom half can fidget while my top half gets work done.  It looks strange but it totally works.  In fact I had a desk chair and one day I put it in storage; I didn't use it and often found it was in my way.

While job hunting I have been asked to do a lot of meticulous work in documenting my training, skills and other assets.  Since a lot of libraries have their own form which is a pdf, you are required to add a text box for each field (you can also print and fill the form out by hand but as I mentioned, if it needs to be legible then I have to type it).  After completing this task 15+ times its easy to wonder if there is a better way to highlight all my strengths.  As a visual learner who loves a hands on environment it can be exacting to define oneself based only on text.  I want to show people what I can do and the standard employment packet requires that I deliver my message with just my words.  This feels a bit like speaking when I cannot use my hands.  Like an aspect of myself has been muted. 

I have been using a lot of the online tools at The Hiring Librarians, and volunteered to share my take on the employment process for library professionals. This article is the result. 

It is hard to imagine all the form completing and hoop jumping I have been doing really results in finding quality staff

At first I was a little worried about the title, its incredibly long and well, snarky.  But honestly I hate redundancy and I think my meaning and message are clear.  Repetitious tasks that have the appearance of being time wasters tend to get shuffled to the bottom of my To Do list. I hope that re-reading the article will help me focus on the task at hand.  I also hope that if I ever get the chance to streamline and simplify the hiring process that I will remember the challenges I was presented with and work that much harder to make it easier for someone else.  

Laura


Thursday, December 25, 2014

YALSA the Hub : What are you reading over the Holidays?

Howdy
Check out What are you reading over the Holidays?, featuring pictures of all the reading the Hub bloggers will be doing this season.  You'll see two pics of me working on my to do list of titles, both of which were taken by my sis the photog. 

Photography by Barbara Perenic.

Laura

Friday, December 19, 2014

Wahhab Mosque

Howdy All

Over the Eid Holiday in October I took a tour of the Wahhab Mosque (Al Muhandiseen Street).  I never did anything with the pictures and forgot them somehow. I made an album so you can see the grounds and the inside of the mosque.   Officially it is the Imam Sheikh Muhammed Ibin Abdul Wahhab Mosque.  My driver had never heard of it no matter how I tried to pronounce the name.  I ended up showing him a picture from my cell phone and that clicked.  This was also the first time I started sitting in the front seat when I hired a driver.  I got to a point where I basically called the same fellow over and over.  Turns out he wasn't afraid of me and I wasn't afraid of him.  We both got a lot more out our daily commute when we took the time to talk. My driver was pretty confused as to why I wanted to visit the mosque but I didn't understand his reservations.  He knew I wasn't dressed  appropriately but I think he was embarrassed to say so.  When I got to the mosque the ladies at the front door lent me an abaya and head scarf.  I had always wondered how my coworkers kept their scarves in place.  I didn't think to bring pins and boy without them it sure was a challenge to keep my head and hair covered correctly. There was supposed to be a tour but it turned out to be self led so I didn't learn very much about the history of the mosque.
The mosque covers a total area of 175,164 sq.m. As many as 11,000 men can offer prayers in the air-conditioned central hall of the mosque and the adjacent special enclosure is spacious enough for 1200 women. There are three main doors and 17 side entrances to the mosque. As many as 28 large domes cover the central hall while 65 domes cover the outer quadrangle. On the whole the mosque can hold a congregation of 30,000 people. (Mosque)

I met with a friend for this tour and thankfully she and I were not the only westerners to muddle through our self guided visit. You really cannot go anywhere without meeting teachers and there were perhaps 10 or so ladies from one of the local elementary schools. After getting dressed we were directed to an elevator.  We went up a few floors and arrived in brightly lit, carpeted hallway.  At no point beyond the elevator did we meet anyone else; no one was there to pray or study. There was a large sign in the hallway that directed us to remove our shoes and remain quiet as we walked around. If you look closely at the sign you can see they suggest you not use your cell phone but there are also instagram (Everything links to Islam Web but they don't actually seem to have an Instagram feed) and YouTube logos at the bottom.   This picture is in the slide show below in case you find it too small to be able to read all the rules.  

After taking off our shoes we wandered around a bit.  There were a lot of door and none of them were labeled.  I was nervous about just walking into random rooms so we gingerly opened the doors one at a time.  From the outside its clear the mosque is enormous. Inside its also staggeringly large.  As women, we weren't allowed into the main sanctuary which comprises most of the bottom floor.  The women's prayer area is elevated and partitioned with filigree. 



I took some pretty fantastic panorama shots that I hope will give you a sense of scope.  Everything is faceted to the nth degree, each column, chandelier and door is intricate many times over. The ladies prayer area had two main doors.  The whole area was divided in half by the door you see to the right.  Straight ahead you see the lattice partitions that overlook the main prayer area.  One of my favorite things was the incredibly plush carpet. It was really deep, like walking on snow.  I felt really self conscious about being barefoot in such a sacred space.  I knew my feet were clean because I had washed them downstairs.  I still felt uncomfortable about leaving my shoes behind.  




Not only is the inside of the building arranged to keep the sexes separate; the outside establishes the rules immediately. There are different entrances for men and women.  We did go walk on the terrace after the tour and you cannot even walk around to the other half of the building or be anywhere near the men's entrance. 

If I could visit again and hear about the building from a guide that would be great.  I really felt I missed some important aspects of the mosque and its relevance to Islam and Qatar. 

Laura

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Online Job App Fail


Howdy
There are a lot of things in the world that do not make sense.  Language errors account for a lot of amusement in my day.  Normally these are awesome puns or fun things to ponder, not illogic running rampant on my ability to apply for a job. Case in point this screen shot from a company's online job application that requires a 50+ question quiz on your morals in addition to the usual details about your education and job experience.  There is a section of the form designed for you to add your resume so that the website can autofill some content from the file.  I hit this intriguing road block when the page seemed to be telling me contradictory information. 



At first it seems I am only allowed to upload a single document.  Why else would the site tell me the maximum number of attachments is 1? Now that it appears my mistake was trying to attach yet another document I was really confused by the next statement telling me "You can attach files."  Umm...ok.  So thats plural, as in more than one?  I think one of us is confused but its probably not me. If I am limited to 1 attachment as the first statement suggests how do they think I will "attached files to the candidate records(e.g. cover, letter, resume,references, transcripts, etc.)"?

The good news is, I made it work.  

Laura


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Resume Review

Howdy

There are a lot of kind people in the world, who despite having jobs and busy lives of their own, take it upon themselves to help out the unemployed.  I'm sure each profession has its own batch of this altruistic sort.  I have been using the services of The Hiring Librarians. This blog has many handy features for librarians with skills in a variety of sectors who find themselves unemployed,  underemployed or just needing a change. 

I submitted my resume for review and so far I have  received a lot of good feedback. You can check out For Public Review - Job Hunter LP to see my original resume, the comments I received and the form for  submitting  any  comments you might have. Some suggestions made a lot of sense.  I took the ideas to heart and made plenty of changes.  You ca see some of the edits by checking out my updated resume on this blog

 Another section I've used is the Interview Questions Repository where you can submit questions posed to you during an interview and also read questions other librarians have been asked in their job searches.  Forewarned is forearmed.  I had an in person interview Monday and I have a phone interview Wednesday.  Brushing up on common questions or being aware of new techniques will help me from flubbing an answer.  Also it should keep me from loosing my thought and blurting out 'brain fart.' I am pretty sure that is a deal breaker. 

Did you know that Microsoft Excel and Mac Numbers are great programs to use for keeping track of your applications?  I keep a spread sheet of each job with information on the employer, application requirements and when I applied so I can follow up.  This is also helpful if anyone at Job and Family Services asks you what avenues you have explored. 


Other resources that are smoothing the way to employment are Open Cover Letters,  I Need a Library Job, and Library Career People.  This last one isn't specific to just librarians : 
How to Quantify Your Resume Bullets (When You Don't Work With Numbers). I enjoyed this article especially since I didn't realize some people are really opposed to bullets on a resume. 

One thing that would make this whole process easier, if Google Chrome would go back to its original method for managing bookmarks.  I am trying to keep my job hunt organized and wow they sure don't make it easy. 

Normally I complain about people being complete tools but this latest batch of online tools has been really helpful.

Laura

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Word Hoarding

Howdy
The Fray, a band known for the song Waiting on a Cue (Cable Car), has a lyric I often ponder. 
I never knew
I never knew that everything was falling through
That everyone I knew was waiting on a cue

All the things!
I realized that many people, regardless of profession, keep a portfolio.  I somehow got the idea that since my medium isn't entirely visual, that I couldn't or should't collect my work. This might also because I think the word 'dossier' is funny. Aside from my resume I haven't documented my work beyond basic facts. Until I find vocabulary to fit my project, I have started hoarding my blog posts.  Basically any instance I can find of my writing online I am going to collate on a page in my blog for quick reference


Laura

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Adventures in Insurance

Howdy


Call me maybe?
I left my number with the OhioMedicaid customer services  system which is supposed to save my place in line and guarantee that someday I will get a call.  This didn't happen so after 24 hours I attempted the online form.  It took so long to fill out that the page closed out and didn't finish my application.  When I tried to log back in the form won't save.  I can call Job and Family Services but they don't know a thing about the page.  They suggested I call Medicaid. So I called Medicaid again and left my name and number.  Ironically processing your application should take about two weeks but I wonder if that means two weeks from when the get you start the application or two weeks once they have all your paperwork.  I haven't even actually gotten proof I am eligible for Medicaid.  I just know you can't run around with no coverage but aside from scaring people they aren't doing an awesome job explaining what to do next.  I mean excuse me for not having been unemployed before.  Anyone who doesn't think being unemployed isn't a full time job should try it for awhile. It's just as stressful but with way less pay. 

Other favorite things about the online form; when it asks your marital status.  You can choose from married or not married.  How about single?  Please don't define my jobless state based on my inability to find love as well.  Honestly. 

On the third day there was success, at least in that I finally got my application to go through. Now I just have to wait for processing to see if I am in fact eligible.  You have fill out the form to see if you can have state health insurance but filling out the form doesn't mean you will really get coverage.  Meanwhile I do not know if I should look elsewhere for health insurance. 

Eventually I got a phone call and would you believe it takes 30 days to establish if I can have health insurance?  I was told it took two weeks. In fact if you call Medicaid their automated message says it takes two weeks. Are they not even drinking their own Koolaid? So for right now I have two plans: hurry up and find a job, and don't get sick.

Laura


Monday, December 1, 2014

Welcome Packet

Howdy All
When I moved to Qatar I was intensely aware of making a large number of mistakes on a regular basis.  In fact I joked about making at least one major social faux pas a week. (like the night I landed and I didn't know you couldn't just sit in the front seat of the car because this will freak your driver out) Well I've decided to continue in that vein while job hunting.  I only seem to see the typos after the emails sent.  Its all rather cringe worthy.  I think I call my sister at least once a day to have a good flap about something stupid I've done.  I really don't know what worries me more; the mistakes I've made that I know about or the mistakes that go unseen by me but surely not the delighted HR staff just waiting to shuffle me to the bottom of the stack.  I am still working on craft the perfect cover letter that is the correct mix of humility, creativity and desire to please just let me do all the things. 

I decided that unemployment needs a Welcome Packet.  It should remind you of things that you've possibly not yet had the misfortune of needing to know. I have to get health insurance.  This is now a law.  I tried to call Job and Family Services.  Once its just rang for about 5 minutes.  The second time I talked to a person who then transferred me to a voicemail box that was full so I couldn't leave a message.  I was then hung up on.  Next I tried to call Medicaid.  They are experiencing a higher than average call volume so I was prompted to leave my name and number.  This didn't result in a call back yet.  I see commercials about a deadline for health insurance.  I don't know when the deadline is or what happens if you miss it or what happens if the deadlines passes and then you loose you job. 

I attempted the health insurance website and despite being a decently intelligent person I was bamboozled. I was stumped by the 3rd question which asks to estimate your monthly salary.  Um, zero? Unless you mean usually, like when I am employed? Help! No really how to people figure this out normally?  Can I just eat a lot of broccoli and try not to get sick?

When I am not job hunting or over analyzing my cover letters I make soup and go running. I have finally started to sleep through the night but I cannot seem to stay awake passed about 9pm.  I blame some of this on a round of shots I needed that all have fatigue as a side effect.  

In other random news, apparently my car has has the wrong size tires since I bought a new set back in August of 2012.  It hasn't been an issue up until now thankfully. 


While job hunting I have been debating what else to work on so that I maintain my knowledge of kid and YA lit.  I miss book reviewing and blogging.  I think I'll pick up with VOYA and YALSA again.  Maybe I'll get back into SOYAMRG too.  I am starting to understand why people like to blog so much and they do it for a living. It can be a great way to reflect on what you have been up to. I really think the worst part of this whole  experience is that I do not trust my intuition.  Sometimes I reread my posts and I want to rewrite them to cram in a little more reality. I really thought moving to Qatar was an awesome idea until it failed epically.  Now I find myself unable to make decisions.  I don't know what I want or how to get it.  I feel quite lumpish. Which might explain my renewed interest in running as its the rare time of day during which I feel productive. 

Laura




Monday, November 24, 2014

Indeed

Howdy

Today's post is dedicated to my friend who has just discovered the word 'Indeed.' He has deemed it quite British and uses it in conversation whenever he can. You can't know everything and you can't get hung up on the things that you don't know. The best thing about new information is that you can use it and make it yours. Indeed! 


I am hoping he adopts indubitably next.


Qatar Airways
I have my passport back now.  I have bought a ticket. I leave Tuesday morning at 8am.  I have a layover in Chicago and I should land in Columbus around 7pm the same day. Then who knows. I am 99% packed. I've submitted my resume a few places at home. I will try to finish Eleanor and Park today and move on to The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery. I'm signed up for a mock Newbery at Wright State University. I really want to maintain my professional momentum.

Last night I had a really great dinner with friends. We stuffed ourselves at Turkey Central one last time. Now I am just feeling wistful and contemplative. For the first time since I moved here it rained. 

I consider this whole experience not unlike the challenge of college.  This might explain why random snippets of poetry are wandering through my mind.  It may be cliche to quote T.S. Eliot, his work is often cited and often misquoted.  For me the morose work The Hollow Men is both overwrought with angst and strangely passive.


This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

I enjoy both the intensity and the accuracy of this poem.  It's overly dramatic to say that my has life broken apart.  The reality of the feeling is the same, though its not entirely accurate.  Nearly every aspect of my daily life is about change. I had made silly plans to stay in a very fancy hotel the night before I finally left Doha.  This was of course decided when I had a job and a paycheck.  Now facing the prospect of unemployment, my tight wad personality Frugal MacDougal, would prefer I save what I have earned.  Is it all really so bad?  I am going home.  I am going to see my loved ones.  I still have my car and my computer.  Again Eliot's meaning resonates with me.

‘We sometimes feel, in following the words and behavior of some of the characters of Dostoevsky, that they are living at once on the plane we know and on some other place of reality from which we are shut out.’ - John Marston.’ Selected Essays T. S. Eliot (1934)
I have begun to undo what I did to move to Qatar.  I currently do not feel connected to either place.  When I leave tomorrow I wonder if it will like none of this ever happened, as if the undoing is also an unmaking of the past three months? 

This might be why I can sit all day and sleep just fine. My mind is tired. 

Laura


Sunday, November 23, 2014

QSTP Sport Medicine Hackathon (GEW '14 Activity)

Howdy
So I could have just stayed home and fretted until whenever I got my passport back.  Instead I've been at the Qatar National Convention Center for two days at my first Hackathon.  A Hackathon is group of people that get together to hack or solve a problem.  In this case the topic was Sports Medicine. A team from MIT came here from the US and they are leading us through the process of choosing a problem to solve, forming teams and pitching our presentations to a panel of judges. We started Friday with a work out.  Then everyone made a pitch.  Then we formed groups based on shared interests.  We also ate a lot of food, there is a ridiculous amount of dessert. All day Friday we compiled what we could and did a preliminary pitch to the mentors.  They gave us oodles of feedback so we ate more and then settled in to update our presentation. 


First presentation warm up.
Saturday started about the same way with a work out and copious amounts of coffee.  The coffee is a must since we meet for about 12 hours a day and the room is freezing. By lunch time we have spent the whole morning working on a power point which I have to nail since yesterday not only did have a brain fart and forget what to say but I actually blurted out 'brain fart' so that the mentors could hear me.  Not too awkward. We will practice our pitch while our product prints on the 3D printer and later we get to sign up for a time to present.  At least Friday we did our talk at floor level, today we have to be on stage with a microphone.  Eek nervous! 


Team LoadIn hunkered down.
I think our team had the largest gadget ratio, you can see from the picture that our workspace is strewn with laptops.  I think nearly everyone had a phone or tablet too.  We used a really neat program called Asana to stay organized. By late afternoon we got a chance to do another test pitch for more feedback.  Guess who was told they talk too fast?  Oh yes, that would be me. We practiced more and then one by one we loaded our presentations onto a main laptop.  They assigned us random time slot and thankfully Team LoadIn didn't have to wait very long. I thought the presentation went well.  While we waited for the judges to deliberate a team of coaches led us through another exercise routine.  When the judges returned we all got pretty hyper.  Sadly Team LoadIn didn't take any of the top three prizes but we did earn the prize for Most Easily Implemented. 

Prize for Most Easily Implemented 

The best lesson I learned was an example from  aMIT team member.  I told her that I didn't feel I contributed as much as some people.  She told me about the time she learned that the program excel can be used for coding.  She uses for it medical charts.  I was confused and I said I thought it was for book keeping and budgeting.  She smiled and said "that's the lesson."  Teachers are sneaky.

Somehow we never had dinner so we all met up again at the Souq to eat.  It was a very long day that stretched nearly to Sunday morning. Its Sunday now and I've been up for ages since my brain seems to think I should be up working on things. The MIT team has headed back to Boston and all my new friends are at work.  I've had my apartment inspection and later I'll meet some people for lunch.  Otherwise I'm just here marinating on what to do next in both a day to day way and also long term.  

Laura



Thursday, November 20, 2014

If I Could

Howdy All

Today I went to the offices, filled out the forms and learned lots of stuffs that I should have been told ages ago but was not.  I do not want to belabor the issue.  I am still confused, only now I am confused about different things. The best part is really my driver.  Not only is he funny but I really enjoy telling him jokes too.  Today we had to return home and then go right back out again.  The security guard seemed confused and my driver made a joke about his 'twin brother.' It's not that no one was ever nice before but it is almost like people sense I feel fragile and they are being extra sympathetic.  Well almost everyone. *whistles jaunty tune while absently looking skyward in a maximum attempt to look innocent*


Yes sir, fancy toast.
I was going to make a boxed mix of blueberry muffins.  I mixed up the batter and took the little can of berries out of the box only to realize it didn't have a pull ring, and that I don't have a can opener.  Honestly this made me angry.  I was going to buy groceries this week and can opener was on my list.  I didn't go because I want to eat what I have in the apartment in whatever odd combination tastes best. So I am standing in the kitchen, thinking "I can't even make a boxed baking mix."  I decided to attack the can with my kitchen scissors.  I do not recommend this.  Yes I did get the blueberries out of the can but now I also have a new name for blueberry juice, permanent.  So now at least I can eat some blueberry bread, oh right did I leave out the part about how I don't have a muffin pan either?  So now I can eat some blueberry bread and admire my light purple freckles and wonder what I am going to do with myself until next Friday or Saturday.  I turned in my RP to be cancelled today.  I should get it back Tuesday.  Supposedly then I am free to leave.  Once your RP is cancelled you have 7 days to get out, or they fine you. It's like 300QAR a day. I want to buy a ticket but I worry anything that looks like its close to being done really isn't.  Not unlike my attempts at baking, I feel the progress I think I have made despite its golden glow is really soup in the middle. 

It is really hard knowing I have got to hold on a little longer.  I was going to wait for a date and then change the sheets on the bed only if I really had to.  Sadly it seems like I'm gonna have to. I know it is dumb, but as annoyed as I am about this whole process I really do not need one more thing.  Don't poke the bear.

And in a little TMI moment, you know what else is making this super challenging?  Oh yes this week I am having my period.  Because what I needed what an extra serving of woe with my humble pie.  Right now I just want to frisk about in white pants as sparkly flowers swirl on a warm spring breeze.  Not!  

Despite not having a date for departure my housing has already made contact about doing an inspection.  You know in case of a total fit of rage i bust a hole in the drywall.  Priorities people, let's get me a plane ticket and then you can work about if the lampshades were broken before I moved in.  And that would yes because I have digital evidence to corroborate.  

I'm not neurotic, I'm thorough.  

Laura


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Somebody That I Used to Know

Life is confusing.
Howdy

Not much news to report.  I do not know when I will be leaving.   I was told it could be 7-10 days. I don't what day they started counting from, so it is not the most helpful information.  Until then I have sold my car who I loved, and lost in one short week. That means I am back to bumming rides places. I applied for a job.  Took a long walk and I'm listening to Eleanor and Park on audio.  

I keep having these painful reminders that my work was not representative of the country.  That my friends were the good part, the best part of this whole experience. I haven't even left yet and I miss them already.  I have given people instructions to nudge me if I start looking too sad.  I do want to enjoy my last few days (which sounds terribly morbid) and I want to remember them happy and fun. Thank goodness for my friends who are making efforts to drag me out of my funk and in some cases just out of my apartment. 

You may have noticed my blog looks a little different.  I feel like changing a lot of things.  Maybe because a lot of things are changing that I am not in control of.  I feel that if i change some things it won't feel quite so much like everything is sort of spinning chaotically. At least it is more productive than the moments where I just find myself standing in the middle of the living room feeling lost because I don't know how I got to the living room or even why I am there. 

In the mean time I am packing, cleaning and polishing my resume. I plan to keep blogging.  I'd also like to get back to writing for the YALSA  blog The Hub.  Maybe I can review for VOYA again too.  I have a lot of ifs, ands and butts right now.  I know what you are thinking "Laura, you only have one butt." It's true though, much like algebra, my if filled with unknowns. 

If you want to know how I feel, its two things really.  You know how when you stand in the sand as the tide moves out and it feels like the water is pulling you in as the land falls away at the same time?  Ya like that.  

I also feel like I want flan. 

I am a conundrum. No lie. 

Laura


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Now What?

Howdy All,

I don't want to belabor anything.  Basically I met with management and realized that after three months I can just leave if I want to.  The truth is the job just wasn't what I expected.  I miss programing.  I should have an exit date soon.  I'll keep everyone in the loop. I'm sure there are a lot of questions.  I do not have a lot of answers right now.

Laura

What Are This ? - 2 Answers

Howdy All
I am glad everyone enjoyed What Are This? 2. I got some really varied responses to what our mystery food might be.  Before I reveal the name of our tasty treat I'll share some of the guesses. 

  • carrot pudding, 
  • curry paste
  • tomato soup
  • not edible - gross or radioactive hand lotion, crayons and finger paint
  • yogurt, pudding, sour cream
  • frosting
  • orange white chocolate
  • something pumpkin or papaya
  • mango ice cream or sorbet
  • Arabian Velvetta / Nacho cheese
  • sriacha ice cream


In reality, our mystery food is a tub of chili pepper cream cheese spread. It is spicy and delicious.  And despite the wild appearance the color isn't artificial. That's just what happens when you mix ground chilis with a totally white base.  I enjoy this on pita, bbq bread or fatir.  If you want a real kick you can layer this spread with the three pepper hummus from the deli.  I can see how this would be an awesome condiment for a spicy black bean burger. mmm spicy spicy.  I should say that I have no idea what this dip is really called since the only English words are only descriptive.  I know it's 'smooth 'n creamy' but I cannot ask for it by name.  Oh well. I think there are other flavors at the grocery so I'll try those next and report back.



Laura

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Quick Pic - Meet Nelly

Howdy All
Introducing Nelly, my new car.  I actually bought her last week but she needed a little work and a bath.  Now she is all clean and her air leaky windshield washer fluid pump has been replaced.  Nelly is a 2007 BMW X3.  She is Titanium and not silver. I find this funny since my Honda Fit was listed as Taffeta instead of white.  So fancy. 


Laura


Friday, November 14, 2014

Holiday Thoughts

Howdy

{updated 11/14/14 because the charity links listed below were incorrect.}

I know with the approach of the winter season there will be inevitable questions about presents. I am not trying to sound greedy. I do not expect presents. However I know my friends and family are loving and generous. I know ya'll like to say 'I love you' with food and gifts. If you want to send card to me, they can be mailed to my mom or my sister. From there, family can ship cards to me as one parcel. The way shipping works for me is someone in the US pays for shipping just to a courier facility.  From there the parcel is flown to me in Qatar.  Once the parcel is weighed I then pay for that shipping.  As you can imagine the cost begins to add up. 


Please know that most gift cards won't work here. Also we don't have the same stores, i.e. there isn't a Target. Unless you want to get me gift cards from IKEA. I'm kidding. Really I am.

If you really want to give me something, what I would like most for the season is for you to donate money in my name. Or just donate money however you like. Find a person, animal, business, charity or other group that is doing good and help them do more good.





If you have never considered a gift exchange or a spending limit this might be the year to try.  Have you offered only handmaid gifts?  Locally made items?  I have seen a lot of extremes between the haves and the have-nots lately. I hope to not see any of you interviewed on the news explaining how you spent 500$ per person for the holidays.  Unless you went on vacation this amount of money is starting to feel a bit obscene to me.

Have you donated to your alma maters? Giving the gift of an education would be a profound way to change someone's life.

I know we like to exchange things but I am not poor.  I have money with which to buy food, shelter and clothing.  I am rich in love, friends and family.  I have it better than so many other people.  I cannot take from the poor and I do want to take anything from you but your time. 

Laura

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What Are This ? - 2

Howdy All,
It is time yet again for your favorite guessing game 'What Are This.'  Your hint is that yes this is a food.  You can guess what it's called or the ingredients if that's easier.  I'll compile the answers and reveal the truth in a later post.  

Enjoy!




Laura

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Qatar Brazil Family Program

Howdy All,

Last Thursday, November 6th we had a big family program the Clubhouse.  I think it was a big success.  A coworker shared that we made the local news.  The entire program is in Arabic.  If you watch the first 3 minutes you will see video of the Clubhouse, and some of the craft activities we did.  Also around minute 1:15 there is a teeny snippet of me being a goofball. :) 




Rabah morning program -11/09/2014


Laura

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Quick Pic - Skyline Selfie

Howdy All
Just a quick shot of me at the Museum of Islamic Art, over my shoulder is the Arabian Gulf, a dhow boat and also my office building. 



Laura

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Quick Pic - Aspire Urban Adventure 2014

Howdy
Here is a shot of me at the last leg of the Aspire Urban Adventure. This is the kayaking/paddling portion.  The picture is from either right before or right after I bopped my team mate in the head.  I am not terribly good at kayaking. 



Laura

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In Just 24 Hours

Howdy
2015 Ford Figo

They say a lot can change in 24 hours and I think I just lived it. Yesterday about this time a friend drove me to Strong, an auto rental and sales business.  I was a little confused when we pulled up at Popeye's Chicken and she announced that we had arrived. Behind the Popeye's is a lot where a building used to be.  Next to the lot is a tiny, shiny building.  You talk price, choose a car, do some paperwork and bingo-bango-boingo, you have a vehicle.  (Much to the disappointment of my coworkers I did not find a tour bus) You just sort of go out into the night. And yes at this point it's 5:30pm and it's good and dark, not dusk, just full on night time. I have my handy GPS and I am ready for action, if not homicidal Land Cruisers. I made it home safely.  I finally got to park in my own parking space too after looking at it longingly for two months.  I have an assigned slot that I can see from my apartment.  It is pretty handy since I kept neurotically checking for my car all night and into the next morning. And yes that next morning I drove myself to work.  What a nice change.  Really you do see the city differently when you are interacting with other drivers. I don't have a tag for the parking lot so I had to park on the street.  I didn't know how quickly things filled up so I left home around 6:30am. I got a good spot that I could see from my office and off I went to work.  Turns out I could have parked even closer but I was worried about getting towed so I parked behind someone else.  I'm such a sheep but I'm nervous about a ticket.   Amazing. You have no idea. 


This afternoon I had to work at another office.  No calling the driver, no fumbling for cash.  You just grab your things and head out the door.  Amazing. After leaving work again in the afternoon I then drove to the the LuLu Express which has an Aramex office.  I picked up my first box from Amazon.  I ordered some hair things I just cannot find here in Doha.  I am still figuring how to adapt my hair the heat, wind, sand and sun.  Gee you'd think for all that I was at the beach but sadly my hair takes a beating just walking around the apartment complex.  I also ordered a rash guard, it is a shirt you wear for water sports that works as sunscreen.  It is sort of pain to wear with a one piece swim suit since you have to do some calisthenics to use the washroom, but its still less painful than a sunburn.   I had not thought to pack clothes like this but nearly all the children and a lot of the adults swim in long sleeve tops.  I see a lot of long shorts on people as well.  

Related to Aramex, this parcel took nearly a month to receive. It is not a fast or  inexpensive process. If you really want to send me things the best route really is to get items to my family and let them get the parcel ready. I have to pay for some of the shipping to receive the box so I will not be giving out my address since I love ya'll but cannot afford 20lb mystery boxes. 

Then, just because I could, I bought some groceries.  Have i mentioned I might be  addicted to cashew nuts? Its like my body knows it's fall somewhere and that I should be a squirrel. Then I drove home.  Sounds crazy right? I mean the total adult madness of commuting and running errands after work?  I loved it.  So here I am home in time for tea with fresh food, mail from home and a car.  What a difference a day makes. 

Laura


Monday, October 27, 2014

Quick Pic - Car Selfie

Howdy

My and my Ford Figo. I check on my car during the day since I can see her from the window.  A coworker informed that no one would steal my car which either means theft is low or my car is not that appealing. 



Laura