Monday, November 24, 2014



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. 


Sunday, November 23, 2014

QSTP Sport Medicine Hackathon (GEW '14 Activity)

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.  


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.  


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Somebody That I Used to Know

Life is confusing.

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. 


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.


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.


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. 


Friday, November 14, 2014

Holiday Thoughts


{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. 


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.  



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


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.