new template

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The small things…

I had the privilege of traveling to England, Ireland and the Netherlands with Jessica Stoner shortly after college.  It was an amazing trip and opened my eyes to how the world views the USA.  Previously, I had only left the States to cross the border of Mexico to either drink when I was underage, shop or go on vacay to a resort.  Americans are treated well and I thought loved by all non-Americans.  However, our European vacation made me think about things differently. 

Our trip overseas happened shortly after the 2004 presidential elections which lead to many late night discussions in pubs, of course.   Let’s be honest, I grew up in a bubble and went to college in a bubble (which I will be forever grateful for, mind you) and after talking with people that had come from different cultures and pasts, it made me start thinking more than I had ever done before.  I stopped just accepting what I heard and starting questioning it and internalizing the answers , which drives my family crazy because I play devil’s advocate a little too much.

All that being said I am so happy to be an American and appreciative of the little things we in the red, white and blue take for granted every day.  Here are just a few examples that came up over the last few days.  Our AC went out three days ago but don’t worry, it is winter and the highs are only in the high 80’s right now.  We have had these two workers at our house on a few occasions for over 12 hours  (they are still upstairs right now) trying to figure out  the problem… I don’t know a single repair company in the States that would have spent 12 hours doing anything and would not have a single answer or suggestion for you.   We may not have answers but the workers have enjoyed over 3 gallons of our water.  That being said, ever thought about clean drinking water?  When something happens to our water supply in the States there is a boil warning on the television and we all know it will be fix in just a few days.  In the UAE you do not drink from the tap because of the waterlines, you must buy bottles and jugs of water.  You can brush your teeth with the tap water and you can wash your produce with the water but you don’t drink it.  Also, every room in your home with a water source has a big drain in the middle of the floor just in case the sewage lines back up… yes you read that right.  It has not been a problem in the bathrooms and I have heard that it most likely never will (cross your fingers) but the kitchen is another story.  I have named the kitchen drain the “HOLE FROM HELL”!  

This hole might be the death of me… I am trying to figure out its behavior and patterns but I do not have them down yet.  All I know is you cannot run the dishwasher and dump anything down the sink at the same time or do dishes in the sink and drain all the water at once.  Oh, and if you do… he will let you know!  GURGLE GURGLE GURGLE and yep, up comes the water all over the kitchen floor, food and all.  I did not mention before but there are no garbage disposals in the UAE because it doesn’t work with the water drainage.  I want you to pay attention to how many times you dump things down the disposal tonight while cooking and after dinner and then you can send me your sympathy!  We had a little occurrence last night with the HFH… nothing a mop, a bunch of towels, a good husband and one well scented candle couldn’t handle.  Hopefully the HFH will realize he is no match for Team Cumberworth and we will break him before he breaks us!  

Moral of the story is don’t take the little things in your everyday life for granted… especially the US’ water/sewage systems!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

All is A-okay!

On a quick side note… don’t ever make an okay hand gesture towards an Arab person.  A thumbs up or a wave is good,  but never an okay.  Apparently, it means something worse than “F your mom”, but no one will tell Jon exactly what it means.
So I went to my first Doctors appointment over here the other day for baby Leighton.  Don’t worry… it wasn’t in a stick hut in the middle of the desert where I am going to have to squat and have this kid in a field full of camels! 
My Doctor is located at the American Hospital and the facilities are really nice and extremely busy. No, not with protesters needing aid from the streets, but with tons of pregnant women.  Everywhere you look here there are pregnant ladies!  There must be something in the water.  And it is not just expat women, there are pregnant Emirati women all over the place (although it is easy for them to hide their bumps under their Abayas).  I know that I will get over seeing it but it caught me off guard to see Emirati couples in full traditional outfits sitting in the waiting room to meet with their ObGyn.  I don’t know what I thought it would be like but it made me smile to see that men over here are involved/get dragged to their wives doctor appointments also.  Anyways, everything is good to go with the baby.  I have my last ultrasound (Scan) next week to make sure everything is in order.  And then we play the waiting game.

 I am a little over 31 weeks right now so we are into the single digits people.  I feel as though I am on a time crunch to meet people and make friends so I don’t go crazy after I have this munchkin.  I am planning on going to a coffee held by the women group in our subdivision this Tuesday. We live in a community called Arabian Ranches (so cliché I know).  Our neighborhood is huge and has little neighborhoods within the subdivision.  Apparently this women’s organization, “Arabian Ladies”, is the place to start meeting people.  I am sure it will be like rush… I tried to convince Jon that I needed a new outfit for coffee, A.k.a the first day party but it didn’t fly with him. Nonetheless, I will go, put on my best face and comedic routine and try to be a magnet for friends… I mean who wouldn’t like me (insert laugh here!). 
Our stuff got here the other day and I have been trying hard to get it unpacked… I’ll post before and after pictures very soon. 
Until later…

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lazy Sunday, I mean Friday?

Things are a smidge different here as far as how the week/weekends are setup.  Mosque is on Fridays here so Friday becomes our Sunday and Sunday becomes our Monday… with Saturday just staying Saturday.  But not really…. I mean, I am used to waking up late on Sundays and watching The Soup in bed with Jon and the Dogs, having a cup of coffee and maybe brunching it up and making it into a little Sunday Funday… but no more.  However, I am not working so I guess that every day is Sunday Funday until I push this kid out!  I will have to change my state of mind and deal with the fact that my weekend is ending when everyone else’s in the US is just beginning. 
There are also a few other oddities that have made me laugh or stop and say huh?  For instance, in every grocery store there is a forbidden zone… dundundun… for Muslims.  This place is the called the PORK SHOP!  It is always in its own little room with a narrow entryway with harsh fluorescent lighting that buzzes above your head.  It makes me feel a little naughty every time I walk in… like a teenage boy trying to sneak into a porn shop, looking over their shoulder to see if anyone is watching. 

They all have warning signs on the outside of the doors stating, “this place is not for Muslims” and the few I have seen always have pictures of pigs on the inside… very comical (see the pictures)!  Just saying the pigs are all so happy and just catching some Z’s.  Maybe I need to take Leighton to a pork shop when she is older so I don’t have to really tell her where our food comes from.  “See Leighton, the pigs just go to sleep and rest their eyes and next thing you know we have a BLT!”  Abstraction… as American as Apple Pie! 

Also, I knew that in moving to the middle east I would be confronted with a culture that I was not well versed in and had very few resources to truly help me grasp what I would see when I got here.  I must admit, although it is hard to do, that I watched Sex and the City II the movie a year ago.  It was just awful and I cannot believe that I just ratted myself out, but I was on a long flight so I will use that as my excuse.  There is a scene at the end of the movie where the Emirati women take off their abaya’s and expose their fashion……every designer you see at New York Fashion week was represented in this scene in the movie.  In my mind at the time, this scene took this movie to another place… a bad place… I thought, this has got to be the most ridiculous end to a movie ever and these women do not wear these types of labels.  After that viewing I never really thought about what women wear under their abaya’s until I got here.  It is jarring at first to see so many women walking around in long black dresses with their faces partially or fully covered… but to see them in 5 inch purple Gucci heels and carrying a green Hermes bag with their overly applied make up is utterly fantastic (and secretly made me start rethinking about my review of Sex and the City II).  Women over here seem just as liberated as American minus the black garb.  You will see groups of ladies just walking though the mall with their Louis Vuitton bags just chatting away.  I even snuck a picture of two women enjoying lattes and dessert in a restaurant under the Burj Khalifa… I never would have thought that there would be Muslim “Ladies that Lunch”… it is extraordinary.

We have fit a lot into my first few days here; dinner at the local country club, brunch at the Westin, Jumeirah Beach, the Dubai Mall (twice), dinner at Jon’s Boss’ house, trip to the local fabric souk (aka. Shop) and driving … a lot of driving!   Well… I have my first Doctors appointment tomorrow.  I’ll let everyone know how the hospital is so you can all stop worrying!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flipping the Page...

I think our lives are made up like books.  Flipping from one chapter to the next, rolling from comedy to tragedy, introducing new characters and flashbacking to old ones.  Sometimes the chapters drag out and other instances we are on the edge of our seats waiting to find out what lies ahead.  There is no way to predict what the author of our lives has in store, but the journey is all we have, waiting for what is next but always remembering what has happened in previous chapters or at least trying to learn from them.
Today starts a new chapter in my life.  I am sitting on a plane flying to Dubai. Sad to leave the last chapter behind.  Sad to leave the life we made for ourselves in Houston with our dear friends, my budding life as an art teacher and our precious little home.  Sad to leave my family behind when there is such a new and exciting life change literally 10 weeks around the corner. But alas, C'est la vie!
This huge change makes me look back at my many chapters and recall how my story became our story. Jon and I met over 10 years ago.  I had just had knee surgery on my ACL and my parents were having the Southwestern boys basketball team over for Christmas dinner.  I was on some major pain killers but I remember sitting in my parents recliner, getting razzed by a few players and I remember a quite little guy sitting on the arm of my parents couch, wearing cargo jeans and a blue and black zip up nike wind breaker.  I recall thinking this poor kid is such a dork.  Well, flip forward to the chapter in my life titled “Freshman year of college”.  It seemed to me that these two boys had made themselves permanent fixtures in my life… Jack Zinda and Jon Cumberworth.  They were like tweedle dee and tweedle dumb having me compare their newly grown goatees, challenging me in drinking games, having countless IM chats on AOL.  Never demanding but always present.  I never thought much about the two of them until one day, after sharing my napkin with Jon at El Arryo that hey, l liked Jon, like I really liked Jon.  Since we did go to Mouthwestern it only took a day (more like 5 minutes) for those words to exit my mouth and find Jon’s ears thanks to my little birdies, Jessica Wells and Mark Stoner.  As in most college relationships there were many more chapters; frat parties, booze, long weekends, study breaks and our relationship budded and grew.  It flipped from “the long distance relationship” to “the San Antonio Years” to “the Big Day!” to “Job today, Gone tomorrow” to “City of Syrup” with short chapters intermittently mixed in. Now we find ourselves many chapters later ready to start writing the next one…. Which is going to be a big one. 
I look forward to all of you reading and sharing in this next big chapter which will include the main cast; Jon, Me, our furry kids Walter and Charlie, our future munchkin, Leighton and the supporting characters  which have not been announced as of yet.  I promise all the good, bad and funny…. Trust me, they will get funnier I am sure!  I look forward to sharing these times with y’all and I hope you enjoy reading along as our story continues to be written.  Oh yeah, no judging on spelling errors or punctuation problems…  The doctors say I have a case of the dyslexia!