Sunday, 20 January 2013

Guilty Pleasures

The week went by so quickly that I hardly realized it when Friday showed up and I didn’t have any plans! As most of my colleagues left for exotic destinations: Istanbul, Fiji, Georgia (the country, not the American state), Lebanon, etc...I had to admit something: I’m obsessed with travelling. Is travelmaniac a word? According to (Microsoft’s) Word, no. Hmmm. Well, if such a person exists who can be described as someone who is obsessed with travelling, feel free to use my photograph. I haven’t travelled the world, and by today’s standards I’m not even well travelled. However, I just LOVE to travel and I know it’s weird, but I like being out of my comfort zone. That challenge is awesome! For example, when a certain someone told me I would hate Kuwait (hey, that rhymes. Geek, Mik), I refused to listen to the negativity and accept that there would definitely be things or aspects that I wouldn't like at all. I wasn’t surprised when I, quickly, came to the realization that I really like Kuwait. So now that I feel I’ve learned how to live in the desert in the Middle East, I’m already wondering where else I could possibly go that would be new and different. Honestly, ANYWHERE would be different and exciting to me, hahaha!

I lazied in bed watching documentaries all day Friday, but were they ever good documentaries! I watched one about the French Revolution, sharks, lions, the Serengeti, and tried to watch one about the global phenomenon of war in the 20th century (and how it is continuing today), but man, that last one was looooong and dense. I’m all for being historically informed, but it was too much information to process on a day off! Saturday, I went out with one of my students. She and I had been talking about going out and doing something for awhile and finally were able to meet up. She needs something to wear to a wedding this week, and I just wanted to get out of the house, lol! We went to the Avenues and ate lunch at a place called the Chocolate Bar. I really think that the Kuwaiti have a love affair with chocolate. Maybe it’s sweets in general, but it’s amazing how many dining spots are dessert places! We had pasta and then we decided to get the Oreo Cookie sundae. This was almost as heavy as the coffee and cookie sundae I’d ordered the week before at Cacao! However, my student and I SHARED this dessert, so we were able to eat a modestly-sized dessert which we weren’t even able to finish.

 Top View of the Oreo Cookie sundae @ The Chocolate Bar
Front View of the Oreo Cookie sundae @ The Chocolate Bar

We decided to catch a movie before shopping and chose the new Jackie Chan movie, Chinese Zodiac. Now since I’m not in Canada, I have NO idea how this movie is being promoted, meaning is this movie being shown in Chinese with English subtitles? Regardless, it was not as enjoyable to watch as Jack Reacher for the simple reason that the dubbed English and English AND Arabic subtitles were so distracting. Not good. No popcorn again either since I was stuffed silly from lunch. After the movie we went on the hunt for a perfect dress, but the fashion these days is so terrible. Honestly. I’m not a fan of wearing clothes that make you look heavier than you actually are, or pregnant. I like to wear modest clothing, but c’mon! It’s not the 60s. That fashion revival wasn’t inspiring either of us and a few hours later, after not finding anything that suited her well, we gave up and settled for eating again, hahaha! We got frozen yogurt at Pinkberry. It was delicious! I LOVE frozen yogurt, ice cream and gelato, so I was in heaven. I got mango and pomegranate covered with fresh raspberries and blackberries. YUM!!! As the day went on and we talked, I learned more about this girl and how intelligent she is. It inspired me because she’s not like most young Kuwaiti girls. She hopes to study and live abroad one day and I hope she does. I think it’s a shame that these smart women aren’t always able to live up to the full capacity, especially when they want to.

We laughed a lot and people watched and even made a quick stop in Sephora where we probably sprayed every perfume imaginable. She loves perfume and inspired me to buy a new fragrance, one that didn’t remind me of the past, or of Habibi, but rather one that signalled change…I am going to be 31 soon! I settled on the lovely Gucci Guilty Intense which has hints of mandarin, pink pepper (say what?), peach, lilac (thinking of my mother, who loved lilacs, subconsciously?), geranium, patchouli and amber notes. I wrote the expensive bottle off as an early birthday gift. Hey, I need smell nice when I visit Dubai this week!



Happy (early) Birthday, to Mik: Gucci's Guilty Intense


By the way, I was mentioned on Twitter!!! It was awhile ago, but check it out at: https://twitter.com/expatvoices/statuses/252175481737203712

Sunday, 13 January 2013

In Loving Memory

If this year was supposed to be a good year, like the other halfie keeps predicting, well then it’s just starting off a bit poorly. My uncle in Canada fell very ill last week and had to have emergency surgery…It was reminiscent of my mother’s death, and I felt like I was living a nightmare all over again. It’s always an ordeal when you’re away from home when a family member falls ill. I hate how helpless I feel, how out of the loop I am, how I’m unable to help my family. To make matters worse, my mother’s best friend’s mother passed away. My mother’s best friend lost her father not too long ago, a few years later my mother died (they were best friends for over 24 years), and she’s now lost her own mother. My mother’s best friend is the reason I love mayonnaise on my fries, why I believe in unconditional, crazy, non-judgemental, free-spirited love. She’s my surrogate mother: she was the first person to offer to help my parents take care of me while I was sick as a kid by volunteering to pack my dressing (my body had to heal in such a way that my scar had to be packed with gauze. Because I had to heal from the inside out, you could see my internal organs. My mother’s poor best friend! It was not a task for the faint-hearted! Her family is our family and so their loss is ours as well. Mrs. DeCaluwe will be missed dearly by a family whose love is a privilege to have.

Last week I sluggishly finished marking over 100 exams, yeah, don’t ask how 80-something became over 100, hahaha! I decided not to drive myself crazy with worry by sitting by my computer and waiting for word about my uncle from my family. I tried to busy myself by doing research for my SSHRC proposal…Yeah, you all read that right! I swore I would NEVER again put myself through the hel…I mean “stress” of applying for a SSHRC grant, but here I am again. Why am I applying for a S(ocial)S(ciences and)H(umanities)R(esearch)C(ouncil) grant, you ask? Well, I can’t tell you that just right yet, but you’ll find out soon enough-I promise! The struggle with writing a SSHRC proposal is basically that it has to be damn good! I mean fantastically, amazingly awe-inspiringly good! I was very intimidated the last time I applied (as a Master’s student). This time, however, I believe that what I have begun is something worth getting funding for, something that one of my very good friends and I had been trying to jumpstart for so many, many years. So my plan for the next month will be to work my tail off to produce a damn good SSHRC proposal that the council sees promise in.

The Irish chef offered to bring over some movies and teach me how to make Moroccan stew after work on Thursday. He also brought over ice cream…Mmmmm! I don’t think we stopped laughing, and after some good ol’ medicine I felt like things were going to be alright, because I refuse to believe they won’t be. On Friday the other halfie and I ventured out for a coffee and somehow managed to hit 360° Mall during an auto show. The mall was packed with guys and it was too much. We quickly drank our coffee and were on our way out when we saw The Balm make-up booth. Oh, yeah!!! Meet Matt(e) is worth the hype! It’s extremely expensive here, but it’s reasonable in North America!

Meanwhile, my students kept texting me and asking me to go out with them on Saturday. Grades submitted? Check! Nothing holding this girl back, I went to re-claim my youth with a bunch of 17 year-old girls, lol! It was…well, it was fun. I, obviously, wasn’t trying to re-claim my youth, but instead was trying to be a role model for them. They were teaching me Arabi/Arabic and I was trying to convince them to visit Canada. First we went to a restaurant called Cacao. Yes, it’s known for its chocolate. I think they forgot that I’m not a fan of chocolate, but they were so excited that I didn’t want to break their hearts. Besides, I knew there’d be SOMETHING on the menu that didn’t have too much chocolate, and boy was I right! I had a coffee and cookie sundae that made me want to literally die. It was so sweet! Homemade vanilla and chocolate ice cream with chunks of cookie, toffee (like Macintosh toffee!) and espresso, topped with whipped cream made my, already plump posterior, jump for joy and made my stomach a little upset. Nonetheless, it’s the perfect amount for TWO people.


 My student's modest (homemade) ice cream trio
 My sundae (prior to the espresso being poured onto it!)
My other student's choice (the biggest chocolate lover out of us): the brownie platter

After Cacao we went bowling, woooohoooooo! I LOVE bowling. Yes, just another “nerdy” thing about me. Okay, so maybe I got slightly competitive, but in all honesty, I was VERY rusty and threw a few gutter balls. *sigh* I need to improve my game. I wasn’t a fan of the Velcro shoes, but it was all worth it because it was really quiet there (I guess bowling isn’t popular here), and so the workers turned the music up loudly while we danced around! 

 I'm sexy and I know it! Velcro bowling shoes (yikes!)

We went from playing bowling to watching the soccer/football match between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (Kuwait won), then went for food (no, it wasn’t me who suggested food. I was still stuffed!). We then decided to go and see a movie. I always love going to the movies in other countries because you can be inside a movie theatre in almost any country and feel like you’re at home. With the exception of the Arabic subtitles, the theatre was the same as the ones at home. I didn’t get p-corn (even though I’m obsessed with it…Or butter…Or both. Whatever.), and sat through my students incessantly texting. I also acknowledged a lot of oooo-ing and ahhh-ing: “Ohhh, Miss, look at him! Oooooo! He’s so handsome! He’s my husband!” Yep. Definitely hanging out with 17-year olds. Honestly though, they were very cute, and it was refreshing to see girls who believe that love has a happy ending. We saw Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise. To clarify, I was NOT ooooo-ing and ahhhhh-ing. I’m not a Tom Cruise fan.

I walked the girls out as we were parting ways and one of my students introduced me to her mother who was appalled that I would take a taxi. Anywhere. Ever. This woman was incredibly kind and had a beautiful smile. She kept holding my hand, and once I told her that I was going to jump in a cab she grabbed my arm and pulled me to her vehicle. Their driver took us back to my student’s home where she asked me to come in so I could see her rooms (we were dropping her mother off with the groceries). After the tour of her home (it’s huge!), the driver took me home with my students curiously wondering where I could possibly live in the “unlivable” Mahboula. We rocked out to Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Rihanna and, as was ordered by my student’s mother, the car waited until I was safe inside my apartment to leave. I felt like I’d met a Kuwaiti version of my mother; it was awesome.

I checked my email immediately after returning and felt some brief relief: it will be a loooong process, but my uncle will be okay. On the other hand, my father and sister attended Mrs. DeCaluwe’s funeral and our hearts are all heavier. However, now she's with her beloved. Perhaps believing that love has happy ending isn’t only for 17-year old girls.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

New Year's Resolution: Embrace Change


So I had a blog post written that simply had to be copied and pasted into Blogger’s platform and away we go. However, as I re-read it, I realized that I didn’t want to actually dedicate a whole post to how extremely bothered I was at seeing a picture on Facebook of my ex-fiancé snuggled up to some girl on New Year’s Eve. It sounded…Horrible, and the last thing I wanted to do was cut my ex-fiancé down. All I’d really wanted to convey was that I’m not the kind of person who simply walks away from people and stops loving them, and I’m not saying that he is either. I chalk it up to not liking to give up (especially on people); I am a hopeful person and that is why I have decided to make changes in my life, changes in myself. In fact, although he isn’t what inspired the change, my ex-fiancé did inspire me to work for the good of others which is what I thought I was doing as a teacher, but I’ve realized isn’t enough for me. On a side note, my ex looked very happy in the photo, and although it hurt, I want him to be as happy as he looked because I will always love him; I will never forget what he’s done for me and I will always be thankful that he made me want to be a better person.

Not known for my courage, I’ve had to psychologically prepare myself for the big changes I’m making and will be making. One of the first changes I made was the decision to travel in the Middle East as much as I can since travelling here’s been a dream I’ve had ever since I was a young girl. I booked a ticket to go to Dubai at the end of the month as a sort of birthday gift to myself. My Lebanese colleague and I are going to visit her sister for a long weekend at the end of the month. I am SOOO excited! Never in a million years did I think that I was going to travel to the Middle East and now I’m living here!!! I’m going to try and visit an old friend in Oman in February and I might even try to sneak in a weekend visit to Bahrain if I can…

As the weather grew cooler, I began to worry that I wouldn’t be able to survive (without buying a coat). It was only when I’d heard from my friend from Oman yesterday over dinner that this is as cold as it gets in Kuwait. SERIOUSLY??? Oh. My. Gosh. Hello, Kuwait! *wink-wink* You’re much, MUCH warmer than London in January. I LOVE IT! I don’t even need a coat! Sometimes I wear a jacket, but rarely! My sister would love it here because it’s sweater weather and she’s ALL ABOUT the sweater weather. Awesome. Just awesome. My friend isn’t a fan of Kuwait and understandably so. My friend travelled from Oman to Bahrain to Kuwait. That’s one long-a$s trip. Poor guy. We had some good ol’ American Toxic Hell, more commonly known as Taco Bell, and it was hilarious! There are definitely some things I did NOT think I’d do while I was in Kuwait and cruising for guys and eating Taco Bell are definitely two things on that list. What would be at the top??? Well, seeing people who I normally interact with in Canada! It was so surreal seeing Habibi here in June. We never went on a holiday or vacation together, so it was crazy to see him halfway around the world. Then my Canadian friend in the military was stationed here for a few days, and now my friend who’s been living in Oman for the past few years was in Kuwait on business. It’s wild! I didn’t even see that many of my Canadian friends in Japan while I lived there! It truly makes the world feel like a smaller place! As my friend and I caught-up we laughed at how crazy things (a variety of things like the economy, politics, religion and culture) are internationally, and smiled as we reminisced about the fun we had while we were younger in Canada. I hadn’t seen him in almost five years and it was great catching-up!

Since the semester has finished and I’m done teaching, I have now entered exam-marking mode. My exam-marking ritual is as follows: I make a BIG cup of coffee, take my shoes off, put my feet up and throw on my ipod and go to it. I volunteered to help mark my flatmate’s students' exams since she’s left Kuwait. The result? Instead of marking 55 exams, I have 86, lol! It’s not like I have anything else to do right now, so I might as well do what I can! Have no fear (dad), I won’t get fat sitting in my chair and marking! I’m STILL running, AND tomorrow after work I’m going to try a Zoomba class that is being offered at the university! Yes, I’ll likely look like an idiot and feel like an idiot, too, but that’s okay! I’m looking for something to shake up my boring walking/jogging/running routine. I’m still at 3 minutes walking and 2 minutes jogging/running, but that’s because I’m so dead by the time the 2 minutes is over that I don’t think I’m ready to transition to 2:30 minutes walking and 2:30 minutes jogging/running. I’ll let you know how Zoomba goes! I’ve never done it before and from some of the clips I’ve seen on YouTube…Well, I’m all for dancing, so we’ll see how it goes! I’m all about change, right? I’m probably not going to be able to do Zoomba, start laughing hysterically, try not to pee my pants and get kicked out. You think I’m joking, but I’m serious!

Happy New Year, family, friends and readers!!! May your 2013 be a wonderful year for you!

Much Love,
Mik