Saturday, August 29, 2009

1 Week

Well, well, well. I hit the one week marker! And when I say hit, I mean it.

After sleeping so much on the plane and then getting a good night's rest when I first arrived, I've felt awake, energetic, and upbeat all week. I don't think I felt jet-lagged at all. That makes me wonder, is it possible to get jet-lag a week after you arrive?

I ask, because last night, I got so tired around 6:30 pm that I couldn't stay awake. I also got the chills, but thought it was just my air conditioning. Unable to fight it off any longer, I went to bed. I slept for a few hours before my friend, Lisa, called me over for dinner. (I apparently didn't hear her call me multiple times!) During dinner, I could not keep the conversation going because I was spending so much effort just trying to make my eyes focus. After 2o minutes or so, I left early to go back to bed. Good thing I didn't have something pressing to do, because I truly could not function.



Why yes, this is a most unflattering picture. But it's an accurate representation of how I felt last night. I nearly felt like I'd been hit by a truck--a truck full of sleeping pills . . .

After going to bed, I kept waking up & tossing and turning. This morning, I finally got up at 4:30 after lying there for awhile. Hate to admit it, but I hardly feel rested. Yes, mom--I took my temperature. I don't have a fever, so the chills must be from the AC. I guess I just need to go stand outside for 2 seconds and then I'll feel hot again!


What in the world just happened? So weird.

I suppose being rendered absolutely, helplessly incapable of staying awake is what comes about when you get let off of the jet-lag hook too easily. Everyone must have to pay their dues at some point--I just got sideswiped in the aftermath. I think I'm going to take it easy today and make myself drink more water. Any other suggestions?

Well, here's to a happy 1 Week Anniversary! Guess a little R&R is a good enough way to celebrate.

-m.




Friday, August 28, 2009

Waiting on Jill . . .

For those of you who don't know, I am lucky enough to share this adventure with one of my best friends, Jill. Jill and I first met during our Elementary Education Orientation, but we didn't really become friends until 2 years later when we completed our science practicum together. Since then, we've known each other as student teachers, Pickford patrons, yogis, B. School District employees, hiking buddies, housemates, and so much more. As soon as she gets here, I will add international travel partner and Emirate co-teacher to the list.

It's with a grumpy expression that I type "as soon as she gets here." Even though her contract date was for Aug. 10th, Jill has still not received her tickets. I'm sure hoping that papers will come through, processing will pick up the pace, and then she'll be on a plane. I can't wait! (And I can only imagine how hard it must be for her to wait!)

In a feeble attempt to make her feel closer to coming, I'm going to go ahead and post a few of my favorite pictures from our last state-side photo shoot. Like everything else Jill does, the end results were lovely. . . if I don't say so myself.


Mary Poppins-esque



Hoping, Wishing, Waiting


Almost Aloft


We're taking off!

-m.

P.S. To illustrate my point about how talented Jill is, I would like you to please check out all of her handmade creations and her impressive photos!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Flat

Well, I have to say that the accommodations here are very nice. I heard plenty of horror stories on Facebook about our apartments, so I was kind of expecting the worst. I love it when I'm pleasantly surprised.

I'll post new pictures as I make the space a bit more of my own & as the year progresses. For now, though, this was my view when I first crossed the threshold to the place.



Kitchen: complete with oven, fridge, sink, pots, pans, plates, cups, toaster, microwave, hotpot, iron, AND a 2-in-1 washer/dryer. (More about this washer/dryer thing to come.)



Stove top/Oven: Looking forward to baking some Kate Riker chocolate chip cookies! They are going to be popping out of this baby soon . . . once I figure out how to turn it on and make it work! (And once I find some chocolate chips. No luck so far on that one.)


Living Room/Dining Room: Not so much my style, but not really going to worry about it too much. White walls everywhere are a bit life-less, but I guess the art on the walls makes up for it--it's quite vibrant. ;-) I was told that I was allowed to paint and switch out furniture, but we'll have to see if this is really the case. That sounds a bit too good to be true. I haven’t turned on the t.v. yet, but there are supposedly channels from a variety of different countries.


Bathroom: Typical shower/tub, sink, toilet . . . and bidet. (I'm kind of scared of it--haven't touched it yet.)


Bedroom: Um . . . I’m going to be swimming in that bed. It is huge compared to my very dear little bed back home. There's also a huge closet, dresser, and then drawers in the nightstands.


Settling in: Air conditioning, giant, soft bed, computer, journal. Yes, this is going to be a delightfully relaxing afternoon.



-m.





Monday, August 24, 2009

The Eagle Has Landed

Touchdown.
Phew! For the record, I arrived last night in Abu Dhabi feeling relatively happy and healthy. It was a loooong day of sitting broken up by additionally looong periods of standing in lines.

On my first flight, I sat next to 2 UW students heading to Dublin to study International Law. Although they were quite chatty, I was so tired from packing late and leaving early that I didn't talk very much.

On my East Coast stop, I had to haul all of my luggage from Terminal 2 to Terminal 4. Even with the help of the AirTram and the walking sidewalks, I still felt like I was getting a work out. Now I see why Rick Steves swears by traveling light.


Who packed all of this junk?!

My second flight, with Etihad airlines, was a definite step above my domestic flight. There were 3 meals, the choice of watching 114 television shows or 78 movies, new pillows & blankets, and interactive maps that helped you find out a variety of information about your flight. I sat next to a man from India heading to his cousin's wedding. Even though he now resides in North Carolina, he previously lived in Abu Dhabi. He prefaced everything with his seemingly favorite phrase, "Times have changed, times have changed . . ." and in his sing-song voice he was more than happy to share tips about navigating through the waters of Emerati culture. Unfortunately, I didn't get to listen to all that he was saying. Shortly after take off I fell asleep again . . . this time for 11.5 hours. (I must be related to Grandpa Jerry.) Later, when I finally woke up, I managed to catch the beginning of a beautiful sunset somewhere over the Middle East.


The Etihad eagle and cloud formation right before sunset.

After 13 hours of flying, our plane landed in Abu Dhabi around 8 p.m. We were whisked through customs, picked up our luggage, and then boarded a bus for our new living quarters. My first memory of being in Abu Dhabi was feeling the heat. Even though the sun had set, I could instantly feel the radiation rising off of the marble tiles the moment I stepped out of the airport.

Thank you for your prayers & kind thoughts. I'm most thankful to report that all in all, it was an uneventful journey. The Delta and the Eagle have safely landed. . .
Love,
-m.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Up, Up, & Away


Up, Up, & Away
Even though I've known it's been coming, I don't really feel prepared. Today is my last day to soak up just a bit more of this wonderful life, family, and community I'm leaving behind for a little while. Right now I'm so torn between the allure of going and the sadness of leaving.

I can relate to little Pi, a character in Yann Martel's novel, The Life of Pi, when he says, "What a terrible thing it is to botch the farewell. I am a person who believes in form, in the harmony of order. Where we can, we must give things meaningful shape" (p.285). Thank you all for giving my farewell a heartfelt, genuine, and "meaningful shape" by making an effort to see me or talk with me one last time. I am grateful for all of the strong hugs, special moments, and sincere well wishes. Later on, when I'm numbed by loneliness, I will try to wrap my hands around the warm mug of my most recent memories with you and feel a bit better. Oh, you will all be missed!
-m.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TICKETS ARE HERE!!!

Just checked my Inbox and (drum roll, please) . . . . the TICKETS CAME THIS AFTERNOON! Woohoo!!! I'll be leaving here on Saturday morning and traveling to the East Coast. From there, I'll have a direct flight to the U.A.E. It's a long one--13 hours! Seems like it would be a smart idea to actually try a few of those nicely illustrated chair exercises in the back of every complimentary in-flight magazine. I probably won't, though, and I'll undoubtedly end up with a stiff neck and sore bum. Yes, it's definitely going to feel like a long trip. However, 18 1/2 hours is pretty short in the spectrum of time--especially when that's all it takes to end up on the exact opposite side of the world.

86 hours and counting!!
-m

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tickets in the Works

L
My stomach did a little flip-flop when I opened my Inbox Sunday morning to find a message waiting for me. As you can imagine, this message wasn't just any old message--it was a long awaited, obsessively checked for message from my employers; this was the message informing me that my tickets were being processed!

Now, three days later, I still don't have my tickets. Talk about pins and needles . . . Without any input from my employers (who are, understandably, having a challenging time replying to emails) I've come to a few conclusions of my own:
1. I'm going to be leaving with Round 4 Teachers next week instead of Round 3 Teachers this week. (This would be nice because I might get to travel with Jill.)
2. I'm going to get my tickets the day of or the day before departure. (I could make this work--but I would need to stop procrastinating and finish packing my bags!)
3. I am going to find out travel details after the fact and will have missed my flight. (On a recent Facebook dicussion board, one teacher claimed to have received her e-tickets 3 hours before her plane was scheduled to depart. Yikes!)

Oh, we shall see, we shall see. I will keep you posted!!
-m

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Theme Song: This Time Tomorrow

While I'm waiting for my plane tickets to come and my adventure to start, I thought I'd share one of my favorite travel songs.



Title: "This Time Tomorrow" (1970)
Artist: The Kinks, a British boy band from the 1960s, are described as "one of the most important and influential rock bands of all time." If you don't recognize them by "This Time Tomorrow," you might be familiar with their hit, "You Really Got Me."

Between the sound effects of a plane taking off and a banjo in the background, I'm hooked from the beginning. I also love the transformation of the tone from start to finish. In a defeated almost melancholy voice, Davies starts off by asking, "This time tomorrow/Where will we be ? . . ." Less than three minutes later, he finishes with the same question--only at the end, his words hint of confidence and celebration. A commanding piano and crashing drum line support the new bravado.


Travel is sorta like that for me. There are so many unknowns--especially in the beginning. This trip in particular seems more vague than most of my other adventures. My employers finalize plans and make decisions on their own time. Details are painfully slow in coming. I am anxious to know where I will be living, what teaching will be like, and how I will ever manage to adapt to a completely new culture on an unfamiliar continent. At least once a day I ask myself, Why am I doing this?

That's when I start listening to songs like "This Time Tomorrow." Without ignoring the inevitable loneliness and fear that are part of the package deal, it inspires me to gear up, hop on board, and venture out--even if I "leave the sun behind me." Despite the inconveniences, it's good to be reminded every so often of the thrill of the unknown. Minimal plans equal maximum possibilites. The closing lines, "This time tomorrow/Where will we be?/This time tomorrow/This time tomorrow . . ." make me feel footloose n' fancy free. They make my head spin just thinking about all of the opportunities and adventures that await. You just never know what a day may bring!
(However, I'm sure hoping it will bring my tickets!!!)
-m

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Welcome Little Blog!

I am proud to announce the arrival of my tiny technological miracle . . .
My Suitcase Heart!


born August 8th, 2009

time (it took to figure out Blogger. . .): at least 48 hours; and I'm still figuring

height: oh not much

weight (on my mind to make it just what I want): lots and lots; this is definitely a work in progress


I hope you are able to watch my little blog change and grow.
-m