Thursday, December 24, 2009

Home Away From Home

Well, we made it to Home State after a really good flight from Doha to Houston and a smooth connection to our quick domestic flight. I got two of my Christmas wishes already! We have a fantastically white Christmas Eve! We're in a part of the country that's having a Winter-Storm-of-the-Decade kind of thing....seriously, I haven't seen this kind of snow since I was a little girl--it's awesome. Because of the weather, Hannah's dad brought her back last night instead of Christmas afternoon. There was a very high chance that they'd get snowed in until Sunday if he didn't, so now I'll have all three of my girls at home on Christmas morning :-) She was sad she'd miss out on a couple more days with him, but I know Eliza is happy to have her back.

In other news, I am beyond blissful about the corporate furnished house we've rented! It's beautifully (but simply) decorated with things that I'd pick out myself, and it's got a fabulous layout. In addition, we're in a great town, just outside the metro area of the capital city, and everything we could need is close by. Really, I wish I could just send Hubby back to Doha to finish his contract, and I'd just stay here with the girls. I'm trying to remember that none of this--our trip back, dinners out, Christmas paid for completely in cash, all the great food I'm making tomorrow--would be possible without our jobs in Qatar. It's extremely hard though....I've been happier in the past 11 days here than any single day since we arrived in Doha. I can't help but sincerely hope that Hubby will land a t-t job and we'll be able to break contract and come back home.

That said, I've just about had it with my mother, so a few states between us is probably a good thing. Really, the whole AcadeMama is a selfish mother and tyrant of a wife routine is getting old. Hubby and I are both tired of her attitude, the one she has about me (that I only think of myself), the one she has about our marriage (that Hubby is a spineless pushover), and the one she has about us as parents (that we spoil Eliza but treat Hannah unfairly). Each one is complete bullshit, and she doesn't have a clue what our daily lives are like, so she has no business spouting this crap to us (actually, she's only done it while I've been out of the house and Hubby was there) while we're home for just 18 days. I take that back, she shouldn't be saying things like that under any circumstances; she should keep her mouth shut and realize that we're just fine. We're happy, we're good parents, and we have a good marriage. Keeping her out of our heads has been difficult at times, but thankfully we have our own space, and we're staying in it! She and I will eventually have to have a conversation, but I don't know if it will change anything. If anything changes it will be because I now realize that nothing I ever do will be good enough for her...nothing I can do as a mother (except play the sacrificial Virgin Mary), or as a wife, or as a person in my own right will make her happy.

I'm not letting her spoil my visit home though. I've enjoyed watching the girls play together all day. I've made a TON of food in preparation for Christmas brunch and dinner tomorrow. And, Amelia started crawling since we've been back home!! Amazing what some soft carpet will allow (rather than cold, hard marble floors). She also got her two front teeth (on the top) with relatively little pain, despite the fact that she was bleeding at one point...She just looked up from her Daddy's leg and had blood on her mouth, but didn't care a bit. She was smiling from ear to ear. She really is strong, happy, and determined. She's going to grow up a thousand times faster than the older girls.

For now, I'm soaking it all up: the snow, my daughters, time with my husband, the holidays, and all the Mexican food I can get in my belly! For all those celebrating, may you have the happiest and most joyful of holidays!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Doha Diaries, no. 5

Christmas in Doha

While we won't actually be in Qatar for Christmas, the season is upon us nonetheless, and it's to be found everywhere in Doha. Hubby and I have found this to be quite surprising. Decorations and lights line the Corniche, shopping malls have held various Christmas Market Days (complete with Santa Claus, Christmas cookies and trees, etc.), and even the nursery Eliza and Amelia attend is decorated to the hilt with snowflakes, tinsel, and ornaments. In a Muslim country, one in which any public display of religion other than Islam is technically illegal, how is this possible? I'm thinking there are only two possible reasons, but they don't necessarily exclude one another.

First, the possibility that the expat/Christian population is large enough that the powers that be feel like they should recognize and accommodate our most-revered holiday. Maybe....this is what Hubby thinks.

Second, and the one I think is more likely, is the seemingly obvious fact that money can be made from entertaining our holiday traditions. We'll buy decorations, we'll shop for gifts, and we'll spend good money to maintain a sense of normalcy here, especially during the holiday season and especially in the case of those who aren't able or willing to make the flight back home (wherever home is). I get the impression that the capitalist enterprise of the holidays seems fairly universal, and businesses in Doha want to exploit that just as much as businesses in the US and other predominantly Christian countries... but, I could be wrong. I'll have to ask around about this...

Doha Diaries, no. 4

  • Well, the psychiatrist visit turned out to be a bust after all. When I took the prescription he wrote to the *one* hospital that carries the medication, they wouldn't fill it because it was issued by a private psychiatrist. They will only fill scrips issued by their own physicians...great. So, we get to do the whole thing over again when we're back in the States for the holidays.
  • We *finally* got tickets home!! Did I already mention that? Don't remember, but I'm so excited, that I'll mention it again. Knowing that home is just a few days away--we leave Saturday, Dec. 12th--makes everything better. It was a completely horrendous process to get the tickets because our bank in the US has a limit on purchases made with a debit card during the first six months an account is open, so we couldn't use that card. Then, Qatar Airways--the only airline with a direct flight to Houston--doesn't allow debit cards to be used at all for purchasing tickets online. What did we have to do, you ask? We had to go to the bank, take out almost QAR68,000, bring it to campus, and pay a travel agent in the faculty lounge. Completely fucking bass-ackwards, but we got the tickets.
  • We *finally* got our car loan! The new minivan has been with us since Thanksgiving, and Hubby adores it. When all was said and done, we got totally screwed because of the global recession and its effects on lending everywhere, including Doha. Even though our contracts are renewable (and this is indicated on our salary letters, which one must provide for the bank), they would only give us a loan for the term of our current contracts--a year and half (remaining time). Add to that the over-pricing that happens on vehicles in Doha, and our car payment...ready for it???.... $2,220/month! Now, we get a $575/month car allowance to help offset this, but holy shit! This will cut into our monthly cash flow in such a way that it will make the debt elimination process a bit slower. The flip side to this is a) we'll have it paid off before we leave, and b) when we leave, we'll be able to sell it for more than we would back in the US, and we'll get the vast majority of our money back. We can then use that money to pay off debt or to put down on a vehicle or house back in the States. I'm not happy about the way it all shook out, but it was the lesser of two evils.
  • The Thanksgiving dinner party went really well...more food than a small army could eat, and good company. One of my colleagues is particularly fabulous and is now my Super Smart, Funny, Gay Friend :) He's truly thoughtful, hilarious, honest, and he's lived all over the Middle East. His company and conversation brighten my time at school, and I'm smitten with his Sri Lankan partner as well...Lovely guys!
  • Amelia has had The Worst Cold in the Universe for the past four weeks. It has necessitated one ER visit, a visit to her pediatrician, one inhaler, and four other minor medications. She's pretty much healthy now...and getting her healthy before our trip back to the US was the important thing for me.