Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reflections on Six Months in Saudi

Or really, random reflections coinciding with my having been in Saudi for six months.

Tomorrow marks six months in Saudi Arabia. Friday marks six month since Hattie's death. (For me, the two will always be intertwined, for better or worse.) I could write an entire blog post on grief and longing and moving on. But I'll resist the urge. For tonight at least.

I've never had time pass so quickly while overseas. Maybe it's being in an American bubble, or having APO and pouch available, or the ease of connecting with family and friends through technology. Whatever it is, I'm thankful. I've had fewer and less prolonged bouts of homesickness. That said, I'm excited to go home on R&R in June. I'm excited to see family and friends and celebrate family weddings and maybe eat some Maine lobster or go to Melting Pot or Filomena's for brunch. And Trader Joe's. I'm really excited for Trader Joe's.

This is a very interesting time to be living in the Middle East. Thankfully, all my friends and colleagues in Cairo and Tunisia are safe (along with their families), so I can reflect without worrying. There has been some unusual activity in KSA in the past few weeks, which I won't talk about here, since it's in the news if you look hard enough. (And read Arabic.) But I'm curious to see what happens in the region in the coming days, weeks, even months.

I've had a perpetual calendar for a number of years. I've never been very good at keeping up with it. For the same reasons that those calendars with a different joke/puzzle/cartoon/trivia question each day sit untouched for months. Except for Far Side versions, which are few and far between these years. Plants also fall into this category. Anyway. I had the perpetual calendar on my bookcase last year. But I stopped changing it after a while. And I dutifully unpacked it and put it on my bookcase here. And never bothered to change the date. When I walked by it today, I noticed it for the first time in a long time. And the day was correct. February 9. Which made me think back to last February 9. I think it was during Snowmageddon. I was probably at home in my PJs, working Haiti Task Force virtually, from the comfort of my apartment. What a difference a year makes.

I bought my brother some shirts from Eddie Bauer for Christmas. He loved them, but they were the wrong size. So he returned them. And wanted me to reorder them in a different size. But he never told me this. I only learned it this week, accidentally. I sat down to order them all over again, and, lo and behold, all of them were a) available in the right size and color and b) on clearance. So I got what I originally got and threw in a few more things for good measure. It is his birthday next week, after all. But I was mad - why is it that I can never find the clothes I want on clearance??

Apparently my recent blog on eating out in Jeddah has been popping up on Google searches when people are searching for the particular restaurant(s). One coworker came into my office and asked "are you sadieabroad?" She was looking up Salad Boutique (still a crowd pleaser, a month later) and found my post. Only as she read the post and recognized the writing style and situations did she realize it was me. Another coworker had someone ask him if he knew me; the man found my post the same way. So even though I try to be pretty security-conscious in my blog, it was a good wake-up call to be extra careful. Which made me think about blogging in general and how public I want to be. Because I don't want to limit my readership, and I'm happy not blogging about work or anything too personal. And while I was mulling this over, I read Devonnaire's very well-written post on this similar subject, which puts what I've been thinking/feeling into words. So with her permission, I'm linking to that post here.  I've connected with so many amazing people through my blog and reading other blogs, and I think the FS community is enriched by the shared experiences and opportunity to vent/share/muse/ponder with like-minded and/or like-situated people. So I'll keep blogging. But I'll try to be more conscious of all these concerns. (And I will get around to doing my own blog roll soon. I think those are great and know my readership is expanded through the rolls of others.)

My cats have taken up residence in Hattie's toy box. It's just a fabric box from Target, but they treat it like a holy shrine. One or the other is always in it. Usually the other (or both) is resident in the bathtub. I have weird cats.

I promised not to get all emotional, but I haven't given away/thrown away many of Hattie's things yet. I gave away the dry dog food and may have a taker on the treats and wet food. The toys, beds, collars, bandannas, etc. - those will stay a bit longer. I'm not quite ready to say goodbye. What I'll do is photograph everything and keep a few special things, because I know later on I'll be glad I did. For right now, they stay in the box.

And on that depressing note, time for bed. No alarm tomorrow. And a beach barbecue to look forward to. And Sri Lanka to look forward to in only a week! Thanks for all the suggestions - I can't wait!