Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Fast" Away the Old Year Passes

Furniture Allowance season is upon us once again.

This year it coincides with Ramadan which is a mixed blessing. We are shopping till late at night because shops do not open until after a cannon blasts around 6:30 or so to signal Iftar, that is time to break fast and time for the faithful to let the gorging begin.

So, while the faithful are engaged in an old fashion Roman-style, dusk-to-dawn food orgy with family and friends and enough grub on the buffet tables to sate a Viking raiding party, the roads are relatively uncongested, and all those roads lead to contempo furniture Valhalla--also known as Ikea.

Every year, freshly arrived ex-pats begin work in the UAE around the tail end of summer. Almost as soon as they arrive, furniture allowances are apportioned and people shop as though tomorrow is judgment day and getting into heaven depends heavily upon how much crap you own.

Because I changed jobs, I have been allotted a furniture allowance. True, some of it will have to go to my former employer because I did not stay there long enough to cancel out the one they had given to me. That would have taken three years. I was there for only two. I'll have to pay back about a third. Still, all in all, I am going to make a nice chunk of change.

Too bad, we ain't a gonna be keeping it.

We don't need much. In fact, I was under the impression that we already have all the shit we need to maintain a household including optional items like guest bedroom furniture and an extra set of bookshelves used solely for mounting Persian bric-a-brac which the cats enjoy breaking.

I don't think it necessary to go on at length about the necessary evil that is Ikea. People bitch about the assembly end of the purchase. Round here, a mob of sub-continentals armed with an awe inspiring array of Allen wrenches arrive with the boxes and quickly set about to turn all those planks of birch stained boards into cozy, Nazi-efficient furniture.

The Rose is in her element. Shopping. We are in the process of acquiring more possessions.

If there's a point to this post, it's, oh, how sins of excess like gluttony and greed chap my ass.

On a quick note, I'm quite OK with lust. Lust and sloth. Both should be reduced from deadly sin to headachy. Came of age in the 70s.

Wrath? As long as someone somewhere manufactures Depakote, and I get in a little exercise, I manage to keep it in check.

Pride? Occasional bouts of insomnia and 4 AM horrors take the wind out of pride's sails.

The point of Ramadan is to suffer hunger and thirst pangs--to be reminded of one's mortality and to be grateful for what you have no matter how little it may seem in comparison to others. Is there a Christian version of this? Not really. Lent? What--giving up chocolate, pizza and hand jobs for forty days? Not even close.

While you won't find annual Ramadan specials with Grinches and Charlie Browns to remind Muslims of the holiday's true meaning, you can Google a string of words words like "Ramadan", "true meaning", "pig-out", etc and find Islamic website forums filled with Muslims sternly reminding brothers and sisters that Iftar dinners should not be 28 eat-till-you-burst buffets.

Five years ago, after my second divorce, I was, for the second time in ten years, down from rooms full of shit to two suitcases, a couple guitars and a couple of cats. Call me the breeze, baby. If I was miserable five years ago, one reason had nothing to do with reduced ownership.

Now I--we--have rooms full of furniture with names straight out of the Prose Edda--EKESKOG, RÖNNSKÄR, TANJA BRODYR, HENSVIK.

And this situation is in all likelihood not going to change anytime soon, at the very least, not until the Rose gets her blue passport, files for divorce; that's going to take another three years, tops. In the meantime, I expect possessions will expand in numbers exponentially. But in three years, since I am in the habit of granting full custody rights of birched stained junk to my ex's, at that point in my amazingly punctual cyclic life, I'll once again be down to just me, my suitcases, my guitars and my felines.

Unless of course, this marriage thing works out. Then I'll die bogged down in detritus, like a wooly mammoth sucked into a tar pit.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More on God's Files on Me

In August 1990, I passed my orals unanimously (but not with distinction because I am a B plus kind of guy), then straightaway landed a job teaching three composition courses and two literature survey courses at a compass point university called Southeastern Louisiana. At the time, I was living in New Orleans; my other was an adorable brown-haired woman, about yay high, who coped with me for six years all the while hoping and praying for babies.

The commute to this campus was about an hour and a half from my front door—45 minutes to cross the Causeway to the north shore, another 45 minutes to reach Hammond Louisiana.

Christmas 1992, we backpacked through the Honduran Biosphere along the Nicaraguan border. I came back with the wander bug. She did not.

The following year, I resigned from SLU and left the US to work overseas. I started out an ex-pat, ended up an exile.

She stopped taking my calls and married a feller who fathered her four sons—God bless her.

I am now commuting from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah until Mina and I make the move. It takes 45 minutes to travel Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Road to Exit 311 (Emirates Road), then another 45 minutes on Emirates Road to the U of S campus. An hour and a half from my front door.

I am married now to an adorable brown-haired woman, about yay high, who has coped with me for four years all the while hoping and praying for babies.

Here's the script.


This is the header for a handy pieces of code to help develop consistency—like authorizing user name and password access on a website;. It is server side scripting. The SPF stands for "Sisyphus Performance Framework".

If I could hack into God’s Apache server, access His mysql files, I would override the default behavior of my cyclical life by adding these two attributes to the field.


public string = Spfspontaneous_impulsive_decision_making:null;
public string = Spfthink_shit_through:true}

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I do not like hotels

When I was a lad, it was all about getting dad to phone room service and order up club sandwiches. And there was the swimming pool. I'd stay in the pool until my skin shriveled to cracked leather.

When I got a little older and started bopping solo around the globe, it was more about hookers. Not that I actively sought them out. But when you're a feller on your own checking into a hotel in Delhi or Colombo or Manama or Prague, you don't have to seek them out. They rap on your door. And what was I supposed to say? "No, I do not want to see your early twenty-something butt in my bed for only twenty bucks, now go away; CNN World Report is coming on."

These days, cheap hookers are in my top five reasons why I don't like to stay in hotels. Woody Allen once remarked that "sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as meaningless experiences go, it's one of the best."

Depends. A fabled zipless encounter on a trans-Atlantic flight? Maybe. That classy rinsed out blonde at the end of the bar whose eyes locked with yours across a crowded room? Only in dreams.

But it is not a pleasant experience when you purchase it. And not when you have a daughter in her early twenties. And not when you think that in the wallet in the purse of your hired tryst there might be photos of her twins (whose Dad skipped out on them before they could crawl and whose Grandma might by on a dialysis machine). Not when you notice scars across their wrists.

Expensive hookers, well, they're not really hookers. They're escorts. And since they're priced way out of my league, there's no need to go there.

So, anyway, nowadays, I endure hotels. I'm staying in one until my accommodations on campus are ready. The bellman did ask if I needed anything--anything--and I said yeah, ok--indicating by my tone that I will hold his offer in abeyance.

The mini-fridge has orange Fantas and I get Star movies. What else would I need?