Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bizza menu will make to be death of me

Pizza menu terms & conditions

Today we spent about 10mins trying to decide on what pizza to order. This colleague of mine is reading this pizza menu that was badly translated from Urdu to Arabic (supposedly) and he's laughing his ass off, saying "this isn't Arabic, this is bullshit! Kill me but don't kill my language!" then he laughed and took out his phone to take a picture and said "this has will to be on twitter today!"

I'm just like slow-clapping from my English-speaking corner.

P.S. pizza turned out good!

*Background story: So I have colleagues who have less-than-stellar English (which is perfectly acceptable, as I have extremely less-than-stellar Arabic). They're all a lovely bunch of folks, but one of them sometimes gets under my skin. Despite his level of English (which I range between 400-450 on the TOEFL) he sometimes walks around with his chest out and makes statements like "English is a shallow language, expressions are too much limited, not rich like Arabic." I don't say anything, because yes Arabic is beautiful, but I don't tell him what I really think, which is that he isn't quite qualified enough in English to pass linguistic judgments like that.  I just sit and pay attention while he explains things in a stream of roughly put-together sentences and I mentally note that if it were me in Arabic, I couldn't do what he's doing in English.  But 3adi, let's all get along, if he says English is shallow and he thinks his English is good enough to say that, then fine. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Meltdown cooled (and other thoughts)

Today I drove between my old office and my new one in the 40'c heat (or 104'f for you imperial equivalents)   and got lost in business bay. It looks nice from Sheikh Zayed Road but it was no picnic navigating between the construction and incomplete roads. I better find a faster route to my new office before I start there (if I start there, if nothing goes wrong with the paper work inshallah).

Business Bay (with cool filters on)

In other news, the sudden summer isn't doing anyone any favors. I'm seeing frizzy hair, moisturizer slipping off of people's face, children crying. We need to adjust guys. Even I'm breaking out as a reaction to the sudden shift of ~30'c dry breezy days to 40'c stifling humid crazy oven heat.

Tonight I'm catching up with a friend! I can't wait. Usually I reserve my evenings for a combination of Game of Thrones/ Vikings/ Hannibal/ American Horror Story, so you know this friend is special if she can tear me away from TV. She just got back from her semester studying Arabic in mid-revolutionary Egypt. I can't wait to hear her stories (you can find her blogging about it here). I wonder how her Egypt experience will measure up to her UAE experience; Both good but in different ways?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Freaking out

Having an implosive meltdown. Inside my head. Kinda.

yousef: hey
what's up
Khalisah: having a freak out
but i'm writing it out
yousef: holy hell
shu sar? (what happened?)
shu fi? (what's going on?)
ya weily? (my poor dear?)
Khalisah: [my new company] stopped emailing meeeeeeeeee
which I thought was fine
take it as a sign from God to move on and find opportunities in Iowa
all the vacancies are operations and call center
then I started looking for work in chicago
then I started looking at MA programs in Anthropology
then I started looking at MA in Humanitarian programs in Boston
then I realize my work experience up to now is stupid
and now I'm like totally ready to collapse
yousef: okay
Khalisah: DAMMAR (fainting)
yousef: okay
calm down
calm down
hadi shway (chill a little)
hazeeennn (sadness)
laaaaa (nooo)
ma biddi (I don't want this)
iowa kateer zahjaaan (Iowa is very boring)
wa ana kaman kateer majnoona (and I am very crazy/stupid)
yousef: ya hazena! (oh sad one!)
bas! (stop!)
Khalisah: tayeeb (okay)
yousef: okay
Khalisah: speak reason to my brain bleaze

Al alphabet Al Araby

Handing in my resignation on Sunday was the right thing to do, but now I'm freaking the hell out. What are the chances that I won't get the next job? What if that doesn't work out? What's my plan B?

We're having a slow day at work so I ran the gamut all over the internet. I was born in Iowa but I've never lived there, so I thought maybe it's time to go back home, hang out with grampa and gramma and uncle Scott for a few years. I did a quick job search and boy, is that a different market from Dubai! Predictably enough the majority of job vacancies pertained to logistics, operations, agriculture, administrative work and... call center services.

Thus the freak out begins. My whole life I grew up in big cities; big, multicultural, multi-ethnic, poly-lingual cities. Mainly Kuala Lumpur and Dubai. The problem is I'm not a citizen nor a stable long-term resident in either of these places. It only makes sense to go back to the fatherland, to the USA.

But... I don't feel Iowan! I don't look Iowan! My diet hardly includes good old-fashioned Midwestern cuisines, I haven't looked at a meatloaf in years. I cook curries, and I eat out at Lebanese restaurants with the occasional weekend sushi joint. But I do love my Iowan family, and I don't hide that I was born there (represent) though living there could be a whole other thing for me...

Can't argue though, Meatloaf is not only awesome but he's got some good songs too.

I like living in a city where people strut around in abayas and high heels, I like standing in an elevator and not being able to understand the people talking next to me, I like phrases like "sa7tain! 3la albik! Allah ya barik feeki!" I like telling people "Yallah" when I'm about to leave them, even though the word actually means "let's go."

Then I ran a separate gamut on MA programs that would be interesting, though probably pricey (I like the look of Tufts U)...

Minor panic attacks are often the most wonderfully confused things. Only then can I feel like I can't do anything or  I could do everything all at once.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Light dawns

Earlier this week I handed in my resignation, and my manager gave me her full support. My colleagues and HR congratulated me on the new job offer but expressed their sadness that I was leaving, and promised to stay in touch. Had I found a more suitable job role within the company, I would have stayed for the people and the amazing work environment, but I had to take the risk and move on to grow professionally. 

The light mood of change and fresh starts I was experiencing was brought down today when the new company ran into a few issues with my labor card. My HR had reassured me that the issues were minor and conquerable, but the new company panicked that I could risk losing both my old and new job if my labor card gets rejected by the local authorities. 

In the middle of this turmoil, so many realizations crystallized for me. I had been working in this job for over a year, making huge strides and contributions until I hit a plateau of routine and repetitive tasks in the last couple of months. Because of this I made the effort to look for new opportunities in my adopted Arab gulf country of 10 years because I know it better than my native birth-town of Iowa, USA, or my Malaysian childhood motherland. I've been an expat for the most part of my life, but I had gotten by and met a man and made plans. We've been so careful, mindful of expenses and budgets, respectful of our duties and work commitments. And while at first we were happy about the new job offer, this minor bump in the road is another reminder that life, in her own amusing way, enjoys throwing you a curveball once in a while to keep you on your toes. 

So it boils down to this: I will know in a month whether I will have a new amazing job, or if I will be unemployed again (naturally). 

Unemployment used to be the bane of my existence. It's all too fresh still, the experience of being desperate and looking, waking up at 5pm and spending the whole evening applying and searching until I passed out exhausted at 6am just as the sun came up. The nerve-wracking interviews, the pleading voice in my head that hoped for when I can stop the weird odd-jobs and start a proper job in a proper office with a proper boss soon was around corner. I did a few conferences here and there; I did a short stint at the United Nations; I handed out promotional fliers for Pif-Paf in a T-shirt with a cockroach decal; I babysat 4 girls between 4years to 17years for a full week alone (and survived). I even fed and cleaned up after a pair of exotic parrots who made it a habit to go on the spot I've just cleaned. I did whatever it took to get by, so when my first full-time job came I took it gratefully and threw myself into it. I was lucky that my first "proper" job was with a start-up company that crafted its goals and values around employee satisfaction and development. 

Looking back at that struggling proletariat that I used to be (chopping frozen whole chicken and ripping out the spine), I know I took a lot out of that experience. I wouldn't be as grateful or cautious today if I hadn't had those trials. And now, with the possibility of returning to those dark days, I am ready. I guess I've been working my whole life to never end up like that, so even though I might possibly find myself unemployed again, I'll have a few safety nets I crafted to land on first. 

The biggest lesson that I've taken out of the company that I'm about to leave is that you learn the most when you struggle the hardest. When there are no structures around you, you learn to make them; when your new colleague at your desk is the most annoying and obstructive individual in the world, you learn to have the patience and tolerance of a Buddhist, and the negotiation skills of an FBI. You learn and you succeed and you move on to bigger challenges. 

I'm ready world. Come at me.