Tell Me More About Where I Live

I’m not really sure how or when exactly this happened, but over the last few months people have gone from “where IS Dubai? THE MIDDLE EAST?! Do they even have internet there??” to knowing ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL about Dubai. Not all people, obviously, we don’t deal in absolutes here, with the exception of never going in the “office”. But an alarming majority of people who previously were completely clueless as to simple world geography, suddenly are scholars whose life’s work has been studying Dubai. They know more about how Dubai “really works” without ever leaving their home state, let alone country, than anyone living here does. It’s amazing! I am in awe at how much the adult education system has improved in such a short amount of time! Allow me to highlight some of this fascinating newfound knowledge.

Facebook
Did you know that the Facebook app is different in Dubai? I’m using it, right now, and I did not know that. But as a woman from Texas was kind enough to point out for me, I could not explain how to change the privacy setting for a post because I’m “from Dubai”.

oh really

Driving
As we already know, I can (and do) drive. BUT, apparently I’ve been hallucinating all the school pick ups, play dates, gymnastics classes, competitions, cheer practices, trips to the mall, grocery, Starbucks, parks, pools, beaches, lunch, dinner – all of it. Then I lie to everyone about doing all these things, including my husband and kids. I’m not really clear on the details of how this absurdly elaborate set up works, like HOW my kids get places, or WHY they remember me driving them around, or WHY ON EARTH my husband would agree to pretend that I drive, but regardless. It’s all a sham. Because, as a fine gentleman from Oklahoma informed me, “women can’t drive in Dubai, they get stoned to death if they even sit in the driver’s seat”.
huh

Cars In Dubai
The only cars allowed on the roads are high-end luxury vehicles, according to a charming young man from Ohio, who adds: You can’t even buy a Ford in Dubai, because they hate Americans.
Ok, Ohio.
NEVERMIND that you can’t look at a road without seeing a Ford, or Toyota, or some other NON-luxury car. NEVERMIND that we actually know people who own and drive Ford vehicles, here! In Dubai! Everyday!! No, they don’t have a luxury car that they drive on weekends instead. AND! They aren’t even American! Just out of curiosity though, does my car even count? Or is it not high-end enough?? Oh, but right. I can’t even drive, so I guess it’s a moot point.
dean WUT
To address the last part of the statement: zero people in Dubai hate us “because we’re American”. If anyone here hates us, it’s because we don’t silently agree whenever they make entirely false statements like you can’t buy pineapples in the US because Americans hate Brazil. (Although, no one WOULD say that, because it’s ridiculous AND FALSE.) None of that matters, though. Dude in Ohio says. And if it’s on the internet…

Dubai Is Not A Country
At least as a stand-alone statement this is not wrong. I will give the lovely lady from Texas that. And I’m glad we have collectively finally figured this out. Unfortunately, her actual response to me saying “I live in a Muslim country” was “you might live in a Muslim city”.
crowley wut
That is like saying “you might live in Austin” to a person who has just said “I live in a free country”. As if the capital of Texas is not part of the United States. As if Austin has freedom, but the rest of the country does not.

Women In Dubai
There are so many things, SO MANY THINGS, that I’m *not* doing according to people back home.  In addition to not driving, I’m definitely not wearing a sundress while I type this. Or going to the pool later, in bikini. Not wearing shorts in the mall. Certainly not walking beside my husband – even touching his arm – in public. Definitely not leaving the house by myself. Absolutely not taking my girls to the beach, by myself, all of us in “normal” bathing suits. Surely not having an adult beverage in a restaurant. Totally never spend money at Victoria’s Secret (or anywhere else) without “permission”. Under no circumstance am I selecting and visiting doctors of my own choosing, on my own schedule – so naturally I am also not making decisions about my own healthcare without male input. But I AM, I’m told, covering my head and hair whenever I’m outside my bedroom.
eye roll


Karan

Ok, I’ll admit, you’ve got me on this one. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Karah Johar
Film director, Karan Johar?
karan patel
Actor, Karan Patel?
donnakaran
Fashion designer, Donna Karan?
Karan
This town/urban commune in Mali?
Karan singh grover
Or maybe THIS actor, Karan Singh Grover?

These are the top results Google kicked back.  I’m trying to connect with you, here, but I’m still mystified. Other than a Donna Karan store, I don’t know what any of these examples has to do with Dubai. I don’t shop there because I don’t enjoy overpaying for items for myself. But, I’m sure you’re right. What an evil store.
embarrassed for you

It’s a good thing I know all these wonderful people who can keep me informed about the place I live, I had no idea!

FWP: I’m Jon Snow.

To All Americans

Friends.  Family.  People of the internet.  I know you only come to this blog to read about all the very serious problems that directly impact the quality of my daily life (but in case you’re new here: I mean that I write nothing serious – ever), so I know this type of post is NOT what you want to see out of me, but hang in for a minute.  I went back and forth for a long time trying to decide if I should post this or not.  It’s not my thing, it doesn’t fit with the theme of the blog, but I felt like I had to say something about everything that’s happening.  I promise not to make this a recurrent theme, as I am not mentally prepared for, nor committed to, that level of gravity on my frickin’ amusement blog.

But holy shit, y’all.

America. We have a very real problem. That’s not accurate.  Obviously, we have many problems, but right now, RIGHT NOW, one is standing out like a disco ball at a state funeral.

I’d love to say the problem is as simple as “Donald Trump”, but in truth, he opportunistically stirred up the problem, however HE is not the problem.  WE ARE.

OH YES, – WE!  Every. single. one of us!

-You, who DID NOT VOTE, but want to blame people for the outcome.  You CHOSE to silence your own voice, which just blows my mind, but now you have to live with your choice.
-YOU, who embarrassed our country by VOTING FOR A DEAD GORILLA.  Think about that for a minute.  I KNOW all the candidates were awful. ALL OF THEM.  But you TRIED TO VOTE A DEAD ANIMAL INTO THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT.  Imagine how disgusted you’d be, how scornful, if people in say, Abu Dhabi, voted for a dead camel. YES. IT IS THE SAME THING.  (And yes, there are elected officials in Abu Dhabi.  Please educate yourself.)
-You, who voted for a fictional character.  This is just as infuriating as the Harambe voters.
-You, who voted for a dead person. Please. Make it stop.  Seriously, America??
-You, who posts that we need to come together – yet insults “all you liberal crybabies” IN THE SAME POST.
-You, who posts that we need to come together – yet insults “all you racist hillbillies” IN THE SAME POST.
-You, who spent months PREACHING that all Muslims are dangerous terrorists, who all secretly support ISIS and have NO GOAL other than the destruction of the US – yet now are offended when people say you’re a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, bigot, even if by association.
-You, who spent WEEKS saying Trump and his supporters would act like FOOLS if he didn’t win – yet now are pretty much doing EXACTLY that.
-You, who says  “everyone who doesn’t like it needs to leave the country!” Perhaps you can’t see what a completely childish statement that is, so let me break it down for you: You’re saying that anyone who doesn’t agree with you, and dares to say so, doesn’t deserve the freedoms and country THEY were also born into.  LIKE THE FREEDOM TO DISAGREE WITH YOU.
-You, who says that everyone who does like it is a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, bigot.  Clearly, not EVERYONE who likes the outcome of the election is ALL (or even some) of these things.  I know you know that, because I know you know not all Mexicans are rapist drug-dealers.
-You, who voted for “who you’d rather have a beer with”.  I’d like to have a beer with a large number of people, many of whom are great to have a beer with! But that does NOT mean they would be good presidents.  Hell, some wouldn’t even be good pet owners.
-You, who told people they “wasted” their vote on a 3rd party candidate.  You can’t see the face I’m making, but you just got mom’d hard as fuck.  No vote is ever wasted unless it is not cast, or is cast for an entity which cannot hold the office.  Additionally, you’re assuming they otherwise would have voted for your candidate.
-You, who thinks it is “unamerican” to mess up the words to a song or speech when addressing thousands.  Perhaps you’ve never spoken or performed in front of a large crowd.  It is SO easy to trip up over nerves.  All the people, the lights, the energy, the pressure.  No one is perfect. Not even you.
-You, who thinks it is acceptable to accuse someone of being a terrorist because they offered an alternate view of a situation. You want to know what’s “unamerican”…Denying a fellow American their Constitutional rights because you feel your opinion is more important than theirs. THAT’S pretty fuckin’ “unamerican”.
-You, who are making wildly inaccurate statements like “everyone saying that you’re scared – this is EXACTLY how I have felt every day for the last 8 years!”  You. Have. Not.  Whether their fear proves to be unfounded or not, and even if YOU THINK their fear is unfounded, many people are afraid. They are afraid that they, or their loved ones, will have their basic human rights taken away, will have their families taken away.  You DID NOT spend “every day for the last 8 years” in fear of the government separating you from your family or legally ending your marriage.  SO STOP IT.
-You, angry minority who now blames all white people.  Please don’t do this.  You know it’s not all white people.
-You, who cannot agree to disagree without insulting the other person.
-You, who demands credible sources for everything, AND YET shares blatantly false information about any candidate or topic you don’t like.  AND THEN when it has been proven false beyond all doubt, you keep sharing it.  For fuck’s sake, man.
-You, who cannot respect “separation of church and state”.
-You, who are now refusing to put the anger aside and treat others with respect because “I doubt they will do the same.” What kind of grade school logic is that?!  What happened to “treat others as you would have them treat you”?! That statement does NOT go on to say “unless they’re mean to you, then fuck those guys”.  COME. ON.
-You, CLINGING to grievances which are not yours to claim.
-You, who are “embarrassed to be an American”.  I understand that you’re frustrated.  You’re disappointed.  You’re in shock.  You’re heartbroken. You’re upset.  You’re sad, angry, tired, empty, afraid, hurt, on edge, anxious, depressed – in turn, and all at once. Not because “you’re side didn’t win”, but because it feels like this loving, supportive, tolerant America you believed you lived in was all an illusion. You’re all those feelings toward everyone who voted differently that you, toward the system, the outcome, and Donald Trump.  I fully understand and support taking time to process and FEEL all those emotions.  It’s always ok to express your emotions and feelings. I’m not suggesting you stop doing that.  But express your feelings with more meaning and purpose, do it in a way that can rally the troops. No one wants to work toward change with you if they think you already believe it’s a lost cause.
-You, who voted straight party without doing ANY research on the down-ballot.  That’s irresponsible.  It doesn’t matter if you voted straight Republican or straight Democratic.  It is irresponsible.  KNOW who you’re voting for, be sure you agree with their policies and platform.  It’s your civic duty.
-You, who voted without doing any research WHATSOEVER.  I mean, I guess at least you didn’t write in Harambe.  But can you even remember the offices and proposals for which you blindly cast your vote?  How did you even choose?!  “Proposal A…huh…My name starts with A, A is a good letter! Vote yes!”  Ridiculous.  This is not a game.  This is our GOVERNMENT. THAT is partially how we end up with shit candidates and laws.
-You, who’ve lead your children to believe that it’s OK go to school and chant “BUILD THAT WALL!” at their classmates in a full cafeteria – or at anyone, anywhere, ever, for that matter. If you truly cannot see that as a MAJOR parenting fail, can’t see it for the disgusting behavior it is, then you are DEFINITELY part of the problem.
-You, who are RIOTING and calling it a “protest”.  You have GOT to be kidding!!!! You KNOW the difference, you’re not an infant!!  Destruction of property is not “a protest”.  It is a CRIME.  Congratulations, now YOU are in fact a criminal.
-You, burning the flag.  I don’t even know where to start with that one.  It’s unnecessary.  It proves nothing.  It changes NOTHING.  I get that you’re doing it “for the symbolism”, HOWEVER, you’re an adult and you can find better ways to express your feelings than setting the American flag on fire.  FOR FUCK’S SAKE.
-You. You, you, and you.
-And me, I’m not pretending I’m above this.  I have fallen down the rabbit hole a few times during this election cycle.  I’ve commented on things that did not require comment. I’ve said mean-spirited (read: shitty) things.  I could have kept scrolling.  I KNOW better.  That makes me part of the problem, too.

HOLY SHIT, Y’ALL.

We sure are a judgmental group of temperamental assholes, aren’t we?  We just LOVE to tear each other apart.  To what end?? (Again, not excluding myself.)  We can do better than this.  We HAVE TO.  I cannot even believe all the arrogance, ignorance, hatred, name-calling, and childish garbage disguised as a ‘call for healing’ POURING out of our mouths right now! We all hate us right now!!  TELL ME you’re NOT sick of seeing the complete shitshow that is the aftermath of this election!! Were middle and high school not enough??  We have to revisit that level of nastiness??  Are we actually NOT better than this??

People keep asking me if the rest of the world is laughing at us.  I assure you, they are NOT.  The international reactions are sadness, shock, anxiety, and fear.  I spent a large portion of my day yesterday defending Americans to various different groups of nationalities.  You may believe, as I want to, that President Trump will turn out to be good, fair, and stable, but that is not the face he has spent the last 18 months presenting to the world.  And THAT is not an opinion.  You can try to deny it, but that doesn’t make it less true.  Could he have just pulled off the greatest bait and switch in the history of ever? GOD, I HOPE SO.  I would love NOTHING MORE than for President Trump to go down in history as one of our greatest presidents.  Why would anyone NOT want that?  None of us WANTS America to fail.  We all want America to succeed and grow.  But the fact remains: he spent the last 18 months stirring up hate and fear in America.  Let’s build walls!  Let’s commit war crimes! Let’s punch people in the face instead of working out our differences! Let us also bring back religious persecution!  He would not have been able to DO THAT, to stir up those fears and hates and old hurts, if we weren’t willing to play along – and NEARLY HALF of us ate it right up.  Now we’re in this crazed frenzy where we’re all fighting with each other, friendships have been ruined, families divided, neighbors are side-eyeing each other, and no amount of saying “well that was fun, but now let’s get along!” is going to smooth it over. THAT’S what we’ve openly displayed to the world for more than a year.  THAT’S what we’re left to deal with. So we can’t really be too surprised by the comments the world is making about us (not that they hurt less.)  Some of these comments include:
“Well, I’M not surprised, that’s just the way Americans are!”
“You can’t say Americans aren’t hateful, the majority of them voted for this guy! They WANT this!”
“It is a sad day when the “greatest country in the world” elects a leader with no interest in global peace and unity.”
“What happened to America?”
“How did the American democracy get so broken that everyone hated both the candidates?”
“THIS is the government we’re all supposed to emulate?!”

HOE. LEE. SHIT. Y’ALL.

I don’t know what to say, guys.  If those statements didn’t break your heart a little, or make you upset, you should look up the actual definition of the word “patriotism”.  PRIDE in our country.  An emotional attachment to our homeland.  How do you call yourself patriotic if it doesn’t hurt your pride and your heart when people think it’s sad to be American?   We need to set our “they hate us cuz they ain’t us” aside and really think about the example we’re setting.  Not just of Americans in the world, but also – and especially – of Americans WITHIN America. The message we’re sending with our actions toward OUR FELLOW AMERICANS just in the last 24 hours is one of hate, selfishness, and intolerance.  I’m not talking about left or right, red or blue, white or black or brown or tan, or any other sides or groups of people.  I’m talking about all of us, I’m talking about respect and regard for humankind.  WE THE PEOPLE.  EVERY one of us could have been better through this process.  We don’t have to agree on every issue, or on ANY issue.  But that is NOT a reason to treat someone disrespectfully.  We adults have GOT to stop acting like spoiled toddlers.  We NEED to treat one another like HUMANS.  The world is watching, but most importantly, OUR CHILDREN are watching.

WE ARE better than this.  We have to BE better than this.
We have to do better.

696f9c8106da0f7ff715bb2ada43fd21_400x400

 

That’s all the serious I’ve got.  If you want to leave nasty comments, that’s fine.  If you want to hate me, delete me, unfollow me, or send me nasty messages, that’s fine.  I will not respond. I’m serious about including myself in the message: we all have to do better.

VAMPIRE!!

If you have more than one kid, you know what a disaster it is to take one to the doctor, but to have to bring the other(s) along for the ride.  If one is getting shots, the others are laughing.  Unless you have nice kids, in which case the others are crying along with the one getting the shots.  I’m not a nice kid, I DEFINITELY laughed – SO HARD – at my sister getting shots once, I mean my brother and I were in TEARS and could barely breathe we were laughing so hard.  It was one of the funniest things in the world (at that time), but the joke was on us, because little did we know, we were next for the shots.
>You won that round, Mom.<

I have nice kids, I’m not really sure how that happened, but that’s what I’m working with here.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re assholes, but when comes to one or the other getting shots, skinning a knee, or even the threat of left behind, kicked out of the car, whatever it is at the time, they’ll both be in tears.  One crying from pain/threat, the other hysterical because “that’s my sister!”  Aww, Erin, that’s so sweet that they — No, it’s completely ridiculous.  This of course would never stop one from punching/scratching/kicking/pushing/hitting/stabbing/maiming/stealing from the other.  I told you; assholes.

Recently, my oldest has had a rough go with some dermatitis, which they’ve not really been able to treat effectively. After, I don’t know, 3874748390 office visits and picture texts, we’re at YET ANOTHER emergency visit and the dermatologist finally says “well, sometimes a zinc deficiency can cause this”.  What’s that?? You want to treat the CAUSE??? Is it a cold day in Hell??  Because that’s logical. Responsible, even.  So he orders a blood draw, they might even be able to do it today!  (Do NOT get me started on why the doctor’s office can’t just DRAW BLOOD right then.  There’s not a reason.  They have phlebotomists on  staff.)  After a solid 30 minutes of trying to keep both girls quiet while we wait, during which time Oldest is emitting this constant whimper/whine about having blood drawn, they say LOLZ – can’t do it today.  SUPER.
“You can come back tomorrow?”
-Actually, I can’t.
“You can come anytime between 8am and 5pm.  Tomorrow?”
-No.  Not tomorrow, she has school, and then gymnastics until 7pm.
“Oh, well you can come at 8am?”
Does no one else find this annoying?  Because at this point, I kind of want to scream. I’m not the “let’s miss school for non-emergent situations” parent.  I’m the “well, you’re not dead, so you’re going to school, XO” parent. “No problem, ma’am, you don’t need an appointment, just come anytime between 8am and 5pm.” Great, maybe Wednesday, then.

I admit, I completely forgot about it.  Yesterday they called to say the doctor requested the results, but there were no results to be had. OOPS.  Yep, we’ll come tomorrow.  I SPECIFICALLY ASKED “is any time better than another?” and they said “no, ma’am, just come between 8am and 5pm, it’s just a quick draw.”  The girls are off school this week (AGAIN) and have been bugging me to take them to this indoor playground place, so I figure we’ll go do the blood draw, with the promise of the soft play area immediately after if they behave.

We arrive at the office at 8:55am, I didn’t want to get there right at 8 and then have to kill time before the soft play opened.  There are maybe 3 other patients there, perfect.  Oldest is under strict orders that she is NOT to behave the way she did when she got her ears pierced. We sit down and wait, as directed.  Youngest is playing on my phone. YES, ON MY PHONE. I know, I’m the WORST.  Not impressed by your judgement.  Oldest is relentless, “Can I play with your phone now?”
-No, your sister just started using it, why would you think it’s ok for me to take it from her just because you want it?
(Thirty seconds go by.)
“Can I play with it now?”
-*dismissive glance*
“In 2 minutes?”
-*glare*
“3 minutes? Four?”
-*full on death stare* Why don’t you draw with me, instead?
I explain what Celtic knots are, and show her the motherhood knot I’m working on.  I described an art project we did in school when I was about her age, and she kind of combines the two ideas into one picture, everyone is happily doing something. QUIETLY.

An hour goes by. YES. A full, non-exaggerated sixty minutes.  I use the bathroom, Oldest uses the bathroom, Youngest “doesn’t need to”.  The 3 people that were there when we arrived have long gone, and the waiting room is now filled with kids who all have varying degrees of this awful hacking cough.  The girls have switched activities, Youngest has colored – thankfully not on her self this time – and is now playing with other kids there.  It’s been 90 minutes, and I decide it’s time to just go because I don’t want my kids picking up this cough.  Or myself, I have to fly to the States in like 30 hours.  Hard pass.

Pack everything up, stop at the desk to let them know we’re leaving.  The lady is completely confused as to why we’re not done yet.  Trust me, lady, ME TOO.  She marches over and yells at the nurses’ station, and I do feel a little bad about that.  She comes back and asks us to take a seat, it will just be a few minutes.  I’m irritated, but I’d rather wait a few more minutes than have to drive back tomorrow.  Oldest is MAD “you should have just said we were done!!”  Sorry not sorry, kid.  We sit back down, Oldest uses the bathroom again, Youngest still “doesn’t need to”.  Both beg to play with my phone, but they’ve already annihilated the battery, so they’re outta luck on that front.  It’s been another 20 minutes, and Youngest decides she finally needs to go to the bathroom, Oldest volunteers to take her (it’s within sight), I say fine.  Five seconds after they open the door to the bathroom, the phlebotomist calls Oldest back.  For fuck’s sake.  I can’t be with Oldest in the room if I take Youngest to the bathroom, and I can’t expect the 3 year old to go to the bathroom and then find us on her own, so I tell Youngest she’s just gonna have to hold it, scoop her up, and we follow the guy.  I’m PRAYING that she doesn’t pee all over me.

We enter the Phlebotomy Room, which is pretty much a glorified closet with a chair and 2 small cabinets.  Oldest takes one look at the chair and loses her shit.  Wailing that she’s scared and it’s gonna hurt.  The guy is super friendly “Are you scared??” (apparently, he’s also an idiot) “Don’t be scared!  I won’t hurt you!” I can’t NOT roll my eyes at that.  He might not MEAN for it to hurt, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.  She sits in the chair and is already sobbing.  He hasn’t even prepped her damn arm, and she is SOBBING. “I don’t wanna do it, I’m scared!  Dooooonnnnn’tttt dooooo iiiiitttt!!!”

smg-ugly-cry

“Oh no, don’t cry!  Just don’t move ok, that’s all I ask.  Don’t move.” I’m not convinced she heard him because she’s so busy kicking her feet and crying.  “You HAVE to HOLD STILL, ok?  Did you hear him?  NO moving, that’s the only way to do this fast, ok?”

julianne-moore-ugly-cry

Now the dude looks nervous, “Ma’am? Maybe you will sit with her?  Please?”  Uh yeah, if by “with” you mean “on”, because I think we both know where this is headed.  So I’m holding Youngest on my left hip, and we’re sitting on this chair with Oldest, and I’m intentionally pinning her arm and leg under mine. “See, Mommy is sitting with you, no need to cry or be scared!” he says.  Youngest is asking the guy all kinds of questions “is that a bandaid?  What does that do?” Before either he or I can answer, he swabs Oldest’s arm, causing her to SHRIEK. -And you thought I was kidding when I said they’re assholes.  Now Youngest looks alarmed.  The guy tries to get Oldest to bury her face in my shoulder “Don’t look, then you won’t be scared.” Yeah, she is NOT about that.  He decides this is a lost cause and just goes for it. She immediately SCREAMS.

ugly-cry

I did not think there was another level of hysterical sobbing, I thought she had maxed out already. NNNNOPE. Guy keeps warning her to sit still, don’t move, and I can feel her arm twitching under mine like she’s about to reach over and pull the needle out.  I can just SEE that disaster.  The guy adjusts the needle and when the blood begins to flow, Youngest’s eyes bug right out of her head.

eye-bugging-out

Now Oldest is ugly crying “MOOOMMMMMMYYYYY!!! IT HHHHUUUUUURRRRRRTTTTTSSSSSS!! MAA-A-A-A-KE, MAKE IT STTTTTTOOOPPPPPPP!!” Youngest is snot-crying on my shirt and SCREECHING, with the shrillness, “HER BLOOD!! HE’S TAKING AWAY HER BLOOD!! I DON’T WANT HIM TO TAKE HER BLOOD!! SHE WILL DIIIIIIEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Imagine the amazing harmony the waiting room is enjoying in this moment.  “MAAAKKKEE HHHIIIMMMM SSSSTTTOOOPPPPPP!!!”  Somebody get these clowns a record deal.  Now, imagine this is playing in stereo, live, IN YOUR EARS.

crying-in-stereo
Literally me.

I’m trying, I’m really trying.  I am fighting the urge SO HARD.  My inner dialogue: Don’t do it, Erin. DO NOT. DO IT. They will think you’ve lost your mind.  Must.  Not– TOO LATE.

britney-laughing

PULL IT TOGETHER, ERIN! BE A REAL MOM!  But much like my wedding ceremony, the harder I try NOT to laugh, the harder I laugh.  I can only think about two things in that moment: that time we laughed at my sister, and how COMPLETELY ridiculous are my children?!  I can’t stop laughing.  CAN.NOT.  I know, Mother of the Year over here.  But you don’t exactly get to be a gold medalist in the Mean Mom Olympics if you don’t laugh at your children’s theatrical anguish.

As he’s putting the bandaid on, and all but throwing us out of the room, Oldest is hiccup crying, and Youngest, bless her heart, is at least not crying – but she IS calling him a VAMPIRE over my shoulder in her meanest voice, demanding HER SISTER’S blood back.  She even threw in a “You will NEVER get her blood again!!”  I can’t.  That poor guy.

laughing

Every person in the now-crowded waiting room is staring at this spectacle with a mixture of concern and bewilderment.  And I am just LAUGHING.  I can’t even make eye contact with them as we’re walking out.  I just plastered on the pageant Barbie smile and marched them to the car.  It pretty much made it worth the TWO HOURS that it took.

First world problem: My kids are protective of each other.

Travel Roulette

When you have a “travel allowance”, the world really opens up to you.  Instead of a wishful bucket list, you can actually go see those destinations.  Without even being on death’s doorstep!  Awesome, right?!  But it’s also problematic.  Sure, it SOUNDS easy; where do you want to go? Because now YOU CAN.  How hard can it be to make a list of awesome places to visit?  I know what you’re thinking, I can see your face in my mind all “Srsly, Erin?”  Let me tell you, it can be REALLY challenging, thankyouverymuch.  Just try it.  Make a list of alllllllllllllll the places on Earth you’d like to see.

all_country

Great. Now.  You might need to narrow down your list.  Just a smidge.  Or prioritize it, at least.  You can only go to one place at a time, after all.  ONE!  You have to pick ONE.  ONE place from your list to visit (first).  HOW DO YOU DECIDE?!  How do you choose between this:

Public-Beach-at-Curtain-Bluff-Antigua
Curtain Bluff, Antigua

and this???:

DSC_0895.JPG
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland  (spoiler: I took this photo myself)

How do you decide whether to walk the same halls and look out the same windows as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn,

hcp
Hampton Court Palace

or Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette?

palace of versailles
Palace of Versailles

What sane individual can pick this nature:

hawaii-volcanoes-park-6[2]
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
(Red. Hot. Magma.)

over this nature?:

grand prismatic spring
Grand Prismatic Spring

(YES!  That’s a real place!  It’s not a fake photo!!  I’ll wait while you add it to your bucket list.)

TELL ME HOW TO CHOOSE!!!  And that’s just six of the options, I could go on for DAYS!!  Do you just flip a coin?  Make endless pro/con lists?  What factors go into selecting which locations to see and which to leave on your “I wish I could have seen ___” list?  HOW DO YOU LIVE WITH THAT REGRET?!

no-ragrets-tattoo
Not even one tiny country?

We can go on about 2 trips per year, because kids, school, work, responsibility.  All the joys in life.  We only get this travel allowance for a few years, so now maybe you’re starting to understand my stress and urgency.  It’s impossible to see all these places in this short amount of time, clearly, so not only do destinations go on the “maybe next time” list, but some also have to move to the “not happening” list.  Of course, the lists are fluid and can change with the season, our mood, relative safety of the region, etc.  You still have to pick only one at a time, and if it sucks, live with the fact that you chose X over Y.  Good luck with your travel roulette.

Sometimes, you get a little help because the decision isn’t yours alone.  Maybe you’re travelling in a group, or with your significant other.  But even that can be impossible.  Some asshole in the group wants to plan out every second of every day and freaks out when you inevitably end up off schedule.  Half the group wants to see this, and the other half wants to see that.  Significant other wants to go to Paris, you hate that idea with every fiber of your being.  But you can’t say that, because feelings and shit.

Or MAYBE you’ve lost your damn mind, and are taking your kids.  You know, those little versions of “humans” you thought it’d be fun to make?  The ones that would be more appreciative of a trip to the local trampoline park than a trip to see all the history and nature on the planet combined?  Yeah.  Them.

This last year, we opted to take our first-ever family vacation during the spring break.  Obviously, there are certain places you just don’t waste on humans under the age of 25, and definitely not on those under the age of 10.  But at the same time, I’m not about to waste one of my finite number of trips on a location we could really visit in a few years when we’re back home.  Ya know, like Disney.  Selfish, I know.  Don’t care even a little bit.  ESPECIALLY because having been born on Easter, my birthday almost always falls during spring break, and it would for said vacation.  This is such a Rich Kids of Instagram thing to say, but I was SO excited to spend my birthday in a different country for the second year in a row!  What an awesome, albeit inadvertent, new tradition!!  See?  You hate me for that thought, too.

Well, Erin, where do you want to go for your birthday?  With uncharacteristic certainty, I mentally declared Scotland, and priced it out on a few different dates to find the best deals, and there were some frickin’ awesome packages.  Having worked for a school district for pretty much ever, I knew that I couldn’t just present one option.  I needed a back-up location, that I would also want to visit, if it were selected instead.

all-i-think-of-is-stonehenge

 Stonehenge.  But what even is around Stonehenge??  A quick Google search informed me that Bath is nearby, and gorgeous, and that Stonehenge is not THAT far from London.  London, hmm, London IS on the list.  It’s not all that near the top, but it’s there.  So I price it out as well.  I’m feeling pretty confident because Scotland is the better deal.  Linlithgow Palace, here I come!

linlithgowpal

But then, BUT THEN.

I’d like to say I was surprised when everyone on social media climbed up on the “the kids would like London better” soapbox, but that’d be a lie.  If I’m being honest, I was already annoyed just thinking about dragging the girls through the palace, having to rush to appease them, knowing that no amount of “queens and princesses lived here!” would hold their interest.  Those damn tiny humans.  Regardless, still mad at everyone that voted London.  (XO, friends, don’t take it too personally.)

FINE.  London it is.  Mr. First World Problems offered up a comforting “We’ll see Stonehenge”.

whothebuildsastonehenge_90b20d696017cd40b82f9a124a606da6

Yeah, yeaahhhhhh.  I switched gears and busted out maps of London, marked places of interest, how far they are from each other, how long people usually spent at each, pulled up weather forecasts, grouped together which places would be feasible to visit in a day, including a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath.  Everything was looking good.

But then, BUT THEN.

My poor husband sends me a message, asking which dates we had selected, because he’s got an important thing at work.  Allow me to decode: Sorry honey, we have to change the dates, can’t travel on your birthday.  He probably did feel bad, but don’t worry, I didn’t let that stop me from being a pouty brat about it.  Scotland was an even better deal on the new dates, so I used this unfortunate window to plead my case again.  Now my birthday is spoiled! Scotland is significantly less! AND to do London, the girls would have to miss the last day of the school term!  AND WHAT ABOUT MY BIRTHDAY?!

mckayla_not_impressed_58116200
His face.

Alas, London won out.

First world problem: It’s hard to decide which fabulous vacation to take (first).

The Servants’ Corridor

In our house, like just about every house in Dubai, there is a room for the maid.  Unlike most houses in Dubai, we do not have someone living in said room.  For one, it’s barely bigger than the walk-in closet we had at our first house; for one hundred forty-six other reasons, we don’t have a maid. This room is pretty separate from the rest of house, I mean, God, you can’t have people SEEING the help and where they live. Embarrassing.  The maid’s room is in what I like to refer to as “the servants’ corridor”.  It’s a hallway off the kitchen where the laundry room is also located.  The hallway exits the house into the garage, and you can lock the door to this hallway from inside the kitchen so those wretched thieving  servants can’t steal your precious belongings at night.  You know, and keep them in their closet-room.  Where they clearly have space for YOUR shit, in addition to their own.  The whole room is not even as big as my BATHROOM, just to give you an idea of how genuinely small these rooms are that these poor girls are living in.

I digress.

So we don’t have a person living in this room.   What do we use it for?  Not much, really.  The bathroom is for overnight guests (the whole ONE we’ve had; shout out to you, Tina), and YES the maid’s room has its own bathroom!  Are you crazy??  The maid can’t use the normal HUMAN bathroom!!! The ironing board is in there, and we store our luggage there.  Also, the desk from my former office is in there.  -Oh, so it’s your office?  NO, IT ABSOFUCKINLUTELY IS NOT.

Allow me to explain such an outburst.

The servants’ corridor creeps me the fuck out.  I have been in the bathroom in the maid’s room ONE time in the almost 12 months we’ve lived in this house.  I was in it for 14 seconds, to put towels in there for a guest, and a bathmat.   Didn’t go in there before, haven’t been in there since.  I will pretend all day that “I just don’t ever have a need to go in there”, but let’s be real: that bathroom is SIGNIFICANTLY closer when I’m cooking than the one I sprint to by the front door.  I don’t even care.  Not going in there.

Until recently, it was just my personal weirdness that kept me out of the room.  It was just kinda creepy.  But since we’ve been back from visiting our family and friends in the States for the summer, that part of the house has become dead to me.  DEAD TO ME.  If I had to choose between killing a bug, and going in that bathroom.  I don’t know.  I really don’t.  It would depend on the kind of bug, and what time of day it was, and whether or not any other adults were present.

It started off with just weird little things.  Things that could be “explained” with “logic”.  Like when I turn the air conditioning off (the servants’ corridor shares the unit the cools the kitchen, guest room, and play room), and yet it’s on in the morning, or when I get back from grocery shopping.  Peculiar.  “Electrical gremlin” or some shit.  Not too creepy, but only because the thermostats throughout the house are kinda glitchy like that. Fine.

But one September day, shit escalated.  We had just gotten back from picking up Older Daughter from school, I grabbed my water cup and headed to the kitchen to refill it.  When you walk into the kitchen, if the door to the servants’ corridor is open – and it is 99% of the time – you have a direct view of the door to the maid’s room, which is also open most of the time. But it was closed.  All the way-latched-closed.  I stopped dead.  I’m sure that it was open all day, including when I left.  I stood, frozen, staring down the hall at this door like nutter.  *Panic Level: 5*

dog staring at door

Was I sure?  Was I REALLY sure?  Maybe I just THOUGHT it was open because it usually is…I can’t really say that I FOR SURE looked at it earlier in the day.  Regardless, it’s HIGHLY unusual that the door is closed.  Ok, Husband must have closed it after he ironed his shirt this morning.  Then a thought struck me!  MAYBE he closed it because he’s hidden my anniversary present in there!  It’s a good plan, he knows I don’t go in there. *Panic Level: Neutralized*  I plan on peeking in there, right after I grab the laundry.  Totally not snooping, I was over there doing laundry!

Round up the whites from upstairs, come back down, and again I’m playing Frozen-heart-Anna in the middle of the damn kitchen.

ice anna

 

The door is open.  It’s only open maybe 5 inches.  But THE DOOR IS FUCKING OPEN.

Whether it was or was not open earlier in the day, it was DEFINITELY latched closed 3 minutes ago.

*Panic level: IMMINENT DEATH* Full-on panic mode.  Not bug panic.  Someone-is-in-your-house-and-you-are-all-going-to-die horror movie panic.  LOCATE THE KIDS.  -Having a snack in the dining room.-  SHUT AND LOCK THE HELL OUT OF THE DOOR TO THE SERVANTS’ CORRIDOR.  DO IT FAST SO THEY DON’T GET THEIR ARM OR SOMETHING THROUGH THE DOOR BEFORE YOU LOCK IT.  -Ok, locked.-  GET THE KIDS.  GRAB THE KEYS.  GO OUTSIDE.  Check that the garage door is locked.

–PAUSE–

I have to interrupt this thrilling tale of suspense here to explain the door locks here really quickly.  I know, I’m the worst.  The doors don’t have either of these:

door lock thingies

Except for 2 non-exterior doors, and the doors to the water closets which DO have this deadbolt knob (special thanks to Britt), each door has a key.  Each door has ITS OWN KEY.  Closets, bathrooms, doors to each section of the house, and the doors to each of the rooms in those sections.  A separate key for EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.  We have TWENTY-NINE KEYS for our 3-bedroom house.  Yes, I counted.  And there is no skeleton key, no no.  You just have twenty-fuckin’nine keys for your house.  Good luck keeping that shit straight.  And if you need to get out in a hurry, say, in case of a fire (or maybe when there’s a stranger hiding in the maid’s room waiting to murder you)?  Forget it, jump out the window.  The door to the servant’s corridor DOES have this knob, thankfully.

–PLAY–

Ok, Erin, breathe.  Maybe Older Daughter opened it.  She was probably stealing tape again.  Grreeaaatttt.  In an excellent display of “in an emergency, you must remain calm to prevent widespread panic”, I casually grabbed my keys and asked her if she had gotten anything out of the maid’s room while I was upstairs, knowing full well that she had not moved from the table.  “No, why?”  *Panic Level: 8*  “Oh, I was just looking for the tape.  I thought maybe you had gotten it out.  Hey guys, I need to look for something in the car, can you come help me?”  I really should get an award for how completely normal I sounded in that moment because DOORS DON’T OPEN THEMSELVES.  SOMEONE WAS IN THE HOUSE.  With mild protest, the kids came along, and rather quickly, in terms of kid speed.  They didn’t even question why I locked the front door behind us.  The garage door was indeed locked, so with that corridor was now sealed. TAKE THAT, PSYCHO MURDERER!  *Panic Level: 7.5*

Buuutttttt, now what?  We can’t stand outside all evening until my husband gets home.  Do we go back in and, what?  Act like someone isn’t banging on the door?  (Would they do that? *Panic Level: 8*)  Or would they just quietly creep back into whatever hiding place they came from?  Which is preferable in this situation, but how long has this person been in the house? And WHERE have they been all this time?  What are they doing? *Panic Level: 8.5*  “I thought we were looking for something in the car?” DAMN IT, why the hell did we raise smart kids?! “uuhhhh, yeah…I just remembered thaaaaaat it’s inside.”  Older Daughter apparently ain’t got time fo’ that.  “Seriously, Mom?  *makes obnoxious sound in throat* Can we GO BACK to our snack then??”  SURE DUDE. LET’S GO INSIDE AND GET MAIMED!  A GOOD TIME WILL BE HAD BY ALL! “And WHY did you lock the front door to look for something in the car?”  Talk about ungrateful.  I should have left you inside with the serial killer.

My heart is POUNDING as the door opens and the kids skip back in without a care in the world. *Panic Level: 9*  They’re eating their snack, I’m standing in the kitchen looking like an IDIOT staring at this locked door.  I text my husband 1. to let him know our lives are in danger and 2. to see if he thinks I should set the house on fire, solving the problem.  I try to be all casual about it and just outline the situation without sounding like I’m on the verge of an aneurysm.  His response?  He’ll be home maybe in about an hour. AN HOUR. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure to kill the 3 of us, it would only take LESS THAN AN HOUR.  It’s cool.  Love you, too, buddy.  I’ll stand here, cooking this sauce, watching the door like a HAWK.  No big.  Maybe have a heart attack, that sounds like a good way to round out the day.  But making the sauce has a calming effect because I can’t cook, so I need to focus on what I’m doing. *Panic Level: 5*

It being September, we had recently gotten back from being home for a month.  When we left we went around matching the aforementioned 29 keys to their doors, to lock down the house while we were gone.  SO when we got back, we obviously had to unlock said doors.  To speed the future lock/unlock process, we left the keys in the locks.

Guess what has just occurred to me.  *Panic Level: 8.5*

I locked the door by turning the knob, but the fucking keys are IN THE LOCK, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR.

death

This person could be ANYWHERE in the house!  This has got to be some sick cosmic joke! *Panic Level: 9.5*

You’re probably thinking “Why didn’t she just take the kids to the park around the corner?”  Because it’s over 100 degrees and HUMID, ya smarty pants.  Don’t interrupt.

My first thought is that this person would be in the guest room.  It’s a great hiding spot, it’s another room we don’t really use, and it used to be a patio that the owner had enclosed, so it’s really separate from the rest of the house.  I am absolutely NOT looking in there.  It’s just not happening.  I lock the door (with the keys, score one for me), and call it good.  Now I’m standing in the kitchen, making this pasta dish, with my back awkwardly to the counter so I can see both offending doors.  Hysteria is dropping because I still have to interact with the kids like a sane person, AND I’m trying not to mess this sauce up on the final steps. *Panic Level: 5*

By this time, it’s been about an hour and my knight in shining armor has returned.  I clearly have done myself a disservice by so nonchalantly explaining the situation. *Panic Level: 6*  He is so composed as he unlocks the door and goes into the maid’s room. *Panic Level: 7*  Like I asked him to reach something off a high shelf. You are NOT understanding the urgency here, man.  He goes in the maid’s room *Panic Level: 8*, opens the bathroom door in there *Panic Level: 9*

suspense

AND HE FINDS NOTHING.  THERE IS NOTHING.

Nothing in the guest room, nothing in ANY room.  Great, now I look like a full-on raving lunatic. FANFUCKINGTASTIC.

So while everyone else enjoys a lovely pasta dinner, I’m sitting there, barely eating, EXHAUSTED from the HIIT I’ve just been doing for the last 2 hours.

I know what I saw.  I will catch you one day, creeper.

And I’ll pee my pants screaming.

 

FWP: I’m afraid of a room in my house.

Scum of the Earth

I “do” a lot of things.  I deal with a LOT of things.  Things don’t bother me.  Not clowns, not bats, not watching surgeries while eating, not baby/drunk friend/dog poop/pee/barf, not blood, not when one of your athletes breaks her arm and now her arm makes a Z, not skeletons or gore, heights, public speaking, small spaces, mice, dogs, roller coasters, thunder and lightning, and on and on.

But bugs.

I do NOT “do” bugs.  DO. NOT.  Spiders, insects, some weird hybrid of the two.  No.  None.  Not happening.  There is NOTHING “cool” or “fascinating” about them.  They’re creepy, ugly, disgusting, and they give me chills.  I’m not convinced anything with more than 4 legs needs to exist at all.  I don’t want them touching me, they don’t need to be in the same building as me, I don’t want to brush against them, I don’t want to smoosh it with a bare hand or bare foot, actually, I don’t want to smoosh it with one of my shoes, or a tissue or anything like that, either.  I have NO interest in feeling it squish, or it/its guts possibly touching me in the process. If a bug is on, or could have probably been on, an article of clothing or towel, etc. that item has to be washed before I have any interest in touching it again.  Basically, this is my approach to bugs:

kill it with fire

This is apparently really amusing to people who know me, but previously did not know THIS about me.  I’m kind of a bitch, and I’m really good at acting tough, but just ask my poor husband.  The freak outs over bugs and spiders at our house are REAL.  And frequent.

Ok, spiders are kind of borderline.  If we’re talking a small spider, or a Daddy Long Legs, I can calmly throw someone else’s shoe at it, or bleach the hell out of it.  Careful with that, though.  If you try to, say, rinse it down the drain after you bleach it, that fucker will unfurl and come running right back to life.  True story: if bleach doesn’t kill it, it is a serious problem.  BUT, if it’s a big spider, an ugly spider, or it starts jumping around and shit?  Deal’s off.  Straight into the “bug” category, aka the “GET IT THE HELL AWAY FROM ME” category.

I used to think I liked fireflies.  They are so cool, lighting up and shit.  I had this vision in my head of what a firefly looked like:

cute firefly

Turns out, they don’t look even remotely like that.  Who is in charge of illustrating children’s books??  Why the hell was I lead to believe they were cute??  This is a egregious error in adult judgment.   What’s next?  A happy, cuddly scorpion??

When we lived in the South, we were talking about fireflies one night, because I was always excited to spot them.  (Yes.  Because I’m a toddler.)  Mr. First World Problems asked if we had ever smeared them on ourselves as kids, so that we would glow.  What?  No. You can use them to make yourself glow??  Maybe 10 or so minutes after that he calls me outside, I open the door to this, ALL IN MY FACE.

firefly ugly

It was a long time ago, but I’m positive I probably shrieked a little as I said in panic “Ewww!! What IS that?!  Don’t put it by me!!”  He looked genuinely confused, “it’s a firefly.”  He caught me a firefly because I said I liked them, this is not lost on me.  But at the time I was in bug mode.  “WHAT?!  THAT’S a firefly??”  He’s still looking perplexed “Yes..?  You’ve never seen a firefly??”  “Eww, get it away from me!!” and with that, I slammed the door.  Not because I was so afraid of the firefly, but because I didn’t trust him not to put it on me after that display.  If you know us, you know I’m right, he totally would.

People frequently ask me “how are the bugs in Dubai?”  The first hundred times or so I would answer something like “oh, they’re not bad.”

LIE.

Ok, it is and it isn’t.  It’s not like there are bugs EVERYWHERE, not like fishflies in Michigan in the summer.  You can walk to your car, or go to the park without fighting them off, or being swarmed, and when you come home, you’ll never be greeted by a situation that requires immediate application of fire to your house.

HOWEVER, bugs previously regulated to unclean places, are totally normal in perfectly clean million-plus dollar homes.  No one even bats an eye, “Oh, yeah.   That’s Dubai.”  NO.  I can’t.  I’ve accepted a whole hell of a lot of “Because Dubai”, but I’m gonna have to draw the line at hideous, revolting, 6+ legged scum.  My skin crawls, I get this intense twinge in my spine between my shoulder blades, and my stomach hurts.  I don’t choose to have this reaction, it just happens.  You’re laughing now, but later when I jump out of your closet dressed like clown, we’ll see what’s funny.  Don’t forget to check under the bed tonight, asshole.

Younger Daughter and I went to the craft store to obtain decorations for Older Daughter’s birthday party.  We finished our shopping, I buckled her in the car, collapsed and stowed the stroller, got in the car and as I’m buckling I look up to see THIS terrorist.  IN the car.  Just a couple feet from my face.

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OK, before you go all “logic” on me, understand something.  This is what you see:

happy spider cartoon

Yeah, that’s cute.  There are no water spouts in the whole of Dubai, so save the Itsy Bitsy Harmless Spider song and dance because this is all I see:

giant spider better

What’s the first thing you do in this situation?  That’s right, you throw a shoe at it.  I just have flip flops on, WAY TO GO, ERIN.  So I have to take one of the baby’s shoes.  I KNOW, MOTHER OF THE FUCKING YEAR.  Whatever, she has these heavy Minnie Mouse light-up shoes, they’re perfect.  *miss*  Well, shit.  Now I can’t pick the shoe up without leaning my head right passed the thing.  WHAT IF IT JUMPS IN MY HAIR??  Ok, calm down, breathe.  It probably doesn’t ju–IT JUST JUMPED AT ME!!  I’m sitting still as a person hiding in plain sight from a T-Rex, and THE THING JUMPS AT ME.  Get out of the car!  Wait, baby is buckled in the carseat in back.  I can’t leave her in the car with it!!  Get out of the car and get her…What if it jumps on her in the time it takes to get around the car and get her out??  Ok, reach back, unbuckle baby, and we both get out my door.  What if it jumps on me while I’m reaching back there?!  Shit. Ok. Ok.  I’ll run super fast around to her door.  I have never gotten her out of the car so fast, not even when I have to pee so bad I can’t stand up straight.  Ok.  Now we’re standing outside the car.  People walking by have to think I’m insane.  The men in the car next to us DEFINITELY think I’m insane.  GET IT TOGETHER, ERIN.  Alright.  We can’t stand here all day.  We have to pick up Older Daughter from school.  Are you seriously going to let a spider commandeer your car?  Are you SEVEN??  Breathe.  OK.  We’re going to open the passenger door, and throw the baby’s other shoe at it.  Here we go.

missed target

Damn it!  It starts jumping at me again.  This bastard REALLY wants my car!  *I* don’t even want the Benz this badly!  Now we have no weapons AND we’re still stuck outside the car, shit, shit, shit!  Ok, realistic options…1. ask someone for help.  Last resort. Next.. 2. Woman the fuck up and kill the damn thing so you can go on about your day. Maybe.  What else?  3. Leave it alone and drive home, hoping it doesn’t attack you.  Absofuckinlutely not.  NEXT.  4. Go back in the store for a little bit and hope it’s gone when you return. Don’t have time. OK. Option 2.  Here we go. SHIT. WE STILL HAVE NO WEAPONS. Ok. Ok.  No big deal.  We caannnn, um…OH!  We can use one of the party favor coloring books.  Good! Yes!  Ok.  As soon as I open the door, the monster turns to face me.  Making as little movement as possible, I reach in the bag on the seat and slip a coloring book out.  It crawls toward me exactly like the girl from The Grudge.  I swing at it, but the flimsy 4-page coloring book is a terrible weapon, and just swipes it onto the floor.  It freezes for a second, I step to the side a bit and use the coloring book to fling it out the door.  That was the plan anyway.  Instead it hit the door.  And now it’s even closer to me than before. GRREEATTT.  Before it can jump on me to suck my blood and then devour my baby, I smack it towards the ground as hard as I can while jumping back.  Ok, now it’s out of the car.  Younger Daughter is looking at me with wide eyes “Ok, Mama? Bug all gone?”  I laugh, “Yes, baby.  Yucky bug is all gone.”

BEFORE YOU START with the bitchy “you’re teaching your children to be afraid of bugs”, I’d like to say two things:

1. I KNOW. I can’t help it.
2. We’re talking about a kid that was scared by her own reflection in the kitchen door not a week before this.  I’m gonna have to go with “fear of bugs” as a step up from that.

First World Problem: I’m afraid of bugs.

Zombie Cat

When we first visited? toured?  Whatever, when we first saw the house that we live in now, there was a cat lounging in the garden.  REMARKABLE!!!  I know, thrilling story thus far.  This was not surprising for two reasons, first – it’s a cat. At a house. Second – there are stray cats E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.M.N.W.H.E.R.E. in Dubai.  To the point that rescues don’t have shelters because they would constantly be well beyond overrun. The renters said it wasn’t their cat, it was just a stray that hung around.  It approached us, seeming at least somewhat friendly, but I immediately noticed this nasty-looking patch on the top of its head.  Just looked totally disgusting, like it had been scalped or something.  So naturally, I wasn’t about to let my 18 month old touch the thing.  Who knows what knows if/what diseases or bugs it had?  Nope.  Nope.  And please have another nope.  Actually, wait a sec, yes.  Here you go; all my nopes.  No, thank you.  Shoo, gross cat.

Fast-forward 6 or so weeks to our first night in the house.

We’ve just moved in, THAT DAY.  The house is still mostly empty, it’s not “ours” by any means, the sights, sounds, and smells are unfamiliar, there are no curtains or blinds or anything which is kind of a problem because the house is FULL of floor-to-ceiling windows.  I can’t remember what exactly we were doing when we first heard the god-awful noise.  This hideous, low-pitched growl-y type near-scream.  At first I wasn’t sure I had actually heard anything, or if I had gotten too much sun and not enough water.  That’s how completely frickin’ insane this sound was.  My eyes could not have possibly been wider, full on back-ramrod-straight, high-alert mode.  Clearly, either someone is being murdered outside, or a demon (which probably followed us here from SOS) is trying to communicate with me.  I slowly turn, and there, hunched at the door, staring in with lamp-like, hate-filled eyes is…that DAMN CAT.

10801831_10153375538759428_6292572525201924367_n

This is when you laugh that relieved/I’m so ridiculous laugh.  I like animals, but I’m not really a “cat person”.  I’m horribly allergic, so I can’t be around them to know anything about them.  So why this crazy ass cat – still with the gross patch on its head – is glowering in my door, threatening to kill me, or whatever that wretched sound means, I have no fuckin’ idea.

murdering cat

So now I’m locked in this stare-off-to-the-death with this no-longer-friendly cat beast.  Neither of us moves.  Neither of us breathes.  Neither of us blinks.  Do cats even blink??  It emits that sound again and it takes all of my Jedi/ninja combined discipline not to flinch, cover my ears, and fall to the floor in pain.  I’ve got 4 younger siblings, cat.  I will not lose this stare-off.  Minutes go by.  Maybe even hours.  By now my contacts are so dry they’re leeching fluid out of my eyeballs.  My eyes themselves are turning to dust.  I can sacrifice my eyes for this, no big.  They don’t work that well, anyway.

At this point my husband comes around the corner, “Did you hear–What are you doing?” he asks, bewildered.  This is probably quite the sight to behold: ragged, sore-covered cat, radiating pure hatred staring down a woman whose eyes are crumbling out of her face as you watch.

eyes crumbling

“Shhh, it’s that cat.”  I say without moving, not even my lips.  “Uh…yeah…” and with that he ends the stare-off by shooing the cat away.  Blinking has never felt so good.  I don’t mean “better than sex cake” good, because I don’t even know what the fuck to say about that mess.  If you’re seriously making a CAKE and calling it “better than sex”…A CAKE…I am so sorry about your life choices.  I mean like a gallon of cool water after a two-mile walk through Dubai in August.  That feeling.  Concentrated in your EYE.

Not 2 hours later, it’s dark out and the girls are watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or some shit before bed.  We’re all sitting in the living room. This time, from the kitchen door.

the song of my people - cat

Is this asshole cat serious??  GO. AWAY.  As my husband walks toward the door to chase it off, it’s doing the so-excited-to-come-inside, shifting from paw to paw dance.  I recognize it from my dogs, whenever they were outside and someone would arrive at our house.  Obviously, this cat has in fact lived here.  The previous renters saying it’s not their cat directly contradicts this fleabag’s behavior.  I don’t know if cats are good liars?  Dogs are not.  You KNOW when a dog has done something it shouldn’t.  But cats are douchelords, from what I’ve seen on social media, so maybe this cat hated the former renters and is out to make them look like the kind of people that abandon their pet and lie about it.  I don’t know.  Either way, someone in this equation is a jackass.  We close the door to that part of the house, so the cat can’t see us.  Which is silly, really, because the damn thing just walked over to the doors where we were.  It walked around the exterior of the house making Satan sounds for at least an hour before it either got distracted or just gave up.

The next day, I found little baby bowls scattered all over the yard.  Actually, bowls from which humans feed their babies.  Same brand and colors I had just unpacked.  I went in to check that the toddler hadn’t just brought them outside, she hadn’t.  Weird.  In the bushes, in the garage, near the garbage cans…What the hell is going on here?  Need to have bowls handy for all our demonic sacrifices??  (I maybe watch a lot of Supernatural.  It’s ok.  Just go with it.)  So of course my new BFF is at my new house again today, wanting to come in.  Totally normal, I’m sure your BFF wants to come see your house when you move, too.  So I Google Dubai animal control. HA. HAHA. Google actually laughed at me.  This is when I learned that stray cats are just a thing here.  Like rats in London or New York City.  They’re just here.  Everywhere.  Sorry.  If you wish to leave food and/or water out for one that hangs around your home or work, you should put it near an area where they could find food or water on their own.  Otherwise, don’t, and the cat will move on.  Unless it’s an abandoned pet that always been fed, in which case it will probably die because it doesn’t know how to hunt for food.  COOL, THANKS FOR THE GUILT-TRIP.  I promptly collected up those bowls (which the gardeners had been refilling) and chucked them straight in the recycling bin.

This goes on with the cat showing up, looking like we’ve carried out a hostile takeover of its home, with us trying to hide from it, or ignoring it like a toddler having a tantrum, hoping it will go away for about 10-14 days.  Then after a few days we looked at each other and said “hey, have you seen/heard that cat around?  I don’t think it’s been here in a few days.”  After a few weeks, we kind of assumed it had kicked the bucket.

At the end of January, we were in the States for a week, and when we got back, devil cat was still nowhere to be seen.  I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about though, because time zones are a bitch, especially with a toddler.  On top of which, Toddler and I both came down with the actual flu.  Jet lag+fever+chills+aches+jet lagged toddler who is also sick.  Awesome.  It was so much fun.  I recommend it.  And at the end of that week, Husband left for Japan for work for two weeks. FANFUCKINGTASTIC.  Things kind of went to hell while he was gone, too.  Still getting over the flu, Older Daughter started puking, we had a rash of break-ins by bugs, a two-day long sand storm, 100+ degree temps (this is unusual for February), I’m actually not sure that we really survived.  I think there’s a pretty solid chance that we are The Others.  So when I walked out of the house to get Older Daughter from school one day, and archfiend is laying in the garden in all its matted-hair glory, I almost wasn’t even surprised.  Just kidding, I jumped right out of my fucking skin.  I checked twice to see if it was the same cat.  It just looked at me like “hey, bitch that stole my house.  Get back or I’ll eat your soul.”  Who am I to argue with a messenger of Lucifer?  I snapped a pic to send to my husband, and jumped in the car, locking the doors.  Husband responds with “Zombie Cat.”  And so the beast was named.  The cat was gone when we got back, if I hadn’t taken a picture, I would have thought I was go-to-the-hospital level sick.

A couple weeks pass before the creature shows it’s face again, this time lounging atop the recycling bin, I didn’t notice it at first because I was focusing on running from the door to the bin without burning my feet too badly.  I saw it when I was about 2 steps from the bin, with my hand reaching towards it.  I was none too pleased to have to stop, barefoot, on the HOT bricks, in full sun, to wave the garbage baron off.  After that, we didn’t see Zombie Cat for MONTHS.

Then we come to the end of June, and Zombie Cat is again lurking in the front garden, though it’s gross head sore is mostly healed.  Toddler wants to play with the cat, I think this is a terrible idea.  The thing seems even LESS friendly then when it stalked us in December.  And, ya know, you don’t play with zombies.  So I crouch down with her and say “hi kitty!”, and naturally the wretch responds with

evil-cat

Thankfully, this scares the poor kid, I quickly get her in the car, and the filthy miscreant is gone when we get back.

A few mornings later, I’m walking up the stairs, and happen to look out the enormous front window that overlooks the driveway and street.  Who should be sitting ON TOP OF THE GARAGE, but Zombie Cat.  I freeze.  What the fuck?  I blink.  Yeah.  The cat.  Is sitting on the garage, cuddled up against the point where it meets the house.  It’s a pretty damn tall garage, and there are exactly ZERO trees tall enough that are close enough to get up there.  It’s meowing woefully.  I call to my husband, “You are never going to believe what I’m looking at right now”.  He and Older Daughter come to see.  Zombie Cat doesn’t move except to look back and forth between the three of us.  “How did it get up there?”  “I have no idea, there aren’t any trees…”  Now I’m kind of feeling bad for the cat, which is a violation of rule #1: Show no signs of weakness.  My dad would be disappointed, having said, oh, ALWAYS “if a cat got up, it can get down. You don’t see any cat skeletons in trees for a reason.”  So I get dressed, still bummed that this poor stupid cat is going to die up on my garage, and I get to the window and it’s gone!  Should have named that damn thing Phantom Cat, I’m thinking, when I notice a twitch on the pergola, in the plants, where there’s a bird’s nest with a handful of loud baby birds.  The birds are SCREAMING.

THAT FUCKING CAT IS STANDING ON THE PERGOLA, EATING BABY BIRDS, RIGHT OUT OF THE BIRD’S NEST.

cheshire cat buffet is open

Instantly, I am enraged.  Here I was feeling sorry for the murdering bastard!!  I grab a broom and go out to beat the vile creature off, but when I get out there it’s gone AGAIN.  DAMN IT!!

Show your face again, devil spawn.  I’ll be waiting.

FWP: There’s a stray cat that occasionally hangs around my house.

Because Dubai

Obviously, when you move some where – any where – there’s some adjusting you have to do.  Things just aren’t exactly the same from one city to the next, and that’s ok.  If not, there would be no point in hating Ohio.  You wouldn’t even know that you SHOULD hate Ohio.  -If you just thought “I don’t hate Ohio…What’s wrong with Ohio?”  Please just go ahead and never visit my blog again.  Outside of Cedar Point, it’s a terribly useless place.  That’s really all you need to know.  Get with it, or kindly exit stage left.

AT ANY RATE, the number and types of things you have to “just accept” vary depending on what type of move you’ve made.  From one city to another in the same general area of the same state, there may not be too many overwhelming differences.  From  the North in the United States to the South, however, you’re going to find quite a few differences.  But at least there’s still Target.  Clearly, when you move from one country to another, the differences start piling up.  So high, you’ll wish they were stacks o’ cash.

For example – Absurd Roads/Signage – I’m not even really sure if the road is to blame or the signs.  Let me just set the scene for you: you’re riding shot gun, you’re in the right lane.  Sign DIRECTLY ABOVE YOUR LANE says “Hessa Street Exit 1000m” and points with an arrow at the lane you’re ALREADY IN.  Driver moves one lane to the left.
You: Ummm…Aren’t we getting off at Hessa?
Driver: Yes.
You: …sooo…THAT *pointing* is the exit lane.
Driver: It’s not.  That lane ends.
You: *doubtful* why would they label a lane as an exit if the lane ends before the exit?
Driver: Because Dubai.
And sure enough, 500m after that completely pointless sign, the damn lane ends and you have to merge left.  I have to take this route twice a day to drop off/pick up from school, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people try to warp speed from the lane that’s about to end to the exit “in 1000m”. SURPRISE!  Slam the brakes, because you have to merge left, and chances are, no one is letting you over.  Because Dubai.

No Fuckin’ Taco Bell – I don’t know how to make that clearer.  THERE’S NO FUCKING TACO BELL.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I can count on 1 hand the number of Mexican restaurants in the whole of Dubai.  What IS this bullshit?!  How does one live life without the absolute awesomeness that is a taco??  They must not know.  They can’t know.  There’s no way you can know and willingly go without. WHY ARE THERE NO TACOS?? Because Dubai.

Ridiculous Modes of Transportation – Besides the obvious:

face it, your car will never be this cool.
face it, your car will never be this cool.

My kid’s class went on a field trip, the bus they took?  TV’s, Blu-Ray player, refreshments, zone climate controls.  We’re talking about kids that are 7 years old.  On a school field trip.  To a museum. Because Dubai.

No Target, Meijer, or even WalMart – Why would you ever want a 10 for $10 sale, when you can pay full price every day for every little thing?  Because Dubai.

But my most favorite.  Sure, sure, drum roll if you must.  The visa process.  I know we talked a little bit before about what it takes just to be able to apply for a visa, but now let’s talk a little bit about the actual visa application process itself.

Obviously, you will need to complete all that document attestation business, and then have passport-style pictures taken.  You will need two hundred forty-fuckinsix thousand physical copies of said picture, precisely.  Don’t even bother if you only have two hundred forty-five.  Just fly home now.  In the picture you should have a neutral/friendly face, but your lips must remain closed, and your ears must show.  So basically, you’re RBF’ing it up because THAT’S JUST MY FACE and you don’t exactly have another one.  I mean, you’re not gonna really sexy-grin in your visa picture are you?  Someone may think you’re trying to solicit them.  Because Dubai.

Then, assuming the person sponsoring you has completed their visa process and secured a place for you to live with them, you can go have your Medical Fitness Test.  You may be thinking right about now that you’ll have to run a 6 minute mile or do 100 push ups in a minute or something, but you don’t.  Despite the name of the test, it actually has nothing to do with “fitness” as we normally use the term.  You WILL have to fill out a couple forms – you also need to bring your own pen, they will NOT let you borrow any – give a vial of blood, wait FOREVER, answer in person the same questions you’ve just answered on the form, in case you forgot your name, if you’re married, or the date of your last period.  Seriously, those are the questions.  Then you have a chest X-ray, for which you are shoved in a closet with 4-5 other people (same gender, calm down) and are told to strip from the hips up.  It’s not awkward at all.  Next time you’re at the mall, go in a store with a changing room, have your friend round up 4-5 complete strangers and you all get in a changing room and strip.  It’s OK if the other people all know each other and speak a language you don’t, as long as they don’t know you.  It’s fun.  I recommend it.

FROM THERE, you go to have your fingerprints and picture taken for your Emirates ID.  What’s that?  You have two hundred forty-fuckinsix thousand copies of your visa picture?  That’s nice.  You need a new picture for this.  Because Dubai.  The rules for this picture are all the same as the visa picture – except, wait a minute, are those tiny little diamond studs you’re wearing?
Government Employee: Oh no, that will not do.  We can’t take picture like this, you must remove.
You: (I would love to, TRUST ME, but the backing was soft silicon, and is now solidified to the end the of the post.)  I literally canNOT get the backings off to take the earrings out.
Government Employee: I cannot take picture like this.  You must go.

Go?  Like…back to the States?  Panic/frustration level is nearing an all-time high.  It’s a good thing your husband didn’t take the morning off work to take you on this ridiculous adventure – OH WAIT.  Guess who is livid over this?  Not your husband who didn’t take the morning off work for this.  So you drive all the way back to your house where he has to CUT your earrings off with some big man tool, just so you can drive BACK to the mall (yes, these government tests and photographs are being taken at a MALL.) to have this damned picture taken.  YES.  CUT. YOUR. FUCKING. DIAMOND. EARRINGS. OFF.  And now traffic is HEINOUS.  As you can see, it was ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE those earring were removed.  Really, Erin, don’t be so damn dramatic.

Emirates ID pic

Obviously, small diamond studs would have totally ruined this picture.  Clark fuckin’ Kent up in here.

visa-pic

Oh look, it’s Erin – Wait, no, this girl has earrings on.  Can’t be Erin.  BECAUSE DUBAI.

First world problem: I had to sacrifice a pair of largely inconsequential earrings to the visa gods.

Ladies and Gentlemen, For the Next 36ish Hours: DARUDE!!

We’ve just experienced our first sandstorm, it lasted nearly two whole days.  Believe it or not, growing up and living in the eastern half of the United States, you don’t really think about sandstorms.  In fact, you pretty much NEVER think about sandstorms outside of the 30 seconds in like 4th grade social studies when you learn that in the desert they can have “sandstorms”.  SNOW STORM, on the other hand, is a 9 month long fucking season, and you know all about it.

I was pretty surprised/impressed with the whole thing.  If you’ve ever driven during a blizzard, heavy fog, or even torrential rain, you know that visibility is a concept, but it’s not one with which you’re familiar. I did not expect sand in the air to cause near white-out driving conditions.  The sand not being white, for starters.

sandstorm driving day 1Day 1: That’s not fog or smog, that’s sand.  Whoa.  What am I driving into??  Do we need to go to the craft store THAT badly?  I’ve seen the sand get whipped up out in the stretches of desert before and idly wondered “is that a sand storm?”  NOPE.  You know that saying “you won’t have to wonder, when you see it, you’ll KNOW.”  YEP.

sand storm driving arabian ranches

Day 2: This was in our “subdivision”, if you will.  You might not find this picture as impressive, so let me give you some context.  The Day 1 picture?  Yeah, there’s nothing but desert on either side of the road, with the occasional building.  Our subdivision is a huge development consisting of hundreds of houses (possibly a thousand or more, I’m really not good at this kind of guessing.  Plus, I don’t know that much about all the different parts of the community.), tons of pools and parks, a retail center (it’s like a mini-mall), and a large golf course.  There’s not really vast expanses of sand, or the opportunity for it to get picked up by unbroken wind.  So believe me when I tell you, the second day was significantly worse.

Before I realized how bad it was, I suggested we go to the pool.  Got everyone dressed and ready for it, packed into the car, backed out of the driveway and onto the street, and that’s when I took that picture.  I’m betting the pools are all closed, but I have to check, or it will be mass hysteria.  Drive to 3 different pools in our section of the neighborhood.  Not surprisingly, they’re all closed.  Older daughter can understand this, even though she’s upset about it, but at this point toddler is oblivious.  When we pulled back into the garage, it was NOT GOOD.  Imagine asking an almost 2 year old if they want ice cream, taking them to the ice cream place, ordering their favorite ice cream and then throwing it out for no reason.  “POOL?! *agonized* NOOOOOO!!! *sobbing* MOMMY, NOOOOOOO!!!!! *more sobbing* PPPPOOOOOOOOOLLLLL!!!!!!!  POOOOOOOOLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Yeah.  I definitely recommend THAT.  It was a little heartbreaking.  The kid LOVES water, I mean, she made her own bath.

You know what’s really awesome, though?  When you have windows and doorwalls (that’s sliding glass doors, and should give a solid hint as to where we’re originally from) open and a sandstorm really picks up.  The sand. Is. E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.  And I don’t just mean all the fuck over the floors, which it absolutely was, wouldn’t that be polite of the wretched sand.  It’s all over the floors, the mouldings, counters in the bathrooms, bathtubs, toilets, sinks, toothbrushes, mirrors, beds, carpets, sheets, closet doors, if you left your closet doors open (lookin’ at YOU, 7-year-old) it’s all over your clothes and closet shelves, it’s on the bedroom doors, the walls – the fucking walls!!  YES, it even coated and STUCK to all the vertical surfaces.

Tried to bathe the kids last night, turned the water on and left the room to try to find towels that WEREN’T covered in sand, come back to find a damn mud bath. AWESOME.  Spa night, ladies!

Basically, every piece of fabric has to be washed, and every square millimeter has to be wiped/swept, VACUUMED, and mopped/cleaned.  Possibly twice, I dunno.  When the sun hit the section of floor I had already cleaned, I could still see sand-film.  Maybe I’ve just inhaled too many cleaning product fumes. REGARDLESS.  I do not think I’ll ever get all the fucking sand out.  It’s probably on the ceiling.  OH MY GOD – IT’S PROBABLY ON THE MOTHER FUCKING CEILINGS!

burn it down

Today we saw the aftermath of the last two days.  I thought two POUNDS of sand on the floor ALONE in the girls’ tiny bathroom was a lot, but WOW.  Outdoors, shit was bad.  (Yeah, I swept it up and weighed it.  I was curious.  Don’t judge me, wench!)  This was at SassyPants’ school:

sand at the school

You can’t really see how tall the pile is, but it was big enough that I thought it warranted a picture, so.

Our cars. Geez.  Parked in the garage, they looked abandoned.  After I dropped SassyPants at school, I got my car washed because it was that bad, but ALSO so I could say that my car was at least 100 times cleaner than my husband’s.  I know you know I took a picture of that shit.

dirty cars

He just died of embarrassment, by the way.  But he’s out of the country for business, so what can he do?  #dead

#firstworldproblemswitherin: There was a mild sandstorm, and I had to clean everything in my house.