Monday, June 4, 2012

Miss K - back at the keyboard

What?  Could it be?  Miss K has finally come out of hiding to start posting again?  Yes, gentle readers, I am back. Again. Some more.  It has taken me slightly longer to get myself sorted out in my new life than I had thought it would, and this is why:

1.  Orientation. I had general orientation, I had company orientation, I had department orientation.  It was all very time-consuming and I was so damn oriented that I actually had no idea where I was or what I was doing most of the time!

2.  Internet access - Well, they say that living in the Middle East teaches you patience, and they're not wrong.  It took days just to get my log-in ID and then ages before my wifi got set up at home - it's not that I couldn't have used the connection at the library but it was very hit-and-miss and I just ran out of patience at that point...

3.  Bureaucracy - there were layers upon layers of things to deal with and wait for.  I couldn't get a phone without a bank account.  I couldn't get a bank account without a permanent company ID.  I couldn't get a permanent company ID before I got my passport back.  I couldn't get my passport back until I got my multiple entry-exit visa.  And I couldn't apply for my multiple entry-exit visa until I got my iqama (my residence permit).  You see what I'm saying?

 4.  Social life - when you move to a new country, you have to get out and meet people and the only real way to do that in a place like this, when you're living on a compound, is to go to absolutely every single thing you're invited to, whether it's grabbing coffee with a colleague or going to an enormous party on another compound that goes on until 3am.  You name it, I've been doing it. Out for dinner?  Sure.  Beach party?  You bet.  Mongolian BBQ (don't ask)? Absolutely.  So my time has been well-spent in the sense that I now have a pretty good social life, but that has meant my sad neglect of you, gentle readers.  I am sorry about that, but I had to make friends here - after all, you're not going to come to spend party weekend in Bahrain with me, are you?  (Actually, I shouldn't ask that - knowing you cheeky monkeys, you probably would!)

5.  Housing - I am very happy with my housing situation here, but the decor?  Well, let's just say that the prison hospital waiting room from 1972 called up and they want their furniture back.  So I've been haunting Ikea and various other home stores in order to get my place looking decent.  But it's no easy thing to go shopping here - I will go into detail in a future post, but believe me, it's a verrrrrrrry time-consuming process...

So that's basically what I've been up to here so far - it hasn't been particularly exciting, but unpacking and settling in never really is.  But I do have lots of travel planned and I do have about a billion photos from Paris that I still need to sort through, so I'll have more posts coming soon.  No promises as to when (you know what I'm like), but soon-ish...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Scenes from Saudi Arabia #1

Even in a remote province of Saudi Arabia, there is still no escape from Spongebob Squarepants. Now you know...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Arabian (days and) nights

I'm sorry, gentle readers, have you missed me?  To be honest, I've kind of missed myself - the past few weeks have been so crazy that I feel like I have been a bit lost!  Relocating to a foreign country when you're already in a foreign country, having also gone there from another foreign country - well, it's no picnic, my pretties.  I'm sorry I haven't been able to post, but now I have a zillion things to tell you about - thoughts on serendipity, the insane amount of work it is to close down your life in Paris, my first impressions of life here in Saudi Arabia, and much, much more.  BUT - I know, I know, there's always a but - the problem is that my home internet access here hasn't been set up yet, so I am writing to you from the terrace at my local library, basking in the balmy 25C temperature at 9pm, and admiring the amazing crescent moon in the sky.  Which is all great, except that my laptop battery is about to die and I simply won't have time to write anything else right now.  But I shall return shortly, my pretties, and start posting more regularly...promise!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Letters from London #8

All right, my pretties, I know you're thinking that I haven't posted recently because I had a craaaaazy St Patrick's Day here in Paris and I've been recovering ever since, right?  Wellllllll, no.  I did go out for St Paddy's with a bunch of Irish people and we did go to some Irish pubs, but at a certain point we just got fed up with the crowds and ended up at a champagne bar instead.  Not very authentic, but far more relaxing...

Anyway, my absence was not caused by too much partying (unfortunately), but rather because I've been in London and my internet access there was very sporadic and I just didn't get a chance to post.  But since I'm mentioning London and since it's late and I just need to post something, how about another Letter from London?

Written somewhere around July 2001

Well, after the overwhelmingly positive reaction to my last letter, I've decided to turn over a new leaf.  Yes, I'm ready to become a kinder, gentler Miss K.  From now on, I shall be nauseatingly nice, sickeningly sweet and a beam of sunshine in the lives of all those fortunate enough to come into contact with my saintly-yet-humble being.  I will forsake malice, spite and cynicism in favour of graciousness, charm and generosity of spirit.  People will come from all around simply to bask in the warm glow of my goodness... Okay, did anyone buy that?  What, not even for a second?  Oh c'mon... Anyone?  Friends?  Relatives?  No one? Really??

Anyway, I don't have a theme for this letter, so here are some random thoughts about nothing terribly interesting.....

New Experiences (A) - One of the many things I like about London is the opportunity to try things that I might not have done in Toronto.  For example, I took a ballet class for the first time in my life a couple of weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  For those of you who are rolling around on the floor laughing hysterically at the thought of me doing anything that requires grace and coordination, go right ahead.  Your mental picture is entirely correct - I galumphed around the room like a drunken lumberjack, sending willowy ballerina types fleeing in terror, and I made a total fool of myself.  Like I said, I had a fantastic time.

New Experiences (B) - Another thing I just tried was floating.  Huh?  What's that?  Well, it's a bit hard to describe, but basically you hop into a sensory deprivation tank and float in water that has about 800 lbs of salt dissolved in it.  And that's all: you just lie there in the dark and float for an hour like a cross between an astronaut and an embryo.  Question - why?  Answer - Because it's quite possibly the most relaxing thing you'll ever experience.  Strange but true.  Once you get the hang of it, you totally lose track of your body and you just feel like a big ol' head floating around in the dark.  I know, it sounds weird, but ohhhhhh, it's soooooo gooooooood....

Music - I've always been a fan of the blues, and it amazes me how well songs from the 1920s translate to the new century.  I recently picked up a Bessie Smith CD and really, you'd think she was singing about my life.  For example, here are some of the song titles: "Me and My Gin", "No One In Town Can Bake A Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine"(if you know what she's saying, and I think you do), "Empty Bed Blues", "I'm Wild About That Thing", "A Good Man Is Hard To Find", "You've Got To Give Me Some", and my personal favourite - "Put a Little Sugar in My Bowl".  Sing it, girlfriend....

Fashion - Ladies: I hate to tell you this, but London fashion has clearly lost what passes for its collective mind.  You can be totally in style this season if you wear any of the following: 1940's floral prints, army camouflage, disco diva, cowgirl, or any combination thereof.  I've always prided myself on my eclectic style, but this might be a bit much even for me.  We shall see.

Work - I'm currently employed in Hell, which means that I work for the Devil.  Yes, the Devil has many names.... Satan..... Beelzebub..... Lucifer.... Stephanie. You might not have been aware that the Supreme Evil Being in the universe is currently incarnated in the body of a petite woman from New Zealand, but now you know.  Consider yourselves warned.

Today's Story - I thought I'd share this experience with you even though it has absolutely nothing to do with London.  When I was in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, I visited the famous slutty-lingerie store Frederick's of Hollywood (much to everyone's surprise, I'm sure).  As I was browsing, the following happened: a young English couple skulked into the store, clearly embarrassed at being there.  They approached the salesgirl next to me, and the English girl (who had a huge rack) shyly asked her: "Excuse me, but do you sell minimizer bras?"  An ominous silence fell.  The ultra-sassy black salesgirl (who had waist-length blonde braids, four-inch fingernails and more attitude than Madonna) looked at her with the undisguised contempt she might have shown for a urine sample and drawled, "Giiiiirl....this is Frederick's of Hollywood.  We MAXIMIZE!!!"  Hee!  Heeheeheeheehee!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Shamrocks and shenanigans

Oops, sorry, my pretties - it's been rather a while since I posted, but I hope you'll forgive me as it's all a bit of a blur at the moment while I deal with all the things I have to do before I move away!  But Miss K has plenty to tell you - in addition to running around Paris like a maniac, checking things off my "must-see/do-this-before-I-go" list, I've been on road trips to the Loire Valley and to Normandy on the last two weekends, and as soon as I sort through the bajillion photos I took, I'll be sure to tell you about those rather fabulous adventures.  

But in the meantime, here we are on St Patrick's Day, and as it's my third (and final) one in Paris and I've posted about the last two (I still can't believe there was reggae in 2010 and  The eyes have it. Well, they used to in 2011, which happened right after St Paddy's Day, so let's count that as my entry from that year, shall we?), I should probably keep on with tradition and post about this one too.  Well, gentle readers, pray for me and my liver, because this year, I am spending St Paddy's with actual Irish people (and plenty of them)- which bodes extremely well for a good time, but I shudder to anticipate what sort of state I'll be in tomorrow!    Well, as long as there's no black eye this year, it will all be grand.  I'll let you know how it turns out as soon as I can string together a coherent sentence, so....probably somewhere around Tuesday? 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Big changes

Have you seen the movie "Up In The Air"?  Well, there's a scene where George Clooney's character describes being in an airport as his home - and I know the intention was to make everyone think "oh, that man's life is so empty", but honestly, it just made me envious.  Do you realize that it's been more than a year since I've even set foot in an airport?  This wouldn't bother a lot of people, but Miss K is a travel weasel and an airport is my natural habitat - I don't do well in captivity and for me, not being able to afford to travel has been like a prison.

But, my pretties, I have some big news - this travel weasel is staging a prison break, and this blog is going to be changing, for the very simple reason that my location and circumstances are going to be changing.  Yes, it's true - after two and a half years in Paris, I am moving on to sandier (and far more lucrative) pastures: Saudi Arabia.  

I hope that tales of my expat life there will still be of interest to you, but my plan is to change the Expat Postcards to more of a general travel blog - you seem to have enjoyed the Letters from London (thus far, there are still more to come) and I have a number of similar posts that I wrote about other places I've visited (which I'll post in due course), and since I plan to be on a plane to somewhere new and exciting every time there's a three-day weekend or a holiday, there is plenty still to come.  So I'm hoping that you'll still tune in for more of my silliness?

And don't worry, Paris won't be disappearing completely from this blog, I still have a zillion photos that I haven't posted and lots of stories to go with them, so you'll still get your Paris fix from time to time...

Sunday, March 4, 2012