Sunday, June 24, 2012

Live Above the 45

Today on Facebook a friend of mine posted about a few things he did outside of his comfort zone.  His advice was to do something every day that scares the hell out of you.

After I read that, I came across this great post from David duChemin, a photographer that I follow.  He is always full of great advice, but this discussion he shared and its analogy is worth a read - Above the 45.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sleep is Overrated

Sleep is overrated.  I am not sure when I decided - or convinced myself of this.  Perhaps it started a couple of years ago when my son was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  For sure I didn’t sleep much.  I was constantly worried about his blood sugar dropping in the middle of the night after we started him on an insulin pump.  Fortunately, we’ve passed that stage and all is good.

It was during that visit to the US that I rekindled my relationship with Starbucks and coffee in general.  In those days, the car should have had a Breathalyzer device on it to test if I had enough caffeine in my system to operate heavy machinery.  Starbucks isn’t the come all end all of coffee, but there is a lot to be said about purchasing a muy grande, quadruple shot, larger than life caffeinated beverage from the convenience of your car.  

Try as I might to sleep late, I still wake up around the same general time every morning – 6:00 or 6:30 – with no alarm clock.  Even though I typically sleep late – midnight or so, I am still up early.  And lately it seems to be earlier thanks to the 5:00am-ish sunrises.  If I miss my biological wake-up call my son wakes me up anyway.

Last night was a very sleepless night with vomiting, fever and all the symptoms that make for a very awful time for a child.  We have the added value of the diabetic issues that come with this.  It is manageable now that we know what we are doing.  And much to my surprise, I can sometimes manage this without the need for a hospital.  It’s not fun by any means – injections and all, but it is better than watching a not quite expert nurse dig around in your child’s arm to find a vein, or watch an inexperienced ER doctor look in a medical handbook to quickly learn how to manage the situation.  

My husband often tries to encourage me to go back to sleep on such days.  As exhausted as I am, I usually don’t.  Or as I did this morning, I try, but it is constantly interrupted sleep, which leaves me even more tired. 

So why not go back to sleep?  We all need sleep.  Yes.  It is hard to run a long time on little sleep, but as I always say, Mommy is a super power. I once read somewhere that you will never know how little sleep you need until you become a mother.  There is more truth in that statement than most things I have read.

As tired as I am, I would miss so much if I slept.  I would not get that 15 – 30 minute window of quiet time alone, would not be able to sit with a cat begging for attention, the occasional half finished yoga, read, write, catch up on some photography work or enjoy that desperately needed cup of coffee. 

Most importantly, I would not get to sit and have breakfast with my son and savor his way of seeing the world.  And on a day like today, it was so worth it.  He walked over to me and gave me the biggest “morning hug” as he called it for no reason.

Please pass another muy grande mega shot.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

UAE Dress Code

The big debate in the UAE is a recent discussion among the government and locals who support implementing a law that will outline a dress code.  Those in support feel a lot of foreigners run around here dressed inappropriately and this is disrespectful to the local culture.

I do understand the discussion around respectful dress, and the desire to achieve the balance.  There have been a few times when I see someone and wonder how they are comfortable wearing certain things here.  Sometimes it is tasteful, other times not.  It is a fine line. 

It is nice to feel good and look great, but I agree that wearing your bathing suit top with a mini skirt to a shopping mall in a country where the local ladies wear full-length abayas is insulting.  This is a holiday destination with great beaches, but the local culture should be respected.

However, the proper implementation of a dress code will be extremely challenging.  What may be offensive for one person is not necessarily offensive for the other. 
How would a policeman who implements the law see it?  Will there be consistency from one police officer to another?  Impossible as this is completely subjective.  

This is further complicated by what is sold here.  It is no secret that Dubai and the other Emirates have no shortage of shopping malls.  These are full of every brand imaginable and every style of clothing imaginable.  If the government doesn’t want people to dress inappropriately, then I wonder if they would also stop selling “inappropriate” garments.  It would be hypocritical to sell it.  That would easily close more than 80% of all retail outlets and take a big chunk out of the economy.  

It would curb the worry of one minister who was quoted as not wanting inappropriate dress to affect the children who witness it.  In the context of the local culture, I understand why he would say this.  However, it should not be sold to them either.  The promotion of the fashion industry, which is highly based on sex and looking attractive will need to be reconsidered here.  Not only does this include the clothes, but also the massive perfume stores, the advertising for it everywhere – in magazines, on billboards on Sheikh Zayed Road, in pictures plastered on the outside of Dubai Mall.  And don’t forget those plastic naked guys that look like they are diving into that fountain pool in the mall - they are either naked or wearing fitted clothing.  Either way, I assume this would fall into the offensive category.

The Fashion Court at Dubai Mall, a favorite hangout for locals, would be completely shut down on this premise.  You wouldn’t put up a drug stand on a street corner and sell to users, but request that they not use their drugs until they are somewhere that drugs are legal.  The observation of drugs being bought and sold would give people ideas.  Sexy pictures of people with drugs would only enhance this.  Buy it, but don’t use it is challenging to implement.

Dubai, and other parts of the UAE are big tourist destinations.  Once implemented, if tourists feel it is too conservative, they may not want to come visit.  Don’t under estimate the perception that the media could create.  This will further hurt the economy. 

They didn’t ask me, but now that I have broadcast my opinion, I would recommend before implementing a dress code into law, the government invest in an education campaign.  This has not been tried yet.  Perhaps it is under consideration.  Assuming the application of fining or punishing someone for inappropriate dress takes resources, time and money; just think of the savings for the judicial system.

And not just the money - would you prefer to have your policemen chasing after people dressing inappropriately, or would you rather they focus on real criminals?  Education is the key.  Educate residents and tourists, and insist that the security at facilities ask people to leave the premises if they do not abide.

You could even generate some extra revenue out of it if you wanted.  Put up some “Appropriate Dress Shops” at the entrances of the places where you are having issues.  Send the culprit in there to buy something if they do not have time to turn around and go back to their hotel to change.

Everything I have read is directed at the way women dress.  This has made me uncomfortable as I have also seen men dress inappropriately just as many times as women.  If men are not included then such a law could be mistaken for the repression of women.

Just bare in mind that more material does not always equate with respectable.  I will never forget a visit to Petra, Jordan one summer a few years ago.  A male tourist decided to wear a kandura.  It was a hot, sunny day.  I don’t think he realized that men wear a white cloth that is tied around the waste under these called a woozar

He had absolutely nothing on under it.  This is an image that is unfortunately etched in my brain forever.  Although I try desperately, I cannot forget.  If we do see an education campaign, then let’s hope it is very thorough in it’s directives to avoid witnessing such a site.  Otherwise, you may find tourists unintentionally insulting the culture in ways you never imagined.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Madonna in Abu Dhabi

Madonna came to Abu Dhabi last week.  It was the second stop on her world tour.  She opened in Israel and did two shows here.

I did not really plan to go and did not scramble to get tickets for the first show when it was announced.  It sold out in a matter of hours anyway.  I like her, and would not expect her to give a bad show, but I saw her years ago and a late night early in the week in Abu Dhabi did not appeal to my already lack of sleep, over allocated self.  Obviously, I am not a big enough fan.  My husband really wanted to go, so I caved.

My feelings are mixed about the show and the more I read about other shows, the more I confirm that opinion, or lack there of. 

In Israel, her first show, was promoted as the “Concert for Peace”.  Some of the earlier numbers were the most violent I have ever seen at any concert.  The dark stage set and choreographed shooting of several men with blood splattering on a screen every time the trigger was pulled was not too peaceful.  I would not be surprised if she consulted with Tarantino on these numbers.  She announced in Israel, “You cannot be a fan of mine and not want peace in the world”.  She may have said the same here.

Much of the show included the controversy that Madonna has been known for over the years.  Still striving to upset the Catholic Church as she did in the past, but just with bigger crosses and a bigger production.  Sex, ya, that’s all there too.

I am no prude, but she pushed the limits.  I am sure some people who attended, and perhaps some leaders of this country who got wind of what went down were not very happy with her.  There is nothing directed at Islam in the show that I could see, but I am sure her kissing a woman and the cross dressing dances didn’t go over well among other things. 

As my husband points out, “then you don’t invite Madonna to have a concert in your country”.  If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen – or rather, don’t invite that kitchen.  Pushing buttons is what she does and she has never backed down before, so why start now?  It’s her expression, and people pay for it.

Despite this, there were many amazing things about the concert.  The dancing was phenomenal – as expected.  Her entourage is always one of the best.  I would easily sign on to be one of her roadies just to watch them practice everyday.  This also included slacklining as her Super Bowl performance did, but it was even better.  All this was done on a larger than life stage that morphed throughout the show.

Love Madonna or hate her, she is an amazing performer.  Even though I do not always care for her new sound, she has reinvented herself yet once again so she continues to appeal to new generations.  She is continuously evolving.  Yes, she is older, but not dated. 

Any other pop star her age would come out and sing the same songs to an almost boring performance in comparison.  She was never boring and even managed to make most of her older songs new again.  This included a  Basque drum back up to Open Your Heart and a Like a Virgin waltz with a piano that many may not have recognized in this context.

Controversial yes, but she also brought attention to a lot of issues throughout the show and during a photomontage that focuses on several issues we see in the world today.  Images of protests, wars, corrupt politicians and much more all ended with images of victims of bullying.  After watching that, anyone who is upset at Madonna for being controversial should stop in their tracks and see the bigger picture.  We certainly have bigger problems to deal with in this world than Madonna running around in her bra with her amazing cross dressing dancers. 

It will be interesting to see what happens as she makes her rounds.  She has already been warned by the French politician Le Pen about seeing a swastika on the collage of his and Madonna’s head in the montage. “They will be waiting”, he says.  So will her fans.

Happy Mother's Day

Ironically at about the same time last year, I went a little MIA on the blog in the month of May.  It happens.

Since Mother’s Day I have had several thoughts in the back of my mind, and wanted to wish all those mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day, but where is the time?

In the UAE, I usually forget the “American” Mother’s Day by the time it rolls around as we have already celebrated the Arab Mother’s Day as well as the British Mother’s Day - both in March, and just a week or so apart.  The concept is the same, so I don’t think there are any major differences.  Maybe this is part of a Halmark global strategy?

Erin’s school had a picnic for moms on the British version – it just kind of crept up.  This enhances my chance to miss the American Mother’s Day, which is also recognized in Turkey.

Mother’s Day in the US is on a Sunday, and since that is the first day of the work week here, it easily gets lost in the shuffle of the day.   The US is starting to wake up around 5pm my time, so a lot of clutter hits my brain and does not always filter out before that time.  This year I did not recall it until much later in the day.

My typical Mother’s Day started with an early wake up call by an excited boy who wanted to finish his new lego ambulance.  Very tired from working late on something the night before, I got up, got some coffee and sat down for an early breakfast with intricate lego pieces and directions in tow.  Not quite finished, I had to negotiate to jump in the shower and get ready.  I then prepared the snack and lunch for school, got Erin dressed and all those other minor, but necessary details required to drop him off at school on my way to work. 

Get to the car, forgot my telephone, went back to get it, back in car and off we went.  Get to work and the craziness of the week begins, finish this project, start that one, oh and can you also pick up this idea too.  Emails, conference calls, etc, etc.  A call from the school nurse.  Erin didn’t feel well so they checked and he had a fever.  If we give him medicine he has to go home, if not he can stay (per policy).  What?  Tons of work to do and people to see, but I cannot let him suffer. 

Pack up. Pick up sick boy.  Go home.  Let him rest in front of the TV while I continue to work at home.  More work, but do this, do that, clean this, wash this, get dinner, bathe boy, etc, etc, the usual drills.  In the evening I recall it’s Mother’s Day so we should have called Turkey much earlier and need to call the US now.  At this point I really hope that I can stay awake long enough to speak to everyone on the phone as my coffee dose wore off long ago. 

My mother asks me if we did anything special for Mother’s Day.  I’m not really sure how I should answer.  Every day is special, but I think I happily spend Mother’s Day just like I do any other day – being a mom.

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.