What Moved Me ...

This is a story about a guy who rides a camel through drive-throughs and does a happy dance with a mop ...

I didn't think I'd write here for a long, long while.

I didn't see the point; I felt disheartened, disillusioned, broken.  I had NOTHING positive to write about.

And I knew there was no good to be had in spreading the negativity.  The world has enough of that already.

I completely stepped away from all forms of social media for about two weeks.  While that might not seem long to some, or so very long to others, for me the lapse was what you'd call a 'significant' break.

I'm not a huge 'twitterer'.  

But I check out Facebook at least once a day.  

I visit my blog every day.  

I'll occasionally sign in to LinkedIn.  

I check my hotmail every few hours without fail.  

I scan Mail OnLine because I secretly enjoy the trash.  

I lurk on my favorite blogs for sheer entertainment and because I've actually become 'friends' with their authors ... these strange, hilarious, sad, engaging, amazing kindred writer souls.  

I read Doha News religiously, because the reporters there always seem to know what's happening here before anyone else...

But for the last two weeks, I just stepped away.  

Completely.

And it actually felt good/great.

It felt like I was a newborn, rediscovering my thoughts; actually having to sort them out before spewing them out.

You see, I'm a thinker, then a writer.  But I'm not much of a vocalizer.  So for the last two weeks, I've actually had to run things through my brain and work through them ... without blogging or talking.  Just thinking.

And since there was (virtually) no social media input, all I had to think about was me and my life and all that's in it. 

There's something to be said about that.

But a few days ago, like every good addict, I decided I wanted a little bit 'in'.  My fast was over.

I checked out one blogger friend in France, and found she'd suffered a great loss.  One as great as mine, perhaps more.  Perhaps unexpected.  I realized I hadn't been around to ask.

I checked out my blog comments and found that another blogger buddy understood what 'ME fatigue' is all about.  (anyone living in the Middle East will understand the inexplicable 'tiredness')  But more than that, he really 'gets' living in the ME as an expat.  The whole 'love-hate' relationship.  Not everyone does.

My best blogging buddy (3B) who's followed me since I was a 'baby blogger' has been dealing with an injured spouse while celebrating a newfound calling.  Empathy and congratulations were in order.

My best friend in the world, the one who was my roommate for four years in university, the one who consoled the inconsolable when I got separated, the one who always assured me it would "be all right", the one who drove hours to see me when I was visiting my dying father, the one I love to the ends of the earth and beyond ... well, she just found out her mom has cancer.  I need to be available ... just in case she needs me.

Smilin' Vic's step-mom is undergoing chemotherapy ... it's not looking great.  I realized that when I opened my e-mail three days ago.  

My brother-in-law wants to make me laugh so he sends funny fart jokes and the occasional positive social interest piece on Qatar.  He e-mails.

My sister, my mentor, sent me a few messages.  I opened them today.  They were sent a week ago.  On WhatsApp.

Forgive me for my weakness, but I have quickly realized that an expat in Doha fares far worse without social media.  Unfortunately, my addiction to fibre-optic connectivity is a lifeline to what moves me.  It is a lifeline to what matters.

The key most likely resides in balance.  Balancing the NEED to communicate and the DESIRE to be heard.  There's no need to be in constant contact.  But there is a need as an expat to be 'reachable'.  There is a need as an expat to 'reach out'.

This blog is no place for negativity.  For reflection, yes.  For appreciation, yes.  For a good laugh, yes.  For a healthy rant, yes.  But not for negativity.  And so I've resolved to respect it for the healthy outlet it's meant to be.

Tonight I broke completely, like the true addict that I am, and was rewarded with a satisfying rush - a good news story, about Qatar to boot!  A story of one (caveat:  not the 'only' one) Qatari making a difference.  Changing the world, one gesture at a time.  That one Qatari made a difference.  That one Qatari moved me.

 

I was moved.  Truly moved.  Moved to the point of wanting to write about something positive again.  Despite the disparaging comments questioning the authenticity of the intent.  Despite the naysayers insisting that it's all a publicity stunt.  

I insist ... actually I KNOW, that there is inherent good in every society.  My previous rants, my disparaging comments about dissatisfaction in this country ... they're justified.  Through the eyes of a North American expat, they're justified.  But they're not fair.  They're my perception of a society, a Nation, trying to come to grips with Westernization.  And who am I to say the Western way is THE way?

All I can say in my defense is that I struggle with what is unfamiliar to me.  Even after eight years, I struggle.   

Which gives all the more credence to my hosts, who struggle every day to adapt to the expat population that engulfs them by approximately 85%.  

I can at least plead the frustration of a 'foreigner in a foreign land'.  

But imagine being a minority and a foreigner in your homeland.  Imagine.  This is your HOME.  And the world, the worldwide scrutiny, the wealth, and the media have taken over.  You have no place.  The world has tried you; you are wrong, you have done wrong, everything you believe in is wrong.  What do you do?  

Kudos to individuals like Hamad Al-Amari and Fatima Al-Dosari for trying to merge those worlds.  What did they do?  A little something.  A little something to make you 'Happy'.

I work with some very cool dudes.  Some Nationals who hang out with me and love a good laugh and song.  Some very respectful, respected, respectable individuals who actually want to see the WORLD, not just Qatar, be a better place.  Like the guy I know who went back to the Philippines last year to visit his childhood nanny, because he missed her, but also to see how he could help her and family.  

Living here is not easy.  I don't always 'get' it.  Often I want to go home.  But that's my thing.  

On the flip side, I admit to feeling personally offended when I read or hear of outsiders or newcomers trashing this country.

Everyone has some good in them.  They just don't always 'get' it.  Forty years ago, North Americans were driving 140 miles an hour down the highway with a kid bouncing around in the front seat and a case of beer at their feet.  We've evolved ... most of us ... to an extent.

Give Qatar time.  

Not eternity.  

Time.  

You got it.  

Qatar will too.

 

 

 

 

 

The Problem With Me ...

Let me kick this post off by saying I was initially going to go with a title like "My Top Ten List of Blogging Mistakes", or "Why I Suck at Blogging" ...

For a while I was actually fixated with posting a title that read "How Failing 'Blogging 101' Can Build Intestinal Fortitude".  

But I didn't.  

I chose to stick to a 'me' title.  

Why?  

Nothing more than incorrigible stubbornness is the best answer I can come up with.   "Me" is my theme, and I'm sticking to it, I guess ....

And that would be the first item in the list of "poor blogging etiquette and blogging mistakes"  I'm about to describe for you in agonizingly painful detail:  

  1. I don't choose catchy titles that are likely to attract interest ... I keep to my theme, choosing to blatantly disregard every marketing strategy known to man and woman.  People don't want to read about "me" ... they want to read about "them".  "Me" is a turnoff.  But the reality is, I started this for "me".  If someone happens to drop by and actually relate and enjoy the insane rumination I've left behind for them to read, I say:  "Hoorah!"  I hope some of my experience as "me" in the "ME" (Middle East) may be of help to them.  If they don't like it, they can carry along on their merry way knowing full well that what I had to say had nothing to do with them initially.  After all, I did say it was all about 'me'!  (My 2 followers just unsubscribed in disgust at my self-centeredness ... )
  2. I choose to blog on a "blogger-friendly" rather than "blog reader-friendly" platform.  I started out using Squarespace because it was easy for me.  I pay a few bucks a month for the peace of mind of having the software do the thinking for me.  There are many more 'blogger community-friendly' hosts that would make my life easier and let people know I'm here.  But they really take a lot of effort to develop initially.  Sure, I have to use HTML code to show strikeout, and have to import a widget from Feedburner to allow people to comment on my "About Me" page, but in the long run, that's little price to pay for not having to configure my site from scratch (no one's ever commented on the 'About Me' page anyhow, so I really wonder why I agonized so long about developing it).
  3. I blog sporadically.  Some months may have 8 entries, some months may have 2.  There's no rhyme or reason, no guarantee of a weekly update.  I love writing, I love blogging, but sometimes life gets the best of me.  I wish I could do this full-time, but I can't.  I have all that mom stuff, and wife stuff, and employee stuff and house stuff, and school stuff, and social engagement stuff, and plain-old social stuff, and a whole lot of other stuff that I just have to deal with first.  So sometimes blogging just can't come first.
  4. I think I nominated 'myself' for a blogging award in a drunken haze sometime last February ... can't be sure.  This is a true sign of blogging despotism.  I got an e-mail last week informing me that I'd been nominated for a reputable blogging award.  I was so thrilled!  And then I had a hazy flashback.  Back to the days when I had '0' viewers.  Back to the days when a  "www.gypsyintheme.com" Google search would produce "0" hits.  I decided I was going to read other blogs ... and reach out to other blogging forums.  And I THINK I NOMINATED MYSELF for a blogging award sometime in early 2013!  To the "Jury of said award nomination site", if you are reading this, I may have been drunk, but I'd actually read my posts and found them vaguely entertaining at the time .... Disregard the fact that I may have been plastered; concentrate on the fact that my 'Interesting Reads' section actually shows a menu advertising "chicken anus".  Enough said? 
  5. My favorite bloggers are not displayed prominently enough on my homepage.  They show up on the bottom right-hand corner of my page if you scroll all the way down.  This is something I am committed to fix; I've had a hard time with it because I'm not very blog-savvy.  There are too many amazing bloggers out there.  Don't waste your time on my blog.  It really is too self-centered.  But for goodness sakes, please take the time to click on some of the links under "You Might Like".  The life experience accumulated amongst this crowd is nothing short of "AMAZING".
  6. I resort to YouTube clips when I feel I can't actually "get 'you' to get 'it' ...".  I'm not sure if this is legal or not.  But YouTube has a "share" button.  Which I interpret as "share".  So I "share".  
  7. I don't comment near enough on the blogs I love.  Life gets the best of me and I let it take me away.  So ... Multifarious Meanderings, ExpatEyeOnLatvia, CasinosToCastles, HX Report, KatieAndYoshieAroundTheWorld ... and all the others on my "You Might Like" page ... "sorry".   But I am following you.  You're all Wordpress and Blogger folk ... check your stats ... I'm the Qatar visitor.  I follow you, I read you, you keep me coming back because of your incredible talent.  Please don't use the frequency of my comments as a measuring stick.  Just know that I read all your posts, and when I do respond, every single word has been thought through fully.
  8. My pictures suck big time.  HX Report has kindly sent me some links to photography workshops and seminars being held in the ME (Middle East) and online ... which I am hoping to tap into in the new year.  But 'til then ... well, you either get NO picture, a YouTube frame, or my own sucky pictures.  Sorry, folks. 
  9. I'm not an expert expat even though I claim to host an expat blog.  I am a married, working mother, struggling to make things work in the ME.  I live in the ME, I breathe in the ME, I drive in the ME, I work in the ME.  But I'm not an expert in the ME.  This land remains a great mystery to me.  I am struggling still, after seven years, to learn the language, to understand the motivators, to read the cues.  I have many Arabic and National co-workers and acquaintances, but very few could be described as 'friends'.  This is no one's fault.  But it's a reality.  There is minimal meaningful socialization outside of work between Nationals and Western expatriates.  It happens, but in my case, it hasn't happened often.  It's a shame.  We have so much to share with each other, so much to learn from each other.  And I keep on thinking it's never too late.  Until then, I keep on hoping, keep on struggling.  Keep on searching ... and that's probably what keeps this blog alive. 
  10.  Once I start writing, I can't shut up!  People want to be entertained ... BRIEFLY!  4,500 words is way over the limit for a blog post.   And yet, over and over, I keep on writing endless, meaningless posts.  Much like this one.  (Sighhhhh .......)

If anyone actually gets this far, my point is:  if you like to blog, if you love to blog ... step back for a moment.  Think about 'why' you're doing it?  For 'who' are you doing it?  As long as you're ok with the answer to both those questions, please keep on doing it.  You may be lousy at it; you may be amazing at it.  But if you know who you're doing it for and why ... well, you've got it covered.  Acknowledge your strengths, weaknesses, mistakes ... and move on from there....

HAPPY BLOGGING!  And don't let your blogging mistakes ever let you down. 

Oh, and mistake number 1?  Well, it's hard to correct ... Just feels so empty without 'me' in the 'ME'.  

For some reason, this video seemed right ... minute 4:45 shows me surrendering to my incessant navel-gazing ...

"Just feels so empty, without Me ..."  "Nananana, nanananahna, nananananha, nanana NA...."