The Voiceless Expat

I realise my blog's been pretty quiet as of late.  

Some evenings I can actually hear its silence screaming.

''Write something, ANYTHING!  Type, write, dictate ... why so silent all of a sudden?'' 

"I've been there for you through thick and thin, Gypsy.  I've helped you get through some pretty harsh times these last few years.  What happened to us?  What happened to US?  Wasn't I good enough for you?''

''I was your voice, your safe place.  I was the one who got you to open up.  Remember that job you hated?  I was the first one you told.  Remember when you got cut off in traffic, and you were so scared your knees wouldn't stop shaking?  I was the one who convinced you to sit down, calm down, pour yourself a glass of wine, and try to find the humour in it all.''

''What about that whole tough time with your Dad?  What about your friend's suicide?  What about that shitload of emotions you felt about your Doha friends moving on to greener pastures?  What about farting at altitude?  What about that time you got upset with Kiddo?  What about that time your eye almost exploded?  What about the time ... what about those times, Gypsy?''   

Yours faithfully, 

Your Blog

I want to say it's going to be alright.  I want to say I'll keep on blogging.  I want to say we'll be the way we were before ... it's just a phase, a cycle, a dip.  But I'm not sure.

Maybe it's because my 'niche' is 'no niche at all'.  I mean, seriously, ''living, breathing, working and driving in Qatar'' is pretty broad as a topic.  And actually pretty inconsequential.  

I think that's what's killing me these days; how inconsequential anything I have to say will end up being.

I still write.  At least once a week I sit down and I write.  But nothing I write ever makes it past the draft stage.  

I write about my friend and fellow Doha expat blogger who's fighting cancer right now (like a superwoman, I might add).  I write about my beautiful niece and goddaughter who's just given birth to the most amazing twin girls imaginable.  I write about our dream cruise to the Baltics and Norwegian fjords.  I write about spending the summer in Doha.  I write about my Mom across the ocean who's been admitted to hospital with pulmonary oedema likely brought on by chronic heart failure.  I write about Kiddo starting off fifth grade with a bang.  I write about thinking I may have to quit my job to become my daughter's full-time event planner.  I write about my silly, silly, stupid cardiomyopathic cat who should have been dead long ago but who's chosen to hang around and randomly throw herself 20 feet down from our mezzanine and keep on kicking.  I write about the freak September thunderstorm we had in Doha last week.

But nothing I write ever makes it past the draft stage ...

Because, inevitably, Smilin' Vic will have the news on as I punch away at the keyboard, and just as I'm about to click on 'send' I'll see another truckload or boatload of dead refugees.  I'll see a little boy washed up on the beach.  I'll hear that some lunatic with an arsenal of weapons tried to storm a train.  I'll read that local troops have mobilised and gone into nearby countries.  I'll listen to politicians and citizens and religious zealots and radicals worldwide driven by fear. I'll hear things through the local grapevine that I don't want to hear.  On the news I'll see protests, and hungry eyes, and desperation, and fear, and anger.  And I'll hear bigoted newscasters trying to make simple sense of such a complex global issue.  

And then I'll feel it ... gently pulsing in the air all around me ... if I'm not careful I might miss it, but it's there.  


I see a world driven by fear, including my own. All around me there's a warring cacophony of ''bleeding heart liberalism'' and ''extreme intolerance'' factions; blanket statements and judgements playing out on social media, around the water cooler, and over dinner party drinks. 

  • ''Should we get involved?'' / ''Should we let it play out?''
  • ''Should we let them in?'' / ''Should we lock them out?''
  • ''What about the children?'' /  ''What if they're all terrorists?''  
  • ''It's the humanitarian thing to do.'' / ''What ever happened to looking after our own?''  
  • ''Our arms are wide open.'' / ''Go back to where you came from.''
  • ''Thanks for the safe haven.'' / ''You should be doing more to help us.''
  • ''We need help.'' / ''Help yourself.''
  • ''We want to help.'' / ''We don't need your help.''
  • ''We need to teach tolerance.'' / ''What about OUR culture and values?''  
  • ''If I tell you what I'm really feeling, you'll call me a racist.'' / ''If I tell you what I'm really feeling, you'll call me a terrorist.''
  • ''We all bleed red.''  /  ''We're just too different.''
  • ''This will all end badly.'' / ''We have no future.''
  • ''What about the children?'' / ''What about the children?''
  • ''I'm afraid.'' / ''I'm afraid.''

And I remain mute.  I silence my own fears about the state we're in because I'm caught between two worlds and I can't quite find the words to express the torment brought on by the divisiveness. Sitting mutely and squarely on the fence seems like the only safe option when either side offers nothing but societal toxicity and fractioning.  And so my silenced fears take on a life of their own; trying to snuff them out actually feeds their flame, making them bigger than anything else going on around me right now.

Silencing my thoughts on the world around me makes it very difficult to give voice to the everyday moments that tend to nourish my blog. 

Because if I talk to you about my everyday life without referencing the big stuff that's going on and how it's affecting me and my everyday moments ... well, there's no context.  And it doesn't tell the whole story.  And it ends up seeming meaningless ... to you and to me.  

And so I find myself voiceless.  Unable to write about living, working, driving and breathing here.  Because to do so, I have to tread so gently that ... My. Story. Falls. Flat.

I am the voiceless expat.

''This is the problem that we're having ... These conversations that we're having aren't really being had in any meaningful way.''   Around minute 4.

Religious scholar Reza Aslan took some serious issue on CNN Monday night with Bill Maher's commentary about Islamic violence and oppression.