Saturday, May 29, 2010

where is the rest of my $10 magazine?

Okay, so I'm sure many of you have heard that there are censorship laws here in Saudi Arabia. Just to give you an idea of how it plays out in real life, my recent People Magazine in which Bret Michaels says he's "lucky to be alive" has about ten pages ripped out of it. Pontificating on why these pages have been taken out is sometimes more fun than reading the magazine itself, because let's be honest, who cares about Bret Michaels?

In the section titled "Sizzling Stars of Summer", "Sexy couples, super stunts, and ripped six packs galore," I am missing two pages of scantily clad celebrities. Apparently there is such a thing as too hot for Saudi Arabia! All I get to see of Jake Gyllenhaal's presumably unsheathed body is some whispy strands of hair. To the Censor who defaced my magazine: I have a womanly entitlement to see Jake Gyllenhaal's sun-kissed muscles, and I find it appalling that you are robbing the female population here of this God given right. Keeping us apart will only bring us closer together.

Ok ladies, for those of you wondering why I bothered to pay $10 for a People magazine, let me just inform you that this was actually a thoughtful gesture brought to you by the one and only hubster. He knows I read all kinds of tabloids and sh*t back home and can't get any recent copies here - he just didn't know that the trash factor had to be much higher for me to maximize my enjoyment. Yes, I am "that woman" that wants to read about Heidi Montag's addiction to painkillers after ten plastic surgeries.

Hubster has also had copies of the Economist censored in the same manner - there are often pages missing from the magazine any time there is coverage on Saudi Arabia. My reaction? I just shrug my shoulders. This is all part of what we signed up for ;)

alone time = verbal incontenence

It happens to the best of us. Living in a closed society can make it unusually difficult for people to make the same kind of connections that they have at home with their friends and family. A lot of expat women end up spending a lot of time at home cooped up with their kids or even by themselves, because the heat levels, the abayas, the lack of public entertainment sources, the prayer closings, the drivers, the blah blah blah million and one barriers to doing the things you always did at home result in it being ten times easier to stay home than to get out and go somewhere social. A lot of women fall into a pattern of inertia, a bit of a black hole in time, and I am just as guilty as the next. For instance, if I walked out of my home on any given afternoon to go to the compound store, and someone asked me what day it was or what time it was, I would not know. As a general rule, time stopped somewhere a year and half ago for me, and I therefore cannot make a distinction between Sunday and Tuesday. Those details slowly become filed in the brain as "not relevant"

As a direct result of all that isolated time-stopping quiet time, I find that when I call my friends and family back in Canada, I literally cannot stop talking. It's the kind of flood-talking where the person on the other end of the line could put the phone down, watch Seinfeld, come back, and you would still be talking, not because anything particularly earth shattering has happened, but because you've gone into withdrawal from the lack of human interaction and this is the rebound effect.

I know this post makes me sound like quite the fruitless loser...what can I say? it's not completely untrue........ha ha..oh well, that is what candy is for!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Top ten things to do on a compound

I get the impression that what goes on the inside of a compound seems quite mysterious to outsiders, so I've put together a little list of common activites.

1. swim or sunbathe or tend your requisite sunburns.
2. have bbq's or attend bbq's
3. walk in circles around the compound and try to spot which residents have nicer furniture than you. On your walk, you run down your mental tally of what gossip you have heard about what people living at what houses. You also get extra points if you see anyone naked in the windows.
4. if you have young kids, you spend time with your young kids and with other people who have young kids.
5. if you're an empty nester, you play bridge, tennis, squash, go on the shopping bus, go to the ceramic cafe, tend your garden, and chit chat quite a lot about those activities and everyone else on the compound.
6. if you're a single man, you watch a hell of a lot of movies, DVD's, and spend quality time with your Wii or Playstation.
7. take lessons in some kind of hobby that will likely never be useful in your day to day life
8. you cook alone in your house, staring blankly at the clock, while you fantasize about owning an Ironman suit. Ok maybe that one is just me.
9. go to compound parties that will be good if you have a good rec director, and bad if you don't
10. you spend an unreasonable amount of time trolling the internet in your pajamas

Saturday, May 15, 2010

getting a job...or not...

I've been meaning to write about this for a while but it's just oh so serious. I promise my next post will be about pixie dust or puppies or something.

For you ladies out there moving here for your hubbies, let me just say that if you like teaching, tutoring, being a secretary, or are a nurse, boy oh boy you are totally in luck! Riyadh is full of these jobs for expat women, and even if you have no experience teaching, the international schools and other tutoring opportunities abound.

If you don't like children and are not a nurse, and you don't have a job set up before you arrive, well come a little closer so I can stick my trusty pin in that rose coloured bubble above your head. The reality is that even if you find work in your profession here (a feat on its own due to your gender and the Saudization program), you will likely be paid next to nothing for your efforts for the simple fact that you own a couple of boobs and a hoo ha down there. Before you get here, if your husband's friends and colleagues say, "oh she'll get a job no problem" just be aware that 90% of the time the people who say that are full of sh*t; if it was that easy, why haven't you been recruited too?

When I first came to Riyadh, I thought I would be able to find work in my profession because it was in healthcare. For months I dug around, called, and showed up to hospitals, and actually I did manage to secure an internship at a hospital. As a job offer was extended to me, I was appalled by the pay they offered and turned it down. I am pretty sure our maid has better pay and hours than what I was given. It was at that point that I decided to choose early retirement. I was sort of unenthused about my chosen profession anyhow, so it was a good time to re-evaluate things on my end and I'm not really bitter about how things turned out.

Now now, before you get all depressed and disgruntled, let me say this as well: in time I'm pretty sure I would have found a decent job in my line of work. A lot of it is about making connections, getting names, and just showing up. Just be prepared to do that for the better part of a year, less if you're lucky or speak arabic, and more if the cosmos are not on your side.

Hope this is helpful!