Being thankful

I’m thankful for Zumba.
Randa’s my instructor, and the way her body rolls and bounces along to the music would be enough to inspire Shakespeare to use the word “bombdiggity” in one of his sonnets. I try desperately to keep up, throwing my arms around like a lobster in battle. Sometimes I manage to get my lower body to mimic hers, but most of the hour is spent enjoying loud music and not caring who’s watching… including the crowd that gathers in the room next to the studio to watch.

I’m thankful for five feet and seven inches.
I can take a skanky, high-cut dress and wear it as a demure, long top. Sometimes it pays to be taller than average.

I’m thankful my family is supportive, even of my more radical ideas.
I’ll call my parents to tell them just how grim and dreary my job outlook has become.
Me: “I think I need to move to the Middle East.”
Dad: “Do what you have to do.”

I’ve been all over the place. I randomly texted my mom in the middle of the night:
Me: “I’m considering jobs at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.”
Mom: “Penguins!!!”

I’m thankful for IMAX movie theaters.
The Amazing Spiderman in 3D on an IMAX screen left my friend Amanda and me in a totally geeked-out, happy tizzy. Next up, The Dark Knight Rises. Because he hasn’t given them everything: not yet.

I’m thankful I don’t have an air conditioner in my room yet… kinda.
When it’s 35C (around 187F) and my room might as well be on the surface of the sun, my pores throw up. Then, when I step into Chocolate’s room, which already has an air conditioner, nothing else matters and I am blissed out.

I’m thankful I’m leaving work in four minutes to go tutor.
Primarily because the guy in the cube next to me is either testing out his landline, or he’s ticked at whomever’s trying to call him, because his phone rings, and rings, and rings, and rings, and rings, and rings, and rings, and rings, and rings. And then it rings again.

I’m thankful cell phone minutes are cheap here.
I’ve gone through 2,400 in three weeks. That’s 40 hours. Talk about talent! I should put that on my resume.

I’m thankful for music.
Jim Brickman, the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, the Six Feet Under soundtrack, the A State of Trance podcasts, Manchester Orchestra: music has saved me from breaking down a number of times. I turn up my iPod loud enough to drown out my coworker’s phone and everything else, including my own thoughts, and I get work done.

I’m thankful I have freedom.
Looking at job postings in Saudi Arabia and thinking about women’s rights there, and how I could choose to teach there and leave anytime I wanted, but most women there can’t: it’s sobering. I’m free. I can go anywhere I want – Alaska, Hawaii, Antarctica, UAE, anywhere in the world. I can do almost anything.

Then, looking at my KIA bracelet… thank you, Captain Freeman.

Who knows where I’m going to end up. The possibilities right now are overwhelming. But it could be a lot worse.


    1. Hey, thanks! It doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to make it before I leave Taiwan, but once I make it over there (hopefully within the year), I’ll be asking for your recommendations.

      On another note, if I were to do a job search for American expat jobs in the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Yemen and the like, where do you recommend I search? I’ve got an account with If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears.

      1. Just let me know when you’re planning your trip, and I’ll be happy to suggest away.

        For jobs, you can also try Nadia ( and Gulf Talent ( A lot of employers only use local papers (major Gulf papers include Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News, Kuwait’s Arab Times, Qatar’s The Peninsula and the UAE’s Gulf News), but I have no idea how well any of these work for the sorts of positions you are seeking. Not that I know what sorts of openings you want in the first place. Anyway, with a major institution, such as a university, you are likely to find it far more useful information on their own site. The obvious complication is that you first need to figure out that the employer exists and is worth working for.

        Yemen’s falling apart at the seams and uberconservative Saudi Arabia isn’t a particularly nice place to live, so I’d give those two countries a miss if I were you. The UAE is almost certainly the easiest place to adjust as an expat. Bahrain is up there, but last year’s political problems are far from resolved, so I’m not sure it’s the best time to look for something there. Oman is far quieter, but has wonderful people and some pretty albeit austere scenery. Qatar is small but growing fast and should be full of opportunities. It isn’t as pleasant to live in as the Emirates, but it beats the Magic Kingdom to its south. Kuwait is a little sleepy, but they do have money there, and so there should be expat jobs available. You might also want to consider looking at Jordan, which is much poorer than the Gulf, but culturally richer.

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