I’m lucky enough to follow Teju Cole on Facebook.
in these trying times, he’s a soft spoken harbor of calmness and reflexion.
Yesterday evening he simply asked:”How are you doing? What’s hardest? What’s helping?” and the outpouring of raw emotion was heart-wrenching. But to me its also much more a testament to resiliency and humanity than any self-congratulatory 8pm applause sessions.
Here’s my own reply:
Better than I thought we would. But we’re in an easy place: roof/jobs/relatively low maintenance kids and the French socio-political system is responding relatively sanely. Hardest is realizing a lot of things that should change WON’T change: the slow erosion of our welfare system, despite daily evidence of its usefulness, is still on the agenda; the self-congratulatory 8 pm applause sessions that serves as absolution for all the selfishness … What’s helping is the knowledge that my family is in a place now that it can survive this thing together. It probably would not have been the case a few years ago. I’m grateful every day. And frankly, the fact that people like you are fostering spaces like this comment thread is soothing – in a very stark, very harsh, very real way, but believing in our shared humanity is allowing ourselves to be fragile and flawed in front of each other. (Ps: and the Music! Of course)
I’m going away to herd a bunch of music students for three days. Added bonus, I’m bringing four kids to take pictures and document the retreat. They’re excited as hell because we’re going to develop our own film.
If you’ve lived in the Gulf, you’ll know what this is: the traditional headgear worn by Omani men with their dishdash.
Oman is a welcome respite from the UAE which, surprisingly, most expats I’ve met in Dubai or Abu Dhabi have never visited.
And it’s a shame because its one of the best memories you can bring back from the Gulf. I’d hazard “authentic” but it’s a stupid, overused word.
For one thing, I’ve uniformly found Omanis to be extremely nice, helpful and engaging (Bahrainis are a close second). Most Emiratis are courteous, and extremely polite if you ever have to engage with them. But Omanis genuinely will go out of their way to be nice and helpful.
A good thing about coming back to France is that I have relatively easier access to film processing, so I decided to finally put my Diana to the test.
Sure enough, as predicted by the guy at the photo shop, the results were iffy, at best. But I see a lot of potential here, so I’m going to try and go on having some fun.
The first batch was actually exposed last summer, but developped this week. I had trouble with the film advancement, and obviously the lady at the shop had trouble with the scanner, since she scanned everything with a 1/4 frame offset … This is all much more fun than instagram, anyway. I’ll get it right, eventually!
I’ve been “home” now for a little over a week, and it feels a little like Limbo. There are some real challenges of daily life, of course. Like most expats, we’re in a catch 22 situation: the paperwork we need is contingent on providing the paperwork we don’t yet have, for which we’ll need the paperwork we’re seeking. I’m still fresh enough at this that I believe it’ll work out. We have savings, and a roof over our heads courtesy of my in-laws. The kids are in school and happy. What more do I need?
And that’s exactly how I’m enjoying this moment in life: I’m doing things I haven’t done in a while and I probably won’t get to do again for a while. I’m dropping off and picking up my kids every day at school. I’m learning to spend time with them without being too tired or too wound-up to enjoy it. I’m spending more time with my wife than I have in a long time – and we get to talk about the future and what we want to do with it. I’m actually thinking of setting out on my own, with all the implications about hard work, failure, risk – but also rewards and frankly, not being at the mercy of the psychopathic bosses I’ve had lately.
This is a surreal moment in my life. A bit dangerously so, because it’s (too) confortable to imagine it will last forever. But I’m planning to enjoy it to the hilt.