Soft Spoken Spaces

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’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. 


Bittersweet Christmas Eve

We’ve spent 4 and a half years in this house. For the past 2 months, we’ve been waiting to hear if we stayed or had to leave. The news came on the 24th: my contract isn’t renewed – and it ends on the 31st of december.

On Christmas day, I went in to work to plead for some decency, allowing us to turn around by giving us at least 2 month’s notice. We’ll see what happens.

Christmas eve 2014 was probably the worst I’ve ever had to endure. We had to announce to the kids that they wouldn’t be returning to school in January.

But I want to celebrate the joy and happiness of a Christmas with a family. We’re being given a new beginning. We’ll make of it what we can, but it will surely be great.

In the heat of summer

The smallish park next to work is the only place with some shade and some grass. I imagine it’s cooler than the beating sun, but I’ve always wondered where the workers come from, since there’s little construction around.

Hard times

A week end at the beach on Sir Bani Yas island.
This used to be the private island of Sheikh Zayed, and is home to a nature reserve with many gazelles, some cheetas and hyenas, and giraffes.
Out of this world.

Registering a horse.

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Abu Dhabi wants you to reregister your car every year. And let me tell you, there may be no taxes, but my wallet doesn’t see the difference between a tax and a fee …That said, they’re pretty effective, given the general circumstances of the country. For example, it’s the time of the year where you get to pay your fines, which usually come as a surprise – because you NEVER get the SMS that tells you you’ve been caught speeding. It’s also the day I realized that in fact, I have a Horse, not a car (thanks to Rob for pointing that out – only a Texan could’ve thought that one up):

Sadly, it’s also the day I realized my horse needed new hooves:

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To be fair, I hadn’t changed them once in three years, with the sand and heat.

Oh well, at least it’s not like it was busy.

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