Saying Goodbye is Never Easy

 

Lots of lovely gifts and cards from my students.

Lots of lovely gifts and cards from my students.

I might have been lucky to live in different cities,  but saying goodbye is never easy. In fact I think it’s getting harder and harder. In trying to prepare for the inevitable sadness that will creep up on me on my last day here in the dusty city of Doha I have compiled a list.

 

Things I won’t miss so much:

  • The cacophony of car horns all competing to heard in the desert orchestra ( which I can hear as I sit and type this)
  • The varying shades of beige that blankets the city
  • Living in what often feels like an oversized industrial heater- fan on high

Things I may miss a lot:

  • Having the call to prayer punctuate the day
  • Hot fresh nutella pancakes from the local women in the souk, who sit there even on the hottest days
  • The pockets of shisha hanging in the air
  • Mr. Chandran’s shop and the gentle whirring of the old-fashioned sewing machines
  • Walks along the corniche on one of the cool, clear days
  • Having a Saturday morning coffee in the MIA park and watching the boats of all shapes and sizes come and go
  • Chatting with friends in the shisha café after a very busy week
  • A cool refreshing lemon mint drink when it’s unbearably hot
  • A refreshing lemon mint and a shish, always a good way to the end week.

    A refreshing lemon mint and a shish, always a good way to the end week.

  • Shawarma, humble yet mighty
  • Ugly, the security cat of my building, knowing that she’s on patrol lets me sleep a little easier at night

    'Ugly'

    ‘Ugly’

  • Dhows bobbing on the water, decked out in the most radical fairy lights

    The old and the new

    The old and the new

The Federal Department of Odds and Ends

Photo from "The Lost Thing" by Shaun Tan

Photo from “The Lost Thing” by Shaun Tan

The summer is over and I’m back at work. There’s always a feeling of slight disappointment at returning to work, the holiday is over, it’s time for the same old routine…The summer holiday now feels like a distant memory. However, I must say, there was a lot of excitement today, when I went to my pigeon-hole at the end of the day to see if there was any mail and there was. I suppose receiving mail is no big deal, us adults get mail all the time, and in fact it’s usually a bill, so really not exciting at all. This was.

The envelope, nothing special really.

The envelope, nothing special really.

The surprising contents of the envelop...

The surprising contents of the envelope…

A letter from the Federal Department of Odds & Ends! It really was a treat to receive such a letter. In writing this blog, I had hoped someone was reading it, but certainly didn’t expect anyone from the Department of Odds & Ends to read it let alone respond!  Here is what the letter said:

August 2013

Dear Rebecca

It gives me enormous pleasure to return these items to you on behalf of the department. I know they have been missing for some time, but we are s small department and there are so many odds and ends to deal with.

Items:

1x Teaspoon

1x Sock

Please don’t worry if some other precious items seem to have just disappeared into thin air. They will eventually turn up at our processing centre and we will get them back to you as quickly as we possibly can.

Your friend at the Federal Department of Odds & Ends.

The mystery of this department remains, there is no return address. I have no way of contacting them to let them know just how thankful I am.  Maybe next time…

Where have all the books gone?

It’s a beautiful Saturday, it might be winter, but the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the birds are singing. A perfect day to go out for lunch and check out one of my favourite bookshops.  Little did I know, I’d be very disappointed ( not with lunch, it was delicious!).

I’m aware of the growing importance technology has on our modern world, we’re all hooked and constantly tweeting, snap chatting, blogging etc but I never realised just how big an impact technology is having on bookstores until today.   I’ve been aware that many chains have closed down and it has been very difficult for many bookstores to stay open. The e-book has really taken off and many use their tablets for the convenience. I did think that those shops that had survived the ‘chop’ would ultimately remain thriving businesses with a great choice of stock.   I didn’t realise just how wrong l was until I went into one of my favourites today.

One of the reasons that I loved this particular bookshop was their interesting range of kids books. I’d go there for research, taking in the different types of books available and the types of books that the kids or parents would pick up. They always had a fantastic range and I always left having purchased another book to add to my collection.

Today, for the first time I left empty-handed. It no longer has a really great kids section stocked with interesting little gems, it no longer has a great choice of fiction books or any genre . Now it has a postoffice, rather large café and an e-book station instead. Where did all the books go?

Where have all the books gone?

Where have all the books gone?

Where am I supposed to go to wander among the shelves and flick through the pages of the many stories that now seem to be lost?

Hoping for a rainbow in a sandstorm

Rainbow stripes

(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I live in the land of beige. It’s a lovely land, but everything looks the same, all the buildings are beige, we’re buried by sand and I sometimes wonder if it distorts creativity and individuality.

I’m surrounded by tweens and teens, all of whom are trying to find out who they are. It’s bad enough having to be a teenager in today’s society anyway, without being one in the middle of the desert where everything is beige.  Don’t get me wrong, I love where I live and I think it’s an amazing opportunity for the tweens and teens, but I can’t help wonder if they become muted by all the beige.

As a society we have always been taught to conform to our roles, girls are princesses and boys are superheroes. It was very black and white. Now, though, everything has become a little grey (perhaps a lot more than fifty shades…)

Disney is a perfect example. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am and always have been a big fan of Disney, but the princesses have always conformed to the traditional, subservient role. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, they always have. But, that is what I loved about Brave. Merida didn’t conform.  She had her wild curly red hair and didn’t care about being a little bit feisty.  We are kindred spirits.

Having read the articles published in the media about the changes Disney made to Merida, I’m left wondering- what’s wrong with being a little rough round the edges? What’s wrong with being a little different? What’s wrong with having an opinion? Everyone should aspire to being different. Everyone should aspire to have their own opinion and not be afraid to voice it either.  I realise that Disney were thinking along the lines of marketability, but what about the message they send out to their young fans?

Is it really necessary?It’s taken me a long time to find my voice and be completely comfortable with who I am. As a child I wasn’t really comfortable with my hair. It was like having a double whammy- unruly curls and red, making me a moving target for all kinds of names.  I would wear a headband to hide my hair- goodness only knows why- I thought something like that could tame my hair!

I know that when I was a young lass I would have felt a little better knowing that I wasn’t the only one with unruly hair and big dreams. Now, of course I love it. So much so, that I will dye it various shades of red just because I can. I’m also now living in a country where being a red-head is highly unusual. Everyone is tanned with dark hair, I’m, as my mum always used to say “pale and interesting”. So, I’m embracing the concept of being born to stand out. There is absolutely no way I can blend in, and why should I? But, I’m comfortable with who I am and it’s taken me a while to get there. How long does it take to feel comfortable with who you are and what you like? Do our surroundings speed up or hinder that process?

I’m sure as I’m sitting typing this post that there is a fine layer of dust settling on me. This has happened often over the last few weeks as we are currently suffering from sandstorms, too many in my opinion. But, it did get me thinking about the idea of blending in and conforming to a society. Our tweens and teens are not the most creative and they don’t really display any sense of individuality, is this because of all the beige or is it tweens and teens in general?

Finding the Right Agent Or ARGH! Information overload!!

So, I am buried in my research, magnifying glass in hand as I seek to find the right agent and the right way to approach an agent.

There are so many articles, blogs, books on the subject that it’s actually becoming rather daunting. I’m looking for anyone to give me advice, there has to be people out there reading my blog (other than a few family members and friends) that have or are going through this at the moment.

English: Magnifying glass with focus on paper....

So, if you have any sage advice, please share……

Changing Blog ‘Burbs

Suburbs

Suburbs (Photo credit: elraphabr)

As many of you know, I have recently moved suburbs. I’m not talking about residential suburbs, I’m talking about blog ‘burbs.

The previous site for my blog was a great place for me to learn about blogging and become comfortable with people reading my stuff.  Recently, I started researching other blog ‘burbs and found that I might be better suited to a different one. So, I chose to move to the blog ‘burb of WordPress.

I’ve only been here for about a week, maybe even a few days, I can’t remember! What’s important is that I’m settled and it didn’t take long. It seems that this community is a little more welcoming and proactive, it’s the kind of place that suits me and my ever demanding needs.

So, rather than dropping by with a tray of cookies why not have a look round my new place and feel free to comment ( HA!  Who am I kidding, bring me cookies!). I’m always ready for a little neighborhood gossip….

Sometimes the day job just gets in the way.

Sometimes the day job just gets in the way. I am back at work after my week off and although my mind is full of characters, in particular two new ones ( Charles and Aisha) I haven’t found any time to write. I know I have only been back at work for a week now but as usual, it feels like a life time ago that I had the time to sit and write. 

I did go to the coffee shop and funnily enough did feel inspired- I think it had something to do with the natural light. My apartment is quite dark and sometimes that overshadows my thoughts.  Being in a light, bright place with coffee helped.  

My latest piece is going to be a narrative with two perspectives,  a kind of his and hers.  I am going to take a simple meeting on a train and try to delve into these two characters who are actually very complex- even I have trouble understanding  them at times. This is moving away from the descriptive pieces I have been producing, and I have to say it’s quite exciting. I like thinking about how two people can be in the same situation but experience it differently. This is what I hope to create.  

My new plan will be to give myself one afternoon a week to write during term time, I’m not sure how successful that will be but I figure some kind of routine may help.  But for any teacher who happens to be reading this, you will know that it is sometimes hard to find to the time, there is always so much going on and not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. So, before I get to any kind of creative writing I need to complete my pile of marking and write my reports!