Dear Saudi Arabia, Please Help Me Understand

Why won't you let any refugees in? Please, help me. I want to understand. I want to think better of you than what I see. I sit in front of the television, crying. "This is Europe's defining moment," I hear a television announcer say. I shake my head. "Why?" I say. "Why is it just … Continue reading Dear Saudi Arabia, Please Help Me Understand

Me, a Joke, and the Secret Police

Theory: A sense of humor is to every human quality as salt is to every food. It doesn't take much, but the lack of it will pretty much kill whatever you're serving. Love? Good, but when it's dead serious it'll suffocate a person. Dignity? Admirable, but without a sense of humor you're just stiff and … Continue reading Me, a Joke, and the Secret Police

There’s No Place Like Home

As you may have noticed, summer is winding down. In Celsius, that's 44, 44, 44, 44, 45, 44.., and that little nip in the air means it's expat migration season. Time to pack the bags full of all the loot/necessities/contraband you've picked up in the home country, squeeze in a last dinner at your favorite … Continue reading There’s No Place Like Home

The Necessity of Unnecessary Things

When I arrived in my new home in Riyadh, it looked like this: This is the sum total of what I brought with me to the party: Most of which was swallowed by the closets and a single kitchen drawer. So even after I moved in, it looked exactly the same. These are in-progress pictures … Continue reading The Necessity of Unnecessary Things

Where Dude Meets Dude

I love intersections, when things coming from different directions cross each other, and the interesting things that happen to both of them when they meet each other. You know, like those couples where you can't figure out why they're together and you spend a lot of time wondering what their first date was like, or … Continue reading Where Dude Meets Dude

Note to Self: Top Ten Repat Reminders

A woman I knew a few years ago returned from a year of living abroad. Awesome. Great experience. Good for you. But I'm not doing myself any favors if I paper over the fact that she had instantly become INSUFFERABLE.  She could say nothing without prefacing it with "Well, in China..." Nothing, I promise. To … Continue reading Note to Self: Top Ten Repat Reminders

5+5 = 10 Things to Do at Historical Diriyah

The clock's ticking here, folks. The window of opportunity to fix the mess that has us leaving the country has closed. We've made our plans for the return trip, the dates are set, the flights booked, the house is packed up. On the plus side, the people moving into our villa are buying all the … Continue reading 5+5 = 10 Things to Do at Historical Diriyah

Last Fling: A Week in Thailand

When you're about to be unemployed, and have an already-mostly-paid-for (nonrefundable) trip to Thailand in your pocket, you go. Or that's what we did, anyway. It's a four-time-zone trip from Riyadh. After we go home, it's an other-side-of-the-world trip. No-brainer. People go to Thailand for a variety of reasons. I'm quite sure the 75% unaccompanied … Continue reading Last Fling: A Week in Thailand

Leaving Oz

At face value, you have to wonder why Dorothy wanted to leave Oz. Kansas was gray and windy and ugly; Oz was technicolor and gorgeous and magical. To top it off, by the time she got to the capitol the witch was dead and she was being treated like royalty. Why on earth did she … Continue reading Leaving Oz

The Nose Knows

Here's something I can't capture in the blog: People around here smell WONDERFUL. Fragrance is a big deal in Arabian culture, and there's a smell about the place that hits you the instant you step off the plane. (Or maybe when you get on the plane, depending on the ethnic makeup of your fellow travelers.) … Continue reading The Nose Knows