The Power of Projection

The allure and danger of projecting onto our leaders.

A World of Stories

A few months after I arrived in Saudi Arabia, I found myself at dinner with a group of teachers. You know, school teachers. Ladies that taught English at Saudi girls’ schools. Old maid school teachers. You got that picture squarely in mind? Good. Now flush it. Whatever scars you still carry from that time you … Continue reading A World of Stories

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

To Grandmother’s House We Go: Touring a Traditional Arabian Village

My new favorite painting: I did it myself. Well, if you want to get technical, I took the picture myself: Then ran it through the Waterlogue app. So with a liberal definition of the word "paint," you could say I painted it myself. I didn't get to the place where I took the picture by … Continue reading To Grandmother’s House We Go: Touring a Traditional Arabian Village

Finding Festive: Holidays in the Gulf

When it comes to celebrating the Christmas and New Year holidays in Saudi Arabia, an expat has two choices: Leave Stay and do something weird Last year we took Option 1 and went home, where we managed to get everybody in one spot for long enough to get a family picture. Out of about forty … Continue reading Finding Festive: Holidays in the Gulf

Party On: Riyadh’s Janadriyah Festival

My daughter will be having a baby in the U.S. in February, which is fantastic. I'm so excited to snuggle a little newborn girl and to play with her toddler brother. This guy: But nothing good comes for free. I'll be making a substantial sacrifice to go. See, if the baby were coming in, say, … Continue reading Party On: Riyadh’s Janadriyah Festival

Inside Out and Backwards

To understate the obvious (double whammy!) Arab and Western cultures have some...difficulties understanding each other. But don't worry--I can totally fix this. Yes, it's true that I'm completely untrained in anthropology or sociology, and have done zero structured research. Minor details. The important thing is that I'm fairly well acquainted with Hollywood and Riyadh, two cities of about … Continue reading Inside Out and Backwards

What the Cave Man Knew

I have always loved history in the laziest way possible. I love the stories, and the complicated way stories cross and influence each other, and I love puzzling over why people did what they did and how the consequences still play out today. The older and more mysterious, the better. Plus I'm a sucker for … Continue reading What the Cave Man Knew

Desert Diving

We went on our first desert outing of "the season" yesterday. I calculate "the season" as "not summer." Kinda like the symphony season. The theater and ballet and debutante and ballroom season. You're still wearing long dresses; they're just...simpler. Less colorful. Less flattering. Dustier. And on any given day, smellier. I'll tell you what, though. … Continue reading Desert Diving

Saudi Cheat Sheet

When people learn I live in Saudi Arabia, the first question tends to be, "So what's it like there?" A big question. But given enough time (say, a meal, rather than a cash-register transaction), the conversations generally cover the same ground. Here, then, are the basic answers to the basic questions about what it's like in … Continue reading Saudi Cheat Sheet