Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Time Flies Like the Wind...

Fruit flies like bananas.

T+ 5 months or so.

Whew.  It's been over a month since I've written- yikes!  SO much has happened in that time.  Here's a brief rundown:

TAMUQ celebrated our annual Commencement Ceremony on May 7, and this was my first go-round here. We had about a hundred students participating in the ceremony, and it was a little different than what I was used to on main campus.  For starters, the event was OUTSIDE.  In the DESERT HEAT.  In MAY.  And those of us working the event had to wear academic regalia.  This is one instance where not having any graduate education came in handy, as I just had to wear a robe, no hood or hat, and a simple t-shirt dress underneath.  My job was to act as a student marshal, helping to line the students up beforehand and leading them in the recessional after.  Not too bad.  The speaker was the US Ambassador to Qatar, and she had a pretty good speech, short and sweet and to the point.  After was a huge reception with Qatari sword dancing and tons of heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks (water, juice, coffee) and the grads and families were able to celebrate.  It ended up being a really beautiful ceremony.  (Just made for a really long day.  Rehearsal was at 9am, also outside, then workday, then the ceremony prep and ceremony itself, then breakdown and cleanup- and did I mention all this was outside?)  My head hit the bed at 11:50pm and I don't think I moved til the next morning.

Graduation, Part 2!
Timing is everything, except when it isn't.  Most of you reading (OK, both of you!) probably know about Macey.  She is our "adopted daughter" who started as a student in my learning community, and became a part of our family- without having to go thru the painful teen years.  She's super special to us, not just because she takes phenomenal care of our dogs when we travel.  Anyway, she also graduated in May on main campus, with a degree in Theatre Arts.  When we first explored the possibility of coming over here, she wasn't sure she would let us go.  We managed to be there in person for her Ring Day, but it just didn't work out for us to be there when she walked.  BUT her super sweet boyfriend was kind enough to Skype me in the middle of the night (my time) so I could at least watch her get her diploma.

I'm always proud of all my students when they reach this goal, but Macey was so special.  We have had many heart-to-hearts about majors, job opportunities, philosophy, Harry Potter, the meaning of life, Pitch Perfect... the child really is like a daughter to me, and it was incredible to be able to see this milestone from 8,000 miles away. I couldn't be happier or more proud if she really was my kid.

Sixteen. Years.  Holy shit, right?  We were young and dumb- but sixteen years ago, I married the love of my life.  I THINK Thomas did too.  We celebrated this milestone by doing... nothing.  Well, nothing fancy.  We had planned to walk to breakfast with friends, and we did walk to the restaurant- only to find they were not yet open.  (Not our usual walking-to-breakfast place, Ric's- this was a bagel place much closer.  We'd been there before, but apparently they open later on Fridays.  Who knew?)  But all was not lost, our friends said, "Come over!  We'll make pancakes!"  So we proceeded to enjoy delicious pancakes and BACON.  Yummy, yummy, real pork BACON.  Not a bad way to start the day, if I'm honest!  We'd also talked about going to dinner at a fancy restaurant, but summer school had started that week and we were pooped- so we ended up ordering dinner in and watching TV.  Pretty perfect.

So there's this group of friends that takes an annual trip to Dubai, to the Atlantis resort (!) and this year, we were invited to join them.  I feel like we've officially been initiated and are really part of the gang now.  (This ended up being our official anniversary splurge.)  We left Doha early- left our building at 5:45am.  Normally, when you leave at that time, it's dark- but here, the sun's up at the ass-crack of dawn, around 4.  So it was bright!  Once we got checked in at the airport, our friends (who have racked up status on Qatar Airways/One World) got us into the business lounge... so of course we had to have some champagne, as you do.  And croissants and cheese for breakfast.  Saw an older gentleman in an Aggie shirt, so of course we had to say hello.  He was on his way back to Dallas from Dubai.  Nice gent.
Anyway, after a short flight, we arrived in Dubai, cleared passport control, and headed to the Duty-free Shop to acquire certain adult beverages.  After QDC, this place seemed dirt cheap, honestly.  Made our purchases, crammed ourselves into two taxis, and sped off to The Palm.  (Y'know the palm-tree-shaped man-made island?  Yeah, that one.)  Atlantis is pretty spectacular, and one of our group had gotten us a special deal for the weekend that included breakfast, dinner, waterpark, and aquarium access.  Thomas and I, being the last ones to join, had an Imperial Club room that also gave us access to the Club, snacks and happy hour.  (We're the shizz now, apparently! ; )

Anyway- WATERPARK!  OMG.  One room was ready, so we all threw our stuff in there and changed into swimsuits and went to play.  This was the best waterpark I've ever been to- lazy river, water coaster slides, body slides, big raft slides, beachy areas... we had so much fun.  And, we all greased up pretty good and not one of us got burned!  We went back the next day too and played for a few more hours, it was awesome and very relaxing.  Just what we all needed.

We also had incredibly good food, Italian one night and French the next- three course meals each time.  SO. GOOD.  We also took a bit of time to play on the beach, in the Persian Gulf, and explore the Aquarium there too.  The last day, our flight home wasn't until 4:30, so we Thomas and I took the resort bus to the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa- the tallest building in the world.  We went up to the 125th floor observation deck, which was pretty cool.  It had been pretty hazy the whole weekend, so we couldn't see too terribly far, but it was neat nevertheless.  After a quick lunch, we also went to the aquarium and "Underwater Zoo"- they had some massive sharks and rays.  Then we caught a taxi to the airport, and again met our friends in the lounge for pre-takeoff drinks.  And were home by 7:00pm.  It was a whirl of a trip, but so fun, so relaxing, so needed.  Everyone should be so lucky!

So that's been my month... and next week, we go down under!  I have an advising conference in Melbourne, and Thomas is tagging along.  We plan to explore the city, and meet my friend who lives there, and enjoy for a couple days after the conference is done.  It has long been at the top of our list of places to go, and I am excited that's finally happening.  In the meantime, we will be working as ususal... well, sort of.  The Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan begins tomorrow, so our schedules will be shortened for the next 30 days.  We'll work 7:30-2:30, but knowing Thomas he will use the slow time to get extra work done... I may be catching rides home with friends!

So I promise to try to do better and update more regularly, especially as we experience our first Ramadan.

Also, it's hot.

More soon!

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