Tuesday, December 24, 2013



Over the next two weeks, I will be traveling a grand total of 21,484 miles. For scale, the circumference of the globe is 24,901 miles. I'm missing it by 3,417 miles. Damn.

The magic formula of this mileage looks a little something like this:

Baltimore > New Jersey > Dulles > Doha, Qatar (layover) > Abu Dhabi (layover) > Amsterdam (layover) > Prague (for 2 days) > Amsterdam (layover) > Abu Dhabi (5 days) > Doha, Qatar (layover) > Dulles > Baltimore

= #YOLO?

= #guaranteedflu?

= #whiskeytangofoxtrot

This holiday season, I decided to do...everything! Spend Christmas day with the entire extended family, fly to Europe (via Abu Dhabi because, believe it or not, is was almost $2,000 CHEAPER to do so) for two days to be with The Gentleman's family who are overseas visiting Prague, and then to Abu Dhabi to spend New Years and also begin moving into our new flat which is available January 1. Huzzah! Exhaustion! Emergen-C! 

In between all of this, I am wrapping up my final paper for a year and a half long certification I've been doing through University of Baltimore, and gearing up for the last 3 weeks at my job when I get back in January. And packing up my existence and moving to another country by February 8. 

You know, no big deal.

One of the things I am most looking forward to in my expatriation is the opportunity to unpack my suitcase and LEAVE it unpacked for more than a couple of months. To just breathe for a few months and not gear up stress about time off of work, customs, time changes, currency exchanges, the potential of lost luggage, and standing in line for security. 

Do you have any idea how much of my life has been spent standing in line for airport security?

A lot.

I plan to sleep through most of February upon my arrival.

I am certain that this will not be the end of crazy travel at the holidays, especially in the future when we will not only be crossing the Atlantic multiple times a year but trying to see family and friends on both coasts of the US, but it will (happily) be the end of this chaotic long distance relationship. I'll gladly take the trade-offs. 

And it really is amazing to think that, within the span of a week, you can spend Christmas day with all of your extended family, then hop on a plane(s) and be in the Christmas markets of Prague with your partner and your partner's family, and then hop on a plane(s) again and be in the Middle East in the lovely 75 degree weather. Can't complain about any of that.

Thus, I embark on my two weeks of insanity starting today with a drive up to New Jersey to be with the whole family for Christmas day. Which I'm quite excited about. 

I just need take a metric shit ton of vitamins and Emergen-C. And possibly wear a SARs mask.

After The Big Move, I have grand plans for a blog redesign and re-launch. I'm thinking about moving to Wordpress or Squarespace. Thoughts? Suggestions?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Please note: this attire is only required for mosque visits.
This is not everyday normal attire, which is more like designer jeans and stilletos yoga pants and flip flops.

مغامرة adventure

So, I'm moving to the Middle East. In February.

During a year and a half of long distance, The Gentleman and I have been plotting and planning and scheming and this is finally coming into fruition. I shall be uprooting my life here in Baltimore and moving, cats and all, to Abu Dhabi.

I'm pretty psyched.

This has meant a lot of planning and preparation, with much more to go, and a lot of soul searching. Truth be told, I have always wanted to live in another country. I didn't exactly picture the United Arab Emirates as that country, but hey- a foreign country is a foreign country, and it has gold ATMs and 75 degree weather in January to boot. Could be worse.

The underpinnings of this move are rooted in love, however, and not wanderlust. After three years together (a year and a half of them in an EXTREMELY LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP), The Gentleman and I have ascertained that we cannot live without the other any longer, and that we should be physically together as soon as possible so that we can commence with antics such as the time he told me that Paranormal Activity was a documentary and I cried for two days. That happened.

Love is so awesome.

(On a related note - my dad used to get a kick out of my firm belief that the Blair Witch Project was real. IT HAD A WEBSITE which, in 1998 or whatever, was a BIG DEAL and the stamp of authenticity. He was also convinced that Jodi Foster is a lesbian. I didn't fight him too much on that one.)

The truth is, over the last year and a half while The Gentleman sussed out life the Middle East, we have both been living a sort of half life. Every single day has an element of "having to be gotten through" as a day closer to when we could be together. This element of not living in the moment takes a toll, and a hefty one. The high highs of vacations together and the low lows of the long stretches (4 months at the max) of being apart seem so surreal now that we are down to less than 90 days before beginning the next step of our lives together. Thinking back, I see how I crammed a thousand hours of activities into every single day with the express purpose of making time pass as fast as possible. Talk about burn out.

Not that it was terrible. Over the past year and a half, I met and re-met some amazing friends, went on some pretty epic vacations, and picked up some new hobbies like quilt-making and air yoga and spinning. That was all pretty fun.

Charm City has been very good to me over the past seven years, and I will be sad to leave it. But also excited for life in a different country for a couple of years and learning/embracing the expat lifestyle. And, you know, being with The Gentleman. That will be ok too, I guess.

Watch this space for upcoming adventures as I navigate things like:
1. Navigating the expat paperwork situation
2. Moving 2 cats overseas (one who is small and extremely troubled to begin with)
3. Do they have blonde bobby pins in the Middle East?
4. Saying goodbye for now to so many family and friends that my heart is going to explode and burst out of my eyes. In the form of tears. Which I'll say are allergies.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Hooray! 114 days down, one to go! The Gentleman will be here tomorrow. The joy of a long-distance relationship - the awesome airport reunion, which is the antithesis of the horrible airport goodbye.

I think this calls for Barry Manilow.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Styled by Charming City

My girl Katie over at Charming City Style has done it again and put together some looks for me for a wedding I'm attending next month with my handsome Gentleman Friend. I love the way she pulls things together and I'm excited to dig around in my closet (and at the outlets this weekend for Columbus Day sales) and see what I can come up with. Also, she's fabulous and has great ideas, so you should check her out anyway.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ski Dubai and some General Observations

Greetings, Glitterati! I'm going to be wrapping up my Abu Dhabi posts just in time for my next bout of travel which begins towards the end of this month. The Gentleman and I are headed out west for a wedding in California, and I'm making a stop on the way to visit Lee and Hot Curry (WHO NEVER UPDATE THEIR DAMN BLOG) in Salt Lake where I am excited to go hiking, drink delicious microbrews, see Mormons in their natural habitat, and hopefully stalk dooce. In a totally non-stalkery, breezy, Imagine seeing you here! sort of way where I die inside and try to hold it together and not be all OMG IT'S HEATHER ARMSTRONG!. Because that would be weird.

Anyhoodle, on my last trip out to Abu Dhabi, we totally went to Ski Dubai. We had to. How can you not? It's a ski resort in the middle of a mall. We saw it on our first trip out there and vowed to return.

A friend who had been before prepped us as to what to bring/wear and that was incredibly helpful. They give you full-body jump suits and warm socks, which is included in the lift ticket, but we brought hats and gloves with us. You can buy them there at the sport's shop but they aren't cheap. 

We went in the middle of the day on a Monday and it wasn't crowded at all, but I'm told that it can be packed on weekends with long lines. We paid for two hours of skiing and, believe me, that was plenty. This is not a ski resort - this is one run (two if you count the bunny hill, which is really just the lower half of the larger run), and it's about a 5 minute ride to the top in the ski lift (yes, there's a lift). With no lines to contend with, we probably got at least a dozen or so runs in with time for a coffee and snack break at the Apres Ski located halfway down the run. You can also do a full day pass, but unless it's really crowded I can't imagine wanting to be there for a full day of skiing.


Lift tickets and free socks!

My totally awesome skiing suit.
One thing I wasn't expecting was that it was cold. Underneath that jump suit, I'm wearing shorts and a T-shirt because it's approximately 98 thousand degrees outside (it's THE MIDDLE EAST), but once inside the conditioned ski area, it's freezing. I had gloves and a hat on, as well as multiple pairs of socks, and I got so cold that we had to take a break in the Apres Ski cafe for some espresso to warm up for a bit. Don't be fooled by the fact that it's a man-made ski slope in the middle of the mall - it's cold as hell.

The slope itself is also a decent run. It takes just a minute or so to get to the bottom, and there are several different paths you can take depending on your skill level, but it's actually not a bad incline. After about a dozen or so runs, however, we got bored of the same old scenery (tall walls painted industrial blue and fake trees and wooden lodges).

They also have a Snow Park with penguins, toboggans, bobsled, snowball throwing area, and an igloo. I get it: it's the desert, this is exoticism at its highest. But having grown up in the Mid-Atlantic North East, I can't imagine purchasing a day pass to go and play in snow. 

It was definitely a lot of fun. I hadn't been on skis in years, so it was good practice to gear up for hopefully some ski trips in the future. It was also pretty opulent to be inside a snow globe of man-made snow in the middle of the desert. Sort of the ultimate in opulence, really.

Which brings me to the last of my observations from this May 2013 trip. I've been to Abu Dhabi twice now and am headed back over for New Years in December. And there are a couple'a things that seem to remain consistent. 

1. Park anywhere you like.
I thought Rome, Italy, and Amman, Jordan, were the most ridiculous in terms of trying to drive. And then came Abu Dhabi. Everyone has giant, obnoxious cars, and everyone drives them in giant, obnoxious ways. Rules? Regulations? Pssshh. Do whatever you have to do, park wherever, double park, park on the curb, it's ok! THERE ARE NO RULES HERE IT'S CHAOS. Until you get in an accident. Then, there are lots and lots of rules and you're screwed.

2. Seriously.
PDA is a no-no. Hand holding, kissing in public, NO. NOT ALLOWED. We've tried to be extremely careful, but hey- we're in a long-distance relationship, and sometimes there's a hand-brushing incident or an arm around the shoulder or a quick, sneaky kiss. We take our chances when we do these things though, because as a non-married couple in a Muslim country, it's not only rude and inconsiderate, but it's illegal. As in - you will most likely be fined, but you could possibly serve jail time, or even be deported. So be careful. Just don't mess around. Think about it like this: don't do anything that you wouldn't do in church under the watchful gaze of the Pope. Be considerate. Be polite. These are not just religious considerations, but cultural. People in the US don't like public make-out sessions in nice restaurants - this is similar. Be considerate.

3. The architecture is incredible.
 The UAE is a relatively young country - it became independent from Britain in 1971 - and since then, the oil boom has been quite lucrative. Buildings here are "dressed to impress,"with attention to detail and clamoring for attention. Unfortunately, it seems like infrastructure hasn't always kept up with the incredible rate of growth and there are still some kinks to be worked out (like traffic patterns and fire escape routes). But, I never get tired of staring out at the buildings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. 

The Corniche

Gulf of Arabia (NOT the "Persian Gulf," as I've been told)

4. It's full of surprises.
This was an ad in the Ladies' Toilets in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. There is so much going on here. It's amazing. The Gentleman didn't believe me when I first told him about it, so I had to go back into the Ladies' and take a picture.

Or, you know, a stretch Hummer just parked randomly on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. That, too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I had a really good time in Boston. 
As part of my recovery, the doctor ordered me to sojourn to Boston for the weekend.

And by doctor, I mean my buddy, Dr. Emily.

(It's ok, because she's a real doctor.)

Dr. Emily moved to Boston back in July, and a group of us agreed that we needed to visit her. And the Samuel Adams brewery. Until we heard that the Harpoon Brewery was way better, and then it was ascertained that we needed to visit Dr. Emily. And the Harpoon Brewery.

Fall is a pretty fantastic time to visit anywhere in the north east, and while none of the leaves had yet begun to wear the Autumn Line, the weather was absolutely beautiful. Kind of. On Sunday.

My pals and I flew out early Saturday morning (and flew back butt-early Monday morning, in time to make it to work) and in the course of the barely-48 hours that we were there, we saw a lot of Boston.

The sky was not at all pretty.
Not my first time, bee-tee-dubs - Boston and I go way back. In 2003, I lived in Maine for a summer and worked as a camp counselor, and weekends/days off often meant trips to Boston. We'd pool together our cash to get a motel room ($79 a night for 1 room for 7 people) and two cases of beer ($20 for some delicious Keystone Lite) and then traipse around the nicer parts of Boston pretending like we weren't gross, dirty camp counselors with hemp necklaces and Tevas, but tourists on vacayyyy.

I also went to Boston for a conference in 2005 where I stayed in a (much nicer) hotel and posessed a thing called a "per diem" and discovered that Boston has a pretty spectacular night life.

But I haven't been to old Beantown in years, except to fly in and out of Logan on various Trans-Atlantic adventures. And, mostly, I just wanted to see my friend. Dr. Emily was really good to me in the year or so that The Gentleman moved overseas and she moved to Baltimore and became my partner in crime. I miss her dearly, but I am excited that now I get to go and visit her in Boston, because she's super fun and lives next to Fenway Park.

The weather was not so lovely the first day.
Now, it should be noted that Dr. Emily is an amazing host. Whatever you wanted/needed - Trader Joe's Coronas, hot tea, kale chips, a warmer blanket, a sweatshirt - it's yours. She will generously allow you to make fun of her really, really fat voluptuous cat. You want to take a nap? Dr. Emily will ask you if she should set an alarm for 15 minutes or two hours. She is truly a lovely host.

Except...Dr. Emily lives in a world where the time-space continuum is vastly different from that on earth. Meaning - if she tells you that something is "a brief, 10-15 minute walk away," this means that the destination is approximately 14 miles afar. She is a true creative when it comes to map reading, and Google maps can really only offer an approximation, right?

It took us an hour to walk from the T-stop downtown to the Harpoon Brewery. I'm certain there are faster better easier different ways to get there, but we took the T to East West Foreveraway and then walked 18.2 miles to the brewery. Signs taunted us along the way:

Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall.

And then! Sweet victory! The Harpoon Beer Hall! Alas, tours were already booked for most of the day (we got there around 1pm and hadn't made a reservation), but we were invited to enjoy brew samplers and delicious pretzels at the beer hall. Which we did.

Harpoon Brewery Beer Hall, Boston

I basically LOVE pumpkin beer. I mean...love love. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE. You get the idea.

We sampled a flight of "pilot beers" that came in this handy little Harpoon sampler shelf thingy.

Pretzels and a plethora of dips at the Harpoon Brewery
After the brewery, we went on another 18.2 mile jaunt of Boston. But we got to see some beautiful sights along the way, including the tequila bar at Temazcal
Dr. Emily loves tequila. And we love Dr. Emily. So, to a tequila bar we went....

....to taste some pretty ridiculous tequila. This stuff was approximately 400 years old, aged in the 

One of these was a pomegranate tequila. I'll let you figure out which one.

Damn Yankees and their damn lobsters.




The Intercon, Boston

Our first night in Boston, we went for cocktails at The Hawthorne Bar (including a delightful champagne jobby called "Air Mail" while we awaited a table at Island Creek Oyster Bar

Air Mail! I don't know what's in it, but it's delightful!

I mean, how can you not?

The walls are lined with err-sters.
Smoked salmon toast 

Errsters (shocking)

Amazing heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad

Boston Cream Pie, believe it or not - layers upon layers wrapped in dark chocolate. Amazing.

Brainiac ads on the T heading towards BC.

Sunday was beautiful.

Fenway Park area at night
Sunday was a pret-ty gorgeous day. Copley Square on Sunday morning


Boston Public Garden

Boston Public Library

public gardens

public gardens


We went to the SoWa open market on Sunday which boasts food trucks, locally grown and/or produced foods, and crafts. I had a pretty epic ice cream cookie sandwich from the Cookie Monstah - peanut butter cookies and Reese's peanut butter ice cream. Soooo good.
Glorious Sunday brunch at Cafeteria

Sunday Funday!

Smoked salmon platter from Cafeteria

The finish line of the Boston marathon. This was a little heavy. But not as heavy as the dedicated light post near the bomb site...

We do, too.

Boston strong

Boston loves you too, Joanne & Charlie!
When you live next to Fenway, pre-gaming means delivery Indian and Trader Joses.
Naturally, we couldn't come to Boston and stay next to Fenway without going to see a Red Sox game. AND, we happened to be there during a Red Sox-Yankees game. It was pretty awesome.

Everyone drinks red wine at Red Sox vs Yankee games. Right?

Make way for ducklings! And random kids! 

Also, can we just talk about the fact that Dr. Emily's Trader Joes sells "Trader Jose" which is the cheap alternative to Corona and is like $5 FOR A 6-PACK?! WHEN WILL MARYLAND GET ON BOARD WITH THE SELLING OF THE ALCOHOLS IN THE GROCERY STORES?? (If it's anything like the gay marriage trend, we're only a few years behind....)
Leaving Boston at 6:30am on Monday morning. Hashtag no filter. Hashtag I'm tired. Hashtag COFFEE. Hashtag I slept the entire flight back to Baltimore.

Until next time, Boston! Now, just let us borrow Dr. Emily for a weekend or two. At least in Baltimore she can't tell me that something is "just a ten minute walk away."