Saturday, July 25, 2009

Germany, Doha, and dilly dallies!

I am currently sunburnt, energized (going to bed at nine will do that!) and honestly in love with life.

So what have I been up to?

Well, a little bit of this... as in, photoshooting, story writing, and generally working. I love working. My job is fantastic. Where else would I get to interview bikers, sit down with a non-traditional Qatari woman, talk fashion with Kathleen while wandering around one of Doha's many malls, sample new restaurants and meet people from all over the world? Every day is a diverse adventure. I go in with a rough idea of what to expect, and at the end I'm always a bit surprised by what happened. In this pic here, Bryce is taking shots of some acrobats who I guess have been training since they were around seven. Now that's dedication to a craft.

I've also been doing this: traveling. Work sent me to Germany for an Audi press junket. It was my very first actual business trip (and my first time traveling business class!) I had a plane seat that folded into a flat bed, access to endless snacks during layovers and great company. Germany itself was, of course, beautiful. I didn't get to see much of Munich itself, since most of my time was packed with Audi press events. Guess that's the nature of business, eh? But I'm learning. Guess some people will ask to stay on an extra couple of days, book their own affordable hostel, and travel around in the country where they're sent. That's good to know.

Turns out Germany, while beautiful, is also cold and rainy. Here's me, sad-face style, with a plastic poncho and borrowed suit jacket.

So working, traveling... what else? Friends. I've started meeting people outside of work, while simultaneously getting to know the folks I work with better. I'm glad there's such a great team at ABODE and other Bilal-owned operations. They make the weekends fun and my fridays under the sun more exciting.

I'm really missing Whole Foods (salad bar!!!) and my little sister. Yes, I realize putting those in the same breath is odd, but the two tend to go hand-in-hand for me (leia! Let's go eat! ok!). So I've booked a flight to Cali before I leave for Cambridge. I'll be there for about a week visiting the lil, the bro, and even the pops. Since it'll be the last time for at least two years (most likely), I think this trip will be extra precious.

I've also decided to try and run three races in three cities: 5k in Omaha, 10k in Modesto, CA, and a half marathon in Birmingham, UK. This means I've started training again, which has, if anything, made me that much more of a nerd. Didn't really know that was possible!

Speaking of nerd... I'm running out of books. I'm down to my last one. It's Kathleen's and it's surreal fiction. I've also found it increasingly difficult to read magazines without thinking about work and business. This could be a problem.

Just finished "The Alchemist," a book given to me by the lovely SAO staff (thanks Liz, Katie, Katy and Eric!). It was fantastic... all about pursuing your dreams, rushing forward in pursuit of your true life goal. One of the things that resonated strongest was how so often we settle, and thus we exist with this sort of slow, pained feeling that says 'this isn't right, this isn't right'. It's a monotonous death. I do not want to settle, not for a moment.

Which is why I'm going to work hard while I'm here and work hard at Cambridge- not only to achieve the basic goals, but also to strengthen who I am. I'm finding out.

...through techniques like buying these investment boots, a la Kathleen-inspiration. ;)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Celebratin the fourth, Doha style!

My goodness (my guinness!) I'm hungry. It's almost lunch time here in the office, and considering I still wake up around 5am (thank you sunshine!) I've gone far too long without food. How am I ever going to survive during Ramadan?

Well, the July issue of ABODE has hit the shelves, offices and gyms. This means I'm out and about in the glossy world of magazines, a published journalist. It's crazy. Absolutely crazy. When Tessa dropped a copy off on my desk, I almost started crying. Call me young, naive and all other sorts of names, but at the end of the day I can't help but to be young and naive and all sorts of happy. I'm a journalist, for real. 

When I'm not hiding behind a desk in our fortunately air conditioned office, I'm out and about getting lost on the Doha streets and meeting my interviewees. I can't really detail the stories I'm working on this month; suffice to say I'm excited and I think they're going to be pretty good. Tessa made a point the other day about how writing is more significant when you feel it might impact people, when it might make a little change in even one life. 

That's the kind of writing I want to do. Change lives. 

The ABODE staff got together on the 3rd to celebrate 'merica in the 'merican style. We ate hotdogs, burgers (Bryce requested veggy burgers for me. YUM!) and sat in the sun for hours. After lounging around lazy in the exhausting heat, Kath and I ducked out to attend a salsa "Bad taste" party. My gangly limbs struggle to dance, but I still had a great time. Kath, dancer o'15 years, was naturally pretty good. And pretty. Even in her colorful outfit.

Being in Doha for the fourth made me miss my family, especially lil sis 'n bro. I think last year, my pops tried to grill a lobster. Not quite sure what they did this year. It's getting tougher to cope with the fact that I'll be leaving Leia for two years in two more months, and that I probably wont see her during that entire time. She truly is one of my best friends.

Maybe she can fit in my suitcase.
That having been said, I really can't imagine myself anywhere else right now but here. I absolutely love what I'm doing. The people are so well travelled, interesting, diverse, loud and dirty and pristine and chaotic. It's everything at once thrown into a desert, with opulence and poverty shoved side-by-side. It's astounding. 


Yesterday after dinner at Thai Snack (which is absolutely, positively one of the greatest not-secret secrets here in Doha), the team'o'staff popped into this nearby antique store. It's the first used-goods shop I've seen yet in Doha. I fell in love, mostly with the upstairs attic room filled with hundreds of books. Swollen from heat and dusty with age, the books were stacked against the walls and falling in piles. I could have spent hours going through each one. It's times like that that I realize just how awfully nerdy I truly am. I love books. I enjoy reading. I wanted to accost the store owners and demand they sit down and talk with me about literature. 


Instead, I went home, finished off my fruit supply, and watched a film called "How to make an American quilt" with my sleepy suntanned roomy. It was the perfect end to a beautiful couple of days.