Lucky ’13

This year has been one extreme with highs and lows. In a word, it was dynamic. Everyday feels uncomfortable, because everyday- so much is changing. I’ve been humbled. I’ve seen pain. I’ve been elated at the sight of stacks of work to pilot my mind away from myself. I’ve been lost. I’ve been grateful. I’ve been in a prison of thoughts and expectations. I’ve defined my values. On the whole, I’ve grown more than any other time I can think of. This year was a lot less about:

Climb a tree

and much more about:

In the FACE

^^ facing the real world. There were the occasional moments of:

The Rowan California

and

Green Pearls

But let’s organize a list which can never fully capture, but maybe give some perspective to the last year minus 8 days.

1. I’ve had my passport stamped in seven countries.
2. I laid on my couch while professional movers packed up everything I own.
3. I totaled my Ford Ranger on a rainy 6 lane highway in Dallas.
Danger Ranger
4. I met my childhood hero.
Heros

5. I was told I look 30.
6. I mentored seven interns/junior engineers.
7. I got a promotion.
8. I left work early (very early… like… noon-early) every day for a week just to sleep.
9. I was a victim of sabotage, the aftermath of which escalated to an attempted coup and unraveling of several able- minded people.
10. A modern day slave wishes me a good morning and brings me apples on a daily basis.
11. I’ve truly lost friends. Not in the sense that people drift apart, but in the sense that sometimes- people were never meant to be friends.
12. I’ve cried at my job. A LOT. Sometimes for no reason.
13. I visited the US embassy.
14. I’ve said goodbye to six different co workers who resigned within a few months of each other.
15. I saw a piece of pressure equipment explode.
16. This:

17. I’ve been crushed.
18. I was stung by a jellyfish.
19. I’ve been offshore in two different countries.
20. I’m a stranger in my home.

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The Flip Flop Gang

You may recall a post from earlier this year explaining the concept of “office boy”, the maroon vested mob of migrant workers who bring coffee, tea, and fruit to my desk. The office boy in this area of the facility is named “Flip Flop”. He holds the keys to the office pantry, where the milk and sugar is kept. When the coffee station is out of creamer, only Flip Flop may bring me more. Each area of our facility has a designated office boy. I like to think of them as little drug dealers, except instead of drugs, they control the coffee stations. They stick to their turf and have specific clientele. Flip Flop occasionally makes copies for me and runs my expense reports to the finance center.

“He actually has a background in computers. He is very talented…….Poor Flip-Flop. He was conned” explains one of the senior engineers. He proceeded to tell us the story of FlipFlop and his gang of fellow office boys. This is a story which is becoming more popular in the news due to attention from FIFA and the World Cup stadium construction in Qatar. However, it should be knows that forced labor/slavery is extensive in this country, regardless of stadiums and special events. Truthfully, most of the people I work with are catagorized with the migrant workers. They are contractors, working for another company.

In the words of my co- worker: Let’s say a Qatari wants to make some extra cash. He will go to one of these agencies which recruits from, say, India, and say ‘I can sponsor 4 visas for 5000 QR each. So, 20000 QR in cash.’ The recuriting agency will find people in India, and promise them good jobs in Qatar for 2000 QR a month, which is a lot of money for these people. The recruiting agency will pay the money, like a loan, then get them visas, bring them over here. As soon as they get here, the company which hires them holds their passports. Now these people are in debt to the recruiting agency, and they can not leave the country. They end up being paid only like 800 QR a month, and they can not do anything about it. This is why I try to help them out any small way I can. When I win a gift card for a good appraisal, I always give it to Flip Flop.

I wonder how they view the people they work around. For example, I am not their captor, but they see me and effectively work for me every day. Am I part of the system which has brought them here?

A Branch

Gray and brown, she swims around in a trauma he can’t comprehend.

Be with me or I’ll be free- the walls of her isolation cell.

Mix and match, oh how to catch the love I saw swimming in the sea?

Rhythm and time, I’m trying to find an order to impose on how I feel.

Climb out of the water and into the woods, it’s thick and it’s dark; the leaves obscure any path.

The path I had dreamed, leaded to the tree, standing strong and tall. It’s beauty will pacify my pain.

It’s leaves have fallen, trunk has hollowed, and roots shallow now exposed.

Worms inhabit the soil, still rich with color.

Why have you hollowed? What bugs have swallowed the life right out of your beam?

I’ll plant gray and brown leaves in supple ground to nurture and water every day.

I’ll clear the brush and show them the light. Sit patiently on my hollow trunk.

Fill it with my secrets, my fears and hopes, decorate it with scents and scarves.

To show you I’m still here, though my greatest fear- you’ll see it and quietly walk away.

And I’m watering dead leaves and filling dead trees- the only receptacle in which to bare my soul.

Things I Held Sacred

I’ve been experiencing blogger’s block. I try to keep this space as positive as possible. I experience gaps in writing when I’m too busy enjoying life to pause for a post, or the opposite. Nothing strikes me anymore. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss my home. I miss myself. I used to think the world is my home, and I can make any place my community. This is completely misguided. Home is where there is a Best Buy and a Chick Fil A. Home is where my mom is.  I spent the last month indulging in a passionate love affair with the USA. I drove around in my car. I ate at chick fil a often. I ate in general often. I pondered the meaning of life. If work is a means to an end…. where does it end?

 

The following is a list of things I didn’t think I would miss as much as I did.

1. Cowboy Boots. I wore them everywhere.

2. Scarves. I brought them back with me.

3. CD’s. I bought new ones at Best Buy as the soundtrack to my vacation.

4. Jukeboxes.

5. Target. It’s the simple things.

 

I left the USA with plenty of happy moments and memories to keep me going for a while. Below is a snapshot of my family Thanksgiving:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpToCpW5sAQ

 

 

Two days before my return to Doha, I became very sick. I coughed up snot and once sneezed out what looked like an egg yoke. My parents pumped me full of medication and took me to the airport. Though the journey took over 24 hours, and I had sleeping medication, I slept not a moment. Just sat in a foggy daze, travelling through time and space to arrive in Doha. I unpacked my bags and stayed awake all night wishing I was anywhere else. At 4 am, I drifted off to sleep. I woke at 6pm and am feeling just as lonely. Most of my friends in Doha have moved on, either transferred or resigned.

I am alone in the desert, and it feels like a new chapter for me in Doha. The age of the hermit is upon us. (Not like the time in college when I ordered pants and printer ink off the internet to avoid leaving my apartment, but a more deep and contemplative hermit) I polish off the mini loaf of zucchini bread my mom made for me and work on my puzzle (also given to me by my mother) in the corner of the room.