Thursday, November 27, 2014

I'm grateful.

Today I'm grateful that, completely by accident of birth and through no merit of my own, I have a passport that does not require me to return to a war-torn home country and fulfill a military service requirement. One of my students cannot say the same.

Again I find myself eliding details, but one of my students was waiting for a student visa to a Western country; he was taking my class in the meantime. The visa came through, hooray! But since apparently his home country, which his family fled recently to avoid the rising tide of kidnappings in their otherwise peaceful town, has to sign off on the paperwork, he had to return. And since he's turned 18 years old in his time away, upon return, he has to fulfill the one-year military service requirement.

It's unclear to me, and to his classmates (my other students), whether this will be a matter of a bribe + "wink-wink let's call his service requirement fulfilled, shall we?" and he'll be on his way, or whether this boy - boy, really - will find himself on the wrong side of a war very soon. Wrong side, because his family's politics skew towards opposition, but there is no "right" side, of course.

I find myself horrified by the prospect. His prospect. And now I have another former student to add to the list of people in a war-torn country to worry about.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

CSA in Dubai

Think of all the things Dubai is unlikely to have. Is Community Supported Agriculture on your list? It was on mine. But not anymore! Check it out!

I picked up my first box of Ripe veggies today from the neighborhood collection point. It was filled with tomatoes, part of an Indian pumpkin, zucchini, kale (!!!!!!! - that stuff is pricier than gold around here and probably more difficult to find, because at least you can get gold out of ATMs), eggplant, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, and parsley.

First order of business was making a toned-down zuppa toscana to put the kale in. I think some tomato sauce will be next, and maybe I'll make zucchini gratin instead of a cream-based green bean dish for Thanksgiving tomorrow. We'll see!

I am so thrilled to have these veggies delivered to my neighborhood. It took some major doing, and I am glad I have one of those awesome Get Stuff Done neighbors who made a million phone calls to bring this about.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Other Bridget 2014

There is a woman in Australia who shares my name. I get a lot of emails intended for her, and from them, I've pieced together a life. I've been inadvertently involved in the details of her bachelorette party, the birth of her first child, various travel itineraries, the time one of her friends went to prison and asked me to be an approved recipient of correspondence from her, and the time she left her car on the beach at low tide and when it came in, the car was swamped. We last checked in with Other Bridget in 2013. What has she been up to since then?

She got invited to a Pop-Up Store opening. I do not know what that is, but I bet Australian Other Bridget does. She was also invited to the launch of a bespoke jewelry line and something called the Georgini Couture collection.

I got copies of the blood analysis she had done at the lab (!).

I got a birthday email greeting from Camel. As in, the cigarettes.

She gave her friend Dana a "painted glass snowman" for Christmas. I know this because Dana sent Other Bridget (me) a thank-you email.

She bought some Air Jordan sneakers, which I did not know were still in production, and some North Face sunglasses.

She started taking Bikram Yoga classes!

She took a trip to Sydney in April.

She had a big part in some major PR production thing that sounded really swanky. I got all kinds of behind-the-scenes emails about it.

Her friend informed me he wouldn't make it to Other Bridget's wine tasting party. But I'm supposed to say hi to Holly for him.

She applied for life insurance.

She received a contract from a company big enough for me to recognize their name, and in that contract, Other Bridget is "the Talent." I think she's about to hit the big time!!!

She updated her car insurance for her two vehicles. I have all the details of both of them, of course. I wonder if the policy includes ocean water damage, har har.

I got free tickets to Interstellar. Well, Other Bridget paid for them, I'm sure, but they showed up in my email inbox. If only I lived within 1000 miles of that theater.

The most dramatic thing to happen to Other Bridget is that her pet dog (I know the breed, name, and tag number) was turned in to a shelter. I got an email intended for Other Bridget informing me that if I didn't contact them within 14 days, they had the right to euthanize the animal. I wrote them back, don't worry!

What a life. I'm lucky to share it!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Two things

1. The UAE is doing a polio vaccination drive in light of recent polio outbreaks in Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan. The vaccinations are free without regard to residency status or health insurance. Interesting.

2. A student here proposed to another student after a performance of Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra. Very cute, right? I am fascinated by cultural differences, so much so that I wrote a thesis about them, you may recall. Notice in the video how the dramatic engagement moment ends in...a kiss on the hand. But even that was too much for some people on facebook. There were a few comments like this:

"Huh, I wonder how her family will react when they'll see this video. if he truly loves her just go and ask her family for marriage not on the stage in front of people."

"FYI, if this keeps going on and other people start doing it then it will affect AUS's reputation and families will consider [not] enrolling their daughters in AUS. No family specially a muslim one want to hear this from their daughter: 'hi mom and dad, I just finished my semester and guess what?! I got engaged.'"

(Ah, the old "hi mom and dad, I just finished my semester and guess what?! I got engaged" phone call. BYU does not have a monopoly on it, see?)

Not to worry, conservative Muslims. The groom-to-be clarifies:
"Hey, just wanted to let you know that I flew down to Saudi and asked her parents first and only once I had convinced them did I go down on one knee to Mona. It's important not to jeopardize the relationship you have with your family before you start something as important as Marriage."

I find this all fascinating. It's this weird juxtaposition of the west and the east and it's interesting how everyone reacts.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A rant about editing

I'll have to keep this post fairly oblique, but let me state on the record that I am most likely not going to accept any more work editing MA theses. It's a shame, too, because it's good work and I've had mostly positive experiences. But the bad apples are so, so bad, and I can never see them coming.

I've had someone tell me (via someone else; way to be passive-aggressive) that after I edited a thesis s/he was helping supervise, it still had some problems, which betrays a misunderstanding of what, exactly, an editor can do. Hint: she can edit. She cannot completely restructure a thesis's ideas and content and language to be amazing, at least not when the source material is shoddy to begin with.

More recently, and the deal-breaker for possibly all thesis editing work from now on, is being treated like what I am doing is unskilled labor. I have only had this problem with theses in a certain field. In the very recent past, I had someone question what I charge per hour for what is often tedious, painstaking work that requires an intense attention to detail and the finer points of the English language. Then, when I was finished working according to their tight deadline and neglecting my family and my other TWO jobs in the process, they questioned how many hours it took me. (Hint: the longer it took me, the more problems your thesis had. Though in some cases, perhaps including this particular one, it was more formatting problems than English problems.) Then, they questioned some of the changes I made, even when I had this field's codified style guide to back me up. If you want me to do things the way your professor likes it, instead of the way the industry at large likes it, please tell me before hour one, not after hour twelve.

Now I just have to hope this person deigns to pay me. I wish people could understand that while having your thesis edited is a hoop you have to jump through (in these parts, anyway - the quality of some was so bad that this university made it a requirement for some programs), it is a hoop manned by an really edumacated person with a particular set of skills.

Anyway. I know I sound like a huge jerk, but someone else was a huge jerk to me today and I guess this is what it makes me do.


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