Saturday, December 26, 2009

yay for christmas!!!

four wheel sledding on pewauke lake, wisconsin just before we hit a
slushy patch and opened the lake up a bit. had an indiana jones moment
as we barely escaped our own wake...

Monday, December 21, 2009

greetings from doha

18 december 2009 thursday

walk out of the ofice trailer and you can feel the impending rain. isn't this a desert? already this morning there have been two torrential downpours and sure enough, the tin roof of the restroom calls out the first drops and then it's a cacophony of sheets of rain. we run through the sand and mud.

it doens't feel like the earth here. it feels like they've colonized the moon. and as robert said to me--they built it, they continue to build--construction in all directions--even though it sits empty. they colonized the moon before anyone was ready to come.

today is national qatar holiday. the flags are everywhere. cars are covered with them. incessant traffic. the cars all all luxury and suv's. and they are all driven by men. an avalanche painted in glittery burgundy to mimic the flag rolls by. just for today?

note: i did not take this picture, but it's very representative of what i saw. except i never saw such a normal car. only luxury here.

i was picked up from the airport in a damn jaguar for chrissake!
but i couldn't take pictures. my camera doesn't leave the hotel because it would be confiscated....bummer.

the roads run straight like arteries through the expanse of flat desert. on either side, ceremonial tents have been erected just for today, surrounded by rims of uphostered armchairs and a sea of carpets. horses and camels stand waiting. camels.
and men in their distinctive dress. banners depicting someone royal. the sheik? someone we will serve.
the desert spans around us endless. paperflat, without vegetation. subdivisions stand empty. there is no sense of supply and demand. just supply. surplus.
all is orderly. there is no chaos.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

welcome to doha

customs, qatar palace style

at the base of the airplane stairs a smiling woman held a sign proclaiming "miss kitty" and "miss margaret". she guided us onto a shuttle bus. once inside, i grin. the men who aren't wearing their thobe--their long white robes and turbans, are dressed identically to me. i've nailed the local dude dress. the immigrant to qatar dude dress: flair pants, long sleeve patterned button down shirt and a sweater vest. all of us. but i'm jealous of the guy's vest that looks like it's make of shiny blue spun plastic.

we pull off the runway up to the airport. instead of the standard mile long custom lines, we are whisked to a lounge of comfy chairs and espresso. she takes our pastsports and baggage tags and we barely have time to use the restroom before she's returned. but we do go to the restroom. what we see there feels so instinctively wrong. the local women have left the purses on the public airport restroom sink while locking themselves inside of the stalls. just leave 'em on the counter. whoa.
so five minutes after landing and we're being walked past the customs line, and welcomed to the country. i haven't touched my luggage since new york and it remains that way. everytime i reach for a door handle i am tsked away.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

kitty joe's journal flies to qatar. part two

kitty joe, learning about foreign culture in the dubai airport.

couldn't decipher much as we landed in dubai. all apparant was an in-organic development. the gridded uniformity to the shape of the city and enrivons. like a cartoon world. the airport was posh. i felt like a ragamuffin even in my 'nice' 7 jeans that i swear i never wore to the rink, my vintage blouse and a pilled up sweater vest. i suppose i'll just need to get used to the feeling of being a ragamuffin, because, essentially, that's what i am.

you can feel disdain for a set of values, a superficial way of being or judging. you can stand by the person that you are. but it doens't stop you from squirming when enveloped in opulence and all slickness.

we laughed at the lavish luxury car giveaway displays in the city making daily world news headlines of financial collapse. we laughed at the christmas tree displays in a muslim country. christmas trees so perfect and artificial. like those on a set of a soap opera. just know that if there were gifts beaneath, with big bows atop, they'd be the kind whose individually paper-wrapped box tops would lift right off for the ease of the scene.

wait! stop. the plane from dubai to doha is lifting off and i think i'm looking at the tallest building in the world. whoa.

we wander through gift shops and my heart breaks. i have enough money to pay for my cab to and from the airport, and my visa. these are all re--imbursible business expenses and every meal and lodging and transportation from hotel to palace will be covered. but there is not a dime for shopping or exploring. now, being uber-poor --since i now carry the combined weight of student loans cutting off, credit cards maxed out and said run out student loans suddenly due for payment STARTING ON CHRISTMAS DAY--maybe doesn't bother me so much in regard to myself. what's killing me, especially now that its xmas, is that i see little tschotchkys and i want to buy them for all of the kids in my life. i see the camels wearing santa hat cheesy ornaments and i want to pick them up for my sisters. and i can't. it's not even that i shouldn't. it's that i can't. should just avoid the hsops altogether. aw, and with that positive spin, we start our descent into doha.

i am thrilled. i need not be a greedy consumer. because even to desperately want to give came sometimes be selfish. this guilt is selfish.

balls of fire glow in the sea below me. they are bright in the pitch blackness like i've never seen. some kind of oil extraction? what is the fire? my own ignorance astounds me.

usually i do quite a bit of research before traveling, but to this country, even to its pronunciation, i am a stranger. i simply haven't had the time. welcome to doha! welcome to adventure! i land a day early. a luxury of time to acclimate, to luxuriate at the ritz carlton.

holy glitter! i've never seen such a sparkly city! the buildings are literally glittering like disco balls! such strange contrast to the surrounding sand.
welcome to adventure. i've already in twenty four hours eaten more that i had all week, it seems!

the flight attendants begin the flight with a hat attached to a white gauzy veil. when the flight begins, they take them off. it seems odd.

dubai airport: prayer rooms beside starbucks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

best. business. trip. ever! a really boring mind locked blow by blow by kitty joe

16th or 17th of december?
unsure of the date.
made it through work with minimal required tie up for the walking tornado. the boss despaired, "i'm scared! i can't do this without you!"
and jade held me and begged me to come home.

ah! here i decided to make a list to blow through my impressions without beleaguering myself with transitions and complete thoughts. but i can't ever tell a concise story, can i?
the boss dropped me off thanking me. "it's true what you've said. it's been a year of incredible accomplishments! have a great christmas.....uh...i didn't have time to get you a gift." at this i laughed. we don't do that!

once free and inside my apartment i felt three distinct states of being wash over me. first i became excited, no, giddy with the thought of the extraordinary trip i was about to take. an unknown piece of my world expanded, if only briefly and superficially, within the bubble of the ritz carlton. but still--the palace!? come on! the persian gulf! qatar! layover in dubai! i will, by hook or by crook, swim in the sea between saudi arabia and iran!

in a moment of splurge, i ordered chinese food. no time to cook and the phone conversation i had with the airline (emirates) earlier was ridiculous. i had requested a vegetarian meal and he said there would be no veg meal option because there would be no meal service at all. wait. what?! on a jet blue flight for five hours, i understand. i pack my burrito and they shower me with chips and cookies.
but twelve and a half hours with no meal?! i was shocked.
i ordered chinese food.
and since i'd eaten my customary day ration of peanut butter toast at 6:30am, it being twelve hours later, i was ravenous. but a whole order of sesame noodles on an empty stomach? perhaps not the wisest...

excitement was replaced with moaning gluttony. and then a sudden coma. surely i couldn't fly to the middle east tonight. how would i keep my eyes open another minute?

and then my jade came home. i was so grateful for the chance to say goodbye (it had been unclear if he would make it home in time from work). so grateful for a man to be sad that i was leaving , to miss me already, but to also feel excitement for what i would see.
this had not formerly been the case with others.
but jade, he carried my suitcase to the car and sent me off with big love. actually, it was his suitcase. ah, how many suitcase sets have i lost to the bedbugs? two sets, to be presise. enough. not that i'm bitter.

and so, i rock the peterbilt duffle. got a problem with that? talk to the palace. i am their guest. it said so in my 'welcome to doha' packet.

so to the airport i go. 25 degrees and i only wear a blouse because hello? car service both ways and 80 degree destination. i feel wrapped in luxury. or unwrapped by luxury.

i arrive at jfk a little less than 90 minutes before my flight. some people advised 3 hours, some 2. but the gentleman (and now i use that term loosely, and wonder why i trusted a man who tried to tell me we'd be sent for 12.5 hours with no food). he told me if i checked in online, i only needed 90 minutes. the emirates website went so far as to suggest 60. so it was without urgencey that i made my way to the security line. oh, that was naive. the eight lines of people who should have (if we were, for example, in the jet blue terminal) been routed into eight lines of xray machines. instead, there were two lines and a nightmare merge reminicent of L.A. rush house and enough road rage to start a war.

we stood in mosh pit like conditions, growling at each other, each trying to extract pity and perhaps advance our place in 'line', with fears of missing our flights. more terrifying to instead realize were were all fucked. seeing the monitors flashing 'dubai: last call', and having finally swallowed the guilt of others excuses, i pushed past the man with no ear, the toddler insistantly performing the fake cry and the unfortunate chap whose 'british sensibilities' were offended, i finally emerged panting from the xray machine, running to the gate, shoelaces clicking behind me, belt hanging loose around my neck, laptop haphazardly slung under one armpit, clear toiletry bag under the other, open peterbilt duffle covered with cat hair, passport and boarding pass pinched between my teeth. classy. but i got on that damn plane.

i was seated with peggy, who i will work with for the next week. i had earlier grumpily shot down jade's optimistic flight consolations. "i don't need any new friends!" i feared discofort, awkward interactions, but instead we hit it off beautifully, feeling quite a kinshop of experiences and values.
and the flight, by the way, did include meals. three of them. of course, mine being vegetarian. at the check in counter, when i related my phone experience, the counter girl was shocked. "you should file a complaint!" and as much of a fan of our friend blue, i'm sorry to say that emirates kicked jetblue's ass. i spent the first hour flipping through the touch screen of hundreds of current, classic, foreign movies, tv series, make your own music playlists, podcasts, computer cord, power plug ins, usb ports, blankets, little purse full of sox and face masks and funny colorful 'do not disturb' style stickers which i was temped to stick to my forehead. hot towels, hot meals, free wine. in economy class. i watched 3 moves, 4 episodes of 'flight of the conchords', a documentary of frank lloyd wright, and still slept like a baby. happy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

oh my god, i'm going there!

it just hit me that i'm on my way to take a plane to qatar, a tiny arab emirate in the sea between iran and saudi arabia. i have been so overwhelmed trying to tie my life in a tidy knot (a challenging task to be sure! jade likes to call me the walking just might be the most accurate description anyone's given me....) to get to this point that i only just had this HUGE excitement--the travel bug in me is flying, buzzing and crashing against the inside of my head. and still my brain doesn't understand. we're going where?! i'm so excited. i hope to give you all of the mundane and exotic details. supposedly the ritz carlton. yes, that's me at the ritz carlton has internet service that the palace is paying for me.
explanations later. for now i will just leave you with the riddle of an idea that the royal palace is sponsoring my blogging for the next five or six days. how ya like me now?

Monday, December 7, 2009

21 marzo: sunday. jade. mi vida

i hesitate before i post this because i want to write a long post about how i fell in love. but time does not allow. so i move forward. another day, i promise.

Friday, December 4, 2009

20 marzo 20009: saturday--the only surfer in guanabo, cuba

i feel like i've posted this before. because it was my protype--the first of the series that i printed and experimented with the typing. apologies if i'm being redundant, but anyway, this is where it falls in the timeline of the project. i love this one.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

little baby d turns one.

you can say it. it's true. she looks like a doll. or cindy lou who?

here i am flexing the auntie muscles, babysiting baby d shortly after she learned to walk.
she belongs to eddie and maria, of the lifetime friend/my family of nyc category.
kudos to them for surviving a year of parenthood while enduring medical residency madness.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

19 marzo 2009: rez

still with the sting of a midnight jellyfish on our backs,
we spend the stormy day on a cuban beach