Friday, July 31, 2009

Welcome, welcome

I saw two Kuwaiti women at the mall who had been on the plane with me. I said hello in Arabic and told the older one that I remembered them because she looks like that actress - Hayatt whatshername. I meant it as a compliment, but she looked at me like I had 2 heads. She's probably not used to weirdos walking up to her in a mall in a foreign country and speaking to her. Whatever.

Its really nice to see more khaleeji Arabs around DC/Virginia again. There was a distinct shortage after 9/11 and now it seems like people are starting to come back and feel more comfortable (YEAH OBAMA!). I'm happy to see that. Oh, the United direct flights probably help. God love 'em.

Friday, July 24, 2009

OBX Baybee

I'm in Corolla Light in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with 12 other people; mostly my family.  I traded one form of sand for another and this kind is definitely an improvement.

I'm seriously not in a writing mood, but thought I would say hi.  I'm going to the beach now.  Later.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Michael Jackson Tribute – Weird or What?

No disrespect to Michael fans. Everybody everywhere is giving their own 2 cents about the tribute. Although I'm no real Michael Jackson fan, I watched quite a few hours of the tribute to him. After seeing it, my personal feeling is that it should have been done after he was privately and quietly buried by his family members.

It seemed odd that no one acknowledged that was an "elephant in the room": Michael Jackson’s coffin. Usher was the only one who acknowledged that MJ was actually right there. Very weird. Usually, at a funeral, the deceased (in whatever vessel – real or symbolic) is the center of attention. In last night’s “performance”, he seemed to be secondary, like a prop for the real main event.

Katie Couric did the play-by-play. It was almost like they were supposed to have a half-time show with cheer leaders bounding into a pyramid formation. Who CLAPS at a funeral? I thought people were going to high-five each other. Totally tasteless.

I couldn’t tell if his family (of performers) had staged the tears or if they were real. I mean, ok – the main event being the singing of MJ’s favorite song, “Smile”.

Gee .... “What was your favorite part of the tribute?”

MJ’s kids chewed their gum throughout the whole thing, appearing like they didn’t have a care in the world. LaToya obviously put some thought into that hat; why didn’t she make her nieces and nephews spit out their gum, as they were appearing in front of (how many?) millions of people world-wide? Tacky. In my family (no aunts), my mother would have smacked me silly. So the little girl had a few words about her daddy. It was very sweet. However, MJ had seemed to have sheltered his kids from the type of exploitation he went through as a child. Would he have wanted his little girl in the limelight under those circumstances?

Throughout the whole thing, I had the distinct feeling that I would see it next month for sale on Amazon in a boxed set of DVDs. It looked like a major profit-generating event rather than a funeral. “A Tribute to Michael”, with .5% of the profits going to charity….

Is this what we have come to? Is this what our future is all about? Ab-so-lutely everything must now be commercialized?

People spoke excitedly for days about the upcoming event; as if it were the major event of the decade to attend rather than a somber gathering.

Ok, so I wasn’t a big MJ fan, but I felt bad for him last night. He spent his whole life accounting to other people (guilty or not) and in front of people, and being followed by people. Couldn’t he at least have been given the opportunity to go out with a little dignity? Wheeling him into a stadium in a box like a float at a parade!? WTF.

Janet was dignified about the whole thing. I thought it was good of her to usher MJ’s kids off stage so that their grief wasn’t sensationalized. I also respect Diana Ross and Elizabeth Taylor for not attending the tribute. Those are women who understand ritual and respect; I’m sure that neither feel that their own personal pain needs to be exploited for the sake of others’ entertainment. They have both probably already had a lifetime’s worth of that. So did Michael.

Hey, when my time comes: Please people! I don't want to be wheeled into a stadium with 50,000 people and put on global television. I would just like some peace please.

-- Desert Girl commentary end --

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Losing it to tunes

I think I’m going (have gone) mental. Now tell me, does this happen to any of you, or am I correct in my assumption that it is just me….

Every morning, I wake up to a different random song. Kind of like Eli Stone, but not only limited to George Michael, nor to any particular genre. I don’t know if it is a prediction of the type of day that I am about to have, or maybe a road map to the type of day I should have. Je ne sais pas. I take all this stuff as little gifts; like the birds that used to come tap on my window or sing or the minas that used to make noises like car alarms going off – precisely at the time I was supposed to wake up.

Every morning. Without fail. Always something. Now music.

Today, it was “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. I don’t even like that song. It is too hokey for me. Yesterday, it was some dance tune. Usually, I have forgotten what song it was by the time I'm on my way out of the bathroom.

Have I lost it for real? Ok, I’ll know when I have really lost it when ANYTHING by Michael Jackson works its way into my on-board playlist. God forbid that heavy metal should sneak in there. Would I go on a head-banging rampage? (If so, call this number - 24843900 - and report me. If you already know that number by memory, then it is time to report yourself.)

Can I download from my head?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Eye yay yaaaay

I went to Hassans Opticians in Muthanna. I have been ordering my contacts at the Sharq locations (where I've always had great customer service) for years since they are the agents of Bauch & Lomb. I know I spelled that wrong. I did it on purpose. I can't see to google. Fekit.

Did you know that contact lenses are cheaper in Kuwait than they are in 'merica? Yup. Its true. Cheaper in price - a whole lot more expensive in terms of the Frustration Factor.

Isn't that true of a lot of things in Kuwait? Items/services are cheaper but then you factor in the frustration you have to go through to get it; is it all worth it? My sofa was - I love that thing - but OMG what I had to go through to get it made! sheeesh. I'm like the most patiently impatient person I know since I came to Kuwait.

I digress.

I figured that it was time to get my eyes tested again since I hadn’t done it in a few years, so I went to Muthanna where it is usually quieter. Dr. Dude did a quick exam and Sales Dude showed me frames. They explained that it could take “up to” 2 months to get my lenses. They’ve said that before, but I never had to wait that long. I found a pair of oo la la Escada frames; after much salesmen up-sell. They started me off at the KD 200 and up case. I was tired, I have only myself to blame; I paid more than I really wanted to pay, but whatever. They said the frames would take 20 days.20 days? For glasses??? So much for “Hour Eyes”! Jeez. In the States, you get them in an hour and sometimes while you’re waiting. What a crock. Anyhooooooo

My last pair of frames – 8 years ago – cost a whopping 10 KD from Noor Opticians. The only person who sees me in them is my dog. I just use them at night to watch TV before going to bed. They don’t have to be beautiful, but they are comfortable and after 8 years are still just fine.

After few weeks, I called back to see if the lenses might, by chance/by luck/by the Grace of God, be ready yet. Dr. Dude got on the phone and started shouting at me, “I TOLD you 2 months! ... and after my response of "unacceptable!" "LISTEN TO MEEE!” Oh no, he di’in’t. Kuwait’s faaaaaaaabulous customer service strikes again. Hey you with the money – give it to me now and then go to hell. In the world of sales, this is called “sell and go to hell”. Yessirreeebob. That’s what they expected me to do…. After KD 164. Cha-ching. It doesn’t even cost that much to go to the US on United right now (Summer fares are 150 KD r/t). Do you think that Hell is closer? Hmmmm. Subject to interpretation (or "Interpellation" since we are in Kuwait and they so love that word in the media).

Yet anyhooo again…. I, being the Angry White Woman that I am, called back and got their head office number. Talked to the receptionist who swore she could handle my problem. Talked to the HR manager who swore she could handle my problem. (No apologies so far…. ) Then I sent a fax to the owner. Somebody called me back and swore he could handle my problem. The next day, I get an e-mail from somebody else (how many? I lost count) who said that my contact lenses were in Customs. Whaaa - they can't see either? I waited… Ok so all told, it was purty dern close to 2 months when I finally got them. I got the glasses sooner, but no one would make eye contact (ha ha - no pun intended. really.)/look at me when I walked in the store and no one asked if I would like to have my glasses fit (which you’re supposed to do because as it turned out – they weren’t a good fit).

Please pardon my spelling mistakes. You see (I can't), as I write this, I can’t see my monitor (I know it is the big thing behind my coffee mug). Dr. Dude F’ed up – adding insult to injury or injury to insult as the case may be. They gave me the wrong prescription. I have headaches and I can't see. It's bad. I'm like Helen Keller behind the wheel: one hand on the wheel, the other on the road. I should fit in really well with everyone else out there.

I digress. As usual. B M C....
Blogs are so much better than comment cards because they are great therapy (and people see them).

I called the Muthanna branch to get my prescription and asked them to fax it or e-mail it to me. I literally couldn't get the lady to understand me. 12 (I counted) times, I tried in vain to give her my e-mail address. Nervous giggles at the other end of the phone. I finally asked her name. She was a DOCTOR somebody. WTF?! I asked where she got her degree and then gave up. In the Western world, if you are Dr. (firstname), you know you are screwed (like, "Dr. Jeff" or "Dr. Mindy"). Here, it seems to be the norm. Regardless, I knew I was screwed.

The Man is pleading with me to go back down to Hassans and fight for my money. I am so angry and I feel that I have been completely taken advantage of, but at the same time, not one person in that entire organization was an actual help to me. If anything, I’ve been yelled at (yo! me = customer) and no one has even said they were sorry. The Man is up for a good fight; I’m so close to vacation time that I don’t want to deal with their BS.

I can’t SEE! I have headaches. I hate Hassan’s.

I went back to Noor Opticians in Salmiya last night – to Dr. Vaheed, who has been there for 25 years. He remembered me when I walked in after 8 years. He smiled. He listened. He tried different things. He fit my glasses for me - making me more comfortable. He spoke to me calmly and without any quick movements. THAT is customer service. He is going to try to get me something else before I leave this week.

Don’t vendors understand the concept of competition? Don’t they realize that customers will just go somewhere else when they don’t get what they want? Make your customer happy; he/she'll come back.

I wrote back to the head office of Hassan’s and guess what – no response. Thanks. Another customer goes to the competition. Seeeeee ya (ha ha - I meant that)!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Battle of wits with an unarmed militia

Ya know how you get closer to vacation time when everything starts pissing you off and you just can't wait to get on the plane - even though:

1) there have been 2 plane crashes recently and they always happen in 3's; and
2) every idiot you meet or knows that you are going to the US has something catchy to say like, "Aren't you afraid of the H1N1 virus?"

Time for vacation. I'm so there.

I'm glad I'm not travelling on an Airbus. About the swine flu: I guess like other things in life, it is the luck of the draw. I would probably be more likely to get killed on the Gulf Road, but who knows? Swine flu fears have worked in my favor lately - especially as it pertains to personal space. All I need to do is to start coughing loudly and wipe the invisible perspiration off my forehead and people BACK OFF (except for those who never cover their mouths when they cough, never wash their hands, and think that sneezing in your face/vacinity is acceptable behavior).

Speaking of death and dying: I loved Farah. I looked just like her when I was 19 and had the same hair (I lie). I looked like Madonna (I lie again). Ok, inside my mind, I did.

I'm sick of hearing about Michael Jackson. Ok, so rest in peace and all that. Can we get over it now (LINDA???) ? Do you think that Michael's corpse will really be crynogenically frozen? Do you think he was already - several years ago? I don't know of anyone ever looking so unhealthy - ever. Do you? Anyhoo, I do love the jokes in poor taste, however. I've been getting a lot of those. You know it was inevitable. For example, "Michael Jackson's upcoming London dates have been cancelled. They were James (aged 9) and Thomas (aged 11)." and "Cause of Death: The Boogie." That is just wrong and I would never repeat that type of thing... it is so distasteful. I love CSI so maybe they'll have a future episode - completely unrelated to the Michael tragedy but in some ways similar; like they did with Anna Nicole.

Amongst other things, I wanted to be a forensic pathologist. Fascinating.
And auto mechanic
And stunt car driver
And Air Force pilot
And (believe it or not) housewife (that just made me giggle, but its true - I did.)

Ok, I still want to have a horse farm/dog sanctuary in my old age.