I’ve never been an outdoorsy person. I love comfy beds and overstuffed chairs. I like strong drinks with ice clinking in the glass and proper ceramic plates and restaurants that bring tasty fried salty things. I like afternoon naps, lounging in my undergarments and spending too much time on Facebook.
I’ve spent a remarkable number of my Abu Dhabi months cultivating and nurturing this inner sloth. She has been well-fed and amply cocktailed in the company of my four walls and a very forgiving pair of yoga pants. Then, I went home for Christmas this year and while packing, tried on a pair of jeans that . . . used to fit. And those jeans? They laughed at me.
I’ve got this friend who runs an outdoor adventure group called the UAE Trekkers. She’s been trying to pry my ass out of the house for a camping trip since I moved here 18 months ago, and a miraculous thing happened: I was both Really Tired of My Apartment and Ready For a Challenge at the same time. I’ll spare you the “how that happened” details: Short version = gnashing of teeth, dramatic journaling, etc.
So I went on a weekend hike/trek/campout in Oman last weekend. Here are some photos:
It was pretty fabulous. I jumped from rocks and scrambled over boulders and walked a lot in a 5mil wetsuit. Here’s what I learned:
- There is absolutely nothing sexy about peeing in the sand behind a bush. Backsplash on the jeans? Gross.
- Campfires are magical tongue looseners.
- As an American, I have very definite ideas about how a marshmallow should be roasted on a stick. Empirical data gathered by my new friend from Pakistan has demonstrated that his (incorrect) roasting technique offers a marshmallow experience with no appreciable difference. Plus: I’m a control freak.
- Thank god he had a sense of humor at, because otherwise I’d have been hiding in my popup tent crying hot tears of shame, as if I’d been showered with superfluous pepper spray.
- There are a LOT of stars out there, you guys!
I’m feeling inspired to take more trips AND dig deeper into the Arabian Nights stories to discover more about the magic of the desert and mountains in the area.
Going outside: It’s fun! Who knew?
This weekend marks my one year anniversary of Abu Dhabi life! It went by far too quickly and my writing discipline definitely didn’t win out during my culture shock adjustment period. Goals: re-examined. New bars set. Why am I here if not to tell the story?
Here are a few things I learned this past year:
Thank you to Alison Morse for inviting me to participate in The Next Big Thing. Thanks also to Michele Campbell for loaning me her blog. If string theory is right and there are eleven or more parallel universes, she’s definitely living in one reality that I want: a free-spirited woman making her way in another part of the world. I can’t wait to see what creative work her adventures inspire.
I haven’t had luck finding a second writer to participate [Michele, sure you’re not working on anything?!] (OK, I’ll post something here this summer! -M), but I am thrilled that Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew accepted this mission.
Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew writes, loves, teaches and urban homesteads in South Minneapolis. When she’s not chasing her gregarious four-year-old daughter around the neighborhood or dancing with her partner Emily, she’s doing her best to support the spiritual life of writers. Her books are Swinging on the Garden Gate: A Spiritual Memoir (Skinner House Books), Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir (Skinner House Books), and On the Threshold: Home, Hardwood and Holiness (Westview Press). You can connect with Elizabeth at www.spiritualmemoir.com and www.elizabethjarrettandrew.com. You can find Elizabeth’s contribution to The Next Big Thing at http://www.spiritualmemoir.com/heart-and-craft/.
What is your working title of your project?
The title is Heartland, and my working subtitle is: An Unlikely Story of Marriage, Magic and the Maya.
• I’ve gone through an entire full sized tube of toothpaste – one that I bought new the week I moved in to my apartment.
• Local cucumbers are amazing and I don’t know if I can ever live without them again..
• I wake up at the same Oh My God Thirty hour every day, even when I don’t have to go to work.
A catch up list.
* My trip to Jordan was remarkable. Petra is definitely a thing you need to see if you’re anywhere in the Middle East. Vast. Mountain city. With lots of Bedouins hanging out and trying to sell you stuff. I’m working on an essay about it. I don’t even know where to start blogging about it, so here is a photo of me on a horse. There are a few more pix on my tumblr blog. I post a decent number of photos there – and it’s easier to post pix and reblog – which means I’m turning into a lazy blogger, I guess.
I love you, Minnesota, but I have to admit that not wearing socks during the month of January is pretty spectacular.
Plus: No SAD. This is the first winter in at least 13 years that I haven’t had a terrible case of the winter blues, feeling like the month of January was something to survive instead of enjoy.