Category Archives: life

(r)evolution

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:

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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:

  1. There is absolutely nothing sexy about peeing in the sand behind a bush. Backsplash on the jeans? Gross.
  2. Campfires are magical tongue looseners.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

Oh, hello April!

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.

Not if we don't adjust those stirrups.
The next Indiana Jones?

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Oh, hello April!

Enough. Just enough.

This is a list of the worst school shootings that have happened in the USA. How many more of them need to happen before we change things? Thanks to the Daily Mail UK.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE: AMERICA’S WORST SCHOOL MASSACRES

1. Virginia Tech – 32 dead plus the shooter, 16 April 2007, Blacksburg, Virginia

Student Seung Hui Cho, 23, killed two stuidents in a dorm and then went through building of classrooms armed with two handguns, shooting at random before killing himself.

2. University of Texas – 16 dead plus shooter, 1 August 1966, Austin, Texas

Former Marine sniper Charles Whitman, 25, armed with an arsenal of weapons shot victims from the observation deck of the campus tower.

3. Columbine High School – 13 dead plus two shooters, 20 April 1999, Littleton, Colorado

Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire outside the school killing students and one teacher before shooting themselves in the library.

4. Red Lake High School – 9 dead plus shooter, 21 March 2005, Red Lake, Minnesota

Jeffrey Weise, 17, goes on a shooting spree at Red Lake High School killing nine people, including his grandfather, before shooting himself.

5. University of Iowa – five dead plus shooter, 1 November 1991, University of Iowa

Gang Lu, 27, a graduate student from China killed five with a .38-caliber revolver. He was apparently angry because his doctoral dissertation had not been nominated for an academic award.

6. Amish schoolhouse massacre – six dead plus shooter, 2 October 2, 2006, Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania

Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, executes five girls aged 7 to 13 before killing himself in a small Amish schoolhouse

7. Jonesboro, Arkansas – five dead, 24 March 1998, Jonesboro, Arkansas

Mitchell Johnson, 10, and Andrew Golden, 8, took seven guns to school and pulled the fire alarm and shot students as they headed for the exits. Four died plus a teacher. The pair were sent to a juvenile detention center and released in 2005.

8. Cleveland Elementary School – five dead plus shooter, 17 January 1989, in Stockton, California

Patrick Edward Purdy entered a schoolyard and opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at Cleveland Elementary School. Five children died and 30 others were wounded including one teacher. He then shot himself.

9. University of Arizona – three dead plus shooter, 28 October 2002, University of Arizona

Robert Flores, 40, a nursing student shot an instructor in her office before entering a classroom and killing two more teachers before committing suicide.

10. Kent State University – four dead, 4 May 1970, Kent State University in Ohio

National Guard troops killed four students who took part in anti-war protests on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2248983/Connecticut-school-shooting-Adam-Lanzas-survivalist-mother-obsessed-guns.html#ixzz2FHo9QzA8
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Love letters to strangers

Hannah Brencher’s mother always wrote her letters. So when she felt herself bottom into depression after college, she did what felt natural — she wrote love letters and left them for strangers to find. The act has become a global initiative, The World Needs More Love Letters, which rushes handwritten letters to those in need of a boost.

Hannah Brencher believes in the power of pen and paper, and has started a global initiative that encourages strangers to exchange love letters.

This TED speaker is so adorable – and I am a huge fan of mail. So if you want a love letter from me, send your address! I love stories, and I will tell you one with my own hands.

Michele Campbell, PO Box 36859, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Things I miss: A list

A lot of my FB friends have been asking what it’s like here, and I always have a hard time coming up with a good answer – thus this month’s Abu Dhabi blog theme. However, today’s shipment of an incredible FOUR packages from the USA made me think a lot about what I’m missing about my homeland.

PACKAGES. Yes!
  1. I miss my old bookshelves full of books. I still don’t have a bookshelf here, but I sent out a missive to my list of FB friends and assorted family asking for books. I have eight more books today than I did yesterday, and now can go back to IKEA and buy a shelf for them.
  2. I miss knowing how to get things done. Like – at the post office, for example. They don’t sell stamps in Abu Dhabi. When you’re trying to mail 160 letters to 5 countries, they will say things to you in Arabic that you really hope aren’t rude, and then go get a manager who will bring you around to the back room behind the counter, through a hallway, past the loading docks, and into a cubicle that looks like it should be air conditioned but isn’t because the loading dock doors are open. He will then do something on a computer that looks very similar to what the person at the desk was doing and charge you 860 Dirhams to send your letters. He will then let you know that they only accept cash.
  3. I miss being able to have a beer with dinner and be trusted by local law enforcement to drive myself home. Because of the progressive attitude of the Sheiks here in Abu Dhabi, alcohol is available in the UAE at limited outlets (hotel restaurants, private clubs, and restricted sales liquor stores) but only with the possession of an alcohol permit – which basically states that the holder is a non-Muslim and understands that the UAE has a zero tolerance policy for driving after the consumption of ANY amount of alcohol. People who disregard this law end up either in jail or facing huge fines and possibly losing their residency visa. Good thing taxis are abundant and inexpensive.
  4. I miss my friends. Big time. I’ve had the amazing fortune to connect with a lot of compassionate, intelligent, and interesting people in Minneapolis and elsewhere: actors, writers, teachers, nurses, business people and God knows what all else. Each of the friends in my community added something to my life and I can only hope I did the same. I suspect I was on the receiving end more often than giving, and I’m grateful for their indulgences. Having only the first seeds of community here is encouraging, but challenging.
  5. I miss my students at SHS. They were funny, independent, vigorous group of heterogenous learners who always challenged my teaching skills and perceptions of the world. I enjoy my students here as well, but they are much more alike to each other than they are different. Maybe I say that now because I don’t know them well enough yet.
  6. I miss my massage therapist, my acupuncturist, and my support group meetings. Self-care in Abu Dhabi requires an incredible amount of self-advocacy. I’m used to finding immediate assistance if I need to process something or don’t feel well – haven’t worked out how to access that here yet.
  7. Nothing is easy in Abu Dhabi. An errand I think should take 15 minutes takes an hour. A drive across town could be 15 minutes one day and take an hour the next. Finding a store that’s “right across from the Abu Dhabi Mall” but on a different block than you were directed to could take four hours and two runs across town in different directions. I’ve learned to never get into the car hungry or without an extra bottle of water.
  8. I miss American accents. Most of my colleagues are British and Canadian. They talk funny. That’s code for they don’t get my sense of humor, my enthusiasm, my openness to talk about anything, my colloquialisms, or my understanding of the world. There’s also the words that come out of their mouths that I really don’t get. We’re working it out.

That’s about it for tonight. I could think of more, but I’m getting a little sad and don’t want to be a whiner. It is what it is. You take the good, you take the bad…