fins and flying

Haven’t posted for a few days, that’s usually a good sign.

I switched hotels on Wednesday night. (Just as an aside, it is incredibly confusing to have a different work week here…we obviously get used to the placement of our weekdays. I am constantly confused about what day it is and what day I did what.) Anyway, Wednesday night I moved into the Sheraton in Jeddah so I could get a day pass to the Sheraton Villa Resort. Marty and I went snorkelling on Thursday. It was HOT, but if you were by the sea there was a great breeze that made it the perfect temperature in the shade. I snorkelled twice, for a total of about an hour. It was a bit choppy and the visibility wasn’t as good as last time, but it was still pretty phenomenal. And you know the water’s warm when I, the biggest wimp when it comes to cold water, don’t hesitate getting in.

The rest of the time I sat on a lawn chair and read, sitting about four feet away from the Red Sea. Did I mention I was by the Red Sea? Did I mention that I’ve been in the Red Sea?

So that was Thursday. Friday I spent in my hotel room, mostly working myself into a frenzy about having to fly from Jeddah to Riyadh on my own that night, and once again having to make my way to a hotel in a strange city. Two Saudi airports in one day? Yikes. As you probably guessed, I managed. I was totally confused in the Jeddah airport about where I was supposed to go and I was thinking what a stupid system it was until I realized (many hours later) it was the exact same system as any Canadian airport. You do a self check-in, drop off your bag, and then head to the gate. I think I was so worked up that I failed to see the similarities. Plus I was scared of doing something “wrong” and getting yelled at. Not that I’ve ever been yelled at here.

As we were sitting on the plane taxiing to the runway, I looked up from my book and realized that the nose of the plane had a camera in front of it, and they were projecting the image onto a big screen in the middle of the airplane. Pretty cool in a totally freaky sort of way. I am not the most relaxed flyer, and I contemplated trying to ignore the camera (did I really want to see the nose of the plane lift off the ground?), but my curiosity got the better of me, and I watched the take off. It was pretty cool. Then right after take off, when all you could see out of the nose camera was sky, they switched to a camera that must have been right under the nose. I had to turn away from that one. The ground was moving too quickly and moving a long way away too quickly. I generally get through take off by repeating to myself that statistically the plane I’m on is not going to crash. I don’t need to be reminded of how fast we were going and how quickly the ground is dropping away below us.

I’m now in Riyadh, and I’ve just completed my first day training a new group. It went remarkably well, and although I’m very tired, I can almost say it was enjoyable. The group here is a bit more jovial, plus there were only seven people, as opposed to 15 in Jeddah.

I’ve got four more days of work and then I’m heading home. The countdown has started. I haven’t even unpacked my suitcases here and I’m not sure I will. Because I’m going home in four sleeps!

this doesn’t look like portland

I’m sitting in a hotel room 11,000 km from home. I’ve been sitting here for almost 24 hours straight, as there’s not much a woman on her own can do in Saudi. And before that I was sitting in an airplane, airport or taxi for over 30 hours. It’s been a great two days!

Yes, I’m in Saudi again, in Jeddah. Today was the day I was supposed to leave for Portland for the half marathon I’ve been training for, but alas I was needed here so I agreed to come. There will be other half marathons.

The trip was long but uneventful. I had worked myself up into a panic for a few days before I left because I was paranoid I’d be stranded at the airport (actually my imagination went way further than stranded…apprehended and maimed are more accurate). By the time I landed in Jeddah I had calmed down considerably, partly because I had received email notification that someone would in fact be coming to get me, and partly because I was so bloody exhausted that actual emotion wasn’t an option. But then I was held up in customs as they fingerprinted every second or third person going through (myself included), and I once again starting panicking, thinking they would come but get tired of waiting and give up. I finally got through customs, got my bag and walked into the pick up area, scanning for someone holding my name. Never have I been so happy to see “Susan Elizabeth Fox” written down on a card! “That’s me” I called out joyfully. The driver probably thought I was nuts.

I spent the weekend in Jeddah last time I was here, and as I was driven to the hotel last night it was somewhat comforting to see some familiar sights. And the hotel I’m staying in is a heck of a lot nicer than the one I stayed in last time, so being “locked” in here isn’t so bad. I did take a quick trip to the lobby to get cash, but that was it. I just don’t want to draw any attention to myself so I didn’t go outside. Not to mention that it’s 40 degrees and I’m covered in black. That said, it is a bit disappointing to feel so trapped. I know from the bit of reading I’ve done that there are women who travel alone to Saudi and actually get out and do a few things, but they are few and far between. I am far from an adventurous traveller, so when there are web sites out there saying don’t do anything alone, I tend to listen.

I’m feeling pretty tired so I think I’ll stop here. More to come over the next few days.

i’d rather be somewhere else

I’m at the Victoria airport waiting for a flight to Toronto. I’m going for work and I’ll be gone for two weeks. I’m nervous about the work I’m going to be doing, I’m missing my kids already and I haven’t seen much of my husband this weekend as he was away.

I’m crossing my fingers that tomorrow I’ll be able to write a post that says the work IS something I can manage. I’ve known about this trip for over a week and I’ve been fretting about it ever since.

Also crossing my fingers that the two weeks goes by fairly quickly for me and that Greg and the kids don’t miss me too much. I know I’ll miss them a lot!

rejoining the rat race

I’ve just finished my second day back at work. Two days down, thousands to go. There were ups and downs. Getting out of the house was a bit stressful for me, but for no real reason. It actually went pretty smoothly. I think I was just out of practise.

Elliot’s drop-off on Monday was pretty seamless and Greg did Amy’s, which involved a few tears, but not many. I was met getting off the elevator at work by my two bosses and a friend, all of them with hugs. Everyone had warm hellos for me, and on my desk there was a bouquet of flowers, four framed pictures of my kids and a gift bag filled with goodies and a new mug. Plus a co-worker had baked a bunch of goodies in my honour. I couldn’t have felt more welcome.

Dinner Monday was a bit hectic, but we managed to get through it (through cries of “Mum, play with me”), got the kids bathed, lunches ready, and Greg and I even managed to watch an hour of TV.

Elliot’s drop-off today was again fine, and I did Amy’s as well. That one wasn’t fine. I walked down the driveway hearing her screams fade. I called once I was at work and she’d calmed down a bit, but it took her an hour before she was herself again.

Dinner tonight went a lot more smoothly, probably because Elliot played outside and Amy was in a much better mood then the previous evening. She’s definitely on the mend from her cold.

Work is a bit slow as we’re waiting for some contracts to get signed, but I’m muddling my way through. I know things will pick up eventually. It feels both strange and familiar to be there. There are four new people (which is a lot when you only work in an office of 15 people), and they’ve been there for a while so they’ve established relationships with the people I already know. I’m sitting at my same desk with my same podmates, which is great.

I went for a walk on Monday at lunch at saw a few mums with strollers. I felt a twinge of something, but it didn’t last long. I am definitely ready to be back at work, I am just looking forward to it feeling normal again.

I’m thankful that my return will be so gradual, mostly because the kids aren’t plunged into four days of daycare a week. And it’s nice for me as well, to get back into the work thing slowly.

Our evenings won’t be as relaxed as we try to get everything ready for the next day, and it’s making me think about what day I’ll take off when I do go back four days a week. I was originally thinking of taking Fridays off, but I’m wondering if Wednesdays would be better. Then the kids get a midweek break from daycare and Greg and I get a break from frantic evenings. I might try it that way and see how it goes.

Speaking of frantic evenings…I’m going to end this now so I can spend some of this evening relaxing with my husband. After I do our menu plan, of course.

work…blech

I’ve just spent the last two hours on a response for an RFP for work, and I gotta say, it SUCKS. I hate doing RFP responses at the best of times, but add the fact that we are three days away from moving and it sucks even more. Also, I did it on my own time in the evening, which is a time I usually look forward to because my kids are sound asleep and I can relax for a bit.

Now my back is aching from sitting at the computer all tensed up, trying to figure out what the hell they are asking for, trying to figure out how to get a seven page resume down to two pages, and trying to figure out how to creatively say “I write damn good requirements” 37 different ways.

This is a good reminder of why I’m not a self-employed contractor. I admire those of you who are!

that’s a good question

I ask questions at work. It’s a big part of my job.

If I’m not feeling confident about my understanding of the the subject matter, I do not like this part of my job. Which is a bit of a predicament, as I’m usually asking questions because I need to know more. I have to force myself not to preface every question with “this may be a stupid question, but…”

So when I’m feeling a bit intimidated and someone responds to one of my questions with “that’s a good question”, it’s a boost to my confidence. I got that boost today, and it was nice to hear.

day one done

Well the first day’s over, and it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t really miss Elliot until I actually saw him after work, and I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs all day. They were quite prepared for me, which is a novelty. In my past jobs I’ve shown up and had pretty much nothing to do for at least the first day, if not the first week.

I am feeling a bit unsettled right now, but I think that’s probably normal. My routine is getting a total upheaval, and once I’m a bit more used to the change, I think I’ll get in the groove.

Elliot had a good first full day at daycare. He slept for almost two hours in the afternoon, and he seemed in good spirits this evening before bed. I must say the evening just flew by, having not seen him all day. Usually I’m looking forward to putting him to bed, but tonight I just wanted to be with him!

So yes, I think I’m still feeling a bit sad at this point, especially if I start really thinking about how much less time I’ll see Elliot, but perhaps I will try not to dwell on that, enjoy the time we do have together, and enjoy my job as well.

Now it’s time for a little escape — 24 starts in five minutes.

Thanks for all the phone calls and kind words, they were much appreciated. (Jen — I deleted your comment by mistake, but I did read it!).

night before jitters

I’m going back to work tomorrow…and I’m feeling all sorts of things. I think the two biggies are sadness that I will no longer be spending every day with Elliot, and nervousness about starting a brand new job. Whose stupid idea was it to make a job change at the same time I’m having to deal with leaving my child for the first time??

I’m also feeling a bit of guilt about leaving Elliot in someone else’s care. I’m surprised at that one — I didn’t think I’d feel guilty. And I’m feeling a bit wistful that I’m losing some of my free time. Yes, taking care of Elliot is a lot of work, but almost every afternoon I get some me time while he naps. Although I will get that sometimes at work — time to take a walk at lunch time, have a nice lunch or poke around a few stores.

I think what I’d like to do is fast-forward a few weeks. To a point where I’m more used to the routine of not seeing Elliot every day, and to a point where I’m useful at work. I hate not being busy at work, and I hate not being useful…two things that are inevitable when you start a new job.

The plus of all this is I’m taking Thursdays off to spend with Elliot, and I’m really looking forward to our day together. I think it’ll break up the week quite nicely, and I’m lucky to be able to have that day off.

I’m off to bed now…I think I just need to get the first day over with and move on.

relative time

So here we are, three days into 2007. This time last year I was seven months pregnant and trying to convince myself that two more months really wasn’t that long. This year I’m trying to convince myself that two months really is quite a long time…as that’s how much time I’ve got left before I go back to work.

I am going to try to slow things down a bit and try to enjoy every day with Elliot. I know that’s impossible, but even if I can just keep in mind that our first year together is coming to an end, I think it’ll help me sit back a bit and maybe reduce the amount of fretting I do over his upbringing.

And if my husband is reading this he’ll know that’s probably not possible either (the fretting reduction part). Oh well, how ’bout I just say that Elliot and I are going to have a good time together over the next few months. And that good time certainly doesn’t need to end when I’m back at work, it’ll just be a different life for all of us. And we’ll get used to it.