Expat Blog Award 2013

I'm honored to have won the Gold Award for best blog in Qatar last year.  To access the entry via the Expats Blog website, click here.  Or simply keep on reading below for my winning entry in the 2013 Expat Blog Awards contest ... ;-)

 

Top 10 Things I Wish I’d Brought to Doha

By: CMT

When we first started packing for the move to Doha over seven years ago, I thought long and hard about what to ship over.

Which familiar items might help make the transition easier?  Which items would bring comfort on homesick days?  What Canadian memorabilia could possibly transform our new house in the desert into our old cabin on the lake?

In the buildup to the move, I racked my brains to come up with a perfect inventory of “life in Canada” odds and ends.  Ever so carefully I boxed up family photo albums, precious Christmas decorations, favorite stuffed toys, Tim Horton’s coffee tins, and a stash of Cadbury’s Fruit N’ Nut bars (just in case).

All these things have served us well, and every year at this time we pull out the old Canadian Christmas tree decorations and pair them up with the new decorations we’ve since added from Thailand, Croatia, England, the Maldives, Italy, France, Jordan, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Dubai, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, Morocco, Bahrain, Belgium …

If truth be told, our trinkets have never quite managed to disguise the sand as snow.  But they have helped turn our house into a home.  I’ve never regretted filling up our shipping container with a lot of cheap silly meaningful stuff rather than expensive pieces of furniture.

Yet in all my preparedness, I’ve come to realize that I still managed to overlook a few key items from Canada that I find myself missing more and more over the years. 

Here is my list of top ten:

1.     My waist. 

I could kick myself for leaving it behind. I was quite certain I’d brought it; actually I’m pretty sure I had it with me when I landed.

I’ve looked into getting a new one, but a quality waist is really hard to find in Doha.

Expat legends are rife with tales of the mysterious accumulation of lbs. around one’s middle; in many circles it’s referred to in hushed and fearful tones as the “Doha Dozen”. 

2.     My patience. 

Again, I was sure I’d packed it. 

But there I was driving along the highway one day and “POOF!”;  it was like it disappeared into thin air. 

One minute I was singing along at the top of my lungs to an old Edith Piaf song playing on the French Hour of Qatar Radio; the next I was being cut off by a Toyota Land Cruiser and hurling out a string of expletives that would have made Quentin Tarantino blush had I been auditioning for Pulp Fiction …

I usually try to pick up a bit of patience when I go back home to visit, but it never lasts me long on the return to Doha traffic.

3.     My get-up-and-go. 

I’m not sure when exactly it got up and left, but I haven’t seen it in a long, long time.

We came to the desert armed with plenty of sunscreen and large-brimmed hats, ready to combat the sun and the heat, thinking we had it covered.

But while Doha dwellers had informed us ahead of time about the potential ravages of dust and sand, they never once hinted at how the desert air would seep into our bones and leave us drained of energy.

Hot and humid days, dust-laden oxygen particles, impassable walkways and 2-hour commutes have gradually depleted my vitality stockpiles.

Had I known back then, I would have studied those old Energizer bunny commercials a little more closely. 

4.     My luscious locks. 

While I admit I’d started to grey prematurely in Canada, my golden tresses have become almost pure white since my arrival in Qatar. 

The desalinated water, desert dust and relentless sun have rendered my formerly shiny mane lifeless and dull.

I can’t honestly say I would have ever qualified for a Pantene commercial, but there was a time when I could leave the house without looking like a Chia Pet.

5.     My lunch box.

The one with the proper ham sandwich in it.

Granted, we can now buy pork in Doha at the “Special Store” (a.k.a. “The Qatar Distribution Center”, “QDC”, “Booze Shop” …).  But at $18 a pack, ten paper-thin slices of ham somehow become a delicacy, not an everyday lunchbox item.

6.     My sense of humor.

If there was ever a place on earth where it would have served me well ...

It would come in so very handy when the waiter mistakes my request for shawarma and brings me lemon meringue pie instead.

It would have really helped the first time they dyed my hair green (salons don’t get much practice with blondes here).

It would have served me even better the second time around.

It would definitely help every time I get cut off by yet another Toyota Land Cruiser.

7.     The cold water tap.

Nobody ever told me that it’s virtually impossible to get cold water in the Middle East in the summer months.

It’s much like running out of hot water in the winter in Canada.

In Doha, if you spend more than 3 minutes in the shower in August you're likely to be boiled alive with no hope in hell of fully rinsing that Pantene conditioner out of your hair until November.

I spent my first summer in Qatar playing hot potato in the shower until a friendly maintenance man showed me how to turn the chiller on, thus extending shower life to about six minutes.

8.     A proper grasp of the English language.

Who knew that:

-      A.S.A.P. means “not in this lifetime”;

-      “fanny” is construed as highly offensive by anyone outside of North America;

-      "fag" is NOT considered highly offensive by anyone outside of North America;

-      “brilliant” means “not bad” to a Brit;

-      “career mom” is a term that causes great confusion in this part of the world;

-      “stop” means “only if the other car doesn’t”;

-      “pedestrian crossing” actually means “prepare to meet your death”.

 

Having properly understood these simple terms from the get-go might have saved me considerable heartache, frustration, embarrassment, and injury during those first few years in Doha.

9.     Clear sinuses.

There was a time when, barring a cold, I would feel the need to clear my nose no more than once, maybe twice a day.

Alas, gone are the days of a booger-free existence. 

Once the desert dust pervades your nasal passages it’s there to stay. Tiny grains of sand accumulate ceaselessly, attaching themselves to fellow grains by the second, tickling you constantly, causing you to blow your nose 15 to 20 times a day.

If for whatever reason you try to ignore the itch, it’s quite possible you’ll find a hardened mucous rock the size of your thumb forming inside your schnozzle. 

My first words of advice to newly arrived Doha-ites?  “Use that time stuck in traffic wisely. Look to your left, then look to your right.  That’s right, everyone’s doing it.  No one will look down on you for picking your nose.”

10.  My sense of urgency.

After seven plus years of a dozen daily “Insha’Allah’s” (Arabic for “God willing”), I’ve come to expect little and receive less.

It’s the standard answer to pretty much everything in this part of the world.  Conversations tend to go something like this:

Me: (to our compound’s maintenance help desk attendant):  “Our upstairs toilet just exploded, and poopy water is seeping through the kitchen roof.  Can you send a plumber right away?”
Help Desk:  “Insha’Allah”.
Me:  “So you’ll send someone?”
Help Desk:  “Insha’Allah”.
Me:  "A turd just fell on my head."
Help Desk:  “Insha’Allah”.

(Seriously????  This is when I rue leaving # 2 and # 6 back in Canada.  A sense of dejectedness and complacency sets in.)

“Insha’Allah”, I reply with a sigh …

Yet though I do occasionally look back longingly on the wispy-waisted, patient, energetic, bouncy-haired, pork eating, funny, freshly-showered, English-speaking, un-Asthmatic, determined woman that I once was back in Canada, most days I just thank my lucky stars that I didn’t leave hope behind. 

On that note, I think I’ll go take out those familiar Canadian Christmas decorations.  And be grateful for what I’ve “got” in Doha rather than for what’s “not” in Doha.

Liebster Me (What is the Liebster Award?)

August 23, 2013 EDIT:  After a little research, I've found that I may have inadvertently misinformed my readers with the "rules" I listed in my original post below.  

I've since found that the rules have evolved over time, with some versions asking you to answer questions about yourself and pose questions to the people you nominate.  Some sets of rules ask you to nominate 11 fellow bloggers, some ask you to nominate 5.  Some ask you to nominate bloggers with a readership of less than 3,000, some ask you to nominate bloggers with a readership of less than 200.  Lesson learned, always Google more than one source of information.

My Bad. 

So, far from wanting to appear to be the ultimate source of information on the award, I'm going to link you back to a lady who has done much more meticulous research on the award and who has come up with a newer flexible set of rules ... If you want to learn more about Liebster, I suggest referencing back to her site.  Here is the link:

http://lorrainemariereguly.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/the-liebster-award-the-official-rules-my-first-blog-award-and-a-few-personal-secrets-revealed/ 

That's my attempt to make up for being an erroneous source of information.  Maybe one day I'll add on some random facts about me, but for now I'll leave it at that.  Carry on!

ORIGINAL POST (August 22, 2013):

Bloggers recognizing fellow bloggers with various newbie awards is a really cool thing to do.  

"Why?" you ask.  

The answer is simple:  

"This is my blog, you are reading it, and what I say here goes.  And I say newbie recognition awards are absolutely, totally, irrevocably, without-a-doubt, undeniably, 100% cool if my fellow bloggers and followers (all 4 of them) think it is.  So THERE."  

(Cue evil laughter):  Muahahahahahaha! 

Seriously though, I've really had a change of heart about these nominations.  At first I was a little hoighty toighty about it all.  I didn't make much time for what I perceived as the whole "I'll scratch my back if you scratch mine" deal.  You probably got the facetiousness of the "pyramids" heading on this page?  

But over the months I've had a radical change of heart.  I've actually been directed to some amazing, inspiring, hilarious and tragic blogs by clicking on fellow bloggers' nominees.  

I've realized that 'yes', nominating someone can be a self-serving way to direct people back to your site via the traffic generated on the site of the persons you nominate.  

But I've also come to realize that in many cases the person nominating you actually appreciates your message, has something in common with you, and in some cases can even become a 'fibre-optic friend', a supporter, and a further motivation to keep on blogging.  

And that's why I take these nominations much more seriously now.  And respond.  

That having been said, I'll probably only ever respond once to an award, but if I'm ever nominated in future for the same award, I'll link back to my original response, while referencing the next person who's nominated me (chances are I won't be overwhelmed with nominations!).   

Which brings me to the matter at hand.  About five months ago, I was nominated by Expat State of Mind for the Liebster Award.   Expat State of Mind was one of the first to ever comment on my blog, and for that I want to thank her.  Her comments in my 'toddler phase' were so welcome and appreciated.  But beyond that, her blog was one of the first I ever visited.  Because you see, I started blogging without first checking out what was out there (thank goodness ... had I known the extent of talent carousing out in blogland-ville I would have never dared wet my feet).

Unfortunately, I never responded to her nomination.  In all honesty, I'm not sure if it's because I felt I was undeserving of the award, if it's because I felt the award was gratuitous, or if I simply felt so uncertain of what was expected of me as a blogger newbie.  Whatever the case, I never replied, but I'm trying to make up for it now.

This week, I was nominated for the same award by my blogger buddy C2C (From Casinos to Castles).  C2C is my Blogger Bosom Buddy.  (I guess that makes C2C my 3B).  We are fellow expats, heralding from different countries, landed in different countries, but we started blogging at about the same time about our various struggles and successes.  She's been a constant commenter, supporter, and all-around inspiration when it comes to blogging.  

Her nomination made me realize I had to respond.  Not because the recognition meant so much, but because the people behind the nominations meant so much.  Even though I'd never met them.  Even though I've never heard them speak, heard them laugh, heard them cry.  They just mean that much in this blogging facet of my life.

So here goes, Expat State of Mind and C2C.  This is for you.   Thank you for recognizing me.  You motivated me to blog, inspired me, and helped me believe my writings were a little more than simply a humungous pile of poopoo :-)  

These are the Liebster Award Rules:

1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.

2. Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers.

3.  Let the nominees know by leaving a comment at their sites.

4.  Add the award image to your site.

And here are my responses: 

1.  Those who nominated me are Expat State of Mind and From Casinos to Castles.   Expat State of Mind shares a series of images, rumination, and quotes that are carrying her along her expat journey.  From Casinos to Castles is a real-life account of an expat's conscious decision to live the rest of her life abroad.  Both deal with expat matters, the ups and the downs.  Both have made me stop and think.

2.  This is the hard part.  I love a lot of blogs...  I think they all must have more than 200 followers, but I can't be certain.  Since this is my blog and my choice, I'm going to name a few that I really want you to visit ... (not including those who nominated me - be sure to check those out too!).   

So my nominees are (in no particular order): 

 Katie and Yoshi Around the World.  Why?  Because they didn't just talk about it; they DID it!  Sold everything, gave up their jobs, packed everything into a rucksack, and ventured off on a quest to tour the globe.  And because the author doesn't come equipped with a 'brain-to-mouth filter'.  Which makes me laugh a lot.  AND because she's related to me.  That makes her awesome by proxy.  So visit her site.  Now!

HX Report.  Surely has more than 200 followers but I can't be sure because his site doesn't say (maybe it does, but my non-tecchie review revealed NOTHING).  I think you have to check it out simply for the tagline "Irishman in the Middle East".  Ladies, you KNOW you want to check it out ...  OK, now, if you ever came back to me ... pretty good, eh? 

Los Viajes of an American.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I seriously love this kid.  He writes from the heart.  He's like in his early twenties ... he could be the son I should have had.  I so hope he goes on blogging and writing for a long time.  I haven't read all his posts, but enough to know I want to keep on reading. 

Diary of an Expat Mum in Qatar.  I'm including this one because we haven't gotten an update in a while and I really hope she comes back.  She was great at writing about the true Doha experience through a mom's eyes.  What school do we choose?  How does our house compare to back home?  What do we do for fun?  Expat Mum, come back!!!!! 

Multifarious Meanderings.  OK.  I admit it.  This one's following I know.  It's above 200.  But it's not like it's a thousand....  And I LOVE her!  And I LOVE her tales!  I haven't read it all, but I haven't read anything I haven't enjoyed.  So I want you to check her out.  Please.  Thanks!  Enjoy!

Adding a sixth ... just 'cos I can, 'cos this is my page :-) 

Aussies In Denver.  This blog just makes me happy.  That's it.  I love what the lady does with pictures and words.  And I want to see more.  Check it out.   (Oh, and she got me into the whole mindmap state of mind.  I've never been the same since ... my mind is a spiderweb of 'how would this in Qatar compare to home in Canada?'.  Yeah, check it out ...

3.  I am now off to inform my nominees that I think they rock to no end! 

4.  Just figuring out where to get the darned decal ... 

 

Found it!!!!!

Found it!!!!!

Winning Entry in Expats Blog Themed Writing Contest

The entry below earned me a 200$ gift certificate from Amazon, the top prize for a contest with the theme "Working Abroad" that was held by Expats Blog in May 2013.  Yeahhhhh Me!  (Sorry couldn't resist, I was seriously chuffed!) 

 

Let Me Take You to the Dark Side of the Moon

By: CMT

“My 2-year mission: to explore a strange new land, to seek out new experiences, and to boldly go where no woman had gone before.”

These were the words that reverberated in my head when I first set eyes on my new workplace. 

I envisioned myself a pioneer in this arid industrial city, one of a handful of women (and definitely the only blue-eyed blonde) willing and able to permeate this sandy metropolis for the sole purpose of saying the desert dust would not prevail. 

I was wearing steel-toe boots (actually pumps and a smart business suit, but I WAS given the requisite safety apparel and H2S training) and I was here to conquer.

Flashback …

I had been a successful career woman for about fourteen years in Canada before setting my aspirations on becoming a wasteland trailblazer in the Middle East. 

I’d received my MA and given birth to Kiddo the year before moving to Qatar. As a year of paid maternity leave was drawing to a close, Smilin’ Vic came home one day and asked: “How would you feel about spending the next three years in Qatar?”

I shamefully admit that I had to Google ‘Qatar’ that day. I had never even heard of this tiny oil and gas rich country that was making a huge name for itself in the petroleum industry. 

Web surfing taught me to pronounce the country’s name more like ‘cutter’ than ‘guitar’. I learned that it was a small Islamic Arab state (about the size of Canada’s Prince Edward Island), bordered by Saudi Arabia to the South and surrounded to the East, West and North by the Persian Gulf. It seemed fairly progressive. Women could drive, work, and manage their own affairs to a degree.

I said ‘ok’. I resigned from my position in Canada. I relinquished my upwardly mobile career for an opportunity to experience something new. We said goodbye to family and friends. We sold all our worldly possessions and we embarked on this crazy, incredible journey. 

And then I sat here for exactly twelve months while Smilin’ Vic went to work. Day in and day out. Sat here watching the dust creep in under the doors, seep through the window frames, flutter in through the A/C ventilation. And I waited. Waited for Kiddo to wake up in the morning, to arise from her afternoon nap. I waited for Smilin’ Vic to walk through the front door after a day’s work. Waited for the compound ladies to announce it was time to hold the monthly tea, or a book sale, or a block party. And I ran. Every day I ran. Ran around and around the 500 m compound, 10 times total, with a push cart and toddler in front of me, and 90-odd fellow expat moms shaking their heads as they gazed out their kitchen windows as the insane Canadian woman ran by again and again and again ... 

And I finally realized I needed to get a job … or lose my mind.

Fast Forward …

It’s been almost seven years since we moved to Qatar. That’s four more years than we expected to be here. 

It’s been almost six since I became a part of the workforce and stepped into the unknown barren industrial wasteland that was to become my reprieve from the mundane life of a bored expat wife. That’s four more years than I expected to work here. 

Looking back now, I realize how uncharted the territory I was stepping into actually was. Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad for the experience, and I expected challenges. 

I expected to find it hard to work in a country where the ratio of men to women is 3:1. I expected to find it hard to drive an hour back and forth into the desert each day. I expected to find it hard to place Kiddo into the care of a nanny and daycare workers while I went out to exercise my brain every day. On these fronts I was not disappointed.

But some challenges were not quite what I’d envisioned:

  • I HAD TO GET PERMISSION TO WORK: Yes, permission. From my husband. As my sponsor in this country, he ultimately holds the key to my ability to work outside the home. Armed with a letter stating that he had no objection to me entering the workforce, I set out to earn my bit of dosh.
  • I BECAME AN OBJECT OF LUST AND DESIRE: NOT because I was hot. Because I was a WOMAN (1 of about 500) stepping into an industrial city where over 150,000 MEN toiled every single day. Most of the males were laborers on 2-year contracts, living and working within a gated industrial city, who hadn’t seen their spouses in months or years … quite frankly, I could have been Nanny McPhee on her worst day and still been eye candy to them.
  • I HAD TO LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE: NOT Arabic. Because in fact English is the working language here. But English here is a melting pot of foreign concepts left for me to figure out. My British boss kept on telling me everything I did was ‘brilliant’. As a North American, I thought that meant I was a stellar employee. Turns out he just meant ‘cool’. Indian expats kept asking me “to do the needful”. Took me months to figure out this didn’t actually mean anything. It was just a way to fling work back into my court. My Arabic and Philippine colleagues kept on referring to their “suffering” in the workplace. I eventually caught on; they were not being secretly tortured by their boss … “suffering” is a term used commonly here to express mild to moderate discomfort or displeasure, e.g. “I am suffering from the heat” or “The traffic is making me suffer” or “My coffee was late this morning; I really suffered.” 
  • I WAS INTRODUCED TO “TEABOYS”: Yes, this was a challenge. For a Canadian unaccustomed to a class-based society and preferential treatment, there was something extremely discomfiting about having an 18-year-old Nepali teen defer to me as he served up my coffee each morning just the way I liked it. I still grapple with the fact that offices here all come resourced with young men and women hired to cater to office staff as they serve up free tea, coffee and juices, heat up our lunches, clean our dishes, etc.
  • I LEARNED ABOUT THE ABJECT REFUSAL OF REFUSAL: For months I tried using a softly stated ‘I don’t think so’ or a simple ‘no’ as an answer to something I did not agree to. I finally figured out that for an absolute negative to be understood in this part of the world you must phrase it more like this: “For the hundredth time, the answer is ‘no’. ‘NO’. As in ‘N’ – ‘O’. Never. Absolutely not. Not in a million years. It’s not going to happen. Do you understand? We can’t do this. ‘NO’.” It appears I am sometimes still not clear enough in turning down a request. 
  • I HAD TO GET PEOPLE TO WRITE DOWN THEIR NAMES FOR ME: In Canada, I would have a hard time remembering your basic ‘Bob’ and ‘Jim’ and ‘Dave’. Imagine my confabulation when I tried to recall ‘Hernawaty’, ‘Anantha’, ‘Salahaldin’ and ‘Nurhadi’. Then compound that challenge when I was faced with several people of alliterate names, e.g. ‘Abdulrahman’, ‘Abduraman’, ‘Abdul Rahman’, ‘Abdaramam’ … 
  • I LEARNED THAT DRINKING TEA IS THE ONLY WAY TO GET THINGS DONE: The first time I had a problem, I sent out an e-mail outlining my issues to the individual able to sort those issues out. I followed it up immediately with a phone call to explain my dilemma. His curt answer: “Why are you calling me about this?” My response: “To follow up on the e-mail I sent you.” His reply: “You put this in an E-MAIL? WHY?” My response: “Well, I thought it would save time if I laid it out clearly, then we could discuss it over the phone.” His counter: “How could this help? I don’t have time to read e-mail. Why didn’t you just come discuss in my office?” My response: “Well, it would have taken 25 minutes to drive there, and I know you’re a very busy man.” His conclusion: “I am never too busy to talk. We could have had tea. ” I took a drive. We had tea. It didn’t solve the problem, but I’ve made a lifelong friend. Every once in a while we still get together to have tea and discuss world hunger.
  • I MASTERED THE ART OF TURNING DOWN ‘GIFTS’ WITHOUT OFFENDING: I once admired a National employee’s ring. I was naïve to the ways of this land; I didn’t know better. One thing about the people in this country is they are generous and giving to a fault. The very next day, she showed up with a BVLGARI ring for me. It was beautifully wrapped. It was exquisite. But it was wrong. So I had to refer back to policy on this one. State that as much as I appreciated the gesture, I could not possibly accept it as it would place us both in a very precarious position that would have to be reported. Even though she didn’t seem to quite grasp the need for such politics, she accepted my refusal gracefully. When she left with the BVLGARI ring in tow, I heaved a sigh of relief, then put my head down on my desk and sobbed over the gold-encrusted finger that might have been.
  • I HAD TO CONSTANTLY REMIND MYSELF THAT MY NAVEL IS NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE: It’s easy for a Westerner to come in here with Western views. But the fact of the matter is, this is the Middle East. Things ARE different here. In the eyes of some, we are not all made equal, and it’s important to bear that in mind. Western standards and principles may not always apply. Throughout my dealings, I never, ever forget that I am a (i) Christian, (ii) Western, (iii) Woman working in a man’s world if ever there was one. I am not the “be-all and end-all”. I am one woman who has managed to survive working in the Middle East through sheer determination and a willingness to occasionally be the bough that bends but does not break.

Working in the Middle East has been HARD. As a working mom, I’ve had to wrestle with daycare and schooling systems whose hours are completely misaligned with common working hours. As a woman, I’ve had to deal with many male colleagues who are bolstered by a society that does not fully appreciate gender equality. As a professional, I’ve been challenged by individuals who hold rank, but not necessarily knowledge or experience. As an expat spouse, I’ve had to wrestle with the desire to work outside the home vs. the allure of staying home and providing a Stepford-like existence for my husband and daughter. As a Canadian, I’ve had to try to find a way to get my point across consistently to employees of over 80 different nationalities. 

As a career woman, I didn’t progress nearly as far as I’d hoped; I most certainly didn’t conquer. While I started out with a desire to get a job so I could grow and develop as a professional, I eventually saw myself settle for disenchantment in a quest to ‘make bucks faster so we could get the hell out of Dodge’. 

I gradually realized that driving to work in the desert had shown me the side of the moon where the sun doesn't shine. The ‘new frontier’ was in fact a side of the moon where I had no real say or influence. I came to the realization that I couldn’t breathe on the dark side of the moon. I’d resorted to simply “ticking away the moments that make up the dull day”.

Ultimately, I realized that I was not blazing a trail. I was digging a grave. Last month I resigned. I decided that for a while at least, I would rather sit here and bask in the sunshine, gainfully unemployed, than explore brave new worlds. And I am oddly fulfilled in the simple knowledge that I went, I saw and I survived the dark side of the moon. - See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/470/let-me-take-you-to-dark-side-of-moon#sthash.56WLisAz.dpuf

 

Versatility and Me ...

I have to thank Linda from Expat Eye on Latvia for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  She has been my most entertaining read of the decade.  Latvia wasn't even on my radar 'til I was introduced to her blog.  All of a sudden, I find myself wanting desperately to visit Cesis in a bid to say I too have seen the drunk town crier, worn surgical slippers to the museum, and sipped coffee at the cafe that doubles as a dress shop.  Please give her a read ... and thank me later for the belly laughs.

The rules for the Versatile Blogger Award are as follows:

-  Thank the person who gave you the award.  (check)

-  Include a link to their blog.  (check)

-  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (see below)

-  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.  (same as above)

-  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.  (this is about to get FREAKY)

P.S.  The rules say NOTHING about not re-nominating you if you've already received this award, so if that's the case, well enjoy it.  I've only added you if I actually enjoy what you have to say.

So I have to nominate 15 bloggers.  I would like to think I'm versatile because my reasons for nominating them include their courage, their humor, my love for them, but most of all, their ability to take an ordinary moment and turn it into something EXTRAORDINARY.  

My 15 bloggers are (in no particular order):

To Linda ... who told the world about me ... hope you're happy that I'm now exposing myself unabashedly to the world.  These are my seven things about "Me" (all about me, always about me, have I mentioned me?):

1.  I was madly in love with Captain Kirk until I was 12. 

2.  I wiggled my nose furiously from age 4 to 6 thinking if I wished it hard enough I could be Samantha from Bewitched. 

3.  As a child, I wanted to be either desperately poor or disgustingly rich. 

4.  As a teen, I debated between becoming a nun or a prostitute. 

5. I lived in South America as a child; I did my stint in North America; I live in the Middle East now. 

6. I prefer heels to comfort ... but mostly I prefer comfortable heels. 

7. My hair has been gray since I was 18. 

Yeah ... I am that shallow ...

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