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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Moving day

My friend Stacy just said (via chat), I often find that I am a different person when I achieve a goal than I was when I set it. Words of wisdom to live by. Growing and changing as people is great when we keep an eye to being the best selves we can be!

Also, I am moving out of Sulmaniyah hotel today and to my permanent residence in Riyadh. Goal accomplished. Starting work at Al Iman University on Sunday. Goal accomplished. I wonder what person I will be a year from now when I complete a year teaching in Saudi?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Barista

There are no baristas in Riyadh
Such is a life out of balance
the rich smell of Turkish coffee
forcing my mouth to water
like Pavlov's dogs
in wait of a treat
but not cute barista to greet
No smile with service
a subtle blush
no heart warming rush
no opportunity for a cutle little sin
not even a "thank you, come again."

All of the workers in Riyadh shops appear to be male
What spell is this?
Of the many things American I miss
none as important as
the absence of Miss.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wanderlust

The wanderlust of travel is like a sickness that creeps into you body and soul.


seeping into my bones
saturating my spirit
coating my thoughts
wanderlust
two imperatives
go, do

amazed by the differences
everywhere
chair, table, desk, cup
shop, theater, food cart

So many words that
I have always know
but now transformed
slightly different than before
familiar
different
new





Monday, August 19, 2013

I wish I liked eggs

My experiences in Saudi have been quite limited so far. Perhaps the most interesting event was the ride from the airport to the hotel the evening of my arrival here in Riyadh. Apparently the appropriate way to drive is to floor it at all times. When approaching a vehicle in your lane on the highway, one should repeatedly flash the high beams, accelerate to the rear of the car in front of you, and pass them when they are 3/4 into a lane change. The first time this happened, I could probably have smelled the cologne of the drive in the car we passed if both of our windows were down and I was not holding my breath and bowels!

Mohammed, my driver, is not an aggressive man. He is tall, lean, and soft spoken. But he drives his Toyota van like he is in hot pursuit of someone who has just stolen his life's savings. During the drive he taught me a few phrases in Arabic. marḥaban Riyadh; welcome to Riyadh. Dahabba - go, šukran - thank you, lā - no, naʿam - yes, and a few other words that I have since forgotten. I wanted to ask him how to say. "my god, slow down argh!" But I kept that to myself.

In any event, the rest of my time here has consisted of downloading and watching movies on my laptop, the occasional email, and a few walks around the hotel. It is hot in Riyadh. Very hot. So hot that you could could cook eggs on the sidewalk. I don't like eggs. But that is how hot it is. 

Saigon, Vietnam is hot too. There are just 2 seasons: Summer and Wet Summer. I think the hottest day I ever experience in Vietnam is about the same as the evenings here. No joke. Of course there is not of the humidity that existed in Vietnam. But for what Riyadh lacks in humidity, it makes up for in pure heat.

Just before I left NC I took a bite of a ghost pepper to see what all the fuss was about. Don't try this, fyi. The ghost pepper is to a bell pepper what Riyadh is to Vietnam or Thailand in terms in heat. 

Until next time

Marcus in Arabia or Marcus in Mesopotamia. Not sure which I like better yet.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Conflict

Since 2009 I have been doing my best to live "In The Moment," just like the name of my blog. In these last 4 years I have seen and done more than I had ever imagined a poor kid from the hood could ever do. And yet I often feel empty.

Living in the moment means keeping both mind and thoughts focused on what is happening now.
To not take for granted the series of moments that accumulate to make a life.
To always say yes to experiences and adventures and new friendships.
To communicate your desires and feelings.
To express yourself with your actions in all that you do.
To do.
To do something.

This has been my mantra and my driving force. And it has worked for me. The thing about living for now is that when you look back there are little if no regrets. But there are some. One the one hand, the rush of living in the present and trusting that life will sort itself out is immense. I have experienced a high from doing that is not too different from that of a person searching for the perfect drug. My drug is travel.

And like the high seeker, sometimes I don't think about the consequences tomorrow will bring. I don't have a plan for the future. When I allow myself to think about the long term, there is some sort of emotional disconnect. Partly because I am not guaranteed tomorrow, and partly because I could never have predicted the turns my life has already taken.

My friend Valerie recently asked me what propels me to constantly be in motion, one foot here and another out the door. I am seeking the high.

Getting off of a plane, boat, taxi, tuk-tuk, songtheaw, ferry, xe om, or bus in a new country or city activates all of my senses at once.

New language.
New foods.
New smells.
New architecture.
New customs.
New music.
New people.
New opportunities.

It is like being reborn with a tabla rasa but keeping all of your knowledge and experiences. It is this moment, that is my driving force. And it can only be satiated by change. I sort of feel like Dexter and his dark passenger. But this passenger brings joy and whimsy.  In any event, I still plan to live in the moment, but I hope to reflect more on what may come and has happened.



Marcus in Mesopotamia

In just over 24 hours from now my move to Saudi Arabia begins. That last sentence isn't exactly true, but it is close. My move probably began when I was in university and I fell in love with a Turkish girl from Germany.  That was the moment that the idea of my existence on this planet changed from a local North Carolina prospective to a more global one.

There were many steps along the way. First I dreamed of Europe. And then of Japan. Then I went to Europe. My dream of Japan became a life in South Korea; living and working in South Korea's second largest city, Busan. It is a coastal port city with more than 4 well used beaches, 24 hour access to food and drink, and the kind of friendships that stir the soul into motion.

Some time and place later, I have been to 16 countries so far, including an amazing, interesting, and also terrifying year living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Tomorrow the adventure continues as I have packed up my life in the USA and will be boarding a plane for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Full circle. I never married the young Muslim girl I fell in love with so many years ago. But now I find myself on the precipice of moving to the birthplace of Islam. I guess it is not exactly a circle. My life has spiraled more like the famous Fibonacci numbers with every event in my life being the sum of what has come before. Yet still moving in a circle so that I never lose sight of where it all began.

Marcus heads to Mesopotamia in 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 ......