Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ho, Ho, Hold Your Horses!

Holiday activities are going as planned with one exception: the three of us have picked up a raggedy cough. We seem OK during the day, but last night, weirdly, Vito and me both woke up at 3AM with serious coughing fits that kept us going for a half hour. Vito has been receiving an aerosol treatment, and I'm utilizing cough drops.

Since we've been in Putignano, the weather has been ice cold. It rained a little and the sky has generally been cloudy. I tease Angela that it always rains here. A couple days ago, I thought it would snow, but it only hailed briefly. Today, however, Christmas Eve (or as they say here, La Vigilia), it is spectacularly sunny and warm outside. I went out this morning without wife or son to get some last-minute Christmas gifts and the stores were bursting with shoppers, the sidewalks were crowded with people, and the streets were choked with traffic. It put me in a great holiday spirit despite the various delays that such activity induces.

Time in the blogsphere moves faster than it actually appears to...

We got home about an hour ago after a huge dinner at Angela's sister's house, and Santa (Babbo Natale) had left his mark. It was just about midnight. There were a few gifts under the nativity (il presepe), namely a guitar. Vito was ecstatic. It wasn't the bass guitar that Vito had asked for, but I'm sure Santa did his best. We don't have a Christmas tree, either, but there is a large nativity scene, which is why Santa left the gifts there. To add to the post-Santa excitement, Angela's Aunt's family (celebrating the arrival of their daughter from England that evening) joined us and, after daddy tuned the guitar, listened to Vito's one-chord renditions of "We are the World" and "We Will Rock You."

With this post, I've exceeded my blog output in any year since 2007, which largely comprises the last four years in California. Clearly, living in the states and blogging (and writing in general) don't go hand-in-hand. We lived in California for four hard years made more difficult by simultaneously working two jobs and studying. Things got even more hectic last year when Vito started going to school and Angela started working, but we made it out. I didn't die and I feel stronger. Anyway, I'm happy to be blogging more and plan to ride the writing wave into the new year with a more emphatic return to greater poetic intentions. Wish me luck...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Q Year

The last week before a long holiday is busy. I'll spare you the business minutiae, but a vacation couldn't have come at a better time.

We're leaving the Q tomorrow night for three weeks. A cab (inshah'allah) will arrive at 11:15 and take us to the airport. Then, Turkish Airlines at 2:55AM to Turkey before a transfer to our final destination in Zurich, Switzerland. We really had no particular reason for stopping in Switzerland. Anyway, from there, we will meet Milanese friends and, after frolicking and fondue and fun, journey south to Milan with them for more of the same on more familiar soil. Then we'll catch a train even further south to our final destination, Putignano. We'll spend Christmas and the New Year with family there, and return to Doha on the 7th of January.

I still have four essays to grade in the morning, but that is the only deadline on the agenda tomorrow. Grades are due by 11AM so I should have plenty of time to get everything finished. Hopefully, there won't be too many distractions in the office.

Later on at home, we still have to pack, of course. As usual, we leave it until the last minute...

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Season's Fleeting

Vito displays his gold medal.
Winter's here. It has been windy outside, but also sunny and clear. In the throes and humidity of never-ending Summer, I didn't think it would ever get so cold here. We had a little rain spell in recent weeks and, since then, it has been cold. Our apartment is made of stone and tile, and we're thinking about picking up a space heater. Actually, Angela's not, but I am because I'm more delicate.

Vito had his final soccer practice of the season last weekend. Soccer practice happened two times each week: once indoors at Doha College on Monday afternoons (when Angela took him) and the second time outdoors on the Education City campus on Friday mornings (when I took him). I was never thrilled about waking up at 8AM on Friday mornings (which is the first day of the weekend here). Practices will resume again at a different location after the new year. It has been fun to watch lately. In the last few weeks, Vito has finally started to get the hang of it—chasing after the ball  and running in the right direction instead of looking at the clouds or whirling dervishly. I suppose he takes after his father in that way.

We're friends with a German couple and their kids—the first friends we made here in Doha—but they are moving to Bahrain next month. They went out of their way for us at the beginning of our stay here, and we'll miss them tremendously. Anyway, they're packing and sorting through their things, and they asked us if we wanted a Christmas tree and their fish. We passed on the fish, but the Christmas tree is blinking and sparkling away in our living room right now. Angela found some colored bulbs and lights, and the three of us decorated it a couple nights ago.

Christas comes to the Q.
On Monday night, I wanted to celebrate Angela's first substitute teaching gig here, so we all hopped in the Honda and drove to Souq Waqif to try gelato at La Dolce Vita, a little gelateria here in Doha, and we came across these Christmas ornaments with Arabic imagery on them. We bought three, one for each of us, and added them to our little Chrismas tree when we got home.

Despite the lack of Christmas overkill that can usually be found in the states at this time of year, there is a festive spirit throughout the city. Qatar National Day takes place on the 18th of December. Apparently, a parade will march along the corniche. Flags and banners and bunting and lights and grandstands are being erected toward that end, and it looks it's going to be a nice party. Unfortunately, we depart on our Winter extravaganza on the 16th, so we will miss all of the holiday hullabaloo here. We're happy, however, that we will be able to visit family in Italy as we haven't seen anyone there in about 18 months.

It's hard to believe the school year's almost over. Today was the last day of regular classes at the Academic Bridge Program, too. Next week is finals week!