Something New and Unexpected – Part 3

9/16- So…. It’s official. I’m a certified cornball. Where do I get my membership card? After this weekend I thought to myself we might be going “steady”. That’s such an old school word. We really have a great time in each other’s presence. So I made a date night jar. Just to keep it fresh and exciting. Also to gives us something to look forward to for the weekend. He calls me the “planning manager”. I explained to him the rules of the jar. He was excited! Man. Excited. Date night jar. #rareman

9/17- He wanted to pull something from the date night jar so we had dinner. Here is the menu: Garden Salad with ranch dressing and croutons, Garlic cheesy bread (had to make myself), Spaghetti, Brownies and ice cream. We were pretty full, so we never made it to dessert. We enjoyed the meal and he would like to thank the people who taught me to cook. That’s going to be Eva, Sarah, Sharon and Aunt Sandra.

So back to the jar. We pulled karaoke night. As soon as he hears me singing he might run away.

So there is nothing super exciting to tell you. It’s seems as though the two of us have settled in and we’re pretty normal.

More than anything, I’m appreciative of his friendship. There are some things that I would normally try to figure out on my own in a new place, but he already knows the best way to go about the situation. The flip side of that is I think I’m so exhausted from having to think things through, research and all that stuff that it’s really refreshing to follow his lead. Did I just say that?? Out loud? C’mon if you know me, you know I’m independent and headstrong. While, I’ll never lose that part of me, I’m definitely open.

I’ve tried to do things my way for a really long time when it comes to men. So maybe this is the man that allows me to see both perspectives and decide which is best without repercussions.

We really like Fall for You by Leela James (click name to listen)-

This verse really hits home for me-

I’m so used to standing

So used to being on my own

But this thing is new, baby

It feels like I’m losing control

I’ll take another step

-The End

Church and Brunch

“Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy.”

Psalms 99:3 NKJV

I could hear the music from praise and worship coming through the walls of the church as I approached from the street.

I kept saying to myself that I have to find a church. Before coming here I had searched online and found Doha Fellowship. According to the website they are a Christian church and have been active for 20 years. So, I got my life together this morning and caught an Uber to the church. I’m not really sure why but entering a new church is always scary for me. The usher greeted me with a smile and escorted me to a seat. All the tension disapated. Everyone was on their feet singing praises to God and I knew I was at the right place.

The praise and worship team was on point setting the tone and preparing hearts for the word. The worship leader invited members up to the front to share stories of faith and overcoming situations through the power of God. Announcements were shared with the congregation. The church has their 20th birthday celebration approaching October 5th. They will celebrate at the Westin Hotel where all services will be combined. I can’t wait to go! After announcements they asked all first time attendees to stand. I popped up with ease and they welcomed me. The lady sitting next to me introduced herself. Her name is Jamilah and she has been attending for five years and loves it. I see why! Next we had tithes and offering.

Pastor Kevin came forward with a prayer before going into his sermon. His sermon focused on 1 Peter 1:13:

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

The first thing he discussed was anytime you see therefore in the Bible you should read the previous verse for context. He also shared an illustration about how you gird up your loins. He drew the comparison to preparing your mind for action. His emphasis was on being sober minded. If you’re going to be drunk, let it be with the Spirit. Also I thought this was powerful : Thoughts become an idea, ideas become your attitude, attitude impacts character. So prepare your mind for action in all situations.

He also dropped a little nugget for me. I’ve been struggling with four girls at school. He said look at the thinking that drives the behavior and not the behavior. The behavior frustrates me, but there is a thinking that drives their actions. Therefore, I have to prepare my mind for action with them and understand the thinking behind their behavior. I would rate my worship experience a ten and I will be back next Friday!

Brunch at Lemon Cafe followed church.

Friday is also the day to hit up some good brunches. I saw one of my fellow colleagues I met in the airport was at a cool looking place called Lemon Cafe. I caught an Uber to Tawar Mall and located the restaurant. It’s kind of hidden but was worth the scavenger hunt.

I ordered gravy fries and an iced caramel latte to get started and blueberry mint shisha. Jesus, these fries were smoothered in gravy and cheese with a side of ketchup. The shisha was robust and long lasting. For my main course I had Fettuccine Broccoli and Chicken. It was all a winner. Maybe this will become my Friday ritual.

Off to check out Tawar Mall!

Something New and Unexpected Part 2

So I’ve been watching “Love Is…” and one of the episodes ends with this line from Nuri:

Enjoy the man desiring you.

9/5- He told me he would call me at 6:30 with a location to meet him. This is exciting. Never had this happen before. It’s 6:56 and he is like don’t leave yet, I’ll tell you when to order your Uber. I struggle with situations like this because I might have a controlling gene. Nonetheless, I take a shot of gin while waiting. So I get in the Uber and the driver is like you’re going to the Corniche area. It’s a beautiful place. Awesome! So I get there and he meets me. We walk around the Corniche and he points to a Dhow and I’m like this? So we get on and it’s just the two of us. And we ride for about an hour looking at the beautiful buildings and lights of Doha.

It was a really nice surprise and somewhat intimate. By intimate I mean an opportunity to have uninterrupted conversation. There is a lot questioning going on to determine if this is a going to potentially be a good fit.

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • At what point do you decide your in an exclusive relationship?
  • When was your last relationship?
  • Expectations… Like some grown adult conversations.

Part of me is okay that this is happening. Some might say pump your brakes. But at 36 I need to ask all the questions upfront.

9/6- Tonight we caught an Uber and went to Radisson Blu. It’s a hotel, but it has several different bars. I told him I wanted to go to Shehrazad because I needed some draft beers. This is really funny because I feel like things get lost in translation sometimes or I mention something that has a completely different meaning.

For example after four beers- “I give up, gotta break the seal.” We get in a conversation about what it means to both of us. Let’s just say get your mind out the gutter dude, I was referring to going to the restroom. Once you go, you can’t stop. He had never heard of that. Also, he thought by draft I was saying giraffe. This is funny right??? Here is a picture of a giraffe beer. I can’t drink that much beer these days.

Update- Yesterday he told me that he understands everything I say. He just thinks it’s funny when I tell him it was lost in translation.

9/7- Homeboy (name courtesy of Megan) comes by and drops off flowers.#swoon I’m done. Let me tell you the last time I got some flowers from a man. I’ll keep thinking and get back to you later. Additionally, I had these huge boxes in my entry from unpacking everything. He helped me carry them to the recycling area. #thatsaman

9/8- I knew this was going to be his response based on our interactions up to this point.

This is how it goes: I bought a new SMART TV because I had a 1980 big body. I knew that once I had the TV I wanted to rearrange my furniture. My desire was to have a specific flow in the house. I brought the TV home and commenced moving furniture around. When he called I was happy to show him my so called upgrades. The first thing he said was “Why didn’t you call me to help move the furniture?” #longsighwithnoanswer

Do you know how many apartments I moved in and out of without a male in sight while in Arizona? When I bought and sold my house do you know I moved pillow top mattresses up and down stairs? I should have called and asked for help even if I didn’t need the assistance.

I made him brownies with a note. Who am I? Like really. What have you done with Ranata?

9/9- All I’ve ever asked for was someone that wanted to do things together and that’s what I have received. He sent a message today asking what I thought about the Sean Paul concert which is October 30th. When you start making future plans, like 40 days from now, shit is real. Or could it be that I was deprived?

9/11 and 9/12- I have a horrible two days at work. I left with a headache on Wednesday due to the crazy four girls. He cares so much about my mental and emotional wellbeing. I told him I needed a diet Coke before I have a nervous breakdown. He brought three. #swoon

9/13- It’s my turn to plan a date. :). I’ve stopped counting the number because now it’s kind our normal Thursday. Earlier in the week I asked him if he had ever played pool. He had not, so I knew I wanted to plan something around that. We met at Megapolis. It’s a huge gaming place with bowling, billiards and lots of games. I grabbed something to eat before he got there. It took a little time to get a pool table so he ate as well. We both have a competitive nature and it’s fun.

The pool area is very nice and open with plenty of tables. It is decorated like a library or massive study. As we were checking in, we peeked in the VIP pool rooms. The manager saw us admiring the rooms and told the worker to let us have it. We go in and they place occupied sign on the door.

So, I get down to business teaching him the game. Stripes, solids, eight ball, chalk and sticks. We are ready to play. So I break the balls and nothing goes in. It’s his turn and not too bad for a newbie. I get one in and the game gets going. Once he gets the hang then it’s all about beating me. Tonight was good and it’s awesome to teach him things I know that he has not been exposed to yet. I’m two for two now. We ended out night with shisha and drinks.

When we are out and I look at this man, I think to myself, “Gosh, I’m lucky.” I told this to him and he explained to me that it has nothing to do with being lucky. It’s about being blessed. #wellpraiseGod

This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I haven’t had a man around to assist with things. I told him I needed to move curtains from one room to the other. I had some drab blue curtains and they didn’t macth my bedroom color scheme. However, the other bedroom had gold curtains that were perfect. He came and switched them. Why does this make me happy? I don’t even know.

Something New and Unexpected – Part 1

I contemplated whether I was going to put this in my blog or not. But hey, it’s was going on right now. Not really sure why I’ve kept detailed notes about this. Soooo….. grab some popcorn and adult juice.

This is a long one but I’m sure this is what you have been wanting to know. Y’all, I’ve been boy crazy my whole life. My girlfriends know I have some random dating stories that include unwanted hot tubs, going out the opposite door of a bar to avoid a situation, giving out the wrong name and number (check out Google, you can get a fake number) and trying to pick up Border Patrol agents on the way back from Mexico.

I’ve been single for as long as I can remember now. Dating in Phoenix was hard. I mean you damn near had to catch him off the airplane if you wanted a relationship. I can probably count the number of dates that I’ve been on since 2010. I would say the max is five. So obviously I was excited to see what the expat dating pool was working with. I’ve been warned to avoid contractors, military, teachers and whole list of other professionals. So what does that leave? The Nationals and that’s a no go. I also read some articles about how to navigate the dating scene here. I’ve been here less 30 days (when I started writing this) and dating life is popping! My friend Adnaloy said she would wait six months and then explore. To me that sounded like the mature thing to do. I’ll let her be the mature one. In transparency, I tried to juggle a few conversations and texting- but that’s not really me and once someone truly begins to pursue you it gets too difficult.

We began speaking 8/19 and I met him in person about a week later. He is a 33 year old Cameroonian with no kids and the oldest of five. He is university educated. He loves music, has vision of where he is going and how to get there. His smile is contagious. He says the world “really” in a way that causes me to giggle. To top all this off, he is a gentleman.

You mean to tell me I had to travel 6,000 miles to get a man to look my way. Yea America, I ain’t coming back.

Initial meeting- 8/28: We met in front of the fountains at Mall of Qatar. It’s always interesting meeting a man for the first time. You never know if he is going to look the same or be true to height. Our initial plan was dinner, but instead we walked around the mall playing a game of get to know you. Question after question about education, growing up, likes and dislikes, career, relationships and so on. We sat at Starbucks Coffee asking more questions. I’m also big on knowing your whole legal name.

But let me back up about ordering at Starbucks…..When you order with a new person, especially a man, sometimes I don’t know the “pay protocol” (or maybe that’s those Phoenix weirdos). So I pulled my money out to pay. He said “Really, you’re going to make me look like this?” I didn’t know. He went with me to Bath & Body Works so I could pick out a candle. He carried the bag for me. Cute.. So the night is ending and we are walking to the mall exit. I pull out my phone to order an Uber. He was like, “What are you doing?” Uhh getting a ride home. We sort of get into a “tiff” about this. But I explained it to him like this:

I’m a single female

I just moved to a new country

I barely know where I live and you sure as hell don’t need to know where I live. He understood and agreed.

He walked me to the car, opened the door and closed it.

8/30: Movie night! We went to the IMAX to see Mile 22 staring Mark Wahlberg. It’s definitely a winner. He let me pick out the movie; sort of. He sends me pictures of options and tells me to select a movie for us. We really enjoyed the movie. We sat down afterwards and I had dinner. He showed me pictures and videos of land he has in Cameroon and playing football (which is soccer on this side of the world) with his friends. He also is really into music. We ended our night and I ordered my Uber without incident. He walked me to the car, opened the door and closed it…again.

8/31: This time we went to the Angry Birds Theme Park. Think of a Dave and Busters type of place with games and go carts. We played basketball, air hockey and some other games. I actually like this place. The cool thing about the tickets is instead turning them in for a prize you can just reload to the card and play more games. We had dinner and once again I ordered my Uber without incident. He walked me to the car, opened the door and closed it. I know I keep repeating the same thing, but I just love it!

He said “I miss you.” My response was,”I’m not sure how to respond.” I get kind of awkward with displays of affection toward me.

I have a million and one questions.

How do you know you miss me?

What do you miss?

Am I supposed to miss you?

Do I miss you?

He could tell I was uncomfortable. He proceeded to tell me whatever I was doing in the US before I got to Qatar didn’t matter. I needed to be open to this new experience. Well damn..Okay.

So it’s been about five days since we saw each other, but conversation is strong via text messages during the day and he really likes to text/call me once we are home from work. He’s currently consistent. My processing of this is interesting to me. Just the second guessing and questioning if this is how men are supposed to behave or are you playing games? I don’t know. I don’t have personal exemplar for comparison. I can’t say that when I was dating “XYZ” this was how things worked or these were the expectations. I guess the best part is this is a clean slate and I or we get to make up the rules.

Random question in the middle of all of this. It might sound crazy, but I don’t need to know all of your moves. I think it definitely stems from some dishonesty and secrecy in a previous relationship for me. He didn’t tell me when he was leaving work, going to store, he was missing in action from time to time and I didn’t question because I already knew what was up. So, old behavior for me is like why are telling me, I don’t care where you’re going, You don’t have send a picture. For me it feels like over communication. Is this natural to feel this way or am I being to harsh based on previous experiences?

As of 9/14 I take this all back. I like the communication. What the hell was I thinking???

Move over Uber!

I told myself I would give it 3 months (until the end of October) to determine if I needed a car. I’ve become accustomed to walking to the Lulu Express and the gym, which is less than 5 minutes from home. The school is fairly close, but it’s not a road I would walk or even bike to work. So it’s September 11th and I am done with Uber! It’s extremely frustrating to have the driver cancel when they are about two minutes from pick-up. My A-type personality flips out and I get concerned about being late to work. It is also bothersome to give directions to a new driver every morning. Don’t you have a map in your app? I am sure that part of this experience is teaching me patience.

So now I’m trying to figure out how to get a driver’s license. Everything always seems vague online, but I think I figured out what I need to do:

Get an eye exam

Go and schedule theory test

Complete theory test with passing score

Go and schedule practical test (Tuesday is the only day for female drivers)

Obtain DL

Let’s talk a out this theory test. I printed out a copy of the street signs and it gave me hives. The only signs I know for sure are the camel crossing, yield, stop and roundabout. I haven’t seen any camels crossing in the city. That’s kind of funny to me.

Also, prior to coming I researched an International Driving Permit. It can be obtained through AAA and is about $20. Not sure why I didn’t get that because you can bet I would have applied to receive the IDP. My application is complete and ready to go this week. However, I’m now trying to figure out how to expedite it back to me in 10 days instead of 4-6 weeks.

Anyway, trust and believe, I will be driving soon.

Bring on the car search!

What type of car do you think I should purchase? My goal is stay here five years and have an automobile that is reliable. I can get just about any vehicle I would purchase at home; except an Acura.

School Lunch

You never know what you’re going to get in the school cafeteria. However, I’ve been slightly surprised at the quantity and quality of food that I can get for 20-23QR. I’m mean you could have 2-3 options on your plate of what I consider the main dish of a meal. My campus is situated in Education City and employs lots of people, so more than the school staff and students dine in the cafeteria. Oh and the best part of it all…… You can’t find a soda to save your life. If you really need a caffeine fix, there is a Coffee Bean on campus. They call me Ms. Ranata (is a bad thing that they know my name?).

Here is a sneak peek at my lunch from last week.

Sunday – Boiled eggs, pasta Alfredo, vegetable stir fry, beef Burgundy, Boulangere potato, steamed rice, shirazi salad.

Monday- Beef Stroganoff and white rice, fish with dill velouté.

Tuesday-

Wednesday – I brought steak fajitas leftovers from dinner.

Thursday –

My favorite school lunch growing up was the square pizza served Friday’s. What was your favorite lunch growing up? Do you eat in the school or work cafeteria? I’m eager to hear about your lunch experience.

Alcohol and Pork Heaven

Friday I caught an Uber out to the middle of nowhere for some wine, beer and gin. I’m not much of a pork eater, but I do like to keep some wine and Hendricks Gin in stock. Alcohol can only be purchased for consumption with a meal at a bar/restaurant which is mainly inside the hotels. No one really wants to take a trip to Doha for a gin and tonic unless your going out.

Because this is was my first time I had submit an application and pay the fee. It reminds you of a Bev Mo or Costco type of place, but the size of a QT. It’s gaurded with security when you arrive at the gate and inside. You go up to the 1st floor, get a number and fill out the application while waiting. In my short time being here, I’ve learned that nothing comes fast and there is a cue for every process. When my number was called, I went back to counter one. The agent awkwardly said nothing to me as he processed my paperwork.

It was about a 20 minute process to get my card. I paid $65 for a two year membership. My allowance is $960 per month. Umm that’s an insane amount of money to spend. As soon as I walked in I saw a bottle of Hendricks. I also went to find the North American bottle of sweet red wine that I enjoyed earlier this week. Why not get four? This not a place you can just get in the car and quickly access. I picked up a few Heineken in case I have guests and this Honey Dew Organic Golden Ale.

Once again I had to get in a cue that wrapped around the store. I need to find the optimal shopping time. Overall, it was a good experience and well on those tough days I can have a sip after work; at home.

What’s your favorite drink to keep in stock?

Back in the Swing of Teaching

Last week was all about setting the tone, creating a positive learning environment, building relationships, and going over policies and procedures. While I will continue to do these things, today really felt like my official first day back in the classroom as a teacher. Simply put… I love it and I am most definitely operating in my calling. I’ve always felt that teaching was a calling. Have you ever taught a lesson and walked away like damn, that was a good lesson? I teach girls in grades 6th, 7th and 8th grade. They really are some lovely students. Before meeting the students, during my interview and orientation, they expressed how nice they were. I believe in honeymoon periods, but these girls are just sweet.

My 7th graders are working on Volleyball and specifically the overhead pass. However, the MYP (Middle Years Program) is really about teaching the kids lifelong skills and PE is just the mode which it is delivered. For example the statement of inquiry for volleyball:  The choices we communicate as a team will result in different consequences. I also came up with a  tagline to help the girls quickly recall and relate to the statement. ”Positive communication equals positive results.”

And you also have inquiry questions such as:

  • Factual- What methods can we use to communicate?
  • Conceptual- How can we communicate effectively?
  • Debatable- Why should I think before I choose my actions?

I will be using these questions from time to time for lesson closure or exit tickets.

There are key and related concepts along with the global context. It’s a really neat way to teach. There are also Approaches to Learning which I integrate into my input, check for understanding and guided practice. Such as:

  • Organization Skills: Managing time and tasks effectively
  • Set goals that are challenging and realistic
  • Affective Skills: Managing state of mind
  • Self motivation
  • Practice analyzing and attributing causes for failures.
  • Communication: Give and receive meaningful feedback.
  • Exchanging thoughts, messages and information effectively through interaction

Oh and I can’t forget the criterion for formative and summative assessments at the end of each unit. Can you tell I’m a teacher geek?

So, my 6th graders are swimming and 8th graders are doing Tae Kwon Do. Those lessons went well today, but those are for sure my areas for growth after reflecting on my teaching today. I’m excited for this school year and how much I will grow as teacher in a new school and the MYP.

a8f5f00317bccf170e7fafbe972e6743

Margaret the Hair Goddess

I love to pamper myself, especially since I work really hard. One of the first things I started researching back in March was a hair salon. I’ve been completely spoiled by my people at Rare Essence. This is where I transitioned from chemicals to natural hair in 2010. There are times that I have allowed others to do my hair, but it’s definitely one of those things I’m particular about. So from 6,000 miles away I followed Embellie Salon & Natural Beauty Boutique on Facebook and Instagram. Checking out pictures of their stylists and clients. From all accounts things seemed in line with my usual services and the prices were comparable to home. Before I left, I did a protective styling with two strand twists so that I really wouldn’t have to be concerned with my hair until I was settled in my life a little. I went online and made an appointment for Saturday. I selected Margaret to do my hair.

I was greeted when I entered the shop and given a cold washcloth. The attendant gave me a new client form to complete so they could get to know me. Margaret invited me to her chair while the other lady prepared a glass of water with lemon for me. She asked a few questions and then Victoria came over to shape up my shaved side and a gave me a nice tapered edge. Margaret prepared to shampoo my hair. I went ahead and told her I was not tender headed. That’s like the password to go in on my scalp. She did an excellent job and put me into a small coma. That’s an indication of a good shampoo. By the way, Margaret is a beautiful Kenyan women, with flawless skin and should be modeling for an agency.

Next she prepared a hot oil treatment. Let me tell you about this. She took a small, flat brush starting at the back of my head and went through every part of my head with Shea oil. Never in my life has something felt this good on my head. It was like a warm coating. Then she massaged my head and into a coma I went again. I sat under the steamer for about 20 minutes to allow the treatment to settle in my scalp. The final touches included palm rolling my locs and then two strand twist as the style. Additionally, she interlocked some that had a lot of new growth.

I can only imagine what it is like dealing with a first time client. You have to create a relationship built on trust. There were some things that felt good about my new hair experience and some areas of growth for her as she continues to do my hair and understand what I expect. I’m willing to build a relationship with Margaret. She told me that my gray is beautiful and an indication of good hair. Whatever that means because I just feel old. In addition to that she said my scalp is glowing. Before long we will be gossiping and laughing; just like old times.

The one thing that I have been impressed with here is the level of service. My nail place was concerned about the health of my nails. Margaret giving me a Shea oil treatment because she wants my scalp to be clean. Where do these people learn customer service? I’m not sure that is something that can be taught. It must be inherent.

Oh and by the way…. Qatar Foundation has the hookup everywhere. I received 15% off my total. I don’t leave the house without my work identification.

#newhairwhodis

Sweet Work Schedule

In my previous life, one of my responsibilities was to create the master schedule for the school. That would entail creating a Jr. High schedule and then building specials into the schedule for grades K-6  (PE, Music, Art, Library, Computers, Spanish). It was done by hand with multiple edits ( I mean lots of edits). And just when you thought you had it right, a teacher would find an error in all of your hard work. Or even better special area teachers would calculate the number of minutes they were teaching in comparison to their colleagues. It was hard to please people. Even when you gave competent justification about schedule choices they may go to district as if you were trying to commit a personal injustice. No like really I did my best to follow the district matrix that included minutes suggested for teaching, preps, lunch, teacher to student rations and so on (in Ranata’s best sarcastic tone). There are instances that sections are larger. Sometimes they failed to see the bigger picture and all the moving pieces. It’s about more than the PE, Music or Art (etc.) or whatever department is there to support academic achievement and extracurricular advancement. It was about what worked for the whole school. There are times that you can make an change to benefit an individual. However, that is a slippery ass slope. If you start doing that then it looks like you are playing favorites or giving preferential treatment.

So, I always would question myself if I was the type of teacher that would have issues with the schedule or I would just keep it moving. I am a keep in moving person. I am there to educate children. I would trust that my administrative team follows district or school guidelines for schedules. I was chatting with my principal today and he was just checking in and seeing how my workload is going. No complaints here. But why would I? I would look stupid as hell. Even if I did, I don’t want the reputation on campus of being hard to work with or never satisfied.

Take a look at my schedule below. I teach between two-four sections per day. Wednesday is my roughest day with five during the swimming unit. I do not teach Advisory, but I go up to area and hang out with the kids prior to the start of the day so that I can get to know them.  I am only required to do that twice a week, but I go everyday. I also volunteered to go into Advisory and teach if coverage is needed for meetings, professional development or any other reason. I actually get to do this tomorrow! I go to the gym twice a week to monitor break time. Again this gives me an opportunity to see the kids in a non academic setting and make those positive connections.

This post is dedicated to all my hard working school administrators. Been there, done that! I appreciate all the work and consideration that goes into creating master schedules. Have a great school year and know that your schedule is amazing; you did what was right for students. You made decisions that were aligned with the mission and vision of the school.  #yourock and #iseeyou