Thursday, September 8, 2011

September in Abu Dhabi is like March in Ottawa or, if you are feeling out of sorts and crappy, it's not all in your head

I once worked closely with a brilliant woman named Deb, back at the Ottawa Sun, and she used to call March something quite apt and catchy. I can't quite remember what it was, of course, but it ended with "broken dreams". Her point was, March in Ottawa sucks. You get fooled into thinking that just because it's March, it's spring. Or at least the end of winter. But it's not. March has snowstorms, freezing rain, lots of dirty crappy snow and grey greyness - no sun and it's still COLD. It's basically a winter month that has the "air" of a spring month, and that is why it is wrapped in trickery. March was the month that no matter how many times I would promise myself "no all-inclusive Mexico week this year you are saving for something more important", I would find myself breaking that promise, booking a trip in a mad panic and boarding a flight for anywhere warm and sunny - often paid for with credit I could not afford. March was the month I lost my temper at work; the month I got worked up about all the small stuff that doesn't matter; the month where if I was single I was sure I would be alone forever; the month I hated my job and my apartment and a lot about my life. Relations were often strained with everyone, including my fairly amiable late cat, Jerry, who also was not impressed.

All that to say, in Abu Dhabi, I have concluded, September is very much like March. Have you noticed a rise in the level of negativity around you? Do people seem short-tempered, or lacking hope? I know I am strugging in all these areas (and boy, so are my colleagues and friends, too). It's because after making it through stifling, mostly stay-inside temperatures since June, after making it through August and Ramadan, the general attitude now is "enough already - I can't take it anymore". I don't know about you, but I would pay a lot of money right now, even eat questionable things on a dare, if I could spend more than five minutes in the presence of some fresh air. It's still weeks away, isn't it? And that is pretty hard to swallow.

If I could offer the slightest bit of advice, as I am making my way through my fourth summer here and have not left the country since April (yes, that's right, I've been here THE WHOLE TIME) it would be to hang in there. Remember everyone is feeling it. Your irritation, your short temper is the exact same as that colleague that snapped at you, so try not to make a big deal of it. We're all in one big, hot stifling boat.

I have felt the same every year since arriving; even though in recent years I was able to leave during the summer for a sizeable vacation. It doesn't matter. Living in this heat will always be incredibly hard. It's usually not until the first, sweet breeze sweeps across my face - the one that has just a hint of cool in it, the one that seems infused with optimism, that I realize how trying the summer's temperatures can be. And I wonder why I was so hard on myself, when all I was doing those late August and September days was just trying to get through my days the best way I knew how.

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