April 19, 2007

Saudi 31

I haven’t said much these past months because I have been personally confused. I came
here this year with a 60/40 idea of going back home this summer… with the thought of
returning here in the future. But with one of those milestone birthdays coming up, I
wasn’t sure if there was enough time.

Time.

Part of my decision to return home was based on the lack of civility of the department,
and when it looked like that wasn’t going to happen, it was better to just go home. Hallas,
as they say here. Be done. So, I resigned with the full intent of going home and teaching
at UMD. I was in the term faculty pool. Bibi Jeddah.

Part of me didn’t want to leave, but I was going to do so. Didn’t feel comfortable within
my own skin.

Time ticks on… tick tick.

The fall acting director resigned. She has been put in an awful situation anyway, and Dr.
Suhair (the Dean of the college) was in our faculty meeting announcing departmental
changes. As a part of that she talked about goals. And if one’s goals have been met, find
new goals.

On "find new goals", it hit. I have been going through a midlife crisis for months. I have
been so tired and felt so old, I related it to turning 60. One of my colleagues had said she
said she felt old, she is 44. Working in drama and conflict does that to you, she says. So,
when Suhair mentioned new goals, I realized I didn’t have any new goals and that, weird
as it may seem, I was heading home with the thought of sliding to the finish. That I would
die. Put out to pasture. Who knows.

Die?

Sure, someday, but my health, thank God, is great. After the meeting Dr. Suhair again,
outside the meeting room, asked me again if I would reconsider staying. In the meantime
I noticed I wasn’t scheduled for any classes this fall at UMD yet, so I could back out of
teaching next fall gracefully. I told her yes.

Two days later I passed out my withdrawl of resignation letter. Turned out that no one
processed the original resignation letter. Administration hoped I would change my mind.

So, the deed is done. I am here. Here for a while. I don’t know how long. I know this is
hard on my family in the states as my kids really looked forward to me being home. In
this case, the good job is a long way from the U.S. What can I say? And it is a job at a
groundbreaking institution in a Kingdom that is rapidly changing.

I have now established residency here for tax purposes, so I can be in the US longer than
before. I have my flight arrangements for June 17 – arriving in Mpls. I’m going to spend
time with Jen, then head north with Jake.. I will return here Aug 19th.

Since making this decision, time has flown. \We are in the second semester, now with a
week break. I have looked forward to this break for catching up on rest, completing
courses for the semester and beginning work on my new creative (based on MFA)
projects.

A local Sheikh has expressed interest in backing the development of many 3 sec to 15
minute animations, films, whatever, with the hope of reducing the level of violence in the
middle east. Since he owns a vast TV cable/satillite system in the middle east, he can run
these on his TV stations. My 60s change the world blood ran hot to anticipation.

Music Club continues. It has taken a new twist. New students are from America and the
regulars are from all over the Middle East. They are not read hip on practicing, so I’ve
taken to playing the music and they sing. (We all sing.) I have started picking up other
musical instruments – drums, bongos, tambourines, etc.

I went to Taif, a city near Mekka. It is mountainous. Met a herd of camels and a troup of
baboons. Photos attached.

See you all in June.

S of A

Posted by at 8:28 AM