About Me

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so i am a camel hunter in the deserts of the uae. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas is my favourite time of year. In fact, my birthday is the 23rd of Christmas!! New Years is typically a letdown (unless you're VIP at a Shakira concert)... but it's still a great holiday! Everyone has a different Christmas tradition, and the fun begins when you try to mix them all together. Most families try to get together, or at least are thinking about eachother during the holidays. I've spent most of my *27 Christmas' with my family. But for a few of them, I had to make new traditions with others. In 1997, Jo-Ben and Josh took me with them to Peru. We celebrated by eating at Orlandos 15 times.

Then in 2003 I celebrated in the Caribbean onboard a cruise ship. I dressed up as an elf and enjoyed another sunny hot day! 2004 I was also back on a ship cruising the warm Caribbean waters!

Royal Caribbean International
Navigator of the Seas
Onboard Skating Rink
December 25, 2003

In 2005, I found myself in the South Pacific with Raquel. Somehow, next to our wine rack Christmas tree, a new tradition was born. Hanno and Rocko Christmas Cards. Some of you were lucky enough to receive one of our first cards, I think we made postcards actually and shipped them off (costing us the equivalent of a months Starbucks budget... good thing Gloria Jeans was doing a free latte special)

Christmas 2005
South Pacific

One year later, we were fleeing Korea. However, we managed to muster some artistic creativity and sent out a Christmas CD along with our "Asian Starbucks" photograph. Even gave Stupid Charlie a CD and Card (I want the CD back, along with the $4,000usd he owes me... I know, I know... let it go Hannah) We advertised our Christmas Cards and the list expanded.
Christmas 2006
South Korea

Last year we were STUCK. We thought about photoshopping us together, but Raquel was freezing in Winnipeg while I was freezing in the Middle East. Dilemma. Until Raquel decided to come visit the United Arab Emirates. Problem solved, so long as people didn't mind receiving a Camel Christmas Card in March... (ok, ok, so maybe it was April by the time they were mailed)
"Christmas" 2008
United Arab Emirates

I know that you are all eagerly anticipating the 2009 card... I'm about to start traveling for nearly 24 hours of airplane time, yet I still won't be braving the cold winters where Raquel lives... even though they do have Starbucks. So I'm not sure what's going to happen this year... just wait, I'm sure it'll be good.

*nearly 28

Monday, December 7, 2009


i have a job. requirements. and i can get fired.

but i haven't ever been paid.

this is lame.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 2nd, 2009
38th National Day

I'm so glad to live in Al Masoudi. For the past 5 nights, every hour at night I've heard fireworks in the distance... My neighborhood has been full of fun, the best one in Al Ain. Lana and I dominated the carnival rides and the fireworks and fire spinning shows / acrobats were phenomenal!! I'm proud to live in the UAE and appreciative of the national pride!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

working? everyday?

It seems as though this job thing is really going to interfere with my facebook and blogging time. I'm commuting 140km to work everyday and in the office from 8:30-5:30. Good thing it only takes me 80 minutes... speedy Hannah. Anyways, I'm getting home pretty late, going to bed early, trying to squeeze in grocery shopping, baking, and laundry. And of course, a few games of bejeweled. As far as work goes, it's alright, tomorrow I might be closing a deal or two!! Inshallah. (Though the payout won't come until the new year... again, many thanks to my amazing roommates)

My dad was a bit concerned when I got this job. He reminded me that when I worked at a restaurant in university, I'd convinced him that tipping was not optional and encouraged him to become the worlds greatest tipper. Now that I'm working the phones, dad is concerned that he has to be nice to cold callers... Raquel worked the phones in Australia and taught me a few things I will share with you. If you don't want to talk to a telemarketer, don't. Politely tell them you're not interested, say goodbye, and hang up the phone. There is no need to tell them to 'ef' off and slam down the phone. There's also no need to keep them on the line for 5 minutes when you have no interest at all. However, not all people calling are trying to sell something. The company that I work for offers FREE independent financial services. We're sponsored by the Royal Family and paid by the institutions themselves. Therefore, you don't pay a thing and we file all the messy paperwork for you. We manage your accounts, keeping you up to date with any changes. So if I call you, I'm not actually selling anything so you don't have to be rude to me, ok? I've compiled a few of the good lines from the phones, thought I'd share them here...

Best lines from customers

Me: spheal
Him: What is it that I have to do to be removed from your list? Do I have to come down to your office or pay somebody money?

Me: spheal
Him: I actually work for [major competitor]... pause... and now is the time that I'm going to allow you to gracefully exit the conversation...

Me: spheal
Him: not interested, bye.

Neha: spheal (I was listening in training)
Him: You must not have heard, he's actually passed away, I'm just collecting messages.

Craig: spheal
Him: Thank you for calling all the time...

client answered the phone: Hi, take me off your database.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two Hours Later

Maybe I'm a sellout. Perhaps. Or maybe my 3 month holiday has made me weak. But I met the team, saw the figures, heard the pitch... and I'm expected at work at 8:30am Sunday.

Dang it!

Moral of the Story: Always bring backup... backup!!


Well I'm sitting here waiting for a job interview. good thing that I was only ten minutes early as I've been informed that the woman I'm meeting will be 1/2 hour late. Seriously? That doesn't help the nerves, even though I know that I don't want this job. In theory an interview for a undesirable job should be effortless. Nerves of steel. I don't want this job. Then why am I here? Nobody knows. I guess it's just for practice.

Why don't I want this job? This job that promises millions and gazillions of dollars if you're willing to put in the time? Well, Perhaps because it's solely based on commission. And they won't provide a residency visa until after a probation period. Or because it's sales. And because it's 140km from my house. These are all very good and valid reasons, but it's probably actually because it's a job for corporate America, Arab style. Did I ever dream of investment banking as a career? Nope. Am I comfortable wearing a suit jacket, heels, and a tucked in shirt? Nope. Do I want to work in a cut throat environment? Nope. Am I scared of this job, scared that I might actually be good at it? Maybe.

So I guess that I have to just accept that this is good practice. Working on my interview skills. Selling myself to the client. Because basically I've decided that I have an image problem. People don't buy into the "Hannah" factor that I've been trying to sell. People aren't knocking on my door or rackin' up an Etisalat bill to hire me. I have been rejected from VOLUNTEER positions. How is that possible? I read my friend Kati's blog the other day and it was pretty dang encouraging. I mean, she's a well educated, experienced and hot candidate. I'd hire her - but even she's even having issues finding a job in the big bad DC market. So I'm not the only amazing candidate out there having issues finding work.

I'm not sure what I'm learning from this experience. I've seen more guys walk by in metro tight collared shirts, ties, and pinstriped pants. Girls are wearing all sorts of dresses, slacks, and expensive business wear. I can't afford the 'costumes' required to work here. Nor am I sure why I'd have to dress the part if my job is predominately on the PHONE. Nobody can see me, unless there is a secret web cam that I haven't seen. Frick, they probably have a camera zoomed in on what I'm typing right now.

Moral of the Story: I want this job, I want this job, I am a motivated individual. I can do this job, I can make you proud, you want me. You will hire me and you will love me. And you must over pay me for my efforts!! :) TAKE THAT, NANNY-CAM!... I need a coffee.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Top Ten

The top ten reasons why I need to find a job... and soon.

I've come up with five, can you come up with the other five?

10. My hypothyroid meds run out in 75 days and I can't get more without a prescription... need an employer provided medical card to get the prescription.
9. Weekends just really aren't as fun when you don't have to look forward to them.
8. Car needs servicing.
7. Healthy food costs more than junk food... I don't want to get fat.
6. I don't think I can hack emirate prison, though how's the food in prison?

** starbucks should make the list, eh?

Monday, October 19, 2009

RAK half marathon - 122 days until the big day!

Two years ago I ran the HiSeoul Half Marathon.

This weekend I read in TheNational saturday magazine an honest article about running by Fatima al Shamsi. She writes, "It has been three weeks now since I accepted the challenge [of running a half marathon] and one of the most important things I've learnt is that running is quite a horrible thing. Don't get me wrong: the gratification and satisfaction you get just a few moments after you stop and which last for the rest of the day are amazing. But from the moment you start until the moment you allow your poor, panting body to rest, you are miserable. I have asked every person I know who works out regularly what their thoughts are on running, and they all agree."

It's true. I hate running. But my love for the feeling when I'm finished makes it all worth it. It takes two years to get over the pain of a half marathon. I know this because two years and twelve days after my first half, I've signed up for my second: the RAK half marathon. Hopefully I'll beat my time of 2:13:50... (that was for 21.0975km, the Korean half was actually 23.63km and took me 2:30:17... i must've slowed down a lot for those last 2 1/2 km... though I did "run" the entire way!!!) I'm hoping to sucker in a friend or two... or at least a supporter. Why am I doing this? I'm not sure. Maybe because I'm jobless, broke, and running is free and something that I can control. Or maybe because in the thousands of photos of the Korean half, there aren't any of me and I'm not sure if I actually did it... or maybe I'm just lazy and going to quit halfway through the marathon.

When I went to fill out the registration form, the lady laughed and asked me if the application was for me??? Apparently I was the first girl to apply through this store though last year there were 330 women to the 649 men. Maybe there's a chance for me to place... this race does boast the largest prize purse! 122 days until the big day, will I be prepared?

Moral of the story: Blame Lana, she watched me sign up without stopping me... and she doesn't even like coffee!!

Friday, October 16, 2009


so i haven't left for my run yet because i'm surrounded by terrorists... or at least an active imagination. technically, all i know is that i'm locked in my room. or i've locked myself in my room. i heard something fall downstairs so i opened the door, then there was a huge crash boom bang kapow. i slammed my door, locked it. and now am telling you.

i rang my roommate and she's out at the mall, she didn't hear the noise.

i rang my running partner and she didn't hear anything next door.

so now i just have to wait it out. i know that the stove is out of gas, but i looked out the window and the gas tank is still there, hasn't exploded... there are kids outside, it might be fireworks. naw, they are probably at my door now using a discarded bobby-pin to pick the lock. wish me luck. or bid me adieu.

moral of the story: lock the front door or you'll be writing your memoir from under your bed... without any coffee

hockey, foreign films

... What's a girl to do when she finds herself in the middle east without any cash, no residency visa, and a frozen bank account? Hmmm... well... not having a job has provided me with new opportunities. I can sit at Starbucks for hours and reading the newspaper - oh wait, that was before the cash ran out; I can browse empty stores when everyone else is at work... I mean, if it weren't for the lack of a paycheck and the frozen bank account, I might actually love unemployment! So in trying to find the silver lining, I've researched and said yes to events I typically wouldn't be so interested in.

This past week I've been able to go to three films at the Middle East International Film Festival. I'm not always a huge fan of reading along at the cinema, however I really enjoyed myself. The first film was The Informant, a quirky price-fixing conspiracy film, based on a true story. I watched this film at the Emirates Palace, brushing shoulders with the stars. Unfortunately Matt Damon wasn't there. I also saw Northless, a Mexican film telling about the repeated attempts of Andres to illegally cross the Mexican border into the United States. They had a question and answer session after the film where we spoke with the director, producer and main actress. The most interesting film was The Gift of the Pachamama. This was filmed in Bolivia and told the story of the Andean Quechua people and their day to day struggle.

Now on to hockey. I realize i live in the desert and I'm surrounded by sand. Sand creeps into every imaginable place, and would take over the cities if left alone. I don't subscribe to any newspapers, but today received a complementary copy of The National. I found an article about hockey in the UAE and read that there was a game starting in Al Ain in 30 minutes. My friends failed me, apparently they aren't really hockey fans, BUT I jumped in the car and discovered the UAE hockey league. Today Al Ain was playing Abu Dhabi. I froze (despite my hoodie and tuque) but made some friends who shared their tea. Lucky for me there are two games a week, and admission is free.

this is a great photograph of the two cultures uniting!
the hockey players were on fire as the game began...

Now I'm off for a run, it's still free. I try to plan my runs around prayer times, streets get congested as the men make their way to the local mosque to pray... not an ideal time to run.

Moral of the Story: Always bring your coffee to the hockey game!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Coffee. Family. Sunshine...

My last interview went really really well. The man actually said that he never imagined somebody of my caliber would apply for the job. I had managed to avoid all questions by using my interview techniques until I was literally walking out the door.

"Hannah," he questioned, "what makes you happy?" I didn't pause and confidently replied, "coffee." Then, realizing he might want a more stereotypical answer, added - "family." Then I felt lame. "Sunshine?" He smiled and laughed with me as I left the interview.

Coffee. Family. Sunshine.

Moral of the Story: Coffee is always a correct answer.

the perfect turkey

Yummy, today is Canadian Thanksgiving. Not sure when the pilgrims landed in Plymouth Rock in Canada and ate together with the Indians to give thanks for the harvest... But turkey day is always a good day! I have been looking for somewhere serving a turkey dinner in the UAE and came across this recipe. So for all of you who don't know how to make that perfect turkey, try this:

Subject: Delicious Turkey Recipe...
When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect for people like me, who just are not sure how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out.

Give this a try.

8 - 15 lb. turkey
1 cup melted butter
1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is Good.)
1 cup uncooked popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHER'S LOW FAT) Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush turkey well with melted butter salt, and pepper. Fill cavity with stuffing and uncooked popcorn.

Place in baking pan with the neck end toward the back of the oven.

Listen for the popping sounds. When the turkey's ass blows the oven door open and the bird flies across the room, it's done.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hannah's Step by Step to the other side

Cruise ship employees like to party. work hard, play harder. So you can imagine that after 2 1/2 years of working on ships, i've been to a lot of parties. there are themed parties, holiday parties, karaoke parties, white parties, and no reason parties. And because of the cheap alcohol, most people tend to overindulge. One night Scottie noticed that i never closed the bar or got all crazy and decided to make a Step by Step guide to the other side. He laminated it for me (bars can be messy) and tried to help me through the steps. I never made it to step 10. I'm pretty sure I never tried. BUT, I appreciated the gesture, and for all of you aspiring alcoholics, here you go:

Hannah's Step by Step to the other side
Step 1: Arrive at a party sober and walk to bar to get 1 beer.
Step 2: Drink beer slowly over a 15 min period.
Step 3: Go back to bar within 20 mins to get a Vodka and orange.
Step 4: Sip this little sucker over a 20 min period.
Step 5: Now maybe have a little boogie only 2 songs max we don't want to waste our first two drinks we just had.
Step 6: We should be around the 40 to 45 min mark by now.
Step 7: Now its time to pick up the pace, go get another Vodka and orange try to finish this in a ten min period.
Step 8: Dance hard this helps with getting the alcohol in the system, remmber no more than 3 songs.
Step 9: Report to Scottie.
Step 10: Repeat steps 7 till 9 repeatedly till alcohol runs out.

See you on the other side.

Thanks Scottie for the memory

Thursday, October 8, 2009

advice... arms dealer or unemployed?

when do you decide to just take a job? forget about your career, future goals, morals. at what point are you broke enough to just say screw it and settle? i've learnt a bit through this job process. first of all, if you haven't ever been "made redundant" (aka, been fired)... you don't know what it's like. . . and you don't have all the answers.
my friend Rachel wrote this to me today on fb chat:

have you tried looking for jobs on Monster? What about Career Builder?


j/k. I hate job hunting

and I hate when people give AWESOME advice just trying to be helpful. :)

how's it going?

I laughed. she's right. awesome advice isn't always appreciated. Obviously i've looked on every imaginable website and have applied for 300+ jobs. and today i even interviewed for a job as an arms dealer that i found on craigslist... (jury's still out on that job).

i've turned down a couple of jobs/interviews. i'm not desperate enough to teach 5/6 grade science. I am NOT a teacher, just posed as one for a few years. i also won't work for $1000 a month as a customer service rep for Emirates, even if it does mean cheap plane tickets. I don't apply for the jobs that ask for photos and require 'girls with adventurous morals' (honest to goodness, saw this on an add)...

do i take the first decent job i'm offered? or do i hold out for the next big adventure? arg, if only i knew the future. no wait, that wouldn't really be any fun.

and just a piece of advice for anyone out there going on an interview... don't talk. ask the company questions, lots of them. let them talk, let them tell you all about their kids, grandparents, childhood, hobbies. ANYTHING. people like to hear themselves talk, and they'll leave the interview feeling like they really enjoyed themselves.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

dinner / veggies / compost

i just finished cleaning out the kitchen cupboards... and some things are getting dangerously close to expiration. i typically cook and bake the same things over and over again. if you know me, you know that i make amazing chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon buns, and christmas cookies. i also eat chicken and rice a ridiculous amount of times per month. Usually i just figure oh well, why mess with a good thing.

BUT after spending time with amanda barkey, i am now inspired to cook more unique and healthy meals. actually, i'd love to star in julia and julia and cook through an entire cookbook in a year... however, i can't afford it, it's been done, and i don't have a gym membership. So i'll just start off by using up what's in the cupboards, and hope i get a Jamie Oliver cookbook for Christmas!!!

If you live in the area and want to have a delicious home cooked dinner (i reckon it should be delectable, but who knows)... let me know what sounds good to you and invite yourself over for dinner. Of course donations are accepted to cover the cost of the food, or just bring a side dish.

1. lasagna - either meat or vegetarian

2. veggie homemade pizza (with peppers, olives, pineapple, onions, mozzarella, or any combo)

3. spaghetti marinara (made with whole grain pasta and fresh tomatoes and mushrooms)

4. pasta - with a pesto sauce, feta, roasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted pine-nuts, and roasted squash

5. arabic chicken (chicken made with arabic spices), rice, and yogurt

I want to be a vegetarian.

I want to give up steak, chicken, and burgers. I love tofu. I picked up the Vegetarian Starter Kit when i was out in seattle. Sidenote: Seattle is a wonderful city where composting is mandatory. more on composting later. Anyways after reading through this pamphlet put out by PETA, I don't want to like meat. I am disgusted that "Farmed animals today are sick -- these are sick and diseased chickens, pigs, fish and cows, producing diseased and bacteria-laden flesh and pus-filled milk that even industry standards call 'unhealthful.'" Michael Greger, M.D. I thought that chickens were treated the worst (they are genetically manipulated and dosed with antibiotics to make them grow so large so quickly that they become crippled under their own weight, their legs are broken when they are shoved into transport trucks without food or water, their beaks are cut of without painkillers so that they don't peck at each other and ammonia levels are so high in chicken farms that the corrosive substance burns the bird's lungs and skin), but cows, pigs, and fish are equally as mistreated. Cows often die of pneumonia, dehydration, or heat exhaustion while being transported without food or water. Pigs have their teeth cut off with wire cutters without receiving any pain relief. 1/4 of pigs suffer from mange (due to the accumulation of filth, feces, and urine in their sheds). Thankfully I live in Arabland where eating pork isn't really an option. And fish? when their dragged from the bottom of the sea, they undergo excruciating decompression - often their swimbladders rupture, their eyes pop out, and their stomachs push through their mouths. I lived with Rocket for 2 years and hardly ate meat. And i didn't really miss it.

I want to be a vegetarian.

so composting... it's illegal not to compost in seattle. BUT most people don't have yards or gardens. So what's the point of composting? ? won't the food naturally compost in the landfills? I have a yard -- full of sand and desert plants. I've started composting my kitchen waste and am encouraging my villa mates to do the same. I need to get a proper composting container... I know i'm late, most people have composted for years. (though in my defense, i did separate my rubbish in korea into 14 different bins...) I need encouragement, why do city people compost and how?

Monday, October 5, 2009

i made it to the US Embassy today in Abu Dhabi to renew my passport. The good news is that i can keep my current passport while they are processing my old passport. very handy incase i need to flee in the night. i'm still jobless, but after applying for 300+ jobs, i finally received two phone calls from recruiters yesterday. not offering me an immediate start with mind blowing benefits and salary, but it's better than nothing! E reckons that i should focus this blog on what to do with your life while you're not working... or how to survive without a paycheque... but that's easy.

wake up.
apply for jobs.
eat breakfast.
apply for jobs.
have coffee.
apply for jobs.
play bejeweled (rest the mind).
eat again.
apply for jobs.
eat all meals at home, it's cheaper than restaurants.
drink coffee at home, its cheaper than starbucks.

anyways, just thought i'd post my old passport photo and my new one. see if i've changed over the past 10 years!!!

oh side note: there is a little glint of a lipring in my passport photo. the man at the store initially kindly did me a favour and airbrushed it out for me. i informed him that i was aware that i have a lipring and would like for it to be in the photo... he told me that i wasn't allowed. took awhile to convince him that in america we are allowed to have liprings, purple hair, or a face covered in tattoos!

Monday, September 28, 2009

hey so this is a test to see if i have anything to say. i'm back in the uae and looking for work but not sure what i want to do.... any suggestions?