Cali to Dubai: Elections from the Middle East

IMG_6086.jpg

Someone was scheduled for 8 a.m. to do work in the apartment. It's women-only at the gym for the next 3 hours, so I research a place to have breakfast and watch the elections. I check Zomato, Dubai's Yelp, filtering for wifi and location. I settle on a place, Eggspectation, and re-download the CNN app I stopped using for lack of fresh content and fair news coverage. I open the app and am instantly frustrated by the bevy of articles offering opinions on the electoral race instead of...the electoral race. I don't care about your analysis show me the fuckin' scoreboard. When I find it, I see Trump is in the lead. Then, Hillary took California winning the advantage, meanwhile, FL is still single and other swing states were blushing red as I walk out the door.

When I get to the café, I double-check with the host that they have wifi (I've been duped before). I drop into a booth, flip open my computer which is at 27% and dying fast. My comp is a dinosaur of a MacBook from half a decade ago which we've stitched together with 3 replaced hard drives and a better processor. I continue to track results until battery is to 11% then shut it down and switch to my phone. Where I find (of course) that Google is the quickest way to answers. They're running a live side-by-side including which states are leaning where. I still have instincts to click refresh and do 2 or 3 times.

I crack open the menu, pick the first picture that looks appealing, and slap it shut. I order something called the high tower, a triple stack of pancakes with bacon between each layer, with English Breakfast tea. I frown when it arrives. Trump has taken the lead now and only needs another 26 to win. No longer able to sit, I pop up not sure where I'm going but knowing I need to see this with people, not pancakes. In this moment, I wish could be transported home. I want to feel connected with my community however it turns out, the buzzer-beater of the century or the sum of 47.6% of fears. 

I walk down to the Hilton, figuring an international chain like this must have a TV. A bar/lounge where I can ask the man or woman with the remote for a personal favor. They explain since it's barely after 10 a.m. most places with a TV won't be open and they don't have one. I quickly turn to leave before the concierge admits he's watching the election on his computer behind the desk and offers me a peek. I take him up on his offer and nothing's changed. Hills still needs 55 and Trump only 26. I thank him and run across the street to my watering hole.

Tim Hortons is a nearby 24-hour cafe with plenty of seats and reliable wifi. I order a green tea and rush outside to get a spot in the shade. I text my mom, friends, dad, then brother who is going to college in Florida. I tell him to be safe and pay attention. It's 2:13 a.m. there, he's doing physics homework watching the elections in his dorm. He explains he voted absentee but that his vote counted for Louisiana. His roommate supported Trump.

I glance at my untouched cup of tea, which I fathom must be cold by now, and the book beside it on the black glass table. The book is 21 Speeches That Shaped Our World by Chris Abbot, one I borrowed in hopes starting today but have only gotten through the 4 pages. I check my phone, read half a page, check my phone some more which is now down to 18% from my use over the last 80 minutes. Trump takes a few more states and is now closing for victory. I'm listening to D.R.A.M to balance out my mood when my mom calls via IMO, an app which let us chat free via wifi, and she Facetimes me on accident. She is surprised to see me. As I'm sitting on the promenade, we discuss the race. What it says and what it will mean. She was actively house shopping in Georgia but has since put that on hold seeing the bottom fall out of markets on the Bloomberg. In the middle of our conversation my mom freezes, and I realize the connection has dropped. I rush to Google. Trump has won the United States. 

I feel a tightness in the right side of my stomach as I take off my hat and ball it in my fists. I rush home hoping the cleaners have finished. I give a probing 'AYO' as I enter the apartment. It's clear. I put my phone and laptop on the charger, drop my backpack and start cursing. I receive a text: the Canadian Immigration website just crashed - Emaan. I continue texting Emaan, who is livid, as I reconnect with my mom and put her on speaker.

Making sense of the results from two different continents, my mom brings up a point I never thought of, which is Trump's pending court cases. Sexual assault, Trump University, contractor complaints about failure to pay. We ask how in the rare chance those cases don't rule in his favor, could we have recently convicted felon in the White House? One convicted after winning the election? A president who legally couldn't even vote for himself? We laugh, and after being up all night, it's 4 a.m. in Atlanta and my mom takes her rest. 

As I look out the window at the beach in Dubai, I realize for people in this travel paradise it is as if nothing has even happened. They didn't come here to worry about politics, they came to relax, have fun and enjoy delicious food. I'm in a cage of anger but it only matters to meUnexpectedly, this is soothing as it reminds me that America isn't the world. And especially today, that is a comfort to me. 

Cali to Dubai, Day One

DSC00910.jpg

In short, I've decided to tell the story of our experience in Dubai. I hope it shares our life events with family, friends, and those who may just be curious about living abroad for the first time.

16 hour flight from SFO to DXB. 7 bags, 2 carry-ons. A middle-aged Indian lady in a baby blue scarf took a keen liking to Emaan, and by hour 6 was resting an elbow on her knee as she fell asleep. An older gentleman stood by my seat staring blankly across the aisle. I glanced up confusingly from my book two or three times to see why he was standing there and what he was looking at. I still don't know. A middle-aged white guy dressed mostly in grey and pink spoke loudly to his neighbors about places he's visited. I turned up my headphones but between songs eavesdropped a conversation about Mezcal and am now convinced this needs to be my next alcoholic wave. He described it as "smokey with great flavor, none of those chemicals like tequila, and the best kind of buzz he ever had". Near the lavatory it was difficult to tell if some people were in line or just standing up. I waited behind a man for 5 minutes before I realized he was just standing in the line.

Once on the ground, we were met by Emaan's sister Heidi and cousin Aaser. Great people. Punctual People. And after a 16 hour flight, my favorite people. They offered us better hospitality than Kathy Bates in Misery. We piled the luggage in the two separate cars as Aaser, Emaan's cousin, made a remark about dead bodies. He's a funny person and I often imagine if he's this witty in his second language, how funny is he in his first? On our last visit, his 4-year-old nephew had an ice cream mustache and Aaser asked him if was in the Cartel!

Shake Shack Dubai

Shake Shack Dubai

The contrast of dark and light in Dubai is really something to see. The city looks lit but feels dark. Almost as if the darkness is trying to consume the light, sort of like a David Fincher show or film (House of Cards / The Social Network).  We get to Heidi's, drop bags, and head to Shake Shack, a slightly overpriced burger joint on the marina where we paid about $50 USD for 3 meals and two shakes. There's one in Vegas and L.A. for my west coast folks, and there's usually a line long as the DMV. I can do Smokehouse in Berkeley and be thrilled.

Ferris Wheel Under Construction

Ferris Wheel Under Construction

We gazed at the half-constructed ferris wheel across the gulf which will be the largest in the world once complete, but for now looks like the lower half of two Iron Giants stopped mid-stride. The site at night sort of resembles the energy plant in Stranger Things. (Side: If you like 80's sci-fi do yourself a favor and check out that masterpiece on Netflix. Most of the actors have already been signed to other gigs. Which is impressive since the median age of the cast is 10.)

We hopped back to the house and had 2 (or three) glasses of South African wine with Nina and Rob, Heidi's Serbian roommate and her dude. Rob is from South Africa, and put us up on the fact that the same $60 (USD) bottle in Dubai costs $10 back home. A tough lesson in economics for a proud scrooge such as myself and I didn't even buy the bottle. The ladies talked bloggers and cosmetics, Rob and I listened, checked our phones, smiled, listened. About 12:30am, we decided Monday wasn't the weekend, and started showers, dishes, inflating mattresses, and digging clothes out of suitcases. Nina asked, "How does it feel to move to Dubai?"

To my friends, family and soon-to-be-friends back home...I don't know, but we'll find out together.

- Positive Thoughts

Interview w/an Artist: Channa Booker

Artist Channa Booker

 

Q: What else do you recall being good at as a child? How did you come to choose art?

 

A: As a child I was into music, poetry, collecting toys, science, reading, writing, drawing, sculpting, and anything else I could get my hands on. I chose art because it completes me, it's therapeutic to my soul and it touches people. It's a form of reconnection of human spirits without language.
 

 

Q: WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR TOUGHEST CHALLENGE THUS FAR?

 

A: TIME MANAGEMENT WITH BEING A SINGLE MOTHER OF THREE, MY OWN BUSINESSES AND JUST SURVIVING. I AM GETTING BETTER AS TIME GOES BY. TIME IS BITTERSWEET.

 

Q: What's your favorite medium to work in?

 

A: Pencil. Everything begins with a sketch.

Q: How do you recharge when you feel inspiration is lacking?

 

A: A change of scenery, or change of actions. Do something I've never done or do something differently.

  

Q: WHAT RELATIONSHIP, GOOD OR BAD, HAS INFLUENCED YOUR WORK THE MOST?

 

A: THE TEACHER/STUDENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ME AND MR.PANDONE OF SOLANO COMMUNITY COLLEGE WAS THE BEGINNING OF ME BEING OPEN-MINDED. BEFORE THEN I THOUGHT I KNEW EVERYTHING AND DIDN'T NEED TO LEARN ANYTHING ELSE. BUT HE REVEALED TO ME TO LOOK AT THE WORLD AROUND ME AND TO SEE WHY THINGS ARE IN SPACES, TO ASK QUESTIONS AND TO APPRECIATE ALL INTERACTIONS. SINCE THEN I HAVE FULLY ENJOYED ALL INTERACTIONS WITH HUMANS, NONHUMANS, ARTISTS AND ALL BEINGS. 

 

Q: What is your biggest dream for your artwork?

 

A: To successfully provide financially for my family, teach children anywhere who want to learn and it to be a vehicle to showcase encourage and inspire people like myself in a positive light.

 

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES, AND WHICH ARTISTS DO YOU LIKE TO FOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA? 

A: NATURE IS THE HIGHEST INFLUENCE IN MY LIFE. 

HUMAN EMOTION AND HUMAN INTERACTIONS. 

JOSEPH CORNELL AN AMERICAN ARTIST AND SCULPTOR, ONE OF THE PIONEERS AND MOST CELEBRATED EXPONENTS OF ASSEMBLAGE.

BRUCE WILLIAM SMITH AN AMERICAN CHARACTER ANIMATOR, FILM DIRECTOR, AND TELEVISION PRODUCER, BEST KNOWN AS THE CREATOR OF DISNEY CHANNEL'S THE PROUD FAMILY.

 

GARY WAYNE GOLDMAN AND DON BLUTH WHOSE TALENTS INCLUDE AMERICAN ANIMATOR, FILM DIRECTOR, PRODUCER, WRITER, PRODUCTION DESIGNER, VIDEO GAME DESIGNER AND ANIMATION INSTRUCTOR AND VOICE ACTOR. BEST KNOWN FOR SECRET OF NIMH, ANASTASIA AND MUCH MORE. NOW UPCOMING MOVIE DRAGONS LAIR BASED ON LASER DISC GAME.

 

JUST A FEW...ALL ARTISTS INSPIRE ME IN SOME FORM OR OTHER!

 

Q: What’s your proudest moment? 

A: When I graduated school after having twins, my son and being a single mom. I felt like I could fly.

Q: IF YOU COULD DO A PORTRAIT OF ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE?

A: OPRAH

 

Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?

A: ORANGE

 

Q: Lastly, where can we see your work?

A: I am on Facebook Search under Channa Booker / A website will be coming soon.


Buy a signed copy of Oiseau the king catcher with cover illustrations by Channa herself.

Follow us for the next 30 days as we profile ordinary people making a difference. 

www.Oiseau.co 

Meet, The Trappist

An Old Town Oakland pub that carries a beer selection to rival most fancy restaurant's wine list. Over 100 suds with a rotating well of ever-fresh selections on tap. The dim-lit hole was quiet from the outside, orange-illuminated windows with partially lit 20 and 30 somethings roving about. Everyone had on jeans as effortlessly manicured doos hunched close over the wood of flickering tables. This was the place upscale beer manufacturers want you to believe exists. The kind of place where the quality of your beverage matches the ambiance, and neither compromise. The tavern, was for sure packed, yet the volume never rose above a chatter. You're sure everyone is speaking words, but there are no words, only the occasional soft clink of fork on plate as folks munch on appetizers. The full inner structure was shaped something like a horse's shoe, with a bar in front and one 'around back' (adjacent) both with street-facing doors. We made our rounds from common area to connecting hallway to the other common area.

Slanting at the back bar with a cracked menu, the impressive array made me feel new and ready to explore. There was land out west, and I planned to discover it. A natural fan of Hef'eweizen I figured this would be a good neighborhood to choose from in terms of for scale, flavor and bitterness. I was pointed to Allagash White, an American rendition of a Belgian Wheat Beer. What's inside of the glass was faded amber, with a rocky foam top. And crisp, without the weight of an IPA or the thinness of a Bud Light. It was more robust with sprints of spices. We found a row of classroom-style desks equipped with the groove for a number two pencil. We sat like kidults with cold beer in a tall glass, talking of what was. And what was to come.

The "Specialty Beer Cafe" can be found at these coordinates: 460 Eightth Street in Oakland

Bad Movie Night , Episode 2

Sci-fi before the 1990s is gross. Make no mistake about it, Southern California owes you all a handwritten apology. When goal surpasses ability it looks like a toddler doing physics. Kurt Russell's 1980's The Thing is everything you want out of imploding body boils, dripping wet tentacles and hot gushing ooze. If you're disgusted, good, you're human. If not, prove it. Click the button.

Response 1: I can not believe you just did that! 

Response 2: ...coward.

Sorry. Enough with the bravado, you're cooler than me. Can I just tell you what I freakin' witnessed? An alien symbiot infects an animal at an Arctic research facility. With the ability to copy prey the now spider, ant, person who lives beneath the fur of this dog can shed flesh at any moment to eat something or someone. With the remote building now on a self-imposed quarantine, the inhabitants start to turn on each other in fear of who's got the virus. Our narrative dips into a loose tale of morality and Darwinism as the protagonist curls down every finger except the longest one and waves it around. All the while our monster transforms into curious and more curious variations until reaching its strongest form.

Then, whoa, the climax is less than 20 seconds, with a final ending that is woefully inconclusive. I thought: they wanted to leave room for a part two? But, good can happen in this world, and for the sake of my children, there was only one.

If you want to see valleys of reaching. If you want to see mountains of thin. Rent this film. I shouted, grinned and laughed out loud to things that were very very serious. Trust me, it won't disappoint.


So Oakland Tees Before The Raider/Niner Game!

I think what separates bay area fans is that we're never scared to represent. Good or Bad we're loyal to the bones. Rep Your City Tomorrow for the Battle of the Bay!

Two ways to get it poppin'

Option #1 - Order Online at www.Oiseau.co & Pickup Today @ Lake Merritt!

Or

Option #2: Buy Tees at The Raider Tailgate Tomorrow @ O.co Coliseum (On The Hegenberger Side) 

*Text (510) 290-9490 at 10:00 am if you'd like a drop pin of the location*