Monthly Archives: December 2012

Home Sweet Houston

We have finally repatriated back to our humble abode. The last five months have been a whirlwind of excitement and self-awakening. I’m sorry to be closing this chapter of our lives, but I know there will be a longer saga of many expat assignments and adventures to come.

I hate regret. It’s a crippling train of thought that only leads you down a spiral of negativity.  But I can’t help but think about those few nights in Calgary where I didn’t take advantage of the city. As I sit nice and snug in my suburban haven on the outskirts of Houston, I wonder what kind of adventures I missed out on that I won’t get the chance to encounter again. Why didn’t we go ice skating or snow-boarding? Shouldn’t we have visited the Rockies one more time? 

I’ve spoken about how moving to a new city can provide a completely liberating experience. I’m hoping I can sustain this new-found sense of self throughout the coming new year.

Although we shouldn’t be leaving on any expat assignments until early 2014 (although the Company loves to surprise us!) I have an exciting year planned of my own. It’s my hope that I can take at least one trip a month. Stay tuned for posts from Montreal, San Antonio, the Carribean, Florida, Washington D.C., and a few over-seas surprises. In the mean time, I’m going to continue trying to find a French class which has proven to be a more challenging task than expected in Texas country. Go figure. I’ll also be getting used to living with my husband full-time again!

I leave you with my final images of my beloved Calgary, from our downtown views and a recent trip to the Calgary Zoo Lights. I’m going to miss my winter wonder land.


Calgary Zoo Lights 2012


Calgary Zoo Lights 2012 Giraffe


Calgary Zoo Lights 2012 Hippo


Calgary Apartment View


West Calgary View


How Skype Held Me Back

I was a Skype addict. And not just Skype, but all forms of new age communication tools. Blackberry, Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even email. It took me a while to get over this mentally crippling and physically debilitating addiction. My smart phone turned out to be a real hero when it magically died on me and liberated me from its daunting chains.


I’m seriously blessed to have many wonderful friends and family in my life.  When I first got to Calgary (and actually when when I first moved to Houston) my dear loved ones did their best to check up on me whenever they thought I’d be lonely.  They knew that at least in the beginning, before I had the chance to meet many people, that more often than not I would be alone. Either due to my husband’s long works hours or because of a rotation based schedule.  My three sisters, my parents, in-laws, grandparents, aunts and uncle, and not to mention a few of my beautiful friends all wanted to know about my new environment and what I was up to now in my crazy life.

More often than not, we’d have these conversations through Skype. It’s an amazing tool and I’m so happy to take advantage of it.  I loved these Skype sessions.  Day or night, each person made me feel a little less lonely and more in touch with the news I had missed out on.  I could see new hairstyles and party decorations.  I even joined in on family gatherings and girly getting-ready rituals before some sort of festivity from thousands of miles away.

snail skype

Turns out being in a brand new city wasn’t too bad at all.  I didn’t need to go out and make even more friends.  Between the several Skype sessions a day, and hours of text conversations, I had no inclination (or the time) to explore.

I became perfectly comfortable in my lethargy, chatting away with a muted television in the background. It actually started getting annoying to leave my apartment to go grocery shopping.  Who needed milk and bread? It’s remarkable how few supplies I was actually able to live on. And I’m not going to lie, more than a couple of days I didn’t really see the point of actually changing out of my pajamas.

Maybe this was my coping mechanism in dealing with my new expat life, but after a couple of weeks of living vicariously through my phone which was perpetually glued to my hands and the all-important Skype sessions, I started getting tired of my laziness. My back was hurting constantly, always tired, and I really missed any sort of intellectual stimulation.

Then a magical thing happened and I was saved. My Blackberry died. I was no longer connected 24/7 to the people I had inexplicably left behind. I even lost all my contacts, so when I got a temporary Canadian pay-as-you-go phone, I felt more than a little liberated. This little $30 old-time flip phone was my savior.

As soon as it happened I all of a sudden found myself going out more, feeling better about myself, and just lived my life instead of constantly talking about it. When I move back to Houston in a couple of weeks I plan on replacing my dead Blackberry with a more savvy smart phone. This was always the plan. But now I’m seriously afraid of a relapse.

Three Blind Dates

A few months ago, I wasn’t sure how much effort I should actually put into making friends in Calgary since I knew I was only going to be here for a maximum of 6 months. I figured lonely bike rides around the park and solitary shopping trips were worth saving the heartache of eminent goodbyes. Not to mention it’s not exactly fair to my potential new friends either. But as a fairly social person (ahem.. extrovert) my mindset changed real fast!

So, to-date, I found myself on three blind dates. Yes, three blind dates.

There’s something exciting (and scary) at the thought of meeting up with a complete stranger.  Even when that meeting is simply between 2 women, hoping to spark a friendship or enjoy each other’s company for the morning over a great mug of pumpkin spice latte.

Granted my ‘complete strangers’ were recommended (and vetted) by mutual friends from all over the world. That’s why Facebook was such a great tool for me as an expat in Canada. (I didn’t need to rely on it so much in Qatar.)

Lo and behold, as soon as my friends and even acquaintances found out I would be in Calgary, I suddenly found more than a few opportunities to meet some fabulous women here. From students, professionals and stay at home moms, I really had some great conversations and a few less lonely days here. Some of them, I know, will remain life long friends.

But for those of you who might be new to the scene, allow me to share a few of my mishaps that may come in handy for your own blind dates.

1. A picture is worth a thousand words.. aka.. PROFILE PICTURE

Unless you’d actually like to awkwardly answer the question, “Just one more thing, what do you look like?”, put up that great profile picture, that one where your face is clearly visible. It’s ok if it was taken a couple years ago and more than a few pounds lighter. Save yourself the uncomfortable ordeal of trying to describe yourself to a complete stranger.

2. What’s in a name?

I am horribly awful with names. So it’s no wonder that on my 2nd blind date, as I walk up to the girl I was meeting for dinner in downtown Calgary (I knew it was her due to her cleverly clear profile picture) and asked her if she was ‘so and so’. Obviously puzzled and confused, she claimed she wasn’t, and that I was quite mistaken. “Oh but I insist I know it’s you. I am L and we’re meeting here for dinner!” I exclaim.

Cue prolific apologies from me and uncomfortable segue to dinner.

3. All necessary electronics in order.

I guess there wasn’t too much I could have done to avoid the catastrophic malfunction between my ATT serviced cell and the Rogers network I was connected to in Canada, but I’m sure it didn’t help that my battery was drained either.

On that note, spare yourself getting lost and real up close and personal with your new city’s streets and just update that GPS you’ve been putting off for 2 years.

I’m sure you can see how that could potentially ruin your plans, especially if your phone is not working.

The first few hiccups aside, my blind dates in Calgary were so much fun and I highly recommend them for you expats out there trying to get to know some locals. Honestly, I can’t imagine the nerve it would take to blindly meet a potential love interest. Kudos my friends.

three blind mice

My silly adapted version of 3 Blind Mice:

Three blind dates, three blind dates,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran to meet for coffee at eight,
Pretty soon to get around Calgary I’ll need ice-skates,
Three blind dates, three blind dates.

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