Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Blog Post In Which I Discuss Not Writing Katie a Blog Post While Avoiding Writing Katie a Blog Post

Katie hasn’t had a drink in four months. I feel bad for her. Otherwise I might never have written her a blog post as I’d promised to do way back in October. (At the time, I had my own blog, which I started when I moved to Doha in August. I took the blog down when I found it a) interfering with my manuscript, b) possibly being taken the wrong way during some administrative changes at the school where I teach, and, most importantly, c) too often causing me to look for experiences to write about, rather than writing about experiences and things that just happened [good writing being a shit substitute for a good life, after all]. Oh, and d) I’m lazy and didn’t feel like writing it anymore. Which also explains why it’s taken me four months to write a post for The Famous Last Word. Until KD suggested today that I write about the alienation of watching the Super Bowl in a foreign country where the locals don’t care about the game or American football in general. Capital idea, I wrote [on gchat]. The problem is, I am so alienated from American culture that I missed the game completely. I slept right through it. [The game began at 2.30 in the morning here.] I woke up to find the Giants had won, which was nice, though I’m a Jets fan by virtue of the fact that at the age of [too young to know any better] I decided I liked green more than blue. We watched a recorded version of the game this evening, but mostly we sat around, bored, and talked about long distance relationships, new relationships forged out of mutual loneliness and resignation, whether or not we’d sign contracts for another year, and vacation plans for Spring Break. [I have not yet succumbed to loneliness or resignation and I am debating the respective merits of Istanbul and Beirut for Spring Break.] That’s how I watched the Super Bowl. But honestly it doesn’t bother me. I watch lots of sports. I watch lots of basketball. I play tennis and squash and basketball too, when I can find a game. Sports are not a problem. [As it turns out, there isn’t much I really miss. Except for one thing, though it isn’t really a thing exactly. I miss an organic social life. There are things to do socially in Qatar, sure, but unless it’s going camping or someone’s throwing a party, most everything is a production, a manufactured cultural event. Latin night. A film festival. Multicultural fest. Stadium rock. A sponsored talk at an institute. This is all fine and well in and of itself, but often I find myself missing just paying ten bucks and seeing a show. Or getting stir-crazy and walking down to an honest-to-God pub or dive. Things to do here too often scream THIS IS A THING THAT WE ARE DOING rather than just doing it, and often this THING is the ONE THING that is going on that night. People give opening remarks and closing remarks and they thank other people for making this THING WE ARE DOING possible and everyone smiles and pats themselves on the back for being there, for being conspicuously cultural. {This phenomenon does not, however, apply to eating. Good food is a casual enterprise in these parts. As is overeating. And as are carbs. So. Many. Carbs. The mountains of rice and bread are really impressive. I gained some serious weight in my first few weeks here.} As a result of this privileged sort of alienation, I find myself engaging in other privileged activities, like spending a lot of time on music blogs or streaming documentary films. It’s my way of staying connected to a world in which I can no longer take part. But it's not really that world--it's more the obnoxious idea of a past life I wasn't ever really leading in the first place. {And of course, like most English speakers here, I stream a lot of American and British television. Really into Revenge right now. And I’m happy that Justified is back. And I can’t wait for Game of Thrones.} So if you ask what it’s like watching the Super Bowl in the Middle East, that’s my roundabout answer.] On the subject of sports, I recently quit smoking, and that’s improved both my wind and given me significant chunks of time to fill now that I am no longer lighting up as I gaze listlessly off the balcony or try to appear disaffected and #overitdotcom for the cute Australian girls at the end of the hotel bar. Hopefully at some point I will use that time to write Katie a proper blog post.) I promise, I will write one soon.

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