Monday, June 30, 2008

Best Laid Plans....

My "While You Were Out" project isn't going quite as planned... Do they ever? But, not for lack of effort on my part, however. When it is all done, I will post photos. Before and after.

DH had a trip he was supposed to go on. Origi
nally he was going to leave on the 23rd of June. He asked me if I wanted to go. Umm. No, not really. I dutifully packed his bag for him - I always pack him - and the trip was canceled. I unpacked the bag and had no sooner hung everything up when he got the call telling him he was going, after all, and would leave the afternoon of the 25th. Fine. I repacked the bag. He was going to be out of the country for five days. [And that is when I decided to redo the bedroom...] And, of course, the trip didn't happen, so I unpacked the damn bag again. This past weekend he was told he was going after all, again, for seven days. I repacked the bag - for the THIRD time!!! - and added to it, because instead of five days, he'd be gone for seven. No problem. He left late yesterday morning...

DH bought a new golf cart a month ago. It was delivered to the house at the end of May. The company that he bought the cart from didn't require a down payment - nothing at all - not even a signature - except for when it was delivered - and said that they would contact us for the money. Okay. [Try that in the States - buy something - and have it delivered to you with no down payment. Ha! Doesn't happen.] The golf cart company called on Thursday morning and said that they would come on Saturday to get the money. Saturday was a company holiday. No clue what the holiday was for. None of the company employees worked but we assumed everything else would be open for business. Nope. The banks on our compound - both of them - were closed. Which meant that we couldn't cash checks to have the money to give to the golf cart company. DH called the golf cart guy and said, "Sorry. Banks are closed here. Come tomorrow. I won't be here, but my wife will be and she will pay you."

Yesterday morning I got up bright and early, ironed three additional shirts to add to the bag that had been packed, unpacked, packed, unpacked and packed again. DH was all ready for his trip. I drank my coffee, had a cigarette and "surfed the internet" for twenty minutes, did a bunch of morning stuff - unloaded the dishwas
her, threw a load of laundry in, picked up the Kids' toys... Then jumped in the shower and got ready to go to the banks. Had to go to two banks - both on our compound - because you are only allowed to cash U.S. checks for a limited amount once a week at both banks. Don't know who came up with this asinine rule, but whatever... And, of course, I have to "get dressed," really "get dressed." Can't walk into the banks here in my daily "uniform" of bike shorts and a tank top. Nope. Have to "cover myself" just a little bit more than that, so I put on a pair of capri's and a tee-shirt. Best I was willing to do. The banks are, after all, on the compound, where I am not supposed to have to wear an abeya, and even though ALL of the "local" women on the compound insist on being covered head-to-toe in black, I refuse. As I've repeatedly said, "if the sight of my bare shins/calves and forearms bothers you just don''t look."

At 8:45 I left for the first bank. My checks are already written, just simply have to run in and cash them. Right... NO SUCH LUCK!!! When
I got to the first bank it was packed - standing room only crowd. I got my little teller number - the kind you get at a deli in the States. I was number 135 and customer number 89 was being served. There are THREE tellers working the seven available windows. Three! I figured that if I waited my turn I'd be there for at least an hour... I pocketed my little number and went to the second bank. I'm so smart... Get to the second bank and get my little number, 204. There are five tellers working and they are serving customer number 196. This should be quick - in and out - piece of cake. What the hell was I thinking?!? Forty-five minutes later, my number flashes, "Now serving No. 204 at window 3," and I go to the window and cash my check. Race to the car [it's only 110° out!] and drive back to the first bank. Surely they can't be up to number 135, yet, right?!?

Wrong!!! The first bank is now serving Customer No. 138 and I've lost my place - by three customers. Unbelievable. I get another teller nu
mber, 179. Nope. Not waiting. DH is going to be leaving any minute, and I thought when I left the house at 8:45 that I would have been home long before he was scheduled to leave. Get to the house. Tell DH to call the golf cart guy and tell him that I only have "most" of the money, and that golf cart guy can either come back after lunch - I'll go back to the bank, again, and wait - the banks all close from one o'clock to three o'clock, every day, but I figure that I can have all the money by then - or golf cart guy can come "tomorrow." Golf cart guy wants to come in the afternoon. Fine. DH leaves. I go back to the bank - the first bank - for the third time - and get my number, 204, and wait for half an hour to cash my check. I now have ALL the money now. I go back to the house to sew and wait for golf cart guy.

I'm at my little twenty-year-old Singer sewing machine, happily sewing - I like to sew - it relaxes me - and I need some "relaxation." My b
obbin runs out and I unthread the sewing machine to fill a couple of bobbins... I fill three bobbins and re-thread the sewing machine. The tension - and only if you are a sewer, will you know what this means - is ALL FUCKED UP! The bottom tension is so loose I can put the thread out with a gentle tug. What's going on?!? I didn't touch anything, I just simply unthreaded the machine to fill a few bobbins. I've been sewing for two days now and everything has been just fine. So what the heck is going on now?!? This is not right. I go through all the usual motions - unthread the machine, re-thread the machine; remove the bobbin, check it to make sure it is in properly, etc., etc., etc. Still NOT working. I'm getting more frustrated by the minute. How can something that has worked perfectly for two solid days all of the sudden NOT be working?!? Great. Just great. This is ALL I want to do. Get this project done. It is major. And I'm more than half done with the most major part of it and now my sewing machine isn't working? Great. Just great.

I remove the bobbin and the bobbin casing. Decide that the "fluff" that has built up over two days of constant use is probably my problem and that by doing a little "fluff" removal, everything is going to be just fine. I remove t
he "fluff." There is actually a lot of "fluff." I go to put the bobbin casing back in - and nope - can't get it to sit properly. Nothing I am doing is right. It just doesn't want to go back together. It should be so simple a child should be able to do it. Like I need this frustration. Where is DH when I really need him? Gone for a week. Why oh why oh why can't I get this stupid thing back together. Who am I going to call to fix this for me - DH is GREAT with stuff like this. I work at it for an hour. At this point the problem is not just the sewing machine - I am part of the problem - I am beyond frustrated. Where is the sewing machine manual? Frantically searching for it - and of course IT IS NOT where it is supposed to be - and I am the last one who used it - so I can't be blaming anyone - and why the heck isn't it in the drawer where it goes with the rest of the sewing machine stuff like it usually is?!? What the hell have I done with it?!? I decide that I can probably find the manual on-line. Spend half hour or so on-line searching for "Singer Sewing Machine Repair guide on-line," "how to reinsert bobbin case in Singer sewing machine," "sewing machine maintenance," and a hundred similar other searches and can't come up with a damn thing that is useful! If I could just find the damn manual then I could fix this problem.

I go back to the sewing machine. I am trying SO HARD to maintain my composure and be patient. I've done this exact same repair/maintenance before and NEVER had this problem. Why is it so fucked up now? I try. I try. I try agai
n. Can't get the stupid bobbin case in properly no matter what I do. HAVE GOT TO HAVE THE MANUAL. It has got to be around here somewhere. I am seconds away from going into "crazy woman stage," when I realize that my sewing machine manual has been on the table in front of me the whole time - it is stuck in my book from which I'm getting the sewing pattern / instruction for this whole "make over the bedroom" project. But of course...

I check the manual and open it to page 31 which is going to tell me how to fix my problem...

Is this the MOST LAME set of instructions to reinserting a bobbin casing that you have ever seen?!? Yes. It. Is!!! I walk away from the whole thing. I head outside to the back yard with the Kids and a tennis balls. I just don't have the patience for sewing - at this point - or for trying to fix my stupid sewing machine - and I own the MOST basic sewing machine in the entire world!!! It is just a little before four in the afternoon. I make the decision that I'll go downtown to get the paint I wanted to get on Saturday morning - before I realized it was a company holiday - which meant that everyone would be out and about - and I decided NOT to go. One of the good things about it being so hot outside is that the Kids are ready to go inside where it is cool after only ten or fifteen minutes of chasing and retrieving tennis balls so I didn't feel guilty about cutting into their play time by deciding to go downtown... I grabbed the paper to check to see when prayer time is so that I can determine if I have enough time to go downtown or not. Plenty of time. Prayer isn't until 6:37. Two hours. And all I need is forty-five minutes to run downtown to the paint store and back. I called and got a cab. I'm getting my "leave the house" paraphernalia together - my abeya is a must, keys, two bottles of water - one for me and one for the driver, and cell phone - do NOT leave the house without it - when I realize my cell phone is not off, it is dead. Damn it! Now what? I really, really am not comfortable leaving the house without it - and I know better than to even think about leaving the compound without it. I debate canceling my cab. I don't have time to charge the phone. What to do what to do what to do... I call a friend and tell her that my phone is dead, that I'm going downtown to the paint store, that I'll be home within forty-five minutes and that I'll call her again as soon as I get home just so that someone knows where I am just in case... Fine. I grab my "fabric" so I can try to find the right color - jumped in the cab - and directed my driver to the paint store, Jotun's.

Traffic is a nightmare. I should have known better. Work is out for the day - so are all the crazy drivers. And they are NOT women!!! I swear this country would have double their money - they have billions with oil - they could have billions in traffic fines if they actually stopped people for speeding, or cutting you off through three lanes [a maneuver called "the Saudi swing"], or for running red lights. They don't stop "locals" for any of those things - so Saudi Arabia misses out on a LOT of revenue. My little driver from India gets us close to the paint store safely, and that's a good thing, but there is no getting down the street that the paint store is on. Why? Because ass-holes who can't find a place to park don't even bother and just park on the fucking street with absolutely NO regard or care that NO ONE else can drive on that street. Another revenue maker, Saudi Arabia... Parking enforcement. Are you listening?!? No. Of course not. And the blocks surrounding the paint store are all blocked in similar fashion - with cars just parked there. Unbelievable. And this is why we do NOT go downtown except for first thing in the morning. I just have never seen it this bad. My little driver informs me that school is out and that everyone from Riyadh is now in Dhahran. Why the hell someone would want to come from one part of this country to another that is just the same, is beyond me, but whatever...

I finally get to the paint store and I tell the driver I'm going to be ten minutes, tops, because all I need to do is select my color - or colors - and have a quart mixed - or two - or three - depending on the colors - and then be on my merry way. Easy. The driver tells me he will circle the block. And, this is only ONE reason why a cell phone is useful - you can call your driver and tell him you are done - come and get you... But no cell phone. Just my fabric and pocket book. Into the paint store. There is one "local" working. I grab a couple of swatches and then go outside and hold them next to my fabric - in the daylight - and decide I only need one - got the perfect color. I need a quart so that I can try the color on the wall, first, before I have the entire bedroom painted. There are two other men - younger, "locals" - in the paint store - but they are just talking to the man behind the counter. I go to the counter and tell the man I need a quart of "this color." The two men there - next to me - are all laughing and yakking - in Arabic - and the man working is much more interested in being part of their life than he is in getting me a quart of paint. Much, much more interested in doing ANYTHING than mixing me a quart of paint and tells me "The workers are gone to eat. Come and buy the paint tonight." I, very nicely, say that I only need a quart, and I want it now, to take it with me. Nope. Not happening. "The workers will 'fix' it. Come back tonight." The fucking asshole refused to mix a quart of paint for me. Unbelievable. Just unfuckingbelievable. Well, no, actually it isn't. And that was it. He was NOT going to mix a quart of paint for me. What a wasted trip. What a waste of time. I grab a bunch of other paint sample strips - because now I want to do the "While you were out" on our study, too, but I'm furious. I storm out of the shop, I'm waiving my arm frantically - as I see my car - going DOWN the street away from me - have no idea if the driver saw me or not - but now I have to wait for him to come back around the block - which you'd think would only take a minute or two - but took closer to ten - and I'm am muttering to myself that I'm NEVER getting paint here again - I know there are other paint stores - but this is the one who has workers that actually know what they are doing - EXCEPT FOR ONE ASSHOLE - and who can I call and complain to about his attitude and lack of service - and why did I ever think that any of this - the whole "While you were out" thing was a good idea and would be a great break for me in the first place?!?!

My little driver picks me up and I tell him I'm all done and we can return to the compound. He was very sweet. We talked about how bad the drivers are here and he told me that the driving is much, much worse in Riyadh, but much, much better in Jeddah. I got home safely, empty handed...

I throw my stupid abeya over one of the stools in the kitchen and grab the phone to call my friend to tell her I'm home that no one needs to worry and realize I've got three messages. Make my call and then listen to the messages. The first call is my DH, "Hey, Hon, you home? Pick up the phone." The second call is my DH, "Hey, Hon, just me. Where are you?" And, the third call is my DH, "Hey Hon. Our trip is canceled. I'm on my way home. Just wanted to know if you wanted me to grab something for dinner." Oh shit. He's coming home?!? He is supposed to be gone for a week! I've got plans and don't want him to know what I'm doing. Not because I don't want him to know - not like anything I'm doing is a big secret - well the construction work - again - on my closet isn't going to make him happy - but it isn't that big of deal - I just really thought I'd surprise him with my "While you were out" idea and now - the house is torn apart and in complete disarray - I've emptied half the stuff out of my closet to do measurements to give to the guy that's coming later this week to redo it for me, I've tried to rearrange some of the furniture myself to see if I am going to like the new direction I'm moving the bedroom - all has to do with TV placement - DH has seen the sewing stuff out, but I just kind of shrugged it off when he asked me about it - told him I was finishing a project I'd started eons ago - for all he knows, I'm making more bedding for the Kids - and he is headed home. I immediately call his cell phone and say, "Hey Honey, you're coming home. Oh, good! Did you grab something for dinner because I wasn't planning on you." Never mention that I'd been downtown - and the whole time I'm on the phone with him I am racing around grabbing all the stuff that is out and throwing it back into my closet - and moving the Kids' crates in the bedroom and nightstands - and trying to make it look like nothing happened here. And, so far, pretty much nothing has... Just par for the course.

I got my sewing machine working perfectly again this morning and the biggest piece is only a couple of seams away from being completely done. I am thrilled with it! I will finish it tomorrow morning. And then, a bunch of much smaller, easier little sewing pieces to do... Paint - where I'm going to get it - I have no idea - but it will not be at Jotun's... The carpenter is coming on Wednesday morning to work in my closet and the painters are lined up for Thursday. Can't wait until it is all finished!


  1. My lord in heaven. I wanted to sit and cry with you when the damn sewing machine gave you a fit.

    I, too find sewing to relax me. I broke out my little beauty I had my mom send me from Sears yesterday. I like making quilts, curtains, bags, pillow covers...

    And, I think the dude working in Jotun is my Jotun guy's brother here in Oman. What a piece of work. What irks me most is that they have no emotions. They don't put themselves in our shoes ever. And the sick thing is they like to see us blow up at them, I swear to God (not that L's ever blown up at anyone over here - no siree!)

    Are you gonna show us your hard work and effort? :)

  2. Thanks for the sympathy, L_Oman. Yes. I will do "before and after" pictures. I should have taken at least one "before" of the pile of fabric and sheets and stuffing I started with, but neglected to. I've got a couple of "during" photos, though, and will include those.

    The guy at Jotun's - you don't have any idea how MUCH I just wanted to HURT HIM! HURT HIM! Make it so he could never have children - especially little girls who will NEVER be able to drive to the fucking paint store on their own - again. [And NO little boys either, because I "do not like" Saudi boys, right now; and that is putting it mildly.] I explained that it's not like I can just jump in my car and drive to his store... Nope. He couldn't care. He just didn't want to have to do ANY work whatsoever unless it involved opening the cash register.

    Am headed back to the sewing machine, again, and will spend the entire day there... Stay tuned... And, no, my "While you were out" project is not going to be done quite as soon as I had wanted it to be done, but what can you do when you can't even get something as simple as paint?!?

  3. It seems to me you are living in a Kafka.
    I'd grow mad!

  4. Oh, please, Aafke, let's not ever let it get to that point! What an analogy, though...

  5. Hi Sabra, just thought that you would like to know that I found your blog when I finally did a search on "fucking Singer bobbin case", since none of the other searches provided anything remotely useful (and how about that manual)? I guess that being stuck in Saudi Arabia with this thing would be worse. So I still can't fix my sewing machine, but I gained some perspective!
    Eileen in Chicago

  6. Thanks for stopping by Eileen - Yeah, that Singer manual is about totally f'ng useless, isn't it! Glad I could put it in perspective for you and make it not so bad, right?

    Since I finished the bedroom project I have not even looked at my sewing machine!


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