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How we spent our summer, 2003
May 1, 2003 I guess the real fun began the day that Dusty had to decide what college to attend the following year. It seemed Vance's Amideast job would be renewed when the prime contract expired June 10, and with no indication to the contrary and strong signals that approval was pending, we made no effort to restrict Dusty's choice of whatever school he wanted to attend. He chose UC Irvine, south of Los Angeles, on the basis of academic fit, and despite its high cost and isolation from family, far from brother Glenn in San Francisco and grandparents in Houston. Vance was planning to take his vacation in September to help him move in. He was thinking to do a CALL consultancy in Taiwan for the month of October, as he had plenty of leave time due him.

Life seemed good even if the contract renewal was tentative. Since the previous renewal had occurred after the first contract's termination date, nothing seemed particularly amiss over delayed signing on the dotted line. As the month passed, indications of renewal grew so strong that one of my Amideast colleagues bought a new car. All of us were so sure of renewal that none of us had made any contingency plans. I had not seriously pursued leads on work elsewhere when these had presented themselves at conferences I attended in Cairo and Baltimore the previous March and April. Our work seemed appreciated, and none of us wanted to leave the MLI and its workplace we had developed ourselves, defining our roles and positions there much to our liking.
May 31, 2003 Bombshell day, the day the four Amideast employees were informed that the UAE client had decided NOT to renew the prime contract with Amideast. It was a sudden reversal, effectively termination on ten days notice. The reversal appeared politically motivated, not the doing of anyone at the MLI, where the Amideast consultants were respected for excellent work and had developed strong ties and work relations. Vance spent the remaining ten days at work smoothing transition to understudies and counterparts among the officer staff. The silver lining on this cloud was that our rent was paid till mid-August, and our UAE sponsors graciously made no move to cancel our visas right away, so Vance would have six weeks to look for new employment in Abu Dhabi, the UAE, or elsewhere.
June 4, 2003 Dusty was awarded his High School diploma on graduation from American Community School, with honors, which he had attended since 7th grade.
June 11, 2003 Vance's first day of uncertain unemployment since 1974 and Bobbi's last day at work at ACS. With Vance's stay in Abu Dhabi in doubt, Bobbi had been told she could not be retained the following year. The school was shutting down for the summer, its administrators wanted things in order when they returned, and there was someone available to take over KG1. In the end Bobbi won a reprieve to July 14, on the off-chance that Vance's job search might pan out. Her job would be held open for her if by then we could produce a contract showing that Vance would be working in Abu Dhabi the following year.
June to mid July These days were spent working on Vance's CV and writing emails, searching job sites, cutting back on work on all projects but the bread-and-butter one, slipping away to to go diving, or hiking in Oman when we could. For relief, Vance started teaching PADI dive courses at Abu Dhabi Health and Fitness Club, almost without hope of continuing in the Fall. Vance went on websites of all the colleges and universities in the UAE and throughout the region but found this was a bad time to be looking for work in the education sector in these places. Some interest was shown in Vance's CV in June, and he had an interview with HCT in Dubai, but by July it was apparent that there were simply no jobs available and the diminishing crew of acting administrators at most educational institutes in the UAE were unable to respond to the fact that a qualified candidate was already in country, about to disappear. On the home front, we started thinking about / dreading selling our car and furniture (again bad timing, most expats on leave) and had shippers up to our flat to propose ways of shifting our things overseas to nowhere in particular. Other than thinking of resettling in the vicinity of Irvine or San Diego, in the state where both our children would be residing, we had no definite forwarding address. We were putting out job feelers in that area when ...
July 14, 2003 Vance got an out-of-the-blue reply the evening of Sat July 12 from a recipient of one of his saturation emails asking him to call in at Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi. Vance went there for a chat on Sunday the 13th and found out there had been a sudden resignation in the computing department. An interview was arranged for Monday the 14th followed immediately by a formal job offer which we faxed to Bobbi's superior at ACS on leave in the USA (as you probably have noticed, just in the nick of time to beat their deadline).
July 19-August 13, 2003 Vance taught English classes at the Petroleum Institute, where he introduced his students and a lot of others at PI to blogging. You can see what Vance and his students were up to here: vance-pi. Bobbi and Dusty flew to California to visit with Glenn in San Francisco, and with Glenn needing to wrap up at school and prepare for his anticipated vacation trip to South America, they moved on to Houston the first week of August.
August 14, 2003 This was make or break time on our apartment in Abu Dhabi, the date that the lease taken out by Amideast expired, and the date by which PI would have to renew the lease if we were to continue living there. It was also the day that Vance flew to Houston to reunite with Bobbi for just one day and night. Bobbi returned on Aug 15 to Abu Dhabi to resume her posting at ACS in the fall. It was not until after Bobbi had returned that the lease on the apartment was in fact renewed. This was the first tangible benefit we received from PI to indicate that Vance might indeed be working there in September. The summer course had been taught on a consultancy basis, my permanant employment at PI was contingent on health and security checks, and Vance had opted to be mobilized from California, to take advantage of the plane ticket provided for that purpose. So essentially, the whole family left Abu Dhabi to return to it late in August as newcomers to the PI, and Vance's return as a PI employee was on the basis of a handshake until the promised benefits started to be delivered, in all but this one case, after our mobilization and return to Abu Dhabi.
August 15 to August 24, 2003 Dusty and Vance remained in Houston a few days to visit with both sets of Dusty's grandparents, and then fly to Los Angeles to get a car (a PT Cruiser it turned out) and drive down to Irvine to check out Dusty's school. We stayed in Sta. Ana our first night in California and had dinner on the strip opposite Disneyland. UC Irvine was was open for business but had few students around so we had no trouble getting all our business done there next day. We drove all over town and down to Laguna Beach and ended up having dinner with Don Carroll and staying at his house in Orange. LeeAnn Stone lived near Don's so we dropped by there on our way to San Diego and ended up that evening at the Lake San Marcos home of my step-brother's ex-wife Cathy, who had offered to care for Dusty if need be when he returned for the start of school in September. We based ourselves at Cathy's and explored the area over the next few days. Sylvia from Webheads kindly showed us around San Diego, we met a lot of our extended family living in Southern California, and we went surfing off Carlsbad on rented longboards. On the 24th we drove up to Los Angeles airport where Dusty departed for Houston and Vance left for Abu Dhabi.
August 26 and beyond ... Vance officially started work as a lecturer of computing at PI on August 26. Glenn has been vacationing in Peru and Bolivia, and Dusty is in Houston with his grandparents and contemplating a trip to Michigan to see his Uncle Mack before reporting for school on around September 22. Vance's dive courses are still being advertised at ADHFC though he and Bobbi have been recovering from their travels and haven't thought about diving much. More will be added here as seems relevant.

If you've assisted us in pulling through our travails this summer, we appreciate it very much.

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Last updated: August 29, 2003 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0

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