free stats Carmen's Web: May 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
Interesting sex ed video
How pregnancy happens, courtesy of Planned Parenthood.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:32 PM
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Sunday, May 21, 2006
"AIDS is NOT funny!"
Say what you want about the British original; the American version of "The Office" is one of the most hilarious shows on television at the moment. Steve Carell is one of the funniest men alive...

Thoughts shared by Carmen at 5:00 PM
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The bigger, the better?

So I was just trying on some clothes for my upcoming trip to Greece and am somewhat astonished as to how big my butt has gotten since last summer. I am a regular at the gym...I work out practically everyday, both cardio and weights. I do it for both health and vain reasons. It makes me feel powerful and makes me feel in control. Plus it allows me to eat whatever I want without feeling guilty about the calories.

But regardless of the work I've been doing, it seems that my butt just has a mind of its own. It's not obeying any rules. I haven't gained weight since last summer. I think I've actually lost some weight, or at least toned up exorbitantly. I'm still plumpy, will always be. It's in the Egyptian genes and while I may have had a problem with it when I was younger, I love my plumpness now.

I digress again. I'm not sure what to do with my butt. I'm not unhappy. I mean, a couple more squats and JLo is going to have some serious competition. But what am I going to do now with my summer clothes? I don't have time to go shopping for my trip. I'm leaving next Friday and this week is going to be CRAZY. I'm teaching a demonstration class tomorrow at a school I'm hoping to be working for next semester, the current school I'm working for is being observed for accreditation on Thursday and Friday, which means I've got be on top of my game, I've got to prepare lesson plans for my sub next week, and I have to make sure to pay bills before I leave. In short, no time for shopping.

Regardless though, does this mean that every summer I need to buy new clothing? My body keeps growing. Isn't this supposed to stop once you reach puberty or so?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 3:59 PM
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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Abstinence greeting cards

From the abstinence-only folks
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:27 PM
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Tuesday, May 16, 2006
A tale of mistaken identities
This guy is great!

Guy Goma, a recent immigrant to Britain from the Congo, was mistakingly interviewed on the BBC, live on air, about the legal battle over the Apple logo. While sitting in the reception waiting for an interview for an IT assistant position at the BBC, he was mistaken by an intern as IT expert Guy Kewney, who was invited to speak about Apple computer vs the Beatles' Apple music. Goma was whisked into the studio and was asked a couple of questions before the correspondent hastily ended the conversation. Kewney, in the meantime, was sitting backstage watching "himself" give an interview!

Pay attention to the bewildered look on Goma's face when he's "introduced"!!



To be honest with you, he is much more captivating than the so-called experts that prance themselves around the news media channels...
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:44 PM
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Monday, May 15, 2006
They're all the same. They're just all the same.
Last Friday, one of my closest friends had a pre-opening for his new bar/lounge. I was very excited for him. He bought the place out and spent the past three weeks renovating it from top to bottom with the help of his cousins. I invited the boyfriend to come with me, but he didn't want to go. He'd had a bad day at work and was feeling very lousy. I told him that I'd forego going as well and suggested that we hang out. He sounded, however, like he wanted to be alone, so I gave him his space. He apologized for being grouchy and suggested we go out for a drive in the morning.

After we hung up with each other I looked at the time. It was early. It was Friday night. My friend was opening a bar. I decided to get dressed and go.

His bar looked fabulous. And I was very proud of the work he did on it. When I arrived, I hung out with him a little bit then with the rest of my friends as he was running around trying to manage the place. At one point the boyfriend's brother and best friend walk into the place. I say hello to them and they start to complain about the boyfriend being boring; that I should've dragged him out. We laugh a little about it and they go to the bar to start drinking.

And then the merengue came on. The one thing you need to know about me, more than ANYTHING else, is that I only feel alive when I'm dancing merengue or bachata. In another post I'll try to explain to you the passion I have for Dominican music, but for now let's just say that when my ears hear merengue, my body is at ease. I grab my friend and we start dancing. And we're dancing for the entire set. (I once danced, non-stop, for four hours one evening. I had to change partners five times because they couldn't keep up with me).

It was intoxicating. I hadn't danced in months. When the set ended, I went to the bar to hang out with the boyfriend's peoples. We chatted a bit, and then the music came back on. And I went back to the dance floor. Tried to dance with the brother and the best friend, but each was on his own little planet, so I danced with another friend.

So how many people have I danced with so far??? Anyone who can do math will add up two, right? Yes.

At 1:30am I decided to go home. I say goodbye to everyone and leave.

The next morning I call the boyfriend, we talk a bit, and I tell him I went out to the bar and that I saw his brother. He tells me he's still really tired and asks if we can push our drive till later in the afternoon.

Later in the afternoon he picks me up and we drive down to Jersey to eat at Fuddruckers. Drive is great. Food is great. Conversation is great. And then he looks at me, smiling, and says:

"I thought you told me you weren't going to go out last night?"

"Well, I wasn't planning on it. But I was bored and I went out. I called you in the morning and told you that I went, so it's not as if I was keeping it from you. Is there a problem?"

"No. But my brother said you were dancing with guys all night".

Uff. Uff, uff, uff. How many guys was I dancing with? We counted two, right? Would dancing with two people constitute as dancing with guys all night???

"I wasn't dancing with guys all night. I was dancing with two guys, for two sets, and you know exactly who they are. You know all my friends, you know everything."

"Yeah, but he said you were dancing closely with them".

I was really pissed off at that point. Pissed off at his brother for talking out of his ass and pissed off at what seemed to be an interrogation.

"And you know I hate it when you dance with R".

R is my friend who just opened the bar. We've been friends forever. The boyfriend doesn't like R. He says he doesn't trust him. He's got no reason, and admits that he's got no reason but he "just doesn't trust him. There's no logic, S, I just don't like him".

I sat staring at him for a little bit, not sure how to react. He was being very nice, wasn't accusatory at all, and was just telling me how he was feeling. I couldn't react as aggressively as I wanted as a result.

I looked at him and just shook my head. I explained to him, for the umpteenth time, that R was a great friend who has never once disrespected me or tried to make a move on me. That there have been plenty of opportunities, but never once has anything happened. I tried to explain to him how close I was to R and his entire family, how they accepted me into their lives, how they've become family to me. And I told him that this was all bullshit and that I was sorely dissapointed in him AND his brother. I understand that his brother may have no idea how close I am to these people, but seriously...if I were to disrespect my boyfriend, would I do it in front of his own brother?

When my mother was pregnant with me she spent a couple of weeks during the summer in Alexandria with her family. One day she was walking on the beach. The next day she was almost divorced. My uncle had seen her walking on the beach. Wearing a short skirt. He reprimanded my father; how could you let your woman frolick on the beach half naked? My father was angry and for weeks my parents were separated (I guess till her realized how absolutely moronic he was being).

I swore to myself that I would never in my life put myself in such a situation. That I would never be with someone who can so easily be manipulated, whose "honor" depended on what his woman did. And it is for that specific reason that I've avoided dating Egyptians. I had a great fiance, mind you. But after we broke up I refused to become involved with any Arab because I wanted to avoid the bullshit.

And now here I was. I know, I know...Arab, Dominican, American...they're all the same. I was ANGRY at MYSELF for having reduced all Arab men to jealous assholes without even considering that the machismo exists everywhere.

I have to admit, though...the boyfriend took all this in much better than any of my exes would've. His main problem was not so much the dancing (with this guy that he hates), but how he felt when his brother was making those comments. I suggested that the next time his brother makes comments like that he tell him that he knows who I am and what I do and doesn't need any stool pigeons.

We ended the conversation well, even though I'm still fuming. I had to promise him not to dance with R anymore, but that I would never end my friendship with him. I acceded to that because, as humans, we just have feelings/jealousies that we can't explain, and if he's THAT uncomfortable with R it shouldn't be such a huge sacrifice to give up the dancing. The boyfriend is not an overly jealous man, so if there's something that's pushing his buttons THAT much I should at least try to take his feelings into consideration. Right?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:12 AM
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Saturday, May 13, 2006
Being in the Hands of an Angry God Leads to Bad Nose Jobs
I've recently had a strange aversion to all things religion. I don't think that I've lost my faith (yet), but something's definitely been shaken. I'm trying hard to hold on to something, but that's not the point of this post.

I was on MSN with a close friend of mine earlier today. I hadn't seen her online in a long time so I asked her where she's been, how she's doing.

"I've done something terrible and I'm going through a depression".

Goodness gracious. What in the world could she have done? I was really worried, a little afraid of what I was going to hear.

"I had a nose job last month, and it looks horrible. I look plastic. It's too small for my face. I look horrible S. Horrible"

Phew. For some reason I really, REALLY thought she was going to tell me that she killed someone, ran them over with a car or something. Or that someone gave her an incurable disease. A bad nose job is bad, for sure, but it's not something terrible that one can actually do. (I, by the way, told her not to do it when she asked for advice. She's terribly beautiful and her nose, which she thought was too big, had always fit her perfectly).

We talked back and forth for a while, but then she said something that bothered me a little. She said that she believes that this is a punishment from God and so she deserves this. I immediately told her to relax her face; God doesn't punish people by giving them bad noses. He prefers to conduct his wrath through plagues and AIDS. Not sure if she appreciated that.

I'm sick and tired of people blaming shit on God. I'm sick and tired of people believing that God doles out punishment for some reason or another. Whenever something bad happens to a good person, it's always God testing them. Whenever something bad happens to a bad person, it's God punishing them. This madness needs to stop. God's got plenty of other things to be doing.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 12:18 PM
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Thursday, May 11, 2006
Sounding the alarm

Months ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit, I read an article in the New Yorker that reported New York City as being behind ONLY Miami and NEW ORLEANS on the list of U.S. cities most likely to suffer from a major hurricane disaster. In 1938, the Long Island Express, a category 4 hurricane, ripped through NYC and caused widespread death and devastation throughout the area. The article warned readers that should a hurricane like this hit our area (which, according to the statistics that storms of this magnitude repeat every 70 years or so, is very likely soon) we're going to get screwed. According to Mike Lee, the Director of Watch Command at New York City's Office of Emergency Management, while no human or computer can ever be completely sure what a hurricane is going to do, a worst-case scenario for New York City is the kind of scenario "that gives emergency managers serious gastrointestinal distress".

A storm surge prediction program used by forecasters called SLOSH (Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes) has predicted that in a category 4 hurricane, John F. Kennedy International Airport would be under 20 feet of water and sea water would pour through the Holland and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels and into the city's subways throughout lower Manhattan. The report did not estimate casualties, but did state that storms "that would present low to moderate hazards in other regions of the country could result in heavy loss of life" in the New York City area.

I added the info to the filing folders in my head. It made for great conversation during the time when we were all talking about Katrina, but haven't thought much about it since. Yesterday while I was working out at the gym, however, I was watching CNBC and learned that the alarm has been sounded. Scientists are warning government officials that a hurricane may hit our area soon and that they better get their acts together and have an evacuation plan.

Frightening thought. When I told my father of what I heard he shook his head and said a hurricane would never devastate NY. "Where would we evacuate to anyway?" he asked. Which is exactly what New Orleans residents must have thought when their alarm had been sounded. We were ridiculing them here up north; "what is wrong with them that they stayed despite all the warnings? They should have just picked up and left". And now here we are, alarms having been sounded, and we're thinking the same way. All I know is that someone better have a plan.

Egypt has never looked more appealing than right now.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:26 AM
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Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Foggy NY
View from my classroom last week:

Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:16 AM
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Monday, May 08, 2006
Horny women kill erections

The Washington Post had an article yesterday reporting on the growing (no pun intended) problem of erectile dysfunction among college men, apparently caused in part by horny women. Women are not only engaging in more sex; they also actually have the nerve to initiate it! As a result, men are finding themselves, well, limp:

"Adam Skrodzki, a tall, redheaded senior at the University of Maryland, bench-presses a respectable 280 pounds. He fights fires in Howard County as a volunteer and plans to join the Secret Service in the fall. In short, he's a man's man.

Or so he thought until last fall, when he hooked up with a sophomore -- at her urging.

The girl really wanted to make a go of it with him. On learning earlier that he had no interest in pursuing a relationship, she had offered to be his "friend with benefits," and he had agreed. In his mind, that decision was a no-brainer.

But on this night, their first in bed, his body was telling him something else. She used every trick she knew, with no success."

But it’s not just women’s horniness that’s a huge turnoff, it’s their opinions too:

One can argue that a young woman speaking her mind is a sign of equality. "That's a good thing," says Sawyer, father of four daughters. "But for some guys, it has come at a price. It's turned into ED in men you normally wouldn't think would have ED."

Amal Amireh has this to say about the entire subject and sums it up better than I ever could have:

"If a man needs a helpless damsel, an unwilling partner (otherwise known as rape victim) or a virgin to get it up, then it is better for humanity that he doesn't."
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:27 PM
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NY Arab Comedy Fest Seeks Submissions
The New York Arab-American Comedy Festival Seeks Comedic Theater Pieces.

"If you have ever written comedic theater pieces, or have thought about it, then here is a great opportunity to have your material read in front of a live audience. The New York Arab-American Comedy Festival will be holding a comedic theater reading night/competition on May 22. In addition to reading the scripts, we will pick one piece, based on audience response, which we will produce in this Fall's Comedy Festival. We hope this will encourage more Arab-Americans to get involved in both the Festival and the entertainment field. We will pick one piece read that night to be featured in the 4th Annual New York Arab-American Comedy Festival which will be held November 12-16, 2006 in New York City."

For Submission Guidelines, please visit www.arabcomedy.org.

All submissions must be RECEIVED by May 15, 2006. If you have any questions, please contact Maysoon Zayid via maysoon@arabcomedy.org
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:48 AM
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Saturday, May 06, 2006
The Fortress and the Breast
I went to visit my father today at the hospital. They took him out of the ICU yesterday and he's now sharing a room with another patient who's had the same operation. He seems to be doing okay albeit the extreme discomfort associated with having someone crack your chest open. When I first got there in the afternoon, though, he was unbelievably delusional. He was in extreme pain :( and so the nurse gave him some medication (keep the drugs coming, I say). My mother, brother, and I were trying to convince him to eat something since he hadn't eaten in a while. The hospital's got its own menu, but he wasn't really feeling their food. Somehow we started talking about McDonald's and he got excited about it. I know...McDonald's is probably not the kind of food a man who's just had heart surgery should eat, but when your dad looks so helpless you'll do anything for him.

Anyway, we got him excited about McDonald's just as the morphine was starting to work. He started drifting off and my brother and I decided to go get him his sandwich. Just as we were about to leave he opened his eyes and stared at us, and started mumbling something about "Al Hosoon" (the fortress). I couldn't understand what he was talking about. I thought I had misheard, so I leaned in closer to him and asked him to repeat himself and he said "Al Hosoon fe McDonald's. How much does it cost?" What?? What in the world is he talking about? At about that time I started to realize that he was probably delusional and had no idea what he was saying. He kept babbling about the fortress at McDonald's and that the Quran said something about the fortress closing in on us. I, of course, started hysterically laughing, tears streaming down my face, joined by my mother and my brother as my father stared at us angrily. "You shouldn't be making fun of me," he said with a frown. "Can't you see the kind of pain I'm in? What am I saying that's so funny?" Then he fell asleep.

In general it's probably not a good idea to laugh at your father when he's sick, but this episode was just too much. Besides, isn't laughter the best medicine? When he finally woke up from the morphine I asked him what in the world he meant about the fortress and he denied having ever said it. "S, what's wrong with you? What in the world does a fortress have to do with McDonald's?" Exactly.

On another note...

My mother, brother, and my dad's friend, E, were in the elevator the other day going to visit my father. They're joined by some other visitors, one of which pressed the first floor button.

They reach the first floor, no one is getting out. E looks at my mother and says, "Mish heya breast?" (Did she not breast?) My mother replies, "Aiwa, heya breast" (yes, she breast). They keep this up for a couple of minutes. My brother at this point is extremely uncomfortable. Why in the world is his father's closest friend and his own mother talking about this woman's breasts?? It took a while for it to sink in that they were trying to say "pressed".

Usually my brother and I are usually quick with our game...we jump on our peoples immediately when they say things like this (it's very easy to tickle our funny bone), but I'm assuming the hospital visits made him a little slow that day. What I still don't understand is why they switched between Arabic and English like that. Wouldn't it have been easier, more natural even, for them to have kept the entire conversation in Arabic instead of inserting "breast"?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:46 PM
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Wednesday, May 03, 2006
I eat when I'm stressed...
...and I've been eating non-stop since this morning. I need to be stopped.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 1:03 PM
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Tuesday, May 02, 2006
"Ready to Go"
My father's most recent, favorite saying is "I'm ready to go". At 58 years old, he says that he's lived all his dreams and can't ask for anything more. "I've married the woman of my dreams and have spent the past forty years falling more and more in love with her, I have two of the greatest children in the world, and I've had a job that I look forward to going to everyday. I can't ask for anything more. I'm ready to go."

My mother hates it when he says that. She hates it when people tempt fate. She'll never say the word "cancer"; she won't even whisper it. It's too dangerous, she says. She abhors baby showers, believing that celebrating something before it happens is basically toying with fate. (Her firstborn was stillborn and I think she still carries the pain of that). Life and death are something my mother refuses to treat lightly.

As I was sitting with my father at the dining room table watching him fill out some forms for his bypass, I heard him muttering something about how irritating it is that people are making such a big deal about this surgery. "Ya3ni, nothing's gonna happen. And so what if it does? I'm ready to go".

I hated the way it sounded right then. It's quite a lovely sentiment--he's lived the life he's always wanted to live. How many people can actually say that? But to hear it from his mouth an hour before his procedure just tugged at my heart.

I've been feeling sick all day. Nausea, dizziness, trouble breathing. I've been mentally prepared for my father's heart bypass, but apparently my body didn't get that message. I'm not worried about my father dying. That's honestly the LAST thing on my mind. Even if there were a .03% chance of fatality, I still cannot grasp that concept. My father is going to die when he's approaching his 90s, healthy as a horse; he's going to die in his sleep. Anything else is just incomprehensible. What's bothering my body, I think, is the discomfort he's going to feel in the next couple of days. And the raw emotions that seem to have taken me by surprise in the past couple of days.

****

The only time I've ever broken my father's heart was when I broke off my engagement three years ago. He was SO angry at me. He spent days trying to convince me that I was making the wrong decision, that I should marry my fiance regardless of how I felt; that I owed it to him and my mom. He told me that I had lied to him, had betrayed him, that I was ruining my life. My own fiance did not react the way my father did!

I know my father was just talking shit. He was TERRIFIED. I had found myself a good Muslim man and decided to let him go. You just don't do that if you're a Muslim woman living in AMERICA. If you're lucky enough to have a Muslim man that doesn't try to control your life, that lets you be who you want to be, that doesn't stifle you, you just DO NOT let him go. Regardless of how you feel.

And I really wish I could've appeased my parents, but I just couldn't go through with it. And it wasn't just cold feet. We had been growing apart, we both wanted different things, and there was just no possible way for it to work, regardless of how much we both tried. In the end there were no hard feelings and we've both managed to live our lives without much regret.

But I knew at that moment that I would have to harden my heart towards my parents because I would lose them one day. My parents were thrilled when I presented them with my fiance. I was young, but they didn't care. They knew I'd wait till I graduated college to actually get married, so they weren't too worried about the age thing. One of their biggest fears was that I'd fall in love with a non-Muslim and that's when all hell would break loose. Imagine their happiness when I fell in love with an Egyptian, a Muslim, a wonderful man. Their dreams had come true.

When I broke up with my fiance one of the things my father said (that's still etched in my memories) was, "if you don't marry him, you will never get married". He wasn't trying to be overly dramatic. He understood the difficulties of living in America and finding a Muslim man to marry. To marry a non-Muslim is just unacceptable in my family. And this is why I've had to harden my heart. It is highly unlikely that I will marry a Muslim. HIGHLY unlikely. And when the day comes that I introduce my parents to my non-Muslim boyfriend and tell them that this is the man I'm going to marry, I'm going to destroy them. And in turn they're going to destroy me.

I'm not sure what kind of reaction they're going to have. I know that they'll be angry and that they will stop talking to me. I don't think they'll disown me for life, but I'll be disowned for long enough. I have not been able to love my parents the way I want to love them because of this hardened heart. I don't want to be completely destroyed when they stop talking to me. I'll be hurt, yes. But I needed to make sure that I'd still be able to survive. I'm not afraid to show them love and affection, but I can't seem to completely let myself go.

I wanted to hug my father yesterday when he was leaving to the hospital, but for some reason I just couldn't. I kissed him, he kissed me, and we joked around as he was heading to the car, but I just couldn't hug him. I was afraid of the raw emotions, afraid of breaking down in tears and having him misunderstand my feelings. I know he would've thought that I was worried about his operation. It never would've occurred to him that my heart was thawing against my will and reaching out to him as he was readying to go.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:16 PM
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Who: Carmen

Mini-Bio:
xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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