free stats Carmen's Web: November 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Hmmmm....
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
Courtesy of Rob Breszny

As I see your situation, it's like you're acting famished even though the cupboards are stocked with goodies. You're pining and moaning to be close to a treasure that's right next to you. You've got 98 out of the 100 things you need, and yet you just can't stop obsessing on the two that are missing. If I'm wrong about this, Capricorn, just ignore what I'm saying and rejoin me next week. But if you suspect I may be on to something, please act fast to purge your delusions.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:18 PM
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The Crusades in Brooklyn
I grew up in a diverse migrant community and was exposed, at quite a young age, to the glorious poetry of the Quran, the miracles of the Bible, the borderlands of Gloria Anzaldua, and the double-consciousness of W.E.B. du Bois. I never believed that me or mine possessed THE essential truth, if there even is such a thing. I was literally able to have the best of all worlds (although many people claim that this potluck upbringing is what has led me "astray", with no solid beliefs).

I've always only felt comfortable when I was surrounded by immigrants. I need to hear different languages and savor different palates. When I got my current job, I was thrilled because it fit into the kind of world I have always been drawn to. I was going to have a bona fide global classroom. I kinda forgot that these kids are coming from places that haven't necessarily embraced this whole we-are-one-big-world idea. Instead of learning from one another, they seem to be forming alliances with their own kind and discrediting anything that doesn't fit into their worldview.

This becomes very frustrating for a global studies teacher, particularly when we're trying to learn about cultural diffusion. Last week, for example, we wrapped up our unit on the Middle Ages and were doing a final review. I asked the class to name someone from the medieval world who had a strong impact on the future and one Colombian kid, who had been researching the Islamic Empire, yelled out, "Mohamed! Because of him there are over a billion people in the world who believe in the Islam religion!" I put his answer on the board and he was so happy (he looked like a dolphin during feeding time) that he decided to create a rap song that went like this:

Mo-mo-mohamed was the man yo
Mo-mo-mo......

He wasn't allowed to continue. The Muslim kids in class were ready to pounce on him.

"STOP THAT! DON'T TALK LIKE THAT ABOUT THE PROPHET! STOP IT!"

R is not the kind of student who stops doing his thing when someone tells him to, so he continued mo-mo-mo'ing his way through his rap song.

The Muslim kids started getting really agitated. For some reason, I find it highly amusing when kids are agitated. That frustrated look they get on their face is just magic. I wish I had had a camera that day...

I told R to stop his rap song and asked the Muslim kids to explain to him why they were so bothered and found his rap song to be offensive. The problem with working with ESL students is that they don't have the language to express themselves properly. I think that even if they did have the language, they would've been unable to form their own opinions since all they've been doing recently is echoing what they hear at home.

This week we're talking about the Crusades, a very touchy topic when you consider the make-up of my school. Here are just brief snippets of the conversations:

When asked why the European Christians were so ruthless during the Crusades, the answer from one Bengali boy was:

"Because Christians are bad and hate Muslims."

When asked why the European Christians wanted to go on Crusades, the answer from my Israeli boy was:

"Because Muslims are evil and deserve it".

In addition to Christians being bad and Muslims being evil, Jews apparently were lazy because they just sat back and didn't fight.

It was good to see the prejudices come out of the closet (though these kids have been anything but subtle the past couple of months) because it'll help me battle them as we make our way throughout history. We dispelled a lot of myths today in class, but I know that this Crusade is definitely not over.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 6:31 PM
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Sunday, November 26, 2006
I'm a Macedonian Dwarf????????
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 3:15 PM
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Surrounded by a**holes
When I was in the fourth-grade, my school had an International Food Fair. It was something I was very excited about because even at a very young age I was a food connoisseur. I spent weeks with my mother trying to figure out what kind of food to bring. We finally decided on kofta and I carried it proudly to school that day. On an index card I wrote a little history of kofta as well as how to make it in case one was inclined.

Lunch time took forever to come. But when we finally made it to the cafeteria it was a feast for the eyes. So much food from so many places! Isn't it great when the student body is made up of so many immigrants?!

Some time between stuffing my face with an Indian dish and licking dry an Ecuadorian pastry I heard some of my classmates giggling. I turned around to see one of them throw a piece of kofta on the floor and hear another say, "EWWWW! It looks like kaka!!!! KAKA KOFTA!! S MADE KAKA KOFTA!!"

I was so heartbroken at that moment. I didn't do anything. I didn't cry. I didn't try to stop them from making fun of me and my food. I just sat there. I hated what they were saying, but I couldn't do anything about. It was at about that time that I realized that the world was just full of assholes and that since there were so many of them it was inevitable that I come across several throughout my lifetime.

Last week my school had a Thanksgiving Feast. And a feast it was! I went through Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America like a tornado. My students were shocked to see their teacher down food like that! But I had to do it. For the kids. They did all this hard work and if I didn't sample their food they would've been sad. It's all about the kids.

I made grape leaves for this ocassion. I made it once over the summer for my co-workers and they loved it so much that they demanded I make it for the feast. We stored all the food in the teachers' lounge before moving it to the cafeteria and the grape leaves were under attack as soon as the teachers walked in. I'm surprised that there actually were handful that were finally able to make an appearance in the cafeteria.

So while I'm dogging down the food, three of my students appear behind me and start snickering. I turn around and it's my Egyptian crew.

"Ya Miss, el warak 3enab da wahesh gedan!!! (The grape leaves are awful!) If anyone eats them they'll have to be sent straight to the hospital!"

They continued making fun of me for a bit and one actually took one of the grape leaves, bit a piece off, then spit it out into the garbage. The rudeness of this entire act KILLED me. I couldn't believe the nerve these kids had. I couldn't believe that they had the nerve to come up to me and talk to me like that, straight to my face. This wasn't a case of kids joking with teacher or trying to give teacher a hard time. They were just being assholes. It was the worst case of bad manners I had ever witnessed. Their act was followed by two other students who thought it would be cool to emulate them and make fun of teacher and for a moment I felt like I was back in the fourth-grade.

One of my grandfather's favorite mantras centered around "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all." He would constantly tell me that people have feelings and that it was very important to be diplomatic in your dealings with them. There are many assholes in this world, he would tell me, but I shouldn't be one of them.

A main reason I've been so unhappy at this job is because some of these kids have the worst manners in the world. They're rude, uncouth, and highly uncivilized to me and each other. I struggle everyday not to take some of the things they say personally, but it's hard sometimes. It's draining more than anything else. In the fourth-grade I had to deal with it every once in a while. Now I deal with this shit everyday. I don't mind the kids challenging me. I actually enjoy it if they frame their arguments properly. But the bad manners kill me.

I was about to lose complete hope in teenagers when a couple of my African girls came up to me and thanked me for always being around to listen to them. It's been really hard moving to a new country, they said, but their day is always better when they come into my class. I hugged them and wished them a happy Thanksgiving. As they were leaving, one of them turned around and said, "Miss S, by the way, your food was really, really good. Thank you for making it".

The world may be full of assholes, but it's good to know that there will always be good people walking in their midst that have the potential to make it all better.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 3:14 PM
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Thursday, November 23, 2006
Thankful
In an attempt to turn the negative into something to positive, here are five things about which I am thankful:

1. I am thankful for leading a double life because it means that from 3-7pm today I get to eat the best Dominican food in New York City at my boyfriend's house and from 7pm-midnight I get to eat the best Egyptian food in the world at my own home.

2. I am thankful for the non-stop, annoying chatter of my students in the classroom because it means I can still hear.

3. I am thankful for waking up too early in the morning (and I'm SO not a morning person) because it means I have a job.

4. I am thankful for crazy aunt because she makes the rest of my crazy family look so normal.

5. I am thankful for still living at home because it means I have more disposable income.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL!
And to my New Yorkers, have a happy, wet one today!
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:23 AM
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Sunday, November 19, 2006
Q & A's
1. You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Whom would you blow up?
Crazy aunt. God must have been on vacation when she was created.

2. You can flip a switch that will wipe any band or musical artist out of existence. Which one will it be?
This question is not really fair. There are lots of bands that put out crappy music. But I think I'd wipe away all those artists that use half-naked women in their soft-porn videos. It's getting old already.

3. Who would you really like to just punch in the face?
Bigots of all shapes and sizes.

4. What is your favorite cheese?
I LOVE any and all kinds of cheese. If I had to choose one, though, it would be Gouda. Extra-aged. Toots took me to a bar once that served a slamming cheese platter...I tried to save some for him, but I'm not very disciplined re: food. What can I say, I'm a glutton.

5. You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your immediate disposal. What kind will you make?
The chicken sandwich they make at Boca Chica (1st and Houston). Yummylicious.

6. You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie celebrity of your choice. We are talking no-strings-attached sex and it can only happen once. Who is the lucky celebrity of your choice?
Maria Cuccinotta. I mean, if one were to ever dabble in lesbianism you couldn't pick a better woman.

7. You have the opportunity to sleep with the music-celebrity of your choice. Who do you pick?
Alejandro Sanz, but he'd have to serenade me in bed.

8. Now that you've slept with two different people in a row, you seem to be having an excellent day because you just came across a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Holy crap, a hundred bucks! How are you gonna spend it?
At a spa, enjoying a three-hour full-body massage.

9. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?
Taipei to visit French Kitty. But the minute I get there we're off to Tuscany.

10. Upon arrival to the aforementioned location, you get off the plane and discover another hundred-dollar bill. Now that you are in the new location, what are you gonna do?
Buy drinks at a local bar for the hot Italian men.

11. You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place?
There will only be three-day work weeks, with the fourth week of each month off.

12. You have been given the opportunity to create the half-hour TV show of your own design. What is it called and what's the premise?
It would be called "Rebel Grrrrl" and will highlight the lives of women who have stepped out of arbitrary boundaries and pursued unconventional paths in life.

13. What is your favorite curse word?

"F*ck". It is, grammatically, the most versatile word. Use it as a verb, a noun, an adjective...name it and you can use it.

14. One night you wake up because you heard a noise. You turn on the light to find that you are surrounded by MUMMIES. The mummies aren't really doing anything, they're just standing around your bed. What do you do?
Ask them to turn around??

15. Your house is on fire! You have just enough time to run in there and grab ONE inanimate object. Don't worry, your loved ones and pets have already made it out safely. So what's the item?
My laptop. It's got all my pictures and all my songs. One day, when I have some free time, I'm going to scan all my diaries and all the letters or postcards I've ever received.

16. The Angel of Death has descended upon you. Fortunately, the Angel of Death is pretty cool and in a good mood, and it offers you a half-hour to do whatever you want before you bite it. Whatcha gonna do in that half-hour?
Have toe-curling sex one last time.

17. You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what's even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What's it gonna be?
The ability to read minds. No, the ability to stop time. Wait, the ability to have premonitions. Wow...I think I just named three powers that the sisters on "Charmed" possessed...

18. You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?
Over five years ago one of my friends from Egypt came to visit. We both love Latin music so I took her to a local club one evening. We were there from 10pm to 4 in the morning. At around 3am, these five guys came in and headed to the bar. As soon as the merengue came on, one pulled me onto the dance floor and we danced and danced and danced. Then, in a move that would have made the Mambo Kings jealous, he twirled me over to his brother who then twirled me to his cousin and we danced like this till the club was ready to shut down. It was exhilarating. Nothing sleazy, nothing perverted. Just pure dancing.

19. You got kicked out of the country for being a time-traveling heathen who sleeps with celebrities and has super-powers. But check out this cool stuff... you can move to anywhere else in the world! Bitchin'! What country are you going to live in now?
Tough question. One of my dreams has always been to move to the Dominican Republic and teach English, but Italy, Spain, and France are high (if not equal) on my list.

20. Hopefully you didn't mention this in the super-powers question.... If you did, then we'll just expand on that. Suddenly, you have gained the ability to FLOAT!!! Whose house are you going to float to first, and be like "Dude, ... I can FLOAT!"?
Toots'!

21. The constant absorption of magical moonbeams mixed with the radioactive vegetables you consumed earlier has given you the ability to resurrect the dead famous-person of your choice. So which celebrity will you bring back to life?

Dalida. I hate that she died depressed.

22. The Gates of Hell have opened, and Death appears. As it turns out, Death is actually a pretty cool entity, and happens to be in a fantastic mood. Death offers to return the friend/family-member/person, etc. of your choice to the living world. Who will you bring back?
My grandfather; he was the greatest man to have ever walked on this Earth. They don't make men like him anymore.

23. What's your theme song?
"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
. When you really think about it, that's all they really want.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 6:02 PM
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Saturday, November 18, 2006
Sad
Every once in a while I fall into a really bad depression that threatens to shut me down. I'll have no taste for life, I'll be unable to see the point in anything, and I'll begin to withdraw from people (even those I live with) because I simply won't have the ability to be decent company. When someone is talking to me, my mind will be elsewhere because, well, it has shut down. I appear aloof and uncaring to these people and then it takes some time to repair the relationships. So it's better that I just stay away, regress into my cocoon till the depression ride is over.

When I was living in Cairo I had these depressions much more often (if you knew the shit I went through in Cairo you'd commend me for not offing myself). And when they did hit they stayed for months. I was plagued with these depressions on and off in my early/mid-20s and I think that's why I never really took the initiative to dramatically change my life. The depressions made me impotent and useless and I basically wasted a lot of time feeling sorry for myself.

This past week has threatened to throw me into this depression and I'm struggling like a fish out of water to keep it at bay.

The lifestyle I'm currently living doesn't really help the situation either.

I eat extremely badly, for example. I can't remember the last time I had something of nutritious value. I eat too much and I eat too much of the wrong thing. I know my body. If it's not being treated properly it won't cooperate with me. I have to start eating properly and I need to head back to the gym.

I need to move out of my house. The living situation with my parents is not bad. They're sweet and I love spending time with them. But I treat every single second that I spend with them as if it's the last one. And it's wearing me out. Everytime I talk to my mother I think, "Once she finds out about the boyfriend she'll never want to talk to me again". Whenever my father throws in a "habibi, enti 3arfa ana bahebik ad eh? (Habibi, do you know how much I love you?)" in the conversation I start to hurt. I need a healthy distance from them. I need to be out of this physical and emotional space.

My job...I don't even want to talk about my job. I dabbled in many jobs in my 20s and was ecstatic when I finally uncovered the teaching bug that had been lying dormant in me for so many years. First year teaching is the worst. I know this. And the winter breaks are just around the corner. I know that too. But everytime I look at the face of a teenager all I see is a punching bag.

Most of the teachers at my school are two or so years away from being able to apply for sabbatical. And of course I'm hating. At this rate, if I stay in this career, I won't be able to apply for sabbatical until I'm much older. And so, because depression is rearing its ugly head, I start to beat myself up every day for not being able to settle on a career early on in life.

I can go on about every single facet of my life, but let's call it a day and say that my life is just toxic right now.

Okay. It's 8am on a Saturday morning. I cried a little bit last night and was able to release some toxins. I'm going to go have a healthy breakfast, drink a bottle of water, and head to the gym. I'm then going to come home, take a warm bubble bath, wait for my hair to dry, and attempt to do something to break myself out of my usual routine.

Wish me luck.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:32 AM
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Thursday, November 16, 2006
This is how I've been feeling all week


I can't wait for tomorrow. TGI-friggin F.

No. I take that back. I can't wait for Thanksgiving weekend. This will actually be the first year I'll be beyond thankful for four days off.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:57 PM
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Sunday, November 12, 2006
NY, NY
My late uncle's wife from Kansas has been visiting us every year since he passed away four years ago. She comes to stay with us for two weeks every November. I'm glad she still feels connected to us and continues keeping in touch, especially after the hell her step-daughters (my cousins) put her through. If I were "A", I would've cut the Egyptian race out of my life forever.

It's always amusing to watch my mother interact with English speakers. She'll always pepper the conversation with bits of Arabic and assume that they'll understand. Or SHOULD understand. At times she'll just even switch to Arabic. The other day she made "A" sit and watch Egyptian soap operas all day. "A" now says things like, "Khalas! I won't have this conversation with you!" and "Bas I don't know if I can make it that weekend" when speaking with her daughter on the phone.

"A" was sitting in the living room when I asked my father to help me buy a car. She offered me some good bargaining advice and then said, "Whatever you do, do not take the subway." I told her there's no way I could take the subway to work. It would take me around two hours to get myself to work via the subway. By car, I'm at work in twenty minutes. This job is not subway friendly.

"No, I don't mean about the time it would take you to commute. Didn't you hear what happened in the subway?" "A" asked.

"Yeah, you told me. Wasn't there a stabbing?"

"That was last week! Yesterday there were TWO stabbings in the subway!! In QUEENS!!"

My father and I stared at her and shrugged. "'A', this is New York. A subway stabbing is nothing."

"Nothing! In Kansas it would be front news for days!"

"A" was horrified at our New York hardness. How could a subway stabbing not affect us as profoundly as it affected her? How could we even consider taking the subway again?

Other issues that horrify "A":

  • The prices of homes.
I've been looking to buy a place for the past two years. Yesterday my mother told me that one of her friends is selling a junior 4 around the area for about $280,000.

"$280,000 is way too much money for a junior 4! I can't pay that much! One bedrooms go for about $180,000-200,000. It won't make sense for me to pay 280."

"A" again was part of the conversation and I thought she was going to have a convulsion.

"280 THOUSAND DOLLARS!! My brother in Missouri bought a house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, huge living room, and a swimming pool for $250,000!"

  • The rent
My next door neighbor is getting married next March. He and his fiance are looking for an apartment in the area. They inquired about a one bedroom in one of the buildings around the way and learned that the rent was $1900. For a one bedroom. "A" is currently paying $650 for her two bedroom.

  • The New York attitude
"A" comes from a town where people are actually cordial to each other. "Thank yous" and "please", followed by genuine smiles, are part of the everyday vernacular there. When I went to "A" and my uncle's wedding I was in shock at how super friendly everyone was.

My mother took "A" to the flea market last week. "A" came back with a look that I've never seen before on her face, but I recognized it immediately. She had had her first encounter with the New York attitude and she had that frustrated, hard look on her face. Now, even though she comes from a saccharin town, she knows how to hold her own. So when the vendor gave her an attitude, she exploded and gave him one back. Bless her little heart though. When he started being nasty with her, her reply was "Well, you don't have to be so rude!! I can't believe how rude you are!"

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:41 AM
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Birth of a Car
My car died on me as I was driving home on Friday. Again. This time, however, I knew how to pop open my hood and pour anti-coolant into the radiator. See, I'm learning. The car wouldn't restart right away so I had to sit in it and just wait. I had picked up Chinese food on the way home and it started getting cold. And then I got really frustrated.

For starters, I had a headache. I've had a headache every day since Wednesday, November 1st. The one that day KILLED me. It felt as if someone had drilled a hole in my head and didn't bother to repair it. At one point I was convinced that my eyes were going to explode. I went to sleep early that night after overdosing on Excedrin and woke up much better. But as I made my way through the day I realized that I still had headache residuals. No big deal. It'll go away. I had another headache the day after and have had headaches every day since. They're not bad headaches; I don't have to take anything for them. They're like rainstorm headaches. But the one I had on Friday was about to develop into a tsunami and having my car die like that in the middle of the street did nothing to help.

So as I was sitting there waiting for the car to cooperate with me I made a decision. I had to buy a new car. I've had to buy one since the summer, but I've been too cheap. I try to save every single penny I make so I can buy a place to live (or travel). The thought of me dipping into my savings for a mere car made me sick to my stomach.

When I got home I told my father what happened and asked him if he could help me buy a car. I can only imagine what the car salesmen would've done to me if I had attempted to go car shopping by myself.

Fast forward the boring details. I am now a car owner. Well, car leaser. I pick it up tomorrow after work. I leased a 2006 Nissan Altima, color pewter. Never thought I'd ever use the word "pewter" in my life.

This purchase has made me highly uncomfortable. I thought I'd be happy and excited when I got my first car. Instead the butterflies in my stomach are working overtime. I've never had to pay such a high monthly bill. I'm very unhappy with that commitment.

**UPDATE**
I offered my Taurus to my next door neighbor right now who nearly squealed with delight. Even though it's an old and crappy car, she acted as if I just handed her a BMW. What's wrong with me that I can't appreciate my new car????
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:31 AM
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Friday, November 10, 2006
Shake it like Shakira
I mean, even during my heyday when I went clubbing four to five times a week I wasn't nutty enough to get up on a bar and risk injury. And if I did, I'd probably be too embarrassed to sue.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 6:38 PM
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006
"Have a Happy Period"
There's no such thing as a happy period. And if anyone ever tries to use a line like that on me when I have my period I will probably shoot them. I have to admit that they've gotten much, much better since I've been on the pill, but periods are not happy moments.

A couple of months ago I saw this on my maxi-pad:



Apparently Always is printing these up and sticking them on the adhesive side of their pads with wings. I had cramps, I was tired, I was cranky. But for some reason when I saw this message it put a smile on my face. Not so for others though.

Pic for Cairogal and Leilouta
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 6:04 PM
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Lousy Day
I was in a lousy mood yesterday. Absolutely lousy.

It started when I received an email from my best friend. A while ago, she emailed her ex (a Bosnian Muslim) and told him that the boyfriend and I are close to making our relationship work and that we're talking about marriage. He replied by telling her that struggling against my family is un-Islamic and that my struggle is against my own self, not my family. I will never be happy if I defy them. If I do marry the boyfriend, my kids will not be raised right since I am ignorant of my background.

The e-mail contained a lot of other shit that had me fuming at one point and for some reason just got me down. I've been trying so hard to understand why it bothered me so much and I still haven't been able to wrap my head around it. It's really easy for men to judge women like me. It's easy to attack our faith and beliefs and it's something that I need to get used to. I already know that I will be ostracized from the Islamic community and my family. I know this. And so I don't know why it bothered me so much to read his e-mail. I need to grow a thicker skin.

In either case, I accept no religious advice from an alcoholic, promiscuous bastard. I'll never understand how Muslims who clearly don't follow their own religion have the nerve to comment on the way others practice it.

Things didn’t improve much when I got to work. I won't even bother commenting on the high school bullshit I had to deal with, but suffice it to say that I'm now officially unhappy at my job. I'm really, really sad that this job is so unsatisfying. I know the first year of teaching at school is the toughest, and I don’t think I would mind the tough bit so much, but there’s something about these kids that’s just so…uninspiring. I feel like my workday is a burden and I’m afraid that this is going to start showing pretty soon if things don’t get better.

During lunch I went to check my e-mail and found one from my ex. Five years ago I dated this guy who cheated on me. It was a bad time in my life not because of the cheating but because my friend knew that he was cheating on me and never told me. To deal with his betrayal was hurtful. To deal with hers was devastating. It took a while for us to get past it and become genuine friends again.

So, five years later he sends me an e-mail with his phone number asking me to call him. It took two seconds for me delete his e-mail and put it out of my head. The memories that were stirred, however, added to the lousy day.

End of the workday. Nothing else can go wrong, right?

I had to go into the city after work for a doctor’s appointment. After my appointment I was walking back to the subway, ignoring the world, basically hoping that the day would just wrap up. A short, olderish man tried to stop me and said, “excuse me”. I ignored him and kept on walking. I just wasn’t in the mood for anything.

Seven steps into my stride I started feeling guilty. What if this man needed directions? What if nobody stopped for him? So I turned around. I wouldn’t have been able to have slept through the night if I hadn’t.

“Sir, do you need any help?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied, “can you look at this?”

I looked down to the paper in his hand to see a picture of his penis. Son of a bitch.

Perfect ending for a lousy day, don't you think?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 5:17 PM
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Monday, November 06, 2006
Just one of the many facets of my job
My class is currently finishing a project we're doing on the Middle Ages. They were assigned to be roving reporters who have traveled to the past in order to find out how societies impact the future. The unit has been taking much longer than I expected and we're finally in the process of wrapping it up. The next couple of days will be spent on creating our newscasts and then we can move on to experience the fascinating world of the Crusades.

Last week they were getting their newscast transcripts together when one group, out of nowhere, started screaming and jumped away from their table. I asked them to calm down and tell me what was wrong and one girl managed to tell me that she saw a roach on the table.

Great. Remember what happened the last time I saw a roach?

The rest of the class (mostly girls) started screaming and jumped on their chairs. The boys were laughing, but I saw that they were uncomfortable too.

I demanded they all relax and quiet down. I looked at the table and couldn't see the roach. When I looked under the table it was there, chilling. I started looking around for something I could use to kill it. I couldn't take off my shoes quickly enough since I had boots on. The only other things around me were books and there was no way I was going to abuse a book like that. I'm trying to teach these kids that books are treasures and using one to kill a roach would have undone weeks of work. I managed to find a file folder that I use to put the kids' homework in, so I opted for that.

I took out their homework, folded the folder in half, and looked under the table. The roach was not moving from its post and so I had to shake the table a bit to get it excited. It finally moved and made its way to the top of the table, prompting another round of screams. I, of course, was screaming in my head but remained composed in front of the class. I yelled at the kids again to relax and took my folder and wiped out the roach.

It was squished onto the folder so I just threw the whole thing out. I got a paper towel, wiped off the remains, and got the class back on track.

The girls now think I'm awfully brave and the boys think I'm totally cool. During lunchtime I had a fleet of students, both mine and others, come to my door and ask if it's true that I killed a giant roach with my own bare hands. Others asked if it was true that I killed a battalion of roaches without blinking. It was as if I were Mickey Mouse in The Brave Little Tailor.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:40 PM
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Thursday, November 02, 2006
And They Say Chivalry is Dead
About a year ago at the gym I got into a fight with this troll of a woman who gave me a nasty attitude.

I was on the treadmill, running, adrenalin pumping, feeling good, when she tapped me on my waist. I took my headphones off and heard her say, "excuse me, but how long are you going to be?" I pointed to the time on the treadmill; I was too out of breath to answer her question. "Well, I need to use the machine and you're taking too long. You should get off."

I was so taken aback that I told her I'd cut the time short and that I needed just another ten minutes. I put my headphones back on and as I was running I started wondering what the hell possessed me to acquiesce to her inappropriate command. I had never been spoken to like that in my life and I guess the demand just threw me off balance. Who in the world talks to people like this?

I ran faster, pissed off at myself for having allowed this horrid woman to talk to me like that. I saw her reflection in the mirror standing behind me, waiting for me to get off. When exactly ten minutes had passed by she came and tapped me on the waist again.

"I'm not getting off. Go to another treadmill," I managed to say between breaths.

"But you said you only needed ten minutes!"

"I am NOT getting off. Use another treadmill."

"BUT YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO USE THE MACHINES FOR SO LONG IF SOMEONE WANTS TO USE THEM!"

"Listen. You see that sign right there? That sign says machine use is limited to 30 minutes during PEAK hours. We're not in peak hours. And what's more, there's a treadmill right there you can use."

"But I don't like that treadmill."

"I am NOT getting off."

I couldn't believe her nerve! WHO DOES THAT??????! What I really wanted to do was get off the treadmill and say, "Here you go ma'am. You need this workout more than I do." But that would have been rude and if there's one thing I'm not, it's rude.

I went to the gym after work today to release a lot of pent up frustration. Between shit at work, home, and with the boyfriend this past week I've been just about ready to take a gun and shoot myself in the head. It was either going to the gym or to the morgue.

I'm on the treadmill again. And guess who shows up. I saw her from the corner of my eye and although bad memories crept up I didn't think that our paths would really cross. Fifteen minutes into my workout I find her standing next to the treadmill.

"Excuse me, but how long are you going to take?"

NO WAY is this happening again. I stared at her and told her I had 45 minutes left. She looked at the time on the treadmill and said, "but that means you'll have been working out for an hour. You can't do that."

NO WAY IS THIS HAPPENING AGAIN. I mean really, what are the chances?

"I'm not getting off this treadmill. Use another one."

She recognized me and muttered something under her breath.

"Excuse me, I didn't hear you." I'm still running, not skipping a step.

"I said I remember you. You've been working out for a year and you've still got a fat ass."

Oh no she didn't. She did NOT just talk about my ass like that.

I slammed my hand down on the emergency stop button. Now, I'm not a fighter. The last time I got into a physical fight was over 20 years ago and it was only because I needed to defend myself. But my fat ass was about to pound her shitty one into a pulp. Blame it on the pumped adrenalin and the horrible week.

The only thing that saved this woman was the man working out next to me. As I was about to step off the treadmill I heard him say to her, "If you had this woman's ass maybe you'd get laid more often and you wouldn't have that nasty attitude".

I wonder if it's still chivalry if a man defends your honor from a woman's catty remarks...
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:40 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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