free stats Carmen's Web: February 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Snow Day
This is what my street looked like on Sunday. Pretty, but not what I was hoping for. I was praying for a snowstorm that would devastate the tri-state area, closing down all New York City public schools for three days.

Instead, I got this pretty scene. Mother Nature simply has got something against me.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:36 PM
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Monday, February 19, 2007
A quoi ça sert l’amour?
One of my favorite clips.

The perils of love, Edith Piaf, Paris, and cute animation...you can't go wrong with that combo :)

Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:20 PM
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Sunday, February 18, 2007
Oink Oink!
Happy Chinese New Year!!!!!

Today is Chinese New Year and this year is the Year of the Pig. According to some fortune-tellers, it is going to be the "Year of the Golden Pig" which comes every 60 years. It ends the 12 year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. It's supposed to be a very, very special year and I've been gearing up for it for months now!!! According to Chinese astrology, this year is going to be MY year so I've been really excited about this day.

Last month boyfriend and I were walking around in the city and made our way into this delectable chocolate shop. I'm not big on chocolate. I LOVE white chocolate, but I don't really care for chocolate so much. It used to infuriate my would-be mother-in-law so many years ago. For each big occasion she would get me a box of chocolate. I'd accept it graciously, but the fiance would always tell her that I didn't like chocolate. She'd look at me and ask me if I liked chocolate, I'd say yes, he'd tell her I was just being polite, and then I'd tell her that chocolate really isn't my thing. "Rubbish," she'd say, "ALL women like chocolate".

Anyway, this isn't about that. Boyfriend and I walk into this chocolate store and all of a sudden I started to salivate. The chocolate looked so..........no words can describe it. We weren't planning on buying anything, but we saw that they were displaying pig boxes with a piece of chocolate inside. And since we'd been talking about celebrating the year of the pig, he bought the little box for me. Cute, no?

I put cochinito on the dashboard of my car. Last week I took my girls to McDonald's after school and as we past my car one of my Muslim girls said, "MISS! You have a pig in your car!" Here we go. "Yeah Y, it's a pig". "But Miss, you're Muslim! You shouldn't have a pig!"

I knew when he bought me the little piggy someone would have a comment eventually.

China, a couple of weeks ago, banned any ads that contained images of a pig so as not to offend Chinese Muslims. Photographs, cartoons, paper cutting silhouettes, and even "Happy Year of the Pig" slogans were banned. Advertisers scrambled to figure out a way to represent the year of the PIG without mentioning, referring to, or showing a pig. How in the world is one supposed to celebrate the year of the p-g without the p-g???

Seriously guys, isn't this a bit too much?? Are we really going to have the "pig" debate? I appreciate that China, who has often oppressed religious groups and violated even the most basic of human rights, is trying to "protect the harmony between different religions and ethnic groups". But is this not a little ridiculous?

Are we Muslims really going to have to talk about the "pig"??? Last year I went with my friend and her kids to a farm in Queens (YES, Queens still has farms), her daughter wanted to feed the animals, but when she came near the pig my friend grabbed her and told her that pigs are disgusting, dirty animals. We should not feed them. The poor little girl, who had just read Charlotte's Web and thought the pigs were cute (albeit making horrid noises), was traumatized. When she saw my little pig in my car last week she seemed very uncomfortable.

Seriously, the pig? Can we please not have a dialogue about the pig?? Aren't there other issues we should be worrying about? We're not allowed to EAT the pig. Why the big hoopla over the actual creature? Did not God create the pig with love? Is the pig not one of God's perfect creations? I say we all go out and pet a pig. Take pictures and send it China. Send them to all the newspapers who think we Muslims are a bunch of freaks because of the acts of a few nutty ones.

Oink oink guys...HAPPY YEAR OF THE PIG!!!!!!!
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:45 AM
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Wednesday, February 14, 2007
My Breast Friends, part II
My mother bought me my first bra when I was ten; a pink Care Bears bra that I cherished dearly. She bought it for me after weeks and weeks of whining on my part. I had watched an episode of "Who's The Boss", the one where Tony had to buy Samantha her first bra, and I was adamant to have one of my own. My small ten year old breasts felt wonderful in that bra and I wore it night and day.

At that time, I still hadn't had a real understanding of how private breasts were. Yeah I knew you weren't supposed to flash them, but I never knew that there could be shame associated with exposure. Breasts were just another part of your body, like your arm or something. I thought bras and swimsuits were decor, a privilege we girls had, not necessary coverage. Poor boys couldn't get as dressed up as we could...they HAD to walk around naked.

That summer, however, I discovered just how powerful breasts could be.

The local community poolhouse was gearing to open, an annual event for the kids in the neighborhood. We would stand outside its' gates and watch as they filled the pool with water. On that particular day I had gotten on my bike, rode around a bit, then went to watch. One of the girls, two years older, started picking on me. Her younger cousin had had a crush on me and I, not even realizing what it meant to have someone like you, never reciprocated the feeling.

So she started taunting me, and I ignored her. She kept on talking more trash, and I continued to ignore her. She came by my bike and pushed it. I was beginning to get angry (and scared...this girl was twice my size, vertically), but I didn't do anything. When she pushed me and nearly knocked me off the bike I just went bonkers. I knew that if I fought her I'd get the crap beaten out of me, but she was relentless. I had to do something.

I pushed at her with my bike, which prompted her to pull me off it. She pushed me against the gate and all hell broke loose. We just started hitting each other. At first it was a girly fight (slaps, hair pulling, lots of screeching) but pretty soon it got all raw and dirty and punches started being thrown. I had no idea what I was doing, but knew enough to know that if I stopped for a second she'd have the advantage. So I continued throwing punches.

The fight just wouldn't end. I didn't know how much time had passed. It felt like hours and my heart was pounding. I had no idea how long the torture would last, but I wasn't going to be the first to stop.

At one point she pulled on my shirt and ripped it. There I was, in my bra, for the whole world to see. She started laughing triumphantly; she had physically exposed me and, in her eyes, humiliated me. Little did she know how proud I was of that bra and instead of running in shame, I was secretly happy! I knew that there was no way I could've shown anyone my bra. Here she was doing it for me!!

I was, however, also really angry. Enraged, I should say. I didn't do it on purpose but something made me reach for her shirt and rip it. And there SHE was. Exposed. BRALESS. The girl stood there, breasts hanging out and if black women could flush she would've looked like a beet. She was 12, but had the full breasts of a 21 year old woman. I thought they were spectacular, big and perfect. She immediately recoiled, covered herself, and ran off. The fight was over. Victory was mine.

I took my bike and headed home. I was still a little frazzled. It wasn't my first fight, but the first one in which I fought back so ferociously. My adrenalin was still pumping. There was one thing I couldn't figure out...I couldn't understand why she had run away like that. Why she was so humiliated.

Her breasts were the first breasts that I can remember seeing. I'm sure I must have seen my aunt's or my mother's at one point, but if I did it didn't really mean anything. Breasts were breasts...it was like having a nose or an ear. But when I saw this girl's reaction (and that of the boys) I came to realize that there must be something more to breasts.

When I got home my father told me that her mother had visited him to complain about what I had done. "These were my daughter's breasts, Doctor. Your daughter exposed my daughter! I found her sitting in our staircase, bawling. Do you have any idea how that feels?" My father told her that I would never pick a fight and that if things got so heated it must have been because I was provoked. He told the woman to keep her daughter away from me because he would not be responsible for what happened next time. (There was never a next time...she apologized to me the next day and avoided me for three years.)

That fight stayed on my mind for a very long time. Why was it that this big bully of a girl, who could have plummeted me to the ground if I weren't being so feisty and jumping around like a chihuahua, immediately ran for cover when her chest was exposed? She looked fabulous. If I had had her breasts, I'd have been walking around naked!! It was then that I realized how private breasts were and how they could be used to humiliate women.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:40 PM
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Today's horoscope......
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): I was watching Oprah's TV show at 2 a.m. "Take off your shirt and look down," she told me. I don't automatically do everything the World's Wealthiest Woman tells me, but I trust her a lot. So I did what she suggested. What she said next, however, revealed that she wasn't actually talking to me. "Eight out of ten women are wearing the wrong bra!" she exclaimed. "Are you?" She then gave tips on how to select an undergarment that's just right for a woman's shape, size, and
posture. I watched in perplexed awe. How could so many people be ignorant about such a fundamental thing? Later, while meditating on your astrological omens, I realized there's a comparable phenomenon going on in your world. You're missing something important about one of the basic facts of your life. Please find out what it is.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:46 AM
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Tuesday, February 13, 2007
My first love
I was four years old when I was separated from my grandmother. I can still remember how awful I felt. My father had finally gotten settled in Germany and sent for the rest of us one summer. It was the first of many heartbreaks I'd experience in life. No child should ever have its heart broken like that if one can help it.

My grandmother was my first love ever. I loved her before I even knew how to love my mother or my father or the myriad of family members that doted on the first baby of the new generation.

She was a kick-ass woman. Tiny (my 5'10" frame towered over her 5'4" body), but stubborn as a mule and incredibly strong. She had an unforgettable, shining personality. If you ever had the good fortune to come across her, you'd be left with a very strong impression that you've just encountered greatness.

I don't say any of this because she was my grandmother. I've got several family members that are good, but don't really qualify for words of praise. But my grandmother...I was in awe of her. I'm convinced that if I had spent my years growing up with her, I'd be a completely different person right now. No worries though...a lot of her did rub off on me, so at least I've got some residue.

Wishing you all a very Happy Valentine's Day!

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Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:31 PM
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Sunday, February 04, 2007
Lunches and Superbowl Sundays
Hit the gym earlier today. The good thing about a dose of depression sprinkled with anger and frustration is that it gives you an extra spurt of energy, so I had me a good workout.

I was famished and thirsty after the gym so I went to Starbucks across the street, then played in Barnes and Noble for a little bit afterwards. As as I was by the magazine section, a little boy (about six or seven) came up to me and yelled, "You have a vagina!"

Uh.....

"Um, yeah, sure. I have a vagina," I responded, moving to another section, hoping that the kid would get lost.

"And I have a penis," he said proudly.

"Yes you do. Good job!"

He beamed. I kept on moving, but he kept on following.

"My mommy has a vagina. And my daddy has a penis. The penis and the vagina meet for lunch sometimes. And when they eat lunch, they can make a baby. If it's a good lunch it's delicious, but sometimes not all lunches make babies. I'm a lunch baby!"

This was one I'd never heard before.

"Does your vagina eat lunch?" he asked, looking up at me.

It was at this point that I asked him where his parents were and walked him over to his mother because "Daddy is watching the football game with his friends."

Something was off today in my neighborhood. At the gym, there were only women. The only people working at Starbucks were women. The Barnes and Noble cashiers were all women. One was grumbling that this was supposed to be her day off.

"It's not fair," she growled at a fellow cashier. "I'm always here, I never take days off, and they force me to come in today".

"It's that stupid NFL bullshit," her co-worker replied. "Haven't you noticed? All the guys called in sick today."

And that's when I realized it. Barnes and Noble was full of nothing but women. The gym was full of women. The row of restaurants where I parked my car was full of women. The men were nowhere to be found. How easy would it be to start a revolution right now?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 4:47 PM
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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
No relationship is ever perfect. Or lifetime proof. There's no guarantee that the people in your life will always stay in your life, but with some people you kinda just hope they will. You hope that you meet people throughout your life journey that'll always stick around and that no matter how bad things get, they just don't go anywhere.

I read an article once that discussed how our friends are now the new husbands. Women no longer become adults within the context of marriage. As we delay marriage or struggle with relationships, we mature with our friends, experience adulthood with them. They're the ones who become our mates, the people who know us better than we know ourselves. Lovers can never even come close to the connection one has with their friends, unless they invest some serious years into the relationship.

The article hit home. I spent my twenties connecting with a select group of friends. These friends know my deepest, darkest secrets, my fears, my ideas, my dreams. They can read me and understand me better than I understand myself. They're the ones I lean on. When I was living in Barcelona and had a breakdown because of a personal problem, it was a friend who talked me off the fictitious ledge. When the boyfriend's mother passed away two years ago and I was a wreck because it just brought to the surface too many laden emotions (we weren't together at the time), it was my friends who came with me to the funeral and held my hand. They made me laugh and took away the pain.

My friends are my family. More than family. I've placed a faith in them that I've never even placed in my own family. You don't get to choose your family, but you do get to choose your friends.

There's nothing more heartbreaking than losing a close friend. I've lost two close friends in the past fifteen years. One because she turned out to be a selfish cow, the other because she betrayed me. While I was sad at losing their friendship, I wasn't devastated. I was upset that they had betrayed my trust, but the fact that they did something horribly bad helped ease the break-up blow. I also hadn't invested years into them, so it was pretty easy to move on.

A long-time friend and I recently "broke up" and it's been having the strangest effect of me. I've been experiencing an entire spectrum of emotions and fluctuate between them all at the drop of a hat. I'll be fumingly mad one second, cursing her existence under my breath, then utterly depressed and on the verge of tears the next. I get nauseous when I'm reminded that we're not going to be friends anymore.

I also often go into a daze without even realizing it, scrunching my face into a permanent scowl. This, by the way, will do nothing for the wrinkles I'm trying to avoid. I had lunch with a couple of my students last week and one of my girls asked, "Miss, why you look so sad?? What's wrong?" I averted her question by giving her a lecture on grammar. (I've learned that the best way to get rid of my students, who are constantly latching on to me now, is by correcting their grammar).

Friend and I broke up for inconsequential reasons. Neither one of us betrayed each other or talked about one other behind our backs. Nothing malicious. We're not the type. Just differences. Irreconcilable difference apparently.

I've been going through the five stages of grief pretty rapidly.
  • Denial: Nah...this isn't really happening. She's just upset right now. She'll get over it, she'll see the situation in its context, she'll want to be my friend again. We'll still be friends.
  • Anger: What the fcuk is wrong with her? How dare she say those things to me??! How dare she see me like that!!! If she thinks I've never been a good friend to her, the fcuk her! I don't need shitty people like that in my life. Fcuk her!!!!
  • Bargaining: Okay. I'll call her. I'll call her and tell her that this was just a really big misunderstanding. That I take partial responsibility for neglecting our friendship and that I'll do anything to fix it. We're too good together to just throw it all away.
  • Depression: I'll never have another friend like her. If this friend can leave me like this, a friend who I thought I could trust blindly, then what does it say about the other people in my life? Who's going to abandon me next?

  • Acceptance: It is what it is. I can't change her mind. I can't make her see something she refuses to see. It was a great friendship, but if it has to end it has to end.
I drove to friend's house and parked near her building the other day. I sat in my car. I'm not sure how long I was there. I had so many thoughts racing through my head that I actually got a headache. I wanted to go in. I wanted to club her over the head and tell her that she's being stupid, that our friendship is something that's too precious to waste like this. That I'm not the kind of person she insists I am. That she needs to be more flexible, more trusting, NICER.

I didn't care that she insulted me the way she did. That she attacked me in the most vile of manners. Is friend worth swallowing my pride and beating her with a club in order for her to understand how important she is to me? Absolutely. Friend is very rare. And when you find someone like that, you keep that person in your life.

But she doesn't want to be my friend. She doesn't believe that I have the ability to be a good friend to her. That I've never had the ability. She's very particular, this friend. If she can't get what she wants, she won't settle for anything less. I've always respected her for that, but if she's got no room in her life for me, what can I really do? And if she doesn't want to be my friend, how can I fight to keep her?

I never got out of the car to knock on her door. I was sorely tempted to, but I wouldn't have had anything to say. I'd have just stood there. And she wouldn't have had the patience for that.

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Thoughts shared by Carmen at 1:29 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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