free stats Carmen's Web: July 2006
Monday, July 31, 2006
You KNOW that Israel went TOO far when the cover of the NY Post (THE NEW YORK POST!!) is this:

Thoughts shared by Carmen at 2:07 PM
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Saturday, July 29, 2006
"Your father forbade me from swimming"
Please bear with me as I recount yet one more story involving my dimwitted aunt. This shouldn't go on for too long; she should be leaving this week to the apartment my father is renting for her and my cousin.

New York City has been going through an unbearable heat wave. And torrential rainstorms. The weather for the past two weeks has been absolutely bizarre. Today, however, we were spared the rainstorms and, being a Saturday, my father decided to go swimming in the pool we share with the neighbors in our backyard. He hasn't taken his shirt off since his heart surgery; the scars are minimal, but I think they still bother him. So it was nice to see him out and getting some sun today.

I was running errands all day and when I got home I went to the backyard to hang out with my father a little bit. He tried to convince me to get in the pool, but I just wasn't feeling it. When I went back into the house, I ran into my aunt. She asked me if I was going to go in the pool and I said no.

"Your father forbade you too??"

"Eh? My father didn't forbid me from doing anything. What are you talking about?"

"He forbade me from swimming in the pool. I wanted to, but then he said no."

"Well, aren't you veiled?"


"Then how did you expect that you were going to go into a pool that is shared between three houses? Wouldn't the presence of strange men have forbidden you from doing that?"

"Your father said..."

"I don't care what my father said. What the hell kind of logic are you using?"

What the hell kind of logic was she using???? The woman is veiled, chose the veil for herself, and wants to go swimming in a pool with unrelated men? I don't get it.

I went to the backyard and she followed.

Me: "Babaya, did you forbid your sister from swimming in the pool?"

Her: "Mish enta olteli la'a?" (didn't you tell me no?)

My poor father looked like he wanted to beat someone.

Dad: "Ya Mona, mish enti mohagaba?" (Aren't you veiled?)

Aunt: "Aiwa, bas..." (Yes, but...)

Dad: "Tab enti 3ayza eh? 3ayza te'la3ee? E'la3ee. Tefrik ma3aya eh?" (So what do you want? You want to take your clothes off? Take 'em off. What difference does it make for me?)

I feel bad for her, I really do. She really a doltish person, but I blame her environment. Of all the nine brothers and sisters in my father's family, only three (my father, his oldest sister and brother) are the only semi-sane ones. The rest are obnoxious, arrogant pricks, present aunt included. Add to the mix that she married the worst man on the planet who has been beating and verbally abusing her for over 30 years and it's no wonder she's the way she is. And I've always given her the benefit of the doubt as a result. But since she's been staying with us I've been exposed to a level of stupidity that I never really thought was possible.

You know why this woman decided to veil? When her oldest son (not the criminal loser; just a dweeb loser) was 19, he forced her to veil. He "forbade" her from leaving the house without covering her hair. And you know what? She was proud of him. Proud that he took his religion so seriously.

Just a couple more days. Couple more days and she's gone...
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:43 PM
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Thursday, July 27, 2006
Trying to Avert Addiction (and failing miserably)
Of all the drugs out there, the one I am most afraid of is caffeine. I worry about becoming so addicted to it that it becomes nearly impossible to live without it. I've been very good at living without it.

I always drink tea (the caffeine in tea isn't so bad) and usually avoid soda.

I've actually never had to drink coffee. In my 30 years, I've probably had a total of eleven cups of coffee, all drunk in times of dire emergencies. I didn't even drink cofee when I needed to pull all nighters in college.

I've been very lucky; I've had jobs and assignments that have never required me to be up before 8am. Don't get me wrong...I've never actually been able to sleep "late". Late for me is 9am.

Now, however, I'm obligated to get up at the god-awful hour of 6am, a vulgar and obscene time. When I open my eyes and see the number "6", I throw my head back into my pillow and let out a little whimper. I truly can't take it. 6 is a minute past 5:59, and no one should ever have to be up a minute after 5:59. When I control the world, I will pass a law that forbids the population from waking up before 7:30. I would be a benevolent dictator.

Anyway, back to reality. Now that I have to get up so early, I have found that I can't manage to get through the day without developing a headache and without wanting to fall to the ground in slumber. I've had coffee twice this week and pushed the envelope by having a double shot of espresso today (you gotta hand it to me...when I go out, I go ALL out). I love the effects coffee has on me, how all of a sudden I perk up and am so much more productive. However, I AM AFRAID OF BECOMING ADDICTED. I really don't want my body to get used to this...I don't want for my daily routine to HAVE TO include a cup of coffee in order for me to actually function.

Any alternatives to this drug? Please don't suggest that I get my caffeine kick from tea. I know it's incredibly healthy, and like I said, I drink tea everyday. But it does NOTHING for me. (I tried to fool my body today with a cup of Earl Grey. It laughed at me).

What'll happen if I get used to coffee and Ramadan comes along? Will I have to spend the month suffering because I got my body addicted to a nasty drug???

Am I doomed?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:19 PM
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Wednesday, July 26, 2006
"I Have Learned So Much"
I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer call myself
a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of itself with me
that I can no longer call myself
a man, a woman, an angel
or even pure soul.

Love has befriended me so completely
It has turned to ash and freed me
of every concept and image
my mind has ever known.

-Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky
*The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master*
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 6:37 PM
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Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Denial, Thy Name is Mona
So last week I come home from a long, exhausting (and incredibly hot) day, dreaming of submerging my body in ice cold water and spending the remainder of the evening doing nothing but flipping through the TV to watch reruns. I didn't want my brain to work, didn't want to think about anything, just wanted to watch some insipid television. It had been quite a long week and I purposely finished all my work the day before so I could spend time doing NOTHING. I deserved it.

Instead, I came home to bullshit. My parents were out; they drove one of their oldest friends to the airport. My aunt was sitting on the front porch studying for her real estate exam, so I gave her a quick hello and ran inside. As I was making my food in the kitchen, I heard a man yelling outside, which is quite odd because we live on the quietest street in Queens.


I'm usually one to mind my own business, but as the yelling continued I ran to the window to make sure no one was being hurt. No one was. It was just my loser cousin yelling at his mother.

She quickly dragged him into the house and down into the basement, smiling at me as she did. He was rocking back and forth as he walked, his words were slurred, and it didn't take a brain surgeon to realize that he was drunk or high, or both.

More yelling went on downstairs, threats even, as M tried to get his mother to give him money so he could go out to a club. She told him that he can't leave the house, he accused her of trying to break his manhood, and next thing you know she hands him money and he's on his way out of the house.

My dreams of spending a relaxing evening shot, I went downstairs and waited for her to come out of the room. When she did I told her that if she didn't tell my father what happened, that I would. I wanted to give her the chance to "come clean" to him. Her response?

"What happened ya S?"

What? Are you seriously trying to pull that shit with me???? I told her once again that if she didn't tell my father what happened, that I would.

She looks at me, perplexed, and asks innocently, "What happened??? That M went to a club?"

Is she really that daft??? Do I look like a fucking moron??


"Drunk? M wasn't drunk ya S. Was he?"

Okay. Now you're either thinking that I'm a pure idiot or you're in a state of denial that needs some serious addressing.

"Look, your son was either drunk, or high, or both".

She comes to sit next to me on the couch and asks me again if I thought he was really drunk. She tries to tell me that that was just his attitude, that he was tired and bored, but that he doesn't drink. I stare at her face a little bit, trying to read it. What the hell is this woman playing at?

I tell her that he was drunk, that she's spoiling him, and that if she can't discipline him then there's no power in the world that's going to whip him into shape other than the U.S. Army or the prison system. And he may not come out alive from either. I tel her that the boy is one step from becoming a criminal; one step from being a murderer or becoming a murderer himself. I'm not exaggerating here. I haven't recounted the kind of trouble he's gotten into but suffice it to say that he's a troubled child. A true criminal. I believe that he still has the potential to be saved, but no one is trying to. What everyone IS doing is rationalizing his criminal behavior.

Anyway, long story short, she kept insisting that this was just a phase he's going through, that he's misunderstood by his teachers and society, and tried to convince me once again that he wasn't drunk.

I wanted to shoot myself. I'm not sure whether she's stupid or blind, and I told her this, but there's something seriously wrong with her.

My father came in while I was yelling at her and asked her immediately where M was. I was hoping that she'd have the chance to tell him what happened at her own time, but I guess fate planned it differently. She, very calmly, told him that he went to a club. And left it at that.

Uff. I looked at my father and told him the story of how he was drunk, how he threatened her, and how stupid I think she is. My father got pissed off at her and said that he washes his hands from all this. "I've been trying my best to fix your son's life, but I can't do it if you won't discipline him! I'm not his father and I can't be with him all the time!"

I follow my father to his room and talk to him, basically repeating to him the same things I told my aunt. My aunt walks into the room and starts blubbering something about leaving the house to get out of my father's hair.

"Don't worry, I'll pack up and leave tomorrow. I'll go stay in the basement of our building. There's nothing there, but we'll go anyway."

God. She can't even play the role of the martyr successfully. There's really NO reason for this woman to be part of society. She needs to be locked up somewhere.

My father sarcastically asks her what she plans to do in an empty basement and how she plans to discipline the boy.

"I don't know. I'll just go and God will take care of the rest. God will change my boy."

I wanted to throw the lamp at her face. I start yelling at her again and tell her this is why her boy is so fucked; because she abdicates responsibility and throws everything to her "God". My father can't say anything to me because he knows that I'm right and even though I'm disrespecting his sister by yelling at her he keeps his mouth shut.

By midnight I had had enough. I told my father and my aunt that they're both in the wrong for letting this piece of shit get away with murder and that had he been a girl this would've been nipped in the bud ages ago.

You're bored shitless of my family, aren't you? So am I. So am I.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:30 PM
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Monday, July 24, 2006
Stupid families
I want a divorce from my extended family on my father's side. I want to completely cut ties with them and if I didn't like my last name so much I'd change it so there's no possible way anyone can ever connect me with them. I won't go into all of the sordid drama with each of my father's brothers and sisters (there are nine of would take two blogs in order to go into the details), but will focus a little bit on my infamous aunt.

She and her son have been staying at our house for the past two, going on three, weeks. Her son, M, has been getting in and out of trouble since he was a teenager and the last straw for his loser, abusive father was when he got arrested two and a half weeks ago for assaulting a police officer. Said loser father kicked him out of the house and so M and his mom came to stay here. (Loser father did not kick him out to teach him a lesson or anything...he doesn't want to bear the financial burden of having a loser son, so he throws his responsibility on to my father who doesn't have the heart to see his family suffer).

So now my father is going to rent an apartment for them away from their old neighborhood. He wants my thug, punk, alcoholic, girlfriend beating, 21 year old cousin to change his life and so will give him one final chance to get his act together. What PISSES me off is how fucking supportive my father is to this fucking punk ass kid. Don't get me wrong...I truly feel sorry for M, or at least I did until he confessed to me how he's been living, but I can't see how his problems are or should be any of our problems. If the boy can't get his life together then nothing we do will allow him to do it. My father is enabling him and my loser aunt.

ANYWAY, M tells me yesterday how he doesn't think he's going to be able to concentrate on his schoolwork (he's been in a two year college for the past three and a half years by the way) because he recently broke up with the love of his life. He was dating this girl for three years and when she ended it he was devastated. He told me how much he loved her and proceeded to tell me how much she loved him. How do you know that she loved you, I asked. And here's what he told me:

"Well, I treated her really badly and she always stayed with me.
I cursed her out many times, and she came back.
I cheated on her many times, and she came back.
I used to hit her, and she never left me.
I beat her badly once (and I felt bad), her parents forced her to press charges so she did. But when we went to court, she dropped the charges. And she came back.
She had three abortions by me, and she never left."

Bloody hell. I ask him why she finally broke up with him and he said,

"Because I called her father up one day and called him a nigger. I cursed him out and told him that he's fucked up for trying to keep us apart and that he should stay out of our lives".

Shit. I can't believe she stayed that long. And lord, why would you get a girl pregnant THREE times?? What the fuck?

I'm done with him and I'm done with my aunt. Later I will relate to you the story of how I caught him drunk last week and how my aunt tried to rationalize his behavior. I'm too tired and fed up to do it now.

The thing that pisses me off about all this is that my aunt and my father are letting M get away with murder. I'm almost sure that they don't know about the abortions, but if they did they would continue rationalize his behavior; he's a kid, he's a boy, he just got mixed up with the wrong crowd.

Excuse my crass and vulgar language, but you can all suck my cock. If I asked my father for money for an abortion, I guarantee you it's probably the last conversation I'd ever have with him. Yet for this punk ass kid, all is well. He'll grow out of it.

Ya3ni if it's not the destruction of Lebanon, it's this shit that I have to deal with.

Anyway, my aunt came to sit next to me on the couch a couple of minutes ago and started small talk. She can see that I'm on the computer, typing, but she's still trying to talk to me. I knew the only way I could get rid of her is to make her uncomfortable, so I put on one of my Netflix movies and she quickly left the room. Who would've thunk that a movie about a gay Muslim man ("A Touch of Pink") would have been the answer to my prayers?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:01 PM
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Collateral Damage
My alarm is set to NPR in the mornings and this is the story I woke up to about 20 minutes ago:

TYRE, Lebanon -- The Srour family's dream of evacuating to Germany died yesterday afternoon on a south Lebanon road when an Israeli bomb struck their car, killing the head of the family and one of his sons.

Like many of the 400,000 Lebanese who live south of the Litani River, they were following Israel's order to leave their home or be considered targets.

The Srour family displayed a white cloth from the window of their car as they approached Tyre, but it was not enough to save them from an Israeli strike; their car was one of a three-car convoy hit yesterday on the road into Tyre from the south.
The attack took place in sight of Najem Hospital, on the road between the regional capital, Tyre, and the nearly abandoned, bomb-cratered suburb of Hosh.

The Srour family left their village in south Lebanon yesterday morning sick of the bombing and convinced they'd be on a boat to Cyprus by evening.

An Israeli bomb struck Mahmoud Srour, 8, and his family a few hundred yards from the Najem hospital. They were hoping to reach the safety of central Lebanon from the village of El Mansouri, 7 1/2 miles from Tyre.

They were on the way to the Rest House Hotel in Tyre, the seafront resort where refugees from the south gather to plan moves to safer towns farther north.

Their car was engulfed in flames. The boy's father, Mohammed, and one of his brothers died, and an older brother was in surgery. Mahmoud and his little sister Mariam, 8 months old, sustained severe burns.

Their mother, deaf from the blasts, paced , prayed silently, wept, and pulled a towel over her veil to cover her face.

Mahmoud's entire torso and face were blistered. His lips were peeled back in what looked like a suspended scream, and the raw flesh around his eyes had swollen them shut.

"Don't cry," Dr. Jawad Najem said.

"My eyes! My eyes!" the boy screamed, his lips trembling.

"I'll bandage them," Najem said as he applied cream to the child's face.

At the next bed, another doctor leaned over Mariam. He leaned over, kissing the fingers of her left hand and blowing gently on her face to relieve the sting of the burn. His head was almost the size of her entire body, and he made shushing noises to try to reassure her as she sobbed .

The Zabad family drove past the Srour family's burning car. Ahmed Zein El Abdin Zabad, 45, saw what looked like a missile crash into the car in front of him. But he was rushing his crowded Nissan minivan toward the hospital, because he had picked up three wounded strangers already along the road.

He had almost made it to the hospital when another bomb or shell hit his car.

"There was fire everywhere," he said, beginning to cry in his hospital bed. "I can't describe it."

Miraculously, he said, no one in the car was killed, and the three already wounded passengers escaped further injury.

Bombs have fallen daily in the vicinity of the hospital, according to the staff.

"They are crazy, striking everything, not just Hezbollah, but kids, civilians," said Nada Kouayess Najem, who is volunteering to help her husband, Dr. Najem, at the understaffed hospital.

Israel fought in this part of south Lebanon before, including during a punishing campaign against Hezbollah in 1996. "This is different," Nada Najem said. "This time they are bombing everywhere."
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 6:55 AM
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Sunday, July 23, 2006
Beirut Blues
I haven't been blogging much in the past week as a result of the destruction of Lebanon. Been feeling so impotent. Everytime I get an e-mail from a friend who's managed to evacuate my heart rests a little bit easier. I have, thankfully, not lost (or have any friends who have lost) family or friends. Each e-mail I get (and I've received nine so far) tells of the relief of having escaped, but each e-mail is full of rage at what's happening and the indifference of the world.

Condoleeza Rice this past weekend, with a huge cheshire cat smile on her face, compared the crisis to a woman giving birth; the violence in Lebanon was merely the "birth pangs of a new Middle East". Funny. The only thing my friends felt in Lebanon were the bombs. Her smile enraged me...I wanted to smack it off her face.

If I hear one more senator regurgitate the whole "Israel has the right to defend itself" defense I'm going to break something. When the Senate was set to vote on a resolution defending Israel's attacks on Lebanon, only one Senator blocked the vote. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-VA) noted the following on the Senate floor:

"I urge make sure there is not an ambiguity there because the people of Lebanon are suffering enormously at this time, as are the people in Gaza. Many of those people are not aligned with either Hezbollah or Hamas.

"Now we see today that so many nations say the United States must take a stronger role in trying to work our way through this conflict, yes, supporting Israel but at the same time trying to bring about some resolution to spare the life and limb and suffering in Palestine, Lebanon, and Israel, to see that it not spread to other areas.

"I conclude our support for Israel is very strong, Mr. President, but it cannot be unconditional."

I'm just sick of all this. I'm sick of the politics, sick of the posturing, done with the bullshit.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:13 PM
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006
NYC peeps, let's hit this show!
While the news from the Middle East is very upsetting, I wanted to share some positive news on the showbusiness front. Comedy Central has agreed to air on their Internet Channel "Motherload" a new show starring all Middle Eastern-American comics and performers. It's a hybrid stand up and sketch show called, "The Watch List."

Obviously, this is the first time in US history that a major American entertainment company has given us the opportunity to tell our story to our fellow Americans (through comedy that is.) Our hope is that the show goes so well, that next year we will tape a season for Comedy Central's TV network.

Please let friends in the NYC area know about this show since we need a big crowd for the taping and to impress the Comedy Central executives.

Thank you.
Dean Obeidallah

"The Watch List" - Stand up Comedy Taping for Comedy Central

Be a part of the audience for the taping of an historic new Comedy Central Internet show entitled, “The Watch List,” featuring the top comics of Middle Eastern-American heritage including Ahmed Ahmed (Comedy Central, Punk'd), Maz Jobrani ("Curb Your Enthusiasm," co-star new ABC sitcom this fall, "Lets Rob,"), Dean Obeidallah (CNN, Air America Radio), Aron Kader (Comedy Central), Maysoon Zayid (MTV, NBC Nightly News), Nasry Malak (ABC's "20/20"), Ronnie Khalil and more. "The Watch List" is the first show by a major American entertainment company which stars performers who are all of Middle Eastern-American heritage.

The show details are below. Reservations in advance are strongly suggested.

Date: Monday, July 31, 2006

Time: 8:00 PM

Venue: The new Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W.23rd Street, between 7th and 8th Aves. NY, NY

Cover $10 plus 2 drink min.

Reservations: 212-367-9000
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:28 AM
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Tuesday, July 18, 2006
"They're trying to bring Lebanon to its knees"
I interviewed this woman about four years ago for the work I was doing on Arab identity post-9/11. She's in Lebanon right now and these are the thoughts running through her head:

I have started coughing, but I don't know why. I am not sick. I don't have a cold. I think it's a reaction I'm having to stress. My body feels weak. My mouth is always dry, no matter how much water I drink. And I'm afraid to drink too much water because I don't want it to run out!

Last night was probably the most frightful night I have ever experienced in my whole entire life. I was so tired and exhausted... have not slept in days. When there is finally a quiet moment, the tension in my stomach and heart prevents me from falling asleep.

Last night we counted at least 15 bombs falling into Dahiyeh (Beirut Suburbs).. and these were just the ones we heard. At some point during the night, I said to myself that if I didn't at least try to get some sleep that I was going to go crazy from fatigue; and that that was what was going to kill me. Haven't been able to eat either, so am losing physical strength.

It's all psychological at this point. I know I have to be strong, and I will be, but I can't deny what I'm going through. And I think it's important that people hear about the downside as well as the bravery. So many of us are already working hard to fix things, we are running around Beirut trying to get food and water and medicine to people, we are doing things online, etc,
but it doesn't mean we are not scared, sick or tired.

So, last night amidst the worst shelling we've had so far, I realized that I was not afraid of the noise anymore; how quickly you get used to it. I realized what was hurting the most was the "UNKNOWN". What is going to happen tomorrow? When will this all end? How are we going to start re-building again? Are the refugees going to be ok? How are the people in the south? And why punish a whole country? What is the real plan behind all of this? How much worse is it going to get?

My husband and I have been housing foreign "refugees" helping them to find their way out of the country. Two managed to leave this morning, a German and Swiss. The other two are British and American. The craziest thing is that out of all people, the American embassy has been the LEAST helpful to its citizens here. The phone line to the embassy has been practically out of service. My friend, Amanda, (whom I just met a few days ago, by the way) had to hire a cab to take her to the embassy (which is a ride out of Beirut) and all they could tell her was that they didn't know what they were going to do and to keep checking the website. Only thing she has gotten on the website is that she now knows that there is going to be an evacuation (5 days later), but when it happens, she is going to have to pay for it! Yes, they are saying to their citizens that they are going to bill them for their ride out! Can you believe that?!

Trying to evacuate people has put me under stress. The question is what am I to do if I had the opportunity to leave? Would I leave? What do I do with my friends? My family? My art studio? I have a British passport; I could be evacuated with my husband. But what would happen to my best friend Maya? She has a very rare and bad case of CANCER! I have been taking care of her since she was diagnosed a few months ago and I know that my care for her is what has helped her do so well. Her type of cancer is "untreatable", but ironically, the day the shelling started, her doctor told us her tumors had shrunk! Unbelievable- a true miracle. I can't leave Maya!

What about art work in my studio? What about all my brushes and paints and glitter and books! All my books! Again- the crazy things that cross your mind.

What about our photo albums? All our family pictures? The memories...

What about the doodles I drew on my balcony a few summers ago when I was
suffering from a bad break up?

What about all the love letters I have saved? Letters that document my youth that I wanted to some day give to my daughter.

What about my other best friend? My dog, Tampopo? My beautiful Jack Russel Terrier who has never let me down. Who has always been a source of purity and compassion... Who has eyes of an angle... Dogs are not allowed to evacuate. My American friend Christine is going to have to leave her dog with me; a black pug named Baousi (means Kiss in Arabic). She is heartbroken! She almost didn't want to evacuate. She went to so many embassies to try and register with them and see if they would take her dog. Don't worry Christine, I will take great care of Baousi.

My sister has been volunteering to help the refugees who are being sheltered in public schools. Right now they are calling on Lebanese citizens to help out with money, medicine, food, water, blankets and mattresses. She has been going to people and asking for money and then going out to buy medicines for refugees- her own initiative! My mom has joined in too. a friend has put together a website for accepting donations:

Biggest cynical statement of the day:
Israel has told people to evacuate from the south because they are going to annihilate the south of Lebanon. However, the people can not leave because all the roads have been destroyed/blocked. And yesterday when people did try and leave, the Israelis opened fire on them! A massacre is happening!

Update on the attacks, as of yesterday:
- Israelis have been bombing the south of Lebanon with phosphorus and other chemical bombs.
- Israelis have bombed all ports along the coastline of Lebanon.
- Israelis have bombed all our local army radars and some outposts
- Israelis have bombed/attacked the fire fighting brigade and the Search and Rescue Brigade in the South. Innocent civilian lives were lost. It was a massacre- the buildings were also housing refugees.
- Israelis have continued to bomb the suburb of Beirut, Dahiyeh & Haret Hreik
- Israelis have now killed over 100 civilians and there are several hundreds wounded and they continue to bomb the south
- Israelis have started hitting roads that lead to the mountains. They hit a main one leading to the Shouf.
-Israelis have hit a gas plant in the mountains.

... I can't keep up with what they have hit.

*** Israel has begun to target Lebanese army outposts. They have killed Lebanese soldiers. They are no longer just targeting Hizuballah. They mean to kill all of Lebanon.

The reality:

Israel is trying to bring Lebanon to its knees. Israel is trying to destroy Lebanon and the Lebanese spirit. Israel is trying to turn Lebanese against each other. Israel is trying to turn us into animals scrounging for food, water and shelter. Israel and the United States of America are trying to drag Syria and Iran into this too. They are using Lebanon as bait. Lebanon is stuck in the middle. The Americans and Israelis are trying to launch a regional war!!

Please help in any way you can. Please pass on the message, this email-reprint if you wish. Please tell people what is going on. Please put pressure on your respective governments to step in and do something.

Lebanon is a peaceful country. We are the only country in the region in which people of all religions co-exist peacefully.

It is unbelievable how biased the news is. They are not reporting the real damage being caused. They don¹t report that the Israelis are killing innocent civilians. It seems from this end that all they are focusing on is G8!

Are the Israeli & US government really just trying to wipe us all out?? Well, you can tell them that I¹m not leaving. And there are many of us who are not leaving. We love Lebanon. We love what we have spent our lives building.

Tell them about people like me.. who build culture and tolerance. Who work for peace and understanding. Who work to educate. Who work to promote love and compassion. There are thousands like me here. What about us?

Tell them about people like me, that despite all of this, I have still not learnt to hate. They can take everything from me, but not my dignity. Not my morals and beliefs. They will never never break my spirit.

Tell the Israeli citizens what their government is doing to us. Tell them that violence begets violence. Remind them that Lebanon is their neighbor and that co-existence is possible. How are we going to ever reach an understanding through violence? We were so close... We were so close...

Please stop this brutality!

Still with love,
Zena el-Khalil

By the way, did I mention Maya's tumors are getting smaller?
Did I mention there was a wedding across the street yesterday?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:32 AM
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Monday, July 17, 2006
My brother had dinner with his friend this past weekend who is bordering hysteria. She's Lebanese and her brother is in Beirut at the moment. She's worried about him and angry at the destruction of her country. She feels impotent and is pissed off.

She mentioned to my brother that there are about 25,000 American citizens in Lebanon and the United States is actually charging them to evacuate. I was shocked, but thought it was her anger talking. This morning I read this:

The American embassy is a mess this morning. They would not let anyone inside the embassy; instead, they handed out registration forms and a list of things to bring in a "small bag" in an evacuation. We were told that "hopefully" there would be an evacuation this week, probably to Cyprus, however, they did not know how. To evacuate, it is necessary to pay, but if you don't have enough money, you must sign a promissory note. The rules for who can evacuate are this: American citizens only. If your children are not citizens, they can come, so long as they are minors. Non-American parents who have children (minors) that are American nationals must choose which parent will go with the children and which will stay. Green card holders cannot go. Non-American spouses of American citizens cannot go. Families will be split up.

It's fucked up.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 6:00 PM
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I am just so sick and tired of this piece of shit

Various news agencies are reporting that what US President George W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair thought was a private conversation has accidentally been broadcast at the G8 conference.

The exchange illustrates the close relationship between the two leaders. It also catches Bush, at a time when the FCC is reportedly pouring over tapes of live newscasts for profanity, dropping an angry expletive into an open mic.

The conversation closed when Blair discovered that the mic was on, after the two men had already discussed everything from a gift given by Blair to Bush, to trade deals and the situation in Lebanon.

The off-script moments began with Bush asking the PM casually, "Yo, Blair, how are you doing?"

The two then discussed Bush's willingness to make a statement about trade at G8. "Are you planning to say that here or not?" asked Blair.

"If you want me to," Bush replied. Bush also gave the Prime Minister short instructions to German leader Angela Merkel. "Tell her to call 'em," Bush said. "Tell her to put him on--them on the spot."

The conversation then turned to a gift from the Prime Minister to the President. "It's awfully thoughtful of you," Bush remarked. "It's a pleasure," was Blair's reply, before Bush gushed, "I know you picked it out yourself."

The much-reported expletive came when conversation turned to the situation in Lebanon and Israel. "You see," said the President. "The ironic thing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over."

Though it is unclear exactly who they were speaking about, the two had a curious exchange about another diplomat. "He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes the right way--" began Blair.

"Yeah, yeah," observed Bush. "He is sweet."

"He is honey," was Blair's reply.

After moving conversation through the situation involving Syria, Israel and Lebanon, Bush stated, "We are not blaming the Lebanese government."

At that point, Prime Minister Blair noticed something was afoot. "Is this--?" he asked, tapping the open microphone, which was promptly cut.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 5:50 PM
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Saturday, July 15, 2006
Ode to Beirut
I'm not going to comment on the shit happening over there because I'm tired of it.

They put up road-blocks
they dimmed all the signs
they planted cannons
they mined the squares
where are you love
after you we became
the love that screams
we became the distances.

For the happy days we longed
the days of staying up on the road
the long walks
the rendezvous at the old restaurant.

O love of Beirut
O love of days
They will come back Beirut
the days will come back.

It is the second summer
the moon is broken
is it true you may forget me
my defeated love
I went back to my house
my house I didn't find
only smoke and twisted beams
no rose and no fence.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:29 PM
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I was in rage last week.

I couldn't stand my classmates. Everytime I would hear a fellow classmate say "I axed my students" I found myself wishing I owned a Mary Poppins bag where I could just reach in, pull out an ax, and chop his/her head off. Really. I fantasized about doing that.

I couldn't stand my boyfriend. I can't begin to tell you how many times I jumped down his throat everytime he said something, poor guy. Arguments out of left field.

The class I was taking last week was on learning disabilities. On Wednesday, the teacher mentioned that women who become pregnant under the age of 16 and over the age of 40 have a higher chance of having a child with disabilities. Then she added, "women who have their first child after 30 also have a higher chance of having a disabled child". My antenna sprung when I heard her say this. I suppose there is some scientific rationale behind it (hormones, etc), but I know for a fact that there are a lot of other factors to consider and a statement like that cannot be uttered around me without the person backing it up (I ALWAYS need proof). I asked her for the studies that mention her little "fact" and she couldn't cite any. So I ignored her for the rest of the class. People talking out of their assholes piss me off.

So that evening when I talked to R I mentioned what the teacher said and how chaotic the class became after her statement. Now, the boyfriend, whenever I mention anything about babies and age, always tries to reassure me that I'm young and healthy. "You shouldn't be thinking about these things". He's afraid that I'm going to start pressuring him re: marriage, babies, etc, and always tries to steer the conversation to a happy place. His best friend's girlfriend recently broke up with him because she had just turned 31 and told him that she was ready for marriage and babies and that if he weren't ready she'd be out. So she left. The boyfriend is always on alert whenever baby talk or marriage talk comes up. Silly little man.

Anyway, I tell him what the teacher said and was ready to go into a tirade about how other factors MUST be considered when he says, "I know a lot of women who have their first children when their in their 30s...don't worry about that. You're young, you're healthy, you take care of yourself, so it's not something to worry over".

Uff. I was just trying to have a normal conversation with him. Wanted to vent about my classes. The thing is that I'm NOT on the baby track. I'd love to have children and although I just turned 30 I'm okay about not having any just now. I'm not in a rush for anything in my quite content with the pace of life at the moment.

So I start getting angry and tell him he doesn't know anything; that it's a scientific fact that women who have their first child at 30 are more likely to have disabled children. I didn't believe it myself and couldn't believe that I was actually saying it to him, but I was just so angry that he tried to "calm" me down, that I started arguing AGAINST my own point of view.

We argue about this for a little bit and then he says, "You know, I believe that if you just put your faith in God and..."

I stopped him right there.

"R, God has nothing to do with this."

"Just let me finish, if you just put your faith in God..."

"BUT GOD HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. What if I didn't have faith in God? Does that mean He'll make my child disabled? God has nothing to do with this."

"Christ, S, I'm just saying that if you put your faith in God..."


"...AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, you'll be fine. Will you just let me finish a sentence??! Have faith in God and take care of yourself."

"NO, because God has nothing to do with this. I know what you're trying to say. It's like a hadith the prophet said, 'Trust in God but tie up your camel'. [At this point I had to go off on a tangent to explain to him what a hadith was, though I've explained it about a million and three times]. I get it. But how is faith in God going to prevent someone from having a disabled child? God does not punish people for not having faith in Him and will certainly not create disabled children just because their parents have no faith."

"So what, S, are you an atheist now?"

"No, I'm not an atheist, but people have got to stop thinking that their lives will be better if only they have more faith. Believe in God, be spiritual, do the works. But STOP bringing God into everything like this".

Poor guy. He didn't really deserve me jumping down his throat like that, but I was raging. I couldn't understand why until I looked at the calendar and realized the date:

When I was younger my PMS manifested itself in tears. I would cry, and cry, and cry at the tiniest of things. I stepped on an ant once and cried for hours. If someone said the slightest thing not to my liking--tears would flow down my face.

Now my PMS manifests itself through rage and irritation. I become NASTY. I bite your head off for the slightest transgression. I have no patience.

Every once in a while I get the sad PMS or the despair PMS, but have recently been afflicted with the rage. I need to lock myself in a room away from people for that week.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:53 PM
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Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Silence is Golden, part 1
Some silences never need to be filled. Really. For the past two days the sounds of silence in my world have been disrupted by the shittiest of conversations and I am SO fed up with it.

I'm taking a handful of graduate courses this summer in education for licensure. They're intensive classes, from 8-4, so you're basically stuck with the same people for seven hours (thank GOD for lunch). I was actually looking forward to this. I thought it would allow me to meet interesting teachers and pick their brains. It was also a chance for me to be on the other end of the stick for while (the teacher becomes the student). But from the moment the course started I've been wanting to do nothing but poke someone in the eye with my pen.

All the "students" are full-time teachers. Adults. Years of teaching in the system. And for the first time I can actually see WHY kids want to drop out of school. These people are the most uninteresting individuals I've met in my entire life. No one has any kind of substance or even sense. I can't understand how a teacher, with years of experience, with a Masters degree, can't even follow the thread of a conversation. Are these the actual people raising NYC kids???? God help us all. One teacher keeps saying "ax" all the time ("I axed my student if he did his homework"...AX is my pet peeve. I cringe when I hear "ax"). Another teacher says "analys" when she means to say "analysis". And the professor herself keeps saying "statics" for "statistics". The conversations are bland and no one seems to be able to answer questions. They speak, believe you me, but it's as if they didn't understand the question. I sit in shock at these people who lack comprehension skills yet are the ones who are supposed to be imparting this skill to our youth.

Anyway, after we came back from lunch today we were sitting at our table. It was silent. None of us were talking. So the two women next to me started talking shop. Is there really no other way for people to relate to each other?? I swear, if I hear one more story about how awful your principal is or how little Johnny cursed you out I'm just going to die. Talk about the fucking weather!!! Stop repeating yourselves like this. I have heard the same stories repeated VERBATIM for the past two days. And the only reason they're talking to each other is because they're so uncomfortable with the silence. It's not a big deal to sit in silence.

Silence is golden. I should tattoo that on my forehead for tomorrow.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:45 PM
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Silence is Golden, part II

SO I come home from school and start doing some work on the computer. My aunt is having some family drama so she's staying with us for the moment. Not my favorite aunt. Not the smartest one either.

So I'm working. She's sitting in the living room and I see her fidget. It's apparent that the silence is making her uncomfortable and I was hoping she'd keep her trap shut long enough for me to be able to finish my work. My wish didn't come true.

She asks me why I think Zidane buttheaded that Italian and I told her that he was probably called a terrorist.

"Still, he needs to control himself. But what can you expect from an Arab. All Arab men are animals."

I tell her that that's not true and blanket statements like that are a little ignorant. I give her examples, my father, my brother, her son, my ex-fiance etc. She continues to insist that all Arab men are animals and then said it was just in their nature.

Me: "Don't say that to me. I don't believe in that nature crap"

Her: "What do you mean you don't believe in it? It's biology. It's genetic. All Arab men are violent and animals. It's in their blood".

I ask her again to stop saying that but she keeps insisting. She tells me about a kitten she adopted from the streets of Egypt a couple of years ago. She brought kitty to this country and told me that she'd never seen such an aggressive cat. "It's in the nature of the Egyptians". What the fuck was the only phrase I was able to form in my head to that ridiculous statement. Aggressive Egyptian cats.

Me: "So M, why did you marry an Egyptian if you know this about their nature?"

Her: "Ya3ni eh why did I marry an Egyptian? Who else was I supposed to marry, a Hindi?"

Me: "Sure. If you think all Arab men are dogs, why not marry a Hindi?"

She shot me a dirty look and started bringing up the nature thing again in an effort to "educate" my feeble mind.

Me: "So then you're telling me that we are the way we are because everything is genetic?"

Her: "Of course ya S"

Me: "Fine. So then homosexuality cannot be a sin."

Her face cringed at the term "homosexuality" and said that of course it's a sin.

Me: "How can it be a sin if it's genetic?"

Her: "It's abnormal! It's a sickness!"

Me: "Okay, I get it, but if it's genetic it must mean that God created it that way; that one has no choice but to be gay. Are you trying to say that God made a mistake?"

Her: "Astaghfarullah! What are you saying?!"

Me: "I'm not saying anything. You're telling me that people are the way they are because they're born that way. So homosexuality must be something God created. So then it cannot be a sin. Unless God is wrong of course. Is God wrong?"

She stared at me for a bit, probably wishing she had left the uncomfortable silence silent instead of getting into this debate with me.

Her: "No, of course not. It's just a sickness. Bas nature, S. El nature is strong. Ya3ni bossi 3al Aspan (I mean, look at the Spanish)..."

Me: "M, stop. Don't even go there"

Her: "What? El Aspan, especially the women..."

I'm getting aggravated and I cut her off before she says something that's really going to piss me off.

Me: "I'm serious. I don't want to hear what you're going to say because it's bullshit (I said the actual word). 95% of my friends are Spanish and they're the nicest, most incredible people you'll ever meet in your life. My friends are my family, the women who you were about to curse are the greatest women on the planet, the greatest women you'll ever encounter."

Her: "But..."

Me: "No but. I refuse to hear what you want to say. I don't want to hear anything about nature, about the Spanish, about Egyptians, or cats".

She stayed quiet and I was afraid I had overstepped my boundaries, but you know what? I didn't care. My parents raised me to be a decent woman who stands up to injustice and sheer stupidity. She didn't continue the conversation and just walked away. I felt slightly guilty (I hate hurting people's feelings) but there was no other way for this conversation to go.

The blacks (el sood) must have improved ten-fold in Jersey...I can't believe she skipped them and directly attacked el Aspan.

Silence. She should've just maintained its state. (It's a precious gift, Herlock!! ;)
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:37 PM
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Have any of you men ever tweaked each others nipples?
I just LOVE the stories coming out.


Alex Hayes, London correspondent for French sports newspaper L'Equipe, said: "On that day, with his mother being unwell, it wasn't a clever thing, or the right thing to say." The clash that ended Zidane's glittering career in disgrace came after Materazzi tweaked his NIPPLE.

Top lip-reader Marianne Frere revealed the Italian told Zidane - who understands the language after playing for Juventus - a high ball was "not for feccia like you".

Feccia is an Italian insult meaning scum or s**t.

Zidane smiled at Materazzi as he walked away. But there was another exchange, Zidane turned and floored him with a butt to the chest. The lip-reader claimed the Italian had said: "We all know you are the son of a terrorist whore."

He added: "Viffanculo". (f*** off). A source close to the Italian squad claimed that after twisting Zidane's nipple, Materazzi asked him: "What, don't you like it?" The French captain replied: "A bit too hard to turn me on."

But Materazzi shouted: "Well, I did it that way because I know that's how your mother likes it."
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:41 AM
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Monday, July 10, 2006
Competing Theories
An insult about Zinedine Zidane's sister from Marco Materazzi is understood to have provoked the Frenchman's extraordinary headbutt for which he was sent off in Sunday's World Cup final. The Italian was also forced yesterday to deny he called Zidane, whose parents are Algerian immigrants, a " dirty terrorist".

While Zidane is expected to clear up the debate within the next week by revealing what was said to him at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Sunday the clues are now pointing towards a remark about the Frenchman's sister, Lila. It was a confrontation that began with Materazzi grabbing Zidane's shirt.

It is alleged that Zidane responded by sarcastically telling Materazzi that he could have his shirt as a souvenir at the end of the match. The Italian is alleged to have responded by saying that Zidane could keep it for his sister and then made an extremely derogatory comment about her that version is backed up by lip-readers from the Brazilian TV channel Globo. They claim Materazzi called her a "prostitute".

Materazzi attempted to head off any controversy yesterday by releasing an official statement with the blessing of the Italian football federation after he was accused of making the "dirty terrorist" remark by an anti-racism group in Italy. The SOS Racism group said "very well informed sources from the world of football" had told it that Materazzi had called Zidane a "dirty terrorist".

Materazzi said: "It is absolutely not true, I did not call him a terrorist. I'm ignorant. I don't even know what the word means."
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:34 PM
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Sunday, July 09, 2006
World Cup 2006
This is the first World Cup in which I've been so heavily invested.

Four years ago the man I was dating cheated on me. Badly. That in itself wouldn't have devastated me, but my roommate (who I had trusted with my life at one point) knew and never told me. Kinda killed the World Cup fever.

Eight years ago I lived in Egypt and came to NY for the summer. I was so happy to be here that I wasn't heavily invested in anything that required me to be in one place for at least 90 minutes.

Twelve years ago, the day after graduating high school, I was exiled by my mother to spend an unspecified amount of time in Egypt. She had found out that I was dating and was desperate to protect me. It was one of the worst summers (time) of my life and the World Cup was not something that I had the energy to invest in.

Sixteen years ago I was too young to really appreciate the World Cup, and had lost interest after Egypt was out. I was spending the summer in Egypt and remember the streets being eerily quiet.

This year, I watched nearly every game. Took days off work. Rearranged my schedule. The month revolved around the World Cup.

I went to a bar today with a couple of friends to catch the game, an Irish pub. Every single bar in the city was crowded and we figured the Irish pub might be fairly empty. Totally mistaken. The bar was filled with both French fans and Italian fans, tensions running HIGH for two hours. I was getting aggravated and started yelling at the French fans at one point after one of them said something stupid. I couldn't believe how angry I got, how personal I was taking it all.

During the penalty kicks my heart didn't stop pounding. I was digging my fingernails into my palm, I couldn't breathe. And when Italy won, I jumped, screamed, and cried. I CRIED! I never thought it was possible! I always make fun of people like this; people who take games so seriously, where games can actually affect your mood. But yours truly had tears, real tears. And I will never forget this feeling, this feeling of pure euphoria, a natural high.

What I'm going to do for the next four years is beyond me...
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:41 PM
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Sights and Sounds from Little Italy
Because words will never be able to adequately explain the f*cking euphoria.

Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:34 PM
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The Lion of Egypt in Central Park
Hakim's concert was yesterday and I don't care what people say, the man is an incredibly charismatic entertainer. I've often hated his crass, vulgar music. I remember how disgusted I was when "Eh el beheisal da" came out years ago. I was living in Egypt at the time and had to endure countless of sing-songy catcalls from the lowlives on the streets. The song would blast from broken down taxis and always make me cringe. Hakim's core audience in Egypt were the kind of people I would never find myself sharing a cup of tea with.

But yesterday at Central Park he rocked my world! It was just a FUN place to be on a Saturday afternoon. The crowd was as diverse as it could get; FOBs (Fresh of the Boaters), educated and professional Arab-Americans, the occasional white person who just happened to be walking past the field and heard wild and loud music, the hip-hip crowd that came to see the opening act, the good, the bad, the ugly. I suppose this is why the concert was so didn't have just one stereotypical group of fans, you had a whole gamut. (Look at the can even see two Jewish men...)

Hakim's opening act was a young (FOURTEEN!!!!) girl who people say will be the next Alicia Keys. She was good, but after standing in the sun for about an hour, we were getting quite restless for the show to start. FINALLY, after sweating in places I never knew was possible, Hakim's peoples start introducing him:

My friend, N, was supposed to meet me at the Park and came just as the man was speaking. When she finally found me in the crowd, she said, "It was so nice to hear Arabic on a loudspeaker without it being a call for terror!!"

The crowd at this point is TOO excited, you can feel their anticipation, and then one person catches a glimpse of Hakim coming out of trailer and pandemonium breaks loose. (Now, as much as I enjoyed this concert, there's no way I'd ever really go crazy over seeing Hakim. This is where me and the rest of audience chose to part ways). Hakim's arrival on stage resulted in the MAN standing next to me to throw his hands up in the air and smack me on the face. He apologized, though I'm not sure how genuine his apology was.

And I have to admit, Hakim moves better than a lot of bellydancers I know:

Hakim getting the crowd to sing along:

For me, the most exciting part of the concert, the most awesome, the one I'll remember the most, is when Hakim was given a Dominican flag to wave across the stage! Some of you may not know about my affinity with the Dominican Republic, but let's just say that I love it with a passion that I won't be able to describe. At least not know, since I have to get ready in a little bit to go catch the Italy-France game.

It was just great seeing him do that! To see the Egyptian and Dominican flag two identities existing side by was beautiful.

After the concert we ran to buy his CD and stood on line to get his autograph. We waited for at least 30 minutes, but didn't move from the line. I mean, if we just hung out for three hours in Central Park, what's another 30 minutes? After the jumping and bumping on stage I was hoping that he would at least change his shirt before greeting his fans (thank God he did).

When my turn came I told him he was awesome and he said that I was the awesome one and kissed me on the cheek. I asked him to sign this for you, Francy:

After he signed her CD I made him sign my arm. No, I'm not a groupie, I just thought it would be a fun thing to do. So I gave him my arm and said "sign here". He looked at me to see if I were serious, started laughing, then signed it.

My friends and I trekked to the Upper West Side afterwards to catch a bite to eat and I was the most popular in our group. Why?? I was wearing an ITALIA shirt. I got dirty looks from some people (the French and all their haters I tell you), sneers from others (Brazilians), and HAPPY, EXCITED looks from the Italians! I had to wash the shirt when I got home so I could wear it again today.

Speaking of today...I guess I better wrap this up so I can find some room at the bar we're heading to to watch the game. I know I was told never to put my all my hopes on one team and although I told Toots I wasn't going to do that, I want Italy, with all my heart and soul, to win. If they lose I will be sorely unhappy. I would like for Zizou to get one goal, just cuz it's his last game and because he deserves it, but would like Italy to get two. For me, that would be the perfect score.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:58 AM
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Tuesday, July 04, 2006
After the Brazil loss I was told by Toots that my biggest mistake was to actually fall so much in love with a team that infallibility seemed to be an impossibility. It's okay to be loyal, but you've got to at least leave room for the possibility that they might fail. Otherwise you'll be destroyed, as I can personally affirm when Brazil lost (after playing so poorly).

So when Italy played today I was totally cool. I was hoping they'd win, but resigned myself to the fact that they might not and so watched the game with a certain aloofness. I did not want to be devastated again. Once was enough. SO WHEN THEY ACTUALLY SCORED IN THE LAST FEW MINUTES, ADRENALIN STARTED FLOWING ALL OVER AND I WAS SO OVERJOYED THAT I THREW MY CUP OF WATER INTO THE AIR AND STARTED SCREAMING LIKE A BANSHEE! Noises I had never made before were made. AND WHEN THEY SCORED AGAIN I DIDN'T NOW WHETHER MY HEART WOULD ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO TAKE THE SHEER JOY and I just couldn't stop screaming and actually jumping up and down for joy!

Nick Hornby in Fever Pitch (he's the only writer who's actually had the ability to make me laugh out loud) wrote about how he felt when his team unexpectedly won the Cup Final in 1979. This is exactly how I feel right now.

"I was high up on the terraces with other Arsenal fans; I sat down, too dizzy with pain and anger and frustration to be on my feet any longer. I KNEW that it was only a game, that worse things happened at sea, that people were starving in Africa, that there might be a nuclear holocaust withing the next few months; I knew that the score was still 2-2, for heaven's sake, and that there was a chance that Arsenal could somehow find a way out of the mire. But none of this knowledge could help me. I had been but five minutes away from fulfilling the only fully formed ambition I had ever consciously held since the age of eleven; and if people are allowed to grieve when they are passed over for promotion, or when they fail to win an Oscar, or when their novel is rejected by every publisher in London-and our culture allows them to do, even though these people may only have dreamed these dreams fora couple of years, rather than the decade, the HALF-LIFETIME, that I had been dreaming mine-then I was bloody well entitled to sit down on a lump of concrete for two minutes and try to blink back tears.

And it really was for only two minutes. When the game restarted, Liam Brady took the ball deep into the United half. I was watching this, but not SEEING it. When Alan Sunderland got his foot to the ball, poked it in, right into the goal in front of us, and I was shouting not "Yes" or Goal" or any of the other noises that customarily come to my throat at these times but just a noise, "AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH", a noise born of utter joy and stunned disbelief...."

That's the noise that came out of my mouth. So this is what utter joy feels like!
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 6:08 PM
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Cosita Rica
Ok, so here's a link to my "student" (it feels weird referring to man in his 30s as my student). After much research on the internet (after all, it's a holiday and all I'm doing right now is waiting for the game to begin) I have found a link that'll do him justice. I suppose I can now abandon the lesson ruse I was plannning.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 1:32 PM
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Don't people realize that this is my last week at work and that I have limited time to spend with the greatest looking man on the planet????? Don't people get it???? I've been looking forward to having this day off since last week so I could watch the World Cup without worrying about missing work and now I can't even think about soccer. WHO CARES? There are more important things in life. Damn this day off.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:52 AM
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So I'm subbing for one of the other teachers at the academy this week, my final week :( (I had to give my resignation last week so I could spend the summer taking some graduate courses in education).

I'm usually not a morning person and made it to class one minute before start time. This was a total beginner class; you know, the kind where you have to use baby words and gestures to get someone to understand you. I started class by asking the students to tell each other what they did over the weekend. Five minutes into it, the most gorgeous, delectable, mouthwatering, palpable, succulent, lip-smacking, finger-licking, melt-in-your-mouth kind of guy walks into the class and sits in the seat near my desk. If this were a cartoon, my jaw would've dropped to the ground, drool dribbling down, and hearts would've been twirling in the background to an orchestra of violins. GOD ALMIGHTY HE WAS FINE.

I was momentarily incapacitated as my brain tried to process the whole scene before being able to return to professional mode. I have to admit, I was pretty good. I was totally professional even though fireworks were going off inside my body.

His English is quite weak and so when I would explain something to him he'd just look at me, smile, look deeply into my eyes (seriously...DEEPLY...our eyes must have locked seven times throughout the entire class) and say, "I no understand" in a Spanish accent that should be illegal.

But again, professionalism prevailed. His phone rang once in class so he quickly ran out to pick it up. The second time it went off in class and he tried to get up I made him sit back down, confiscated the phone, and turned it off. Told him he could get it back at the end of class. See, I don't play favorites.

In the afternoon I was in the teacher's lounge making photocopies while the assistant academic coordinator was having lunch. I told him that I had the finest specimen of man ever created in the morning class and told him how lucky the regular teacher must be.

"Oh, you mean that Colombian soap opera star?"

WHAT?? He's an actor? In telenovelas??? Christ, no wonder he's gorgeous. NO WONDER HE LOOKED AT ME SO INTENTLY! If any of you have ever watched a Spanish soap opera you'll know exactly the kind of look I'm referring to; that dramatic, sultry look. He must be here trying to learn English to break into the American market.

So of course as soon as I got home I googled him and you know what? The pics on the web do NO JUSTICE whatsoever to this man. I MUST figure out how to take his picture in class! I'm thinking of creating a lesson based on creating your own profile using simple adjectives. I'd take every student's picture, explaining that they would create their own personal ad that we could put up on the board.

Yes, I know the school is not my own personal playground, but I cannot leave this week without a memento. A triple x-rated one would be ideal ;) but probably not one I'd be able to share with you on this blog!
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 12:12 AM
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Saturday, July 01, 2006
Shattered dreams

Although I have always enjoyed watching soccer games, I've never really been loyal to one particular team. I've watched about six World Cups so far my entire life and have always enjoyed the international-ness of the whole production. The last time I was loyal to any one team was back in 1990 when Egypt was playing (this is before I sought a divorce from Egypt).

I was devoted to the Brazilians in this World Cup. I was torn in the beginning, not sure who was going to get my loyalty. After the Italy debacle (I still don't want to talk about it) I started veering towards Brazil until I became a real, hardcore fan. I wanted them to win, I NEEDED them to win.

And so now, for the first time in my life, I actually know what it feels to have your heart shattered when your team loses. When my ex-fiance's team lost in a very important soccer match in Egypt years ago, he literally stopped talking to me for hours. I had never seen him in a bad mood before and thought his attitude was ridiculous. I left him alone, however, regardless of how stupid I thought he was being.

And now here we are. My bad mood from earlier has now been exacerbated and I feel empty inside. Mama never told me there'd be days like this. *sigh*
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 4:34 PM
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A Cacophony of Kaka
I'm going to chop my head open with a fine ax and poke at my brain with the sharpest ice pick until I can feel nothing anymore. I am now officially surrounded by Egyptians. My next door neighbor's kids bought the house right next door to mine and so now there are three connected homes on one block occupied by Egyptians.

My next door neighbor on the right is currently blasting some hickish shit that only taxi drivers in Egypt can be excused for listening to, my father upstairs is taking a nap and is falling asleep to the Koran, my mother is watching her soap on the satellite dish while she's waiting for the next match to begin, and my next door neighbor on the left is listening to some Arabic music that I really can't describe. There are two children running in and out of the three homes, yelling and screaming about the molokhia being ready. My ears are going to start bleeding in another second.

And I am ready to DIE. DIE. DIE. I can't take it. And why do I stay? Why don't I just go out? It's a lovely Saturday.

I can't leave the house because the Brazil-France game is about to start in minutes and I've become such an addict that I'm willing to risk permanent mental retardation.

At least Kaka is playing. Makes the rest of the kaka seem worthwhile.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 2:56 PM
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Who: Carmen

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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