free stats Carmen's Web: October 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Let's Talk About Sex

Here's how my Advisory class went today:

Me: "Okay ladies, let's settle down. We have a lot to discuss today since last week you were whining, crying, and wasting time. Today we are going to talk about sex."

Stunned silence, immediately followed by:

"Miiiiiiiiissssssss, I don't wanna talk about sex!!!!"


"But Miss, this is embarrassing!"

"MISS!!! We can't talk about this! We're girls! Boys talk about sex all the time, but we can't!"

I hated hearing that. Sex is not something girls talk about. It's just something that's done to them apparently.

Me: "Ladies, sex is on our agenda today. While I don't want any of you having sex now or anytime soon, you need to know this information so you can make informed decisions in the future. If only the boys know things, and I guarantee you that everything they know is WRONG, you will be at a disadvantage. I am here as a trusted adult who will try to answer all your questions as honestly as possible. Who else are you going to be able to go to for real answers? I know this is a very personal topic, and we are not going to go into your lives. This is a general discussion about sex."

I then put the girls at different tables, gave them small sheets of paper, and told them that they could to write any question in the world they had about sex anonymously. They'd then throw the papers into a bag and I'd answer them as much as I could.

I have to admit I myself did not want to have this conversation. As they were writing and stuffing the bag with their questions, I was getting very nervous. While I've never shied away from sexual talk, I've never had to sit in a room with ten teenage girls to talk about the birds and the bees.

I started our discussion by asking them what they thought sex was. One of the major problems we've got with teenagers in NYC right now is the fact that the boys have managed to convince the girls that oral sex is NOT sex. The boys have also managed to convince girls that it's not sex if they just put the head of their penis into their vagina. That would preserve virginity, they say, so it's not sex. And they wouldn't be able to get pregnant.

So we went through a brief definition of what sex is and is not and I introduced them to Monica Lewinsky and the infamous blow job. They were SHOCKED to know that a president of the United States was involved in such a scandal!

My poor girls. Everytime I said the word "oral sex" their faces turned 342 different shades of red.

Here are some of the questions they threw in the bag:
  • Why do boys like to have their thingies sucked?
  • How can you get pregnant? Be specific please.
  • Can a girl get pregnant if she has sex standing up?
  • Can you get pregnant if you have sex when you have your period?
  • How do gay people have sex?
  • Does it hurt the first time you have sex?
  • Does it hurt more for girls or boys to have sex for the first time?
  • Why do boys get horny?
  • Why do boys like to masturbate?
  • Why do we have to suck boys' thingies?
  • Why do boys like touching girls' bodies?
  • What is a wet dream?
  • Why do people have sex before marriage?
  • Why are boys stupid?
  • What happens if a girl never has sex?
  • What happens if a girl has sex everyday?
  • What happens if a girl has sex with many different people?
  • Is it true that a boy can die from blue balls?
Now, this is just a SHORT collection of the questions in that bag. We managed to get through only three questions in our hour together. We could not go through one question without the girls giggling, turning red, and hiding their faces. When I said the word "ejaculation" I thought they were going to drop dead. They were SO uncomfortable, but were also genuinely curious about the answers.

Even though they pretended like they didn't want to listen you could see the antennas come up, especially when we were talking about pregnancy. It was so hard and so uncomfortable talking to these ladies about pre-cum. I myself didn't learn about pre-cum till my 20s. I've got some male friends who still have no idea what it is. Granted the chances of getting pregnant from pre-cum are lower than ejaculation, but it's still something they need to know. Especially since boys will try to convince them that it's not so important to use a condom until they're almost about to "burst".

So, my ladies are absolutely disgusted by oral sex. I've never seen a group so grossed out by something. And I guess it makes sense. A 14 year old girl can never see the appeal of something that sounds so repulsive; putting a boy's thingie in your mouth??? The same thingie they use to pee with???? GROSS.

You wanna know what the boys did in their Advisory class? Our boys made balloons out of the condoms and stuck them around the school. I told my girls that when they are embarrassed, they blush and giggle. When boys are embarrassed, they act stupid.

Next week I bring in pictures of the vagina so the girls can know what their hidden parts look like.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 5:12 PM
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Herlock, where you be at?
I subscribe to the feeds of some blogs that I read regularly and was surprised not so long ago when I received a published feed from Herlock that talked about poker. I couldn't understand a word of it. I thought Herlock was just trying to be funny, but it's obvious that his blog has been usurped.

Herlock, wherefore art thou?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:42 AM
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Monday, October 30, 2006
Trick or Treat
I hated Halloween when I was growing up. I thought it was a pointless holiday that people took advantage of to be and act stupid. And it was never fun for me.

For starters, my mother always dressed me in these "ethnic" costumes. Ethnic costumes, as interpreted by my mother, were anything that covered your body from head to toe, no skin showing, and incredibly loose. One year I wore a galabeya two sizes larger than me, another year she put me in a gypsy outfit which I was actually looking forward to until I saw what she was attempting to put me in. The sad thing is that she really thought I looked good. She used to work so hard trying to put an outfit together just to make me happy. I never had the heart to tell her that I thought I looked like an ass.

You gotta give her credit for trying to adopt this whole Halloween thing though. Why would a woman who just moved from Egypt even care to take her kids from door to door to solicit candy from strangers?

I always wanted to wear something fun for Halloween. Was never able to until last year when I dressed up as a THAT was a Halloween outfit! I had a lot of fun arresting people that day!

Halloween was also awful because scary movies terrified me. I could not sleep for weeks after I watched Nightmare on Elm Street for the first time. I couldn't even go to the bathroom. I'd always force my poor brother to stand guard outside the bathroom door, which I would never close. I was unable to be alone for even a millisecond. That movie did me in and as a result I never watched the other "classic" horror flicks. I was in my 20s before I saw The Omen or even bothered to meet with Jason or Michael Myers (was that his name??) It's silly, yes, but Freddy Krueger ruined my life.

To this day I cannot watch a scary movie by myself. And God HELP the person sitting with me watching these movies. They will be beaten and abused because Carmen likes to hit people when she's scared. Once, when I was watching The Ring with my ex, I dug my nails so deep into his palm that he nearly bled. And I was never able to see what the "ghost" looked like in that movie; when they were about to show her face, I hid my face in his chest. Yes. I'm a baby.

Number one reason why Halloween sucks? The eggs and shaving cream that teenagers are so fond of. When I was in high school half the school would take the day off. They were terrified of getting egged and they had good reason to. The hooligans were out in full force on that day. My mother would never allow me to take the day off, so I used to have to maneuver my way to school. Thankfully, I never got hit. This evening on my way to the gym I passed by the grocery store and saw this sign.

When I went to high school, eggs and shaving cream were the worst that could happen to us. Nowadays Halloween is the day when the highest amount of crimes happen and I worry for my kids. While my high schoolers are little devils, they're harmless for the most part. I worry for them from the other local high schools, one of which is the worst school in New York City. Let's just hope tomorrow comes and goes without hell breaking loose.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:27 PM
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Saturday, October 28, 2006
A Eid of Sexual Assault
When Forsooth wrote her posts about how revolting it is to live through a Ramadan where men thought it was acceptable to demean women some people seemed to think that she was being too harsh. Let the women dress more appropriately, especially during the holy month when the men are trying hard to be pious. She seemed to be looking forward to Eid, when everyone would be able to sin openly in public again and she and her fellow countrywomen wouldn't have to deal with the bullshit of being harassed because they own a pair of tits.

I hate reading accounts like that. I hate knowing that Egypt has not only NOT gotten better with regards to how it treats its women in the streets, but that it's gotten a hundred times worse. It's one of the reasons I left Cairo eight years ago. I hated not being able to walk in the streets. I hated that in order for me to avoid the shitty comments or avoid being inappropriately touched I'd have to have to maneuver my way through the city in a car; basically playing a game of dodge ball and hoping not to be hit. I wasn't allowed to exist in Egypt and I wasn't about to negotiate my existence there by trying to make the best of a really bad thing.

This is unacceptable. Women being attacked like this is UNACCEPTABLE. I don't care what the underlying causes are. The academic in me might be able to put it all in context, but the woman in me doesn't give a shit how sexually frustrated people are, how modernity and tradition are reconciling themselves, or how uneducated people have become. I don't care about any of these reasons. Typical apologist crap for what should simply be condemned as fucked up behavior. Are some of the accounts exaggerated? Maybe. But it doesn't make this any less outrageous.

It is entirely unacceptable for men to think that they have the right to demean women like this. This was not about sexual frustration. It is about the total disrespect for women's bodies, their right to exist in the public space, and men's desires to assert their macho behavior. "I am man, hear me roar".

Those of you who have never been sexually groped will never know how disgusting, demoralizing, and depressing it is. You have no idea how disgusted it makes you feel with your body, how hard it is to try to hold back the tears. You have no clue how it feels for some asshole to try to twist your nipples or try to finger you. How enraged you become and then how impotent you feel when you can't do anything about it. People who are offering rationales are ones who have never had to go through this.

Yes, I know that when people are in a mob they stop thinking. And yes I know that this isn't confined to Egypt. Six years ago at the Puerto Rican Day after-Parade a mob of men harassed and sexually assaulted women in Central Park. But this incident is a culmination of the shit that's been happening in Egypt and I can't understand how long this is going to be allowed to go on.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:52 AM
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School Daze
25% of the school year is over! Three-quarters to go and then I won't have to deal with what is slowly turning out to be an incredibly cumbersome job. These kids have totally sucked every last bit of joy I've had for teaching and replaced it with nothing but bitterness. I wake up and have to gather all my strength together in order to be able to just make it through the morning. High school has become a drag all over again.

This week for some reason has been one of the worst weeks at school. It started off fairly well on Monday as I tried to enjoy my Eid, but before I knew it I was hit by a truck:
  • I had a student curse at me in Russian.
  • I made two students cry hysterically when I gave them constructive criticism on their presentations.
  • One student rolled his eyes at me and gave me a "whatever" when I told informed that his attempt at giving me an answer was a good try, but that the answer itself was incorrect.
  • Three of my girls got into a fight over a boy and when I helped them make up by forcing them to hug each other they started bawling about how BFF (best friends for life) they were.
  • Another girl who witnessed these girls cry started crying herself, so I had to go comfort her.
  • One of my classes has been spawned by the devil himself and this week he must have found it necessary to call his minions to rise and raise hell.
We also had parent-teacher conferences this week and while the majority of parents that I met look like they've got firm control of their kids, a handful of them kept rationalizing their kids' behavior. I was ready to beat them over the head.

I'm so drained. Every day seems to just be getting worse and worse and worse. I don't want to have the kind of job where the only thing I have to look forward to are Fridays and where I have gather up the energy to just make it through the day.

The one good thing? I managed yesterday to whip the devil's spawn class into shape. It was a great feeling to hear, at the end of the day, how well-behaved they were in their other classes. I had all the teachers thank me for whatever it was that I did.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:01 AM
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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I was getting off the parkway yesterday on my way to work when my car just up and died on me. No warning, no signal, no engine hiccup. It just stopped running. And then this immense amount of white smoke started coming out from the front of my car. What did I do? I immediately turned my blinkers on and called my father. He told me to hang on tight and drove to my rescue.

I'm no good with cars. I am so car illiterate that I can't name anything other than wheels, trunk, steering wheel. Oh, and glove compartment. I am able to fix every single thing in my house; I installed a shatafa (bidet), I put my IKEA bed and closets together BY MYSELF, and I am a whiz with electronics. I serve as customer support for all my friends who need help with one thing or another, but I have no idea how to even change my tires. Quite embarrassing really.

When I got to work, one of my co-workers asked me why I didn't just call AAA. I told him that my father is AAA and that if I had called anyone else but him I wouldn't have heard the end of it when I got home. "You're such a daughter," my co-worker quipped.

And I really am. I always want my father to come to my rescue, even when I try to be hard and independent. Two years ago when I was living in Barcelona I got really sick, sicker than I've ever been. I'll never, ever forget how I felt during those days. Nerves, bad food, and stress got the best of me. While I was able to take care of myself, that phone call from my parents appeased that little girl in me that's always hated the fact that I've pushed her so far away in order to grow up.

It was really hard for me when we first moved to this country. Besides not knowing a lick of English, we were so dirt poor that we couldn't afford groceries at times. My father had to take several tests before being licensed to work as a doctor, so he made due working odd jobs here and there. At nights and during the weekends I would type up his resume and cover letter. This was pre-computer which meant that each letter had to be painstakingly perfect. Life changed for the better when we finally got a computer and the only thing I had to type up was the address. My father had a 700 page book of hospitals around the country and we wrote to every single department head.

It was a tough job for a nine year old. I was a personal assistant and a babysitter to my brother. Never complained once. As a first-born, I think it satisfied that need in me to nurture and take care of others. Which is something I've been doing my entire life.

While anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I love taking care of people, I'm tired and it's time that I be pampered.

I want someone to dala3ni. Toots and I spent a week once trying to translate that word into English. We went through "spoil", "coddle", "indulge", and a multitude other other words and none of them satisfied us. One day, at three in the morning or so, he woke up with the word "pamper" and we've been using it ever since.

I want someone to take care of ME. I want someone to do sweet things for me. I want to finally be able to sit back and know that I am being nurtured and spoiled. Haven't had that feeling in such a long time.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:14 PM
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Sunday, October 22, 2006
No Eid without Kahk
The only thing that has remained constant since my childhood with regards to Eid is the wonderful home-made cookies that my mother always bakes days before the big celebration. The new clothes have come and gone, the money my brother and I used to receive for Eid is a long distant memory. But the Kahk has always been around. My mom will never buy them from a store. If they're not home-made, they're not allowed to pass our lips.

Every year she gets together with my next door neighbor where they break night making trays and trays of scrumptous, super fattening cookies. It is their major social event, a time to exchange in the friendly gossip of who still needs to get married, who is past their prime in marriage, who is pregnant, who should get pregnant and then they develop appropriate strategies to get all this done. I've never joined them in the cookie baking, though plan to do it one day sans the gossip.

They baked the cookies this year last week, five to six days before Eid. And when my mother finished making them, she hid them from me. I spent three days looking for them to no avail.

Then one day she gave me a box of cookies to give to Toots , warning me that if he didn't receive its entire contents I would be in trouble. I know better than to cross my mother and I had all the intentions in the world to give Toots the cookies, but our plans got cancelled and we didn't have the chance to meet up. I came home with the box of cookies in tow, thinking she would be kind enough to give me some.

So after we broke our fast I asked her if I could have some cookies and she said no. I had to wait till Eid. I threatened that if she didn't give me my own cookies I'd steal a some from Toots' box and the physical fight that ensued over than tiny box was classic! She finally relented and told me that she'll give me my own cookies but I was not to touch Toots' cookies (she spoils him).

She started rummaging through the pots and took out some cookies for me, cursing herself for not kicking me out of the kitchen and therefore revealing her hiding place. I didn't even think to look in the pots for them!!!

Here, however, is the nutritious information on these cookies:

You think they're fattening enough??????????

I've lost exactly 12 & 1/2 pounds since the beginning of Ramadan. I've never lost that much weight in a month. It was unintentional. I would always break fast with some soup, which then made me so full that I'd end up eating much less. I would then work on my lesson plans and by the time I finished them it would be time for bed. A handful of these kahks should get me right back on track.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 4:54 PM
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It's just not my year in sports
Real Madrid: 2
FCB: 0

When the Mets lost the other night I was in such a lousy mood that it carried over to the next day. As I was walking into school some of my students thought it would be fun to tease me, but thought better of it when I gave them a look. They read that teacher was not going to take it favorably.

It was so exciting being at Shea that evening though. The game was out of this world for all the nine innings and the atmosphere was electric. We were loud, we shook the stadium, we high fived each other when Chavez made one of the most amazing catches ever. When they lost in the ninth inning, you could hear a pin drop in Shea. It was quite a depressing moment.

Thankfully, I'm not as invested in FCB as I am in other sports teams (yet) so while their loss tugs at my heart I will be able to shrug it off within hours and hopefully won't take it out on my students tomorrow.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 4:04 PM
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Saturday, October 21, 2006
Waiting for Eid
When I was young my parents always kept my brother and I from school every year for the first day of Eid. They wanted to make sure that we actually commemorated that day, that it had a special meaning in our lives. After all, we weren't part of a culture that celebrated this day and they wanted us to feel rewarded for all our hard work during Ramadan. We had few Muslim friends and no Muslim neighbors (I thank God every day that my parents had enough sense never to move to an Arab neighborhood where a mini-Egypt would have been awaiting me everyday) and I know how much they missed the Eid they were used to back home. Keeping us from school was a way for the day to be special in their lives as well.

I haven't taken a day off of work or school for Eid in the past 10 years. Eid comes and goes and is just another day for me. There was no one to celebrate with at one point, so there was never any reason to take the day off. My brother was off in Boston, my father never took the day off, and my mother never woke up before noon. It didn't seem worth it to take the day off and go off celebrating by yourself.

I miss celebrating. I miss having people to celebrate with. I miss wearing new clothes and having a nice big, special breakfast.

And this is why I'm hoping that Eid is tomorrow. It's a Sunday, which means I wouldn't have to take the day off work, and Toots and I said we'd go play paint ball (where I will shoot his ass down) and race cars at a big boys arcade in Long Island. We'd have a big breakfast , wear new clothes, and enjoy the day.

But, knowing my luck, Eid will probably be on Monday and so our plans will be shot. Sigh.

Regardless of when Eid is, I'm more than ready for it. This Ramadan hasn't been difficult. I think in the entire month I may have gotten three or four headaches and managed to survive pretty well through the rest of it. Which is a huge accomplishment considering the fact that as a teacher I talk a lot. And have recently been yelling a lot.

I'm ready for Eid because although the food hasn't been a problem, my potty mouth has. I've been yelling and cursing at people every single day I'm behind the wheel of my car. I break my fast within the first hour that I'm awake. It's horrible. I've tried controlling myself, but people are awful drivers in the mornings.

I have also been losing my patience much, much quicker recently. I'm not sure whether it's because of the lack of food nourishing my brain or because dealing with teenagers is a job meant for prison wardens. I've become "hard" at work and this hardness has seeped its way into life outside the school.

Anyway, whenever Eid is have a happy one for those of you who are celebrating!
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:02 AM
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Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Lots of luv for the Mets
Apparently I have not learned my lesson. I promised myself never to invest too much emotion in sports teams anymore but I'm sitting at the edge of my seat right now watching the Mets battle their way against elimination. We're doing really well right now and if we can keep the Cardinals from scoring for the next two innings I can actually start breathing. Till tomorrow that is, when it's do or die. The Mets MUST win tonight to stay in the game, and they MUST win tomorrow if they're to make it to the World Series.

I was never into sports. I always understood their appeal but never really watched any games while I was growing up. I would always, ALWAYS watch the World Cup and I remember the year Egypt played in it. I was visiting my grandmother for the summer and I had never seen the streets of Cairo so empty. The entire city practically came to a standstill for those couple of games. I was actually able to walk in the street without getting harassed!

But baseball...I HATED baseball. It made no sense to me. What is this game where grown men hit a ball flying at them at 90 miles an hour? And then proceed to run from base to base. It was stupid. The entire concept was stupid. No one in the world played baseball except for America, a handful of Latin countries, and Japan. So why even care?

Four years ago my now ex, who is a die-hard baseball fan (you'll never meet anyone as dedicated to the game without being obnoxious about it, think the American version of "Fever Pitch"), took me to my first ballgame at a stadium. Someone at his job had given him Yankee tickets and although the ex believes that the Mets are God's gift to baseball, he is not one to turn down tickets to any baseball game.

So we went. And he gave me a play by play that would rival any of those commentators on TV and I found myself becoming enchanted with the game. I always tell him that he took a BIG chance taking me to Yankee Stadium for my first game. I mean, I could've very easily have become a Yankee fan!!!!! It was a huge risk that he took.

Luckily, I have class and common sense and therefore was able to shun the Yankees. The Mets won my heart for two reasons that have nothing to do with their talent or baseball:

1. They play at Shea. Shea stadium is where the Beatles had their first ever American concert. When we first moved to this country, I was obsessed with the Beatles. I had their posters on my wall, owned EVERY SINGLE ALBUM and every single they ever released, watched all their movies, and even attended the annual Beatle-fest that took place at the Hilton in Jersey where I once met James McCartney, brother of Paul.

The Beatles, for me, were the greatest thing since sliced bread. I learned English through their songs and the first song I was able to play well on the piano was "Across the Universe". So any team that played at the house that hosted the Beatles was good enough for me.

2. They're the team of the people. They're also the true underdog. One of my boyfriend's colleagues was recounting to him how, when he was young, he used to go to all the Mets games with his father. The fans at Shea were always blue-collar workers who went with their familes and had a great time. The one time he went to Yankee stadium he said he found himself surrounded by suits and prim and proper behavior. The Yankees have always had a reputation of being stuffy. That is definitely not compatible with my lifestyle.

Top of the 8th and we're still leading, 4-0. I'm afraid to turn the TV off to go to sleep. It'll be an AWFUL morning if I wake up and find out that they lost.


WE WON!!!! It was scary for a moment, but we won in the end!!!
Tonight is going to be a killer...
Am I totally nuts for being willing to pay $150 to get tickets for tonight's game?????
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:13 PM
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The Final Stretch
I always know Ramadan is coming to an end when my aunt calls me from Egypt to demand I behave for Lailat al-Qadr (the night Muslims believe the Quran was revealed).

"I behave every day for Ramadan ya M. I don't need an arbitrary date to be extra good".

"Ya3ni eh 'arbitrary' dah? Stop using those words with me! Ana ba'olik Lailat al-Qadr is special. So just be good. The last ten days ya S, you have no idea how special they are. Just be extra good".

"M, we don't even know when Lailat al-Qadr is. And it would be hypocritical of me to be good for one night just because I think the heavens are open."

"Ya S, esma3i kalami mara fe hayatik! (S, for once in your life just listen to me!). Don't be so difficult please. The ten days, they're just so important. In either case, ana bad3eelik (basically she's trying to intervene on my behalf with God). Don't go to the clubs, don't do the things you shouldn't do".

I could've kept the conversation going for hours and hours. I often like to do this with her because, well, I'm an instigator and like to hear the screech in her voice when she loses her temper but I had a really bad headache that evening. It was one of those migraines that pounds against your eyes. Hours of not eating can do that to you.

"OK, I'll be good. But I want to go on record saying that if one focuses solely on being good for the last ten days of Ramadan then they haven't really been doing Ramadan properly."

"Record eh? Why are you talking about music? Record, record. When was the last time you used a record anyway, don't you people use CDs now?? I'm talking about LAILAT AL-QADR ya S, not music!!"

The lack of food this month has definitely killed off a bunch of braincells in my family.

Thoughts shared by Carmen at 5:54 PM
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Always second to a blond
Twice a week our school has what is called an advisory class. We use this time period to help equip our kids with skills that they'll use throughout life. We hope that we'll help them grow as people and help guide them as they face those typical teenage problems.

I've got the best advisory class in the whole school. They're the dream team of the school and I have NO idea how it was that I was lucky enough to get them. They're a little crazy, but they're lovely girls.

Anyway, today we were talking about body image; what's the perfect body type, what do you wish you looked like, how does society expect us to look. It was a great conversation that I had with my girls and I'm glad to say that none of them have a distorted image of themselves.

During lunch one of the other teachers told me that in his advisory his boys decided that they wanted to vote for the prettiest girls in school. Leave it to the men to turn a talk on body image into a beauty contest...

I came in a high second! Just one vote separated me and number one, a girl their own age (a beautiful blonde girl who all the boys have a crush on). It was a very close race. Nice to know that a 30 year old can still compete with a teenager :)
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 5:28 PM
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Saturday, October 14, 2006
Drrrrty Songs
Exactly fifteen years ago I was shopping at Sam Goody for the most popular song of the year. It was 1991 and "New Jack City" had just been released, along with Color Me Badd's "I Wanna Sex You Up".

This was pre-CD and pre-free music downloads, a time and place where people actually had to pay for their music (a concept totally lost on my iPod carrying students). I remember going to the mall with my mother and conveniently losing her to go buy the single of the song. It was a shared clandestine operation; my brother kept her occupied in Macy's long enough for me to disappear.

We kept that single hidden for as long as we could. It was one of those songs my father forbade us from listening to. Whenever it would come on the radio he'd make us switch the station, if he heard us humming it he'd tell us to cut it out. "I Wanna Sex You Up" was not welcome in our household, which of course made us want to listen to it even more.

At that time, I couldn't understand his hard-ass stance. It was a nice ditty and I was not stupid enough to be influenced by a mere song. I just wanted to hear it. He had done this with other songs and TV shows. I was unable to watch "Seinfeld" till I turned 18 or so because in one episode Elaine was talking about sex.

One day he found the song's sleeve and the lecture I received was neverending. The song was thrown out and my house played nothing but Um Kalsoum for three days in an effort to instill good music sense in our heads. Lucky for them I already liked her. If I hadn't, their well-meaning effort would've produced such a distaste for her.

Fifteen years later I find myself on a subway with my students heading to our first field trip. One girl takes out her iPod and shows me her collection of music.

"Miss S, you wanna hear my favorite song? It's the complete one, not the one with the words taken out".

"You mean 'uncensored'"?

"Yeah, that".

I put on her headphones and look down at the title of the song. Akon ft. Snoop Doggy Dog, "I Wanna Fuck You Dirty". How far we've come.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:43 AM
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Field Trip Update
Our field trip yesterday went off without a hitch! I even got props from the other teachers for organizing the least hectic field trip EVER! I didn't have to reprimand anyone, but did have to fend off some "Miss, why you bring us to the museum? This is boring!", which was countered with a "Well, we never have to have field trips again ladies and gentleman and you can spend EVERY singly school day from now on in class". As "bored" as they were, though, they all did their work and I know for a fact that they got something out of this trip.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:28 AM
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The best way to spend a Friday night... with a good friend listening to 80s pop tunes.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 1:29 AM
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Thursday, October 12, 2006
I just saw (and killed) the mother of all roaches. You know those REALLY, REALLY big ones? Those gross waterbug kind of roaches? Ugh.

I was in the bathroom getting ready to take a shower when the corner of my eye caught some kind of movement. I looked down to see this roach struggling to get over my scale. I froze. The bathroom is too small for me to run anywhere. I couldn't open the door to escape; the scale is right next to it. If I opened the door I risked the little sucker escaping. And once it escapes to the outside world, we would've never found it. IT would've found US when we least expected it.

So I froze. And waited for the right opportunity to kill it. I had to wait for it to get out from any crevices or needed to be in open space. I needed enough room to insure that one hit would get it. This was a MONSTER ladies and gentleman. There was no way I would've had the guts to kill it more than once.

I waited and waited (which meant I had to keep my eye on it as it struggled to gain ground...grossest 50 seconds of my life) and finally it started making its way toward the middle of the bathroom. I picked up my slipper and SLAMMED it down to the ground. One shot. I waited for a couple of seconds more, unsure what to do. I mean, I couldn't just stand there staring at my slipper. After another five seconds I decided to pick up my slipper.

BIG MISTAKE. The motherflipper was not dead. It was, however, on its back and so I was subjected to its legs and icky parts. It tried to turn itself upside down which prompted a nice, big scream from me. My heart was beating faster, I was beginning to get a headache, and I picked up the slipper again and slammed it down...harder.

At this point I hear my mother running towards the bathroom, screaming "Fi eh? FI EH?????" (WHAT IS IT???) I yell out, "SORSAR!" (Cockroach!)

(I'm a big baby when it comes to insects, rodents, or reptiles. I'm a city girl, okay? Always have been. Toots and I went to Union Square a couple of months ago and he tried to make me sit on the grass. There was NO WAY I was going to do that. Does anyone realize how many RATS are running around that park?????????? The only rodents I don't mind seeing are squirrels.)

She tries to open the door and I stop her. If she opened the door all the way she'd push the slipper off and I'd have to deal with IT again. I stand on the tub and crack the door open a little and tell her that it's still alive and I can't bare to see it again. She tells me to slam my other slipper down and I tell her she's crazy, that that's not going to kill it. So I pick up my scale and slam it over my slipper and the little shit manages to squirm away from under it!!! I scream once again and my mother opens the door all the way. By now the roach is on its back, half-dead. We can still see its legs move, but it wasn't going anywhere.

I tell my mom to get the vacuum cleaner so we can suck it up because there was no way in hell I was going to pick that thing up. My mother and I are both afraid of insects. We don't do well with them. My father is working the night shift tonight, so he wasn't going to come to our rescue.

My mother tells me that the vacuum cleaner is broken and that we'd have to pick it up. We both stare at each other. We were both hoping that one of us would volunteer. I was way too disgusted to do it and isn't it a mother's job anyway to protect her kids??? So she goes into the kitchen and gets a broom and voila, roach is gone.

She comes back after she disposes of the body and tells me that I scared her. "Ya 7ayawana!!!! Tala3teeni men el sala!! (You animal! You made me break my prayer!) I thought something happened to you!!!!!"

Which is much better than what my aunt (her sister) did when SHE thought I was in trouble, but that's another story...
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:15 PM
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Field Trips
Have teenagers always been whiny brats? I mean, I remember being a teenager and I know I didn't whine as much as my students do now. Not a day goes by where I don't hear the "Miss, that's not fair!", "Miss, why do we have to do this?", "Miss, I'm hungry!", "Miss, he took my pencil!", "But Miss, I didn't do it!". Their sing-songy voices are just about enough to make me wish I had never been born. I really don't get it...are teenagers more childish now than they've ever been? It seems like they belong more in the 6th or 7th grade rather than high school.

Tomorrow we go on a field trip to the Cloisters, a museum in the city dedicated to medieval art. (The Cloisters is among the most beautiful places in New York and I'll take Fort Tryon Park over Central Park anyday). We've been studying the Middle Ages for the past three weeks and the Cloisters will be an amazing place for them to see what they've been reading about.

So I basically spent the entire day today prepping these kids for the trip. Don't touch anything, don't throw your gum on the floor or stick it to the walls, better yet, no chewing gum at all. No screaming, no running, no writing on the walls, no sitting on the displays. No picking plants or flowers from the garden, no throwing anything off the terrace, no pushing, cursing, or goofing off. Anyone found breaking these rules will be penalized a grade.

I'm actually dreading tomorrow...
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 4:48 PM
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Wednesday, October 11, 2006
15 of my favorite things... no particular order (twosret tag):

Dancing to Merengue y Bachata

Lladro figurines

Children's laughter




Christmas in NY


Anything created by Joss Whedon


Hugs and Kisses

Old Egyptian movies

Earl Grey Tea

The Magnolia Bakery

Thoughts shared by Carmen at 10:08 PM
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Monday, October 09, 2006
Condemned to Hell, Again
I find it incredibly frustrating how people assume that I know nothing about my faith because of the way I choose to practice it. I don't veil, I dance with men when I go out clubbing, I date, and I want to marry a Christian. (I won't even begin to discuss the myriad of other offences).

Naturally I wouldn't know anything about Islam if I do this, no? It's at this juncture that people (both in my comments section and in e-mails) offer unsolicited religious advice. "Carmen, you may not know this but...", followed by a multitude of Koranic verses and a couple of hadiths to back their argument up, and often with a "you're going to go to hell if you remain on this path".

So to set the record straight let me just tell you all who have written to me in good and bad faith that I know more about Islam than you do. I know more about Islam than most people do. And why do I know so much about Islam? Because I read critically. Because I question. Because I seek answers from various different sources.

A couple of years ago I asked a sheikh what one would do if a hadith contradicted the Koran. He insisted that there's no way that that could happen. "They supplement each other," he said. Well, what would happen if they hypothetically did, I asked. What should we follow, the Koran or the hadith? Again he insisted that it was impossible for them to be contradictory.

So I asked him what the punishment for fornication was. He told me it was stoning to death. I told him that the Koran does not specify stoning to death as punishment for sex, that he can look and look and he won't find it there. He looked at me as if I were saying something blasphemous.

"Of course it's in the Koran!!!"

"Okay, show me where. Show me the verse that punishes a man or a woman by stoning".

So he looked and looked and guess what, he couldn't find it. He searched in some other books in his collection and acknowledged that it was hadith. "I may have gotten confused, but the punishment is there." "Yes," I said, "but it's not in the Koran as you insisted it was". He cut the conversation short after that.

What would've happened if I took him at his word? What would happen if I took anyone at their word? I read, I study, I know. So for all of you who think that I don't know what the fuck it is that I'm doing, please think again.

Does that make my offences worse? Probably, in the eyes of some. But at least I'm honest about it, at least I don't hide, and at least I admit that I'm human.

It seems that a lot of people are very upset at the thought of me, a Muslim woman, wanting to marry a Christian. When I wrote my post about it, I did not ask whether it was religiously sanctioned for me to do so. Do I know that people consider it a sin in Islam? Yes, I do. Do I need religious advice about it being a sin? If I already know this, obviously not. Those of you who are directing me to all these fatwa sites, please stop. Those of you who are condemning me to hell, try to fix your own lives and direct your anger and frustration towards those who are REALLY ruining Islam.

My cousin, who has fathered three different children from three different women (he was married to all of them) and doesn't support any of them, who is a plain hypocrite, will forever be considered a Muslim in the eyes of the community. My other cousin, who has gotten his girlfriend pregnant three times and paid for abortions three times, is a "troubled" kid, but still considered a Muslim. The crazy fundies blowing up the world are condemned, but I have not heard one sheikh declare them apostates. Maybe if someone did they'd stop blowing shit up. But someone like me who has the nerve to fall in love with a Christian will be kicked out. I, not my male cousins, apparently am the maintainer of all things Muslim.

I know I run the risk of being exiled from the Islamic community if I marry the boyfriend and to be honest with you I'm too tired to fight it. I'm not going to force people to accept any of my decisions. It's enough that I'm going to face ostracization from my family if I ever make such a choice. I can't begin to worry about my community, a community that I haven't been in touch with anyway.

My religion is private. I am recounting my tales as a woman trying to navigate through life. You can try to strip me off my Islam, but you'll never be able to take away my spirituality regardless of how many verses and hadiths you throw at me. Religion for me will never be found in the books nor in the pronouncements of people.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:45 AM
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"Yaya" the photographer
I don't know why the Egyptian accent is the funniest thing in the world!!!

This is eight minutes long, but definitely worth watching! Thanks Mumbo!

Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:10 AM
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Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Yankees have NEVER won any major games during any Ramadan. Ramadan 2004 saw them losing the World Series to the Red Sox, 2005 didn't even get them to the World Series, and Ramadan 2006 just dealt them the most embarrassing blow EVER. The Yankees got SPANKED today!!! S-P-A-N-K-E-D!!!!!

So this simply proves my theory that the Yankees are an evil empire. Why else would they always, always lose during Ramadan???
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 8:58 PM
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Went to see "The Departed" today with the boyfriend. Great movie with superb performances and razor-sharp dialogue (though I would have loved for Mark Wahlberg to have more screen time...he was awesome).

The boyfriend has dubbed this movie "The Jack Nicholson Movie". He doesn't know its name and will never refer to it as anything else.

A couple of weeks ago I had a really strange dream. I dreamt that I was out with the BF and while we were sitting waiting for the bus Jack Nicholson appeared. He said something to me and the next thing I know I started having sex with Nicholson, right next to the BF. The BF was pissed (naturally) but continued waiting for the bus. I had decided that Nicholson and I should probably be doing our deed privately, so we got up and went to my house. When we got there I figured that I was probably making a mistake and started looking for my boyfriend. When I finally found him he refused to talk to me. I kept following him around, trying to tell him that there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for what happened, but he kept walking away. At one point he stopped to listen to me, but I had nothing of substance to say so he walked away again.

The next day I woke up wondering why the hell I dreamt of Jack Nicholson. I mean, of all the people I'd want to have sex with in a dream he would definitely not even make the list. After some thought I realized why Nicholson made his way into my dream. I was driving the Sandmonkey into the city the day before and while we were getting on the 59th Street Bridge he saw an ad for the movie on a huge billboard. Sandmonkey mentioned that he wanted to see that movie. I asked him which movie and he said, "the one with Jack Nicholson." So thanks, Sandmonkey, for sending Nicholson my way. Thanks. Couldn't he have said the Matt Damon movie? Or the Leonardo Di Caprio movie? Neither are on my list for sex dreams potentials, but it would've been better than having sex with a 70-year old man, no?

Anyway, I wouldn't have told my boyfriend about this dream at all had it not been for the fact that a night later I had another sex dream. Without Nicholson. In this dream it was me, Marcia Cross (the red-headed chick from "Desperate Housewives") and some guy. I've had a handful of lesbian dreams throughout my life, but whenever these dreams involved a third party (a man) I would always try to get rid of him for some reason. In this dream, however, I did not try to kick the man out.

So I woke up the next day and told the BF that I've been having crazy sex dreams. Told him about the threesome and then told him about Nicholson. He was not too pleased.

"You think I want to hear about you having sex with men?"

"Dreams, R. They were DREAMS! What am I supposed to do? Stop dreaming???? What the hell?"

"Just don't tell me about these dreams."

So I won't tell him about any dreams, but I'll tell you guys.

Ever since then I've had sex dreams practically every other night. I have no idea what triggers them and why I'm having so many. I mean, I'm not complaining. They're great dreams. But why now? And why so many? And what do they mean? I'm not repressed or conservative, there's nothing I wish to explore, I'm not frustrated. I mean, even when I WAS frustrated I never had these dreams and in this quantity.

Poor BF. He was really upset. He said he wasn't, but I can pick up on his mood swings. Was this something that I should just have kept to myself?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 12:27 AM
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Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Thank God for the Jews, Columbus, Pilgrims, and Jesus...
...because if it weren't for those individuals (in that order) I'd be suffering the next couple of months with no days off work.

This past Monday Yom Kippur gave me a wonderful three-day weekend where I did NOTHING, this coming Monday Columbus, AKA Exterminator of the Tainos, is giving me the day off, the Pilgrims shower me with love for Thanksgiving, and the "birth" of Jesus on the 25th is giving me a nice week off in December. Were it not for these days off I'd shoot myself in the head.

My kids have been driving me insane. Last week was a pretty bad week and I left on Friday not sure if I even wanted to go back. The three-day weekend helped recharge me and this week has been much better. I haven't had to correct their behavior so much and they have finally begun to take me seriously when I threaten their grades.

We were warned today about certain gang behavior that our kids may be trying to adopt and that we should try to nip in the bud. I looked at some of the symbols associated with a certain gang and realized that one of my students has been drawing this symbol on every single poster he has created for class. I always thought he was really creative and artistic. Now I realize that he's been "advertising" his gang since day one. I now have to go and take down every single piece of work he's created and have a talk with him. I also have to keep an eye on other students to make sure they're not practicing hand gestures, not wearing gang colors, and not saying certain key phrases.

Who the hell signs up for this?
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 7:23 PM
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Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Blog Tag
Been tagged by Herlock and N...

1) Are you happy/satisfied with your blog with its content and look?
Definitely satisfied with its look...took a long time to get it that way. Pretty content with the content.

2) Does your family know about your blog?
hahahahhhahahhahhahahahahha!!!! CAN YOU IMAGINE IF MY FAMILY KNEW ABOUT MY BLOG!!!

3) Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog or you just consider it as a private thing?
I've let a handful of friends know about my blog. I'm definitely not embarrassed about it. I mean, the point of me having started this blog was to keep in touch with them while I was frolicking in the streets of Spain last year.

4) Did blogs cause positive changes in your thoughts?
I'd say yeah. It's nice to read that other people go through some of the same struggles. Very few people I know actually like to talk about their problems or issues. Blogging allows people to be anonymous and they can then share certain things they would never dream of sharing.

5) Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or you love to go and discover more by yourself?
When I was unemployed I spent hours and hours reading strangers' blogs, but now I've got a select few that I'll read. You've got to have a lot of free time to read unsolicited blogs.

6) Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?
I'm visually impaired. I always have a hard to visualizing things. It's because of the linguistic intelligence thing.

7) Admit. Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?
I think there is. It's definitely time consuming, but it's a great way to keep in touch with people.

8) Do you think that bloggers society is isolated from real world or interacts with events?
If one didn't interact with events one wouldn't have anything to write about.

9) Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it's a normal thing?
I hate criticism, especially if it's not framed right.

10) Do you fear of some political blogs and avoid them?
I hate politics, hate political discussions, and think they're a waste of time.

11) Did you get shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?
Nothing surprises me. Ten years ago at AUC there were rumors that some students belonged to a satanic cult. There was practically a witch hunt against anyone who wore black t-shirts and listened to alternative music. Nothing surprises me.

12) Do you think about what will happen to your blog after you die?
I think this blog will die before I do.

13) What do you like to hear? What's the song you like to put its link in your blog?
I'd probably change the songs depending on my mood, but it would definitely include:

Anything by the goddess Nina Simone ("Mississippi Goddam" is one of the greatest songs in the world).
Anything by Mana.
Any and all Bachata.
Any and all Merengue.

14) Five bloggers to be the next "victims"?
First five people who read this and want to do it.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 3:33 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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