free stats Carmen's Web: NY, NY
Sunday, November 12, 2006
My late uncle's wife from Kansas has been visiting us every year since he passed away four years ago. She comes to stay with us for two weeks every November. I'm glad she still feels connected to us and continues keeping in touch, especially after the hell her step-daughters (my cousins) put her through. If I were "A", I would've cut the Egyptian race out of my life forever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other issues that horrify "A":

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:41 AM
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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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