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Monday, September 24, 2007
Headaches and Bicycles
I was plagued with a killer headache yesterday. It hit around noon and kept getting worse and worse as the minutes passed. It pounded behind my eyes. I couldn't sit, couldn't sleep, couldn't read, couldn't watch TV. All I did for five hours was lay on my couch waiting for iftar. I couldn't stand myself. The pain was so excruciating and I couldn't do a single thing about it. I considered breaking my fast but was convinced that doing so wasn't really going to help with the headache. It was here and was here to stay.

I broke fast with a veggie burger and some oven-baked fries. I finished half the sandwich before feeling quite sick. I ate a little more only for some nourishment. It made no difference how much I ate because exactly 20 minutes later I ran into the bathroom and threw it all up. I felt horrible. I hadn't felt this way since Barcelona. I sat on the bathroom floor for about ten minutes, throwing up, crying, feeling sorry for myself. It's amazing how much like a kid you feel when you get sick. For a split second I was transformed into the little five year old girl who vomited all over her mother's clothes after her first plane trip and cried for hours.

Damn headache. I wish I could say it went away after I threw up, but it didn't. It kept me up till 3 in the morning. I didn't manage to eat anything afterwards either and so I spent quite some time contemplating whether to fast today or not. Part of me, the stubborn part that thinks it's invincible, insisted on fasting. I've never been sick enough to not fast. What is this? A friggin headache was going to make me break my record? The other half, the rational one, understood that there would be no possible way to fast today without causing some serious damage to my body. After all, I had thrown up everything that I ate. Not only would I be starving, but I was risking getting that headache again.

So I didn't fast. I woke up in the morning with the headache and couldn't go through that pain again. It's still lingering right now as I write this, but I managed to hold it at bay throughout the day.

Lunchtime felt like an inquisition. I had all my colleagues' eyes on me as I was heating up my food. "What's going on? Is Ramadan over?"

"No, I'm sick today."

Ten minutes later. "What happened? Is Ramadan over?"

"No, I'm sick."

Five minutes after that I was asked the same question once again so I decided to go into the schoolyard to eat in peace.

No such thing.

I sat on the bench for about a minute and a half before one of my Pakistani students came running up to me.

"MISS!!!!!!! YOU'RE EATING!!!!!??"

"Uh, huh," I mumbled as I stuffed the Pad Thai into my mouth. (Trader Joe's, Toots...they make a mean Pad Thai!!)

"But Miss, it's Ramadan!!"

"S, are you fasting??"


"Don't 'ummm' me. It's a yes or no question."

"Well, no Miss, but it's because...." He went on and on about some basketball game he likes to play during lunch and when he sweats he gets tired and thirsty and so...blah blah blah. I wasn't really paying attention. I've learned how to selectively ignore my students when they're spouting out bullshit.

"Miss, are you on your bicycle??" he asked sheepishly. Bicycle??? He saw me sitting on the bench. What the hell was this about a bicycle?

"S, what are you going on about? What bicycle? Didn't I tell you to think before you speak?? Do you have any idea the kind of impression you give to people when you do that diarrhea talk??"

"I'm being serious Miss!!! You know, in Islam, when a woman is on her bicycle she doesn't have to fast."

Bicycle? What the hell was this idiot talking about? And what kind of Islam are they teaching him??

He kept going on about the bicycle before I finally shooed him away. We get 40 minutes for lunch and I had a class to teach afterwards. Miss needed her quiet time.

Ten minutes later he comes to me with his science notebook. "LOOK!! IT SAYS CYCLE! A WOMAN GETS HER CYCLE EVERY MONTH! And so when a woman is on her cycle she doesn't have to fast."

My kids provide much entertainment.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:57 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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