Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: I'll Be Home For Christmas

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Write Mind/Open Heart and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

I wasn't going to come home for Christmas this year. I didn't feel like packing or being on a plane for six hours or dealing with airport craziness. Tickets were too expensive, cabs to JFK run $50 plus tip each way, and a ticket for Ciela is $200 roundtrip. There was no way I was gonna do it.

But the closer it got to Christmas, the more I realized I would have nothing to do if I stayed in NY by myself. Plans of going to friend's houses changed and I knew I would end up home alone on Christmas Eve, the night we always celebrate, and I would be miserable. On the flip side, I thought it was interesting that we all make such a big deal out of this holiday every year; it's technically only the one day. I thought, if I can just get through that one day, ill be fine. But then my sister called me, and presented an argument I couldn't argue with; "Come home, I'm lonely". Not in the 'I have no one around me' sense of the word, but in the 'I miss my only sister' sense of the word. Well, I was lonely too I said. So I let go of all my reasons I wasn't going home and started looking for tickets when we hung up the phone.

Everyone knew about my upcoming trip, but I asked them all to keep it quiet around my nephews. I wanted to surprise them because they weren't expecting to see me until sometime in February. The day I arrived, my mom picked me up at the airport, we grabbed some lunch to go, and headed to my sister's house. I instructed my mom and brother to walk in ahead of me with all the food except mine, so as not to raise eyebrows, while I hung back in the hallway with Ciela. My nephews already suspected I was in town because of some slip-ups, but I wanted to see if I could still surprise them at least a little bit.

A few minutes later, after I figured they probably thought their only visitors that day would be Tetah (my mom) and Haulo D (my brother), I nonchalantly walked in the door and acted like it was totally normal that I was there. I watched as one nephew literally fell to the floor in surprise as he said "What!?!" and as the other jumped up from his chair with a huge smile on his face. Hugging and kissing and loudness and chaos ensued.

My precious angels, and my Perfect Moment.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Island Dreams

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Write Mind/Open Heart and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

As I walked out of the pharmacy, the word ISLAND in bold, capital letters caught my eye. It was a 2011 calendar showcasing 12 different islands on its sealed pages. I smiled and stopped, picked it up from the low shelf and flipped it over. Nevis was the first word that caught my eye; Caribbean, Nevis. "I know someone from there, how funny", I thought.

I scanned the rest of the photos. My eyes slowly traveled up to the very first one, January. Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands. I smiled again. I had been there, several times. The journey there from St Thomas had become as easy to me as a trip to NJ from the city via Penn Station. A ferry ride over from Red Hook, a safari (share taxi) up the winding mountain road, the gorgeous view of Trunk Bay below us just minutes before we are deposited at the entrance. The photo couldn't have been more than a couple of inches wide, but I quickly picked out the underwater snorkel trail, visible so easily to my familiar eye.

I had always wanted to live on a Caribbean island, it had always been one of my dreams. Now, how much I enjoyed or didn't enjoy living on one is a story for another post. My perfect moment today was in realizing just how many things I have been blessed to be able to do in my life. Seeing a picture of St. John's most famous beach, something most people see only in pictures, and knowing that for a while, it had become somewhere I could go with friends on a random Sunday, was amazing in a peaceful and content way. Perfect Moment straight out of nowhere.

And that's Perfect, too.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Crash & Burn

Bad things happen when a person takes on way more than they can reasonably handle, and this is what has recently happened with me. In September I started 2 credit courses at FIT, started a weekly training regimen to get little miss Ciela in line, and started working again. I was also trying to research schools for a Masters program and stressing about where I should move. Add that to everyday tasks and eventually, increasing demands related to the list I just outlined (oh, and many sleepless barking-puppy-filled nights) and it's easy to see why sometime in November I completely checked out.

Before taking on a million and one things, my schedule kind of consisted of no schedule. I remember waking up whenever I wanted to, doing whatever I wanted with my days, making the most of my first unemployed and therefore freedom-filled summer in NYC. But honestly, I can only lazy around for so long, and pretty soon, I was fed up of doing nothing and pretty frustrated with my financial status. Sure I had plenty of time to do plenty of things (but not too much money with which to do those things; forever the bittersweet reality of unemployment, by the way). But I was tired of being unproductive. I needed to accomplish something again. And somehow I went into overdrive.

At first it wasn't so bad; I worked, I went to class, I handed in homework on time, and I kept up my social life. I remember enjoying the hustle & bustle of it at the beginning, I even thrived on the excitement of 'doing it all'. But eventually, all the to-do's weighed me down. I wasn't able to stay organized, I complained at work about lack of sleep due to said unorganization, and I was generally miserable. I worked full-time hours and had obligations almost every single day after work: Monday, Ciela's training session; Tuesday, long-standing recurring engagement that wasn't going anywhere anytime soon; Wednesday, photography class from 6-9; Thursday, freedom (imagine that) and Friday, a 2 hour web page construction class in a dimly lit computer lab that left me more sleepy than anything else. I was also supposed to train Ciela every day to reinforce what she had learned on Monday, as well as conduct "good times" sessions between her and Monet's dog because they didn't get along and I was tired of the doggy disagreements and ensuing growling that that caused, but let's be realistic, that didn't happen every day.

What did happen was that October became even more miserable and by November, when my mother came to visit and my work assignment ended, I subconsciously took that as a chance to take my life to the other extreme. The photography project that was due in a few short weeks - whatever, I would worry about it later. The five or so late homework assignments, not to mention a complete website as a final project, for the other class - not even thinking about 'em. Ciela's training - um, yeah... sure. I quite simply did not care. Instead of taking the 2 or 3 week span while my mom was here to focus on my responsibilities now that I didn't have to be in an office every day, I did absolutely nothing. Instead of using my time wisely, I pretty much didn't use it. Don't get me wrong, I had a great time with my mom; we went on an awesome East Coast road trip that neither of us will ever forget. But I could have used some of that time - or the time since - much more sensibly, and of course now I regret it.

I'm still trying to get back in the swing of things but honestly, I have little motivation, especially since I started working again. I prolong sleep in an attempt to distance myself from my current reality, in hopes that some tasks will have miraculously disappeared by the time I've finished hitting the snooze button (hasn't happened yet, by the way). I somehow completed my photography project and was ridiculously proud of myself when I did so. I have since been trying to find the motivation to work on my website project, but it seems my motivation is so misplaced I'll never find it. I have sat in this kitchen chair for the better part of a whole day today, thinking about getting to work on it... I even managed to finally pull my notebook out of my bag and plug in my flash drive. But I have found every excuse to do other things and have accomplished zero work. Yes, some of the things I have done instead were important and even productive (for example, researching Masters programs, yay me) but still, all were done in an attempt to run away from the daunting task at hand.

Moral of the story? There's really only so much you can do without feeling like you are going to lose your mind. Don't let yourself get to that point. Because recovering from a crash & burn has never been so slow & painful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Learning

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

The first week of September I had my first photography assignment, and suffice it to say, I was nervous as hell. I still didn't know diddly about f-stops, shutter speed, ISOs, lighting, and so on. The instructions were to 'create a photograph in the style of' a photo of our choice, a photo snapped by photographers who had more experience in the tip of their clicking index finger than I had in my whole body. We were not supposed to recreate the photo per se, and this proved to be much easier said than done. The day of the shoot, we went up to the roof and I tried to figure out how to get the same lighting as my chosen photograph. Did I mention I don't know jack about lighting? Yeah. I felt uncomfortable and out of my element, and I kept apologizing for not knowing what I was doing and taking too long to do it. My model was awesome and helpful and patient, but my frustrations only grew as I continued to actually get some great shots - but nothing I could use for this assignment. After over 100 shots, I decided I had some I could work with, and called it a day.

To keep this post short, let's just say what looks great on a 2.5" LCD does not look the same on a 14" laptop screen. I emailed my model and asked if we could shoot again.

Fast forward to late October; same location, same model, same photographer. But not really. I was shooting a nude set, another homework assignment. Though slightly nervous about shooting someone I actually knew naked, besides that, everything was great. I adjusted shutter speed and aperture like an almost-pro. ISO? No problem. White balance? Pshhhh! On it.

In a flash (not literally, though), I realized just how much I had learned in less than 2 months, and that was my Perfect Moment.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

(RAW) Shit Happens

I walked into the house and glanced at my laptop sitting on the kitchen table. My camera was connected and I could see what had been uploaded. I leaned in to read the dialog box that had popped up on the screen.

"Noooooooooo!!" I shouted.

"What happened!" my mom exclaimed from inside. My mom always thinks something disastrous has happened. Then again, I had just let out a blood-curdling scream.

"I shot all those photos today in a format my computer can't upload!!"

"And why would you do that?" My mother's response came much calmer now. A little too matter-of-fact.

I slammed my palm into the door once (ok, maybe twice) but that hurt too much, so I kicked it for good measure. "Because that's what the professor said to do!!"

I huffed and puffed some more as a thousand other thoughts went through my head. I had been shooting all day, all damn day. The project is due in a few weeks; considering it's to be handed in in book form, and the book takes 7-10 business days to be printed and delivered, that meant I had to have everything shot, edited and finalized by Monday in order to make the due date. As in, two very short days from now. I had spent on-and-off parts of today stressed because I was down to the wire; I was getting great shots but the quality of many wasn't coming out to my satisfaction. I couldn't wait to get home and see them on the computer to judge once and for all if they were usable. In the meantime, I was beating myself up about why I couldn't perfect what I was doing and why I hadn't learned everything I needed to know about the vast world of photography in 3 whole months. I berated myself for procrastinating on not getting the bulk of the project done until now.

I walked to my room to get something and of course, slammed my hand into the door frame, this time by accident. "Aaaaaaaargh!!!" It was a guttural sound, not a high-pitched one; one I really put all my feeling into.

"What happened?"

"I slammed my frickin' hand into the wall, and it hurts!" You know how when it rains it pours? I felt like I should brace myself for the coming storm.

I was fuming. "Fuck this project, fuck this class, fuck my life!", I thought. I thudded back to the kitchen, knowing I was overreacting at this point, but I just couldn't help it. My schedule was completely ruined; so much for "edit tonight, shoot and edit Sunday and finalize by Monday". I had been so excited to get home and get started, to get thismuchcloser to finishing this project so I could clear my calendar for the other final project I had to hand in. I had some photos I was really excited about seeing that I couldn't even get off my camera to look at, let alone work on. It was frustrating and annoying and and and.

All of a sudden the great day I had spent with my mom, hanging out in the city and photographing, all went to crap. And as soon as I thought that, reality hit. It was unfair and illogical to throw away the goodness of a whole day just because something bad had happened. I thought to myself, "If you hadn't left most of the work to the last minute, you wouldn't be so stressed out right now. You would have more time to shoot and more time to figure out a way to get the photos off your camera. It's very easy to blame the professor for his suggestion, but it's really not his fault this happened and you know it. Maybe you should step up and take some responsibility for this mess instead of blaming everybody and everything else."

Then I wondered if God or the powers-that-be had been chuckling all day while I shot in RAW instead of JPEG, knowing full well what was gonna happen when I got home. I imagined a bunch of Powers sitting around in a living room of some sort, somewhere in the sky above me, doubled over in laughter and pointing down at me. Then I thought about how odd and self-centered it was to think that; I'm sure that God or the powers-that-be had way better things to do than worry about what file format I was shooting in. That realization further brought home the fact that maybe, just maybe I was taking things a bit too far.

I've been trying to teach myself that life is not only about what happens to you, but how you handle what happens. Just as easily as I had a mini-meltdown, I could have figured out constructive ways to get myself out of the problem. So I googled my dilemma and followed the suggestions my favorite search engine came up with, still upset but much calmer. I'll have you all know; still no photos. Tomorrow, I will look for more solutions. I will also go out and shoot some more, this time not in RAW.

I walked into the living room to get my camera charger.

"Did you get them?" my mom asked.

"Nope."

"What are you gonna do?"

"Figure out a way to do it without freaking out." I couldn't help but kind of smile as I said it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Some Kind of Promise, Part 1

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

This week's PMM is going to be breif because I have to work late tonight, and I will never make the linky deadline to share it with everyone if I try to tell you the whole story. And I do want to share it with everyone, because something tells me it will make most of you feel the way it made me feel. So I have chosen to give it to you in 2 parts. Part 1 is represented by the two photographs below. I receieved them in an email last week after many, many email exchanges with several people, after years of half-assed-ly trying to come through on a word I gave in answer to a question, never thinking at the time that I was essentially making a promise to a young boy, after years of feeling guilty that it had taken me so long to follow through on something because, even though my heart was in the right place, it was so easy to get caught up in my own life.

Looking at them makes me happy because I finally accomplished something I have been trying to do for so, so long. More importantly, well... you can see why when you copmpare the two photos, I dont even need to explain this one. And I wanted to rush to share them with everyone, even though I can't give you the whole story until next week, because I suspect they will make you happy, too.



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Forget Me Not

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

I come home, hands, arms and shoulders full; purse overflowing, jacket slung over one arm, camera taking up space in my hands, and a bag of samples hanging from my wrist. It had been a late night, running from uptown office to downtown office to uptown office again, errands, dinner and finally back to uptown office to take some final photos. It was past 10pm at that point and I was debating if it was worth the effort or if I should just go home, but I had started my photography homework at work this morning because it is due tonight (this was sincerely not procrastination on my part, I was actually ridiculously busy for the past 4 days and because of the nature of the assignment, unable to start it). Since I am an overachiever and know that no matter how much I tell myself I don't care about my grades that's not true, I reluctantly take myself back to the office to do what I have to do and get out of there as quickly as humanly possible. I drop all my crap on my desk and look up to notice I had forgotten my trench coat hanging on the door of the closet. I am already carrying a million things, and it isn't even cold out, do I really need my jacket? For a split second I consider leaving it where it is, but I grab it and throw it on the desk with everything else, figuring I will need it tomorrow.

I walk to my friend's work area and snap away. Ten minutes later I am done and 5 minutes after that I am in a cab heading to Harlem. Once parked haphazardly in the middle of my street, I get out of the car, checking to make sure I didn't forget anything in the back seat. All clear. I stand at the building door and attempt to rummage through my purse, but I am barely able to move my hand around; everything but the kitchen sink shoved in there will cause that problem. I try again, nothing. And again. Finally I realize I'm getting nowhere and kneel on the front steps and take every last thing out. I light my cell phone inside my purse just to make sure. No damn keys. Monet's not home. Ciela's probably starving, she needs to be walked, I'm tired as hell and there is no upside to this dilemma. Now what?

I stand up. Wait, I hear a jingle! I shake my trench coat, feel the pocket. Score!

There in the pocket of the jacket I was not going to bring home, that was hanging in the office that I was not going to go back to, to not do the homework I was going to hand in incomplete, was the golden ticket that would let me into my home. It just sings Perfect Moment!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Follow Me

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

As I scrolled my way down to reply to a comment on one of my posts, my eyes drifted over the right side of my screen... 17 followers! That must have just happened, I thought, since only a couple days earlier the counter had been at 15; I remember because I had noticed how nicely all the squares lined up, 5 pictures across, 3 rows down, all in an orderly fashion. Slightly anal, I know, but hey.

Not that I was complaining; the more followers, the merrier! When I first started blogging regularly, I had been very interested in recruiting more followers, and used to be... ahem... kinda-sorta-annoyingly-adamant on FB in suggesting to my friends that they should follow my blog, or subscribe via email. Pretty soon though, I realized I had become "one of those annoying people who force you to join their blog on FB", and I promptly stopped, going instead with just adding the link of each new post onto my page. At some point also I became more interested in people subscribing via email (but didn't push it) because then each post would automatically be delivered to the reader when published, as opposed to what happens when one follows, where they have to actually remember to log on to Blogger and check their Reading List.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I saw 17 followers and became as happy as I did. I mean, on any given day, I could tell you how many followers I had, I always kept track. But still, it never occurred to me I would enjoy an increase in popularity as much as I did. When I saw 17, I broke out into a huge smile, got super excited and decided to make it the subject of my next Perfect Moment. But then something better happened; several days passed, a few posts were published, and I realized that I was at 20 followers! Sweet!

So, my lovely followers, my faithful readers, my friends in the blog world and the real world; this week's Perfect Moment is dedicated to you. Thank you for reading, thank you for checking in, for commenting, for caring what I have to say, and for making me feel like I matter in this big, bad blogosphere. It never felt so good to be followed!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: It's Like Riding A Bike, You Never Forget How

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

I have the bright idea of riding bikes down the path along the West Side Highway, not thinking that I haven't been on a bike in years. I think nothing of it until the moment of truth comes. I lift one leg over the frame and plant myself on the seat and holy cow, does that hurt! I've borrowed Monet's road bike and figure all will be good; turns out all is less than good. I feel like I have been impaled. Adjusting the seat requires a wrench and there isn't one in sight, and there is only one set of brakes on the handle bars (the set where I would have to hunch down in order to reach them). This is gonna be a long ride, I think to myself.

My friend K doesn't have a helmet on and, even though I am terrified to ride in the streets of New York, I decide to leave my own helmet at the gas station where I had just filled up the tires. The attendant, who I had been joking around with about how log it's been since I've been on a bike, but whom I have never laid eyes on before this day, accepts the helmet and tells me that if she isn't around when I come back, she'll let the other employee know I'd be coming by. I love Harlem! It's still a neighborhood in the true sense of the word.

We start at 150th and St. Nicholas and 'nervous' does not adequately describe how I am feeling right now. We have to ride in the street in order to get to the bike path. Anyone who has been to NYC knows how perilous it can be to walk in the street. Now I have to maneuver through the grid on a bike. I mean, at least I use my legs everyday, I trust my legs! These 2 wheels, not so much. Realizing that, with the exception of riding in Central Park almost 2 years ago and a few rides here n there before that, that I hadn't consistently been on a bicycle since I was 11 didn't help matters at all.

Somehow we make our way across Broadway and then to Riverside without any incident (on my part, of course; K is a pro and is kindly turning to check on me every so often to make sure I'm still alive) although I'm sure more than one driver cussed me out. We ride about 25 blocks south and cross over to the bike path at 125th St.

We ride along for a while. This side-by-side thing other people are doing is out of the question I discover after I practically slam into K when what I was trying to do was, quite simply, stop. I decide single file is the way to go if I expect to make it today without injuring myself or anyone around me, especially since the further we go, the larger the walking/biking/rollerblading crowds seem to get. I mention that I don't want to kill any kids on a Sunday.

There is nothing smooth or elegant about how I am riding; I am all tension and swerve. However, being the stubborn Assyrian woman that I am, when K asks if I want to ride down to Battery Park, all the way at the southern tip of the island, I respond with "Well, I like a challenge, so if you said let's bike to Jersey, I'd say let's bike to Jersey. So Battery Park it is!" Silly, silly me not thinking about geography at all when I gave that response.

Besides the nervousness, I am enjoying my day to the fullest. The weather is beautiful, the sun is shining, the Hudson is sparkling to my right, the highway is buzzing to my left. I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of green and other surprises I see along the way; the whole path along the highway is covered in what looks like wild grasses, trees, hills and lawns, basketball courts, soccer fields and more things I never knew were hidden between the highway and the Hudson. I later find out this is Hudson River Park, which is the 2nd largest in the City after Central Park, and I am in love with it.

By the time we reach the Boat Basin on 79th St, I am still so swervy the other riders must think there's something wrong with me. Dealing with the brakes is beyond frustrating; hunching down to use them is physically uncomfortable, not to mention I'm worried I won't get to them in time if I need to. Add to that that they're very tense, so I have to squeeze extra hard. Which for me and my hives will mean extremely swollen, itchy hands tomorrow, which I am not looking forward to.

Worries about physical ailments aside, things are going very well. When I look up and see the USS Intrepid and realize we have reached 46th St, I am amazed. I love that I am riding right next to all the cars on the highway, barely 10 feet away from me. I pull out my BlackBerry and start snapping photos. While I'm riding. So much for being scared. I am so pleased with myself!


View of the West Side Highway while I am biking... poor quality in-motion photo, but still!

By Chelsea Piers (23rd St) I'm smiling but the fatigue has set in and a yawn escapes from my mouth. We reach Laight St. Laight St?? That's so far downtown that I've never even heard of it, so cool! By Chambers St, I realize how far we really have come; my friend T lives here and I know the train commute between my house and hers takes almost an hour, and I have just biked it. I feel awesome.

After Chambers we have to start crossing main streets and become cognizant of traffic again, but I feel like a pro at this point. We maneuver through the streets and sidewalks of Battery Park City - not even a huge public bus sharing the street with me freaks me out now - and make our way down to the Park. Thankfully K knows exactly where he's going, and all I have to do is follow, not actually think and navigate.

We reach the Park and I pass under an archway and have an 'angels singing aaaaah' moment; I realize that in 6 years of living in Manhattan, this is another place I have never been to, and the reason is bc it's so far away from where I live. The view of the river is gorgeous, and I can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Accomplishing something never felt so rewarding.


I made it!

We rest for a while and about an hour later, finally start to make our way back uptown. We ride to 72nd and then I catch the train to Harlem. Once comfortably on my couch, feet planted firmly on hardwood and not on bike pedals, I take an Ibuprofen and 2 Zyrtec to help fight off tomorrow's impending pain, swelling and hives. I sit on 2 ice packs while I calculate our route in miles. I do it twice just to be sure.

Riding through multiple busy New York City streets and a beautiful riverside park, not killing myself or anyone else in the process, seeing parts of the City I have never seen before and having fun whilst doing so - that's definitely a Perfect Moment. Realizing later, when all is said and done, that I rode 17 miles on a leisurely bike ride after years of not being on a 2-wheeled vehicle - that's a Perfect and a Badass Moment.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back To School: If I Can Ever Figure This Out, That Is

I swear, colleges make their process so damn complicated, I'm starting to wonder how anyone in this country even has a degree. I don't know if it's like this in other parts of the world, too, but I can speak for my own undergrad and say it wasn't, so right now I am beyond frustrated.

I'm sure it doesn't help that I don't know exactly what I want to study. Is there some way to merge Public Administration (w a focus in Women's Studies) w Public Policy w Social Work w International Business w International Development w Languages?

What, that doesn't exist?

Oh, and to make matters worse, here's an obstacle made just for me; I don't think any (good) university in the US will accept my Bachelor's degree bc I obtained it from a fashion-specific college, where they use a French/Syrian grading system. Therefore, GPAs and transcripts do not exist, and so, in order to get this Master's degree I would so like to have, I am terrified I might need to go get me a new BA!

Sigh.

The complicatedness of the system alone was enough to deter me from going back to school years ago, back when I had had enough of fashion the last time (yes, it's happened more than once over the span of my career). But now that I'm seriously considering it, now that I've taken in the idea so much that it's practically a given in my own head, now that it's been marinating in my brain for months -- well, now it's not enough to deter me, but with the added unforeseen challenges, it is enough to make me crazy.

Yesterday I researched schools for 5 minutes. Five minutes! And my brain was fried. That happens every single time I try to get somewhere with this goal. Time and again I realize why it is so much easier to stay in a miserable job than to do something new with your life. But I refuse to let that be me.

One of these days I'm gonna figure this whole thing out and laugh about how frustrated I was. Actually, what I think is gonna happen is, by some miracle-slash-sheer perseverance on my part, despite all these obstacles, I'm gonna make sure I do get accepted into a Master's program, and then I'll be super frustrated with things like exams and paper deadlines and theses and so on, that I'll wonder why I was dying to go back to school in the first place. Then I'm gonna refer back to this post and either laugh at my intuitiveness, or bawl.

Only one way to find out, I guess. I'm off to do some more research!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Silence In The Night

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

First and foremost, I promise this is not gonna turn into a doggy blog. It's just that, this is a blog about what's going on in my life, and currently, Ciela is what's going on, so... I dedicate one more Perfect Moment Monday to the 50% adorable puppy, 50% lil rascal. Funny, I never used to be one of those sappy dog people. I used to make fun of those people. Yet here I am, the sappiest of them all, and well, I'm not ashamed. OK maybe a little bit when I talk to her in that singsongy voice. But only some of the time.

Anyway. Yesterday I mentioned in passing that Ciela can get a little hyper, and that sometimes she barks incessantly, especially when most humans like to go to sleep. Her normal sleeping routine is punctuated with much barking, usually when I have the nerve to go to bed myself and not take her out of the carrier to play at 2am, how rude of me. I was very concerned about how she would act in Philly, esp bc my friend R had just come back from a business trip and I knew she was overworked and overtired, and I didn't want to take away her one chance to catch up on some decent sleep over the weekend.

Turns out, I didn't even have to worry. My lil angel couldn't have been any more well-behaved; well, that night, but still! Did it have something to do with keeping her downstairs while I slept upstairs? Maybe. Could it possibly have been the treats I slipped in her bag before I slipped her in there n walked away? Perhaps.

But whatever the case may be, Friday marked the first night in 2 weeks that I got to drift off into blissful sleep without having to hear barking, ignore barking, or get out of bed to solve the barking problem. How perfect is that!

Traveling With Baby

Yes, when I say ‘baby’ here, I mean Ciela. Anyone who is not a dog person, has never raised a puppy and therefore doesn’t think a puppy is like a baby must stand kindly corrected. Because I have never felt more like a mother than in the past 2 weeks since I’ve become one. Won’t eat when you want her to? Check. Won’t go potty when it’s convenient for you? Check. Fusses when you try to give her her antibiotics or brush her teeth or clean under her eyes or or or? Check. Oh, yeah. Bites (not gently) bc she is teething/playing/doesn’t know any better? Check. Incessant barking and high-pitched yelping at the most inopportune times, like when you want to go to sleep? Cheeeck! And since we’re on the subject of sleep, let’s not forget the fact that I haven’t had a solid good night’s of it since I got her. A 6 hour block that I would previously shake my head at in distaste now seems like a faraway dream, a fantasy never to be fulfilled, something I dare not bother longing for bc I can't imagine the day Ciela will let me sleep the whole night thru.

Can I just say I have a newfound respect for new mothers?? I never knew it was this hard. A million props to you and a million kudos, and I hope they build monuments in your honor! And single moms (or dads) – you deserve all that x2.

Now, back to this traveling w baby. The plan is to go to Philly to visit my friend R n help her decorate her new apartment. I love stuff like that! So, I book my ticket, not even thinking to check what the bus company’s pet policy is. Most modes of transport (planes, NYC trains and buses, etc) have no problem w small dogs as long as they are in a carrier. Ciela is small. Ciela has two carriers. We are so good to go.

I pack her up and leave the house, stopping by the drug store before hopping on the train. She is barking and hyper, and strangers must think her carrier is possessed, it's jumping around so much. I grab her a new toy off the shelf, pop it in her bag to keep her busy, and head to the counter to finish my business. Her interest in the toy (read: quiet) lasts for 2 minutes, tops. While I’m standing at the register I hear “Miss, Miss!” I turn around. “You’re not allowed to have dogs in here.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know,” I lie. “I’m done, I’m leaving.”

For the millionth time, I wonder why I can’t have a dog that is quiet, or at least one that I know how to control.

We leave the store and I hear nothing but the regular sounds of a Harlem street. Sweet. I am still holding out hope that the new toy and the sweet potato treat I gave her will keep her quiet for the next 2-3 hours, but that hope is shattered as I walk to the train station and the high-pitched barking resumes. Now I'm getting worried. I call the bus company to inquire about their pet policy.

“There are no pets allowed on board.”

“But she’s small. She’s in a carrier.”

“Unfortunately, ma'am, there are no pets allowed on board”

Bastards. I stand on the corner, I debate. Cancel the trip? Take my chances? I finally figure by the time the bus leaves in over an hour she will have run herself ragged and will sleep the ride thru. I get on the train n decide if worse comes to worst, I might have to play dumb on this one. No biggie. What are they gonna do, throw me out on the side of the highway?

Usually I have no trouble out of her on the train. Today however, she has decided not only to not calm down, but to turn up the craziness to the highest level she can. I'm getting worried again. I don't want to be the annoying lady w the dog on the bus, plus now I know she's not supposed to be on there in the first place. God, I wish I just hadn't called; maybe playing dumb is easier when you really don't know, duh. I call the vet and ask if I can give her Benadryl to help her sleep; I feel bad, but I know it won’t hurt her. The vet quickly vetoes that idea w a “Nope, she’s too small.” Damn. It. Dammittohell.

I'm standing on 34th, leaning against a building, wistfully looking at this big, orange bus parked across the street. I stand there for minutes, too afraid to even get near it, to even venture to the other side, as if I have to cross No Man's Land, when all I really have to do is walk across a few lanes of traffic. What is wrong w me, I have done plenty of things against the rules before, when exactly did I become chicken-you-know-what? I think it was 20 minutes ago on the train when it was packed w people n she wouldn't quit yelping, n I became That Lady n I felt so embarrassed. Yup, I think that is when.

I call the bus company again, maybe the first guy I spoke to was wrong, sometimes they are.

"Hi, I wanted to know if I can travel on your bus w a small dog in a carrier?"

"No, pets are not allowed on board."

"Really? Well, do you have an affiliate company that does allow pets?"

"No, ma'am, we do not."

"Really, hmmm... Well, can you refund my already-purchased tickets?"

"No, ma'am, tickets are non-refundable."

"Well that's shitty."

I think I mumble a Thank You just to be kind of polite, n hang up. I figure "screw it" n boldly cross the street and even more boldly, I stand in line. I get all the way to the ticket agent and am told this is the bus to Boston. Great. I step out of that line and into another. The little barker has finally fallen asleep. If she can keep that up for 2 more hours, I'm set. But Ciela's not reliable like that, at least not yet. While maintaining my position in line, I google and call the Chinatown bus; no dogs allowed. Some other company I can't think of the name of anymore; seeing eye dogs only (gee, that's very kind of you). NJ Transit; OK as long as they're in a carrier. Woohoo! What, you only go to Trenton n then I have to transfer trains to Philly? Fine, let me just make sure.... SEPTA; also OK as long as they're in a carrier. Hallelujah! I walk away from the line, Ciela still sleeping, wondering if I made the right decision, especially since my unemployed self just flushed $23 down the toilet for a round-trip ticket I will never use, and bc the train tickets are considerably more expensive than the bus tickets. Sigh. Sanity over $23 any day, I console myself. Still, I wonder if she would have slept the whole ride thru.

I round the corner and no sooner have I walked half a block than the little girl wakes up and decides to announce it to the whole wide world, oh so very loudly. I guess I made the right decision after all.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Moments

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

Sometimes the week passes and it's so stressful and crazy, you fall into a "Woe is me, I didn't have any perfect moments to write about" mindset. But I'm sitting here thinking about this past week, and I find it hard to believe that I really can't think of one thing I would count as perfect. Well, let me take that back. It's not that I can't think of any perfect moments, it's just that none of them happened w a resounding "Aha! This is a perfect moment!" thought accompanying them. Plus I can't narrow it down to one thing that was so great it deserves the spotlight of this post. Then I realized, maybe it doesn't have to make such a huge impact, and maybe it doesn't have to be just one moment. Maybe part of the point is that, it can just be a pretty regular week, and PMM makes you look back on it and realize that a lot of it was great after all.

I'm back home in NYC, that's perfect, bc I had a rough couple weeks of traveling.

I have survived Week 1 of motherhood, that's definitely perfect, especially bc Ciela has been sick and I've been terrified I would go to check on her one day and she wouldn't be breathing. I guess losing my first puppy Kingsley earier this year is an issue I haven't quite dealt with yet. I now know that I am capable of nursing a living thing back to health, and that is Beyond Perfect.

I still have a savings account that I can go to in times of need, which has been too often since I've been back in NY, but that's Perfect and a Blessing w a capital B, bc I'd be so lost w/o my cushion.

I met up w my high school English teacher, his lovely wife (who also happens to be one of my favorite bloggers and most inspiring people I know) and their adorable, sweetheart children; funny how 12 years ago feels just like yesterday, bc I swear it was just yesterday that I was sitting in class in Aleppo with all my high school friends. Aah, the good old days! That was perfect bc, hello, it's been twelve years and it reminded me what an awesome school I went to and what wonderful people I met there that - how can I put this bluntly - 12 years after parting paths, we would all actually give a shit about catching up and keeping in contact! Guaranteed you wouldn't find that anywhere else.

I'm slowly gaining more insight into what direction I want to take my new career, post-fashion, and that's a relief bc it's been a slow and painful road to figuring that one out. What's perfect about that, besides me having some more clarity, is that I got said clarity by reading an email from the director of an organization I volunteered w 3 years ago, about their new volunteer program. One of the sentences literally jumped out at me and that was an Aha! moment. Knowing when things in your life come full circle, that's the most perfectest.

Last but not least, I was told today by someone I met several years ago here in NY just how much I've grown as a person. I mean, she gave me examples and I knew she was right bc I trust her and furthermore, I could see it myself! And that is more perfect than anything I can describe bc #1) I've grown so much as a person, and #2) I know all the years of hard work I put into bettering myself were not for nothing.

So here's to a week that, even w all its stress and worry and sleeplessness and fatigue, had more Perfect Moments than I ever thought I would be able to recognize. And recognizing that, is perfect.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Ciela Kenara

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

This past weekend I went to Atlanta w Mo for her family reunion. The first day we were there was the big family picnic. Mo had brought her dog w her but he didnt have a ball to play with, so we ran to the pet store really quick. Ill spare you the ensuing battle in my head about how crazy what I was about to do was, even tho I had been looking for a long time. But, PJ went home w a ball, and I went home w a baby.



I love this photo! Meet Ciela Kenara, 12 week old Chihuahua; Ciela is from the French word ciel for sky, and Kenara is the Eastern Assyrian version of my own middle name. What can I say, she's a multi-cultural lil baby already. :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Airport Etiquette

If I added up all the time I spent in airports, airplanes, terminals, gates, security lines, airport magazine stands and coffee shops, I would surely be a time millionaire. That said, this is a lifestyle I choose, so I can only complain but so much. However, is it too much to ask that the ticket agents come to work with a half smile on their faces and some pep in their goddamn step? I'm not even asking for a whole smile. Listen, I know working in customer service can suck at times. I have worked retail, I have waitressed and I have bartended. I'm sure in all those years, somewhere in there, I have had a bad day or ten, but I bet you I was never a witch to any of my customers bc of it. If I can suck it up, so can you, and if you can't I'm gonna need you to get a new job. Until that happens, I'm gonna need every airport employee who woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or got in an argument with their significant other/teenage kid/mother-in-law/neighbor/dog/car/coffee maker, or just found out every person they ever said hello to is an incompetent ass, to get it together and put a half smile on their face and do their job, politely and efficiently. Please don't make me stand in line for 30 minutes, only to get to the front and hear you say "Oh, this is not the line for Detroit" and then point to the other line that just so happens to be about 40 feet long, bc trust, I will not be going to stand in it. Especially if the lines were not labeled in the first place, bc guess who wasn't doing their job?

On the flip side, airport personnel aren't the only ones holding things up. Is it too much to ask that everyone in the security line, who I'm sure has done this at least once before, do what they need to do quickly and efficiently, without making the security agent repeat him- or herself 57 times? How hard is it to take your shoes and jackets off, put them in a tray (or is it put the jacket in a tray but the shoes on the belt bc now, the new thing is that the shoes don't require a tray, but the jacket still does), take out your laptop without dropping it (which I've done) and put that in a tray, pile all your other crap on the belt, walk through the metal detector which beeps for all kinds of stuff but not the metal in your bra, so kudos to whichever genius thought of that. And by the way, I've gotten through security with a Swiss Army knife (it's my key chain) and more than 3oz of hair products on more than one occasion; does that make me a criminal? Maybe the security agent can tell me as soon as he/she is done droning on in a monotone about what goes in a tray, what goes on the belt, and how he/she won the argument with the coffee maker earlier this morning.

Last but not least, airplane passengers, can you please, for the love of everything and everyone up in heaven, but more importantly, for me and everyone else on the plane, can you please, please brush your teeth and wash your feet. On the first leg of my red-eye last night, the man next to me smelled like dirty bathroom and dirty dog. At the same time. My nostrils were so shocked they didn't know what the hell to do. They tried to run away but they really had nowhere to go. Every time he opened his mouth, all I could think was "Oh, my God, his breath smells like dog breath. Dog breath! Baaad dog breath. Good God, close your mouth!" Sleep finally took over, and hours later, on the 2nd leg of my flight, I was delighted to be treated to the smell of dirty feet. "OK," I thought, "this is just ridiculous. Is good hygiene just too much to ask for?"

Oh, and I did ask the steward to figure out who it was and kindly ask them to put there shoes back on, since my whole row was on the verge of throwing up. He smiled apologetically, then laughed nervously and said he couldn't do that. Sigh. Really? This is not where I was looking for the service with a smile to begin.

Wordless Wednesday: Heart



Milan, Italy - Nov 2009

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Picture Me This

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

Perfect Moment Monday this week comes in the form of realizing that I crossed something off my To-Do List that has been on there for... years. I recently registered for a photography class at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and I'm pretty excited! I'll finally learn all the technical things I feel I need to know to take better photos. I've always loved photography and want to turn my hobby into a business, and this is another step in the right direction.

16: number of years I've been 'that girl' that always has a camera on-hand to capture all the important/candid moments
9: number of years I've wanted to take a photography class but was put off by the expense of the equipment
3: number of months it took me to decide if I was going Nikon or Canon
1: number of years I've owned a DSLR* and since I missed registration for the Fall 2009 photography class at FIT
6: number of weeks until my first class of Fall 2010!!

Look out for Wordless Wednesdays which will be coming to Living This Life soon!! Here's a photo of the Manhattan bridge I took last summer to start us off:



*a DSLR camera is a Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera; in super layman's terms, it's one of those bigger, black ones with the interchangeable lenses you see hanging around people's necks more and more these days since they've become more affordable, and produce much better quality photos than your average point-and-shoots. For a much better comparison, check out this article from one of my favorite photography websites.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bikram Yog-uuugh!

Lately, I haven't done much working out, Ive been really stressed, and I have more knots in my body than a boy scout's practice rope, so I decide to take some yoga classes. I google the nearest studio and the only one that comes up is for Bikram Yoga, aka Hot Yoga, aka being in a room heated to 105°F (41°C) and 40% humidity. But I don't know all those details when I go to the torture chamber.

What I really want is a standard yoga class, not a hot one. I haven't practiced yoga regularly, but remember taking a few classes here and there and just being very relaxed afterwards. That's the feeling I want now. And I want those pesky knots to go away. Alas, I have no choice but to go to Bikram, bc I'm not traveling more than a few blocks for class, so it's that or nothing.

I make my way to the studio, and as soon as I find the entrance and peer up the stairs, I am accosted by the stench of incense that comes charging down at me. I'm already not looking forward to this, and the incense is the perfect, legitimate reason to go home, as it instantaneously gives me migraines. But I decide to woman up. It takes everything in me to suck it up and trudge up the stairs, but I do it. I get upstairs n it's not only smelly (incense and candles smelly, not sweaty smelly, oddly enough) but it's also really hot. Kinda like what 105° would feel like. Add that heat to the soaring temperatures of the 2nd heat wave of the summer that's going on outside, and we've got ourselves quite the combination.

A friendly lady talking to her coworker checks me in. She is dressed in a black athletic crop top and matching shorts, and she's sweating. Can't say I blame her. I am easily coerced into signing up for the intro week which is a 7-day unlimited pass; makes sense to buy since it only costs $20 ($2 more than a single class). The free towels they throw in for intro week don't hurt, either, as I'm soon to learn I'm really gonna need them. Angela - crop top chick - tells me I'm all set and sends me off with "OK, your goal for today is to stay inside the class". That's an odd and very small goal, I think to myself.

We all go to the heated room and wait for the instructor, who turns out to be Angela. Seeing her standing up, her body is to die for. Is Bikram how she got that body?? Sign me up for a yearly membership please! I'm taken away by thoughts of how much awesomer (yes, I make up words from time to time, and I just made that one up) my own body's gonna look in a month when my fantasies are interrupted by Angela saying something about "90 minutes" as she's closing all the windows, and then the door. It's pretty toasty in no time.

I'd like to say I whizzed through the class with flying colors. I'd like to say the heat didn't bother me, I knew all the poses, I didn't even need a sip of water, and I want to go back every day. The fact of the matter is, 5 minutes in, I am dying. I can't breathe, it's so damn hot in there its like the Sahara, and the air is ridiculously heavy with the recycled breath and sweat of 20 other people. There's this one chick in the front row (of course) who knows all the poses and then some, and I spend much of the class hating her.

Who exactly thought this hot yoga was a good idea? That would be one Bikram Choudhury. And which idiot thought they should partake in this in the middle of a NY heat wave?? That, my dears, would be me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Lost and... Found!

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

I stand at the edge of the Atlantic. Most of the guys have run in already and are neck-deep. I hang back with a few of the girls and a couple of the men who haven't ventured in yet.

"Um, not happening. Mid-calf is deep enough for me. This water is freezing," I say matter-of-factly. "Hell no."

I step in for a few seconds, step out, n do this dance for several minutes.

"I'm gonna go put my sunglasses in my bag," Rathi says, and walks away. I think about calling out to her to take mine, too. I even think about following her. Then I figure, I'm not going in, so why bother?

The water is a murky brown at best, nothing like the clear, beautiful, postcard-perfect waters of St Thomas that I am now used to. The waves are gigantic and, I would soon learn, the strongest I have ever been in. The temperature outside the water is a million; inside the water, negative 1 million.

Rathi is gone for a few minutes, tops. In those few minutes, I get ballsy and decided to wade in a little further. Before I know it, I've really grown a pair and I'm thigh-deep. The water is so cold it feels like a thousand razor-sharp shards of glass coming at me from all directions at once and stabbing my body mercilessly. I think about turning around and taking the sunglasses perched on top of my head to safety. They are my expensive, and currently, only pair. I decide against it, since I'm still convinced that I'm not really gonna go in.

Next thing I know, I am a little deeper in. I see a massive wave coming at me, I turn my back to it to protect myself, not realizing yet that there is no way I can stand up to its sheer power.

Literally.

I am knocked off my feet before I even have a chance to react. I am shoved forward, put in a horizontal position very quickly. The wave takes hold of my bikini top and bottom, and pulls in different directions. I think about reaching up to secure my glasses but am more concerned with the fact that I can't breathe bc I'm still immersed in the water, so I make a split second decision to abandon the glasses, and choose life over a possession.

I'm sure this whole episode lasted a mere few seconds, but at the moment, it truly felt like time was stretching. But accompanied by an awful sense of urgency since I... y'know, couldn't breathe.

I emerge alive and the first thing I do is look around the brown water for my glasses. Fat chance. Then I realize the whole beach is being treated to a free peep show and I quickly adjust my suit. I'm upset but at that point, I figure I might as well just stay in the water for a while and play in the waves. I'm already soaking wet and freezing. I try to act like it's all good, but in my head I am non-stop berating myself.

"I really should have known better. Those were my expensive sunglasses. This is exactly the reason I should never buy expensive things. This is exactly the reason why I don't buy expensive things. I've only had them for a couple of months, too. Took me forever to find a pair I liked, they were perfect! They're just material things at the end of the day, they shouldn't matter... But they're my material things, dammit. Sigh. I guess I can go buy another pair. I'm not working, dude, there's just no way I can justify spending $145 plus tax on a pair of sunglasses right now, that's just ridiculous. At least I bought them on St Thomas where there was no tax. Crap."

And so it went.... A couple of us still scanned the water, hopeful. For a second, I thought I felt them with my foot, but then common sense kicked in; I put my hand out in front of me and, inches later, it disappeared. I might as well just suck it up.

Twenty minutes of crashing ocean later, we are all ready to get out, and Rathi says she is going to jump back in for a rinse. I wait on the sand, wondering what's taking so long, staring in the other direction.

"Ziggy, look what I found!"

I turn to my left and if this was a movie, I swear there would be a halo of light and angels singing. Rathi emerges from the big, bad Atlantic, one arm raised in victory, her hand clutching my rescued designer sunglasses, her smile as wide as the one that slowly crept onto my face as the realization hit me.

"No frickin' way! Oh, my God, no way!!"

I hugged her and thanked her. I'm pretty sure I even jumped up n down a couple of times. I checked for damage and saw none. I put them on and besides being a little loose, they were honestly no worse for wear. Unbelievable.

*

I know this is not a huge deal in the large scheme of things. However, at that moment, it was what I called "a small miracle that feels like a big miracle". I instantly knew it was a Perfect Moment.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Perfect

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

I had just walked 13 blocks south and what felt like a million blocks crosstown. It was a chilly night in June, n even tho I yearned for some socks, I welcomed the cold; a sweet respite from the debilitating heat of the past week. I stood in line at a busy Starbucks. "I should've asked to use the restroom at one of those hundred fancy restaurants I passed by on 5th avenue," I thought to myself. But if the old man in front of me could be patient, so could I. It was finally my turn. The bathroom was hot n heavy w the smell of too many users n not enough ventilation. I hung my purse, did my business. I looked up from washing my hands and caught a glimpse of myself.

The wheals of my most recent hives episode had faded significantly. Just this morning I swear I looked like an alien. My left eye had lost most of its puffiness. My hair hung down in 1, 2, 3, 4... 5 messy clumps, dreaded at the ends, almost impossible to untangle after spending a few days w no washing or brushing (curly hair was not made for brushing). A light grey cardigan thrown over my salmon colored tank, my bra straps showing, silver necklaces dangling from my neck, one of them backwards. My make-up scarse. My hair so light, a recent change from my brunetteness, that I looked like a stranger to myself.

But my eyes were... clear. I can't remember the last time I looked in the mirror n was literally struck by their clarity. I moved back n kept my eyes on my pupils, noticing the different shape they took. Was that a play on my eyes made by the less-than-stellar quality of the mirror itself? Or do my pupils really take the shape of black squares sometimes? I moved forwards again and stared. Still.

I knew there was a line of ppl waiting outside but I didn't want to leave. I may as well have been standing there naked, no enhancements on my face, natural as anything, kama khlakanee rabbee*. In that moment, I was beautiful, but it was more than that; I had been beautiful before. In that moment, there was a solid calm where there hadn't been any for days and weeks. In that moment, I was at peace.

*As my God created me in Arabic

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Time

I am 2 or 3. I know this bc my mother has told the story a hundred times. I asked her once, with a laugh, to tell it, n she got upset bc apparently, it was still emotional for her. I am lost. They cant find me anywhere. They search the house in a frenzy. There is a forest or a lake nearby, they are frantic I may have wandered outside, into the dark unknown. My mother knocks on someone's car window. Nobody's seen me. Police are called, areas are searched. Hours later I poke my head up from the chairs under the kitchen table; the ones that were pushed up against the wall, the ones that were hidden by the tablecloth. The ones I had apparently decided to lay down on for a nap. I slept thru all the commotion until my sister, 4 yrs older than me, stood in the middle of the kitchen and, crying, screamed my name.

I am 16. We meet by coincidence at the water fountain we have drank from for years, in the hallways where we have passed each other thousands of times, aware enough of each other to say a random hello, but otherwise oblivious. We dance. I dont want to sit down bc I fear it will break the moment and he will disappear. On the way home, I lay in the back of the taxi cab, eyes closed, smiling. Once there, I close the kitchen door on myself and listen to our songs with only one light on, all the while eyes closed, thinking of him. I innocently mention him, I am told to end it before it begins. Our love is forbidden for reasons I dont believe in. I decide to follow my heart and my own opinions.

I am 23, and I am miserable. Every day I want to get in my car and drive far, far away, and never come back. I sit in the driver's seat a few times, but I never get further than the scenic overlook above the ocean, Linkin Park or Evanescence on full blast, tears streaming down my face. I just want to get away, have my own life, be independent, but every time they pull me back. By some miracle, I get a phone call from an old friend I havent spoken to in years. She suggests moving to New York City for my career. Why didnt I ever think of that? I had thought of other places, but never the most obvious one. I approach my mom. We are sitting outside in the dark. "I dont want you to look back on your life one day when you're 50 and say you never accomplished anything. Go, live your life, mama". She convinces my dad. I leave with their blessing, and of course, more than a normal number of warnings not to do anything stupid or scandalous. I arrive at JFK 2 1/2 months before my 24th birthday. I feel like I am home.

It is midnight and I am 30. I call my mother for the first time on my birthday and thank her for carrying me for 9 months and going thru the pains of labor so that I could be here. I call my father and wish him an early Happy Father's Day bc, 30 years ago, my birth and his holiday were separated by half a day, and he always tells me I was the best Father's Day gift he received. Later on that night when I blow out my birthday candle, I ask for the same thing Ive asked for so many times when I reflect & pray; peace in my heart and happiness.

I believe this decade will be wonderful.

*

Many thanks and credit to 2 of my favorite bloggers for inspiring me and giving me the idea for this post. I hope you will visit both and stay a while, their writing is truly beautiful: abufares said... the world according to a tartoussi and Weebles Wobblog.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

In My Head

Since I came back home, this is what my head has sounded like:

"Oh my God, we have to clean this whole apartment. I have to unpack my suitcases. I have to unpack all 3 closets and organize everything and throw things away and make everything perfect. Must redecorate room. Start first with painting the walls back to white. This room is gonna look awesome when I'm done with it. Romantic, classic, sophisticated. White, beige, black. Chandeliers. Sweet. Gotta buy paint, gotta buy paint. Dammit, why isn’t there a paint store closer to the house? Who's gonna paint? Cesar's* not answering my phone call. I could do it myself but I really don't feel like it. How much is Cesar gonna cost? At least 80$ that I don't have to spend right now, if I'm that lucky. Ask T to do it. T cant do it. Back to Cesar I guess. Sure, Cesar, next week sometime is fine. I love to procrastinate anyway. BB calendar reminders. Dammit, why do I constantly have reminders popping up on my phone? Call the lil bro overseas at 5pm my time which will be midnight his time. Missed that one, oops, since I was on a plane. Call him at 730, what can I do. Doctor appointments, other appointments, just a lot of appointments. For someone who doesn't have a job, I sure have a lot to do. Research freelance writing for magazines as a future gig, kinda like Mariane Pearl for Glamour, that would be so awesome. Photography book? That would be sweet. Have to buy the lil bro a bday gift, no idea what to get him. I’m not a great sister right now, his birthday was last week, oops. Birthday dresses for me, oh God, shopping is so stressful. Nothing in the stores, I live in the fashion capital of the country, how is this possible? Find a dress, buy it, don’t like it, will return. Find another dress, love it, need to find a bra to wear with it; great, one more thing to find in my still unpacked closets or buy, like I had a shortage of things on my List. One dress down, 2 to go. Birthday pix, great idea! Email photog friend, he agrees, rents lens, we pick venues, I have no outfits, shit shit shit. Want a beautiful flowy dress and another sharp, more masculine outfit (thinking white button-down, boyfriend jeans, suspenders, cool hat, make it eclectic) - cant find any of this shit. Need to do more shopping. I hate shopping under pressure. Why do I always shop under pressure? Gotta dye my hair. Make appointment; first time by this stylist and for someone who once shaved her head and didn’t give 2 shits, I find it very odd that I became such a hair nazi. Cant let just anyone touch this hair! Shit, I deleted the pictures of the color I want from my BlackBerry, that was dumb. Great job, Zalg. Guess I'll have to wing it. What do you mean, you don’t have a color book I can choose from, what the hell kind of salon is this? Take the plunge anyway. I sneak my head out from under the dryer, inch it into view in the mirror across the wall. Fuuuuuuuuuuuck, its way too blonde. I hate it. Crap crap crap. What do you mean you can't darken it right now, just a smidge, a shade darker, throw some toner on it. I have to wait a week? I have birthday pictures coming up, and a trip to Miami, I can't look crazy. The stylist flat irons it, then puts some pretty curls in it. Oh, wow, this looks way better now that it's done. Not so scary, maybe it'll just take some getting used to. I think I look fly, I think. I should ask these strangers on 5th Avenue if they like the color. Snap, snap on the BB camera. Upload to fb. My friends confirm I look fly, sweet! Still looks a little to orange to me, will have to think about this. Anyway, back to the To-Do List, conveniently I have made a short-term one and a long-term one, bc I'm awesome and I like to be organized. Sometimes. My room looks like a tornado rammed thru it. When am I gonna finish organizing?? Fuck it, I guess it'll have to be after Miami, I’m too busy for this right now. Still don't know what day the shoot is, or what I'll be wearing. I've been reassured I'll look sexy no matter what, but that's little comfort right now bc I swear, I have no clothes. Yes, I said it. Have to buy stuff for that care package to send to the lil bro. Have to make all these follow-up phone calls about something for my family in LA. Why is there always so much to do?? Have to remember to call some friends for their birthdays, I’m trying to stay on top of my friend duties here. Buffalo Exchange, that's gonna be a trek, I hope they take the swim trunks. I need to buy a fedora, I need to get a new pair of sandals, I need to find cheaper health insurance. Oh, I need my migraine meds from the pharmacy! Why is every person I deal with so horrible at customer service?? Maybe it's me, maybe my standards are too high. Sheesh. I need some money, I should really look for a job. But I want to bum around NY this summer and enjoy all it has to offer, I never got to do that when I first moved here, everybody does that, except for me, bc I started working and being responsible almost right away, this is my only chance to do this; do now or forever hold your peace, what's a few more months without a job, really? Have to call H for advice on my new chosen career, gotta research schools bc I think I want to go back to school, Public Administration and Social Work and Political Science and throw in a photography class, I think I have to go back to school bc who's gonna hire a former fashion designer to help save the world? My long-term list grows, looots of stuff to research, so happy I had that talk with H, she's a life-saver! Have to find the power of attorney, I swear I put it somewhere safe when I left, where in the world is it?? Shoot. I text, I email, I call, I fb, I consider twitter to promote my blog and one day, my photography business. I should really look into photography classes. When's the application deadline for the next real school semester? I am the queen of crossing off my List but then adding more stuff, also the queen of putting off until tmrw what I definitely should have done today. Oh, well. Split-second decision to email my old boss, the one I do like; any short-term projects available? That's my compromise. It's the weekend, woo-hoo!! Friends in town, stuff stuff stuff to do, dinner, dummy mission to NJ, ha ha that was interesting! Have to go shopping tmrw, have to watch the World Cup tmrw, too!! Where am I gonna watch, why don't I have more friends who watch football (yes, I called it Football, and I call the other one American Football, and what). Americans should really diversify their sport-watching, God, this population can be so narrow-minded sometimes. They only came out in droves for the USA-England match *eye roll*. So lame. Bed linens to laundromat, that was a pain in the ass. One more bag to schlep over there. All my St Thomas dresses to the dry cleaners, that's gonna cost a pretty penny. Pass by the gym, have shit fit bc they won't let me finish the kettle bell classes I already paid for 7 months ago? To be continued. YMCA, FFAWN, NYU, community college, volunteer, DC, update my dad's website, create my own website, I need business cards! I need to take a website-making class, I don't know how to do that shit. God, I cuss a lot. Oh, well, if ppl don't like it *shrug my shoulders*. You know, I am my own person, I need to remember to OWN THAT. I want another tattoo. A small one. Gotta decide what it should say, I have 3 ideas right now. Do a test-run on the inside of my wrist with a blue ink pen while I'm sitting on the subway, this lady's lookin' at me like I'm crazy. You got a problem, lady? That's what I wanted to say, but didn't. I'm too nice, why am I so nice? Sometimes I really wish I could be a bitch. Have to sit n think about what I really wanna do with my life, why is my life such a mess right now, woe is me, blah blah blah. I should really stop sulking, your attitude really determines what happens in your life, get it together, OK no more of that shit, I'm good. Busy, busy weekend. Room still a mess tho at least the living room bathroom n kitchen are presentable now. I hate how high the TV is placed on our wall, we need new couches, I need to paint my room, I got the paint but do I have rollers? God, I hate painting. BS digital camera, kinda sweet deal, waterproof casing for the thing is $230!! What the hell! Suck it up, suck it up, need that for scuba so might as well get it out of the way now. Oh, credit card balance due, this is gonna be painful. At least it's not all mine, console yourself Zig. Laundry. Ugh. Mattress cover, where am I supposed to get one of those for less than $80, why are they so expensive?? Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond... scratch that, I don't even know what I need. 15 minutes in the hamper section n walk out with nothing bc I'm so indecisive. Lovely. Need more friends, hmmm... love the ones I have, just need more people to do stuff with, how come I never do anything? Have to pass by the old j.o.b. n say hi to everyone, wish V a happy birthday, get her some flowers n a cupcake, that would be really nice. Don't have time, don't have tiiime! Maybe next week. Get my migraine meds, pay that Citi bill, write the rent check, oops!! I love how I was a NY rent nazi while I was gone but my first month back home, I forget to pay the shit. Jury duty. They are sending me mean letters. Am I gonna go to jail? The lil bro needs me to send him something, no more slacking, crap. Call and text the parents, the sister, the Cali bro, checkin' in, checkin' in. Topshop, Bloomie's, Zara, Soho, Bergdorf sale rack... Saks was a mess, what was I thinkin', I can't afford that place!! I can design a dress... buy fabric, drop off at seamstress', 4 day time frame, what if it comes out horrible, this could be very bad and a very big waste of time. Write a blog post, shopping n errands n mani/pedi/eyebrows on Monday, birthday photo shoot Tuesday, birthday Wednesday!! Volunteer Thursday, Miami Friday, party party party... never been to MIA, hope it's fun, I'm sure it'll be fun, gotta let go of my Miami stereotypes but shit, I can't help it if I don't like the club scene. So not my thing. Except on special occasions n when I'm traveling, then it rocks. Sore throat Sunday, restless night, horrible sleep, migraine, sneezing, runny nose, we're out of tissues in this house, why does this always happen, too tired to go down to the bodega, now what. I wanna smash my head between two big rocks anyway, that's how much pain I'm in, I feel like there's an elephant standing on my face. Need to make an appointment with the new neurologist, maybe she can magically cure me of these damn migraines, I'm so tired of this. Buckley's, nasty, can't breathe, I really wanna be able to breathe, this blows, I'm entirely too busy to get sick right now. Gotta look cute on my birthday, can't take birthday pix lookin' like the red-nosed reindeer. Bedroom window is cracked, when the hell did this happen, Super's wife needs to make that appointment with the window guys, get on it pls! Blinking red light on my BB, sometimes I hate that thing (the light, not the BB). Everyone keeps saying I look like a hippie with this scarf tied around my head, I look like Cher, I look like an Indian (feather, not bindi); what the hell, ppl, I have a migraine. It helps. That French bath you just took in the living room sure doesn't, tho. Can't believe it's already midnight, I should sleep early but I'll prolly go watch some TV n fall asleep on the couch. I should wake up ass-early n get my day started, I'm sure I'll snooze all my alarms n wake up at noon n then rush thru the day n not get anything done n I still won't have 2 more dresses for Miami or anything to wear for the shoot or more than 2 things crossed off my To-Do List. I hate that List. Even tho I crossed a lot of stuff off this week. Can I put off thinking about my future till I come back from Miami? This is so horrible. Someone tell me what to do, better yet apply to all the colleges n figure out my career path for me, and just present it to me in a nice package with a proverbial red bow. That would be suh-weet! Am I gonna wish I never went back to school? I don't know if I'm gonna like studying n doing homework all that much. I need scholarships n grants. I don't want student loans, oh no buddy! I see why it's easier to stay in your same dead-end situation than to make a change, clearly making a change requires a lot of work. But it's all about your attitude. Anyway. Time to sleep, I should take some Tylenol Cold & Flu. It's really cold in here. Dreading and looking forward to tmrw all at the same time, how is that possible. I'm hungry. I'm prolly gonna go sit on the couch n watch bad TV and have a popsicle bc my throat hurts and the popsicle is so yummy and cooooool. OK. God. I should chill with all this stress, my head needs a break. Yellow popsicle, pass on that one, I really only like the red and the purple ones, yes those are flavors. More Buckley's, so gross, still can't breathe. Batteries for the fire alarm, smoke detector, whatever that thing is called, I wish it would stop beeping so loud. Change the light bulbs in this apartment, gosh, it's so dim in here it's depressing. A massage would be so awesome right now for my head. Gotta make a doctor's appointment. I should publish this post already, I'm short of breath just thinking about how fast my thoughts are going. Really, the internet's dying now of all times? This shit better not get erased."

*The building Super

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bad Moods and Birthday Gifts

I was sitting in my kitchen, procrastinating cleaning up and unpacking the rest of my life from my suitcases and closets, and attempting to organize it into some semblance of togetherness, when the intercom rang. I was writing a blog post about how my whole apartment, and my whole life, is pretty much a mess right now. I wasnt in the greatest of moods.

I was reflecting on how I found a book of matches that our tenants left on the kitchen table when they vacated the apartment, from a restaurant called Boom that used to be called something else I cant remember (inconsequential, obviously), and incidentally was the location of my first job when I moved to NYC over 6 years ago. Talk about random and ironic. Back then, I used to make $3.50 an hour, plus tips (which there wasn't many of bc the restaurant was under new, very poor management). I hadnt yet managed to break into the fashion industry, tho I was trying oh-so-hard. Back then, every time I spoke to my parents on the phone, they would yell at me for putting up with such a crappy job that had me running around all day for nothing, bc they wanted something better and more comfortable for me.

But still, even sitting here thinking how funny it was that I had found this item that reminded me of the beginnings of my NYC adventure, and thinking about how far I had come in the years since, I wasnt in the greatest mood. The day had started out only OK, had dragged and slowly progressed to not great, at some point had become pretty miserable, and I was wallowing in self-pity. I do that sometimes.

And then the intercom rang.

Monet and I had both been waiting for the UPS man all day. At 845 pm, well past the hour we expected to get anything at all today, a very nice man in a very brown uniform bounded up the steps with a box in his hands.

I signed for it, practically skipped to my laptop, and Skyped the little brother.

"its here!!"

No answer, so I Skype-called him. He rejected the call. Oh how I hate being rejected.

"one sec, on the phone," came the typed reply.

Ugh I hate waiting... I managed to hold on for about 5 seconds, then:

"can I open it?? or do I have to wait so you can see?"

I already knew the answer, since he had been online all evening, asking me for UPS delivery updates, and making sure I had stayed home to receive the package he was tracking all the way from the other side of the world, so he could see me open it. Two minutes later, after no answer, I typed:

"can i open it???? pleeeease!"

And then finally, he finished his other call and then called me. And I got to open it. And it was beautiful. 2 small boxes inside the big one; one with diamond earrings, one with a matching diamond pendant. Things that, had I gone shopping myself, I probably would have overlooked bc oftentimes I shop narrow-mindedly. Sometimes you need other people's perspective to see things in a different light.

"Awww, I was gonna buy myself diamonds from St Thomas but ended up not getting anything bc I was broke," I said.*

"I know. I remember you told me that. Thats why I got them."

Sweetest. Brother. Ever.

I put them on, showed them off, thanked him for a beautiful birthday gift.

I decided to go try them on with something that matched diamonds a little better than an army green t-shirt and boyfriend jeans. I put on a black dress n put my hair up... and they looked gorgeous.

The gift in and of itself was beautiful, but more importantly, it was thoughtful. Amazing how your whole mood can change from one small thing.

*St Thomas is known for its jewelry industry and tax-free shopping.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Goodbye St Thomas. Hello... reality. Ugh.

OK first off let me say, I owe y'all 4 posts at minimum (the charter plane ride to a tiny island about 30 minutes away from St Thomas, Sweden, Belgium and my friend's wedding in NJ). However, since I went to Europe at the end of April, I have barely had time to do anything, let alone sit still long enough to crank out blog posts. I know, I seem to have a lot of excuses. Well, for starters, Im a procrastinator, and if you know me at all then you already knew that. Two, I really have been busy. And 3, I am still trying to get the hang of this regular blogging thing, and sometimes it goes well, and sometimes it doesnt. So, please bear with me, bc even if I do say so myself, I think I have a lot of interesting and downright entertaining stories to tell.

So 3 days from now, Monet and I will be leaving St Thomas for good. I have mixed feelings about this, but to sum it up: I dont want to stay here, but I dont necessarily want to go back home either. For lack of anywhere else I can think of to take myself, I decided going to NY just made the most sense. Reality is hovering over my head like a dark cloud and I dont like it, so no, Im not excited about going back to the real world and being faced with the fact that, after seven months of more-or-less bumming it, I need to get my life together. Even tho I myself am really at that point where I feel like I need to accomplish something concrete again.

Anyway, I have been packing for a few days now, and can I just say, I am so damn tired of packing, unpacking, cleaning, organizing, and so on. In the past month I have packed for 2 big trips and 1 mini-trip. In the past 7 months, I have packed up one whole apartment in NY, unexpectedly moved to The Rock and ended up putting together an apartment here, and now I have to pack that one up. All to go back home so I can unpack all my St Thomas crap, in addition to 6 years worth of NY crap that I shoved in 2 closets when I left the city in October. Yay for me, Im so excited I cant handle it.

I woke up this morning at 830 after a most fabulous weekend that I will never forget (2 excellent going away parties with all our island friends), and got down to the get-down. The landlord was coming by at an as-yet undetermined time to inspect the apartment, but knowing him, 9am sounded about right, so there was no time to waste. I had already filled one large suitcase and felt like I was about 75% of the way through with my room. Most of the clothes were packed, so all that was left was the little things. The shoes. The accessories. The random papers and mail and stuff Ive accumulated in the past 6 months. The junk drawer in the night stand and all the junk on top of the night stand. Under the bathroom sink, the kitchen cabinets, the fridge, the laundry room. Ouch. By 230 I was so antsy, I couldnt get out of the house fast enough.

Monet apparently felt the same way. We took out the 17 million bags of trash that had appeared out of nowhere when we were cleaning and ran away to have lunch. Post-lunch, our conversation went something like this:

"I have to go to Rainbow to return this shirt, you think they're open?"
"Let's go find out"
"OK. I also have to buy the Super's wife in NY a souvenir"
"OK. Lets go to Havensight n see if they're open"
"Cool"

Rainbow was open, Havensight was closed. The conversation continued as so:

"OK, can we think of anywhere else to go to avoid going home and packing?"
(Pause) "Nope, doesnt look like it"
"Dammit. We didnt do a very good job"
"No, we sure didnt"
"Wait! Let me run into Gourmet Gallery, I need some candy for later"

Needless to say, at some point soon thereafter, we were back at the house. I sprawled myself on the couch and turned on the TV. Monet disappeared into her room. I got up for something from the kitchen and peeked down the short hallway. Mo was laying on the bed with her laptop. Sweet, no immediate peer pressure!

I watched half an episode of Cheers and then I thought I should get up and get to packin'. As I was flipping through channels tho, I glimpsed Oprah, and well... I have to watch Oprah. So I did. For a while, but then I lost interest. Then I thought I should take this time and blog. I so love to blog in chronological order, but I figured if I waited any longer to get the events of April & May into the cyber world, I would be 80 by the time you guys had a chance to read about what I did the spring before I turned 30. So I bent my blogging rule, and here I am; sitting on the couch, typing away, the news on mute, the AC on, and all the crap piled on my bed just waiting to be put into a suitcase. Its 723pm and I feel like its midnight.

I hope you enjoy :)