Thursday, January 23, 2003

stupid.. err, i mean.. angry white men..

this week, donahue's got some "angry" caucasians on his show.. and so far they've all displayed themselves as elitist, racist bastards, as can be expected from a title as such. they're all pissed because they feel as though america is their nation and everyone else is invading it. one guy is scared that all the brown people are gonna take over america and that there will soon cease to exist an "all white" neighborhood (umm forgive me but uh.. isn't that a good thing???). another guy can't stand the fact that mexicans (and other immigrants) are crossing the border at an "alarming" rate and that they refuse to speak english, blah blah blah.. correct me if i'm wrong, but uh.. aren't all these people immigrants themselves? or is one not considered an immigrant so long as their skin color matches that of the majority.. oh, then it's okay right? wrong! they say by 2050, the population of whites in america will drop to 53% from 75% in 2000 and 87% in 1960.

the debates have been pretty interesting, though more so annoying and frustrating by virtue of having to listen to some of the horseshit coming out of the mouths of these racist white men.. but every now and again you hear a great comment from liberals in the audience or one of the (smarter) speakers saying "well, you know.. if we just continue to sleep with each other, we'll all be the same color and then you'll have to find some other reason to hate us...". well said... and personally, i can't wait! donahue's had some classic comebacks as well.. he's quite funny actually cuz he really makes fun of these angry assholes.

tonight's topic? affirmative action. ahem. i may have to skip this one for health reasons as it's likely to put me over the edge...

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

mumbling at random..

so, it's wednesday evening, (and by the way, 18 days and counting til the big 3-0) and i'm home alone cuz c has a late meeting. i was really looking forward to having the evening to myself.. the plan was to come home and relax, then start cooking some daal (lentils) and chicken and broccoli for myself and a ground beef/pasta dish for c. we're both eating separate meals these days because i'm trying my damnedest to eat healthy during the week and so far i'd give myself an A+. i cut out the pasta and other starchy items, i cut out bread, barring a slice or two of whole wheat now and again. i've been eating vegetables and fruits like they're going out of style, and have been working out 5-6 days a week. the weighing scale says i've lost 2 pounds and 2% body fat but i never really trust them thangs...

so anyways, it was supposed to be a pleasant evening of introspection, relaxation and humming over the stove. but when i got home, the thermostat read 51 degrees and damn was it cold in my apartment! so eventually i noticed an open window (just the inside frame, not the glass on the outside) and called c to see if she was the culprit. but she said she hadn't touched the windows in weeks. so of course we grew suspicious and wondered who in the hell could've been in the apartment! it was too late to call the rental office but you better believe they'll be getting a call tomorrow morning. i also had some money in an envelope sitting on my desk. i could've sworn i had $100 but now there was only $60. maybe i spent it.. i really can't recall. i can account for about $20 of it that i may have spent, but not $40. either way, i decided to drop the money issue for fear that my memory just ain't what it used to be, but i'm still freaked out by the window. i mean, usually the rental office leaves a note or something if they had to come in for whatever reason! i guess i'll find out tomorrow.. or not.

so after freezing my ass off in the apartment for a good hour (and it's still freakin' cold in here, but hey, did you know it's a whopping 5 degrees outside?), i got out from under the covers after the usual task of solving all the wheel of fortune puzzles before the meatheads on the show did, and headed to the kitchen to test my lack of culinary skills. my attempt at cooking daal failed simply because i forgot to wash the damn lentils so it's kinda grainy.. and the chicken is still frozen even after i took it out of the freezer this morning and put it in the fridge. so i just said fuck it to the chicken and the broccoli as well. i have no idea what i'm gonna eat now.. times like this, a burger sounds damn good.. but i'll be good. the chicken is back in the fridge and the daal is just sort of sitting there on top of the stove burner waiting for god knows what. as far as c's meal goes.. well, the ground beef was frozen too, but i've got it under cold water so i'll attempt to cook again in about an hour. but damn, i'm kinda tired now!

and to top it off, west wing is a re-run.. grumble grumble.

on a different note, i took a pilates class on saturday for the first time, having read an article in last week's newsweek which lauded the benefits of strengthening one's core (i.e. the torso). it was interesting.. not too strenuous, yet it requires all kinds of mind-body coordination which i simply don't have. but i'm not discouraged. i will figure it out eventually, and i'm going again this saturday.

it's still cold in here.. i think we need to put some of that 3M stuff on our windows cuz this is sheer lunacy.

i'm headed back under the blanket with the dreaded thought of having to get back up to finish cooking c's meal but i would hate for her to come home on an empty stomach and find out that i didn't cook as promised.

so far this wednesday evening has been quite frustrating (read: it sucked), but i'll live.

Monday, January 13, 2003

28 days and counting..

that's right folks.. the big 3-0 is approaching.. and i'm not sure why, but it honestly feels like i've been 29 for a really long time.. all of a sudden i'm feeling cautiously aware of my surroundings, my life, my achievements, my goals. is this normal? i suppose. i've had a host of friends turn 30 in the past year. and while it's nice that we're all in the same age group, it's also weird in that they've all turned 30 already and have nothing but woes to convey about this dreaded milestone. and, not to mention, they're all married with children with very few exceptions. but i know, it's completely a mental thing, age ain't nothin' but a number, etc. but just in the past couple of days, i've really been reflecting on things. i don't know how it started, but all of a sudden i realized that i will have lived 3 decades of my life and started to wonder if i had anything positive to show for it.

and i think i do... this past decade has been quite fruitful, actually. while in my twenties i managed to graduate from college, pass the cpa exam, get a good job, pay off an ungodly amount of money in credit cards, meet some very cool and some not so cool people, and discover my sexuality. that's quite a bit, isn't it? i mean, i have a lot to be thankful for! i'm in relatively good health, my immediate family members are alive and well, i have a well paying job, a nice roof over my head, a small savings account, not too much in debt (unfortunately i can't say debt-free anymore as the st. lucia trip was a little more extravagant than i expected), i have decent credentials that would carry me in the event of a (God forbid) lay-off or other unexpected crisis, and a loving girlfriend.

what more could a girl want? what more could i have possibly accomplished in the past decade?

well, the list is pretty long. and it's long because i've put a "do or die" deadline on certain aspects of my life, a "last chance" of sorts. things i've been wanting to really delve into for the past, oh.. 5 or so years. i mean, really.. i need to shed a few pounds.. like 15-20, so i can feel better about the way i look. i need to quit smoking cigarettes so i can better achieve my goal to lose weight and also, of course to lower the risks of cancer, emphysema, and a host of other illnesses that these damn cigarettes can cause (if they haven't already done so). i need to concentrate on my job and develop a stronger work ethic and better myself professionally so that i can eventually get a job that is more mentally satisfying. but more importantly, i need to figure out what i really want to do with my life.. and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the dilemma of the new decade.

i don't want to be a tax accountant for the rest of my life. i don't want to work for the man for the rest of my life. i don't want to live in chicago for the rest of my life. i don't want to live any place where the temperature falls below 50 degrees, ever again. i don't want to live in a country ruled by bush. i don't want to have to struggle to save up for a decent vacation every once in a while. i don't want to have materialistic/superficial friends that deep down don't really give a shit. i don't want to have to wait 2 years to afford to go home to see my family, yet i don't really want to move back to bangladesh for good. i don't want to get emphysema. i don't want to die anytime soon. i don't want to limit myself in anyway by allowing any of societies restrictions to be placed on me or my person.

so, you see.. there are a lot of things that i know i don't want, but in all honesty, i have very little clue as to what it is that i do want, in a big picture kind of way, that is.. and it's driving me insane.

in the meantime, i think i've mentally psyched myself into getting some of my shit together. i've got a personal trainer friend who is guiding me through the weight loss issue.. i.e. stick to a regime of healthy eating (fruits, veges, no junk food at all) monday through friday while working out regularly, and allow myself to indulge (in moderation) on the weekends. i'm looking into taking either a yoga class or guitar lessons. i'm gonna try my damnedest to quit smoking, and use the working out regime as an incentive (do you know how hard it is to run the treadmill when you've just had a cigarette two hours prior?). i will spend more time with my real friends and whenever possible visit my life-long friends who live in other states/countries. i will do a better job of saving money so i can help out my parents, and also take trips whenever i want to because travelling is the most exciting thing in the world, and i'm gonna get back into shooting pool regularly because it is truly a passion of mine and i've neglected it for too long.

i will do all of these things and then some because i'm turning 30. i'm reaching an age where, in my mind, if i don't put my heart into it and do it now, i may never have the chance/energy/desire to do it again.

now excuse me, while i get on it.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

paradise left behind...

wow.. where do i begin? this monumental task of describing our vacation is going to take too long. so instead i give you snippets:

we arrived at our hotel after a shady landing at st. lucia airport amidst clear skies, blue waters, 80+ degree weather.. it was absolutely gorgeous. we arrived at the hotel capri which had absolutely stunning views as it sat atop a hill overlooking the caribbean sea. the proprietor of the hotel was unexpectedly out of the country but he had an english couple looking after the hotel in his absence.

by the time we got to the beach which was about a 5 minute downhill trek, it was almost sundown. but we hung out a bit nonetheless and noticed that the beach area was rather small, and attached to a hotel called "le sport" which entertained what appeared to be rich, bougie folks who preferred secluded spa resorts. all beaches in st. lucia, we were told, are public, but it turns out that hotel capri has an agreement with le sport to allow capri guests to use the beach chairs and towels at the le sport beach, which we decided we'd definitely make use of.

later that evening the couple overseeing the hotel offered us a ride into "town": rodney bay, the northern portion of st. lucia that attracts the most tourists and has a strip of restaurants and hotels as well as a little mall with souvenir shops, etc. the ride by car was only 10 minutes, but we were told that the walk would take about 45 what with it being hilly and all. that evening in rodney bay, we had dinner at a restaurant called castaways. being christmas day, they offered a very limited menu: steak or turkey. we both ate the steak which was actually quite fatty, but tasty, and sat and chatted with this english bloke in his mid-forties we had seen earlier on our flight, who planned to stay for a few weeks. he was somewhat entertaining, though he often used very awkward terms like "colored girls" to describe his particular preference of women. he shared a bottle of wine with us, which was nice.. and gave us a few pointers on things to do as he had been to st. lucia before.

after dinner we went looking to buy a pack of cigarettes and wandered into the royal st. lucian hotel which was this huge, fancy hotel with a swimming pool shaped like the number 8 without the crossing and a swim up bar attached to it. and just in front of the hotel was a vast beach known as reduit beach which the english bloke said was the nicest beach he had seen. since it was dark, we really didn't get to see it well, but knew right away that it was a much nicer beach than the one in front of our hotel. we looked into rates at the hotel just incase and found out that it was well over $500/night. well, so much for that.

we ended up at the triangle bar, a quaint little outdoor bar which appeared to be visited by many local st. lucians. we met two guys who tried to do the old "divide and conquer" thing with me and c, but of course they failed and we left them on a relatively sour note as they started to get a bit obnoxious about it. when we got back to the hotel late that night via taxi which cost a whopping $15, we realized that rodney bay was most definitely the happening part of town.

the next morning, or should i say afternoon since we managed to sleep in after having stayed up long hours chatting in the gazebo overlooking the sea, we decided to head back over to le sport and have some lunch and chill on the beach. when we got there, we were greeted by unfriendly looks and gazes from the security people who were apparently wondering why two colored folks were walking around the white-only (save for the people that worked there) property. we paid them no mind and proceeded to the reception desk to see about getting lunch. we balked at the price of a lunch buffet and decided instead to just hang out by the beach and soak in some sun. not 5 minutes after we sat down on the beach chairs, a security guy came up to us and asked if we were guests of le sport. we told him no, and that we were guests of the capri. that seemed to not make a difference to him at all, and he proceeded to tell us that even though this is a public beach, we aren't allowed to use their chairs. we tried to explain that the capri guests are indeed allowed to use the le sport facilities but he mumbled something about not knowing about this arrangement and that the rules must have changed recently because he isn't aware of it. at this point c and i are pissed so we left the property and headed back to our hotel. another (white) lesbian couple that was staying at our hotel were sitting outside on the deck when we got back. and this is what followed:

me & c: "hey, did you guys just get back from the beach?"
them: "yeah! it was awesome!"
me & c: "cool.. did you guys use the beach chairs?"
them: "oh yeah.. and they gave us towels and kept coming around asking if we wanted drinks"

well, to make a long story short, both c and i looked at each other and realized that we had indeed been discriminated against in a country that is 90% black. how f'ing bizarre is that? the details behind what happened next is irrelevant; our hotel complained to le sport, they apologized, blah blah blah.. they said we could go back and use their facilities, no problem, blah blah blah.. whatever. we didn't even want to go back to that damn place..

having had that experience, we realized that the next thing on the agenda was to find a new hotel asap somewhere near rodney bay. even though the capri was a great hotel, it just seemed as though there wasn't much to do around there, especially without a car. we didn't want to be dependent on the hotel to give us rides to rodney bay, and we hated the fact that we couldn't just venture out even to buy a pack of smokes! the location was just too secluded. so we headed out.. walking.. to rodney bay. the walk was refreshing.. even though the uphill slopes left me breathless, it helped c and i release the stress accumulated from the situation at le sport.

finding a hotel at rodney bay turned out to be easier than we thought. we walked into about 2 or 3 until we finally found the tuxedo villas which turned out to be exactly what we were looking for.. our own private apartment with a full kitchen and all the amenities, for only $20 more than the capri. the best part was that it was directly across the street from the royal st. lucian where we bought day passes for $25 to use their facilities all day which included, ahem, beach chairs and towels and their swimming pool, etc. a much nicer arrangement indeed, and the people were much friendlier than at le sport.

at this point, our vacation really started rolling.

we spent two full days at the beach, got really dark, got thrashed by waves a couple of times, but in general we thoroughly enjoyed the blue waters where you could actually see your foot under water, it was so clear! considering c wasn't much of a swimmer, i was surprised by the amount of time she spent in the sea. it was heavenly! it was fun! it was (finally) relaxing! so what if we didn't get the hammock in our balcony.. this was better than anything.

but alas, as soon as we started to relax, it seemed, it was time to go.

but before we left, we did a tour of the island and saw some magnificent rainforests, a huge botanical garden up in the hills complete with a waterfall and mineral baths, the sulphur springs volcano and a few fishing villages which oddly enough reminded me of bangladesh at times.

while there were definitely other highlights to our trip, particularly an almost-run-in with the cops while chillin' with a rasta (doin' our ting ya no?), my hands are tired from typing (hey! i've been on vaca for 2 weeks!) so i shall end here. but i will be back with an indepth review on how some old school british racism seems to persist in st. lucia and much of the caribbean, i imagine. it was definitely an eye-opener for me.. and a realization that institutionalized racism can surface it's ugly head where you least expect it.

all in all, we had a fantastic time. i can't even begin to describe how beautiful st. lucia is. if you have the opportunity, definitely visit and shoot me an email for details on good deals, etc. that i wrote down for future reference. i wish i was still there.. but alas, we had to leave it behind.

miami, in comparison, was blah. but we had fun there too. we stayed with my cousin, grilled out, drank and ate too much.. a wonderful transition before coming back to the hellish winter of chicago.