Thursday, March 31, 2005

the year of travel and adventure®...

ladies and gentleladies, meshell ndegeocello and the spirit music jamia present...

the lisa/deshi european tour!!!!

ok, so maybe not.

but close!

some of you already know from lisa's earlier posting that she and i are embarking on a two-country european tour to catch our hands-down-favorite-artist meshell ndegeocello in concert with her new project, the spirit music jamia.

i've been hesitant to blog about this because i didn't have all the necessary visas in hand to be absolutely fucking sure that i was indeed going. and i'm superstitious like that. but i just picked up my passport, freshly stamped with british and dutch visas, and am so ready to go!

basically it all started after i came back from bangladesh in january, feeling sad and blue that my vacation was over. so my way of getting past the sad and blue was to make a determination to myself that 2005 would be the year of travel and adventure!®. in light of that proclamation, i began listing out countries i wanted to visit, and one of the top five was the netherlands (or, specifically, the city of amsterdam). well, wouldntcha know as i was browsing through the freemyheart website, i came across meshell/smj's european tour dates and almost instantly formulated a plan in my head. i mean, i was already getting impatient with the fact that meshell hadn't been in chicago for over two years, not to mention i was dying to see smj live. by the way if you haven't heard their recently released cd dance of the infidels, you are sooooo missing out!!! so i figured, fuck it. cuz you know, sometimes you just gotta say fuck it. if she won't come to me, i'll just have to take my ass to europe. and since amsterdam was already on my list, i figured i'd just use the smj concert as my official excuse to spend money i don't need to be spending on a trip to amsterdam! meshell ndegeocello always makes for great excuses in my life. word up (shout out to summer!).

well, the next problem was deciding if i should go it alone, or if i should drag a friend with me. i scanned through the list of friends in my head, (which took me like four hours... haha just kidding!) and realized that none of my friends shared my passion for meshell's music. in fact, most of my friends don't even own her cd's as much as i try to shove her music down their throats! so, i figured i'd just wing it by myself. after all, i'd never visited a foreign country by myself so it would really be an adventure. in line with 2005 being the year of travel and adventure!® of course!

but then it dawned on me. the one person i know (a blogger whom i've met in real life) who would actually embark on such a crazy journey... is lisa!!!

so i sent her an email, (albeit a little skeptical as to whether or not she'd just think i was a babbling fool) laying out the plan and asking her if she'd be interested in joining me. and true to her meshell roots, she was as ecstatic about the idea as i was and had even thought about doing it on her own until she checked ticket prices.

and the rest is history. or soon to be, once we get back. ;)

so, we leave next wednesday and arrive in london the following morning. a british airways special offer ended up getting us two free nights in london which of course worked out extremely well because we'll be attending the meshell/smj show at london's jazz cafe on friday night. then the next morning we arrive in amsterdam, catch meshell/smj (yes, again! pay attention!) that night, and then just chill in amsterdam for a few days before heading back to the good 'ol u s of a.

i'm so excited, i can hardly contain myself! i'm feeling all kindsa grown up now. i'm telling you man... 2005 is the year of travel and adventure!®.

Monday, March 28, 2005

see ya... suckas!

there isn't quite anything like it in the world. to resign from a job you hate, full of certain people you've absolutely had enough of... there's just nothing like it. you all are well aware of how much i hated my job, right?

anyway, i've been on the hush hush about this because i'm just a tad superstitious that way... but i got an offer i couldn't really refuse and the rest is history. there was some drama involved with um... you know... having to take a certain test and all, but it's no longer a concern, and uh... amsterdam here i come!

so yeah. i turned in my letter of resignation on friday and my last day is next wednesday. it worked out really well because on wednesday, i finish my last day and head straight to the airport to meet up with lisa so we can hop on a plane to london for our european spirit music jamia tour. more on that later, i promise! then i get back from europe, have one day off, and start work the following day.

life is good. i have so many blessings to count. i'm fortunate to get another job in this economy, and i know this. but i cannot even begin to express to you how happy i am to know that after seven years of working for the same company day in, day out, i'm actually moving on...

don't get me wrong... i'll miss a bunch of folks i work with here... and while it hasn't really hit me the way it will on my last day, i'll definitely be taking a lot of memories with me...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

gender (in)equality in islam...

so, some of you may have heard that dr. amina wadud, pictured above, led a prayer session last friday in nyc. it's all a big deal and shit... because it's always been men who lead prayers. i'm all for it of course, and i hope more and more muslim women step up and try to level the playing field. but some of the comments coming out of this whole thing within the internet muslim community are just fucking ridiculous. so ridiculous, that i'm all riled up from reading some of these absolute asinine comments (especially on naseeb dot com which i hadn't even heard of until all the hoopla over a female prayer leader started swinging).

but you know, as riled up as i am, and as much as i can say about the topic, i don't think i will. i'm just not even gonna write about it. i can't. it'll take too long. i won't do it. you can't make me. it's almost 5p and i have to leave work anyway. so yeah, it ain't gonna happen. sorry.

the nostalgic feminist...

back when i was a wee little teenager, i remember reading a quote that i absolutely loved. i was in the beginning stages of realizing the need for gender equality and my own personal reasons for being a feminist, and this quote summed a lot of it up for me. of course it comes from a very western perspective but rings true nonetheless. i recently ran across it again, almost 19 years later(!!), and it brought back memories of womens day celebrations and protest rallies from when i lived in bangladesh. those were some good ass days.

at any rate, i just thought i'd share it you...

"because a woman's work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we're the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it's our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we're nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we're nymphos and if we don't we're frigid and if we love women it's because we can't get a "real" man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we're neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we're selfish and if we stand up for our rights we're aggressive and "unfeminine" and if we don't we're typical weak females and if we want to get married we're out to trap a man and if we don't we're unnatural and because we still can't get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can't cope or don't want a pregnancy we're made to feel guilty about abortion and...for lots of other reasons we are part of the women's liberation movement."
~author unknown, quoted in the torch, 14 september 1987

Sunday, March 20, 2005

a beautiful mind... an addendum

more on corporate globalization and the "call center" industry in india:

"the call center industry is based on lies and racism. the people who call in are being misled into believing that they are talking to some white american sitting in america. the [indian] people who work in those call centers are told that they're not good enough for the market, that u.s. customers will complain if they find out their service is being provided by an indian. so indians must take on false identities, pretend to be americans, learn a 'correct' accent. it leads to psychosis.
one way of looking at this is to say, 'these people at least have jobs.' you could say that about prostitution or child labor or anything - 'at least they're being paid for it.' the premise is that either these workers don't have jobs or they have jobs in which they have to humiliate themselves. but is that the only choice? that's the question.
we hear all this talk about integrating the world economically, but there is an argument to be made for not integrating the world economically. because what is corporate globalization? it isn't as if the entire world is intermeshed with each other. it's not like india and thailand or india and korea or india and turkey are connected. it's more like america is the hub of this huge cultural and economic airline system. it's the nodal point... if america goes down, then everybody goes down. if tomorrow the u.s. decides that it wants these call center jobs back, then overnight this billion-dollar industry will collapse in india. it's important for countries to develop a certain degree of self-sufficiency."

i'm done reading the book, so that is all. but i urge you, if you've found any of this edifying, to ready more of her work. she's written countless essays, most of which are published for sale, that deal with important issues that face the world today. i personally am looking to get my hands on any and all of her writings.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

a beautiful mind...

this morning i read half of what has become one of the most engaging books i've read in a very, very long time. arundhati roy continues to move me with her fierce eloquence. and in addition to what i consider to be her beautiful mind, from the pics above you can see that she is strikingly beautiful to look at. but nevermind that.

i'm reading the checkbook and the cruise missile: conversations with arundhati roy which essentially chronicles a series of four long conversations between ms. roy and david barsamian.

the purpose of this entry isn't so much to review the book, than it is an acknowledgement of the intensity and brilliance of this passionate woman who speaks ever so eloquently of the struggles of the oppressed (particularly in india)... so much so that i wanted to share with you some excerpts that i found particularly enlightening and/or moving. the simplicity with which she expresses her views allows for the kind of articulation i can only dream to possess one day. perhaps some of these passages will move you the way they did me. or perhaps not. i'll let you decide:

on the notion of development:

"when you travel from india to the west, you see that the western notion of 'development' has to do with a lack of imagination. a taming of the wilderness, of the human soul. an inability to understand that there is another way to live. in india, the anarchy and the wilderness still exist. but still, how are you going to persuade a naga sadhu - whose life mission has been to stand naked on one leg for twenty years or to tow a car with his penis - that he can't live without coca-cola? it's an uphill task."

on nature:

"i think it was in tanzania that farmers began to shoot hippos because they were raiding and destroying the crops. when the hippos disappeared, so did the fish in the river. later they discovered that these fish used to lay eggs in the shit of the hippos. when human beings don't respect something that they don't understand they end up with consequences that you cannot possibly foretell.

the western notion of thinking that you must understand everything can also be destructive. why can't we just be satisfied with not understanding something? it's all right. it's wonderful not to understand something. to respect and revere the earth's secrets... must everything be poked at and prodded and intervened in and understood?"

on taking sides vs. being a neutral observer:

"once you've seen certain things, you can't un-see them, and saying nothing is as political an act as speaking out. there is no innocence. that i'm sure about. there's no innocence and there isn't any sense in which any of us is perfect or not invested in the system. if i put money in the bank it's going to fund the bombs and the dams. when i pay tax, i'm investing in projects i disagree with. i'm not a completely blameless person campaigning for the good of mankind. but from that un-pristine position, is it better to say nothing or to say something? one is not powerful enough nor powerless enough not to be invested in the process. most of us are completely enmeshed in the way the world works. all our hands are dirty."

on being a writer:

"just the fact that you're known as somebody who's willing to speak out opens you to a universe of conflict and pain and incredible suffering. it's impossible to avert your eyes. sometimes of course, it becomes ludicrous. a woman rang me up and said, 'oh, darling, i thought that piece on the narmada (river dam project) was fantastic. now could you do one for me on child abuse?' and i said, 'sure. for or against?'"

on the united states:

"it's not that i haven't been to america or to a western country before. but i haven't lived here, and i can't seem to get used to it. i haven't got used to doors that open on their own when you stand in front of them, or looking at these supermarkets stuffed with goods. but when i'm here, i have to say that i don't necessarily feel 'oh, look how much they have and how little we have.' because i think americans themselves pay such a terrible price... in terms of emotional emptiness. watching michael moore's film bowling for columbine you suddenly get the feeling that here is a country with an economy that thrives on insecurity, on fear, on threats, on protecting what you have - your washing machines, your dishwashers, your vacuum cleaners - from the invasion of killer tomatoes or evil women in saris or whatever other kind of alien. it's a culture under seige. every person who gets ahead gets ahead by stepping on his brother, or sister, or mother, or friend. it's such a sad, lonely, terrible price to pay for creature comforts. i think people here could be much happier if they could let their shoulders drop and say 'i don't really need this. i don't really have to get ahead. i don't really have to win the baseball match. i don't really have to be the highest earner in my little town.' there are so many happinesses that come from just loving and companionship and even losing."

on globalization:

"we ought not to speak only about the economics of globalization, but about the psychology of globalization. it's like the psychology of a battered woman being faced with her husband again and again and being asked to trust him again. that's what is happening. we are being asked by the countries that invented nuclear weapons and chemical weapons and apartheid and modern slavery and racism - countries that have perfected the gentle art of genocide, that colonized other people for centuries - to trust them when they say that they believe in a level playing field and the equitable distribution of resources and in a better world. it seems comical that we should even consider that they really mean what they say."

at the risk of publishing the entire book right here on this blog, i'll end with that one. and i'm only half way through the book.

to order your own copy of the checkbook and the cruise missile, go here.

oh... just one more itsy bitsy thing... ms. roy paraphrases a quote from winston churchill that i found particularly horrifying considering he was considered "the master statesman [who] stood alone against fascism and renewed the world's faith in the superiority of democracy" by time magazine. in 1937, in reference to the palestinian struggle, he said: "i do not believe that the dog in the manger has the right to the manger simply because he has lain in there for so long. i do not believe that the red indian has been wronged in america, or the black man has been wronged in australia, simply because they have been displaced by a higher, stronger race."

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

nosey motherfucker...

i hate sitting in cubicles. and i'm beginning to develop a severe dislike for the guy who sits in front of me. we're actually friends.. despite several differences between us.. like the fact that he's a republican among other slightly less heinous attributes.

anyway, lately i've been noticing a trend with him. he claims to be somewhat hard of hearing, yet every so often he'll ask me about something that i just got through discussing with someone else on the phone! i mean, i realize cubicles are open spaces and i try to keep my voice down and all. but this shit is starting to get ridiculous! it's happened like 12 days in a row now where he'll ask me a question about something that i didn't even bring up in conversation. and later i'll realize that he must've overheard me talking about it with a, b or c on the phone. and i'm like.. whatsthefuck? the other day i called my dentist to verify my next appointment and considering it didn't qualify as a secretive conversation i wasn't all trying to be hush hush about it. but as soon as i hung up he turned around to say, "so how do you like your new dentist?".

again.. whatsthefuck?

at any rate... i've been trying to keep my voice down lately and this morning i had a particularly low-toned and very confidential conversation with a woman who used to work at my office. as soon as i hung up, he goes "were you just talking to so-and-so? how's she doing?". at this point i'm fucking furious. i mean, damn.. at least pretend like you weren't trying to eavesdrop on my conversation! i personally never hear any of his conversations because frankly, i don't give a flying fuck who he's talking to or what he's talking about! i'm either too busy working or fucking off to even bother paying attention to what is going on in front of me in his cube. can i not get the same courtesy?

so this afternoon at lunch, as we were talking about random shit, he proceeded to bring up yet another topic of conversation regarding my life that i just chatted with a friend about over the phone... and this was the last straw. i looked at him point blank and said "damn, p. you either have way better hearing than you claim to have or i'm one loud motherfucker when i talk on the phone... do you listen to all my conversations?!!". and of course he replies "i try not to" to which i replied "sure you do" and left it at that.

i'm so annoyed. i'm so ready to get the fuck out of this place. when a person you actually used to like starts annoying you, you know it's time to go.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

it's not even green... the card, that is...

well folks... i'm sure many of you have read and sympathized (or not) with me over all my green card woes... and i'm sure that if you haven't witnessed it personally, you've most certainly witnessed bureaucracy at its best vicariously through reading about my experiences... and finally, i'm sure you're really, really hoping to god this isn't another deshigrrrl bitchfest about yet another glitch in the process in her ever-sought-after road to becoming a permanent resident of these here united states of m'erka.

well, hold your breath.

ok, no.. just kidding. it's all over folks!! yours truly has officially been granted permanent residency (i.e. green card approved). i am no longer a non-immigrant "alien", but a permanent resident "alien" which basically means that i can do pretty much everything you americans can do except vote in major elections. i can travel freely in and out of the country, i can quit my accounting profession and flip burgers at mickey d's, i can go to canada and mexico without a visa (damn.. maybe i should check on that before i get my hopes up), etc. etc. etc.

it's a great feeling, ya'll. i've been going through this process officially for five long ass years, but it almost feels like the process technically started back when i first came to the states for college in 1991. i mean, i always knew at the back of my mind that i wanted to have the option to live here, and for that i needed a green card. so i had to go through all the proper channels of adhering to strict rules, getting a job (in my major) right out of college, applying for an H-1B visa which lasts 6 years, and in the meantime trying to convince my employers that it is indeed 120% worth it for them to go through mounds of paperwork and legal fees to sponsor me for my green card. of course as much as i bitch about my employers, i am indeed grateful to a few key individuals at my job who put in a good word for me that resulted in them agreeing to the sponsorship.

and trust me when i say, there were times when i just wanted to quit and go back home. a really good (male) friend of mine even offered to marry me for convenience when things started looking kinda bleak.. but i declined.. because i wanted to do it the right way. and i did. and it took a while. but now it's done.

i got word from my lawyer that i was approved last friday, but the official hotness, i.e. the official letter of approval arrived in the mail today.

so yeah.. with a deep breath and a sigh.. i say, congratulations to me on the end of a long ass journey. cheers!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

i'm sick of being sick...

i've been under the weather for the past week. and i'm sick of it. although i managed to milk 3 days off work from the whole ordeal, i must say i'd much rather be healthy right about now. being sick sucks ass.

ok.. so while sitting at home on the couch in front of the tv (as all sick folks do), i realized that my cable company was offering free showtime. my cable company also provides this on demand thing where you can go back and watch shows you missed or movies in a database so long as you have a subscription to the channel. long story short, with the free week of showtime i managed to figure out that i could get in and watch episodes of the L word that i never saw. in the past, since i never had showtime, i've had to rely on michelle's recaps which were oftentimes quite funny to read. but i figured i'd go ahead and watch a few episodes to get the visuals, and check out my girl pam grier in the process.

i know i'm a year late and several dollars short with my views, but the show is a fucking drag. granted, i've only seen 3 episodes, older ones at that, but for the most part i was bored off my ass! i've met so many lesbians recently who refuse to make sunday night plans because they're all eager to go home and watch this boring ass show! ok, granted.. it's the ONE lesbian themed show on tv and for that alone, i suppose i can give it props.. but.. it's so lame!

i mean.. first of all, every single scene that had anything to do with jenny had me bored to fucking tears. why is she even on that fucking show? she's so boring and so undynamic.. what is her fucking point? she's like a waste of valuable airtime (not because she's bi) because she's so bland and boring.

secondly, despite the fact that 98.5% of the cast is white, not a single one of them even look like lesbians! and i'm sorry, but i say this because in real life, a lot (i'm not saying all) of lesbians look like fucking lesbians! and this shane chick.. she's supposed to be butch to the point where harry can't tell that she's a girl? gimme a fucking break. even i'm more butch than she is, and i really ain't that butch!

even the acting is for the most part, pretty bad. maybe they've all improved in the second season, but damn. i know l word fans are gonna jump down my throat for this and diss me for making snap judgements and all, but the truth is, it just wasn't as enchanting as i thought it had the potential to be.

ok, ok.. let me stop. i just had to throw in my 2 cents because that's what i do.. but i mean.. it's cool and all that this lesbian show is thriving and all.. but i don't see the big to do over it. if nothing else i know for sure that it's not worth spending the extra monthly fee to get showtime. not to mention it doesn't fit an iota of my reality of lesbian life, but then again i'm not white, rich and living in l.a. either. but by no means should you cry for me..

Thursday, March 03, 2005

13 random things about me...

at the suggestion of summer (and i'm even copying her format) here's some random shit you've never wanted to know about me:

13 random things i love:

1. my ipod
2. pool tables/playing pool
3. live music/concerts
4. swimming
5. square patterns
6. activism
7. traveling
8. comfy pajamas
9. waking up to the sounds of life in bangladesh
10. warm weather
11. hanging out at my neighborhood coffee shop with a good book
12. a nice, long, hot shower with good water pressure
13. my new bed

12 movies:

1. fire
2. heat
3. bound
4. a bronx tale
5. boys don't cry (hard to watch, but a poignant flick)
6. kids (also hard to watch; also poignant)
7. wolf
8. the sixth sense
9. st. elmo’s fire
10. mo better blues
11. great expectations
12. monster

11 good bands/artists:

1. meshell ndegeocello
2. bob marley
3. lenny kravitz
4. prince
5. u2
6. gil scott heron
7. ani difranco
8. annie lennox/eurythmics
9. a tribe called quest
10. tracy chapman
11. sade

10 things about me physically/personality:

1. vertically challenged at 5’ 2”
2. mellow
3. laid back/easy going
4. terribly opinionated
5. adaptable
6. obsessive about some things
7. i have a little belly, though some have called it cute
8. not afraid to cry
9. sometimes stubborn
10. shy

9 favorite songs:

1. mellow mood – bob marley
2. faithful – meshell ndegeocello
3. sister – lenny kravitz
4. the bottle – gil scott heron
5. is it a crime? - sade
6. i wanna be your lover - prince
7. the promise – tracy chapman
8. educated guess – ani difranco
9. mary magdalene – meshell nedegeocello

8 favorite foods/drinks:

1. chicken curry!
2. chamomile tea
3. samosa
4. water
5. absolute citron/cranberry juice
6. shrimp dopiaza (curry)
7. stir fried noodles with beef or chicken
8. larb gai (thai dish with ground chicken and spices)

7 things i always wear:

1. my watch
2. a necklace my mom gave me when i graduated high school
3. hanes hipsters (and um.. yeah.. i look that good in them.. sure, uh huh)
4. vs second skin satin bras
5. flats, never heels
6. pants, never skirts
7. t-shirts

6 pet peeves:

1. people who aren’t punctual
2. men who come to my house and leave the toilet seat up
3. piss remains on toilet seats
4. mixing pork items with non-pork items on the same plate
5. ripe smelling bums that stink up an entire train
6. people who have no spatial consideration

5 things i touch everyday

1. my face
2. my hair
3. my toothbrush
4. soap
5. tv remote to turn on the news

4 shows i watch:

1. west wing
2. nip/tuck
3. golden girls
4. cnn headline news

3 celebrities i have a crush on:

1. meshell ndegeocello
2. lenny kravitz
3. johnny depp

2 current wishes:

1. to quit my job, travel the world and end up a beach bum
2. to live a fulfilling existence that i can look back on fondly

1 person you could spend the rest of your life with:

1. myself