Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mixed Basket of Sorts

Our departments finally moved floors today, after months of office limbo. Having seen the floorplan a couple of weeks prior, my boss had reserved a lovely little spot for me at my request. The area was right next to a huge window, with lots of warm sunlight streaming in, a ledge I could sit on when I felt like a change, a pretty decent view of the Nile, and most importantly, copious amounts of privacy, since I would be hidden from view. 

He made sure it was mine because, and I am quoting him here, "you are one of the people whose happiness we care about."

This morning, as we were all packing our things, my desk phone rings. 

Mr. Boss Man: Eureka, I have something to say that'll upset you, but makes me happy. Please forgive me, but I have decided that it is imperative for you to be seated right in front of my and Bashful's offices.

Eureka: ... Ok, Mr. Boss Man. Whatever you say. 

I am internally saying: fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Mr. Boss Man: I'm really sorry, I know you liked your spot, but I think it's much better for you to be as near as possible. 

He apologises a little more while I reassure him that it's quite alright and I understand. 

Now, I see the positive side to this - Mr. Boss Man thinks I'm essential to the team and would like me to be nearby so we could be as productive as possible. However, I would like him to note that my original spot was no more than 7 metres away from his office. I am not kidding. 7 metres is 10 normal-spaced steps. I take largish strides, so it's more late 7 Eureka steps. Not exactly a distance worth reconsidering. 

I would further like to note that I now have zero privacy and zero natural light. I am basically thrown in the middle of a crowded corridor that will be bustling and noisy and gloomy. And everyone will be able to see exactly what is on my screen. Meaning on slow days, I will be unable to mindlessly surf the web, or play Zuma, or Luxor, or even Solitaire. I will be unable to sneak a peek at any of my shows. I will be unable to even read the news for an extended period of time, as all of this will be seen as unprofessional, unproductive, and surely lead to a reduction of my measly salary at some point. I will be unable to come and go as I please. I will be chained to my desk. I will be miserable. The free ride is over kids, now I'll have to pay my dues. 

Mr. Boss Man did not ask the Swede to be closer to his office. He also failed to ensure that my beloved Bloomberg terminal be relocated next to me; he left it next to my original spot. Now, whenever Mr. Boss Man makes a silly request like ask for chemical poo multiples, I'll have to go all the way back to my original spot, mourn its loss, work on Bloomberg, then go all the way back to my new, yucky spot. This will lead to the equivalent of a mile's walk everyday as opposed to the one trip to his office I'd have had to make per day. Wouldn't it have been so much easier for him to just leave me where I was and save me the unwanted exercise?

The Swede's been around twice as long as I have, shouldn't he be the "indispensable" one? So unfair. The unfairness outweighs the flattery I should be feeling at the moment. 

Wish I wasn't so damn impressive at bullshitting my way through my job. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hello, Ma’am, My Name is Frank McMillen

You know what I
Hate most about my job?
It's not the doors


In my face,
Or the blisters on the soles
Of my feet.

I don't

Hate the hours
I spend


To women
Mooching off
My vacuuming;

I expect it.

That is. 
I just hate it when

Her husband

Comes home
The one time

I get some. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Media Matters

On my way home from work today a random thought struck me. As I complained in my last post, my brain does not usually strike me with thoughts. It usually daydreams. The normal mind function on car rides home from work is about 20 minutes of reading (until I begin to feel carsick) followed by 20 minutes of daydreaming about make-believe situations or conversations with people I've been thinking about recently. 

Today's daydreaming portion of the ride home was altered about a minute and a half prior to arriving at my final destination. A real, honest-to-goodness thought interrupted my regular programming. I quickly looked outside to see if pigs had grown wings and taken flight. I couldn't find any. So I cracked my window open to see if the weather had turned icy. Nope, still hot and sticky. Something must be in the water then.

My thought was (drumroll, please): "I wonder why I haven't felt as compassionately towards the poor folks who were crushed by the rockslide in Moqattam last week as I do for people dealing with natural disasters abroad... "

I immediately answered my own question: 

It's because of the catastrophic lack of media attention the issue has received. Aside from a terse, two paragraph news bulletin I read off the BBC website the morning of, I've seen and heard very little else about the events. What differentiates this from other events is the effect media has on delivering the message. The more sensationalist the media's tranference of the message, the more empathetic you are to the event. 

When US media talks about a cat being saved from a tree by a firefighter, they turn it into a mini hero movie. When Egyptian media talks about 1,000 people dying in a ferry accident, it's just another news item read off the teleprompter in the same monotonous robotic manner. 

To the average Egyptian, we hear about death and disaster on a daily basis, being stuck in the centre of the global hotspot - the Middle East. Carbombs, suicide bombs, war, famine, disease, and natural disasters are all part of the region's daily routine. We've become desensitized to it. So has our media, which is quite lacking in pathos to begin with. So when 46 or so poverty-stricken people living in a shanty town are crushed by a rockslide, it's all in a day's work for both the citizens and the media. How could we feel terrible over something that has become the norm?

So what we need is a more sensationalist media, like in the US. We need a media that will force you to take note, and is as ubiquitous as it is in the US. Then, we'd be roused into action and maybe a future crisis like the Moqattam disaster could be avoided. Until then, the majority of us will continue to sit on our fat bottoms in our air-conditioned chauffeured vehicles daydreaming about nothing in particular - or at the very least, lunch. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Selective Intelligence

Sometimes I wonder why I suffer from a profound lack of interesting thoughts. It seems to me that just about everyone (by everyone I mean every blog I've read and every friend I've made) will sit and have deep and profound brain things inside their heads when sitting alone. They ponder interesting topics, or sort through emotionally deep issues, or come up with highly creative ideas, or tackle intellectually difficult concepts. Their brains function analytically. Their brains function in general. 

I, on the other hand, will daydream. I will travel to some far off place in my head and pretend to get shot saving another person; I will have an indignantly self-righteous argument with someone annoying me or a loved one; I will be a princess in my castle; I will be Empress Eureka of the World. I won't think of Heidegger or Derrida. I won't think of political strategies or policies. I won't read the GMAT books lying forlornly on my desk. When reading I will routinely select fiction over non-fiction. I will begin a groundbreaking analysis of American political thought, then about 3 chapters in, abandon it for Woolf, even though I find the other book genuinely interesting and the writing style flowing and logical. 

And even when I do manage to read a work of non-fiction through, I will take it at face value. Rarely will I disagree or ask questions. Even though I know that had I been discussing this with Roonies or in class, I'd probably have something to say, or would argue against it. But only initially. I'd probably fall silent when pressed and acquiesce to the point Roonies or the classmate was making because my brain just won't go further than what it is presented with. 

It drives me crazy, because I know I'm not stupid. I just do not know how to think. 

However, talk to me about One Tree Hill or Gossip Girl or any novel or work of fiction, and I can go on for hours, nitpicking over the minutest of details. Why is this the case? Why can I only live in La La Land? 

And yet I managed to coast through my Political Science major, and my Public International Law specialization, and graduated magna cum laude. And no, I didn't pick the easy professors, as easy as that would have been at AUC. I took 5 classes with the Diva and managed 5 A's, for the love of God. The Diva does not hand that letter out. 

Where is the A achieving brain now? Why could it achieve an A in a Diva class dissecting the US Constitution, but couldn't with a Mike (who wasn't any easier) Political Theory class discussing Locke and Hobbes? 

Apparently, Eureka's brain is a highly selective thinker. Eureka doesn't like this one bit. 

On a side note, The Year of Magical Thinking (by Joan Didion) is a great read. Finished it last night. Go read it. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Wish I Were

1. Reading my book(s) (currently The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion & Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie; yes, I'm too ADD to read one at a time. So sue me.)

2. Lapping up some vitamin D in the lovely Cairo sun because I'm too pasty to be considered the least bit healthy - let alone attractive - at the moment

3. With the hair length I will have a month from now when this haircut grows out a little

4. Eating a mango

5. At the stage where I understand what's going on in a certain person's head. Because right now, I'm confused

6. Playing Zuma

7. Writing a future bestseller

8. Flying a kite. Or a Cessna

9. Skydiving

10. Still asleep

...instead of sitting here at work doing nothing at all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thems is Good People

Tonight I went to Mrs. Fallon's birthday sohour. Mrs. Fallon and I met during our first semester at AUC and immediately bonded over our highly uncommon shared love of Saturday Night Live. At the time, Chris Kattan and Jimmy Fallon were regulars; hence, I became Mrs. Kattan in reference to my love for Mango, and she became Mrs. Fallon because she just loved Jimmy to bits. 

Mrs. Fallon and I sadly drifted apart during our third year when, for some unexplained reason, there was a sort of shut-down in our circle where everyone went their own way. They all regrouped, I shuffled off to explore the then uncharted waters known as MUN, seldom to be heard from again. In hindsight, although I had no shortage of friends and continued to be popular at AUC, I wish I'd made more of an effort to rekindle my friendship with some of those girls sooner. Mrs. Fallon was and continues to be the one I wish I'd remained closer with the most. 

Mrs. Fallon is what you'd call a hybrid of an old soul and Peter Pan. She harbours an eternal bright youthfulness complemented by maturity and wisdom beyond her years. She is the kindest they come. She is a genuinely beautiful person both inside and out. 

Regardless of my transgressions (or just lack of maintenance skills) she continues to remember me, and regularly invites me to events she hosts, asks about me, and even reads these little mind excrements. Even though I'm sure they can't be as entertaining as she claims they are. She doesn't need to be as nice to me as she is, yet because she's so lovely, she never fails to be the best person one can even aspire to become. Her continued friendship is a humbling privilege. 

It is people like Mrs. Fallon, like O, Nes, Roonies, Doolittle, Folly, Effo and several others I've been blessed with that prove the existence of hope for this world. We may live in an increasingly ruthless and vapid society, but the Good still exist. Those who still have morals, have faith in humanity, and believe in doing unto others as they would have others do unto them have not dissipated. They live their lives battling negativity and hatred on a daily basis, and yet they have never faltered. 

I've said and written this before; I stand tall not because I am sure, nor because my future course is lit before me, but because I know that with each step that wavers in my struggle, I will be caught and supported by God's select few - those He wholeheartedly enjoyed creating. It is my hope that one day, I can attempt to return the infinite favours they've all so graciously given me. 

I came from the shadows. But the shadows were not cast by the darkness of the caves I dwelt in, but by the light each of these wonderful people exuded; beacons guiding me to the people I can safely, confidently call home.  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

All Too Common

She soldiered on brusquely, constantly looking over her shoulder as if being chased by an unseen assailant. She had to keep moving, she had to keep her mind clear, fixed on its objective. She couldn't afford to loser her nerve now. Not after so many months of incubation, of fear, of meticulous planning. The stakes were too high, the consequences too great. She'd watched the leaves change as she waited for this moment. She smelled the flowers bloom when the package finally arrived. Backing out now was out of the question.

She fired several tuts in rapid succession at a man beating his donkey as she hurried passed. For all her 14 years, she still couldn't understand human cruelty. How malicious and violent towards creatures they depended on for their livelihood. Towards creatures offering purity and love in return. Weren't we all God's creatures in the end?

The package was held close to her chest, wrapped airtight in an innocuous black garbage bag. Her heart raced. It was a wonder its beats hadn't drowned out the roar of the traffic. The traffic. Hundreds of eyes glaring at her. Their glinting accusations merging into a river of blood, bile and milk as each car honked past.

She shook her head violently, trying to push the paranoia out of her head. Keep walking. Keep moving. March. March. Don't think. Her determination grew more steadfast with ever chant. Unconsciously, she gripped the package ever tighter; she only noticed when she gasped for breath, it had been pushing so tightly against her lungs. She had to be more careful. The package couldn't be bruised. It couldn't be disturbed.

Nervously, she eyed her passersby. Where they able to discern the contents of the package? Were those too glares of disapproval? Her worry quickly turned to scorn. Where were they to judge? Who were they to chastise, to invoke their honour as they stoned or slit her open? How could they know her circumstances? She was doing as best she could for everyone involved. Her conscience would be cleared tonight. Her conscience must be cleared tonight. No blame would be laid on her. 

She glanced around her one last time and slipped into the dark, quieter alley she'd chosen a few months before. Close enough to the main street to be frequented, quiet enough for disturbances to be heard and hopefully heeded. The government-collected garbage cans lay sideways, overflowing. She chose the softest looking bag and shooed the cats away. Gingerly but rapidly, she placed the package in the midst of the rubbish and fled as fast as her feet could muster, back into the tide of Cairo's never-ending traffic.

But amidst and above all the sounds of the sleepless city, she could only hear the cries and wails of the package, as her blood congealed over his tiny body, attracting the cats' appetites, and the cold night breeze caused the bag to rustle over his mouth.

Her conscience did not clear that night.  

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Three Is NOT The Most Charming Number

I have come to wholeheartedly believe that luck - be it good or bad - comes in threes. Yesterday was the day of proof. 

We woke up in the morning expecting a relaxing Saturday. We were going to cut our hair, run some errands, then see one of my most favouritist of my mother's friends in the evening. My mother decided we should leave the house around noon to avoid the early afternoon traffic, both at the hairdresser's and on the road. Meanwhile, my genius friend by the name of Roonies decides to give me a call. 

"Eureka, you're going to grad school with me. I'm going to start studying for my GMAT's right after Ramadan, and I ordered these great books online. The grand total is US$315. Order them and we can study together."

"Ok Roonies, your wish is my command. You are the all-knowing and all-acing one. I can only study for my GMAT's if it is with you. I cannot do this alone. You will make me work hard."

In all fairness, Roonies wasn't so forceful in her delivery. I choose to make her sound so bossy because I'm the idiot for following her blindly. But the woman is a goddamn certified genius. I'd be stupid NOT to follow her blindly. Then again, I am not a genius. I am neither intelligent enough to make a rational decision for my wellbeing that isn't imposed upon me, nor am I intelligent enough to manage the GMAT's at all, let alone on my own with no teacher or guidance from Roonies. I can't sit still to study for ten minutes without needing to take a lap around the room. And the kitchen. Give me a novel, on the other hand, and I won't budge off my fat buttocks all day. How can I be expected to study for a test that is mostly maths/mathemetically-inclined logic and is aptitude-corrected? OR whatever that the computer decides how smart/dumb the questions should be based on your answers system is called. 

So, dutiful mimicker that I am, I get online and order the books. In the meantime, my mother is hollering at me because it is noon and I am still in my pyjamas. I make a mad dash for the bathroom, get dressed, and am ready in about ten seconds, although I look like something the Sarah Palin (i.e. the pitbull - I figured that one needed explaining) dragged in. 

That is the first dose of misfortune of the day. US$ 315 that could have been spent on books I actually wanted. Or jeans. Or a bag. Or both if they're on sale. This is the true level of my intellect. You all know it because my true colours shine through on this blog. I don't know how I got away with pretending to be brilliant and intellectual all these years. 

The second unfortunate event is the disaster the hairdresser calls a haircut on my head. It is a dead sheepdog puppy disguised as a wig in the shape of a muffin top on my head. With a much too short fringe, which is really the poor puppy's tail flicking across my face. Poor dog must be almost as uncomfortable as I am. Sad because this guy gave me a great haircut last time. Is there no consistency left in this world? 

Third is the splitting headache I was suffering from all evening. Yes, headaches are generally unfortunate occurrences, but this is an especially unfortunate event because I was looking forward to spending time with my mother's friend, who is one of my three non-biological mothers and a woman I rarely get to see. She's a university professor lecturing on Arab History and is phenomenal. And the sweetest woman in the world. One day I hope to be half the person she is. 

Sucks to be me yesterday. But aside from those three downers, I had a decent day. My hair will grow out and the Swede will probably buy the books off me. I still had a decent evening with my mum(s) and laughed enough to last a week. So all's well that ends well. 

That was my uneventful weekend. How was yours?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Foot 's Loose!

And fancy free! Cast came off last night :)

I must have scrubbed off half a person in dead skin. I'm still scraping icky flaky stuff off my toes and my heel. Gross, I know. But seeing as I have to live it, you'll have to read about it.

On a happier note, I had my first honest-to-goodness no-holds-barred proper shower in three weeks. None of that stick your leg out the side of the tub and try to hold the shower head while shampooing nonsense. It felt awesome. I was a happy camper.

However, my euphoria didn't last very long. I had the pleasure of experiencing a most interesting version of an FMF attack. This sort of attack is intriguing and quite rare in my experience so pay utmost attention to the following for it will probably not be repeated for a while and is a study in the body's need to be an asshole.

Sometimes, FMF decides to grace you with its presence in stealth mode. You are struck by a semi-high fever (39 and a bit degrees Celsius in my case last night; nothing too bad), the shivers, and a sort of heart-attack like burning sensation in the base of the throat/top of the chest area. It's like ice burn but coming from the inside and pulsates with each breath. Obviously with a fever and freezer burn breathing you're in for a fun night.

I don't mind this type of attack though. It only lasts a night, it's relatively painless, and I tend to hallucinate slightly so they're fun. Too bad they only come round once every couple of years and the rest of them are stupid normal attacks.

Last night I think I was convinced I was a science accountant from the future stuck in an HR job. Yes, I am serious. I distinctly remember trying to assign new numbers to some sort of Excel file with job applicants' contact information. And I remember spending a pig's lifetime trying to remember the name of the medicine on my bedside table that helps relieve my fever but I couldn't be assed to reach over and grab. I eventually figured it out. It is called Parofen. Better than Panadol. Trust.

Watched OTH and GG episodes tonight. How I love TV season and bless the writers of such mind-numbing sexgod bitchslap banter. Please remember that I live vicariously through my TV shows. This shit is the highlight of my day. Now kindly reassess why you're still reading this blog.

Oh, you're still here? You're either extremely loyal, totally pitying me right now, or just as sad as I am. In all cases, I love your committment to watching me suffer. Bless.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Disgruntlement With the Self

But still, I never learn. Experiences seem to flit over me, hitting me on the head much like a stone skipping over a placid body of water, making momentary ripples that promise permanence yet are forgotten before the ever-widening rings come to pass. The larger issue seems to be my complete awareness of the repetitive nature of my mistakes. I know exactly how the event will play out. I should, I’ve lived it time and again. I know that I am merely setting myself and others up for disappointment, that I will kick myself for going through with it later, that dealing with the subsequent fall-out or debris is sure to be a hassle. But still, I never learn.

Once again, I agreed to a blind date. Once again, I knew full well that it wouldn’t be successful beforehand. Did I weasel out and save both parties the trouble? No. I chose to take the easy route and be accommodating to the whims and hopes of others. Same stupid submission; different day.

Maybe on some level in my subconscious, I think that this “yes, ma’am” attitude is a form of self-sacrifice for a greater good – a positive gesture to the happiness of others. But really, it isn’t. What have I achieved? I’ve appeased the person pushing for the date, but only to provide false hope to both the pusher and the poor man being thrust in an uncomfortable position. I have basically led him on before even introducing myself. I’m a perpetual tease.

And what boggles my mind further is the fact that he ticks all the right boxes. So I should have no excuse not to like him. He is gorgeous (think a semi-buff Gerard Butler), he is smart, he is ambitious, he’s the perfect age, he’ll make a great family man, and he’s a gentleman. AND he fits my mother’s “Good Christian Boy” requirement. That’s every box on my list ticked.

He complimented me just often enough to be flattering yet sincere. He was eloquent. He was interesting. He was funny and charming and genuine. It wasn't a game or a dance to be played out with certain step-requirements. It was an honest and open introduction of two individuals shoved in each other's direction.

He put up with an hour's driving in some sketchy Cairo neighbourhoods at one a.m. because I am road illiterate and too stubbornly proud to admit it. He put up with a crowded evening of strangers and 4,000 renditions of my broken foot story to as many new faces. He even held the car door open without being instructed to. The last of London's chivalrous men.

And yet I nit-pick. My reason this time? I don’t see the families getting along.

That just makes me a complete bitch.

And I know I'll only see him again while he's still in Cairo out of guilt and remorse.

Why am I still waiting for the fairytale and fireworks when it is obvious that those only exist in the magical realms of the imagination? He borders on perfect. Hell, he’s every woman’s Mr. Right.

Why can’t I accept him as mine?

Because I’m an idiot who is actively pushing herself into a life of solitary confinement in my own deluded psyche, that’s why.

Run folks, otherwise you’re destined to read about years of therapy and cynicism.

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