Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Obligatory Resolutions-to-be-Broken Post

So I've been pretty sucky lately regarding all this blogging business. I have nothing to say, I have no fun stories to tell, I have no boring stories to tell, and I basically have no thoughts worth mentioning; they are neither silly, nor random, nor insightful in any way. They no longer come neatly packaged in cloud-shaped thought bubbles, are unaccompanied by bright yellow light bulbs, and are never followed by a laugh track, a giggle, or even a snort. 

It has become so bad that I now don't even daydream significantly. That used to be my claim to fame! Sit me anywhere and I could switch off and wander through the many lands and scenarios of my mind watermelons (because mine are significantly bigger than grapes). 

What happened? I honestly don't know. I'm not depressed. I'm not sick. I'm not morose in any way. I think I'm just demotivated by life in general. Nothing new is happening. I don't have a specific group of people I can call mine. I'm just bouncing around aimlessly, going from work to home, work laptop to home laptop, and the occasional night out with a different set of people every time. I have no steady distraction from the mundane. That kind of allows your mind to switch off, never to be restarted again. The amount of time I waste online doesn't help matters either. 

I seem to be complaining about this often, but never do anything about it. Which conveniently leads me to the point of this post. I resolve to climb out of my persistent funk in the following ways:

  1. I will rekindle my friendships and reestablish my social circles by going out more often;
  2. I will take up yoga. This is because I figured it was the only way I could tone up the flab a bit without exerting too much effort. I still refuse to actually (shudder) exercise;
  3. I will lose 5 kilograms by eating better along with the yoga;
  4. I will make work more stimulating by branching out more from number crunching;
  5. I will travel more often, and not just to shop.
Those are the changed I would like to go through with in 2009. Whether or not I ever will is up for debate. I'm thinking I'll achieve 1 or 2 at best out of 5. But hey, that would be a start, wouldn't it? 

Fingers crossed!

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa, Baby!

Merry Christmas my funny little monkeys! To those of you celebrating, have a great food and family filled day. To those of you who aren't, go enjoy the leftovers at a friend's house without having to sit through the harrowing 8 hours of "quality family time".

You know what that means. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ghost of Christmas Past

The day finally called for a sweater. I don't know if this has always been the case and I just tend to forget, or if winter is truly late this year, but it feels like it should have been sweater weather about a month ago. 

Seeing as I come from a family of procrastinators, it should come as no surprise to you that we are behind schedule regarding Christmas decorations, shopping, etc... Today we got around to decorating our Christmas tree. We are quite proud of our tree, which we consider to be one of the prettiest in Cairo every year. Of course, the six and a half of you who've been to my house concur. You have no choice since I've spent the greater part of my life bribing you all with the wonders of my mother's kitchen. 

We hope to get the rest of the house done up before December 25th. The likelihood of that happening wholly depends on - well, on whether we ever bother to get off our bottoms, really. Even my mother, who is the personification of family traditions and Christmas spirit, isn't too into it this year. I think we're all getting too old, too complacent and too fat to climb up all five rungs of the ladder to place the mistletoe above the door. Oh well, it's not like there's anyone to put it up for anyway. 

I've always had a bit of a problem with this time of year, because I tend to be a muddled jumble of conflicting thoughts and (whisper it) emotions. Mid-December ruffles my inner-feathers. It serves as an annual reminder of my greatest teenage regret. It just reminds me of how self-centred, jealous, and self-deprecating I was at 14. It reminds me of how superficial we all were. How little we knew and yet how much we thought we did. 

Whenever the winds blows in with the first nips of stinging nettle air, whenever the Christmas lights go up at home, whenever the fleece socks are pulled over my numb toes, I think of someone I hurt all those years ago. Someone I greatly admired, greatly envied, and did a great injustice to. 

I knew her for as long as I could remember. She was in the Yellow class of my year, I was in Red. We grew up semi-friends, connected by our shared birthday; she was a year older and thereby the wiser one. The one I always looked up to, the one who was always so much more grown up than I could ever be. 

She was always a free spirit. So much more free than we all were; at least that's how she seemed to me. She must have had her own share of insecurities and angst, but I never saw it. All I saw was a wild head of curly brown hair crowning a popular, friendly and achingly cool head. She was friends with everyone, she dated the cutest boys in our year. And yet she was always the mysterious one. The one who you always wanted to find out more about, even when you were her close friend. 

We shared a birthday. That made me somewhat cool by association. Looking back, I realize I was well-liked by everyone at school. The bigger kids knew me, the little kids weren't afraid of me. I was even popular, in the way a Betty Cooper type can be. But I never saw any of that. I saw my unibrow. I saw my flat chest. I saw the fact that I was the brainy one who liked to read but didn't have the coolest sneakers because I didn't realize those were the cool ones when I was in the store. I never picked up on the trends as a kid. I just wore what my mother bought me. All I was good at was other people's homework, other people's favours, and being the butt of other people's jokes. The boys never saw me. I was just another one of the guys. The girls never looked up to me. I was just in their group because I could write seven different book reviews without the teacher noticing they were all by the same person. 

I couldn't see the fact that people genuinely liked me. I still have some of that self-deprecation left over. But I'm a lot better about it now. I have Dixie and Daisy to thank for that. And my eyebrow lady. 

On my 14th and her 15th birthday, I got a call from a mutual friend inviting me to her surprise birthday party. I also got an earful of gossip about another friend who apparently wanted to pick a bone or two with the newly-15-year-old girl. Being 14 and especially naive, I got my hopes up. I thought the surprise was for me, too. They would never tell me that it was for me, too. That would just ruin the surprise. 

So I go. And I'm crushed when there is no singing of my name, too. When there is no second cake, and as usual, it's all about her. No one even wished me a happy birthday that day. No one remembered.

We share a ride home with her two best friends, who are also good friends of mine. I stirred up quite a bit of trouble and told them about what I'd been told on the phone earlier that day, about how she was going to get it good from the other girl. This caused a big argument with the other girl, of course. And I got the verbal whooping from her at school the next day. She was the school me3alima (head Mean Girl, for lack of a better word) and we shared the bus to school. I ratted out the other friend who'd told me. I was humiliated in front of the class. I deserved it. But I never forgave her for ratting me out to the Mean Girl. We had a strained relationship after that, the shared birthday girl and I. She never stopped being nice to me, but she never really spoke much to me either. 

11 months later, in mid-December during our Christmas break, she died. Her family's yacht went up in flames while they all slept. 

I never forgave myself for not letting things go. For never apologizing, and never patching things up. It may seem silly now, still feeling guilty over a childish spat. But I still feel like an ass, every year. I let her down. I let myself down. She remained the better person. I never knew the date of her death, nor did I go to the wake because I was in London that Christmas. 

Our birthday was always the first day back to school after Christmas break. I came back to a horrible birthday filled with special assemblies and memory books and tears. They didn't remember my birthday that year, either. They planted a tree in her honour instead. She was supposed to turn 16 that year. Sweet 16. So many milestones, so much life left to live. 

It's funny how I think about her now instead of on our birthday. I guess I still want to keep that as mine. Make up for the ones I lost to her. Still selfish, even with the guilt. 

I can think of others I've hurt much more than I hurt her. But she's the one who's struck me hardest because I can never take it back. I can't make amends. 

I try to think of her in a positive light. I try to think happy thoughts of her often. I want her to know that she will not be forgotten. She will forever be cool and zany Shamzy. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Question for My Fellow Film Buffs

Recently (read: over the last 24 hours), I have become very interested in film scores. This is the extent to which I have no life. This is also an indication to my having just watched Schindler's List. And cried. For the zillionth time. Because Hollywood has a special knack for making gut-wrenching Nazi movies.

Now, because I am L-A-Z-Y, and because I have such an intelligent readership, I will ask you a question that will doubtlessly save me lots of time researching the best (and hopefully saddest) film scores. 

So, my darling readers, what is your favourite film score? 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm Lazy, I Know

But better late than never, right? 

Also, I figured I should give you all some time to submit questions, but apparently I have even FEWER readers than I thought! 

So, since they're only two questions, I'll be thorough for a decent post to make up for my absence. 

First up is the mighty Fesh's question:

"Can you elaborate more on the crying kid in the plane back to elCairo?"

Sigh, alright Fesh. Only because you asked so nicely. However, if I end up screaming in the middle of the night because of the nightmares you've brought back, I will seriously come up to elCold Country and hunt you down. I pack a mean left. Trust. 

First, we must visualize the seating arrangements. At the front of the economy cabin area, where the dingy baby bassinets are placed, sat a youngish couple with their maybe 4 or 5-year-old son, and a 6-ish month old baby. I could not tell if it was a boy or a girl. However, my gut says it was a boy. So let's humour it for efficiency's sake. 

Roonies was seated to their immediate right, one row back, separated by the aisle. I was seated about 4 rows behind her. Yes, we do not sit together on planes. That would be catastrophic. 

The elder child was very well behaved, colouring or watching Kung Fu Panda for the duration of the flight. That is the only point I will concede to the parents. 

Those torturous, evil, malevolent parents. The poor baby was obviously uncomfortable flying. Who wouldn't be uneasy being in a strangely shaped tin filled with smelly, grumpy strangers? Worse still, who wouldn't despise being placed in a dirty, smelly, lumpy bassinet? I sure as hell would have thrown an identical - if not more vociferous - tantrum if I were placed in that thing. 

Basically, the baby would scream his poor little head off every time his parents would place it in that sorry excuse for a bassinet. The moment he is placed on one of their laps, he shuts up. He even smiled on occasion. But for some inexplicable reason (apart from it being an obvious and successful form of psychological terrorism), the parents found it imperative that this be the ideal time and place to teach their 6-month-old to sit/lie where he is placed. Because an unfamiliar tin filled with menacing strangers is exactly where an infant will willingly learn a new social skill. 

A 4-hour flight of persistent wailing and screaming proves that theory WRONG WRONG WRONG. 


Our second questioner is an individual simply known as Anonymous. Anonymous asked two perfectly good, if somewhat awkward (for me) questions. Seeing as I willingly brought this upon myself, I will be a good sport and answer honestly. 

a) "Why are you so afraid of commitment?" 

Very good question, Anonymous. One I have asked myself repeatedly during my relationship-lifespan. One that requires deep and profound heart things inside my chest to take place. Such things are difficult to envision, let alone achieve. 

But, for you, I will try. 

I think the reasons are three-fold. 

1. Having witnessed several difficult and unhappy (at best) marriages in my immediate family, I am adamantly opposed to putting myself in the same situation. However, rather than channel my experiences towards finding someone who would make me happy (which is the positive thing to do), I have instead built a psychological wall between myself and the very concept of intimacy. This is a defense mechanism to protect myself from an unhappy future. 

2. I have been raised to think very highly of myself. This is in some ways great, and in others a curse. The most obvious curse is that I don't think anyone is good enough for me. This leads to the third reason, 

3. My mother is also insanely difficult to please as she is the original believer of there being no one good enough for me. I am a textbook Mummy-devotee, one of those Freudian complexes I am somewhat aware of but tend to mislabel (kindly inform me of the name if you know it), so I am a blind follower of my mother's beliefs and advice. What she says, goes. Without thought. The few times I have gone against her in any decision have resulted in her being completely right, and I being either hurt or humiliated. So Mummy knows best. Always. 

Your second question was: b) "[Are you] satisfied with your job or not? We keep hearing about Mr. Boss Man but we never heard your verdict on the job you have."

Once again, a good question. In some respects I love my job. I love the people, the prestige factor (big shiny companies are good), and the boost in self-esteem I get from knowing that although I have absolutely no previous background in finance, I'm doing a very good job and have proven myself to be an asset. I also love to learn new things, and I couldn't have been given a bigger challenge in which to learn in. 

However, the number-crunching in and of itself tends to get boring. And the company's bureaucracy and general lack of appreciation of its employees is an annoyance, to say the least (BIG company is bad). But, after a recent conversation with one of the Big Bosses, this is likely to change. Once I know more, you'll be the first people to hear it! 

Anonymous, I hope these answers have been satisfactory. I haven't figured out if i know you or not. Don't worry, I won't chase up on your identity if you don't provide any clues :) 

Fesh, sorry for the late story. Hope I don't end up killing you! 

Happy Eid to those of you celebrating Eid El Adha. And thank you for the three-day break! 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oscar Buzz

Baby Kangaroo just posted a fun little competition of sorts on his blog. He's suggesting that participants read up on the ongoing Oscar (Academy Awards if you prefer) buzz and post their own predictions. Winner is paid about $20 from each loser.

Not a bad pot (depending on the number of people who join in) for doing something you're bound to do in your own head anyway!

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