mi mi mi!

20 things about me. Actually, 25 things to appease those who have not yet read this.

1. I tried to have short hair in my youth but after being confused for a boy on several occasions, I resolved to keep my hair long. I usually had it all the same length except one time when I ran a "Speed Buggy" over my head, got the hair tangled up in it, and ended up with bangs and another time when I tried to use a spiky curling iron on my hair, got the hair tangled up and burned in it, and ended up with bangs. Now, I'm just used to it. Unfortunately, that hasn't made the mistaken assumption about my gender stop - at least when it comes to the online world.

2. The most amazing things I've seen in my life include the synchronicity of a bajillion prayer-goers at Mecca during Hajj (it's like a choreographic dream), the vastness of the Grand Canyon, and the birth of me wee ones.

3. After reading "The Princess Bride," I became obsessed with William Goldman and read everything he had ever written, even an instructional book on how to write screenplays.

4. I used to look down on people who cursed freely and frequently because it indicated to me a lack of imagination and an attempt to sound cool. However, there are times when certain words or even entire phrases go through my head - when someone bites me and draws blood, when someone punches me in the bosom, when someone cuts me off in traffic. One of the more creative invectives I have heard was from the movie "Citizen Ruth." Classic.

5. I used to hate baths. When my mother would send me upstairs to take a bath, I'd run the water in the tub and sit at the edge and read a book for what I thought would be the equivalent time it would take to clean up. I think the stink lines that emanated from my body tipped my mother off.

6. I once walked from the bridge connecting Cairo to the island of Zamalek after spending several hours in the claustrophobic museum through the hottest part of the day under a brutal sun because LB argued with the taxi driver over a few cents and forced us to get out and hoof it back to her dorm.

7. I have visited nearly 30 countries. The only country in which I was not, at least once, mistaken for a native was in China.

8. I have a blog. I have had one for five years now. I considered dumping it time and time again, but always seem to keep it alive nonetheless. Sometimes I read other people's blogs to educate myself. Sometimes to laugh. And sometimes to get annoyed or mad. Deliberately. I can't stand the author or the writing or the subject matter but I just keep visiting it because I'm in the mood to be put out. I believe the correct term is "maddy waddy."

9. I have eclectic tastes. In books (the bookshelf sports classic literature next to the trashiest romance pulp next to graphic novels next to hip, irreverent fiction), in music, movies (I'll be just as likely to see a foreign film as I will a sci-fi film or a Desi fillum or a stupid comedy or a brilliant documentary or an animated film), etc.

10. I envy my sister's gift of organization and creativity.

11. When I was in college, I stopped wearing a wrist-watch. I used to have a pocket watch that hung from my neck by a leather strip. In law school, I had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle watch that, when flipped open, would say, "It's pizza time" or "Cowabunga, dude" (I can't remember which). I have a Rolex that I wore for a while but now it's sitting in a box while my cell phone does double duty.

12. I will always prefer being hot over being cold. If not for the mosquitoes, I could have it be summer almost all year long.

13. When I got my first video game console (Atari), I played Space Invaders so much that I developed a blister on my thumb from clutching the joystick so tightly with my sweaty little hands.

14. I watch TV with the closed captioning on and DVDs with the subtitles on because I don't want to miss a thing. It all started after 9/11 when the constant roar of helicopters above and police sirens below prevented me from hearing anything.

15. [cribbed from upyernoz] When I was growing up, my parents made me take all kinds of lessons. I took tennis lessons, swimming lessons, piano and flute lessons, ice skating lessons, ski lessons, golf lessons, cooking lessons, sewing lessons, painting lessons (the last three from my mother). I never became a good tennis player, swimmer, flute player, ice skater, skier or artist, but I did learn how to have a whole bunch of disparate hobbies and to do them all half-assed.

16. As athletic and fit as I used to be, I hated to run unless it was towards something (a base, a ball, a goal) or away from something (another person, a bee, my sister). Now, I just hate exercise all around.

17. I have met Mohammed Ali and he has been to my house.

18. When I was in high school, one of my best friends got me hooked on "Days of Our Lives" to the extent that I'd tape it so I could watch it when I got home from school. Now, I can't stand more than a minute of it and I can't even see what I found so compelling about it.

19. When I was in high school, another one of my best friends and I used to listen to Dr. Demento followed by Dr. Ruth on the radio on Sunday nights and discuss what we learned during study hall the next day.

20. Death only scares me in that I worry what will happen to my husband and kids without me to boss them around and take care of them.

(for those of you non-facey types)

21. I know "The Lord's Prayer" by heart because I attended Catholic school for three years.

22. I have had to get my fingerprints taken so many times now that I've lost count. The most recent time was a few weeks ago. You'd think with all the CSI-type techmology out there, they'd already have copies or access to a database that has my prints already.

23. When I concentrated really hard on something, I had a tendency to bite my lips (I've now since stopped that habit) or chew the inside of my cheeks (working on it). Upon reading the final book in the Dark Tower cycle by Stephen King, I think I may have been close to biting my way right through.

24. I have low blood pressure. In my youth, if I got up too quickly, I would often get dizzy and, on occasion, faint. One time, I fainted in a bathroom in college and the floor was filthy and disgusting but felt so cool to my cheek that I just lay there for a while. One time, I was praying during Hajj and I fell right smack down on my face and the impact forced my glasses to busticate my nose. One time, I had just had an appendectomy and I had to use the restroom and as I was fainting and sliding down the pole that held my IV, the nurse right outside my door saw me and helped me back to the bed.

25. I never thought I'd see the day when the President of the United States and I share a name.


Gruesome but Necessary

I'm working on my will because naming a guardian for my kids has been on my mind for a long time now. Not so much the naming but the preparing of the documents to make it all nice and legal and binding. It's been well over a decade since I took Estates and Trusts in law school and so I'm just surfing around for (free) samples of wills before I decide on what I'm going to cobble together. FYI, www.nolo.com is THE BEST when it comes to explaining legal stuff in non-legalese. One of the ISNA-sponsored ones contains this gem:

Should I die as a result of murder, I direct that the adjured murderer, principal or accessory in the murder shall be disqualified to receive any part of my estate.

I sooo want to add a "DUH!" to the end of that provision. Maybe I'll include it in the addendum. Consider yourself warned! If you murder me, you absolutely positively will NOT get your bloody mitts on my Buffy, The Vampire Slayer Series DVDs.



I have finally moved into the 21st Century. Stop. After seventeen years, I'm letting go of my AOL account. Stop. I have gotten a g-mail account. Stop.

I have also learned (thanks, KG) that in order to access the feed to this hallowed blog, you have to enter "http://icubaji.blogspot.com/atom.xml" into the reader because just the name alone doesn't cut it. Something to do with my web designer/sensai using someone else's template and all sorts of wacky code mix-ups ensue. That is all. End transmission.


Gotta Get BACK in TIIYYYEEEEmmmme

As the rest of the nation takes the first, joyful steps towards the bright future, we seem to be stumbling back in time. First, in an effort to save money, I rented the least expensive car which turned out to have neither power locks, nor power windows, yet ironically had satellite radio. When we arrived in Venice, we found out that the house's water system had been corroding over the years and whenever the hot water was coursing through the copper pipes, much of it was leaking through pinholes throughout the line, up through the base of the house, and into the carpets. This meant that each person was limited to about 5 minutes of hot water before the cold set in. No problem, we thought, we'll just make do with lightening showers. Alas, after day two, it became apparent that hot and cold alike needed to be shut down. In anticipation of being able to do laundry, we made do with packing only one suitcase for the four of us. Now, however, no washing machine. I remember finding these lovely sunshiney yellow dinner sets from Villeroy and Boch that we were planning on using for the great home-made dishes Mom would make. Now, however, no dishwasher - mechanical or human.

The worst of it, though, was the near disappearance of bathroom niceties. We had gotten so used to being able to use the facilities whenever we wanted, to stroll in wearing nothing but a robe, to wash our hands, hair, teeth, etc. at will. My parents are very friendly folks and when news of our "disaster" and "catastrophe" as my normally-sedate father put it reached the neighbors' ears, they immediately offered their guest bathroom. We took them up on the generous offer to allow us to troop through their house at all hours of the day and night to luxuriate in their hot and cold running water. We used a garden hose in the back to fill up two Home Depot neon orange buckets so that we could have water to boil or at least warm up to wash our hands and a few dishes when needed. Just our luck, historically sunny Florida decided to turn nasty and temperatures dropped into the 40s and 30s. This meant that not only did we have to get fully dressed with sweaters, socks, and shoes to use our "outhouse" (technically, it was outside of our house so the title fits), but we had to heat up the water in the buckets because it was nearly frozen.

We bought paper plates and utensils. We bought bottled water. We were miserly with our water rations. The plumbers came for two hours the first day and accomplished nothing. We should have harnessed the water from the steam coming out of our ears if we had the energy to do so. The next day, the plumbers returned and by the evening, we had one working toilet, shower, and sink. We were ecstatic. Tomorrow, we may even have a running kitchen sink and even a working washing machine. By the end of the week, we should have completely entered the 20th century. To give you an approximation of our joy at not having to brave the frigid cold just to go number one, I refer you to the great exuberance of the inauguration attendees you see on the news lately who, with tears in their eyes, exclaim that, "I didn't think I'd see the day."



With the threat of marrow-freezing weather awaiting us as it does every winter, we decided to hightail it to Florida to visit my parents for a week and bask in the sunshine. Deciding to take advantage of the three day weekend afforded by MLK Day, we booked our tickets for mid-January. January 17th to the 24th to be exact. This was back in November. Before the election results had come out. Before we understood that Inauguration Day fell on January 20th. Before we realized that we'll be in retirement mode while everyone in town (and many from out of town) would be in the midst of Obamapalooza. Do'h!

I try to console myself by remembering that it is unlikely we'd be able to participate in any of the history-making events occurring in our backyard since we have two wee ones, we have little tolerance for the cold, and even less tolerance for tourists. I'm glad that we can celebrate vicariously through family and friends who intend to be in attendance for the insanity. But I can't help but feel wistful that I'll be missing out on the various activities planned for that week. We live about a mile from the White House and probably could have seen the parade. We may have run into Oprah. We could have heard Bruce Springsteen play for free. We could have mingled with leather fetishists. Ah well. We'll get dressed up and have our own Toddler Ball. We'll prepare our own speeches ("Ask not what Mommy can do for you . . . "). With homemade meals (mmmm . . . haleem), a chance to show the kids the beach, and an entire week of fun in the sun, I can't really complain. Except, you know, for the complaints recited above.


Get Off My Lawn or I Will Commence With The Fist-Shaking!

In my youth, I was pretty easy-going and not much disturbed me. The image in my head of the young me is that I sort of floated through life, oblivious to much, pleased by the little things. I find that as I get older, I am more easily annoyed. Granted, I don't have the bottomless well of rage and sense of indignity to which some have easy access and upon which some seem to delight in drawing (*sidelong glance at TP*). But, there are certain actions, statements, behaviors, whatnot that get my dander up and I can actually feel the red indicator in my crotchety meter rising. Here is a "How to annoy Baji" primer for those of you who like to live dangerously:

  • Clip your nails in a public place. Whether it's on the Metro or in a conference (I've witnessed both), it is completely unacceptable for you to snip pieces of yourself and let the chips . . . err . . . clips fall where they may. Are you seriously so important and busy that you don't have time to groom yourself in the privacy of your own home? I don't want to see you filing your nails (ugh, nail dust entering the atmosphere and into my nose and lungs!), trimming your cuticles (blech, bits of skin discarded on the floor right in front of me), or cutting your fingernails (each clip clip clip successively louder than the last until I want to jam an emery board into my ear to stop the sound . . . or better yet, into YOUR ear).
  • Position yourself directly in front of the elevator doors and just assume that it will be empty upon opening. It's not that difficult to stand to the side, wait a beat, and then enter. Sometimes these folks plant themselves in front of the doors while people (i.e., me) try to exit and they either don't move aside or, even worse, try to board before everyone has disembarked. For those people, I utilize my "what to do if a mountain lion attacks" skills and try to make myself appear as large as possible to make them back up or go around.
  • Stand in line at the store with only some of your items while your partner-in-crime continues shopping and dropping off items at her leisure. This happened to me at the ghetto CVS up the street one day and when you have a cranky two-year old and a hungry baby waiting patiently but just barely, the last thing you want to deal with is waiting for Shaniqwa to saunter back with some detergent she just saw was on sale while Latisha holds up the entire line and disregards the anxious teller's comments about moving it along.
  • Board the Metro while I'm on it. This may seem like an overbroad and vague activity but invariably, I am annoyed by someone doing it. It's not that I want to deny anyone the opportunity to use and support public transportation. It's just that so many people do it in such a head-banging, foot-stomping, loud-voiced, stankonia way. They sit right next to you when the car clearly has other open seats. They cough and sneeze directly onto your head and don't bother with the niceties of covering their mouths or wiping their hands before they grasp the handrails. They try to take up more than their allotted seat. They try to talk to you when you are clearly reading and don't want to be disturbed. They open up the newspaper to its full wingspan despite the fact that you are blanketed by it in the process. Occassionally, they fall on you. For more information, please visit this site.
  • Ignore me and my attempts to give you cuddles and smootches but wait until the precise moment that I'm getting someone else to drink her milk and go to sleep and then pounce and demand something (attention, your own milk, an episode of "Sunny Day," anything) and start this new version of communication called "screaming" that you have developed an unnatural fondess for and try to use at every inopportune opportunity.
  • Wait until the last second to ask me to review and edit something you've written and demand a response ASAP even though you have known about your deadline for days, weeks, months.
  • Ask me if I'm pregnant when I'm already toting an infant around. Or toting nothing at all. I am well aware of the leftover baby fat encircling the girth of my belly. I just want to purchase my groceries and/or enjoy the dinner party and then go home. The next time someone asks me that, I'm going to punch them in the face and/or never visit again.
I'm sure there are eleventy bajillion more things to add to this list so just consider this Volume I and stay tuned. OR ELSE!