Friday, March 31, 2006


*"Screw all of you. I'm outta here." ---The Duck

*Note: after doing some research, I was able to determine the duck discussed below was, in fact, a male. I will refer to him in the third person singular pronoun “he.”

Amma was pulling the car into our parking space when I saw the duck. He was sitting in the space next to ours, minding his own business. His little webbed feet were tucked under him and he appeared to be staring at the traffic beyond the tall iron fence that surrounded our lot. In spite of the early spring season, the sky was a bleak shade of winter and the duck was looking downright glum. I started fretting about the poor thing as soon as I laid eyes on him. I craned my neck, trying to get a good look past Amma.

I’d never before seen a duck in our parking lot. This was all very troubling to me.

“He’s not moving? Is he moving? Oh crap, I think he’s dead! Maybe he’s injured? Why isn’t he moving??”

“Why don’t you wait until we’re out of the car!” Amma sighed, pushing me off of her.

And, of course, she was right. Climbing out of the car, I went in for a closer look and, while the duck remained as still as if it was made out of porcelain or stuffed with cotton, one beady black eye betrayed its concentration by flicking to track my movement.

It was alive, dammit, and I needed to rescue it.

I helped my mom with the groceries once I’d assessed the situation.

“It’s not moving,” I told her (this being the extent of my assessment) as we walked inside.

“What are you going to do about it? What CAN you do about it?” she asked me.

“I’m not sure.”

My brother’s third floor balcony was perfectly situated above the east side of the parking lot, where the duck still sat. When he answered the door, I rushed past him without a word and made a beeline for the Yellow Pages. With directory in hand, I stepped out to the balcony and pulled out my cell phone. Who would help me rescue a clearly disabled duck on a Saturday afternoon?

“What’s going on?” a stunned Shafaat asked, following me out to the balcony.

“Duck. Injured. Help.” I said, pointing towards the parked duck.

“Oh. Of course.” As I rifled through the directory, he stared at the duck. “It isn’t moving.”

“Yes,” I confirmed.

“Who are you going to call?” he asked.

“Dunno,” I replied, peeking at the duck to make sure he was still parked. He was, indeed. “Vet maybe.”

I started dialing the vet.

“All right then. Tell me how it goes.” I could almost hear Shafaat rolling his eyes as he went back inside.

“Animal Infirmary. How can I help you?”

“Hi, my cat Zanadune Khan is a patient of yours. I’m in a bit of a situation and am wondering if you can help me.”

“What’s going on?”

“Well, there’s a duck in our parking lot. It’s just sitting there, not moving. I’m afraid it’s injured. Can you guys do something about this?”

“A duck?”


“In Jersey City?”


“Sorry miss, we don’t deal with exotic animals. Can’t help you.”

“But…but, there must be something…do you know anyone who can help me?”

“A vet who deals with exotic animals,” she said, matter-of-factly.

“Is a duck REALLY an exotic animal?” I asked her.

“If it isn’t a cat or a dog, it’s exotic,” she said authoritatively. “Try calling another vet, okay?”

Click. And, with that, she hung up on me.

I muttered an expletive and embarked on a search for a vet who specialized in exotic animals, finally finding one in Bayonne.

Explaining the parked duck to the receptionist who answered the phone, I asked if the vet could help me.

“No,” she responded. She sounded like she’d been shooting herself up with dog tranquilizers all day.

“Why not?” I demanded. “You guys treat exotic animals.”

“We don’t treat ducks,” was her slow and drawn out response.

“I’ll have you know, a duck is a pretty exotic animal. Why can’t you treat it? I promise I’ll make it dance for you if you treat it.” Lame joke, I know, but I was desperate.

“Honey,” she started, drawing out the term of endearment only like someone half asleep can. “The vet here treats pets. That duck isn’t a pet. It’s a wild duck. We can’t help you.”

“Can you think of someone who can help me?” I asked, making myself comfortable in my brother’s deck chair. I had a feeling I’d be on his balcony for a very long time.

“I dunno.”

This time, I hung up first.

The parked duck remained parked, still staring in the great beyond as if he was trying to decide whether or not to cross to the other side. Stay away from the light, I felt like telling him. Stay away from the light, duck!

I called everyone who had anything at all to do with animals that day. Following the two, totally useless veterinary offices, I called: the local animal shelter (they only deal with cats and dogs, which I deemed discriminatory, at the moment. However, a year or so after this incident, when I DID manage to rescue a duck and a chicken, the same shelter took them in and arranged to send them to a no-kill farm that I had found online…the weekend staffers must all be big, fat liars); an animal shelter in Morristown (I figured they probably had more ducks in the ‘burbs and might be better equipped to deal with them. Turns out they aren’t); the Office of Fish & Wildlife (which is closed on the weekends…since fish and wildlife go on mini-holidays on Saturdays and Sundays…UGH); the police (a very rude officer laughed and hung up on me); the fire department (a very concerned fire fighter brainstormed with me over the phone for a good 15 minutes, trying to come up with how we could help the [clearly] incapacitated duck…his best idea, Fish & Wildlife. Been there, done that, I explained. He WAS kind enough to call and check up on how I was faring in my rescue efforts 30 minutes later); and my mom (“If you put half the effort you devote to rescuing animals into finding a husband, you’d be married by now, Sabila”).

Shafaat was watching television when I stormed inside, at my wits ends.

“That duck needs rescuing! It needs to be saved!” I exclaimed, throwing down the phone directory like a preacher throws down nudie magazines. “This book does me no good!”

“Why don’t you try PETA?” Shafaat suggested, his eyes locked on the television screen.

The clouds parted and a chorus of angels sang an epiphanic song:

If you’ve exhausted all of your efforts to rescue a clearly injured and helpless animal, PAGE PETA!

PETA employees in DC are on call around the clock to help people in animal-related emergencies. So, I paged a very nice young woman (naturally, I’ve forgotten her name) who called me within five minutes. I can’t say I was shocked by her promptness.
I explained the situation to her:

“There’s a duck parked in our lot. He’s parked in a space. Like he’s a car or something. And he’s not moving. No one’s helping me. I’ve tried to call everyone in the Yellow Pages who seems even remotely associated with animals. They can’t help. And did you know that Fish & Wildlife takes the weekends off? What’s up with that?” I think I sounded a lot like that receptionist on dog tranquilizers. Perhaps, like me, she was jaded by the system.

The nice young woman told me that she didn’t expect much more from the “so-called authorities”. She proceeded to unleash a volley of questions at me to evaluate the graveness of the situation: Where did I live? Was the duck responsive to passing cars (to which I repeated that the duck wasn’t moving)? Was he limping when he walked (once again, he doesn’t walk)? Was the duck bleeding? Were there other ducks in the area?

And the questions went on and on until the nice young woman told me in a very stern voice that no one was going to help me and that I would have to take matters into my own hands.

“Find a very big box…a computer box or a television box,” she instructed. “You will drop the box on top of the duck. You will capture the duck in the box. Do you think you can do that?”

“Of course I can!” I responded, even as I had the most ridiculous image of myself chasing down a duck in my parking lot while dragging a giant computer box behind me. But I knew that I wouldn’t be able to rest if I didn’t save that duck, so I was unwavering in my determination to capture the him.

“Are there any parks near by where you can release the duck?”

I told her that there were ducks at Liberty State Park.

“Great. While you try to trap the duck, I’m going to call a duck expert who lives in central Jersey to see if he has any specific advice to give us. I suspect that he’s going to tell us the same thing: that you should try to capture and release the little guy at the park.”

And so I went to the store on the first floor of my building. Tony, the storeowner was able to pull out a giant, empty box from his storeroom, no questions asked, no weird looks passed.

With giant box in tow, I walked out to the parking lot, on my tiptoes so as not to startle the poor duck. I was determined to make a difference. I was going to see this duck to safety, dammit, even if it took all day. If that meant releasing it into the (barely wild) wilds of Liberty Park, so be it. If it involved driving to central Jersey where this duck expert could tend to the duck’s ailments and injuries, so be it. I was going to help because I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t. The picture of that helpless duck, still and parked in the space next to our car, would haunt me for months. And I simply wouldn’t be able to deal.

I stood by our van, which was obstructing my view of the parked duck, trying to prepare myself mentally for the trap. As quietly as possible, I even stretched my quads, making sure that I was ready to pounce on it with the box without any hesitation.

When I felt I was ready to get the show on the road, I walked past our van towards the duck’s spot to find that---

He wasn’t there.

Confused, I spun around in circles, my hands shading my eyes against my own confusion.

The duck was nowhere to be found.

It had disappeared.

I spent another 20 minutes looking under cars. Perhaps he’d caught sight of me marching towards him and, in his fear, had decided to hide?

Alas, this wasn’t the case. The duck was nowhere to be found. And there I stood, staring at the box and thinking about the past two hours.

I returned to my brother’s apartment where, in an undeniably stupid move, I’d left my cell phone. On the phone there was a message from the very nice woman at PETA:

She’d managed to get a hold of the duck expert.

It was something called “grounding” season and the duck was probably just taking a break from its journey.

Ducks can fly, you see. I’d totally forgotten about that minor detail.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Please comment. Seriously. I have nothing for you this morning and must get ready for work. The person who has the most interesting thing to say will win a prize or something.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

MORE TURBULENCE? Another PIA Flight From Hell

Dear Readers,
I’ve recently realized that while I had promised to let you know exactly what went down during my vacation in Pakistan this past January, I haven’t exactly done so.
My bad. Truly.
I shall make amends by sharing one of my more interesting Pakistani moments with you today.
Now, the following all took place during our flight from Islamabad to Karachi. No, not that terribly terrifying flight from Karachi back to Islamabad that convulsed for what seemed like HOURS and successfully erased from my memory this almost equally unpleasant but somewhat funny earlier flight. So, here it is. I’m recreating the following from notes I jotted down in my diary.

The airplane is small.

I ask Shafaat why we’re on such a small airplane. As he puts his head back and closes his eyes, he says probably because a smaller airplane is easier to crash than a jumbo jet, which doesn’t really make sense to me but I gulp nervously anyway. I’m already clutching to the armrests and now I sink further down in my seat. Every muscle in my body is tense. It’s almost as if my body is practicing levitation just in case the plane does go down. I really don’t want to fly.

Our parents are seated a couple of rows behind us and my brother’s already asleep next to me. To my other side is a woman who reminds me of those Lee Press On Nails that were so big in the ‘80s. She’s wearing miles of foundation and her eyelashes are matted and clumpy. Tiny flower clips are scattered throughout her severely lightened hair, which is pulled back into a not so fancy chignon. Her jeans are a size too small and acid washed. Her torso area is one giant breast that she’s swathed in a light cotton material. Smelling like she’s recently submerged herself in a bath full of designer imposter perfume, she’s leaning away from me and talking to the three young men sitting across the aisle from her.

I start to wonder how they’re related but soon I stop giving a rat’s ass because I’m too preoccupied with thoughts of flying hundreds of thousands of feet in the air and coming down in a fiery crash. I’ve closed my eyes tightly and am praying to God for a safe and crash free flight when Lee Press On Nails lady says, “You nervous?”

Of course she’s snapping on gum and, as we start talking, I feel like she’s going to pull out peroxide any second and dye my hair.

“Yes. I don’t like flying very much.”

“Leave everything to Allah. I leave everything to Allah.” She stabs her chest with a very long and elaborately painted nail. “You no need worry. Okay?”

I smile. She’s right.

“You first time in Pakistan?”

I explain to her that this is my fourth trip to Pakistan, but my brother’s first trip to the country in 15 years.

“Oh! Long time! I go to Amrika three times in one year.” She stabs at her chest with her acrylic tip again. “I go there. I spend money. I come back.”

“Very good,” I say, thinking once again about the plane, which is getting ready to take off.

“My husband is elder than me. Very much elder,” she says smiling as the plane rushes down the runway. I wince when I see that her pink lipstick is lined with a purple liner. “He police officer. Chief. He give me lot of money for Amrika.”

I nod and close my eyes when the plane goes airborne but the Lee Press On Nails lady goes right on talking.

“He thinks money will make happiness. My sons make happiness. They are my sons. The boy by window and the boy by him. The other boy is my youngest brother.”

“Wow, great.”

“My eldest son marry five years ago. He 29. We have granddaughter who love me more than her mama.”

“That’s sweet,” I say once the airplane has become level in the air. My heart settles down a bit. “How old is she?” I’m still gripping to the armrests.

“Three,” Lee Press On Nails lady says and proceeds to tell me exactly how brilliant her granddaughter is.

“That’s very special,” I smile at her and rest my head against my chair, hoping to get some sleep.

“I want the wife for my other son now. I looking for him.”

Of course, I think to myself.

“Of course,” I can’t keep myself from saying out loud.

“He very good boy. Very smart. He studying for masters degree in (insert name of a Karachi institute of higher education here). He handsome too, see.”

She leans back so that I can sneak a peak past her bosom. I nod and smile.

“I look for girl like you. Young. Cute. Amrikan. Your family Pakistani, yes?”

“Of course,” I say, rubbing my eyes and yawning. On some level, I know I stayed awake the previous night for nothing, that I won’t be getting any sleep on this flight.

“You looking for husband?” she asks.

“Not at the moment,” I tell her.

“You’re pretty. I like you,” she comments.

I worriedly wonder if this giant bosomed woman is, in fact, hitting on me as she proceeds to tell me again how much she likes me and how she wants me to call her once we’ve settled in Karachi.

“I want to show you good time,” Lee Press On Nails lady tells me earnestly. She follows this rather disturbing desire with “You marry my son?”

“Oh!” I’m awake now. “Oh! I mean no!” I follow my outburst with a quick and mumbled apology, that I’m afraid I don’t know her son well enough to marry him.

“His name (insert Pakistani name here—I can’t recall his name). He handsome, see,” she leans back again.

“What is he getting his masters in?” I ask, trying to be polite. No matter what subject Lee Press On Nails lady tells me her son is studying, I will nod and say that he’ll have a line of girls waiting for him at his door when he gets his degree.

“Ah,” she looks confused. “He’s studying…I always forget this subject. I will ask.” And with that she leans across the aisle and demands in Punjabi, “What are you getting your masters in? She’s single. Hurry.”

The boys are smiling. Her son tells her something and Lee Press On Nails lady comes back to me and tells me “Engineering.”

“Excellent. He’ll surely have a mob of girls clamoring for him outside his window once he graduates.” I feel that this particular image has more umph than the line of girls I was going to tell her about initially.

“Will you marry him?” she asks, ignoring the clamoring mob.

I mumble something.

She’s drawing something out on the palm of her hand now with the tip of her very long nail. It’s as if she’s listing her son’s positive qualities. “He very smart and handsome and I want modern Amrikan girl for him. Modern. And Amrikan. He twenty-two.”

“Twenty-two what?” I’m thinking that she’s going to tell me that he has twenty-two cars or twenty-two credits or twenty-two luft balloons or something.

“His age. Twenty-two,” she says, beaming. “Right age for the marriage. Twenty-two.”

I’m too tired to argue so I just nod and smile again.

“I want you marry my son. Then I take you around Karachi in my car. I have my car. I drive everywhere! I talk to your mama. Gimme her number. How old you are?” she asks.

I ask her to guess and for the following five minutes she massages my ego by guessing twenty, then twenty-one, then twenty-two. When I shake my head at twenty-two, she exclaims, twenty-three then!

I’m beginning to like Lee Press On Nails lady.

“I’m going to be twenty-seven this year,” I break the news to her.

“Oh! Why you single?” she asks, her eyebrows knotted with concern.

Part of me wants to give her a lecture about her son being too damned young to get hitched and that marriage isn’t one’s primary, lifelong goal. Another part of me wants to give her a Sabila “UGH!” and promptly fall asleep with my back to her. Instead, I settle with telling her “I don’t know. I’m more concerned with other things, I guess.”

I’m tired of this flight and this painfully long conversation. I want the plane to land already.

Lee Press On Nails lady has now given me her name and number on a slip of paper and made me promise that I’ll spend several days with her and her family (don’t worry. I didn’t call her). She will drive me to the hottest shopping spots in Karachi and will show me tons of clothes that will look perfect on me. She has an eye for fashion, she tells me.

I eye her acid washed jeans.

And, for the remainder of the flight, Lee Press On Nails lady keeps yapping.

I have a pounding headache by the time the plane lands. Lee Press On Lady turns to me and says, “See, you no scare in flight. Because you talk too much to me.” She stabs herself with her nail again and again.

I guess she’s right. I almost forgot that I was in the air. Lee Press On Lady’s annoyingly long conversation kept me distracted enough to forget that I feared flying. Miracle of miracles!

Suddenly, the giant bosomed lady looks like a saint, the Madonna, an angel sent from heaven!

And then she says, “I think about this and I think it all right if you marry my son. Five year not so much.”

I give her the most obnoxious, wide-eyed look I can manage and say “UGH!” as I push past her to get the hell off the plane.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


M’s mention of Gazoob, my imaginary-dwarf boyfriend has resulted in a resounding demand from readers for more details.

I aim to please, so here’s the story of my second love (Setty/Shetty was first, remember?):

I don’t remember the exact moment Gazoob came to me. Sometimes it feels like he was always there, holding my hand, laughing at my jokes, talking to me about his feelings and encouraging me to confide my secrets to him. While I’ll concede that he wasn’t as funny as Wee-Man of Jackass fame (some people like comparing my Gazoob to Wee-Man), my imaginary-dwarf boyfriend was much hotter than him. Frankly, I think it’s a pipe dream to speculate that Gazoob might have aged to resemble Wee-Man. I’m sure he’s aging to perfection somewhere like Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Kevin Costner.

More importantly, Gazoob knew the secret to keeping a little lady happy: he gave me gifts. Whenever I happened upon a trinket or lucky pennies unknowingly dropped on the street or left behind in certain places, I knew that this was Gazoob’s doing, that these gifts were tokens of his love for me. The most special of these gifts was a beautiful bejeweled pin in the shape of a peacock that I found on the playground during lunchtime at school once. It was a brisk fall day and I’d been walking on the edge of the sidewalk, pretending that I was on a balance beam in the Olympics. Gazoob had looked on patiently, that pleasant smile of his sprawled across his face. I was on my final jump when I spotted the pin. The road suddenly became the velvet backing of a jewelry box and the pin reflected brilliant light in spite of the overcast day. I ooh’d as I picked it up between my fingers, and I could feel Gazoob looking on and smiling. I carried the pin in my pencil case throughout elementary school. I have no idea where it’s gone since Gazoob and I grew apart

Even at roughly four feet tall, Gazoob was a prepossessing lad (or perhaps I was so besotted with him that I could only see the good). He had an impressively bulbous nose that, ending in a fine point, reminded me of meringue cookies. His raven-colored hair was rakishly mussed and he liked standing with his arms folded across his chest. A pair of big, wide brown eyes sat on his creamy white skin. While he mostly wore green, he also had red and black in his wardrobe. He was never without his green beanie or his big green pointy-toed shoes.

Gazoob was my constant childhood companion. When we went on family road trips, he used to run alongside the car—sometimes he’d fly in a seated or standing position, his arms folded—and talk to me. At night, he’d keep me awake until I said my nightly prayers with him.

A friend recently suggested that Gazoob might have been a jinn. Jinns, in Muslim mythology are, according to my Mac dictionary “an intelligent spirit of lower rank than the angels, able to appear in human and animal forms and to possess humans.” If my mom knew about Gazoob (I have never told her), she’d say he was a jinn (she believes in all things supernatural) and that Gazoob is still holding a candle for me and secretly sabotaging my romantic possibilities. To think that he may not be over me is saddening because I’ve moved on from the world of imagination to the real world (while the move hasn’t proven to be all that successful, it’s a move nonetheless and it was made at an appropriate moment—puberty).

Maybe I need to exorcize this Pazuzu from my life (here, I shamelessly borrow from my friend’s demonological vocabulary).

For the record, I refuse to throw in “crazy” anywhere in my blog’s name. So don’t write to me asking me to call it “Crazy Revenge of the Nerddd” or “Revenge of the Crazy Nerddd” or something. It’s not happening.

There you have it: my second love.

Friday, March 24, 2006


In this week’s New Yorker, Calvin Trillin writes of his wife: “…I never stopped trying to match that [first] evening—not just trying to entertain her but trying to impress her. Decades later—after we had been married for more than thirty-five years, after our girls were grown—I still wanted to impress her. I still knew that if I ever disappointed her in some fundamental way—if I ever caused her to conclude that, after all was said and done, she should have said no when, at the end of that desperate comedy routine, I asked her if we could have dinner sometime—I would have been devastated.”

“Alice, off the Page” is Trillin’s touching portrait of his late wife who, over the years, was featured prominently in his writings. Almost five years after her passing, he wants to introduce readers to the real Alice—a beautiful, complex, intelligent, compassionate and COMPLETE soul. It is apparent that, even after all of these years, Trillin remains in awe of the girl who first caught his eye at a magazine party in 1963 (his advice to young people looking for someone with whom they can share a long and happy marriage: “Wander into the right party.”). His love for her is heartbreaking and his loneliness without her is almost palpable.

The dedication in his novel, Tepper Isn’t Going Out, which was published shortly after Alice passed away reads: “I wrote this for Alice. Actually, I wrote everything for Alice.”

Everyone should be loved by someone the way Alice is loved by Calvin.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Several years ago, I was rummaging through my brothers’ refrigerator, looking for sustenance besides the bread, milk, and packets of condiments that populated it. Finally conceding that the fridge was stocked with only bachelor fares, I moved to the freezer where, wonder of wonders, I found a carton of Turkey Hill vanilla flavored ice cream. My stomach rumbled a thank you as I scooped some out in a bowl, dreaming of the way that the ethereal and warm vanilla flavor would dance in my mouth. I could not, at that moment, think of any dessert infused with more memories of summers long past and childhood, hope and sunshine, serenity and pleasure.
It was with happiness that I lifted that first spoonful of ice cream to my mouth. The spoon silently slipped past my smiling lips—


The horrifyingly vile taste that permeated through my being that day can be best described in one word: furry. It was, quite possibly, the worst thing I’ve ever tasted in my life; the shockingly awful flavor so overwhelmed my senses that I, in my panic and confusion, took another furry spoonful and, this time, I DID gag on the clearly spoiled ice cream.
I haven't felt the same way about ice cream since. I’ve actually had nightmares in which that sick flavor stodgily sits in my mouth and even after I wake, I usually need to drink water in order to exorcise my taste buds of the memory.
I don’t heart ice cream.
I don’t heart it at all.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Contrary to popular belief, my first crush was not Bobby, the boy who teased me to tears on a daily basis in kindergarten. According to my mother, my first crush was a middle-aged, overweight and bald Indian actor who played the villain role in several Bollywood movies in the early '80s. My mom thinks his name might have been "Seti" or "Shetty"; I used to tell everyone that I would marry him someday. Now, I only see the vague outlines of a rotund belly and the gleaming, globular head of a man standing against a clear blue sky on the roof of a house in an Indian village. But I can't make out a face. Sigh.
I'd be forever grateful to anyone who has more information about my first crush.


...writer's block.
Here we go again.


...I'll write the conclusion to 2nd Grade Class trip tomorrow. I swear I will! Or you guys can just call me and ask me how it ends. I'll be happy to share that way as well.



My mother didn’t trust other people with her children. No teacher or chaperone could keep good enough care of me outside of the classroom. She’d seen enough news stories about little kids on field trips in the boondocks being snatched up by men hiding in brushes and behind trees. She also knew that I was mostly oblivious to my surroundings and could very easily fall prey to weirdo pedophiles if left to my own devices.

As a result, I couldn’t join my kindergarten classmates when they went to Bear Mountain in upstate New York. I have no idea what there is for a bunch of five-year-olds to do in Bear Mountain, but back then I imagined that the trip involved 1) mountain climbing and 2) playing with koala bears. You see, I was under the impression that koala bears hung out in trees everywhere outside of Jersey City. I was so obsessed with koalas that, in the first grade, I told this one kid—I forget his name—that I’d visited Pakistan over the summer (a big fat lie) with my parents, brothers and seven older sisters (another lie) and we’d seen dozens of koalas (koalas in Pakistan? Er, not so much)…and that my grandmother even kept a couple as pets in her Islamabad home (ahem).

Yah, I was totally jealous of the little punks, who were scaling Bear Mountain and hugging koala bears while I watched soaps on television.

I don’t remember where the class went the following year but, once again, I had to stay at home and play with my imaginary sisters while my classmates got to hang out with koalas. Man, that blew.

By the time the second grade field trip came around, I was, at 7 years old, older and wiser— I realized that there weren’t koalas frolicking in the trees of the United States. I also realized that it was about time I ventured to the great outdoors with my classmates to see what these fancy, mysterious field trips were all about.

So I threw a tantrum.

And I won.

My mother, still certain that people were as good as plastic lawn ornaments when it came to watching children who were not their own, decided to chaperone our field trip. While the previous two years had seen giant chartered buses arrive at our school to take my classmates to exotic destinations (can you get more exotic than Bear Mountain? I don't think so), tahat particular year, we walked to Liberty State Park. Even back then I knew that was extremely ghetto and I may even have sulked a bit but the wind whipping through my hair on the subsequent ferry ride from the park cheered me up. Our destination: the Statue of Liberty.

*Read all about the nerd's weirdo first school field trip next time on!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

MARCH 14th

Oh yah. I turned 27 on Tuesday, March 14th.
It was great.
I let myself splurge on yummy desserts, red velvet (cup)cake(s) being the most impressive of the assortment.
I received great gifts, notably the DVD collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (seasons 1-7), wonderful, wonderful books and "The Fields of Europe"--a mysterious and giant bouquet of flowers that arrived at home for me, sending my mom into a frenzy as she tried to get me to confess who it was from, not buying my "I have no idea." The bouquet was from our only reader-nerd of the day, Rich!
Thanks to everyone for your kind birthday wishes and gifts! You're all sweethearts!, if only I could remember your birthdays...

"Night in St. Cloud"

Finally, here's the Edvard Munch painting that I was talking about a couple of posts ago. Melancholy, isn't it?


Yah, so Blogger's giving me grief again. It's not letting me upload images. Folks, please google the Munch painting I mentioned in the post below. It really is such a heart-wrenching and almost overwhelmingly sad piece; I'm sure you will appreciate it. Hopefully, I'll be able to post the image tomorrow.


Dear Reader,
You might recall that in an earlier post I asked you to recommend the perfect image illustrating inexplicable sadness.
Eureka! I've found it! Here's "A Night in St. Cloud" by Edvard Munch, who is best known for his other painting, "The Scream." He painted "A Night in St. Cloud" after learning of his father's death and shortly after his arrival in France.

ps: I'm not sad...just trying to battle this two-headed beast called insomnia and boredom.

INSOMNIA: another haiku

Oh ponderous night
Lift your darkness and release
Sweet and lithesome sleep.

Saturday, March 18, 2006



If you’re my friend or relative and you look like you practice good oral hygiene (and aren’t a teenager who might have mono), I have no qualms about sharing with you eating or drinking utensils or food. Just as long as we both agree that there won’t be any backwashing with drinks, I’m cool. Rest assured that if I’m eating a soy dog, and you want to try some, I will not ask you to break off a piece from the other end. You can take a bite from where I just bit off. Did you order a burger but suddenly have a hankering for the salad that I ordered? No problem, because you can have a forkful with my own fork.
Dear reader, if I know you in real life and I like you as a person, I’d even think about sharing a lollipop with you.
And, of course I’d share my ChapStick with you…which leads us to what inspired this latest post:

My brother and I were watching the World Sumo Championship at his place earlier today, rice cakes in hand. We had just witnessed a 250 lb Bulgarian get pulverized (and by pulverized I mean he was, in accordance with the rather simple rules of the sport, forced out of the ring) by a sumotori from the Republic of Georgia, who had more than 100 pounds on him. As I made a comment about what an insult to the sport the 250 lb wimp was, I reached for a ChapStick on the side table. The winter had done a number on my lips and I wanted nothing more than to moisturize them with America’s favorite lip balm.
So, there I was, talking trash about the puny Bulgarian sumo wrestler, and getting ready to apply strawberry ChapStick to my thirsty lips when my brother, who had been quiet so far, suddenly cried out, “DON’T USE MY CHAPSTICK! THAT’S GROSS!”
I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that lip balm could incite such an impassioned response from my brother, who is rendered deaf and mute during any sort of sporting activity. I was also a bit insulted.
“Wait a minute,” I said, ChapStick still in hand. “We spent the first 9 months of our lives in the same womb…but I can’t use your ChapStick?!”
“First of all,” he began, holding his hand out for the stupid lip balm, “I was long gone from that womb by the time you got there. And secondly, no you can’t use my ChapStick. It’s MY ChapStick. I don’t let anyone use my ChapStick.”
He honestly looked disgusted, so I “Ugh’d” and handed him his ChapStick.
A few minutes later, I padded to the kitchen. I had left a half-drunk can of Sprite Zero in the refrigerator. I scoured my brother’s refrigerator, which in recent months has gone from bachelor-pathetic (littered with condiments, jams and…more condiments) to health conscious-impressive.
There was no sign of my Sprite Zero.
“Dammit, I don’t know what happened to my Sprite Zero. I was looking forward to finishing that,” I told him, returning to the living room.
“Oh, yah. I drank that. Sorry.”
Ah, what.
“Now, let me get this straight. I can’t use your ChapStick, but you can drink my soda?”
On television, two sumotoris were squatting and I prayed that their Mawashis—the diaper-like cloth that barely covers their loins—would hold.
My brother just shrugged and said, “Yah, I guess so.”

Sharing is caring, people, SHARING IS CARING.

Friday, March 17, 2006


To those of you out there who have the (mis)fortune of being on my mailing list and receiving sporadic, schizophrenic, and (very rarely) funny emails: yes, you've been assaulted by this post once before.

That's it. I'm SO suing myself for sexual harassment! What would you sue yourself for?

*the below picture has nothing to do with me suing myself but I heart it and thought I'd share. It clearly illustrates sexual harassment. That dude doesn't have to take it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


...Blogger and I aren't through!
Here's the blog that I was trying to post all along:

Dear Readers: I want to apologize for being a delinquent blogger. I'm sorry for letting you down. Between celebrating my 27th (woohoo!) and work (not so woohoo!) and getting promoted at work (woohoo!) and helping friends out with essays/recommendations/cover letters I've been terribly busy. But you don't want excuses, do you? You want new posts. And I promise you new posts!
I'm back.

ps: Yah. I know my name's not Pete.

It's not me, it's you

Blogger and I are going through a rough patch. I don’t know what it is, but this just doesn’t seem to be working anymore. I’ve been gone for four days but Blogger is being a jerk. You’d think he’d welcome me back eagerly. This, however, hasn’t been the case. I’m trying to publish a few new posts but it keeps giving me the same error message, over and over again. “There were errors.” How cryptic is that? Errors? What kinds of errors? Did I do something wrong, Blogger? When I push Blogger for answers, I get: “001 EOF while reading from control connection.” It’s like we’re speaking different languages and everyone knows that communication is the key to any successful relationship. It’s like we’re Noah’s descendants in Babylon and we’re like building a really tall tower to the heavens to reach God and stuff but God isn’t having any of it so he totally mixes us up by making us speak different languages and we can't communicate how to build the tower so we end up going crazy and fighting and not reaching heaven. And that sucks.

We’re on the verge of losing paradise Blogger, so you better shape up and learn my language. I want to make this work. I do. But this here is a two way street and I’m driving north on it all alone and I’m looking for you going south but you’re not there. I mean, there’s a glare on the road, yes, but I’m wearing my shades and I still don’t see you. I’m trying to wash my one hand but I can’t because you, my other hand are being a lazy prig and refusing to help out. I WANT to wash my hand dammit! I just got back from the gym and I want to wash my hand! Have you tried clapping with one hand? Well, a tree that falls in a forest doesn’t make a sound if there’s no one there to hear it and my one hand can’t freaking clap on its own, dammit. I’m scratching your back, Blogger, but you’re not scratching mine. And it's itching. Like crazy.

Blogger, blogger, you bastard I’m through.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

BODIES: The Exhibition

Last year, my best friends took me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History on the weekend before my birthday.

This year, our pre-birthday festivities took a decidedly morbid turn when the girls took me to the bodies exhibit at South Street Seaport. It was a beautiful day, I was in a gloriously wonderful mood and I became convinced that seeing cadavers in various states of dissection on display for gawking visitors would be a downer. But the tickets had been paid for and, I can't say that I wasn't curious, so I went along.

I was blown away. The exhibit was an awesome fusion of biology and artistry. People had brought their kids (folks, we're talking about four year olds) who were just as awestruck as the adults. The exhibit, which took us an hour and a half to walk through, consisted of ten themed rooms. My favorites rooms featured fetal development and the vascular system. From an early blastocyst up to a 32 week fetus, humans at every stage of development are suspended in glass cases. At later stages, the fetuses' developing bones glow with multi-colored dyes through their translucent bodies in the darkened room. At the center of the display is a pregnant woman's pelvic region, dissected to show the three-month old fetus inside of her.

The vascular system room was just as amazing. Glass cases in the dimmed room held perfectly intact blood vessels from the leg, the heart, the lungs, etc.. The vessels are in the shape of the body part from where they were dissected and glow a vibrant shade of red. The most impressive display in this room features an entire body stripped down to just the blood vessels. It is a sight to behold.

In other places, an obese woman's body is sliced vertically in four pieces to show the distribution of fat (if this won't make a person change their unhealthy lifestyle, nothing will), the tumor-ridden breasts of a patient in her final phase of breast cancer sit in a glass case, and viewers are allowed a look into the brain of a dissected cadaver, posed into the position of Rodin's The Thinker.

Bodies provides a fascinating look into what we all look like on the inside and I so highy recommend it!

Friday, March 10, 2006


...emotionally unavailable men...which is not very good at all...which makes me wonder why I always end up falling for the Misters Uber-Standoffish, Uber-what-may-be-my-like-for-you-is-thinly-veiled-behind-my-uber-jokiness-which-may-simply-be-just-my-great-sense-of-humor-without-any-like-for-you-so-since-I'm-clearly-a-wuss-who-hides-behind-jokes-I'll-keep-you-in-suspense-until-that-one-day-you-throw-up-your-arms-in-frustration-and-storm-out-of-my-life-forever, and Uber-(Mc)-Jerky.
Men: free yourself from emotional constipation (I promise that it's actually empowering to be at the mercy of your emotions...or something). Or else, I propose that you guys start wearing the above-pictured t-shirt so that I know what I'm getting into right from the start and have the option of not getting into it at all...although, knowing me, I'd probably find the dude in that t-shirt uber-hot...(insert dorky laughter here)...I said "propose"...(insert more dorky laughter here).


...the velvety smooth perfection in a cup that is Jacques Torres coffee. It's the kind of coffee that makes you look forward to work.*

*I heart my job. C'mon, honestly, I'd look forward to going into work even without the coffee (although, I'd be a big liar if I claimed even for a second that no, I didn't crave Jacques Torres' roasty and subtle brew at 12 midnight and could so wait to purchase a cup whenever). Like, seriously. Ugh.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Thanks to Craig's Gawker mention, I've gotten 0.5% of his thousands and thousands of hits. I wish I knew how to milk this for all its worth. Alas, I'm too tired and lame to come up with anything catchy, so this will have to do:



I've always hearted Craig and Puntabulous and, now, so does Gawker!

Monday, March 06, 2006


I had a healthy number of testimonials from my friends on Friendster.
Rich's was the first; he called me a sexy siren and said that I was a romantic, a label that is almost taboo in today's sad world ("Why don't they make men like Walt [Whitman], Pablo [Neruda] and William [Faulkner] anymore?" he quoted from an email I sent him back in 2000). Mary, the former contracts assistant and funny girl extraordinaire, recalled a time when I dragged her to Rockefeller Center during lunch for company while I got my eyebrows done. It was a pleasant spring day, I bought her an ice cream cone for joining me and gave her invaluable advice about boys. Craig celebrated my beauty (check), brains (check), and insane knowledge about movies (check). My cousin Fraz wrote something nice as did Farah, my just a larki.
Unfortunately, Friendster erased my testimonials and I'm not happy about it.
I condemn Friendster for it's irresponsible and, ultimately, inane actions. You can erase their words, you so called networking site (I'd rather call you a BRUTISH BULLY!), but you can't expunge the love that my friends have for me!
I shall see you in cyber-hell!

March 6th: 8 days until the day of our Nerd's birth

Eight days until I turn 27 and I bet you didn't know the following about me...

Three group of men find me irresistable: boys (ages 12-19), old men (ages 49-99) and Mexicans.

Let's just say I'm extremely popular on the playgrounds, the nursing homes/casinos and in Mexico.

I wish I was kidding. Sigh.

Friday, March 03, 2006


...or, at least, a valid reason to feel sad...seriously.
Oh yah, 10 days to my birthday.
And I'm not going to post a pic here.
I hate those yellow sad faces as much as I hate the smiley ones.
Though I wonder what would be the perfect image for a blog about unexplainable sadness.
Any suggestions?
I, myself, will sleep on it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

March 3rd: 11 days until the day of our Nerd's Birth

Welcome??? Yeah, not so much......

Our nerd never went to preschool (shock! gasp! horror!). When most other children her age were attending preK and developing crucial social skills, she was hanging with her mom, watching children's programming on television--Romper Room and Friends, Paddington Bear, Inspector Gadget, Ryan's Hope, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and All My Children, to name a few (so yah, not all of the programming was technically "children's programming," but whatever. I think she's turned out to be a pretty sensible person in spite of the soaps).

But our nerd also started reading at an early age and she loved to flip through her big brothers' school books. She wore their book bags on her back and dreamt about carrying a pink lunch box to school someday. The thought of kindergarten made her giddy. Going to kindergarten meant that she would be a big kid like her brothers and their friends. She would have homework and summer vacation and books of her own.

So, on the first day of school, our nerd woke up before her mother did and proudly donned her uniform: a round collared shirt in a shade of yellow that seems to have existed only in the '80s, a brown and yellow plaid skirt jumper and a matching brown and yellow crisscross tie with a pearl snap. She sat still as her mother brushed her hair and didn't complain once about it hurting. After her hair was brushed and she'd worn her knee high brown socks and brown loafers, our nerd stood impatiently by the door waiting for her brothers and her mother. She clutched to the pink My Little Pony lunch box that her mother had bought her and a flat, empty book bag hung off her shoulders.

Soon she was walking towards the elementary school, holding onto her mother's long Pakistani shirt (a kameez in Urdu), as was her habit. This time, she thought to herself, instead of dropping Sabahat, Shafaat and Haseeb (Haseeb was her brothers' best friend growing up) off, you get to stay too. Our nerd felt like she was going to spontaneously combust with excitement (or something). The cool fall air nipped her nose and cheeks and the sky was a clear blue. It was an auspicious day for the first day of school.

Being among the first to arrive to school, the nerd's mother--after giving the nerd what I'm sure was great advice and telling her brothers to look after her--led her to where the kindergarten teacher was standing and told her to stand in line. She was the first in line! Wasn't she excited.

And our nerd was, indeed, thrilled.

But then her mother walked away and stood to the side.

Our nerd felt her heart drop to the floor. Her throat started to constrict and her eyes watered as she watched her mother smiling at her encouragingly.

This time, instead of just dropping her brothers and their friend off, she had to stay too and she was no longer happy about it.

Her world collapsing around her, our nerd slowly walked away from what she would very soon realize was a much coveted spot in line and walking to the wall, rested her head against the old bricks and quietly began to cry.

She felt someone touch her back but didn't bother turning around. She knew that this must be her fate and, at the moment, it seemed to be a fate worse than being forced to watch Sesame Street and those annoyingly fake puppets dance and sing and count like idiots. Like, Big Bird was so just a tall freak in a stupid yellow plumaged costume. Ugh (it is safe to guess that our nerd was NOT a fan of Sesame Street).

So, she didn't protest when the old woman with blueish-white hair that looked a lot like giant marshmallows glued to her head, turned the nerd around and, taking her by the hand, walked her back to the line.

Some kid had taken over our nerd's first position in line. While she still cried fat, tragic tears whenever she caught a glimpse of her mother out of the corner of her eye, the nerd also stared at the back of the little girl's head and started to wonder how early she'd have to come in the following day to be first in line.

...and so it began...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU (or something random like that): A TRUE STORY

My mother intercepted me before I could even shuffle my way to the bathroom at 6:30 this morning.
"Sabila, you have to listen to this message!" she nearly squealed, dragging me into her bedroom.
Four very long messages later, I heard a man say "Hallo? Hallo?" before the line was disconnected.
Message six was some muffled talking and a "Hallo?" from the same man.
By message seven, the man seemed to have figured out how his/my phone worked and left the following message:

"Hallo. My name is (I don't remember his name) from Pakistan. My number is (insert number with many, many digits here). I have MBA. I come to Amrika. (there was very brief muffled conversation in the background before he came back on the phone). I call for the rishta (remember non-desi readers, a rishta is an Urdu word for wedding proposal) for the Sabila. Ishrat (one of my older cousins in Pakistan) talk about you. Thank you."

"What (the hell) was that all about?" I asked, not using the word hell, even though I wanted to.
"I told your cousins in Pakistan to look for a boy for you. That must have been one of them. I think we should explore this, Sabila."
I almost laughed. "You're serious?" I asked.
"Well, yes."
"Amma, the boy can't even speak English. That's the bloody best they could come up with?"
"He is an MBA."
"Who can't speak English."
At this point, my father, who's always managed to maintain a rational, Mr. Bennett-like distance from all of this nonsense, walked into the room.
"There's no harm in looking into this," he said.
I paused and wondered what had become of my intelligent, liberal, open-minded father.
"But he can't speak English. I don't even know who he is. He could be a murdering rapist fro all we know."
My parents stared at me looking like I'd rejected them.
"Ugh. It's too early for rishta talk," I said, leaving their room.
"We can't keep passing up one rishta after another," amma called after me as I headed to the bathroom.
"Yes, you will regret it soon," abu added.

Clearly, my folks have no faith in my romantic skills.

Well...I don't really have any faith in my skills either, but, guys, HIS ENGLISH WAS AWFUL! And he, a stranger, essentially proposed to me from a differents continent on my answering machine! I don't know whether I should be laughing or crying. Why these random things happen to me is beyond my knowledge.

Thankfully, the 'rents haven't brought up the proposal again. I'm guessing that they've realized the error of their ways.

UPCLOSE AND PERSONAL: The Nerd's Unpleasant Walk (AN UPDATE)

Warning: the following may not be appropriate for sensitive readers.

On the way to work this morning I managed to take a closer look at the carcass I stepped on last night.
While I couldn't make out any feathers, I could definitely see a tail.
Yes, readers, I didn't step on a pigeon at all.
I stepped right into the freshly ruptured innards of a giant Manhattan rat.


May that rat rest in peace.