I went out for a walk a day after Sandy left. It was 8:15 a.m and my neighborhood was so quiet that I never thought this place would this quiet before. Although I live not far from the beach, but I am grateful that no serious damges that I could see with my naked eyes as I stood outside the building. The only visible sign that I knew was broken twigs on the ground and a few fallen branches which the custodians were already started to clear them away.
As NYC and New Jersey were hit hard by Sandy and they are still cleaning up the mess, I am grateful that Massachusetts, except for power outage throughout Northeast which was restored mostly by Wenensday, Boston was spared from the devastation.
Prisca and I met at Dance Complex in Cambridge for our first Salsa class. "I'm kaki bangku, you know that, right?" I asked Prisca as we sat on hard-bench at reception area at the complex. As we taking off the winter boots and putting more comfortable shoes, we watched a rather heavy traffic on the stairways. Men and women in various types of dancing gears ran, jogged, trotted, limped, strutted and swayed their way up and down the stairs.
"Don't worry, I have two left foot too, and I don't think we are alone."
She was absolutely right. When Matie, our instructor asked us how many of us are beginners? 2/3 of us raised our hands.
The thing with salsa is, you don't have to know the step, as soon as you hear the salsa song, your body immediately responds to the rhythm, even you have two left foot (When I said you, I meant ME).
One hour later, I learned to move my right foot and left foot: front, back, right and left. But when I looked into the mirror I couldn't help laughing at myself, my stiffed upper body like a cardboard. But hey, I survived the first class.
Instead of running on Pebble Beach this morning, I switched my running route. I hit a sidewalk at 6:45 a.m from Southampton Ave., turned to Mass. Ave. passed Boston Medical Center, turned to Columbus Ave. cut through W. Newton Street until I got to Prudential Center. I slowed down when I got here because running with a little pouch hanging on my waist ( I had a camera in a pouch) was no fun at all. That little pouch kept banging my lower waist all the way. If I had no intention of taking photos of Boston Marathon preparation, I wouldn't be caught running wuth anything extra except necessary gears.
The whole part of Boylston Street (from one end of front entrance of Public Library of Copley to the other end) is blocked by the benches and overhead bridge. The finish line is right in front of the library.
Besides a couple of trucks and a trailer delivering a dozen of handy houses to the site, the place was still quiet. I passed a few marathoners in an official Adidas blue/white sweatshirt with Boston Marathon 2005 on the back of the shirts. By tomorrow afternoon the city will be swarmed with the runners from all over the world.
I snapped a few photos, did some stretches and continued my running along Boylston Street, dashed across Boston Garden to Boston Common until I stopped at the bench at Park Street. I wanted to stop to take some pictures of swans at Boston Garden, but I didn't stop. I didn't want to break my rhythm.
"Hey there sexy legs." I heard a voice from a bench behind me.
"Hey there sexy legs with orange bandanna." I couldn't ignore the voice. I was the only one had an orange bandanna at that moment.
"Excuse me?" I straightened up my spine and turned around to look at the voice.
"Yeah.......I know it's you, young lady. You're not wearing running short today, but I know you still have the best legs in town." He put down a half empty Poland Spring bottle water next to him. He crossed his legs, leaned back and smiled, showing a gap of his upper front teeth. His face dotted with pearl of sweats. And.....he had Pearl Izumi running sneakers. Is he a runner?
My mind raced back and forth trying to put his face into a right slot of names and places. Nothing came up.
'I'm sorry sir, have we met before?"
"Aahhhhh. I knew it I ain't wrong, your hair is short now, but you're just as polite as before," he bent forward and rested his lower arms on his thighs, clasped his hands together. His dreadlocks slid down from behind his ears and swung gently.
"Do you remember many years ago, you bought a cup of coffee and a donut to a homeless man?"
"Oh............it's you," this time I was more surprised than before, "my goodness, you still remember me after all these years?"
"How could I forget? I was a mess. A homeless man, drunk, foul smell and shit begging for a spare change from you."
"Yes, I remember you. I was holding my breath, pulling the money from my sock."
I ended my running one Sunday morning at the same spot where we were talking right now. A homeless man approached me asking for a spare change. His strong body odor (for being away from H2O far too long) and alcohol fermented his being, my first reaction was to move away. But, my instinct told me not to. I stayed and talked to him.
As I pulled a five dollar bill from my sock, folded and damp, he said all he needed was a cup of coffee. I looked at him, I knew it would take him forever to cross the street to get a cup of coffee. I asked him how did he like his coffee, black with sugar or with cream or milk?
"Medium black, two sugars."
When I handed him a cup of coffee and donut, he was more than happy to accept it.
He thanked me between sipping his coffee and shoving the donut into his mouth.
"Thank you sexy legs, you don't mind I name you sexy legs?" He was more earnest than being an inappropriate.
"You're half drunk, I don't have a sexy legs, they call these an elephant legs."
"I'm drunk, but I ain't blind and I ain't dead yet."
I said goodbye and headed to the train station. That was seven years ago.
He was no longer the same man I met seven years ago. He has been sober and cleaned for the past four years. He works with a food bank and does a volunteer work as an outreach worker for the homeless. And he goes to school part time at a community college. All I could say was, "You are amazing." And he is amazing.
"Do you run too?" I blurted out the question since I saw his running shoes.
"Yes, yes. I started it when I was at half-way house. You inspired me."
"I did?" I looked for a spot to sit down. Something for my legs to hold on to. He removed the bottle water and patted an empty spot next to him.
"You never thought your simple act seven years ago would have an impact on an alcoholic and homeless man like me, didn't you?"
I shook my head.
He told me his determination to reunite with his long lost son, and of course his newfound interest - running. I showed him the right way to breath when he runs and not to distance his elbows from his sides when he hits the sidewalks. The sun was high when we said goodbye.
Judging from the food photos I've been uploading like crazy for the past few months, I think I'm turning my blog into a food blog. I'm a big sucker for good food. I've always love food. I enjoy experimenting in my kitchen (when I say experimenting, I mean I'm putting together the left over, adding this and that, replacing orange juice when I'm out of tamarind juice, or chopping some mangoes and throw them into my sambal tumis, or a dash of ground cardamon when there is no cardamon required in the recipes or adding kacang bendi (okra) into my sambal tumis sotong (squid sambal) that I had earlier tonight. It has been a while since I had squids.
The last time I had squids was last fall when we went to Haymarket in North End. Hay Market is a weekly open market (Friday and Saturday). I don't like shopping at Haymarket even though fruits and vegetables are really cheap. During strawberry season you can get a crate of strawberry for $3.00. 5 pounds of black juicy seedless grape is between $3-$5. A combination of ten red/green/yellow and orange peppers cost you only $2. There is one short coming shopping at Haymarket, you CANNOT touch the merchandise. If you touch it you're subjected to be yelled and screamed at by those stall owners. But it doesn't stop some people to grab, pinch and squeeze the merchandise when the sellers are not looking at them. "Hey, hey, put it down, put it down. How many times I told you no picking?" I can't tolerate that. If I wanted to buy something especially the food, I like to hold them in my hand, turn them around, but not to pinch or poke with fingernail as some people like to do. But nevertheless I like to have them in my hand before I decide to buy them.
I had three pounds of fresh squids when I stopped at the next stall to get some trouts. "So, you're having squids for lunch today." The guy at trouts stall greeted me.
"Oh..yes, I like squids." I lifted the plastic bag to show him my catch of the day.
"Good Muslims don't eat squids you know, or any fish without scales and fins or shellfish." The other guy who was arranging the salmon fillets nodded his head without looking up from his task. My mind raced through my stored memory bank trying to place his face. Click.
Wait a minute, his voice sounds familiar, I've seen him before.
"Are you Moestaffa, Ashraf's friend? I saw you a few times hanging out at the bar on Ashraf's shift."
I remember now, Ashraf was a bartender at the restaurant where I used to work in Harvard Square. When I came back from vacation, Ashraf was gone. They said he moved to Seattle.
"Yes, I am. So you rememberr me."
Three summers ago ( it was a couple of months before the second anniversary of September 11), five of us got together for a farewell dinner for Suzy. She was returning to Denmark after 15 years living in this city. We agreed to go to a restaurant in North End which served Mediterranean cuisine. We got a nice table at the corner. As soon as our waitress left the table with our order, Zulikha a beautiful Somalian woman, blew off the candle on our table. Zulikha sat next to me in Children Literature class at college. One day Zulikha came into the class shaking.She breathed hard. Without her usual greeting, she pulled her chair and sat.
"Can you believe what that Abdulshithead said to me just now?"
"You know that pearshapehead Somalian guy I'd just met at the student lounge last week?"
"Yes, I remember you told me about him. You were excited when finally you met somebody from your home town. But I didn't know his name is Abdulshithead."
"Stop playing Ana, I'm serious." Zulikha's face softened at my joke.
"He said I'm an embarrassing to Somalian Muslim community because I go around with my bare head."
"Is this the first time somebody said that to you?"
"Not really, but listen to this....." She stopped to take a deep breath, but her lips trembled as she continued, " During the judgment day our Prophet won't be able to save me because my hair isn't long enough."
"Somebody said the same thing to me too back home."
"Really? Did you get angry? Did you say anything back to that person?"
"Yes, I was hurt and angry."
A few weeks later, I was at the campus cafeteria when Zulikha strode in swinging her back pack, grinning from ear to ear.
"Ana, guess what I saw two days ago at Shaw's parking lot?" Her eyes twinkled.
She leaned closer to me and whispered, "I saw Abdulshithead pushing a cart with at least six packs of Budweiser in it. Hypocritemotherfuckersonofawhore."
"Whoaaa...........but why are we whispering?"
"I have no idea."
We burst out laughing.
"Did he see you?"
"Not when he was heading to his car. I was coming from his left, I wanted to avoid him, but as I got closer I saw what's in his cart. You should've seen his face when he saw me. I didn't give him a chance, I greeted him with salam and stopped in front of the cart."
"Sweet....., what did you say to him."
"Nothing, I just looked at him and walked away."
"That's my girl."
Half way through our dinner, a group of three men and two women were seated three tables away from ours. Their conversation and laughter became louder as the pitchers on their table increased by two. They switched their conversation between French and Arabic. When one of the men ordered in English another pitcher of beer , Suzy put her fork, "Is that a guy who always hang out with Ashraf?" All of us turned our attention to their table. Without a lighted candle plus our strategic location, we could see all of them.
"Hmm...hmmm, looks like Moestaffa's crab hand is crawling up into that girl's skirt."
I turned to look at Ali, "You know him too Ali?" Ali is a Black woman who embraced Islam eight years ago while she was teaching in a small village in Chad. I used the word black because Ali doesn't like to be referred as African-American.
"We had a debate a few times, well more like an argument because that man had no clue what he was talking about. I decided not to be bothered anymore because he said as a converter I didn't know much like a born Muslim. From then on I knew he wasn't worth a penny."
When our table was cleared and the waitress brought us coffee and desserts, Moestaffa's table had turned into a mini circus. The men argued in French and Arabic back and forth, the women laughed uncontrollable like a whining horse.
One of Moestaffa's buddy got upset when their waiter refused to bring another pitcher of beer. "Are you discrrriminating uzz?" His voice slurred and loud. The manager hurried to their table and talked to the third man who was less drunk than the rest. He nodded his head a few times. Moestaffa tried to get up, but the third man said something to him. He sat down. The waiter cleared the plates, empty pitchers and glasses. A few minutes later they were sipping their espressos as they were being reprimand by a teacher.
When B asked me if I were ready to leave, I said yes.
"I thought you wanted some trouts."
"Nahhh....I'll stick to my squids." I lifted the squids in a transparent plastic bag and dangled it in front of Moestaffa before I turned and left. I told B what Moestaffa said to me about the squids. He already knew about the previous episodes at the restaurant and his argument with Ali.
"Did you say anything to him about drowning his face in pitchers of beer (the term I used)?"
Shopping a bra for smallbusted woman like me is not a picnic. Most of the bras are manufactured for big breasted women. Look at the bras with the size 36A and bigger, they have the soft fabric, laces and beautiful colors and patterns.
Sometimes I found the bras that I like but I hate the one centimeter padded they inserted in. When I try it on, I feel so fakey. A few times I find a bra without an excessive padding, but I hate the underwire. Why do I need the underwire bra for? There's not much to support in that department. It's not like my breasts are as huge as cantaloupe.
Many years ago I opted to camisole. I have tons of camisole: cotton, playtex and silk. I wear a beautiful made sport top of Jockey, Puma, Adidas and Zen too. They are comfortable and breathable. But sometimes when I wear silk shirts, or kebayas, wearing camisole is not an option. My nipples are visible a mile away.
I was not totally give up looking for my kind of bra.
Late afternoon, after I left the post-office in Chinatown, I stopped at the bathroom at Macy's in lower level. On my way to subway station, I took a short cut through lingerie. And I am glad I made the decision. Walking through aisles of bras islands, I noticed the bras that I haven't noticed before. Maybe they have been there all along, since I stopped shopping for a bra long time ago, I guess I missed it.
It's Olga Petite. I stopped short in my track. And I didn't have to look for long either. Less than 20 minutes I found what I like. I found my size, and top of that, it's seamless, wire free and it's soft taupe. What more can I ask for? I bought two pairs. Finally, some bra designers got the side of their heads whacked and learn there are small busted women on this planet who like to wear fine, lacy and comfortable bras.
There are a lot of small busted women who like to wear sexy bra without feeling trapped with wires underneath or excessive padding. This is the answer for my long search. Thank you, thank you.
After more than a decade I've been living and breathing in this city, this morning was the first time I stepped into Boston Medical Center's building.
It's all started when my new job required me to have a PPD shot, a shot that determine whether a new hired is free from tubercolosis.
I had a shot a year ago, and I thought I didn't have to take anohter shot. I was wrong. They asked me to get a new shot. It came back positive. I was already on my fifth day at the new job. The director of the shelter told me I have to go for a treatment, and I was removed from the schedule. The nurse at the health centerwho gave me the shot made an appointment with BMC for me to go for further treatment.
Three days ago I got a letter in my mail from BMC giving me an instruction and direction how to get there and what to expect. I got to the front desk which is on the third floor on Menino Building, 20 minutes earlier.
I was surprised to see the majority of the people (seeking for treatment?) in the building were minority. Where do the white get their body fixed? Or there might be in another building, another floor, but the first floor was flooded with Hispanics and African Americans. African Americans were outnumbered by Hispanics actually. Everywhere I turned I heard the Spanish language fired back and forth.
Back to the front desk on the third floor, a friendly receptionist entered my personal information into the system and gave me a yellow index card.
"Go the x-ray room, opposite the elevator, after that come back here again."
Two minutes walk to the x-ray room, another woman gave me a clean blue gown to change into. "From waist up, and wait in there."
After I put my cotton ball-room gown, a girl came out from nowhere and greeted me. She asked me to follow her to an x-ray room. The process took less than 15 minutes. She gave me my chest x-ray negativein a big yellow envelope. I put on my clothes and walked back to the front desk.
I handed her the yellow envelope. Five minutes later, I was called to go into an examined room. Another friendly staff greeted me and took more information, like the language I speak and my origin country.
From her accent, I think she is from African continent.
She then put the the x-ray negative onto a lighted wall where they usually go. She left and after 20 minutes, thin man in white long coat came in. He introduced himself as Dr. X. He asked me more questions and filled up my answers in my personal record.
He explained to me in detail why I was there and how does the tb virus work their ways around and in human body."Let's see your the film." he said. After ten minutes of looking at my chest x-ray film he told me I'm looking for a white patch in your lung. The patches mean the virus."
The x-ray turned out negative.No tb virus visible, but he asked if I'm interested to take a medication called Isoniazid for a period of nine months. One pill everyday. He said he will monitor my progress and my liver function when I return to pick up the new batch.
He explained to me all the side effect and repeatedly ask me to call him if I were to experience side effects. "So would you like to take a treatment?" he said.
"Do I have a choice?" I asked him.
"Yes, you do," he nodded his head, "you don't take the medication, but your body might not be strong as it is now the next time." He looked at me intently.
I never on any medication for a long period. As a matter of fact only medication I have taken so far was cough syrup. I never had an aspirin in my life. I had a tylenol a couple of years ago, when I had a fever.
Finally I nodded my head. I know I am healthy, but my immune system is not as good as I was in 30's or 20's.
I went down to the first floor to pharmacy to pick up perscription. Fifteen minutes later, I was out in the cold facing the ass-whipping wind. For the BMC's starff at Menino Building, I could say they are a b8nch of friendly people. Even the girls behind the counter at pharmacy greeted the patiens and wish "Have a nice day" when they handed the medication to the patients.
A few years ago someone I was in love with told me my masculinity side is as strong as my feminine side. I wasn't surprised when he shared his observation because as much as I know I'm a 100% woman, there were a few aspects of me that sometimes puzzled me when I was younger.
Ever since I was a kid I never liked to play dolls and girls games. I had a couple of dolls with curly black hair and porcelain complexion, their eyes blink opened when I put them in sitting or standing position. And when I put them flat on the floor, the eyes would close, with long eyelashes covered half of their high cheekbones.I kept them away in the box under my parents bed.
I only took them out when one of my mother's friend, and she had a daughter around my age with a doll on her hip. When they left, the dolls went back sleeping in a box under the bed.
My accuracy in throwing the spinning wheels on the ground and broke the opponent's spinning wheel was as good as any boys that I played with, my buddies( boys).
I made my own kite, bought the bamboo frames from the grocery store, five cents each. We flied kites for fun, the meaning of fun was trying to cut the other kid's kite. How did we do it?
First we hunted for an old bulb or broken pepsi cola bottle.The old bulb or bottle was broken to pieces down to powder form. One of us would find the way to steal some starch from home. Starch or we called it kanji was an easy access, was made by tapioca powder. During those times the school uniforms were starched. Most of the mothers in those time always had a fresh pot of starch. So every Monday morning some of us walked around the school with stiffed limbs as we were being starched and pressed too.
We, then carefully mixed the starch and glass powder and applied to at least 12 inches along the top part of the line.
Let it dry under the sun. We waited until noon when we had good wind. We raised our kites up in the sky. When our kites were stable up in the sky, then the fun begun. Each of us who was bold enough would looked for another kites and tried to cut it off. It was fun, it was brutal.
Sometimes we ended up fighting, but the fight never lasted more than a day.
When I think back about making the powder out of broken bulbs, I'm grateful to the Creator, because none of us ever got our eyes blinded by flying broken pieces of sharp, thin glasses.
I scratched and cut my knees and legs while climbing up the trees and all the games the boys played, I rarely missed.
I only learned to wear baju kurung and sarung when family went to live with my grandmother during my father's two years service in Congo.
One thing my mother never neglected to teach me was the chores and tasks that a girl "supposed" to learn along with all my brothers. So, we were even then.
Now, I'm a grown matured woman, I enjoy all the little luxuries that I can afford, like body oil perfume (Tunisia Sandalwood and Bergamot), Provence herbal body soaps, taking a long, hot bubble bath with a few drops of Bergamot oil, sleeping on a soft 100% cotton bedsheets and bergamot body lotion are a few things I enjoy as a woman.
My overload shoes rack carries 12 pairs of sneakers, three pairs of running shoes, five pairs of working boots (one pair is tan, one pair is brown and three pairs are black). All of them have 16 eyelets, three pairs of Rockport shoes which I wear alternately in late winter and early fall.
I have three pairs of two inches leather strap sandal, two pairs of black pump and two pairs of one-inch dress boots, they are all look new because I hardly wear them. I should've not bought them in the first place, but there were times, I thought I wanted my feet to experience something new, something different, but they prefer the comfort, so I choose the comfort.
I'm more comfortable in slip one shoes, sneakers and flat open sandals during summer.
After making a deposit this morning, I walked up to Washington Street to CVS to get me some lip balm. Somehow my legs made a stop at Filene's Basement, that's how I spotted this Ecco boots . On top of that it was on sale, 50% off an original price.
If it was not for getting my hair trimmed, I wouldn't have left my apartment. Despite my extra sweater,fleece shirt, and my ever famous 30 pound winter jacket, the brutal winter still whipped my ass. It's so cold, I think if there was any body liquid release when I was outside would have turned into ice.
It was only fifteen minutes wait at the barbershop. John had three customers waiting, so I went to Rodolfo. He is not as good and attentive as John, but he is way much better than Betsy. Before I left, John asked to take a couple of Greek cookies his wife baked yesterday. I can't remember what they were called, but they were scrumptious.
I've been riding the train thousands times and everytime the train crosses the Charles River, I never fail to look out and admire its beauty. And this evening, with the water turned into ice, the surface of the water was smooth. The evening light hit the water it was like seeing a huge mirror on the ground. I bet it will be more dramatic when the sun sets.
LESSON FOR TODAY
(which I learned long time a go)
If you are working on night shift, and you go to bed, let's say at 7:00 p.m, and you woke up at 10:30 p.m. You looked at the clock and said to yourself: "I have another 30 minutes."
You just kinda leaned your head on the sofa, and when you opened your eyes, it was 1:00 a.m. oh....shitttt......
Yes, that's what happened to me last night. Longgggshit. My third day at the new job and I already one and a half hour late.