Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt



Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Q's answered

People often ask me one (or two) of two questions about Christmas: "Do you celebrate Christmas?" and/or "What do you do for Christmas?"

To answer both questions, being a Muslim, there is very little I do about Christmas. Though Islam recognizes the significance of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and the one who will save us, we do not celebrate Christmas in any way, shape or form. We don't get into the shopping frenzy, we don't put up a tree, we don't invite people over... we just enjoy the holiday away from work, or school.

On a personal level, I have no problem participating in Secret Santa or any other gift exchange through work, because I think it's nice to participate in such programs that warm up the office, and let you build a tad bit warmer relationships with your co-worker(s). Also on a personal level, I've debated whether I should buy gifts for my friends who do celebrate the holiday. I've wrestled with the idea for years, and still don't know what my feeling is on the subject. I try my best to wish everyone happy holidays, and have even given cards in the past, but there is still the question of gifts. This year, I am spending Christmas day with a friend, and so, I actually want to give a gift.

In conclusion, it's safe to say that I basically just hang out at home, and enjoy the time away from work, or school... or as I'm doing this year, I spend it with friends.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and Happy Holidays to everyone else!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eid Al Adha Wishes

Today, December 19, 2007, marks the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid ul Adha. The celebration lasts four days. To learn more about what this holiday signifies and how it is celebrated, click here.

It's so hard to say goodbye!

As I mentioned in my last post, I am reading The Birth of Venus, a historical fiction novel, set in Florence, Italy, during the Rennaissance period. It tells the story of Alessandra Cecchi, a non-traditional girl of that period who loved art and wanted nothing more than to be able to practice it. With the arrival of a character we only know as "the painter", Alessandra's life begins to take shape, and her story begins to unravel like magic. It's hard to put it down and it's exciting from the first sentence, and I'm sure to the very last.

I am still not done with reading, but the only reason why I'm drawing it out this long, is because I don't want to say goodbye to the characters I've come across and taken a liking to. Cheesy, I know, but I can't help it! There are a lot of good books out there that I have loved quite a it, but there are few I have a hard time parting with like this.
There has only been one other book I've felt this way about, and that was The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons (NO, it is not the poem by Pushkin!). Though I'd classify it as a romance novel, it is beyond that, because it is historical, as well. It is set during World War II, during the German invasion and blockade of Russia, Leningrad to be exact. Much like The Birth of Venus, I was unable to put it down and read it in less than a week despite it's 600+pages and my busy work schedule. Even though I drew it out as long as I could, I still couldn't put it down and it ended way too soon for me.

I guess I highly recommend both books, though I will admit that The Bronze Horseman is a little more romance novellish than The Birth of Venus, but they are both rich stories with even richer characters and history that is practically impossible to get bored with.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Still writing and reading.

As I've told many people I've caught up with lately... not much is going on. Hence, my absence from the blogging world lately. But in order to breathe a bit of much needed life back into my blog, and to reassure everyone that this is not an abandoned vehicle, I'm going to write about what's going on with me.

I am reading and writing. Reading more than writing, but I dug up and started working on an untitled story I started writing a while ago, and it's coming along pretty well.

Since Candide, which I mentioned in my last entry, I also have read and finished another book, The Infidelity Pact by Carrie Karasyov. I had a good idea it wouldn't be a good book, but over the years, I've found that my motivation to write fiction goes way up if I read and observe the new stuff out there, so this book was part of a plan to boost my confidence, really. It boosted it quite a bit on so many levels, because not only was it written sloppily, it was also written incompetently. Harsh words, I know, but I found so many inconsistencies in the story that could only be explained with incompetence and sloppiness, it was ridiculous.














I am now reading The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant a historical fiction novel set during the rennaissance in the Italian city of Florence. The novel is narrated by the heroine, Alessandra, who recounts her story beginning from the time she was 14, and a learned, curious female in a time and place where women were meant to either marry and procreate, or become nuns. The book is a little over 400 pages, and I'm making quick headway. So far, it's been a rich, intriguing and exciting story that paints a Florence in the most intimate way possible. I can't put it down.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What I've been up to

So, I'm trying my hand at short story writing. I've written several in the past, but unlike before, I feel a lot more confident. I'm not sure what upped my confidence with fiction writing, but I think a huge part of it is the fact that I've grown as a writer, mainly because I have read a lot more different books and styles that have given me a good taste of what's out there and how my writing style and ideas could be marketable.

When I was in St. Croix last, I witnessed a funeral procession, and used it as a springboard for a short story. I wrote quite a bit while still in St. Croix, but sort of put it on the back burner upon my return. That was back in March, and today, I feel I have a good and solid short story. I'm now looking for appropriate places to publish the story-- The Funeral Procession.

I am also working on other fiction, but this is actually done and ready to go. Other than that, I've been trying to make it an absolute routine to come down to my office space everyday and spend at least an hour writing anything. Doesn't matter what I write, as long as I'm writing and exercising those writing muscles which can get quite weak if not taken care of regularly. I've seen just how weak those muscles get, and it's not pretty. So, in the meantime, I'm still riding high on my being published in January on the online publication, The Shine Journal, and planning to get published in more established and well-known places. This writing thing is coming along very slowly, but it's exciting all the same.

I've been keeping busy with things other than writing. I've been reading quite a bit. I've just finished an interesting novel, The Rug Merchant, about an Iranian immigrant who is a rug merchant. I was hesitant to read this book, as I never feel like an American author could represent a Middle Eastern character fairly, or accurately. I'm not Iranian, but I am Muslim like Iranians, and I found Meg Mullins, the author, to be as fair and accurate as can be. I enjoyed the book quite a bit for a number of reasons, most important one being the colorful and intriguing characters represented.

I am now reading Voltaire's Candide and absolutely love it. It's quite the satire about the overly optimistic view that "everything happens for the best". Though I do buy that theory, there are times when something happening is just not the best thing... not everything has to be perfect in the world and Voltaire and says that in such a funny, adventure-filled and intelligent way.

Those have been my adventures since my last posting. As always, thanks for reading!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Jesus Christ! It's a feature!

Though I already had plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving day, and pretty much everyday, I got a surprise to be thankful for. A new column/piece of mine is the feature on Intrepid Media this Black Friday, through Monday. If you haven't already done so per my last blog post, please do visit IM to read my featured column, Jesus Christ!

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The effects of writer's block

I've been so busy since I got back from Mexico, that writing something worthwhile with a clear head has been near impossible. This is a bad thing, since there is a deadline coming up for a short story writing contest I'd like to meet. But writing short stories is a little more complicated than having to meet a deadline.

My Intrepid Media presence has also suffered since my return, but I've finally written a piece with a holidays theme. It's a rant, but it's really more of a humor thing. I hope you take a look and perhaps laugh at my Jesus Christ! piece in the gallery, but I will just expect you to take a look and think of the laugh as an added bonus.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sign this...

In support of the WGA strike Petition

I have just been "newsed"!

I have a couple things to announce.

First, a couple months ago, I submitted a piece I had written and published on Intrepid Media to The Shine Journal. It is an online publication that publishes everything from poetry to photography. Just this morning, I received an email from The Shine Journal's editor telling me that she would like to publish this piece for the January issue! This is so exciting, because it is the first time since college that I will have a submission published anywhere outside of Intrepid Media!

The second announcement is that the minute I found out the awesome news about getting published in January, I let everyone know about it on Intrepid Media, and as a result, my accomplishment has been "newsed" on Intrepid Media's main page. Check it out!

It's a tiny success, but it's enough to inspire me and encourage me to go further and beyond. I will provide a link to the published piece on my blog later on, and I hope everyone reading this will plan on reading it come January. It will certainly be a happy new year for me, and a happy birthday at that!

Life is just good right now.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Trying a new way of trying new things

So now that my parents are back in town, my life has become easier, and I have a lot more time on my hands to do the things I enjoy doing. Though I'm proud and happy to say that I've gained some culinary experience in my parents' absence, along with ninja cleaning expertise, and even made a Halloween costume, I did neglect to write anything publishable outside of this blog. I suppose I am going through a brief and mild writer's block I plan to overcome in the next few days.

In the meantime, I'm into trying new things, which is pretty much what I like to do anyway... but usually, I try new things privately. Up until now, I've either read or watched videos to learn something new. I even attempted to learn Portuguese on my own just a couple of years ago, and though I made good enough progress for being self-taught, I suppose I missed out on the conversational part, which is essential for learning a language and can only be achieved in a group.

Anyway, I'm trying a new way of trying new things... I'm taking classes. I have yet to be on a role sheet for Spanish or dance classes (my ultimate goal), but I took the first "class" since graduating from college just today. Cycling at the rec center. It kicked my butt, and I was nervous walking in not knowing how to set up or adjust the stationary bike, but I found myself enjoying the experience of working out in a group, where you can ask questions and get encouragement that is aimed specifically at you. It was nice to say the least, and I plan on repeating this experience with more than just cycling.

Of course, I'll still read and watch videos to learn about things, but now I am more inclined to take a class that is convenient and fun.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Braveheart Costume, part deux

As a continuation of my last post, I now have pictures, thanks to a computer savvy co-worker of my sister's. And here goes:

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I am most proud of the sword. Not the greatest, but my sister said her co-workers thought it was very creative and they gave it an honorable mention. I feel I should remind you that I made it out of foam and spraypaint. You can't really see the detail of the handle, but you get the picture.

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A group picture. If I had to choose anyone other than my sister, I'd pick the Native American costume, as it was cute and well-done with that adorable wig.

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The face off. The winner of the contest is the other woman in the picture. My sister says that everybody loved her sword, because it was made out of wood. Supposedly she was a gladiator, but last time I checked, gladiators didn't use pirate swords, nor did they wear chokers... and Romans weren't big on pants, either. They were more into skirts in battle. But what do I know? I just minored in history in college and spent an entire semester learning about the Roman Empire! Cast your votes, folks! I vote for the woman on the left! (your left!)

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So, they may have taken the prize away from us. But they'll never take away our FREEDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

PS Once the camera returns from Mexico, I will take more detailed pictures of the costume and its components.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How to make a Braveheart costume

A Halloween costume contest took place at my sister's workplace this year, and in order to win a gift card for my dear sister, I let the creative wheels in my head turn. I've never been a big fan of store-bought costumes, mainly because they're either too slutty for women, or not creative enough for men.

Not even entertaining the idea of buying a pre-made costume, those creative wheels in my head came up with what I think is a pretty awesome costume idea, and my craftiness really shone through! Though my sister's costume didn't win the contest (if you ask me, it's solely because those voting lack taste), I am still proud of the work I did in putting it together.

My sister was Braveheart, aka William Wallace. That Scottish martyr who screamed "FREEDOOOOOOOOOOM!" and kicked English butt. I am sorry to say I am unable to post any pictures, because I am sans camera right now, but as soon as some of my sister's co-workers who did take pictures send out pictures, I will post them so you can see my work.

Anyway, I don't sew, but I was able to whip up a pretty cool, and incredibly easy to make costume. The only challenge was time, and finding a sword. But as you will find by reading on, I was able to overcome these challenges and obstacles and came out with something quite awesome. Again, my sister didn't win, but until I have pictures to prove it, I swear to you that my sister was the clear winner.

The first thing I did was go to my local Joanne Fabrics store, and found a plaid fabric. I had no idea how much of it I needed, but that's what those ladies behind the counter are there for! We needed about 4.5 yards for a piece that would be a wrap-around skirt, and come up to drape over one shoulder. Next, we needed something resembling brown leather for a sword sheath and a forearm band. And finally, a silver medieval sword. For the leather, I struck gold at Walmart, where I found fake leather that looked real and worn. Again, being that I don't sew, I had no idea how much I needed, and the lady who cut the fabric for me gave me only 1/2 yard to cover the armband, as well as the sword sheath.

The sword was a challenge, as I was doing all of this on the morning of October 30, while trying to get some other shopping done. Stores were low on Halloween supplies, especially swords. Aside from pirate cutlasses and daggers, there wasn't much in the way of medieval weaponry. I went to Party America, Walmart and Target, and couldn't find any swords.

The idea of making a sword myself came to me when I was too tired to try anywhere else and was running low on time. Home Depot was my next stop. Of course, I went in blind with absolutely no clue where to even begin. At customer service I got a couple "are you crazy?" looks when I explained that I wanted to make a sword, but I was too desperate to give up on the idea. I really wanted this costume to be complete with such essential details! Foam was the answer. A foam board for just a little over $3 plus silver spray paint, and voila! I had the materials for making a sword.

As I mentioned earlier, I can't sew, and naturally, a lot of unorthodox tailoring took place. I used a safety pin as a closure for the skirt, and my Dad's brown leather belt for genuine detail, as well as holding up the skirt. I also used a safety-pin as a closure for the sword sheath, which was worn over the opposite shoulder from the skirt's fabric and across the chest. Underneath, my sister just wore a pair of dark leggings with a pair of boots, and a wheat-colored long-sleeved cotton t-shirt. The truly unorthodox tailoring took place with the armband. I could not find any adhesive-backed velcro, but did find velcro you can sew, or glue on. I did neither of those things, and instead just stapled the velcro on the piece of leather fabric and it worked out great, as it was easy to adjust and put on and take off.

For the sword, I simply drew the shape of a sword over the foam, and with an exacto and kitchen knife cut it out. Next, I laid out some newspapers on the porch and sprayed away with a shiny silver tone. As an added touch and detail, I wrapped the handle of the sword with the imitation-leather fabric using a wide rubber-band.

Finally, for the hair, we pulled part of my sister's hair back, and made two tiny braids at each temple, and voila! My sister was transformed into Braveheart.

Though my sister didn't win, I am still proud of my work. As soon as pictures surface, I will post them for everyone to see! In the meantime, hope you all had a fun Halloween and creative costumes!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A new hobby

I think I have a new hobby that is not only challenging at times, but also offers instant gratification. I've cooked twice in the last week, and it's been pretty awesome. I can't say I'm as good as my mom, as the woman should open a restaurant, but I haven't killed anyone with my cooking. Yet. In fact, I've gotten compliments... OK... a compliment.

But my biggest gastronomic achievement so far has been ratatouille. I chopped, I sauteed and I served. It was all done from scratch, right down to the peeled, diced tomatoes that the recipe called for. It's an easy dish, but the fact that I did it all by myself from scratch is the part that makes me feel proud.

The internet has been my best friend through these rough times without my mother's delicious, nutritious and healthy cooking. There is a wealth of recipes out there that are easy, but are more than just throwing frozen veggies in a wok with chicken. My next project is going to be a simple dish of Greek or Italian olives baked with fresh rosemary and basil.

If I continue with this hobby and learn all there is to know, I will expand my writing horizons, and could become a food writer.

My ultimate motto is: Everything for the writing life!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Creating a green microcosm


Walmart is taking baby steps to being green, and though tiny, I like it a lot. Recycled Reusable bags from Walmart are now available for $1, and I gladly bought one today. They're black and simple with "Paper or Plastic? Neither" printed in a simple and clean font. They are very roomy-- they can hold enough stuff to fill up to 3 plastic bags-- and are durable. Not to mention that they are made out of recycled plastic soda bottles!

I'm not a tree hugger, and I don't think you have to be labeled as that to create a green microcosm for yourself. I express my concern by doing little green things here and there whenever I can, if nothing else, then to just reduce my footprint on the environment. Walmart's tote is a tiny effort, but saving up to 3 plastic bags is a lot of help when you multiply it by the amount of Walmart shoppers out there.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why I love pirates

When I was a child in the United Arab Emirates, I watched a lot of cartoons. Most of these cartoons were japanimation, but dubbed into Arabic. Treasure Island was my favorite one of these types of shows and though I'm an adult now, I still think this show is something I could watch on a marathon basis if I could. It was the springboard for my fascination with pirates... long before Pirates of the Carribean became what it is today. I found a few clips on YouTube from the show recently, to my delight, and thought I'd share the joy of the opening credits with those unfamiliar with this awesome show. I have the song on my Ipod and listen to it with much gusto. Enjoy my childhood in a nutshell!

Back in Denver

I got back in Denver on Sunday night, and have been a bit depressed about it ever since. It is now my mom's turn to experience Mexico, and so she is now in Mexico while my sister and I resume our lives in Denver, Colorado. Its been kind of interesting to have the house all to myself during the day, but I don't mind it. I've been spending a lot of time with my kitty cats and loving it, despite everything.

I haven't written since I got back, because I've been busy and quite frankly, not in the mood. I also just noticed that the last post is dated as Oct. 14, when really it was Oct. 18. I don't know why blogger does this when I use the laptop, but this isn't the first time, and it's really annoying. I meant to fix it, but it's too late now.

As for the rest of our stay in Mexico, it was nice. We spent the rest of the time in Guadalajara, shopping and sight-seeing. We also made a mini day trip to Lake Chapala a few hours before our flight was to take off to Denver, and it was nice. On Sundays, apparently, the place is packed with vendors and people enjoying the atmosphere of a lake town. I enjoyed it, and it truly made it harder to leave Mexico to see people so happy just simply hanging out as families.

The flight back to Denver was very bumpy most of the way. In fact, it was so bumpy and turbulent because of the weather in Colorado that I had to reach for one of those bags. Luckily, it was a false alarm, but I did feel sick all the same. We had no problems with customs or anything like that and we made it to the baggage carousel easily. My best friend in the whole wide world, Tracy, picked me and my sister up from the airport and brought us home. Life has been quiet around here, but it's a nice break from the usual house full of noisy people.

I am now on a search for Spanish courses, and looking forward to further visits to Mexico with a good grip on the language up my sleeve!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Catching up with the three amigos... or Al-Omaris

I'm back after a few days without a decent internet connection, though I really didn't mind that inconvenience. We left Guadalajara on Tuesday for Mexico City, and we're now back in Guadalajara.

Here is a quick run-down of events from the last few days:

Tuesday, Day 4: We went to the dentist, and the Doc saw me. It was a good thing he did, because it turned out that I had three cavities, two of which were big ones-- so I got those taken care of. And for the first time in my life, I experienced dental drilling sans novocain. Of course, the doc told me to raise my hand if I experienced any pain, and I did, so he gave me novocain to finish the job. Since he worked on three teeth, it obviously meant that I got three novocain shots that left me sounding like someone with a gigantic speech impediment. As soon as we left the dentist's office, we began our journey to Mexico City, something I'd been looking forward to since I found out that I would be going to Mexico. We made it to Mexico City in the early evening, around 8:30 PM, and I fell in love with it even more than I already had the last time I was there. We sat through heavy, stop and go traffic, but found the Tulip Inn Ritz fairly easily. We even got the same room my Dad and I stayed in last time!





Wednesday, Day 4: We had breakfast at a cute little cafe right across the street from our hotel. We had eggs and a plate of fruit. Coffee in Mexico is interesting. There is Cafe con leche, which is really milk with a tiny bit of coffee served in a glass... that's right, a glass. Then there's regular cafe Americano. And then there's actual Mexican coffee, which I must say is not my favorite, as it is overly sweet and has a different flavor I can't put my finger on.


After breakfast, we were disappointed to find tents covering the Zocalo square for a book fair/festival, eliminating our chances of seeing what we saw last time we were in Mexico City. There were no Aztec priests, or people selling their handicrafts or children flying kites in the square. Just white tents upon white tents filled with books in Spanish. We didn't spend much time in the Zocalo and headed straight to where one catches the double-decker tour bus for Mexico City. While waiting for the bus, we met a music group of two girls and one boy from Chile. They apparently had won some MTV music award and were in Mexico City to receive it that evening. I don't know who they are, but we did take a picture with them. I will do some research when I get back to Denver about them and see who they are, but in the meantime, the pic is below.



Also while waiting for the tourist bus to arrive, we saw this dog sleeping in the sun. At first, we were worried and thought he might be sick, but a woman working for the tour bus company assured us that he was fine, and that it was a habit of his to sleep in the sun and not in the shade. We watched him while we waited, and sure enough, he started rolling around on his back and then got up and left. He was so awfully cute!



We enjoyed a tour around Mexico City and I was a very happy camper. People were waving at the tour bus, and made everyone feel welcome in the gorgeous city... I love this city so much, I could never express it fully, but I digress. We stopped in Condessa, a bohemian type of neighborhood with restaurants and shops my Dad and I had lunch in last time we went on the same bus tour. We had lunch at the same restaurant my Dad and I ate at in Condessa last time, called La Morena, an oyster bar that serves a killer dish of fish among other delicious dishes on the menu. It was pretty cool, because the host remembered me and my Dad from last time and even remembered what we'd ordered! After we were done eating, we caught the tour bus again and went back to the area close to our hotel and walked around. We went into Sears, which is in a ten-story building! Nine stories of the building is occupied by departments customers can shop at! There is even a cafe on the eighth floor where you can sit outside and overlook Mexico City in all its grandeur and beauty. The merchandise was different, the prices were different and the feel was different. It was a Mexican style Sears and it was spectacular!




After that, Dad went to the hotel and my sister and I walked around the city streets, looking at the merchandise being sold by street vendors. Anything you can think of is sold on Mexico City's streets. You can even find porno videos for sale there! After we had our fill of shopping the street vendors and the many trendy clothing shops along Madero, the street our hotel is on, we went to the same cafe we had breakfast at and had some fruit and coffee. It was a fun day, and we went back to the hotel and pretty much dropped dead to sleep.


Today, Thursday, Day 5: The last morning in Mexico City :( I was very upset that we had to go back to Guadalajara today, but we made the most of our morning by taking a taxi to the poshest neighborhood in Mexico City. Plaza Masarik is an area of the city where luxurious boutiques can be found. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli, Chanel... all of these and more can be found in Plaza Masarik. We walked along the area and then had our first experience using the bus system in Mexico City. Buses in Mexico City come in different shapes and sizes, and the system we used was the one featuring the smaller, microbuses. It was fun to experience something residents of the city experience in their everyday lives. We took the bus and went to Liverpool, a department store reminiscent of Macy's, then we took another bus to Chapultepec, where we walked around, took a few pics and bought a few things from the street vendors. We got a special treat, as we saw about three formations of running Mexican military soldiers, running and chanting their manly military deals along the Chapultepec area. It was muy caliente! ;) After that, we went back to the hotel to check out and leave the beautiful city of Mexico. I was protesting the parting up until the last minute when no traces of the city could be seen. It must've been the day for the Mexican military, because we saw a few cars on the way to Guadalajara filled with armed soldiers in uniform.


Back in Guadalajara, we had dinner and went back to the El Tapatio Hotel. I am very tired and very ready to go to sleep. It's nice to have internet connection, especially in the room. We only have until Sunday to complete this Mexican adventure, and I intend to make the most of it.


In the meantime, hasta luego amigos!


Day 3: The fun continues, with a few not so fun instances

Day three in Mexico has come and gone, and the fun is still taking place. But certainly not without a few snags along the way. Driving around Guadalajara is a real challenge, especially when you have the pressure of needing to keep an appointment!

You see, part of why my father made Mexico a place to visit was for dental care, which is much cheaper on this side of the border. To make a long story very short, while we're here, we all figured we'd get our dental care taken care of, and so, our appointment(s) were scheduled for today. The problem is that it turned out that one of the dentists could not keep the appointment for a personal reason, and could not get a hold of us to tell us so. It was an interesting day of rescheduling appointments, finding the actual offices we had to be at, and so on and so forth.

And now, for the fun part. While at another dentist's office, we met an actual singer in the waiting room. Her name was Kristy and she gave us a CD each of her latest work. She is local and does cover songs in Salsa, Cumbia and Tropical music, but nonetheless, she's made 10 CD's throughout her 15-year singing career. We also met her husband, who is also a singer, though I'm not sure what his name is or if he's solo, or just part of a hidden band for his wife. Both individuals were charming and spoke English, and tried to convince us to move to Guadalajara. I really wish I could take them up on this offer soon, but who knows? Stranger things have happened!

Also today is the day I finally got a pair of shoes at the infamous Galleria de Calzado, a mall dedicated to shoes that people rave about left and right. I didn't go in last time I was in Guadalajara with my Dad, don't ask why, but I went in today and got a gorgeous pair of black patent-leather, sling-back, peep-toe heels. I cannot wait to get back to Denver and wear these beauts! Check 'em out!


We also had lunch at the Mercado de Libertad food court. We had delicious barbecued beef strips, served with fresh avocado and vegetables and beans. The interesting part is that the food court is huge, but we happened to find the one counter named El Tapatio... same as our hotel! I guess it's not so weird, since Guadalajarans call themselves Tapatios, but still! How weird is that?

After that, we had a second round of appointments to make with dentist(s) and by the time that stuff was done with, we came back to the hotel, and here I am writing about everything.

I'm happy to report that my Spanish is getting better and better, though I still don't have a tight enough grip to have an intelligent conversation. I am kickin' some butt relatively speaking in Spanish, and I am convinced that Spanish is the language I will be focusing on learning for the time-being, as I wanna come back to this great country over and over again. Who knows? Maybe I'll take Kristy's advice and move here! That would be muy brilliant!

Hasta luego!

Oh, what the heck?

So, here are some pics we've snapped while the last couple days.


My sister and I striking a pose for my Dad as we get ready for take-off. Our flight was interesting, as one of the flight attendants was perhaps the funniest man alive. He made us actually pay attention to the stupid instructions I usually ignore. He did the announcements, and asked us to turn our attention to his "new boyfriend" doing the demonstrations. He pointed out that the oxygen masks "are not party hats," and dictated us how to use the masks as soon as we stop "crying like a little girl." He made numerous other absolutely hilarious jokes that I can't remember now... but it was a fun and smooth sail to Guadalajara.


My sister and I strike another pose for Dad at Guadalajara's Centro Historico. The place was bursting with people enjoying an outing on a lovely Saturday night.


Day 2 Started out perfect. Before heading off to breakfast, we snapped a few pics. I think this is a great pic of me and my sister. The view from El Tapatio Hotel also adds to the coolness of this pic!


There was a Mariachi band playing for the crowd of Sunday brunchers. It was a delicious and absolutely fun breakfast.

After breakfast, we saw this guy selling his handicrafts of silver jewelry in the hotel courtyard. My Dad and I bought a few pieces from him last time we were in Guadalajara and he actually remembered us. We bought more stuff and took a picture of him as he's a really cool guy.


El Tapatio Hotel has everything a hotel should have, including an awesome pool. This is just a picture that expresses my happiness for being in Mexico and staying in such a cool hotel! Of course, the soccer players behind me might've also had something to do with the huge grin on my face.

Walking around the Mercado de Libertad got us thirsty, so we bought ourselves Coca Cola served the way God intended... in glass bottles. The food court at the Mercado de Libertad is huge and filled with eateries that serve all kinds of Mexican specialties ranging from seafood to unique juice drinks.


I don't know if this is supposed to be a no-brainer, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Tim Burton was heavily influenced by Mexican art when he made his movies. This is one of a number of benches scattered in this square downtown. They're quirky, whimsical, and appear to be a specialty of Mexico.

So, that's all folks! (for now, anyway) As I said, I will try to keep up on the blog thing, but I may end up without easy internet access like now that will prevent me from being able to even check email, little else upload pics and spend time writing. In the meantime, I will continue to have an awesome time in an awesome country! Hasta luego amigos!

Hola! from Mexico.

I meant to write about my second trip to Mexico, but I got so busy preparing for it, I didn't have the time. But, here I am, writing a blurb on here while I'm in Mexico for the second time.

The usual suspects are here, i.e., me and my Dad, but a new addition has been made; my sister. My sister is finally taking a vacation from work, and she's spending it in Mexico.

I must say, the second time around has been a lot more enjoyable, because the first time here was nerve-racking, what with me going on a trip with just my Dad for the first time in my life, and it being a foreign place that speaks a language I don't really have a grip on. But this time around, I am a lot more comfortable with my surroundings and the language is coming a little more smoothly than last time on its own. Also, my sister being here to relieve the stress of dealing with my Dad on my own is really helping me loosen up and enjoy Mexico a lot more.

Day 1 We arrived yesterday in Guadalajara, rented a Volkswagen and headed to El Tapatio Hotel. After we dropped off our luggage and freshened up a bit, we went to the Centro Historico and walked around. It was a pretty easy-going evening that was a perfect introduction to the highlights of Guadalajara's Centro Historico for my sister. Though we'd bought a barbecued chicken from an eatery on the side of the road before we headed downtown, we were awfully hungry for a full meal by the time we were done walking around downtown. We went to Pomodoro, an italian restaurant my Dad and I ate at last time we were here. The funny thing is that we went to Pomodoro the first night in Guadalajara last time we were here, too. I guess it's now an unintentional tradition to have Italian at Pomodoro the first night in Guadalajara!

Day 2 was a lot of fun. We had breakfast at the hotel restaurant and got treated to things my Dad and I didn't experience our last stay at El Tapatio Hotel. Since it was Sunday, the hotel restaurant was quite busy with people staying at the hotel, as well as those who live in Guadalajara, but come to El Tapatio for their popular Sunday brunch. There was a Mariachi band playing for the diners, and people were all decked out in their best clothes. It was a nice breakfast, but the best part was when a team of young soccer players started spilling in for their breakfast... that was an early morning dessert for me, I must say. Grrrrrrrrrrrrowwwwwwwwwlllllll!!!!

After breakfast, we headed to the Centro Historico and introduced my sister to the infamous Mercado de Libertad. We spent much time there, looking at the endless merchandise there, but didn't buy anything aside from three sodas at the food court to quench our flirtatious thirst. After that, we walked around the Centro Historico some more, visiting areas we hadn't visited the night before... some that my Dad and I hadn't visited last time we were here. We snapped a few pics and shot a few videos, which I plan to upload in the near future.

After a long day of walking and sight-seeing in Guadalajara's hub of fun, we came back to the hotel and had some delicious barbecued chicken right in our hotel room, that we purchased from the same guy we bought our chicken from the night before. It was muy delicioso! We are now all beat and tired, and just hanging out in our hotel room. It's been nice, as I got a chance to add a posting to my blog, which I neglected last time and regretted it. Nothing beats recording the events as they happen, and I will try my hardest to keep on that this time around.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A sort of spiritual awakening


So, today marked the last day of Ramadan. It is official that Friday, October 12 is the first day of Eid ul-Fitr, or the great feast three-day celebration following the month of daily fasting from dawn to dusk-- Ramadan.

All the years I've been fasting and praying during the month of Ramadan, I've neglected to do one very important thing-- reading the Qur'an.

This Ramadan, and for the first time in my life, I've sat down and read the Muslim holy book, cover to cover, all by myself. This is quite a feat for me.

For years, I thought that just fasting and praying was enough to make Ramadan a complete spiritual and soul-cleansing experience. This year, I've realized that I was very wrong, and that I was missing the very essence of Ramadan.

You see, Ramadan is the very month that the Qur'an was first introduced to the Muslim prophet Mohammed (PBUH) through the messenger angel, Gabriel. To not read the Qur'an during Ramadan is, well... dumb to say the least. I've been stupid.

I've now absolved myself of this immense stupidity. I've learned so much about my own faith, I feel as if I've experienced a great spiritual awakening this past month.

Until next Ramadan, I feel ready to face the next year with a fresh and new spirituality to get me through it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

You must go to intrepidmedia.com TODAY to see...

Those of you who frequent Intrepid Media for my columns... have you ever noticed the website name with the little tagline underneath? I never paid attention, but I did notice a long time ago that these tag lines were dated and updated daily on the site.

Well, today is the time to pay attention to this minor detail, because guess what? The tagline running for today, October 9, 2007, is mine! Look at the top left-hand corner of the page at intrepidmedia.com and you will find the tagline "Always in your face at the checkout line."

So, how did this little feat of mine come about?

A couple weeks ago, I participated in a thread on Intrepid Media's message board, and wrote "I don't wanna be like Brangelina... always in your face at the checkout line." A fellow Intrepider loved the line and suggested it as a tagline, and voila! I've had a tagline published! Of course, they don't give me credit for it without me calling attention to it, but I'm still proud all the same. It's these little things that make me smile while I try for bigger accomplishments.

As for new columns, none right now. But if you haven't been keeping up with old ones *ahem*, they're new to you. And so... you have a tagline and a column or two written by yours truly to read in your spare time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

In the meantime, I'll be reading

I've made some other not so exciting discoveries that will hopefully help me hit it big as a writer. Not near as big as Paul Potts' version (read post below), but big enough for me.

Looks like I'm gonna be doing more reading than writing for a while.

You see, the more I read about freelancing and writing in general, the more I find that I need to read even more. There is a lot of reading involved in knowing the ropes as a freelance writer.

The reading involved in order to know everything I need to know about being a professional freelance writer is quite expansive.

I need to read every publication I might be interested in submitting work for cover to cover, in order to get a feel of its tone and what articles would work for its audience. I also need to read books related to freelancing, along with other writing resources to keep up on the trends and innovations in this field. And obviously, if I'm going to review books I will need to read the books I will eventually review. It's a never-ending list of reading!

Though I truly believe that nothing good happens quickly, sans luck of course, I am wanting things to start shaping up soon for me. All this waiting and reading is getting me so excited for something big to happen, I can hardly concentrate on anything I'm reading!

Discovering Paul Potts

A discovery I wish to share is Paul Potts.

Paul Potts is a British cellphone salesman, hailing from South Wales. Paul recently hit it big as an opera singer on a British talent show dubbed Britain's Got Talent. I've never watched the show, and in fact had no idea it even existed until I was shown the clips I've embedded below by my father.

The piece Paul sings in the first clip is that of "Nessun Dorma!" from Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot. I am a big fan of opera, particularly Giacomo Puccini's work and especially Paul's choice to wow the judges and audience on the show. "Nessun Dorma!" is an aria from Turandot that gives me goosebumps each time I hear it. Even before I knew what it was about, I felt it and fell in love with it, and think you will too.



This next clip is the performance Paul gave to get to the final competition in the show. In this, he sings "It's time to say goodbye." I've only heard one version of this song before, sung as a duet by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. Though it's beautiful the way Sarah and Andrea sing it, Paul gives it quite a bit of justice singing it on his own.



And finally, Paul won fair and square. I don't know about the competition, as I've only seen these clips from the show, but I'm pretty sure that Paul rocked and deserved to win. With Luciano Pavarotti's sad departure, it's nice to know that there are still those who have a passion that comes out vocally, and beautifully.



As I said, I'm a fan of opera, but I imagine that even if you're not, you are blown away by that amazingly beautiful voice. I guess he won't be needing that job selling cellphones anymore, eh?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Get a Freelance Life

I've been reading Get a Freelance Life, by Margit Feury Ragland. If you've ever heard of or used mediabistro.com, you should know that this book is the site's "Insider Guide to Freelance Writing." I actually bought the book a little under a year ago when the idea of freelancing was just a glimmer of a thought in my head. I read a chapter or two when I first bought it and got enough out of the book to mentally plan the basement office I finally put together less than two weeks ago. But the book sat on my shelf for months before I put the necessary information it provided to work for me.

As Lisa, Marisa Tomei's character in the movie My Cousin Vinny put it: "They didn't teach you that in law school?" Only in my case, the question would've been "They didn't teach you that in journalism school?" And like Vincent Gambini's answer, mine is "No."

Being a journalism grad doesn't mean you have the knowledge necessary to survive in the real world as a journalist, particularly a freelance one. At least, that's been my experience. What I learned as a Journalism student was how to write a good lede and article, AP Style and journalism ethics. Don't get me wrong, those are essential skills that definitely help you survive in the real world, but like love... they're just not enough.

One of the many things I had no clue how to do before I read Get a Freelance Life was how to write a good query letter. More importantly, I found out what a query letter really encompasses. I learned that a query letter is so important, that it can eliminate the need for a resume altogether. Also, I thought I really knew the types of articles out there, and upon reading the section explaining what types of articles are out there, I realized I was close to being clueless in that area.
The cool thing about Get a Freelance Life, is that it not only covers the writing part of freelancing, but it also covers everything else a freelance writer must take into account. For instance, it gives pointers on how to organize finances, whether to incorporate yourself or not, and how to find an accountant and lawyer to handle your freelancing business issues and expenses.

Though I'm not completely finished with Get a Freelance Life, I feel like I've gained a treasure trove of knowledge that will help me immensely. I've gained a better view of what is possible for me to write and where it is possible for me to write it.

Though college gave me the skills necessary to be a good writer, Get a Freelance Life finishes the job of teaching good writers how to be successful writers.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The gorgeous business card and my "perfect face"

Since I've been wanting business cards for myself for quite some time, I finally took the step and ordered a batch from the internet. I just received the business cards on Friday, not really thinking I would be using them anytime soon for anything other than handing them out to family and friends.

As I keep saying, you never know where life is gonna take you.

I was out shopping at Target today, when it just so happened that I ended up giving out my first business card, and my face got a compliment. Though it wasn't for a writing opportunity or anything like that, I still feel that everything happens for a reason.

I was shopping in Target's women's section when a lady came up to me with Starbucks coffee in her hand and a huge smile on her face. "Excuse me, can I ask you something?" she asked. I told her, "Sure."

"Have you ever done any modeling?"

The question shocked me silly, but I was able to hold an uncontrollable burst of laughter long enough for her to continue. It turned out that Jenny, the lady with a smile is a Mary Kay sales lady and was looking for models to demonstrate her products through.

"You just have a perfect face!" she told me.

We exchanged business cards and I guess I will be a Mary Kay products "model" for women who can afford the stuff. Jenny thought my business card was gorgeous, and told me I could hand them out during the sales demos.

Again, everything happens for a reason, and who knows? Maybe I just needed someone to tell me something to put a spring in my step like "you have the perfect face," or maybe this is an opportunity to give my business card to someone with freelance opportunities up their sleeve.

You really just never know where life is gonna take you, and I'm hoping it will take me further than a Mary Kay non-paying modeling gig. In the meantime, life just isn't so uneventful. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

There's been a change of plans...


Mulling over a few things in my head the last couple days, I’ve made a decision I hope will be final concerning my Mexico Chronicles project. If you recall, I had mentioned I would create a blog for what I still feel is good material for a sellable memoir of my time in Mexico with my father. I created a blog and everything, and even wrote a few entries, but some stuff happened soon after I started that blog, which kept me away from maintaining it the way a blog ought to be maintained.

Being that I have some great pictures from the trip, along with a few great videos that show what I feel is the real Mexico, I feel it would make more sense to keep up on the memoir material—sans blog. Meaning, I will be turning the blog into a gallery of pics and vids from the trip, accompanying each with enlightening captions I feel will be sufficient to describe the great country of Mexico.

The material for the entries I’ve already written will be taken off the blog and will become material for a memoir I will be working on in the meantime.

The whole thing is still in its elementary—practically kindergarten stages—but since writing gigs aren’t lining up for me yet, I am spending more time looking for gigs than anything else in my office right now. I feel I have the perfect environment to listen to the voice recordings from the trip, and put it all into prose.

Right now I am focusing on uploading all the videos from the trip onto Google, and picking out the pics that will work best for a blog of this sort. As soon as everything is ready to be shown, I will let everyone know. In the meantime, keep reading this blog *ahem* if not for the “uneventful life” part, then at least for my Intrepid Media updates!

Read my latest Intrepid Media featured article titled Freelance Writer Exploitation!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Encouragement alongside disappointment

It's been a week since I started my daily basement office time, and I'm glad to say things are still: so far, so good.

The past week has opened the floodgates of writing in my head. So much so, that I had three columns posted in the Intrepid Media gallery, all in a row, in less than a week. I was beginning to feel a little self-concious about my constant writing like I had no life, but I got over that pretty quick. Just today, I received an email from Joe, Intrepid Media's owner saying that one of those three columns will be featured on Wednesday.

Aside from Intrepid Media, no writing gigs yet. As a matter of fact, there have been some minor disappointments, though I'm far from being discouraged completely.

First off, I asked for advice from fellow Intrepid Media writers, who are more familiar with freelancing than I am. I was lucky to get some major support from a few people. They all encouraged me and reminded me that my writing at IM is not to be underplayed. Also, I obtained contact info for an editor at Pool & Spa Magazine, and was encouraged to write in with mention of the referrer's name.

I pulled together some clips and fired off an email to this editor on Wednesday, as soon as I got the info. I have yet to hear back from this editor, but I'm not completely discouraged, as it still might be too early to tell whether I've been officially rejected or not. Editors are after all very busy people with tons of writers beating their doors, so I realize this might take some time.

Aside from this editor, I also was able to find two other freelance opportunities to inquire about. I learned a lot doing this, as I put together a sparse, yet sufficient writer's resume.

Another advantage for getting started on emailing editors and publications is my long-time will to gather all my clips available on the internet, and make them easily accessible for myself. I'd been wanting to do that for quite some time, but never got the true motivation to do so thoroughly. Before Wednesday all my clips were scattered all over the internet in places where I couldn't find them without a google search. Now they're all listed in my favorite places, each with their recognizable titles, and easily accessible for me, as well as future editors.

Tomorrow will begin another week in my journey toward freelance writing and I'm looking forward to it.

In the meantime, make sure you visit intrepidmedia.com on Wednesday and read the new feature column!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Summertime


Since my dream is to be a globetrotter, I gravitate toward movies that echo this dream lifestyle. Some of my favorite movies involve travelling. French Kiss and Only You are ones that easily come to mind, and they're movies I never get tired of watching for their appetizing portrayals of the cities and countries they are set in.

A new addition has been made to my favorite movies involving travel list. I picked Summertime to watch because it starred Katharine Hepburn, one of my favorite actresses, and I happen to be into old movies at the moment. It also happened to involve travel, like I said, so it had three things that I was looking forward to.

Made in 1955, Summertime is a movie with classic beauty and grace. Whether it be photography, cinematography or superb acting, this movie masters each of those aspects.

The way the camera lingers on the monuments and landmarks of Venice, where the movie is set, makes one feel as if they are experiencing the city themselves. Though it is clear it's an oldie of the 50s, one can still enjoy the classic Venice everyone goes to see, with its old world charm and centuries long tradition of transport by gondola.

Katharine Hepburn plays Jane Hudson, "a fancy secretary," who's a spinster and has saved up for a long time to make the trip to Venice. The movie opens with Jane filming the view from a train entering the city, while striking up a conversation with the man she is sharing a cabin car with.

From the minute we disembark the train, all the way to the end credits, one can almost smell the experience Jane Hudson is having in Venice.

I should add that Summertime is originally a play called The Time of the Cuckoo, and it is written by Arthur Laurents. The movie very much sounds like a play, and intelligently so.

I personally found the story reminiscent of what might have been a trend of the 50s... the older American woman going to either Rome or Venice, and meeting an Italian man, with whom she has an affair. It is very reminiscent of Tennessee Williams' The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (which incidentally is not a play, but a novel by Williams). Of course, Summertime is not as dark-themed as The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, but the basic American woman in an Italian city theme is what makes one remind me of the other.

Jane Hudson, is a spinster and a self-proclaimed "... the independent type. Always have been." In an elusive and intelligently written dialogue, however, Jane Hudson confesses to Signora Fiorini, the Ponsione Fiorini keeper where she is staying, that she came to Venice looking for something that is a mystery even to her. As the film moves along slowly, but with the grace of a gondola, we see what Jane Hudson came to Venice looking for as it unfolds and surprises even Jane herself.

The director intended for the viewer to pay attention to small details. For instance, the way Jane Hudson sees Venice is not the same way that her fellow American tourists, staying in the same hotel see Venice. The older retired couple treats Venice as a place to experience with a minute by minute schedule, missing much of the little things you can't plan ahead for. The younger, newlyweds treat Venice as a honeymoon spot where they only have eyes for each other, failing to see much beyond each other in a city full of nothing but things to see.

Jane, in her loneliness wanders the streets of Venice and befriends a little street boy who guides her through the city.

It might feel as if I have given away a large part of the movie by pointing out its strong resemblance to Williams' story of another American woman wandering the streets of some Italian city all alone. I assure you the two stories are worlds apart in mood and different style and direction. Trust me when I tell you that Summertime holds more than I describe, or could describe. It is simply magnificent.

I feel I have said too much already, so I will quit trying to describe this film. I want nothing more than to draw you, the reader to this movie with my writing in order to experience everything it has to offer in the way of tourism, cinematography, dialogue, comedy (it is hilarious), love, and bitter sweetness.

I promise you a trip to Venice that is so much more.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Life is good right now

Well first off, things in my workspace are looking great. I didn't think it would work so well for me, since it's in the basement, but I absolutely love it. It's a great place to go to do writing or anything else away from any distractions. I've "prettied up" the place by moving clutter out of the area I'm using, and of course cleaning and dusting. I've also furnished my workspace with everything basic an office needs. I now have a good size dry-erase board ready to be put up on the wall, a calendar, a wastebasket and a few desk essentials to hold pens and such things.

So, what do I do when I'm down in my basement workspace? Lots of things. For one thing, I've been searching and bidding on freelance jobs that vary from writing to proofreading, in order to get a jumpstart on the freelancing life I hope to seriously build for myself. So far I haven't had any luck, but it's just the nature of the business when you're starting out like I am, I suppose.

Also, I've written two pieces I plan to either put on the blog, or publish on Intrepid Media. I'm still working on last touches for both pieces, and hopefully after the final touches are finished, I will know where to showcase those babies.

One of those pieces is about Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, which is right now. It's mostly an informational piece that explains in layman's terms what this month means, what it celebrates and how Muslims celebrate it aside from fasting from dawn to dusk. I'm pretty proud of it, but I still need to make sure my facts are absolutely correct before I let everyone read it and get the wrong information. After all, my purpose is to educate and maybe correct misconceptions.

Of course, as with any job done at a computer, there comes a time when a person must goof off and waste time online. What do I do to waste time online? Right now, I'm pretty obssessed with Facebook. I even wrote a piece about my newfound online obssession on Intrepid Media titled i heart facebook.

Pretty much everyone reading this blog has either heard me raving about Facebook, or has visited my crazy page. Aside from getting in touch with friends from days of old, and keeping in touch with the current people in my life in a fun way through the internet, Facebook's applications are blowing me away. I've added cool photos, art, movie clips, my favorite football (soccer) clubs and favorite book lists. The only downside to Facebook is its recording of every move you make on your profile's Newsfeed... but that is easily taken care of with a click of the mouse-- much like everything else done on Facebook. I'm sure there will come a day soon when Facebook will just be one more website to remember my password to, but right now, it's the coolest website ever.

When I'm not "working" or feeding my Facebook obssession, I'm fasting and doing all the things one should do during Ramadan. My Ramadan piece will explain all these things, but one of the things I've been doing is reading the Qur'an for the first time on my own. All the years I've been fasting and praying, I've never actually sat down with the Qur'an and read it, and it's been such an eye-opening and wonderful experience for me. The reading is difficult, I must admit, but what I'm getting out of it is something worth the difficulty and tongue-twisting I've been experiencing. I've learned so much about my religion that I unfortunately was not aware of, and found a great tool for comfort aside from prayer. I know this sounds cliche, but I really feel absolute serenity when I'm reading and understanding what I thought I understood before.

So, obviously its been an eventful week for me. I've put together an office for myself, I've started taking action toward my goal of being a freelance writer, developped an obssession with Facebook and discovered the joy of reading an amazing book that has become a comfort to me mentally and physically.

Life is good right now.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I'm back and all set up in my new "space"

I know I know I know. I haven't done anything with the blog for quite some time. That's only because there hasn't been much going on worth writing about. In order to let everyone know that the blog has not been abandoned, I am making an attempt to display signs of life.

I am writing this blog, actually, from my mini workspace I've made in the basement. I didn't think I would like being down here where it's kind of dank and lacking in enough natural light, but I'm liking it. There are no distractions, and I feel more free to read my work aloud to help me see if it flows good on the tongue. I'm also trying to incorporate my digital voice recorder into my writing tool(s) and having distractions all around me made it difficult to speak a complete thought. But down here, it's been a success. I have a lot of work to do down here that has been put off before because of distractions. There are no more excuses. The writing will be picking up soon.

Speaking of writing... I have written a piece for Intrepid Media titled Fishing with Floss. It is featured in the gallery, so do give it a read.

While not writing, I've also been trying to find places to publish my stuff and actually get paid for it. It's proving very difficult, because I'm up against some very seasoned and established writers who've published stuff in fancy magazines and the like, but I'm not giving up.

Also during this time of writing hiatus, I developped a mild obssession with Facebook. Thanks to an old friend from my years in the United Arab Emirates, I created an account and went on a facebook friend collecting spree. I've found elementary school classmates, relatives, and childhood friends I haven't seen or heard from in 20 years. I got on the Facebook wagon a little late because I felt it was stupid for so long, but as I come across more and more people I'd lost touch with, it's become an essential tool to conjure up the past in a fun and entertaining way.

Now it's seriously time to go back to writing and updating my blog regularly, hopefully with links to more published works of mine in paying sites.

Good luck to me!

Monday, August 20, 2007

To my delight...

In the midst of my worrying and sadness for my lost cat, very little has cheered me up to the point where I can write. Obviously I've put my Mexico trip chronicles on hold, and haven't written anything besides the lost cat ad.

But much to my delight, as I was trying to go through the motions of normality this morning, I found something quite awesome. I don't know many people who would share this joy with as much gusto as I have, but foxsoccer.com have given me the best gift of all by now including FREE weekly highlight videos of all the Barclays Premiership League games!

Check it out! http://msn.foxsports.com/fsc/soccer/video

That means I get to watch highlights of my Red Devils (Manchester United)! I don't have cable or any access to these games, so I've had to settle for photos of highlights up until now. This is very exciting for me and I just had to share.

Even though ManU have had a disappionting start this season. In fact, this season for ManU has been dubbed its worst in 15 years! On top of losing their last game to Manchester City with a 0-1 score on Sunday, they've had to do without Ronaldo after his head-butting incident in the preceding Portsmouth game, which earned him a three game ban. ManU are 16th as of the latest standings, and Ronaldo still has to sit out two more games.

Ronaldo (#7) is shown the red card after allegedly head-butting Richard Hughes of Portsmouth. (FIFA.com)

Not to say that he's the only thing keeping this team together, but he certainly does work magic out on the pitch with his amazing feet and goals... i.e. last season he contributed 17 goals to get ManU the Premiership title, something they hadn't accomplished in four years.

I suppose it's still early to tell whether it really is a bad season for ManU, but time is of the essence and it's gonna be a tight race for those points to the top.

So, that is the little bit of excitement and cheeriness in the midst of this very worrisome time for me.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

HELP!

REWARD


PLEASE help me find my beloved cat:

  • 7-year-old Persian male
  • Orange tabby
  • Has dark tear stains near his eyes

Missing since 8/15/2007.

If you, or anyone you know live in Parker, Colorado, please take a good look at the pictures and see if you've seen my cat. Please email me with any information you might have at Reemawi@aol.com.

Thank you!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

St. Croix Trip Video

I was on YouTube trying to upload some vids from my Mexico trip, when I found this brief video I'd updloaded that I'd made during my St. Croix trip back in March/April of this year.

The video is of Mermaid Beach at the Buccaneer Hotel, one of the 50 best hotels in the world. I wasn't staying there, but I sure took advantage of their gorgeous beach. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Working on "The Mexico Chronicles"

I am working really hard on getting all my experiences in Mexico written out, and it's my project for now. I've created a separate blog, which I've titled The Mexico Chronicles.

It's kind of bare right now, but it's coming along. It's gonna be a slow work in the making, because I have A LOT of information and details I'm trying to organize in a logical manner. I figure that if I write everything chronologically, it can be pretty boring, so I've decided to clump topics together, regardless of chronological order.

For instance, the language barrier and the instances where language was an issue will all be clumped in one piece, regardless of when it occured. There will be some chronological order to some things that need to be that way, but for the most part, I think it would just be more interesting to do it with topics, rather than in order. Again, I'm still working on it, and perhaps I'll change my mind along the way, but that's the plan for now.

In the meantime, I have to load all the pictures from the trip on to flickr.com, which is kind of annoying, because I have most of them already loaded on Snapfish.com, but for some reason Snapfish.com doesn't offer links to albums. I also made a few videos during the trip, and will be posting those, but I of course have to upload those to YouTube first.

I'm trying not to overwhelm myself, so I'm taking my time with the pictures and videos, yet busting out the writing as much and as quickly as possible, so as not to lose steam that bumps up the quality of my writing. The voice recorder was meant to keep me from forgetting the details, but steam is what makes the writing good.

I have a piece related to the Mexico trip in the gallery at IntrepidMedia.com. Take a look at it!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The promised video

So, like I said I would do before I left for Mexico, and like I said I would do after my return, here are videos I said I would post. It is the last play that helped Iraq win the 2007 Asian Cup final against Saudi Arabia. I have an English version and Arabic version, but it's pretty much the same thing.

The score was 1-0, and it was sweet. Enjoy the moment that made history, and briefly stopped a war.



Saturday, August 11, 2007

A quick update about my blog

My trip to Mexico put a lot on hold, but now that I'm back my blog along with other things will get back on track.

I will be creating a separate blog that recounts my experiences in Mexico, while still writing on this blog about other things.

I mentioned that I was going to add pictures and videos of the Asian Cup final, which Iraq won (WooHoo! Go Iraq!). I left for Mexico shortly after that and internet connection and time were obstacles to my ability to write as regularly as I would've liked as things developped there.

I'm back now, so things will be more organized and timely. Thanks for reading!

El Retorno and Mexican hospitality

Well, I am back from Mexico. My Dad and I landed in Denver at about 6 o'clock last night after a fairly smooth flight. Though the flight was smooth, getting on it wasn't. We hit a few potholes.

For one thing, our original return date was August 8, and we obviously extended that to yesterday, August 10. The reason why we had to stay was because of my Dad's dental work.

Thanks to my Dad purchasing travel insurance, we were able to change our departure date without any fees, though we did have some trouble proving that the insurance took care of the fees at check-in. That was was just one of the potholes we encountered trying to get home.

We were running a little late, as the dental work wasn't finished until 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon. My Dad had to get a taxi back to the hotel from the doctor's office, pick me up along with our luggage, and head to the airport to catch our 3:25 flight back to Denver.

We hit some major traffic on the way to the airport, and though we reached it late, we still had a bit of time left for check-in and other formalities.

The real trouble started as we were getting out of the taxi and my Dad noticed that we were missing something-- an Aztec calendar we'd purchased in Mexico City. We walked into the airport with my father yelling at me, and me defending myself regarding the Aztec calendar. Much tension was in the air as we made our way through the crowds of people, all seemingly carefree while I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.

As we approached the check-in line for Frontier Airlines I noticed a familiar face. It is a long story I plan to write about in my post-travel blog; but we ran into Taccia. Taccia is an airport worker at Guadalajara airport who helped us file a lost luggage report upon our arrival in Guadalajara just 12 days before.

Taccia recognized us and greeted us with a big smile. For a moment, my Dad and I forgot the Aztec calendar and revelled in the coincidence that ultimately turned out to be a miracle. Pointing us in the right direction for check-in, and following her brief examination of our passports and documents, Taccia wished us a happy flight. We stood in line, and the Aztec calendar issue resurfaced. My Dad went back to freaking out, and I suggested we call the hotel to make sure the calendar was there. My father gave me change and told me to hurry up and make the call.

When I'm nervous, I have a hard time doing the simplest things... like locating a payphone in an airport. Taccia was standing by and drawing a major blank in my brain, I went to her for help.

I explained to her the situation, and she immediately asked me to follow her back into a personnel-only room to use a telephone. There were two people working in the tiny room, one man, and one woman. After apologizing profusely for being such trouble, and expressing my appreciation for the permission to use the phone, I made the call to the hotel and found out that the calendar was left behind in the room. Not sure what the next step was, I asked that the calendar be put aside until further notice. I hung up and ran back out to tell my Dad, when I found him to be even more panicked than when I left him.

"Where's the black bag?" he asked urgently, not giving me a chance to tell him about the calendar.

"I don't know," I replied. "I thought you had it."

After a brief silence, a great panic hit me; this time concerning the bag containing not only our laptop computer, but also some important documents and a cellphone. The only thing to do was to make sure that the bag was also in the room, and not left behind in the taxi.

I went to Taccia again, and she told me to go back to the room in the back to make the call. After apologizing even more profusely to the man and woman working in the room, I called and found out that the bag was also left behind in the room. I asked the front desk to put the bag along with the Aztec calendar aside until further notice, and hung up.

I ran back out to tell my Dad about the laptop bag, and he immediately told me to call the hotel again and ask them to send the bag and calendar by taxi to the airport. For the third time I entered the tiny room with the man and woman in it. I was sweaty, nervous and uncomfortable, but was desperate to resolve the issue at hand. I apologized and asked to use the phone again.

"No," the man at the computer said while shaking his head. "You'll have to pay $10."

Great, I thought. I wasn't sure what to say or do, when Taccia appeared behind me.

"Don't pay any attention to him," she said with a smile. "He's just joking."

I laughed nervously but felt great relief. "I'm really very sorry for this," I said for what seemed like the millionth time that day and proceeded toward the phone to make the call.

Taccia helped make the arrangements over the phone with the hotel staff to send the items by taxi to the airport, and the only thing left to battle was time. The items had to get there in 20 minutes.

There was tension in the air to say the least, but thanks to Taccia and other staff members at the Guadalajara airport, everything came through, as everyone was eager to help us get checked in with all our belongings on time.

20 minutes had gone by, and no laptop bag, or Aztec calendar were in sight. I was sure that we were going to leave Mexico without the items and that our that they would be lost forever.

I was standing outside and watching, when finally two men were walking toward me. One was holding the laptop bag and the Aztec calendar, while the other was yelling, "Your things are here!"

After paying the taxi driver $20, tipping him and thanking him profusely, I ran back into the airport to find my Dad to go to our gate and board the plane back home.

We made it on the flight, and ultimately made it home despite some pretty major potholes, thanks to the coincidence of running into Taccia, which resulted in a pretty big miracle that got us home with all our belongs.

As good as it is to be home, I wish I was still in Mexico where most people are just like Taccia. Eager to help with utmost sincerity.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Internet Access en Mexico, so far.

I finally have a decent internet connection available to me in the comfort of my hotel room! So I can at least write something to let readers who only get news about me through my blog while I'm out of town know I'm still alive and still have my blog going!

A good enough internet connection is obviously difficult to come by when you're a tourist here, as not all hotels offer convenient, or fast enough internet access. I haven't tried internet cafes, but they are available if you can find them... I never tried, as I only really need internet access back at the hotel.

In Guadalajara, I've stayed at two hotels: Meson Ejecutivo and El Tapatio.

Meson Ejecutivo offered Hotspot services in the rooms for fees that incorporate minute increments. It also offered free wireless internet access that was pretty speedy in the lobby and restaurant, also through Hotspot. It also had a "business center" on its 2nd floor, where there are two computers available with internet access, though I found the internet in/on there to be extremely slow. The keyboards in there are Spanish version keyboards, and make it difficult to type certain things like smiley faces, or even question marks until you figure out that one of the "alt" keys is marked differently, and that's what allows you to use that question mark you can see, but can't seem to type.

At El Tapatio, the internet access is free and available in the rooms through two wireless networks. It was slow for me, however, as the signal strength was "very low" in my room. Once I took my laptop out on the balcony the signal strength improved to "very good".

In Mexico City, our hotel was a little primitive with its computer and internet access. At the Tulip Inn Ritz, there was only ONE computer in the lobby that limits users to only five minutes, with extremely S-L-O-W internet (making the five-minute time limit ridiculous), and a worn out Spanish version keyboard, with most of the keys blank... you have to know keyboarding on this one. You can use your laptop down in the lobby, but only after you buy an internet card from 7-Eleven for something like 50 pesos, which starts at 100 minutes, or 15 days, and isn't even for wireless internet! The good news is, you can use that card to have internet access in your room, as well. It was ridiculous for our purpose, since we were only staying in Mexico City two nights, and would only need internet access for perhaps five hours at the most, and I'm really stretching it quite a bit.

There are more visible internet cafes in MC than in Guadalajara, but I still don't know much about them.

So, these are some of the reasons making my travel blogging thing a near impossibility for me. I am recording everything I possibly can on the digital voice recorder I bought especially for this trip, and that will help a lot in writing everything like it's fresh later on when I have time and a good internet connection.

In the meantime, Mexico is a great place rich with flavor, culture and history. I cannot wait to start writing about my experiences as they have been absolutely amazing, and I can't wait to let people know the real Mexico, and to stop if they already are getting their ideas about this country through movies and ignorant sources.

Friday, August 3, 2007

More pics from Guadalajara

Of course, I have very little time to really write a travel log or diary, though I wanted to do something like that originally. It is very difficult, however, given that I spend all day out, and when we get back to the hotel, I'm pretty much dead and all I wanna do is sleep. Also, there's not enough time to load all the pics I want to load onto snapfish, so I'll keep picking out a few and posting them on my blog. I hope that strategy will suffice until I get back to Denver to the curious reader. Enjoy these latest pics...

On the way to Lake Chapala is a restaurant that serves only one meal. They don't even have a menu, and the place is very popular. The meal is Birria, which is the specialty of Guadalajarans and comprises of meat, in this case goat meat, in a tomat0-based sauce. This is the ceiling of the restaurant. Nice, eh?

Dad and I had our picture taken by our waiter.

Dad took my picture.


This is at Lake Chapala. I'm sorry to say that there wasn't much else at Lake Chapala. It's a pretty basic lake town, with nothing more than a lake and boat rides across the lake.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

IRAQ 1 - 0 KSA

Iraqi team captain Younes Mahmoud holds the Asian Cup he helped the team win with his header goal against Saudi Arabia.


Today was the big day, and Iraq owns the 2007 Asian Cup. The one goal was scored with a corner kick, turned into a header right into the goal by team captain Younes/Younis (spelling varies everywhere I look).

I have not been able to find any highlight videos of the final game with Saudi Arabia, and for some reason I can't make the official AFC website highlight videos work for me today. Here is the link if you can make the video work to see the highlights:

http://www.afcasiancup.com/en/fanzone/hilights.asp

As soon as I find something on YouTube with highlights, I will load it on my blog.


In the meantime, this is an awesome day, and I am very proud of this accomplishment by Iraq's invincible football team, who went out on the pitch and gave their best for their country and their people, despite their families' plights back in Iraq.


'This is not just about football... this is more important than that,' Iraq's Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira told a news conference. 'This has brought great happiness to a whole country. This is not about a team, this is about human beings.'

I can't describe how proud and happy I am that this day has come.

I'm sure I will be adding more stuff concerning the big win, whether it be highlight videos, or pictures.
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