Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Remembering 9/11

I wish the media would just stop sucking as much photo time as they can out of this tragedy. Work declared September 11th a holiday this week and that was probably the worst thing that work could have done. I spent the day watching memorial services and getting upset. I would have much preferred to be at work to keep my mind off the anniversery.

I remember the 1995 bombings and being really freaked out. I was a junior in high school at the time and I sat by the window facing the World Trade Center during English Class. I think it was snowing at the time and I saw smoke drifting up from one of the towers and suddenly there were tons of fire engines, ambulances and helicopters. My English class crowded around the windows and we eventually turned on the television to watch the news. I was horrified that it had happened, a little scared since I worked as a secretary in the World Trade Center but strangely enough, I also felt safe. I was certain that a plot like this could never succeed. Chalk it up to youthful optimism and US based centrism but I truly believed that plots like this were meant to be thwarted.

I worked on the 102nd floor of 2 World Trade Center as a general secretary for 5 people in an insurance company after school. It was a lot of work for $10.00 an hour but it was really good pay for a high school junior with no experience at the time. I used to work late and I would love to stand on top of the window sill of those huge windows and look down at the little people. Mostly, I wouldn't see anything because we were so far up but on clear days, you could see for miles around. It is strange to think that the building is no longer there. My partner, D, worked in the World Trade Center and was walking to work when he saw his building fall down. Luckily, no one in his office was hurt. I think he is still upset about the collapse and would prefer not to hear about it. I understand that families want to share their memories of their loved ones that have passed away and treat this as a memorial day but I think the media has made this all rather tacky. Not to mention, George W. Bush seems to treat this day as his own personal political cash cow. I'm so disgusted.

I would think it better to take this day and really think and contribute to a discussion on how to make things better in the world and prevent events like this from happening again rather than showing video clips of those planes crashing into those buildings over and over again. Maybe the rest of America wants to see it as a guilty pleasure of being part of this big tragedy as an American, but please spare the rest of us who were actually here.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I Have No Butt

I have no butt. Well, I have somewhat of a curve and it isn't as bad as most white women (thank god!) but it is not as bootylicious as I would like it to be. I'm pointing this out because of two reasons: I spent a lot of time at the International AIDS Conference with African women who made fun of my butt and it is hard to find a decent pair of pants that I can fill out properly in the booty area.

It was lovely meeting all the African women at the AIDS Conference and it was refreshing to be shown a different standard of beauty. Skinny little things aka models are not considered attractive in most of Africa but Africans love their zaftig women. They especially love women with big curves. No point in being big if you don't have curves because what would you grab onto? Of course, at my measily 98 pound weight I'm not considered much of a catch. Now I have to clarify what I mean by attractive zaftig women as I had penned a previous post about obesity and really fat people - Big African women are beautiful because they are healthy and eat proper portions and exercise. They can actually move around and they carry their weight well. Obese people in America are different because the fat gained is not healthy and I am disgusted at the way they advocate for benefits and welfare for totally preventable diseases.

But getting back to my butt, it is a sad little thing. I would post pictures but it would be too obscene. I guess there are lovers of all body types out there so I'm hoping there are many lovers of small butts.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bad Blogger Vacation Recap

Yes, it has been ages. I should have written earlier but I was in that happy dream state after going on vacation for 2 weeks and then I went away to Las Vegas for a friend's wedding AND THEN I had to go away for nearly two weeks for the International AIDS Conference in Toronto. So I had an excuse. It's been nearly two months and a lot has happened.

D and I vacationed in lovely Amsterdam, Brussels, Brughes and Ghent for 2 weeks in the beginning of July. I love Amsterdam and would gladly move there in a heartbeat. I am slowly trying to convince D that we can easily retire there even though we would be forced to ride our bicycles when we are old and have arthritis and a number of other elderly diseases. Poor D had his first experience with a certain green substance in Amsterdam and I'm afraid he will never smoke again. I was excited to get D a little stoned and so we went over to the Grey Area to get some bud. Unfortunately, I misjudged the amount to give poor D. He is twice my weight and he kept complaining that he didn't feel anything so I kept on giving him more stuff. Finally, he stood up and went outside and nearly collapsed. As I was not too sober myself, it took me a really long time to get him some Coke as none of the bartenders would let me purchase a glass of Coke. They rightly thought I was very high and would not let me buy anything. I finally got some Coke at a cafe while D was babbling by my side. We managed to walk back to our hotel and ate a lot of donuts.

I think the best part of Amsterdam was the fast food. The croquette sandwiches and the turkish pizzas were truly glorious. I have yet to find anything similar in New York. The turkish pizzas in New York taste like crap - they make the crust too thick and they put far too much lamb in the thing and oil leaks out of the pizza continuously. The turkish pizzas in Amsterdam however had this thin crispy crust with a slight smattering of tomato and meat and a slathering of shredded lettuce/cabbage, mayo and hot sauce with the whole thing wrapped into a convenient burrito form. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! The highlight of our trip to Belgium was definitely the restaurants. We made a point of visiting as many Michelin starred resturants in Belgium as we could possibly afford. My favorite was Aneth located just out side of Brughes and rated a one star. In terms of quality of food, I felt that there were very tiny differences between each star rating. I think that a meal at the one star place was as enjoyable if not better than the meals at the two star and three star places.

We ate at one star Aneth (Brughes), two star Bruneau (Brussels), two star Sea Grill Radisson SAS (Brussels) and three star Comme Chez Soi (Brussels. My favorite course was the whipped potatoes with chives and caviar at the Sea Grill in the Radisson. It was similar to the oyster and pearl concoction at Per Se but with the added yumminess of mashed potatoes! The biggest surprise was the seared and glazed foie gras at Comme Chez Soi. I hate foie gras! Yuck! But they actually made it taste pretty good. *sigh* Yes, I gained like twenty pounds on this vacation but it was well worth it.

The biggest disappointment in the vacation? Definitely our hotel in Brussels. If you go to Brussels, please do not stay at Royal Windsor Hotel. The hotel bills itself as a luxury five star hotel and charges accordingly but their standards are no more than a three star nice hotel. I assume they only got the five star rating based on the amenities they "claim" to provide. While we were there several problems popped up: our door would not open and our concierge had to show us a "special trick" to open the door - this is acceptable in a quirky three star hotel but certainly not in a luxurious modern hotel; our bathroom had a defective toilet seat and flusher so it never really flushed; the shower either had blazing hot or really cold water; the lights had gone out in one of the pictures so it looked rather shoddy; furnishings were rather worn; the telephone did not work and we had to request a repairman; certain amenities like the gym and the nightclub were not available and will not be available for a few months with no mention made of this on their website. It was a frustrating experience. Even more so because D and I look young for our age so staff never really treat us very nicely. We understand this and tailor our expectations accordingly but even with lowered expectations, this hotel was atrocious.

D thinks I'm getting spoiled in my old age. *grin* He's probably right but I think that we try really hard to be nice and it never really pays off. The chocolates in Belgium more than made up for all of our woes. I think I survived on chocolate for about 3 days of our trip. The pomme frites in Belgium were way over hyped as the fries weren't that great. I tried the fries in all sorts of different combinations - plain, plain with ketchup, plain with ketchup and mayo, plain with ketchup and mayo and onions - it was all gross. We had the best waffles in Brughes - freshly griddled with caramel on top and powdered sugar! The oddest thing was that there was a Blue Note Jazz Festival in Ghent during our stay. It was rather strange to hear Belgiums singing along to old American jazz tunes and even country music. Bizarre! We managed to catch the tail end of the World Cup game. D and I know absolutely nothing about soccer but we were cheering for Italy. D got very drunk and was chanting Italia. Some old man actually thought he was an genuine Italian fan and started talking to him in Italian! We kept up the pretense for a few minutes before the man left us disgusted that we didn't actually know Italian. A belligerent drunk French fan nearly beat up D after hearing his chant. We managed to get back to our hotel safely with no brawls.

We were so happy to come home after our travels! It's amazing how good home feels after you have been living out of a suitcase for 14 days. I think that our vacations in Italy, Spain and Costa Rica far outshone our Holland/Belgium trip but it was nice to travel in English speaking countries for a change. The people are just so much nicer in Italy, Spain and Costa Rica. I'm thinking furiously about what our next vacation destination will be. Any suggestions? I am a little afraid of Latin America due to the kidnappings. I'm intrigued by Africa (especially Kenya and South Africa) but D is deathly afraid of going especially since he would no longer be allowed to donate blood. I have been thinking a little bit about Greece but I much prefer an adventure vacation somewhere.....