Monday, March 28, 2011

The High Points

So, guess what. I was really really sick on my birthday this year. It started on the night of my birthday party. I pre-gamed by napping, drinking the ever-disgusting Throat Coat tea, throwing up, taking a really hot bath, laying on the couch under a blanket shivering, throwing up again, and then wearily putting on some really cute glittery shoes. I lasted about 35 minutes at my own party before the wonderful Jess drove me home. Wah wah! Then, the sickness pretty much subsided by the day after my actual birthday. BO-RING, universe!!! Sucks to you! Thanks for nothing! Other slogans!!! I really was bummed because, honestly, I love my birthday and I love having fun birthdays, and this year it just really wasn't an option. Aww, sad.

But!!! Through a combination of a conversation with my sister in which I explained my pre-gaming, and an email from my friend Arvin which said "What's the best thing you did today?" I was inspired to just get past it, let this birthday go, hope for better next year, and, duh, write a blog about it. The subject of the blog? The High Points of my birthday, of course. I mean, that is the title. Come on, guys. Get it together.

Here are some of the great and hilarious things that came about because of my birthday and/or me being sick:
  • When you're insanely congested, you should probably cut dairy out of your diet - it'll help. Well, I've been meaning to try a week or ten days without dairy anyhow to see how I feel, so here you go! I'm on Day Five and, although I know I'm skewed because of being sick, I'm pretty sure I'll be feeling the effects soon! So, thanks, congestion, for getting me started on my temporary non-dairy!
  • When you're sick, sometimes you get delirious. When I received a Happy Birthday text from a friend who also told me his wife is expecting, my intended text back was to read "When is she due?" Instead, I typed "WHen she dUe!" I dunno, that was pretty funny to me.
  • I learned from my mother at an early age that one of the best things to help with a bad headache is to tie a bandana very tight around your head. So I did that. And every time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I laughed because I looked like such a lesbian. Are you happy, Beloit classmates? Are you happy?! P.S. NO PICTURES of this.
  • I worked a half day on Monday even though I shouldn't have. But, I got to see some of the most hilarious kids. They knew it was my birthday (because their dad saw on facebook) and so they drew me a cake with 1800 or so candles on it. Apparently the dad mentioned that it would be nicer to make the number slightly less, so one of the kids guessed my age and made 20 candles. Aww! (I wish, right gals?! JK) Really though, seeing the kids was the highest point of my birthday. I love 'em.
  • Since I was home early on Monday, I watched Dancing With the Stars, which I never, ever watch. But hey, Ralph Macchio is on it! And he's still a total babe! My mom thinks he's wearing a rug, though. I'm going to investigate a bit.
  • The moment I felt well enough to jot down notes for a new blog entry was a definite high point. And, subsequently, the fact that I'm getting in my four blogs per month goal by writing this one. BOOM, universe! Again!
  • When you are sick and have zero appetite, sometimes good friends like the lovely Genia bring you the only food that you could even imagine eating. Like Pho (yep, pronounced "fuh," Sarah) from Ha Long Bay and a nice, easy Sprite. So delicious. Thanks Genia!

  • But then, oh man, when you get a slight appetite back, you make yourself a damn peanut butter and jam, and it's the best tasting peanut butter and jam in the entire stupid world. So delicious!

  • The Birthday Table! Oh, have you not heard of the birthday table? I'm so sorry. It's where you put up all your birthday cards, dude! Here is an example of my sister's Birthday Table from Atlanta, 2009:
And two classy ladies on display along with the table!

So, here's my Birthday Table. Every time I see it, it makes me happy:

Balloons and flower-cake complements of my parents, who met me in Milwaukee on Saturday before my famous pre-game and all that barf. Love!

  • And then, at the end of it all when you really get your appetite back, you can have a little adventure with this magnificent gift, again from Genia! Also, you may still be a little delirious at this point, so you may laugh way harder at this than others. Just sayin'.

Aww, thanks Genia! And thanks, High Points! And thanks, everybody else who is so wonderful and awesome and made these days passable! I'll totally remember this birthday forever. It can never be all bad. Ever.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thank You Note in Blog Form any of you know my friend Lia? Holy crap. If you don't, you're missing out. Lia was my partner in crime in several hilarious Madison adventures when she lived here. For starters, she was my synchronized swimming partner in the summer of '05; we practiced in secret - in Lake Monona - to choreograph and learn a synchronized swimming routine to the song "Simply the Best" by Tina Turner. For reals. It included headstands under water! We were so awesome. We invited all our friends and prepared a picnic, and performed our routine pretty wonderfully, if you ask me. Here's the adorable invitation that Lia made (and found recently, and texted to me!):

Another favorite Lia-based adventure was when we were in a French Dip Club with her boyfriend, Elsworth. We'd go to a restaurant, each order a French Dip sandwich (sometimes with fries, sometimes with a side salad), and then rate them. We'd all take a few minutes of silence to write our notes, then discuss and compare our results. We included the price, size, and gave it a grade at the end. I guess we were pretty serious about it. Here's another picture Lia sent me the other day - it's her notes from one of our French Dip meetings:

And, Lia doesn't know this yet, but I also recently found my notes from French Dip Club! Here you go:

Yeah, she also has much nicer writing than I do. She's pretty great.

One of my favorite things about Lia is this one game we play. We play when we're together, over the phone, via text; it's really a game we can play anywhere at any time. The one thing is: You must be familiar with the Ani Difranco catalog. Yep. I said it. I'm outing the two of us. Lia and I both had a very long and extensive Ani Difranco phase. The game, in short, is this: Integrate any Ani Difranco song title into every day conversation. Sounds easy, eh? Well, it is very easy if you're boring. But Lia and I, we're not boring. We're awesome and creative, so the game can be a bit more challenging at times. Here are some of my favorites (this probably won't be funny unless you know Ani well. So, get ready Tara, BFF Sarah, and my sister, and probably nobody else!):

Several game plays have taken place on facebook. Here are some examples:

  • Wow, I almost missed that one! I definitely had a few eating superheros at my Thanksgiving dinner. They were pretty shameless. By the way, we nearly hit rush hour when we were on our way to my cousins' house. It was a close one, but I guess you end up living some days imperfectly. A few other families joined us at dinner; one mom was there with two little girls. They wanted me to do their nails, but I told them they were cute as is. Also, we played this game on the Wii called Just Dance in which you have to anticipate dance moves - super fun. Even my parents played, which is really out of habit for them! Anyhow, all and all, it was a great celebration of gratitude, and I'm happy to be the joyful girl that I am.
    Sincerely, Fanny.
    November 26, 2010 at 10:09am · ·
  • I got on my wii fit this morning after a delicious Thanksgiving meal yesterday. The results were not good. You don't know how sorry I am about my meal choices.
    November 26, 2010 at 9:21am · ·
  • Well. Done. I'm not even worthy of you.
    November 16, 2010 at 11:28pm · ·
  • I just wanted to let you know I made it home. The plane was delayed due to a fuel issue. But luckily it was resolved and we were able to take off a few hours late. It is so nice to be back in DC! When I got in I really felt like I had my hand on the pulse of the city. I can't wait to see you again this weekend! Again, I want to extend my gratitude to you for letting me stay with you!
    November 16, 2010 at 8:39pm · ·

Um, yeah. We're pretty great. Here are some examples of our awesomeness that came out in person:

Lia: Hey, Reem. I've been taking swimming lessons, and I think I'm getting really good at this one move...a Swan Dive!

Reem: Lia, do you like food?
Lia: Yes.
Reem: Do you like pizza?
Lia: Yes.
Reem: Do you like a certain kind of pizza from Chicago?
Lia, Oh, you must be talking about Deep Dish pizza!

Lia: Hey, Reem! Did you hear Ani Difranco had a baby? I wonder how it went when she had to Dilate.
Reem: Yeah, I heard about that. I wonder if she'll use Both Hands to hold her baby?
Lia: Probably. Maybe some day she'll have another baby, and then she'll have Two Little Girls.
Reem: Yeah, and maybe her daughter will have long hair, and Ani will be Fixing Her Hair, you know?
Lia: I bet she will! And I bet she's got a lot of baby supplies and will bring them on tour with her. You know, Cradle and All.

Sometimes Lia will start talking and I won't even realize she's playing the game:
Lia: Hey Reem, do you ever go into that Felly's Flowers on Regent St.?
Reem: No, not really. Hey, are you hungry?
Lia: I was just wondering if you ever went in there.
Reem: No, Lia. I said I didn't. So, where do you want to go for lunch?
Lia: Well, if I could just refer to that Felly's Flowers once more...
Reem: Dude, I said I've never been.
Lia: ...because I was once in there and I saw This Bouquet...
Reem: .....OHHHH!!!

But my favorites are the ones that have a very long pre-story to them:
Lia: Hey Reem. You know how there are those cops on horses?
Reem: Yes Lia, I know about those.
Lia: Well, I was just thinking about how they have a little more flexibility in their movement, like, especially as compared to cops who drive cars.
Reem: Oh really? How do you mean?
Lia: Well, cops in cars can really only drive in the street, you know? Whereas cops on horses can really go on any sort of terrain in any area. Like...they could go between Buildings and Bridges, you know?

There were also some references to the song "Pale Purple," but I don't want to talk about that because I think it's gross. Look, it's about nipples. Ugh.

Oh Lia. You slay me. One of my favorite Ani-related moments with Lia was driving around Madison on her last visit and listening to the song "Both Hands." Come on man, it's really beautiful. Don't hate. We decided that it would be hilarious to act out the lyrics, like to hold up a telephone when she sings "listening to the low moan of the dial tone again" and then to write graffiti on an arm when she sings "I am writing graffiti on your body." You know, hilarious! Well, as we were talking about this and laughing hysterically, I had a brilliant idea. I was going to do it. I would map out the song and take pictures of myself doing everything in the lyrics and put it into a slideshow for Lia for her birthday. It was pretty much the best idea ever, and I couldn't wait! I was also excited that I had a ton of time to execute this amazing project and do a thorough and wonderful job on it. Wooo, so excited! Lia is going to LOVE this birthday present!

Well, guess what. Lia's birthday isn't until September 5th.But you know when mine is? March 28th. That's in 3 days. And so, guess who beat me to the punch? That's right: the one and only LIA.

I came home tonight to a large package at my door. Inside it was a lovely card, a nice gift certificate, and a photo album. I think I knew what it was before I even opened it. "Oh no!" I exclaimed out loud, a smile on my face and a flip in my stomach. "She did it." And she did! Look at this genius. Look at what Lia did:

I am walking out in the rain

And I am listening to the low moan of the dial tone again.

And I am getting Nowhere with you

I am writing graffiti on your body

I'm recording our history (haha "herstory") now on the bedroom wall, and when we leave the landlord will come and paint over it all.

And in each other's shadow we grew less and less tall

I am drawing the story of how hard we tried (how cute is this? Also, it actually happened about 6 years ago - true story)

Both Hands.

Okay, Lia. Alright. You win for the best Ani reference of all time. This gets you like a zillion points in any Ani game. I seriously cannot believe you did this, and I am forever thankful to you. My Gratitude for you knows no end. I'll just have to offer you a Rain Check on your birthday gift, I guess. Next time I'll have to Anticipate better. But really, this gift was better than 32 Flavors of ice cream. You have truly made me a Joyful Girl on my birthday. Sorry I Am going on and on about it; I'm just really Shameless about my love for you.

Okay, I'll stop. But I'm telling you, it's pretty difficult. Thank you, Lia!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vanilla, aka Ice Cream Face, and Others

Since every post I write about my students is something to the extent of "Stories About the Kids," or "More Stories About the Kids," or "Even More Stories About the Kids," I thought I should try a little harder and get a little more creative. Also, although all the kids have ben great and hilarious lately, tonight's main character is one Vanilla, the 5-year-old. Now, what parent would name their kid Vanilla, you ask? Well, probably no parent. See, Vanilla named himself. You can read about it here in the 4th to last paragraph. But enough about Vanilla for now - I'm gonna save him for last this time. Here's how a couple other kids are doing:

E, age 16, got his license a couple of months ago. It's weird, man. I've known him since he was nine and in 4th grade! And now he's driving. Weirds. Anyhow, today he was practicing a 4 measure section of the song he's working on, going slowly with the metronome and repeating it over and over again to get it right. He was actually doing really well until he stopped suddenly and exclaimed, "How do you do this every day?!" I looked at him. "Do what everyday?" I asked. "Sit here and listen to kids do the same thing every day, over and over again, and do it week after week?" I, of course, started in on a speech on how much I love it and how I love watching how kids learn differently from each other and blah blah blah. After a minute or so, E interrupted me with this: "You're really nerding out right now. Whatever, I could never do it." and kept playing. Fantastic.

D, age 7, tells me all about her day every Thursday. Like, a little too much, probably. Today she talked about eating an apple turnover at school. In complete seriousness, she said to me, "I turned it over, but nothing happened, so I just ate it anyhow." Then, as she was doing some theory work, she meant to write an E but wrote a 5. She laughed, erased it, and wrote another 5. She laughed harder, erased it, and wrote a 3. She then laughed too hard for it to even matter anymore.

L, age 9 (who you can also read about in the above link to Vanilla - she wants to give her sister a high five in her face), is very excited to go to the dentist next week. She thinks the dentist is going to send her to the orthodontist, who will tell her she needs braces. She is so excited to get braces. She says, "I am going to look so cute with braces." She also kept laughing at everything I said and clapping me on the shoulder for some reason.

Okay, are you ready to hear about Vanilla? Here is all the stuff he did and said today (keep in mind this all happened within 30 minutes):

There is a quilt on the wall that shows animals from all over the world, he shows me his favorite fish. He shows me the path that the fish swims, all the way down the river into the ocean. He's very sweet and gentle, and then proclaims, "This fish is going to punch the earth!" He then punches the wall and laughs hysterically.

"Today I made a dinosaur picture. He's the kind with the spiky face. I don't know his name today, but it will change every day. Tomorrow it will be called Benjamin Franklin."

"I had a dream last night about a little girl who got so many presents from Santa Claus!"

He made up his own words to the tune of Dynamite, which is his favorite song. They go: "Reem likes to throw up in the air sometimes. Likes to throw up, she likes to throw up!" Then he switched to his own tune and sang "She throws up like a club throws up!" When I ask him how much throw up is in a club, he tells me "Throw up the size of a million people. And that's a lot!"

Last thing: He called me mommy when he was leaving and his mom tells me that he's been calling everybody Mommy lately. I don't care, I'm still flattered. Thanks, Vanilla!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Oh hay there! I have a question for you all. Do you think my mom and I look alike?

Yeah...most people don't. Wah wah! My mother is 100% Irish, which (because of math) makes me 50% Irish. Man, I love being Irish. We have like THE best music ever. Proof:

All God's Creatures

The Wild Rover


These songs always strike such a strong chord in my heart. There are certain melody lines, certain inflections, in Irish music that are like no other music. The songs are so sincere and meaningful and heartfelt. Or, in the case of All God's Creatures, so hilarious.

And man, maybe Ireland isn't known for its food, but there are a few choice items that are so ridiculously amazing if done right. The other night, Genia and I went out to celebrate being Irish and spilt two dishes at Brocach: corned beef & cabbage and fish & chips. So delicious. Unfortunately, some of the more delicious things in life do not photograph well in a dark environment on a new camera I haven't quite figured out yet, so you'll have to observe these and use your imagination. And just trust me that they were absolutely delicious.

Here's my drink: a Murphy's. Look closely at the foam - see anything?

By the way, the people at Brocach say the name is Gaelic for "badger den." My mom says they're making it up. I believe her. But hey, the food is delicious and the atmosphere is pretty lovely.

I'll be traveling to Ireland this summer for my cousin's wedding, and I'm so excited to go. It's been awhile, and I miss it terribly. As kids, we spent many summer weeks in Ireland; I feel like I grew up there. My mother's entire family lived (and still lives) there, and I feel lucky that we got to know all my cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandmother as well as we have despite the distance. And Ireland is so beautiful. You know all those rumors about the rolling green hills and beautiful mountains and rocky cliffs and green everything? Well, they're all true. Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Besides the natural scenery, there are ancient churches and castles by the side of the road anywhere you go. It's amazing. Check out these pictures from my sister from our last trip there in 2007.

There is a feeling, an energy, a smell...something, that is so different from here in the US. Maybe it's memories of childhood and growing up, or maybe it's the lushness of the land, or maybe just different air. Whatever it is, I miss it and I love it, and I cannot wait to go back there. This trip is really going to be a special one for me.

Lastly, I'll leave you with this. On St. Patrick's Day this year, why not make it a little less about the booze, and a little more about the Irish? Seriously. Celebrate my homeland and my people, but stay classy about it, okay? I mean, if a bunch of rowdy Arab men can do it, you can too!