Stand by your SO(B)

Relationships are special. Relationships are cursed. About all I can say with certainty after my life experience is that they are a delicate balance of giving in, looking the other way and sticking to your guns, literally, as in sometimes you need to threaten people with physical violence or they just don’t get it. Yet despite the hierarchy and anatomy of different types of relationships, one thing that I absolutely detest are people that put their SO (Significant Other) down in public.

I often see people put up with shit in their lives, be it from their work, their kids, or that vindictive slut karma that doesn’t seem to always live up to her word. Yet despite the crap we are dealt with, the one instance where we shouldn’t bend over and smile is when we are being put down by people we love. Life hands out enough humiliation, like that time you were speaking to someone and accidentally threw up on their face, or that time you thought you were alone in an alley and farted Mozart’s 5th symphony, only to hear the crushing giggles of an invisible audience.

Yet humiliation from a loved one is more painful than sodomy with a palm tree. There are several reasons for this. The first is that your Significant Other is significant because you love, respect and admire them, so technically they are coming from a point of authority. It’s like your mom announcing in front of your science club that the only white coat you were going to get as an adult was in the loony bin as you were dropped way too many times on your head as an infant. Another reason is the surprise element, like when you are out hunting deer and as you are crouching in the bush, an excited-nearly-extinct rhino spots your behind and decides to finally try out interspecies mating. It hurts from both ends; mentally and physically.

Not only does it hurt when you are involved, but it is also quite shitty to witness. Even if you are not close to either party, watching someone be humiliated by their SO(B) is as uncomfortable as watching your parents go at it. It’s awkward, its ugly and you would rather be miles and miles away, hunting the last unicorn in some dimension. Sure, sometimes, we lose our tempers and explode and say things we regret, yet these instances should be few and far between. Others however, thrive and exist on berating the partners they hold dear, with complete disregard to the audience. The fact that these assholes are even allowed to procreate is beyond me; I only wish it were socially acceptable to interfere and say something to their ugly faces.

Unfortunately though, you can’t interfere in someone else’s business. Unless they are physically smashing their partner’s teeth out, you kind of have to sit the abuse out. It’s sad but in every instance when you try to step in to stand up for a friend, it will always backfire and you will suddenly be the focus of the problem. Their dysfunctional relationship will survive way past your friendship, and years down the line they will be on some deserted beach, sipping Bacardi and talking about how they almost broke up that time because of that asshole one time; you.

If you are, unfortunately, in love or living with someone like this, and the sex is too good or you are just too lazy to seek an alternative life partner, I suggest the following to help Karma on its way:

  • Spit in their morning coffee. It’s a nice discrete way to send them on their day.
  • Hack into their bank account and treat yourself every month to a spa or nice day out
  • Give the brake pads on their car a little nip. Only do this though if you feel like you are ready to maybe start looking for the next Mr./Mrs. Wrong to ruin your life.

It’s a sad fact of life, but there are people who put up with demeaning partners because of low self-esteem. You can sugar coat it all you want, but glazed abuse is just as sickening as the non-glazed version. It is a form of bullying, that will probably be picked up by the children and perpetuated for generations to come. Ultimately, relationships should be a support system. Your SO should be the one raising you up, not crumpling you down to a wilted flower. And while it may be hard to step out of the madness, you need to remind yourself that life hands out enough shit, so you really don’t need to put up with someone else’s. And remember, abuse isn’t funny, unless it’s physical and happening to the abuser.  relationsheep

Chasing the Dragon

I’ve gone through my fair share of addictions in life, as many humans have. And having survived some pretty nasty afflictions, and even though I am in a much healthier state of mind and body, my current obsession is also fraught with peril. For those of you out there who run regularly, I’m sure you’ve nurtured injuries thanks to taking stupid or reckless decisions about how much to push yourselves.

I started running 2 years ago. I was a smoker, overweight and terribly out of shape; walking up a flight of steps felt like it could send me into a coma. However after running for a few weeks, the sheer rate of my improvement lured me into a sordid affair with my outdoor trails that soon surpassed my addiction to smoking on the couch while flirting with hot chicks (I’m talking about actual fried chickens here).

And of course, there’s that runner’s high. It’s an actual high, they’re not kidding folks, it’s like MDMA and heroin had a baby in your brain, and it’s free! Who the hell needs waiting on some dingy street corner to score when you can literally run away from your dealer and get an absolutely all-encompassing body high that feels like an extended skin orgasm? I’ve literally had moments of bliss while running that were so intense that I would close my eyes and make extremely weird noises that would scare pedestrians away; I’m sure I looked like I was possessed and running away from Satan, but I was really deep in the throes of mad nirvana.

Yet, as good as it is for you, there is an insanity tied to running. I first noticed it when I went to a race, where I was participating in the 10 k and there was also a 21 k going on. In the parking lot, I could just tell who the half-marathon runners were from looking at them. It wasn’t just their physique; they came in all sorts of sizes and shapes. They had a look about them, like they were out for the hunt, the chase, the kill. These maniacs meant business. Somewhere on their trail was the elusive dragon, and they were going to catch up with it, grab it, and skin the essence out of it while they molested it. And the longer the distances, the crazier the looks.

As great as the benefits of running are, and as great as the high is, the downside is that you will face many a moment when you shouldn’t run, but the kick in your legs will push you to do something stupid. I have done several stupid things in my running escapades. One was deciding to go for a little 6 k run after I had a slipped disk. My physiotherapist told me to wait a few months. When she said months I silently cursed her first born and assumed she meant days, seeing as she was Asian and probably struggled with the language. Needless to say, it took me 6 months to get back to my running regimen after that excursion. I was fine during the actual run itself, but the minute I stopped, I felt the muscles in my back grip around my spine like they were trying to claw some sense back into me.

Then yesterday there was a sand storm here in sunny Abu Dhabi. The air was thick with dust and grime. I fought with my hubby who didn’t want me to go, I was set on doing an hour and a half and after 30 minutes, he forced me back into my cage. This morning I woke up wheezing and coughing. For the last 8 hours, I have been continually coughing up like what seems like an ozone layer, along with a few stretches of sandy beach. I feel utterly terrible and now I won’t be able to run for a few days, till my lungs heal. I could run on a treadmill, but I always feel like an inmate when I have to work out indoors. And I hate running for kilometers watching my panting reflection in the glass and getting absolutely nowhere!

For now, I am stuck behind the window, like a punished dog, watching the dust thicken in the air, watching the dragon peeking at me from behind the clouds. I won’t be able to go out today, probably not for the next 3 days, but sooner or later, I’ll be back myself, to the hunt, to the trail, chasing those scales that turn me inside out.  running

Cooking ain’t so hot

(Dedicated to my Tetas)

It’s a widely accepted fact that cooking is a dying art. Many of us might have grown up with the women in the family always preparing rich traditional meals, however as adults we are neglecting this tradition. The only spreads I prepare are Excel-based. Time is the obvious culprit; with full time demanding jobs, many of us barely have time to shave our legs, let alone stuff vine leaves. Yet even when some of us attempt to reach out to this piece of our heritage, it ends in a toxic fiasco. Does cooking require special genetic talent or are we evolving into kitchen repellant creatures?

When I was young, my grandma would prepare glorious feasts of Lebanese wonders. Kids are not discerning when it comes to ingredients and I enjoyed many rich dishes that I would not have swallowed willingly had I known what they were. Things like cow tongue and sheep intestine stuffed with rice and meat. Of course I grew up and eventually found out, and after a few suicide attempts, I vowed to stay away from these dishes. Now that I’m older though, a tribal part of me wants to learn these recipes and not let the tradition die with me.

First let me differentiate between different kinds of kitchen work. By cooking, I don’t mean microwaving, adding water, or boiling carbs. If pressing a button was cooking, then you could claim to be a chef every time you rode the elevator. If heating water was cooking, then you could essentially claim that taking a shower was cooking up a storm. All the above are what I call ‘cooking-lite’.

When I say cooking, I mean real, onions-stabbing-your-eyes-till-they-bleed, peeling-meat-off-bone, stuffing-rice-in-animal-cavity-holes-cooking. When you’re done with real cooking, the kitchen needs a hazmat team and a priest. When you’re done with cooking-lite, it’s a “honey could you please wash that pot? I’m too tired from boiling water.”

I don’t mean to sound so aggressive, and I’m not angry at people that cook light, I cook light. I’m just insanely perplexed and envious of these put together women who can prepare complex dishes from my grandma’s era without looking like they were assaulted by rabid bats. These people can prepare 3 or 4 course meals and exit the kitchen with all their limbs intact, whereas I would probably leave said task with a singed eyebrow, an amputated finger, and possibly a zucchini up my ass. To add insult to injury, when you ask these humanoids about how they cook, they always snicker “oh cooking is easy”.

The other day I was making vegetable soup. Easy, right? I gathered the squash, pumpkin, carrots and potatoes on the table. It took me about 20 minutes to chop and peel those. Then I lightly fried an onion before dumping everything in with water and a vegetable broth cube. After simmering on low heat for about an hour, the dish was ready to be pureed. But then my inner idiot whispered “why don’t you add some chili? It will give it a real kick.” Of course I didn’t consult a source and improvised; I threw in a small spoonful of fresh hot chili. I might as well have dipped Satan’s asshole in it, because as I delightfully discovered 20 minutes later, after I had finished blending the life out of it, was that it was entirely inedible. Even my husband, who brushes his teeth with habanero chilies, took one bite and looked like he got smacked in the face by a Nigerian…spatula.

So after nearly two hours, I had to throw out what should have been a simple and straightforward dish. I was obviously missing that gene that allowed me to improvise in the kitchen. Moving on from improvising, I decided to follow a recipe to the tee. The dish: Musakhan. Something you need to know about cooking whole chickens: when you boil them, they sometimes fart in the water. I was alone at home when the first bubble escaped one of the corpses’ underside and I have to admit, I was gripped by terror thinking that it would suddenly come to life and do to me what I had done to it. You won’t find any mention of this in any cook book.

Another thing that illustrates my point: On the recipe it says “pull the meat”. Three little words, so clean and well defined. In reality, pulling the meat off the bones was a horrific experience. I felt like that asshole from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There were chicken bits all over the place and the most disturbing part was pulling meat off the chicken’s ass. I wondered for a few minutes if we actually eat this. I was about to call a friend and ask, but I didn’t feel right saying “hey, when you pull the meat off a chicken, do you do the ass as well? Do we eat chicken ass?”

On the website, it said this dish would take 1.5 hours. In my kitchen, it took 5. Sure, it tasted amazing when it was done, and we struggled to stretch it for 2 meals as it was glorious, but once it was consumed, I was left feeling kind of drained at the daunting task of preparing it again.

Never trust a cook that says “Cooking is easy”. Doing calculus while drunk is easy. If they don’t walk you through it step by molecular step, they are hiding something. They probably made a pact with the devil, or have an army of midget sous-chefs hiding under the sink. I’m not saying cooking is impossible, just prepare yourself for emotional and physical scars that will outlast any dish you prepare.

 

chicken

I’d like a skinny bitch, please

I’m actually referring to the drink here; vodka and soda water. Yeah, it’s a thing. My husband, aka the long and lean noodle, has it almost exclusively. I, on the other hand, prefer shorter drinks that usually have traces of worm in them and leave you so confused and delirious by the end of the night that you end up having conversations about religion with plants. I’m absolutely fine with this state, what I’m not fine with is banning alcohol abuse from diets.

On my 4th week of a strict atoms-only meal plan, I began to miss my drunken escapades with society’s refugees. Diets are as varied as the people who need them, yet most of them explicitly ban most traces of good-times-booze. According to many new reports, alcohol is detrimental to weight loss because the minute it is in you, your body stops burning fat and switches to burning alcohol.

Yet it seems to me that these scientists need to differentiate between types of alcohol and how you consume them. If, like this author, you smoothly sashay into a club at ten with the intent of having “one or two glasses of wine”, only to stumble into the men’s toilet at midnight with traces of Jager, Tequila and vomit on your shirt, then banning alcohol is probably a safe bet that you will reach your weight loss goal.

On the other hand, if you can somehow commit to the oxymoron of “sensible drinking”, then you just might have a chance to escape your calorie deficient days with giggle filled evenings. The following list will help fellow dieters commit to a smaller waistline without skimping on good times:

1) Designate a Bar Vader, preferably a good friend otherwise this won’t work, who will shadow you throughout the evening and ensure that you stick to one type of the approved alcohol list. This is for those of us who have the resolve yet struggle with reality.

2) Pace yourself. In this race, the tortoise is the winner. If you have had a light dinner, you won’t need that much liquor anyway, and if you space out the drinks to one per hour, you should be fine.

3) Move! This is no time to sit and ponder the fate of humanity. If you are drinking your carbs, you should be moving, dancing or molesting some piece of furniture/security guard. At least give your body a chance to burn those empty calories instead of converting them into self-hating prophecies.

4) Avoid the sugary, mixed stuff. So long Pina Coladas, anything with an umbrella, or drinks that make your pancreas erect. Instead, befriend the straight up folks like tequila, vodka, gin and the like.

5) To beer, or not to beer. This is a tough one. I know some folks who drink this exclusively and are physically free of the Homer Simpson gut. Yet they are also quite active and drink nothing else. If you use beer as a chaser then it’s probably a good idea to cut it out, otherwise limit your intake.

6) This is probably the most important: Avoid the fast food in the aftermath! I don’t care if the McD’s vendor has promised you his first born, late night eating is a sin by normal standards, and late night junk food binging is an invitation for all sorts of snug trouble.

Thanks to these simple rules, I still make the rounds on the weekends. They have helped me maintain a balance between my night life and my daily commitment to health. For other sources that allow your inner lush to come out and play, try the following. In the meantime, I am enjoying the fruits of my starvation, while keeping my thirst in check.

 

alcohol

Unnatural Selection

Life is all about change. You change partners, jobs, countries and friends. Last Friday, I changed ideals. I ventured to one of my favorite outdoor events; Groove on the Grass, for a good dose of dancing and entertainment. The dancing was great; the entertainment was met with mixed feelings. At some point during the evening of merriment, the area was filled with many people hoola-hooping (henceforth known by its official name among members: hooping).

It was quite nice to watch; many women were quite dexterous at it and effortlessly flitted from one sequence to another, with nothing short of style and grace. Then I noticed the men. I’m not talking pretty little effeminate boys, I’m talking bearded, could-probably-start-a-fire-in-the-wild, please tell me what’s wrong with my car- men.

I was quite surprised by the sheer number of masculine oscillating hips. And even more surprised by how good they were. These weren’t a few sheep trying out the sport to find an in with these beautiful ladies, like that one jerk that always shows up to that yoga class and drools over your ass in downward dog. Nay, these were men that had seriously adopted and obviously been practicing their swirling and sashaying skills.

I have to admit that watching them at first didn’t sit well with me. It was a little like watching a female wear a strap on to jerk off. Then it hit me. This was the product of my gender-defined upbringing. When I was a kid in the 80’s, girls wore pink, boys wore blue, girls played with dolls (and hoops) and boys played with cars.

I’m pretty sure that if my brother had gone up to my dad in those days and asked “Dad, can I have a hoola-hoop?” my dad would’ve been like “No son. You don’t hoop. You fuck bitches.”

Fast forward 3 decades and in ushers a new era where such delineations are rendered null and void, and gender boxes and traits morph into masses of fun activities for all. I tried to imagine if cavemen hoola hooping in the Stone Age would’ve been allowed to procreate. Yet in today’s day and age, these norms no longer apply. In today’s world, you can hoop and fuck bitches, probably while eating your cake too.

man hoops

Lateral Living

Thanks to my gloriously soothing bulged disc (as if my 3 curved scoliosis spine wasn’t enough fun on its own), I’ve had to seek out alternative treatments to go about my daily business.

One of my earliest attempts at pain free movement was physiotherapy. A sweet Asian lady was recommended to me, and when I met the little creature, I had no idea she was capable of such evil. Her office was sterile and white, save for a brightly colored teddy bear on one of her chairs.

“Aw how sweet, is that your child’s?” I asked innocently.

She covered her mouth and giggled (the first sign that should have set me off) “Tee hee! No this is for you!”

As I lay on my stomach, she brought the eternally gaping teddy to me and told me to hold it if things got too much. I was a little perplexed, but she answered my quizzical face contortion with a small introduction to “dry needling”. Sounded like something that should be done to a quilt but I was in so much agony, I gave her the thumbs up. As she prepared the needles, I recalled never having seen such a thing in physiotherapy scenes in movies. On screen, the ordeal always entailed a trainer helping the victim of circumstance or genes in some movements. There was no penetration involved. Nevertheless, this little teddy bearing lady was indeed highly recommended, and who was I to go against the grain?

I’ll give you the short version: OUCH. Fucking OUCH. Grit your teeth I’m going in dry ouch. Teddy didn’t help much either with his cold unfeeling stare.

After a few sessions of leaving her office feeling like I had been raped by a voodoo doll, I vowed to seek out another method.

I went through the usual suspects: chiropractors, more traditional physiotherapists, realignment specialists, Santa Clause, and even alcohol (I don’t recommend working out drunk, treadmills tend to suddenly swerve), but all only gave me short term relief.

After months of trial and error; I can safely say that the only things that worked for me and that could probably help most people with back issues are: Kinesiotherapist (performing the Dorn method) and Pilates.

Ah, wonderful Pilates. I have to say, if you do suffer and have never given it a try, you might as well set yourself on fire.

Two things about Pilates:

1) I think they are pronouncing it wrong; I think it should be Pie-Lates (as in “oh my god, I’m so lates to that meeting!”)

2) You will be introduced to a very foreign concept called ‘Lateral breathing’.

In a nutshell, lateral breathing is inhaling without heaving your chest up or letting your belly bulge out. The whole idea is to keep your top chest and tummy pulled in tight as you inhale. So where exactly can this intake of air go?

If you’re like me your first guess might have been: ‘my ass?’ Wrong answer. This kind of breathing works by flaring out your lower ribs, and then contracting them to expel all the air out.

As foreign as this is, this kind of breathing not only protects your back but if you practice it throughout the day, it will invariably strengthen your core and make you more mindful of your posture and movements.

Pilates is full of weird jargon. One of my favorites is “navel to spine”, a command that floods most sessions. In the beginning the expression really angered me. My navel was so far away from my spine it needed a GPS to get there. Nevertheless, a few sessions in and I could see the blatant results of committing to this mispronounced sport.

I strongly and wholeheartedly recommend Pilates to everyone, even the people I don’t like very much. If you can get past the new age lingo and breathing like a flattened flying snake, you will reap a world of benefits and mobility, and you can go back to chasing dreams and victims as you see fit.