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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Reason To Love a White Boy...

This kills me. It's beautiful. The colours are the same as my bedding. The paint and the bombing effects are brilliant. The song is catchy. The rapper is white... and so is his MP3 player. Obviously I need an I-Pod now.

Check it out and fall in love

I guess it IS all about the production, huh?

I hate that I love it...


I'm confused: check this out.

Don't ask why I found it...


meh. i saw the ad on tv and didn't think much of it beyond "eminem is doing an ipod commercial".

and dear god, the idea of falling in love with HIM is completely vomitous.



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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Just Like Heaven (TM)

It's official: Estee Lauder owns a piece of my soul. There's one similarity between the Philippines and Iran other than the two countries' third world status, heavy traffic and air pollution that sticks in my mind. It's the scent of goleh mariam (Mary's flower directly translated) and sampaguita. Both two different kinds of white flowers that give off very similar scents that are akin to jasmine.

Sampaguita is grown in the Philippines and is often strung into garlands and sold on the street by children. We used to buy them and hang them on the cross and the Mama Mary figurine in my Lolo and Lola's bedroom when I was little. After Lolo died we put the garlands on his urn (also in the bedroom, located near the Mama Mary).

Goleh Mariam is found in Iran and I first encountered it in Abadan two years ago, when we were buying a bouquet for Bibi's grave. The first thing we noticed was how much it smelled like sampaguita.

Beyond Paradise is a perfume which its makers describe as:

An intoxication of the senses. The new fantasy in fragrance transports you to a perfect world of optimism and wonder. Unfolds on your skin with a fascinating blend of tropical wetness, zesty freshness and a burst of floralcy.

But for me its reminder of warmer places and good people, which is why this evening I felt compelled to duck in from the snow on ste-catherine to La Baie's perfume section to spray it on my wrists and then walk right out.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Notes to Self: 11 am

Lessons learned: Driving on ice is a bad idea in a car, and an even worse idea on a bicycle.

Videos to Rent: Winter Cycling Basics from the QPIRG library

[ least for once I had a viable excuse for being late for work.]

Monday, November 21, 2005

Reach Out and Touch Someone

This post is about a week late, given that I was on Parliament Hill job shadowing MP Marlene Jennings last Tuesday. However, I had some of my own naive little epiphanies since that experience that have made me think a lot more and have contextualized things a bit more. In other words, things are always more complex than they seem. Obvious statement to make but nonetheless...

First off, about my two days on Parliament Hill. I was participating in the Women in House program which is run through the Poli Sci Students Association at McGill. I was really excited about the opportunity to spend two days on Parliament Hill. On Monday we did a tour of Parliament, met Minister of International Cooperation Aileen Carroll, had a panel discussion with MPs Libby Davies (NDP) and Lynne Yelich (Conservative) and attended question period. These activities in themselves were inspiring-- I loved seeing these women with such different political views and backgrounds talking about what it's like to be a woman in politics and how they respectively thought it best to bring about what they believe in through the political system. The panel discussion was particularly interesting since Davies and Yelich speak from polar opposite points of view.
The other women (almost wrote girls there... oops!) in the program were also really great. Mostly very opinionated as Poli Sci students tend to be. While waiting for our security checks on the first day with one of the other participants, I leaned over and said to her, "I don't remember anyone's name any more"
"Yeah, me neither. They all look the same except us"
Thank god for brown people. haha.

The second day, I met up with Marlene Jennings at 8:45 am. She was finishing a cigarette outside the East Block, when I arrived. She brought me to her office where we chatted a bit and then proceeded to go to two standing committee meetings, a debate in the house, lunch, question period and then two meetings with lobbyists. I loved the constant "busyness" of the day, the improvising and running from one task to another. This would probably get old real fast if one were actually in that job, but I found it interesting and exciting. As much as I was cynical and skeptical about the official political system coming in to the program, I left it with a newfound respect for what politicians do. With Marlene at least, she appeared to really care about her job and about putting her own ideas into action. She went out of her way to answer my questions and to explain stuff to me even when I didn't ask her about it. She also would get really excited when talking about things that she cared about and didn't hesitate to express her personal opinions on issues--- which I really respect. When I asked her if she thought the current political system worked well, she acknowledged that policies she would want to see didn't always get put in place exactly how she would have wanted the to be, but that she thought the system was good. At one time Marlene was in solidarity with black students protesting institutional racism at Concordia-- the methods used there were not your conventiona l lobbying tactics, which is why I asked her if she thought the system was effective. Of course, there were some elements of the traditional politician there, but she was really great. Maybe one day I can get to know her well enough to discuss her involvement with Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Israel (of which she is a member). I felt the Declaration of Human Rights conspicuous on the wall in the corner of her office. heh...
The weirdest part about the whole parliamentary "experience" that I had was Don Boudria asking me if one of my parents was "oriental"... that was great, haven't been called one of those in a while, but anyway--- he won't be around much longer in politics anyway ;)

On Saturday I went to a reading of Teesri Duniya's adaptation of Kafka's The Trial. It was a benefit for Justice for Adil Charkaoui, an advocacy group that is working to free Adil and four other men who have been held on security certificates. The reading interspersed The Trial with the accounts of the five men's experiences--- for a chilling and heartbreaking effect. The Trial is absolutely terrifying on its own, and these men are actually living it.

I knew about security certificates and the the situation was bad, but I didn't realize that the people being held are NOT charged with any crime, don't know the evidence that is being used against them and that some of them have been in detention, solitary confinement for years! I won't get into too much detail here, however, at the reading, Adil Charkaoui, who's been recently released on "bail" (still without charge), was able to read, but was forced to leave at intermission so as not to violate his curfew. The RCMP and the police were waiting for him outside so that they could arrest and deport him if he happened to stay to read for the rest of the play. All this anyway, just to say that I felt so angry and appaled that the Canadian government was letting this go on--- our own maple leaf branded Guantanamo. And no one in Parliament seems to be doing anything about it.

I'm SO angry.


By far one of the stranger occurences in my Montreal existence... I was biking home from a screening at the International Documentary Film Festival, Sunday (which was taking place just around the corner in my house), and I was shivering because my fleece wasn't warm enough for the cold wind that had just developed. While stopped at a corner, I must have looked slightly pathetic because this guy in a huge fur coat (think like SabreTooth in the X-Men movie), walks up to me and is like, "Es-tu froid?", I nodded. And then he took my hands to warm them up between his own. For some reason I didn't take my hands away because I thought his coat was so comical-- it was like so out of a movie or something. And then he was like, oh your hands aren't that cold (which they weren't of course because I had just come out of a warm movie theatre). He smiled and walked off in his massive fur coat. It was very very odd. Letting strangers take my hands though... maybe not such a good idea. ah well...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Job Offer: Speech Writer

No good sitcom will play a rerun within a month of the first airing.

Abu Aardvark explains .

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thursdays are Always Busy

10:00-11:30 am : talked about porn in my feminist political theory class. had the teacher ask me what i knew about condom useage in porn because, as she told me, "it seems you have maybe done more research into this than i have"

11:30 am-1:00 pm: work in computer lab and get 3 page assignment done - focus on the role of women as depicted in various cultures and in varying roles of power in The Travels of Ibn Battuta - the medieval Islamic mystic. skip the multiple accounts of singing slave girls to talk about the daughter of the magistrate who rules an Indonesian island and has ambitions to conquer India.

1:00 pm: escape from computer lab with Connor. scope out some girlies peddling Mastercard t-shirts with a game involving bananas and a scale. convince them to give us the t-shirt "prize", but don't get any free bananas.

1:10 pm : eat at Al Taib Express - marvel at the ugliness of Gert's.

1:50 pm: Connor leaves, Faiz magically appears. We sit some more and talk about all the MuchVibe videos that are inescapable on the many screens in our hallowed campus bar. wonder why there aren't any that are as good as the roots' "what they do".

2:25 pm: Leave Al Taib, witness the first (brief) snow fall and go outside.

2:45 pm: I bike to Concordia for my class... slip in and out of consciousness as the rest of the class discusses Ibn Battuta.

4:00 pm: ride back to school and start reading policy papers on Israeli disengagement from the West Bank.

6:00 pm: attend a talk by Marieme Helie-Lucas, Algerian sociologist and co-founder of Women Living Under Islamic Laws. enjoy her focus on the diversity of islamic thought and laws, her emphasis on the fact that personal status laws for women are often used by governments to consolidate power and also for the state's own political goals (rather than for anything inherently "religious"). not so excited about her vehement call for secularism.... but her talk was very, very important and her views need to be heard more often.

7:30 pm: eat copious amounts of baba ghannoush, japanese fresh spring rolls, pita chips, vegetables and tzatziki, cookies (chocolate chip and sugar), and samosas, at the wine and cheese following Helie-Lucas talk. discuss gender, state consolidation, and women's rights with Sarah, Tamreez, Natalie and her friends. feel smart and informed thanks to sexy rexy's readings.

[Skip SACOMSS meeting I'm supposed to go to in favour of good conversation and catered food]

8:40 pm: take President Kennedy and enjoy the quiet streets and the light filled office towers against the night sky. ride past jello bar and seeing the marquee realize that it's jojoflores' birthday which means a year ago today, Jameel brought me there so that Steph (and Alistair) and i could see k-os perform.

9:00 pm: get home and discover two sentence e-mail from a certain someone which makes my heart melt.

I know it wasn't intentional, but I think I'm going to cry. Gender, Lectures, Walks back home... Alistair, Connor, FOOD.

sigh, I miss it all, it's sweet to know I'll have what I want / need of it all back eventually...

[I just reworded that last sentence three times over... don't want anything to be misinterpreted, now do we?]


i think i might cry too because i'm not going to get any of it back :( :( :(

i really miss throwing around words like "ethnocentrism" and "biphobia" and "black-trans-man-in-a-wheelchair!" and knowing that people around me will know EXACTLY what i'm talking about instead of thinking i'm a pretentious loon who can't talk about normal things.

oh man, i miss montrealspeak so much!


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Thursday, November 10, 2005

outside the bubble

It's 1:20 pm, people are milling about all around me, talking to friends, heading to the cafeteria for lunch and taking naps on sofas. It's crowded, busy and warm. Periodically a loudspeaker blares out messages in French or English asking someone to pick up a line or to meet someone on the second floor. Most people are wearing black --- hoodies, tights, skirts, pants --- varying degrees of "punk"/counterculture/the "great unwashed", whatever you want to call it, but this was not everyone there. I meet Gretchen a few minutes later. I'm here to do Mini Disc recording workshops for CKUT. It's seems like a regular lunch hour at any high school, but this isn't a high school. We're at the Dans La Rue Day Center. Dans La Rue is Montreal's only non-gender segregated organization for homeless youth. The Day Center is not a shelter (they have that elsewhere), but it provides meals, classes, an art room, a computer room, counselling, free telephones and other activities for youth during the day. They also have a free vet service one a month where people can have their pets checked out.

It's easy for me, a 22-year old university student on her way to a Political Science degree to romanticize the situation of the people at Dans La Rue. In fact I'm torn about how to write about this experience without sounding a like a self-congratulatory bourgeois asshole. So with that caveat in mind, here's what I thought.

I was a little nervous at first, the Dans La Rue volunteer agreement talks about, among other things, being aware of syringes and not touching (moving or picking up) the belongings of anyone else, just in case there are sharps in bags or clothing. I also have never really interacted with any young people who I perceive as significantly different from myself, and I wondered how receptive the people at Dans La Rue would be to the MiniDisc workshops. The program had been run last year, so it wasn't entirely new... but my insecurities remained.
It was an incredibly positive experience. There was the tall kid who asked me straight off where I was from (immediately after he had revealed to Sara- the other volunteer- and I that in addition to English and French he spoke Spanish and Creole); there was another girl who seemed shy but said that she had done the MD recording last year when CKUT came in. There was the Anglo who was eager to talk politics, and revealed that when the twin towers fell he watched the news in jail. There was the girl who earnestly read the spot for the homelessness marathon and asked when we'd be there again, I only noticed later that she was pregnant. I ascribe these characteristics to these people knowing little beyond this about them.

There was also the on the floor the whole time as people chattered excitedly, dragged chairs, amidst the seeming chaos, sleeping, a mass of black hoodie, and only when the day center closed at 3:30 was he awakened and asked politely to leave with everyone else.

For me it was a lot of fun. 2 hours sped by and there seemed to be a lot of interest, far more than we were expecting anyway as an announcement over the ever crackly and loud intercom system had been made rather late. All I can say is, I'm excited to return in two weeks.

you couldn't sound like a self-congratulatory borgeois asshole if you tried.



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Monday, November 07, 2005

weekend (wēk'ĕnd')

[apologies in advance to the high sugar content of the following post]

What a beautiful one it was. A total reaffirmation of how lucky I am to live my life with the people and circumstances I get to enjoy. Tender moments of caring affection and the gift of trust.

Jameel came back to Montreal for the first time since he started working in Ottawa. This past week was pretty packed with school stuff, Eid celebrating, and anticipation for Friday 7 pm. Tonight we had dinner with Faiz, Rachel, Connor and Kathryn, warmed by the hominess of Jardin de Cari in Mile End, good conversation and of course, hot sauce on phenomenal rotis. After two years of being used to Jameel's presence in this city it was strange to part ways after only two days. But my perma grin remains.

We're luxurious like Egyptian cotton
We're so rich in love...*

*Lyrics from "Luxurious" (Gwen Stefani)... with thanks (for her tacky song), the Thievery Corporation, and 1507





joyeux anniversaire... and talk to you soon, we need to tsismiss (you have to tell me how to spell that one, by the way).

hehehe. aaahh. hapiness.


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tsmis - i think that's how it's spelled. and yes, we must do that sometime soon.




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My sentiments echo those of Steph, except for the tsmis part (lest I figure out what it means). Egyptian cotton and rangoon rains, yaar!


i can remember a time when i liked gwen. *sigh*

at any rate, i'm jonesing for some zhazh and roti (and/or zhazha and poutine)



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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Whitey Don't Like You

I've been dying to write about race issues here for some time--- there are so many little anecdotes just waiting to be told. In the mean time, here is something to feed your inner Fanon. Now, I must get back to my Gender and the Middle East literature review.

Rosa Parks (In Memory Of)
In December 1955, she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. Her act of civil disobedience would ignite the civil rights movement with the 381-day bus boycott by blacks, and it continues to serve as a great example to those who wish to fight racism-- and yet, I still feel as though I know so little about her. Rosa Parks died on Monday October 24th. She was 92.

The Village Voice recently published this article, reflecting on the relevance of boycott tactics on Ms. Parks' passing. An excerpt:

Thanks to the Daily News' beyond-fabulous sepia-tone mug-shot memorial cover, Parks, the bespectacled seamstress–NAACP activist of 1955, is now officially a Thug Immortal, the original ride-or-die chick. So gangsta, so About The Black, she moved all the way to roughneck Detroit as Montgomery fast turned life-threatening. The News' cover choice has upset some in the cult-nat ranks, but I applaud it lest we forget the freedom road is paved with jailed revolutionaries and that liberation rhymes with incarceration when not death. Tain't but a hop, skip, and a jump from Parks to Angela and Assata on the FBI Most Wanted lists. And unlike the women of the Weather Underground who had to blow some shit up to get there, all these Black women had to do to register as threats to kracka supremacy was to make a federal case out of saying No.


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