Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Just what ARE you feeding your head with?

Here you see a row of books upon my mantle. I decided to list out what the egyptian and I prefer to read.

(I actually got a question from this pic.. this person asked... I quote, "What in the hell do you read?"

Well, dear sir... here you go - from left to right:

Victor Hugo - Three Novel collections

DH Lawrence - Three Novel collections

Leo Tolstoy - Anna Karenina

Dante's Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso

John Milton's Paradise Lost

Jefferon's Letters

Bio of Hitler

A General History of Pirates

Margaret George - Helen of Troy

Sena Jeter Naslund - Abundance

John Berendt - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Coffey - Savannah Lore and More

Philosophy text book

Anne Rice - Out of Egypt andChrist the Lord

Literature text Book (fiction, poetry, drama and essay)

La ta'che du petit pierre

The Idylls of the King

Darwin's Origin of Species

The Best Known Works of Nathanial Hawthorne

Selected Writings of Thomas Paine

Italian grammar

Thomas Bailey Aldrich - The Sister's Tragedy

The Little Book of Great Lines From Shakespeare

Bio of Ignatius of Loyola

Bio of St Francis of Assisi

Gone With The Wind

Growing Up In the South - and anthology of southern writers

Arabian Nights

The Literature of England (textbook)

Collection of Jane Austen

Amen - Prayers and Blessings Around the World

Johnathon Livingston Seagull

Collection of Short Stories by William Faulkner

Collection of Poems by William Bulter Yeats

Journey into Darkness - New Orleans Ghosts and Vampires

A Book of Classic Love Poetry

Spiritual Classics (collection of essay's by top Christian writers of all time)

Shel Silverstein's - Where the Sidewalk Ends

The Literary Life (trivia about literature)

Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Qu'ran

4 other books written in arabic (sorry, Yass is asleep.)

These are the books sandwiched between an eiffel tower clock and a wood-carved King Tut.

Yes, there are several more bookshelves in the house, but this one holds just a few of our favorite books. ;-)

Making Plans

I feel a bit like Alice over there. Sometimes the world is upside down and confusing.

Sometimes I make the wrong decisions and I find myself spiraling out of control.

But my plan is to end all of the confusion and bad decisions.

2010 holds new promises. New plans. New hopes and dreams. I think we all agree, we like a new start. Since most of us do not get to experience a new day at school, we cling to January 1st like we used to cling to our little back backs and pencil cases.

Look at the newborn baby. Innocent, clean slate. We want to be re-born into a better life.

Even redecorating, rearranging - anything that starts with "re" - means fresh, new, a different path.

I think we all need a little inspiration to get this new year going. This year I have mantra - I hope it provides some inspiration for you also!

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference...

~Robert Frost

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No more camels in your future!

What a fabulous vacation this is turning out to be. Yes - I am still sporting a little cold. Yes - my make up and meds are somewhere on a UPS truck as we speak. Yes - it is freezing cold outside.
But it is QUIET. Our home is peaceful. My egyptian and I are perfectly content with one another. THIS is what we were waiting for. That moment, in every new marriage - where you can just sit still and know - you are settled.
The pièce de résistance - last night as the egyptian and I were checking the mail, we discovered a letter from the United States Immigration Department (Department of State.) ***drum roll please**** The battle was won - my little arab is officially a United States Permanent Resident!!!!! Yes, yes, yes.. we reached that moment. He and I were laughing, it was just this time last year we were in the administrative processing with the Department of Homeland security - 9 different security clearances he had to pass. I am thrilled to say we made it!!
You can almost feel the weight of stress lift. Now my egyptian can get a good job, drive, get items in his name - his life can begin now.
Yes, .. it is done. :-)
PS - I did not use an attorney this time - I did the paperwork. LOL Perhaps I should have entered immigration law. ahhahaaha.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Finding our happy place

2010 is fast approaching. As many of you out there, I have BIG hopes for this year. I want to believe in my heart of hearts this will be "our year." The egyptian and I have been thru so much the past three years to get to this more settled point.

If I am perfectly honest with my self - it has been a tough 10 years.

To an outsider - all is good and truly I am whining more than I should. I am beyond blessed with successes and friendships, travels and accolades than most people I know.

But for each person their trials and tribulations are their own and their burdens heavy.

Ten years ago I was married to a completely different person. I had just left television working in my original "chosen" field. I left not because I was finished with the business (though this is what I kept telling myself) - I left because I wanted to get married and I needed to make more money to create the life that I had envisioned for myself. If I had been honest with myself at the time, I would have seen that the man I was about to marry would never hold down a job - and giving up my dreams to make a better life for us would only pull me further away from my dreams.

I entered into a world of loneliness and distress. I was married to a man with chemical dependencies that I was not aware of before we got married. He had a wandering eye and a co-dependent/enabling mother. I had to make the best of my situation - so I threw myself into other activities: Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Exchange Student hosting, and get this - gardening.

Some positives come out of that situation - I forced myself to create a life designed to protect me. I surrounded myself with fascinating people from all around the world. I hosted 14 exchange students and learned what a peaceful home and family should look like. I came to terms with my own short comings, and battled one scary issue with my health after another. I made hard decisions and dealt with people at work who only saw a young girl - not a professional woman directing their volunteer efforts. I taught myself Public Relations - since I was originally a broadcast journalism major. I worked hard for my new non-profit and succeeded beyond my wildest expectations.

As I approached 30, my weight reached it highest and I ended up having to make a very hard decision - I had to have a hysterectomy. In the end - this decision saved my life. A year or two later, and my husbands inability to hold down his 10th job in 7 0r so years, pushed him to search outside of the state for a job. I still remember him calling me from Birmingham- giving me an ultimatum - either come or divorce. Not that he really wanted me with him, but the thought of failing publicly-alone-in my hometown was too much. I went. I dragged my two exchange students with me. I left my career, my friends, my family, everything familiar. My beautiful home and garden. I left my dogs, one of my cats, and I tried - oh how I tried to make the best of it.

One week after arrival - I ended up in the hospital with meningitis. Stayed there for a very long time, poked and prodded. I did not have a job. Could not find one in my field. I sat alone, in a city with no friends, very sick, away from all things familiar with a man who did not love me.

Eventually - for whatever reason - I ended up taking the first "job" that was offered. Sad little retail job that hardly paid 300$ a week. It was something to do, and I did get free cosmetics! (I worked for Clinique.) While there I had to suffer through one more round of treatment for some issues - had to use a topical chemo treatment for my previous condition. One of my exchange students left our home - no surprise there. I tried my best to build a life in Bham - it was just too much. All I could think was how could I get out of this hell.

Finally - on vacation (July), my husband and I had a talk. I got the strength to tell him I was done. But I would stick it out for one year to see if anything changed. Needless to say - nothing did, it even got worse.

By November I made a wonderful friend from Egypt. We had so much in common and talked daily. Another miracle happened - I got a job back in my field. I was establishing REAL friendships at work. It seemed my life was maybe.. just maybe turning around.

On New Year's Eve - my husband asked for a divorce.

By Feb I was living on my own. Again. My friendship developed with my friend from Egypt - and by that November, I was madly in love with my egyptian and I traveled to Alexandria and we got engaged. Yes, it was fast - but it was RIGHT. I knew it in my bones. My job felt right. I stopped hosting students, so I could work on me. It was my time.

I battled immigration and K-1 Visa's and long distance calls. I tried to pick up the financial pieces after being left with a hail-storm of bills my ex created. I ended up with meningitis one more time. My blood pressure reached new heights. My job reached a critical low. My finances reached a critical low (with paying for international immigration.)

Finally in May of 09 - there seemed to be some sort of a light at the end of the tunnel. My egyptian arrived. We got married. We had an amazing party. We are slowly building. Finances are slowly returning to normal - health is improving - job is improving - friendships are strong - most importantly we have each other.

We have been going through an adjustment period - and I think we both feel like we have a plan. That is good. That is necessary.

With that being said - I hope in my heart of hearts, that 2010 is our year.

Only God knows what the future holds.. and as Yasser says - Inshallah - we will move to the next chapter with ease and grace.

Friday, December 25, 2009

I know, I know.. it's been awhile.

The appropriate beginning to this blog would be to apologize for my abscense. With that, I will begin with a feeble attempt. I am sorry for my abscense.

It is Christmas Day - technically the biggest holiday in my religious calendar. (Custom & Tradition wise.)

I am sitting at my parent's home with a keyboard that apparently sticks. I find myself hitting the back space just to put a letter in here and there.

I have absolutely no inspiration for writing today. I do have many reasons why:

1. I have a cold that my niece picked up off a nasty playground last week. She then tranferred the germs to my egyptian who apparently passed it on to my sister, and now I have my second cold of cooler months. Blah. I keep popping my off brand benadryl and sleeping the days away/

2. I am worried about all of the work I have waiting for me in another week. BIG time - BIG stuff.

3. I have to drive 4 hours to get home tomorrow. I am sure the whole way my signifigant other will nit-pick how much money we spent.. blah. blah.. blah

4. Christmas has not been the same since 1989 or so. That's when my Granny died.

5. Went to midnight mass with an unbeliever - and somehow they can just suck the joy out of life.

6. Recently discovered that a majority of my friends are all agnostic. Not sure how I feel about that.

7. I am not thrilled with my new hair cut.

8. I am definitely not thrilled about my weight.

9. I need some freaking hobbies.

10. Maybe I need xanax.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The one thing that can truly put you in the Christmas spirit is a GREAT Christmas song.

I am listing my absolute favorite songs!!

What are yours?

These are in order of my favorite!!











Finally -

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My plea to Santa

Dear Santa,

*scratching of throat*

Uh.. hey there! Yep, It's me. Nicole.
I guess this is where I am supposed to tell you what a really good girl I have been this year. *blush* The truth is - I think I have definitely improved over the year.

This time last year I was begging for you to deliver my egyptian to me. But, alas - I spent Christmas without the love of my life - separated by the big blue ocean.

Patience. Patience is what you delivered. I have grown to become a very patient person - except when driving. I promise I am working on that.

Last year I was worried about so many things. Waiting... Wishing.. Hoping. I was just walking along and trying to make ends meet (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.)

Luckily, this year is a little different! I have a few more "simple" wants and needs.

If you think I have earned these items, I will be "patiently" (my new skill) awaiting by the Christmas Tree.

1. Positive Attitude. Seriously - new personality trait I am desperately trying to maintain.

2. I need a new straightener. Seriously.

3. Could you send me a new bottle of Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel? It is necessary for my good mood.

4. Movers. I am going to need movers in January - could you just supply them free of charge?

5. I would like a purple scarf.

6. Coffee. Lots and Lots of coffee.

7. A new couch. My dear Vampire Cat (no longer lives here) ripped my beautiful leather couch. I need something JUST AS COMFORTABLE.. and nice.

8. New HDTV. DVD player. Bose home entertainment sound system.

9. Sims 3. Yeah - it's time to graduate to a new game.

10. Finally - let's get me back into Dance classes.

Thank you Santa. You're the best.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Each of us encounters many disappointments in our lives. We experience it head-on, then we some how pick ourselves back up. We ride this wave of discontent over and over, like a vicious roller coaster.

What is your number one disappointment?

I think for me - people. In general.

I realize that's a little harsh, but it is true. I am sure I have greatly disappointed someone in my life. I can name a few people on one hand that I am sure I have let down in one way or another.

One of my biggest disappointments has been the inability to motivate myself when it comes to exercise. Here's the catch - I LOVE to exercise. I think there is some little demon just sitting on my shoulder and it induces a lazy haze over my day.

Another great disappointment is the inability to make someone happy. That's a hard one. You can try everything, but in the end you will wear yourself out and no one is happy in the end.

I thought I would make a small list of little items that disappoint me:

1. Rain at the beach
2. Car trouble
3. People with a bad attitude .. when you feel good.
4. Nothing good on tv
5. sickness
6. Insomnia
7. Toothaches
8. Discrepancies in the bank account balance
9. When some takes credit for something you did
10. A bad meal at a restaurant.

Or even worse - paying for a play or movie... and it was horrible!

Enough of that...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This or That - Would you agree?

Want to get to know me better? Want to know what I would choose? Here you go:

chicken or steak? Steak - though I am saying no to meat these days. But the smell of a juicy steak grilling is amazing.

cream cheese or cottage cheese? cream cheese is yummy

lima beans or kidney beans? Lima beans with a dash of pepper and a splash of vinegar

rice or potatoes? Potatoes!!

tomatoes or green peppers? Green Peppers - but not so much.

salt or pepper? pepper - I like a little spice.

zesty cheese dorittos or nacho cheese dorittos? Zesty!!!

white bread or wheat bread? White - without the crust. But no, it is not good for me, I know.

spahgetti or lasagna? Spaghetti

gum or lollipops? Lollipops

ice cream or frozen yogurt? Ice cream

popsicles or ice cream? ice cream

wings or ribs? WINGS

beer or wine? Wine

beer or cocktails? Cocktails

wine or champagne? champagne

spahgetti or angel hair? angel hair

sausages or bacon? bacon - but I have given up meat - and pork.

scrambled eggs or fried eggs? scrambled

swiss cheese or cheddar cheese? cheddar

regular yogurt or frozen yogurt? regular- plain - greek style

Trident or Excel? Trident

hot cereal or cold cereal? hot cereal

grapes or cherries? grapes - frozen

apples or oranges? apples

bananas or apples? bananas

lemons or limes? limes

carrots or celery? celery

regular cheerios or honey nut cheerios? honey nut

frosted flakes or corn flakes? frosted

coke or pepsi? hmmm... tight competition

7up or sprite? 7up

root beer or dr.pepper? dr. pepper

dairy queen or baskin robbins? dairy queen - I am old school

pig meat or cow meat? neither.. got to let it go.. got to let it go.. (my new mantra)

potatoes or sweet potatoes? regular

Mars bars or Snickers bars? neither.. yuck

watermelon or cantalope? watermelon

cantalope or honeydew? cantalope

mangoes or starfruit? neither

white milk or chocolate milk? neither

coffee or tea? coffee

milk in your coffee or cream in your coffee? cream

cappucino or coffee? cappuncino

alcoholic drinks or non-alcoholic drinks? either or.

honeycomb or alphabits? honeycomb.. wow.. miss that stuff

popsicles or freezies? popsicles

chips ahoy or oreo? chips ahoy

oreo or fudgeeo? oreo

turkey or chicken? chicken - but not a lot.. again.. saying goodbye

romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce? romaine

broccoli or brussel sprouts? neither

stuffing or cranberry sauce? sauce

egg nog or cider? egg nog

cake or pie? pie

cheesecake or chocolate cake? cheese cake

pizza or garlic fingers? pizza

pizza pockets or pizza? pizza

regular pizza or dessert pizza? regular

sundae or blizzard? sundae

mcdonalds or burger king? mickey d's

kfc or wendys? NEITHER.

mcdonalds or taco bell? Taco bell

sweet n sour sauce or barbeque sauce? BBQ

subs or tacos? tacos

fruit loops or fruity cheerios? fruit loops

juice or kool-aid? juice

mild cheddar or old cheddar? old

water or milk? water

pop or juice? pop

pomegranate or papaya? pomegranate

soup or stew? stew

white rice or brown rice? neither

granola bars or chocolate bars? granola

fruit by the foot or dunkaroos? neither

peas or carrots? peas

peppermint or spearmint? peppermint

milkshakes or smoothies? milkshakes

pink popsicles or purple popsicles? purple

barq's root beer or a&w root beer? NONE

apple pie or pumpkin pie? Punkin

cherry pie or blueberry pie? blueberry

coconut cream pie or banana cream pie? banana cream

jello or pudding? pudding

chocolate pudding or vanilla pudding? oh no... umm.. vanilla

plain chips or salt n vinegar chips? salt n vinegar

onion chip dip or dill pickle chip dip? dill pickle

chocolate sauce or butterscotch sauce? butterscotch

fruity flavors or chocolate flavors? chocolate

brocolli or cauliflower? cauliflower

fruits or veggies? veggies

pancakes or waffles? pancakes

regular toast or french toast? feench toast

jam or peanut butter? PB

honey or maple syrup? honey

chicken noodle or vegetable soup? veggie

cream of chicken soup or cream of mushroom soup? neither

pop tarts or toaster strudels? strudel

grape kool aid or orange kool aid? grape

ketchup or mustard? mustard

mustard or relish? mustard

mayonnaise or miracle whip? NEITHER

hamburger or cheeseburger? cheese

hamburger or hot dog? hot dog

skittles or m&m's? m & Ms

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Too busy to write

I have been one busy girl these days. Unfortunately, writing has not been one of my priorities. Sorry guys!

There is a 3 year old in my home. My niece. She has taken almost all of my attention - besides a new book I read. It was called "Leaves of Hope" and was Christian Fiction. It was okay. It was about a girl from Tyler, Texas - who comes home from her "big city" job in NYC to see her widowed mother to find a HUGE family secret. It takes her across the world to Africa, India and England. Falls in love, finds the "truth" and loose ends tied.

Quick read. Light Hearted.

I am reading another vacation "light read" - Savannah Breeze. A silly book about a 3-times divorcee who falls for the wrong guy and opens a cheap motel on Tybee. Oh yeah - light, light, holiday read.

Next thing to think about - New Year - New Beginnings.

Have you began thinking of these things yet? I am slowly doing so. Work. Personal. Physical. Spiritual. I have some thinking to do. Some changes to make - or rather - some improvements.

Speaking of improvements. I am watching some hideous true-life reality-docu on MTV about the Jersey Shore. Can I say one thing about these girls and guys - GAUDY. Vulgar. Tacky. Yuck. Sorry. Yet - another show proving how tacky this area is - to me.

Okay, I am just babbling.. trying to catch you up while I am on vacay.

I will get serious again, for now - I just want to babble.

Until next time..

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I guess I need to list my "Thankful" items

I feel like I HAVE to list the items I am Thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day.
To perfectly honest, it has been one helluva year.

I did a photo montage of the good days. I take my little red digi cam with me everywhere. So I DO capture the moments that make me happy.

Those moments are always good.

Okay. With all of the trials and tribulations Yass and I have gone thru this year with immigration and $$$ and jobs and what not - here is a list of the things I can truly be thankful for.. (let me dig deep down...)

1.Each other. Yass and I are finally back in the same country together.

2. A fabulous and fun wedding reception party - Arabian Nights. And more important - it was not ME who fell this time at a party. lol

3. My purple flats are wonderful.

4. I now know how to make tahina. The Secret is out!

5. I still have a very cool job.

6. I bought my little bug this year. Always wanted one.

7. I found a Christmas Tree for $20.

8. Finally found my "natural" hair color.

9. Broke my addiction to guacamole.

10. I managed to "quit" all of my extra-curricular activities that took away from me lounging on the couch. Now I can truly practice laziness.


Happy Thanksgiving. *bah humbug*

Friday, November 20, 2009

Home - But Not Home - Yet it IS Home.

I am BACK! Sorry for the delay in writing.

Let's see - I left off on Tuesday - and yes, I survived the visit to the cardiologist. Yass DID go with me, but as luck would have it - they did not allow him in the first exam room (where the EKG takes place.) So my silly little fears were put to rest. LOL

EKG - Beautiful. Tumor? Nope. Next steps - Sleep Disorder Study. Oh yes.. my little twisted readers, I just might have sleep apnea which could be contributing to my higher bp readings in the a.m. LOVELY.

The D-O-C prescribed swimming. Yep. I guess once I get thru a few things, that will be the next item on my to-do list.

Weight - doing good!

Diet? Blew it at my parent's home. Oh yes.... I traveled home for a Thanksgiving feast (a week early) and ate soooo many mashed potatoes with GRAVY and I drank several caffeinated beverages and had pie.

Bad Bad Bad.

But I am home, and back to normal.
Speaking of home.. this is home now. My reality. It is official. I don't even recognize my life in the land before the present.


Yes - the big Green Card interview took place. Waited 2 hours for our BIG 10 minutes interview.

Question - Show me your ids.


Raise your right hand - Do you swear to tell the truth.. blah blah blah..


Yasser - are you a terrorist, worked as a prostitute or ever a member of the communist party?


How did you meet?

this that the other

Who is this in the picture?
My dad

Okay - We need your vaccinations. It says you never had any.

How could I get into the country without them? Blah Blah Blah.

We do not have your records

Here is the certified copy from the Ministry of Health from Egypt turned into the embassy so I could ENTER the country.

Not acceptable.
Here's a new form. You have until December 18th.

What next?

You are approved pending receipt of Vaccinations. Expect Green Card in 4 - 6 weeks after you send your records.


Yes. That was it.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I am just too shy.

Today I have my follow up cardiology appointment at 3pm. Yasser has agreed to go with me. BIG change for him. He seems to disconnect when something "scary" is happening.

What concerns me today - and don't laugh - but one of the first things I have to do is take my clothes off for an EKG. Now.. should not be a big deal - but when you are under florescent lights - laying there in your undies is not my idea of a great date with my hubby.

Yes people - I am very shy when it comes to nudity or showing skin of any kind. Always have been. I know this is very personal - but I am dreading it.

I gave Yass the option to not come. But he said he really wanted to. He is showing support and how can I deny that? But seeing me lay there getting an EKG is EMBARRASSING.

I do get to put my shirt and pants back on when I head into the consultation room. But - the doc will ask me to lower my pants so he can check my pulse in thighs. AGAIN - not something I am looking forward to.

It's funny how something like this has overshadowed everything else in my day... like whether or not I have a tumor on my adrenal gland. ;-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lifestyle changes are T-O-U-G-H

I have made it one month on this total lifestyle change.

I have to pause for a minute.


H-A-R-D. T-O-U-G-H. But I have made it one month and I have to announce, I feel awesome!!

If you are not aware of what I am doing, I am trying to create a new, healthier lifestyle that will keep me around a really long time. ;-)

It all began with me 1. wanting to get my blood pressure back in order 2. get back that body I used to sport. lol

I found a few ways that work for me, and I am happy to report - I have dropped one pants size in one month. No, I have not weighed myself, but I went shopping for a new pair of jeans - and it was painfully obvious, time to go down one size. WOO Hoo!

Here are some of the things I have done:
1. Drinking only water and sometimes hot tea. (I allow myself one soda a week.) The truth is, I have slipped up a few times and grabbed a double espresso - but it was only 2 x in one month. Much better than every day!

2. Completely cut meat out. The diet my cardiologist put me on is a Mediterranean diet. Red meat only once a month. Chicken maybe once a week. Fish often. But for me - I decided to cut it all out. I don't like fish, I am not a big fan of chicken, and red meat and pork are no nos... sooo. Also. ... Yes yes.. here it comes ... I am moving a bit more to the animal activist side.. sloooow process. (I am sitting on a leather couch. But I really feel bad about it. :-( )

3. I am eating more middle eastern foods and dishes. High fiber, high in Omega 3 fatty acids and definitely tasty.

4. Using spices instead of salty seasonings.

5. Cut out fried foods. Yes, I have slipped up about 4 times in the month. But what an improvement!!!

6. Obviously exercise - I am not doing as well in this area. But I have been super sick most of the month. Now that I am better, imagine the improvements!!!!

So - I wanted to share, but I also wanted to admit it has not been easy. I miss my potato chips and dip (which I have NOT had all month.) Hard, Hard, Hard.

But I am trying... I am trying..

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Who knew I would ever have to defend??

For the past week or so, people I know have stopped me to ask me how Yasser was dealing with the incident that happened at Fort Hood. This question is a valid one, and since most people I know in America do not know any muslims, I figure this is their way to get a personal view into what "other muslims" think.

Let me begin with - he is completely disgusted by the act of this man. No one finds sniper behavior or the killing of innocent people okay. Not in any religion.

For some of my friends and family in Egypt - if you are not aware - there was a horrific incident on a military base in Texas. Fort Hood is the largest U.S. military base - home to more than 53,000 active duty soldiers, many of whom have served multiple times in Iraq and Afghanistan. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a major concern there as at any base.

The suspect, identified as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, opened fire at a military processing center at Fort Hood . Hasan, 39, is a graduate of Virginia Tech and a psychiatrist licensed in Virginia who was practicing at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, according to military and professional records. Previously, he worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

A federal official said Hasan is a U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent. Military documents show that Hasan was born in Virginia and was never deployed outside the United States.

In the end, the shooting rampage at Ft. Hood came down to a gunfight between two civilian base police officers toting standard sidearms and a 39-year-old psychiatrist armed with .357 Magnum and a pistol equipped with laser sighting and extra bullets, officials said.

Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, disturbed about his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan (not Iraq, contrary to earlier reports), reportedly entered the Soldier Readiness Processing Center just before 1:30 p.m. Thursday. He took a seat at a table. It seemed as if he was there to help soldiers who were undergoing medical exams and finishing paperwork before shipping out to war.

Hasan, who had prayed at his mosque that morning, allegedly mumbled something to himself -- it may have been a prayer -- then jumped up. Witnesses reported that he said: "Allahu akbar," Arabic for "God is great."After that, the blood began to flow.

Thirteen people would die; 38 others were injured. As investigators began their probe into the motivations of the gunman, President Obama urged people Friday to reserve judgment until more is known. Base commander Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said that Hasan remained hospitalized, unconscious and on a ventilator.

In a statement released Thursday, Hasan's cousin, Nader Hasan, said his family is "filled with grief for the families of today's victims."

They also said "Our family loves America. We are proud of our country, and saddened by today's tragedy," the statement said. "Because this situation is still unfolding, we have nothing else that we are able to share with you at this time."

Again - this is horrible. But the one thing I can't stand - is that people are pointing back to the religion.

I remember the days when not to long ago, I would cringe every time I heard that a religious leader molested a child. I would cringe even more when I found out they were a catholic priest. (I am catholic.) Obviously - this is not the norm in the catholic church - nor does any catholic condone this horrific behavior - the same is true for the Islamic religion. No one condones killing innocent people.

I work in Public Relations/Media Relations - and I made a joke that what is needed here is a good PR blitz to show the "happier, loving" side of this religious group.

And that is what I wanted to share. Look - I am not saying I agree with some of the things listed in the Qu'ran. No. What I am saying is, as a woman who is married to an arabic speaking, mosque praying muslim - THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT BAD.

To sound like a country person - There is crazy everywhere. And there is. As a society - we like to pin the crazy with a label. Let's find one thing that is the most important to this person. If a man is of Jordanian decent - we can guess that he is probably muslim - people of muslim faith are usually quite devout - so let's point the issue in that direction.

There are some scary websites out there that specifically try to vilify Islam. I found one in particular - Jihad watch -if you read this website it would terrify you. Now on the other hand, check out - The Islamic Religion - this website breaks down everything you need to know without showing the "fringe" portion of society.

Looking back at the title of this blog - "Who knew I would ever have to defend?" - it is so true. I never thought this little catholic girl would ever find herself saying.. no no.. that's not what is taught.


If you are thinking about the crazy Taliban group - remember - what is the best way to become a war lord?? Use religion. Thinking about Iraq? This is a territorial dispute around various denominations of muslims. The US is there for our own $$ interests.

I have been to the middle east. I have family and friends who live there. I even hosted an Iraqi exchange student in my home for one year. (Who happened to be a Kurd and very anti-Saddam.)

I just want people to know: our vision of what has happened is not good. Yasser is just as disgusted as the next person. I am disgusted. Though I think this person did what he did because he is not well. Mentally.

I also think what is going on across the sea is nothing more than poor countries getting taken advantage of by a few "screwy" war lords who are nothing more than bullies looking for $$$. It is easy to over take and dominate a group of God fearing, peaceful people.

Educate. Ask questions. Feel remorse. Seek understanding.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I am SUPER DUPER excited to have an official vacation. Yes, yes, yes. What a heck of a year - and I feel like it is finally wrapping up very nicely.

First of all, the recession is lifting. For those of you who are new to this blog - it means that UAB will finally be paid off! I have been ordered to pay a hospital $800 a month for a past bill (meningitis.) This was the last bit of that, and I will now be able to eat again. LOL

Actually I laugh, but it is really not very funny. We struggled really, really bad these past 4 months. All of the extras were gone and it was a blow to my personal economy. This morning was "pay day" and let me tell you what - I am RUNNING to get my eye brows waxed. Tweezing is not my strong point. So now, my little luxury items are returning.

Second, I passed all three health tests. At least I know that my blood work was good, my 48 hour urine analysis was good and my renal doppler showed no stenosis.

I have not heard about the tumor on the adrenal gland, so I am waiting.

I have another appointment with the cardiologist on Tuesday. I am looking forward to seeing if any changes have taken place. I have been eating VERY well. I did not exercise as much as I would have liked. But, I did make some progress. I am encouraged to think that I can join a gym for December. I think this is the next step.

As for work - a MAJOR turn around. I was given more responsibility and they are praising me. WHAT?? I keep hearing - "This is the Nicole I remember" - etc. Soo.. when I succeed, ooh this is Nicole - when we have challenges - what's going on? I have one answer - the freaking economy folks. Whatever - I am going to ride this one out and enjoy being on top for a while.

I am soooooooooooooooooooo excited about my niece and sister coming to spend Thanksgiving with me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! First of all, after my cardiologist appointment, I will pick up Yasser and drive straight to Georgia to my parent's home. We will see our family and relax with them. I have not seen them since August 8th.

Wednesday morning we have our Immigration - Green Card interview. We will knock that one out easily. Then we will head back to my parent's home and enjoy an early Thanksgiving dinner. We have all day Thursday with my family - then Friday morning we are heading back to Birmingham. We hope to bring Heather & Autumn back with us and they are staying for a week or two or maybe more!! :-)

I am sure I will have so many excellent stories and pictures from their visit!

I get Wednesday - Sun - then the whole next week off for Thanksgiving. Woo hoo!!


Monday, November 9, 2009

I support a Public Option for Health Care.

Get mad and get ready to respond if you must, but I am in favor of a public option. I have some very personal reasons why I support this, and I felt the need to share them.

Unfortunately, I do not have the energy to research 100% what all I would need to share in order to help you understand this. Back in the day, working in television - I am sure I would have spent hours reading document after document (trying to make sense of it all.) Working for the American Heart Association and seeing our official stance definitely helps makes things a little more clear.

Aside from all of the political mumbo jumbo - here is why I, Nicole Abdou, supports a public option. (Notice I said OPTION.)

I want to tell you a story that is going on right now. I debated whether to use this person's name or not - so to ere on the side of caution - I decide to call her Jane.

Jane is 25. She is a very close friend. Rarely sick, works hard - heck, usually works more than one job, pays her taxes, votes, and takes care of her finances alone. Jane works for a small magazine in advertising. She has this full time job, and works as a nanny on the side. Jane's company has less than 20 people, so insurance is not an option thru her work. Jane tried to get insurance through several different companies (individual plans) but was denied due to being a few pounds over the actual weight limit. (This is common now, with so many companies laying off, and people searching for insurance - the criteria for individual insurance has gotten very strict.) Let's say you weigh 20 pounds more than you should. Heck, most people do. That would disqualify you from insurance without some form of an open enrollment.

Jane has been having some stomach issues for the past two or three months. Lots of acid reflux, so she changed her diet and began taking a little purple pill or even other OTC items. Did not help. Suddenly Jane begins to get very ill after she eats - no matter what she eats.

Jane decides she must go to the doctor. But going without insurance is too risky. She found another company (maybe not as good as some of her first choices) and she finally gets approved for insurance. Her insurance does not kick in until the first week in December.

This past week, Jane has been violently vomiting after every meal. Foam, blood, bile are all that is left. Finally, after laying on her bathroom floor for hours, she begs her room mate to drive her to the ER. There, she finds that she must pay $200 up front and then they would proceed.
After hours of tests, a mass of stones were found in her gall bladder. More tests are needed before she can have it removed, and these tests are not available until Monday. Because Jane does not have insurance, she is discharged from the hospital and sent home with some meds to sleep it off until Monday.

Jane goes to the GI doctor on Monday only to discover that she will have to return on Wednesday. She has yet to eat, is still violently vomiting, and has a slight fever. Over and over in the doctor's office they tell her how expensive this will be.

Jane doesn't have a choice. She can't eat, she is very ill, and her gall bladder could burst. She is not getting the proper testing and her needs are not being met in a timely manner - why? No insurance.

Circle back to me. Yes me. I have insurance, damn good insurance. When I first moved to Birmingham (in 2005) I got really sick. Literally - 4 days after moving here. I ended up with meningitis. I was admitted to the hospital on a Saturday. I moved here the Sunday before. Because my insurance was still out of Georgia - it was considered out of network. After numerous tests and drugs to keep me alive, I ended up with a $35,000 hospital bill - all but a little over $6,000 was covered by my insurance.

The hospital gave me 30 days to make a payment. I was always told - pay something, and they will leave you alone. When I first moved here, I did not have a job. I moved with my husband - who is now an ex-husband- and I was depending on him to support me financially. No payment was made to the hospital. I was turned over to collections. A company would not take less than $400 a month. At this point, I found a job - but was not making what I needed to cover my basic bills. I tried to negotiate with the collections company, but nothing worked. I even sent a $50 check, and they took it, but said it was not enough.

About 3 months later I was sued. Just recently, it finally made it to court. Luckily, I make a significant amount more than I did when I first moved here. I am working back in my field. But this bill remained. The court ordered me to make payments to the company. I offered $150 a month, it was denied. I was sent into garnishment of $800 a month from my paycheck. Yes - $800 a month. These past three months were hard for us. Yasser cannot work due to immigration laws (yet), and I am doing everything I can. We are still holding our head above water, but it has not been easy.

Too many times average, tax-paying, hard working (and even insured) citizens are getting jerked around. My friend Jane and I are not the picture of what many people think their tax dollars would be paying for. More so for my friend - we need an option. For me, we need to make the insurance companies become a little more competitive and offer better coverage. We need lower costs for health care.

Here are the facts (as I see it):

1.The number of uninsured citizens has grown to over 45 million (although this number includes illegal immigrants, etc.).
Since health care premiums continue to grow at several times the rate of inflation, many businesses are simply choosing to not offer a health plan, or if they do, to pass on more of the cost to employees. Employees facing higher costs themselves are often choosing to go without health coverage.

No health insurance doesn't necessarily mean no health care since there are many clinics and services that are free to indigent individuals. However, any costs not covered by insurance must be absorbed by all the rest of us, which means even higher premiums. In all fairness, the 45 million uninsured number has been called into question since in includes illegal immigrants, people making over $75K who choose not to buy coverage, and others who have options for coverage but choose not to get it. The true number of people without options is closer to 15 million.

2. Health care has become increasingly unaffordable for businesses and individuals.

Businesses and individuals that choose to keep their health plans still must pay a much higher amount. Remember, businesses only have a certain amount of money they can spend on labor. If they must spend more on health insurance premiums, they will have less money to spend on raises, new hires, investment, and so on.

Individuals who must pay more for premiums have less money to spend on rent, food, and consumer goods; in other words, less money is pumped back into the economy. Thus, health care prevents the country from making a robust economic recovery. A simpler government-controlled system that reduces costs would go a long way in helping that recovery.

3. We can eliminate wasteful inefficiencies such as duplicate paper work, claim approval, insurance submission, etc.

Think back to all the times in your life you've had to fill out a medical history, answering the same questions over and over. Think about all the insurance paperwork you've had to fill out and submit.

Our current health care system generates an enormous amount of overhead. Every time we go to the doctor, a claim must be submitted, an approval department has to go over the claim, checks have to be mailed, patients are sent co-pay bills, and so on.

The thing that's especially wasteful is that each doctor's office usually maintains their own record-keeping system. A universal health care plan would allow us to build one centralized system. There would be no need for maintaining insurance information or wasting time submitting claims. The work savings in the banking and postal areas alone would be worth billions every year.

4. We can develop a centralized national database which makes diagnosis and treatment easier for doctors.

Most doctor's offices maintain a separate record-keeping system. This is why you always have to fill out a lengthy health history whenever you go to a new physician. This is a problem for several reasons.

First of all, it's wasteful of both time and money. Second of all, patients may lie, forget, or do a poor job of explaining past medical problems. Doctors need accurate information to make a proper diagnosis.

Last of all, separate systems means we have a tougher time analyzing data at a national level.

For example, are incidents of a certain disease dropping? How often is a certain illness associated with a specific set of symptoms? A centralized national system would allow us to do data analysis that we never dreamed possible, leading to medical advances and increased diagnosis efficiency. The main argument against a centralized database is that certain insurance providers may deny coverage if they find certain past medical problems. However, if the government is paying for everything, that should never be a problem.

5. Medical professionals can concentrate on healing the patient rather than on insurance procedures, malpractice liability, etc.

Doctors have to take classes now simply to understand all the insurance plans out there; they are often restricted by insurance practices, such as what tests can be ordered. Doctors must practice defensive medicine to avoid getting sued. Some physicians are even leaving the profession rather than deal with all these non-medical headaches.

A simplified universal health system would allow doctors, nurses, and other medical professions to simply focus on doing what's best for the patient. Medicine is a complex enough subject as it is. Our current system just adds to an already mentally-draining profession.

6. Free medical services would encourage patients to practice preventive medicine and inquire about problems early when treatment will be light; currently, patients often avoid physicals and other preventive measures because of the costs.

Because many people are uninsured and those that do have insurance face high deductibles, Americans often forego doctor visits for minor health problems or for preventive medicine.

Thus, health problems that could be caught at an early stage or prevented altogether become major illnesses. Things like routine physicals, mammograms, and HIV tests could prevent major problems. This not only affects the health of the patient but the overall cost of the system, since preventive medicine costs only a small fraction of a full blown disease. A government-provided system would remove the disincentive patients have for visiting a medical professional.

7. Patients with pre-existing conditions can still get health coverage.

One of the biggest weaknesses of our current health care systems is that patients with a past or current medical condition such as cancer or asthma often cannot obtain affordable health coverage. Some insurance companies won't even give a policy to such individuals, or if they do, they will cover everything BUT their past diagnosed conditions.

Anyone with an expensive illness or disease must then often face one of two choices: use up all their own money, or leave the condition untreated.

In a universal system, no one with a pre-existing condition would be denied coverage. People could change jobs without fearing the loss of health insurance.

Now I do see problems that could arise... please note there are many "kinks to work out.
Here is what I see as an issue:

1. There isn't a single government agency or division that runs efficiently; do we really want an organization that developed the U.S. Tax Code handling something as complex as health care?

Quick, try to think of one government office that runs efficiently. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The Department of Transportation? Social Security Administration? Department of Education?

There isn't a single government office that squeezes efficiency out of every dollar the way the private sector can.

We've all heard stories of government waste such as million-dollar cow flatulence studies or the Pentagon's 14 billion dollar Bradley design project that resulted in a transport vehicle which when struck by a mortar produced a gas that killed every man inside.

How about the U.S. income tax system? When originally implemented, it collected 1 percent from the highest income citizens. Look at it today. A few years back to government published a "Tax Simplification Guide", and the guide itself was over 1,000 pages long!

This is what happens when politicians mess with something that should be simple.

Think about the Department of Motor Vehicles. This isn't rocket science--they have to keep track of licenses and basic database information for state residents. However, the costs to support the department are enormous, and when was the last time you went to the DMV and didn't have to stand in line? If it can't handle things this simple, how can we expect the government to handle all the complex nuances of the medical system? If any private business failed year after year to achieve its objectives and satisfy its customers, it would go out of business or be passed up by competitors.

2. "Free" health care isn't really free since we must pay for it with taxes; expenses for health care would have to be paid for with higher taxes or spending cuts in other areas such as defense, education, etc.

There's an entitlement mentality in this country that believes the government should give us a number of benefits such as "free" health care. But the government must pay for this somehow.

3. Government-controlled health care would lead to a decrease in patient flexibility.

At first glance, it would appear universal health care would increase flexibility. After all, if government paid for everything under one plan, you could in theory go to any doctor.

However, some controls are going to have to be put in to keep costs from exploding.

For example, would "elective" surgeries such as breast implants, wart removal, hair restoration, and lasik eye surgery be covered? Then you may say, that's easy, make patients pay for elective surgery. Although some procedures are obviously not needed, who decides what is elective and what is required? What about a breast reduction for back problems? What about a hysterectomy for fibroid problems? What about a nose job to fix a septum problem caused in an accident? Whenever you have government control of something, you have one item added to the equation that will most definitely screw things up--politics. Suddenly, every medical procedure and situation is going to come down to a political battle. The compromises that result will put in controls that limit patient options. The universal system in Canada forces patients to wait over 6 months for a routine pap smear. Canada residents will often go to the U.S. or offer additional money to get their health care needs taken care of.

4. Malpractice lawsuit costs, which are already sky-high, could further explode since universal care may expose the government to legal liability, and the possibility to sue someone with deep pockets usually invites more lawsuits.

When you're dealing with any business, for example a privately-funded hospital, if an employee negligently causes an injury, the employer is ultimately liable in a lawsuit.

If government funds all health care, that would mean the U.S. government, an organization with enormous amounts of cash at its disposal, would be ultimately responsible for the mistakes of health care workers. Whether or not a doctor has made a mistake, he or she is always a target for frivolous lawsuits by money-hungry lawyers & clients that smell deep pockets.

Even if the health care quality is the same as in a government-funded system, the level of lawsuits is likely to increase simply because attorneys know the government has the money to make settlements and massive payouts. Try to imagine potential punitive damages alone. When the government has the ability to spend several trillion dollars per year, how much will a jury be willing to give a wronged individual who is feeble, disfigured, or dying?

5. Patients may be subjected to extremely long waits for treatment. Stories constantly come out of universal health care programs in Britain and Canada about patients forced to wait months or years for treatments that we can currently receive immediately in America. With limited financial and human resources, the government will have to make tough choices about who can treatment first, and who must wait. Patients will like be forced to suffer longer or possibly die waiting for treatment

Of course we could WHAT IF everything until the cows come home. The point is - we need options. I am in favor of a public option. I do not want to put the private insurance companies out of business, but I want there to be an option for those who need it, like my friend Jane.

It is easy to point the fingers and say certain groups of people are expecting "hand outs" - when honestly - unless you have ever been sick, and had life events like the ones I shared above, you cannot understand what it is like to need something. Yes I believe we all deserve the best health care out there. Yes. I do believe it is a right. We are a nation with the best of the best. I also believe in the golden rule - "Do unto others as you would would have then do unto you."

Again - it is just my opinion. But at least I have reasons why I support it. And no, I am not blind to the issues. But I believe the benefits out weigh the negatives. :-)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dark Shadows

I have spent a better part of my night and morning watching "Dark Shadows" on Hulu. This is a 1980's evening soap opera based on a governess who moves to Maine and falls in love with Barnabas, a 200 year old vampire.

Kind of creepy - kind of silly.

All in All , I love it!

I have watched tons of good programs: 30 Days (documentaries), Cracked Not Broken, Dancing with the Stars, Mad Mad House - and a few others. Yes, I found a way to entertain myself for the past 4 months without cable or any form of television.

Boys and girls - recession has lifted. We will have cable installed (with premium channels) on Tuesday. *sigh* feels good. Nice lesson learned. One that involves living on almost 1,000 less a month. Wow. Miracles do happen.

I am back to normal and excited to be able to pay the bills and do more. It's nice. Really nice.

That's all really. I have nothing of interest to share today. I know my writing has been more "reporting out" versus discussion oriented. I am just trying to take it easy, deal with some things and move forward. Yes.. move forward.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm back!

Yes, I am back. Not with a whole lot to say.


I think I have been so sick and tired of being sick and tired, it dried up any imagination I had going on.

But I do have to share one thing - I have an itch for travel again. Well - the itch is always there, but I am sooo ready to board a plane (with passport) and go someplace INTERESTING.

I have not been any place of any significance in a while. I don't count a trip to the beach - because it is sooo normal. I know Yass & I cannot leave the country for a while. That's okay.
We were invited up to Connecticut to spend a long weekend with my friends Kathy & Steven (from the TV days) - they live just a short trek outside of the city (NYC that is.) I think it just might be worth a go. Yass needs to see NYC - and I think the winter would be a perfect time. We could easily pic a weekend near my birthday! What a great way to spend my 37th - in the city and relaxing at a fabo CT home. Which by the way - sincerely is FABO.

That may have to "do" for now. But I am not complaining. :-) Another option - and I think we should try this in the summer, is to head to the LA to see Yass's uncle. He has family out in California, and I think it would be nice to take a visit. Of course, they will try to keep us there!! hahahaa.

Yes- two trips - one in winter and one in spring - one coast to the next. That is what we will shoot for. Finances allowing. Of course - God willing.

Okay - maybe I have satisfied my itch. Maybe.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Turn for the worse

I am not sure what happened between yesterday at lunch and this morning - but I am beginning to feel BAD again.

I was sooo tired last night. Which - that is nothing unusual. I am lethargic between 3 & 7pm . However, I started a new med last night for the BP , so I was a extra tired.

BUT - in the middle of the night I started FREEZING. Straight up, crazy cold. At 5:30am, I decided to take my temperature and yes, I had a fever. YIKES. I took two Tylenol, took a warm bath, wrapped myself up in my thick robe, and proceeded to crash on the couch.

Then - about 7:30 this morning, I woke up sweating profusely. I guess the fever broke, but I still feel sooooo tired.

I know I have been trying to cut out the caffeine, and have done a wonderful job for over 3 weeks, but I think today - I need a pick me up.

I wonder what my body was fighting off last night??? I have been on antibiotics for the past ten days for my sinus infection, and yes - it cleared it up. I wonder if something was left behind, and my body was working on it.

Odd, Odd, Odd.

Okay - enough of that.

Trying to wake up - if only I could see straight. ;-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I am beginning to wonder about how Arab men are raised.


Remember the post where I was complaining about an old co-worker of mine calling her daughter princess all of the time? I think, perhaps, arab men are raised as little princes.

I say this because I am married to a man in love with him self. Truly - madly - deeply in love with himself.

For example, one of my dear friends gave us a photo frame with ten slots for pics. My dear love got prints made - came back and filled the slots. Out of 9 slots - 8 of the pics are of him and two have me in them.


I happened to point it out - and he said - SO?

I definitely live with a DIVO - (male versian of Diva).

This shrine to himself is hanging in our living room.

Lord have mercy.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Renal Dopplers and the Odd sound


Had the Renal Doppler scan this morning. Obviously it is a non-invasive test, but it bothered me just the same.

Thump Thump Thump.. or more like.. Thwomp Thwomp.. the sound of my heart beating and pushing the blood to and fro in my kidneys. WEIRD.

The sound of a heart beat always freaks me out.

I had to hold my breathe a lot. Then listen to the swooshing sound of the blood. Again - not fun.

They spent a lot of time on the right kidney. I had to hold my breathe quite a bit on that side.
Then on the left kidney, you could clearly hear how much harder the blood swooshed in versus how it left the kidney.

Not sure if that is normal.


Of course they tell you nothing. I must wait.

Did mention how TIRED I am?????


pushing on...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Slow to motivate

I am a little slow to motivate to write today. I got a total of 5.5 hours sleep. (thirty minutes was a power nap)

I am dog tired.

I spent the evening with some of my friends and the egyptian at a Halloween Festival in the Lakeview District here in Birmingham. Saw some really creative costumes. That's always inspiring to see the creative juices in flowing in others. I love to see the costumes that you KNOW these people spent weeks putting together. Very good showing for the most part.

I have found a way to numb my mind - "Dancing with the Stars." Yes - I know you are probably wondering why someone like me - who took decades of dance classes would just be catching on to this. The truth is, Yass and I have been cable free since late July. I have an old TV - translation - no signal. No TV. None.

I recently remembered Hulu and started watching a few items. First I watched "Mad, Mad House." This was only after stumbling upon it after a night of researching Vampires. (See - I never said I was normal Post.) Then I watched Square Pegs - an oldie but goodie - only 2 episodes of it. I did manage to watch 1 movie - Fright Night, and then began "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas". Finally I settled on Dancing with the Stars - Season 9. Have to say, I am a fan.

I miss dancing so much. No, I will not begin to whine about my finances and how I cannot afford dance classes. But it is true. I DO miss dancing. Watching this show gave me soo much motivation to start back - again. Next goal - head back to the Fred Astaire dance studio and see what magic we can work. All after this stupid personal recession ends.

Man, - not lying - we are B-R-O-K-E these days. UAB is getting $800 a month from me. (And not by choice.) Damn the meningitis. Damn people against a public option for health care. Obviously these people have never gotten sick and have never fallen on hard times. Trust me- if they did, they would change their minds.

Speaking of health care - tomorrow is the big Renal Doppler day. I am praying for a positive outcome. I cannot imagine having to have a stent. How horrible would that be? Well - maybe I am being too dramatic, but I don't think this is where I want to head.

I have stuck to my diet for the most part. I did slip a little today. After dropping the egyptian off at work - I was STARVING - and decided to stop by Wing Zone and feed that craving I've had for a week. I bought 5 chicken wings in honey mustard sauce. Cost less than $5 - and was just 5 wings. But 5 more than I am allowed. :-(

I did exercise yesterday - I bought a Prevention Magazine DVD about a year ago - something about walking. Well - I did the routine and walked 1 mile and used 5 sets of exercises that involved weights.

Progress. But again.. I take 2 steps forward and then one step back.

But in almost 3 weeks this is the first time I slipped up - I really need to give myself a break.

I am looking forward to tackling this week. Actually I am dreading it - but I am trying to see it as a challenge and treat it as that. I have lots to work on, both personally and professionally. I can do this. I can do it all.

I almost regret saying those words. I feel like each time I try to boost myself up, something always comes along and wipes me out. Here's hoping with God's mercy I can sail through the week fairly unscathed.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's the most fabulous time of year!


Woo Hoo!

Time to let your imagination run WILD!!!

In perfect All Hallow's Eve fashion - I awoke to a gloomy, rainy, chilly morning. Most impressively - close to 100 black birds were scattered all over the lawn. *evil laugh inserted here*

How magnificent is that?

Now for more important items - what am I going to be for Halloween? AHHH.. the decision has been made. Unfortunately my costume will not be as elaborate as it normally is. (Recession and all.) But I am so happy that I save costumes. So, yes - in a budgetary fashion I am resurrecting an oldy but goody - the Devil Diva. LOL. I thought it would be fairly easy, just less makeup items to go with it. Plus, I lost my pitch fork through out the years.

This will be the Egyptian's first Halloween. I have to make it special. I wanted to carve a pumpkin - but we live in an apartment and I only have a small stoop. Perhaps we will skip this creative venture and try again next year. Plus - by then, we will be in a different situation and it will make all the more exciting.

I had the most fascinating conversation with a really sweet girl yesterday. We were chatting it up about Halloween - what our plans were - what were we dressing as. Then she piped in - "But, I mean.. I know it has it's roots in Satanic worship and all.." I tried really hard not to berate her there. Sometimes you just can't educate people.

Just to clarify - I am catholic. (yes - that's Christian.) I am a very strong believer. I am also educated enough to do my research yearssss ago.

Let me fill you in on where Halloween or All Hallow's Eve traditions came from. It's really quite interesting. First of all, for my Egyptian family & friends - Halloween is always celebrated on October 31st. It's roots come from the Celtic festival called Samhain and the Christian holy day known as All Saints. (Which is tomorrow - and is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics.) The colours black and orange have become associated with the celebrations, perhaps because of the darkness of night and the color of fire or of pumpkins. Another association is with the jack-o'-lantern. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, wearing costumes and attending costume parties, ghost tours, bonfires, visiting haunted attractions, pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.

Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while "some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the celtic festival of Samhain or Samuin (pronounced sow-an or sow-in)", which is derived from Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end". A similar festival was held by the ancient Britonsand is known as Calan Gaeaf(pronounced kalan-geyf).

The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm.

In Scotland the spirits were impersonated by young men dressed in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces. Samhain was also a time to take stock of food supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. Sometimes two bonfires would be built side-by-side, and people and their livestock would walk between them as a cleansing ritual.

The term Halloween, originally spelled Hallowe’en, is shortened from All Hallows' Even – e'en is a shortening of even, which is a shortening of evening. This is ultimately derived from the Old English Eallra Hālgena ǣfen. It is now known as "Eve of" All Saints' Day, which is November 1st.
A time of pagan festivities, Popes Gregory III (731–741) and Gregory IV (827–844) tried to supplant it with the Christian holiday (All Saints' Day) by moving it from May 13 to November 1.
In the 800s, the Church measured the day as starting at sunset, in accordance with the Florentine calendar. Although All Saints' Day is now considered to occur one day after Halloween, the two holidays were once celebrated on the same day.

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to a (mostly idle) threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. In some parts of Ireland and Scotland children still go guising. In this custom the child performs some sort of show, i.e. sings a song or tells a ghost story, in order to earn their treats.

Halloween costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. They are said to be used to scare off demons. Costumes are also based on themes other than traditional horror, such as those of characters from television shows, movies, and other pop culture icons.

In North America, Christian attitudes towards Halloween are quite diverse. In the Anglican Church, some dioceses have chosen to emphasize the Christian traditions of All Saints’ Day, while some other Protestants celebrate the holiday as Reformation Day, a day to remember the Protestant Reformation.

Many Christians ascribe no negative significance to Halloween, treating it as a purely secular holiday devoted to celebrating "imaginary spooks" and handing out candy.

Halloween celebrations are common among Roman Catholic parochial schools throughout North America and in Ireland. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church sees Halloween as having a Christian connection.

Father Gabriele Amorth, a Vatican-appointed exorcist in Rome, has said, "If English and American children like to dress up as witches and devils on one night of the year that is not a problem. If it is just a game, there is no harm in that."

Most Christians hold the view that the tradition is far from being "satanic" in origin or practice and that it holds no threat to the spiritual lives of children: being taught about death and mortality, and the ways of the Celtic ancestors actually being a valuable life lesson and a part of many of their parishioners' heritage.

Other Christians feel concerned about Halloween, and reject the holiday because they believe it trivializes (and celebrates) "the occult" and what they perceive as evil. A response among some fundamentalists in recent years has been the use of Hell houses or themed pamphlets (such as those of Jack T. Chick) which attempt to make use of Halloween as an opportunity for evangelism.

Some consider Halloween to be completely incompatible with the Christian faith because of its origin as a pagan "Festival of the Dead." In more recent years, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has organized a "Saint Fest" on the holiday.

Many contemporary Protestant churches view Halloween as a fun event for children, holding events in their churches where children and their parents can dress up, play games, and get candy. Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Halloween for they believe anything that originated from a pagan holiday should not be celebrated by true Christians.

Religions other than Christianity also have varied views on Halloween. Celtic Pagans consider the season a holy time of year. Celtic Reconstructionists, and others who maintain ancestral customs, make offerings to the Gods and the ancestors.

Some Wiccans feel that the tradition is offensive to "real witches" for promoting stereotypical caricatures of "wicked witches".

In Arab countries where it is celebrated, devotion is given to St. Barbara.

There are so many ways people celebrate this time of the year across the world.
The good news it - it is your right to decide what is good for your family or not.

In my house - we will celebrate All Hallow's Eve... with that, I leave you with -


Thursday, October 29, 2009

I spot a flaming tree!!

What a glorious morning!

I woke up early, decided to sit alone in my sunroom and just visit my "friends" on facebook and relax a little before getting ready for work. This is all part of my new routine to find some "peace."

Then I glanced up and the left glass wall was the frame for a spectacular sight - a beautiful red tree! You know the kind - the leaves are a brilliant hue of reds and gold and a touch of orange. *sigh* I have been waiting for this moment. My prediction is by this weekend the city of Birmingham will be a glorious array of bright, bold, fall colors.

Now that my sinus infection truly seems to be slowly subsiding - I can enjoy these glorious days. I think I have been in a fog for the past week, and it is wonderful to begin to see clearly again.

I have to brag on myself for a minute. I am sooo proud of my eating habits for the past two weeks. SOOOO proud. I have really made some excellent choices.

For example - Here is what I ate yesterday:
Breakfast - Water, yogurt with cucumbers mixed in and herbs with warm pita
Lunch - Salad with chopped apples, almonds, cucumbers, carrots, & feta - and water
Dinner - Greek Salad and Hummus with Pita - and water.

I simply cannot imagine my healthy getting worse. It HAS to be getting better.

I have to say I was very inspired by a friend of mine from my past. Her name is also Nicole - and she sent me a very beautiful story of her life-style change. Same issues - blood pressure off the charts, meds, need to lose weight. What I am happy to report - she did it! And she is off the meds. (Which is my goal in life.) Knowing that it IS possible - gives me such hope.

Since I am feeling better today, and these brilliant trees are calling me, I plan to go for a walk this afternoon. Finally time to incorporate that exercise. Here's the funny thing - I LOVE TO EXERCISE. Simply LOVE it. I am just always sooo tired. Luckily, with my new medicine - I am not as tired. So, I finally have energy to do the things I need to do.

I am excited.

I hope if any of you reading are having any health issues or weight issues or anything like that - will join me on this quest. Good news - I am taking it sloooooow. Not in a freakish counting calories, and exercising like crazy way. No, No.. I don't plan to ever be a runner, or be in a bikini again... but I do plan to feel better and get into a safe B.M.I.

Have a great day people! :-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I never said I was normal

Today is one of those days where I feel like something is going to happen. I don't know if it is a bad thing or a good thing or an exciting thing. I just know, SOMETHING is going to happen.

I get these feelings from time to time, and yes, they are usually dead on. I feel calm, I feel generally content (considering the stressors of life at the moment.) Hmmm..

I realize that is strange to say - but there is just a different energy today. Perhaps is has something to do with the weather. Perhaps I did not get enough sleep last night. Perhaps I am over-worked right now. All of these factors could be making me more "sensitive."

But I am not buying it. I know myself - and I know something is up.

Good news - my sinus infection finally feels like it is officially clearing up. I can breathe normally. All I have left is remnants of a cough (due to drainage.) That's the good news. Hopefully soon I will feel more "normal."

Still battling an increased heart rate. Last night it was thumping sooo fast. I did not want to check my blood pressure. It would just freak me out. I know, I know.. but sometimes - ignorance is bliss.

I watched an amazing show last night. (LOL) Many of you will roll your eyes, but I loved it. Dealt with my favorite subject - SUBCULTURES.

Here's what happened. In honor of Halloween, I thought I would research "real vampires." So I checked out some links. Then somehow I ended up on Youtube. Then I saw a National Geographic snippet about Vampires - and one gentleman in particular named "Don" was a little creepy. So - I researched his name on youtube and the 'Tyra" show popped up. Yes - I know, not a fan of that show - but the segment was semi-interesting. He was on there along with a few other "fruity" characters. Then I found a few more videos with him in it. Basically he is a "vampire." He does drink blood and he also feeds off energy. He sleeps in a coffin. He LOOKS like a real vampire. I realize this is all part of his "alternative lifestyle."

Then in an interview with another vampire - she talked about the reality TV show he was on - called, Mad Mad House. So - I proceeded to find it on Youtube. I could not get a single good clip - so I researched on google and ta da!! - HULU had ever episode of every season.


The idea is 10 normal people move into a home with 5 "Alts" or alternative lifestyle folks. (My favorite category.) There was a Wiccan, A Vampire, A Voo Doo Priestess, A Naturist, and a Primitive something-or the other (basically he was into body modification.) Super fun to watch.

I tried to get the egyptian to take a gander, he just rolled his eyes and said - "This is not interesting." Oh Contraire!!

Anyway - if you find subcultures fascinating like i do - please jump on HULU and watch! (It's free and fabulous.)

That's all I have for now. I will keep you posted if something "wicked this way comes."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blood Test Results

I got a call this morning that almost sent chills up my spine.

A number appeared on my work cell phone, a number I did not recognize - which is not an entirely rare thing. I decided to answer it and on came this older african-american woman asking for a "Shawanna Abed Doe." I responded with, "yes, this is Shauna Abdou."

My first thought was - Oh No - somehow a bill collector found me on my work cell. hahaha. Then I remembered - wait - I have all of that under control.

While my heart rate was up she went ahead and identified herself as Shirley from Dr. Honan's Office. (My cardiologist.)

You would think that would calm my nerves - ha - just the opposite. Then it hit me - the original blood test results! She started out slowly, explaining she had the results from my initial blood test. I calmly said, yes yes..

Then she scratched her throat and said - "Well, Miss Abed Doo (this time the end sounded like dooooo) - Dr. Honan wanted me to let you know that they came back BEAUTIFUL.

I almost shrieked!! Yippee! Then she added (as I felt my balloon slowly deflate) - we will still need you to come in for the renal doppler and to turn in your urine specimens.

I was like - Oh. *deflate

Then I found out - the blood test look for the following:

Finding averages using glycosylated albumen or hemoglobin, myoglobin, creatine kinase, troponin, brain-type natriuretic peptide, etc. to assess the evolution of coronary artery disease and evidence of existing damage. A great many more physiologic markers related to atherosclerosis and heart function are used and being developed and evaluated in research.

So - basically the blood work was good.

Which the blood work is always good.

Now we need to find out why the heart is working so hard and what is causing the elevated blood pressure and heart rate.

Now for the more invasive items.

Joy upon Joys.

But, I guess one test down - two more to go - not bad. I passed!! Now, let's see what the other tests let me know.

PS - after laying around doing nothing yesterday, blood pressure was 158/100 pulse rate of 112. Yep. I take 3 pills to lower it, I meditated, did yoga, have been eating wonderfully. *sigh*

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Memories

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought it would be nice to get away from all of the "venting" posts and concentrate on something more therapeutic - like remembering one of my favorite holidays - Halloween.

Why do I like Halloween so much? I guess it has something to do with the fact that I have always loved to play "dress up." Sure! Ever since I was little - I have always loved costumes. Heck, if we could have a theme day at work each day I would be the ring leader!!

According to my mother, my first Halloween costume was as a witch. And apparently - I was a witch for several years. In elementary school I dressed as a gypsy, black cat, can can dancer and as a punk rocker. In high school I did manage to dress as the Prom Queen from Prom Night - Mary Beth Mahoney. Please note - NONE of my costumes were store bought.

Which made me wonder - how did I NOT dress as my favorite scary character - a vampire as I child? I just talked to my mother and she said.. noooo.. you were terrified of vampires. (Which I quickly corrected her and explained they were Bampires - or at least that is what my 8 year old journal says.)

My mother was obsessed (well.. not obsessed.. but a fan of) Vampires. Good old fashioned Count Dracula to be exact. She would play the music from the Vampire Movie with Frank Langela.

This musical score terrified me. Mom would put it on, and this scary black vampire cape she had and jokingly dance around the room. We had this large console stereo - that in my child's mind - looked like a coffin. At night, I would scurry past it sooo fast, afraid the "Bampire" would jump out.

My mother even reminded me of a toy I had as a child. The Count (from Sesame Street.) You could pull a string and it would say.. "One.. ha ha ha.." But in an eery voice. She said I used to hide it in the hall closet. LOL

Another scary thing happened when I was very young and my parents were the youth group leaders at my church. They held a "haunted house" in the nursery and somehow were able to obtain a real coffin. Now, some of the teens thought it would be funny to take the little girl and place her in the coffin. 1. It was dark. 2. It was in a haunted house. 3. Dracula lived there.
BOOO on them. I freaked.

Needless to say, some of my more vivid dreams I had as a child involved the vampire that lived down my hallway - and if I tried to pass by to get into the bathroom, he would jump out and bite me. Yes - I still remember this dream from early childhood.

Somewhere between a scary "pull string" toy and high school came the most awesome movie of all times - "The Lost Boys." Somehow, vampires were not so scary - but pretty freaking hot!!

I was sold and a major fan of vampires from that moment on.

By college I began reading Anne Rice and fell in love with her entire series. I read every single book by her - including the more recent ones (which do not involve any form of the supernatural - except maybe - the holy ghost!) I became "in love" with Lestat and Armand.

By my freshman year in college - Interview with a Vampire was released on film. *sigh* - all made me happy (except Tom Cruise as Lestat.. TOM FREAKING CRUISE??? What the hell???)

Then of course - Queen of the Damned was released (and if anyone actually read the books - you know it contains items from both The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned.)

Of course I think Stuart Townsend did a fantastic job as Lestat.

But I am getting away from my Halloween memories - and heading more into my love for the books of Anne Rice. (Maybe I can save that for another post!!)

As an adult, I threw some amazing Halloween parties! Particularly when I lived on Dogwood Circle in Macon. AMAZING parties. We spent sooooo much $$$$ on these events. If only I had a scanner at home - my pics are pretty coooool.

Later I became a HUGE fan of Haunted Houses. I LOVE watching shows like Paranormal State. And there is seriously not one single Horror movie I have missed. (If it warrants a viewing.)

I actually have fallen asleep - alone in the dark - watching The exorcism of Emily Rose. LOL

With all of this being said - WHY THE FASCINATION WITH THE DARKER SIDE? Look people - I don't take it seriously. It's fun to play with your imagination and let it run a little wild from time to time.

I have many friends who view Halloween as some demonic/satanic/anti-christian holiday. I see it as a fantastic opportunity to use your imagination, learn about ancient customs, and have a little fun. If you can learn to laugh at what haunts your dreams - doesn't it make reality all the more pleasant?

PS - I named my Siberian Husky Nanook (from the dog's name in the Lost Boys) - As far as cats (I owned a Claudia (from Interview with the Vampire) and of course - my famous Lestat.


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