One more week of my vacation in America. It seems as if I’ve been here a very long time. I’ve seen many, many pets. I’ve also seen someone throw a glass across a bar and have to be dragged out. I’ve seen many crazy people talking to themselves. I’ve eaten delicious foods and been confused by a plethora of options everywhere. I know nothing of beer types. I watched my friend’s son and had to change a dirty diaper for the first time in a long time. I’ve caught up on all the gossip for the past year. I’ve slept in too many not-my-bed places. I miss my bed.
And I miss my boyfriend. And my clothes. I’m going shopping now because I am so sick of the outfits I brought with me. And in a week, I shall be on my way home!
I’ve been in New York for a little over a week now (although it seems much longer and I was shocked to just do the math; I was guesstimating closer to two weeks.) When I come to New York, I stay with various friends, including one friend who lives in Bushwick, the land of gentrification.
It is truly mind-blowing to see how this neighborhood has changed. I once lived in Bushwick, six years ago, for two years. When I moved in, I lived above a strip club called Angels and across the street from a questionable establishment called Platinum Lounge. We did not fit in in such places, although I did occasionally, drunkenly peek into Angels and it never failed to disappoint for illegal activities. There were two bars nearby that had other gentrifying people, although neither was particularly popular and they held weird hours due to their sparse clientele. There was one coffee shop, roughly ten minutes away, that was very hip and was only open for like four hours of the day. But on a daily basis, we were the only gentrifiers we encountered. It was impossible to get anyone to visit us, so we socialized elsewhere. The neighborhood was just a fantastically cheap place for us to live.
This year, my friend and I have almost exclusively hung out in Bushwick. People from other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan have went out of their way to converge here to hang out with us. There is no shortage of trendy bars and restaurants to hop between. We head out around noon for our first meal and don’t make it back until 4am or later, after closing a bar that still had multiple people in it, regardless of the day of the week. Every other person clearly did not grow up in this neighborhood (while the person in between clearly did.) There are very few blocks that don’t have some sort of business that is catering to the gentrification population.
I don’t really care one way or another about the morality of gentrification (gentrification is inevitable, so the morality is irrelevant,) but I am amazed at the speed of it. When I visit my hometown, it’s revolutionary if there’s a new shop opening anywhere in a three town radius. Here in Bushwick, it’s a plethora of new everything, all the time. By next summer, it will be a totally different world, yet again.
I’m in a very bad mood today for a very stupid reason.
The first stop of my America-trip this summer has been my hometown. It makes me feel very old to be back in the house that I grew up in. It’s harsh to see myself in the same mirrors I once saw a younger version of myself in…
I know that appearance is a very superficial concern to have. But I am still hugely concerned about it. Plus the Midwest is a superficial land, so people keep talking about how I look or how they look or how to improve looks or whatever. I don’t want to have to think about my appearance, damn it!
But I just looked up where to get a facial next week in New York. Because I do not like looking old.
The worst part is that I don’t feel old! I feel young and quick and spry. But then I look at myself and I think “oh lord, what have we here?”
Time to go sleep for ten hours and hope that does some damage to the aging process.
I am currently in my hometown. To get here required two layovers and roughly 23 hours of travel. It is never a fun experience making my way from Abu Dhabi back to the States, especially when I think it’s smart to save money by taking more layovers. And then it is often made worse by ridiculous airline procedures. Here is a list of things that made it particularly bad this time around:
- Being frisked in France. I purposefully wear no jewelry and simple clothes and flip flops, so there is no chance anyone would think I am hiding anything and the metal detectors never go off. However, the metal detectors are also programmed to randomly flag people who don’t actually make them go off. Which happened to me in the Paris airport and led to a lady running her hands all over me for zero reason. She was quick about it, but it was still very uncomfortable.
- Being repeatedly asked security questions. In Paris, I was switching from an airline based in the Gulf to an American airline. Thus I got called to the counter to verify my identity and be asked if I packed my own bags. (As if anyone says no to that.) And then, perhaps because I was so obviously amused at the stupidity of the routine when the first lady did it, (she was a bitch about it, and I smirked at her hardcore throughout,) they called me up yet again to ask me who packed my bags. The second lady also asked me if I had bought my phone new. And the honest answer is no, my friend gave it to me for free. So then she asked if it was a friend I knew a long time, in a leading manner that made it obvious I should just say yes. But honestly, no. I’ve known her less than a year. So I told her that, but she just moved on to the next question. Why ask these ridiculous fucking questions if there’s no wrong answer and you’re not actually going to consider anything a security threat? I mean, I’m sure ISIS preps its recruits for up to a year no problem; why wasn’t my answer sketchy?
- Having my bags searched by customs. When I finally arrived in Chicago, I went through the electronic system where you take a sketchy selfie in the machine. And then you still have to go to the counters. And then apparently I had been flagged, for god knows what reason, to have my bags searched. So when I got there, the dude first assumes I’m coming straight from Poland because Chicago is full of Polish and I am obviously of such heritage. But dude, I’m wearing sweats and carrying a duffel bag; I scream American-born. And then he starts going through my shit, which is invasive as hell, while asking me questions that to be honest, I don’t feel like fucking answering. It’s none of your business whether or not I wear an abaya or if I live on a compound. (Which gave away just how little the dude knew about Abu Dhabi, so fuck off.) And then he asked me if I was carrying over $10,000. Which is actually the one customs issue that I might breach, coming from Abu Dhabi (which confused me and made me wonder if maybe he did know more than nothing.) I paused a little before saying no, so he asked, “Are you sure?” And I repeated my no, but still hesitatingly, doing the math in my head because I did have lots of cash on me. But then, when he found my huge wads of cash (which totaled about $5000, but in foreign currency that obviously he doesn’t know anything about) he didn’t bother to count how much it actually was. So seriously, what the hell is the point of all this rigmarole?
And while I don’t blame the individuals, per se, they were all also very bitchy about it. The customs guys were especially awful. After I arrived, a group of foreigners also got flagged and there was this stupid red line you were supposed to wait behind, even though there were like ten customs guys standing around doing nothing, and no people in the line. So the foreigners start moving forward towards a desk that is obviously the next place to go, and two different people start yelling at them: “Stay behind the red line! Can’t you read the sign!” Like… chill the fuck out! And also, maybe they can’t read the sign…. idiots.
Fingers crossed I got my fair share of airport security bullshit and won’t face any more travel annoyances this summer!
During the holy month of Ramadan, one is supposed to be the best version of oneself.
Unfortunately, not all humans are perfect. So a lot of people cheat a little sometimes.
And then other people seem to think its their job to point out such flaws.
Which is of course highly hypocritical. People in glass houses or pots and kettles, you know?
I had a particularly infuriating conversation with this one dude last week. He was Muslim and fasting. But I met him in a bar. Granted, he was not drinking alcohol, but one isn’t even supposed to enter bars during Ramadan if one is Muslim. Also, he was hardcore hitting on me. Not overtly, but intensely. In a way that sort of made me uncomfortable. And then he went on to basically praise himself for never having had sex. (Because he’s not married and sex outside marriage is haram or forbidden.) And then he went on to be very judgmental about the fact that my boyfriend is not as celibate and drinks alcohol when it’s not Ramadan. And I just wanted to punch him.
I really don’t get why people continually think it’s ok to judge others. Especially in terms of religion. Just chill, ya’ll. Nobody is perfect.