Dear Minister of Magic…

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I was joking around with my rhetoric professor today about how I seriously need some sort of teleportation device to get me to and from school. That way I’d be able to stay longer, and my “travel time” wouldn’t take more than a second! Honestly, I’ve also been sort of even praying for the magical world to take pity on me and teach me how to apparate. So far, no owls, though…

Today, I literally left campus at 5.30 p.m. and got home just past 8 p.m. My mother decided to advise me on my commute route and recommend I take the 101-S to get home. Bad idea, you guys, at rush hour. BAD. IDEA. I drove at 15 mph the entire time from San Francisco, all the way back home. When I got out of the car, I had to massage my left leg, because I’d lost all sensation in my knee and foot. 

En route, I got so tired of my music, because I feel like I’ve been listening to the same songs over and over again (I have been), so I decided to attempt to catch up with my friends. Not with very much success. Of course, they all had their busy schedules, but I was able to talk a bit with my best friends, Ameera, Maddie and Anusha (3 out of probably 7 calls). Ameera and I had a lovely chat about the lack of feminist themes in the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy – sophisticated, I know… Maddie and I talked a bit about Greek life, rushing and how swamped we are – not that we’re doing much about that situation. And Anusha and I were able to just b***h about traffic, driving, writing classes, weird professors, and college – real talk. Let’s just say these girls picked up the phone, when even my own mother was too busy to talk to me. Granted, my mom was helping my brother, but still…priorities.

So Minister of Magic, I am almost positive you are reading this. Just send me a pamphlet or some kind of instructional video. Don’t want you to use up your taxes on some random Muggle. But if you could please help a girl out, that would be so great. I’d be able to salvage a bit of my sanity, because at the moment, I’m pretty sure this commute is leaving me with a permanent migraine (a spell for that would be great, too.).

Mischief Managed,

Nureen K.

P.S. Anusha also gave me such an inspired idea! From now on, I will be taking pictures of the cabs I take, and adding them to my posts. 🙂 What can I say? I’m a sentimental person.

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“Ripped Off”

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Not sure if this counts, because I still paid the same amount, but my cab driver in the morning totally ripped me off…in a sense. Let me begin with the fact that I literally hate it when they proudly advertise on their windows that they accept credit cards, with their brightly colored images of Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc. Yet, most cab drivers give you the stink eye when you tell them at the end of your ride that you’re using credit card. From what I understand, they are charged 69 cents for the transactions, but come on, don’t be a big baby about it, when it’s a service you offer.
So today, I had cash, but as always I offered up my credit card. The guy decided to be a smart one and pretend to slide my card a few times, after making it obvious that he despised me for making him 69 cents short, and told me card was decline. Complete. Bull. Being embarrassed, I took my card and offered my last $20 bill before quickly leaving the taxi. I called my card company immediately after in a panic, because the card was working literally 30 minutes earlier at the train station. To my card representative’s amusement, he informed me that the card was not even swiped once, and therefore, was never declined. I, on the other hand, was not entertained. Probably one of my worst cab experiences to date…and that’s saying a lot. He does not get the honor of membership within my cab club. Or I guess, technically he might, but without the benefits of praise.
But to end my day on a nice note, I had a lovely, Brazilian evening driver, named Gio. He had such a pleasant accent, and we had a good time talking about soccer (“football”), his daughter’s decision to join her school’s cheer squad, how he learned English, and why I commute. Hopefully, he enjoyed it as much as I did.
He was so sweet and kept apologizing for the traffic he had no control over, so though I did miss my intended train, I was able to gain more chat time with him, and I still caught the train after – which I am currently aboard. It’s also nice that this train is my favored double-deck style, with the tables, making it much easier to type this on my iPad.
Overall, a much better day than yesterday, don’t you say? Hope y’all have a good evening!

Lots of love,

Nureen K.

Sleep Is For The Weak

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Obviously, I’m being ridiculously sarcastic. Just thought I’d clarify, because cyberspace doesn’t always allow for “wit”. Today, I woke up at 4.45 a.m., as planned – thankfully, my alarm worked. It tends to not do what I want it to when I actually need it. 

Except today, with the sudden requirement to wake up to an alarm for the first time in six weeks, I’ve been left exhausted and dead on my feet. To the point that a fly flew right in front of my eye, after my classes, and for the second my vision got all weird and fuzzy, I thought my vision was failing. Ugh. I honestly hope it’ll be this horrible for only this week. 

Add on top of it all that I left campus and was in my car going back south for a total of two and a half hours. Traffic was ridiculous and I had to pick up my brother from soccer practice. 

The only good things that happened today:

– When I arrived, one of the campus safety officers was extremely nice and waived my daily parking permit fee and allowed me to park in the Hayes-Healy campus garage. Random acts of kindness. ❤

– I got to see my friends, again, that I haven’t seen in forever! 🙂 Literally, greatest thing ever.

So what do you think? Should be a fun semester?

Off to bed,

Nureen K.

 

My 8 A.M. Tomorrow.

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It has finally arrived. The eve of Spring semester 2013. Honestly, I’m excited and anxious about tomorrow for so many reason. Of course, I’m just ready to be in San Francisco everyday, even if that means I’m coming home every night. I mean, with winter break, which was SIX WEEKS LONG, this has been the longest I’ve been in San Jose since August. Yet, there is still is the matter of my commute.

Tomorrow, I will be waking up at 5 a.m. to get ready – mentally and physically – for my first commute to my 8 a.m. class (Arabic 102). In order to beat traffic on the 280-N, I’ll have to leave my house at 5.45 a.m. As I type this, I’m already brainstorming a playlist to keep me alert and entertained for the drive. When I tested out this commute before, last semester, to see how traffic would be and how feasible it was, I usually arrived at around 6.45 a.m., which leaves me time to find parking and grab breakfast.

But during my late night musings last night, I figured what if I found something productive to do in this hour or so before class. So I checked my school gym’s fitness schedule and found that there is a spinning class offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6.30 a.m. for 45 minutes! I know…y’all are probably thinking I’m crazy, but hey, I’d be waking up that early anyways. So I’d go to the class, cycle for 30 minutes, run out to shower and change and ascend LoMo for my 8 o’clock. It just seems to make perfect sense to me, especially because I have a knee problem and I need to bike anyways to strengthen my leg. This way, I’d get my workout out of the way, way earlier in the day, and I don’t have to worry about it when I’m exhausted and coming home at night. 

So if you go to USF and have an 8 a.m., as well, maybe you should join me! (I know it’s insane even to suggest it…) Ah well, just thinking about having a packed schedule from 5 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays has me a bit determined to make it work. Wish me luck! Maybe I’ll even meet some awesome people in the spinning class, too!

Lots of love – as always,

Nureen K.

 

Parking Permit Update: They’re still processing my application, so pray for me that I get a permit!

Parking Permits

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I am almost 110% sure that San Francisco’s council maintains the city’s upkeep by making sure there is no way its residents (or commuters/visitors/whatever) can park without somehow getting a parking ticket. Why is it so hard for me to obtain a parking permit as a commuter from my campus?? WHY?! I understand having to go through a lottery system, but as a student, apparently I am only allowed either evening parking after 5 p.m. or parking on one weekday of my choice and the weekend. So it’s pretty official – I’m probably going to need to create a whole budget dedicated to parking tickets. 

I mean, it’s not like I haven’t already gotten three this past fall semester, right? Oh, and let’s not forget how easy it is to pay for those white-enveloped gifts of joy left under my window wipers, as an unemployed, full-time, undergraduate student. Not. Okay.

So dear, wonderful, Public Safety officers or MTA peepz or whoever is to blame for my empty checking account, PLEASE please avoid the red Bug. It’s been squished and stepped on enough – kind of, because you fined Alexander Mac Campbell, my old Mercedes. But just because it’s a ginger, doesn’t mean it deserves it. (I kid.)

Wish me luck, readers! I hope to obtain some sort of golden ticket that’ll give me the opportunity to park beyond the usual two-hour limit within a manageable distance from campus, twice a week. I’m not really one in the mood for a hike up SF’s highest hill before my 8 a.m. class. 

Lots of love,

Nureen K. 🙂

P.S. It’s just one of those rants…

Depressing…

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Has it seriously been exactly 4 months since I’ve written on this blog? Apparently, it has been, and I can’t say I’m feeling too great about it right now. I mean, l began this blog with the hopes that I’d be committed to it. But unfortunately, other commitments came in the way of me being able to take time to write. Of course, there was school work, but then there was also my fellowship with Organizing for America – President Obama’s grassroots campaign. I had meant to restart on the blog once November 6th passed, but I was once again caught up in a storm known to many as “finals” – projects, papers, exams…the whole shebang.

I guess you can say all of that was just me justifying to myself why I didn’t start writing, again, in the past month or so, post-election season. But hopefully, now I’m back and stronger than ever with this new year coming. Although, there won’t be much to blog about until January 22nd – my first day of second semester.

My commuting methods have evolved, slightly, though. Since the beginning of November, I have taken to driving to San Francisco more and more. I found that my total commute time per day was actually less if I drove, than if I took the Caltrain and a cab. Driving also means I get to spend more time on campus, whether to study or just relax a bit before commuting back home. Thankfully, I’ve gotten used to driving, because it’s pretty much a requirement for me next semester, what with my 8 a.m. Arabic class and all. So next semester, I will be driving every Tuesday and Thursday – leaving my home at 5.45 a.m. so that I may beat northward traffic on the 280, and arrive on campus at 7 a.m. – just in time to grab a large coffee before trekking up Lone Mountain for class. (oh yes, did I mention I drink coffee now? blegh.)

That’s all I can think about for now. But beyond the ever-exhausting commute, I’ve had a pretty amazing first semester at USF. I’ve made amazing friends, I actually learned a lot from certain courses, I’ve gotten to know The City more than I did before, and I’ve had some adventures that I’ll never forget.

Thank you to all of you who will read this post. I know I didn’t keep a promise to keep writing, but I’m hoping this is one New Year resolution that I’ll actually keep.

Lots of love,

Nureen K.

The Most Amazing Man Yet

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I have probably just met the most amazing, authentic man in this world. Before you misunderstand, this man is probably in his sixties. He was also my taxi driver. I had just missed the cab I had called earlier (I watched it drive away), and I thank God that I had to redial for another one. I knew I was in for a ride, because the second he pulled up he shouted, “Honey! Sweetheart! Come right in!” and then immediately apologized asking if he crossed any lines, because, in reality, he had meant to say simply my name. 😉 What a charmer…

For the first time, since I began this blog, I am at a complete loss for words. This man reads auras and energies, and liked to tell it how he sees it. He held nothing back. No joke…mid-ride he told me it’s a good thing I wore a bra today. Who says that to a girl they just met? No one. Just him.

Because of him, it’s probably the first time I’ve felt this good about myself. To him, this stranger girl, was “vivacious, generous, energetic, honest, no bullshit, oozing a larger-than-life vibe..” and there was just so much more that I could hardly keep up. “You’re the kind of girl that makes me wish that I was twenty years younger.” I was definitely turning bright red at this point. But what struck me the most was this: “With values like yours, you must be the wealthiest girl in the world.”

He’s an addict to fresh air – not simply just a breath of fresh air. Hasn’t closed his bedroom windows since twenty-three years ago. Originally moved to San Francisco to write a book about his life, which I can tell you, is no normal one. He was in the Marine Corps and then transfered to work with the CIA. Of course, the federal government has already warned him about the classified issues he may not mention in his biography, but they did not even need to worry, because “he would never do anything to harm this country. [He] loves it too much.” To him, he can’t be living a happier life. He’s got an amazing “lover” and just lost his beloved tomcat that was with him for 23 years (a fellow addict of cold, fresh air). He does not regret leaving his stable job for the more risky life of an author. “Nureen, let me tell you. There are two ways to live your life. Laughing or crying. In my line of work, I saw way too many people crying. It was from then that I decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my life laughing.” His life in San Francisco has not been the easiest, of course. Tragedy does strike all, even those with the intention of constantly laughing. Nineteen of his fellow co-workers have been murdered on the job, since he began. You would think someone would be scared off? But no, not this man. Instead he talks of the gravity of taking someone in his cab knowing that he is responsible for them until they reach their destination.

When I told him about my commute, he commended my dedication to my education, but did not fail to tell me that a “college education is great and all, but also a whole load of bologna. It’s the college experience that helps you sift between the weak and the great before you move on alone into the real world.” He also sympathized with me leaving my non-existent “main squeeze” (I’m still quoting him). The amount of shock he had in reaction was almost amusing, but even more amusing was his response: “Oh, well, we all know that if you wanted one, you’d have him in a second.” When finding out about my lack of experience in the romantic department, he took it upon himself to impart upon me some great wisdom: “If the man cannot recite poetry to you, he’s not worth it. It means he’s missing something emotional. Any man can give you flesh and warmth, but only a real one will be able to share something that meaningful and soulful.”

I wished I could have just missed my train and spent more than just 15 minutes with him. After paying my fare, before I left the cab, he turned around and looked right in my eyes and said “If you scratched at your skin, Nureen, you’re the kind of person that would bleed ‘good’.” For those of you who know me, those words decimated my mascara. Probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me…As I wished him a good night, he replied with a “Of course, it will be. You were a part of it.”

Thank you, Robert Graham “like the crackers”. You made my life.

– Nureen

P.S. Keep a look out for his book. Definitely something I’m keeping an eye out for.

My Newest Cab Club Members & Other Awesome Things

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Yesterday, I had two pretty great reactions to my announced destination, as I got in the cab.

At 8:03 a.m.

Me: University of San Francisco, please! On…

Driver: Oh, trust me, I know. Graduated from there in 1968 with a degree in finances…

***
Now, don’t make any assumptions. This man has been doing part-time cab-driving for a year to fill the time, since he retired two years ago. He found work before as an accountant in civil services. He found nothing wrong with my commuting to USF. Apparently, in “[his] days” most of all his classmates were city kids that still lived at home – dorms weren’t too popular, then, I guess. He moved out in his third year at USF. His freshman year, though, was pretty historic – in both his book and mine. 1964 was the first year that USF opened all their majors to women. Before then, only nursing was available. Another reason it was a momentous year for him? “I met my wife that year. She was studying to be a surgical nurse, and she did it! But if it weren’t for USF merging the women’s school and the men’s school, into a co-ed institution, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Forty-three years and still going…Yep, it was definitely fate.” Pretty sure, I teared up at that point…

At 6:30 p.m.

Me: Caltrain station on 4th, please!

Driver: Ooooh, I’ve been trying to convince my daughter to commute. Are you Indian?

***

Once, again, my cab driver thinks I’m Indian. And this one was Indian, too! You’d think he’d know…Ah well, we didn’t spend much time on that topic, and instead discussed the details of my commute (don’t worry, Mom, I was being safe and did not give away my address). I told him about the advantages and disadvantages of my commute. So, 11th grade Indian girl, if you’re reading this, I hope I helped your case. I left the cab and your dad seemed pretty convinced that he did not want to put you through what I have to do! 😉

***

On a completely different topic, there was one man on my train ride home last night that I pretty much wanted to be best friends with. What can I say? A San Francisco Ballet Academy crew-neck sweatshirt, hipster black frames, and reading a book in Russian. I was going to sneak a picture, but I’m pretty sure he already knew I was looking at him with the biggest smile on my face. He seemed like the kind of guy who could see through books…

And, what better way than to end my post than with a picture of my new best friends?  

Left to Right: Me, Carly Cat, Tarek ❤

With love,

– Nureen

Members of Nureen’s Cab Club

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I’m back! And with a whole lot of stories to share with you 🙂 As of the eighteenth, I have officially begun my commute to San Francisco. And boy, it’s been interesting, confusing, frustrating, lonely, weird, funny and just plain “what-the-heck-is-my-life-right-now”. 

Let me begin with the fact that orientation was amazing, and as one of my friends said, “I have found my people.” (Carly Cat, I had to quote you on that.) But on my way to orientation, my cab driver just could not seem to understand that I was a student at USF and not SFSU or UCSF. He seemed insistent on taking me to the San Francisco State campus, then the UCSF medical school campus, to show me some other options. Finally, he seemed to accept that I was pretty dead set on being a Don. Thankfully, he stopped the meter at SFSU before he continued his Bay Area college tour. That cab ride was way more exciting than the train ride over as I spent my hour listening to sad, Arabic songs and looking out the window – it really set the mood… 😉 

Orientation, especially the third day, was probably some of the most fun days of my life. It might be the only time where it might be socially acceptable to tell everyone you meet “Hey, I just met you…and this is crazy…but here’s my number…so call me maybe?” Yes, that’s exactly what I did.

On my first day of orientation, I really had my luck going for me at night. I was waiting for a cab late at night, outside the gym, totally going beside myself because I kept getting automated messages saying no cabs were available. Finally, about thirty minutes later, a Yellow cab pulls up. Me having a bum knee, casually walked to it, until I found a bunch of Chinese International students trying to take the cab. Thankfully, we agreed to share the cab, if they allowed me to go to my hotel first. As I sat in the front seat in silence, my cab driver suddenly asked me, “Are you Indian?” – a question I get quite often. But lo and behold, when I replied that I was Egyptian, I found he was, too! Well, half-Egyptian and half-Sudanese, but close enough. We spent the rest of the ride talking in Arabic, leaving the Chinese students staring at us in wonder. And I got his number in the end so that I can call him if I’m ever stuck at night with no cab to get to my train station. What are the odds?!

After my third day of orientation, I returned on a train back to San Jose, before my first day of classes. My cab driver was once again quite interesting. As an Armenian and gay man, he felt a passionate distaste for Turks, an immense hate of Republicans (and I quote, “My personal belief is that all Republicans need to be shot.”), and a huge frustration at the phrase: “God bless you!” To which he replies, “Thanks, but I’m atheist. I prefer ‘Gesundheit.'”

The next morning, leaving the train, I was lucky to have a cab driver with a happy disposition. He and I talked about the revolutions in the Middle East, his trip to Spain a few years ago, and how he was so tempted to just swim across to Morocco at one point. I’m pretty sure he knew how much I was enjoying the conversation, and the fact that it was making my day after another uneventful train ride, that he took the longer way to campus. The fare was so worth it – and just grateful I had decided to go early to campus before my 9.55 a.m. course (Writing About Human Rights). 

Yesterday night, I was almost late to my 9.40 a.m. train. I say almost because the second I got into my cab – 10 minutes before the train left, mind you – I told the cab driver to step on it and break every traffic rule in the book. It was that or I wait another hour for a train that would take me home by 12.30 a.m. And I’m glad I took that train (even if the doors almost cut me in half on my way in), because the employees on that train were so friendly and asked how my day was. And let’s not forget the conductor that announced every station with a different voice (there was Elmo, Pirate, Scooby-Doo, Rodeo Cowboy, Mickey, and a few more that I didn’t catch over my Ottmar Liebert [definitely check his music out]).

And now as I sit on the train with only 15 minutes to go, I look forward to my next cab ride. Taxi drivers are probably some of the wisest people I’ve met – no joke. They always know where they’re going, probably have handled the craziest people (myself included), and seem to be able to read the mood of their customers. Crossing my fingers I get another cool dude! 

So that’s it for now, folks! Over and out! 

– Nureen