New York City bike rides

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Biking through Manhattan is one of my favorite things to do in New York. There are bike paths all over the island, and if you’re brave enough, you can always use the bike lanes in roads to get where you need to go (it actually isn’t that scary at all.) Manhattan has lots of bike shops where you can rent a variety of bikes including single, tandem, racing, and vintage, equipped with bells, baskets, and of course, helmets.
My favorite path runs along the West Side Highway, right next to the Hudson River. On that path, I’ve passed restaurants, Chelsea Piers, bridges, and a naval museum. You can eventually get to Central Park from the path, but you have to ride in the streets for a while – it’s worth it.
These pictures are from a bike trip I took with my family and some friends about a year and a half ago, when we rode from the West Village to Central Park.
At the bike shop in the Village:
Trying out the tricycle:
 Riding:
Taking a pit stop and eating hot dogs in Central Park (Afterwards it started pouring so we raced home and I wrapped my camera up in a bunch of paper so it wouldn’t get destroyed – at least we had fun while we were there!):
 Now of course I am a model student, so it makes complete sense that I still have about 130 words to go before I’m completely finished with this mythology final. I’ve got to go to bed before 3:00 tonight so I’m out. Goodnight!

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Elephant rides

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I intended to get around to elephant rides in last night’s post, but my sleepiness would not allow it. Now that I’ve gone to bed, woken up, gone to class, gone to bed again and woken up once more, I think I’ve gotten enough rest to write about riding an elephant without getting too distracted.
While my family was planning this past summer’s trip to Thailand, I repeatedly told my dad that I wanted adventure. I could sit on a beach and a book anywhere. Why would I want to do that in a country as fascinating as Thailand? Thankfully, he got the memo, and dedicated a day of the trip to adventure for me. I was also lucky because this day of adventure did not entail any hiking, an activity that I’m sorry to say I have never enjoyed.
Anyway, back to elephants – I think I’ll have to save the complete adventure for another post because I have a paper due tomorrow and I’m 20 words in. Our guide picked us up at our hotel and took us to town for a while for the Tuesday market. After about half an hour, we left the market and rode to a spot in the jungle where the elephants were waiting for us.
I can’t resist not putting a few pictures from the market into this post. The market mainly sold necessities – most of the booths were dedicated to food, clothes, and toiletries.
 The car ride to the elephants:

The elephants and their drivers were waiting for us when we got there. Getting on the elephant I rode wasn’t as scary as getting on a camel was for me. There were these seats on top of the elephants’ backs. I’m sure they’re for a greater sense of safety, but I also think the seats are there so you don’t have to sit directly on the elephants’ skin, which is pretty gross and hairy. The bench also meant that I didn’t have to hold onto something for dear life, so I felt safe to take my camera on board, which turned out to be awesome because the ride was set against an incredible backdrop.
My sister getting on our elephant:
 I definitely enjoyed riding the elephant. At the beginning of the ride, my sister and I were fascinated with our elephant captain because he was smoking a joint. The picture we got is really blurry.
Elephant skin:
Riding an elephant is much more relaxing (if you can describe it that way) than riding a camel or horse because you’re not constantly worrying about falling off. Well, if you’re me. The only part of the ride that scared me was riding downhill because the terrain was somewhat steep. Regardless, I would definitely recommend that you do it if you ever get the opportunity to take a ride.
A taste of my view – I don’t think we could have picked a more beautiful day for an adventure:
 I’ll post the rest of my adventure later because I still have 900 words to write for my final paper. Goodbye and happy trails!

Camel rides

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I’ve ridden four species of animals so far: a few horses, a camel, a donkey, and an elephant – this roster does not include any time I’ve ever tried to ride my dog. I think it’s fair to say that I’m terrified of riding animals by this point. For some reason I always think I’m going to fall off, and the last time I rode a horse, I actually did almost get bucked off and left with a fear of horses.
I don’t know if many of you have ridden camels. I feel like it’s a kind of “foreign experience,” or at least a “traveler’s experience.” My family and I rode camels on the edge of a desert near Yazd when we went to Iran a few years ago. From what I know, camels are some of the most uncomfortable creatures to ride. Let’s just say those humps are hell on your groin and inner thighs, and that pain lasts for another day too.  The scariest part of riding a camel is the boarding process. The camel will be sitting on the ground so you can get on it, and then it jolts up and starts walking. Once you get a feel for the camel’s walking pattern, riding isn’t so bad anymore. You kind of end up moving with the camel, but that’s probably true with any animal.
There were a bunch of flies on the camels’ faces and it grossed me out. They probably had a symbiotic relationship going on, but I still had trouble looking at it for long.
I might have not completely enjoyed riding a camel, but being on the edge of a desert was really cool. There weren’t any other people around and watching the wind reshape the dunes was incredible. It wasn’t even a big deal when the wind blew my veil off since there weren’t many people around (don’t worry, I didn’t lose it.) There were these really cool black rocks in the sand. My sister took one back to the states – it’s somewhere around the house I think. Excluding the minor pain and fear, the camel ride was a good experience.
Here’s me holding onto my dad for dear life.

My dad’s cousin Alireza didn’t want to ride a camel (he must be afraid of riding animals too!), so he walked alongside us. His wife Sadaf is on the middle camel, and I’m not sure who’s riding the lead camel.
This is Maloos, the donkey with an attitude. Whenever somebody got on her, she would sit down because she didn’t want to carry any extra weight – but hey, can you blame her? When we were heading back to the bus (we stopped a little way into the desert and walked around for a while), I tried to ride her, but she did not want that to happen so I ended up walking – I didn’t want to face the camel again.
I have no idea how these people managed to get that rope through her nostrils. And apparently Maloos let my sister ride her for a while… I don’t remember this, but I see Alireza in the front of the picture so I must have taken it.

Well I’m falling asleep, so I’ll just save my elephant ride story for another post. Goodnight everybody!

Cee Lo, fuck you.

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You know, when I saw the lineup for this year’s Lollapalooza, I thought it was kind of cool that Cee Lo Green was playing – “Fuck You” is a pretty catchy song, okay? Months later, I actually made it to Lollapalooza and was still intent on seeing this guy. I waited at the Sony Stage for what seemed like an eternity just because I liked one song by this guy and thought he might put on a good show, and I wasn’t crazy about any of the other bands playing during that time slot. A lot of the people in the audience were only there so they could get a good spot for Eminem’s show, which was some three or four hours later – that’s some pretty intense dedication if you ask me. Finally the performance began, but let me assure you, it was not worth any wait. Green, who was dressed in some sort of leather ensemble with shoulder pads that could double as weapons, was accompanied to the stage by a pack of sex kittens. This guy advertised himself as a ladykiller – that must explain what those shoulder pads are for, killing ladies.
 Cee Lo decided it would be best to sing other musicians’ material and save “Fuck You,” the only song people in the crowd wanted to hear, for last. He gave a rendition of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” which mirrored their anticlimactic performance that took place a few years before, which the guy next to me told me about. The crowd was hardly pleased, and Green actually decided to spare us some agony and actually ended his act early. Even though he was singing “Fuck You,” the song we had all been painfully waiting for, the crowd was apathetic – people even cheered when Green announced that “Fuck You” would be his last song some twenty minutes before the act was supposed to end.
The part of Cee Lo’s act that bothered me most was his little speech on how we all needed to be ourselves and do what our hearts followed – how could this idiot wearing torture devices on his shoulders have the nerve to say something like that when he hardly sang any of his own material? And let’s not forget how cliche the whole ladykiller persona is – I mean really, Cee Lo, are you fucking kidding me? Did you not just try to project yourself as something the public “expects?”
Cee Lo Green, you are mistaken. Fuck you.

Gay pool party in the Hamptons

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Over Memorial Day weekend, I went to New York with my sister, dad, stepmom, and our friend Collin. Our friend George, who lives in Chelsea, invited us to his 30th birthday party. The party venue was this house in the Hamptons (I forget which Hampton it was in) that belonged to this really great old gay guy.
The house was incredible, I mean look at it.
I wish I could have gotten a picture of the front of the house, but we were late and it felt weird. But I do think what I have will suffice.

This guy’s pool and yard were incredible too.

The guy that owns the house has all these antiques – even little things like his mother’s ration cards from WWII. He also has tons of vintage clothes that belonged to his mom (that part was a little weird) and he let my sister and me dress up in them and borrow swimsuits – we had no idea this would be a pool party, and we were embarrassingly overdressed (or at least I felt awkward.) I decided that since this guy had wonderful old clothes and such a nice house I should do a sort of pinup photo shoot (I’m no photographer, but I do love taking pictures and telling stories with them and everyone in the city I’m from is obsessed with getting pinup pictures taken. My sister, who is vain as shit, was up for it of course.) Here’s our favorite picture of the batch.
 I got a few shots of my sister messing around with Collin.
 And here I am, making weird faces – I put these up because they showed a bit of the house. 

Hijab how-to

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I went to Iran around three years ago to visit my family members that live there. I was pretty apprehensive about going because I had never been somewhere so different in my life. Primarily there would be the obvious language and culture barriers, but I was anxious about other restrictions too. In Iran, women have major dressing restrictions – I mean, Iran’s no Saudi Arabia, but women still have to be very conservative. Women could not wear tight clothing in public (which sucked because I loved wearing tight pants at the time) and had to have their arms up to their hands and legs completely covered (yet another blessing for my long extremities.) And of course, true to Middle Eastern nature, women were ordered to wear a headscarf.
Now I know you’re probably thinking burka when I say headscarf, but there is a difference. A burka covers an entire woman’s face excluding her eyes – and I did see plenty of those in Iran, but they were worn by the more religious and older women. The headscarf I wore was a hijab, which is meant to cover a woman’s hair, not her face. The term hijab also applies to the style of dress I had to adhere to and can be applied to both men and women: loose-fitting, conservative clothing, and for women, a headscarf.
Despite the West’s stigma against it, dressing in the hijab style wasn’t as bad as I thought – or you might think – it would be. Since we went in March, the weather was still nice and I didn’t burn up. Wearing the hijab actually comforted me a bit and made me feel more confident at times – I didn’t have to worry about weird guys checking me out (okay this might not have happened but I still hate having people looking at me) and knew that who I was meant so much more than how I look, which is actually the point that the hijab is supposed to emphasize. If you’ve got a grudge on another country’s cultural custom, chances are that you’re misinformed about it, so go ahead and try it – you might find yourself respecting and enjoying it.

Rice fields

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When I was in first grade, I obsessed over National Geographic magazines. I had just switched schools and obviously barely knew my new classmates, so I often turned to magazines for entertainment. My classroom had a huge stack of National Geographics that I flipped through to learn about the world – kind of like the speaker in Elizabeth Bishop’s “In The Waiting Room,” which

shocked me when I read it because I had a somewhat similar experience. What I remember most from my National Geographic binge is seeing a lot of green: leaves, landscapes, you get the idea. National Geographic magazines also taught me that rice fields exist, and at six years old I established my dream to see one in person.Almost thirteen years later, I went to Thailand and manifested that dream. One day my family and I toured a few villages in the northern part of the country, and we got to ride a truck that drove by them – rice fields! Finally, it was really happening. I doubt the field in the third picture is a rice field (I think it’s probably corn or something), but I was still psyched to see it.