Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Just That Good, The Jalapeno Cheeto

You see it across the cheap, dirty aisle. Fiery orange, lusty green, your mouth waters and it lures you in. You're intrigued, fixated. You grab it. Just this once, you say. Just. once.

You rip apart the seal, tear into the bag. Your fingers caress the crusty curves, powder stains as you grope rugged edges. Your lips curl as they softly brush each morsel and passionately close around it. Kiss. Your tongue wriggles and writhes with each piece, getting moist, feeling every roll, romp and bite in your mouth until..until..un...t..i..l, huff and cheese puff, it bursts like a nuclear explosion with spine-chilling, spice-tingling ecstasy.

Ohhh, lawd. The cheddar jalapeno cheeto. 
The best chip you've ever had.

You didn't plan it, it just happened. And you knew better. Its wild, untameable salaciousness will only leave you rudely abandoned to your fat rolls, hurt and heart broken on the treadmill. It will take two gut-wrenching, long months of sweat, tears, lean cuisine and no carbs to get you over your two snack affair. Corn and water, heated under pressure, filled with hot air, tumbled and showered with desired flavor, its the bad boy snack that every pretentious, know-it-all magazine shakes its finger at and hoitily declares the satan's spawn. And you are the sloothy. “Eat nuts, swallow yogurt, add berries. Chew on kale and starve yourself!” Take my finger!

The recommended serving size, by Frito-Lay no less, is 21 pieces, 2.5 servings per 2.25 ounce bag. Just $1.09. It's cheap, you might be dirty. It claims “real cheese”, you know better and even faked it. But you don't care and you can't help it. You ravenously devour every chip, every piece, every bite. It is eleven grams of pure fat, but right now, in the moment, it's worth every calorie, muffin top and love handle. Your carnal instincts take over and you gamely rendezvous with the chip that won't call you in the morning. 

 It's so bad it's so good. 
 But you'll worry about the consequences tomorrow.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Again.  And again.

Like tripping into quicksand, slowly suffocating with no way out.  Spinning into a swirling eddy, limbs failing against the whirlpool turbulence.  Joyously swimming out to sea on a warm summer night to forcibly return by the high tide of the moon.  It is an arid, acrid, dessert with no oasis in sight.  It is the unwelcome Force.  The Vortex. 

Like a powerful magnet, I am repeatedly yanked back.  I sob, I scream, I throw an adult temper tantrum.   And yet, I remain.  I am continuously shot, captured and dragged back from the forests of freedom to this penitentiary, devoid of hope, removing souls.

I am sucked back to the emotional decay and stifling black hole .... of Houston. 

Finally, I give up.  I succumb.  Exhausted, I will flow with this placid current in the Bayou.  I accept this challenge, begrudgingly and with full pout.  I may whine the entire float to salvation, this other utopia, but I will seek lemonade with my lemons in the meantime. 

There must be something to do here....something.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunlight On Your Face

If you've ever possessed the thrilling opportunity to live in The City, you recognize your heart palpitations of sheer excitement in flying in high above the skyscrapers or walking low along the streets among their foundations.

Sometimes you're in bliss, sometimes you're in rage.  But overall, you are madly, blindly, utterly in love.

You fantasize of mercilessly razing through deep, curbside crowds, yet contain your sidewalk rage because you truly adore and thrive in this motley crew of 8 million people.

Your bedtime lullabies soothe with the comforting sounds of sirens and horns and blasphemy reigns by the mere suggestion you close your blinds, ever, even while modestly dressed in your birthday suit.

You pay $7 for sliced cheese and bicep curl all your $2 million groceries home.

You trudge up 5! flights of stairs to your current palace of 420 square foot dreams, dread like the plague your search for a new apartment and hurl the moment you hear the price tag for this fresh, new home of nightmares.

You frolic among the shimmering lights and merry sounds of the festive holidays with their chestnut aromas. Then, your joyous memories freeze maddeningly when you can't feel your nose, your face burns and tears well up in the early winter frost.  

You efficiently and structurally navigate by the grid system and after years manipulating streets and aves you still, continuously, walk dazed and confused among the diagonals of the West Village.

You refuse to accept the kindness of disease-ridden subway handles, then, unceremoniously trip, roll and land into the shocked and unsuspecting lap of your fellow New Yorker.  And now you can't get up.

You never cease to be mesmerized by the unbelievable piece and serenity among the trees, breeze and even horse crap in Central Park.  What a genius idea.  

You sometimes want to push the old lady who somehow had the balls to cut you in line and then scream at you.

You grope the sans seatbelt leather cushion of your screeching cab infused with masala curry potpourri fearing that you are going to die by swerve and then, realize...happily, you are out of the rain, watching live with kelly updates and can pay by credit.

You only asked for a reservation for two, yet you sit thigh to thigh to each person next to you.  Yes, all six of you prior strangers still refuse to chat with one another yet you now know the other's most private, intimate, salaciously funny life stories.

You pay district tax?!  And no, that's not a cute neighborhood squirrel but a fat, ole, nasty rat.  The 21st century version of danger lurking in the night streets.

You spend waaay too much money, you party obscenely and you work like a dog.

You take your big dreams to this gargantuan city and you savor every teeny-weeny leap towards success.

You love The City, where the streets all have a name.  But you're still building up love.  It's all you can do.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

His Royal Kebabness

Brooklyn...Queens?....Staten Island?!  

No nose-up-in-the air Manhattanite dares step off the isle of trend for the wild, mysterious regions of the boroughs north, east and, god forbid, south.  

Over the ground trains.  Under the tracks streets.  Urbanized suburbs!
Ferries coup'ed by untamed instincts of unruly tourists.  Que horrorers, only ventured to by wily explorers and hardened adventurers!

Alas, I say, cease your elitist ways.  Put down your Pastis french fry, your Balthazar baguette and Nobu straight from the sea fish.  Stop!, with the purple.  Emperors of the Big Apple, I besiege you, make one exception, clamor aboard the N train and walk your royal pampered aaa...feet to Astoria.  There, you find your kin, your brethren, your fellow ruler by divinity: The King of Queens, His Royal Highness, Fares "Freddy" Zeideia.  The King of Falafel.  

At 30th and Broadway in Queens NY, you may feel in another world, you may gaze agog at the richness around you.  Yet, drop your worries of the unknown, for the full aroma of The King's falafels will adequately serve to guide you directly to his enthralling market.   

Falafel, Shawarma, Kebab!  Veggie or carni, pita or rice, The King delivers to your palate's suffice.  Make friends with the Zeideia family and you create a pact of peace for life.  A treaty of food that expands excitement, love and happiness to those from all boroughs near and far.  

Eventually, return to your native land, your West and East Villages, your buildings to the sky, your central park of champions, for Manhanttanites never conquer or invade.  But, certainly, bring back the riches of the land you have discovered, the flavors of the King, the world of Falafel.

Fares Freddy Zeideia

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Glory to the Divine

"Ohhhhh lord, where art thou?" 

Hell knows I've uttered that biblical...shakespearean...erk?...that phrase in some odd, quirky and sometimes tragic circumstances. 

And ain't religion a funny thing.  We live among the devout, the spiritual, agnos and the atheists.  Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim....Sufi, Sikh, Shinto, Baha'i...Oh, and the Scientologists, "Where IS my spaceship?!" 

Whether you believe or not, all possess faith in the grandeur and beauty of deific, wholly and energetic global traditions, practices and monuments created in the name of some glorious divine.  So you scream that religion satisfies only the truly fanatic or you pontificate that non-believers ride the fast train to the inferno - One tenet we can all find peace in rests in the visual allure manifested in the decor and drama created by this mysticism.

After a weekend of hedonism in the Big Apple, lay your tired feet at the house of the St. John.  If the tale is true, the Divine invites and accepts all.     

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Even as an experienced traveler, Paris remains my first love.
For me, the city of lights bubbles and explodes like champagne and fireworks.  

Paris, how much do I love thee…let me count the ways.

1. Le Tour Eiffel
But of course.  Iconic.  Expected.  But never disappoints.  Any which way you see it, the infamous entrance to the 1889 World Fair excites and satisfies many a fan who catches a glimpse or stares in awe.  Whatever your vantage point, whether from slow river boats, lazily in surrounding grassy knolls, beneath the tallest Parisian tower itself, through openings three stories high, or, at best, from across at the Trocadéro, the iron lattice phe-nom somehow elicits a sense of comfort and peace in a city that impresses every time.  Soooo, the lady at the ticket counter yells at you rudely, the restroom shuts down with no alternate in sight and lines are three hours long...the Eiffel Tower remains, still, très, très magnifique.

2. Moulin Rouge
Wowzers.  What in the hell is the Moulin Rouge?!  Fantastic.  Neon lights, flashy costumes, feathers, sequins, wild music and craziness.  Walking into the 19th century red velvet, candlelit, large yet cozy cabaret theater proves magical.  Originally housing courtesans, this slightly questionable establishment soon became the hotspot for fashionable French society and is now well-received and well-respected by most.  Although still a bit risqué and provocative, depending on whether you excite, find normal or panic at the appearance of many topless women, the Moulin Rouge, through music, dance, musicians and comedians, delivers significantly more than expected.  One ticket price, one included bottle of champagne.  By all means G-rated and yet, still, a happy ending.   

3. Basilique du Sacré Coeur
It may be out of your way to Montmartre but the white stone church high on the hill coupled with awesome panoramic views of the city of love provide ample reason to trek up to the church of the sacred heart.  Work off your lunch of French delicacies by choosing to climb your way to the virginal alter rather than tramming it up by street car.  Celebrate your effort with a long, lazy afternoon détente on the front steps listening to artists sing, activists pontificate or acrobats and entertainers liven up the Parisian backdrop.  Post spiritual cleanse, leisurely stroll the quaint boulevards de Montmartre and thank God for the surrounding trendy boutiques and cute restaurants.  

4.  Jardin Louxemberg 
Aaahhhh, trifling days in the French breeze.  Maybe a bit lazy, but I love a good lay in the park.  Have I ever carved out the time in my hectic American schedule?  No.  But, during any stroll in this green esplanade , it seems as though Europeans excel at this wondrous pastime.  The Jardin Louxemberg provides ample room to cozy on up to your sweetness, platonically sit with a friend or quietly rest solo with a good book, an iPod or some munchies.  Toss your watch in the flower bed and hang casually amongst the tall trees, flowers and summer clouds for utter rest and relaxation.  The Jardin Louxemberg is ideal as it seems less touristy, more local and surrounded by perfect ambiance: a castle with statues no less.  Its the atmosphere plus the encouraging Parisians who entice you to play hooky from whatever it is you were doing and just play in the grass. 

5. Crepes and Cream
Ooooh la, la, how the French perfect their desserts.  Nothing fancy, nothing elegant.  Simply crepes and ice cream on the streets.  Oh, but how rich it is.  My preference leans towards a double scoop of caramel and dark chocolate ice cold cream coupled with a hot, fresh nutella crepe.  Grab that park bench a la # 4 above and let your tongue savor all that delicious french sucre.  Sooo, you might invite a belly ache post consumption but how scrumptious it was in the moment.  C'est la vie. 

6.  Vélib' Bikes
Well, the idea is grand IF you can figure out how to actually rent one.  All over Paris, this progressive city hosts approximately 20,000 FREE, public bicycles waiting to be picked up at 1,639 automated rental stations.  [And we query why French women are so thin?  Hmmm.]  As a casual adventurer myself, the idea of a riding along the streets of the city, catching the sites and details of Parisian life, as I pleased and with efficient speed, seemed divine.  YET, aaa-parently, credit cards [needed as collateral] require a very special EMV chip [which American cards do not possess] in order to access these 1,000s of Vélib' stations from which others so gaily rent bikes and fly by on.  The rental stations do, however, take American Express cards.  So...I guess..don't leave home without it.  If you can manage to rent one of the quaint '50s styled grey two-wheelers, kudos to you and bon voyage as you traverse this vibrant metropolis cheap, fit and hip. 

7. Live Music on the Seine 
On every walk along the famous river Seine, especially around dusk, musicians serenade your stroll as if in a Hollywood movie.  Guitars, saxophones, live singers...whatever is your fancy some one is playing it on the Seine.  To add to the milieu, cultured French and tourists alike sit along the banks engulfing the musicians to offer support and encouragement and to take out the time to enjoy the moment.  Sand, fit into playboxes for adults, edge parts of the Seine river bank sometime providing a beach like celebratory atmosphere enhanced by the cigarettes and spirits.  Free concerts on the french riverside - what a wonderful life.

8. European Cafes 
Call me romantic, naive or delirious but I always envision every European languidly sitting hour upon hour in street side cafes sipping cafe, nibbling on baguettes and cheese without a care in the world.  So, do as they do...or as I fantasize.  Put up your feet and eat and drink until you are belly-filled and hopefully high.  Whether its truly Parisian or not is actually quite irrelevant...chit chat aimlessly, read your magazine and newspaper, or intellectually ponder your relationship with the city.  Whatever you do, just sit in the sun, for 3 or 9 hours, without a care in the world.

9. The Louvre 
Tried and true, it never fails.  The one and only.  Everyone knows it, everyone's heard about it:  La Joconde aka the Mona Lisa.  So, she ends up being smaller, less attractive and hard to see once you actually meet her.  But the Louvre in all its grandeur awes and inspires even the most art ignoramus.  There proves much beauty and past time in the infamous triangle glass, the exquisite Venus de Milo, the expansive and detailed murals, as well as in the aches and pains from navigating the halls and halls...and halls.  Learn a little something, appreciate art and infuse yourself in the history lesson that is the Louvre.  The least you can do is brag that you arrived at one of the most famous museums in the world.

10.  Notre Dame
The last item to make this list was a toss up between a   hallowed church and well...french men.  Figuring that hot, European bucks do not excite everyone, I played a numbers game and decided on a more neutral and compromising caboose to this tourist train in order to appeal to the masses...albeit and noted that religion may also not necessarily be every one's cup of tea, particularly when cited TWICE in one blog.  But. No true tourist to Paris should avoid the Gothic architecture and stained glass glory of "Our Lady of Paris" cathedral on the quaint Île de la Cité.  As it's a working church and maintains a strict rule to remain silent, there is no choice but to enter this divine home to reflect and pray.  Never one to claim  seriousness as a virtue, I beg the lords to understand that the Hunchback is really not my type and thank them for all the men outdoors.

For me, Paris always, is love.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

We Are The World, We Are The Children

Imagine that.  A world where we all happily mix and mingle among each other.  Not simply tolerating ourselves but sincerely enjoying our varied differences, cultures, foods, traditions and smells.  Of course, this merry scene does play out in many moments and marked places around the globe.  As we've all experienced, most of us, our neighbors, and strangers do invite one and all in a spirit of generosity, kindness and friendship.  However, times and situations present themselves where our brethren stoop to actions less than human, against each other, requiring a meeting of the minds, of the world, to find solutions. 

So, like a kid in a candy store, this geek, yours truly, giggles, heart-stops and skips gaily at, of all places, the United Nations.  The dual headquarters in New York City and Geneva make me a twitter with bliss and possibility.  Reality boldly teaches that the world is not peaceful, xenophobia lives strong and some places are simply too dangerous to alight upon.  Yet, for me, the United Nations, represents the movement that believes that differences can find common ground and that we truly do seek a world that we can all enjoy equally. 

For an international traveler, it is only fitting that I, along with my fellow adventurers and curiosity seekers, believe in the ability to see natural and man-made wonders, eat insane cuisine and hear vibrant and varied music all across the globe. 

So, on our fab trip to Europe, a stop in Geneva required a paid tour and one hour lecture at the very Kum Ba Ya edifice, where the world meets and has a conversation.

As a human rights attorney, I've spoken at the UN on human trafficking and, as a career goal, hope to enter the headquarters in Geneva as an invited guest.  For now, like a naive school girl and professed nerd, I simply toured with exalted energy and internal hope and faith that the people who negotiate, delegate and compromise within these great rooms do so with a sincere effort to make our world positively interconnected.                                                                                       

For a lover of travel, the idea of a united world is taken for granted, obvious, easy and expected.  As if anything else could or should be the norm.  How else are we to be born one place and see all others, to experience culture, nature, people and lifestyles that are different from ours.

Maybe travelers are the true ambassadors of the globe. Maybe those who cross borders, intermingle and make friends in countries not their own inherently and without pomp and circumstance serve as the true diplomats.  Maybe travelers are the unsung world of the international foreign service.  I like the sound of that and wear my smile for all persons as my badge.