Part III

As previously mentioned, the beginning of my freshman year of college wasn’t easy – it was down right tumultuous in fact. This likely comes as a surprise to my friends from home who know me to have loved college as much as Asher Roth. Reality is, early on a combination of questionable choices, bad choices, self-righteousness, miscommunications, haterade, and emotions made for a bumpy ride – but that’s the formula for any female athletics program right? I kid, I kid.

Following the incident which led to me being labeled a floozy, I also wound up having a rough time in the weight room, which led to a very serious, stoic, and anxious Aida during strength and conditioning training. Coincidentally, Jonathan and his lifting partner started showing up to the weight room during my training times, consistently, which only added to my anxiety. To be quite frank, I really had a lot of embarrassment to avoid at all cost, so I really wasn’t paying him any attention in there, but I knew just his presence was the last thing I needed during these tense times.

Then out of no where, to make matters worse, after I had just barely survived a training session without more than two instances of public humiliation, I was getting “signed out,” trying to flee as quickly as possible when the graduate assistant asked me, “so what do you think of Big J?”



All I could think was, “This is a trick isn’t it?” “what if Coach White heard?” “They are trying to catch me off guard.” Out loud I stammered, but eventually said, “ummm, I don’t know.” Despite my clear discomfort, he continued! “Well he wanted to talk to you,” – there was a lot more I swear, and it was in some strange code, but I was on the brink of blacking out from fear, so I can’t remember any of it. I ran out as soon as I could, thankful that Coach White didn’t add to my horror.

All was soon forgotten as our first home tournament approached, and team tension began to build as expectations and eight new freshmen spirits were heightened. In the midst of all this, team drama erupted. The night before the first game of our tournament, one of the senior captains was talking to me outside of my dorm in attempt to smooth out some drama. This was a very serious conversation, and a big deal for me, as I was only a new freshman, and a small fish within the team. In the middle of our conversation, from a distance, I saw Jonathan walking through campus. My heart sank. It was a little premature, but my first thought was, “please don’t come this way.” That may not seem very romantic, but remember I was trying to build a serious and cool reputation, and having this basketball player holler at me while with this senior captain would not be within that realm.

Just as I had dreaded, Jon started walking towards us very deliberately. I tried to stay focused within our conversation, while still pleading in my head “please don’t come over here, please don’t come over here.” Despite my internal pleas, Jon walked right up to us and without any suave or finesse, he asked for my AOL instant messenger. There was no smooth talking, flirting, or giggling. I was so mortified and terrified and I just wanted it all to be over so that my captain would just forget it ever happened. I swallowed hard, held my breath, and then sped up the conversation. Jon walked away as quickly as he approached.

As soon as my conversation with the captain was smoothed out and finished, I ran up eight flights (yes eight) of stairs to my dorm room, where I finally caught my breath. Obviously I had to debrief all of my freshmen teammates, and despite my terror, I signed on to AOL as soon as I could and waited to see what new requests I had.

Despite my ongoing drama, I lived to see another day, after which began a long period of “talking.” I don’t know if the kids call it that anymore. I didn’t have a smart phone yet, nor did I have a sidekick, so I had to be in my dorm room to talk, but that eventually led to face-to-face conversations. To respect our “privacy” (word spreads quick through athletic departments) and because Providence College is a Catholic institution and still has parietals to instill their codes of propriety, we would meet outside of McVinney hall, where I’d prop up on the stone wall that separated the building from the lawn, and we’d talk for hours on end about everything and anything. He learned that I had a boyfriend, but we were in an “open relationship,” the newly introduced, Facebook, even said so. He informed that he too was in an “open relationship” with his girlfriend, however Facebook was not so clear on that matter – hmmmmm?


To be continued

Part II

I didn’t meet Jonathan that first day I saw him in the gym, and ironically his recollection of the first time he saw me was in that gym, but a different occasion. We however did not meet for another week or so, on the first day of school, our first day of college.

At the beginning of the school year at Providence College, all of the student athletes are required to attend an all-team meeting, at which the athletic director welcomes us back or for the first time, he does his best to inspire us for the new school year, and at some point he encourages us to say hello or introduce ourselves to someone we don’t know in the room. So this is where things begin to get interesting.   This year was the only year during my time at PC that the meeting happened in the middle of my practice, in the gym we practice in. Consequently, I was in a practice shirt and short spandex, which stood out amongst the other athletes in street clothes. When our athletic director cued us to go say hello to an athlete, that was not one of our teammates, I got up, along with a friend and teammate of mine from California, and went over to hug and say hello to my sister’s roommates from when she was at PC, who were both on the woman’s basketball team. My teammate and I had to walk across the entire gym, past all of the student athletes, which apparently was considered ostentatious. We said hello to Ijeoma and Kristina, and before we returned to our team, nearly the entire freshman class of the men’s basketball team was walking down the bleachers to shake our hands and say hello. Jonathan of course was one of those athletes, and that was the first time we exchanged hellos but not much more than that.


(getting me in trouble since day 1)

The exchange was very short and very harmless, or so I thought. After our hellos, my teammate and I scurried back to our team in the bleachers. Now this story seems quite uneventful, but I will never forget what came after. The result of our little introduction stint, made no progress in my romance with Jonathan, but it did shape a tumultuous beginning to my freshman year. My older classmates were very aware of our short trip across the gym to say hello and they would not let us hear the end of it. That episode began the era of the freshman floozies – yes we were labeled floozies that day, and trust me it’s not the way you want to start your first day of college, but again, this is how the cookie crumbles in our story. I would not hear the end of that story for months!! The retell of it was so dramatic, deliberate, and forward! I was not amused. Jon and I still wouldn’t even speak to each other for weeks, but that day and that experience started a long, constant battle to appear too cool to communicate with male basketball players, and to uphold a certain reputation, which likely was never achieved.


(during our Freshman Floozies days)

– sigh –

To Be Continued

Our Story: Part I

It would appear that the dust had settled on the blog; that this novella had ran it’s course, and quietly disappeared into non-existence. But I am always sitting here quietly wondering if it’s time to stretch these fingers, or floss my brain. But recently the question has been, what would I write about? What would anyone care to read about? The sad reality is that I actually have a plethora to write about, but very little courage to share, especially with those that I know dear and near to me. I’ve let my pride and apprehension, my fear of what people would think; keep me from adding to the blog. However, a simple and obvious question from a friend, and a bout with a spontaneous illness, which I’m very adamant is due to a case of exhaustion, has led me to confront my fear, and send one more blog post out there – baby steps.

This would be a lot easier to do anonymously, but this blog was never dreamt out of anonymity and I just love the name of the blog, don’t you? So I don’t think I could walk away from the proxy to start over, instead I have to face my fears head on.

So what was the question a friend asked? It was quite simple. She more or less asked why we didn’t have the story of how manfriend and I met on our wedding website.


I forgot to mention it. We got engaged. Yeah that’s right. After a long, long distance relationship, a grand move to a foreign country and then back again, manfriend decided he’d ask me to be his wife, so I don’t have to be his ladyfriend or womanfriend, I suppose. We are making it official.

On most blogs (from the female blog perspective), there’s an engagement story to be written, however I was compelled to write “Our Story,” so an engagement story will have to wait.

Back in 2005 I could not WAIT to go to college – to go to my first college, division I, volleyball training, preseason. I have a feeling that my emotional response wasn’t all that normal. I was boiling with excitement, but also nearly ill with fear and anxiety, as training camp, preseason, or two-a-days, whatever you know them as, can and should be brutal. I was overwhelmed with fear that I might not be able to cut it, but also so excited to put on a college uniform. You’re probably thinking what’s so weird about that? That’s normal. Well yes and no.

This story starts the night of me leaving for college. All of my friends had come over to see me off, as I was the first to go away to school since I had preseason. There with all of my closest friends and family, with four or five massive suitcases packed, waiting and cringing as the time neared to leave for the airport, to travel 3,000 miles away, to never return (that’s far from the truth, but we were probably acting that way).   Then the time came, there’s evidence of this moment. I hugged everyone, I kissed my then boyfriend I’m sure (yep he’s a part of the story). And there were tears, as there should be. But I remember not feeling sad – I just couldn’t wait. I knew I should be sad and teary, and while I loved and still love these people to the moon and back, my tear ducts were completely dried up at this point in my life, and real tears were very difficult to conjure up (the birth of Halima Mima and Ciarini has really revitalized those ducts – damn them!). But I was sad enough. I said my goodbyes and went off to the airport.


The next tidbit is not relevant to our love saga, but funny nonetheless, and manfriend would find a way to make it relevant. After checking 5 bags (this was before all those fees got erroneously high), MaMere and I were proceeding through security, me wearing a vintage, boy’s lacoste polo, cut off sweat pants, and Von Dutch uggs (why?) – I can’t remember what MaMere was wearing, but I remember what I was wearing vividly, because she won’t let me forget it. After making it through security en route to our gate, we walk right by Kanye West and his rather small entourage. I was SHOOK! Oh my gosh – this was the old Kanye (I know you hear the song in your head), this was College Drop Out Kanye, this was days before Late Registration dropped. I was barely a hip-hop head, so I’m a little impressed that I was already enamored with him, but I knew it was him as soon as I saw him.

I was speechless obviously. MaMere asked me what was wrong. I told her who he was, and her only response was, “well, that’s why you should always be presentable when you travel.” My mother, always good faith in her girls, thought that at that point I might have had a chance at being who is now Kim Kardashian, if only I had been more presentable. Ah, c’est le vie.

Okay now, we can fast forward through my exit from L.A. and entrance into college life at Providence College, the true setting of the love saga.   Manfriend and I actually brushed shoulders very early on in our college careers. I entered preseason, and didn’t die nor did I get kicked off the team for not being in good enough shape or for not being talented enough, like I had feared, and was fully inducted into practice and team life. I was beginning to become accustomed with the smells of campus, the humidity of Rhode Island, the routine of our days and practices. Then – there’s always a then; then one day as the team and I wear setting up the net and rolling out balls, warming up for practice, I noticed two guys playing or shooting on one of the hoops in the corner of the gym. To be completely transparent, while I did have a boyfriend in L.A., I was “boy crazy,” and the prospective of meeting college boys had me bubbling over with anticipation. Nobody should go to college with a boyfriend – just my judgmental opinion. That being said, I was obviously peeking the scene from the corner of my eye. I didn’t want to let on at all, as I couldn’t have the older girls think that I was distracted by athletic man-meat, oh no, I was above that, just like them.

Well, out the corner of my eye, I saw a regular sized boy or guy and playing against him the largest man I had ever seen in my life. It sounds crazy doesn’t it? But at that moment I thought he was the largest man or boy I had ever seen, and he may have been. This many-boy beast also appeared way too old to be in college, according to my perception, so I didn’t pay him much mind after I made that judgment. I would later find out that that large boy, was a freshman, and his name was Jonathan. But even getting to that story is a journey.

One post at a time.


We made it to Paris!

Before I regale you all with tales of Paris, I would like to let you know that I am trying my hand at the French dish, coq au vin, tonight; I already lit the cognac on fire and managed to keep my eyebrows, so no matter what, I won one battle today.

The second leg of Euro Trip 2015 for me and Blake was in Paris. After a long up hill climb and incorrect information regarding trains to the airport, we eventually made out of Marseille, which wasn’t a given apparently. I felt a lot of pressure to keep Blake alive while we were in Marseille, because unbeknown to me, the city doesn’t have the best reputation (in regards to crime rates).  So as soon as our plane touched down in Paris, a great wave of relief rolled over me, as I could now let Blake’s mom know I kept her out of harms way.  We not only made it to Paris in one piece and with all of our belongings – we even took a bus and a metro towards our next Air BnB, which is a HUGE deal for two gals from Los Angeles.

We could not check into our Air BnB fast enough because we were desperate to grab something to eat. This time, we learned our lesson and avoided any tourist trap by asking our host for a suggestion; he sent us to L’As du Fallafel. Words can not describe the joy we experienced as we stuffed shawarma filled pita pockets, with the perfect salad ratios, in our mouths. We were two happy girls.

After Blake and I got settled in we, anxiously awaited my friends from grad school for an epic reunion in Paris – who would’ve ever thought? We greeted, we hugged, I introduced, and then we freshened up for dinner at Chez Janou. Apparently Chez Janou is a little (maybe a lot) touristy, but the food is very good, so if all else fails, don’t worry because it’s not a trap, you can leave there without feeling sleazy.

The following day I took the group on the Mayah and Chahira Paris tour. I think the 16 miles of walking was a bit much for the group, but I was determined to have us see as much as we could. To make up for it, we had a chill day the day after – which included another lunch at L’As du Fallafel – we’re obsessed.

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Looking for my lock on the bridge.

Looking for my lock on the bridge.

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We claimed him ours, and then Hanna named him Sirius White - if you don't know the reference, you can't sit with us.

We claimed him ours, and then Hanna named him Sirius White – if you don’t know the reference, you can’t sit with us.

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Next stop, Belgium!  [many of these photos have come courtesy of Blake]

Je suis Finisher

Marathon weekend 2015 has come and gone, and with it came the beginning of an epic six city Euro Trip. I was lucky enough to have friends from Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston fly in for unparalleled reunion trip.

For me, the trip kicked of with a five hour train to Marseille, in the south of France. My first arrival was Blake from L.A. We both managed to find our Air BnB and reconnected as if no time had past at all.

The two of us are pretty serious about conserving our calories for meals that are “worth it,” and unfortunately we fell victim to a couple of tourist traps, but we finally used our heads and asked our Air BnB host for some food recommendations, which was a life saver for. So when visiting Marseille, do your research first – most (if not all) of the restaurants in the Old Port are tourist traps and you’ll have much better luck in Cour Julian.

But how about that marathon? As this isn’t a fitness blog, I won’t bore you with too many details, but I finished!! I know some family members assumed that was a given, but trust me, when you get to mile 6 and you know you have 20 miles left to run in wet socks and shoes (it rained the entire race) a small seed of doubt may begin to sprout. I actually finished in the time I had initially set as my goal five months ago, but came to think was improbable as I saw my long run times just weeks before the big race. There came a point during the race when I thought, “maybe I can do this.” And after that moment I decided if I was going to do it, I was going to do it so that Miss Halima Mima would know she too could do anything she set her mind to.

After finishing I hobbled to our pre-set meeting spot where I found Blake, whose excitement was so gleeful it revitalized me. A few minutes later manfriend arrived from his five hour drive from Tarbes and we all began rehydrating with beers. Within an hour I was texting my brother and sister who were about to start their marathon. They finished their marathon in 95 degree heat – the horror! But they did it. Sister had made it very clear a year ago that she would NEVER partake in such shenanigans, and there she was running in unspeakable temperatures, pretty badass. Congrats siblings, you have joined the ranks of an extremely exclusive club.

First stop of Euro Trip 2015 – Marseille:


Train station in Tarbes


Courtesy of Blake


Courtesy of Blake

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Courtesy of Blake

Courtesy of Blake

Courtesy of Blake

Courtesy of Blake

Eyebrows not on fleek, but don't worry about that.

Eyebrows not on fleek, but don’t worry about that.


I was very cold and feeling myself in this fit.

I was very cold and feeling myself in this fit.

We moved!

About 10 days ago, Manfriend and I moved quite abruptly.  EXTREMELY abruptly.  While we had some days to prepare, we mostly enjoyed our last moments and luxuries of Lille, rather than packing, which came back to bite me in the butt.  After about 3 hours of sleep, we loaded up our 6 suitcases and various “carry on” bags and boarded a train to Paris.  Once in Paris we rested a bit, indulged in the BEST Turkish Kebab at Urfa Durum (really a must eat at spot, especially if traveling on a budget) and some strong coffee before jumping on another train to Tarbes in the South of France.

After a 7 plus hours of the train, we unloaded our stuff and were graciously greeted by manfriend’s new general manager and his family.  We loaded up their midsized van and headed straight to the gym to meet the new team.

A lot has happened in the last few days, we slept on terrible mattress after terrible mattress in hotel prison, but we are now finally settled into our new place and I am starting to build my new routine.

When I told my family I was moving, I was expecting to receive a whirlwind of questions and responses, but I hardly received anything.  My theory on this is that Americans think all countries in Europe are just basically their major cities, and everything is all awesome and convenient in these amazingly designed and polished cities. It’s an entire country, people! With less than 24 hours notice, I moved from one end of the country to the other, and no one even bated an eye!  For my American readers: could you imagine what your family would say if you tried that?  Madness.

Anyway – Tarbes.  Tarbes is in the south of France, a stones throw from Spain.  But let me clear up what has been another misconception.  Tarbes is not Nice or Cannes; while it has it’s own charm and appeal, I have received a lot of comments of my new location as if I’m sunbathing in the French Riviera with the movie stars.  Tarbes is actually located far west at the base of the Pyrenees mountains, and in contrast Nice, Cannes, Monaco (yes I know it’s a different country) are at the very south east corner of the country.  The weather here in the South is milder than that of the North, and it just recently took a turn for the best, so I have been able to walk around and feel the sun on my face and my hands (no gloves!), which has been amazing.  I also found a running trail quite easily and quickly, which most definitely saved manfriend from witnessing an ugly mental breakdown.

More than anything, manfriend’s team has really been amazing in making this transition manageable.  Everyone has not only been kind, but friendly and welcoming, already affording me social experiences that I had not participated in while living in Lille.  While I do miss some comforts of Lille that I had gotten used to, I really believe this is just all a part of my journey and I am ready to roll with it.

I took the following pictures in the park right across the street from our apartment.  Across the street!! How awesome is that?!

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This is my awesome running path.  There are areas that are much more picturesque, but I was recovering from a 12 mile run yesterday, so I let laziness prevail.

This is my awesome running path. There are areas that are much more picturesque, but I was recovering from a 12 mile run from the day before, so I let laziness prevail.

Those are the Pyrenees in the background.

Those are the Pyrenees in the background.

And last but not least, I christened our new kitchen with a new tart…IMG_1483 (1) IMG_1496

The marathon is one week from today, so stay tuned for details.  Wish us luck!



Last night, manfriend and I were enjoying dinner at a restaurant we had been wanting to try – well I was enjoying and he was complaining, so let’s just say we were enjoying each other’s company. In between chatter of our present life and pressing matters of the future, we found our way to a conversation about our past. I asked him if he remembered the first time we met. Oh no, this isn’t going to get mushy – relax over there. We have different versions of the first time we met, which we jest about every time it comes up. Either way, I was recanting my version of that meeting, to explain how it more importantly shaped other relationships and dramatic perils of my life that didn’t include him at all. Go figure. I finished it all with, “that was ten years ago.”

To be fair, it was more like nine and half years ago, but the date was in 2005 and now we are sitting in 2015. The story of our first meeting brought up stories of college, which made me giggle way too loudly in the French restaurant atmosphere. When I finally calmed down, we came back to that original point – that was ten years ago. Where had the time gone? I continued to muddle over that time in my life – college. It was a magical four years that felt like it would never end, and now, in the blink of an eye, it is all so far away.

This nostalgia made me think about where I’ll be when I think to myself about that time I lived in France.   Will it too seem like it came and went in the blink of an eye? History would suggest that yes it will. With that, I have been trying to take in every aspect of my life and surroundings here in France. I don’t just see things anymore, like I might have in college. I try to really take them in, so hopefully the scene will burn an image in my mind that I’ll never be able to forget.

I typically witness my most cherished scenes when I’ve forgotten my camera (of course), but here are some from our large Sunday market and the Park/Zoo that I take my daily run.

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I know you’re thinking I’m a big creeper, but hear me out. This couple was holding hands while jogging. I had to get a pic because I thought no one would believe me.



The meaning on life – how unassuming they are.


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And yes, those are parcels of foie gras in the shape of little ducks, or geese I suppose.

And yes, those are parcels of foie gras in the shape of little ducks, or geese I suppose.