Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ER thoughts: Is there dignity in pain?

Pain reminds us of the essence of our human condition and teaches us that social norms could only be extraneous. Visit an emergency room and see for yourself, and hear and smell for yourself too. There, burping, farting, groaning, and whining are not only permitted but also excusable and understandable. People waiting in PJs, sometimes in bare underwear or less is common. I remember a friend of mine once complained to me that when she was transfered urgently to a hospital, and while her pain was insurmountable, she could still be concerned that medics would now see the hole in her torn sock. I thought then that pain could be insulting. It maybe is but only because we imposed on ourselves a distorted definition of dignity.

Monday, March 29, 2010


A Lebanese politician said that he will be the first to disclose his bank account information if everyone else does. And, I will be the first one to see that happen after everyone else has seen it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday night

Why do you need to close one eye to see or read clearly when drunk. I mean if we only need one eye to see when drunk: half conscious why do we need two when sober? unless soberness does not necessarily mean consciousness. Ears? They are a mere matter of symmetrical aesthetics. When drunk, two eyes or two ears become heavy to handle. Maybe, you don't need to see or know that much. Also, people truly believe everything you say when your are drunk so try to say less than necessary and avoid your attempts to sound sober. Maybe you don't even need the one tongue you have after all. An eye, an ear, and a lazy tongue had dinner on a Saturday night.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Keep it to yourself

Camus would excuse me: In times of war, the love of life is the alibi of cowards (and traitors). You can't express your love for life when others are just trying to have one. That is like visiting your neighbor who has a sterile land and telling him come and see my beautiful garden!


Parents turning into Grandparents for the first time tend to become passionately obsessed with their new grand-parenthood. I believe their aging or wiser -not sure which one- subconscious tells them: there is no way s/he will hurt you, let alone judge you. They are not capable of.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Freedom to mock religion should be a basic right

Today I commented when learning about the approaching Easter holidays that I am glad that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. As a joke? That we will have a long weekend extending from Thursday night till Monday night because of that? Imagine if he were crucified on a Tuesday? Nobody laughed. Don't be atheists but at least have some sense of humour. Freedom to mock religion should be a basic right and not laughing at a funny joke is a form of persecution.

Who are you fooling?

You wont fool anybody with all the reports on the deeds of those and that politician towards the people. "The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants," says Albert Camus.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where to hang the laundry

The culture of shame and guilt and of hanging the laundry inside.

Monday, March 22, 2010

There for the record

"Go see your future"

All political leaders in Lebanon and their direct subordinates and sub-subordinates are fanatic sectarian self deluded gangsters. They are murderers on top of that. They fought the fiercest and ugliest wars and killed people in Kilos. Yet, none of them induced damage to this country more than Rafik Hariri. He killed the last shred of cultural life left in the last square meters of the city. One of the earliest songs I heard in the wake of the Hariri invasion of Lebanon -that his TV looped 24/7- said "dear beloved, go see your future" (verbatim). It so sounded like "put the politics and your brains aside and go to your room finish your homework". Come to think of it, the Hariri plan was partly to take the young generation away from political activism through sending them abroad for education through Saudi money. Even moms wouldn't dare say that to their sons in the midst of the war. After the May 7, 2008 war in Lebanon, I was having dinner with some friends at Abou Hassan in Karakass, a once "popular" leftist restaurant in Beirut, when a bunch of thugs overheard our discussion of the war from the adjacent table. We had also seen them replay some of the scenes of their macho-ness in one of the streets during the war. Just as they were about to leave, one of them approached my friend and told him with an utmost sarcastic and mafia-like tone "khallik bi darsak w shou baddak bi hal haraket" (Focus on your studies and stay away for your own sake). It made me remember that Hariri song. The funny sad part is that Hariri plan did succeed. Today, a theater in Lebanon announced that it might close soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I am speechless for they are languageless

Most Lebanese have poor command of classical Arabic. This for the majority is a source of pride either for pure sectarian/political reasons or a show off for their trilingual multi cultural "heritage". The problem is that even their French and English suck.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lebanese Greetings

I always struggle with the glossary of Lebanese greeting vocabulary, the non-Arabic terms being another story. I just get confused when people greet me with "how is life" or "How are your days" and even "how are you" in Arabic sounding more like "tell me about your conditions". I just get confused. Somewhy I take those questions literally. That's how they sound to me anyway and I feel an urge to answer truly often without really wanting to. The true answers start crawling into my head and I end up shutting them up with "not this one", "find something else", "say anything", "you are taking too long", and I would end up showing my fake white teeth smile.

So what

I have never been as clumsy as I was this week, and I am very clumsy. My car with the dozen unwashed nescaffe cups looks like a kitchen sink. I wasn't sure if I should look in the car trunk or under the bed to find any of my jackets. The worst part was that I left the house with a short sleeve shirt on a rainy cold day and wore a wool jacket from the trunk when it was hot as hell. I felt regret twice, once for saying what I was not supposed to and once for not saying anything when I had to speak up. I was sleepy exactly when I needed my six senses and stayed awake when even bats were sleeping. The good part was that I felt relieved. It was like opening the "f*** it, so what" door and discovering the lightness of being.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Walking Lettuces

They say you are born as a blank sheet and from that point on you start getting written on, painted, scribbled, carved, folded, crumpled, and sometimes torn. I say you are born a self. Your self was right at the surface. Then they start teaching you to un-self yourself and you start burying your self light years deep underneath layers of your other selves, like a lettuce, like the layers of clothes that my grandmother wore and seemed to me interminable.

Face it.

Life is not unfair. You either made wrong choices or are looking at it from the wrong angle.

I am God

A free pigeon perched today on my balcony balustrade and started mocking my caged love birds. They became suddenly agitated and I feared they would go on a hunger strike. They had been happily living in that prison when they knew no other way. I know that they would die if I set them free and they don't know that freedom can only come at a cost. I am their God and I am no different than any God in that regard. I am their occupier and I am no different than any occupier. They instill in me a great feeling of guilt whenever I look at them. I feel like a prison guard when I feed them and ashamed when I set them free in a closed room, a bigger cage. I want to give them a choice, self determination, and freedom but then they will have to die although they wont have to cover up their nakedness.

The Sinusoidal Life Cycle

I guess I found an answer to this question of age. A lot has been written on the matter, I know. But I observed that people start aging when they start acting like adults, at any age, it does not matter, and then they stop aging, or rather start de-aging, when they start speaking and acting their mind, stupidly most of the time, like babies. Babies don't really think about the implications of their actions or words. They just say the first thing that comes to their minds and so do many people at an "old" age. So, people can age, then de-age, then age again, then de-age, and so on. Others keep on aging until they are wise enough to realize that they need to de-age. That's the real life cycle. In fiction, the distorted life cycle gets more interesting. In Fitzgerald's "The curious case of benjamin button", the reverse life cycle is a bit annoying but the best said was by Georges Costanza in Seinfeld: "The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death. What’s that, a bonus?!? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you go live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, go collect all your super, then, when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You drink alcohol, you party, and you get ready for High School. You go to primary school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last 9 months floating with luxuries like central heating, spa, room service on tap, then you finish off as an orgasm!"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Those old days

My innocent childish stupefaction with TV is nothing compared with what older people perceived and thought of the Radio or the transistor when it first arrived to town. My father remembers how some older people felt sorry how those voices people are squeezed in such a tiny space. An older woman brought them food. Another woman turned the radio off in the middle of a song so that her husband could hear it or the rest of it when he is back.

The battle for Women's rights in Lebanon

Here is the latest on Lebanese struggle for women's and human rights: An ad all over TV and billboards: "Le bijou est aussi un droit. Reclame le." (Jewelry is also a right. Claim it.) When I first saw it, I thought: This is definitely a slogan created by Naamtallah Abi Nasr.

You mean the last one

The Lebanese have a funny saying that they repeat like parrots. It goes "I will be the first one to do such and such if everyone else does it".

Friday, March 12, 2010

Childhood Wonders

One of the earliest things I remember from my very early childhood is that I used to think that all those people and characters I watched on TV lived inside that TV box. I also used to feel bad for them whenever there was a power cut thinking that they must be afraid of the dark. I wonder: What do kids these days think with flat TV screens and LEDs? Their favorite characters must all be either too skinny and flattened or just TV characters. That's boring. I saw a one year old baby once peek right behind a laptop screen to see and touch those characters. He didn't find them (of course). I wonder what he thought.

Garden update

The Garden across my balcony has flowered. It has not rained lately but all the flowers had a yellow color.

About age

I was telling my father once about a man who had just died. "How old was he?", my dad asked. "He was old," I answered, "in his mid sixties". "And how would that be old?" he said, with surprise, or maybe with fear, I couldn't tell. My dad is 61 years old. How wise, you might wonder, but that made me think how relative the perception of age is. My younger sister once told me about a woman who is single and depressed. "How old is she?", I asked. "She is old," my 24 year old sister answers, "she is 29." I am not age-phobic but I also had that same weird look that my father had and I asked myself: when do we stop growing and start aging? Even my grandfather who is more than 80 years old, once said "poor guy, he died too early. He is only 85". Is it death? denial? or is it that people just feel eternal? What is the right age to say that someone is old? I do understand that it could be relative all throughout life. But then give me a number, 90? a 100?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bareed Mista3jil

The Meem publication "Bareed Mista3jil" about the LGBT community in Lebanon is quite progressive and interesting. To my surprise, it was also informative in a sense. When I started reading it, I didn't think I would enjoy it as a narration but some of the stories did touch me. The stories are also well written and fun to read. The tone of the stories fluctuates between sad, angry, sarcastic, to serious, sermonic, or cheerful but always witty. The writers did a great job humanizing the stories although, as is always the case in Lebanon, they had to make a point in saying that lesbianism equally exists among the different societies, religions, educational levels, and classes. Who would argue otherwise? But I wasn't annoyed by that as I would usually be because it was interesting to learn how people from different backgrounds reacted and dealt with it and because at the end you would come up with the conclusion that there is no rule. As much as I agree that on top of all this is an issue of rights, I cannot dissociate it from the general violation of all sorts of rights in Lebanon. Rights for me come as a package and not in droplets. Let's face it, practically speaking a lesbian in Lebanon has the space and room to enjoy her sexual freedoms much more than a single (i.e. unmarried) heterosexual female (of course not without legal consequences). The problem is not restricted to discrimination and tolerance. It is a problem of freedoms and rights. Of ignorance.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fever talk

I am very sick. I have a running nose and a fever. I am dizzy and tired. I am overworking myself at work and I am as usual assuming to do what has to be done even if I am not the one supposed to be doing it. There are two types of people at my job those who know but care less for the work or those we work with or their career (maybe they are right, who says career progress is linked to performance in the first place?) and second those who are willing to do but know nothing, and there are those who know nothing and are not willing to do and stand in the way. And I don't work in a toilet paper factory here but peoples lives. I am such a stupid workaholic. And now all I am thinking of is that I am physically tired and I need to get some sleep and that my health comes last on my list of priorities. On top, I cant stop being such a competitive and restless person always looking for riddles and difficulties, challenges that require my intelligence to analyze and solve. Something in the hard way attracts me and I am such a naive both when I believe in myself and when I lose trust.


Diplomacy for the UN has one and only meaning: no confrontation, as a permanent tactic, an end in itself. How boring can this be? A tactic is inherently and by definition a means and a temporary one in a set of other planned actions but... That is a long story and I need to elaborate more about that. I will.


All UN buildings are weapon free except when visited by officials from US embassies.

On women's day

This women's day distressed me today with the amount of articles I read and others I am planning to read (i.e. will never do) where I tried to find an answer to the question tormenting me all day: who is going to wash all the dishes in my kitchen? I refuse to have a helper (foreign or Lebanese) at home and someone alerted me that buying plastic plates is environmentally unfriendly and eating outside is pocket unfriendly and I don't have a younger brother to exploit and I don't want to wash the dishes anymore. That's what I have to say on Women's day and I am so cranky today.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Think twice before you name your children!

I would never name my daughter "Ahmad". It is a very religious name.

The truth, fair or not

Have you not met people who, at first, look to you as naturally charming and interesting and then suddenly as you would be drawn with utmost interest to their conversation, with a big smile on your face, facial expressions of contentment, and approving signs with your eyes, neck, and lips to what is being said, then suddenly that person makes a quick gesture or a certain grimace, sometimes noticeable only to you, that appalls you for no discernible reasons? That gesture or facial twist would hunt you later on and you would replay it in your head over and over to try and understand for yourself what and why it was revulsive. You might also experience a feeling of guilt afterwards, yet rewinding the scene you cannot but say to yourself: He just ruined it! I knew someone in the past whom I had liked for months until I saw him dancing. That charming guy suddenly went through a metamorphosis and in a second he looked to me as an idiot. The poor guy did nothing wrong but the look on his face, his eyes, those smart eyes I adored, the eyes that spoke to me in silence, were suddenly round and empty. What I saw in those eyes at that fraction of a second disturbed me for the whole night. I felt that I discovered something new about him, something I was never able to say what it was. I just felt betrayed by those eyes. I could not go out with him after that night.

Anger Strategy

A friend of mine has an anger management problem but found a great way to deal with it. He goes to political opponents' sites and starts commenting on articles that annoy him. His purpose is never to publish his comments, on the contrary he goes on insulting the authors, while experimenting every time a new creative insult. It is however reassuring for him to know that someone must be reading his insults while filtering those comments and that's enough to appease his anger.

Plastic utensils maybe?

I have a feeling that the time I spent in my life doing the dishes is more than the time I spent reading books. The number of dishes I washed is by far more than that of books I read. That needs to be reversed.

On love and time

It is not true that time kills love. Habit does.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Funny about the hit team in Dubai on Al Jazeera International: "even children stealing from grocery shops are aware of cameras these days!", the report said.


My visit to Amman was only interesting because I brought with me and read Joe Sacco's comic book "Palestine". Aside from that I had a constant urge to throw up all along. I watched the interview of Ehud Barak with Christiane Amanpour (or Christiana as Ehud kept on calling her) under the hypocrite look of King Hussein. I rarely watch TV to watch CNN but I tend to do so in hotels to compensate. I can't find adjectives to describe Ehud Barak. Even a fanatic Zionist would be offended listening to that killer (I believe that nowadays a war criminal is by comparison a nicer adjective than a killer; it could be justified by political and sometimes nationalistic reasons, a typical criminal, that's what Ehud Barack is). Palestinian struggle for liberation becomes terrorism and indiscriminate targeting of civilians and the intentional targeting of Palestinian civilians by Israel is "defense that went out of proportion" according to that killer. His insolence went off limits to even call for revising what he calls "the rule of the game" only to mean human rights standards and international humanitarian laws so that to legalize targeting civilians when they are used as human shields according to his own judgment of what constitutes such a situation each time. I truly wanted at the moment for that to happen only to use Barak as a human (animal) shield afterwards. I had a need to throw up after watching was it not for Joe Sacco. I wish I were a cartoonist. I am not even a good photographer (not that bad though). Amman was foggy and rainy but I could see the stupid and repulsive baby face of King Abdallah that made me want to vomit again.