Committment is a Two-Way Street

I’m sick of all the stereotyping going on, not only in the media but also in the minds of people and the daily conversations reflecting their perception of reality, or their denial of it.

For example, there’s this image of the woman running after a man who’s in turn running for his life. You know, the girl nagging about wanting to take a relationship to the next level, make it official, get him committed. Now I realize this happens, especially in a society were single men enjoy more liberties that those enjoyed by single women or married men, while married women obtain this imaginary new status that gives them a sense of superiority over those who are still outside this social circle. Yes, I understand that. But I also understand that this image of the girl with pinkish dreams and stars in her eyes is a naive generalization that no longer works.

You see, girls can take commitment seriously too, even to the point of being commitment phobes. Victimizing yourself as a free bird trying not to fall in captivity is quite absurd and senseless. You might think a girl has nothing to worry about because here in our society it all falls on the shoulder of the man, and I agree that they do shoulder a huge burden in that regard which makes them refrain from the whole thing altogether, but that doesn’t mean every girl is the queen of England, just sitting there looking pretty without a care in the world on her mind. Let me give you a few examples of the concerns  a girl could grapple with when being or even considering a serious commitment:

1- Financial burdens: Hello, 2013 to 1910, this is future, apparently men are no longer the only hunter-gatherers in the family, women are busting their spinal cords off working too to put food on the table. Look around you at any middle class family, you’d see men and women working all day to support their families. This friend of mine who, before getting married, didn’t have to worry about leaving her job if she didn’t feel comfortable, she would stay home and get her pocket money from her mother or brothers. But after she got married things were different. Now she can’t afford to leave her job no matter how much she hates it, because she has a house, and a son, and her husband’s salary alone can’t pay all their expenses. So, it’s goodbye to shopping whenever you feel like it, now there are more important things you need to save for, like diapers and milk bottles.

2Social commitments: You think it’s fun to have an entirely new family you need to keep up with? New occasions, weekly visits, events to attend, blab la bla. I mean, sure it could  be fun, those could be nice people but still it’s a new item on you agenda, multiple items.

3- Spousal and household commitments: You know how a man feels that he’s making the ultimate sacrifice by coming home early instead of spending the night puffing argeeleh smoke, arguing about politics and playing cards with his friends. Some sacrifice! You want sacrifice, I’ll give you sacrifice: It’s giving up the liberty to sleep in every morning, waking up and then going out or even going to work without worrying about a house you need to clean or a husband who would sulk if he came home to find that you didn’t have time to cook that day. Seriously, you know sometimes I wake up in the morning and I think of all the things my mother does around the house, which she doesn’t even let me worry about leaving me to my own work, and I think: How would it feel to wake up and realize there is an entire house you need to clean? That your daily mini heart attack. And please don’t get me started on when children enter the picture, any woman would tell you her ambitions would be reduced to going to the bathroom by herself, in peace.

4- Pressure, pressure, pressure: As a woman, you are expected to do all the above, go to work, have children, take care of the house, cook, and magically look your best, not only because your husband believes everything he sees on TV (If Nancy Ajram can do it, then so do you), but also because you would feel like crap if you looked in the mirror and couldn’t recognize yourself behind all that extra weight and disheveled hair. But you know who deserves a kick in the gut? That same man that compares his wife to TV personalities while he sits around the house in a white sleeveless undershirt, because he’s a freaking Casanova who looks charming just as he is! Whatever…

This is by no means an attempt to portray commitment as a mistake that should be avoided at all costs. Not at all. I actually believe it could be a beautiful experience depending on how you choose to deal with it, among other things. What I’m trying to say is: Don’t let yourself fall under the false impression that, as a man, you’re doing something heroic by going into commitment or that you’re the only one making a sacrifice.  She might be making an even bigger sacrifice you know, it’s a two-way street, nobody has it easy.

That Moment…

That moment when you’re watching a movie and a character starts to speak your mind…

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life.  Well, valuable, but small. And sometimes I wonder… do I do it because I like it or because I haven’t been brave?  So much of what I see reminds me of something in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t want an answer. I want to send this cosmic question to the void. So, good night, dear void.

 

But I do like my life, so I really don’t care why it’s this way or where it’s heading…

A Conversation with Tubby – 9

I found him nestled above a tree, all shaggy and famished. The sound of munching leaves gave him away.

Me: Where in the world have you been? I left no stone unturned looking for you. Come on down.

Tubby: How would I know you will not hurt me?

Me: Come on now, you know we never really hurt each other

[He rolled his eyes as if trying to remember something]

Tubby: Have I never hurt you? I do remember you getting angry once or twice.

Me [sighing patiently]: You provoked me, that’s it. The only time you really hurt me was when you disappeared on me.

[He looked suspicious]

Me: Besides, I really have no energy for that. I just want to talk.

[He began his descent hesitantly]

Me: Oh my God! You look miserable. Let’s get you some clean clothes and an IV drip.

[An hour later]

Me: Now we can go for a walk, you need to stretch your legs after two weeks of crouching between branches.

Tubby: I wouldn’t mind that.

Me: And?

Tubby: And what and?

Me: Didn’t you miss me?

Tubby: Well, I guess, I was waiting for you to find me.

Me: Just waiting, to doing anything to help me find you

Tubby: You know how my mind works. In my head waiting counts as doing.

Me [sigh]: Okay, I’ll give you a pass this time considering I was the one who drove you insane. Speaking about waiting, I’m reading now this book, it’s a play actually, “waiting for Godot”

Tubby: What is “Godotte”?

Me: Not Godotte, Godot, the T is silent. It’s a French name.

Tubby: And since when do you know French?

Me: I don’t. The play was originally written in French but it’s for an Irish writer.

Tubby: Why would an Irish man write a play in French?

Me: He lived in France for a good deal of his life, what do you care? Now focus with me, I was talking about waiting.

Tubby: Okay…

Me: So it’s about two men waiting for a man called “Godot”, all the while talking about all kinds of things to the point of absurdity, like thinking about hanging themselves up just for fun.

Tubby: That is sick!

Me: Well, you’re entitled to your own opinion but I will tell you it’s one of the most acclaimed plays of the 20th century, if not the greatest of all, so your opinion is both insignificant and utterly ridiculous, with all due respect.

Tubby: What about el3eyal kebret?

Me: Will you let me get to the point?

Tubby: Okay

Me: Actually the play is considered highly philosophical and controversial. There has been a lot of speculation and deciphering trying to figure out what it means. There was this theory that waiting for Godot actually meant waiting for God. You know, sitting around helplessly while hoping for a miracle from God to change everything.

Tubby: Couldn’t they just ask him?

Me: Well, they did. He dismissed them saying: “Why does everything has to be complicated? Maybe they are just two men waiting for a man who never shows up”. And he said: “If I meant to say waiting for God, I would’ve said waiting for God”.

Tubby: The man has a point. I like him, can you introduce me to him?

Me: He’s dead, Tubby. Anyway, I do believe that he didn’t mean waiting for God but I don’t believe he was just talking about two men waiting for a third. There is a theme there, waiting for something as opposed to working towards it. Just like what you were doing up that tree. Haven’t we all done that at some point?

Tubby: just like you’re doing now.

Me: whoa, no, no, no!  I did everything in my power, there’s nothing else I can do but wait. Hence, I decided to move on to more important matters and stop waiting. Waiting is torturous.

Tubby: Maybe that’s all the author wanted to say, just that two men were waiting and it was boring.

Me: Oh please, Tubby! I mean, look at our conversations. Nobody really knows what they are about. How much more the greatest theatrical work of the 20th century.

Tubby: I’ve ever thought much about our conversations.

Me: That’s because you never had to. You know what? How about I put our conversations in a book?

Tubby: WHAT? No, no… no!

Me: Why not?

Tubby: How could you put them in a book? These are our private conversations!

Me: ummm, Tubby, you realize I blog them, right?

Tubby: I know, but how many people read your blog anyway?

Me: Hey!

Tubby: I’m just being realistic. But if you want to turn them into a movie then I’m all for that, provided Hugh Jackman plays me. They can make him look like a hundred year-old man, they did it in Les Miserables.

Me: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Just forget it, right now I really want to write some fiction, and fictional conversations, and fiction!

Tubby: And I need a nap…

The Lost Imaginary Friend

Tubby is missing.

He ran away in solidarity with another imaginary character to whom I did something really horrible. Of course the imaginary character is not imaginary but for Tubby it is, since he’s imaginary and we, real people, are imaginary to him.

Anyone who sees Tubby or his companion please tell them to check their Mail box and steer the ship back to the island.

Please advise Tubby to commit suicide because I’m thinking of creative ways to kill him. While the other not-so-imaginary friend, well, it’s time we did him justice and we owe him a big apology.

And please do not ask me why on earth I am writing this. Maybe I’m just trying to start a story because I feel like writing and I have no idea what to write about and Tubby isn’t helping.

My imagination hurts.

Google the Fortune Teller?

I was just playing with Google, because I have that kind of time you know, I’m technically in a relationship with Google, and one of the cool games to play is to type the initial words of a question and see what the most asked questions are. The results were quite interesting, ranging from sad to ridiculous.

For example, check out the questions starting with “Will he ever…” and “Will she ever…”

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It’s either heartbreak season or this is a sad planet we live on. Say, did Google read your mind?

The “Will I ever…” one gives more power to the sad planet theory.

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The others were a tad less predictable though. I mean I was hoping for “Will you ever grow up” or “Will you ever fix that lamp”? But the one I really didn’t see coming was the “will they ever…”. Apparently we’re not finding a cure for Aids because people think there are more urgent matters.

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But you know, for me the most alarming thing of all is, why do we ask Google about these things?

Obviously Google will not be able to tell you if he or she will come back, and it certainly cannot predict the future to tell you if you will do anything. But obviously Google itself doesn’t have an answer for that, mostly because nobody has asked it yet.

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On Tolerating Ignorance

The other day my cousin who lives in Chicago sent me a message telling me about her recent visit to Florida. She’s been living in the States for 6 years and there were only few occasions where she mentioned having racially charged encounters. But in her recent messages she said there were too many racists in Florida and that people in Chicago were much more friendly and educated.

My cousin wears a head scarf (commonly known as Hijab, a word I don’t really like for linguistic reasons), other than that nobody would know she’s an Arab or a Muslim. And that got me thinking that, if I were her, would I stop wearing a headscarf, which is part of the dress code in Islam as far as I believe – and I’m not here to discuss this issue- so would I take it off just so I wouldn’t look different and so that people will leave me alone and mind their own business?

Theoretically at least, my answer would be No. Simply because you can’t stop doing what you believe to be right in order to tolerate other people’s ignorance. The bigotry and resentment they harbor is their problem, not mine. Why do I accept having people from all around the world in my country wearing whatever they want, and I deal with them with friendliness? It’s the same thing.

Another important point is that to change the way you dress just for the sake of not having to be different would be hypocrisy on my part, as a person who constantly defies social standards and criticizes norms and traditions. If you dare to be different inside your society, you shouldn’t shy away from it when you’re outside of your comfort zone.

And this goes for anything really. Anytime you feel like you’re giving something up for the sake of being accepted by people who are just too narrow minded to accept you as the person you are as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, then think again.

Anyway, my advice to her was that whenever she faces one of these bigots, just smile at them, it’s a like a message that says: “I feel sorry for you, and I hope that one day you will be able to see the human beings behind those clothes or that skin color  that obstructs your vision”

A Conversation with Tubby – 8

He stood at the door, cringed at the sight of me munching on my fourth carrot…

 

Tubby: Oh no! Carrots again, that can’t be good

Me: What? Carrots are good, very healthy

Tubby: Yes, and a good choice to avoid binge-eating when distressed

Me: I’m not depressed if that’s what you’re alluding to…

He threw me a suspicious look with the side of his eye…

Me: Okay, maybe a little. You now that feeling when you feel like there’s lava boiling in your guts? You feel like you want to shout or cry or anything but nothing comes out? If that’s what you mean then hello depression!

Tubby: *sigh* what is it now? You were fine yesterday

Me [shouting angrily]: And where on earth have you been? Leaving me prey for other imaginary jerks, how did you let me do that? You should’ve locked me inside the house and swallowed the key!

Tubby: I’m truly sorry, but if I may remind you, you threw me out the window and decided to do whatever you wanted.

Me: Can you please shut up and stop showing me how stupid I’ve been?

Tubby: Okay… now just calm down and tell me, what happened?

Me: well, I don’t know how to put it. Let’s see, imagine that you found an abandoned baby on the street, you took it home, took care of it for months and then suddenly someone showed up claiming it’s theirs and they took it away from you and left you sitting there empty-handed. And you can’t object because it is indeed their baby, they gave birth to it, but you’re the one who nurtured it until it could talk and walk…

Tubby: You know it’s been so long since I was a baby or saw one, so if you can give me another example…

Me: Okay you old grouch… suppose you spent 10 months building a lego castle, and then someone appeared and said they owned that lego and asked you to tumble it down to pieces so that they could take it away with them…

Tubby: where?

Me: to the grave… what do you care? Focus Tubby! How would you feel about that?

Tubby: I’d feel quite bad, even if it was their lego, but I built the castle

Me: Exactly. See, this is what I’m feeling now. I feel angry and empty. You can’t work on something all this time and then have it taken away from you overnight

Tubby: Could I do anything to help?

Me: Do you know any black magic?

Tubby: Whoa…

Me: Kidding. I don’t need black magic. I can feel all the negative energy and all the anger going out and reaching those people

Tubby: Baby snatching lego thieves!

Me: I really don’t know what to do…

Tubby: You just care too much, I dare say. You know what? Go get your baby back, dress him in different clothes, it will be the same baby but no one will ever recognize it…

On a second thought that sounds like kidnapping. Build the exact same lego castle, don’t change it, just switch some pieces, let them take their rotten lego and go to hell, use your own lego

Me: I’m trying to figure out a way to do that but it’s not working, I need some of their lego too

Tubby: You know if anyone is reading this I think they would be quite confused right now. What are we talking about exactly?

Me: Just forget it… I’ll just wait for apathy to settle in, and then let’s see what I’m prepared to do.

Writing Prompt 1

Antagonist

Protagonist: 12 year-old girl.

Antagonist (the narrator here): He jealous 12 year-old friend.

Look at this obnoxious little dungeon. Can anyone be so pretentious and so cheesy all at the same time? This girl should get a medal, no one has ever tried this hard. I mean, really, what point is she trying to make with all these stacks of books? Nobody would believe Barbie girl would read all this, not even half of it, not even any of it. Boy, is she sick! I understand trying to deceive other people but trying to convince herself she’s more than a stupid bimbo? And the pink wall, would you give me a break! Of course they are pink, as if the sheet with Disney princesses is not girly enough, her glorious role models. Even the table lamp is pink, damn it! I think I’m gonna be sick. Pink sickness, it’s like a plague, cut it out already, we believe you’re a girl! But oh, a white desk with photo frames and all. Who’s that in the picture… Ah, of course, Daddy’s girl. Look at this, obviously she got her mother’s looks but not her brains. How could a brilliant mathematician and a Heart surgeon give birth to such an empty-headed attention seeker? I bet that’s why she leaves her curtains open day and night, it’s like shouting: “Oh, hey neighbors and passers-by, come look at see all the interesting things I’m doing in my room. Can you see me reading and dancing and talking on the phone? Am I cool or what? Where did all the paparazzi go?” Gross…

 

عن أشياء لا تختفي

بعض الأشياء لا تغادرنا كما نظن، ولا تذوب في الذاكرة. هي تترسب في القاع فحسب، حتى إذا ما طرأ أي اهتزاز عابر تحركت وتفرقت  لتعكر صفوك فترة ما، تطول أو تقصر، قبل ان تعود لركودها من جديد

بعض الأشياء نتعايش معها فقط، ونسلم بقدرتها بالتنغيص علينا في أي وقت

 

تعيش معنا، وتموت معنا، دون أن تموت بداخلنا

 

أو لعلها تقتلنا ببطء