قبل كم شهر بلشت أحس بأعراض زي أعراض الجلطة. ضيق تنفس، وخز جهة القلب، أشياء زي هيك يعني، واللي طبعاً مع شوية دراما وبهارات بتحس إنه خلص رح تموت وبتبلش تفكر كيف بدك توزع ممتلكاتك بعدين بتتذكر إنه ما عندك ممتلكات، كبيرك تورث سيارتك للبنك

طبعاً في النهاية اتضح إنه الأعراض كان سببها التوتر والحالة النفسية اللي كنت فيها وقتها، وزالت بزوالها والحمد لله، وأساساً أعراض الجلطة ممكن تتشابه مع أشياء تانية كتير غير خطيرة وحتى الأطباء المختصين ممكن يخربطوا فيها ومش موضوعنا، بس عشان ما حدا يتوسوس فاقتضى التنويه.

المهم، بعد تكرر الأعراض لأيام وفي لحظة من اللحظات  لما صار عندي شك فعلي إنه ممكن تكون جلطة أول إشي حسيت بخوف مباغت، بعدين فجأة لقيت حالي بقول: على شو خايفة؟ أهلاً وسهلاً.

حقيقة أنا تصالحت مع فكرة الموت من فترة مش قادرة أحددها. مش بس لأني ما بعتبر الموت شر ولا نهاية مطلقة وإنه انتقال لحياة من نوع آخر، وإنما لسبب آخر أقل تفاؤلاً، وهو إنه ما عندي إشي يخليني متمسكة بالحياة.

مش قصدي إني ما بحب الحياة ولا إني مش مبسوطة. بالعكس الحياةب النسبة إلي ممتعة وجميلة ونفسي أعيش كمان وأسافر وأشوف أشياء جديدة، لكن ما عندي سبب يخليني أخاف إنه حياتي تنتهي بأي لحظة. يمكن أقوى سبب ممكن يخليني أتمسك بالحياة هو إمي وأبوي، على مبدأ “وأعشق عمري لأني إذا مت أخجل من دمع أمي”. وبعتبر إنه قمة الأنانية اللي بدعوا على حالهم يموتوا قبل أهاليهم عشان ما يمروا بتجربة فقد الأب والأم. أي حدا تاني غير أمك وأبوك بتمشي حياته طبيعي بعديك مهما زعل عليك

غير هيك، الحياة بالنسبة إلي مشوار مسلي، تحدي لا بد منه. مش عايشة عالهامش ولا ماشية مع التيار، وإنما عايشة مبسوطة وبشتغل وبحاول اعمل إشي مفيد طالما أنا حية أرزق وبحاول أكون إنسانة كويسة وأتقرب لربنا بالعبادات والأخلاق عشان ما بعد الموت، لأنه مش مزحة، ومتى ما خلصت الحمد لله. لا عندي اولاد نفسي أربيهم وأكون جنبهم بس يكبروا، ولا بحب حدا وبخطط مستقبلي معاه وخايفة أتركه وأصدمه نفسياً، ولا عندي مشروع بشتغل عليه عشان أغير وجه العالم.

علاقتي بالحياة غير جدية وخالية من الالتزام، وما بعرف إذا هاد الإشي منيح او لأ..

A New Birth

It’s amazing the things the occasion of birth can make you think about. Hardly able to contain my excitement yesterday, waiting for the birth of my third niece, with everyone in the family in alert mode getting ready for the big arrival, it occurred to me that this is the best birthday one could possibly have, the birthday you weren’t in the least aware of. Everyone so thrilled to see you, to give you a name, to finally see how you look like, rushing around making preparations to welcome you into this world. Up to that point you’ve been a mystery, and on that day you’re the main act, the biggest thing no matter how tiny you are.

Indeed, I can’t imagine a happier occasion than the birth of a new baby. Think about it this way, we consider death the ultimate cause for grief, and funerals the gravest of events. Hence, naturally, welcoming a new life into this world must be the ultimate reason for celebration.

And the I look at the baby, for that’s been my favorite hobby for the past two days, and I think: We’re all born like that, and we’re treated like we’re something extraordinary, and then we grow up and some of us live up to that potential that was trusted to us, while others settle for being another face in the crowd.

And then of course there’s that old hard-to-fathom idea that even Hitler, Stalin, Ariel Sharon and Donald Trump were once this little and cute. Hard to fathom, I told you.

And it seems boring and redundant when you think of the big outlines only, like: We’re born, we’re small, we grow up, we may or may not be so special, we live, and we finally die.  But that’s not it. It’s the little details that make a life. The cooing sounds a baby makes, their first steps, the first time they taste chocolate , first day of school, their first crush, sharing your old memories with them, giving them books to read, watching them grow up and have babies of their own, and all the emotions going up and down throughout that journey. Nothing boring about that if you ask me.

New births, isn’t it awesome that it’s something that happens every day?

 

My Sweet Sixteen Plus Fifteen

Birthdays: Annual occasions where you celebrate not being hit by a car or shot at a wedding by some idiot for yet another year. Congratulations, you might not be the fittest but you survived anyway.

However, after a certain age birthdays cease to be mere merry occasions, they turn into panic attacks: What have I achieved in my 30 years on earth? When am I going to save some money? I’m never going to find love! My husband forgot my birthday, 3 years of marriage down the drain. Children! I need to have children before it’s too late. Who took my charger? I made it clear I don’t want anyone taking my charger. No, I’m not overreacting, YOU are overreacting! Hand me that popcorn. What? I’m not crying, I’m just overflowing with fulfillment. Sniff. TICK-TOCK, TICK-TOCK…

But it doesn’t have to be that dramatic, and don’t pretend it’s not. There’s always some after-party drama when everyone goes home and you’re alone with your gifts and leftover cake. And you’d be totally justified in taking that plunge into the self-pity, life-loathing pool; it’s completely understandable and okay, as long as you’re avoiding people and sharp objects.

But again, it doesn’t have to be that bad, not because “age is just a number”, make no mistake, age is a number and one that makes a difference, so let’s do away with that denial-drenched mentality and say it like it is. If you’re 30, that means you’re no longer 20, and everything is not the same. However, it doesn’t have to be all that different. It’s not like when you turn 30 you’ll gain weight uncontrollably or start shedding skin. Yes, your complexion might not look as fresh as a 21 year-old – unless you’re spending a small fortune on skin care products or have a very good surgeon- but you will still look beautiful, and you will still be able to do everything you used to do in your twenties. Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything you could do in your twenties that you couldn’t do in your thirties, not even running like a lunatic down the street or crying while watching Twilight. If you can do that in your twenties then chances are you can do it at any age, because you’re probably crazy, or a moron, and you will always have a streak of that and will, hopefully, grow up to be that crazy grandma with a purple hat/scarf who everyone loves.
My point is, don’t deny age, make peace with it.

I for one have made my peace with it, mostly because my choices are limited, you know, it’s grow older or die. And it really doesn’t matter as much after you hit 30. It becomes a chance to reevaluate yourself and the important things in your life, what’s been achieved so far, what needs to be done, what’s missing. A day to be thankful for the people you have around you on this very day – not only because of the cake and gifts- but most importantly for taking the time and the effort to be there and to make you feel extra special on this one day of the year, without getting a hint from Facebook.

It’s also a time for disappointments, which are an inevitable part of the circle of life, but it’s also a time to deal with them, reconsider things, put your life in order, reset and start a new, or simply resume, whatever floats your boat.
The amount of love I felt today almost equals the amount of sugar I consumed.

Happy sweet 16 plus 15 to me, it was definitely a good one

01/9/2015

The Odd Evening Walk

Just as I finished working today and as soon as I submitted the file I felt a compelling need to lie down and rest my eyes for a while. The next thing I know, I was in deep sleep. It was the first time I nap during the day in a very long time, maybe in years.

However, after I managed to get up more than an hour later, I was in a state of exhaustion, like I just wanted to go back to sleep again. So, in the spirit of my deep-rooted feeling that sleep is a waste of life and should be kept to a minimum, and to celebrate the restoration of the brisk night reeze in Amman and its suburbs, I decided to go for a walk to the supermarket after sunset.

Every time I go on such an impromptu, or even a planned walk, it hits me hard how much you miss out on when you do all your errands by car. Just as I left home I overheard a conversation between two boys on the street. One of them was telling the other that China makes crappy stuff and it’s not as great a country as he seems to think. The other replied that China makes good things but we only get the bad stuff. I couldn’t help that there was more to it than just a boyish conversation. These boys are discovering the world. Today they are discussing Chinese industries, 10 years from now they might be discussing the virtues and vices of communism versus capitalism.

Further down the road, there were 3 boys riding bicycles. Bicycles have a very special place in my heart and memory. There was a bump-up in the road and something about the way the bicycles heaved over the bump-up that made me almost want to ask them to let me take a ride. In fact, not very long ago it occurred to me to buy a bicycle for home use, to share with my brothers. However, I was discouraged by the fact that we would have to keep adjusting the height of the seat, or I’ll just have to risk falling off the bike.

I decided to go to the farthest supermarket, to prolong the distance and, to be honest, they have the best chocolates. As I exited into the main street I could feel the heat coming out from the cars, another reminder why one of my dreams has always been to retire in a farm house in the countryside. Down the road there was a watermelon tent, with dirty-looking carpets covering the ground up to the edge of the street, and that made me wonder about two things: Do watermelon tents exist outside the Middle East? And, do they ever wash these carpets when the season is over? Or do they just throw them away?

Then I reached the supermarket, and I took my sweet time moving between the aisles, picking stuff of the shelves and returning them and then picking them again. I got some cakes, chips and flavored milk for my nieces of course because it would be a total betrayal to be at the supermarket and not get them anything, that would totally create a rift in the relationship. And of course, I got myself some stuff for my stash, there must always be a stash.

I left the supermarket after what seemed like forever. I took the first turn into the neighborhood to minimize the distance I had to walk on the main road. This is the route I used to take when I came back from university; the only difference is that I used to take a shortcut, which no longer exists now as there’s a commercial complex in its place, the same one housing the supermarket I was at minutes ago. I remember there was a little girl I would meet on my way back through there sometimes, her name was Sura. There was a bunch of little girls nearby and it occurred to me to stop and ask which of them was Sura, she would be around 13 or so now, but I decided against it because it would be meaningless and possibly freaky for the girl.

I walked on, passing by a newly built building whose ground floor windows looked very appealing. They had small colorful plant pots on the windowsill and the design of the window panes along with the lighting inside made it look like something out of a movie. I couldn’t resist but take a peek inside, despite the moral conflict and feeling like a peeping Tom, but I really wasn’t trying to spy on them or anything, I just wanted to have a feel of how it was inside. It’s still wrong, I know.

Further down the road I passed by the mini market we used to go to as kids. I opened when I was in the second grade, and it was one of our daily destinations, sometimes several times a day. It was closed at the time and I thought that in our day it would be open at such an hour, and we would be going back and forth to buy cheap snacks. A few years ago I took my niece, who was 4 years old at the time, to that minimarket. I wanted her to experience something else other than the big supermarkets with expensive candy bars. Well, she wasn’t impressed at all. In fact she acted like a grossed-out Mary Antoinette. It’s funny how we used to buy a ton of things with less than 50 piasters while nowadays if you’re taking kids to the supermarket you must be armed with a fat load of cash.

Turning the corner, a few meters down the road was our old house and the street where we spent a handsome part of our childhood. There were children on the street but they didn’t seem to be having nearly as much fun as we were in those days. A group of girls had a baby stroller with them, which was something we frequently had too as there was always a baby in the neighborhood at one point or another, and apparently the neighbors were happy to dump their babies on the neighborhood kids and have some time for themselves, which is completely understandable.

So, what started off as an energizing walk turned out to be a walk down memory lane. Most interestingly, I was mentally blogging all the way, which brings back the good old days when that was a constant mental exercise. It’s amazing how many little things you could discover and rediscover when you stretch your legs and spare the air some emissions!

 

Writing In a Visual World

I have a confession to make: It has been increasingly hard to write recently. Long gone are the days when I used to write a new blog post every other day, and if I’m not writing online I’m writing offline, creating characters and events, thinking about them all day, mentally developing what would soon be a published novel in one case, a discarded one in another, and finally an unfinished one as I got stuck in the dreaded, bleak territory of Writer’s Block.

Now while some people might describe that as such, I’m still adamant in my refusal of that concept, which I’ve always believed to be a lazy excuse with the subtitle: “I really don’t feel like writing so stop asking”. For me, I always thought writing is the technique, if you have the ideas then all you have to do is to sit down and write. If you’re having any kind of block, then it’s probably the scarcity of ideas or the lack of desire to write them down.

But since I’ve been stuck in limbo for so long, I’ve been exploring the reasons behind that lack of productivity. Naturally, there are some personal reasons, but it’s not the only thing that makes me cringe inside with guilt and self-disappointment when I think of all the things I want to be writing and I’m not.

But I think I’m getting somewhere. A few days ago a friend of mine was commenting on the extravagant decorations on the streets in celebrations of Ramadan. A festival of lights and colors, it’s clearly getting more lavish every year. My response was that it’s keeping up with the world. Everything is becoming more visual, as if we’re trying to make up for all the things we’re missing year after year. Admittedly, Ramadan had a more spiritual and warmer atmosphere back in the day before technology invaded our life, and this goes for all other holidays from Eid to Christmas, so now we need these things to remind us of all the joys and meaning of these much cherished holidays. It’s a visual world, and we need more visual attractions every day to be able to snag our eyes.

That made me think of something else which can perhaps put what I’m trying to say into perspective: Photo essays. Not a day goes by without coming across a number of links leading to websites about someone or something with more pictures than words. And I must admit, most of the times I go over the pictures while skimming quickly through the text, or dropping it altogether. As I thought of that it hit me: It’s become increasingly hard to write, because it’s become increasingly hard to read.

Of course, I’m not talking about your usual to-read list. Books still offer a safe, comfortable haven away from the flashy world of social media. But when I’m scrolling down my timeline, I don’t often have much patience to read all the articles I come across. I suppose this is the idea in the back of my head when I don’t feel the motivation to write long articles like this one, because although I always made a conscious effort not to care whether anyone would read, apparently that still counts in my book, that’s why if I have something to say I feel it’s more efficient to post it on Facebook, where limits on how long a status can be are something of the past now, and you can ramble on as much as you want, or can.

And it’s not only about blogging. Even when I think about all the new novels coming out, I can’t help but think whether they’ll add something new or of value to the literature we already have and which we still have to catch up on. Of course I’d like to write another novel, but will it be good enough? Is it going to be worth the time spent writing it or reading it, or am I going to be one of the dozens who burden the shelves of libraries with wasted ink and paper?

Ever since I published my first novel, and the last one so far for that matter, I’ve been having that nagging feeling that I should be working on something else. I even don’t feel it’s quite right when people call me a writer because I know I’m not fulfilling a major perquisite to earn that title: Continuity.

That nagging feeling abated while I was writing a later novel which, after finishing the first draft, I decided to discard. I then tamed the feeling for a while when I published an e-book where I put my English short stories together. Later on, I started working on something which I have mixed feelings about now, but while the feeling still won’t go away, it has become easier to live with.

For me, writing is a not a luxury, it’s a need. I am my best self when I write. And I want to write elaborately, whether it’s going to be read or not, not just sum up a few thoughts within a 140-charater limit. I want to write stories, series, rants and Arabic rhyming prose. I don’t care whether I’ll write another novel or be published again, after all one online article could reach 10-times more people than a book might sometimes. I want to write because I want to leave something of me in this world, as ideas can only die if you take them with you to the grave.

A picture could say a thousand words indeed, but you can keep it; give me the words and I’ll paint my own thousand pictures.

A Brief History of “Sharing”

It’s no mystery that the word “share” has been gaining increasing popularity over the past few years. In a world that’s constantly growing and closing up on itself all at once, the meaning of the word and our perception of it has been changing too, taking up new dimensions we we’ve never been so aware of.

As children, we were encouraged to share things with others, that sharing was caring, perhaps not as eloquently and romantically as children learn it today from a dancing purple dinosaur,  but I do remember a famous mantra we had when we were children as when we saw someone eating something alone we would say: “Whoever eats alone chokes on their food”.  I suppose we all at some point heard the old story about dying man who gathers his children, hold a stick and breaks it, then holds a bunch of sticks and tries to break them but can’t because they were stronger together. That story was about unity and collaboration but it’s to the same effect, because the point is that: sharing was all about cooperation and sticking together as one. All that shows that the transformation the concept of sharing has gone through in over the last decade or so is quite stunning.

Let’s put it this way. Were you ever going through your Facebook or Twitter timeline then read something and wondered: Why would they share this? Or, an alarm went off in your head with the words: Too Much Information. It’s clearly something that

A) Doesn’t concern anyone other than the person who wrote it.

B) Is not interesting at any level.

C) Is not informative or thought provoking.

It’s pure egoistic nonsense, that’s what it is. It’s sharing for the sake of sharing or for the sake of conveying certain ideas about the speaker for the benefit – or lack thereof- of a rather none-interested crowd. So you see, the word “share” has made the move from an act of cooperation to an act of seeking social validation. If you can’t have a life, just make it sound like you have one. Or, if you do have a life, why not rub it in people’s faces?

And you know what? We are all guilty of it, or most of us at last. And it’s not a crime, it’s just so universal that it has become almost compulsive. The problem however is that our perception of sharing has become so twisted that this is now a pandemic. Picture this: You’re sitting down with friends and your face is buried in your smart phone. You’re exchanging WhatsApp messages with your co-workers. The next day during lunch break you’re having a bite with your co-workers and you’re exchanging WhatsApp messages with your friends, the ones you were with yesterday. A day has come where we’re not interested in people themselves as much as we’re interested in the technology that connects us to them. We share more, but we interact less. We know more people but we’re becoming more lazy and reclusive by the day. We have more friends but we feel a lesser need to see them because we already know all their news.

The funniest part is that, basically we all share the same things. You keep receiving the same messages, seeing that same posts on facebook over and over. This is not to say that some things are not worth sharing, on the contrary, something must be shared. Others however have become so redundant it should be illegal to share them. It’s like we all live in one big small bubble.

But there is traditional good old sharing, and there’s advanced sharing with special techniques and whatnot.  A while ago we’ve started to see links with titles like: “This boy ate an apple, what happened next will blow your mind”. And you know what? My mind is yet to be blown. People and businesses are just too desperate for attention or publicity that they would go to any lengths to get you to open their links. It’s a jungle out there really, with everyone trying to get you curious and disappointing you over and over int the process. Or like the ambiguous status messages on Facebook, to get people excited about something or to get them to ask you what’s going on or if you’re feeling well. Everyone wants everyone to care, but those who really do are usually fewer than you might think, and you probably can find a better way to communicate with them than a message that would soon be lost in the cyber void.

Guilty of all the above, including exchanging texts and receiving phone calls while with friends, burying my face in a cell phone when at a social event I’m not really interested in or even sharing things with ulterior motives that go beyond caring, it still gets on my last nerve when I’m with friends I haven’t seen for a while and one of them starts talking on the phone to someone she sees every day, or when they are browsing Facebook, or when we’re at a family gathering and they start discussing things they said or read on Facebook or WhatsApp or wherever. Yes, I admit that these portals managed to bring people together, believe it or not I had cousins and distant relatives I had never held a decent conversation with before we were introduced to each other’s thoughts on social media, but it still sounds ridiculously funny when relatives come to visit and I hear a woman telling my aunt as soon as she enters the house: Oh I love your forwarded messages on WhatsApp.

Yet, that same woman would later on tell you how much she missed the old days when they all used to hang out (or in) every night, as they had no TV, so their best chance at entertainment was getting together.  They even had “mloukhiyyeh picking parties” where they all got together to pick mloukhiyyeh leaves, dry them and store them to be cooked later. Nowadays it’s different, we pick the mloukhiyyeh alone and share pictures of it with the caption: “Mloukhiyyeh time!”,  and then we meet sometime after than we discuss the activity and blame our busy life and work for not being able to take a 10 minute trip to see each other more often.

As an intrinsic introvert this could be a dream come true for me: to be able to connect with everyone without actually having to talk to them. Yet, somehow I find this is all making me more social, resenting to share important or exciting news via any kind of social media, but rather share it face to face over lunch or a cup of coffee; because there are certain reactions, a certain look in the eye, a certain tone of voice that are too priceless no emoticon can ever convey.

Things to Remember in 2014

1- Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Don’t do it waiting for it to pay off, just do the right thing for the sake of doing it

2- It’s never too early or too late, everything happens when it is supposed to happen

3- There are so many stories to be told under the sun

4- As long as you’re alive, you are not done yet.

5- Avoid high fructose corn syrup like the plague (well, almost like the plague, we’re only human)

6- في الحركة بركة

7- Read more.

8- Write more, even if it’s rubbish.

9- Love more, even the cats on the streets and the dead spider in the corner being eaten up by fire ants, and the fire ants. The more love you send into the world the more it resonates within your soul.

10- Stop over-thinking things.

11- Stop overreacting (No promises though)

12- Expect a pleasant surprise at any given moment.

13- Less social media, more socializing

14- Don’t be embarrassed to say no

15- Don’t be afraid to say yes

16- Discover new places

17- Discover more good dark chocolate brands

18- Nobody is indispensable.

19- Your bones are not made of glass.

20- Swallow your foolish pride once in a while.

 

On the Way and Back

I’ve been avoiding driving long distances since the snow storm. Yesterday however I was dragged out by good friends to meet and discuss a project somewhere in Jabal Amman.

With reinforcement against what’s supposed to be the beginning of winter (Yes, turns out astronomically what we saw last week wasn’t winter, it was the just trailer) I set out at around 5:30 from my home since we agreed to meet at 6. Usually this would be early as it normally takes 15 minutes to get to Rainbow street from where I live, 20 with some traffic. But what I saw on the roads yesterday wasn’t traffic, it was a country-wide fire drill.

As I was stuck on the uphill climb leading to Abdoun my eyes roamed the roadside looking for the snow that was jamming the roads, but there was nothing. Just cars inching forward like old tortoises.

But to tell you the truth, I don’t know which was worse: the traffic or the radio stations. I mean, from an annoying, nerve-provoking talk to a horrible rendition of “Goodbye My Lover”, and then Abu Wadee3 poped out of nowehere saying “Lissa eddunya bkhair”… Lissa eddunya bkhair, ya 7abibi!

Anyway, I reached my destination, which was thankfully and surprisingly not  crowded at all and I parked quickly. While I was there I ran into John, founder of Project Pen with whom I worked last year before I left the project as a permanent member for lack of time and nerves.

So, we talked about Pen and he looked as excited as ever. I couldn’t help but say: “I admire how you can keep being excited about something for such a long time.”

And then on the way home I thought about that, and I thought about the way my life has been shaping to be. You know, I realized recently that I don’t have a big goal in life, no one big project. One day I’m giving lectures at schools about exra-curricular stuff, the other I’m traveling to some conference somewhere, and then I’m writing a book. It feels funny when people give me advice I should follow if I want to be a big novelist, while I never thought about becoming a big shot novelist. I write because I feel like it. And yes, I do like to write more books, it’s just not a goal in itself anymore. For me, it’s all about the small projects.

And I like it this way, which I’ve come to discover. After all it’s nice to look back on your life someday and see a collage of colors, dozens of faces and to know that you’ve done lots of things, experienced a lot of things, lived a lot of things.

I guess I don’t take life as seriously as most people do, just seriously enough for me.

Is this the right way to go? I don’t know. After all, is there such a thing?

 

 

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…

Just out of Curiousity

I’m a curious person, so curious that I could go to any lengths to know something, I could even surprise myself

Now, let’s suppose, just suppose – Not that I’m actually addressing someone or anything- that there is something I want to know and you refuse to tell me

Then I say okay, I don’t want to know, I don’t care

Then suddenly I find out that I still don’t care but I do want to know

Well, I won’t ask you, I’ll just do something even I didn’t imagine I would do which will make someone else come and tell me what I want to know without me even asking

In the process of devising that I entertain the idea whether I should or should not ruin your life while I’m at it, but then I discover I’m better than that, not because you don’t deserve it but because I’m not that evil, 7aram…

But of course all of this is just a supposition, we’re just supposing things