Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dear Sir

R: Tomayto Tomahto Grasshopper Praying Mantis.

Hoping the message goes through, since what started as a futile exercise in glorifying a measly lowly grasshopper to the point of having it believe I truly fell in love with it through words, ended up in a lesson about how one's passion for expression can be misunderstood. For it is that feeling itself that I tend to long for, to a far greater extent than the apparent object of my desire. This goes to show you (and the world, one reader at a time :) that you can be passionate about anything no matter how insignificant and tis only those with a truly exaggerated self opinion who will dramatize it instead of appreciating it.

Yes I have just watched Pride and Prejudice, hence the language, excusable and understandable if it is not much to ask.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grasshopper Hopping on Steel.

--A grasshopper at a crossroad.

To you, grasshopper hopping on anything but grass.
Yes, you might be suspecting that you're skinny and green, and so you think you're pretty, so slender and svelte. Almost a dragonfly, but not quite. You walk slowly at first, you tease. You have me captivated, anticipating a graceful Bolshoi worthy leap. Oh but wouldn't you know it, you arrogant grasshopper you, you just walked away depriving me from that much awaited and contemplated performance.
Yes, again it's true, I wish I hadn't seen you oh grasshopper you, so I can imagine you and fantasize about how exquisitely perfect it might have been.

Mashrou3 Leila

--Mashrou3 Leila at the Hostler Auditorium, AUB

Hats and burkas off, they managed to eclipse Salma of the Ziad Rahbani and Salma. Not that we're comparing, or maybe just a little.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I am at a loss as to where to classify you, file you and/or dispose of you. Are you the nice ex-boyfriend turned friend? Or the jerk who I can't tolerate? Or the once cherished love story that will come back to agitate my calm and relaxed being every once in a while? What do I make of YOU? Where do you fit in my seemingly well organized memory files? Mbala enta waynak? Waynak... Until then, and once again, goodnight and goodluck!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Experiencing And Documenting Apprehension.

As I'm being flooded with bad news to worse, I sit back to reminisce about the last bit of good news I received. And it seems diluted in a sea of mishaps. To the point that I have become wary of what the future holds. This is a new feeling to document. I have always lived in shallow but very persistent denial of "bad things might happen to you" until they started hitting me one after the other. You just can't ignore them anymore.

Fortunately(?) I didn't get myself here, all the stories are governed by external forces, out of my reach. However, somehow, this makes them more discouraging since they involve fate, inevitability, and the questioning of the essence of life and the purpose of it all...

And, as I look back at a picture taken two weeks ago I can only think of how ironic it is for us to celebrate life the way we unintentionally do: An acquaintance of mine had to go through the unfortunate experience of losing his best friend at the ripe age of 25. And so he took the first plane back home to attend the funeral and pay his respects to the deceased and his family. He was genuinely saddened and distraught. Later that night, he teared up over that glass of whisky we shared in Gemmayzeh when his friend was mentioned. Yes life goes on. Yes he was truly touched, it wasn't an act. Yet he decided to take advantage of his one night stay in Lebanon to see his friends, those still alive, and to take in as much of his homeland as possible. He was celebrating life as he knows it and the deceased wouldn't have wanted it any other way...

But it made me stop. And I looked and wondered about the irony of it all. And how in the same time, when two days ago, another acquaintance died a tragic death, someone else I know was experiencing the best day of her life yet to come, her engagement day.

العرب جرب

The title, although not tactful enough, shows the anger of many Arabs (and those Lebanese who do not consider themselves Arabs, which is a completely different tangential story) with their governments, their compatriots and their supposedly "sister" countries. It also mirrors the last scenes of Waltz With Bashir showing real footage of the Sabra and Shatila camps post-massacre, with a woman wailing at the camera "Waynoun l3arab la yshoufo! Khalliyoun yshoufo!" (*Not word for word, acceptable nonetheless.) Translation: "Where are the Arabs so they can see [what is happening]? Let them see!"

I go back to Waltz With Bashir today, because I just noticed comments on my post on, by Joseph Hitti and Sultan El Qassemi. And although I wish I can do both justice by answering, I am unfortunately not in any place in my life at the moment to be able to follow up a much needed and lengthy discussion. However I would like to publish a passage of Mr. Hitti's post here, (And Thank you both for your insight.)

You know why there is no moral dilemma worth making movies and writing books and establishing inquiry committees for the Damour massacre? Because it does not involve Westerners and Israelis. In the condescending mindset of the racist elitist Western and Israeli Left, Arabs are supposed to kill Arabs and there is nothing shocking about it. In fact, it is expected and therefore does not pose a moral dilemma. Only when a morally superior being - like an Israeli or a Westerner - becomes involved in gruesome acts – even as an observer - that the floodgates of moral angst open up to a deluge that has yet to stop 30 or 40 years later.

Touché, I agree. But then you say:

Another reason why the Lebanese feel insulted by that subtle moral superiority argument is that no one bothers to look at the real victims and the real perpetrators of the Sabra-Shatila massacres: The Palestinian refugees and the Christian militias. Isn’t it there that the real horror must be the most striking, instead of the placid ruminations of an observer? What drove the Christian militias to commit this act? What is the narrative from the perspective of the butchers? Would these massacres be minimally justified – as attenuating circumstances – if the Christian militias committed Sabra-Shatila in a direct act of revenge against the Damour massacres, as is generally well known? (Read the rest here).

Yes, it seems the Lebanese are looking for justice in this story, or the real unwinding of events, but what does the Western media or an Israeli filmmaker have to do with this? Why or how would they be able to relate that story? Maybe you are right, maybe going to the screening, I was personally looking for some kind of enlightenment regarding that massacre or any other during the Lebanese civil war, maybe that is why I was partly disappointed, maybe I felt Ari Folman was not being truthful, but maybe only because he doesn't have the real facts and he can't even come close. (Although I am still perplexed at the way Folman only briefly mentions the whole Israeli invasion of 1982, and in a very casual way to say the least).

So let's tell a Lebanese to open those history files and make a documentary, (not the kind of tear-jerking romanticized war movie, trying hopelessly to stay out of the real context, so that it can appeal to all audiences) and let's have a screening in Beirut. And let the denouncements, the hypersensitivity, and the outrage begin!

Post-War Lebanon is not mature enough. What's even worse is that it's extremely virtuous and holy of me to talk but I will probably be just as bothered by a movie that is relating the story with what might be a biased point of view in my book. Because I have to admit, it's hard to tolerate those who might point fingers at one party and not another. (Yes I see the weakness here, and I am most willing to work it out). I am realistic nonetheless, my family was in the middle of this, Yes it is personal.

However, here is some positivity to end on, a good chunk of the 80's generation seems more flexible (me included) and ready to open talks and maybe even admit that in a civil war our parents were probably as guilty as "the others", maybe less, maybe more, but they played a part. And instead of continuing the legacy, instead of paying our parents' dues, we can confront this, admit it, forgive it and forget it. We are all on that same sinking boat.

Which brings me to UMAM, A Lebanese Association for Cultural and Artistic Exchange. UMAM is a non-profit organization whose work revolves around collecting documents and archiving anything related to the Lebanese civil war. Please do Check their Website.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Empty Words. Empty Of Words.

And so I can only listen.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Overheard at the screening of Waltz With Bashir in Beirut.
The bartender asking a bald man standing:
-Are you the movie director?
Yes I'm sure Ari Folman, the Israeli veteran, was roaming the streets of Beirut that night.

Friday, March 13, 2009



Monday, March 09, 2009

Waltz With Bashir

I had the chance to see Waltz With Bashir at a public/unofficial screening in Beirut. I must say at first I didn't like the movie. For me, it didn't deliver. But deliver what? What was I expecting? I wanted Ari Folman to apologize for all the massacres the Israelis have carried out against the Lebanese. And if that's what you're looking for, you'll be disappointed. Folman doesn't apologize, he doesn't even come close, for him the whole Israeli invasion was to support Bashir Gemayel and the Phalangists, especially during the Sabra and Shatila massacres. Some say it's true, the Israeli army didn't partake in the killing in these two Palestinian camps, however they surrounded the perimeter to hold a cover for the Lebanese militia who were getting their hands dirty. And Folman wonders how and why they stood there watching while others were carrying out murder and carnage.
And so the movie is made for you to feel with the Israeli soldier and to sympathize with his suffering and his post-traumatic experience during his invasion of another country. My country. And I can see how foreigners can appreciate the picture, I could too, once I separate my emotions and look at it as a work of art for the sole purpose of having this veteran soldier understand why he was enlisted in the army and why he was sent to kill and defend his own in this way. So yes, the movie is well made, the scene when one of the soldiers holds his MAG and starts waltzing in the middle of the crossfire is extremely powerful, and thought provoking. It doesn't help me sympathize with the Israelis however, maybe I can feel sorry for Folman as a human being, maybe I can see the irony of it all with people on both sides having their inner humanitarian side conflicting with the bigger scheme of things that makes them fight against each other, and it almost makes me want to extend my sympathy and friendship. But it doesn't. There's been too much hurting. Too much hate has built up.
I must say I welcome any individual, and having lived in New York, the city with probably the most extensive Jewish lobby in the States, I have had Jewish friends and acquaintances and we're still in touch. So no, I'm not anti-semitic, I do see the difference. I can even understand that some Israelis are suffering from this conflict too, I can see the other side of the coin, and I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But this doesn't change the facts, this doesn't change the misery they've put us in, time and time again. And yes, I hate Israel. I hate the government and its army.
And to the day I'm not sure how to resolve my own personal dilemma, because those I meet, some of who are part of that same Jewish lobby that is supporting the Israeli government both financially and politically, those are good people, doing the greater good for their own countrymen. Ironically one of them, Dr. R. takes care of Israeli veterans and helps them get treated in the States, at the best institutions, to deal with any war injury they might have suffered from, whether physical or psychological.
So in the end, maybe we're all connected, maybe we should rise above these differences, but no, not yet in my case at least, these are the cards we've been dealt with, and maybe somewhere someone is laughing at all those puppets killing and hating each other while they're all one and the same. But this is not my struggle, this is not my fight. My fight is still my country, however senseless this might be. And I have learned time and time again that I can't but hate whoever hates my people. As simple as that. So Yes Israel I hate you, I hate the fact that one commander can play God and decide that "Let's bomb the hell out of Lebanon!" on a bright July morning, and so it shall be!

A Little Marketing Goes A Long Way...

Ben and Jerry's renames its butter pecan ice cream in honor of Obama, Tis now known as Yes Pecan!
--Yes Pecan!

In other news, Ben and Jerry's asked people what ice cream they might create to remember Bush:
1. Grape Depression 2. Abu Grape 3. Cluster Fudge 4. Nut'n Accomplished 5. Iraqi Road 6. Chock 'n Awe 7. WireTapioca 8. Impeach Cobbler 9. Guantanamallow 10. imPeachmint 11. Good Riddance You Lousy Motherfucker Swirl 12. Heck of a job, Brownie 13. Neocon Politan 14. RockyRoad to Fascism 15. The Reese's-cession 16. Cookie D'oh 17. The Housing Crunch 18. Nougalar Proliferation 19. Death by Chocolate 20. Death by Torture 21. Credit Crunch 22. Country Pumpkin 23. Chunky Monkey in Chief 24. George Bush Doesn't Care about Dark Chocolate 25. WM Delicious 26. Chocolate Chimp 27. Bloody Sundae 28. Caramel Preemptive Stripe 29. I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands . . . with nuts

And in Yet Other Marketing Tools:
--Absolut Return (Lebanese Expats)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Once Upon A Time...

I was asked about my earliest childhood memory. It must have been that traumatic day, during the war, when I was standing in the middle of the road, as my mother told me to stay put while she takes my sister to the shelter.
I could hear the bombs and they were close, so close that in the mind of a 3-4 year-old, the attackers were right behind that green sign in the picture, 3 meters away from my designated relay station. My mom runs towards me and picks me up in her arms and runs back to the shelter. Both my sister and I are now safe and sound, my mom crumbles...
We spent the following two days in the shelter, which conveniently communicated with a mini-market. And I thought I was the luckiest 3 year-old, eating candy and chocolate a gogo! We shared the shelter with another woman and her daughter, it was more of an underground closet space. I can even remember how saddened I felt when I dozed off only to wake up and find out that my mother had told my sister and the other girl a story about some little princess living once upon a time, in a land far far away.

La Ley Del Retiro

Pop Art

--This Is Not Campbell's Soup

Saturday, March 07, 2009


Tonight I listened to silence and it was grand.

Gone are the tender whispers dancing in your ears
Replaced with lackluster memories you cry
Your screams play in your empty room

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Blind Item: Israeli vs Jewish

The Official Website for the Lebanese elections of June 2009, lists some members as Israelis. You might think the people in charge made a mistake since Israeli is defined as a native or inhabitant of Israel (A country whose existence we don't even acknowledge). But you're wrong. Interior Minister Ziad Baroud answered the issue by saying that the Lebanese constitution, written in French in 1926, mentions the "18th sect" as Israeli. I have looked into it online but I can't find that specific word, it seems plausible however, and no I am not an expert on Lebanese Law.
There seems to be about 200 names on the voting lists with "Israeli" as their faith, I wonder how many will be voting and how many more Jewish Lebanese actually had to flee the country or change their religious affiliations on public records.

Here is a website keeping the Jewish Lebanese collective memory alive.

And here are some pictures of the Wadi Abu Jmil Synagogue I took a few months back:

--Beirut Synagogue, Nov. 2008.

--Beirut Synagogue, Nov. 2008.

The Bye Bye Bush Shoe

The company that originally made the shoe thrown at Bush has seen its sales skyrocket lately. This article was written a while ago but it's still as funny.

That Morning Bliss

I was ambushed by a herd of eligible, very muscular, young bachelors running towards me in their sweatpants today. And I sat there in my car, windows closed, at 7am, scared at first then amused, thanking the hailed institution of the Lebanese Army for their strict morning workout routine!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Of Familiar and Familiarity

--Fouad's Drawing. The one he concluded his last lecture with.
I met Fouad.
I met Dr. B.
They turned out to be the same person.
If somebody had told me two years ago that one day I will be back in Lebanon, studying medicine and that I will be meeting Fouad and he will teach me a lesson. I would've brushed it off in disbelief. But life has its ways and the fortune teller would've been right on the spot: Fouad actually taught me a whole course about Reproductive Pathology. How one's existence can twist and turn and ridicule your plans and scenarios... I never saw myself as an AUB student, I never expected to come back to Lebanon for good. I think Fouad didn't either. But low and behold here I am today, ironically writing this post in the AUB computer lab, thinking to myself how did I get here? I made some friends along the way, I learned a thing or two, I said my goodbyes to a few people, some for good, I got my heart broken, and yes I broke a few. All in a year and a half. My whole life turned upside down. I was one of the first people in my entourage to leave this country and now I might be the last one to stay. If I can be grateful for one thing, it's the precious time I spend with my parents for I know in two-years time I will leave the house to no return. It is unfortunate that this time is not as well spent as I would like it to be. I blame the circumstances, the stress, the exams, the disconnect, the independence I developed living alone. But I ramble on.
So Fouad. For some reason, you feel you know the blogger, you've read his most penetrating thoughts on a subject or another and you feel entitled to call him an acquaintance or even a friend. You can't say the same about the teacher, although you're able to interact with the latter, you're able to confront him, to see his emotions and his expressions. But you never get to be as intimate. He's your teacher, he tells you about the size a lump in a woman's breast should be to qualify as suspicious or not, but he doesn't tell you about his heartbreak, or his dissent regarding the current socio-political situation in Lebanon, or even his opinion about that book he read a few days ago. He thinks. But he doesn't tell you. And you become part of the experiences he will relate to someone else, someone he can confide in, someone like his blog readers.
I'm glad I was able to couple the person to the blog, however, they're still separate entities in my head. I still read Fouad's posts from time to time although he has stopped writing. And I can still FEEL with the blogger, I can still laugh and cry with him. The person however, that body I met is a whole different story.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


4 min 47 sec. You'd think three years of my life would be worth a bit more time...

(Re)connection Failed.

How easily I can dive back into feeling blue and melancholic. As I silently wait for you to show up online, I sip on my glass of wine again, I think of the taste of a burning cigarette in my mouth, and the conformance of each episode strikes me.

The scene starts with a dark feeling, one I cannot explain with the seemingly ordinary circumstances I find myself into at the time. Then I slowly move into listening to Nina Simone, I get caught in a love letter on a random blog, all the while waiting for you to show up. I find myself in the letter, I miss you too! I loved you too... Then I pour myself a glass of wine, I want to savor every minute of my despair and nostalgia. And I start writing.

First it was the longing for home, then it was the war,
then it was more personal struggles, then it was an impossible love story, and now it's you. And I think to myself, why would I write it here? Why would I let complete strangers know my deepest and most feared feelings? What is that connection that bloggers might have? Would I ever let an acquaintance in the real world this readily into my life and into my torments?

Is it because I know I am inaccessible to any judgement behind my screen? Is it because being part of the blogosphere, people already share a common bond, a common passion to write, and thus a common understanding? Is it because I can be intimate when writing in my room, at night? That some words come out easier after midnight when my keyboard is my only outlet?

I miss you. And I love this feeling for what it is. I miss what I am when I am with you. I think I even missed feeling blue. I miss nostalgia itself. Maybe it makes me realize that yes, I still am a human being, with feelings. And I am sorry for I have been so consumed with daily life. My feelings still run deep... And you will not show up tonight.