Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Wisdom of 30

Today marks my 30th. It’s raining outside, I’m drinking my warm coffee, all I need is an old wooden desk and a gramophone playing the blues to make the mood perfect for the very important pearls of wisdom that come upon a person when they hit this significant milestone marking half their lives (my family has a short life span).

(Deep breath)

Confusion:

No, it doesn’t go away after school or college or your teens or 25 or 30. Waiting for it to go away will probably lead to nowhere. The best way to try and neutralize it is to tackle it head on. Confused about what you should do, try doing different things and don’t be scared of the wrong fit. Confused about love, I have no idea I’m still confused about that too. Confused about people, yes I’m sure some of them are aliens and some of them are cave dwellers. Confused about the creation of the universe, study science and religion and philosophy. Confused about science and religion and philosophy, they’re supposed to be confusing, you’re good don’t worry.

Disappointment:

You probably came to that time in your life when you realized your parents are normal people that make mistakes, not superheroes, that the family you’ve always depended on doesn’t necessarily have to be there for you every single time, that your friends bail or disappear or change or just move to a galaxy far far away. You’ve probably met the backstabbers, the hypocrites, the liars, the cheaters, the better-than-thou bunch. You are probably one of the above to some extent (I’m in the better-than-thou bunch but I use my IQ as an excuse to get away with it). You have probably learned that the word “forever” has no meaning when it comes out of a mortal mouth. You’ve learned, I hope, that the world would break your heart worse than any lover would. I’m sure you’ve disappointed yourself quite a few times when your character and essence have been tested and have been found lacking. You have seen the glitter of this world fade, and you may have lost faith in everything and everyone.

This is the life we live. This is the truth they tried to protect us from.

But it’s fine!

It’s fine to expect disappointment at every turn. It’s fine to mistrust. It is really fine to sit in a corner somewhere, alone, and cry your heart out because growing up sucks.

It is NOT fine to only see the world as a series of disappointments because the family that may have failed you once have been there countless times, the regular-people parents have done what they think is best and you didn’t turn out so bad after all, the friends that have gone away to fight their own demons on the other side of the planet have enriched your life even for a short period of time. The job that isn’t all what you dreamed of was in fact all that you dreamed of for a few months or a few weeks or even a few days. Aside from all that, you must have gone through at least one situation, just one, when you’ve been overwhelmed by something that far exceeded your expectations.

At the end of the day (or the decade), don’t lose hope in good things happening because they do. Just make sure you have eyes to see them like you have eyes to see all the other stuff too.

(By the way, I am the most hopeless person you would ever meet, but at least I know that hope is good. Let’s hope I stumble upon it somewhere inside me in the next decade… see, hope).

Purpose (and where to find it):

FYI, I have no idea what my purpose is. I might never figure that one out. But I have become comfortable with trying to figure it out because honestly it’s super fun!

Everyone who knows me a little bit knows that I suffer from the “what now?” syndrome, which is basically asking myself “what now” every time I do something.

I am expecting to find the holy grail at some point. Arthur never found it, and maybe I won’t. But the quest takes me on amazing adventures and it’s fun! I might seem like a confused person (see above) but so what?! One of the perks of 30 is that you stop caring about these minor things like other people’s opinions. I have put it my head that I am an adventurer on a quest for the ultimate knowledge of what my destiny is. The trick is to keep moving and not give up. Actually, the trick is to catch yourself when you give up and slap her back into story mode. I mean when you die and your whole life flashes before your eyes, you don’t want that moment to be boring, do ya?! Who wants to die with a bored look on their faces?!!

Aging:

That one is a bitch!

That moment when you go on a camping trip and realize you’re the oldest one in the group. That all the kids (20 somethings) are having way more fun than you are, have learned so much more than you have, and have seen so much more than you… That’s a tough moment…

Man up and walk it off!

IT IS NEVER TOO LATE! YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD!

Well, you’re probably too old for some of the swings at the playground, be a dear and don’t break those. But anyway, we’ve already established that you will stop caring what other people think at some point, and that yes, while you have backpains now and may be dragging two kids behind you with a 9 to 5 soul sucking job, you are still a fully functional human being who can do stuff! So, while giggling with the girls like teenagers or playing with Batman’s car at the toy store may in fact look silly to other people, have you ever wondered if they envy you for your ability to do those things since the sticks up their asses are, umm, there? Trust me, they do! Are you worried that the kids in the class with you will think you’re a silly old person? They won’t, they’ll think you’re cool and brave to be putting yourself out there, and will come to you for advice oh wise old one.

You have nothing to lose but your dignity… dignity… dignity… see how horrible that sounds? Lose it already!

Wisdom:

I am wise enough to not regret the time I told a guy I had a crush on him (I was 28), or the time I threw a tantrum at a friend who was dumping me (dignity to hell, you fight for what you love).

I still cringe when I remember them, I still wonder if there are other ways they may have gone down, less undignified ways, but I am so happy I did them. I did what I thought was right. I stood up for myself against myself. That’s pretty cool.

I may be wise (or so I am told, along with crazy, oxymoron), but that’s because I let myself be very very stupid. The trick is to look back and do a retrospective meeting with you, yourself, and your higher self (or something like that, philosophy buffs will relate, and software people too). It’s not only about doing the stupid shit, it’s about looking back at it, and figuring the stupid part out, and learning who you have become, and saying YEEAAAAHHHH! That was so worth it!

I will not claim I know who I am, I’m too fickle to know. But I know that I’m fickle and that’s an achievement. I know that whatever I think I know is not enough, and may be totally wrong, and that I need to keep that on the forefront of my mind.

And while I don’t always do that, I am wise enough to say I don’t know. I am not very good at admitting I’m wrong when I am, but I am trying.

At 30, this is my ultimate wisdom.




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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

This is what a girl without a father grows up to be

I was 10 when my dad died. Now, 18 years later, it seems like a lifetime has passed, and in a way it has. I've gone through all of my adolescence and my adult life so far without him. I can't say it was easy, but I've been blessed on so many levels so it is not for me to complain. Every single time I asked myself "how would I have turned out if he were alive?" the answer would be "spoiled."

My Dad and Me

My dad's death was the single most important event in my life, and it made me who I am today. I know a lot of other girls who share my feelings, who are somehow like me. I know many others who've had different experiences. For now, I am the girl without a father, and this is what I've become:

1. I love and trust my family more than anyone else in the world

It is more than just loving my family and trusting them with everything, it is the knowing that we have been through so much together, and they have always been there for me. For all the times my mom was the iron lady, for all the times my brother was my shield, growing up would have been so much worse without them, and becoming the person that I am today would have been impossible. When we lose the nearest and dearest, it is the people that still stand by us that matter, and that has always been and will always be them.

2. I understand how the world is flawed

People always think that hearts are broken by other people, but sometimes they're just broken by the world; the circumstances if you will. Losing my father made me realize early on that the happy bubble I've lived in; the sound of the key turning in the door when he comes home, the biggest hug I ever get, getting everything I ask for, and the feeling that nothing else matters, has burst. For years after that, I realized that I am not safe from the world because the world is not the Utopia that it was when my dad was alive. The interesting thing is that it's ok really. C'est la vie!

3. I'm strong… really strong

Skin hardens at the soles of the feet when a person walks barefoot for so long. They aren’t bothered that much by the thorns or the pebbles, not anymore. They can walk faster and farther and it becomes a blessing at the price of those feet. A guy told me once that I am focused on loss. I am in a way. I see every loss and every grievance and while they still hurt, I can focus on the loss without getting distracted by the pain, and I'm still here, and I'm still going forward.

4. I will always look for perfection

Just because I know the world is not perfect does not mean I won't look for perfection. To me, it was perfect once, my dad was perfect because I never got to see him other than superman to a child. If perfection existed once then it can exist again. I won't stop looking for it, and demanding it if I have to, my search will disappoint me as it has over and over, but sometimes I'm grateful for the imperfections, and not perfect can be perfectly good enough.

5. I look for the spirit of my dad in people, and in myself

Just like my search for perfection, I search for glimpses of my dad. I like looking in the mirror and seeing how much I look like him (although I'd loved to have looked more like my gorgeous mother), but I also love looking for my dad's spirit in the world, for people who like to laugh like him, or talk like him, or think like him, or act like him. I love tall guys for that exact reason, and salt and pepper hair, and thick glasses, and a quiet voice. I like it when people remind me of him, and I like those people, even though they might never have known him. To me, he is alive always and I see him everywhere I look, if I know how to look that is.

6. My conscience has a name

ElMaamoun Nasser El-Din. The thing is, I've already understood my mother, my friends, my teachers, my bosses. I'll never understand my dad, nor his expectations of me. He is the person I've never learned to disappoint. Maybe it's just my imagination, but I feel like the truest I am to myself is the truest I am to him, because then if he were here, I'd tell him I was true to myself and he would understand. For now dad, all I can tell you is that I am not a robot, be proud of that.

7. Memories have a much higher value to me than the average person

After 18 years, the sound of his voice slips, the way his teeth looked when he smiled slips, his laugh, the way he sat, the feel of his hand, all of those are memories I can no longer conjure up. A memory is precious. A memory means the world. A memory could be his drawing board which I've never seen him use, a memory could be someone else's story of him (and all my loved ones, dead or alive). Our memories and prayers keep them alive. May they rest in peace.

8. I developed a fear of abandonment

It was fate, God's will, his time, not in his hands that he died. I know. But it doesn’t mean that he didn’t leave me. The person I loved most in the world left me, and I've become deathly afraid of people I love leaving me. Sometimes they die, but sometimes they just change, or become distant or just disappear, and it scares the hell out of me.

9. I have a huge capacity for love

I have a hole in my heart. I've had one for 18 years. It's not the place that he left when he died because his place in my heart is still there, it's the emptiness that surrounds him, it is the love that grows with people over time and should have been his, the memories we could have made, all that could have been.

10. I am always and eternally grateful

He would have spoiled me rotten, and I would have been daddy's little girl forever. Maybe a smart, independent, not so annoying daddy's little girl, but just the same, I am what I am now because of having him and losing him.

My belief is firm that we will be reunited in heaven, God willing.

متجمعين في الجنة إن شاء الله


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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My only New Year’s Resolution

It’s this time of year again with all the hope of a better year than the one before… again, and all the new year resolutions… again, and all the online articles and blog posts about how you did it wrong last year with the new year’s resolution but this year, it’s a winner, baby… again!
Most common resolutions I’ve seen (and made):new-years-resolutions
  1. Lose weight
  2. Be healthy
  3. Be happy
  4. Find a better job
  5. Be happy, dammit!
  6. Follow your dreams
  7. Find your passion
  8. Study more
  9. Work more
  10. Get married (yes I’ve seen it, and I sort of get it when a couple has been together for a couple of years and it just doesn’t get done!)
  11. Leave your spouse (seen it too, not an easy choice)
  12. Become more spiritual.
  13. Meditate.
My own personal favorites, that happen to be mine and very few other people’s:
  1. Write more (2014 was an all-time low for blogging at 9 posts –this makes 10 –and 4000 views) so I showed ’em!
  2. Study more.
  3. Become a better daughter/sister/aunt/sister-in-law/niece/etc.
  4. Do something daring.
  5. Learn to cycle.
  6. Learn the cello.
  7. Write a novel (that’s my favorite, I always kill all the characters in chapter 1) J
  8. Finish that story I got in a folder I call “old old old laptop” which just means it’s something I’ve had for a long time.
  9. Finish that other story in the folder called “stories” which has a few more other stories right next to it.
  10. Face my fears, again!
  11. Get in touch with my long lost friends.
  12. Drop all the sucky friends.
And because I’ve had so many resolutions for so long that are hardly ever achieved by plan, and usually by accident, I’ve decided to wade into the new year of 2015 unprepared, unplanned, un-disappointed, un-hopeful, with both feet firm on the ground… or not, who knows right?
Here’s what I know about 2015:
  1. Absolutely nothing!
I also know that I need to lose weight, write more, finish my stories, write a novel, learn to cycle, face my fears (and all those fears I never realized I had until life decided to throw a curve ball). Therefore, with no resolutions, and with the help historical data and objective self observations, I’ve decided to do one thing in 2015, and that is…
Drumroll please…
giphy


Follow Through


And to give myself a helpful hint:
Don’t bite off more than I can chew

So even if I decide to do nothing, and follow through, then I’ve done something. But, if I decide to become NASA’s next top rocket scientist, I’m following through on that too because it doesn’t really matter how terrible our lives are now, or even how wonderful. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t written a story this year, or haven’t learned to play the cello, or even if I gained another scary 10 kg. What matters is that I write 1 and only one story, if that’s what it means to not have a dozen incomplete stories in my old old old laptop folder and say at the end of the year that I want to finish it on the next.
Bridget Jones's New Year Resolutions


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Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Year I Was Too Busy to Live

It’s time for my yearly blog on the not so happy occasion of getting a year older and a year closer to the infamous 30. (P.S. my birthday was actually 6 days ago, that’s how busy I am)

I’ll keep this short. I haven’t really learned anything this year. I’ve been too busy working, and too busy studying, and too busy thinking about all the problems I face during working and studying to actually work effectively or study well. It’s like I’ve choked myself by being busy; biting more than I can chew and still trying to bite a little more. Sounds disgusting and gluttonous, except it really isn’t, at least not in that sense.

During this fine year, I was too busy to keep up with my friends, and I was too busy to do anything fun. I was so busy even that I think I sent the guy I liked hidden messages telling him I’m too busy for him, which sort of sucks, but anyway.

New year, new life. MBA should be over by the end of the month and I will actually be free! Of course, I try to pretend that the MBA is what’s ruining my life and keeping me busy except I know it’s not. I try to say that working too hard is ruining my life, which it is, but it’s not like the world would end if I work too hard or too little. I’m another cog in a horrible machine. Once ruined by burnout, I would be replaced… not much point in that either.

I wish I could say I learned something, even without the constant reflection that takes me around in circles into my brain and back to that same starting point. I learned book stuff in the MBA. That was an addition. I learned that politics is everywhere no matter where or what you do for a living. I learned that nice people are usually weird but there are still nice people around. I keep losing my faith in humanity and getting it back again, but in the end humanity is what it is; flawed, and the world is an ugly place despite our constant attempts at being appalled by its ugliness without doing anything about it. Well, maybe I haven’t really learned that but a reminder is always nice.

So what’s my new year’s resolution based on my not so deep learnings? That’s actually the worst part about the new year. I won’t have the MBA excuse anymore, I have to think about all those things that I should do or else life is futile. I have to dodge all the marriage nagging from practically everyone (it really isn’t that I’m against it, there is just a horrible lack of adequate AND interested supply). I need to finally figure things out, which is what I’ve been trying to do for the past God knows how many years and never reaching an answer. I’ll probably come up with more big ideas that are like hot air balloons. At the end of the day, I am still me, my birthday is just another day when I get older, like all other days when one gets older (it’s called time passing), but this year, I haven’t grown wiser, just more used to life with all its downs and ups and downs that are actually ups.

Happy Birthday to me!




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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Real Depth

I wrote the entire last post as an introduction to this one, to present an idea of actual deep people that I have met and would have totally dismissed had I been following the bohemian depth thing. It is important to notice these people because they are everything the other ones aren’t.
Real people with real depth have opinions, but are eager to hear the opinions of other people as well. They might not go into deep passionate discussions, not because they are not passionate about what they believe in, but because they need to digest what the other person is saying first before dismissing it as something that doesn’t fit their framework, and they’re polite too.
Real people with real depth are interested in a large number of ideas, and are eager to learn. They don’t necessarily parade the latest books they’ve read and possibly haven’t understood, or the documentaries they’ve watched, but they form ideas and link them together in something more tangible. To them, the environment and the economy go hand in hand. Education and science, along with a higher standard of living and respecting the rules are indispensable. And yes, they ask questions that are not rhetorical. Imagine that!
Real people have various interests in music and movies, but they do not call them eargasms and they don’t care if what they like is not necessarily the most popular. They understand that different people have different tastes, and their tastes might not fall along the same lines as the collective.
Real people with depths have passions, contrary to the popular belief that they are cold, and they are eerily well informed about those things that trigger their passions, which puts them in positions to speak fervently, but only in the form of statements and not in the form of directions as to what is the best and what is substandard.
Real people are also not afraid of saying they don’t know, or that they are interested in something new, or that they do not agree with something without sounding at all ashamed or offensive. There is no passive aggressiveness to them. In fact, when they say they don’t know something, they will ask you to enlighten them so that they broaden their knowledge and their wisdom, which usually puts the other deep guys in a hotspot of having to say something meaningful.
Real people with actual depth don’t use sarcasm to display their higher IQ, instead, they listen with patience and comment with sincerity without making fun of anyone, even if the sarcasm is subtle. It is called respect. 
depth
It is important to understand what we are becoming in our attempts to gain wisdom and knowledge, and in our attempts to display them as well. What is the message we are giving? What are we trying to achieve? Are we really being opinionated and individual or are we following the crowds that give us a sense of belonging when the mainstream doesn’t work anymore?

So ask yourself this, which camp do you belong to?




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Monday, June 9, 2014

Dude.. That’s deep!

A few years ago, opinions began to actually matter. The more opinionated you were, the better. The more dismissive in a romanticized sense you were of others habits and opinions, the better, you were a rebel then. The more books you claimed to have read and analyzed, the more poetry quotes you post on your facebook and twitter pages, the more underground music you listen to, the better.

Better what? Well depth of course! You’re living the bohemian life where everything is an emotional roller coaster, everyone is an artist or an appreciator of art, and the lingo is the same because only people with that level of depth deserve to exist and everyone else should be shunned out.

Well, my humble opinion says that is bullshit.

I admit, the whole bohemian style of things was interesting at first. And there is some truth in it: underground music and good books along with a great cup of coffee and maybe some poetry is indeed beautiful. Visiting cultural places and having opinions about existential issues as well as political and cultural issues is important. But all this does not matter if it is fake, which unfortunately is lots of times.

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So here is my tiny experience with this mad bohemian world that has come to exist in the groups of the 20 somethings I know. We start off by opinions on politics, and how the world should go, an what’s wrong with our countries, which is all fine and dandy having lived through a revolution, then it turns to music; underground music, classic oldies, Fayrouz & Ziad Rahbany who are a genre of music on their own, and this is fine too because usually the music is good until you start getting the pretenders and you start noticing: if you don’t like the new guys who are supposed to fall into the above genres then you don’t really belong. Next, we move on to the books and ideologies; everyone has a strong view on things, and starts discussing ideologies; anarchism and socialism and fascism and capitalism. The passion with which the ideas are being communicated gives one a sense of absoluteness: this cannot be wrong, these people must know what they are talking about. Then, we come to the books, which gave me the first hint of fallacy. You see, most of the new books are just that, new! They lose a lot of the essence for the sake of ideas that are not necessarily solid. Stories have been getting raving reviews while lacking character composition, scene composition, and plot, but because they are falling in that large bowl of bohemian depth everyone is so dying to dive into, they are considered masterpieces of art. The last measure of depth, and the second clue, is the cultural sites. I won’t claim to know so much of anything, but suddenly, old Cairo and down town Cairo have become places where young people flock to in order to live the bohemian depth. For me, since I enjoy the architecture and the stories spun from history, I expected those people knew where they were going or what they were doing, but unfortunately, it was the new “cool” as such settings adds to the look of depth they cherish so. That got me thinking; do I really like Fayrouz and underground music that much? I prefer Abdel Wahab with his very chic music and Bon Jovi with his in your face songs. I will still hate the contemporary books. I will try to learn of the places I visit before just admiring the sites like a tourist in my own country. And, as I like some of the underground music, some of them just suck!! Ideologies, much as I admire them, should be analyzed for pros and cons and discussed objectively with points on application, not dismissed and definitely not changes on the whims of the collective.

There is this movie called Almost Famous about the very young reporter who goes on tour with a rock band and meets this groupie girl who is mysterious and crazy and teaches him all sorts of new things in life, only to find out that she’s a silly lost teenagers with a crush on a band member who lives in her own imagination. If you’ve seen it, then it’s clear what I’m talking about. If not, I guess by now the idea is clear: My generation believes that culture is the new cool, without understanding the real meaning or price of being “a cultured” person. We are becoming groupies to this fallacy, with no depth at all really; more like an optical illusion made out of an elaborate lie.


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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Diaries of a workaholic

Hi my name is Dina and I’m a workaholic.

I wake up every morning to go to work. I set the alarm at 7:30 and end up snoozing 3 to 5 times until I actually get out of bed, and the first thought I have is “I don’t want to go to work today.” But it stays as a thought and eventually I get out of bed and do the morning rituals. I don’t do this because I lack sleep. I usually sleep my 8 hours give or take an hour or two. Sometimes, I’m awake before the alarm rings; I just can’t get out of bed. I’m usually thinking about my to do list throughout the morning rituals, and I’m usually overwhelmed. Lately, I have had to deal with unpleasant situations or people which make it even harder to know that I have to go through that horrible meeting with those obnoxious people. But it’s a living, and I’m a workaholic.

I arrive at work, drag my feet, turn on my machine and, as we say in Egypt, “Spray the water” (which is a metaphor for the first thing shop owners did in the 19th and early 20th century when they were open for business) and make coffee. I do the morning chats and depending on the energy I get, I start the day. A call here, an email there, a discussion on the side, and my daily computer crash, and we’re already rolling. The to do list gets bigger and I try so hard to check something off without adding 5 more in its wake. I do the runs between the different team members and the different teams; best part is the running about, I can never sit for so long at my desk anyway unless the sky would fall on my head if I didn’t. I remember that I forgot to eat, generally because I start to feel a bit dizzy, so I grab a chocolate bar, or coffee or something with lots of sugar. Let the sugar rush begin! It’s 6 pm already, which is a good thing because people should start leaving the office and the emails will be less and I just might get something done in the end. I live close to work so I don’t worry so much about traffic anymore, and I always have this one more thing to do, one last sheet, one last email, one more task, and before I know it, it’s 10-ish and my mom is freaking out.

workaholic-21-6808

Sounds terrible right? My friends are all mad at me, I work too much. My managers are telling me two things: get a life, or get a vacation, but I know that I’m just not ready for either.

The truth is, I get a fix out of it. That moment when I get something done, or help someone at work, or even send a status report; I end up feeling satisfied, even just a little bit. I don’t always enjoy it, but sometimes I do. I know it’s killing me, but I can’t help it. If I don’t go to work, I get a sour taste in my mouth. I’ve actually come to the conclusion that I hate weekends, but I don’t work on weekends as much as I can because I end up resenting myself and suffering from self-pity (as if I don’t already). That moment when I think I have to go home now because I can’t stay at work any longer is not because I miss home, it’s because I know deep down that I might OD and die or something. Going home has become a chore of its own, because then I will have to stop thinking about work (as if) and I have to engage in normal day to day activities. I have to remember that I have problems that I need to deal with or worry about, and that I have been too busy working to give them any room in my head. I have to be a part of a family and do my duty as such. I have to meet my friends and hang out to talk about boys and old bosses and how our parents still treat us like children. Again, please don’t get me wrong. I love my family and my friends. I feel blessed with a wonderful life and I am grateful. But somehow, it’s harder to be a normal person living a normal life than just being at work with all its glorious stink.

workaholic_by_erisado

And for that fix, I have been doing my MBA! I’m still going through it, with all the assignments and projects and team meetings and classes. I love it; I’m learning, I’m meeting people, and I’m keeping busy. What is even more important than all that is that I get to always be thinking that I have more stuff to do. I will think about the next assignment instead of having to go get a medical checkup. I will complain about this team or that instead of wonder how big a space all those people who died actually left in the world. All the while, I’m learning, I’m adding lines on my resume to tell the world that I do stuff and I am not just a cog in some company’s wheel (because I’m actually a cog in several wheels at the same time; now THAT is multitasking), and I’m keeping that brain of mine that enjoys overloading itself with existential questions busy! Finally, if at a time I go through that list of people I call every time I feel like I miss my friends and no one answers, well who needs them, I’ll call someone from work and get a status instead!

The naked truth is this: I have had it drilled in my head at a very young age that there is always more that can be done. In the 10+ years I have known my dad, I actually knew him for a total of 2 years because he was always working. If I’m not working or studying, then I’m wondering why I exist, or why I’m alone or lonely, or why I feel like my chest will implode. When I’m working or studying, I’m not remembering the bad things, I’m not even remembering the good things which can be a blessing as well. When I’m working, I’m my job or my degree because I don’t have to think about broken cars and law suits and betrayals and lies.

I wonder if it’s hereditary; my dad was a workaholic, and when he wasn’t working he was making sure to keep busy with something! Some argue he worked himself to death; too much work, too much coffee, too much stress, too much cigarettes. Did he also feel empty? Did he feel overwhelmed? Did he hate his life outside of work? Was his family not enough for him? Was it too much? Did he just need that fix, regardless of anything else? I will never know.

At the end of the day, I work, therefore I am real. Everything else is just one of those exhausting dreams where monsters chase us and we wake up more weary than before we went to bed in the first place.


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Monday, May 19, 2014

Some People are Cool

Some people are there when you need them, every single time.

Some people don’t answer the phone, but you always know they’ll call back.

Some people you can talk to about probably everything at any time and it never feels off or awkward.

Some people don’t change when their circumstances change, they stay open, don’t hold grudges, treat you now the same way they treated you 3 years ago, 10 years ago, 17 years ago when you first met them.

Some people smile when they see you, even if the topic is sour or if they are sad or down or upset, or if you are sad or down or upset, and that smile is never out of place.

Some people are kind of moody, but then again that fades next to your mood swings, so it’s fine really.

Some people can gossip about everything and anything, make fun of you to your face, don’t need to ask for subtitles, and know more about hair products and make up than you ever will.

Some people read you like an open book, understand your flirts when the person you’re flirting with is totally oblivious, and say that he’s stupid for not getting it, even though you are a geek after all and geeks suck at flirting.

Some people can tell you that you look fat without actually telling you that you look fat and you will never feel horrible about it, not even in retrospect.

Some people are just way too decent in the way they act and the way they talk, it makes you feel like you’re in a PG-13 movie.

Some people have a very sour comeback to other people, or at least they did. I don’t think they still do it, but you know deep down they can.

Some people make you feel like you haven’t grown a day over 12, and that they haven’t grown a day over 12, despite sounding very much their age.

Some people amaze you by actually caring!!! And it always always shows in the little things.

Some people read your stupid blog without tagging them in it or posting it on their wall or asking them to. Some people say they like it too J

Some people are all the above and are wise as well.

And sometimes, talking to those some people in that once in a blue moon event, you always feel like the conversation ended smack in the middle with so much left unsaid. To be continued when they, or you, pick up the phone again in a year or so.

Makes you happy that some people are in your life, even if it is once a year that you talk to them or something.

Some people are just 1 very special person: Mostafa Esmat Sheba (who despite me calling him Sheba lately is known in my house as Mostafa Esmat).

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I have a message to some people:

Please don’t allow me to keep you at arm’s length, or to drift, or to think twice before calling you in my next car accident (God forbid).

Please don’t let the world get too much for you that you stop smiling as much as you do.

Please know that you are an important person in existence.

Please take note of the happy moments in life, no matter how few, and of the bad moments because that’s when you make your best jokes.

Please stay honest, with yourself and with everyone else (even though you can be so vague sometimes, you should work on that!)

Please hold on to yourself for me because it’s handy to have someone like you to remind me of who I am, and you know how I have a terrible habit of losing sight of things and people.

Oh, and please don’t wear pink shorts ever again!

Till your birthday (which is probably the next time we’ll talk)


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Monday, May 12, 2014

A Haphazard Bundle of Inconsistent Qualities

“For thirty years now I have been studying my fellow–men. I do not know very much about them. I should certainly hesitate to engage a servant on his face, and yet I suppose it is on the face that for the most part we judge the persons we meet. We draw our conclusions from the shape of the jaw, the look in the eyes, the contour of the mouth. I wonder if we are more often right than wrong. Why novels and plays are so often untrue to life is because their authors, perhaps of necessity, make their characters all of a piece. They cannot afford to make them self–contradictory, for then they become incomprehensible, and yet self–contradictory is what most of us are. We are a haphazard bundle of inconsistent qualities. In books on logic they will tell you that it is absurd to say that yellow is tubular or gratitude heavier than air; but in that mixture of incongruities that makes up the self yellow may very well be a horse and cart and gratitude the middle of next week. I shrug my shoulders when people tell me that their first impressions of a person are always right. I think they must have small insight or great vanity. For my own part I find that the longer I know people the more they puzzle me: my oldest friends are just those of whom I can say that I don’t know the first thing about them.”
--Excerpt from A Friend In Need By W. Somerset Maugham


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stray Thoughts: Love and Frienship

Some people spend their whole lives trying to figure out two things; love and friendship. Love is that thing which everyone seems to feel but no one can really describe, it's like saying something is blue; who am I to tell that the images two people send to their brains and their brains interpret them as blue are identical? It's all a matter of perception really. As to friendship, it used to be who would play with you in the park, then it became who would sit next to you in class,or who you would spend the longest hours on the phone with. It matures to who would cover for your mischefs, and to who would tolerate you and turn a blind eye to your flaws. It finally becomes who would look into your soul and not wince in disapproval. If love feels like reaching the light at the end of the tunnel, friendship is the torch you carry to light your way.



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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Of Lady Moon and Master Sea – Eternity Ends

This is a sequel to Of Lady Moon and Master Sea

The seas raged all over the realm of earth. It was as if the moon did not control the tides anymore. Whole cities were submerged and destruction filled the lands. Meanwhile, the moon was always covered in thin mist, always blurry. If a man looked up to it, he would think he was looking at it through a veil of his tears.

It has been months since Master Sea and Lady Moon met. On every full moon, she would go down to the realm of earth, on that far away beach where no creature ever dared tread, and she would walk. She would walk close to the sea but not daring have the water touch her, feeling his rage, knowing that he must see her, and hoping that maybe if she walks far enough, he would come. She would walk until dawn, and risk showing herself to Lady Sun, who would shine brighter in celebration of Lady Moon’s dismay. Month after month, she descended to meet him, but Master Sea never came. Eventually she stopped walking the nights for him, she stopped walking the nights at all. But still, every month when her cycle is whole, the Lady Moon went to where they met. Her face, once radiant, has become pale. Her tears, once moonstones, have turned into mist, and the night that is her hair has been starless ever since. He has abandoned her. Eternity has passed as a witness of their love, eternity must be over.

The wind whispered to him, telling him of her plight that he surely knew, asking him for mercy, but he was deep in those dark corners at the bottom of his realm, too far to hear the whispers of the wind. Lady Sun shone brighter, eating at him, taking little pieces of him into the clouds and making the wind blow them away to rain deep inside the realm of earth, but he was too deep in his realm to notice, and she knew that no matter what, Master Sea would never allow her to see him as Lady Moon did. And so she burned at the world.

The universe was going into chaos, conclave was called into order.

The observer sat at the head of the table, waiting for the masters and ladies of the realms to come. His face has never displayed concern, not even when stars are born and die, not even when planets are consumed, not when entire species disappear with no trace. He observed everything, and everything followed the wish of the Creator. The order in the chaos was never broken, except now.

The wind blew in first, he never liked to be called master. He said he was a servant of the universe and the Creator, and master of none. Master Earth came second, the ground shaking with each step. The wind greeted him and blew through his leaves. Then, Lady Moon crept in. she shed no light and spoke no words. She was covered in mist. The moonflowers on Master Earth’s surface have not even felt her presence. “My lady, your flowers have missed you,” he said as he offered her his hand with a moon flower in gloom. Lady Moon stared at the flower in with unseeing eyes. It may have been an eternity before a tiny shadow of a smile grew on her face, and the flower started to bloom. Lady Sun came next, radiating so much heat that the leaves on Master Earth were withering. He glared at her and looked to the observer. “You had best dim your lovely light my lady. Remember, this is conclave,” said the observer. For a second, Master Earth thought she would laugh at the observer, but she conceded with a shadow of a smirk. She took her seat opposite Lady Moon, her eyes blazing at the pale lady Moon who sat quietly and said nothing. They sat, waiting for Master Sea to come. They waited silently, nervously, but Lady Moon was oblivious, staring into nothing, until the waves could be heard.

Master Sea came in with the flood at his heels. The masters and ladies greeted him, all except Lady Moon who stared at him, there was no hiding her love. He ignored them and sat down, returning love with ambivalence. “The conclave is now in session,” said the observer.

“Master Sea, you have been neglecting your duties and your realm is in chaos. The species are out of control, the seas and oceans are flooding Master Earth’s shores. You are no longer heeding to Lady Moon’s functions.

“Lady Moon, you have lost your strength and the power over your realm. The entire night sky has dimmed. Stars are dying more rapidly and the constellations are losing shape.

“Lady Sun, you have been scorching the realm of earth. Your influence on Master Sea’s realm and the wind and causing it to rain in deserts. You are burning the crops that you should help grow.

“Masters and ladies, you are breaking the eternal order. Explain yourselves.”

Master Sea stared into the void and gave no answer. Lady Sun started ranting about how it was her right to shine the way she liked, she had always been giving life and she would continue to do so. But then she agreed that she had been taking it too far and conceded to going back to normal. The observer looked to Lady Moon, who was still quiet and distant. She finally spoke, her voice barely a whisper. “I have nothing to say for myself, Observer. You all know my plight, and for me, eternity is over. I wish to be destroyed.” Conclave was quiet, no one dared speak. The lovers who reside in Master Earth’s heart began to cry, the flowers were dying. Everything that lived on the realm of earth was heartbroken. As the observer was about to speak, Master Sea said, “I will flood the realm of earth. Master Earth, I beg your pardon. You have been nothing but gracious to me, but it has to be done. If the Lady Moon wishes to be destroyed, then I have the same wish for myself. My only request, if she accepts, is that our ends bring us together. If she moves closer to your realm, Master Earth, I will have no choice but to concede to her power and flood it. Your realm will be gone by the time she crashes into mine. I would appreciate the few moments I would have with her at the end of eternity when as if they were all that has ever been.”

Master Sea knelt by Lady Moon, showing his love for the one and only time to the ladies and masters of the realm, “my Lady Moon, I beg your forgiveness. I have been blinded by your love and crazed by my desire for you. I have never meant to cause you harm, I would rather annihilate myself and the universe a thousand times over. But my heart is dark, and the darkness consumed me. Eternity is indeed over, but it has never been because my love for you faltered, it is because our time has finally come to exist together, and it would be for eternity, even if eternity is but a moment.”

Master Sea opened his hands, they were filled with moonstones. The moonflowers were blooming for the last time on Master Earth’s realm. The room was filling up with silver radiance as Lady Moon’s face lit up, and above them, the void was alight with stars. “Lady Moon,” said the observer, “do you accept?”

“I do,” she replied. He nodded. It was time for the world to end.in_the_shadow_of_the_broken_moon_by_justv23-d4xqocq

On a desolate beach, the sea was roaring, the moon was full, huge, filling up the night sky with silvery light. The sky was filled with stars. Even though the wind was raging mad all over the world, it was nothing but a light a breeze on that beach. A beautiful girl in a white frock that blew in the breeze walked slowly, letting her feet and the hem of her frock be kissed by the waves. The night in her hair twinkled with a million million stars, and her smile cast light shining deep into the darkness of the sea. Master Sea stood, shifting his feet. He has waited for eternity, and now eternity was over and another was to begin; an eternity of scarce moments that would feed his soul once and for all. He watched her come near, feeling her feet as his waves engulf them, for the first time, even though he was flooding the earth, he was calm. The rage was gone. He can finally touch her. In a moment, they would both perish, but eternity was now. He knelt by her feet but she pulled him up and held his hand. They kissed while the moon was crashing into the sea behind them. They kissed… as the world was no more.


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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Salonat on the Field

I owe it to my journalistic duty (note to self: buy a Fedora) to report on the actual happenings of my first Salonat experience (the Egyptian term for arranged marriage meetings). I’ve already done an analysis of the situation back in 2011 and my friend’s comeback to the idea just a few weeks after, which makes this my third encounter with the idea, and hopefully my last.

First of all, I would like to set the stage:

 

The prospective bride (Me):

I am a 27 year old workaholic who stays at work till 10:00 pm and says she enjoys it; her own managers are telling her to get a life. I am an engineer (lot of good that does me) and annoyingly book smart, potentially a know-it-all-goody-two-shoes, who is a self-diagnosed crazy person with very high standards in men that almost resemble the geek girl version of a Disney prince (I have actually published that too as a checklist!) and a couple of really bad relationships deeming me a very untrusting person.

 

The prospective groom:

A 33 year old banker who lives in Maadi, probably comes from a nice family, and whose father is a banker as well. (yes it’s a one-liner)

The circumstances:

I’ve been going back and forth with my mother about this for a while now. So far, I’ve been lucky enough (or maybe manipulative enough) to have my mother reject all the other prospective clients, sorry I mean grooms, without my interference based on her own set of standards, which are basically him being an engineer and from a good family. I have to explain that she is under the preconceived notion that engineers are smarter than other people, and I have made no attempt to remedy her perception since it works to my favor. As a disclaimer, I have seen my share of stupid engineers, and so from my perspective, a person coming from an engineering background only guarantees minor enhancements in cognitive abilities and nothing else. So finally, with her worried that I am becoming an old spinster at the age of 27, she has agreed to let go of her standards with respect to the engineering background and set up this meeting (while claiming that I’m only 26.)

 

The events of the encounter:

I was late… very late actually, to my mother’s utter shame. They had been waiting for almost an hour and she had to go ahead and meet them before my arrival. The party consisted of his mother, his aunt, and the groom to be (or not), in addition to the missing link, I mean the common link. As much as I would like to say that he was an alpha male jerk who was trying to make a poor display of his testosterone (like some guy a friend was trying to set me up with, both of them learned their mistake in half an hour or less), he was actually nice! I was expecting an anti-feminist-ugly-stupid-creep who would criticize me and attempt to tell me his version of how he sees my life. I got a normal guy, who was actually interested in learning about my work and my interests. He was noticeably shorter than me, a bit more on the traditional side, not the funniest or the most interesting. There was no love at first sight, or even admiration at first sight, but the conversation was pleasant. He was an average Joe, and there is nothing more to say there, and nothing wrong with it either.

All in all, we stayed about an hour. He was good at trying to avoid the awkward silences, and we talked for the entire duration. I didn’t linger on the conversation, didn’t think about it, or him, afterwards, and I can honestly say I didn’t feel anything about the whole situation; just someone I met, talked to, and walked away. The missing link said some things in the middle in a feeble attempt at trying to be funny, but only ended up putting everyone present at awkward situations. But the lesson was learned, or would be learned in the aftermath.

 

The aftermath:

I gave my mother the above feedback so that she can convey it to the missing link. Apparently, it wasn’t that simple. How was I to know that having polite conversation gave the impression that I’m interested? That “if they’re talking” then “they’ll get married in a fortnight!” The mechanics of the arranged marriage system escape me, and escape my mother as well. She got on the phone with the obnoxious lady and told her my feedback. The obnoxious lady wasn’t convinced so my mom resorted to the only negative thing I had actually said about the guy: he was too short! The obnoxious, and quite stupid lady, while promising that she wouldn’t tell his family that, conveyed the message and got back to my mother to tell her the events of the conversation, which of course included the short comment. By the end of her call with my mom she dropped an “oh by the way, why did your daughter get so fat?”

 

The conclusion:

I made it clear to my mother it was not to happen again, simply because I am not the type of girl who believes that having pleasant conversation is equivalent to being ready for marriage. I think my mom, knowing that a lot of my friends are guys, knows that I will not be impressed by a guy I meet on neutral ground, having the backup of his family who are gathering ammunition to fight back rejection. Isn’t that half of the equation? You meet someone and get a 50% chance of either rejecting or being rejected. Again, common sense most probably doesn’t apply to the arranged marriage mechanics, but at least I made it clear that it isn’t for me, and definitely snapped back an “I told you so” about the result of the rejection.; At the end of the day, it’s a judgment match; one team is judging the other. To come out of something like that with a pros and cons list, all very shallow and subjective, shows how this system does not work, at least not for me.

 

The silver lining:

My mom is happy that I did it. Apparently she doesn’t feel like I’m a freak of nature anymore since I wasn’t rejected. I think I have convinced her, for now, that the arranged marriage thing is not the way forward. The cherry on top is that now she knows that obnoxious women, like the missing link, should not be a part of her circle, much less present us with her suggestions about possible grooms, and ways to look, act, and dress to please (yes, it’s very 7th century) while she knows absolutely nothing about me. I’d take my mom telling me to “find someone” over “let’s do salonat” any day.




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Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Arrow

It caught her eye… the way it stood there, held firmly, confidently, like it was right where it belonged. It was silvery but not shiny in a cheap sort of way. It didn’t scream out “look at me” but it demanded respect, and she was willing to grant it that. She knew it was special the moment she saw it, and she knew before that moment too. Love at first sight? Nah! It existed, she loved it, that’s it.

At first she couldn’t get a close look, but it distracted her. Oh how it distracted her. What was that guy saying anyway? She couldn’t remember. It was the cold, the medicines, maybe she was even feverish, that’s why it’s so hard to focus… but it’s not hard to focus on it. If only she could get a closer look, if only she could hear it tick, and feel its sleek shape in her hand… Enough! Focus!

That’s it, she’s telling herself it’s the meds. The stupid cold and the stupid meds and all that coffee she had to drink, but she had made up her mind. She wasn’t going to think about it. It’s a now or never moment, she wasn’t always good at those, but this time, this thing, it’s now.

She asked for it, and she got it. It was a surprise to her, a pleasant one, a timeless moment. She held it, twisted it in her hand ever so delicately, she didn’t dare hold it with her left hand, the one that did the work. If she had, she’d never let go. Her heart was beating out of tune, as she examined it. It was all silver, she preferred the silver and navy, but the all silver one, a bit dull from being well used but still maintaining the dignity of one well taken care of, felt like the older brother of the one she preferred; more mature, more intelligent, more genuine. She really did feel mature then in a way, even though she felt like a kid holding one of that family again, but she wasn’t a kid anymore and she was strongly aware of that at that very moment. The moment her eyes fell on those arrows, they went straight through her. Funny how they did that from just a look. Some things are more than they seem, more than they look, more than they do or cost. Some things go straight through the heart.

She didn’t trust herself enough to make it tick, and he didn’t tick it either, probably stunned at her strange behavior. She felt embarrassed, awkward, self-conscious. It was just a pen, or so she told herself. But at that moment her eyes first fell on it, she didn’t know, how could she? She never realized the effect it had on her to see one again, and to see one standing so tall. Was it an archer like her? Well, it was definitely an arrow, and after all, she is the archer, but would the arrow aim true?

It was time for the dream to end, for the moment to pass, for the pen to go back where it belonged. She gave it back. It had made her happy for just a second, even though she made a fool of herself, even though her own blood betrayed her. it was time to go back to her sturdy Staedtler pencil. She wasn’t a pen person after all, and she always had her father’s Cross to soothe her at times like these when a pen, just a pen, can do so much damage. She’d never owned a Parker, and she expects she never would. It would be too special and she would never bear the thought of losing it or misplacing it; it would break her heart to have Parker, but maybe her heart needed breaking, or shooting an arrow through. Cross and Staedtler… for now. The Parker was in safe hands. She hoped the sequel would have a sequel. Cross your fingers, pun intended ;)

Here’s a clue: The Pencil Affair


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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Another Birthday

It’s my birthday again. For some reason I’ve made it a tradition to give you all some fuss over my birthday, but the real reason is I’m writing this for me, to watch myself grow older and wiser and exponentially crazier. This post is about what’s special in the past year, and why I have newly found respect for the next one.
  • I didn’t kill anyone this year, not remotely, at least not to my knowledge, phew.
  • I left the job that was draining the life out of me, and I’ve made some very close calls relating to that but God was merciful to put me in situations where I couldn’t go back on my word, I’m a lucky gal.
  • I did not go to jail!
  • I’m doing my MBA which is a sweet distraction from life. Well, not so sweet, who am I kidding, but if I’m going around in circles in my brain, I might as well do it about something with some value.
  • I’m becoming a nerd, not something to my advantage, but it should be an interesting experience; nerdy with a sense of humor.
  • I don’t have to wake up at 6 am every day and drive/get driven 80 km a day + 70 km more when I go to school (just the 70 now).
  • I went to Europe! For less than a week and stayed in a dismal place.. but I went to Europe!!
  • I have a beautiful baby nephew, may God keep him safe always.
  • I made friends and lost friends and shuffled friends around, but in the end, all is good, all is just right, as it always has been and always will be.
  • I lost my favorite person in the world, the loveliest person in the world. I didn’t dare say goodbye properly and I still don’t dare say goodbye. It hurts to know she is gone but I am grateful to have had her in my life; for every smile and every laugh that she gave me, and still does with wonderful memories. May you rest in peace Tant Omaima.
  • Lessons have been learned, lots of them. They are the lessons that make life worth living.
  • I know for a fact that shrinks are possibly useless!
  • I can still laugh! At some point last year I really thought I couldn’t laugh ever again.
  • I still have no idea what my purpose in life is, I mean seriously how long does it take to find that out?! Do we have to wait for life to end to figure it out or what?!! Funny thing is that I’m still looking, God helps those who help themselves after all.
  • I’m writing again, on and off, more off than on, but hey, I am!
  • My professor asked me in the first class of management if I’m the next Steve Jobs. I think he’d back out on saying that now, but I will pretend that he wouldn’t.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I am grateful. Thank You God for giving me a full life with so many lessons. Thank You for giving me reasons to thank You. Thank You for listening to some of the prayers in my heart, and forgiving the not so nice stuff in there too. I am alive. My life may not be so good, but this year I am grateful for not having something to be guilty about, and that’s good enough, that’s more than good. Thank You!

Oh, and Happy Birthday to me!





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Friday, October 25, 2013

The Doll Factory

Disclaimer: This post is written by a very angry person

The past decade showed how women in music are all headed towards symbolizing women as objects; as good as their hair, clothes, and makeup, and should only be happy when they, as objects, are in demand by the consumer; a.k.a the common man. Two or three years later, the movies started portraying the common man as a wolf in sheep’s clothes; if the girl becomes an interesting enough commodity, then the consumer wants to steal instead of buy, use and abuse instead of create a solid and healthy partnership through love and marriage, and how their lives are all eventually ruined.
The songs sell because girls want to be beautiful, attractive, and sexy. Of course, stream this enough through the media and any girl going through puberty will learn that being smart is a big no-no (don’t the mothers tell them that as well), being sexy is good, but publicly slutty is a no-no, you can be slutty if you can hide it, because the guys like the secrecy, and that being yourself is.. wait, yourself? You want to be a real human being? No sweetie, you got it wrong, no one wants you for who you are, you are not an individual, you are a doll in a very big dollhouse called the world, you should know your place.
The movies sell too. They sell to guys because they talk about all that is taboo; sex and drugs, how you would ruin your life if you decide to marry the girl you like, and how it would be much easier to just play around with a girl who is easy enough. You’d be a sleazebag but no one can hurt you and no one really cares. They sell to girls because they sound like the lessons from the more experienced women of the world (aren’t they all directed by Inas El-Deghedy?) on how a girl should be sexy, but not easy, and that naïve girls get the boot almost always, because even if they are book smart, the wolves out there would get them, it’s eventual. A girl has to be “2arashana” and “sousa” to live a good life and sell to the right consumer; the man who has money and a job and would treat her like a princess; which basically means buy her lots of stuff because love is for losers.
We’ve come to live with that, Sexy girls and soppy love stories and movies about the big bad wolf. But the trend is changing, and apparently not for the better. It seems that all those movies did pay off in the end, girls are not easy anymore, at least they know how to hide it and if they don’t, who cares anyway, this is society now and we are a part of it. It is becoming more OK on a societal level that girls aren’t faking Hijab, mainly because of a stupid politically rebellious idea in the sense of school children teasing each other, but that doesn’t mean that girls should get too comfortable, oh no! You thought it’s time to be yourself sweetie? No, no that’s not going to happen, it just looks like you have more freedom. The new trend which was always there really but always subtle, is going public; society is coming out of the closet. We want Stepford wives, and you should be happy with that. You know of course that you shouldn’t have an opinion, we’ve been pushing that in your head ever since school and it’s been going on for decades, this is just trying to sell it. A girl is still a commodity, but we want to sell a Stepford wife now, not a slut, that doesn’t sell anymore.
The sluts of society are now talk show hosts; just look at them, they work late (imagine how they get home at dawn every day), they want you to think, they talk about hard political topics, they aren’t feminine, and most of them are either single or divorced. See where smart gets you? Here is the alternative, here is what sells. A girl should always act naïve and stupid, it’s so cute. You should always have hearts and teddy bears around, come on make it easy on the dude, if he decides to get you something, you have to like it. Got that down? Good! Now that you’ve attracted the right guy, you have to be obedient, yes you heard me, obedient! And stay naïve, if he senses that you’re smart or knowledgeable, he’ll be turned off and leave, and then you’ll be a spinster and not even a talk show host. Next, you have to dress the way he likes. No, it doesn’t matter if he liked the way you dressed before, remember, you’re a doll. Kids dress their dolls all the time, so you have to look the way he likes. Now, about those friends of yours, they’re bad influence, they’ll turn you against him most probably and open your sweet kitten eyes on how badly he’s been treating you, so you better not listen to them. Tell you what, let him pick your friends for you; probably his family members or the girlfriends/wives of his friends, and then let him always compare you to them to show you how badly you’re treating him and how they are way more obedient than you. Remember your place, you are there to please your man, do everything he says, even think the way he likes, this is part of your role as society’s doll; to be shaped the way the customer likes.
Now don’t forget, be happy! If you complain you’ll be a typical Egyptian depressing woman. Finally, when you get dumped because you’re too boring for him and you don’t know anything about anything, take it with dignity, even with pride. You mustn’t embarrass him or make a scene. One last thing, when you do get dumped, you’ll be used goods and no one will want you again, and you’ll still be a spinster, who doesn’t have a talk show and isn’t even smart.
We hope you’ve enjoyed your stay at the doll factory. Please come again!







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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Purpose of Life

The eternal question, what’s the meaning of life? What’s the purpose of life? Why am I here? Why was I born? Do I matter? Why is the universe so big... etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

42 (just kidding)

The purpose of life is a story.

The only things that matters in life are stories. Aren’t stories divine? To become a story teller is to reach out and grab a piece of that divinity. After all, the book I love so much, the word of God and the message of the belief I hold so dear to me in my heart of hearts is a book of stories, the Quran, and each tiny part of it has a story of its own. Its messenger PBUH is a story teller; not in the sense of his making up stories, but because the story teller is a story on his own through his credibility and his honesty. Oh yes, a story teller is honest, perhaps the only important thing about a story teller, whether he makes up stories or just tells them, is that he is honest because he believes in the words of the story he is telling.

I talk too much, and I blog too much, especially about myself. It’s quite disturbing in fact. I can only imagine you, dear reader, wishing I would write about something else other than me. But maybe if you come back to this humble blog, then you are listening to the story of me. It would be nice to dream that one day my blog would be a book about all my stories, wouldn’t that be nice?

But enough about me…

Imagine your story. Take a minute.

Do you like your story so far? How does it go?

Was born in a thunderstorm 20 something years ago, in the middle of the night or at midday. Meant the world to your parents, went to school and college, played the bad boy every now and then, fell in love so fiercely that you thought your heart would break, felt your soul shatter to a million pieces when your dream didn’t come true.

Your smile lit up the room and your laugh was like chiming bells.

You saw so much, made so many mistakes, travelled inside your soul and out, and realized this and that!

You went through the bitterness of regret and the even worse bitterness of lost hope.

Your friends were everything, or they were nothing, you worked so hard because you believed in something, or just liked to work, or you were a workaholic by heritage.

You had fun and you laughed and you cried. Once you spoke to a person and that person’s eyes lit up because she’d realized something that was so profound, and only you could make her eyes shine like that.

We exist to tell stories, our stories, other people’s stories. We exist because in our laughter and tears, in our losses and disappointments, buried under the debris of our shattered dreams lies a shard of broken glass, that if held to the light in exactly the right way, would reflect the light of the sun. Our stories are the stories of existence and of life. Plain old life. So maybe it’s much simpler than all those crises we go through; identity, existential, oompa loompa?

How would you like your story to end? Take another minute, please :)

I want people, at the end when they read my story, to be sad that I died (isn’t that how stories on earth end?) but not because my ending is tragic –who knows maybe it would be –but because they loved the character. I want them to be happy because I lived a full life, because I tried and failed and maybe succeeded a few times. I want them to be happy because I was good and honest. Honest stories are the best. I don’t want to be the good guy, or the bad guy (gal), I want to be human; good and bad. I want the person who reads my story to love me at times and hate me at times and get angry at me for being so thick, and wish me guidance when I lose my way. I wish my story’s ending would not have any loose ends; I don’t want my readers to hold their breaths and think, “if only she had another hour, she could have done this or that” but that’s not up to me. What is up to me is not to waste my time wishing. Who would want to read a story about a person who sat there wishing and never did anything about it! I am glad I am stuck sometimes though, because that’s always the best part in a story, when the character is stuck and the reader just can’t wait for them to get unstuck; to be sent a miracle or make one of their own. Isn’t that what always happens in stories?

Aren’t we reading each other’s stories now? Maybe mine is wordier because I write too much about myself, but that doesn’t mean that it’s better or fuller or more meaningful. The best thing about stories is how they make you feel. And the best stories are definitely the ones that linger for years in your head; those moments and passages and images and words that hit us when we least expect and make us laugh or cry or be wary…

Or maybe in the frenzy of all those stories, we just realize that life is a story of stories that overlap and intertwine, and that this story will go on and on and on until that day when we see how our stories fare.




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Thursday, October 17, 2013

What became of the Lost Boys

Excerpt from Peter Pan

“Of course all the boys went to school; and most of them got into Class III, but Slighty was put first in class IV and then into Class V. Class I is the top class. Before they had attended school a week they saw what goats they had been not to remain on the island [Neverland]; but it was too late now, and soon they settled down into being as ordinary as you or me or Jenkins minor. It is sad to have to say that the power to fly gradually left them. At first Nana tied their feet to the bedposts so that they should not fly away in the night; and one of their diversions by day was to pretend to fall off buses; but by and by they ceased to tug at their bonds in bed, and found that they hurt themselves when they let go of the bus. In time they could not even fly after their hats. Want of practice, they called it; but what it really meant was that they no longer believed.”




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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Becoming Absurd

School

“Who knows what ‘stagger’ means? Who wants to demonstrate to the class?” said the English teacher.

I raised my hand, went up to the front of my second preparatory class, and staggered.

“Why did you do that? You looked ridiculous, everyone was laughing at you” said my best friend after class. Lesson learned: don’t make people laugh at you.

Years and years passed. For the rest of my school years, I was considered poker faced.

 

College

I asked a question in class, my friend next to me turned to me and told me, in a surprised but indifferent tone (at the same time, yes it’s hard to imagine, sorry) “you participate!”

I spent the next 2 years quite quiet, but then I couldn’t help myself. I like talking.

I can’t say I was “interactive” or even talkative. I found it very hard to talk to people, talk in class, all that. But when I got around closed circles I did talk, and people laughed, it didn’t hurt, I liked it. I got a lot of “how could you say something like that?” and “stop doing that” and “people will laugh at you” with very angry scolding faces. Faces I thought I could only see at home, but everyone likes to play big brother/big sister/mother/father/grandfather/distant family member who likes to interfere, or simply a distorted idea of a friend who doesn’t like their friends laughed at. But that was never it, it was always “will being associated with her embarrass us? Will she expose us and laugh?” or maybe it was something entirely different.. who knows.

 

First Job

“we didn’t like you at first, but it turns out you’re fun” a very honest and lovely friend told me once. I wasn’t poker faced, I was indeed quiet, at first, then when I left they told me the floor got quieter and that I made all the noise!

On one of the performance reviews, I got something like: you’re funny, you make everyone laugh, and you lighten up the mood when we’re tense. What I actually got in my mind’s eye: you’re the class clown! I got upset, really upset.

 

Hospital room after car crash

“don’t worry about it, ‘fadaky’ (which is a term that means whatever happened or was lost can be sacrificed for you) Thank God you’re safe” said the family friend (who came to the hospital room when I specifically asked all my personal close friends NOT to come) his wife was on the phone as well.

I responded by hysterical laughter. I mean really, how can I stop myself from laughing other than swearing using words I didn’t even know? How can “fadaky” console me? How can other people’s lives be “fadaya”? His wife thought I hit my head, of course that would be the only thing that would make sense; that I’ve hit myself because I’m being absurd to laugh at a time like this. I hate to say it, but what plebes!

 

Rest of my life

I make people laugh, even if I don’t mean it, especially when I don’t mean it. They never laugh when I do. I am excellent at accidental comedy. I laugh and people laugh with me, or at me, same difference when you’ve been clumsy all your life; falling down and staining your clothes with food, and occasionally tripping over your own feet, oh and I walk into walls as well, just did that a few months ago actually. It’s ok to laugh at other people as well, there are levels of absurd that even I don’t comprehend, but I don’t get why people feel offended if I laugh at their absurdity. I have come to accept mine, and the world’s, which happens to include, well, them!absurd

Wildly unreasonable, check!

Illogical, not always, but, check!

Inappropriate, yeah baby! Check!

The above define absurd. Absurd is life. Absurd is humanity. Absurd is you, dear reader, and is definitely me, even if we don’t comprehend or play the fools on that one. Society considers whatever is not following its norms as absurd, probably throwing it in the inappropriate part. But is it appropriate to accept war or murder when it falls in the area of our interest? Doesn’t that make it inappropriate? Doesn’t that make it, wait for it, absurd? Wait, wait, what about football? Death and love and high blood pressure, absurd?

Let me redefine absurd in my own sense. Absurd is when I perform acts that are illogical (I am a girl after all), wildly unreasonable (I tried to force a guy back at college into tying his shoes for him, the loose shoe lace thing annoys me), and inappropriate (I am so good at that one!)

So according to the dictionary, I am absurd, hurray for me.

How I became absurd is very simple. I stopped listening to all the discontent voices. I stopped looking at all the frowning/concerned faces, and I stopped caring altogether about societies ideas of norms. Well not altogether, I don’t want my mother to get a heart attack, but mostly, I like to live by my own rules, the rules I create, custom made to fit Dina, that’s me, and they just work. It gets hard sometimes, especially when I severely blush, but then I laugh even more and the nervous laughter and silly jokes are so conveniently mistaken for confidence and carefreeness that it just works so well to be absurd.

Sometimes, at night when it’s very dark, I question myself, I got this horrible nagging voice that I can’t seem to bury in my head, and that is always louder than all the other voices that tells me off, it even sounds like it has that frown that’s on everyone’s faces. I admit, it’s hard not to listen to it when it’s dark and quiet everywhere else, maybe I do; turn it down a couple of notches at family gatherings and such, or when the older ladies are around because they would frown at my mom I guess. I’ll accept the “young and stupid” look I get from them and smile. I’ll even accept the nervous smile that says “uh-oh, she’s insane, better make up an excuse to leave” because there is something very relieving at the acceptance of one’s own absurdity, and that is the fact of not caring.

I see the photo of the sad clown all over facebook of all the sad ones out there who smile all day and frown on the inside and I think, I need the opposite of that, I need the photo of the human on the outside and clown on the inside because that is what I am, and that is what I like to stay; a clown. If you think about it, that’s what you want me to be too, the clown, the one who makes everyone laugh and hypes them up and right out of their daily boring tedious routines, I am the human entertainer that lives among the masses, laughing and smiling and just cracking that joke that didn’t even sound like a joke but it’s so absurd it can’t be anything else. In your eyes I am the clown, in my eyes, I am privileged because I see it all as quite very funny, and so so absurd. You can only laugh if I make you, so what does that make me really? Don’t freak out, I’ll just stick with absurd.


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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Me, Fady, The Idiot, and Stuff..

Suddenly, as I read that climatic moment in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, I understood it all; how men and women can think so alike and yet so differently. Well, not men and women really, just me and Fady.

In our conversation about Russian literature that kept moving all over the spectrum of all the literature in the world, he told me how he admired Dostoyevsky’s characters; their depth, their structure, I am paraphrasing here so I hope no one takes this personally. I had got a similar comment on Dostoyevsky as I was struggling to read Crime & Punishment from Ahmed Essam back in our first or second year of college. I was never able to get through it, and I think it would take me a few years before I venture into Russian lit again. But here he was, Fady I mean, telling me about the Brothers Karamazov, and how they were so ingeniously portrayed, as I was struggling through the last few chapters of The Idiot; a story with a massive retention dip! When you read The Idiot, you start off by loving the characters, and hating how they are so thoroughly explained in the beginning, feeling cheated at how that takes the fun out of discovering them well ahead within the story. Then in the middle, you see all those situations that have almost no weight. Their sole purpose is to further display the personalities of the characters which have already been transcribed in the very beginning. I am a storyline person myself, I never remember endings, I just remember how the story goes. So for me, it was a massive disappointment. It took me close to 6 months to finish, was an excellent cure to insomnia, and has been indeed a great motivator to get up and do something more interesting!

But here I was, talking to Fady, very excited about finally getting over and done with this novel, telling him how the characters seemed different to me than their descriptions in book reviews and plot outlines. I have to admit I’ve never really read the whole plot outline, who does THAT! But I have read some of the reviews. In them, the character portrayal was all about symbolism; the angelic girl versus the not so angelic girl, and the prince who suffers from the love of both, and so much more blah. First of all, the characters are NOTHING like that; it’s not Jane Austen people! Not even Shakespeare, whose characters can be completely described in 2 adjectives. To me, towards the end but not quite there, the characters were all very normal with some curiosities but nothing to call interesting. How they spun together in the web of the storyline was, in my opinion naïve. Fady rejected these ideas in his usual, but not unpleasant, cynicism, because to him, the story was driven by something deeper inside each character, and in the end I knew why.

I will try hard not spoil it for people who are planning to read it, but here goes. The ending shocked me, even though I had a general idea about it, and it was like someone finally turned on the light in that crammed closet to find that the answer was sitting right in front of you all along but you were never really able to put your finger on it. Despite all what you may have thought of the characters in the middle of the story, all the ideas that kept changing over and over, the ones where you wonder why the writer was so misleading in the beginning, turned out exactly as he had described at the start, but with the actions of the story taking their toll. In a way, it was their attempts to change and adapt, and their inevitable failure at being anything other than who they really are. The only character I felt was not portrayed correctly in the beginning was Evgenie Pavlovitch, or maybe it was the only character who was able to adapt. Better still, maybe he started off pretending to be someone else, and showed his true colors in the end, who knows. Read it and let me know.

The light at the end of the tunnel was in the end related to love, and in turn, how men and women thought differently, how Fady focused on the characters while I focused on the storyline. The prince, or the idiot, in my opinion, was abstract emotion; a creature driven solely by his heart. Often described as simple, and in his description of his life and education, he was. He has loved Nastasia Philipovna with that sense specifically; a woman with a reputation so to speak, but only just that and nothing else, for she has shown nothing from her attire at the beginning except modesty. That was how society conceived her, and how she came to conceive herself. Abstractly, wouldn’t a human, in all the sense of the word, love her for her suffering? For her modesty? For her beauty, which the prince had seen, on the inside? Wouldn’t that abstract person also love Aglaya Ivanovna for her youth, her untainted heart, even though I say this conservatively, and for her love of life? Apparently he would, or so Dostoyevsky thought. But in reality, people are not abstract emotion, people are not abstract greed, and are not abstract goodness or badness or any other thing. People are complex, capable of things they can never imagine; good or evil. Even the women; the suffering woman who has to live with her feelings of unworthiness because that is what society has chosen to tag her with, and the child growing into womanhood with pride and beauty and a general feeling of worthiness because society has chosen to bestow that upon her. She did not go through what Nastasia Philipovna has gone through, she, like society, allows herself to judge, and in her own mind’s eye and society’s, remain pure and white hearted.

Dostoyevsky indeed focuses in the characters. His novels portray depth in the human soul. Fady agrees with that, is interested in that, and in a similar manner, this is how he thinks. I on the other hand see the characters from the context they are put in, I believe in emotions and empathy, I cannot be so analytical as to think the human character is an algorithm that we can use to decipher behavior. The prince, in his abstract emotional sense, in a symbolic way did not survive life because he tried to look at the emotions of each person conceptually, and tried to analyze all their actions based on that and that alone, like women do most of the time. As a woman myself, believe it or not, I cannot identify people with a specific set of characteristics and play match; each situation with the equivalent character trait, because in my very humble opinion on my very long blog, I believe that the context in which you are put matters, hence my love for the storyline and my dislike of Dostoyevsky.

I bet I’ll have to follow up on this post when Fady reads it, stay tuned.




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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twenty-Something Love

I've learned that there exists a book that talks about the quarter life crisis in 20-something women, and it isn't really about  how to get out of the crisis as much as it is a sort of toolbox to dive deeper into oneself to answer three questions; who am I? What do I want? How do I get what I want? And some more "best practices" about how to move on through your twenties.
The book was not really that interesting for me, since I have already been a self diver for a couple of years, although some of the exercises are indeed interesting. So for me, the first part of the book which deals with the three questions, is a road I've been down before. Answering the second question (what do I want) which should have been interesting, was a bit lacking. As to the third question (how do I get what I want), well it didn't stick! The second part of the book deals with building a foundation for yourself. While important, I seem to have that covered, with the exception of some of the body image issues and messed up financials. The third part consists of merely 2 chapters; one for love and one for career.
This post is about the love part.
Without further ado, the book has a lot of exercises and requires us to keep journals. I've found that my answers to a lot of these questions are actually things I would like to share, because, well, I'm talkative and I like to share :)
Exercise #1
What sacrifices do you make?
(In which we list the things we sacrifice when in a relationship, pretty obvious, duh.) So I have sacrificed the following:
  1. My identity
  2. My ambition
  3. Male friends, and female friends as well
  4. Money
  5. Independence
  6. Hobbies
  7. Time with family/friends
  8. Family ties
  9. Some morals and values
  10. Peace of mind
  11. Sanity
  12. Personal space
  13. Self image
Exercise #2
Adjustments and sacrifices
(In which we identify the adjustments we are willing to make to ourselves/our lifestyles for a relationship, and what sacrifices we will NOT make)
Adjustments:
  • My schedule/time
    • Seems weird to be an adjustment right? Well, it is! Personal space and activities are very important to me, So are my friends and family. So to give up my alone time (or some of it as I will never give it all up to be honest) is a big deal for me.
  • Doing things together, being engaged in similar interests and family stuff
    • Guess what, I am not really interested in watching football or going fishing! Nor am I interested in video games, at least not all of them, but I want to be in a relationship where I am engaged with my partner in the things he likes, if he wants to, as I would love for him to be engaged in the things I like, without making me feel like I am dragging him along like a cranky child. Capice?
  • Financials
    • Now even though most guys out there would say they don't want their wives sharing in the household, the tone changes 180 degrees after marriage, simply because this is how life goes on now, and for a guy to ignore that, he is either filthy rich (doubtful), blind, or manipulative. So let’s be honest with ourselves from the start, shall we?
  • Living smaller
    • I'm going to emphasize on that later in the sacrifices part (which compromises its presence as an adjustment) but seriously, am I willing to live on a smaller scale than I do now with my family? Yes I am! But on my own terms.
Sacrifices:
  • Smoking. I seriously do not think I can ever be in a relationship with a smoker. There is just too much baggage there for me, even though I do enjoy the occasional second hand cigarette.
  • I can never be with someone who patronizes me, takes me for granted, or does not respect me or my choices. I'm not looking for a guardian or a father figure contrary to what everyone may think, I am looking for a life partner. So what you see is what you get, if you don't like it, roll your eyes at it, or make jokes about it, please go away!
  • I've sacrificed my friends before, some I got back, and some I lost forever, and I will forever regret that. It will not happen again. So male friends or no, two of my best friends are guys, I won't give them up, or my night out with the girls.
  • Family first! His as well as mine, and that includes treating them with the respect they deserve mister.
  • Career, ambition, crazy business idea that I decide to follow through, you name it!
  • Financial independence. I've seen too many lives ruined as a result of that. So no matter how big my money problems are, I will not give it up.
  • What I wear, what I read, what music I listen to. OFF LIMITS!!
  • My personal space. I can't be "sharing" my life all the time. Sorry, but it just takes the 'my' out of 'my life'
  • I won't compromise trust and honesty. So if he is into the mind game business, things would just go south and it would be a waste of time (besides I read somewhere that BOYS play mind games, men don't)
  • Quality of life. This is the rule that defines the adjustment. I don't mind living in a smaller place as long as it is in a good location. I don't mind having a small wedding as long as it is a good one. I am totally ok with a small car, but not a used one. Get the idea?
Exercise #3
Listing what you want
(In which I answer the question of what I want in a relationship)
P.S. I had to validate if they are not complete fiction with a male friend.. weird exercise but fun none the less :)
  1. I want peace! I don’t want the fact that I am in a relationship to stress me out. I’d like it to take away the stress instead. In other words, I’m a restless person. If I am with someone who makes me more restless, I’ll probably just kill myself!
    I just want to note that I do understand fully that relationships have their good times and their bad times, and the bad times are, guess what, stressful! But I believe, and maybe I’m a bit of a dreamer (although my male friend who took part in this exercise says that it’s a realistic request in a relationship) that it doesn’t really matter how good or bad things are, but in the end, there will always be peace inside even if things aren’t as peachy on the outside.
  2. Contentment! Not happiness necessarily, at least not happiness all the time, just to be generally okay and to know that it will always be okay.
  3. Understanding. Coming from a crazy person, this is high on the priorities list. For someone to listen AND to make sense of all the seeming nonsense I have to say, That’s it!
    Again, I am not all roses and butterflies, I know that men don’t always get it and neither do women. Men aren’t mind readers, and neither are women. If there is no good communication, there will never be any understanding.
  4. To have interesting conversations and share some laughs. So funny AND interesting.. BOTH… At the same time… my friend says it’s possible, I honestly have my doubts.
  5. Acknowledge my qualities. No, not validate me, but know my worth. Why would he be with me if he doesn’t?
  6. Support. This is the person I’m spending the rest of my life with (that’s the plan at least), do if he’s not the first person to support me through thick, thin, and crazy, as I am going to be the first person to support him, then something is definitely missing.
  7. Love, care, openness, yes all the mushy stuff too!
    Note from male friend, no man can be open 100% but yes, he should have is moments, and I should expect 60% openness. I’m fine with that.
  8. Bold. I don’t quite know how to explain that, but I want it!
  9. I want to live by a good set of values; honesty, openness, communication, generosity, trust, family, religiousness.
    Note from male friend: Yes definitely, but they don’t have to exist in both parties on the same levels (I think what he was trying to say was that men stretch the truth sometimes.. I can live with that!)
  10. Fun! It isn’t a business partnership you know!
  11. Confidence. I really think he should be confident, not threatened by me or by other men. I mean if he’s really lacking, why would I be holding on?
    Note from male friend: It can exist to an extent. Confident men don’t act upon their insecurities. I didn’t like what he said at first so he gave me a valid example. Imagine the lady is a rocket scientist. Now her partner could be amazing on all aspects and she could appreciate him to a great extent, but if he is not a rocket scientist as well, he will never be able to engage that particular passion of hers, and so he will feel lacking on not being able to do that while some other bloke from work can. I think my friend needs to watch Doctor Who, (Hello! Rory!!) But I sort of get his point.
  12. Love. Cliché but it’s a must.

    Finally,
  13. He has to be OK with all my shades of crazy

As a final note from my male friend, Even though this is all realistic according to him, the odds of finding all these things in the same person are “SHITTY”

I’m done!


















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