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Archive for the ‘brain wanderings’ Category

Romeo and Juliet style

Living in Lebanon you continuously hear of different troubling news going on all over the city: A bomb over here, a gun fight over there, or simply the murders of different names.

When talking about bombs, we get different namings for different kinds (yes you have to learn them if you want to know exactly how much you need to freak out).

So we got the normal (read sarcastically) “humane” hidden explosives like that which killed Rafic Hariri and many others (naming Hariri for it is the most famous one in that type of bombings), where the terrorists hide the C4 under the ground or hide it in a random car on that street. With this type of bombs, you’re going to be fine, whoever was the target it’s done now and you can move on, just try and avoid the area from traffic and curious people.

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The “evil” hidden explosive takes the Lebanese and Syrians back centuries of civilization where we have the suicidal bombers that drive a car around full of C4 before killing themselves and the target (or sometimes just to scare the crowds). When these go off you should panic a bit, especially when there is no specific target, in these cases who knows where they will hit next and you should be careful. But if there was a target then be a bit worried from the crowds that might decide that they’ve had enough and decide to carry their guns once again.

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Or I this case have a wedding to show that love still exists.

Now that’s where the fun begins!

The shooting type and when to be afraid, when to be fine, and when to be very afraid:

The first type I would like to talk about is the “back-clash” gun fire, that usually takes place after a “evil” bomb, it’s when the crowds decide to try and take matters into their own hands by scaring off other crowds, shooting at random people or in the air (of course forgetting that what goes up must come down), and ensuring an interesting number of casualties and injured on the night news.

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These you need to be very afraid of; my father’s cousin was playing golf a couple of months ago when some guys decided to shoot in the air a bit, one of the stray bullets decided to lodge itself in her shoulder before deciding to head out the other side. In cases like these I like to keep a roof over my head and stay away of windows, however far I am from the shooting.

Now the other type of shooting would be the “Romeo and Juliet” style, where you have two random kids from over-excited families that fight over a woman, a seat, a parking space, or even an idea; and end up getting both their families in uproar, shooting at each other from different ends of the street, making the street dividing line a war zone.

Now these clashes are interesting in a way, if you’re close to the streets where either family reside, get away asap, you don’t want to get stuck in the middle (trust me, it could go on for days!), if you reside in the area avoid all windows for the duration of the clashes so not to receive a stray bullet, as well as move the TV and other breakable objects away from the windows and balconies (I miss our old TV!).

Another type of gun-fight, the “cowboy” shooting would be two random guys that just shoot at each other until one gets the other, or in the case where one simply attacks and kills the other straight up for some obscure and unknown past “règlement de compte”. These aren’t scary much at first, you have to wait until you get the names of the person that was killed, and base your decision on whether to be afraid or fine; if one of the people is from an important family, or known as a hot-blooded family, stay at home and avoid contact with the outside, a “Romeo and Juliet” might take place and you’re going to want to stay away from there. If it were some obscure person with an obscure family you’re pretty OK to head out, just keep your guards up just in case.

And last but not least you got the “happy” gunfire, where a proud father who’s soon just graduated wants to show his pride, or a bunch of friends celebrate the wedding of a friend by shooring a row of bullets as fire work. These are usually safe, just as long as you keep a roof over your head you’ll be fine (but you should know that some people were mistakenly injured or worse at some of these “happy” shootings).

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I know, the way I write it makes it feel so much less scary, and the simplicity in which I describe each scene can sound pretty inhumane as well, but after 26 years of being born and growing in this country, I can’t find any other way to be able to put it in without freaking out every second of my life and living in a bubble in the basement (of the building of course! No houses in Beirut!).

Now that we’ve cleared that out, next time you get a bit of news from LBCI, MTV, OTV, AlAkhbar, AlJazeera or any other channel on your phone, you’ll know exactly what to do. Meanwhile I’m going to hide behind my computer.

T.

A good day

It has been raining for 3 days now and the snow started stacking up on the mountains in Lebanon. Finally!

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March 15 and they were finally able to open the slopes and provide us poor souls with a bit of wintery feel.
Saturday morning, 8am, the slopes are clear and glowing white, though we can still see high rocks peeking through the snow, where the wind blew off the silver and stacked it at the bottom of the hills. It’s a beautiful sunny day, and I’m in skis.

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48 rounds and 5 hours later I was sweating, my knees were on fire, and my hands were numb. So I go to sit at the terrasse and have a cold beer while soaking in the sun, everyone’s here; I haven’t seen them since last winter, and the lack of snow made many of them avoid the area to avoid the heartache of finding the slopes brown; everyone is smiling, we are happy.
Later on I head back to the chalet for a well deserved lunch, then get my snowshoes on, meet up with some friends, and go hiking up into the Cedar forest.

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The snow lays heavy at our feet and on the branches of the Cedar trees, the silence engulfs us and takes us to different heights.

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The sun is strong and the snow is melting now, it’s 5pm and the branches are weeping a steady song, we keep going and observing, taking in all the beauty surrounding us; we don’t speak, and rarely make a sound, we keep our ears and eyes open to watch the trees push off the snow from their branches into a misty fog, making our hearts leap whenever it’s too close, fearing but wanting it to drop over our heads.

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The snow gets heavier and the sun starts setting in the distance.
The pink light takes over the silver white and darkness starts creeping around us. Our feet are frozen, our muscles are burning, our head feels light; yet we keep smiling and going on.

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We reach the road and civilization, walk back to the chalet and sit down for some warm soup.
Today was a great day, a perfect dream, yet our feet remember it was true.

T.

I’m famous!

The internet: what a magnificent tool to make people feel awesome. I’ve discovered a couple of features online not long ago, the first was WordPress, and the second one, much more recent, is Flickr.

Before adding WordPress to my life I was a simple woman, living in Lebanon, waking up everyday at 7am to be at work at 8, spending my cigarette breaks reading posts from bloggers that were being shared on Facebook, then heading home for dinner and rest or going to meet up with a couple of friends for a drink.

My life was simple, no much expectations, just going about on the daily, travelling the world through my imagination, and of course, as most of us yearn for, trying to make a name for myself in the big world (pretty hard to do don’t you think?).

Then one day I decided I was too bored and started a WordPress account, where I could pour out my ideas, share some moments of lust or disgust, and share the world the way I see it, one day at a time or more.

A couple of weeks later my friend showed me how to share these posts on my Twitter account, and things got more interesting for me, I started getting likes and followers, something I never thought could actually happen to me on such short notice, and I loved it (I more than loved it though, I was jumping up and down while smirking like an idiot whenever I got a notice).

Then I discovered that writing a post each day can be quite tiring for those not used to doing so, I get crazy ideas each minute of my boring day, yet none seem interesting enough to share anymore; so I get writer’s block; then notice that it isn’t the writing itself that’s stopping me, it’s the moments that are too personal that I prefer to keep to myself, it’s the images and basic ideas pushing each other that are keeping me from writing, it’s simply the life I live that doesn’t provide me with much help to write.

My life has been printed and shared online in bits and pieces, some of them are too objective to be noticed, others are way too subjective, too hurtful or embarrassing, hilarious and sometimes comic. But that’s when I understood that I needed to share some of the burden sometimes, having my life plastered online wasn’t the best idea perhaps, but it might have gotten the attention of someone that is going through the same.

Less than a week ago my friend introduced me to Flickr, over the years he’d always ask me to post some of the pictures I take, so I decided to finally do so, trying (and most of the time failing), to limit the amount of posts a day, which has become the new hardest thing I’ve had to do since my writer’s block.
 

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So now I’m all over Google, and it feels great. Growing up and discovering the magic of Google, I used to always search my name, to find hundreds of posts, about women with the same name. Then I earned my place a couple of times in the Lebanese newspapers, and I got bit by the thrill of being famous.

This died out pretty fast I must add, the other NHs were doing so much better than me. So I adopted my nickname, or alias, toutsi19, to see how much I could grow by myself, being an unknown person who’s sharing random stuff with all of you readers; and I noticed that toutsi was so much more interesting than NH (who would’ve thought?).

The internet helped me discern the two people I could be instead of trying to push one in becoming the other, which made my life so much simpler. The anonymous button on the internet made me thrive more, without the fear of being judged by those who know me; simply accepting subjective criticism from objective people.

Maybe one day I’ll share it all to my friends, but for now I’m simply enjoying all the perks of the internet in remaining a faceless actor.

I’m sure you all are doing the same somehow 🙂

T.

I am a nyctophiliac

I believe I am a Nyctophiliac.

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I stumbled upon this word a couple of days ago and was surprised at the simplicity of its explanation and how well it fit my perceptions.

I love the night, I love walking at night, living in remote places with no electricity, and sleeping in a pitch black room.

But then I got to thinking, it might not be exactly the night and darkness themselves that I love and enjoy so much, but a couple of things that usually can be found in a dark place.

I enjoy the darkness for it does not harm my eyes, being a bright-eyed woman, my eyes constantly hurt from any direct light, whether it is sun-light, street-lights, or car/tail-lights. Light hurts my eyes, even on cloudy days, the white haze harms me. So I prefer the darkness of the night in an area with no direct light.

I enjoy the peace and quiet that takes place at night; I enjoy not bumping into anyone, and the shadows hiding your features and those around you. The peacefulness of a starry night in the mountains or sitting on your balcony at 4am with no worries makes for a great time to enjoy and reflect, or simply to clear your mind without the stress of work, chores, or any other activity nagging at your mind or pushing you around.

I enjoy the night because it’s a time where you can let go of your beliefs, of your ideals, and of your hopes and enjoy a party, a beer, or whatever helps cloud your mind for a few moments. It’s the time where others won’t be fully aware of your actions and won’t be judgmental. It’s a time to let go of all reason and enjoy the moment while you’re living it. Just seep into darkness and live out your fantasies.

The darkness also shows us the other side of everything, the other side of life, the moon and the stars, the foxes and the owls, the whole world that lives during the hours of humans’ sleep. It’s a whole other world that lives in these dark hours of the day. And I love this world, whether it be in the city, in the village, up the mountains or deep in the sea; it’s a world that lives to live, not to show off or be glamorous, it’s the clothes you wear to get your paper in the morning, not the ones you wear to a fancy dinner, it’s the face with no makeup, with tired streaks, and bulgy eyes. It’s the world of life with no expectations; it’s the extra time that comes with each day.

So am I a Nyctophiliac? I have no idea, but I do love the darkness and the night. I enjoy each second of cold and silence before the busyness of the sun and people, the dreams of birds before their wake up call.

It’s all in the night.

T.

It all ended in a bang

Today I remembered an old friend.
I consider him as a friend though not long ago I found out I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did.

He was there when it all started for me. I have to say I was never a model teenager (but really who is?), I discovered back then that being mad at your parents came with the age. You had to burst out all your energy on something, you had to find ways to control your hormones, and as a woman learn to understand your bursts of emotion. And as most teenagers in my day, we discovered alcohol.

It made us do stupid stuff back in the days, joining up with your gang of friends in the village and trying to act cool and drunk.
And that’s where he always was, caring for us, taking care of us and hiding our dumb outbursts from our parents. When we stole the car for a ride in the hills he would make sure we were always safe; and of course, being as Lebanese of the after war kids, we wanted to learn all about guns: so he taught us how to shoot then and clean them.

That’s where we should have seen it. But we were kids, we just wanted to have fun (and I have to add I still do, you always need the spice in your life to keep you going when times are tough, so you go back to being 16). But then it happened:

My friend killed himself with a gun nearly a year ago. After killing a man in broad daylight in the streets of the village.

We all knew him growing up there, we felt safe around him. We knew we could always count on him.
We were wrong. I don’t blame him as a killer or as a suicidal person. I blame his actions on the weakness of the human heart and the evilness of those that take pride in their being able to control emotions.

The heart is afer all the strongest and the weakest of all organs.

It was all impulse, and ended in him realizing what happened and knowing that this was the end for him. From self pity some may say. I call it reason. Reason beat the heart, and made it realize that he was supposed to be in control.

H.G. I still think of you. But I wanted to remember you. You’ve always been, and will always be, a friend I will feel safe around. My reason tells me the truth. Cheers.

T.

Sans regret ni remords

I’ve seen so many people on Facebook delete all the pictures they have with their exes as soon as they break up. I for one don’t.
Why? It is not because I’m still hung up on them or still need to prove a point. But simply because I learned to live my life like Jessica Blandy the comic as much as I can, in reference to the title of one of her comics “sans regrets ni remords” (No regrets no remorse).

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I might strongly believe that the relationship was doomed from the start or has been since we ended up breaking up. But I don’t regret any of them. Because each one of them taught me something different in life, and made me the person I am today. Of course you might regret having taken some choices within a relationship when it first end, but when you wait longer and look back at your life, you notice that these memories make you smile more than fill you with vile remorse.

Usually when I do something spontaneous (which is kinda my way of life most of the time) I only take 5 minutes to decide if I’ll ever regret it, and if I feel like I won’t, then why should I. Whether it be a relationship, or skinny dipping in ramlet el bayda at 4 am (to those who don’t know this area, it’s the kind of beach you don’t want to be found in being a woman at 4am. Where mostly men from the suburbs with their religious views usually go to), or trying this tough motorcross track in the hills.

At the end of the day, I made the choice to go for it.  

If I were to regret every decision that I made that ended badly, I’d probably be stuck in a nut house right now,  depressed, or currently unavailable since some of my actions could have easily led me to commit suicide from the level of stupidity they reached (which has happened more than once, and I’m sure you all recognize yourselves in that as well).
Yet I am here, and have (more or less) accepted my previous choices in life and accepted that this is who I am and whom I have become because of these choices. Life is a one way highway, as much as you want to sometimes, you will never be able to go back in time and change; it’s fact.

Now the most important lesson I learnt in life is stop doubting yourself, if you double back on each decision you’d be living in a cave of anxiety and depression, and later on regret the “what if”.
As long as you have fulfilled them, what if doesn’t exist anymore, it has become “that was stupid” or “that was awesome”.

In the first case you would probably have learnt an important life lesson (and sometimes you might need to do the same mistake again just to be sure) in the other case you will know that some things, when done right, could be the best things you ever experienced, however scared or doubtful you were about the idea in the first place.

 
Teenagers and above in this new generation (after the hippy and big boom generation, aka the Generation Y) have been thought to believe that they are special and awesome, and of course that there is no way they might fuck up.

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I say this: “fuck up! Go wild every once in a while, or you might just miss the chance you got to discover what you truly love or miss the chance to truly live a full life”.

So to all those that know me; I am quite cracked, but my cracks show how full my life has been. So yes I’ll always show them off.

T.

When a tough woman goes soft

It has been hard for me to write lately, not from lack of imagination, but more from the feeling of uselessness I have been struggling with on a daily basis since the start of this new year.

This morning I saw this video that a friend had shared on her Facebook, I wasn’t able to continue it through in one seating and had to stop it multiple times to clear my eyes and the ideas running in my memory; it made me cry, and made me smile; but most importantly I was so appalled at the fact that they kept repeating the words “I’m sorry” when they never had to.

The video is an open letter from parents to their children, and I believe everyone needs to watch it.

Being born and growing up within a family, we take for granted all the time our parents have given us, the times we overwhelmed them when they were tired or angry, and still had the patience of taking good care of us, raising us to become the person we are today.

Without my parents I wouldn’t be who I am today, and neither will you, since we all influence each other in one way or another. And we all have to get ready for the day where we will have to pay for this care by caring for our parents in return; for me being Lebanese and having lived closely attached to both my parents and grandparents, I feel and know I will have to care for them when the time comes. After all life is a cycle where you go from being a child, to maturing into a full adult, until once again you turn into this little child that needs to be taken care of.

I owe my parents as much as they have given me, and even more for having taught me how to love and care, when to play and be serious, and how to respect above all, those that came before me.

So when I watched this video of parents excusing their behavior to their children, begging them to accept whom they have become with age and the needs they have, and most of all having to explain each action; I couldn’t help but first, be reminded of these families that send out their parents to elderly homes so they wouldn’t have to take care of their burden, or simply ignore them and let them fade away on their own.

I’ve seen this repeated over the years by families abroad, in books I have read and movies I have watched. When for me, without saying, I know that I will have to, and want to, be the one who cares for my elders, show them love and respect, for after all, they gave me love more than I can ever ask for, and taught me the ways of life: all a person needs is a gentle touch from someone who genuinely loves them to know that they will be OK.

This video also reminded me of my grandmother, teta as some of you have read in my previous post has been in the hospital for a month, after being struck by dementia for the past 5 years, watching her memory fade was one of the toughest things I had to endure, but not as tough as it was on my mother and her siblings.

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But there was one easy way for us to make her feel safe, we would stroke her hand and watch her features relax, stroke her hair and see her eyes flutter and close as a newborn child would under the touch of his mother.

This video has reminded me to mourn her loss, and accept the reality of things. It has also reminded me that one day I will have to be as good as my parents if not better when comes my turn to care for them. After all, and at the end of the day, they are the ones who sacrificed so much to provide to me and my siblings all they could.

It doesn’t hurt to remind yourself and those you love that you love them, and that nothing will ever change that. Say I love you, or stroke their hand, the message will always be the same: I will be there for you when you need me, just like you were here when I needed you.

In memory of my teta, a tough woman that my family had to watch fade away into nothingness, leaving behind all the best memories and lessons in life.

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I love you and miss you.

T.

Brain teaser

Living in Lebanon my whole life, I’ve more or less gotten used to the whole road blocks system. The fact that they will always surprise you in a corner or get you stuck in eternal traffic.
So wheb you’re trying to get back from work after a 12h shift, feeling tired, and easily annoyed by anything, it will make you act out in the same way we all eventually do from exhaustion. We pester, nag, get angry for no reason, and sometimes even attack verbally or physically. Of course we try to avoid that last one most of the time, so we end up pestering and nagging at everything.

So how do we react when we’re late or tired and get a surprise road block in beirut? We pester!
We pester about Road blocks, which kinda makes sense. But later on when we’re calm we remember that if it weren’t for these road blocks many other suicide bombers and bomb cars would have exploded throughout the years.
But then we think again, and in this case I remember the blog of Gino, where he shows that these police officers, instead of catching the bombers, spend most of their time stopping college kids smoking pot not those killing people.
But then again that reminds you that being under the influence of drugs you might kill someone involuntarily.
And then you’re stuck in this vicious cycle of morals.
So however you try to take it, understand it, or analyse it, you won’t be able to choose sides. After all everything has grey areas.
So how will you be able to decide and know who’s right and who’s wrong, and which one to choose?

Good luck!
T.

Suicidal actions

Lately in Lebanon we’ve been hearing of many suicide bombers, killing and injuring crowds at random all over the city.

We read of these suicidal bombers throughout history and hear about them on a nearly weekly basis here in Beirut. Jokes have been made about them such as the well known “Achmed the dead terrorist” in Jeff Dunham’s puppet shows as well as different stand-up comedians.
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Why become a suicide bomber? To defend a cause some say, while others state it’s the best way for them to make a good impression in removing your life for the bettering of society. And more importantly as it is stated for most suicide bomber terrorists is the fact that they will receive 72 virgins once they reach heaven for the ‘good’ deed that they accomplished.
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Unfortunately, it’s hard to convince these terrorists to stop their amazingly idiotic endeavors and move on towards a healthier lifestyle and way of discussion; which makes it a useless point to try and argue in this case.

But what about drivers in Lebanon? I’ve previously written a post ‘I also like to live dangerously’ where I’ve pointed out how dangerous it is to try and drive a car in Lebanon and specifically in the vicinity of Beirut. So as always driving around here still takes a lot of skills, but I’ve noticed myself and other people developing a reaction that’s very different from the usual cursing at crazy drivers, and it’s this simple phrase: “روح نتيحير لا حالك” aka “go commit suicide by yourself”.

Growing up and learning how weak the line can be between life and death, especially when it comes to driving mistakes, not having enough time to break or having another driver swerve in front of you all of a sudden can all become the last thing you see.

As most Lebanese know, we’re always in a hurry, to get to work, to get home, to get to a pub, even to cruise; we tend to always speed/break most of the drive, get annoyed by slow drivers and/or by fast drivers. Being able to speed past a car or two can be a great feat, while getting passed by other fast drivers can be cause for defeat sometimes.

I think that suicidal drivers are more dangerous than suicidal bombers, at least the latter have a reason to kill themselves as well as risk the lives of many others; while the drivers are only in for the fun of the drive and the rush of adrenaline, especially in crowded streets and highways.
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Take for example this guy, speeding his way down a road when he lost control of his car for a second, luckily for everyone else he crashed into the railing which broke a threw his car off into the Beirut river, instead of having his car wobble down on the street causing a huge accident including 3 to 5 cars.
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Lucky for him as well the fact that he survived the crash, and was alone in the car. Unfortunately most of the time these ‘suicidal drivers’ are usually the young people trying to look cool, or the elder family men with their toddlers sitting on their laps or with their heads dangling out of the windows that end up in these car crashes, endangering the lives of so many without thinking of the consequences of such choices.

Of course most of them will reply with: “yes but I’m a good driver!” Unfortunately what most of them forget is that mistakes are part of the human nature. You might be a good driver, but how can you trust that the other drivers around you are good drivers as well? A good example of this is this video that was made not too long ago as awareness for those who trust others to act the same way as them.

So who do you think is more dangerous in this case?

T.

Third world country you say?

The conversation I had last night was a debate between the different cultures and how much each know about the other.

Take for example Lebanon, a country recognised as a third world place, where wars keep raging and bombs going off. Yet have a cultural conversation with any Lebanese, you notice the extend of their knowledge about the others.

On the other hand have a conversation with an American about Lebanon, Europe, or any other country; their knowledge is limited to what the media shows them. 

I’ve got a half Lebanese half Swiss friend that had to travel back to Switzerland to continue her studies. A Swiss person taking the same masters degree as her asked her this simple question:
“what was the hardest part to get used to from moving to Switzerland?”.
Of course my friend being ironic replies:
“wearing shoes, they’re so uncomfortable and hard getting used to”.
To which he reacts by saying:
“Oh my god!of course! But isn’t walking in the desert all the time barefoot burn your heels? If you want I’ll help you out with all the technology such as computers and listening to music… [And on and so forth]“.

This is the funniest part I believe, the fact that this guy who’s supposed to come from a first world country with a history of education not even know the semblance of life people have in other countries. Lebanese teens learn of different cultures and their history throughout school and high school, as well as college; which is not the case for most European or American students that simply learn the history of their own country completely disregarding the others.

Moral of the rambling: I think human kind needs to rethink and reorganise what it means to be culturally intelligent versus economically advanced.

T.

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