I Swear I’m Not Always This Pissed…

I’ve been reading through my posts and it’s very clear that I’ve been dwelling too much on negativity. I can’t deny that this is a bloody obvious contributing factor to why my feelings are in a coma.

It doesn’t help that all I hear about in this country are stories that only make me want to dig a hole and live in it—two of which come to mind right now:

July 09, 2013:

Roula Yaacoub, a 33-year-old mother of five, was beaten to death by her husband in yet another case of domestic violence in Lebanon. Karam Bazzi (the said husband and another shining example of wasted carbon) had even been known to beat Roula and all five of her daughters on a regular basis. (Apparently women make great fleshy punching bags if you’re into that kind of thing?) The best part is that he was even released after his arrest by a judge, because why the hell not? (Fortunately, that decision was overturned by the prosecution after a storm of protests).

On the bright side, the tragedy that befell Yaacoub caused many people (and women’s rights groups especially) to push for new laws protecting women from domestic violence and abuse. Such a law was drafted a couple of weeks after her death, which is pretty efficient for a government that wouldn’t know “efficient” if it danced naked in front of them. Although this is a positive step in the right direction, I’m not sure how much actual good it’s going to do.

July 17, 2013:

A Muslim guy and Druze woman fell in love and got married against the wishes of her parents. Dude paid for his crime of interfaith adoration by falling victim to an ambush perpetuated by her relatives: He was severely beaten and, because that wasn’t enough, castrated. (Yeah, that actually happened). No one knows what became of the girl yet, and if this is how far they went to punish the man, I shudder to think what they could have done to her.

… … …

Then  there’s the constant talk of “instability” everywhere…the constant massacres in Syria…people dying by the tens in Egyptian protests…and the sheer abundance of stupid people saying stupid things. (That’s just one of them).

So…I just realized that when I started this blog post my intention was to change the course of the subject into something more uplifting. Obviously, the attempt failed miserably. You know, some people may find this surprising, but being optimistic was always second-nature to me. (True story!) Needless to say, it seems like it’s not like that anymore and I apologize to whoever’s reading and keeps finding downers in every post.

So I’ll take this moment to say that I’m making it a personal challenge from now on to try to find my happier “everything isn’t crappy always and forever amen” state, despite the stories that inundate me on a daily basis. Maybe my next post will be more personal and funny! Let’s see, shall we?

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Wordless…

A rather popular and prolific blogger I recently happened upon wrote a post about writing, which I suggest you check out.

Now I know there are a million-and-a-half blog posts out there that talk about the same thing, but this one stuck with me because of this particular image:

I don’t think I can adequately describe just how badly I want to do this—to feel this. Instead, my words are crammed down into the bottom of my chest, just below my heart, and encased by a gnarly prison of ribs. Unable to move, scramble, scatter, escape or congregate in even the slightest semblance of coherence.

There’s a dull ache of confusion and sadness balled up in a giant clenched fist, rooted firmly where my heart is supposed to be.

I don’t know if this is depression…and I’m pretty sure it’s not. I’ve felt depressed before, and it wasn’t like this. (If anything, this is great news).

I wish I knew how to fight my way out of this constructively. No matter how good I feel in the daytime, the still hours of the night bring with them a fog of fidgety annoyance that expertly strangles my thoughts and clogs my emotions.

All I see ahead of me is an intricate web of roads, and I can’t make heads or tails of any of them.

Where do I go from here?

In Line With My Previous Post:

My sister Neo (“Moi” in the comments) wrote a wonderful reply, and I think it’s worth sharing here:

“Beautifully spoken, your frustration is quite tangible. Coming from a country that has so much potential, yet an equal amount of self-destruction, carelessness, and corruption…it is indeed sad to see. But the ad promoting tourism is doing just that…promoting tourism. And Lebanon is (quite frankly) a nice place to visit on vacation. Even I, as a Lebanese, enjoy my short visits to Lebanon. I handle the insanity, traffic, and electrical woes easily, because I know soon I’m off again. And others who may see it as an exotic locale will have a nice time beaching, hiking, and checking out ancient ruins all in the same day. The people are friendly, the food is awesome, the nightlife is solid, there is enough natural beauty to get you out of the city. It’s not paradise…and you really have to be a certain type of person to live…no, survive…there permanently. It is a country of many faults…and those who love it are the ones most frustrated.”

Can’t say I agree more with her statement, and most especially the last line. Although I know it seemed like I was ranting against those who do love it, it wasn’t quite what I meant. When I criticized the ad, I did not take into account the context of the question it asked in the end. This is because it hit a nerve with me the night I wrote the post, since so many people truly see Lebanon as the best country in the world and have the “love it or leave it” mentality. It’s okay to love my country but criticize its many shortcomings, you know?

I realize there is much to love about Lebanon, but it’s not enough. The problems here are as varied as they are nearly insurmountable, and they only seem to increase by the day.

We talk about it until we’re blue in the face, but what’s to be done? How do we make a change—a real change?

Yeah, I don’t know either.

Elie Fares, from A Separate State of Mind, talked about the ad as well and it’s worth a read: What’s Greater Than Lebanon?

Fi A7la Min Libnan?

So…I realize this video is meant to promote tourism, and God knows Lebanon’s economy needs that to thrive, but do you really want me to answer “Fi a7la min Libnan?” (Is there any place better/greater than Lebanon?)

Um…yeah, actually?

Beaches:

I’ve seen beaches all over the world (most in pictures, a handful in real life) that would stun you speechless. Just look at these pictures from the Maldives alone. Utter magnificence. We have plenty of wonderful beaches here, and if we hadn’t trashed them to bits, this would be a great thing to promote tourism on. Too bad we don’t give a crap about our environment. 

Food?

I’ll give you this. I’ll give you this and a half. Lebanese food is all kinds of awesome, and I defy anyone to diss it. It’s probably the one claim to fame we won’t mess up because we love our bellies so much.

Clubs? Parties? Nightlife?

Yes, I’ll give you this too. Lebanese nightlife lives up to its reputation. You want to get dressed to the nines and dance your life away in one of the countless nightclubs in Beirut alone? No problem! Rules concerning legal age and how much you can get trashed are lax—if non-existent. Party all night, get so drunk you can barely move, and hope you make it home alive because people here can’t drive worth anything. Nightlife, check.

Endless debates? Politics out the wazoo? Check!  Democracy??

AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Ah, you li’l jokester you! I’m in stitches!

Oh wait, you’re not kidding. Wow. Okay.

Well, my apologies for the rather blunt news, but it’s not much of a democracy when we’re “voting” in the same people year after year for decades. The heads of the million different parties have been around for at least a decade, and usually it’s far more than that. Sure, we have presidents and prime ministers resigning faster than Sarah Palin, but the bulk of the politicians have been stagnating before our eyes for as long as I can remember.

(One random but prominent example: Nabih Berri has been Speaker of the Parliament for 21 years now. No joke).

Democracy indeed.


You may think I’m extraordinarily unpatriotic—a “Westernized Lebanese” who should just go back to whatever country I got another passport from because I don’t deserve to be here. Maybe. And you know what? I’m all for seeing the positive in your country—and I have done that. You can’t say the Lebanese are anything but resilient, funny, hospitable and clever people. Our cities have been crushed time and again through increasingly devastating wars—but we rise from the ashes and build anew each and every time. If we didn’t have such an indomitable spirit, we would have crumbled to nothing long ago.

But how many times do we rise again only to live worse than we did before? To have bigger prejudices and value pettiness and superficiality above everything else? To have an economy which leaves precious little room for jobs, and salaries that are only good if you still live with your parents? To have a government so criminally corrupt we might as well be arrested for sharing the same air as the people who run it? To have a healthcare system so flawed that doctors insist on being paid before even throwing a Band-Aid in your general direction?

Why is it that when someone is referred to as “so Lebanese”, it’s never a compliment? We have a fighting spirit, but we use it to bring one another down: Sweet-talking them to their faces but tearing into them like hyenas on a carcass once their back is turned.

Not to mention the countless activists and NGO’s out there that are struggling tooth and nail to make a difference in this world. But where’s the community spirit and support? Good luck finding it, if it even exists. It’d take an act of God to get our jaded selfish selves to care for longer than it takes to listen to a 30-second PSA.

Is this what I’m supposed to be proud of?

I came to live here in October 2010, and never in these two years and nearly nine months has it felt like Beirut was my real home. (And I’ve had several of them!) Ironically enough, Lebanon—the land of my ethnic roots—has managed to stump me.