My Ramblings Are Nomadic Too

I’ve come to realize that almost every blog and social media account I’ve ever created was due to me either procrastinating or suffering from boredom.

Often it’s a semi-lethal mix of both.

My very first blog was something called Obscurity in the Land of Moonlight, which sounds like a painfully pretentious novel written by a bespectacled preteen with barely-legible penmanship. 

In real life I was a 20-year-old tween transitioning from a life in Canada to one in Qatar. I was floating around without the vaguest clue on what to do with myself. It was too late to register for college, and—on top of that—I wasn’t sure I knew what I wanted to do anymore. Fun stuff.

Along came my Canadian best friend, whom I affectionately call “Lebne”. We had made a habit of chatting for disgustingly long hours on MSN in spite of the time difference. (What can I say? We’re both verbose individuals). During one of these real-time paragraph-fests, she mentioned some of the stuff she liked to read on LiveJournal. (Remember LJ? It’s the MySpace of the blogging world). Since I liked to write, wouldn’t it make sense to make an account?

It didn’t take much thinking. After all, I already had a Tripod-supported website called Active Chicken (I swear there is a perfectly rational story behind that), so talking about stuff in my life wasn’t new to me. And, hey, it was something to do, right? I opened an account, blabbed up a first post and—voilà! Here I am.

I’m mentioning this because I’m always saying that I barely moved out of the Gulf/Middle East since the time I started blogging—which is true. But, you know what? Ever since I did, I never could stay in one spot. I didn’t make it to a year-and-a-half on LJ (where I changed my theme approximately 625 times) before I discovered the black hole known as WordPress.

I distinctly remember needing to study for one of my business courses that fateful night, but the procrastination bug had already burrowed a Texas-sized hole through what was left of my mind. So, what better way to deal with that than to make an entirely new blog? I’m nothing if not logical. So I whipped up an account, chose the first of what was to be another 832 themes, and lo, Grins and Clockwork was born! I even learned to export my LJ’s entries into it, which freed me to delete that account for good.

G&C went along a similar vein to Obscurity, but gave me more room to categorize my posts and generally talk about newer things that were going on in my life, like my college experiences and my friends. Sometimes the updating was enthusiastic, but other times a month would see one to three posts at most. Even so, I always made sure I stuck around it somewhat, just so people knew I hadn’t died.

Still, I started to get that…tell-tale itch. It’s when I realized I was starting to lose focus and none of my previous posts were remotely inspiring. I needed a fresh start to go along with the fact I had graduated with my business diploma from college, and was now studying English in AUB…in yet another country. 

I quietly set up a third blog, which I named The Crooked Trident. When I got a few posts in, and felt it was starting to look like home, I announced the closing of Grins and Clockwork after three great years. It didn’t take me long to permanently move my merry self to a brand new place.

Unsurprisingly, it took a mere year before a bout of “Let me try something else now…ooooh, how about a themed blog?!” to push me to create No Easy Answer.

I guess you could say that even if I’m not physically moving, my consistent need to ramble sure is. 

It also seems obscenely vain that I can talk about myself for this long.

Thoughts on Distance

Something different has happened ever since I came back from the US on October 28th.

Every time I was in Qatar, without exception, my friends knew I was in the country within hours of landing. (Sometimes I simply updated my Facebook status the day before I traveled). A plan to hang out would already be taking shape in the next day or two.

It’s one of the main reasons I liked coming here—the friends I made in college were around, and our history was the warm, familiar cushion that enveloped us during each reunion.

Camaraderie can only last so long though. This time I’ve moved back from a country I spent the last three years in. Though I said, time and again, that I felt stuck in a rut in Lebanon, it’s blatantly wrong to say that I haven’t changed at all. Time had done its job: I had leashes on the relationships here, but stopped maintaining them for all the wears and tears. Soon my grip loosened, and I saw the frayed leashes scattered on the floor before me. Whoever was on the other end was mostly gone.

What’s funny is that it doesn’t affect me much. I learned that everyone lets go when the paths you’re on have seemingly permanently diverged.

After moving away from Lebanon and taking the US trip…I came back to a feeling where I had no desire to contact anyone. In fact, I don’t think I would have minded if no one even knew I was here for weeks or months.

I think the only reason I contacted my friends on Monday was because I realized I wasn’t doing much at home. I needed a reason to go out and socialize a bit with people that weren’t related to me. It’s a change I need and, really, what’s the point of isolating myself? Didn’t I have enough of that in Beirut? Cutting people off on a whim was never a healthy way to live. (Plus I am still very fond of my friends, gap in communication or not).

Distance does things. It makes people stop caring as much as they did, even if it was a powerful bond. The further away you are, the bigger the gap is between your friendships. Your relationships, either consciously or subconsciously, conform into the “out of sight, out of mind” mantra. I reached out, every now and then, and conversations struck up…but always abruptly ended.

People are always busy. I couldn’t blame them. I was busy too.

It’s just…sometimes I wish it was easier. I wish keeping friends close and trading stories and updates all the time was easier, even if you’re on very different playing fields. It would be cool if I knew that both sides cared enough to do it.

If you have that kind of friendship in your life, please count it as a huge blessing. In the age where it’s the simplest thing in the world to stay in touch, it seems like no one ever cares enough to do it…and I wish I could say I was innocent, but I’m not.

I wish I knew what to think about that.

We Just Need a Cool Name for It

The more I watch the news (or rather, hear the news playing in the background while I sit around doing other things) the more I realize that–to use my sister’s words–the Middle East needs a new plague.

Obviously, I would want it to be a discerning plague. Like one that only infects stupid, barbaric, and backwards people. However, if you have the brains and drive to make your country better and guide its citizens to education, equality and prosperity, then the plague will somehow sense this and leave you untouched.

Because when I hear of some militant fundamentalist “Islamic” group publicizing a set of the most BS rules I’ve ever heard, well…a bit of a discerning plague is in order.

On the other hand, these same rules make great joke fodder in that, “If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry” kind of way. I’ll be happy to share some that stuck out to me. (These are, of course, right alongside the usual fundie mindset of “women-must-be-controlled-and-subjugated-at-all-times” claptrap).

  1. Men and women can’t wear jeans or put gel in their hair or style it in any way that would be deemed “western”.
  2. Women can’t go see male gynecologists
  3. If you’re caught drinking or selling liquor, you’ve earned yourself 40 lashes. (Or maybe it was 70? Either way, you clearly deserve to bleed because living on the same planet as these troglodytes isn’t punishment enough).

And lastly, this is my favorite one:

Women should not be allowed to sit on chairs.

No, I’m dead bloody serious, they actually said that. The reason is as absurd as it is headache-inducing: “Chair” in Arabic (كرسي) is a masculine word…and so women must not be in contact with them.

Why yes, I’m on a chair as I write this. I feel rebellious already.