Something Pretty Damn Good

I am so very, very, very happy about this:

Dakota Access Pipeline to be rerouted


Everyone’s Thoughting, So I Am Too

There’s been a lot to mull over since a racist tangerine in a wig won the presidency of the United States. 

Everything about this election was mind-boggling, and I often sat, reading, watching, listening, and thinking this has to be the zenith of absurdity. I still wonder what the 2020 election is going to be like, because it can’t get any crazier or uglier than this.

What I don’t understand is when people say, “We should compromise! We need to be peaceful, and we ought to give Orange One a chance.”

Um. No?

We’ve heard it all about the Semi-Sentient Evil Pumpkin. Throughout his entire campaign, he’s shown over and over and over again what he stands for. And you know what? I believe him. I have no reason not to. Does he not “tell it like it is”? Why am I to suddenly believe he didn’t mean all the rhetoric he spewed against immigrants, Hispanics, Muslims, and pretty much anyone else he can turn into a scapegoat? I believe him and I, along with millions of others, am rightfully angry.

I have no respect or compassion for anyone who voted for him. I don’t care what the reason was. Did they really believe Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals? Do they think Muslims are  an existential threat to the US? Do they just not care that he admitted to groping women because he thinks his star power lets him do it? Better yet, do they think that the women who spoke out against him are lying for publicity? (Never mind that they’re backing up what he said himself—under no duress, I might add). 

Or maybe it’s none of that. Many of these voters will cry that they aren’t among the ‘deplorable’. They were just worried about the economy. They just wanted a change, that’s all. Something other than the status quo. Hillary is a corrupt criminal, after all. Emails, Benghazi, scandals out the wazoo. They’re both equally bad, right?

So, they’ll tell you they threw their vote behind the squealing bucket of expired tinted moisturizer. Or went 3rd party. And with that, they went ahead and threw a bunch of vulnerable people under the bus. (I don’t care if it was a conscious decision or not). They decided they were okay with a candidate who has the full backing of the former leader of the KKK. They don’t mind that white nationalists, anti-semites, islamophobes, misogynists, and all-around terrible people call him their “god emperor”.

Read this and say that everything will be fine. That there’s nothing to worry about. These are the people Trump’s presidency has legitimized. It doesn’t matter if you’re a proud racist/misogynist or if you really just were just “worried about the economy”. People are now legitimately terrified. Hell, even our environment won’t go unscathed as Trump believes climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China. (China literally sent out a message saying that this was untrue. This is the world we live in).

I find it hilarious that those who got what they wanted are now angry about the protests, saying that it is unfair. Talk about having a selective memory. Even the half-digested Cheeto was crying for a revolution the last two elections. Observe.

I just don’t get it. I don’t think I ever will.

Israel: The Bullied Schoolboy. Heh.

I saw this video on a forum where everyone was praising how “accurate” and “spot-on” it was in describing the relationship between Gaza and Israel.

Anyone with the tiniest shred of intelligence and/or critical thinking skills would see how bloody simplistic and just plain wrong it is. Analyzing it would take ages because of its sheer success in not making a single correct point.

Usually, when I see propaganda as blatant as this, I’d get angry…but this genuinely made me laugh. And when I see people believing it and praising it, I laugh even harder.

If the situation was really this simple, why the hell do we have all these Middle East “experts” and “analysts” and “historians”? Seriously. Whoever made this video, and those who distributed it, are either missing a significant amount of brain matter themselves, or think people in general do.

And, latter-wise, they may be right.

Happy Birthday Dad! (With a Seemingly Unrelated Story)

When I started at Dawson College in Montreal, I dutifully attended the pre-first-day-of-classes orientation session, listened well, and took copious notes. (Although it was truly helpful, I either completely ignored or was mostly inattentive in every other orientation session since I graduated from there).

Anyways, I learned you could sign up for a mentor for your first semester—a teacher who could help you out and give you advice if you felt like you needed support while transitioning from high school to college.

I was never happier to be out of high school (bloody hated it), but I thought signing up for a mentor would be a good idea. After all, I had no predictor of how good or bad my experience was going to be, and any in-college support was a plus.

I was signed to a man named Simon. (I used to mentally call him by his full name, but now I can’t remember it anymore). He was a sweet man, though he did have a certain air—or attitude—that, to this day, I can’t put my finger on. Perhaps I didn’t seem like the awkward, nervous teen he thought would be the type to sign up for a mentor. Or maybe he found my mile-a-minute speech pattern and general enthusiasm a bit odd. (I have no idea, really. I’ve never been good at reading people).

Anyways, it’s suffice to say that he was a nice guy…there was just something slightly “off” that I can’t specifically point out. Not that it mattered much in the long run, really. We had several sessions and then I left for good because my time was up and he had another mentee. I hardly ever saw him again. In hindsight, I could have done just as well without him—there wasn’t much in terms of help/guidance that I particularly needed. Still, I liked having someone to chat with about regular stuff, especially because I hadn’t made friends close enough to hang out with yet.

The reason I bring this up is I suddenly remembered something today…which is coincidentally my dad’s birthday. You see, from the age of twelve to nearly twenty, my dad and I lived in entirely separate countries. When we moved to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia, he stayed behind to work. (First in Saudi Arabia, then Qatar, where he still is). Three years in Lebanon and five years in Canada were all spent with my father visiting a few times a year. (We saw him more often in Lebanon, as his visits were more frequent and we also used to go back to Saudi during our breaks). I missed him terribly, but the situation just meshed in as a part of our lives. I never felt distant from my father. I always felt his presence in one way or another, despite the fact that, the vast majority of the time, he wasn’t physically there. My mother spoke with him on MSN on a regular basis. We sent emails back and forth. He was very much a part of our lives when we were all in Saudi, and we spent as much time as possible with him whenever he visited after we moved away. This has always stuck with me. 

This isn’t a unique situation for people. Several families we know (and about a million we don’t) live the same way. The father/husband stays behind in the Gulf to continue working and the family is sent overseas for the kids to continue their education or to get American/Canadian/UK passports. I just accepted it as a situation that just…happens.

It was during a session with Simon that it dawned on me that this kind of a relationship could be perceived drastically differently. I was mentioning the moves I’ve been through—from Saudi to Lebanon to Canada, and how my dad stayed behind and yadda-yadda…

When he interrupts in the most offhand and perfectly knowing tone, “So, you hardly even know the guy!” and chuckles.

For a long half-second, I was struck dumb. What? Did he just think I had an absentee father…someone who is just a distant shadow who had a hand in spawning my form and not much else?

My answer, in reality, came out lightning fast, although my mind was reeling because I did NOT want him to have this view of my father as someone I didn’t even know. I don’t remember what I said exactly, but I do know I vehemently denied his careless assessment of my dad’s stance as a parent, of his effect on my upbringing and in my life. I was a little upset, but I didn’t show it. How could he be so nonchalant in throwing out such a judgment?

I know that it’s a logical conclusion, technically speaking. If someone tells you they lived in a separate country from their father since they were twelve, you might just think there wasn’t much “fathering” going on in their lives. But it killed me because I read so many books featuring kids who didn’t know their dads, or whose dads lived in the same house but kept their distance. Mine wasn’t like that—how could he think so?

My dad had traditions with all us kids. He used to make boats out of orange peels and put orange slices in them, reciting lines from the Arabic-dubbed version of Treasure Island. He would kiss us all good night on the forehead, and—when we were younger—sometimes he’d cuddle into bed with us, and we’d just talk, one-on-one. He read us stories that to this day I still mentally read in his accent. He taught me how to swim and how to check if a surface is hot by waving my hand over it first. Math was my absolute worst subject, but when he stayed up with me, he detangled it in my head, almost literally. It took little time, and everything suddenly made perfect sense. So much so, I solved a problem on the board in fourth grade using a method a grade above what my teacher was teaching, thanks to my dad’s tutoring. He gives amazing hugs, and I’m sure I got my love of cuddle hugs from him. As kids, we used to all pile under the blankets with him, squeeing in glee, because it was cold outside and we were going to all sit under his wonderful blankets and be awesome together. (He had two blankets he ALWAYS slept in. They were unique and smelled just like him). He took us on vacations to Turkey, Egypt and London. He always made sure we stayed in the best places, and visited every important landmark he could discover. He’s a ceaseless reader and explorer and never stops learning. He’s the pillar his entire family leans on, and is the most honest and hard-working person I’ve ever met in my life.

So to anyone else who might have a Simon-like reaction, I say this: You don’t know just how much I know him, thank you.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I couldn’t ask for a better one.

Anti-Feminism Kind of Confuses Me

I don’t think I quite understand anti-feminism websites, which are apparently more popular than I ever thought they would be.

I can, of course, comprehend choosing not to identify as a feminist—because we all have a choice. I firmly believe you can choose whatever you’d like to be, and remain happy that way. (As long as, of course, you’re not infringing on other people’s rights while doing so). What I don’t get, however, is why anti-feminists lump all feminists as “man-hating” or feel that they should just “get over it” and be happy with the rights they have managed to achieve.

Thing is, yes, we can vote and have jobs and marry who we like. But we also get interrogated just as harshly as (if not more so than) the perpetrator if we get raped. We are still paid less than our male counterparts for the same job. Some men still feel odd taking orders from a female superior. (Not as much as before, but it’s still there). An assertive lady is a “bitch”. An assertive man is a “boss” and knows what he’s doing.

I’m not saying the entire feminist group is united and has it all right—of course they don’t. There are some feminists I can’t stand, while there are others whom I truly admire. Just because a group has dissidents/radicals doesn’t make it wrong. (Look at, for example, religion in general. It’s not fair to judge every follower on the actions of the extremists). I don’t think modern-day feminists are trying to eradicate men, nor are they attempting to paint themselves as victims in order to get special treatment.

I think, to put it almost too simply, they’re just trying to bridge the gap that has been centuries in the making. Sure, we’ve come a long way, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t have a ways to go. Progress never stops.

A Talk that Hits Close to Home

I would recommend everyone listen to this, but especially if you live in a multi-lingual culture. It hits a lot of crucial points and is very articulately laid out. I feel very strongly about the preservation of languages, and I feel badly that I am not more fluent in what is supposed to be my mother tongue. Suzanne Talhouk definitely hit the nail on the head with this one. 

(It remains a fact that my brain is wired in English through and through. But because I was raised by parents who spoke Arabic almost exclusively, there are several concepts/things that I can sometimes only exclusively refer to in that language. Makes for an interesting mix of languages every now and then).

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.