Category Archives: Current Events

What it feels like

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It feels like not being embarrassed that I can’t do proper math, or the fact that the only number that matters to me right now is the eight hour time difference between us. For the first time, I don’t have to give myself a difficult time for not being a unicorn. I didn’t have to worry that I didn’t know about Tricky, or who Joseph Campbell was, or that I have never used google docs and google calendar before. None of these things matter because what matters is that you are there to introduce me to all these new things, and more. Everyone has their flaws, and you’re someone who appreciates me even more for mine. (I’m close to considering that you’re psycho!)

Recent mornings felt like a thunder woke me up from deep sleep. Whenever you say the words us, we, always, and forever, it scares me, the way a loud thunder scares the crap out of me. These are words unfamiliar to me, completely unheard of, and yet you would string these words to perfection that often makes me squeal, not out of fear, but out of delight. Congratulations, you just successfully transformed me to a giggling, school girl!

Everyday feels like I have the world’s best publisher. I just want to sink myself in blank paper just so I can write our story. I know there will be days when I will complain about damn writer’s block but I take comfort in knowing that you will be there to inspire me.

We will support each other in the biggest and littlest of things. We will encourage each other. Even if salsa dancing is not necessarily your thing, and c++ is definitely not my language, I know we have it all figured out. We know that coffee and tea don’t mix well together and that is actually a beautiful thing. You are your own person the way I am my own. Yet we know that wherever there is coffee, there is tea. Doubtful? Just look at the beverage aisle in any supermarket, or check my kitchen bench.

What it feels like is exactly what I feel like when I’m traveling. It’s something that I would want to do even when I’m old and grey, and it is also something that I would want to do with you even when you’re old and grey. I want to explore with you, to hold your hand and try new things, and discover new places. We will tirelessly look for our happy place which actually sounds silly because I know that any place with you is my happy place.

You remind me of the time I just started learning Arabic. At first, nothing made sense. I couldn’t even get the pronunciation right. I’m flustered and I sound stupid, but the point in learning Arabic is that the more practice you do, the better you get at it. And that’s exactly what it feels like learning about you. And I want to learn more about you everyday. There might be times when I will fail miserably in getting the accent right. Maybe there will be days when I will accidentally push the wrong button, but make no mistake, I want to be fluent in you. You are my favorite language, you are my favorite subject and I just want to get all As!

Just like Camembert, being with you feels like craving for strong, rustic flavors. It takes a good palette to know that you have to keep eating this cheese to fully appreciate all the flavors, and that’s exactly what I want us to do. No stopping. Just moving forward to more exciting flavors.

I will confess. Talking to you makes me want to punch myself on the face sometimes for saying the cheesiest pick up lines. I never thought I could be cheesy, but it’s all too late now. You just managed to turn me into the biggest mouse!

On a serious note though, being with you feels like being excited to start writing the last chapter of a novel. You told me about how that mosquito bite annoyed you, and how you felt frustrated about the project you’re currently working on, and how you were caught in bad traffic. I know you don’t like too much traffic. But no matter what awful things happen to you out in the real world, I want you to know that in my book, you have an epic ending, and that when you come home to me, everything will be OK.

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An open letter to my best friend

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Disclaimer: The subject in this essay is totally fictitious. Any resemblance to people living and dead is a miracle and should only be obvious to the subject and those who know the subject.

I was waiting for my lunch at Testa Rossa today and was about to order coffee when I saw two guys laughing and talking the way that only Joey and Chandler does. I thought of you and ordered cherry cola instead.

Isn’t that the definition of our friendship? That I like coffee and you like cherry cola? I’m the emotional one and you are the unbreakable. I’m always idealistic, the way you’re always pragmatic. I’m the one who believes in happily-ever-afters. I’m the one who sought for love and failed, yet never tire to seek for it over again. Whereas you keep things real. You weigh the success rate of a relationship based on statistics.

While I have ideas on how to solve a problem, you have specific steps to reach a solution. I always ask you to believe and give things a good try, and you’re the one who always prepare me for the worst. I give you hope, you give me reason. And that’s why we go so well together. Well, went. After our silly argument last night, I’m not sure if I should start referring to you in past tense form.

I remember, when I met you at a salsa party a year and a half ago, you were that guy behind your glasses sitting alone in a corner. You would dance, and sit, and dance, and sit again. A vicious cycle. Nothing else in between. Back then, your social skills weren’t really your strongest point. And back then, I would never have guessed that you would eventually become one of the very few people I hold so dear in my heart. And I bet neither did you.

Referring to you as my best friend is a long process that reflects a string of cafes we went to, the amount of popcorn we eat on every movie night, the evening drives to and from parties, and all the conversations and calls exchanged in between. Our friendship reflects a history of inside jokes and banters that people around us would never understand.

I think some people still find it hard to grasp that two people from the opposite sex can be best of friends without crossing the lines, or without smudging the borders of friendship and romance.

What we have is friendship developed over time, over shared experience, over a consciousness to support another person without any ties and expectations romantic or familial.

But best friendship is not always sugary, and full of rainbow colors and unicorns and jokes and hangouts. Let’s face it, that’s bullshit.

In reality, our friendship is flawed. We have a lot of misunderstanding and contrasting views that often lead to petty fights.

You tell me that I’m a drama queen to you the way I am not with everyone else. You are right, everyone else sees me as this peachy, ever-so-awesome, happy-go-lucky girl. I don’t show them that I am neurotic because it will make them run 190mph!

You are an asshole. You are a self-absorbed, unfeeling, callous ass! In a way that you’re not with everyone. Everyone else sees you as the laid-back, cool, all-smiley guy.

Why can’t you be that laid-back, cool, all-smiley guy to me? If only they know you, they would be running 190mph too.

See, the point is, I can be the monster that I am and I know you will understand. You can be full of crap (which you are!) and I will take it for what it is. We take each other’s shit. We listen to each other’s crap. We got each other’s back.

Our friendship is as special as it is rare. It consists of honesty. Brutal honesty and ugly truths, and everything else that no one would dare tell us. I don’t think anyone else can call me a bitch on my face, the way no one else can come to you and tell you to fuck yourself off. Respect that we can do that in each other’s faces.

I know I don’t say it as much as I should, and it doesn’t show in my actions, but I really value our friendship. I appreciate you and everything that you’ve done for me. And I will continue to value our friendship and appreciate you even if you stop everything you do for me. You are my rock. Everytime I find myself in trouble, you are there. You are there through every heartache. You’re there through every good and bad decision.

You are my family. For goodness’ sakes, you’re even my emergency contact person!

We will have disgareements, we will want different things, and we will fight. But I think being each other’s best friend means there is willingness to adapt, and understand each other’s shortcomings. And to not cease supporting each other because someone was being irrational (in this case, I will admit it’s me.)

It may sound like a job, and it sort of is. It is something that demands admitting you’re wrong. It is something that requires you to swallow your pride and understand that you can’t be too selfish all the time.

I’m sorry about last night. But you made me feel that you didn’t have my back. Ok, I overreacted, but you could have been considerate! Scratch that! I’m sorry and I mean it. Can you still be my emergency contact person?

I don’t want to dance with you

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I wish things were simple and direct and honest. If I can speak my mind clearly, without having to filter it, I would bluntly say that dancing with you is so bad I keep fantasizing I’d die of lung cancer just so I don’t have to awkwardly confront you. But instead, I’m left with no choice but to dodge the bullet for as long as I can, hoping that you would always miss and that I won’t get a hit.

You would think, or maybe, I would think, that after someone has told you ‘no’ for the seventh time, you will get it. That, eventually, you will be sensitive enough to realize that you are stepping a little bit too much into my space. You know, like, if my space is marked with a visible bubble, you would see that half of your body has gone way passed my territory. You have this so in-your-face kind of way of suffocating me. What I find amusing though is how you don’t seem to realize that you’re pushing me out of my own comfort zone.

I tried letting you know that I don’t want to dance with you. Whenever you’re heading towards me, do you realize how I have to pretend to be in deep conversation with anyone who I can grab at an arm’s length?

Or when you see me busily forking my meal as if it is the last supper I’m ever eating for the rest of my life, do you really think that I am that hungry? Or does it sound like I’m trying to avoid eye contact and all the slightest things that might suggest I am free to dance?

There are times when I really want to smoke a cigarette, and mid way of taking the lighter out my purse, I would stop and say: “Jen, don’t. Save it for later.”

So, there I would go, keeping that cigarette stick in my hand, for when I see you walking towards me. Do you really think that I just happen to be on a smoking spree every single time you ask me? How callous can you just be?

I don’t want to be rude, and this is why I come up with excuses, hoping that you will take a hint, hoping that we can save ourselves from having this conversation, but look what you did. And, so, here we are.

I know what you’re thinking when you see me. And you are right. I dance close body contact with guys, and I have absolutely no problem with that. I dance close body with guys who know how to dance, who have rhythm within them, who put a great amount of time and effort in learning the basic and progressing more. I dance close body with guys who know proper dancing etiquette. Now, this is where you get it wrong–what I don’t do is dance close body with guys who give me the creeps–whose definition of dancing is reduced to skin on skin friction.

I mean, seriously, dude. That is not dancing. In which universe do you think a girl gets so excited social dancing with a boner? If that universe even exists, please, feel free to migrate.

My friends, who have saved me a lot of times, from you and other people like you, ask me why I can’t just tell you straight to your face that I don’t like dancing with you. Then maybe we can all just stop wasting each other’s time and move on from it, no?

I know at one point, I would run out of excuses to not dance with you. I’ve used every single drop of creativity I have in mind to avoid you. I know that it will only be a matter of time before I find myself in a situation where all my friends will be on the dance floor and I will be left in an awkward corner with no cigarettes to light up, and no dinner plate to finish. Just you and me. Dreadful.

The thing is, I don’t want to make up excuses anymore. I’m tired of hiding in the girls’ bathroom every time a kizomba song starts playing in the background. I’m tired of looking out on the dance floor and making sure you’re dancing with someone else before I can comfortably sit on my chair, and be at peace for the fact that I’m safe for at least a couple of minutes.

So, here I am, saying it loud and clear (and in the nicest possible way I could muster): Please, don’t ask me to dance with you again. At least not until you stop being creepy.

I hope this time, you will get it. And if you do, I will be very grateful. You can call me a snob, you can call me a conceited bitch, you can call me a terrible dancer. But if that’s what it takes to stop this monkey in the middle, be it.

Whew. I’m really glad we had this talk. Thank you for your cooperation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go dance with someone else.

A call for critical thinking

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Yesterday, I posted a status on Facebook that started a whole saga between two people I know. It became a medium for arguments and counter arguments. And just like a grapevine, it branched out to sensitive issues that we usually veer away from out of fear of direct confrontation.

My status reads:

“If every veiled woman will take her veil off in protest to what is happening in Cairo, it might not make a difference, but it will be a great statement to women all around the world, veiled or not veiled, that we will not be silenced, that we will act based on our own free will, and that we will not allow a dictator to control even the tip of our finger. But then again, that’s only me shooting for the moon.”

After Morsy announced his presidential decree that gives him both executive and legislative powers, I was enraged. I could not believe that this is happening to the country that I now call home. But what surprises me even more is how I am affected more than some Egyptians I know who just don’t care anymore.

I find it disgustingly revolting how the president, who is supposedly elected by way of democracy, has the guts to impose dictatorship. This is a direct murder of the January 25 revolution. And it nullifies democracy in this country (the democracy that I thought everyone was aiming for.)

All these resulted to an idea so concrete, that it requires a specific action (in this case, the actual removal of one’s veil) yet so ambitious considering that I am only one voice amongst all women across the world.

When I wrote this status, my intention was to see how it will be received. I wanted to see if this idea can materialize into solid action that will exhibit change.

Women, for the longest time, have been struggling because of patriarchy, we have, again and again been subjugated.

I remember asking someone during the presidential campaigns if there was any woman running for presidency. It was a serious question that required a serious answer, yet what I got was a look as if I have grown two heads, followed by a laugh as though I just delivered the perfect knock knock joke.

Again, how revolting.

That status I posted last night was an accumulation of everything I went through as a woman in Egypt. It was the sum of being harassed on the streets, of being laughed at because I spoke about women running for presidency, of being objectified and considered inferior because of my gender.

I was calling for women action. More specifically, I was calling for veiled women to unveil themselves. Why? Because when you think about it, a piece of clothing does not and should not define who you are. It should not be a requisite to whether or not you will be harassed on the streets, neither should it be a standard to whether or not that woman is a “good woman.”

When I posted that status, I didn’t want people to agree or disagree to my idea. What I wanted was for that idea to be heard. Obviously, if I was a tv tycoon or media mogul (which I am clearly not,) I would have stepped forward light years ago if only to push social change. However, I am only one voice, one idea among many others. The least I can do is say that idea out loud in the hopes that it will reach every single person out of the 892 friends I have on Facebook.

If we can go back to the January 25 revolution, we will find a lot of photographs of people with placards thanking Facebook for the materialization of the revolution. Facebook was one of the mediums through which news and events about the revolution spread like a plague. One cannot simply say or conclude that Facebook is not the place to exhibit such thoughts. For someone like me, a foreign woman in an Arabic country, where else can I run to to voice my opinion? If my idea will fail to reach the friends I have on Facebook, the more important question is who else will listen?

When I posted that status, I did not want to create a disparity between men and women. My status was a call for every one of my friends (especially the ones who live/lived in Egypt) to be conscious, to awaken, to be aware of what is happening politically and socially in Egypt. It was a call for people to act based on his/her own choice, to come up with decisions after careful thinking, to not climb the bandwagon, to resist puppet strings, to seek what is right, and to confront the wrong.

How cheap is it to die?

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I am mad. Angry. Furious. Disappointed! Can anyone, please, come up with a better word to describe how I am feeling?

I am outraged. Egypt, when is it going to stop?

Today, at least 73 lives have ended in Egypt because of football. That’s 73 people who will never see tomorrow because of sports violence.

These people have names, and family, and kids, and wives, and husbands, and fiances, and whoknowswhatelse.

These are people who woke up this morning thinking they have midterms next week, why not go to a football game tonight before the tough week starts?

These are people who are probably getting married next month, or whose son or daughter is celebrating his or her birthday tomorrow. These are people who kissed their moms and dads goodbye tonight saying they will be home after the match and will not be late.

These are people who will no longer live another day, who will no longer take an exam, or see their moms and dads, or see their children grow up because of what? A riot? Sports violence?

How cheap is it to die?

And it is not just about the 73 people who died. It is also about the people and the lives they left behind. Imagine that 5 year old boy who will no longer see his daddy. Or that 37 year old woman who will have to start planning her husband’s funeral when they are supposed to be celebrating their 10 year marriage. Or that professor who will wonder why her student has stopped coming to class. Or that girl who just lost her brother and best friend and still does not know it yet.

These people are people who came to watch a football match to have a good time, to root for their favorite team. They didn’t go there to die.

The news says the cause of death for the most part is stab wounds. I cannot, in any way possible, imagine that some people would actually go to the stadium with knives or any sharp objects thinking “it’s kill fest tonight.”

That is just inhumane and it makes me so sick in the stomach.

What good is the January 25 revolution that we just remembered and celebrated a week ago if tragedies like this just keep on recurring?

On that revolution, the people who made it happen wanted change, they seek freedom.

Well, here’s what’s wrong about Egypt, it’s the people. But you already know that, don’t you? You want change? Be open to it. Change yourself, your attitude, your mentality. You seek freedom? Free yourself from ignorance and hate.

Don’t be a hypocrite. Admit your faults and start doing something about it. Stop blaming the country and start changing your views and actions. Only then will we see change, only then can we start being free.