Half and Half

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Every Friday night in Egypt, the curfew starts at 7pm. And what better way to use this time than to do something fun and creative. In the last two Fridays, I have been spending the curfew hours with Bella who is this 5 year old edible girl who loves to draw and color. We started this series of drawings with me drawing the heads and her finishing the bodies. Add a touch of rich colors and viola, instant masterpiece! 🙂

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What 27 Really Feels Like

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27, in my rough estimate, is the oldest I have ever been. And of course, I am freaking out about it and think that I am a super old hag from the Winnie Witch series of 1987.

See, when I was in high school, people in their twenties were seen as ancient. Like dinosaurs! I remember telling a classmate who was 18 then, “you’re dating a 21 year old?! God, he’s too old!” And then I became the 21 year old who thought that 21 is young and whoever was 24 was too old. I thought that when I reached 24, I’ll be at a ripe age where everything is peachy perfect and established, and secure. I had these thoughts that my 24 year old self will be fierce, compose, sophisticated, and beautiful down to the T. Alas, that was three years ago. Of course now I cringe when I think about the fact that I considered 24 to be an old age because I’m trapped inside the body of a 27 year old woman who is living an adult life yet far from the fierce, compose, sophisticated, and beautiful down to the T that I thought 24 or 27 will be.

So, how does 27 really feel? Let me break it down to you gently.

It feels like you’re a teenager but better because you don’t get grounded if you come home late. Heck, no one will say a word even if you don’t come home, because what you’re coming home to is an empty apartment. 27 feels like you’re 21 only with more money. There’s also the fact that you’ve figured out how to make $50 last you a week. Most of your savings go to travels or wine and cheese. You know, things that big people do and buy these days. It also feels like 24, but with less drama and more emotional balance. Gone are the days when a broken heart can leave you lying dead on your bathroom floor. Hallelujah, now you don’t have the urge to throw emo shit tantrums and start writing heartache poems in screaming red bold letters.

27 also feels like for once, you’re totally in control, and totally out of control of everything at the same time. It’s all about the decisions you make and the choices you take. It’s your choice to lose yourself over that whole family-size pizza, and your choice to feel miserable the morning after. You know it’s a terrible, terrible idea, and you swear you’re never doing it again, but you know you’re going to repeat the same mistake at one point or another and you’re absolutely fine with that because what the fuck? You’re 27!

27 is the age when you realize that sleep is a luxury. Before, you used to post statuses on facebook about how it’s 3:00am and you’re just coming home with your drunk ass from a wicked-ass party, but now, you’re totally smashing being in bed at 8:30, and you’re not even complaining about it!

One of your biggest investments at this age is books. A trip to the bookstore can mean four novels in one purchase for those early night ins.

27 is also that age when you start realizing that all your friends who are getting married and having babies must be unicorns. I mean, there’s no other explanation about it. Like, seriously, how do they do it? They have got to be from planet lalala or something. It doesn’t help that every other weekend is a wedding or an engagement, or a baby shower. And you are left scratching your head wondering what is an appropriate gift for the occasion.

27 makes you feel old because all of a sudden, you find it inappropriate to listen to Akon or 50 Cent. And you raise an eye brow to anyone of the same age who still listens to Akon and 50 Cent. Yes, 27 can be very judgmental.

27 also makes you feel ridiculous shopping at Forever 21. You don’t want to be caught by anyone you know sneaking in at Forever 21, but you just can’t stop yourself. You have to go and get that lacey dress!

You can also have these emotional outbursts and dwell on your existential crisis one minute, and then find yourself feeling absolutely calm and ready to conquer the world the next. It’s like feeling super old yet feeling extra young. I don’t know about you, but 27 can be really bipolar sometimes. Now, 27 can feel like all of these things, or none of these things. As for me, I feel like 27 is the new 23, and I have another nine months to rock it!

A Sunday kind of love

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I feel like everyday I have to meet up with a different friend just so I can tell someone about you. It could be any day when I find myself flicking my phone, calling any friend to ask if she’s free to hangout. What I should actually be telling her is that I am in dire need of company, and that I am just actually forcing anyone to see me so I can start talking about your marvelousness already–just so I can relive those days I had with you out in the open.

Some of my friends fall prey and find themselves trapped to my endless blubbering of you and me. Until they can’t take it anymore. Until they’ve unwillingly memorized your name after hearing it 20,000 times. Until my lungs collapse from pure bliss. Who knew my lips could stretch to a smile from ear to ear?

Yet at the same time, there are nights–it could be any night–when I don’t feel like telling anyone about you–like you are mine and mine to keep, and the mere act of telling someone about you means blasphemy. I didn’t want to have to share you with anyone. It is as if you are my precious, little thing, and there is no place for you other than in my secret pocket. So, some nights, I just find myself all curled up in bed, lost in my mind’s little cinema where bits and snippets of memories and photographs are kept alive. I would press play and watch as our time together unfold right in front of me. Then I would pause and take you all in–all the biggest and littlest details–from how your eyes widen and glow a different glow when you are looking at me to how it changes color from blue to green depending on the day. Then I would press play again, until I have to rewind to the very start.

I live for afternoons and evenings like that when I can almost touch you, when I can almost smell you. When I can almost hear you calling my name out loud. “Amo,” you always call me that. All I have to do is close my eyes and I can hear you telling me that “it’s too ot today,” or that you “want to tell me on thing.” You spoke with great enthusiasm, as if everything you say has meaning and purpose and is a living, breathing thing. It’s so difficult to look away from you as long as you are talking. God! I can listen to you speak Italian all day long even if I don’t understand any single word of it. I can listen to you speak in broken down English. None of it really matters because whatever language you are using, your accent is so edible I can taste every word in my lips.

How you make me feel is a different story. It’s frenzy. Like The Notebook frenzy. Only more frenzy because there is no Lon Hammond between us. It’s just you and me, just like it’s just Noah and Allie.The only thing that separates us is the three months we have from now until then, but you taught me to love Sundays. I hated Sundays with great passion and you know it. Sundays always mean that Monday is knocking at the door and work shit is just around the corner, but you said “every Sunday brings us a week closer to each other,” and since then I see Sunday as an ally, not an enemy.

It’s so hard not to miss everything. Not to miss you, or the color of your skin that looks like the sun is shining through a macadamia. I miss how I will look at you and catch you already looking at me. I miss how you flash your winning smile that makes my face just go all soft and gummy. I miss how you pinch my cheeks. How you nibble my ear. How you tickle me to no mercy. Ah, those uncontrollable pinches and nibbles and tickles! It makes me grin just thinking about it now.

I miss holding your hand too, or you holding my hand. Your hand always feels like a butterfly against mine. Sometimes, it feels like a heartbeat. Like, your hand is so fragile yet so complete and completely alive. I try so hard to make sure I don’t hold you so tight. Yet each time we hold hands, I feel like melting, but more violent because I know that I can turn into a pasty pulp yet won’t dare to let you go. And now that you’re not here, I would touch my hand and run my thumb through my palm. But nothing happens, and I’m left wondering–where have all the nerve endings gone? It always seems to be there shooting different sensation down my spine when you hold me.

I also miss the songs you keep playing in repeat. I learned to love Prince Royce because of you. I have all of your songs in my playlist, and in my chest, somehow. Darte Un Beso, Corazon Sin Cara, Stand By Me, and Addicted. Listening to Addicted in particular brings you a lot closer to me. There is something about that song. The harmony is different. Like, it sets my stomach on the edge. There is something exciting about it, something nervous, and it makes me feel everything. “Sleeping in, Sunday morning bodies intertwined” has got to be the best beginning to a song ever. It makes me feel like the universe isn’t what I think it is. If I listen to it and close my eyes, it’s almost as if you are here smoking grape flavored shisha with me even though you’re 1088 nautical miles away in Sicily. And if I listen to that song 10 times, that means I have 40 minutes and 20 seconds to spend with you in my head.

How I wish it’s easy to bend time and space, but you proved that time and space is nothing to two people who are willing to give it a try. Geez, why do you say things at the right place and time? I miss you saying the right words at the right time!

I miss how we always agree to everything important and argue about everything else. We liked the beach, we loved El Gouna. I gave the rucola pizza we had a perfect score of 10, but you said it was blah and gave it a 4. You played Highway Rider, while I played Subway Surfers. We both enjoyed watching documentaries on NatGeo, but I find the channel less entertaining without you. One time, I was irked by how a lioness devoured a deer, and when the blood splattered across the screen, I realized I don’t have your arms to burrow my head into. Yet I could hear you say “no, amo, look, look, just watch, this is the good part!” And after one documentary, all I’d want to do is just sit and talk about it. Well, that’s a lie. In truth, I just want to sit and talk to you. Or just sit and watch you.

I didn’t think it is possible to just look someone on the face, but you look like you’ve been crafted by Michael Angelo. Where I am round and soft, you are chiseled. Define lines. Define arches. Define bone structure! I can just lose time admiring your shiny cheeks. From afar, you are beautiful, but when your nose is just a centimeter away from mine, damn! And when you kiss me, something inside me just dies out of ecstasy or embarrassment. You look like art, and art always makes me feel something. And you demanded to be experienced.

Whatever happens tomorrow, we have yesterday and today and that’s all I know and that’s all I have to know. I won’t wake up to you tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or even the day after that. I will be listening to our favorite bachata songs on my own. I won’t be making you your coffee in the morning. For now, there won’t be breakfasts or lunches or dinners with you, not even a small piece of tiramisu, but that’s ok. I love you anyway. Because you are worth one more day of uncertainty before we become certain. You taught me to welcome everyday whether or not you’re around. And to let Sunday be what it is.

Three months is a hundred years long, yet again, we’re not in a rush. I know one morning from now, we will wake up to that Prince Royce song and we will want to sleep in. Until then, I love you like I love Sunday.

Traffic Lights

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I saw him standing at the intersection
A cigarette stick hung carefully in his left hand
Between puffs of smoke his eyes found mine
It was almost electric
I let his gaze swallow me whole
His lips curved to a familiar smile
So familiar that the pool of strangers drowned in reverie
The light turned red and all the cars reached a temporary end
The flashing man turned green and pedestrians resumed what was temporarily halted
He started crossing to my side
I started crossing to his
Slow, calculated steps at first
And then long strides all at once
We met halfway there
Definitely indefinitely
Where the red meets the green
That is when we kissed

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.

Chapter 27: Why moving on is like going to rehab

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Why moving on is like going to rehab

According to that Whitney Houston single, broken hearts go to an empty place. I disagree. I think broken hearts go to Broken Hearts Ville for rehab. Whenever my heart gets broken, I go through intensive counseling. Sometimes on my own, like when Amr left me and I caved in. I didn’t want to talk about it. Not to anyone. Not even to Lucy or Alaa because doing so would mean that my judgment was wrong when I told them that this is really it. But there are times when moving on was a lot easier because I confided with my friends. We would discuss it, and digest it until we reach the root of the problem. What was the cause and effect? They would ask, and they would just listen until I’ve poured my heart and lungs out and address the toxins. After a while, they would evaluate my behavior and then give me a recommendation.

“Jennifer, you’re still distracted, Jennifer you’re still not with us!” And when Lucy and Alaa says that, it means I’m still suffering from the-ex-boyfriend-at-the-time-titis. My friends can easily tell when a certain person can still trigger a certain emotion or behavior, and they would recommend that a different moving-on program be applied.

I would then be subjected to choose from different therapy options. There is the You Know Better Now Therapy which develops cognition. It helps a broken heart recognize and cope with situations in which my broken heart is most likely to relapse. There is the You Have To Talk To Your Dad Therapy, which is designed to support the healing of a broken heart by improving communication with the family. There is Motivational Interviewing too, which is a fancier word for pep talk. And then there are Motivational Incentives Crap, which tells the broken heart that it will find a good one if it stays away from the bad ones.

There is no one size fits all treatment. Different treatments work for different causes of my broken heart. When I was moving on from Nicco, I used the You Know Better Now Therapy. When it was with Karam, I started talking to my dad about it because he used to have an affair too, and as bizarre as it sounds, it actually got us more closer. We could talk openly about it and that was really something. (Dad, I hope you’re not reading this!) With Xavier, I just needed pep talk and accept that he wasn’t a good match for me. Different men, different approaches, but all therapies required two things: committment and time. A broken heart must commit enough time to heal in order to effectively cure the scars. Medical treatment should never include xanax or adderall. It can have caffeine and the occasional meltdowns, but certainly not crystal meth or silver cleaner.

Healing my broken heart would mean I have to subject myself to a detox program too. This is that crucial process where traces of delusion and everything related to x is removed. Ex boyfriend, ex lover, sex! The detox process varies from heart to heart. It involves how long the relationship was, the intensity of that guy, and how dependent I was to that person. According to the Hearts National Library of Being Dumped and Moving On, most withdrawal symptoms can occur within 6 hours after last contact.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

Extreme depression that the only place I want to be in is my bed

Issues with concentration that I called in sick for a few days because the only place I want to be in is my bed

Decreased appetite that I can’t even go to the kitchen because the only place I want to be in is my bed.

Severe fatigue which is bizarre because I didn’t do anything except stay on my bed

Agitation which is why I asked a reliable mate to run over an ex’s foot with a car

Runny nose from too much crying

Inability to sleep from too much thinking

Nausea because what the fuck?

Diarrhea because what the fuck!

Rapid heart rate because it feels like the end of the world.

Troubled breathing because it really feels like the end of the world.

Headaches after reading and re-reading all sms-es with I love yous and whatnot and only seeing lies

Hallucinations that your ex will come knocking on your door professing his love and whatnot

Heart attack!

Once my heart is detoxed from the ex, it will move on to the rehabilitation portion of the recovery process. This is where my broken heart learns and realizes the core reasons behind the end of the relationships. I’d start addressing and recognizing certain issues and effectively move on without the excess baggage or without going back to a downward spiral. This is the part of the program where I would finally stop blaming myself and making excuses for my ex. This is when I could start acknowledging that I’m more than good enough and that I fought a good fight.

At this point my broken heart is able to identify triggers and red flags. It has a reference point for next time it decides to flirt again or go out on a first date with a new guy.

Group therapy is highly suggested during rehab. Girls night outs are the most popular choices. These group sessions allow my healing heart to recover with other hearts who had been in the same situation. It’s just comforting to know that I’m not alone in my struggles.

After my broken heart completed its rehabilitation program, a lifelong recovery follows. Some breakups were easier than others. After Nicco and Xavier, I felt enlightened and light and free after a short while. Other times, it was difficult and took a lot longer.

After I started moving on, I’d join the Sushi Sunday Group, or the Thursday Salseras, or that Friday movie night club. They were always there as my support group. They’re always making sure that I avoid relapse, and that I’m not out of Broken Hearts Ville just looking for another rebound.

I hope I don’t ever have to go back to Broken Hearts Ville again, but I’m happy to start a support group. Maybe I’d call it the FUCK Him Monday Group. (For U Can Kick Him, you silly!)