Tuesday, December 31, 2013

a tale of two goodbyes

date: 1 October 2006
city: Cairo

she carried her handbag, left her apartment which was right next to "Kobry El Kobba" metro station, took the Cairo underground metro to "Esaaf" station. she felt more comfortable riding one of the first two metro cars for women and children only. half an hour later she got off, walked upstairs to hail a taxi: "26 July St. please". At Shagaret El Dor St. corner the taxi stopped and she had no problem remembering the address because she came here a few days earlier for an interview, it was September 27th and when her husband came to pick her up in their FiFi (that was the nick name of their red Fiat 128 hatchback car) she found a wrapped gift on her seat. "happy 1st montharsary dear" her husband said. he bought her a wooden salad set of one large bowel and two small ones because he knew how much she loves colorful salads. 

the Cairo bureau of this newspaper was located in Zamalek, the balcony overlooked nice gardens and she could hear birds singing in harmony with the sound of the computer keyboard. her fingers played quickly on the computer, her head moved from the Arabic newspapers spread open next to her on the large table at the center of the rectangular office to the screen in front of her, her brain raced to translate news headlines from Arabic to English. she had a great first day on her part-time job. 

for a whole year, this was her daily routine with a one-hour commute to work, sometimes she preferred to walk the first half of the distance on her way back home even though the Boulak and Abou El Ela area can give you a "cultural shock" walking down that bridge connecting Zamalek with that poor market place, but an experience in Cairo's public transportation wasn't on her list because it was a whole package of filthy mini vans, over crowded buses, and a selection of harassment incidents she can't pick and choose from. 

at the end of that year she and her husband had to move from Cairo to Alexandria, this young couple decided to inform family, friends, and acquaintances in Cairo ahead of time, so she went to tell her boss that she's leaving. to her surprise, the assistant journalist came up with a brilliant idea and the boss approved of it: "How about you do the same translation but from home? You'll be online during the same working hours you spend here. Let's try it while you're still in Cairo then we'll surely know that it's going to work after you move to Alex." and this was the first e-mail she sent :


the years passed by and she spent a total 7 years and 3 months in this part-time job. so much happened during these 86 months, but she kept sending that e-mail every morning and waiting for more translation requests from the boss. the Cairo bureau of this newspaper changed 5 journalists during her stay, each one of them appreciated her work and she kept the job, even when she traveled she would e-mail the headlines and when she gave birth to her first son she took two weeks off then went back to work even if it meant typing the translation at 3 or 4 am with the newborn baby on her arm. when the Global Financial Crisis started she didn't ask for a raise but when her daughter arrived she did and the request was rejected. when the last boss informed her that the end of 2013 will witness the end of her work she had mixed feelings.

at first she felt sad and scared, she was sad to lose a job that was more like a miracle, it was very convenient for her to work form home while she was pregnant the first and second time and even more convenient when she had the kids with no help around she was able to both look after them and work from home, but she felt sad because whatever income her salary added was more needed now than ever, even though her salary witnessed no change what so ever during these 7 years and 3 months regardless of the climb that prices witnessed between 2006 and 2013 yet she did not wish for this income to stop.

a few weeks after she received the news the initial fear and sadness started to fade and were gradually replaced by excitement and hope, she felt that she's set free, this job was perfect but only for a while, it's no longer the best thing for her and she enjoyed this feeling of anticipation, waiting, searching, and guessing what could be her next perfect step... now she's free, the sky is the limit (with 2 kids in the picture! or the frame maybe), she can think outside the box and decide what she loves and can do for a living.

so the end of 2013 witnessed the first goodbye for her, the last time she types the word "Headlines" in the morning e-mail subject-line, the last time she opens these three newspapers first thing in the morning, the last time she clicks "send" so that the e-mail would arrive on time... there's nothing else in her life that she was committed to doing for so long, doing the very same thing every single day (except on weekends) for 87 months, not even her quite time... it was hard to send this last e-mail


and say goodbye to what has become part of who she is, but she wondered which one of these two goodbyes was more painful...

2013 wasn't as good as all Syrians expected, hoped, and prayed for... it wasn't as bad as our worst nightmare either... it was much worse... one might think that saying goodbye to a bad year is easy because one can't wait to put it behind them and open a new page, but the year 2013 is hard to say goodbye to, because it has to make up for the mess she's leaving behind, we can't just forgive her and let her pass (the word "year" in the Arabic language is feminine) shouldn't she pay for the damage she caused before bidding us farewell? but to be realistic, if 2013 is to be sent to prison until she pays her dept then she'll be in jail for a decade, a century, or maybe forever. so we have no choice but to let 2013 go and make some room for 2014 to deal with the old package and unfold what she has prepared for us.

date: 31 December 2013
city: Alexandria

she, the blog writer, at the end of this day, made peace with these two goodbyes looking forward to new beginnings, to finding a new job, to peace being restored in Syria, to a new year as sweet and flavored as our homemade ginger Christmas cookies...

HAPPY NEW YEAR DEAR BLOG READERS AROUND THE WORLD

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

all i w-a-n-t need for Christmas

the title should look like this: all i want  need for Christmas

i'm raising the white flag... giving up, on so many things, including getting this post title appear as i want!!!
yesterday i was watching the sunset, from our famous window, and i started panting all of a sudden, i wanted to scream at the sun "STOP... don't set... yet... i'm not ready" i didn't actually yell, i just kept taking photos of the clouds with shades of gray and salmon pink pretending that everything is under control and that all is "cool" while NOTHING was...

as i listened to the clicking sound of my camera to distract my attention i got even more nervous... it sounded like a clock... the more photos i took the more clicks i heard the more clock ticking there was...


Christmas Eve of the year 2013 arrived so suddenly for me i almost had a panic attack. being the control-freak-perfectionist-pintrest-addict-mama i am, i couldn't accept the fact that "it's here"... khalas... it's Christmas Eve already...

EVERYTHING is a mess... my brain is a mess and i can't trace my thoughts... my heart is a mess and i no longer recognize my feelings and i'm unable to give each one a proper universal name... my sorrow is a mess and my tears drop here and there while i want to have an "organized" grief and "well distributed" tears... even the space i live in is a mess (unclean apartment, untidy rooms, no food, no matching outfits for all 4 of us, no celebration plans.... so much is missing) i need the sun to give me just a little more time so i could "fill in the blanks" with proper and relevant ideas, emotions, reactions, tangible stuff and pinned down Christmas-related dates and places an activities...

but it was too late to do all of that in just a few minutes or even hours... i had no plan B, i usually do, even though i hate plan B's, i'm a perfectionist and i can only have a plan A and it HAS to go well, but yeah with two kids under the age of five i "learned" how to make plans other than A.... keep a plan B, C all the way to plan Z within reach... just in case... but this time i did not plan AT ALL, what a shame... this shame tastes different, it's Christmas Shame... Rihamic Christmas Shame... the new disease that i seem to have developed this year... RCS

similar to every other sudden incident, you need to know a few standard safety procedures to tell you what to do in case of a fire, an earthquake, an attack by aliens... or in case of an RCS

a peak through the window into our home could've given you a glimpse of what's it like inside my head&heart... i had the choice to either keep pretending and just say that it's not Christmas Eve, borrow the first stage of grief "denial", anyhow in Egypt we celebrate Christmas on January 7th so Christmas Eve is still two weeks away... OR... look my RCS in the face and start fighting back... i chose the latter

i'm new to my RCS so i didn't know whether just shaking it off would work or i need serious fighting, like armor and weapons and all of that so at first i tried to scare my RCS away gently but this didn't work... so it was time for some serious fighting and if it's "shame" then according to Daring Greatly book/manual the first anti-shame tool is LIGHT... i need more LIGHT to come into my head, heart, and home... 

Tip/Armor Number One: The first (and maybe only) anti-RCS weapon is Light, apply it to the 3 H's (head/heart/home)

once i was able to allow some light to come in through a few cracks i could see clearly that things are not THAT bad... it's enough that we're all healthy, we have an actual home with actual walls and a ceiling... how about starting there, anywhere, there's always a point i can start from and not just tell myself that everything will be ok... no... i should practice saying: "everything IS ok... already"... everything is ok, everything is acceptable, is good enough, is sufficient enough, is perfect enough... 

so the sunset was over and it was dark... there was no time to use the vacuum cleaner, no time to cook dinner or prepare any dessert, no time to sort out all the depressing thoughts about refugees and no time to categorize feelings about how bitter Christmas tastes with the war in Syria... i had to get started, i had to decide that i was ready for Christmas eve... decide to enjoy it... just the way things are... prepare Him room (maybe tidy the living room up a little, just this room)... when there's room my ears will be sensitive enough to hear the knock at the door... i'll be so imperfectly ready with whatever room is available in my 3 H's... so i opened the door wide enough (as wide as i could at that point) and THE light came in and took care of a few things inside... i didn't witness any miracle yesterday night, it was a Christmas Eve like never before (in a bad sense) i was missing my family's traditions in Damascus... the longing was too bad to bear this year... the cold, the smell in the air, the lights, the ordinary yearly Christmas stupid stuff we did... just counting a few things makes my heart ache... i never imagined that in addition to destroying the present and the future of a country and a people, war can also sneak into your past and rob parts of your warmest memories... 

regardless of this bad state of my 3 H's i was able to prepare Him room, a very small one but it was big enough... i was able to be still, for a very short while, but it was long enough... it was a very humble room but in His eyes it was perfect enough... because if somebody can know and understand what i'm going through then it's the very Child who was born last night for THIS VERY REASON... Hebrews 2 : 18 says: "Because he himself was born a refugee away from his home, he is able to help those who are refugees"... (you can look up the original verse if this new Syrian version looks unfamiliar to you)

on the less philosophical/depressing level ... i mean domestically speaking... this is how our feast, eventually, looked like (the menu mainly featured pop corn, french fries and nuts, a fruit salad and a bar of chocolate cut in pieces!!)


... and the tree (the lights on the floor will twinkle on the tree at some point, but for now enjoy the neck exercise and tilt your head to the left... see? the tree is strait)



...and the kids (the Bible doesn't say there were THREE wise men... there could've been only two... with their own kind and degree of wisdom)


all of these photos are so imperfectly perfect that i found them worthy of my signature.

so there's nothing that i really want for Christmas this year, not because i have it all, i don't, but i'm trying to apply the Arabic proverb: "If what you want is not, then want what is" (does it make any sense at all in English? i'm trying to play on the verb to "be" to make it sound like the Arabic version... i guess you got the point) maybe i don't want anything this Christmas but there's so much that i NEED this Christmas... it's not "i" as in "me, myself and Riham" but a different kind of "i"... i'm speaking on behalf of a multitude of people who stand on different points along the "suffering spectrum"... i need peace in my country (Syria needs peace), i need a shelter for the homeless (displaced Syrians need a shelter), i need a normal childhood (Syrian children need a normal childhood), i need a place to call home (Syrian refugees need a place to call home)...

some people think that this still counts as self-centerdness when i keep saying Syria and Syrians... but aren't we the number 1 topic in news headline this Christmas? haven't we won the 1st place for so many categories recently? (worst humanitarian crisis in decades, largest death toll of children in such a short time, biggest displacement of civilians in so and so, worst educational and health conditions of a nation in the area.... )

so if by raising awareness about the Syrian crisis this Christmas i'm being self-centered then why not look at it in a different way and say that i'm being "cool" and following the latest "fashion" and staying up to date by speaking about the most "hot issue" globally... THE SYRIAN CRISIS... the "i"... 

this Christmas... "i" need it ALL... that's ALL "i" need for Christmas... 

Monday, December 16, 2013

be still... take a break... get a tattoo !!!

these three sentences are lined up according to chronological order... so the story starts like this:

once upon a time, not too long ago, i was sinking under layers and layers of work, plans, and Rihamiat project material and i realized that it has been a while since i last visited Momastery and i decided to do some blog reading and there it was, G's POST, saying "see you next year" not using these exact words, but she's taking her advent break and will be back when December is over. "Be Still" was G's ADVent ADVice and i thought well, my December is not that busy, i don't get my kids too many gifts anyways and when i told my son you're having 3 gifts this year just as many as baby Jesus received, he was quit thrilled, so maybe i shouldn't grab my organizer and pencil and start crossing out plans and cancelling events blindly, honestly, there isn't much on this month's page.... so what's the problem then? why does this "Be Still" STILL sound relevant? i thought for a moment then a drawer opened in my head, it wasn't stuffed with useless things, everything there was useful, practical, and much needed, i could also close the drawer easily without the need of squishing things and squeezing them together, but the problem with this drawer was its lack of categorization and you know how much i love CATEGORIES and COMPARTMENTALIZING my life and my everything... THAT's it then, this is why Riham is unable to function well, even though compared to others i appear to be well organized and things are perfectly planned, TO ME they are NOT... and in order to do some winter clean up to my drawer i need to "Be Still" so that i can have a clear mind and sharp eyesight to decide what's important to me and my family and what's not, to separate jewelry from junk (figuratively and literally... again, because of the Rihamiat project material).

the next chapter of this story arrived with my decision to take a break, not in the sense of doing nothing, but actually doing more, and doing it differently. Where's the break then? the break is stepping outside my comfort zone of familiar people and familiar places, as much as i love the small circle of people i know in this city (which is 99% composed of church members) i still needed a break, i needed to walk away for a while until i can say "i miss you guys" far enough to feel like going back again. so i signed up for a Christmas bazaar, a gathering of 40 different groups or individuals who have their own projects and business from food to crafts  to clothes to leather bags to Christmas decoration ... you name it. the table rent was a bit expensive so i shared it with another lady who paints on cushions, so half the table had Rococo hand painted cushions and the other half had Rihamiat items.


i carefully selected which items to take with me on that day and accurately calculated the discount i want to add on some pieces. i didn't know what to expect during the 9 hours i'm spending on that chair but i was open and ready for anything and everything only to discover that one can't be fully prepared for "anything and everything" specially when the attack comes from your own memory with floods of images, feelings, smells, people's faces, songs and languages... it was overwhelming and at some point i felt that i can't take it so i remembered the "Be Still" technique and it seemed to work right then and there...

the general atmosphere was so familiar, when i was growing up, one year after another we used to organize and participate in Christmas bazaars just like this one, Christmas music, cold outside (it was the last day of the "Alexa" storm), warm and cozy inside with dim yellow lights in a beautiful huge room... there were pieces from my Damascus there... several times during the day i wondered just for a split second why people were speaking Egyptian Arabic and not Syrian!

then the language i heard brought back memories from my collage years in Beirut, i tried to remember words and sentences with some Christmas and New Year greetings too and shared it with a few people who spoke Armenian, they were total strangers and the Arabic they spoke was Egyptian (again not Syrian), but they made me miss my Armenian friends and a flow of memories rushed inside my head of how i first fell in love with the Armenian language and culture 13 years ago because i saw it through the eyes of my friends who were proud of their nationality and heritage just as proud as i am today of my Alma Mater, my Haigazian University...

little did i know that by logging out of my present i'll be automatically logging in-to my past and wearing the glasses that show me again who i am, where i come from, and how and where a major part of my character was shaped, these 9 hours spent on one chair at one table were a trip back in time visiting places so dear to me giving life to memories i stopped feeding for such a long time i thought were dead... in the middle of the trip i was still meeting new people, getting to know amazing potential friends, exchanging experiences and ideas with a fellow soldier on the battlefield of establishing her personal project... in every new encounter i had and during every hour of this bliss i felt grateful for my husband and mother who took turns looking after the kids until it was time for them to pick me up...

whenever i step into unfamiliar territory i take with me a weapon or a defense mechanism that i might need to use and on that specific day the first thing i could think of (other than three photos of my husband and two kids) was Brené Brown's book "Daring Greatly" and i was on the "Mind The Gap" chapter...

      
(by the way, the organizers of this huge event made sure all tables were covered with  a nice green plain table cloth, but they gave us the freedom to change or add to it, so this was my "sharshaf aghabani" a Syrian red Christmas table cloth i chose to come along with me on this journey for luck, good vibes, positive energy... all of the above and much more)

whenever i felt weak and hungry during that adventure i would read a few lines and re-energize: "Minding the gap is a daring strategy. We have to pay attention to the space between where we're actually standing and where we want to be. More importantly, we have to practice the values that we're holding out as important in our culture. Minding the gap requires both an embrace of our own vulnerability and cultivation of shame resilience - we're going to be called upon to show up as leaders and parents and educators in new and uncomfortable ways. We don't have to be perfect, just engaged and committed to aligning values with action." and i may add to Rene's paragraph Glennon's famous phrase: "We can do hard things".

towards the end of the day, Christine, the  mastermind behind this event and the most energetic authentic extrovert i've ever met, came to my table with her big smile: "Izzayek (how are you) Riham? Eh el akhbar? (how is everything going)". i asked her about this henna tatto lady downstairs, i noticed her table earlier when i went down to grab a super tasty lasagna piece with an extra yummy éclair mini cakes for lunch, "Go go now, she's leaving" Christine ordered in her usual over-excited mode. so i ran downstairs and the lady was just finishing when she looked up to me and smiled, the last customer left admiring her Christmas bells tattoo and another bell rang in my head "Be Still"... it's my very first henna tattoo ever and it's for free so shouldn't i feel guilty for choosing anything other than my kids' names or my husband's or a Christmas symbol? no, because "Be Still" encapsulates all of the above including myself... the lady looked puzzled so i wrote the two words down, she admitted her English handwriting is not as great as other tattoo shapes she masters, but i told her it was ok, yet she added a heart instead of the dot above the "i" and this looked beautiful  enough to me... and a couple of minutes later i walked back upstairs holding my left sleeve up with a "Mind The Tattoo" look on my face addressing the crowds till i reached my table safely and waited for an expected Rihamic regret to creep into my heart and wash away my internal big smile.... but it didn't...


"dare greatly" doesn't literally translate "go get a henna tattoo", and it's such an adolescence-ish behavior to say "i want a tattoo like Glennon's" but this was my visible proof to myself that i've sealed the deal (with black ink instead of red wax), i can do hard things, i can get a henna tattoo (was that story i heard about a henna tattoo that never came out as promised true?!!!!), i can participate at a huge Christmas bazaar and display my work for the public opinion to crucify me or carry me to the seventh heaven, i can leave my kids for 9 hours for the first time in my life (for as long i've had them, inside or outside of my womb, Sep.2008), i can be sociable and presentable with total strangers once again all on my own since the day i got married (Aug.2006), i can step into the arena and say this is who i am, i can show up and be there one hour at a time.... then i can go back home and justify to my kids why "mama wrote on her arm" while they are not allowed to draw on their faces and each other's skin !!! (but the actual message was that mama gets away with it without anyone yelling at her but poor them, they get yelled at and sent to the bathroom to step on their stool and keep washing the paint off their hands and faces, life is so unfair i know)...

the story doesn't have a happy ending though, to be honest there isn't an actual ending, yet.

the next morning i had to take a picture of my tattoo (of course) in daylight, and (of course) near my beloved window (the one you're sick of hearing about in almost every post)


but then the effect of yesterday's ecstasy faded away and i went back into my regular daily routines of unexpected routines, the kids were fighting and demanding breakfast, i couldn't get up early enough to have my coffee before i could recognize their voices, the house was more messy and unclean than ever because i was too busy in the past few days preparing for this stupid Christmas bazaar, i had no plan for lunch, and things got out of control inside that drawer once again...

i tried to silence all the voices in my head so i could "Be Still" for one minute... SHUT UP I WANT TO BE STILL... the magic left the tattoo and i had to handle things all by myself without the super powers of any wand...      

maybe there's no such thing as a quick fix, bazze2 lazze2 (spit and paste: a term my friend taught me about work done quickly to glue things up with your own spit, sorry if the image is too disgusting), a tattoo is only a tattoo, a book is only a book, a blog is only a blog, unless each one of us finds her own steps like in step 1 step 2... step infinity... to be still in her own noisy way, to prepare Him room in her own messy heart 'n house, to feel the true joy, gratitude, and magic of Christmas in her own wandless life... i can't say that i've figured it out yet, but i'm working on it, and right now all i need to do, the step i've planned is go take a shower with the hope that the tattoo will be one degree less dark on my pail skin !

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

11/12/13

yesterday marked the 1000th day of the war in Syria, with that number came a zillion other numbers expressing the magnitude of destruction and death in my country. i've never hated numbers like i do now, at school i used to like math because my mother was a math teacher and whatever i didn't understand in class she would explain to me and make me happy. but today, on 11/12/13 i need to reconcile with numbers, add joy and life to these figures, count my blessings (or at least the troubles i don't have) specially that we're in the middle of a storm in the MENA region that keeps me thinking about homeless Syrians all over the area, whether they live in tents made of fabric just like the photo i saw this morning of a refugee camp where the tents are "floating" in a sea of rain, or they live away from their home, or they do live at home but lack basic essentials for surviving such a viscous storm. 

usually i do my shopping for my kids' clothes ahead of time and i try to find places with good quality clothes and good discount at the same time, every winter both my son and daughter find enough to wear that will keep them warm... except this year, i can't even count the things that kept me from doing this preparation in advance and last night i discovered that my daughter has nothing warm to wear! her only pullover is in the laundry and she hated the idea of putting on something from her brother's shelve so this lead for an easier decision this morning: i won't take them to the nursery and school today... i know i'll regret that decision a few hours into the day, specially that it will be their second day in a row, yesterday they stayed at home too (sick), i also had planned tons of things to do today which are over due too.... BUT it's too cold outside for my little munchkins... how many Syrian mothers have the luxury of saying this sentence?... for hundreds of children and mothers it's "too cold INSIDE" for their families to survive... wasn't war cruel enough on them? haven't they had their share of suffering already? why is the winter of 2013 the hardest one in i don't know how many decades? 11/12/13 can never look even close to "cute" to me today...

i can clearly remember that one specific day last year when i found the perfect blanket for my son, we had moved into a new apartment where the kids have their own room and we bought our son a new bed which needed a blanket as winter approached. THIS IS IT, a red one (his favorite color) with Mickey on it (a descent cartoon character that both he and his mom like!), i could also fold it in half for a thicker cover that would still be big enough for a 3 and a half year-old boy. i proudly carried it home just on time to check out the news quickly and head to the nursery to pick the kids up... and there it was, the main headline: "Three Syrian infants died in Al Zaatari camp in Jordan because of the cold"!!!!!!!!! i couldn't stop crying, there i was "the prefect mother with the perfect expensive blanket" and i may add expensive because this year we paid 20% more for our daughter's, there i was, so helpless so depressed i almost took a scissors and cut my son's blanket into what? 6? 8? how many small blankets can we have? i wanted to send them to these tiny babies and their perfect mothers too who couldn't keep their infants warm enough so these angels went to heaven where it's perfectly warm for their fragile bodies, just as warm as should be....

so i'm running out of ideas to get myself out of this gloomy mood, i don't want my mood to match the weather or the harsh reality of the Syrian war on one hand, but i don't want to go through the day indifferent to the suffering of others, i wish i had more power and influence to sit like my munchkins do and discuss WORLD POLITICS to talk about an action plan for HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION... why should these words be too BIG to apply in our insignificant yet effective lives...


i try to take "baby steps" along the endless path of helping others and making a difference in their lives and the best place to practice is right here and right now, at home, with these two future world leaders i'm entrusted to look after and ensure that their characters are well shaped and rounded and their bodies are well nurtured and cared for. a few days ago something happened, it usually happens once in a blue moon, i prepared a well balanced healthy and truly HAPPY meal for my kids. even though the house was messy and unclean, there were piles of laundry, toys and material from my Rihamiat project in every corner, but i felt true satisfaction and content just because of this image:


... and just when i think that my mood-changing attempts were successful, my son walks into the room (just now) and says:" ماما ممكن تدفيني أنا بردان mama could you keep me warm, I'm cold"... 

Friday, November 22, 2013

my Street

there's a Street
in my country
it has a name
and a face
it has a smell and a melody

***

those who are quite enough
slow enough
can hear the whisper of my Street
it tells stories of love
of friendship
of motherhood
of journeys
of dreams
of families
of life
of me

***

those who look close enough
can see finger prints
filling the air
with colors
of those who know my Street so well
it's part of their identity
my Street defines who we are
my Street keeps secrets
my Street can see
and feel
and read

***

my Street is waiting
for somebody to come back
and live there
for something to visit again
and dwell there

***

my Street is patient
my Street is kind
my Street is aching
in need for joy
for love
for music
for rain
and for peace

***

this poem is inspired by a VIDEO that made me cry...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

عقد قران

"بيشرفني يا عمي أطلب إيد بنتك..." أكمل العجوز كلامه بكل ثقة متجاوزاً نظرات الحاضرين لهذه الجلسة الغريبة. كيف للعريس العجوز أن يخاطب والد عروسته الاصغر منه سناً قائلاً "يا عمي" ألم يكن من المنطقي أن يقول "يا ابني"؟!

يا له من عجوز غريب فقد دب الشيب في شعر رأسه وحفرت خبرة السنين نقوشها على تجاعيد وجهه لكنه يقف وقفة شاب في الثلاثين من العمر. صوته يرن في أرجاء الغرفة تتناقله قطع أثاث المنزل كما لو أنها جبال شامخات تتخاطب بلغة الصدى لكن يداه فتيتان لم تنهكهما ورشة أو مصنع ولم تخشوشنا من تقلبات طقس أو مغامرات سفر.

كانت هي شاردة الذهن تسبح في بحر أحلامها: "سأتغير حتماً، سأصبح شخصاً أفضل بعد الزواج فقد وجدته أخيراً، ذلك الفارس الذي سيحملني إلى عوالم لم أرها وسأعيش معه أيامي بلا سأم ولا ملل فسترتدي الدنيا حللا جديدة كل صباح من صباحات زواجنا السعيد وسأسعى لأن..."، "بحبك يا حليمة" فاجأتها كلماته موقظة إياها كالمنبه الذي يرن دائماً قبل موعده لكنها طربت لنغمة تلك الكلمات الثلاث وكادت أن تفتح باب مخيلتها من جديد لولا صفارة الإنذار التي أطلقتها والدتها: "لولولو لييييييييييي" وتعالت هتافات الحضور: "مبروك... الف مبروك... بالرفاه والبنين... الله يسعدكم..."

وخلال أسابيع قليلة تم حفل الزفاف الذي باركته كل البلاد العربية من المحيط إلى الخليج دون علم منها بأن زواج التاريخ بحليمة لن يعني أن أيا منهما سيتغير، وفعلا هذا ما حدث فور انتهاء شهر العسل: بقي التاريخ يعيد نفسه ورجعت حليمة لعادتها القديمة...

جميع الحقوق محفوظة لمدونة رهاميات

(ونقرأ في عناوين الصحف الصادرة هذا الصباح: قتلى وجرحى في اطلاق قذائف على دمشق وحلب. استشهاد 10 جنود بسيارة ملغومة في سيناء. 23 قتيلا في هجومين ببيروت. ارتفاع حصيلة ضحايا طرابلس إلى 50 قتيلا ومئات الجرحى. قتلى وجرحى عراقييون بينهم جنود وضابط كبير.)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

غنوة ثكلى



"غنوة ثكلى"

سلوى يا سلوى
ليش عم تبكي
بدي رفيقتي
اللي ركبت الباص
بس اليوم
ما جابها

***

سلوى يا سلوى
ليش عم تبكي
بدي رفيقي
اللي معي بالصف
راح رحلة
بلا طاقية وطابة
أخد شنتايتو
وجناحات ملاك
وقذيفة هاون
وقلبي

***

سلوى يا سلوى
حاجة بقى تبكي
بدي طمّن ميمتي
قديش في سيارات ولعب هون
منغني طول اليوم يوم
مبسوط يا ماما؟
وينك يا تقبرني؟

***

سلوى يا سلوى
أنا عم أبكي

***

سلوى يا سلوى
قومي نقي يللي بدك اياه
ما رح عيّط عليكي
اشتري يللي بدك اياه
كلي يللي بدك اياه
البسي يللي بدك اياه

***

سلوى يا سلوى
ما بقى رح تبكي
نقيتي يللي بدك اياه؟
اسأليلي العمو الكبير فوق
اللي حاضنك هلأ
عن ابني
أخدتو؟
طب ليش عطيتني اياه؟

***

سلوى يا سلوى
من وين رح تجي السلوى؟

***

سلوى يا سلوى
قومي
ببوس رجليكي تقومي


***

12 تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر 2013
حداداً على طلاب مدرَستَي "الرسالة" و "يوحنا الدمشقي" الذين حملوا حقائبهم المدرسية وطاروا مع الملائكة ووصلوا إلى بيتهم في السماء بسلام يوم 11 تشرين الثاني 2013



 جميع الحقوق محفوظة لمدونة رهاميات

Saturday, November 9, 2013

happy "odd" day to me 9/11/13

it's not uncommon for me since the dawn of this era of technology and social media to receive an overwhelming number of wishes and greetings on my birthday, it's become something i expect every year on 9/11 (switch it if you're from a country which doesn't date: day, month, year!)

but the most unique birthday greeting was from my sister-in-law who sent me this interesting article about my birthday this year being a very special day that we can expect to see again in 92 years, "expecting" surely does't mean we will actually live to see it, but i'm saying what conclusion i made after reading the math.

this got me thinking about how "odd" my day has been (spending the last hour of my birthday blogging). having an "odd" day has become a "ritual" ever since i had children, most mothers can relate and they will sure understand if i told them that my birthday celebration plan this year was supposed to be spending the night outside the city all by myself! if your'e surprised, that's OK, my husband was. but unfortunately the two places i've selected (which are safe, affordable, and within a reasonable driving distance) one was fully booked and the other was completely empty!

it was frustrating that on my "odd" day i won't receive the gift i wanted: time alone, all by myself, away from any white noise or pollution or people. i needed to hear the voice of my thoughts, because the really good ones tend to whisper and we rarely catch that, but my thoughts have to YELL so i can hear them, any voice lower than that will go unnoticed. my plan didn't mean running AWAY from somebody or something, but running TOWARDS somebody and something... this somebody is me, whatever is left of the old me and definitely the new me too... in order to do that i had to escape, be alone and away from people including the 3 persons most dear to me, my husband and kids. i did want to celebrate with them, but i can no longer recognize myself recently, so i wondered who they will celebrate with, the actual person who's birthday is today... i wanted time for myself so that i can BE   ME   WITH   THEM, instead of this exhausted, frowning, nervous, monster of a mother/wife they have dragging herself around the house, driving them and herself crazy, going through the motions of endless responsibilities day after the other... let alone sleepless nights... i keep saying that in 5 years i haven't had a full night sleep... FIVE years during which the maximum consecutive hours of night sleep allowed for me is 4 or 5 hours max, on good days, but regular days mean an interruption every hour or two!

so the article gives examples of other odd days that passed recently like: 3/5/7 and 5/7/9 and 7/9/11 it's funny that i've never liked odd numbers when i was little, i liked even numbers and my favorite was 22 (number 2 twice) and last month was special for me because my son was 4 years and 4 months old and my daughter was 2 years and 2 months old... this is "odd" too but in an even way and will never ever come again, not even in 92 years. language might be a main reason for me to think of these numbers differently, the word "odd" in Arabic is "fardi" which comes from the rout "fard" meaning single or individual, and the word "even" is "zawji" from the rout "zawj" meaning a couple or two. so it might be a mathematical reason or a linguistic one, but we do have good feelings about certain things and bad feelings about other things.

maybe my birthday/odday this year is trying to teach me something, to like what i disliked before, to try new things outside my comfort zone (try odd number instead of even ones), i don't know, but it might carry a certain message for me embedded in between its numbers and the sequence of 9/11/13. i still need to figure this out, but till then i'll be replying to people who greeted me, fighting my bad cold, planning on buying a fancy cake (ice-cream cake to be specific) when my sense of taste is restored, and celebrating my new project i launched on facebook called "Rihamiat" to sell hand-made things starting with a collection of Christmas crafts i called "Christmasiat", here's the logo and motto i came up with


and tomorrow i can start looking back at today, 9/11/13 and say: "it was a good ODD day"...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

WWED?


last May when my husband was still in the US, i went to the wedding of two dear friends. there i met a directer of a show that i like, it's called "Needle and Thread". it was the second time i meet Maggie and we had a quick chat before the wedding started. actually our chat was a bit longer than that since the bride was late for almost 2 hours! anyway, Maggie told me that she's thinking of talking about Syria during one of the talk show's episodes and i got really excited about the idea until she told me that she wants ME to be the guest on the show with two of the 3 presenters. i dismissed the idea and took it more like a joke than a real plan or a serious proposal.

then came the famous summer of 2013 in Egypt, which was anything BUT a real summer, in the "traditional" sense of the word. so much has changed including myself throughout different crises and encounters with people on several occasions add to it the facebook interaction which was a daily intake of a bittersweet medication essential for my survival. i had added a couple more items to my mental and emotional "first aid kit" that summer and each proved its strength and showed its lack of effectiveness according to how events developed and unfolded from June till September.

at the beginning of September Maggie called me and we talked over the phone about the episode she had in mind and she told me that the show will be back on air weekly in October for its second season. i have to say that Maggie is one of these smart and creative people you enjoy talking to, and i feel some kind of chemistry between us as if we've known each other forever. the call went smoothly until i realized that she was serious, she wanted me on the show for 30 minutes live on one of the most watched Christian Arabic satellite channels in the MENA region. it was a NO NO for me so i tried to think of other Syrian guests who can appear on the show but Maggie was clear that: "It's either you or the episode will get cancelled" meaning that the topic will be replaced. my first fear was an uncontrollable surprising reaction i might have on air. we're talking about Syria, my beloved country which is now being devastated and torn by war, so the wound is still bleeding and i might burst into tears on T.V, as simple as that. my second fear was receiving phone calls as the two presenters talk with the guest, viewers can call the show and have an input (regardless whether what they say is relevant to the episode's topic or the whole talk show or not). Maggie suggested we stop receiving phone calls during the guest's part (as an exception and upon my request) and she asked me to sleep on the idea and answer her in a week or two.

one thing was sure that i did NOT want this episode to be cancelled, i do want this show, and every single show on the planet to talk about Syria, not about politics, but to shed some light about the humanitarian conditions of Syrians both inside and outside the country, both who left before and after the crisis started back in 2011, both who are directly or indirectly affected by the conflict in Syria. so i started to ask myself What Would Esther Do?, the story of Esther in the Bible has always been my favorite one (Joseph's comes next on the list), but wait a minute maybe i should ask myself WDED? = What DID Esther Do?, because she already did what she did, i don't need to ask her or imagine, her choice was clear and her decision was risky but right. there isn't that great of a resemblance between Esther and myself because my life might not be on the line like hers if i step up and speak my mind in order to save my people, or in an attempt to save a few, maybe not save them from death but save them from the coming cold of this winter, save them from other people's ignorance about their situation, save them from poverty and hunger, save them from neglect and being looked down to.... just like Esther decided to walk into that royal hall, i can decide to walk into the SAT7 studio...

as i struggled with many thoughts and fears waiting to reach a decision i'm comfortable with, and working towards making up my mind with a clear yes or now answer, i continued reading Rene's book "Daring Greatly"... most probably anyone can now guess what the answer was... i decided to say YES, a scared and hesitant but a daring greatly YES... once i finalized my decision and informed Maggie of the yes and the date i started to panic even more... what will i say? would it make any difference? this is an insignificant show in the first place, well why am i so scared then? it's a major show and many will be watching it live then they'll watch the two reruns and the youtube video...what should i wear? what if the day arrives with one of these horrific news arriving from Syria about a chemical attack or a massive massacre and i didn't feel like getting out of bed on October 31st let alone travel to another city and appear LIVE on a talk show on TV to talk about the very same subject that nailed me to bed and depression that morning?!!!!

shaking off these what if's wasn't easy, but it was necessary, not only for Syrians who might, just might be understood more or helped more, but it was necessary for me too. i didn't know why at the moment, i just knew that i both HAD to do this and NEEDED to do this...

so October 31st, which was last Thursday, finally arrived and i'll talk more about the interview later. i'm also currently working on adding English subtitles to the 38-minute-video you can watch here, in Arabic so far.

but for now, what i'd like to say about this experience, is that first i DO NOT regret having done it, and i'm glad i did it at a time when i still had a glimpse of hope, this hope is fading away, who knows, maybe a month from now i'll decide to reach a stage of total desperation that anyone anywhere will move to the rescue of a beautiful country called Syria and a beautiful people called Syrians... i have no guarantees, as i've already said on the show: "war changes us, war has changed me" so maybe war keeps changing us and will continue to change me! so i do have hope that my voice, one of many Syrian voices, upon finding a new platform might reach a wider area of the world, but even if it doesn't reach the ends of the earth and no one's life changes after this episode i still have hope that my voice will reach the small circle of people around me so they would know me a bit more (actually a lot more), no matter what the reasons are for me to prohibit myself from speaking so honestly often, this half an hour on air allowed me to open up a bit more and dare a bit greater than i usually do (or allowed to do).

Rene, you're right, fear is written all over this action of daring greatly, before, during, and after... i was scared and i still am, but i'm proud that i did this, and i'm also proud about the way i did it too... thumbs up from Esther too if she's looking down at me from heaven saying: "who knows? maybe you were made queen (married an Egyptian...asked on this show) for just such a time as this." (Esther 4 : 14 The Message)

photo cutline:  these are the four pictures i got from recording the interview during the second re-run.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

على صفحتي حوار


على صفحتي حوار


أنا البحر، ظمآن أبدا
تسقونني شِعركم
وترقصون
على إيقاع شدو أمواجي
تتوهون
فيأعماق زرقتي 
تسكرون في عشقي
وتتلحفون زبدي

أنا البحر، جائع أبدا
أزيّن باطن أصدافي باللآلئ
وأحتفي بالأصاغر
أعثرَتهم بلادهم
وربطَتهم
بحجر رحى
ودكّت أعناقهم في لجّتي

أنا البحر، معطاء أبدا
للمنتهى
حدودي خيوط الأفق
عساكم تغزلون
قلادة من دمع
لذكرى غريق
وسجين
ومفقود
أمانة في رقابكم

أنا البحر
على صفحة وجهي
يكون الملتقى
حين تهبط النجوم
كل ليلة
تبحث
عمن يطفئ نارها
تهمس
فأسمع الصدى
ويطول الحوار
فالفجر سراب

على دروب اللاعودة
من مات محروقاً
ومن مات مخنوقاً
وأنا
ونحن
نموت أحياءً
فالبلد خراب
ويبقى البحر
مُبحرا أبدا
***

جميع الحقوق محفوظة لمدونة رهاميات
"إهداء لكل من ركبوا البحر بحثا عن الحرية والمستقبل، من وصل منهم ومن سُجن أو مات محاولاً"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

even grief becomes a luxury


as i worked on my BA and teaching diploma during my 5 years in college i used to imagine how things would be when i have my own children. i had a clear image in my mind of me as a mama, which was weird because rarely i pictured myself married!!! it neither meant that i'll have children out of wedlock nor that i'll be a single mother for some reason. it was just that i loved kids so much, much more than i loved romanticizing about having a love story and a perfect marriage. sitting in class i used to daydream, i had high hopes for my 5 children and certain parenting styles and psychology schools appealed to me more than others so i started adopting one "mama tool" after the other...

i had no guarantees what so ever that one day i'll meet a man, we'll be compatible, we'll fall in love, we'll get married, we'll have children (a boy then a girl to be exact, later on i added 3 more children). i didn't have a picture of our perfect family on my fridge as some people suggest one should do to attract positive energy from the universe to grant me my wish. i was more of a rational person who only unleashed my emotions after a full security scan of the situation because once my emotions kick in then things would start to get intense and out of control, and OMG how addicted i was to being in control.

just like any dream come true, mine was actualized many years later, almost exactly as i imagined it to be, yet there were a few shocking details in between the lines of this story. starting with my distant relationship with my love, a cross cultural one with my fiancee, moving to another country with my husband, and a lot more "surprises" with my children's father (by the way i'm talking about the same man, 4 in 1). one of these surprises was discovered recently when i realized that i've never thoroughly studied or thought about grief and motherhood, and how much a mother is allowed to grieve in terms of depth and duration while she's still nursing or looking after two children under the age of 5.

having kids like my P&Y makes it extremely difficult for me to grieve. on one hand i can't allow myself to open that door for fear of getting drifted away by sadness leaving my kids with nobody to look after them and provide them with their daily and sometimes hourly dose of fun and joy. on the other hand it's THEM who don't allow me to shed a tear: "mama smile, why are your crying?" my son says as he sticks his face right in front of my nose with a smile so big and authentic (sometimes he fakes it) ordering my tears never to dare stepping outside the boundaries of my eyelids.

but a mother in pain NEEDS to grieve, when i know that my country will never ever be the same spot of beauty on earth since war and evil took residence there, i need to grieve. when i'm at church and a worship song touches this specific wound forever open, i need to grieve. when i see mothers with kids like mine die in accidents or get killed in war, i need to grieve (on my kids' behalf), when pictures of little angels are all over facebook with the three awful letters R.I.P, i need to grieve.... every story i hear, every picture i see, every prayer i say makes me in need for grief. but i've never imagined that sometimes in mamaland grief can turn into a forbidden luxury that i crave, yet i'm not allowed access into that "steam room", i keep longing to get in, allow my hot tears to wash away my pain, shower me with cleansing falls so i can see my sadness disappear into the drains, to once again taste the cold wet deep breath i take after crying my eyes out, to be relieved of the brick stone lying on my chest, just for a short while until the weight starts accumulating once again...

God created our bodies in a way that enables it to dispose toxins through liquids like urine and sweat. one can't stop this process without getting seriously ill. God also created tears for the soul to get rid of emotional toxins, so if this stops then don't expect a result any different than serious illness. losing this specific kind of H2O mixed with a few other chemicals is essential for survival, our need for it varies from time to time but when this need is pressing and urgent, then denying myself of all forms of release is excruciatingly painful.

as long as my kids are with me, grief is a luxury. i hear about mothers hiring babysitters when they have a date night with their husbands, or an outing with girlfriends, or maybe she's going to her yoga class or therapy session, but i might be the first mother ever to hire a babysitter because: i have an appointment with grief for two hours, don't call me, i'll be right "back" when i'm done sobbing...

photo cutline: clouds can hide the sun as well as the moon, but when wind blows these clouds away we can see the moon so clearly, then the moonlight will keep us company during our short or long night as we wait for the sun to rise... and it definitely will...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the magnitude of sharing


my morning didn't actually start on a happy note as i had anticipated and hoped for. it's easy to blame my kids or my hormones or the war in Syria or anything else for the anger outburst i've had at 10 am. instead, i decided to take full responsibility for this unpleasant reaction of mine, for the words i said to my son, for the volume of my voice, for the look on my face when i talked to my daughter.... from A to Z it was my responsibility to have or not have such a response for what my kids did, regardless of what it was that they did, i'm the adult and i have to be fully in charge of my reactions.

as i walked away, i stepped into another room to reduce my anger, i had an epiphany. i needed help, i needed a word of advise or inspiration, particularly from another woman, a woman who can understand what i'm going through and can identify with the struggles i face every single hour of every single day, i didn't need anybody to point out my mistakes or the downs of my parenting style, i'm pretty good at that, quite an expert at beating myself up for doing it wrong, messing up for the zillionth time.... instead i needed somebody who is a bit "older and wiser" but "kinder" at the same time to assure me that it happens, and i just should't dwell on my mistakes, that i should forgive myself and practice doing things differently the next time. my epiphany made me realized for the first time how important sharing can be, the magnitude of sharing, specially when we share words (encouraging and inspiring), ideas (creative and enlightening), struggles (tough and empowering), stories (delightful and enchanting), feelings (deep and real), experiences (diverse and enriching), thoughts (nurturing and reflective), dreams (exciting and energizing).

in my post seasons on facebook i talked about sharing, but the one in my epiphany is a completely different kind of sharing. it's more like what Anna talked about in her latest post, when someone goes through a life changing experience and then shares the deepest of her feelings and thoughts with other women as a way to reach out to them and help them with their own struggles, or when someone speaks about a happy moment or a dream come true in her life so others can share her deepest joys

when i realized the magnitude of sharing i fell in love, once again, with my blog, with this space which has helped me reflect on my life and put things into perspective as well as talk about my joys, hopes, and dreams, all in the frame of "sharing". i do go through phases of doubt and fear regarding my blog but i sort of feel obliged to keep it, keep going, keep writing, keep sharing because i strongly believe that it might help somebody, a woman out there who needs my real and honest words and my sharing. just like i'm always touched by what Glennon shares on her blog i hope that my words would offer a hand, stretched out, to help somebody else. i feel that sharing for me can be at times some sort of payback, an expression of appreciation to what God has done and is doing in my life.

a few days ago, i received an extra dose of encouragement through Brene Brown's words on vulnerability and sharing (specially with a larger audience through blogs, books and public speaking) in her book "Daring Greatly" when she wrote: "We're all grateful for people who write and speak in ways that help us remember that we're not alone."

i'm not alone and neither you are.... let the sharing continue...

photo cutline: when i think of the word epiphany the first image that comes to my mind is a light bulb (right above someone's head) that's why i chose this photo i took yesterday of the almost full moon from our window, i'm pretty proud of the result, as i'm taking baby steps in photography

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

فوق سطوح الأيام


فوق سطوح الأيام

نامت الغيمة تحتي
فسمعتُ بياضها
يغنّي لي
لحن الحب بصمت

منذ متى
صار لدمي طعم السكر في العروق؟
منذ متى
تنبعث من أنفاسي رائحة المطر
وتتناثر أفكاري
لتفرش المساء ريشاً
وتعتلي صدر الأفق؟

كنتُ قبلاً أخاف
من مرايا الحب
وثنايا الكلمات
والفتات الساقط من مائدة العشق
فجاءني سحرُ صوتِهِ
تعويذةً
جثا أمامها ذكور الجهات الأربع
و رفرف الحب
فوق سطوح الأيام


دمشق
أكتوبر 15/ 2005

قصيدة كتبتها لحبيبي منذ 8 سنوات نشرتها لي جريدة النهار اللبنانية في باب "نهار الشباب" سنة 2005
جميع الحقوق محفوظة لمدونة رهاميات

this is a poem i wrote in Arabic for my LOVE who is now my husband too, photo cutline: 8 years later, this was the sky and sunshine from our apartment window, i chose it so our two children would be included in this post, they are our true sunshine

Monday, October 14, 2013

seasons on facebook


when i started "facebooking" 6 years ago in Spring, i didn't know what to expect from this new form of social media. it was during the Spring of 2007 that i started blogging too (blogging became a verb but facebooking is underlined in red!!), but i had a clearer idea of what i want and expect from my blog than what i want and expect from my facebook account. at the beginning it was an enjoyable new experience for me, it reminded me of the German language course i took out of curiosity. German sounds like English but it's not English so why not take a beginners course and get to know this language better... why not start a facebook account and get to know this site/fashion better...

over the years i could notice a change of seasons on facebook. these seasons didn't necessarily follow a repetitive pattern, but they were clear and interesting enough for me to observe and check how much i'm effected by this change, and since fb is dependent on real people behind these millions of accounts it is to a certain extent under their control (in addition to the hard work of developers who focus on improving and changing the site). i kept asking myself: am i a follower or a pioneer in terms of new trends that appear on fb? does the general mood of friends on my list affect mine? do i get carried away or am i always the master behind what i do with/on my account?

at the beginning i've noticed that the majority of users (or at least those i knew in real life) were in their twenties, late teens, and early thirties, then other age groups joined, younger people who added fake birth years and older people whose children encouraged them to create fb accounts, we shouldn't ignore cautious or curious parents who were indirectly forced to join so that they can either relate to their children or check on them, so numbers of users grew as fast as light-speed.

i can only speak about my own account which currently has around 600 friends (or followers) and that's where i got my observations from. it's worth mentioning that for me the rule is to only add people whom i know in real life (an exception can be a dear friend of a friend, or a close relative of a friend, and they are only a handful). i tried a couple of games at the beginning then i discovered that it was such a waste of time (and eye site for somebody like me) so i quit. soon, fb for me meant "communication" mainly with people i don't see in real life (and that included absolutely everybody during our first year of marriage when i moved to a country where i know practically no body). i would use photos and words, that was it. which in itself is quite wide since it includes adding albums, commenting on friends' photos, writing status updates, replying to comments, and of course sending inbox messages which can be quicker and easier than "traditional" e-mails. 

recently, i've started to seriously think about how facebook has its own seasons and how they change, this change is caused by fb people and also affects these very same fb people (i mean users, but the word people sounds more human to my ear). fb's GOLDEN AGE was over soon enough and this introduction phase lead to the first season change. what i've noticed was that people started to get bored, they started to add less and less albums, write fewer comments and change their statuses less often. this season of STAGNATION would sure witness a revival every once in a while when somebody got married, or had a new baby or graduated or went through a similar life-changing experience thus wanted to share the happy news through words or/and pictures. 

i would hear people, in real life, talk about how boring fb has become and that they no longer open it. some of them used to say that and i would discover that they're following every single activity i do on my account so i started calling them "facebook spies" they claim that they almost never open their fb account, which wasn't true, they used to say that only to go with the flow and to sound "cool" enough, since cool is now re-defined by not having time for fb (the exact opposite to the definition that existed only a couple of months earlier). 

the second season change came with what is called the Arab Spring (i'm not using this term because i strongly believe in it, but i understand it as a mark for a new era), when some of my fb friends suddenly turned into political advocates, with strong opinions about what's going on, their timeline (it was called a "wall" back then) was filled with youtube videos, shared statuses from certain pages of people who are "pro" or "anti" certain groups or personnel, the vast majority got involved in discussions and debates about politics and religion, many started to lose a number of people on their friends' lists, and things got out of control on an individual level and a larger scale. the main feature of the season of HOSTILITY was some kind of war, a facebook one, weapons included cursing, negative language, harsh criticism, stereotyping, prejudice, judgement, subjective opinions... etc. in addition to videos of very graphic content but i was able to avoid those, the things i couldn't avoid were photos that kept me dizzy for a while and are now plastered to my memory, posted on the timeline of friends i used to consider as sensitive and considerate who added these photos without a warning, it was like a trap for me...

during this season, those friends who once were "sensitive" or "polite" showed a whole different side of their personality and i was shocked, at other times i was hurt because some verbal aggression targeted me because i identify with certain groups and categories that were insulted... some people thought that by hiding behind a computer screen or a mobile devise they then can say whatever they want in whichever way they see fit. this hostile environment on fb was repulsive, people took their frustration, aggression, and oppression out on each other thinking that what are clearly their childish opinions are instead worth fighting for even if the price meant losing real life friends in the process of defense or attack.

the third season arrived with the fading of revolutions' initial appeal and momentum, because what started as peaceful demonstrations turned into armed conflict, real war in real life lasted for one year after another so many of my friends were pulled down by despair which swallowed them like quick sand. during this season of GLOOMINESS they no longer had the energy to hope for or say anything, neither positive nor negative, and for a while i joined this current, i started to hate fb and the bad effect it had on me, what used to be a haven for me, a place where i can connect with people, now have become a place of torture, ugliness, and so much disconnection. at that time i saw no use even in prayer, so if fb is now a platform to talk about war and only war then it's a bout time i took a break. this break didn't last too long for me because i missed the fb account i once had, that little space through which i could stay in touch with dear ones who are so far away, .

the fourth season was one that only a few people experienced, and i knew i wasn't alone when i started to develop a new kind of fear when this season of PHOBIA began. whenever i saw a photo of a nice looking young man, smiling, i would hold my breath for a split second to check if he's dead and how he was killed... no photo of a happy family where all members were smiling meant that this family is happy any more, who is the missing member? how many were killed? the same was true for photos of little babies, group pictures of university students, and even pets portraits. but the truth was that the majority of these photos were really happy ones, yet my mind could no longer relax and detect happiness. when things were really bad, like a suicide bombing, an explosion, or chemical weapon attack, i would go through lists of names to check if there's somebody i know who was killed or injured in that tragedy, lists grew longer and sadder and by time i developed a mental illusion when i would recognize a name only to find out a minute later that i actually do not know that person. is there such a thing as "reversed wishful thinking"? when you're too scared to discover something so your mind decides to lie to you because the agony of that hated reality is less painful than the fear and anticipation of it so you hear a voice in your head saying: "here it is, stop worrying, start the grief process" and we all know that the first stage of grief is denial. but that "reality" was never real in the first place.

so in the Fall of 2013 i've noticed that many people are trying to lead a normal fb life/account once again, but some seasons leave their marks on us when we survives them, i strongly believe that things will ever be the same on fb, yet we try to adapt, do some fb seasonal cleanup, get rid of what's now considered as trash and keep the good stuff, try to maintain a positive attitude and watch out for bad language, try to be kind and nice to other people and be a spreader of good stuff through each of our fb accounts.
still it seems to me that there's a number of people who intentionally or unintentionally decided to extend the season of HOSTILITY, to dwell in it and turn it into a lifestyle, a "facebookstyle", that's why this saying keeps coming to mind: "tell me who your friends are and i will tell you who you are" but i re-phrased it in a Rihamic twist that applies to facebook now "tell me what you share and say on your facebook account and i will tell you who you are"...

photo cutline: putting this picture together took almost as long as writing this blog post itself, but i'm pretty proud of the result