Archive for the ‘ A million sighs. ’ Category

I’m losing my mind, but I’m okay.

My problem with putting words into thoughts has been something I’ve been struggling with quite a lot lately. I remember when words were like a vivid dream to me; they’d shelter me from near madness, keep me focused and help me discover who I am. When I reached adolescence, music, specifically piano, helped me put my thoughts into words. I never cared about logistics of writing or how beautiful it sounded; I just wrote, wrote, and wrote. I was focused on cleansing my brain; writing was about me, till I discovered pain. I know that I’ve often written about this in previous blog posts, but I can’t seem to get over this one little thing.

Everyone has their pillar of reality, the one they’d all return to in case it all falls apart. My relationships with people I mostly cared about always spiralled back to their fascination of how beautifully written my words seemed to be. There was always one missing variable in that equation, however – my belief in myself.

It’s hard writing about this, I must admit with weary hopes. What’s even harder is admitting it. There’s this thing about wanting to be a perfectionist; it slowly eats you away. Kind of like when you smoke knowing with every breath you inhale, you’re killing your lungs, but you just don’t care about all these health ads, nicotine patches, and your friends telling you to quit anymore. You’ve grown immune to all these attempts to make you quit. Perfectionism is a cigarette that never seems to die out. It’s fueled by this insanity to defy all odds; this insanity is incurable, I’d like to believe we’re either born with it or not.

I’m not a smoker, nor am I advocating it as a habit. But I’m simply, beyond doubt, tired of feeling insufficient all the time. I hear people tell me nice things; I want to believe them, I do. I just can’t look at anything I’ve ever written or played to be any good at all. At times, I’d stay up just reading what I’ve written and dig through it for flaws. I find so many flaws. It’s depressing. I can’t even find the right words to express the amount of sadness I feel knowing I could do so much better, but here I am doing so much worse.

I wish I could go back to seventh grade. I wrote my first poem then. It was beyond lame. I remember being so happy about it. It was then that I started carrying a notebook wherever I went. I scribbled random thoughts here and there. I had a messy handwriting. It was my little pot of joy. I loved it. I recently went through the notebook and was taken by shock at how childish anything written in it is. But it made me so happy. I want to be happy about writing again.

Take me back to happy thoughts. Pain is ugly. I don’t want to become a bitter writer. All great writers of history had shady endings; they either committed suicide or vanished with mysterious reasons. I’m not comparing myself to them. I could never be that good. I just know that I’m living with the bitterness of a writer, and cursed with a black cat’s luck. There’s this unexplainable sadness within me that I can’t uncover. It’s consuming me. I’ve adapted to it. I don’t think about it anymore. I just let it grow like a cancerous tumor that consists of ill thoughts and voids. I’m okay. I’m losing my mind, but I’m okay.

Labels: Our social résumés.

Listen to: Where is my mind – Piano cover.

I always hated labels. I tried to avoid them as long as I could. Being the “tall girl” in class, however, did not really help my cause. It is ironic that my elementary school memories revolve around teachers calling me “that tall girl” and always asking me to move to the back of the line – maybe a little sad, too.

Growing up, I learned that our society’s infrastructure is based on labels. She is blonde; he is short; they are religious; she is a spinster; he is bald, and so on. Needless to say adjectives always find their way along these dreaded labels, thus utilizing language in its ugliest forms. Language, however, is never ugly, people are ugly – their intentions are, anyway.

Then comes the part of being a 7alabi female, or Arab in general terms – the label hell breaks loose. In a typical lifespan of a 7alabi female, 18 is where she’s either married, getting married, engaged, getting engaged, or “msama 3alaiha.” And my goodness, labels flood in like a tsunami of stereotype being welcomed into our homes and blinding our youth. A guy can simply, with such ease, tell his mother he wants a tall, blonde, white, educated, gorgeous, thin, color-eyed, young female. It will not be offensive at all. I bet most people reading this will not understand what is offensive about it. I bet I am not making sense to anyone here because it is normal, it is 3ady, after all, how could the poor fella live with “god forbid” a brunette? Here is a little tip: Just because it’s socially acceptable, does not mean it is okay or 3ady.

Let me move away from social labeling and talk about social network labeling. I have been an active social networker since early 2009, way before the world got so much uglier. You know those “About me” or “bio” sections? I could never settle on what to write. I tried it all. I tried labeling myself, I tried un-labeling myself, and I even tried writing random things to avoid labeling myself, which by the way, I still do. I settled on a quote – How cliché.

Social networks exert such pressure on users to conform. Yes, each person has a different reason to join, but eventually we are all here to feel like we belong. What better way to belong than to give ourselves a few socially acceptable labels?

I doubt that we can even go a day without labeling ourselves or others. It is a flaw of me to expect that social media or the virtual world as a whole can be a utopia other than a society full of social taboos to “avoid.” I would, however, like to believe that in social media, I get to pick whose side to take. I get to belong to a not-so-stereotypical Syrian community. I get to meet people from other Arab countries and think, hey, they’re less labeling; I might want to settle there someday. Yet, we still managed to bring along a few crumbs of labeling.

Maybe I hated labels because I was never so sure or who I am, or perhaps due to the negative connotations my labels have. So yes, I am a believer in women’s rights; does that make me a feminist? I do not know. Yes, I write everyday and words are my sole source of overhyped joy, does that make me a writer? I do not know. Yes, I am, I am, and I am, but does that make anything at all? I do not know.

But here’s a good question: When did Twitter or any other social network become my social résumé? When did we even need a social résumé? Or is it when we decide that we do not want to be social outcasts and “belong” to a society we need to play the part of not being ourselves? If so, I have three bookshelves in my room full of imaginary worlds to live in.

 

Emotional investments: A game of hearts.

Listen to: Brother – Road Hawgs. 

She is awakened by the trees hitting her window. She lays silent in bed, eyes open wide, and ponders.  She fears closing her eyes, for traces of unwanted shadows will haunt her. She slips into her white lace nightgown. She rises off her bed and gently places her tippy toes on the freezing floor. The wind is heaving stronger tonight. Perhaps it heaves for her. It is as though it summons her disrupted soul into a state of despair and welcomes it. It is cold; it is far too cold in her somnolent soul — Yet, this coldness of hers is her hearth. She is foolishly buoyant. How come, though, her body reacts with a mistaken cause of hypoxia? She tries to breathe. She closes her windows, opens her heart — and there, right there, right that second, she wishes she lived in a house of open windows and hearts wrapped in volute.

Emotional investments have always been my only weakness. I was never really good at business. I dropped the one economics high school-level course when I realized my risk calculating skills would land me in the streets. It was either that, or failing a course; little did I know that I practice this business thing in everyday life, not with money though, but with emotions. I rarely take risks. I rarely put myself out there. Sometimes, though, I lose grip of reality and gamble it all like a greedy businessman whose stocks went up.

Yet I fail.

The thing about emotional investments and I has always rattled me. Here I am, as none business-like as they come, risking my most valuable possession and offering it cold turkey to others. And yes, I may have failed once before, but the burden was not mine to carry, yet I embraced it with open arms and lived with aching regrets and forlorn.

But I do fail.

There I go again, building walls and walls of distance and apathy. I thought I was immune to such foolishness, to such madness, to such insanity, to such idiocy. But really, who is anyway? So let’s play a game – a game of hearts. Let us assume, and I hate to assume, that these hearts are really ours to give, fill, throw away, and rupture. Let us assume we have three lives that are prolonged with magical red and blue potions. Let us sit on a poker table and face our biggest worries of commitment and broken promises. Let us bid our highest hopes on a set of diamonds and spades. Would we proffer it all; would we go all in or all out? Have we really reached a point where we’d trade organs for tacit emotions?

And I do, I do, and do fail.

She walks into a bar full of skilled poker players wearing her lucky red lipstick. She takes the middle seat. All eyes on her, the dealer distributes the cards. She nods and one other player folds. The dealer distributes again. She nods, nods, and just when she gets a full house, she folds.

Untitled, again.

I could not find something to listen to.

——–

A stranger walks into her life unexpectedly. She is unaware. He finds himself a dusty corner to sit in, somewhere in the solitude of her thoughts. She is unaware. He draws stories of his past on her walls. She is unaware. He is a stranger of thoughts; an alien of words, a knight of the dawn. She is unaware. She is unaware.

A nomad in search of a safe house is all she ever was. Has she found a place to stay, she wonders. The issue here is not her finding a place to stay. Sleeping on the streets of nothingness always comforted her. Those streets everyone feared at night were her only sanctum. They often warned her of murderers and masked criminals roaming those streets. To her, however, those streets were the closest thing she ever had to a home.

She wonders if this stranger has spotted her late one night as she slept in one of its alleys. She wonders if this stranger is not really a stranger, for he is far too strange to be one. The irony of the situation deceives her. It is not time to meet stranger and ignorantly watch him come in, put the teapot on the stove, pour the tea into the teacup, take the cinnamon cake out of the oven, cut the cinnamon cake into symmetrical squares, open the cupboard, choose one, not two, but one red plate, move two, not one, but two pieces of cake, hold them with the tip of his fingers, place them gently on top of one another on one, not two, but one plate, and walk to the balcony of her unaware hopes and dreams, overlooking a utopia turned into ashes of forlorn.

Not once does she ask who is he, what he wants, where he comes from, what he does, or anything about him. What interests her is his interest in her. What makes a stranger so familiar, so predictable, so insane, so sanely insane, so strange, so confusingly easy to understand, so so.

He glances at her as the tea grows colder, hoping silently that she would join him and witness the fall of her. He will hold her when it all falls. He will comfort her. He will give her a place to stay. He will offer her safety. He will. He will. She glances back questioning herself more than him or his intentions. She quietly paces across this dusty room of hers, almost swaying to the wind of silence – unshaken by his ever-mesmerizing glance.

What are you, he asks, not who but what.

 

Short Story: Her words were not her.

Listen to: Together we will live forever. 

Entry | 3:45 p.m. | Across the street from Au Petit Fer a Cheval. | Paris.

There she sat on table 5, wearing a peachy floral dress, white sandals, and a bag with a seagull pin, just as she wrote she would. Her golden hair French braided to the left, not right, left. Oh, and those big red geeky glasses she always writes of. Yes, her, it is her sitting on table 5, with her blue journal; with the single spaced, grey lined pages. I wonder what she writes of me in it, she always had a way in her words; a way that kept me wanting more, but never getting anything at all. Is there a heart on the side of every page, just like she described.

Around her a group of friends, loud, disturbing, laughing, joking, two males, three females; one blonde, two brunettes; often she wrote to me how much loud noises distressed her, but she seems to have reached her hidden world, the one she always kept away from me. She almost led me to the door once, and as I begged to enter her world of mystery, her words faded into sleep. We never spoke of that day again, though I tried.

The waiter is approaching her. Ah, yes. Let her turn her face, for I have dreamed of those big hazel eyes every time I read her words. She never liked her big eyes, she wrote they are too big for her soft face, and feel awkward. Then, when I wrote back asking what awkward meant, her words chuckled. An old fashioned man, she called me, just the way she likes them.

The waiter seems to be almost of her age. She leans her head just a little, just a little, and cracks a saintly smile. It appears he asked for her order or some sort, she shook her head gently and turned her head swiftly to her journal. I am intrigued to know what is in that journal, she wrote I could peak in if I had come, and I have come to read. I do not know if I am intrigued enough to hear her voice, not yet anyway. She wrote to me once, asking to hear my voice, I refused. I could not bear letting go of her words. They captivated me in an odd way. I never understood why, but as she sat there today, across the street from where I stood, at 4 p.m., I felt some sort of energy pull me away from her. It was as though her angels have sensed my devils and protected her from me. I am a sinner, I wrote to her that, I told her that, but she never took consideration of it. I wrote to her once:

Dearest,

I am nothing but a sinner. You need not a man of my sort in your way. Do take care of yourself when in presence of a man with my sins, for they have overcome me.

L.

It took her a while to reply back. I thought my words scared her away. They had not. She was, as she wrote, hesitant to express how hilarious my letter was.  So she wrote:

Dear you,

A foolish sinner is one who does not admit to his sins. I have laughed in life no more than this. Sinners color reality, which color do you use?

t.

I longed for the italicized, un-capitalized t at the end of her letters. She fascinated italicizing words she thought mattered, but to her, all words matter. I wonder; is she italicizing any of her words now?

I fear meeting her. I fear that mask of words will fade and turn into pointless giggles. I know her emotions towards me are sound, and I have warned her I am not a man of love, or whatever they name it these forsaken times. She promised she would not let her heart fall for a heartless man, ‘for it is far worse than suicide’.

I light another cigarette. She cannot withstand my smoking habits, yet she withstands the rest of me. Ironic, isn’t? If it were the smokes that stood between us, I would have quit long ago. She does not understand. Such a child she is; a judgmental one. What does she know of smoking if she had never tried it?

I am late to our proposed meeting. I do not want her to see me. I do not want to interact with her. I want to observe her while she writes. I want to experience her words through my eyes. I want to see the movement of her hand as she wrote her Js, her Ys, her italicized, un-capitalized t.

I leave at 4:00 p.m.

Then she writes to me,

Dear you,

I have waited as promised. I wore my peachy floral dress, the one I told you about. I did my hair you pleased. I sat on table 5 as you asked, next to the window. You did not show. Why have you failed me, a man of words and promises never fails. I need an explanation. My feelings are hurt. Do tell me why a man of your sort would not show as promised.

t.

She would not hear of me again. More often than ever, I see her desperately waiting in table 5, growing more frantic each day. I told her, she would not listen. A child of her sort could not, and would not understand. Her hopes are immature, she will grow someday. She must grow someday. She must.

I told her not to trust a man of my sort. She would not listen. She would not listen. I am not to blame.

Short Story: A Lover’s pleas.

Listen to: Jóhann Jóhannsson – Krókódíll. 

“It’s done, it’s over, we’re through” he said as he shook his head in remorse.

“No we’re not” she replied softly.

For the first time, her vivid voice did more than just allure him, it shocked him, “Why not..?” he calmly said.

“Because my heart still beats for you, and you, you feel me too” she confidently said.

He could not reply, for she had won this battle of scars. They stood there, staring at each other in complete silence while both their hearts shattered to million pieces within.

“You do not understand…” he murmured, “but I do…” she interrupted.

He reached out for her hand and grasped it roughly, she gasped in fright. He held her palm with both his hands, and placed it on his chest, right about above his heart.

“Then explain this to me…” he whispered in her ear.

“I canno..” she could finish her sentence, for her chain of thoughts were interrupted by his fast heartbeat. Her entire being shivered with every beat of his heart. This was it, she thought. This was the moment she had feared for so long. He knew, he always knew the time would come, they both did in fact.

Yet, with all the raw emotions soaring around them, neither one of them was strong enough to walk away or weak enough to stay. They just stood there. Hallow as they were – staring into one another’s naked soul without a single spoken word.

Right when his clenched hands began to ease, she pulled her hand swiftly and hid it behind her back. She took a few steps back. He almost stepped forward, almost. He did not. He hesitated. She witnessed as his devils and angels minced him apart. She feared it. She feared him. She took another step backwards, only this time, to see if he’d suppress his devils and step forward. He froze, entirely. For moment, he could not blink. His hands shivered. His shirt was soaked with sweat. ‘What am I doing here’ he thought to himself, ‘what is happening here’ he asked himself.

He knew if she stepped one more step away from him, she would no longer be his. It was that damned pride of hers that always stood in her heart’s way. He was well aware that the girl who stands before him in tears and shivers is his soul mate, though, God Forbid he believes in such myths. ‘Let me go… let me be’ he finally said breaking a silence that seemed to have lasted centuries.

She could not speak; she felt her body turn around, and her legs walking away. She wanted to stop. She needed to stop, she wanted to run back and kiss him. She wanted it to get better, not worse. She wanted to stop. She could not stop. Her legs were moving, ‘why am I walking away, stop! Stop!’ she screamed within, her legs would not respond. ‘Please, stop. I love this man’ she pled her mind, her mind would not follow. ‘Do not leave, no please, put the car keys away, do not walk away, do not, do not’ she ordered her hand to stop, her hand did not respond. ‘One last look, just one more, please, turn around, blow a kiss, show him your face’ she begged her face; her face did not turn around. Her lips did not blow a kiss. Her eyes did not meet his. Her hands drove her away, far, far away. Her entire body could not stay. Her soul, however, would rather cling to his until they intertwine.

He picked up his phone, dialed her home number, and left a message at the tone: I cannot live without you.