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.

 

SOPA: How to go dark with a .wordpress domain.

How about a little song while reading this? Listen to this.

Disclaimer: I am not a programmer or a CSS expert.

Now, I’m not a techie per se, but I am quite savvy and do keep up with news every now and then. But as an internet user, I find this really important. So let’s educate ourselves a little.

What is SOPA?

The US House of Representatives in congress introduced Stop Online Piracy Act Oct 26, 2011 that would allow U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to seek legal action against any pirated material online. In short, we’d be seeing a lot of those pages:

Source: thisisnthappiness.com/

What’s the big deal about it?

If passed, websites like Google, Wikipedia, and social networks Facebook and Twitter would have to go through every link posted in their sites. In case of any pirated material located through them, they would be held responsible. Individuals would face charges up to 5 years in prison. Ridiculous.

Why should it matter?

I’d rarely quote a republican but here’s what Paul Ryan had to say about it, he’s also very cute:

The internet is one of the most magnificent expressions of freedom and free enterprise in history. It should stay that way. While H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, attempts to address a legitimate problem, I believe it creates the precedent and possibility for undue regulation, censorship and legal abuse. I do not support H.R. 3261 in its current form and will oppose the legislation should it come before the full House. (source)

So anyway, for a more informative and less boring approach, here’s an infograph on SOPA:

Source: marketingtechblog.com

Now, on to my actual purpose of posting this:

A lot of websites, in fact, plenty of websites are going dark in protest of SOPA Jan 18 (which is tomorrow). Being a .wordpress.com blog, one can only go so far in the CSS field. It’s very limited and wordpress.org plugins do not work here. Ergo, the only way I found to go dark is through widgets. I found two. Needless to say I did not write those widgets or claim any sort of ownership of them. Codes are suggested by James Huff.

1) Badge:

It’s cute, and you should have it. It would look something like the one I have on the top right.

Here’s the code:

<a target=’_blank’ class=’stop-sopa-ribbon’ href=’http://americancensorship.org/’><img src='[URL]’ alt=’Stop SOPA’ style=’position:fixed;top:0;right:0;z-index:100000;cursor:pointer;’ /></a>

To install it: Appearance » Widgets » Text » copy the code and save.

In order to get the badge URL, download this onto your Media section from “add new” and place the link there: https://thearabzy.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/stop-sopa-ribbon.png

2) Going dark:

The only flattering way I found that is not as bad as others is:

The process is pretty much the same as the one mentioned above. You can play with it and change the ugly font the way you please. I do have to warn you, it does not fully give the dark effect but it’s worth making a statement for.

<div align=”center” style=”position:fixed;width:100%;height:100%;top:0;right:0;background-color:#000;text-align:center;font-size:800%;font-weight:bold;padding-top:300px;”><a style=”color:#fff;” href=”http://americancensorship.org/” target=”_blank”>Stop SOPA</a></div>

Also, do not forget to change the background to black from Appearance » Background.

The web is free. It should remain that way. Go dark for a day or forever live in the dark ages of a censored internet.

La fin.

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.

365: Arabzy blogs for a year.

Here’s to another year of blogging. I’ve had other blogs. My first blog is dated back to March of 2009. However, I used to change blogs/online identities more than a snake sheds its skin.

Milestones: 

1) I am no longer an anonymous Arab. Apparently, I’m not just a username.

2) I write around a thousand words a day. Something I never thought I’d be persistent at. I have my university and work life to blame. (no complains, happy as a muffin)

Setbacks:

1) My blogging has deteriorated and my attention span is as long as 14o characters (blame them tweets, yo.)

2) I started this blog to write about Arabs: Our problems, cultures, and politics. Little did I know of what the future held. I never wrote about a single alphabet.

3) I abhor Arab politics.

Resolutions:

1) Become a better me.

2) Write with soul.

3) Be happy.

Here’s a little comic from my favorite internet gif, pusheen:

 

For a more insightful post on resolutions and new years, why not visit an old post?
I leave you with a quote, and yes, I’ve become as corny as those who share quotes:
I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.— Anne Rice

For the love of Linguistics: I am my words.

I could never update about me sections in any blog of mine. I was always baffled with answering that one persisting question of who am I. Ironically, I am not even sure if who works here, rather, what am I. Alright, though, let me try and define myself – not speak about my words or how they define me, but me. Me is such a beautiful word, isn’t it?

How about I make this simple, shall we? Instead of flowing in my thoughts as I always do – I will divide everything into either black or white; love or hate, but hate is such a strong word – so is love. They are both equally strong, perhaps too strong, or better yet, they are so strong that they have lost their meaning and collided enough to explode into a state of obsoleteness, like two atoms in the vast abyss.

I will try to be as vague and childish in my choice of language; I rarely get the chance to be a child in my words. I no longer allow myself to commit syntax errors in language, or maybe I enjoy my pursuit of perfection far too much to let a brick along the way trip me into a vortex of morphological, phonetic, semantic, or grammatical errors.

There I go talking about words again. Did I ever mention how much I love short paragraphs? No? Well, I do, very much so. I also enjoy short sentences. But I have this new love for semicolons; I love using them. A semicolon is the child of the never meeting comma and dot. In fact, commas and dots are the best couples I know of. Both are located in the same position, but you see, each of them knows when to leave and when to stay. If they meet – my lord, if they ever meet: sheer ugliness. The splendor of the chase, that hard to get act: the kind of relation a dot and a comma share together.

Ever sat down and thought about commas and dots? Perhaps not, but I do. I think of beautiful letters, pretty words, perfect spaces, complete sentences, flawless punctuation, and short cute paragraphs. I sometimes grab a book and not read, but stare at those alluring written words; how they beautifully intertwine till they form novels, books, etc, etc.

I can go on forever talking about words, just not me. Let’s not talk about me. Let’s talk about words, for they cure a heaving child within me and sing me lullabies to sleep.

I am nothing without my words. I am everything with my words, and that’s enough. So maybe I fail at describing myself in what I love and hate. Maybe I could only talk about words, but that’s probably because words are this invisible spine that lifts my head up even when I’m in the lowest of lows. I can live without people, but I cannot be without words.

Soul searching: What are we really looking for?

Listen to: Prayer by Eleni Karaindrou

I have always wondered to myself if this hunt ever comes to an end. Though, I never knew what exactly I have been searching for.
Lately, I have been pondering the thought of soul searching and what it really means; is it an endless search for that missing piece of the puzzle, or a changing variable to fill an ever so empty void?

As I try to answer this not so new raised question in the chambers of my thoughts, I find myself caught in a timeless capsule of open conquests with no prey in hand, and no trophy to place on a dusty shelf of accomplishments. I start to pace slowly in this capsule of mine and think of what went wrong – or did nothing ever go wrong but my perception of accomplishments and this soul searching hunt of mine is not well adjusted?

We are all hunters, huntresses in my case, and this life is in fact a virtual game; those games where one builds a character and hunts for little mushrooms and snails to kill in order to level up. The more we level up in this game, the more experience points we gain. Now, I know these games were based on reality – but what if, say, we twist the table and look at life through a virtual game, rather than looking at a virtual game through life?

I mean, everything belongs to this continuous circle. It never ends, it keeps going and whether we like it or not, we keep going as well. Then, if we look at life as though it was the ultimate game, and events as sequenced spins of the same circle, where does that leave us with our so-called soul searching? Does that make us settle for best fit of souls? Or are we in charge of this game, can we slow the pace of this circle? Can we logout whenever we please, or is that the fine line that separates virtual games from reality?

I seem to be proposing far too many questions for a short-lived post like this to answer, but to me, it is rather unanswerable. The idea of soul searching is one I never seem to grasp, because even when I am not searching for a soul, for whatever reason, I find myself discovering minuet alterations of this soul of mine that make all the difference. Does that mean that this soul searching is something implied on us, rather than us wanting it? Or it something we choose to be content with, something we do not mind living with, or something we have grown accustom to?

As I maintain this soul of mine; an introvert of thoughts exteriorized with an extrovert personality of actions, I find it to be troublesome at times, perhaps more often than I would admit. Perhaps, time is the only cure for us to mould into our own wax seat of heaven or hell. Perhaps, the conquest of soul searching is nothing but a fancy concept coined by therapists to bill us with a higher pay the next time we visit them – or when we actually do decide that seeing a therapist is the next key to the puzzle of the hunt of our lives.

Regardless of how much of a variable beings are, the only constant factor is that crave to fill an imaginary inner void that seems to cover light-years of distance. We have repulsed from our interiors so much so that we spend our time trying to make the world a prettier place; our malls become too fancy for flip flops and socks. Our mosques and churches become too architecturally valuable for us to pray in, so we stand in front of them, take pictures, and post them on social networks. Our houses have become too filled with pricey junk of vases, colorful paintings, and big flat screens with overwhelmingly unneeded resolution, just so we can see things clearer.

So we can watch our movies in HD. So we can get the most likes and retweets. So we can feel that we belong to a society that we can always turn to when the soul searching turns out empty. We are too lazy to accept that it is not the hunt that has gone wrong – it is our perception of reality and how idealistically skewed it really is.

How is it, though, that the more beautifully sculpted this world becomes, the uglier it is from within? Why is it too hard to look at a white blank avatar and feel so agitated? What is wrong with nothing but white? What?

Hush

Listen to: Ólafur Arnalds – Near Light (via Fabrizio Paterlini)

Cars carelessly carry cattle corn

People

Falling steeper

And steeper

Magic cut by heartless reapers.

 

Hearts tossed around like dart

Faces fade further than far

Haunted becomes the cattle car

Hush, shish, and shush,

Do not rush, push, or crush,

 

“Hold me tight,” she murmurs,

Tick

Tock

Tick

The clock missed the last tock

 

“Evade me from guilt,” she heaves

Autumn trees have no leaves

Stitch her heart into weaves

Sway her to the music of trees

Bring your knife and start to cleave

 

Salvage her remains for hope,

Unshackle her hands from your rope,

Leaves a distance, she has learned how to cope,

Unchain her from your yoke,

Save her from fate’s joke

 

Creep closer from behind

Listen to wind chimes

Surrender to nature’s rhyme

Let your souls together intertwine

Seek solitude, break every line

 

Hush, shish, and shush,

Do not rush, push, or crush,

Lick your lips like mush

Feel the power of a touch

Absorb the fluids, let them gush

 

Feed the crave with emotion,

Her tenderness casted as a potion,

Kiss her relish to submission,

Twist your limbs to her devotion,

Unease this hidden tension

 

Make no sound,

Cry no tears,

Twirl round and round,

Fear no fears,

The moment is yet to be found

 

Arms rested on shoulders,

Bare shoulders grow warmer,

Tall toes tingle in tremors,

Passion storms veins in thunder,

The mind ceases to wonder,

 

Hush, shish, and shush,

End of thought.