Sunday, December 23, 2007

Las Vegas, boyboy

Last week, I was at Las Vegas, and got a free ticket for Jubilee’s show at Bally’s. Too bad I didn’t do my research and thus attended the very kind of show that would boil my blood: 80+ girls who are topless and with string bottoms, while 10+ guys are fully clothed.

As hundreds of dark nipples stared at me from the sparkly stage I asked myself if it were a dream or reality that while the lights were on, the audience were mainly couples. There were so many guy girl couples that when the cameraman asked me if I wanted a picture he acted surprised to see me solo.

When the 10+ guys on stage started singing about girls, and how beautiful it is to have hundreds of girls I wondered if anybody had me, the female audience, in mind. I thought of Sopranos as well, where the striptease and gay women scenes would be lengthy, yet when a gay guys scene came on, the camera only caught them hugging. Why of course, who cares to show naked guys to the women audience if it would mean offending the guys?

Why are there no nude guys on Jubilee’s?

For half an hour, I tried to see something. A sign. A hint that tells me that I am cared for as a female audience. I tried to convince myself that all the designer fabrics that keep flying and the sparkly crystals and lights can transform a low class body display to a “classical” show which has been on –as I later learned- since 1981.

When it finally felt like a shoe was shoved down my throat, I could not take it any longer. If no American woman amongst the audience had any dignity or respect for her rights, I have.

Intentionally and slowly I walked across the isle, wondering which is a better case scenario:

1- To dictate women’s right and intentionally violate them?
2- To have women’s rights under development, while men and women’s rights are equally violated?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Are Humans an Experiment?

Amongst Muslims, it is a given that Islam is the religion which concludes and overwrites all others. It is the answer; universal, and timeless. All religions before it were time and people specific, but Islam comes as a religion finale.

Yet if it is also a given that when God created the world everything had already been decided and realized, why wasn’t Islam the first? Why didn’t the answer arrive any earlier? And why are we now left with multiple faiths quarreling together on the very same earth?

Could it be possible that when humans first arrived on earth, things were not “fully realized”? Were humans an experiment, a very sophisticated one, left to unveil its possibilities under the watchful eye of God? And could that be the answer as to why creations have stopped after humans?

Was the progression of religions (as ethical guidelines) a parallel to the conclusions drawn from constant analysis and observation of the humans? Had the series of religions been a progression in regards to understanding and communicating with humans, almost as if adding to a list of “frequently asked questions-FAQ”?

Are humans but an experiment, assessed by religions for the sake of successfully achieving their purpose? And do they fall in line after several animalistic experiments? Did Islam come as a conclusion of the human experiment, simply setting them aside as a new project takes place?

Is another, more sophisticated experiment, soon to be introduced to earth or one of the many planets? And are we soon to watch with horror as our superiors take place?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Bed Question

Why is it in bed that I question tomorrow?

Tonight, I caught myself doing it for the hundredth time. Wondering what I should become in the future, as if the decision had to be dropped in the mail tomorrow. Always the same questions, always the same doubts and nothing changes pretty much except an occasional loss of sleep.

Tonight my aunt’s voice hung over my head. In her mid thirties she confessed to me that she is utterly depressed. “I am nobody!” she said. “My friends have stuck to a certain ladder and climbed it. They have become something. Names. Titles. Professions. While I don’t even receive a salary.”

She loves life. Got hung up on the candy-store version of it, and never managed to let go. You name it, she’s done it: volunteer, art, science, religion, children work, adult training-but it never made sense to eat out of one bowl.

I never thought the day would come when I look in the mirror and foresee such a disaster in my own eyes. The disaster of loving life too much to settle for one thing.

Somehow, my mom managed to do both: multiple projects at once and a profession; an increasing salary. At one point in the past, I swore to her that I wouldn’t do the same. “I am not like you,” I said. “I can only focus on one area, and acquire deep knowledge of it. Doing many things at once would make me a mediocre, and I can’t be that.”

Statements are easy when you’re 17. Even 20.

Yet now, at age of 25, and particularly at 3 in the morning, it is extremely difficult to decide what I shall be in the future: A banker, professor, reporter, screenwriter, producer, trainer, secretary, or diplomat?
It is even more difficult to pick a side: become a blinkered professional, or an amateur lover of life…

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Google: The Santa of Asia

My favorite thing to do is checking blogger stats/referrals. How many people passed by today? Where from? How did they get here? And how long did they stay?

There’s an interesting life beneath the surface, and that is the fascination of stats. Making belief you are a god. Silently eyeing people whom come in and out of your land, and secretly smiling upon the ones who form a pattern of being there.

My favorite is a “Santa Clara” person, who does not miss a day of typing my full name correctly in Google. Well, for a while it was “Ayesha”, and eventually the “e” got kicked out. How flattering! Despite all the shortcuts, that person chooses to type my name in full. Had it not been my name, I wouldn't have even bothered.

Then, comes the amusing search titles. People form India, Australia, Pakistan, and Philippines tend to have the longest search titles. Their Googling is too appropriate that it practically is a letter to Santa. “Dear Google, I want to see pretty women in the shower and preferably intelligent and naked.”

I am not making the “preferably” part up!

Often, when I read those search referrals. The weird ones, the funny ones, and the ones which are totally disgusting, I wonder:

Is life on Blogger any different from life on earth? We exist, communicate in a certain language, engage in major issues, scribble minor issues, chose certain colors, and keep certain people on our list and boom! One day we find ourselves stuck with people we extremely dislike, a crowd we barely have anything in common with, and the oddest of coincidences.

But is coincidence ever a coincidence? And are the people/crowds/life we gravitate ever disconnected from radiation that we have sent off in the first place?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Allergy Pills

Any person who knows how allergy turns bodily alarms, sirens, fires, to a state of emergency, muting anything else. Any person who knows that, and who tried visiting an immunologist must know that often there's no permanent cure. There are pills that help relief the symptoms.

Yet, there seems to be another kind of people who know about allergies- besides the sufferers and the doctors. People who sell allergy pills in the United States. People who know how desperate sufferers of allergy can be so they play the scarcity game. What else would explain how many frequently needed allergy medications sell limited pills in the single box, and for a very high price?!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

While Passion Awakens and Dies

I love cooking. Sometimes, the urge to cook comes to me as a set of smells, flavors, and colors. A complex equation which I have to sort out while opening the freezer, fridge and cupboards. It comes to me in a rush, like the call of an innate voice.

Baking is okey. It is unpredictable. When cooking, I can understand, feel, and help the ingredients "get there". I can't bake intuitively. I have to follow a recipe, feeling both frustrated and anxious to be blinkered with such restraints. As rewarding as it can be, baking can be very very disappointing.

Bread making, is my jinx. And the microwave is my unannounced enemy, failing to satisfy me even with tasks as simple as heating lef overs.

With that said, there are those days when I don't love cooking, nor like baking; when I am not jinxed by bread making, nor failed by the microwave. The line of passion becomes horizontal. In those days fast food chains and fancy dining all sound the same and evoke no senses. It makes no sense that people -myself included- can waste their time making hot sticky stuff that are to be gulped down in minutes. Those days are not necessarily sad ones, but they reveal to me how our passion with life can fluctuate as such.

I begin to question: in the absence of obvious reasons what triggers our ups, our downs, and what tunes out the curves making us walk a nutral line?

I also begin to wonder if wisdom (ageless wisom, passed down generation after another, passed around a country to another) if it does not stand as an assurance to members of the orechestra that they are all still working together in the same piece.

Is wisdom our assurance that we are living the very same life?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Takes One to Know One

“Beware of this Christian group which coats poison with sugar.” was a warning sent by a Saudi student to all Portlander Saudi’s as a response to an earlier email that announced a trip to Seattle organized by FOCUS. She quoted a professor who is an active Islamist in Portland and included the group’s website address.

As unsurprising as it was, the email saddened me. Focus did present itself as a faith based group since orientation day at PSU. It also distributed pamphlets about its message, and web address. It is not cooking up an evil potion in the dark.

Even still, some active Islamist would condemn a Christian group for what they themselves do: social activism, and the presentation of good example in the hope of influencing others to join the Islamic faith.

I am losing track here.

Since when did the betterment of society become a sugar coat and not a dynamic? And is a religion that encourages social activism ever a poison? When will this hypocrisy stop, if we do “it” we are good, if others do “it” they are manipulative and bad?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Orhan Pamuk on Stage Tonight

In two hours, my favorite writer is not only going to be in my city. Me the Saudi, him the Turkish, in the very same/little/hard headed/liberal/green/rainy/moody Portland, he is actually going to be on a stage and I am going to be an audience. Together. In one wholly room.

Since his "My Name is Red" I have been respectful of his work, but up to this day I have never been in a situation where I could share the same room with an International Author -well, except for Ahmad Abu Dahman who I had no idea I was going to meet before I did!- this excitement is overwhelming and I am very afraid. Afraid of being disappointed. Of leaving the auditorium with irrelevant concerns like: the 20 bucks spent, the smell of the room, the bus being later than it already is, the hours I missed on being away from sweet hubby and baby.

In an attempt to better prepare myself for what might happen, I am thinking:
If people where ever fabulous in there ownself, would art ever have happened? What, then, is so fabulous about seeing the artist apart/away from their work? What is so wow about seeing a human displayed on stage? Is it not revealing of our fascination with the lions at the circus -tamed and sociable- rather than their being in the wild where they belong?
Will I be sitting at the back? Small, too small, that people seem ferocious and selfish?
Will the questions be plenty that they step on each other's tail, outdated that they would stain the evening black like overnight pile of news?
Ah, is something ever going to be said that has not been said before?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

No to Children

A simple question with a lot of thought put into it:

People who decide not to have children (even though they can,) are they thinking about their future or running away from their past?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Religions Cultures & Narcissism

A classmate told me that she was not baptized. “Because of that little drop,” she says, “I am reminded daily by my friends that if I die today, I will go to hell.”

1.8 person dies per second in a world populated by 6,602,224,175.
So, if 4.2 persons are born per second, how many would still be living?

Yet interestingly, manly cultures and religions pleasure from pointing in the direction of those who die when giving their lessons. As if fear and uncertainty are the most readily tools they can use, while assurance and psychological wellbeing is too much of a hassle.

Interestingly also that those cultures and religions would claim to have the public’s wellbeing at its best interest, while basing their teachings on fearing mostly for one’s self.

This selfishness becomes evident in multicultural atmosphere, where groups begin to compete in practicing their own version of right, thinking that “as long as I am a good human, I am saved.” which is a polite sentence for, “To hell with them losers!”

You’d think inviting others to the right path would be the most unselfish deed. Yet even then, it sadly seems that cultures and religions reach the peak of their narcissism.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Grad School Journal

Half way through the creative writing program, and still it feels as joyous as a beginning. Every quarter is so special and different that it seems like a start of its own. Why did I have to work all the way up to grad school before doing things that I absolutely love?

This quarter, the three courses I am taking are all about writing. I am required to hand in a journal, fresh fictional piece, or new pages of a script every single class. Writing creative pieces in English has been something I dreaded for an entire year, and now must face. A week has passed, and I am already LOVING it!

Its about time...

My beast is heading back to the old cave. Sounds, voices, and images are once again traveling slower to my head and sinking deeper. The drip of water registeres as many expanding and endless circles of thoughts.

In celebration of this step-up I have started a School Journal , a free style blog for my ongoing school writing and sharable fiction.

Please drop by when you want to listen in on my classes, or to add thoughts and writings of your own.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Guiltless America

To me, a trip from the light to the dark takes time. I cannot open the door to a dimly lighted store without slowing down or even stopping to get a glimpse of the place I’ve just entered. In Saudi, people are usually slow, very slow, in and out, and even across.

Yet people in America seem to be overly confident about where they’re going. Seeing them run through different situations with just the same “high-speed” makes me believe that they have been there before. The situation is not new, and carries no surprises. The track is as clear and double-checked as a GPS map.

They are confident even when in their eyes there’s a flicker of doubt.

Today, an American lady pushed through the doors of Starbucks and headed straight for the barista. She didn’t notice me of course, as I was on the side daydreaming about my coffee to be.

“Tall, Sugar free, fat free, decaf late please.” She announced, with her "I am great thank you," and debit card ready.

As she exited the doors with her guiltless coffee, I felt it no longer mattered what I ordered. The cups were piled in equal sizes, the syrup bottles ready to be squeezed just the same, and the heat measurer set to reach the usual number. The barista looked increasingly bored.

“I am sorry, one of those indecisive days!” I said, heading for the doors, condemning an unnecessary apology.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Questioning the Primitive Human

On “Sopranos” today, Tony's shrink calls Christmas “Stress-mass”. Momentarily all the celebrations that I know looked up with frozen faces. It amazed me how our (no-choice) is celebrated in most of them if not all. Even our engagement and marriage dates, they do not pin point the dates on which our hearts skipped beats, but merely the time frame inwhich we announced what already happened.

Have we chosen the date on which we were born to this life, or that of a prophet or a saint? Did we choose the times this person discovered this place or that, and did we have any first hand experience of it other than the narrations of politically derived historians? Could life have been any better or worse if the past had taken other turns?

Dates, Celebrations, Big Fights, Small Fights, Causes, No-Causes, how do they relate to us? If we were born to the wilderness, pure and primitive, with no books, preachers, or schools, without these virtualized narrations, if we were there by ourselves, what would have mattered to us?

What would have made us stamp our feet, and send our voices across the face of the earth?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why Celebrate in Advance?

Why on earth have people been congratulating each other on the month of Ramadan two weeks in advance?

With every passing year, people seem to be celebrating holidays a day earlier, sending off e-cards, text messages, and group emails to wish others merry hand happy times.

Could this hurriedness to publicly congratulate be revealing a personal defense? An attempt by the individual to prove a social loyalty that he/she feels is shaky and uncertain at heart? Or have the seasons lost their automatic quality of joy, leaving people no choice but to manually pump it up, needing extra days with every passing year?

*P.S, Away from Saudi Arabia, Ramadan does not seem to be a couple of days away, but rather, a couple of continents, a distance that is measured by miles rather than days, and bridged only by physical travel.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sometimes: Life is too still.

Is life a series of still pictures; or is that the method with which our mind captures life?

When the wind is high, and the rain is falling, I feel more alive, as if the wind and rain are moving the pictures, and smudging the memories so they are not still. Even when the sun is up, life is dynamic as long as there’s something moving: people or animals! This movement of theirs becomes the wind through which particles of the past become alive.

Yet, when nothing is moving –not even me- besides the attempt of remembrance I realize with horror how still the past is. Rolling through it is almost like running a wheel with such a speed that I hope can fool me into seeing a smooth film on screen. A film that would not betray the missing pictures, or their inconsistency.

When life is still, too still, it is hard to see the memories, let alone make them.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Hot Cities Fear God More?

As I landed in Riyadh, SA, the temperature announced itself bluntly on the screen: 40°C. Gosh, I thought. And that’s when the sun is not even up. It was 9 p.m., in a city where the sun retires around 6.

My only fear as I exited the airplane was sunrise.

But there was much more to fear. The air-conditioning system being down, for example. Taking a bath in shower where the cold water is much hotter than the hot water that’s been reserved in special tanks! Trying to convince a baby who’s lived most of his life in Portland to eat and be jolly while his cheeks are red hot.

Up on
Fajr, where mosques from all directions are announcing prayer time, I thought if there was ever a link between religiousness and severely hot weather. With religions constantly warning people of the eternal fire, is it not easier to fear burning when one has a taste of it every day of their life? And amongst the religious themselves, do climates have an effect on how people feel towards God (eg, hot countries fear vs moderate countries love)?

And would the technological barrier that generations build between them and the the weather be a reason as to why people do not remember God as much?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Family Class Travel

Yes, it is that season again when one must spend 20+ hours in transit with a toddler in the tantrum stage.

Searching for all advices possible on the web, the questions that must've puzzled millions of parents before arise once again.

On airplanes:

- Why is there no family class, where parents with "special needs" can pat each other on the back while admiring their toddlers' harmonious symphony?
- Why is there no playground that is regulated to abide safety measures, where childrens' access energy can be put into good use?
- And why isn't there a special class of stewardesses, certified for baby sitting on board?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tampons Vs. Pads

While 81% of the women in the United States use tampons for protection on their monthly period, up to 90% of Saudi women use pads.

Girls here in the US found it shocking that I am not familiar with tampons. Their shock caught me by surprise. It challenged me to research the debate on the two types of protection, and to ask all the Saudi girls I know if they ever used tampons. The answer was always, “What ARE they?”

This seemingly feminine topic is rather an elemental key to much bigger issues that separate the United States and Saudi Arabia! Despite the fact that tampons have been introduced since the 1930s, no Saudi woman allowed it into their lives or that of their daughters yet.

Think about it. Had that “invention” been for men, it would not have escaped the male population -no matter what the downsides are- to try it, and make it public! However, females in Saudi are special. Before they are married, their organs are sacred and must remain anonymous even to them. Once they are married, the female organs become even more holy. They are an important factor in their new life, bearing kids, satisfying the husband, and remaining competitive in polygamy land.

As exaggerated and stereotypical this is, it remains true for the most part. The female being in Saudi is constantly weighed down by the male voice -which becomes her own- and governed by a series of fears. Fear of experimentation, fear of self discovery, fear of losing virginity, fear of vaginal infections, of diseases, of damage, of change, etc.

Apparently, however, it is not the Saudi women alone who are resisting tampons. Other countries, in East Asia for example, are no big fans either. That brings us to the question:

Is the basis of the Saudi resistance cultural, medical or simply the old generation vs. the new?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bad Religion

In the mall today, I found myself staring with horror at the back of a slim guy wearing a funky hair due and a black t-shirt that carried this logo.

My heart skipped beats, and my eyes scanned all four directions of the vicinity. That skinny guy, if someone was to jump at him he’d be broken to halves in an instant.

But there were no concerned or offended people. And my jaw, which remained glued to where I first dropped it, was revealing a bit too much about my background.

Researching the logo, it turned out that “
Bad Religion” is a rock movement since the 80’s. And it made sense that in political, opinionated, and “Impeach Bush” Portland, people would not object so much to a partially political, partially social, group.

This incident, however, is not unique. Logos I see on Oregonian cars, t-shirts, and lockers continue to surprise me. I reckon my eyes which are unused to personal opinions being displayed so openly, especially those which are controversial, is more sensitive than the eyes which have seen it all before.

That in itself triggers a question:
Extreme prevention of opinion, and extreme display of opinion, do they not kill the opinion in their own ways? While prevention stops the opinion from being spoken, doesn't the excessive display prevent it from being heard?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Energy Drinks & Climax

Energy drinks, do they respond to human’s obsession with climax, or do they nurture it? Are they the result of a generation, or the steering wheel for a new one?

In three gatherings this past month, I was amused to discover a social obsession with energy drinks: Rock Star, Red Bull, Bison, Power Horse, etc. The first time, I tried sniffing, but the smell killed me. The second time, I dipped my tongue in a can, only to be reminded of my childhood disgust with antibiotics.

“I did not like the taste at first, but now I love it!” That is what almost everybody tells me.
Why do you try again, I ask.
“Because it is high in caffeine and sugar, it boosts my energy level instantly.”
What about good, rich, tantalizing, aromatic, ah!, coffee?
“That stuff is slow. Very slow. And not enough.”
Enough for what? I wonder, as I look around and onto the laid back energy drinkers, hanging around and laughing with each other.

Wiki says that “These drinks are typically marketed to young people, and people 'on the go.' Approximately 65% percent of energy drink users are under the age of 35 years old, with males representing approximately 65% of the market.”

If correct, one must wonder:
Whatever happened to the glories of youth? And if males are the highest consumers of energy drinks, can that in anyway reveal a connection between energy drinks and the "social" perception of sexual climax?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Him Gone for the Third Night...

The third night after my uncle’s death, and I’m finally realizing that it’s true.

Something about loss does not strike us immediately. As the knowledge of it fills the mind, a thin line forms, a crack, and then leakage.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.
Lethal; right to the heart!

The heart begins to fill up. Memories. Pictures. Sounds. Smells. Songs. Places. Black spots. Black. So black that we struggle & fight to recover and see the images beneath. What happened here? Who was there? What did he say? Where? What were we wearing? Which year?

And just like that, on the third night, our hearts become full of it; the realization of loss; the recollection of everything that has happened and that did not happen yet. The weight of memories befalls our chests, and we grow afraid of closing our eyes and loosing it all to the night.

"His carefully chosen perfume.
The close shave.
The GMC he loved to ride because it can take up the entire family and whoever wanted to come along.
The “half moon” beach, and the rubber boat. My cousin and I riding. Him
pulling the rope. “The sharks!” he shouts. We falling for it every
freaking time.
Him shouting, “Hold tight to your breasts so they don’t fall
out the windows!” as he swerves on and about the sand dunes with five women
blushing from embarrassment and screaming with excitement.
Hands as huge as my face, heavy as that of an armor, patting my shoulder. Me sucking up the pain every time and playfuly mentioning how strong he is.
How the “okal” falls off his head no matter how tall on the toes I stand while I kiss him. How he makes me believe he is angry, every freaking time!
How his large feet cross when he’s sitting on a chair.
How huge he is, yet small, soft, and “didn’t mean it” is the child in his
hazel eyes."

And as the third night grows weak, and the light falls strong. As dust awakens, and clarity fades away. The question stands:

What is not selfish about mourning? And as we grip onto the memory of those who have left us, are we not mainly holding onto ourselves?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

From Sadness to Sadism

That which is true to art, can it be as true to life?

A friend had once sent me an angry letter. I had upset her. My primary reaction to the words were equal anger. How could she relate all these horrible things to me? Doesn't she think of me as a human equal in pain? However, as I reread her letter, it surprised me how beautiful her writing was. Her anger was an absolute piece of art!

That started me thinking on how my generation of Saudis are mostly sad. Something had befallen us, here, there, and everywhere; a high level of dissatisfaction. Writers or no writers, we are seeking liberation through the word! But consider this:

If we are too sad about many things, socially, politically, religiously, etc, and find no better way of expressing our sadness other than writing. If that writing is regenerated from previous works of fiction (non-fiction is a bore that we mostly read in school.) So, if our sadness becomes yet another work of art, could it ever be true to life? Our life?

Sadness is a very dangerous state of being, especially if it sweeps over an entire generation:

- A sad person is egoistic; her entire emotions are sensitized, and thus she has no ability to feel what is beyond her suffering.
- A sad person must push back love, or doubt it to the highest of levels because emotional fulfillment is impermissible.
- A sad person is full of blame; the others become the enemy who contributes to her suffering.
- A sad person forms blind truths in her isolation, such as being damned with the worst of fates, and the severest of situations.
- A sad person forms a strong attachment to her state of sadness, to the point where she refuses to let go of it. Eventually, she begins to feed her life with more drama, and to manipulate characters around her in order for them to be relevant to her story line.

Without knowing it, an entire generation competes in a “sadist” performance, hurting itself under the theme of “I am sadder than you, so sit back and watch me prove it!”

Monday, June 25, 2007

Language Cannot Say it All

Why don’t I feel that language, the spoken and the written word, is as crucial as it used to be? When did language –especially my first- stop feeling special and start looking like piled newspapers; plenty, dusty, and outdated?

For five years, I have been loosing faith – especially in literature! Every now and then, I would try to pick some books in hope of reconnecting, of reawakening the little girl who is welling to see life pass her by as long as she can read & write about it.

But that girl wants something more now. She has a yearning to reach out, to express, to explode, in an extreme that language –her language at least- is simply incapable of.

Desperately, and as if caught right at the end of time, she searches for a medium. Be it humanities, arts, sports, or sciences, enduring the fascination, as well as the horror, that the leap from one faith to another opens beneath her feet.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bikini vs Underwear?

As she hops on the bus, her sister and brother in law give out an exasperated sigh. “A bikini top!” her sister says with relief. “I thought you were wearing a bra! I was gonna kill you!”

Right then I wanted to stand up and exclaim. “Yes, America! This! This is what’s confusing me about your definition of proper.”

In a couple of fashion shows that I watched online, and attended, the same thing happens. The girls would be walking the runway in bikinis or lingerie, then grow upset if the windows in the change rooms are not sealed to the top. The managers would be very strict with the boys and cameras, preventing them from lingering in the change rooms, or peeping through any holes onto the girls who are in their underwear. (This
Victoria Secret Fashion Show is an excellent example; look for the very end of the show, 6:30/6:47)

Don’t tell me this is plainly a legal matter, because if managers are fearful of being sued, the girls are plainly upset about their own privacy. But what privacy? If bikini’s are sometimes skinnier and more revealing than underwear, and if walking the runway means being speculated in more detail-what is it that the girls want the public to stay out of?

The same scenario happens in back stages, theaters and sports; that awkward moment when the definition of body, privacy, and propriety is encrypted in a language that I cannot understand. My smile is torn, as I remember once again how foreign and alien I am to people I shared two years with. And just because I speak English pretty well, asking for a translation would not be taken without offense.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Where is Home?

IF you were to loose your wallet right before the weekend, what plans can you possibly have in mind? And for the entire week before you replace everything you lost, what can you do?

Last Friday I lost my wallet at a party. And while my mind worked out a search plan, list of what is in it, and the cards I should start blocking, my very own being felt blocked from everything around it. Simply said, I no longer belonged to the life I was in. There were major restrictions as to how I moved within it.

I had no credit cards, debit cards, school ID, state ID, scholarship ID, buss pass, contact cards, and so remained in the safe little passenger seat as my husband drove home, buying dinner on the way.

Turning the key in our appartment's door, I was left to wonder:
Which is "home"? What we have, or the key that grant us access to it?

Thank you GOOGLE for revealing my e-mail address to the savior who found my wallet!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Do we Miss when we Doubt?

Can we ever say: I had a moment of doubt?
An hour of doubt?
A year?
Can doubt ever be measured with science, +1, -1, etc? Can it be associated with terms of positive or negative progression?
Or is doubt simply the loss of time. A state similar to that of “
Ashab el-Kahf” who were left to sleep in the cave as time passed them by, governments replaced another, and currencies changed.
Is being doubtful, in life, like being in a coma?

I stood hesitantly by the bus stop today. The 88. It runs on either side of the street. One side goes to where I am headed, the other goes the exact opposite way. I called up the bus tracker, and the automatic voice said: “88 is arriving, now!”

My heart beats quickened, and though my instincts told me I was on the right side, doubt insisted that I must check what the other sign/side says. I looked around me, and saw no sign of a bus, so I attempted three steps towards the pedestrian crossing. Just then, just when I had my foot ready to cross: voooom!

The wind blew in my face as the bus passed me by. Yes, I was on the right side of the street. How long did I have doubt for? It really mattered not. It seemed like a black out, but when I opened my eyes I knew I have missed out on so much…

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Fearless - Fearfull: The A - Z of our Life?

Fear that we gain, do we ever loose?
Or does it become the permanent resident?

Are we born fearless? And the more fear we accommodate, the older we get? The older we get, the less there is “of us” living “in us.” We recede to the rear door, having “fear” which we call at times “the experience”, our first line of defense? Like a darker skinned person who is not effected as much by the sun.

When we are the primary residents of ourselves that is when fear still pains. That is when every entrance of it alarms us, and sends us back in horror. Then, as our exposure to fear increases, and as “fear” and “us” own 50/50 rights to the place. From then on, the journey to peace begins. The journey to our exit. To our end.

At my last year of high school I developed a fear of exams. Those finals would decide whether I enter to college or not. My mom would stay awake next to me as I open the books and cry. Words slip through my eyes like water. They have no meaning, they cannot get through to my mind, and I would fall asleep. From then on, I could not study for a final. Because my bachelor studies where in Literature, I survived. You need not study for literature; you only need be in love with it.

And in Grad school, I have no finals because it is in “Writing.” There are only projects, and writing to be handed in on time. But tonight, as the book of Spanish Language “Dos Mundos En Breve” gives me the look of dare or die, I have no choice but to let it go. Fear still pains, and to sleep I shall go hoping -just hoping- that I will survive this time!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Saudi Guys in Rose Festival?

After filling out a Saudi Students Survey, hosted by IRmep, and intended for assessing the students' "various experiences within various official, academic and social environments in the US."

I could not help but meditate further on the "social" aspect. The little social shocks that accumilate to what may later be called a person's familiarity with another culture.

At the Water Front Village event this weekend, which is part of the Portland Rose Festival, those were three major stops for me!




Saudi Guys with wildly long hair lined up for Henna Tattoo in an orderly manner, debating whether to have roses or cartoonic drawings!

* photo blocked for reasons of privacy, and mutawas

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Would you Help a Veteran of Iraq?

Quoted from Craig’s List, Portland.
Please note that posts on that website expire in 7 days.

"I am a 23 year old veteran of Operation Iraq and Enuring Freedom. I went into basic at the age of only 19. My girlfriend of three years and I married... but would divorce soon after I returned home from Iraq. During my time in the desert I was subjected to rather horrific and tormenting events... the army's only account for giving me a chapter 13. A psychatric discgharge that doesn't exist and that the army is supposed to prohibit during the process of enlisment. I want to hire somebody who can write this into either a book or a script. There are thousands of us who have ended up this way. Men and women comming home to their spouses with grim faces and troubling news. Soldiers being taken advantage of by their husbands and wives. Help me tell this story... let me expose what's really going on here. The people want to hear it. They want to hear the truth about what's happening out there and what's happening to the soldiers that come home... and the soldiers who aren't lucky enough to come home."
email address:

Just how many are out there, tormented with their untold stories?
Update July 13, A new ad on Craig's List:

"I am a soldier who's just returned a little over a year ago from the war in iraq. I am currently writing a novel based on my experiences in the army and the harsh aftermaths that continue to follow. I am looking for several things... a publisher who can get this book on the shelves of stores all across the country and possibly the world, a movie director/script writer who has the capability to get this story onto the big screen... in theaters everywhere. I'm doing this because this story needs to be told. My experiences and harships parallel thousands of other soldiers who have been forgotten due to the constant mindless babling of the media.
Location: portland
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Compensation: if the money comes in... you are surely entitled
PostingID: 372465458


Friday, June 1, 2007

How Dare You CNN!

Since morning, CNN's been showing the story of "TB patient Andrew Speaker", and how he presented a public hazard by traveling with a contagious disease. A video of his apology kept running, broken several times to interview reporters and their take on the story.
The story did not particularly interest me until a reporter came on saying, "How dare you Andrew Speaker, how dare you!"

Open mouthed I stared at her as she continued to lash him in the most scornful manner. It surprised me how that tone differed not from the one CNN used to speak of Paris Hilton, mothering and fathering her with absolute pleasure.

But for ethic’s sake, to use the same tone with a TB patient?! This man is SICK! And with a disease that is not easy to live with. Is there no difference anymore between professional reporting, and that of celebrity gossip magazines?

If Andrew Speaker broke the law, then maybe he should be dealt with through the right channels, delivering the stakes of the incident to the public and updated information received. Serious consideration needs to be taken as to why the system is so vulnerable that a TB patient was able to get through and travel.

But to judge, and hurt, and scorn the ill?
CNN, how dare you?!
June 10 summary:
So, yeah. It turns out that Andrew was not contagious after all. Or maybe, mildly contagious. The table is turned around, as some begin to question why such an organized attack started against him in the first place. And, if he should press any charges...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Devil Rush

Dear readers,

Please excuse my absence for the two coming weeks. The quarter is about to end, and projects are due. If I do not run away, Satan will catch up with me, with the blog on the top of his temptation list!

Speaking of Satan: it is Memorial Day weekend here in the States. Somebody is still making sure that the event is celebrated with hurt, and soar hearts. Somebody is insuring that more families loose their loved ones at war. Somebody is making sure that the gas prices are too high so that many hard working families cannot get together this weekend. And somebody is making sure that shops and markets have a sale weekend, entertaniment plans, so on Memorial Weekend highly debted people feed on each other's bones. So, America, on the day of your memory there is this: "May that somebody, be no more."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Do Men & Women Belong?

Yesterday, my theater class started working with a new set of plays. Fortunately, I was picked for better ones this time. Moreover, for a role that I actually love!

The lead character is gender-freak girl who is so into the trends of males/females: their differences, incentives, patterns, and psychological processing. Through an encounter with her university professor, the play explores some of the deepest and most essential gender differences.

After the first reading, my thoughts heated up, and started going in closed circles. For the rest of the day, I could not focus on anything outside the gender sphere. “If I do not find an artistic form to convey all gender point of views that I have, I will insert them into everything I write, and become the boring person who spend their life repeating the same talk!”

For the sake of future reference, here are the points I wish to ponder:

1- Religion: Adam was created first. Why not Adam and Eve at the same time? Was Adam an experiment? Is Eve an upgrade? If she were, had Adam and Eve’s life together proved them incompatible? Did religion come to assist male and female incompatibility, and to reinforce their living together? Would the day that religion not need to exist, the day when a whole gender becomes wiped out of existence, leaving a society that is fully female or fully male?

2- Relationship: Long-term intimate relationship between men and women (marriage, living together, etc,) is it natural? Or is it a struggle against both their natures? Have people’s attempt to overcome the abnormality of long-term relationships caused the invention of polygamy, cheating, extra-marital affairs, etc?

3- Lead: Leaders rule, so have centuries of man being first, and being the lead, the reason for biased religious interpretations, and over imposing male’s need and desire, and underestimating the female’s? Are caticatures, sitcoms, jokes, and judgmental tone used by a gender to describe the other merely a modern form of lead and counter-lead culture? Practices that neither balance out the situation nor neutralize it?

4- Sex: From early years in life, a male’s anatomy can experience pleasure. Upon puberty, a male is ready to experiment with his genitals. Such experimentation is unavoidable. Can we say that the same goes for females? Or, is the very fact that media, books, and cross-gender encounters, help bring on awareness, self discovery and experimentation, a proof that –again- the two genders are incompatible?

5- Citizenship: An American man and an American woman who have been married for quarter of a century. An American man and a Saudi man who've never met. Which couple can relate to one another more? Both men? Or the man and the woman? Which is a person's primary citizenship: root of gender, or the surface they occupy on earth? Have transgenders realized that gender is a primary citizenship, and thus the letting go of it is an inner mean of immigrating?

6- Science: Homosexualities, scientific progressions, fertilizations in labs, medical cases of women conceiving without sperm (and the result necessary being female,) are they steering in the direction of a futuristic change in society structure? A future where man and woman do not live together. And where their struggles, and adjustments to co-exist are nonexistent?

The gender issue is as old as existence itself. The fact that men and women have reached the 21st century with the business of books, audios, and programs that educate and familiarize them with each other is still a hot business might simply be telling us that men and women were not meant to be...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

On Mother's Day

Dear mama,
Though I cannot share this Mother's day with you, I would love to tell the world how much you have done in 29 years of motherhood:

- Caring for 7 children.
- Bearing the death of one, on his 3rd year of life.
- Earning your Master's Degree in the States, a wife for the first time, and a mother of 2.
- Whether exam time, project time, or any "your" time, your kids came first, even for a little thing as bath songs, little duckling talk, or baking cookies!
- Holding wonderful 25 years, quarter of a century, of teaching at the College of European Languages and Translation in King Saud University. A couple at King Abdul-Aziz University and at Prince Sultan University as well.
- Plenty of certificates in: Children's Literature, Arts and Crafts, Photography, etc.
- Seminars and courses all over Saudi, teaching what you learn. Because you can never be so selfish as to keep knowledge to yourself.

And now, as you had your youngest of children rise safely to the land of Highschool, and as you became a grandmother of 4:

- Published a Series of 20 children stories

- A cook book "
A Cup of Tea"
- A book of
photography for beginners. (need I talk about how the publisher keeps running out of copies?)
- Held several photography exibits.
- Translated a book on patience and faith.
- Taken part in a couple of influential comittees which are responsible for Children's Literature.

You are the purest spirit that I have ever known in my life, always placing the interest of whom you love before your own. Despite it all, you were not delayed, risen, accomplished and most importantly: done so in peace.

On Mother's Day, there's so much that I wish to tell you, but it all comes down to this:

I love you!

Friday, May 11, 2007

I am a good human, and this shall prove it!

When offering fast and immediate pleasure, which call are we answering to: the other's need, or our aspiration for acknowledgment and credit?

Today, in my “New Play Development” class, we had a series of performances. The way they work is by the actors reading scripts with minimal blocking, and the playwrights sitting on the side to receive the feedback afterwards. What the commentators focus on is the quality of the piece: structure, characters, development, etc.

One of the pieces presented is written by a lady who is responsible for young people who were abused, and were addicts of some sort. The lead character is a troubled, abused, and an addict girl. This girl's "monologue" is encouraged by a sub-textual character, whose role is to mainly make her talk. All throughout, the piece is broken to deliver a poem that is written by “real” suffering young people, introduced through a background narration of their “real” story.

As we are meant to work in actor, director, writer, dramaturge, collaboration in this class, this playwright was very hard to work with over the past few weeks because she did not allow her script to be touched. She refused the director’s suggestions for molding the shattered bits into a harmonious structure. "Everything is real," She would insist. "It is the work of my kids, and the reality of their suffering is its essential strength."

So today, as the script was delivered, and the feedback attacked the “un-theatrical” structure, the lady pointed to the back row, where she seated her kids for the reading, defending how much they contributed, and how their stories and courage say it all…

It was a sensitive situation for all commentators, and I was thankful for being the silent actor on stage watching everybody fidgeting with their social correctness, and this critique session's requirements.

I could sense how awkward and uncomfortable her "kids" began to feel in the back row. Laughing nervously, raising the t-shirts to their faces, and shrinking in their seats. Up front, she was growing larger as if to compensate for their situation and stand in their defence. In my silent seat I swore. Whatever made her put them in such a situation?!

I remembered just then, how many people in Saudi attempt to defend women just the same way. Employ women everywhere, give them columns in magazines and newspapers, encourage anything related to them, and follow those actions by announcing that the courageous and powerless women are the goal and that THIS IS GIVING THEM A CHANCE IN THE SOCIETY. Such a
rbitrary attempts lead to bad conclusions: the employers and the society thinking of women as immature contributors who are not ready yet to take any serious role! Maybe the women pleasure from those chances, but do they benefit? Does the society benefit? Or does the greater pleasure go out to the people who readily receive credit for their sincerety and acknowledgment of the "less priviliged creatures".

Governments do it, media, corporations, communities, individuals, etc. That seemingly sincere acknowledgment which does not take the “subject’s” best interest/wellbeing at heart.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Criminal at Home

This is an interview with Ahmed Fouad Negm that struck me as true and bold. Aired on New TV Channel, a couple of months back. Below is an interpretation:

Host: The Egyptian Artist, her name is Rubi.

Ahmed: She is who…whom in regard… a problem has happened on Al-hurra channel, when the man was telling me…and I said that she is no art at all…
She (Rubi) stands and gives you her ass and sings. Shadia or Laila Murad, when they sing, their faces would all be bright and radiant. This one is like she is riding a bicycle and giving the audience her ass while singing. Does she sing from her ass or what?
Look at the insult. Look at how much we insult women.

Host: We insult her!?

Ahmed: What else? We treat a woman if she were asses or boobs or the like! Does it make sense?

Host: Whose fault is it?

Ahmed: It is OUR fault, all of us. She is a little girl, a child, does not know better, and you are going to bring her money, and things like that. Or is she a criminal?! Did she bring “an-naksa” –
The Setback- on us? It is our mistake. We are a retarded society. And we deserve what we are in. We deserve our governments.

Our societies are being run on gunmen and defense systems that fire directly at the symptom not the cause. It is much easier to go on blaming a singer, for her actions, than to go searching for the ones who hired her. It is much easier to fire Imus than to search for the job specification under which he was employed. It is much too simple to fire at the “other” than it is to investigate further and find out that the real criminal, the real cause, might be at home. That he might be us!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Labor Day?

Well, nobody told me that there's a "May Day" or, "Great American Boycott Day" or, "Labor Day." on May 1st. I came to learn that in a very bad way: standing by the school campus, awaiting my one-hour late bus, exchanging silent looks with other frustrated waiters. The time clicking closer to the deadline in which I should pick my child from daycare. I call my husband, and he does not answer because he's in the midst of an exam. I msm him as the clock ticks some more.

Accross the street somebody shouts real loud, and a crowd cheers. More shouting, and cheering. I listen closer, and hear words of "freedom" "Liberty" "Rights". To my ears, they sound like a badly montaged old movie. "Why would someone in America be shouting that stuff?" I ask myself. "And why on earth would the crowd be overly excited?"

The clock is still ticking. Anger pumps up my confidence so I ask the person next to me, "Which bus are you waiting for?" Mine! "This guys is waiting for it too, we have not missed it. It's just this..march that's delaying things!"

A march! I take out my cellphone and dial the Tri-Met number. Yes, there are delays and detours on this line/route today. Why didn't anyone tell me earlier, damn it? Now, there are only 30 minutes before my baby's daycare closes up. He has no one else in the world to pick him. The bus, which takes 45 minutes to drop me at my destination, is now useless. I call a cab.

For the first time, even the cab line is busy. I wait for 2 minutes. Hello? I am given an estimate of $25. But that's not all! I am not the only downtown Portland stranded customer, there's a long line of desperate people. That means, I will have to wait 15 minutes before the cab arrives! My useless bus arrives, but I let it pass.

From accross the street, the crowd cheers and hoots some more. "What if they hear themselves?" I wonder. "They sound like a large number of caged animals, roaring and howling in one little spot." Groups of orange and yellow bycyclists criss cross from both sides of the streets. They are the enemy now! The more they cross, the more cars have to be delayed, my cab, baby!

Finally, the savior! My husband calls, and I tell him to hurry over. I call off the cab. 10 minutes later, with smoking nerves I ride next to my husband cursing that march. "Come on, marching isn't that bad. Didn't you just love the one in Vancouver, B.C? And took pictures of that organized form of freedom of expression?"

"Huh? Ah! Yeah, but..." But he was right. Marches aren't that bad. Especially if they don't happen near PSU, on rush-hour, or around bus stops, causing students to be late for a job, or lose more than 20 bucks over a cab or a daycare penalty...
They are rather pleasant when you are in the convenience of your own transportation, knowing that you will not be late for your child.

Theatrical Realities

OFF stage, the story looks a lot different than it is told ON stage!

This is one lesson that I did not learn in the many years of being on school theaters back home, where acting was practiced, but never professionaly taught.

But in my "New Play Development" class this year, where dramaturgs, directors, writers and actors work collaboratively at various plays, I have come to value the moments taken off stage, exchanging seats with the directors as they hop on and re-act an awkward part.

I learned that more than any form of art, acting in theater SHOULD NOT be true to life. If you want to speak to someone, hell no you shouldn't just talk to them. That limits the power range. Talk to the crowd. The crowd readily assumes that you are talking to the person with you on stage. Of course this is not the dominant case, but this is one of the "power distribution" rules that I could not understand untill I tried the on and off spots.

Feelings do not start from the heart. They actually starts with the stomach. If you breath well, you enunicate well. Most of the actors I found to be moving and effective, were ones that are well spoken. Loud, but not high pitced. They breathed the words, not spoke them!

BLOCKING! Well, IF in real life you do what your guts tell you, this is not life. You do what you have agreed to do earlier, or the director gets really grumpy! Did we not say theater acting is not true to life? Even if right stage looks a lot similar to left stage, even if the audience will continue to sit up front, and even if you have no goal at the time of delivering your lines -touching someone or something: DO NOT CHANGE THE BLOCKING.

GROUNDING! The floor is you, you are the floor. Humans are the only skipping creature. Do not skip. Ground your feet to the stage. Become the soft clay that God initiated from the earth. If you are grounded, let all else go loose and free, for non shall then be lost.

Many things can be said through the eye of a first-timer! However, the most calling thought that I had today is about leaders in the world at large. Most leaders are born leaders, and work on that level all their lives: in school, in sports, in work, in communities, in political levels, etc. How often do they get the chance to take the OFF STAGE seat? How often do they step off the play they are carrying on to see what the people are experiencing and seeing?


Is it ever correct that leaders step on a stage to address, while people sit off stage to listen. If our long term agreement has been this, you act, we watch, why is it that when we exit the theater, ride our cars, and lock ourselves in our little homes..the play does not end?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dying is Easy...

Dying is easy, because it is a self sufficient attempt. What is most difficult is living, because it involves eggs, sperms, an agreement involving two or more, a midwife, a caregiver, then complicated circles of already existing lives.

There are many things that can go wrong when a human is born, and then as she tries to live. But truly, not much can go wrong if a human attempts to die.

Interestingly though, as humans we are geared towards making life easy. As if our “cruise” program is set on death, and so we trot in that direction - some faster than others. We are geared, nonetheless, towards making other peoples’ lives harder. Meaning, while we attempt to simplify our life – rival and excel in a job to secure a high income, dominate a belief system so it is easier not to hear anything else, go to war because it is easier to identify people as friends or foes, etc – while doing that, we are making other peoples’ lives much more difficult. Creating complexities that would lead other people, as a result, to trot along in the direction of an easy death!

Yet, trotting in the direction of death is something, and attempting death is something else. Religions and moral systems are very much aware of that distinction. That is why they contribute a dual message: “All humans will die eventually and must accept that fate, but they should not attempt to kill themselves because they are not in the saddle to make that choice.”

What those religions and moral systems say as well is this, “under certain circumstances it is acceptable for a human to kill another.” Which means, people cannot kill themselves because they are ignorant do decide their own fate, but they can kill others because they are knowledgeable enough to protect the higher law; sacrificing the herd and the mortal for the sake of the higher and the immortal.

So, you see: L
ife is complicated!

And while choosing to live, the challenge is this:

How can we live without presenting a threat to the lives of others, nor become the sacrifice for theirs?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Social Reform

While political reform is considered a heroic act, social reform is almost (always) defied.

The major difference between the two is: who is threatened.

In political reform, the public is struggling with a higher power. That is almost like stepping up the ladder and attempting to reach the sky. As the (heros) attempt an act of reform, they are not presenting a threat to the public. They are facing a direction that is foreign and safe: numerous people who exist on a level that the public is not emotionally involved with, but awes and fears nonetheless.

However, when the issue of social reform comes up everybody in the society is threatened. The multiple hierarchies of beliefs and ideologies grow doubtful, each fearing that they might be broken down and forced to abide under the lead of a bad enemy.

What hierarchies fear should not be taken lightly. It must be realized that in order to survive in a very (structuraly) diverse society, people spend most of their life striving to earn a category. Their life almost becomes a serie of working for and within a hierarchy.

From a young age, a person must swallow the hierarchy's food, what he/she likes as well as what he/she is disgusted with. The act of swallowing is the basic proof of loyalty and belonging. It is a person's ticket to love, growth, protection and safety. Basically, it is gaining a future guarantee. In such societies there are no hallways. There are only cubicals.

Actually, there are hallways! But people criss X crossing from a cubical to the other lose their status. They lose their earnt category. They become the crow that managed not the walk of the pigeon, and lost its own. A shameful history is attached to them forever after. The hierarchy they have left will always identify them as: the indecisive people, the easily manipulated and changed ones. As for the hierarchy that has received them, they are: the ones who were won over.

To sustain an identity in such a society, people must be born to a cubical and die in it.

Those who walk the hallways for a long time, refusing to choose a cubical over the other, are the threat. They are the hazardous social reform and are defied by all.

Fear of hall-wayers is a public (schizophrenia). It is a nonrealistic concern that exists in the collective mind alone, keeping cubicals on guard, causing some to lock up tight almost to the point of self-destruction.

Hall-wayers, on the other hand, cannot destroy. They might like to, but they cannot change already existing hierarchies. All they can do, is gather and accumilate untill a cubical of new ideas and social beliefs contains them.

Simply put, they are nature's attempt at sustainability.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Guilt Cliche

In the Islamic faith, Muslims have to pray five times a day. The prayers involve reciting some verses from the Quran. Some of the verses vary from prayer to prayer, however, most of the verses, words, and physical movements are repetitive. Not only are they repeated five times a day, they are even repeated several times within the same prayer.

A lot of people complain that they cannot focus in their prayers. “Our bodies do what they should, and the words come out absentmindedly,” they say. “But our mind is almost always elsewhere.”

Some bitterly admit that if they lost their keys or are looking for an inspiration, all is solved during prayers! “Satan is resourceful; he will do anything to keep people away from Allah.”

It is a common regret amongst Muslims that they are growing weaker by the years. Due to much sinning, Satan’s job has gotten a lot easier. It doesn’t take much for him to weaken an already weak relationship between people and God.

Nostalgically, people would go back to what they have read about the time of the Prophet, PBU; the time of the “ideal Islam and Muslims.” A time in which a Prophet companion who had to have his leg cut off, insisted that he must begin to pray first. “How close to Allah was he!” admiringly they would say. “When he prays, he rises above all that is earthly.”

Well, today I thought about that while...praying!

I thought particularly about the reason why most of the prayers are repetitive and reoccurring. Why the physical movements occur in the same sequence. I thought whether it is not intended that people know them by heart and begin repeating them manually. If they are not a momentarily relief from conscious, and physique, allowing people to venture deeper into the subconscious and higher revelations.

I thought if people now a day are really praying any differently from the Prophet and his companions? Are prayers a challenge that we are too down of a generation to conquer? And had a Great God intended for them to be merely a daily reminder for people of how guilty they have become?

I also thought about the true reason why the "crazy" and "young" are not required to pray. Maybe they already have their "relief" and are open to many revelations. I also thought why children beginning with seven years of age are "encouraged" to experience prayers, forced into it at ten, and fully responsible after puberty. Why it is stressed that they grow "used to it." And if that is not a step towards making prayers a true absent-minded practice?

Have we simply been mimicking the “guilt cliché,” not realizing at the end of our prayer as we look to the right, and look to the left, with a sudden awakening from our sweet absence, that VUALA! This is IT! We have done it right. We have given ourselves a Godly designed practice of loss, absence, and physical lightness. Of higher venturing. Of a relief that we would not have allowed ourselves unless forced to!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Beneath the Gorgeous Poster

Overly preaching about something often infers the absence of it. For example, the more a religious leader emphasizes “women rights,” the definite it is that respecting women is an absent quality amongst his followers. The more the press emphasizes that “women” are being allowed room to participate in a culture “jobs, events, etc,” the clearer it is that women are actually “not” part of that culture, but rather an imported entity.

The same goes for countries where human rights are the daily anthem. One can easily be fooled into thinking that a country is very just and fair by watching those values preached over and over again on the media. But stripping a gorgeous poster from the wall is a necessary step towards understanding “fully” why it is there.

All those thoughts occurred to me as I observed one day, while riding the bus, how my feelings towards Mexicans have changed dramatically after living in the States. A few years back, while living in Canada, I used to admire them to the point that I bought books to read about their culture and celebrations. What influenced my opinion during a year’s span?

Being the couch potato that I am, I have three sources of input: school, public transportation, and TV. In grad school professors are usually idealists, and truth is, all they have discussed so far is class material, or class related material. Public transportation includes some Mexican workers, some Mexican mothers, some really cute Mexican children. TV, on the other hand, has a LOT of preaching on the matter!

This great influence that TV had on my views of a certain ethnic group is scary. For one thing, if it was able to change my respect for an “alien” while I am a “foreigner” myself, how would it influence the average American’s views of “the other”? The issue is cruicial to me, because I belong to a controversial culture/religion myself.

So, the next time the media attempts to launch programs that do the Middle East or Muslim societies more “justice”, assessing their more "moderate" views, and "nice" individuals, is the average viewer to infer: how bloody and savage their vast majority is?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

School in Saudi

Quarter system schooling is great; I wish my entire life was run by quarters. The constant deadlines, clear step ups, and wonderful sense of accomplishment. In two quarters, one as slow going as I am got a year’s worth of work done!

Writing scripts, watching sitcoms, one hour drama and movies, reading gorgeous novels, sitting in a leisurely rooms with reading/writing addicts, and acting,…this is the type of stuff my graduate school requires. It is too fun that it feels like cheating behind school’s back. Found out, I would strictly be punished or even banned.

17 years of studying: primary, middle, high, and college, there were rarely moments of enjoyment without their consequences. Extra curriculum activities were “usually” down graded by my professors’ back home. Fun is not “serious” enough. Once, my classmates and I put a play together which turned out to be too sarcastic for their taste. Thanks to flower shops, and head kissing, we managed to save our selves from being kicked but remained cursed forever after.

But to be honest, university back home was not that bad. I remember the time I almost burst into tears in an exam. It was my second semester, and the final of “17th Century Novel” asked what MY OPINION WAS about a character! It was an emotional experience, because for the first time in school, somebody asked what my opinion was, and in a FINAL. Other girls did burst into more serious tears, however. They thought that the professor was mean. “She did not show us the answer to that question in class!” They suspected that she was intentionally scaring them away from the English department as was the attempt by most Professors who kept saying “This is not an ESL school you people, it is an English Literature Department!”

Well, before university level, life was not bad either; if you take out the fact that we did not have electives, or P.E classes. That is a story on its own!

Up until Middle School, I did have P.E classes. Then, it seems that God spoke His word to some Scholars in the Capital City, Riyadh. It makes sense that God would communicate with the Capital, right? Since then, P.E was forbidden for girls in Central Saudi: Riyadh, Quaseem, and other infected cities. Girls wearing tight pants that would show the shape of their legs and asses amongst other girls, God forbids! Pants are for guys only, and so are those harsh sprots. What if a girl falls down in P.E and looses her virginity! Oh, boy!

Of course, not all schools had to abide by the word of God (I mean, the capital city scholars' version of it.) Some schools simply had strong backbones, which is another word for being backed up by a prince. Oh, girls in those schools were snobs, but they could do horse back riding, swimming, sports, fashion shows, music classes, singing, and can even get out of the school door without having their entire body covered in black! Damn it, those girls SHOULD feel special.

Yeah, school was not that bad. It was always possible to pass under the table notes to classmates, sketch on the laboratory tubes, substitute salt for sugar in baking classes, and all that. The greatest thing you could do in school is join stage activities 24/7 but even then, you are sure to get a grudge from the teacher and her grades.

Anyways, thats that, and here is here. Alive from Portland: spring quarter had just started at PSU, and I am madly in love!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Upbringing & Brainwashing

Upbringing, and brainwashing, are they but sides to the same coin?

There's a quotation by Prophet Mohammad that says: "No babe is born but upon Fitra* (nuetral). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist." (Sahih Muslim,
Book 033, Number 6426)

Also: "Each child is born in a state of "Fitrah*", then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian, the way an animal gives birth to a normal offspring. Have you noticed any that were born mutilated?" (Collected by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)

* "Fitra", meaning neutrality, naturality, had been interpreted within Muslim schools as the Islamic faith. So, each child is born a Muslim, untill the parents "brain wash him."

Growing under the roof of those interpretations, it is easy not to question the term. Same goes for a country's weather conditions. If it is excissivly hot and dry, people simply avoid the sun, stay in, and turn up the air conditioner. Yet, the minute people step outside their religious and cultural context, the issue of brainwashing surfaces.

For example, when conservative Muslim parents take their children abroad, they are constantly in fear of the other culture altering their children. They grow extra concious of who their children hang out with, what language they are using, where do they go, what do they watch/read, and how keen are they in practicing the religion (prayers, Quraan, etc.) To them, any change in their children's pattern (even if it were due to progression of age, and entry to teenage-hood) is a stage of danger innwhich they are being brainwashed. But by who?

It is one of two things, really.

Either that we are in a time of war, and brainwashing is a weapon used by one party to over power the other. So, the issue is not finding the truth, or following the faith, but simply a struggle of political powers. (objectively speaking: no party is good when it comes to politics.)

Or that the truth exclusively belongs the the Muslims, and they are the ones who are still neutral and unaltered. Meaning, the entire non-muslim world is a bunch of brainwashed, mesmerized people, who are living a big lie, and are going to hell because of their bad parents who also had bad parents who had a truly bad figure in history which caused a chain reaction of disturbed upbringing...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Breakage of Glass

Breakage of glass!
What makes it so depressing?

While applying some make up today, I dropped the fondation bottle. The glass shattered at once over the entire bathroom. It happened in slow motion. The bottle slipping from my hand, the bottom corner hitting the sink, the tiny particals reflecting different shades of the yellow lights.

At first, I thought I felt sad because of the cleaning that I'll have to do; an unwelcomed delay. But then I realized that I had nothing scheduled for the day. I had leasurely time in which I decided to do some make up practice! The brand was of a moderate price, twenty dollars the most. So, the loss has not caused it either. And as I cleaned up the sink, the shelve, and the bathroom floor, cloudiness settled lower into my mood.

For a flicker of a moment I remembered my child's horrified looks two days ago. He had opened the dining set cupboard and broke a plate in half. I got angry with him, and had to vaccuum a large part of the dining area. His eyes fearful, his lips on the verge of crying, and his chest heaving at a rapid speed.

Had my first encounter with glass breakage been he moment when mercy broke in mama's eyes? Was it the event with th emost exaggerated sound effects? Screetching. Multiplying pieces. Pounding footsteps. Thundering voices. Severe lifting. Roaring of the vaccum as it wildly attacked the ground?

Had it been a childhood moment in which I felt the least safe; Eve falling off of heaven?

Or are glass breakage emotions related to something further? Something more timely, like hopes and dreams that shatter without a notice. Something recurring, like dreams and plans that might disappoint us once again?

Or..are they simply a finger pointing in the direction of our inner premitive instinct ? That which is inhabited by superstitions, cautions, signs, omens and jinxing.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What is Logical?

When I need to clear up my mind, I take a shower!

It smoothes down the frizzy thoughts, and breaks down the "class system." No longer do the ideas present themselves in order of priority "important, less important," but rather, they come through the stream of thought in whatever order they like. Sometimes a seemingly unimportant idea takes the lead, and the rest follows.

Today, I thought about "logic." What is considered logical, and what is not?

My father used to argue that the "virtual" reality is creating a generation that is very surreal and illogical. And so, much discipline is necessary to open the young up to what is real and logical. But has that ever stopped an assumingly "illogical" person from being what they are.

Some friends of the family had a son who loved music. A day did not pass without him playing the guitar. His parents did not allow him to destroy his life and career by such an illogical passion. They insisted that since his grades are high, he must study medicine. And he did.

In the day of graduation, his family got together in a fancy restaurant. He sat down all smiles. And as his mom told us later, this is what he said. "This degree is for you, and I hope you are all happy. As for me, my friends and I have managed a little band, and we're going to take off when the wind is right."

I don't know what happened to him, or where he is in life. But I can very much relate to his situation. Sometimes, being diagnosed by others as an "illogical" person is not a cure. First, because they belong to a certain career, age group, generation status, and a set of beliefs that makes them subjective. In other words, they are not objectively examining you, they are becoming judgmental. To make it clearer, it is like having a doctor saying that you are sick because your eyes don't have the same color as his, or because your voice is harsher! Second, because if you were truly sick, not all sicknesses are curable. Some simply require that a person adjusts their life style in order to accommodate them.

When illogic is one's destiny, then it must be fulfilled at the end.

Many destinies go through detours, or turbulences, but they arrive to their primary goal. Some don't make it. And people who do not make it to their destiny often enough become murderers in the form of gods. They become the blocking wall that subconsciously attempt to turn other people's lives into an inescapable structure. And even though all of us need some structure at the end of the day, whether it is a house, or an apartment, or a small bedroom, in the morning, as we proceed to the next structure, we all need to breathe in a place that is open and free.

A friend has once told me that I was making an illogical choice in my career. She said that saying the truth is sometimes what friends are for. I realized that day, how out dated that statement is.

In the midst of all those destiny detours, turbulances, and murderers, the best a friend can be is make us stronger.