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!”