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the in-between: Nef3a


The receptionist’s cubicle is surrounded by men tearing away at their tawouk sandwiches, it’s hard to tell who is in charge, or if there is anyone in charge at all. 

I approach the guy who isn’t eating,

“Where do I go to pay the Mecanique?”

“Where’s your car registration paper? The lines go by numbers now. I need to see it to tell you where to go.”

I give him the laminated document.

“Go to the last window on the left. You have all your papers?”

I nodded and climbed the couple of steps towards the entrance.

There were three guys in uniform, not exactly in charge, rather in conversation. There was no hall, just a room with a low ceiling. The paint must have been white some decades ago, but now it was smeared with God-knows-what-people-bring-to-the-Nef3a-for-lunch. There was a bundle of people inside, some waiting in front of windows and the ones behind them hoping to be next. Their clothes looked shabby and worn out and the few dusty bulbs were doing them no favour. The majority were men, and their dark hair and skin only helped to dim the place even further. It felt a little bit like a cave.

The smell of smoke pervaded the air. It was that stench of forgotten ashtrays and unswept floors and cheap tobacco and smoke particles nesting in hair. There was no escaping it, within five minutes, my clothes gave up my perfume and adopted Marlboro in its place.

Behind the windows, I could see the tops of heads of the staff. They were balding men, the rest of their hair graying, and behind them were metal shelves caving in from stacks of folders. The folders were torn and frayed at the edges, factory-coloured blues, greens and pinks that ought to be holding information from the Dark Ages. A donkey or a wooden carriage wouldn’t seem out of place in this world.

“What hole did I fall in?”, I thought.

I went to the far left window and waited. The man behind didn’t pay attention to me, which was weird because I looked like the cleanest face there. I saw that he had a computer, nothing fancy, but a machine that would spare me a place in one of the soft, split-edge faded folders. A cord of smoke was dancing somewhere in front of the screen, his waiting-to-be-seized cigarette, not a burning keyboard. I was wrong. He picked up his pack of Winston’s and lit another one. The cord was still dancing, happy that for the next few minutes they will be two.

He gestured to me to hand him my papers. Shlick, shlack, staple, pa2 pa2,

“Khaliyoun ma3ik.”

He then handed me a square piece of paper.

“3aleyki malyoun w miten w khamsa w tis3een. Dfa3iyoun 3a sandouk w rj3e.”

The numbers weren’t lying: 1,295,000 with my name under.


“Manik def3a mecanique. Alfen w tis3. Alfen w 3ashra.”

Ha! He thinks he can trick me because I look like the cleanest thing here! My eyes still large in shock, I go outside. I call Lumiere.

“Is this a logical sum? One million?”

Apparently it was. Apparently I wasn’t smarter than a fifth grader. Fuck my life.

With the fresh wad of liras in my hand, I went back in. In my absence, a line had formed in front of the cashier’s window all across the room and I had to place myself at the end, on the opposite wall. Naturally, people chose to cross to the other side between me and the guy in front, because nobody was going to excuse themselves, or break the line of sweat, smoke and testosterone lining up to leave this place a few hundred thousand liras lighter.

In Dubai, they always let the women skip the line, it’s a given. For a second, I expected someone to spare me the painful wait, to say tfadale and just step behind me. From the moment I had walked in I was expecting a special treatment because I looked like I didn’t belong to this world, but I had forgotten that this was a world I had chosen to ignore and on which I had turned my back. Why should they even notice me? I looked like a thing to push over, a thing to walk on, because I had no idea that this is the world for most people here. A world of waiting, of aggressive gestures, of stench, of faded colours, of lost causes, of lost hopes, of tawouk breakfasts, lunches and dinners, a world of push and shove if you ever want to get anywhere.

And then, not without the residue of vanity, I felt proud to be down here, to not have run away, to do the necessary, to face the ugly…

…but it was a questionable pride. In less than half an hour or so, I was back in my cushioned world of tfadale and tikram 3younik and the prospect of waiting in line was an entire year away.

I really have no idea.




I'm tossing and turning in Beirut.

All this scrolling has made me nauseous. I know I shouldn't have. 

Oh the shouldn't-haves! The taste of paradox on the tongue of your mind! The sweet temptation slowly reeling you in, the senses wide shut in anticipation of a shouldn't-see, a shouldn't-hear, a shouldn't-speak. And you could've walked away, but you wouldn't. Too close to fight the smell of dead-thing-in-the-corner, too curious to not turn it over, too disappointed to discover it to be just cat. Categorical sinner.

Sin-half-full. Not quite capital, but wrong at the onset and the outcome wronger still.

I knew I shouldn't have the moment I knew.

[phone buzzes. London calling. He should be on his way. Smell of something-in-the-corner.]

I don't know how he does it. How does he cope with living in a museum of my raw and naked past? Perhaps if it were a file cabinet in the basement of a library, the ex-files would not take on a role heavier than baggage but I'm one of those sentimental people who dare not throw anything away. I just throw everything around. My dirty laundry hangs above me like a cartoon cloud, follows me around like a red balloon, escapes through my mouth and lands on the ears of others where it doesn't matter. How does he not want to pop it into silence? 

I did it. I could say I stumbled upon, I could say it was coincidental, accidental, never intended for, but I would be lying and I shouldn't. I shouldn't have rummaged trough his file cabinet. I shouldn't have seen that picture. I wouldn't feel nauseous now. I wouldn't feel stupid, because

"Hey, I am not an envious person."

And of the old dusty past too! About two years ago, a hand on the waist, the smile I know, the smell of the neck I can summon at will, the girl he holds and who looks nothing like me and maybe I had a long day, shaky limbs, outdoor shivers, shaky grounds for insecurity? 

A cold, glass facade, impermeable to rain and reflecting sunshine 300 days a year, blocking UV, blocking views to the inside, mullions like knives up and down, across, insensitive at best, if not short of a technical term for apathy in modern materials. Ah, but if one could walk through walls and see the condensation on the other side - the winds of irrational jealousy that shake and quiver and make the droplets flow in streams, what a show of all-day-AC-ON problematics one would see!

How does he walk through the glass museum, the curator hiding in between the panes, exhibits of steam and memories in random rooms, open and coming soon, none of them really over, just covered in dust, or with traces of my nostalgic fingers running across?

The case of rummaging through the X-file. A bout of nausea. Never again. A shouldn't-have that should be learned from. Again and again.




I'm sleepless in Beirut.

I better watch out, I better not cry, better not pout, I'm telling you why, London is coming to town. They have made a list, they're checking it twice, they already know who's naughty and nice...so try and be good for goodness sake!

Imaginary-Extraordinary-Him and Balding should land in Beirut in the coming days. Or so they said. Or do I say this because I care?

I do remember.

I met Balding at Art Lounge. He was here on vacation. I was ordering drinks. He stood a little behind me to my left. I felt his gaze. He later explained he wasn't looking at me. I turned to ask for a light. He told me he didn't smoke. I used the candle instead. He made fun of my "do you have a light?" line. I retorted that it wasn't a line, I had in fact lost my lighter. He asked me what I did in life. I let that slip and I answered and reciprocated the question. He continued the conversation. I did not have anything better to do. He seemed like a nice guy. I seemed like a nice girl. We spoke until I left. I gave him my number. He said he'd call the next day. I then realized that he hadn't even asked for it. He must have thought I was eager. I thought I had made a terrible mistake. He waved to me as I drove off. I hoped that was the last I'd see of him. Ma2ele jlede. I had Imaginary-Extraordinary-Him and a plan to go to London.

Imaginary-Extraordinary-Him used to sing to me. He would play on his guitar and sing and I would replay the voicemail a  hundred times. We would both pour wine simultaneously and our video conversations would become increasingly frivolous as the drops collected in our blood. We would share the sounds of bath water, afternoon jogs and kitchen utensils and we imagined that the other was right there. We knew how we would feel one against the other, how we would fit, because the weight of our words made us corporeal. We would stay up for hours, past bedtime, past logic, past reality, past the present, past the future, absorbed in conversation, absorbed by the pixels sent via cables and satellites until we were close to collapse and sometimes past that. When Skype was beyond reach, we would pour ourselves down letters and text messages, and every moment would be missing something until we had exchanged a message or a comment, till we made poetry bleed from between the lines.

"I'm at Deir el Qamar. There is a girl on stage playing the flute."

"I'm at a really pretentious place called Kensington Roof Gardens."

"So much. So so much.   [pretend I am your ground]"

"I don't need to pretend...it's all relative. You're real."

"So are you. I don't even miss you."

"I do [saying the same thing as you in a different way :) ]...

...the next morning... 

...I woke up with bits and fragments of yesterday's attempts to read parts of your e-mail. Finding myself often scrambling for an imaginary pen and paper to pin down important thoughts I wanted to share with you before they slip out of my mental cavity or sucked back to some hidden parts of my brain. Your existence seems to be unleashing a dormant creature in me, like a third eye of spirituality, almost like I cannot imagine a world without you because it's so much more awake with you, Sleepless, a new dimension...well, in blunt honesty I'm not sure what it is but hell I can't wait to write you back. I hope it's not just out of curiosity, but even that is fine in our world..."

"To read that and try to reply...I'd only be lying."


To share that and try to unbelieve it, would have been a crime against every fairytale I had ever read before going to bed. I had to believe it. I had to think that I had found that other person who could read my mind, who could navigate it and who could love it, because if I had been cynical, I would have died then and there. All hope of that special something extraordinary would have left me.

But maybe the trick of that extraordinary special something surviving was to abstain from ever touching it. Like a surface of glass, still and impeccable, mirror to the sky, ode to strolling clouds, a plane to a reflection matrix, once touched, even if by a wisp of air escaping the mouth above the water surface, would be perturbed from shore to shore for days, maybe weeks to come. And only when its unfathomable stillness would be restored, only when the earth would appear as though it had never moved, only when the last grain of sand settled at the bottom, only then would it be beautiful again and the eyes that looked upon the lake in awe and fascination would be long gone.

I think we both knew that, but the possibility of us never meeting became a projection of possible anguish and pain. I justified everything with a "What if?"

"What if you're the one? The one I could spend the rest of my life with? Wouldn't that be something? Wouldn't it be something to have caught a frivolous thought of you being my man, my forever before ever having touched you and then discovering it to be a prophecy that came true?"

In the end, I just wanted to know. I couldn't weigh the What if? question in my head anymore. It became an obsession and all the signs, the dwindling communication, the change in tone, the broken promises, they never reached me through the fog. I succumbed to a sort of Saramagian blindness - my eyes were licked over with a milky whiteness through which I could never see past, but I always insisted on squinting in the hope that I sooner or later would.

So I bought my ticket to London. Willingly and consciously, the most beautiful thing was tarnished, and I think we both knew that, but the excitement of the trip lied to us. We were deceived by our very own lie. 

The truth was ugly. Or it didn't fit. It was two sizes too small. Or was our lie two sizes too big? It doesn't matter. The pantylines were obvious.

It's strange to know that we will be in the same city once again. It's strange to not feel the same excitement that I did last. It's strange to acknowledge that something extraordinary was but a figment of the imaginary. Or was it? Can something be dismissed as a hypochondriac's fancy once you have felt it in your bones? I refuse to think that the line between tangible and intangible is that clear. But the strangest thing is that I have come to terms with the failure. I admit to having knitted a sweater two sizes too big. I admit to having tried to wear it. I admit that the largeness of it did not bother me, but it was the prickly wool that made me take it off and stow it away.

I admit that I sometimes wonder why it plummeted and I admit that I cannot pin down why. I admit that I am curious. I hope it's just that, curiosity, because that is fine in our world. 




I'm sleepy in Beirut.

I read to you poems about little monsters; about little hearts ignored and rejected, about the cruel world that turns its back to anomalies. I read them out loud with a British accent and a Mexican tang gone wrong and you had nightmares about Mexican prisons and I don't know whether that comforts me to know that I can slip in between the pages of dreams that you flip through at night.

Furry from the waist up, I clambered beside you into bed. I don't know how it began, but we sealed ourselves in, me and you against the world, two anomalies that maybe fit. I say maybe, because it's hard to see past your suit of skin that I cannot but liken to glue, an all-purpose adhesive that can stick a glove unto a foot. Our lips separate like two fingers smudged with UHU, stubborn to yield to the fact that they belong to separate bodies. The wish to be one, the wish beyond any physical capability, the wish that would come true in a factory-size blender is becoming a frequent visitor in the back of my mind. If I were a Burton poem, I would blend us two together.

You spoke out against a lot and I thought of running. I know you need to run, but you anticipate walls before the start line. I think those walls you can run through, but you must start running soon. Abstract shit, huh? You light being, so much weighs you down and you never weigh it down on me. What grace you possess! You are graceful without moving, here laying still beside me in bed, talking about everything that should not go wrong for you in this world. I don't know why things should. I don't know why Oyster Boy had to die in the end, I thought he should turn into a merman instead. But does it matter what I think when he ends up as ground aphrodisiac powder anyway? I cannot make your world good, but I think it should be good to you. 

I see you now at work, reading what I wrote to you and tears well up in my eyes at the thought of it. If good things don't come your way, then dog exists instead. And I will be heartbroken as one would be in face of a lost cause. Too many lost causes...and I will sound like half a pound of Brie boy, but there is no need to be lost 'cause there is always a route, even in a routine. You can uproot or you can uproot the traffic lights that stall you.

[And I should probably do away with the tone of tha preacher man.]

I guess I just want you to be happy and I admit it is nothing but a selfish wish. You are already a pretty big problem. The kind of problem that stuffs a handbag with rehabilitation program brochures.


Sleepless in Beirut will be televised

Tune in on the Mazaj show on Future TV this Monday, the 13th of December, at 19h00, to get in between the sheets with Sleepless in Beirut.




I'm sleeping in in Beirut.

Kinder surprise wrapers, lighters, dying cigarettes, finished drinks,
melting ice cubes, wrist games, electric feel, broken record, toilet
trips, do what you feel now.

Lumiere goes to the bathroom, two steps higher. My boots on the stool,
my left hand across my stomach clutching my right elbow, my left hip
uncomfortable from the unnatural twist in position.

Unnatural situations.

The place is filling up. Someone switched on the AC.

Lumiere writes: it's getting a warm feel of cold

He hands me the phone.

"Write more!", I insist "fesh khil2ak"


He doesn't like being told what to do. Natural reactions.

Naturally, I'd push further, but he disappeared to the bathroom. And
when he returned he divorced me from my phone with a kiss. My centre
dropped to the leather seat and rose back up to my throat.

Some guy moves through the crowd and they kiss.

"This is my brother's best friend"

His bent leg weighs down a slight bit. I want to take it further.

The room could be on fire, the red light, the smoke burning my eyes,
the heat of his leg, the lighter being lit, the cilia dying in his
trachea, the cilia choking in mine. Put out the fire with those wet
lips and I'll drop to the floor with those ashes. Easily. False
libations. The wine is swimming in me.

"Do you know what I want to do?"


"I want to kiss you and smell you till the morning"

We were on the same level. I couldn't stop playing with his hair,
sometimes pulling harder out of frustration, but most of the time
dancing around his neck and earlobes.

"I have to go. I can't cancel out on them."

"And what are you going to do after?"

I leaned forwards, stretched my neck up and kissed the labyrinth of his ear.


"Lesh la2? Since when is a kiss a la2?"

"I thought you were trying to smoothen the goodbye."

And then I realized that kisses are probably worse than smiles. A kiss
ridden with guilt and planted in your lover's skin is acidic compared
to a guilt-ridden smile.

"I'll see you at my place?"

"That should be a statement not a question."

"I'll see you at my place."

I swam through the crowd and into the wet street. I walked briskly to
my car and headed towards the suburbs.

Three hours later, I was back. I parked my car close by; my umbrella
and shoes would be useless in the upcoming storm.

I saw a female figure head up the stairs that lead to Lumiere's. She
looked like his friend's girlfriend or just a friend of the

On the landing, the light from beneath Lumiere's door fell on a human figure.

"Hi!" I said, thinking it was the girl I had met a couple of weeks ago

We knocked on the door simultaneously. Į found that bizarre, shouldn't
she leave the knocking to me since I'm the one who walks around in his
boxers? Her boyfriend must have been inside.

The door opened and I exclaimed, "Ta-daaah!"

But it was only Lumiere. I dropped my things on the sofa and went back
to my car for my forgotten phone.

When I came back she wasn't there.

"Who was that?"

"Where did you find her?"

"I didn't, I just saw her go up the stairs, thought it was..."

"She was in my school, we had a thing. The last time I saw her was
five months ago... She messaged me 15minutes ago asking me where I
was. I didn't reply. Bad timing."

"Perfect timing! She'll get the message. What happened when I left?"

"She asked who you were and I said you were..." he cupped the air to
the left of his chest.

"What did you tell her?"

"Khallas, ma 7a ilik!"

"Tell me, tell me!"

He swiveled round in his chair trying to escape the tight corner.

"Mabadi ilik."

"You told her I was your boob?"

It didn't matter. Those words don't matter. Titles, orders, names will
not add anything. Who needs to know? We know what we live, and it may
be called a boob for all I care.

Silly as it may sound, mystery prevails because.




I'm sleepless in Beirut. One, two, three, checking. Tuk, tuk, tuk. Is it on?


Everyone covers their ears.


*whispers to the other* Can I address the audience directly? Isn't that against, like, you know, every law in literature?

*whispers back* Are you Tolstoy? This is a blog. Chill. And after post-modernism, you whatever pretty much do can want...

Clears the dust off the screen and keyboard. Ahem, ahem.

Seeing that today my life took an unexpected turn, I am at a loss, at a crossroads, at the start of ten thousand possibilities. I am at a loss for words. I feel like I'm driving towards a 7ejez, a road block, a writer's block. I've always been driving myself, writing for myself, but 10,000 miles, 10,000 passing views ahead, I can't help, but want to go further and take you along with the journey.

Where would you like me to take you? Somewhere old? Somewhere new? Somewhere borrowed? Somewhere blue?

My indicator is on, blinking...


the in-between: so long December


I say so long December, 'cause I've reason to believe that this month will go by faster than the last. A new year to come? My new year has already begun, I guess I'm still stuck in the tradition of new beginnings once the official summer months have passed. 

But the seasons seem to have forgotten their cue, or that there is a queue at all, that spring is a period of fornication, that summer is a time of sun worship and whoreship, that autumn is a fall in speed and folly, that winter is a weight and wait for summer. The seasons have forgotten us, they have left us with a constant climate, they have left us without hope of change.

Days are flying by and I'd like to ask time for seconds. I want more. Another round please, because this time I'd take it in spoon by spoon, I won't devour every possibility only to get a little taste, but never the full experience. But if the leaves are evergreen, the bananas ever fresh and the skies forever blue, where should I go looking for change? Where do I climb to see the world shift?

And what is world to a little me? Is it the room I'm sitting in? Is it my last phone call? Is it my last love? Is it my dream I'm sitting on?

Hell, don't preach to me about internal change because if all is relative than everything outside my mind is static, even the constant flow of blood through my head is static in its cycle, even the possibility of tomorrow is still because it's always the same 50/50 chance of something or another.

Two more days to go and then I'll know. I'll know if change will shift me across the universe.




I'm sleepless in Beirut.

Simultaneously, I receive a "BonZour" and "Hey! Ssup bad gul :p"

A collaborative resurrection. A coffin lid that slid an inch and expelled the smell of skeletons and withered, stiff forget-me-nots. 

The dead eyeballs roll forward again and looked at me accusingly, why have you forgotten us?

Leon and Hugg, a man and a half, two characters that I let settle to the bottom of my list of people I wanted to be connected to. There was something about them that just didn't fit.That smell of fish in the middle of the Gobi, that empty highway at rush hour, that sound of a stray firework weeks after New Year's - that something that made you turn around and head the other way.

Both were certified. Leon, reliably endorsed by being a friend of a friend of a friend and Hugg, (to be yet) legally declared insane.

I met Leon through work. What was to be a professional meeting for coffee, stretched into a drive to the mall, a shopping spree for a lamp for my home and a dinner by the sea.

His body was a paragraph of triceps, biceps, deltoids, pectorals, abdominals, latissimus dorsi, adductors and laterals written with roaring, ripping rhyme and rhythm and its poetry touched me like only a primal awakening could. He was the physical definition of man. His skin was tanned and rough looking, his cheeks chiseled to perfection, his lips thin and firm, his arms hairy, his face clean-shaven, but at the ready to sprout at any given moment and his nose tip dipped, recalling the shape of a pair of well-loaded Speedos. But his eyes spoke of something opposite. They were almond-shaped, deep wells of dark brown chocolate, laced with lashes that called for a two page spread mascara ad. They softened his menacing jaw-line, they looked at me softly and the twenty years between us evaporated as did the formality that we had swallowed along with our first cup of coffee.

He would always ask about my cat and give her love and affection the few times he had come over. I was soon classified under the feline species, "How are my two cats doing?" he'd message me. He lacked the royal mane of a lion, but he fit right in the serengeti of my imagination. I could picture him lying in a strategic spot, his body pertched up by an elbow resting on the ground and his other arm resting like a stamp of ownership on his bent knee, the horizon stretching out before him in four clean lines over which the satin bed sheets draped and spilled...the fantasies came easy.

It didn't take long to succumb to the primal laws of the savage plains. The fragile ecosystem depended on either one of us to win, to fight it out like only prey and predator could, to have the battle end in shreds and shrieks and a satisfaction of a prehistoric craving. But our roles were interlaced and we spoke in meows and purrs lacerated with what could only be pleasure and we fell back into the fitting curves of our bodies with a heaviness of a blackout.

But that was the only fit. Like two puzzle pieces that come together in perfect contour, but one a piece of sky and the other a piece of ocean. The way he..., the way it..., the way... I could not pin it down, I could not name why I felt uneasy about the two of us, so I blamed his few grammatical mistakes for my sudden aversion...even though I knew he had an iPhone and that his fingers were too large for the tiny keyboard.

Hugg was more didactical. Our relationship grew from him preaching to me his sci-fi dogmas and me listening to them avidly. I was eager to interact on what he called the third level of communication, to discuss abstract concepts and ideas, rather than who ate where and who did what. Cruising round the Corniche, we escaped reality, he encouraged me to dig deeper into my spiritual wells, to let go of social bullshit...

only so we could later show up, hot and gorgeous, at some drunk n' bass party. It didn't fit, even if we left early, even if we knew that we were above all that stuff, even if we dicussed how pointless, how absurd...and then we'd go back again the next weekend.

Our journey started as a platonic friendship. The blindiness of beautiful theory!

"I am looking for a friend. I need a friend right now. I want us to become best friends. I want to share everything with you."

Does everything include kisses and hugs and cuddles and caresses and moans and sighs?

It did. And I could never let go of the initial theory sold to me, because I am that person that gets caught up in details and finds difficulty in letting go of the story even when the book is over. He didn't practice what he preached. He was a walking paradox.

Flutterby messaged me last night: I got a restraining order on my ex-boyfriend - apparently I was a victim of Stockholm Syndrome.

Come to think of it, I think I was too. Hugg was abusive. He'd play me hard: raise me up and then tear me down. It's a cunning game and it works. You are trained to love your abuser. Hugg was a dog person and he wanted me to be his dog or even l'ombre de son chien. Within a month or so, I felt a cloud of bad energy begin to build up. I didn't feel good most of the time and I'd go looking for that better in Hugg. And he played me. The morning I walked out on him when he was still asleep, was the best move I had done for myself. It was checkmate.

But it didn't come with the pride and glory of a strong woman, I have to admit. I called on Botticelli. He had just come back from vacation. I wanted the safety of his arms and the safety of his appartment, far away from this street and this world that I really didn't belong in. I was already parked beneath his window when we spoke on the phone. He didn't know, but the invitation never came. I hung up, swallowed everything and drove off into the rising sun.

So don't supp bad gul me. Because I'll say hey. Because I'm too weak to send you away for good.




I'm sleepless in Beirut.

He got up from his chair and laid down in front of me. We were quiet and his kinetic gesture, a habit that I have come to know in the five days I spent living with him, called to me to move from where I was sitting. I got up and sat down beside him.

I leaned forward and we kissed. My lips entered into the chamber of his mouth and I sucked the air out of his lungs.

"Imagine you died like this!"

He smiled.

"How would you like to die? In your bed?"

"That's so boring. I would like to die doing what I love."

"Which is?"

"Come on, you know."


"Like, say if I was free-falling..."

"What else do you like to do?"

"Hundreds of things."

"Yalla,what are they?"

He must have felt cornered, nailed down. He hmmmmed.

"Tayyeb, give me seven."

Eating sushi was one of them. Number seven was surprising.

"I'd like to have a son."

"What would you call him? Or would you name him after you see him?"

"I don't know. I'd name him once I see him."

"But they all look the same when they're first born! And so ugly. Like aliens."

"Ugly? Are you serious? If I saw a baby now, I would cry."

I felt like I didn't deserve a womb. I actually felt the phantom of an inflated void in my belly. I felt it rise to my heart. I quickly tried to human myself with excuses such as "but it's only during the first few weeks, then they become adorable" or "I remember seeing my brother and sister in the hospital, they were red and wrinkled...but I loved them anyway". Like that rectified the situation. Writing it down has just made it THAT much worse.

Some people have asked me, "What is it that you want the most? What is that goal in your life?". Naturally, if I find babies ugly I should like a glossy career, laughter-glazed dinner parties, champagne bubbles in flute glasses, New York streets beneath the red soles of my Louboutins, a vintage Porsche in my garage, Danish furniture around my loft and a dozen of scruffy one-button extra unbuttoned flock of Javier Bardems ready to sail me, fly me and take me. Amen. 

A men? That is grammatically and logically incorrect. Or was that morally?

I do have to admit that I have daydreamed along those lines and I'm still young enough to think that if Faraya can have a Hollywoodian sign in their front yard, so can I - a Holy more Woody ally scripted life. But I do know better than to believe that such a dream will culminate in nothing but a large gaping Hole-in-the-wood-of-my-future-construct.

The truth is, rip me apart or believe me, my answer was and still is, "The only thing I know for sure is that I want to be a mother."

Just not yet. Most of the girls in my family have had children quite early, some at eighteen, others at twenty-two and even if that has been their personal choice, or in some cases not, uh-oh, I don't think it right at all. 

Even if they love their kids, they will tell you now that they came too early. These girls, life was harsh for them and they were impulsive, fleeing their domestic autocracy for another, fleeing the high altitudes of stacks of books for the white peaks of underwear of Mt. To-yet-iron, I feel for them. Who knows, had life happened differently for me, I could be a sleepless Um-Karim.

They might not have travelled or graduated from some honourable college or graduated at all, but they don't need any of that to give to a child. All kids needs is love.

Right. I'll buy that on a 70% sale. 

I want to be a mother because I want to do something better. To do that, I need to know what is better and I need to know what is worse. I need more time. I want to raise them to wonder, to think and judge for themselves and to be free of the current shackles of iShit. I need to learn more to teach well. But that's just me, with an empty womb and no child to know the reality of things. 

My best memory of mom and I was the time she took me on the back of a bike and while we were riding along the street, a screw came loose and the wheel rolled down somewhere into a ditch. We discovered a stream and pretty blue flowers. Her hair was lose and she wore high-waist blue jeans, and I was clashing in a yellow T-shirt and purple overalls, one tooth less behind a perfect smile. 

I learned that if she could fix a broken wheel, so could I.




I'm sleepless in Beirut.

We found ourselves on the way to Faraya. The road was empty and the villages we passed were close to deader than dead. It was hours past bedtime and our eyes too blinked like the flickering lights that lit our way higher and further into some memory of snow blanketed landscapes. 

It was the same desolate road and the same yellow light that punctuated my second date with Capitalyst. My salty sweat was still fresh from The Basement and the excitement freshly glazed with anxiety. 

"Btw, that invitation to the Cedars, or rather Faraya, is not half-hearted.  You do ski, right? Perhaps you'd join me for a day on the slopes this Sunday?  It would be downhill skiing, so no special equipment necessary.  We can even have dinner at Le Montagnou - Fondue and Pierrade, or for something more traditional Shaker's Bayd bi 2awerma would be plenty good.", he wrote.

The plan to spend the night in Faraya at his friend's chalet wasn't half-hearted either. At first I was hesitant. I was sure I wasn't going to be able to handle the where-to-sleep issue with grace. I was afraid of coming off as a prude, but I was also unwilling to put myself in a position where I would have to ward off any unexpected advances. 

But the awkwardness of the situation was too tempting to pass up. I was sure to walk away with a story. More importantly, I wanted to see him again.

So there we were, slithering up the mountain road, traces of snow making their first appearance within the first half an hour of the trip. On our way up, we made room in the trunk for a bunch of drunk teenagers looking for an easy way to get back home. 

He drove up to the deserted Warde station. We sat in the car, the sunroof open to reveal all the full-stops left by shriveled nebulas. I would tense up every time he would come within an inch's distance to my face. Looking back, one could say that I had a phobia of appearing as an easy girl

I know better now, I am anything but. Yes, if easy means that I have laid to rest all my complexes regarding sex in this society, then yes, I am easy, still, and forever will be. But I'm complex and complicated and I am capable of writing wonderful equations to justify A+B=C, because it's never C, it's always A+B. I don't have sex, I make love. It comes easy to me. White flag. I'm an easy girl. 

And it was this particular phobia that handicapped me for quite a while. I've let go of it, just as I've let go of potentially beautiful moments that I walked past like one passes a sex shop. Is7a...

My handicap wasn't invisible either. I wasn't sitting in the passenger seat of his car: I was in a wheelchair. I don't recall his reaction word-for-word, they were big big words one after the other and amidst anxiety, the inner battlefield and feeling intimidated by his to-the-point attitude I completely blanked out. When it was my turn to say something, I could barely muster a stammer. 

"Let's go to the chalet. They must be there by now. Maybe you will relax a little."

Relax I did. It was an authentically furnished cozy little nook with a friendly host and amiable guests. Up until then, I had had very little chance to meet the kind of people a mother would like you to meet: young, nice, educated, cultured. I wouldn't say I was in my own element, but it's an element I always wished to be a part of.

My cheeks returned to a rosy red until everyone began to turn in.

"Where are we going to sleep?"

"In the guest room."

That must mean same bed? I peered inside. It was a big bed, we could fit my invisible friend between us two. If only he could see him!

But Capitalyst was sweet. Bittersweet. He didn't want another friend. I had to make a choice. That night I chose to interject my invisible friend so as to better sleep on it.

Funny how things change. How big beds take the backstage, how society fades into the background, how we claim to want change when the way we think is backwards, how we preserve virginity by taking it in the back, how we stab each other's backs. Take the back door exit and leave this circus, the real carnival is yours to make.




I'm sleepless in Beirut.

Lumière is in bed and I'm on his computer. 

"You should write something"

Should I? Who am I writing for now? I will write for the ghosts of my past who still haunt every precious corner. My precious ghosts who vanish as soon as I touch them.

I saw Botticelli tonight. 

"T'as vraiment changé. Douce.  Zen. T'es une femme. T'es une femme."

He was the same. I was myself now. We were different. No bitter history, just smiles and curled up legs on the sofa and the comfort of having known the before and the comfort of being able to be in the present. We hugged for a long time. No weapons of yesterday, no record books of who was left behind and who emerged unbruised, no dirty laundry. Fresh sheets, fresh shave, fresh stories to tell.

"Shoo betkhabrina?"

"I did something crazy. I went to London to meet a complete stranger."


"It's amazing how much you can connect without actually meeting a person."

"And find that the reality is different?"

"Non, pas vraiment. The first few days were great, but then there was a cut." I motioned scissors. "The last day was horrible."

"Tu tombes toujours sur des malades."

But it takes two. We named them des cas spéciaux. I'm attracted to impossible cases. He's attracted to incompatible cases. What are we running from?

But it takes two. I'm an impossible case and he's incompatible and together we are im- and in- and we can stare at the ceiling and think of the harsh light that obliges us to be frank and awake to our reality. Botticelli's will always be an honest space where nudity is just another mask on the wall staring down at us.

But my reality is not a moment and it is not really there anymore for me to own. But there, I can own up to it because there is nothing to lose anymore. The battle has been forgotten and the battlefield is an overgrown patch of wild field where leaves of grass are fresh and soft on our soles.

My reality is in this room where it has set up camp. A nomadic reality that shelters us and gathers us underneath the sheets, sometimes a bundle of writhing limbs and sometimes a body with four legs and arms breathing with one pulse and sometimes two pairs of eyes that look into the distance and do not meet. To be separate in the together is the impossible, but it is the element that makes us compatible. Lumière is dark and darkness I have always found appealing. To be blind and undistracted, to concentrate on peeling away the bed linen, the clothes, the translucent skin, the Myocardiocyteal muscle tissue, the opaque bones, the thoughts, the secrets, until there is nothing but light.