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I'm sleepless in Beirut.

I like it on the floor. That's where I dropped it. I went into my room to pick up the pieces of morning. His negative was printed in the pillow. His smell cast a positive spell. Something to be taken in.

It's something to respond to a confession without Machiavellian intentions. Makes one wonder. What is it about integrity that makes it hard to believe in? 

Was it hard to believe that two hours of tête–à–tête were enough to result in Lumière coming to pick me up from the airport? No. I would have done the same. To walk out into the sterile light of the airport and be greeted by someone you barely know, makes all the electric wires in Beirut turn into Christmas lights. A gesture so beautiful in its simplicity that it could rival a Dali. Because standing in front of a Dali made my eyes well up with tears. Even though tears are an unusual parallel to big wide smiles, the trigger was the same. The witnessing of a reverie.

Lumière reckons I've quite a bit of a dreamer in me. I suppose he is right and I suspect I should be grateful that life has spoiled me. It has yet to choose to prove me wrong. It could happen tomorrow; there's a very thin line between dreams and nightmares. Regardless, we have to sleep nonetheless.

And I was tired, on the verge of collapse really. Yet somehow, I made it through the day. Bless innate coping mechanisms! 

"I'll be free in 2 hours"

"You'd end up tucking me in. Which would be nice."

"Yes it would be nice"

"Well, if you're willing to be a little girl's pillow and nightmare warrior... -the innocent tone intended! But only if you're on the brink of exhaustion and just as unwilling as I for this to turn into another predictable post!"

"Did you ever think that maybe I need a warm pillow more than u do?"

"Are you saying I'm self-absorbed? You wouldn't be wrong. A bientôt, alors."

"We all are in a way..."

"Would you please bring with you a bottle of either orange or grapefruit juice?"

"Sure, gotta go home first...U sure u can wait?"

"Don't worry about it"

It was past midnight when the doorbell rang. Cinderella was in her PJs. PJ Harvey and Thom Yorke were on when I opened the door.

There was peach, apple, mango and pineapple.

"Lik shoo lebanese inta!"

"They didn't have grapefruit or orange juice. Tsk. Come on."

In the kitchen, there was no need for words now. 

We sat in silence. 

He looked me, 

in the eye directly. 

I met him, 

I think it was Wednesday, 

the evening. 

The mess we're in.

Sleep evaded us. I thought about the awkwardness that was to come. Twenty-four hours later and we were back on the balcony, sleepless in Beirut, surrounded by silence and the neighbours' kitchen lights. This time round, he had my name.

"Nice to meet you."

We held out till 02:45. We laid in the darkness, arms barely touching. And we spoke, because the "barely" kept our eyes wide open. Silence would slip in at intervals. I could hear his shoulder against mine. Made me think of the white noise of crisp plastic bags in elevator silence. 

I asked for his arm, put it around me and we fell asleep.

He was already awake, tight against the wall, when the construction works woke me up.

"Did you sleep well?", I asked.

"I woke up as soon as there was light. You were snoring."



the in-between: a modest confession


I'm sleepless in Beirut.

I'm tired. So tired. I want to collapse beside a warm body just as tired and sink into a deep bottomless sleep.

I confess. I need sleep. I need warmth. I need to not want. But I want to need. I'm tired, you know. I'm a little broken body looking for a pillow. Something mellow and marshmallow soft, calm and sweet. Tired thoughts too lazy to imagine tomorrow, wild and untamed,like my hair unbrushed this morning.

Brush my hair. Fall asleep. Keep the right side warm. Be tired. Languid. Lingual. Like a swollen tongue. Like a swollen dream. Like a belly of down feathers for me to sink my head in. Like warm feet in the morning. Like a warm cup of milk and tea. Like a milky way. Like a little bit of that.




I'm sleepless in Dubai.

I left everything for the last minute. I packed my bags three hours before my flight, called a cab, picked up a package, picked up an envelope and stumbled into the airport, through the metal detectors, through the cloud of perfume in the duty free area, through the echo-friendly corridors and unto the plane. The urgency of those couple of hours distracted me from the obvious: I was reluctant to leave.

I had no reason to leave Beirut. The trip came to me like a sudden jerk pulling me out of bed two hours before the alarm was due. I wanted to sleep in, to snooze, to let the dream of being back-in-Beirut develop and suck me into a deceptive reality. Instead, an intermission was imposed upon me. 

To help me better remember the dream, I left Beirut as one would leave their room in the morning. Undone, unzipped, unmade. The strings of the last few days I left, untied. I did not sleep much either. An hour, maybe two.

"Ah, I would've joined you"

"Hmm am still here, my 3rd drink, a bit dizzy..I told you I'm here the minute I arrived"

"1. I wouldn't want to intrude 2. I am uninvited 3. You should shout louder."

"u won't intrude my solitude anyway. Told you "indirectly", I never shout loud :)"

I had to. I rummaged through my drawers. There was nothing relevant, nothing sleepless, nothing Beiruti, so I went for the bright and conspicuous: my favourite red die. I threw on some clothes, jumped into the car and went off into the night.

This is where Serendipity started to get creative. My phone buzzed. Unknown Dubai number. 

"So...yea...you know Mr.Keller?"

Worrying at first glance, transparent at second. I was sure this was Capitalyst exploiting his new foreign number. 

"I'm wondering how you made the connection. Till when are you in Dubai?"

"Well, he recognized me as someone you'd once spoken about...and I'm here wondering WTF did you tell him? Until Saturday morning."

"Plans tomorrow night? Pick you up from where?"

I hadn't seen him in a long while now and the fact that we would both happen to be in Dubai at the same time was a fun enough coincidence to call for a reunion. We had a very nice evening together, extricating the Mr. Keller factor, filling up the gap between now and when we last bumped into each other in front of the traffic light in Downtown and discussing possible adventure ventures.

My phone was ringing. Imaginary Extraordinary Him. Wow. The familiar ringtone, his photo, his name, two weeks of dead and bitter silence and the need to sweeten it. I answered.

"I thought you wouldn't pick up."

"What's on your mind?"

"I've been so busy. I've only just had the opportunity to digest what happened in London."

Soon enough, the connection started to break up. Call ended. 

"Don't do this. Don't fuck with me. No, no, no. This is not happening", I said out loud into the shell of my car. Sometimes, strength needs to be punctuated and weaknesses punctured.

I parked. It was a two minute walk from the pub. As I swam through the humid air, a rumble and a shine caught my eye. Non! Clooney's delicious coupe. I recognized the number plate and he sure as hell did not recognize me walking in my jeans and flats in the shadows of Gemmayze. Glad to see he is still roaming the night! 

I climbed up the stairs and walked into the pub. I immediately spotted Lumière to my right, even though he was half hidden by the potted plants. I sat down at the bar and ordered a glass of white.

It so happened that there was no WiFi and I could not come up with a good enough opening line to interrupt his conversation. I called up Belle and she took it from there.

"I left you a red die on the bar", she sent to him.

I waited impatiently. Those five minutes felt like hours. I could not hold it much longer and I was running late as it was. I motioned to the waiter, "Could you do me a favour?"

At that point Lumière got up and went to the bar. I watched the waiter approach him and turned for the exit. As I walked out of the building, Tinkerbell from Peter Pan flashed before my eyes and at the thought of having sprinkled some magic dust on another stranger's evening, I skipped out of the alley and unto the street. I never stopped to look back, but my ears were fine-tuned for the most distant footsteps. His shadow never appeared.

"U could've stayed..."

"I told you I was slippery. I'll want it back soon."

"y did u run?"

"I didn't run, I walked. Are you still there?"

"Nope, am home stranger. U back home I suppose?"

"I'm at a friend's. That's why I left, I was already late! Goodnight?"

"Shower then goodnight. y?"

"I'm getting ideas. Ignore them."

"Such as? Now that u ve told me, how can i ignore them?"

"I want you to be sleepless with me."

"I can arrange that I suppose..."

"So unsure. So hesitant."

"Come on..."


"not unsure. not hesitant."

"Are you sure? So far, I've been moving the world all along. Your turn."


"Move the world."

"i am at this moment."

"I don't see it moving. Roll the die. If it's 6...   If not, it's not time yet."

"it s 2"

"7ayete! I love the honesty."


"Truth hurts."

"y? I disagree."

"I have a big flaw. When I want something I want it NOW. Hence the comment. But ultimately, truth is the healthiest thing one can pass on to someone else."

"it's so much easier than that"

"How easy?"

"as much as you can think of...believe me"

"I think you just beat me in "slippery". Why didn't you follow the strange rabbit down the rabbit hole?"

"u were a few floors down..and i wasnt sure it was u..( now i am)"

"Anyway, I was hoping to add a little magic to your evening, nothing more. I was hoping you would react quicker, but my wine finished, my friends were waiting, and the clock was about to strike midnight...so I left my "glass slipper" and slipped away :D"

"maybe u were just making a new post who knows..or maybe...ur sleepless...u should come"

"Wrong. I'm hungry."

"I have labneh :p"

"Do you have tea?"


"Put the kettle on, quick, I'm sleepy. How do I find you?"

It's 03:00. What the fuck am I doing? But I'm doing. I get in the elevator with Diagonal. There's a wad of $1000 and a Mercedes car key resting on the hand-rail. 

"Non! Let's just count the money for the sake of it."

The lift stops at the 4th floor and a certain Miss Lebanon X opens the door looking distraught.

"That's a whole lot of money. You should be more careful.", I said.

She takes the money and the keys and closes the door.

"What the fuck was that? A transaction?"

Diagonal and I come up with a number of alternatives to explain the story, but seeing that the subject is already under public scrutiny, we settle for the crack cocaine one.

I'm doing. I'm actually doing. 

"I'm in front of... Now what?"

I sit in my car. Something moves in the alleyway, a figure. I'm doing? Doing. I get out and walk towards him. There's something cosy in the way we move towards each other. His cheek is warm.

I step into his apartment, out of the darkness and into the light. Lumière. I look at him. In the light, away from his FCBK discretion. I look at him, from up close, without leaves in the way. He has a smile that transforms his face into a second face that speaks of different things. I remember that, but the memory of his face is lost. And with that, everything that took place is fading into a select catalogue of details and exchanges. There was a labneh sandwich and lukewarm green tea and relief when he pulled out his Lucky Strikes and his height and his quiescence and the yellow light in the room and the familiar feeling of being in Beirut but a thousand miles away. His lovely apartment quickly took on the quality of a sealed, safe bubble, a quality that I first came to know at Botticelli's. But unlike my visits to Botticelli's or Hugg's or Pope's or insert-name-here, there was no music playing in the background. Lumière was a minimalist in speech as he was in his messages, but his comfort with silence blew me away. We spent more than two hours in that room and there was no music, no television, no computer screen, no telephones ringing and no uncomfortable silence, no dead air.

On the contrary, the air in the room stirred like a dialogue between the sea and the shore. My uttered sentences crashed into the space between us with exaggerated confidence, the sprays of animated intonation and residual gestures trying to gnaw at the smooth surface of Lumière's glistening sands. Impenetrable. With every burst of conversation, the precariousness of the situation and his manner of speech, would send my mind thrashing as my words splashed the room, dissipated, curled up in apparent failure and were then beckoned back into the deep blue sea by a stealthy pull that was discrete, but definitely his.

I loved listening to him speak. His words were nothing poetic, nothing exceptional, but meant for me. They felt precious. Whether timid or skeptical, or intentionally minimalist, his quiet presence came off as soft and sincere. I could've stayed there till dawn and past sunrise, but I considered the possibility of being unable to read him well, that even though he wasn't fidgety or yawning, he might have had enough of this particular dégustation. I didn't want to impose, even though I was close to certain that I wasn't.

I snapped my fingers. I needed to hear a cue. He accompanied me to my car. His cheek was still warm.

These moments are delicate. They are beautiful and refreshing and unexpected. They are light. So light in fact that they have no place on the ground. Like clouds. Ephemeral, unearthly, ethereal. Perfectly intangible. Easily inflatable. DIY castle in the sky.

I've been revisiting that moment. I can remember the room. I can see the outline of Lumière. But I cannot see his face. He cannot see mine. He cannot say my name. I try hard to remember and everything sinks in deeper, but still no face.

I've been back too many times. And it's a long trip from there to Dubai. I wish I stayed.




I'm stretching my legs during lunch break.

And enjoying the play of cool shade and sunshine circles that diverge and converge through the filter of leaves. It's cool and warm at once, like the weight of a broad thought that considers both melancholy and happiness.

This little courtyard has always been my refuge. It's small enough to be filled with a single person's presence, but large enough to accommodate those who walk in in twos or threes. It's evident that the first arrival owns the place from the way a he or she walks in, looks around, notices the occupant and walks back out. The circle of intimacy that I create by the simple act of sitting down pushes away those illiterate in the divisibility of space. I won't ignore you. On the contrary, I will gladly make room for you because I understand your need to interject a flight of stairs in between yourself and the crowd. Crowds to me are like starless night skies to a ship's captain: unnavigable.

My first contact with water could have been deadly. I was too young to remember, but my grandmother painted the picture for me. I was about three, scavenging the shore for shells and pebbles, when suddenly I decided to run straight into the river. Fortunately, my grandma saw my dash for mermaidom from the corner of her eye and dove into the water to yank me out before the current washed me blue. To this day, rivers bewitch me. There are so few here in Lebanon. I've learned to love the rhythm of tides and waves of the sea, buts its depths and endlessness frightens me. Crowds make me cower, crowded people too I cannot handle. I fare better on single currents.

And sometimes surfing the net. I've always been a lucky black widow in the world wide web.

Over the years I've ridden it to Tower, to Simply, to Botticelli, to White Russian, to Hugg and to Imaginary Extraordinary Him. The sea has currents too it seems and I will let them take you to their stories.




I'm sleepless in Beirut.

Not even two weeks into my resolution and I'm already being challenged. Severely.

I had resolved to give up my habit of "falling in love". A habit, yes, because up until now I seem to have fallen all over the place. After London, it dawned on me that I had to venture out on my own into this world, undistracted, and do a little "soul searching, soul finding". No more guys. I will spend an entire year bettering myself, learning, growing, concentrating on doing what I love and eliminating what I hate. No more guys.

So when Belle proposed we go watch a live band earlier on tonight, I asked myself, "Do I really want to go? Will it add value to my life?". I love live music and I looove good live performances. They feed my soul. As opposed to nightclubs, which deplete it. It was a definite yes.

I arrived to Bar Louie as the band were getting up on stage. And oh how the blues sent chills down my spine! They won me over with the first few notes and enraptured me the entire evening. Belle and I kept exchanging knowing glances, "Great act!", "The guitarist is hot.", "What a voice!""Ooooh, harmonica!" and the like.

That would have been a perfectly magical evening. Me. Good company. The band. The music. 

But no, they call up a guest performer to the stage, some stiff figure who doesn't look like he really wants to be there. 

He turns around, and I could've sworn it was Lulu (post twenty-onepost twenty-two). Stiff Figure looked so much like the man who had once stolen my heart. How could this Lebanese Stiff Figure resemble Lulu, who was of Ukrainian origin? One thing we, the Lebanese, are endowed with is our ability to pass off for a number of many different nationalities. I guess those virile Phoenicians traded more than just spice...

And just like I couldn't look away from Lulu, I couldn't look away from Stiff Figure. He had the same contrast of dark hair against light coloured eyes, he had the same chest, waist and bicep girth, he had the same metallic flash of pendant against hair-free chest, he did have less confidence on stage (but Lulu was an actor)...but boy did he have the same intensity when he looked over my way!


Throughout his performance, I kept on eyeing him, he kept on throwing me glances and the sway of the blues crept its way deeper and deeper into my body.

After about five songs, he was done. We all clapped for Stiff Figure and he descended to rejoin the audience. He lingered for a moment around our table, but I was isolated by a moat of friends. I then saw him leave Bar Louie. "Damn it", I thought "this is what you get for letting yourself slip, now the remainder of the night you'll be thinking - what if?". I was spared that particular torture. I looked through the window, he was still standing outside. Did he expect me to follow him? Riiight. I don't think so. This entire episode shouldn't be happening in the first place and I'm not about to fuel the fire. He lingered outside for a little longer and then went back in, looked at me and disappeared into the crowd.

"I'll allow myself one little stick of firewood". The bold me went to the washroom. He was standing there, talking to a friend, looking less stiff and looking over.

I said, "Hi" and went into the ladies'. And on the way back, because Bar Louie is a tight space, I brushed past him. Slightly, mind you.

Within minutes, he was back at my table and somehow the moat of friends had reconfigured itself and he slipped through the bridge of empty space and sat down beside me.


We talked about this and that. The usual. Name? What do you do? Do you like this kind of music? Do you come around here often? And then the ultimate: do you have a number I could contact you on? You gotta hate that line, it's a killer. It's a killer of romance. So I killed it instead,

"How about you give me yours."

I memorised it. If there's anything worse than that line, it's the bright glow of a phone in a dimly lit venue that screams, everyone look! They met in a bar!

So now it's the next day and I can't get him off my mind and I'm angry with myself for having dropped down my guard, for not sticking with my resolution, but I will probably make the phone call after I publish this post.


It's ringing.




I'm sleepless in the jabal.

The summer has receded to the coast and away with it tumbled down the lights of my neighbouring villagers, leaving me with the flickering TV screen of the village priest. He too has a God at home.

Having left behind the tumult of my first day back, I find myself without distractions. I find myself with fishbones in my throat and a writhing ball of maggots in my gut. Even the layers of shawl over jacket over cardigan over T-shirt cannot keep out the cold. Guilt writhes in my belly like a baby kicking its own mother and like a mother ridden with guilt, I stop breathing to make it go away.

I turn around for the last time and behind the curtain of rain and weeping glass I see Imaginary Extraordinary Him looking back from inside the car. I see myself drop my bags and run back towards him to say goodbye, to kiss him and to hug him, but I'm running late and I wonder why he isn't running towards me instead, so I pick up my things and run down the stairs and unto the westbound platform. My shadow lingers for a moment longer at the top of the stairs and I see him drive off into the mist of rain. A blur, a spritz, a shadow and then nothing.

I was too busy feeling angry and rejected. That morning I had placed a mirror between us, so that I wouldn't need to say goodbye, I wouldn't need to see dejection, unless I punched myself in the face to have the bullshit shatter. I deserved it, but my littleness didn't allow me to reach above my knees. So I slammed the door instead, pulled out my bag from the boot and walked away without saying a word.

If three years of life can seem unchanged on a bench at Hyde Park, then three days of life can feel like three lifetimes on a train platform. Mind the gap in logic.

So along with the two ticking clocks, the howling dog and the car roaring somewhere across the valley, I'm left alone with regret tied to me by an umbilical cord. Why didn't I throw my tantrum out the window? Why didn't I allow myself to feel fragile in his arms one last time? No amount of bedsheets I can burry under to feel a warmth like his surround me.

Although...it takes two to make a child. But it takes one to feed it. I'll starve it till it shrivels. I'll starve it till it dies in my cold womb. I'll starve until I don't recognize hunger. I'll starve until I meet a deprivation and depletion quota, until it's too late to sayve anything at all.