Let me know if you're reading by joining the Sleepless in Beirut page




I'm sleepless in Paris.

The smell of something metallic would occasionally waft over from the right. It couldn't be braces. Would he taste of coins if I were to kiss him? His chair kept squeaking and he would sigh once in a while. I had chosen the movie and I was beginning to feel a little guilty.

"Oui, j'ai bien aimé, c'était assez fort comme histoire...les vrais rednecks, une vie dure..."

We walked to the metro station next to my house. Two cheek bounces and he disappeared into the Parisian underground network.

Phone buzzes.

"Je t'aurais bien embrassé, mais le film et toutes ces images s'y prétaient pas trop je crois..."

"Mais il y avait des chatons et des poussins!"

"Tu as dit que tu croyais que les chatons étaient des rats..."

"Pour un murmure je dirai n'importe quoi"


There is something about the French language that let's slide the cheesiness. Nounours, chou, poussin - I'll sign upon delivery. But you can't put "baby" on my corner, I'll take the long way home, merci.

Yet, I couldn't figure it out. That Friday night out I didn't capture any signs of interest, at least not something that a couple of beers couldn't explain, so I began to spin my own web of ex's and why's.

Sobriquet, he knew Pope well. They were buddies, they walked in front of each other naked, they slept to each other's midnight moans and sighs, they might have even shared more than just circumstances and what if, I was to be a continuity of this brotherly sharing is caring saga?

I always introduce suspicions to my beautiful boys. Skin like wax, planted stubble, a spritz of cool, an I-know-where-I-come-from swagger, opinions to declare and stories to wear, a walking-talking best supporting actor replica and this is where I pause the film to think, "Was I cast for the right role?" because hey, I've got insecurities too and preconceptions about facial symmetry and your The Kooples shirt. Beautiful boys remind me of Calvin Klein campaigns, a lot of promises on a piece of paper and a pair of socks for stuffing.

Am I handsomacist? Perhaps. And I blame the media, in part, just as I blame the media for one-sided preconceptions about race and religion and foreign societies. But if media has the power to turn people against people, it takes the power of medium to turn people into persons 
and that medium is conversation.

We spoke and soon enough I picked up on signs of shyness and insecurities not so foreign to my own and I said to myself that posters are permeable and that this boy is beautiful, glossy print or not. That this Beninian knows about my problems too. That this Jew doesn't wish for my death either. That if we speak and listen, we might hear our own echo. That this world isn't ours, but yours is and it's a small plot of land to purge of contempt and prejudice.

So I'll pick up my mop, wipe those suspicions away and take Sobriquet at face value: someone without a hidden agenda, someone who has enough time for me in his agenda to merit enough trust on my part. It's only a little bit of cleaning.




I’m slave to the Sunday laze.

Sweet temptations sundae sweet creep up on me with the first entry of a white sun caress on the wall, sliding, stretching.

I remember a night of camping in the forest of summer endings. Two hundred steps from the gentle rustling reeds massaged by the lake’s waters. The sunset, a burst of acrylic saturations, and then the wash of nocturnal indigo slowly sipped by the horizon.

My mom and her friends sat around the fire reminiscing about the long-gone braids and ribbons, pleated skirts and playground rumours. The flames licked their words, and sparks flew up to the sky to join the countless constellations.

They were neighbours growing up, flats 3 and 4. 3 married first and moved closer to the sea. 4 packed her bags and leaped over to the greener side. We stayed with them my fifth summer, and their daughter learned to walk. We’d both turn our heads when they called our names, there was always something yummy in the kitchen.

I remember the army of ants that invaded the guest room, and the colourful quilt that my mom’s friend had knitted, and the mechanical drill I stole from uncle’s toolbox to make a hole in a pebble I had chosen from millions that groaned beneath our sandals as we walked along the shore.

I remember wishing we’d live with them forever. His face was kind and he’d play games with us after coming home from work, and her laugh always seemed to rise from her belly, rosy cheeks and quivers of young mother fat, and the little one a miniature curiosity who followed me around.

They opened a second bottle of wine, laughter became louder all around the campsite, towers of smoke rose above the swaying trees and the young blood gathered near the shore to whisper, first kiss, to warm their hands on bellies.

I kept stealing glances. His eyelids were heavier now, his smile stickier and my affection for him never dead, but in the light of flames and flickers, different.

He wanted to take photos of stars and I knew my way with the pushing of the right buttons.

“It’s easy, come, I’ll show you.”


"But we have to move away from light. Let's go to the shore."

His wife glanced at us getting up, I thought I caught something in her look, but I dismissed it as a shadow of a criminal's guilt.

We walked slowly in the dark, the sand sinking into my shoes, he took my hand to keep me steady and my head, suddenly drained of blood, jumped over boundaries that someone with a broken angry heart drew for us on marble tablets.

We sat down. His arm warm and firm against mine, no silly boyish girth, but biceps that split up fire wood with single strokes, leeched me of everything I ever knew. No knowledge, just focus, intense like a pilot's concentration. Steady now, steady. Take pictures of the stars. The shutter speed set on bulb. My focus set on that piece of skin.

He lit up and gave me to try. I knew we were both there. You know these things. Like infectious vibrations of tuning forks, desire is detectable even in blindness. You can hear the pupils dilate, smell the exhaust of testosterone, feel the rush of blood away from the head. With a focus so intense, you cannot but hear the mechanics of their thoughts.

He put it out in the sand and we lingered there, side by side. I wanted to kiss him so badly, that now it's easy to remember that I did.

But the kiss escaped us.

"We should probably head back."


He held my hand until we saw the silhouettes of wife and mother we were so close to betray.



I’m sleepless in Paris.

Today I came across the term “touch and go woman”. If you search the term online, you will come across a wide range of interpretations, but I’ve come to adopt my own: someone who likes to get a taste of, but never stick around, her departure being vague and non-finite.

If I retrospect, it’s something I’ve been guilty of, but without the burden of guilt. Most of my relationships dwindled; that is to say, their endings never as abrupt as the snipping off of an umbilical cord. And I like that. I like that because I have come to amass an address book of worn down, yet unbroken ties.

There is a place of memory that I like to call The Morgue. It is a basement of past relationships and depending on your own story, it goes down a couple of levels.

A level for your broken or lost family ties.

A level for your handicapped friendships.

A level for your shattered hearts.

The Morgue is not the same as The Cemetery. The Cemetery holds those we will never forgive or those who will never come back to life. The Cemetery is not void of life. You revisit now and again, when something triggers the memory of that person, you pause at their tombstone and then walk away. Some things just cannot be undone.

The Morgue is that in between zone, where we house those we cannot let go of. Cadavers are at our disposal to be revisited, dissected and scrutinized, to be pardoned, to be chilled for a Cryonic Era.

My mnemonic landscape is comprised of a tiny cemetery and a very large morgue. I have troubled letting go.

The skewed confession of a monophobe.

Perhaps confessing to monophobia is taking it a little far, but then again, what are all those blue bodies doing in my closet?

Lulu, Botticelli, Freud, Capitalyst, Leon, The Pope, Imaginary-Extraordinary-Him not even Balding, have been buried. I even see them from time to time, outside The Morgue, where it smells of fresh beginnings. To paint them better, to turn their skin pink.

I saw The Pope the other week. We had drinks in Le Marais. He is the only one that stands out amongst the list. We called it quits back in Beirut, an official break-up.

I was a little shaky about meeting him, but all that got buried beneath the layer of getting lost and walking up and down wrong streets until I finally found number 78.

We sipped on white wine and caught up with each other’s lives, all the while seated, the cold slowly gnawing through the layers of coats and sweaters and T-shirts, until we could sit it through no more. He dropped me home and we promised each other a homely dinner in the weeks to come.

But as one corpse rots, other beings come to life. Out of the blue, or perhaps from underneath a pretext I have yet to trip on, Sobriquet, a friend of The Pope’s who I knew only vaguely, decided to put an end to my social emergency. He has opened the doors to a Paris that I would normally need a couple of months to arrive at.

I consider myself lucky, for Sobriquet has not been the sole hero. Roquette and Bonbonheur have allowed me to play my anonymous little game until the moment we found ourselves face to face. There is nothing more thrilling than meeting a walking definition of stranger, although I must say I did envy their position. I knew enough to know they were not psychopaths, too much information for thrills and chills, while I kept them guessing till the very last minute. 

I'd like to not know for a change.

It takes a certain amount of fascination, a certain humbleness in the face of the unknown and a certain amount of trust in goodness and sincerity. If there should ever be a pandemic, it should be of this unbruised mindset.


Volume VII

Click on the link below to access the recording.

Track 7:





I'm having a strawberry mojito on Rue St.Andre-des-Arts.

So being alone is taking a little effort. I placed myself in the middle of two couples, red tiny circular empty tables on either side. The waiter moves me next to the French speaking couple, just to help me eavesdrop.

The seat is barely an A4 paper in length. "Dix euros Madame svp."

It's Sunday evening, I'll be hearing everyone until I fall asleep, mainly tourists and late-monday-morning French licking their last drop of poison.

Happy hour not so happy, I'd rather be the noisy laughter in the street, an annoyance to the driver, une vedette devant ses phares.

I keep myself busy with the caramel coated peanuts. I did leave home to find a patisserie, but thought I'd exercise my solitude. And to my surprise, it feels out of shape. So much for regaling all about it.

Even the movies I watch are of little help. I find myself walking hand in hand with leading men, chiseled fellows, testosterone Frankensteins, powder room residents. I dreamed of men and all I got was strangers, grandfatherly tufts of silver chicken wires in the après-midi seance. And I know that when you want a hand to hold, you get elbowed. I should want solitude, but it can't be forced, you have to let it creep up on you.

It's always people that make you feel lonely. Reminders of what it felt like. But if people are projections of how you want to be perceived, then why is it so hard to see yourself in their absence?

Perhaps it's not people, perhaps it's more specific, like people you can hear. Try as much as you want but you always end up knowing what each table is talking about. Why are words the hardest to ignore? Is it because you hope they will provide the hook for you to reel them in closer to you? Even if people have been nothing but disappointing, there is always the slim hope of finding better in a new city. And you fall for it every time.