August 2007


Every book is a journey; it takes you places and introduces you to people and ideas. This book I am reading is such an amazingly written and beautifully constructed work that I can’t help but want to share its pages with everyone. Mosteghanemi. Here are two extracts one about lovers’ first encounter and the other is about the questions we ask.

“I love the stories behind romantic encounters. In every encounter between a man and a woman, there is a miracle, something beyond them that brings them together at the same time and place to step into the path of the same tornado. That’s why lovers always remain dazed by the impact of their first encounter, even after they have split up. It’s a kind of ecstasy that can’t be recaptured, because it’s the only pure thing that is preserved from the destruction love leaves in its wake. ”

And this other extract is about questions as I mentioned earlier. I always look for intriguing answers from people for the simplest questions but never really find them. We are always stuck in our traditional definition of who we are through our work, our family that we don’t explore our selves. Here Mosteghanemi presents the other side of that … the questions: 

“People? They usually only ask stupid questions, forcing you to reply with equally stupid answers. For instance, they ask you what you do, not what would you have liked to do. They ask you what you own, not what you have lost. They ask you about the woman you married, not about the one you love. About your name, but not if it suits you. They ask your age, but not how well you’ve lived those years. They ask about the city you live in, but not the city that lives in us. And they ask if you pray, not if you fear God.

So I’ve gotten used to answering these questions with silence. You know, when we shut up, we force others to reconsider their mistakes.“

I love this book I’m enjoying every page it is challenging and relevant with every turn. It sheds a different light on everyday things and it makes you realize the chaos that bombards our senses in love and life.

I recently went fishing as many of you know. My trip was one that took me to the sea of life. There I let me net out trying to find anything, something, but it came back empty so many times. I kept navigating the seas only to realize I was heading into a storm. The fish I wanted to catch, desperately needed to catch, were all swimming the other way.

 

I tried to avoid the storm, and ride the waves away but it was futile. I got caught in its midst. I was tossed left and right. I felt my boat sinking and I was sinking with it. I had no anchor, no sail, no life boat. My net only came back with bottom feeders, sharks, and other sea monsters waiting for the kill.

 

In my deepest despair, I closed my eyes. I looked within. Inside me I found my calm waters. Inside, I found my sun. Inside, the monsters can’t hunt me. Inside, the storm is no longer.

 

I opened my eyes and with their opening came the light. Slowly, it seeped through the storm clouds. The waves were gradually getting smaller, the seas less choppy. The predators knew they would get no prey. I won’t let a storm defeat me. I am my anchor, I am my sail, I am my life boat. I am floating on the sea of life.

 

I am lost at sea with no direction. I am lost for I have no compass. But I do have my light from within. I cast my net once again. I have caught nothing worth keeping, because everything I need is within.

As I was reading Chaos of the Senses by Ahlam Mosteghanemi I came across these paragraphs that struck an interesting cord. I hope you enjoy the extract and I’ll elt you know how the rest of the book goes. 

  

“It had taken her some time to realize that they had completed the cycle of love. Because of a tiny nothing of which she was still unaware, they had entered the last chapter of  a novel that had undoubtedly reached its conclusion. 

  

When passion fades, we always lose something of ourselves, and we refuse to velieve that has happened. For this reason, breaking up is an art that eases the pain of loss- an art he clearly intended to avoid partaking of. 

  

She now remembers the day she told him, “I want a sweet farewell.”

  

“Is there such a thing as a sweet farewell?” he had replied with the veiled irony. Sometimes he seemed like a monarch playing with the guillotine of language. He was a man taken by absolute words and decisive situations, while she was a woman sitting on the swing of possibility. How could there be a language wide or deep enough for both of them?

 

“How are you?” was all he asked. Before that day, she had never expected that a question

like that could throw her into such turmoil. With that, she discovered how awful some questions could be in their simplicity, those mindless questions we answer every day, without thinking, to strangers who really don’t care in the end. Neither do we care if they believe the answer, hypocrisy no less great that the question itself. 

  

But with other, how smart do we need to be to conceal our pain behind language?

  

Some questions are only asked so the asker can gloat over someone’s grief. Their punctuation marks are laughter at our impotence, even when delivered in a warm voice that belonged to a once beloved person. 

  

“How are you?” – a deceptive inquiry that hides another question. In such cases, we shouldn’t miss the grammatical trap: the subject here is not what we expect, for there is a hidden pronoun of challenge. The real question is “How are you without me?”

  

As for the predicate, well, all schools of love arrive at a common consensus. It is far easier for us to accept the death of someone we love than to cope with the idea of losing him and discovering that he is able to carry on with his life, in all its intricacies, despite our absence.

  

There is a kind of equality through loss from death, in which we find consolation. 

  

She was weighing her answer when she realized that the conversation had suddenly turned into a silent war of passion, fought with painstakingly selected linguistic weapons.

  

The square table separating them soon became a chess table constructed of landmines of silence, where each player chose his color and position, placing before him his army, knights, and rooks to prepare for battle. 

  

She answered him, going for the element of surprise: “Fine, thank God.”

  

The same religions that encourage us to be honest offer loose expressions that carry more than one meaning. Isn’t language an instrument of doubt?”

 

Very thought provoking wouldn’t you say… This was in the beginning of the book and I must say as it unfolds it gets more and more intriguing.

You are born alone, you die alone, its an age old adage. But throughout our lives we meet people, we form bonds, we have relationships. People have come and gone throughout my life, but recently I must say that even though I am alone, I feel loved. No, I feel very loved.

Everyday, I see people, I talk to them and interact with them, virtually even, but their love comes through. I feel very lucky. The number of people that show me, tell me, and prove to me that they love me is ever growing. It is a lovely feeling to be able to tell someone you love them and know that they too love you. To know that there is nothing behind those words except affection, care and support. To be able to say to them those three words, and mean them. It is unadulterated, it is good, it is warming.   

I think its important to tell people you love them. We get bogged down with so many things in life; we get distracted that we forget to let them know. I also think we should say it when we can and as often as possible. This doesn’t diminish its sincerity, but rather reaffirms it. Whatever you put out there you get back, so why not let it be love? Say it with your good morning messages, say it with your hugs, say it at the end of your phone calls. Say it with your hellos and goodbyes. Don’t be afraid of those words. They don’t hurt, they heal.

To my loved ones, with warm hugs and kisses, I say I love you, I appreciate you, and I love having you in my life. Thank you for being a part of it, thank you for the care, support, energy, and love that you give to me everyday and for that I feel very blessed. I say it again and again. I LOVE YOU.

Yesterday I was invited by a friend to the opening of the Kalha Stairway. I was very curious as I had never heard of the stairway before, and I really wanted to know what was going on there. To those who were like me the Kalha stairway is one of the many that lead up from downtown into the various Jabals of Amman. This one in particular led up to Jabal Al Weibdeh. The event that took place there was an opening of an outdoor gallery. The gallery was a simple street gallery with artists there, some even painting as we explored the venue.

 

I must say the person who came across this stairway and decided to turn into a street gallery was someone who has an infinite love for this city and what it has to offer. This is definitely a small effort that is part of a bigger cultural movement currently taking place. What I really loved about this was that there are more and more people becoming aware of the old city. People are starting to come into areas like downtown, Jabal Amman, Jabal Al Webdeh and learning to enjoy the older parts of our city.

I find these neighborhoods authentic and quaint. They give me comfort, even in their dusty raggedy old streets. They have a neighborly feel to them that you don’t find in the newer, more polished emptiness that is West Amman. There is no attempt to impress through stone or marble. There is no flashiness through satin and silk. It is what it is, like an old woman who has matured, with and inner beauty that shines through no matter what she wears. She knows who she is and what she is and she is impartial to whether you take it or leave it.

 

I worry about my lady Amman, she is changing, and rapidly. The older parts were forgotten and were left alone to mature quietly. But today, with all the change and all the hustle and bustle, even the old lady is getting a makeover. I hope that the attention and the makeover is one that leaves her spirit intact; one that maintains her beauty and essence without corrupting the history that is the old city. She may need a facial, and hair cut, may be even a new dress. But let’s keep the plastic surgeon’s scalpel away for she doesn’t need a nip and or a tuck. What she needs is a little love, care and attention from her inhabitants. She needs respect. She needs us all to be her guardians and to ensure that our fair lady, Amman, remains that, a lady.

 

Growing up I was very opposed to dying my hair. Natural was the way to go. Then one day about five or six years ago I decided to “go crazy”, and I put highlights in my hair. It was fun, and looked great, but it was a one time thing, or so I thought. Since then I’ve had a whole range of colors and color styles including red, fuchsia, copper, blonde, purple and brown.  

This year, and after being a brunette for two, I decided to go blonde with the motto blondes have more fun! It was a dramatic change and with a lighter shades my  mood and spirit have gotten lighter. When asked do blondes have more fun? My response is “We sure do”.  Is it because I am blonde? I think a little of it is and a lot of it isn’t.

I myself have not changed, and my shift in moods was a conscious choice irrespective of my hair color. People’s views though are another story, and with the lighter hair their true opinions of beauty were subtly shown. But seriously, our perceptions of ourselves and our own vitality are the major players in our lives and how we live them. Last year was a horrible year for me in many ways. It had many lows and in different areas and few highs. I was very happy to see 2006 go that I rung in the new year with a big bang. I put myself in a positive frame of mind. I decided to do things that were good for me! I decided to make small and big changes to manifest the good in my life. The hair color was one of these changes. I’m defiantly having more fun this year and yes I’m still a blonde… so if you ask me do blondes have more fun?  This year they sure do! 

The Blonde Look

Have you ever hear of the concept of six degrees of separation? The theory, I believe, is that each of us on this earth is separated from the other by six degrees. In other words, you can find with in six steps a common link between you and someone on the other side of the world. Fascinating isn’t it?   Well, this morning I got an email from a former study abroad student, and what is amazing is that she met someone I know all the way in New Hampshire, and even more amazing is the fact that they were able to find their degrees of separation, two degrees, some may even argue one degree!   

The world is constantly getting smaller and smaller. Our means of transportation primarily and communication secondly are making meeting and interacting with people easier, faster and more tangible. Just yesterday, I met someone from the UK, who coincidently I had interacted with months ago via email. I never expected to meet this person, but who would have guessed I would run into him at a visit to a family I know! I think that if the world didn’t have the airplanes, cars, trains we would still take months to trek across the globe and not meet and see as many amazing people and places. If we didn’t have phones, mailing systems, and the internet it would take a lot more effort and a lot more time to talk to and interact with our extensive networks. In fact our networks would probably be much smaller, and include only be the people within our local vicinity, people we can only see, and talk to face to face. But instead we can continue our relationships and make them ever rewarding through modern technology. 

  I am constantly pleasantly surprised by the links we all have with each other, and sometimes I find it a bit overwhelming how you can not be anonymous anymore. But the world is ever growing smaller and bigger at the same time. It may be we have six degrees of separation between each of us, but I will go further and say that, at least in Jordan, it isn’t six degrees of separation, but two and a half.

Ice doesn’t fill itself, money doesn’t grow on trees, and the vodka always runs out. How many times have you gone to your freezer only to find the ice tray empty? Why can’t the person who used that lovely last cube fill it up? Why do we always renegade on our responsibility? Maybe that is too strong a word for ice, so let me rephrase, why cant we be more considerate of our icy needs and fill that tray, it really can’t fill itself on its own.  

But moving right on… money trees are great dreams. I remember reading in Pinocchio about one of the little mishaps that takes place where two little crooks try to swindle Pinocchio out of his money by convincing him that if he buries his coins and then waters them a money tree will grow in its place. YEAH RIGHT!  I tried that the other day in the balcony. All I wanted was to be able to stop working and jet set around the globe, read all day and hang out with my friends. I’m still waiting for that tree to grow! By the way, I’m also on the look out for a sugar daddy if you know of anyone, until then its off to work everyday.  

And why is it when you least expect it or least desire it there is no vodka in the bottle? Why is it good things don’t last? I guess if I think about it in this very sober state, it’s because every good thing requires hard work and some sort of planning. Not just that, but also if ice doesn’t fill itself, and money doesn’t grow on trees its only natural that the vodka should run out, right?   So here’s to ice, money and vodka. They may never fill themselves, grow on trees, and always run out. But somehow it all works out, because there is so much more to life than ice, money and vodka.

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