May 2008


I don’t drive. I took the lessons and learned very early on this was something I would not enjoy. So I never even went to get my driver’s license. This translates into 15 years of being a taxi rider in Amman; and guess what, I really enjoy being a taxi rider.

 

Contrary to popular belief, not all taxi drivers are dangerous drivers, out to cheat you or are plain rude, sleazy or are asses. In fact I have had more pleasant rides than not in my humble 15 years of riding the yellow chariots. I’ve had wonderful taxi drivers who look after their cabs, keep them clean and tidy and even smelling fresh and nice. I’ve had taxi drivers who were quiet and serene. Others that were funny and full of optimism and life. The religious, the rockers, the young and the old, the fast and the slow… you name it and I’ve probably dealt with it. Sometimes I even get the same cab driver by coincidence, and we both remember each other. It’s always amusing.

 

But away from who is driving the cab, I enjoy being driven. I am a control freak, I like to be in charge and in control of most things in my life. But here is a situation where someone else can be in charge. And when that happens I am free to do other things. Back in the day when I would freelance, I was always on the go and so cabs were my offices, always on the phone, or reading some document or other. When I had a toastmaster’s speech and I was heading to a meeting I would tell the cabbie I have a lecture and start practicing out load. Other times I catch up on my sms and phone calls while en-route between places. And if I have nothing else to do I read. I have done some of my best reading in cabs. I even have my morning cab ritual which involves daydreaming and waking up to my thoughts and sending good morning, good energy messages to friends.

 

People always tell me I should get a car since I am all over the place. I disagree, and reply why drive when you can be driven? But I also know that I would be a dangerous driver because I have conditioned myself to being a passenger all my life and for 15 years I have focused on me and my world instead of the road and what is happening on the street. So to my wonderful drivers I say thank you.

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Last weekend I attended the Electronic Music Festival. Now I am pretty easy going when it comes to music but this genre didn’t work for me at all. I can probably say that of all the acts that night I only liked the last two. The last two were the Jordanian acts and they were more relevant I guess to me as a listener as they incorporated Arabic instruments, cords and lyrics. I related better to them, but still the music was not mine. But despite that I had a blast!

 

You may think that is a conflicting position to present. Well I many not have enjoyed the music, but the venue, the people, the atmosphere was fantastic. The venue was the National Arts Gallery park, it’s a beautiful spot and being outdoors, in nature and amongst art was truly nice. I have been to the park on numerous occasions and I must say it is a good place to be. Even the layout of the park and the stage set up and the functional use of the space was just right I think. People came and went, it was relaxed, free flowing and easy. I saw many friends and old acquaintances. I caught up on conversations, lives, and runaway thoughts. The atmosphere was one of lightness with people merging and dispersing, listening and talking, dancing, standing, sitting, walking, and drinking. Alcohol was available without any angst. It was lovely. 

 

I think that with a different kind of music the event would have been the perfect early summer activity. Outdoor music festivals in  parks with benches, grass and trees are lovely. We need more of these events that bring all elements together. To the organizers I take my hat off since it was well executed and organized. It takes a lot of work to pull of that many artists for those few hours in a way that people are comfortably enjoying themselves. Thank you.

On this day I remember the loss of land. I am not attached to the land as many may be. But I am attached to other things and want other things. So on this day I think of those things and here are some of them:

  • I remember the warmth of my grandmother’s and its warmth
  • I remember the smell of the land after crossing the bridge
  • I remember the olive trees lining the roads
  • I remember walking the streets of Jerusalem
  • I remember sitting in the Haram and feeling a peace like no other
  • I remember family gatherings with laughter
  • I remember the taste of the fruit sweet like no other
  • I remember the walks to get fresh milk from the lady with the goats
  • I remember the farmers coming up to the house with fresh produce and gossip
  • I remember the hot bread fresh from the bakery next door and the fresh olive oil we would eat with it
  • I remember the sea

 

On this day I think of how I can not go and come as I please. About borders, check points, guns, anger, angst, depression, disposition, Diaspora. I think of identity crisis and guilt. But al that makes me want something, not just for me but for all involved. I desire freedom, freedom to visit, to explore, to live, to meditate, to be. I desire peace. 

I have been getting a lot of emails and messages about the Nakba, and what is happening. This is one of the few messages that are not angry in tone but rather an appeal to remember. I would like to share with you and feel free to forward, to act, or just remember.

S.

Dear Friends, Collogues and Family
Please give this message some of you attention and little of your time …
We all know what the date 15th of May represents to us all not that this year is any different from the year this (historical human absurdity) started is different in any way, never the less this year the festive mood of Israel on the occasion is high and loud…..
Small, meaningful and visual action from our side WILL matter ….
My friend Dr. Emad Hatabeh forwarded me details on actions that will take place on the 15th of May in Palestine and hopefully around the world, so please read the second parts of this message and CHOOSE your actions but equally important PLEASE forward and share this message with ALL your contacts in and out of Jordan.
Finally, we suggest that in Jordan we also put up a BLACK ribbon throughout the day on the 15th of May on our cars, handbags, Back bags, wrists, windows or any place where people can see, ask and be reminded!!!!
I wish you all a good day, and hope that this message will inspire you to act …
Peace
W

ACTION ONE
Lighting a candle….for Palestine

The 15th of may might be just another day of dark injustice, but together we can create the light of truth
Light a candle wherever you are…
Maybe we can light up the night of darkness that covers Palestine
The Youth Committee of the Civil Campaign for the 60th commemoration of the Nakba invites you to light candles :
In public spaces and places of gatherings
On balconies of homes and windows
And wherever we can

Time : 15 may 2008 – at sunset
Place : where ever you can.

ACTION TWO

Please forward and donate if you can…

21,915 BLACK BALLOONS OVER JERUSALEM

To celebrate 60 years of independence, Israel is planning a large-scale birthday bash with events taking place in many different countries around the world. In Jerusalem, a 3-day conference, under the title “Facing Tomorrow” is planned from May 13 – 15, to whic h many world leaders, such as U.S. President Bush, and French President Sarkozy, and celebrities such as Barbara Streisand and Steven Spielberg have been invited and plan to attend.
It is wrong to celebrate and we need to do something BIG to make the world, and those gathered to celebrate Israel, see and hear us. We* have this idea and we need your help to make it happen! On May 15, we will launch 21,915 (365 days x 60 years) black balloons over the skies of Jerusalem. We aim to turn the skies over Israel’s celebrations black to let people know that there is another side of the story, a side of heartache, suffering and dispossession. At the same time, each balloon will carry a letter from a Palestinian child expressing his/her hope for the future, to let the world know that we believe in and dream of justice.

Please help us make this happen by buying a balloon! $1.00 will help us cover the cost of 3 balloons. Please buy 3, 6, or 9 balloons (or more!) and be part of our action. Donation information below.

Other things that you can do:
(1) On May 15, we are asking everyone, wherever he or she is, to wear back. PLEASE WEAR BLACK!
(2) WRITE LETTERS, or help collect letters from Palestinian children. You can email us the letters and we will print them out and attach to the balloons that we will launch;
(3) If you are in Palestine, volunteer to help us inflate and LAUNCH the balloons on May 15;
(4) Wherever you are, consider doing an action in SOLIDARITY with our action (in addition to whatever else you may be planning). For example, you can launch your own balloons, fly black kites, march with black banners, etc.

To donate to the cost of the balloons, you can:
Use paypal: Donate online at http://www.60yearsofnakba.org or at http://www.paypal.com and list the beneficiary as balloons@60yearsofnakba.org
Make a bank transfer:
HSBC Bank — Ramallah
Account name: Palestinian Strategic Initiative
Acct No: 011-026630-087
Swift Code: BBMEPS22
Contact Number: +970-599-130-426

Have you ever had the feeling like you don’t belong? You are from another time or place? Looking back and looking around me I know I am a misfit. It doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m with or even what I’m doing, I’ve just always had the feeling that I don’t belong.


I think my first awareness of this came at the age of 13 when I first moved to Jordan. It didn’t matter what  school I was in, which cousins I played with, what activity I was doing. I never quite fit in. My first set of friends in Jordan were from high school. We met in that first week of school where everybody knew everybody and nobody knew us. The six of us banded together through our differences, our weirdness, our stories and together we became friends despite all that. We accepted each other despite not liking each other at first. Today my longest standing relationship is with those friends. We still have our fundamental differences but when we get together we are still accepting of each other and enjoy each other’s company. I truly believe to this day we are a band of misfits trying to navigate our way through the world.

 

 

But moving to the present that feeling of being on the periphery has never really gone away.  Even amongst friends and surrounded by people I consider close, many a time I feel I am an observer, standing in the corner watching, observing, but not partaking. Not one for cliques or groups, always inside but on the outside. A misfit.


I guess I have resigned myself to the fact I will always be a misfit, at work, at home, with friends, in cliques, in clubs… amongst the girls, and amongst the boys. It may mean going it alone a lot and maybe even being lonely. But the flip side of that is that I have stronger personal bonds with individuals rather than groups. It’s the way I am and I don’t really think I mind being a misfit. Its like that toy the ball with different shaped holes in it and you have blocks or pieces in different shapes that you need to fit through the right shape to get in. Well the thing is my shape keeps changing. I am never a square, triangle or circle .And yes it means I am on the outside most of the time, but at least I am not penned in with all the other shapes that fit through the hole. Trapped inside a cage of norms, customs and beliefs. I am an ever changing shape that will not fit in, I just may fit ever now and then.

Yesterday night was I think the first time me and my little one year old nephew really started to bond. It was a fun and exciting experience where we had one on one play time. Granted it was only for 15 – 20 minutes but it was a fun time. Its hard forming a relationship with a child that lives miles away and being an aunt was an abstract concept until they arrived earlier this month. 

 

 

I have played, cajoled, cooed, and carried him this past week. But it was like carrying any child. But last night the fact that he was able to recognize me and want to be held by me was such a nice change and we had such fun.

 

Its funny my stance on kids was and still is so long as they go home. But I think that infants and babies are not my thing, regardless of how good I am at putting them to sleep or burping them. I like them when they are little children able to communicate and exchange ideas and thoughts with me. I love having conversations with kids and talking to them. It’s a very rewarding experience. So I guess I am now really looking forward to the little prince growing up a little bit more and being able to say more than ba and anda and such; coz that when the real bonding will start for me.

We are all born with the right to self determination. Or so I like to think . So what is it that makes us afraid to exercise that right? Why are the most important decisions we need to make the ones we keep putting off?

 

 

I know I have many fears and as much as I like change and go for it, true fundamental change is something I truly fear. Let me give you an example or two. Last year I had physical change every two months, I would dye my hair every two months. I went through so many colors and physical changes, it wasn’t even funny. Even today, five months after my last dye job I still don’t really know what my natural color is anymore. But when it comes to life altering decisions I take a back seat, living situations, love, work, and such I may mentally go through the process of choosing change but never really carry through with the actions needed. I fear loss, failure, rejection, depression…etc. I was and still am afraid.

 

But last week I did something. I did something so important to who and what I am and it has made all the difference. Last week I started a dialogue, a process, which will change what I do, and maybe how I do it. I started a dialogue about my future with my boss. It may seem like its something small but its not, not for me in anyway. The future is one of the scariest things for me to take charge of and be in control of my path. I went in to my boss’s office and pretty much told her I am in a funk. I need change, I need growth and I need to shift focus.  Mind you I love where I am and the organization I am with, but we need to make changes if I am to stay and so the dialogue has started. I exercised my right to self determination.


I took the gamble and lost nothing. Lets hope it doesn’t take me a year and half to make any other changes or take actions that are necessary. Exercising the right to self determination is a feeling of control, satisfaction, of action. I encourage you all to exercise the right of self determination that only you can, because time flies whether or not you are having fun.  

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