memories


I will soon be 32 and I have been asked what I want for my birthday whether it be for celebrations or for gifts. These questions got me thinking about past birthdays and gifts and what they’ve meant to me. I’ve done the crazy parties with the cakes and sparklers and massive amounts of booze, the traveling for my birthday and the quiet dinners. But this year I want something different, and I know exactly what I want.

This year what I want involves none of the above in any way, shape or form. This year I do not want any parties in bars or restaurants or cafes. I do not want any celebrations with cake, or alcohol or food. I do not want all that money spent for such a selfish and self centered purpose. My birthday! There have been many and who knows there may be many more too. But I do not want to be the excuse for a night of drunken revelry, I do not want massive amounts of food consumed at some lavish dinner in an expensive restaurant, I do not want anyone to go out of their way for me to celebrate in frivolity a day that comes a long often enough and there is really nothing special about it except that I popped out from between my mother’s legs like thousands if not millions of others on that day.

I do not want any gifts either not matter how big or small, grand or symbolic for I have enough stuff in my life and I am trying to get rid of a lot of it! There is nothing I really need at this moment in time and the things I want I can do without. So thank you but no thank you.

When I made these declarations to my friends their faces were so puzzled, confused and some were upset and said that was unacceptable! And so I told them that what would make me happy instead was for them to do something selfless, something that gives back to the community, something outside themselves and me.

One of my favorite quotes is “Be the change you want to see in the world” by Ghandi and this year this is what I want for my birthday. And so to celebrate I want organize an event that gives back to the community in some way or form. That recognizes the pleasure in working together to make a difference. If there is any money to be spent then it would be on the event and it should go towards your local community. And if you insist on giving me a gift then make a donation in my name to an organization that makes a difference to people’s lives like a cancer foundation, orphanages, NGOs that work on community development, and if you don’t want to give cash then clean out your closet and give the things you don’t want to people who can use them like the Gaza aid souk or the King Hussein center for the mentally disabled, or Ruwwad in Jabal Al Natheef, if you want to do this and don’t know how give me a call and I can help you or just drop things off with me and I can take care of it. Spend a day volunteering. If even that is too much trouble then just do something nice for a stranger in the street, it can be that simple.

If you still insist on giving me something personal then give me a good memory. Walk with me in the streets or Jabal Amman, come over and watch a movie, let’s have a good conversation, send me a letter or an email or help me paint a new bookcase I’m getting, take a picture and send it to me. I will also personally be arranging an outdoor activity that will focus on giving something back to the world we live in. Let me know if you want to be part of that activity, it will make me really happy to spend time with my friends doing something along those lines and I will post it here once the details are sorted out.

Help me be the change I want to see in this world we live in and embody some of the ideals and beliefs that I have. Yes I am an idealist and to some I may be foolish, but I think we can make a difference one small step at a time. Will you walk with me?

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. 

The other day I was helping a friend organize her pictures. She is never far away from her camera and is ready to snap away when you aren’t. We can always depend on her to capture and document the moments of time that we are all together.


After we were done organizing I started to sift through the albums, and there it all was. I laughed, smiled, was horrified, was shocked, and was sometimes surprised at what I saw. Our friend has documented our lived through these pictures, the good, the bad and the ugly in full color. I saw all of last year’s memories in front of me. Things I thought only existed in my faulty memory, and things I had deleted from my consciousness were all there. There I was, as were others, forever immortalized in full color prints, sorted chronologically and filed in indexed albums. 


I am not sure how I feel about the whole matter. I used to be a believe that if its not worth remembering then it wasn’t that good. However with a faulty memory my belief faltered. Seeing some of those pictures I was able to relive some great emotions and good times. I was also seeing some really bad fashion choices, bad hair days, and not so great poses! All of this was now immortalized.


I’m horrified that not the best of me is preserved. But does it really matter? It only shows I’m human and thus flawed, not always picture perfect. The other more important question for me is Do I want to relive all the emotions and feelings of the past? Do I want to go back in time to the things I want to forget? Isn’t forgetfulness a blessing?

The flip side of this is since we forget there will always be a record. We’ll be able to see old friends and new, people who have come and gone from our lives. A history in pictures serves as a reminder of who, what, where, and how, and somehow that’s not a bad thing at all.

As the year begins I have already received the first few gifts of the new year. Its such a pleasant way to start off. But if I would want anything I think I would like to have the following gifts: health, patience, travel, insight, good friends, satisfaction, good fun work, good coffee ;), music, good movies, and great memorable experiences.  

I also look forward to presents. I have over the past 30 years accepted, and graciously I may add, many gifts. Some have been marvelous, others have been good, some mediocre, some were repetitive, and others just didn’t make sense. I will continue to accept gifts graciously and love the thoughts and sentiments behind them all. However, there are things I have a bit too much of, here are some things you can over look and I will definitely forgive you if you don’t think of me when you see them: 

Anything with a cat motif. I AM NOT THE CAT LADY. I only have the one cat in my life and I love him to bits and that’s it! Having said that feel free to buy Z anything you want. Gifts for him are always welcome, especially toys on string.  

Key chains also make the list, I have more than I know what to do with.

Coasters, I have 5 sets of 6 and I have never used 30 glasses at once!  

Tea, this one is self inflicted, I bought myself a year’s supply of tea from Sri Lanka of all flavors and so I have out done myself here.  

Book marks, I love these but always forget them in the wrong books, I end up using either one that I love (it has the serenity prayer on it J) or a ticket stub or business card. So thanks but it will probably get lost with the 30 –  40 other book marks I have.  

Woodwork, I’m very particular about my carvings so please don’t try. I love masks and figures but that is not an invitation for trees, animals and other random pieces of wood.  

Plants, it will only die! I can’t for the life of me keep anything green alive, just ask the struggling cactus in my house! 

Refrigerator magnets, my cat likes to play with them and will knock them off, break them or they will end up under the couch after he has played toss them all around the house with them. 

Stuffed toys, I am not 7, enough said? 

Red Roses, ohhh I hate them, an ex over did the red roses and now I have developed a really bad allergy to the sight of them. Any other color rose is acceptable, in fact I love flowers of all sorts and you can’t go wrong with them.  

Jewelry, I’m not that kinda girl. With few exceptions (see below) please don’t bother.  

Electronics, I try to be as low tech as possible, so unless I specifically ask for a gadget, I don’t want it.  

OK you must now think this is one ungrateful women, who doesn’t like anything. But wait here are some things I can’t get enough of: 

Great experiences, which means anything that creates and leaves good memories.  

Flowers, aside from my aversion to red roses you really can’t go wrong here. Tulips are my favorite if you must know followed by sunny bright sun flowers.  

Books, a good book is really the best thing you can give anyone who reads. But if you do give me a book please don’t forget to write on the inside a little personal note, I love opening these gifts up years later and remembering the sentiment.  

Movies, whether it’s a trip the cinema or a DVD, just no slap stick comedy PLEASE! 

Massages, in person, gift vouchers, or we could go together… I love massage.  

Jewelry, yes I said not to but if you have to then you must know that I rarely wear necklaces or braclets, I don’t change my rings and so ear rings are the way to go. But wait there is a catch! Tasteful, simple and made by obscure local designers and artists is the way to go, just make sure they have a bit of funk in them. 

Candles: scented and otherwise, I burn them all the time and so they will be appreciated and used fondly.  

Scarves, this is an obsession of mine. I have drawers full of them and I can never have enough. Any color, any texture, any size… I just love them! 

Having said that neither list is exhaustive, and as time rolls on things will move from one list to the other I am sure. Some may even get dropped, others may be added. SO I do recommend that you treat this as utter nonsense. Buy me what you will, if anything at all. I will love it, it came from you and thus will remind me of you which is more important than what it is and will give it true value.  

As the year ends and I look forward to a new year I also want to look back and thank everyone who has been a part of my year.

  

  • I want to thank some unsung soldiers who helped me realize that I am human and don’t need to be superwoman through discussions, talks and constructive criticism of who I am.
  • I want to thank all my lovely friends for the great times and wonderful parties and events, you all know who you are.
  • I want to thank everyone who helped me adjust to my full time work schedule, even though I still resent it at times 😉
  • I want to thanks my travel buddies throughout the year, great places only made more interesting by you.
  • I want to thank all the shoulders I cried on and arms that held me in my times of need.
  • I want to thank my muse for my inspiration, even in absence.
  • I want to thank my family, despite our dysfunctionality, we are getting there.
  • I want to thank everyone for the cat gifts, despite the fact I am not a cat lady, I would also like to request no more gifts that have any cat motif on them.
  • I want to thank my dietician and doctors, without whom I wouldn’t be a healthier person than I was this time of year last year.
  • I want to thank the 20 kg that I lost for giving up my fun life and dissolving into oblivion. See you in another life J
  • I want to thank all my lovely hosts when I traveled, your hospitality was ever giving.
  • I want to thank all my visitors who stayed with me, your presence was as always enriching
  • I want to thank all the new friends I made for coming into my life.
  • I want to thank all the old friends I had for staying.
  • I want to thank those that have supported me in my decision making, faulty as it may have been and for helping me stay together through it all.
  • I want to thank those that have helped me with my exit strategy, still waiting, but couldn’t have done it without you.
  • I want to thank my boss for the diversity of the projects I work on, and the space to do my work comfortably.
  • I want to thank my work colleagues for making our office a fun and lively environment (never a dull day).
  • I want to thank you for reading this and other posts, I enjoy the feedback.

 Have wonderful conclusion to 2007 and a great 2008.

I still my pen because I still my mind. It leads me to places that I have visited time and time again. I am tired of my mind and so I am tired of where my pen goes. 

I still my pen because I still my mind. It leads me to beautiful places that only exist there. I want to share them only with myself and so because I am selfish my pen is quiet. 

I still my pen because I still my mind. It remembers a history told before. It remembers happiness and pain. It remembers laughter and anger. It remembers what cannot be shared, and so it forgets as does my pen. 

I still my pen because I still me mind. Nothing is worthy of the ink. It dries on paper with empty words. There is no story to tell. There is no inspiration.

I still my pen, I still my mind, I still my heart.  

Let me take you for a walk in Damascus
I’ll and show you it faces
I’ll show you its places

Let me take you for a walk in Damascus
You can hear it voices
You can feel its pulses

Let me take you for a walk in Damascus
It is as old as time
It has many stories to tell

Let me take you for a walk in Damascus
You can write your own history
Make your own tapestry

Let me take you for a walk in Damascus
Meet the players
Feel its rhythm

Let me take you for a walk in Damascus
A walk through antiquity
A walk through history

Let me take you for a walk in Damascus
See it through my eyes
See it through new eyes

Let me take you for a walk in Damascus  

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