I’m realizing more and more that I trust less and less. People that I shared with intimate thoughts and ideas, feelings and opinions, people I shared amazing experiences with have come to fail me time and time again. Things that are private are made public and sometimes with such twisting and embellishment. Stories and assumptions are made when the facts and details aren’t even there. A part of me has given up trying to explain myself and another part of me is filled with questioning about what I am putting out there into the world. 

 

I have spent years working on building trust and maintaining it. I know I’ve always has a crisis of trust. It takes me forever to open up. But with these trusts broken, and so easily sometimes, I have come to distrust my intuition and ability to judge character. I questions motives, even mine much more now. I feel like I have to think 10 steps ahead and always be guarded about what comes out of my mouth for fear of how it will be interpreted and passed on. It has gotten to a point where I am shutting down.

I don’t want to be so distrustful of the world around me. This crisis has me thinking and rethinking relationships constantly. Trying to step away from the old and build new relationships. But is this the real solution or is this another form of escape away from confrontation? 

Growing up I didn’t realize that what my mother made us do nearly every summer was going to be monumental to me later in life. We hated being dragged over the bridge, being humiliated, taken away from our creature comforts at home to go to see our grandparents in Palestine. I don’t think I realized then that my relationship with MY Palestine was starting and being formed.

 

But my relationship with Palestine was always defined by my mother’s, aunts’ and uncles’ stories of Palestine and their relationships with the places and the people. It was their relationships, views, ideas, prejudices, like and hates that I took on to be mine.

 

But 1998, when I was 21, I finally crossed into that beautiful land alone. I visited my grandmother, I visited my uncles and aunts, I visited the land, the cities, and the trees. I even went to Jerusalem for the first time. I started to see Palestine through my eyes and not anyone else’s. I started to form my own relationship with Palestine. But I may have been seeing it through my eyes I was still influenced by the anxieties and fears and thoughts of others.

 

In 2000 I went again, a friend of mine wanted to go and another friend was visiting her family there and so I decided to accompany one and meet the other there. It was a different experience for this time my grandmother had passed and it wasn’t to her home that I went and that too started to shape my relationship with Palestine and my family that lives there differently. I traipsed around the Palestine then with both my friends and was learning to navigate around the cities and was proud to show it off despite not knowing the lay of the land. I left just four days before Sharon entered into the Haram in Jerusalem and the second Intifada started.

 

With the violence escalating and oppression at its height, my solitary trips ended. Until last spring, a friend of mine was organizing an exchange workshop that was to take place in Ramallah for 10 days, I jumped on the idea despite being apprehensive for I had not crossed over in eight years and I had no idea what to expect. In eight years Palestine was an image on the TV screen, ink on paper, an idea, a slogan, a statistic. We very easily forget that it is a hop skip and jump away. We easily forget our family and people and their everyday struggle. We simply live in oblivion.  I especially was in oblivion for up until then Palestine was where we went to renew our papers and visit our grandparents. Israel was embodied by the TV my mother shouted or cried at when something was terribly wrong. We were never very political.

 

But last spring that all changed, I spent 10 days in Palestine. I went again in June and once again in December. I am reclaiming my relationship with Palestine and everything Palestinian. I bring back pictures and stories for those that can not go home or visit Palestine. But more importantly I am building my relationship slowly and clearly with My Palestine. The Palestine of olive groves and family gatherings; of uncles who love to laugh and cousins who struggle to live their youth; of cities and villages torn and divide by walls of cement and electricity. My Palestine where the fruit is that much sweeter, and the air that much purer. My Palestine, on my terms, with my impressions, my connections, my expressions.

 

Sometimes I wonder what signs we have on our foreheads. They are written in invisible ink, and seem to change based on the reader, but recently mine has been reading “DUMP YOUR SHIT ON ME”. I don’t get it, why do people think that I want to know about their problems or that I may have solutions for them, or that I care?

 

In the past few months I have heard more crap about addictions, relationships (romantic and otherwise), health, work, sex, and businesses than I care to know. I know I am a nice person, I’ll listen and I’m approachable. I also know that I won’t lie or soften the blow; I call it like I see it. This usually makes for some tough love, and people can count on it.

 

But I would like to point out once again that every once in a while I need space to be too. I need to hear your good news too. I like to laugh, to smile, to celebrate. I am available for that kind of thing too. I like to get the random I miss you call, or I just want to see how you are doing call, or lets hang out because I haven’t seen you in a long time call.

 

These days, it seems the only time I get calls are from people who want to dump their crap, or are bored. I am available 24/7 for my GOOD friends who call for the good, the bad and the ugly. Who want to hang out because they want to hang out not because they are bored and don’t know what to do so let’s see what Shalabieh is doing. And there are many of those and if you are reading this and you guys know who you are… I love ya all. But if you are the ones that always have a drama, want to whinge, or just think about how I can entertain you … well dears this is not a news flash, and it’s not a gentle reminder either! This is the deal… MY WORLD REVOLVES AROUND ME! I have my own crap to deal with, and I have my fair share mind you. And even if I don’t I like to keep my life happy and clutter free and that includes keeping my brain, my mind, my surroundings clutter (aka crap) free too. So I really don’t care!

 

So next time you call with a problem or if you are bored, ask yourself “Does Shalabieh care?” if you don’t know how to answer that question then don’t make the call, instead go buy yourself a few self help books, get with it and pull yourself together. If you still need help call a professional, otherwise I will start charging you by the hour, and my advice does not come cheap!

I was chatting with a friend about commitment and change. The context of course was meeting people and being with someone. Now if you’ve read my previous post Tarnib vs. Tricks you know I am a Tricks player. To go a bit farther and explain myself a bit more, I am afraid. I am afraid of commitment. I am afraid of change. I am afraid of losing myself. I am afraid of losing my freedom, which I have struggled hard to achieve. I am also so comfortable in my life and so used to enjoying being single that I do not want to give up this happiness for something completely unknown with someone unknown. I know that there are those people who are in relationships that will now rush to tell me I am missing out on the best things in life because of my singlehood. That being with THE ONE is incomparable. Well I’m going to go at this from two angles: the first is the concept of THE ONE, the other is THE ONE.

The concept of THE ONE is so depressing to me. To think that in this whole wide world of six billion people there is only one person for each of us is just unfathomable. The odds of meeting that one are so miniscule that you have to be one lucky bastard to find that person. What if my one was in Timbuktu? How do you go about finding this elusive ONE? Where do you start? How do you start? How do you know its THE ONE? How do you recognize THE ONE if they are standing behind you in the line at the bank? What does THE ONE look like? Can you see why I don’t believe in the idea of THE ONE?

I am a firm believer in multiple partners throughout life. I believe this for many reasons not just the odds of there being just one. I think that every relationship has a beginning and an end. Even if two people are together faithfully until death parts them, then that is the end of that relationship. And so others may form. Another reason is people change, and grow. With that growth your needs change and your needs aren’t always met by the first person you meet. So you move on to someone else. Yes, yes there are those cases of two people being together and growing together and being able to spend their whole lives with each other, and lovingly so. But call me a cynic, I somehow don’t believe in Hollywood endings. Or as Fergie sings “Fairy tales don’t always have a happy ending.”

I want to come back to the question of “what does THE ONE look like?” Well I know that as a kid me and my friends always had these lists of what Mr. Right would be like. I even carried it around in my wallet for a while. I now have no clue where that list is but I can remember a few of these desirable traits: good looking, funny, a good dancer, makes me laugh, strong shoulders and has a jeep. I know the list was a lot longer but the rest eludes me. I smile every time I think of that list because, well it’s a funny teenager’s list. Today if I were to even try to compile a list of desirables then it will be very different. Secure would be up there on the list, as is challenging, someone who can be in a relationship autonomously and give me my space and autonomy without begrudging them. Someone with a full life that complements mine, not completes it ,or competes with it. Someone who has shared values and similar goals. These are a few qualities that would top the list; And from my teen list I would keep good looking, funny and I would tweak good dancer to loves to dance. The jeep and shoulders negotiable !

Putting the list aside though, people are important to me. Relationships are important too. I don’t think they are easy, especially romantic relationships. I know that I like invest the tiem and effort in building friendships, and learning about someone, one layer at a time. I thrive on this. I take these relationships seriously. My life is full of wonderful people that I have gotten to know and am getting to know. Romance and love is usually not on the agenda when these relationships are forming. My take on that is if it happens it happens if not… oh well no worries nothing has to change, and hence I don’t have to jump. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the willingness to face those fears; I know that I am willing to jump. However, when I jump, I want a parachute, or I want to jump in tandem with someone I know I can trust to pull the cord when we need to. Until then Tricks anyone?

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.

I am a selfish woman, sometimes even very selfish. This, I know, is a very strong statement. Strong because we, as a society, view selfishness as a very negative trait. We are taught at a very young age to share. As Arab women, we are taught at a very young age to be selfless, and place others constantly before us. There is a high value on the happiness of those around us, and as young girls we see and learn that a woman who sacrifices and puts her family, friends, and others in general before her is a virtuous, good woman. Selflessness is a highly prized virtue. Well I disagree, and I disagree strongly. I think being selfish is a good thing. 

I regard “I am a selfish woman” as a very positive affirmation of all my accomplishments and life achievements. I think it is completely and utterly OK to place a high value on the things you want, your desired achievements, and to go after them. One’s own priorities may not match those that are around them, but let me ask you this: when someone asks you to take their needs into consideration first, is this not selfishness on their part? I think it is. So why is it OK for us to come last then?

I used to be very selfless. I would place a much higher value on the happiness of others and their needs. This usually meant that I came out last if I even got a turn. I was a pleaser. If decisions were being made everyone’s contributions, needs, and or feelings were considered, by me, before mine. Sometimes, actually most times, this left me feeling frustrated, angry, or just disgruntled.

Today, I have put my foot down. I won’t do things I do not want to do. If our interests are at odds then I place a high value on my needs first and then consider the others. I am the most important person to me. Just as you are the most important person to yourself. Each one our universes revolves around us. I recognize that and for that I am called selfish. It is a tag I have no problem wearing, because I may not come out on top every time, but I sure as hell don’t come last every time either. 


Finally, I would like to say that putting myself first does not in any way mean that respect, consideration, or compassion for others is thrown out the window. It’s just that now the parameters of how my life and my decisions are made are different, and for that I am a very selfish woman J.

A woman’s relationship with her breasts and how she adorns them is a very complex one. We want support, sexiness, beauty, lift, size all rolled into one. Everyday a multitude of women put on a bra, myself included. I do not remember a day when I went braless. Even at the beach I have a special beach bra that I wear under my bathing suit unless there is one sewn into it.

I am thirty one and I have been wearing bras since I was 10 years old! I remember vividly going to a department store and buying my first bras with my mother. It was a very strange experience. There was the confusion of size and which ones to get. We poured over the training bras section religiously. I looked at all these nice pretty bras and lacy ones and sexy ones, even at that young age I knew I wanted something saucy. But somehow with the shame were are taught about our bodies prohibited me from asking for them from my mother. I knew that disapproval would be swift in coming if I voiced these desires. We ended up with two very practical white ones and on beige bra that clasped at the front. I loved that one it was so cool because it was different. Thinking back I cant help but smile and say how tame!

As the years went by my mother continued to supervise my bra purchases and sometimes we even exchanged some. The ones we bought were boring, so I always managed to borrow the lacy black ones and the pretty ones from her bra drawer. Sometimes she never noticed and I got to keep them. But with time the size of my breasts grew bigger and bigger and we could no longer share.

With the breast growth came bra independence too. I would go out and buy my own support and this is where the real dilemma started. I had boobs that were not the standard B or C cup that is Jordan and so finding a bra became a major drama. I bought any bra I could find. But they had to be functional and functionality didn’t always come with form and style. But there will be bras I will never forget, my flowery Hawaiian bra that I bought because it was so colorful. My strapless push up bra that made a shelf out of my breasts and brought them all the way up to my neck, the comfortable cotton ones that had very thin straps and I could wear under tank tops. And then there was the satin black one that made me feel so sexy.

My relationship with each of my bras depends on its color, shape, size and use. I have a whole range of them. There are some that I have in every color imaginable including teal! I love my breasts and my bras, sometimes I wish I can go with out one. Will I ever get the courage to let these babies roam free with out any support, who knows. Until then this woman will need her support system in all its colors, shapes and sizes.