Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Interview About Marriage, 6/29

I'm at my friend Dina's job downtown. I'm smoking a merit ultra light. Inside. In her office. I love that. She works for this website.

I'm about to interview her friend Nancy. She just showed me a small sculpture her ex gave her of two elephants fucking. He gave it to her before they started dating. He's got balls.

Nancy says:
"Besides the fact that we are the most beautiful girls in Alexandria, there seems to be, ya3ni, some kind of difficulty in finding the men, you know. It's not that something's wrong with us, but I think the society is the problem...the society we're dealing with; the mentality; the lack of entertainment, hangouts, pubs, activities," says Nancy. A co-worker walks in, spreads a prayer mat, and begins praying. Nancy continues: "It's narrowed down from 10 to 7 at work...there's the mustachioed Magdy, the even bigger-mustachioed Alaa; Walid and Wael with the tight jeans.

Those are the only guys I see...after work I see my girls... our hangout is Karfour- a city center hypermarket. But...it's OK. I'm a 29 year-old virgin. I don't want to go to any western countries because of this... I don't want to seem like a geek."

A co-worker enters with a large shopping-bag full of chips. The girls scream with joy.

"If you know any Muslims over the age of 29 willing to marry (but no Pakistanis, please) please come drink boiled flowers [hibiscus tea] and I can consider marrying them."

I ask her why she won't move to Cairo.

"Everyone in Cairo is married."

We eat chips.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

First Blog From Egypt, 6/27

Yes, cheesy, but true.
I will dodge the narrative blog post for something much better: A list!

Number of days I have been in Alexandria: 8.5
Number of times I have been told to pull my shirt down to hide the apparently enticing flesh known as my back: 342
Number of times I've done it: 0
Number of relatives who've visited me since my arrival: 24
Number of relatives I care for: 3
Number of cigarettes I've smoked: 2
Number of times I've swum: 7
Number of times I've enjoyed it so much I felt my entire body was coming: 7
Number of times I've masturbated: 0
Number of orgasms I've had: 1
Number of wet dreams I've had: 1
Number of times I've driven: 2
Number of people I almost killed: 16
Number of meals I've eaten that were entirely composed of seafood: 4
Number of times I've prayed: 0 (I was supposed to go to friday prayer with my geddo a couple days ago but overslept.)
Number of Arabic words my son has picked up: 23
Number of English words my cousins have learned from him: 1 ("No")
Number of bikes I've rented: 6
Number of jasmine garlands I've bought: 12 (I gave one of them to the bike renter dude. He's fly. He gives me my three bikes now for the price of 1.)
Number of Euro 2004 futbol matches I've watched: 6
Number of matches I've watched outside, on the balcony, with my uncle who is crazed and beautiful and white-haired and supercool: 5
Number of books I've read: 1/2 (I'm still waiting on Ahmad's book to come in the mail. Hurry up, postman!)
Number of times I've cried: 1
Number of pounds I've spent: 220 (approx.$35)
Number of midgets setting up sheeshas I've seen: 1
Number of luqmat-qadis I've eaten: 36
Number of tea cups I've drank: 23
Number of emails my boyfriend has sent me: 2
Number of times I've been asked why I haven't remarried: 80
Number of times I've answered "Because I don't want to have sex with just one person for the rest of my life": 1
Number of times my mama has fainted in public: 1
Number of times I've said thank you: 200
Number of loaves of bread I've consumed: 24
Number of pounds I've gained: 2
Number of times I've been told I need to lose 50 pounds: 400
Number of times I've told people I love my body: 400
Number of times I've sat on the beach at night with my sister talking about music and writing and boys: 8
Number of times I've laughed so hard I coughed: 3
Number of new songs I've heard: 50+
Number of funny stories I've been told: 50+
Number of times I've thought about my novel: 0
Number of times I've thought about my next novel: 50+
Number of miles I've walked: 14
Number of limbs I'd give to live here forever (provided I can be myself the entire time): 4

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


I don't know when I first heard the voice. Maybe I had it with me when I was little. I think I may have found it when I saw the dearest person to me hurt the next dearest person to me, or when they hurt me, or maybe it was when people looked at us like we were trash before they knew anything about us, or maybe I found the voice when I had to perfect the art of farewelling. But now I have the voice, the one that clenches its fists in my head and says: things will always be shitty! There's no hope! Life's a bitch...and happiness is a dangerous, dirty pimp I'd rather not be familiar with! My cynical voice.

It was not the wedding of people who are particularly dear to me, although I am quite fond of them. The soft music played and the turkey vultures circled overhead, above the canyon, and the ceremony began. It was almost a Deep Thoughts moment. Then the vows came, and I felt my body unclenching, my mouth smiling in spite of myself. But that didn't last long- the voice lurched forward: How do people do it? How do they know it's right? How can they go so blindly, knowing how shitty life is? Knowing fully well that they'll be sick of each other, that their children will break their hearts, that they'll break each others' hearts, that they'll disappoint and possibly betray each other, that one day they'll say something so hurtful, so awful, this day will seem like light years ago. How can this day be all that counts now, even though it represents a promise to that very future?

This afternoon, we were in the car. Two girls and a boy. I was going 65 miles an hour in the rain, listening to a song, the voice providing its usual background to my thoughts. But then the sound of the voice was overshadowed by the sound of the crack. And another crack. And hail. Hail coming down like giant periods, full-stops to sentences the sky had been pouring all afternoon. Enough; enough; enough. Listen to me! they seemed to say. I exist. We listened and I panicked, got off the highway and found a gas station, as had many others. I parked the car under an awning. There were atleast 2 dozen other cars huddling with us. We stared into each others' windows. I hadn't felt such a part of something collective in so long. I was surrounded with trucks and cars and jeeps and people who were looking for shelter from something bigger and stronger than they'd ever be. My eyes scanned the vehicles snuggly parked close to each other, and the ones that were still speeding along on the highway. What made us different from the people still on the highway? The voice decided those other people were risk-taking, naive, and blindly trusting. We, the parkers, knew better; we parked because it was the safest, smartest thing to do. But just then, as soon as it had begun its punctuation, the sky was done talking, and the hail stopped. The bastards on the highway were that much closer to their destination. My mouth smiled in spite of myself, and I put the car in reverse, turned off my windshield wiper, as I waited for the other cars to get the fuck out of my way.