Sunday, July 30, 2006


“The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.”

— CG Jung

My obsession with twin selves is making more sense everyday.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Someone actually tried to map world happiness... but forgot that the world is made up of people. A real map would be filled with tiny pixels, each representing every human being, and would probably appear yellower in some places and redder in others. Read about the study here.
"I learnt the lesson of nonviolence from my wife, when I tried to bend her to my will. Her determined resistance to my will, on the one hand, and her quiet submission to the suffering my stupidity involved, on the other, ultimately made me ashamed of myself and cured me of my the end, she became my teacher in nonviolence." From Gandhi the Man.

I've been reading up on non-violence and interbeing --which i love--in order to keep the current events from swallowing my well-being. So far, so good. I've been doing a lot more living in the moment and am shocked at how much time I spend fantasizing or worrying about the future. And it's amazing how reading a news story only once a day and allowing myself to cry about it brings me peace.

Love Song

To the US and Israeli governments, to Al-Qaeda and Hizbullah.

A song.


And everyone else you've fucked over.

PS Here are the lyrics...i know you're sometimes hard of hearing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

  • An Open Letter to Arab filmmakers from Israeli filmmakers, "written to coincide with the opening of the Arab Film Biennial in Paris 22 July 2006."

  • Tomorrow: it will be one month since Israel invaded Gaza. 31 children have been killed.

  • Nearly half of Gaza is without electricity after last night's massive shelling
  • Saturday, July 22, 2006

    Mazen Kerbaj

    Check out this amazing art blog from trumpet-player Mazen Kerbaj who lives in Beirut and is chronicling the war daily through drawings. I much prefer it to the news.
  • Check out this drawing, it's so fucking great
  • Listen to Starry Night: a beautiful piece.
  • Check out Witnessing (again), Laure Ghorayeb's blog. Ghorayeb is a seventy-five year old painter, poet, and art critic for Nahar. She drew throughout the civil war and continues to draw through the current crisis. She is also Mazen's mother.

  • If you know of more Lebanese artists' blogs, drop me a line.

    Thanks to I Hear A New World for the tip

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    New Elmaz Abinader Poem


    By Elmaz Abinader

    If I put one child on my shoulders
    thrust myself forward scrape my feet
    to clear the rubble, or water, waste or shards
    If I hold the small legs in each of my hands
    steady the bounce of the body
    against my back, keep the child from falling
    maybe the water will clear relieving the palms
    The bombing will die away, leaving sparks to stars
    The wave will curl back into the sea
    If I wait outside the harbor, maneuver
    through the blockade, slip near the pier
    my boat empty and available, if I pull up
    in a pontoon, make room in my motorboat,
    bed the floor of a barge, clear out the galley
    and scour the decks I can rescue those
    Who have been betrayed by the ocean
    The bronchial rains and wind, the missiles covered
    with messages of love and death written
    by young hands and delivered by fire.
    If my bus pulls up to the curb, idles--hatch
    open to hold their belongings, a convoy
    of SUVs with captains chairs, a panel truck
    ventilated, with room for children on the floor.
    If I fill my car with large families, the sons
    holding the doors so they don't fly open
    the desert will cool the backs
    of the border-crossers, the interstate converts
    to a freeway and not a boundary;
    the bridge will lift its guard arm
    to a permanent fist of power.
    If I can give the children my bike to ride
    quickly to the shore, hold their wrists
    while they walk, lift them by the waist
    and half-circle them aboard the waiting vessel.
    Their mothers may smile at them and
    brush the floppy hair away with a sense
    of miracle etched in their foreheads
    If I can swing them back and forth
    in play perhaps the leg isn't blown
    off, face in the dirt, hand reaching
    toward where they would go, if they could.
    That eyes should witness this fracture, ears stuffed
    capacity; that taste should include gun powder
    and burning flesh; that adding cannot continue
    on missing fingers and humming collapsed into sunken chest,
    that calling for ummi or baba, mami or papi, pak, ibu,
    momma and poppa is drown in elements
    of water, earth, fire and air turned in on themselves
    that memory should include this, that memory should
    hold this, that life is told with an underline of the year
    of refugee, of rescue of betrayal. Earth fire air water.
    If I could put one child on my shoulder, if I could
    whisper into her ear the sounds of birth and budding
    rising and singing. If I could replace memory with dream.
    Horror with honor.

    "If you're wonderin' what you look like, look at me"

    My obsession with twinning continues. At left, a building in Beirut, right, the foreign ministry in Gaza. Photo courtesy of AFP.

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006


    Here's what's helping me break out of my funk and actually feel happy these days:

    1. Reaching out to friends (Montaigne would love that) instead of waiting for them to call me, seeing them almost every night.
    2. Eradicating guilt about my sleeping patterns.
    3. Watching Twin Peaks nonstop while eating heaps of donuts and drinking cups of coffee.
    4. Buying a cool notebook that reminds me of the exact notebook I bought from a street vendor in Alexandria where I ended up after my own exodus.
    5. Getting a postcard from Christine that says, "She looks like you in this picture, I think." It is a postcard of a photograph of Marilyn Monroe when she was Norma Jean. Instant self-esteem boost!
    6. Staying up late at night with Michalle and doing our ennegrams and the enneagrams of all our friends, and cracking ourselves up. (I'm a Four.)
    7. Seeing my friend Zeina and her 4-week-old baby Zahi, who is perfect and new and uncorrupted.
    8. Reading the authentic version of the Arabian Nights by Muhsin Mahdi and Husain Haddawy. It's such a good translation, and the introduction is absolutely priceless. Also, since I am in Twin Peaks mode, I am noticing the themes of duality much more this time around. God, even the editor's and translator's names/initials have mirroring going on.
    9. Going to Barton Springs. It's like a baptism for all your foul thoughts.

    Yet Another Exodus

    100,000 refugees.

    I can't describe to you how painful it is for me to see the faces of little girls and their mothers as they leave Lebanon. But I'll try: it breaks my heart; it reminds me of my own exodus at age 13 from a war; it makes me angry; it makes me want to reach out and comfort those girls; to give them the books that comforted me, to make them laugh, to make sure they will have atleast 2 friends from their old school follow them so they won't feel alone; it makes me want to dick slap Olmert; it makes me want to round up Hizbullah and thrown them into jail; it makes me want to grab Bush by the shoulders and send him to a school that will teach him actual logic and history; it makes me want to cry, and I do. What a shame that we keep going in circles and circles, that human beings never learn. When Israel or America or any hegemonic government says it wants to accomplish something it couldn't accomplish before, it only ends up fucking over more people and failing, again. Every single time.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Keep Dreaming

    I've just finished reading a collection of Eudora Welty stories, and watching the first season of Twin Peaks. The two don't have that much in common, but the stories about freaks and magic and sisters and girlfriends are very Lynchian.

    I can't believe I've waited this long to get into Twin Peaks. I am drawn to its themes of duality and dream and nature. I love Agent Cooper and his trust in his instincts and dream-life. Also, I love all stories about a stranger who comes to town and sees everything that others take for granted (the trees! the pie! the people!)--is that a trope most immigrants, gays, and marginalized people feel familiar with?

    In the last few nights, my dreams have returned to the intensity they enjoyed at Hedgebrook. I don't just have a scary dream or a weird dream, I have an epic, fat, juicy dream that takes forever to journal (I keep a dream log when dreams are this intense).

    At some point in my dream, which was party-themed, a man I didn't know showed me the cover of my book. It was of a street which was Egyptian on one side--lanterny, colorful, crowded-- Palestinian on the other-- rubbly, deserted-- and had a huge, Texas tree in the center. Awesome.

    I grew up in a family and an environment that encouraged dream interpretation. People were constantly telling me what my dreams meant. Also, dream interpretation is super-popular on Egyptian TV.

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Department of Keeping Sane While Those in Power Continue to Ignore the Pain and Suffering of Certain People

    The new Outkast movie, Idlewild, a prohibition-era musical, is coming out on August 22. Check the trailer. Cock-a-doodle-doo! I can't fucking wait.

    Friday, July 14, 2006

    Finally, Home

    For the past 4 months, I've been applying for housing in Michigan and failing. The landlords put my social security number through a machine and it tells them things they don't want to hear: that I am a single mom, that my ex-husband once declared me on his taxes [and had his girlfriend at the time forge my name] and now I owe the IRS a couple Gs; that I sometimes don't have the money to pay my phone bills. Based on these facts, they denied me housing, and until a couple of days ago, I was homeless and despondent.

    I grew up with a precarious idea of home, and an even more precarious home life. So the news that my son and I will finally have a house to live in has lifted my spirits.

    [This paragraph deleted at subject's request]

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Brain Drain

    From EI:
    According to the Haaretz newspaper, Israel’s interior ministry has been quietly implementing a new rule since April that allows it to refuse entry to Palestinians holding foreign passports to Israel and the occupied territories. Most of those affected are Palestinians who today have citizenship in America or Europe.

    Israel has this power over these Palestinians’ lives because, since its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, it has usurped control of the borders of the Palestinian territories. In another sign of how mistaken Western observers are in believing that the occupation of Gaza somehow ended with the withdrawal of Jewish settlers last year, Israel is still able to prevent Palestinians with a foreign passport (as well as those from the West Bank) from entering Gaza.

    This new policy of exclusion affects thousands of the wealthiest and most educated Palestinians, some of whom have been living in the occupied territories for a decade or more investing in the economy as entrepreneurs, teaching in the universities or establishing desperately needed civil society organisations.

    You can help alleviate the brain drain temporarily by contacting foundations like Al-Qattan and applying for an arts residency. I've been planning to do so for years, but I think next summer will be the time to go.

    What the FUCK?

    This is terrorism. A fucking civilian airport?!

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006


    From Merip: Gaza in the Vise.

    At the Boston Globe, one woman's life in Gaza.

    From EI, "six human rights groups petitioned the Israeli High Court demanding that the crossings in Gaza be opened to allow for the steady and regular supply of fuel, food, medicine, and equipment, including spare parts needed to operate generators."

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Summer Song

    I love La Caution-- a two-brothers-from-Morocco rap group out of France. Check out their The a la Menthe, the perfect summer anthem.

    Friends, books, movies, and music are all that's keeping me from getting bogged down in depression about the bullshit that's going on in Gaza and Iraq right now.

    Sunday, July 09, 2006

    Another Truman Capote Movie

    There's another film version of Capote's journey during the writing of In Cold Blood, and there's a "review" of it in The Independent.

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Finally, someone noticed the homo-hatin'

    ...of the Yacoubian Buildings. Raouf Moussad in El-Ahram Weekly:
    By comparing the Arabic original to the English translation, by Humphrey Davies (American University in Cairo Press, 2004), I noticed a remarkable difference in the terms used for same sex practices. The Arabic uses terms like " shuzuz " (meaning deviancy or abnormality) and its derivatives, which correspond to English usages such as "fag", "faggot" and "poofter". By contrast, the English translation replaces shaz and shuzuz by "homosexual" and "homosexuality", which do not imply sexual practices that are deviant from the social norm. It's as if the Arabic original urges the reader to condemn people who practice same sex, whereas the English version sympathises with them.

    The treatment of homosexuals at the hands of Al-Aswany is similar to the treatment of Nubians and Christians -- two groups marginalised in Egyptian society -- in the novel. With all three groups, we need to ask why it was that Al-Aswany chose to represent them only to vent his venom against them. Is it because they cannot answer back, because their complaints will fall on deaf ears in a society that consistently ignores them, or casts them outside?

    Real Life Is Boring

    I'm back in Dickland, also knows as Austin, where people drive everywhere and I've been to see everything about 9,000,001 times. You'd think that camping out in a cottage for three weeks with only a few hours of social stimulation a day, and those only after 5:30 PM, would be boring, and that real life in a metropolis would be exciting, but's it's actually the other way around.

    Needless to say, I am having trouble adjusting.

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Libyan Lit on WWB

    The new issue of Words Without Borders is up, with an introduction to Libyan lit by Rockslinga pal Khaled Mattawa. The issue includes two poems by Salim El-Okli, which I translated: Reckless Habits and The Clamor of Your Longing. They're super-sexy: I worked on them in a coffee shop, and half-way through, had to take a cigarette break.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    Farewell, Paradise

    I'm leaving Hedgebrook. Sniff. Today is my last day. And so I say my awesome work space: And my window seat, from which I would spend every morning looking at the trees and drinking my tea, and in which I've been moved and inspired at all hours of the day:And the bath house, which gave me sanctuary and a bathtub big enough to hug all of me:I'll miss the wood stove and the warmth and fire it lit inside it and inside me, and the cool detail of the fishermen on its side:I'll miss walking along the muddy flats of the beach:So, peace out, my small safe space. I'll miss you, and take a bit of you with me on my journey out.

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    Lucky Girl in Residence

    I've been so lucky here, hanging out with talented, wickedly fabulous, interesting women-- it's been so fun sharing our ideas and our visions and our fears and our stories. Every Sunday, we've had a reading/workshop, and yesterday's was so fucking cool. Almost all of us read things they'd recently written, things this place has fostered and inspired. Gloria Steinem arrived here on Friday, and it's been so fun having her be part of our dinner table, and hearing all her stories. She joined us yesterday and read something of hers as well.

    My fellow residents, Rosemary and Ghida and Munju and Rosemary and Susan and Gloria, gave me some brilliant suggestions and encouragements. It's surreal being in a workshop with Gloria. She gives such right-on advice-- on wording, voice, details, and the title-- prefacing it with, "Once an editor, always an editor." It was incredible; possibly the most helpful workshop I've ever participated in.

    This place is a gift.

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    Writer in Residence

    Been getting lots & lots & lots & lots & lots of writing done! It's great. Settling into a routine. Finished revising the novel at last. Committed to a theme for a collection. Wrote 3 short stories, and 4 short shorts. Loving it.