Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wherever you are, there you are

I've been incommunicado for a while, since my laptop charger died a couple weeks ago and I haven't had Internet access in my apartment. It bugs me when I go two weeks without writing a blog post, so I opened an old notebook labeled "Poetics" from when I used to read about analysis of Arabic poetry and started writing whatever popped into my head. (This notebook now has very little to do with either Arabic or poetry.) I wasn't going to post this one, because I didn't plan it out, and I didn't edit it. But I'm doing it anyway, just for fun.

So what's the difference between this and a journal entry? Not much, in a way. But in my journal, I somehow manage to put a negative spin on events that in reality are neutral, or even positive. I started a blog primarily for myself, since I find that when I'm writing online I'm able to put a positive spin on events that might even be considered negative. It's always interesting to me when I go back and skim through my journal entries and my blog posts from the same period of time. Sometimes it's as if they're written by two different people.


A half-attempt to hand write a blog post instead of using the prohibitively slow Qasid computers. an exercise in writing something straight through, stream-of-consciousness, no cutting, pasting, or rearranging. Sitting in the stairwell above the 4th floor of our class building, which we've come to call the "Haramadan Lounge." A place where we can comfortably drink water or Coke and eat snacks, out of sight of the Muslims, so as not to offend them. Also, now that classes are over, a quiet place to sit and reflect, a change of scenery from the apartment, as dingy and uninviting as it may be up here. Listening to the music (it's really almost music) of the elevator as its doors open. The sound that welcomed me to school every day for the past two plus months. A pleasant sound, one that I think actually improved my mood. A contrast to the much less welcomed noises of the outside world. School was a refuge from the constant honking of cars. The "get out of my way" honk directed at other cars. The "get out of my way" honk directed at pedestrians. I miss Berkeley traffic. Cars stop for you when they see you trying to cross the street from a billion miles away. The worst kind of honks, the "you are female" honks. (Okay, that phrase is stolen from a friend.) And the creepy ice-cream-truck music of the trucks that deliver propane tanks to our houses. Houses, not homes. Creepy in the way that clowns are creepy. (I really hate clowns, I think.) The soundtrack to my summer. The Quran recitations played over the loudspeakers at the grocery store. They can't play music during the day, that'd be haram. (The Quran can't be music - what is music?)

My apartment is in disarray. Half-packed suitcases, piles of books whose volume is undeniably larger than the empty space in my suitcases, even if I squint at them. Our shower head broke a month ago. The shower door collapsed in on me as I was showering the other day. (Sounds dangerous, but more just funny.) I almost electrocuted myself while plugging in my washing machine this morning. (Again, sounds dangerous, and I suppose it was. What can you do but laugh? Laughter is the best coping mechanism I know.) And there's the ice cream truck again. What a life it's been here, what a summer.

Funny how when I know I've only got a few days (now, a few hours) left here, I think I can get away with hating the things I hate about being here. Funny how the memories from the last few days of being somewhere can color your perception of your entire experience there. I watched an awful movie yesterday in which a girl died of leukemia at the age of 12. What a horrible death, at the end. "Don't think her whole life was leukemia, because it wasn't." Jordan was heat and harassment. But Jordan was also kunafeh, Petra, desert stars and Bedouin tea, Roman ruins. New friends. Perfecting the art of blowing smoke rings with shisha. It's actually not that difficult once you realize that it's just a glottal stop. Like the way British people say the "t" in the word "bottle." And that's actually a letter in Arabic, if such a thing can be considered a letter. Smoke rings and horses eating out of dumpsters. Stray cats. Some of them have such weird bone structure. They're stocky. They're like lions.

A week ago I asked my friend when he starts school in the fall. I loved his response: "I don't know, I'm still here." (He's not anymore, but I am.) I could spend this time being worked up about moving, starting grad school again, being insecure about it. Dreading the humidity and the blackbirds and bats. Remembering how a prof once told me he's never seen someone torture themselves during the process of writing a philosophy paper as much as I used to. I'll feel landlocked away from the Pacific.(But when I first moved to the west coast, I envisioned a map of the United States and I was afraid I'd fall off the edge of the world, so I suppose I can adjust.) I'll have to deal with either supporting one of the worst teams in the National League, or learn to tone down my hatred of the Rangers, even though Ron Washington in recent years has made some of the worst managerial decisions I've ever seen, with regard to pitching changes in the post season. I could worry about all of that, but why?

I'm still here.


  1. I remember when you moved to Berkeley and would look down the hill at the water and say, "I can't believe that's the edge of the United States," but you adjusted to loving the edge of the United States. You'll adjust to Austin just as well, I predict, once you're there.

    And funny, just the other day I was wondering which team you would now be rooting for.

  2. I think you should always always write. And I am picky snob ;)