Everyone in this country is lying to one another.
You know that feeling you get from super philosophical, life-affirming quotes? Don’t just let that feeling reside in your psyche for seconds, then fade, losing its potential to become praxis, inevitably falling into the realm of almost mindless (mindless!!!) cliche. Think about those quotes. Find more like them. Read full texts that change your perceptions about the world, other people and your own self, first and foremost. Let those ideas swell in your mind. Let them breathe and come to life, if not in your behavior, then in your outlook. Believe them, genuinely. Let them change your entire self for the better, Mobilize. Rise.
Don’t just re-blog and let the idea die. That’s not the point of it.
Anonymous asked: Do you know the true source of your inspiration and literary prowess? It doesn't just come out of thin air. You serve a purpose. If you have an open mind, visit truthcontestcom and read "The Present". What it says will change your view of the world forever.
I read the first few pages then skimmed through the rest of the book. It’s nice. It’s like an over-simplified, somewhat romanticized distillation of everything I learned in my years studying philosophy. If you actually look at these postulations the right way and manage to internalize them and live by them naturally, which is something I’ve been working on for the past year before even knowing about this text, your life really will change. Completely. The text isn’t as wishy-washy or sophistic as it may seem, actually. But this manual, or even catechism of sorts, will not change your life if it isn’t proven to you on a day-to-day basis, if you don’t come to these conclusions completely on your own. Thanks for sending me the message. I don’t know if it’s one of those copy & paste spam-joints or not, but it really made my day… The first quote in the text genuinely affirmed something I just realized today after a clash I had. The text gave me at least a bit of clarity about an issue that’s been bugging me all day. Thanks.
To write poetry, I mean poetry, all you’re essentially required to do is think. Sit down with a pen and paper and reflect without stress. Do that for a few minutes. Better yet, a night or two. If you’re especially patient with your words, which you should be, do this everyday for the course of two months. Shit, think for a year about the poem. Think and write along. Don’t sit around and only think, which is interestingly enough an idiotic thing to do as a writer, think and write. Apart from distilling (and surprisingly, detailing) the memory, idea or concept you hope to write a poem about, you’ll then know how to utilize it to the fullest extent. Eventually, a theme will be discovered amidst the abstractions. The poem’s very own sweet, distinctive voice will begin to resonate through your thoughts. The beginning, middle and end will form themselves effortlessly, if not logically (to you). You’ll thread a figurative and structural flow through each word, line, stanza and chapter calmly and confidently. The rhythm your poem is asking for will begin to play in your mind. You’ll no longer just want to say something, you’ll need to. And you’ll know just how.
It all sounds simple and almost magical. But, coaxing your literary frame of mind into crafting art from mere memories or ideas takes unbearable dedication. Your mind has to be dedicated to the piece all day… for days on end. Can you be that patient?
Everything could go wrong, Alexandria.
You could put me down, run my body through garbage
day and night, throw neina through 24 hour chaos,
tell her not to demand her age and the age of others,
feed her cement bread, put false dates on her inhalers,
line the lanterns giddo picked from Mansheya
twist his knee tripping over potholes in Ragheb,
lay him in a bed and give him nothing but a screen
projecting murder, falsehood and division,
strip him of his value, give him chicken feed for retiring,
keep my uncle up all night watching your sky put out every star,
worried about a tomorrow unpromised for his children,
young men bleak with the fresh wrinkles of failure
yet to come, always more to come.
Put my sisters through the fear
of never being loved without secrecy,
safe behind closed doors of “religious officiality”
make them check their expiry dates, wondering
how much their value on the market of women
Birth children in littered alleys,
mind too molded to the street
to know their lives are plentiful
the representation of where we
have gone wrong,
a coin thrown to them
in repulsion and anger;
anger over what exactly?
I’ve always wanted to know.
Drown us all
then humor us with tears of Winter,
polishing our streets before they’re muddied
all over again.
But when the sky over the Mediterranean
grows apricot, palms a shadow in the maghrebeyya,
sea still and silver, dressed up
in clouds and embellished
with golden lights, showing off—
we forget it all
and understand why,
despite it all, Alexandria,
we can’t leave.
Learning to take it slow.
I’m so utterly consumed by this idea that it’s somehow become its own separate entity tagging along in all of my travels, accompanying me into every dream.
don’t drown me, Alexandria
Alexandria tugged silver sardines onto the shore
a disappointment she witnessed by the sand
an hour spent in wait
for the net to reach land
by the transgressing microbuses
coughing death into her sea,
we waited and watched
and tiny silver sardines twinkled
under the clouded sky,
I worshipped her
while watching her shake
from utter disappointment.
I cried elegies for my city
when a woman with a tied up head
lost a shoe to a puddle by tram Victoria,
granny begging in brown chuckled
sense of humor alive
despite the cataract clouding her life
and the grit in her crumbling teeth.
My people have nothing but Allah
keeping them sane.
A boy who spoke emotional tales of science
muttered fears between sedative clouds.
On her boulders he rummaged
through theories to back up all of God,
and I understood my self,
the events around
and inside of us
were beginning to make sense.
Give me one day
where I need not maneuver cautiously
through my own streets,
no mother’s-body-part cussing
in the name of Allah and vindicated manhood.
One day without dreams of meat
being unrealistic, one day
without the hunger that’s lead to animal methods
of survival, immorality normalized.
Protect me for one day, Alexandria,
carry me through your moody Sea,
don’t let me drown—
Don’t drown me,
don’t drown me, Alexandria.
lessons from a grandmother who never dreamt
"No, no, no!" Neina put her hands to her chest. Taken by what I had just said, she closed her eyes tight, trying to escape the condition she had conjured up in her mind. “She lived to be 145?!” She shook her head melodramatically, pushing her plate aside from a loss of appetite. “May Allah never show anyone such an awful fate!” Neina was dead serious. The idea of living another 70 years thoroughly terrified her. “What was her memory like before she died?”
"I don’t know if I believe this, but they say it was perfect. No Alzheimer’s or anything,"
"Oh no!" She gripped the jam jar as if it would keep her steady. "Poor woman wasn’t given the blessing of forgetfulness?! No, don’t let me imagine it!" If you had gone up to her that very moment and told her you were stuck with a rare terminal disease, she wouldn’t have shown you the same sympathy. There wasn’t an ailment more severe to her than old age.
"You wouldn’t want to live another 70 years, neina?” Looking up, she focused on my face with a pleasant balance of confusion and utter condescension.
"Don’t ask me that question, my child! I don’t want to imagine it, 7atta.” She shook her head like she was being offered a portion of pork feet, if not repulsed, then completely put off. “Let’s not discuss this anymore, by Allah,” Her soap opera reaction was pure dahab.
"Why not live to be 145, neina?” I asked again with an air of sarcasm. The conversation would surely be teased out of her.
"I can’t, habibti. There’s no way!” Her “no” lasted for about a minute. “75 extra years in our times would’ve been liveable, maybe, But not in yours!”
"Our time’s more difficult?" I pretended like it was my very first time hearing this.
She nodded furiously. “Of course it is! The odds are against you kids!” She started reciting supplications for our poor, wretched generation. “Poor kids. No jobs, no marriage, the streets are dirty, people are unkind. Poor kids. Tab’an, our days were better,”
"Maybe they were "better" in that sense, okay. But could you really say the odds weren’t against you at all, neina?” I passed her the translucent container of salty, white cheese.
She received the Tupperware nonchalantly. “No, they weren’t. Really.”
I nodded. “Then why wasn’t it possible for you to become what you wanted to become?” Of the things I knew about my beloved grandmother, I had absolutely no knowlege of her dreams. I didn’t know what she dreamt of or if she ever really dreamt at all. I just assumed she did.
"What did I want to become?" She was asking me. Looking me in the eyes, wondering if I knew. “I never wanted to become anything.” She shrugged and bit into her half moon brown bread.
Neina had her answer ready and drew it out quickly. “I never had the opportunity to aspire in the first place, habibti.” She spoke as if it were a matter of fact, as if it were something she didn’t need to even say.
I didn’t know what to say.
Until recently, I had no idea what it felt like to live solely off of the hope of fulfilling one very specific dream. Now that I do, I couldn’t imagine regressing to the mindstate I used to inhabit. It made me wonder, are most people like neina?
Naturally, the most potentially remarkable women are the ones struck with the most devastating conditions. Neina fell neatly into this pleasant cliche. Neina’s mother passed away when she neina was still a kid. Being the only girl in a family of seven, she was responsible for more than what normal children these days can even comprehend. Obviously, with a tight domestic schedule, she was forced to leave school before completing her i’dadeyya. After which it only became a matter if time until she was wed off.
"Of course after I got married, I became even more dedicated to my domestic duties. I did everything." She tilted her head back slightly, playing with the butter knife. "I stayed here for the kids. That’s my only dream, actually; to raise my children well. It’s all I ever wanted. I stuck around just for them."
Neina had been fleshing out a ton of regrets lately, primarily regarding my grandfather. Generally, giddo and neina had become noticeably grumpier than they used to be. They had both went from handing us candy and termis, to imposing upon us grim advice on how to treat others. They were from an age of trustworthy, simple Egyptians. The Egypt we now live in isn’t theirs. They fear the theif, the harasser and the terrorist. All their recent ideologies revolved around their fear of this foreign, squalorly Alexandria. Their grumpiness not only affected us, but also one another. Neina’s old wounds were just now beginning to anger her.
“What do you mean you ‘stuck around’? Did you want to leave, aslan?” I slumped my shoulders.
She shrugged, pretending she didn’t want to go on.
"You know, a woman stays grounded just for her children. I stuck around just for them."
"But, wait, you didn’t answer me. Were you ever interested in leaving, neina?" I wondered if I had gone too far pressing on with this question. However, if she proceeded to answering it openly, I was 100% sure she would eventually steer the conversation into the topic of her marital woes.
"Of course I did! I thought about it a million times. He waa awful to me. His entire family. I was locked up, you know? They all lived in this building. Can you imagine that? And woould he ever stand up for me? No, never! And you ask if I ever wanted to leave. If I ever thought about leaving. Of course I did!” She waved her hand at my apparent naivete.
"But, did you ever think about it enough to actually plan to do it, neina?”
She paused for a moment. “No, never”
Egyptian women hardly ever leave. They hardly ever “escape” or run away. They hardly ever place their interests above their children’s. I remembered a friend of mine telling me about the day her mother ran out on her and her father. Knees bent, sitting on the curb, she called her mother “selfish” and “destructive”. Bearing nothing but bitterness, she couldn’t excuse her behavior even when she imagined what it felt like to wear her mother’s shoes. A mother must let her dream go if it interferes with the happiness of her family. It was an implicit notion to most people. No need to even elaborate…
It was apparent neina’s mind had gone elsewhere, much as mine had. Eyes far, she said, “Even if I had left. Where would I have gone? I’m uneducated, so I have no job, no money, no way to support my children, no home of my own. Would I go to my brother’s home? No, he has his own children, I couldn’t take mine there. I had nowhere to go. And even if I did? Where would I go to escape the talk?”
"Ah," I didn’t have much to say. All I ever did was complain about how my autonomy was supposedly stomped on the day my husband told me to pull out my nose ring. It made me put things into perspective. But more so, it made me wonder how much longer women will have to "put things in perspective" in order to willingly settle for the degree of liberty they were given. ‘We’re better off than others’, we say. But, it could be better. Why can’t it just be better? I had left neinaand visited my own issues.
Neina had grown restless, I could tell. “Yallah, alhamdulillah,” She started clearing the table, putting lids on respective containers then refilling the fridge.
“Alhamdulillah,” I said genuinely.
"Like I said, all I wanted was for my kids to be brought up well. To know that when they have children, they’ll be just as good if I had brought them up myself. That they’ll be intelligent and enduring. Alhamdulillah, God made my dream come true.” She patted me on the shoulder and took the plates into the kitchen.
Where is My Mind? - The Pixies
A boy may be as disagreeable as he pleases, but when a girl refuses to crap sunshine on command, the world mutters darkly about her moods.
lessons from a woman (who knows how to love)
She had spent an hour in her sister’s room on the phone. She had the kind of character that made everyone go to her for advice. She seemed to be giving it at the moment. Her voice was steady and calm. In the living room with a cup of cinnamon tea, I waited for her to come out. Her sister and I listened to “California Dreamin’” at least six times before she did.
"Hey," I was slumped on the couch when she interrupted my raspy rendition of the chorus.
"You cool?" I sat up straight, letting the hook go.
"Yeah, I’m fine," Something about her demeanor said she wasn’t. She walked to her room. I got up to follow her. The wind from the Mediterranean raging below her balcony slammed the bedroom door shut behind us.
"Who were you talking to?" Responding silently, she held her head, overwhelmed. I had originally assumed she was on the phone with him. Now I knew she was. Burdened by his issues, her brows furrowed. She was so lost in her thoughts she was irretrievable.
A month before that night, we took a walk on the boulders by the shore. We sat dangling our feet over the sea, sipping tea prepared by a man named Abdel Halim. The lights of Alexandria’s necklace twinkled on the surface of the still Mediterranean. Bits of Farid el-Attrache’s oud crackled through the shaky kiosk’s ancient radio. That night, she did nothing but disscuss him. Even though their relationship was both fresh and somewhat unofficial, she participated in solving every aspect of his sorrow. His sorrows became hers. The more we talked, the more I understood her charachter. She was the woman any man would be willing to die for.
Tonight was another night by the rocks. A night where all her conversations steered towards the topic of him.
Reclining, she laid down, keeping her hands on her head.
"He’s really, really depressed…" I watchd her trail off. Weeks ago, I had stopped wondering why she cared so much about this man. She loved him deeply. She loved him the way strong women love their men. Despite the fact that every scheduled date would end in her frustration, she stuck with him. For minutes, she would regret her actions towards him, unsure of his devotion. Then, she’d immediately remind herself of the fact that he was going through tough times. The incident would then be forgotton. With every passing week she affirmed that she would always be there for him. "He’s reached that phase of depression where he really just can’t go on…"
I had trouble keeping eye contact with her. She wasn’t crying or even tearing up. She was still. She had never been this still, not during the fall out with her dad, not during her sister’s fearsome phase. This was the kind of stillness that came from a loss of hope. From discovering that she couldn’t do anything to help the person in front of her, to save the man she loves. The incident didn’t bother her as much as the futility of her efforts did.
I said nothing. I was supposed to let her speak, and she did.
"He doesn’t want to go to Germany," She was still holding her head. I sat at the foot of the bed and rested my back against the wall. "He went a few weeks ago to check it out. He says it’s nothing like Egypt. It’s cold… The people are cold," She shrugged, dissatisfied with such sweeping generalizations yet worried that they might contain some truth. "He says if you’re crying or something in transportation, no one will come near you. No one will care. Here, everyone and their mama will take their turn trying to guess the cause of your distress. If they don’t succeed, they’ll stick around until they at least make you laugh." She paused. "He’s scared as hell of being alienated," She stayed silent for a minute or two, replaying the conversation in her mind. "But… that’s what happens when you move away from your home. It’s a classic scenario. You leave your homeland and move to the West. You struggle and experience mad social alienation. You miss your land; the crowds, the food, the breeze, the sea, the soul. You long for your family and your friends, you long for their warmth and their company. After all that, you adjust. You create a family outside your home and you might even end up forgetting the place you came from altogether. He’ll be fine. But he’s not convinced he ever will be."
She loved him because he loved Egypt more than himself. A revolutionary socialist, he had been arrested more than once for his activism during the uprising of 2011. His slow decline began when he was suspended from school for a sit-in at his university. Him and four other student activists were trying to prohibit one of Mubarak’s cronies from giving a lecture at the faculty of engineering. When he came back to school, he somehow managed to fail every single course he was enrolled in. We all knew this wasn’t proof of academic inadequacy. It was them punishing him for his dissidence. They were trying to eliminate his chance of having a future in Egypt. The system was forcibly ejecting him.
He loved his country and was willing to do anything to help her recover. Despite the fact that he was struggling himself, he did his part to help. When he was punished for doing so, he somehow felt that his country had turned her back on him. She didn’t want him anymore. He didn’t know how to maintain the love he had for his nation while simultaneously being treated like a second-rate citizen, being dehumanized everyday, being devalued. He began to mistake the system for the nation, not just hating the politicians but Egypt altogether. He was fighting for her and she didn’t care. She didn’t want him. He wasn’t the only Egyptian who felt this way.
"But, apart from everything he’s gone through in the past few days, he has issues with his own self. His issue isn’t the present he’s battling with or the future he’s fearful of. His issue is his past. He’s so convinced that he’s a bad person. He constantly reminds himself of things that he did in the past. He swears he’s a bad person, that everything he does is wrong that he doesn’t deserve to be with me… He always blames himself for everything. His conscience is much too active to be healthy…” She went still again.
"That means he’s a really good person, actually. Bad people, if they even exist, would never review their actions at the end of the day. They would never admit to their wrongdoings" My voice was shaky.
"I try to tell him that. You know, he’s at this point where he’s so defensive about everything. He’s hypersensitive to everything. Like ‘I’ve gone through so much, I don’t want anyone to touch me, I don’t want anyone to push me farther’. He’s so scared of his past, he lives it everyday. He isolates himself in fear of making his past somehow resurface."
What she said struck me hard. I finally discovered what I was feeling for the past 3 years. “He’s going through the same thing we’re all going through at this age. Only he’s letting it affect him more than most of us do.”
She shook her head. “Of course he knew what I was gonna say after. He argued against it before I could even verbalize it. He told me ‘I can’t rummage through life looking for the good in everything, that’s too diffuclt these days. I have no future, I’m plummeting. Egypt doesn’t want me, she doesn’t want me to help. She doesn’t need me around. I can’t find the beauty and the good in anything anymore. I can’t put a positive spin on my suffering. I’m struggling. Everything in Egypt is a struggle. Even if I find the good, it won’t even remotely compensate for the bad’. That’s what he said. That’s all.” She placed her hands on her stomach and took a deep breath. The sadness that he transferred to her was suddenly transferred to me.
She wasn’t a petty woman. She knew what love was. She knew the many faces of love and accepted them with gratitude and resilience. When he was sad, I knew she was feeling exponentially worse.
We stayed silent for a few minutes, too overwhelmed to say anything.
A few days later, he left to Germany.
I was abroad when she got in touch with me. I didn’t know he was leaving that soon.
"He just left today. Left with no chance of a visit for the next five years since he’s trying to get out of serving. I saw him yesterday. He looked awful. He cried. Can you imagine him crying? Can you imagine? I cried when I saw him like that. It was awful."
I didn’t know what to say.
"You don’t have to say anything. I wanted to call you but I couldn’t really speak."
I asked if I could do anything to help.
"Just pray for him. Pray for him everyday and wish him the best. He needs that. Maybe I’ll see him again after five years."
I tried to explain myself to you
but remained misunderstood,
perhaps you were overwhelmed.
My father says
I am too difficult,
I feel too much,
I cannot be solved
I will try to simplify my moods,
like a woman should.