Category Archives: life
Finally, good news! My blog post about the recent Egyptian parliamentary elections and my experience as a first-time voter was chosen as one of “5 things that blew us away” by She Writes editors. (Yay!)
I didn’t post it up here because this blog is dedicated mainly to the topics of reading, writing, storytelling, and everything that concerns them (which obviously includes eating chocolate. Lots of it).
Read my blog post here. I’d love to hear what you think about it.
This is an example of one of my recent daily writing sessions. It is being republished here unedited except for spelling, grammar, and for any purposes of clarity, although I obviously won’t guarantee any degree of clarity. Remember, this is free writing, where I didn’t plan what I was writing and didn’t revise it and didn’t try to make sense out of it. Remember also that it was written at 5:30 am.
Lately, I keep recalling a phrase I wrote while free writing about fifteen or sixteen years ago. For some reason, this phrase keeps coming back to me. It goes something like this: “It was the night of a thousand crickets.” But the strange thing is that all my nights and even mornings have become nights of people walking in the unpaved road between our house and the main street.
Well actually, that’s not really true. My early mornings have become bird mornings — something very few people in Cairo experience, I guess. But there are few birds who have decided to brave all the dangers of being a living creature in the city of Cairo, Egypt. It’s like being alive in spite of everything that conspires against this life. The pollution, the noise, the crowds, the potholes, the heat, the dirt.
Even the streets can attest to this — if you look closely enough, and sometimes not even that closely, you’ll find that the streets of Cairo are furry. They are the unofficial and thoughtless graveyards of many a furry animal and quite a few feathered ones too. Cats, kittens, dogs, mongooses (or is it mongeese?), rats, mice, sparrows, the odd pigeon and the odder crow who was too hungry for the dead rat in the road to worry about safety regulations and oncoming cars.
Sometimes, however, there is the human being who is knocked down by a speeding car or the criminal monstrosity that acts as the backbone of Egyptian public transportation, and is known as the “micro-bus”. But generally speaking, the authorities tend to pick up the human beings who fall and pack them off to hospitals, as both sides of a busy, high-speed road slow down to take a look. Is he really dead? Oh my God, I just saw a pool of blood! Did you see how smashed that car was? Look at all that shattered glass! Allah keep us safe.
Then they pass by and pick up speed, many not even caring enough to swerve to avoid the dead dog with his guts spilling out onto the street. Until a few days later, there is nothing left to swerve or not swerve from except a patch of furry asphalt.
And we haven’t even started talking about the homeless humans — never mind the animals or you’ll grow crazy — somehow surviving, or acting as if they do, or doing their best to survive in spite of everything.
And the cars that slowed down all go home — those that don’t get into their own accidents, at least — and, soliciting sympathy (or is it attention?) simply say, “There was a terrible accident on the way.” And that explains why he or she is one hour late — well, actually two, because the default here is that everyone in Cairo is one hour late to everything. And then they have to reheat their lunch, which starts to look wilted and unspectacular, and un-cooking-show-like and may get scorched a little in the reheating. And they sit down to this reheated meal, both thankful that the accident didn’t happen to them, and both silently angry about how picture imperfect the food is.
I’ve noticed lately that my life is full of “too many”s right now, so I decided to post a list:
1. I have too many books piled up on my desk right now. Most of them are recent purchases from a book sale in which the fact that the books were on sale (more or less regardless of their final price) convinced me that it is OK to buy them. After all, if they weren’t on sale, I would be paying at least 20% extra. Never mind that the 80% that I did pay was technically out of my currently beleaguered budget. Never mind that I don’t have enough space to have all those books. Never mind.
2. Building on #1, I have too many books and journals I now want to read. All at the same time. Part of this is due to #1, and part of this is due to a project I’m finishing up this month that involves revisiting and translating a chapter of my MA thesis for publication in a trilingual academic journal (I’m only translating it from English to Arabic, though). Revisiting my thesis re-sparked my interest in the academic side of literature studies, which made me want to read every single piece of literature on earth. As well as everything that’s been written about every single piece.
3. I have too many things I want to write and do — all at the same time. As soon as I mentally check off an item on my to-do list (which usually stays in my head due to fear of concrete documentation of all tasks that call for attention), more seem to pop-up. This makes me dream too often about a very cool productivity tool I learned about in a fairy tale more than 25 years ago (and I’ve been dreaming about it for 25 years). The fairy tale is “The Shoemaker’s Elves”, in which the kindly shoemaker and his wife go to sleep at night, only to wake up and find that elves have happily finished all their work for them. I don’t know about you, but this nifty solution continues to feature high on my wish-list.
4. I have too many hopes hanging on the outcome of my young balcony-garden. That’s the thing with gardening, which is something I’m new to on a large scale (I’ve grown the odd plant or two or three in the past, but nothing on the scale of the project I’ve embarked on a few weeks ago). With gardening, you basically plant the seeds, try to take care of them and create as beneficial an environment for them to grow, and then wait… and wait… and wait… Of course, once any seedling comes up, the excitement makes up for all the waiting, but then you start worrying about all the other seeds who still haven’t germinated. Like so many other things, it’s too easy to take a seed’s lack of–or just late–germination as a sign of personal failure.
5. I have allowed too many days, weeks, and *yikes* months to pass without updating my blog. Enough said.
So, am I diligently working at solving all these “too many”s currently in my life?
Well, I guess it all depends on what you think about the fact that I’m ignoring them all (except for this post) and have decided that the best possible course of action is to sign up for a painting course. Woohoo!
What do you do when you have “too-many”-syndrome?
[psssst… by the way, I’ve missed you all. Really.]