artichok-ing on feelings

I like the way artichokes fall apart under my fork.

This isn’t coming out of nowhere, I was just eating a salad with them as a main ingredient.

I stuck my fork into one of them and it just crumbled apart, layer after layer of thin paper-like coats, almost withering away at the touch of metal, too weak to stay together, but still strong enough to detach into individual, separate layers.

I didn’t have to forcibly spread them apart, they just fell, almost shy of their own existence.

Their taste is surprisingly there, and not there. They are not of a loud nature. They don’t really bring an abundance of flavour. They do not sting or bitter, they like to hint their flavour. It is little by little, and not all at once.

Their center, when you expect it to be harsh and solid, is actually the softest part of the artichoke. It’s remarkable to see how this part holds all of the layers together like glue.

To the naked eye, they are firmly held side by side, and one on top of the other, almost creating a safety shell that covers the center.

To the touch, they open up as if they were always meant to; detach and fall apart in calm nature, almost like petals from a flower that had passed its blooming season; a flower losing its petals because it is how it was always supposed to be; beautiful for a moment, but sadly temporary.

did you know that artichokes are actually flowers?

Google just told me, but I think I may have already guessed.

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a tale of two blues

He was as light and as unexplored as the sky itself. So vast it stretched and overtook her whole universe.

She was a deep ocean, when he only expected a little rain he could dampen his feet in.

But he was up there, and she was down here.

Maybe he liked to look at her from afar, she thought.

Maybe he would think she was breathtaking then. She couldn’t understand why some people were drawn to the sea so much, when he was clearly only thinking about different ways he would drown.

She looked up from her water, straight to the clouds above her and thought how different his blue was from hers. We are not the same. Her blue swallowed light when his emitted it.

Sometimes she wished she weren’t too heavy to simply reach up and feel what it is like to float with nothing under her.

She longed for them to meet halfway, but she knows that if he got too close to her, he’d be afraid to sink. She was also hesitant to fly, but mostly afraid to fall, so she kept sending paper airplanes into the sky, folding their edges neatly before their takeoff.  They would quickly disappear between the clouds. Nothing ever fell back, so she wasn’t sure if they’d ever gone where they were supposed to go.

So here we leave it, a full world between our blues. Maybe we were only meant to love from our distances. Just like the sea and the sky, we mirror, never to touch.

Why she keeps her hair longer in the summer

She keeps her hair longer in the summer.

It grows and she let’s it be,

Part of her, resting on her shoulders; traveling down her spine like veins filled golden;

drawing long intertwining lines. Patterns on her back no one could decode.

She likes the way strands of her hair rest next to her on the sand when she lays down for hours.

The sun kisses them gently and her hair turns to gold between her hands. Warm and effervescent.

The days are stretched longer when sunlight is used to the visit.

The sun the artist, and she the canvas, she kept her hair longer in the summer so she would be painted.

You once thought light lived in her hair; bundled into locks.

You twisted your fingers around them, believing you could hold light.

She keeps her hair longer in the summer because of all others, you held light between your hands and gave it back to her like a gift.

The sun hid pleasant little secrets in her hair,

and so did you;

and she keeps her hair longer in the summer so she can hear them again.

 

To good parents I know & don’t know

I think good parents are the strongest people I have ever met. 

Not only do they go on their day to day lives filling in tasks they have to fill as individuals in a society that expects above and beyond from them, but they also manage other people’s lives as well, and we put an absolute lot on their plates. They hold their families together and try to tie every knot well and tight.

They face endless amounts of problems left to right; but somehow they manage to know how to just fix things and make them better.

Good parents not only scold the bad and award the good; but they see things we simply do not see.

Good parents not only protect and help, but they provide vision for the future. They believe we deserve something even when we don’t really feel like we do. They see the weights we’re lifting on our shoulders but they make us feel like they are bags filled empty that we can simply shrug away.

Good parents bear our struggles heavier than we do. 

Yi aa’layye inshallah” – I wish it were on me

Ya reit ana wala ente” – I wish it were me, not you.

I’ve heard this more times than I can actually remember. Because good parents would rather take on our pain instead of see us go through it.

Good parents see the good in us even if we’ve done wrong.

we do them wrong sometimes, but they shrug it away, as if it were part of the process; as if they know we did not mean it; because we didn’t.

Good parents don’t need long paragraphs of explanations because they already know what you want to say. Good parents’ love; refreshingly unconditional. The only one of its kind. The love you need no explanation for. The love that does not leave you hanging or wondering what you’ve done wrong; but leaves you wondering what you’ve done to deserve it.

Thank you for making me feel worthy of unconditional love.

Thank you for your sacrifices. Thank you for every single time you’ve picked up the phone countries away from me. Thank you for hearing me when I couldn’t say a word, thank you for listening, for caring, for molding and crafting delicately. For your safety and safekeeping.

To those who have had the fortune of a good parent that has filled them with love inside and out, I hope you simply let them know, they will probably not expect a reminder.

To those who have lost their anchors in their lives, know that the best thing about good parents is that their love is transcendent. They’ve filled us with so much love and I only hope to pass it on. I hope it seeps through every part of me, I hope it seeps through every part of  you.

I hope you see that.

 

 

The secrets you don’t know

“like the wind itself” she wrote

Sometimes I wish I were like the wind itself, turning and wrapping itself around you.

I traced her words on a blank sheet of paper that contained no lines.

I imagined her writing them down on this little book, writing then striking it through, then writing again.

I read the sentence once more. I wish I knew who she was talking about. (I later was told  that this letter was destined to my grandmother).

My mother has always written her thoughts in Arabic on paper she stores away in all of the homes we’ve moved into and out of. She writes in poems and metaphors although rarely speaks them out loud. On paper, she speaks of the wind and its ability to twirl around people with ease, and writes of images that make sound.

I imagine her thoughts carry the smell of jasmine from the plants my grandmother had grown around the house she’d grown up in, but my mother has been in places in her past that I have never seen, and met people I have never met, so maybe jasmine isn’t the only smell she thinks of when writing down letters. Sometimes she speaks something of her past and I realize that the person I had lived with for 18 years has lived a full life before me, which I know close to no details of.

Although my mother and I talk everyday, she’s filled drawers worth of memoirs in poems, prose and letters, so there’s clearly more she’d like to say, maybe not to me, and maybe not for anyone else to read.

I remember someone at work telling me that people are like forests, too crowded and complex to know fully. There’s no way to know a forest by heart; and it perplexed me, how we claim to know people yet have no visibility on 95% of their inner thoughts.

They tell you parts and the rest may be written on paper you will never read, it may not even be written at all. We juggle through life with secrets between our hands, trusting that our words will simply be enough for people to stop asking questions.

Do you ever wonder about what’s written down?

and what about what isn’t?

 

I ate McDonalds today, please don’t shame me

So let’s talk about how eating healthy has become sort of a cult,

and how people who sometimes choose to eat an unhealthier choice are shamed and offered to the Gods of Healthy Carbs and Proteins as mere gifts.

No hate on healthy eating; maintaining a good relationship with food and having a balanced diet, exercising to keep your body fit and powerful is great, it’s good for you, we get it, it has a positive impact on your immune system and your mental health and it will save your life one day and bla bla blah. J’ai compris.

It is no new news to people who have been acquainted with me in the past, but to the people who are alien to this fact, I am judgy when it comes to food, and I discriminate based on flavor, texture and consistency. Although my culinary background may be slightly questionable, I couldn’t help but notice a lack of flavor in many dishes in France involving “Quinoa”, “Houmous”, Roasted chicken and vegetables that all end up tasting like the same meal with a different name. No matter how different the ingredients are, it always looks like a healthy mess sitting in a bowl. Nowadays you can’t say avocado without a millennial popping their head in to join the conversation. People get orgasms off Hummus and carrots here, as if all the flavor in the world has been captured in this healthy alternative of a snack. Mind you I am Lebanese, we love our Hummus, we made the biggest plate of Hummus man has ever created, people win awards for that, apparently, so I like it, but people here are going insane for it, they put it in salads as dressing, and sometimes add cumin to it to really give it that “Middle Eastern Vegetarian” vibe. Please, stop. Also stop putting quinoa and semoule in Tabbouleh for the love of God, when has parsley become not enough for the salad??

Back to the main topic, I can go on and on about my frustration with the food for hours, but let’s leave that mess for another post you can waste your time on.

One normal, BAU day in the office, I said I was going to eat McDonalds for lunch, not because I wanted something quick, or because I lacked the motivation to walk a longer distance to a carrot-friendly hub of meals the size of a 12 y/o’s palm, but because I wanted to.

“I’m going to get McDonalds, anyone want to come with?”

Gasps were heard throughout the department, people start ringing the bell of shame.

“McDonalds?! You want to put that in your body?” Screamed one of them

People couldn’t believe that some remote populations around the world still liked to go to McDonalds once in every blue moon, but I did, and I kept going.

I ate McDonalds last time and the feeling of guilt paraded around me like a mariachi band.

Today, I ordered the exact same thing I order every single time I go to McDonalds:

Small Hamburger, Medium fries with Sauce Pommes Frites on the side (it’s a french thing, don’t ask), and a small coke. I’ve never ordered anything else (besides my Happy meals, but I realized this reflected badly on my credibility as an “established, head screwed-on-firmly-on-her-shoulders type-of-adult” when I was questioned out loud about whether I wanted a girl toy or a boy toy). I was 21 at the time, and it was the last time I got a girl toy. Now I just realize that my order is basically an exact replica of the happy meal, without the toy, because toys are apparently looked down upon once you take that step into adulthood, where “being rational”, and “making sense” are common topics of interest.

Something about McDonalds triggered something in my memory on my way back home today, and it was the whole reason why I wanted to write this post in the first place, albeit the sentences did seem much shorter in my mind.

I got a takeaway order of my “adult-happy-meal-with-no-toy” and walked home, but I could not help but grab a fry, and then two, and then the whole thing really. I took one bite off my skinny burger and I swear something of a sensory nature awoke in my brain.

Suddenly I was seven, wore two tight pony tails on either side of my head, and white socks in sandals, the ones that had white laces at their tips.

“How is it” I though to myself,

“That my burger tastes exactly the same as it did when I was seven, in Lebanon”

It was too clear to me, the Saturday evening birthday parties, the smell of dried paint on my face, itching from the cracks the butterfly has made on my cheeks, because I’ve only ever wanted butterflies to be painted on my face.

I remembered the smell of the plastic toys I’d jumped over in the kids area, and hearing children my age scream as they ran after one another, their endless chatter eventually becoming white noise to me.

I remember going down a purple tube slide that always seemed too dark for me, so I always hesitated before sliding down through it. It always gave me little electric shocks when I slid down it, and my voice would always surprise me when I screamed inside, as the echo and purple surrounded me, it wrapped me into an infinite familiar.

Of all the things that have changed in my life, I am glad that McDonald never changed, because 5€50 is a bargain for a meal in which you can actually taste the past.

I’ve tasted simpler times, when life felt much smaller and could fit into the size of my palms. I sank my arm in my paper bag, grabbing one fry after the other, as if collecting memories and stuffing them into my mouth, keeping them inside and I though how ironic, that life seemed much less scary when I was 7.

 

 

Being alive, and how to explain it to aliens

Here I am again
Music keeping me company when no one else is around.
There’s heavy irony in being in a city overflowing with people going back to their empty homes every night.
Like crowds of lonely individuals, never really acting as one, as they are all different, separate entities; music keeping them company when no one else is around.
My wall carries over fifty pictures of my friends and family. Their memories stacked one on top of the other in cluttered order, and they are sometimes the loudest thing in my room.
Proof.
I thought
That life was never as dull as it currently is, and never really as lonely.
I’ve reflected too many times, I’ve lost count of the moments I’ve lost myself in my own thoughts trying to understand what it means and why we do the things we do, where we are going and why we are here.
I tend to fall to similar conclusions.
No matter how good the song hits
How great the work turned out
How perfect the scene was
It is only in connections that I feel simply and undoubtedly alive.

Sometimes I wonder how I can explain being alive to beings who are alien to the concept.
We all breathe, yes, but how do you explain the feeling of relief?
We laugh, too, but I’d have a hard time explaining what happiness is to you, oh alien being, potentially ignorant to the concept.

We are immensely complicated creatures, constantly facing the most basic of circumstances.
We are individuals who comprehend (and for the most part) accept our temporariness.
We are, as easily and (even more quickly) as we are no more.
We lead complicated lives in simple, mortal bodies. Skin, hair and nails covering bones, blood, water and most surprising of all, wonder.
And we watch as everything ages, withers and dies, and at some point we accept it.
Our knowledge and our ignorance; our complicated, milles-feuilles layered thought process, trying to understand the simplest of stories.
We are born with reason, and die with many unanswered questions,
Maybe that’s why nature has sound, and soil speaks? I wonder what it would say if it could only understand what it meant to feel alive.