Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New York City

We landed in New York on Monday 12th of August at around 3 pm and everything since then has been so overwhelming, so unreal and so raw. It is like the first jump off the plane, those few seconds they call free falling, where nothing makes sense, and your center of gravity is lost somewhere in the air, and things pass by you, things bigger than you, where you realize that you are a small creature falling in the big open space, those few seconds where you are unable to get in touch with your own sense of being because you are trying to collect yourself to hopefully land on the irresistible grounds you have been building from a distant land.

And ever since we landed, Dania, Romy and myself have been wondering where I am. I have been mostly quiet, taking things, recording them, saving them somewhere. I have been less articulate than usual, very little words (sometimes up to 7 words a day – according to little miss Bdeir), very little squeaks and screams, just silence. 

I don’t know why exactly, but having gone on a particular journey this year to be able to get here, I think I am scared. I am scared to admit it is real, because once it is, it might pass by too quickly. I am afraid of my words. I am afraid they will frame New York, outline it in a way. I am unable to touch this city because it is one that can’t be tamed.

When I turn my eyes to Beirut, they fall into place because we have the same nature, the same coarseness and the same bruises. But New York and I, we just met, my eyes have not found the hidden holes and the tender pieces to rest on, my eyes still look at it in awe, in lust, and in fear. If all love stories start with desire, then this is mine.

Feelings have been caught up with the rush of everything. A few days back, Romy and I went to a coffee shop to work, and the second I decided to just stop everything and write about this place, I felt a flood raid my hands, and I am not sure words can accurately convey how much of a physical feeling it was… too many things to write about, too many of the things I don’t understand yet, too many emotions, too many imaginings, and I am unable to level it with thought. I mostly feel like a 5 year old kid, where I see everything so big, so beautiful and so colorful, where life looks like a big game of hide and seek, and all the places are like houses made of little dreams and all the faces are little people looking for someone to play with. But sometimes I surface back to 24 and realize that this is equally a dream, a reality and an accomplishment.

Going to school to study the passion that my 11-year-old self discovered, the passion that the rest of me was never able to let go of. Being in the city that great people sing to, that people write poetry, books and scripts about, the city that people envision in their imagination, the city of dreams, the city of artists in the making, those who crave a struggle before success, a concrete jungle, they say, one that never sleeps.

I was walking by a big bookstore today, I was walking alone, maybe for the first time since I got here, and I stopped by to get lost in the most familiar, and one of the sections was called: Read New York. I briefly walked through it, only read titles and one-liners, and I realized how many people crave New York in words, how many people want to write about their own New York. 

For me, it is not fair to write New York, at least not yet.

But being here. Just New York, and just writing. This is my dream. One that I built with the help, compassion and love of many of you. One that was structured by building blocks with your names engraved on them. One that I will forever apprize and appreciate.

So now I am here. And I want to extend my deepest and strongest-I-have-ever-felt gratitude and love to Tala Mortada, Rasha Jamaleddine, Joe Baz, Naima Zein, Romy Saber, Nathalie Rashid, Jad Daoud, Jad Chahine, Zeina Halawi, Hind Hobeika, Dana Halabi, Zeina Mbarak, Rhea Aghniadis, Raghida Raad, Zena El Khalil, Tarek Aoun, Nour Zoghby, Caren Zgheib, Nicole Brown, Mirna Khairallah, Richard Pelgrim, Lara Mekhael, Bechir Gemayel, Nour Naboulsi, Abir Abdul Ahad, Aimee Raad, Steven Shbaklo, Nadim Abou Samra, Joyce Younes, Serge Wehbe, Ali Ibrahim, Nadia Benab, Firas Mghames, Jamil Armanazi, Iffat Saadeh, Lucien Salloum, Kerlo Aoun, Salim Kronfol, Miguele Issa, Elie Rizkallah, Miss M Leila, Sary Hamadeh, Stephanie Kassouf, Sarah Farhat, Sara El Ali, Hiba Kronfol, Aya Kayal, Biba El Merhebi, Leah Dunia, Rawane Jbara, Joanne Kubba, Leen Sadder, Adib Dada, Rasha Ismail, Joyce Bejani, Romy Raad, Joseph Daoud, Amine Attalah, Celine Chami, Ramzi Ibrahim, Mabelle Abi Ramia, Ralph Dagher, Nada Akl, Rawane Khalil, Ralph Dagher, Ibrahim Diab, Khurram Masood, Sima Chamma and Antoun Hajj.

To my spectacular parents who are my most beautiful inspiration, who made me with the tenderness of their hearts and the kindness in their eyes, to my golden brothers, who always give their all to make sure my life is secure, to the sister I never had –my brother’s love- who continuously strengthens and encourages me, to my aunts and uncles who believe in me, my craft and my dream, to my cousins who are brothers and sisters to me, one of whom is my new found muse, thank you all for being an indescribable support.

And to the incredible group of friends that I have, to the army, the frontline soldiers, the weaponry and the shields, you have joined in my battle and made it worthwhile. Thank you for your hearts.

It’s good to be here. It’s good and also very lucky to be here with Romy and Dania, they are my connection to Lebanon, the definition of home in the middle of big and busy city lights.

As for New York, it is a free fall, for now.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

ZEE TO NYC

I got accepted to do my masters in creative writing non-fiction at The New School (Parsons) and I am trying to raise money for my tuition fees.

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Like, tweet, share, post it on Facebook or your blog or screen it on a projector.
Help me spread the word.
Help me go to New York.



Monday, October 22, 2012

I dare you


Miguele Issa is a Christian.  Dania Bdeir is a Sunni. Romy Raad is a Christian.
Rawane Khalil is a Shiite. Zeina Abi Assy is a Christian. Tala Mortada is a Shiite.
Abir Abdul Ahad is a Christian.

I guess, we have been doing it wrong all along.
Miguele, Romy, Tala, Rawane, Dania, Abir and I must have understood it all wrong.
Because we sing together.
We write each other poems.
We dance in one big circle.
We create together, designs in beautiful colors.
We write musicals together.
We give up our lives for each other, if we have to.
We carry each other home after a long night of alcohol and strangers.
We sit together at 6 am, after being up all night, to finish each other’s project.
We hold hands in floaters in the middle of the river to keep each other close.
We hurl into each other’s houses with a colored shirt and ripped converse at the news of a lost father.
We make tea for each other to be able to handle the weight of the makings of cancer.

We have passed our hearts out, one to the other, to keep them safe, because we weren’t able to take care of them ourselves.

Yet, I tie her by the neck as she screams out for help. But I silence her cry and shove a metal piece down her throat. She fidgets in fear and anguish, and her blue eyes are filled with hot red blood, and all I want to do is whip her harder. I whip her until her skin decomposes, her bones surface, and all her blood pours out. I do not rest until Dania is left dry, and I walk away.

She gathers big black worn out tires and presses them against Romy and Abir’s bodies. They are on their knees, begging and pleading for mercy. And Rawane fixes them in place and covers them with gasoline. With black cloth wrapped around half her face, she lights it all up and leaves them to suffocate from the smell of even their own flames. And their last breaths are ignited with a black cloud that carries both away.

Tala knew exactly what would tear Miguele’s heart out, exactly what will leave her to suffer, exactly what will keep her living in despair. She followed Miguele’s family and bombed them in front of her eyes, and left her to deal with the echoes of a broken down house and a broken down life.

We have crafted a nation of suffering and anger.
A place where the hearts of the people have never known love.

We enjoy the rage that is in our streets.
And follow still the venom of our leaders.
We erased the meaning of mercy and grace from the minds of the people.
We have boiled anger and animosity in the insides of the young.
And have watched our country melt down to ashes, in the name of democracy and justice.

God is always watching, protecting our bullets. Protecting them well, straight to the hearts of our enemies. Straight into the lives of the “others” who are not like us.

I dare you to tell us our love is wrong.
I dare you to tell us you know better.
I dare you to put down your weapons.

I dare you to look us in the eye and tell us to kill each other.





Friday, October 19, 2012

Burn down alone.


We are trying so hard to believe in something.
We are trying so hard to get by, every day.

It was a regular Friday at the office.
At around 3 p.m. we hear a bang, the sound of an explosion, the sound of fire and hysteria, we hear the sound of terror come back to us.

We were really trying to get by.
We were just starting to rest in certain calmness, a smooth and soft lie.
We loved this lie because it was silent. And our nights were no longer sleepless.

We were really trying hard to believe in this place.
And it exploded from the ground up our veins and burst out, in harsh skinless bones, and blood, and organs, and burnt skin, and injured friends, and decomposing lives, and last breaths, and a heartless country, and a lost humanity, and an everyday battle, and so much poison down our bodies.
As everyone was frantically calling their loved ones, everyone screamed out their fury, and we all joined in our hate.
We were really trying hard to get by, to believe in something else, and to believe that it could maybe change.
Beirut.
We hate you. Does this not move you one bit.
We are trying with every inch in us to give you a better life, but you are so bitter.
You are so hideous. Why won't you let us love you.
One day, you will be left alone, to rot, in your nothingness, in your crushed buildings and burning bodies.
You will be left to ashes, and we will walk away and not look back, not even once.
And deny you. We will deny you and the hate you have created in our gut, that fucking burning feeling... We will deny you.
We were really trying hard to get by, to believe in you.

Beirut, I wish you never die young.
I wish you will always suffer.

But I,
I want out. I will set sail.
I will not take your anguish.

I would’ve loved you. I would have had so much passion for you.
I would’ve told the world your story.
I would have painted you in colors.
I would have written to you every day.
You could’ve been my sweetest tale.
We would’ve been beautiful together.

Fuck off Beirut. And burn down alone.



Friday, July 6, 2012

Beirut, a bruised exotic.


At this point we are all saying what’s already been said. We are all screaming together but we are failing to attain a power, we are failing to move, failing to infiltrate the system, failing to be heard.


A crazy malady that a nation, altogether, is suffering from; what do we do with that? We let the suffocation be? We write against it? We dream about an alternative? We leave? We lose? We take our pills and hope for a better day? We have group therapy sessions? What the hell do we do as a nation?


The infamous Skybar is packed every night, the underground scene rising to level the mainstream only harder, only stronger, only crazier. Always underground, never current. Hamra pubs are packed; you never find a place to park, ever. People are getting wasted. People are getting high. Expensive beach resorts are filled with unemployment every day. Free beaches, if any, are filled with only hungry men and if at any point a girl walks in she will most probably come out pregnant.

“If anything us Lebanese know how to do is party”. Even more, if anything us Lebanese know how to do is party harder to the sounds of our crumbling country.

We are numbed by leisure.

Our weapons don’t fire any more. Our pride and dignity is measured by how much Jack and Johnnie our system can take. And our self-worth is brought back through getting high and having sex.

Beirut, severely suffocating, is becoming the city of burned out youth and damaged hope.


The country is in a state of emergency. Lack of electricity, failed phone connections, unresolved political issues, burning wheels as people please, the newest of all our charms is the break-down of our internet and of course our devastating politics.
The problem in our beautiful Lebanon is the people. We can never witness a revolution because the problem itself is within the hearts of the people who should be revolutionary. We lost. We lost the battle. We lost the war. We lost it all.

I don't want to be thought of as exotic because I am Lebanese. I don't want to be thought of as interesting just because my country falls apart every day. I don't want credit for my very own curse. I don't want to be “a Lebanese writer who addresses the issues of a sunken third world country while discovering sex, drugs and alcohol, mixing it with a personal suffering. A writer of contradiction and war.” I don't want recognition and attention for my sting.
The lack of electricity is not an idea, an interesting distant challenge in life. It is not. It’s having your whole life stop, freeze and somewhat disappear. It’s a mess. It is not a bittersweet misery. It is shit.

And it is hot.
But, it is always hot in Lebanon.  
I wont complain because I am sure we all love the heat to some level.
But actually our kind of heat is the one that leaves a rash on you, burns you to some unspoken degree. It is not the heat from under the covers that climaxes with that which makes you scream; or maybe that, but its not coming from your own consent. It’s the one that penetrates you from all sides while you beg on your knees, while you try to flee. The heat that holds you, face down, and devours your self-worth.

Rape.

It rapes you while you bleed. You hurt. You scream.


I’d trade my rape. I just want to live. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I was expecting sand.

It is beautiful, I am sure, to some eyes. Not my beautiful maybe, but someone’s definition of beauty for sure. One can come here and hate on the place. But one can also come here and be amazed.

I took the decision to give it a chance.
I booked a ticket while I was still in that which I find breathtaking, and came here. I decided to look into its every potential, its every corner and its every imperfection, if any, to try to find my breath of fresh air.
                                                                                                               
I came to Dubai and this is what I found.

I found people from every corner of the world. I found a bit of Lebanon, America, India, Korea, Turkey, Hungary, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Egypt, UAE, Kuwait, Palestine… I found it all.

I found fancy restaurants and fancy buildings, the biggest mall, the biggest tower, the biggest fountain. Everything here is so big, the biggest in the world.

I came to Dubai and found my uncle and my brother (the most beautiful of all that I could ever find). I found reconnections with old friendships and new friendships. I found a heart with the same passion as mine. I found good friends, I made new friends. And the best of it all, I found my doppelganger, or should I say I am hers. People can travel the world and never find theirs, and all I had to do was come to Dubai. If things go according to plan, I think i might also find love here.


I also found the need to dream. The thing about it though is that dreams come true way too often inside air-conditioned, highly maintained, huge, concrete walls. In the land of sand you can be a snowboarder, an ice-skater and you can even have a night by the chimney with a view of the slopes. Maybe for some of us such dream is a lost dream. Maybe for some of us few are the dreams that can breathe in closed malls. Maybe for some of us the dream of a land filled with sand is the opportunity to go elsewhere for snow. Maybe for some of us man made dreams of luxury and bliss defies every meaning of what a dream should be. But however fake the dream is, it is still true and real and happening. 

I guess I found a few too many things in Dubai and as much as I could be a person hating on it, I won't. I am not infatuated by it, at least not yet, but I am willing to hang out to see what else I can find.


I was expecting sand, 
but with cities like Dubai,
Im guessing, one can never know.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I found gold in India.


He just looked straight at me.
And all I could do is look back.

What do you do exactly, how do you react, what do you do with that slap, that spur of feelings,  when these challenging eyes stare right at you. I aimed my camera at him, and he looked into the lens like looking at a bullet in a gun.

He was fierce. He stared and raised a one.
And I stared back, because I was at a loss of what to do.
I stared with my lens.

He was static. Fixed. Motionless.
Behind him, the world couldn’t rest. It was all going full speed.

We stopped.

It felt like we were allowed into a different time.  It was all frozen.
And as their time was racing against them, ours gave us that stretch because we weren’t going to have it any differently.

And I found these eyes. Even more, these eyes found me.
And I am unable to give them justice.


And now, I have not even the words.

I would rather let them stand on their own, free of words, free of my words, and let them tell you, as they desire.