Spoilerish – Mahbas

I’M BACK BABY! Not really, this is probably a one-off for the foreseeable future so enjoy it as it last.

I don’t watch Arabic movies. I find them quite over the top and over-reliant on tropes. However few days ago I found myself going with a bunch of friends to see one. It’s a 2016 Lebanese film called Mahbas (Solitaire) and here’s my 2 cents on the it.

The film is centered around a woman named Theresa who lost her brother to a Syrian missile. This created in her a deep hatred for Syria and Syrians. Going as far as despising Syrian singers who she used to love. Unlike most xenophobia and racism angles in film, this one has some reasoning behind it: The death of her brother broke Theresa and she never got over him. She’s so broken by it she still communicates with him in his pictures, animating his different portraits scattered in every corner around the house with her imagination of what he’d say. Think of it as the singing pictures in Harry Potter mixed with the Joker in the video game Arkham Knight. Except that Theresa’s no Batman, and her brother, unlike the Joker, is a figment of her imagination from start to finish.

Now imagine when her daughter brings home Prince Charming. You can guess where this goes, no? Of course you do you silly sausages! He turns out to be Syrian. Shenanigans ensue as Theresa starts to plot a breakup between the two young lover and we start to get into deeper personal conflicts and character motivations. I should preface the next bit by saying that I won’t discuss the love triangle in the film. While well done and acted, it doesn’t really strike a chord with me and while it felt like the main selling point of the film, it certainly isn’t its backbone.

This a dichotomous film; bittersweet as it hides its pain behind its laughs. And there’s plenty of both. It does devolve into a sap-fest by the end, but it contains minor, occasional intricacies that make the film what it is. My favorite is a moment when the soon-to-be finance’s mother (FM as I’ll refer to her for ease) and Theresa are on their own in the living room, fireworks go off in the background, and FM jumps up from her seat in fear as Theresa laughs it off as being simply fireworks.  Here’s a woman, portrayed as being bourgeois, uptight and stuck-up, brought down to earth by memories of a war only those who lived it can relate. Her muscle memories so attuned to only a few things: fear and death.

It was a very short scene, less than 20 seconds long, but it spoke to me: Regardless of your background, war doesn’t differentiate.

The film never really addressed the fact that maybe the Syrian family, and not just Theresa, lost loved ones in this war. Maybe it would have become overly sappy, but Theresa’s reconciliation should not have simply been moving on from the death of her brother, but dealing with who actually killed him, and it certainly wasn’t this bunch.

All in all, I quite liked the film. I think a better version of it would have shuffled the two main stories around in terms of priority and screen time, but I’m not a filmmaker so what do I know? If you ever find it coming across your TV, give it a watch, it’s not a bad romp.

7/10

Array of Zeros

You will be tested based on your knowledge and topics of the curriculum they said. Not once was it brought up that someone’s opinion of your work is the ultimate deciding factor. I showed up as usual in this so called “educational institution” (It may also double up as a place to roll dice, I’m not really sure anymore).  Fully prepared and ready for my exam .  with me being  an organized individual I took a screenshot of the screen right after I finished each task of the exam and  I am not a constant-ticking contradiction .

He starts by grading my work he pointed out the couple of motors connected as they were supposed to and said you should have done them in parallel and he filled in zeros  without any hesitation . I walked into that room with hope to get a good grade but instead i might not even pass the exam .

Should I accept it that there’s no such thing as normalcy or fairness . or it’s just because of him who showed up  like an unconscious bubble floating to the surface giving me the ‘software’ no choice but to take the bad grade and go home .

Thoughts of a senior engineering student facing an injustice.

 

Red and White

If there is one question I’ve been asked more times than “Are you really an Arab?” (When overheard speaking Arabic), it’s “why do you support Arsenal?”

I usually answer that wit “I just do”. But that’s because the real answer is a bit ridiculous and the explanation is too protracted: In a nutshell, I liked the logo on FIFA 2005. This commitment that has lasted over a decade is all a result of liking the design of a logo of a team on a video game. I didn’t really understand who was what in the game, how you actually played and most importantly. I realize that at the time they were one of the best teams in said game. None of that mattered to me, I simply liked the logo. Not sure how many of you have made life decisions like this one, but in hindsight, a 10 year old picking the logo that has a cannon on a crest doesn’t sound terrible.

I should preface this by saying I’ve always been a contrarian, even as a kid. When everyone supported Brazil, I supported England (And later on, Germany, because not even English people support England anymore, they’re mainly observers who like to torture themselves). When everyone liked Barcelona and Real Madrid, I liked Arsenal. On a side note: I spent a decade trying to figure out why I was treated as an outcast in social groups, and as I write this I realized it’s just who I’m: I have hipster genes apparently.

I didn’t know anyone on the team. I didn’t see them play live until 2 years later. Which coincidentally was a defeat to Chelsea in the league cup final; it should have been a sign back then that it’d be in everyone’s best interest if I supported a different team.

I didn’t actually start to watch most games until 4 or 5 years ago when I had the means to do so. I’ve only met one or two other people who support the club in Palestine, and that’s as recent as only about 2 years ago, one of whom was by total coincidence at the gym.

But here I’m, 10 years later, terrified about a game involving 2 teams from a country I’m not from, playing for local bragging rights which don’t really concern me.

I’m writing this about an hour before the North London Derby, one of the biggest games of our season. So by the time your read this, chances are I’m either a horrible mess or completely ecstatic for the rest of the day.

I love this club. I hate this club.

At this point, it’s a part of my life. And it’s so entrenched that I don’t have to watch every game or spend every hour of the day reading every article written about them to show that I care. Even if I’m just reading the scores of a game we lost, I would get frustrated by the result or if it’s a game we won I’d be very pleased even though I didn’t actually bother to watch the game; at most I’ve seen the goals or the highlights. You can usually gauge my mood on certain days by looking up Arsenal’s result.

I should stress that I don’t believe in the “like a second family” logic because if that was the case I’d have several second families for everything I like. Arsenal isn’t a “second family” and I actively despise the majority of Arsenal fans (Pretty much every fan of a club realizes that most of their fanbase is a bunch of asshats and trolls). And yet, I know that whenever I see a random guy on the street wearing the red and white shirt (or that horrible purple monstrosity from few years ago), I get the chills.

Life would be so much easier without Arsenal. We’re not always winning games, we haven’t been the best team in England since before I started supporting the team and we’re the definition of the statement “The hope that kills you”. But that’s what makes supporting them worth while: to enjoy success, to truly enjoy it, you have to taste failure (And god knows we’ve done our bit in that department). A life without Arsenal would be dull, now that I think about it. It’s like the old adage says: It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. And for me, that love has come in the form of a football club in north London.

Now, after all this heartfelt talk, you know what would be fantastic? If they boys end up giving Spurs a right ol’ spanking. But you never know with this team.

Edit: The game ended 1-1, alright I guess.

And we’re back!

65 days.

That’s how long it has been since we last spoke. I hope you’re doing ok. I’m not hope for great because I don’t exactly want your life to be great without me in it.

Let me fill you in on my whereabouts and the reason I’ve been gone for this long:

After the “I’ve ran out of ideas” incident happened, I started to doubt why I was still using Blogger. The service in and of itself is at least a decade behind on every measure. I was getting fed up with the lack of some basic things (I couldn’t properly change font type or size) but decided to stick with it. Then “I’ve ran out of ideas” went AWOL and they didn’t have any rollback functionality for the blog. At that point I decided it was best for me to move on.

I went by wordpress.com, but they don’t actually offer that much control over the blog they give you. So, after much deliberation with a friend of mine who designs websites (Basil Mimi, give him a call, he knows his shit) I decided to build my own website.

To tell you the truth, this website has been finished for about a month, but real life caught up with me and so it had to sit on the back-burner until I had the opportunity to fix all the little details involved with it.

And now we have it: A brand new blog! Coupled with a new name, a new theme, a new website (Which looks amazing, I’m quite proud of it) and a whole host of other features. All the old articles (Except “The one”) are on it.

Now looking ahead, I’m not exactly sure how much time I can afford to spend on the website. Hopefully I can return to weekly updates, but I can’t promise anything yet.

Until then, take the website out for a ride! See what it has, feel free to read the old articles and comment on them. It would be great if you’d also spread the word about the blog! Either share a link to it, or tell people about my Instagram or my twitter.

Eitherway, go nuts! And most importantly: Welcome back

Crossing (from) Jordan

Hola! I’m writing this from the part-time trench (during exams) that is my room. A complete overhaul of scenery from last time’s overpriced cafe. I’m now sipping homemade tea, in case you needed a confirmation as to how much that whole experienced affected my wallet.

Few days ago, I was chatting with an old friend of mine. A guy I’ve known for 11 years. We talked about life in general, and how he’s adapted back to the life in Ramallah after being gone for a couple of years to study in Europe. Our chat eventually turned to talking about lifestyles, and how the lifestyle in Ramallah is so different than pretty much any other city in the west bank. If you think you know where this story is going, you might want to hold to your horses. The biggest difference in lifestyle is that if you live in Ramallah, you live in a sheltered bubble. Put aside all the festivals that happen here, all the foreigners that live here. This “open” lifestyle we live – regardless of what you think of it – it’s exclusive to Ramallah.

Our lives, for the most part, are easy. Or, easier. If I had to guess, I’d say that it’s one of the reasons why it’s so despised by most people who live in other cities. Religion and tradition aside, while we get to live in our little bubble, they have to go through the strenuous lifestyle associated with living in an occupied land.

This piece, however, is not about the differences;  it’s about the similarities. One in particular.

To make up for you trying to imagine what kind of a hell hole my bedroom looks like, here’s a (not so) funny anecdote: As a kid, I always thought the show “Crossing Jordan” was about the country Jordan. I never realized that the word is used as a first name until I actually watched a few episodes (And by a few I mean a couple, because it wasn’t that good of a show).

And as it’s customary with my well-swung, hugely-missed stories that introduce the topic at hand, today’s blog is about the trip from Jordan to the West Bank, and vise-versa.

I should preface it by saying that I won’t be talking about Gaza in this piece. I don’t know enough about  the situation in and out, what I do know makes me sick to my stomach, and I’ve never personally experienced it, so I don’t feel like it’s my place to act as a proxy for this story. It’s one you should probably hear first-hand, and I’m sure if you have a look on Google you can find something to read or a video to watch. If you’re still at a loss, get in touch with me via email and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Back to the matter at hand.

If you’ve been to the West Bank since Oslo, you know the only way in or out for people with a Palestinian passport (Or a Jordanian one, however for the sake of not losing sight of what’s important, and since the details of the travel arrangements are pretty much the same bar a few negligible differences, I’ll be discussing everything from the point of view of a Palestinian citizen, me) is through Jordan. It’s the buffer between us and anywhere else in the world. You cross the King Hussein bridge and that’s your ticket to the outside world.

On paper, it’s a short trip: 40 km, the distance separating Ramallah and Amman. If you live in the US, there’s a good chance you drive that much getting to and from work on a daily basis.

For us, however, we can’t do that.
Before I get into that, here’s a question to you dear reader, have you ever seen “the” picture of the Belgium-Netherlands borders?

On the left, there’s Belgium. Waffles, Brussels sprouts and Smurfs. On the right, overlooking the Belgian borders is a lovely little Dutch café. That’s right, Dutch. That café is in the Netherlands. Windmills, Stroopwafels and Dennis Bergkamp (That last one might just be my own personal association though, but it really should be yours as well).

It’s a fascinating image. If you ever wanted to give nationalism the middle finger, show it this picture. But for me, it’s more than just that. People have many dreams of things they want in life. I’ve shifted my own dreams in the last few years, altered what I want out of life. Now I dream of this, or something even resembling it’s uglier twin.

I’ve gone back and forth over whether the details of the trip are worth covering or not. In a nutshell, it involves having to move across 3 different borders (Palestinian, Israeli, Jordanian and vise-versa, should note that the PA borders are better described as “Pseudo-borders”).

On the way out, you have to go through 3 layers of security, change buses 4 times, go through a minimum 2 metal detectors, and then stand in line, time and time and time again (This last one is pretty much a day in NYC, but I digress). That’s all before you’ve gotten to the Jordanian borders. The trip out used to frustrate me as a kid: It would take 4-5 hours on average for what really is a short trip. But things changed recently, I’ve started to despise the way back in more. Not just because it encapsulates everything horrible about living in an occupied country (Constant surveillance, having to be checked every few minutes, knowing really all of this trouble of going through 4 iron walls of the crossing point to get West Bank, where the good ol’ wall (You know, the one that divided entire cities) is running rampage.  Couple all of that with the increase in the number of people crossing into the country during the summer only makes summer trips worse. To put things in perspective: My father had come back from Jordan recently, it took him a solid 12 hours to get through.

Here’s where this tale gets even more interesting. Recently, the Israeli side introduced a VIP system to the trips from Jordan into the West Bank. Now, there was always a VIP system in place, but it was quite pointless given that all it did was take you across the Jordanian borders and to the gate of the Israeli border. But the expanded system now takes you across the Israeli borders as well.  In simpler terms: For the small price of ~$100, you get to leapfrog all that suffering. To give an example: My sister was returning from Tunisia recently, her plane arrived quite late which meant she’d most definitely have missed the last bus returning to the west bank. She stood in front of a crosspath: Try to squeeze yourself among the remaining entrants, and risk being turned around or not find a place on the last bus. Go back to Amman or find somewhere to spend the night on the borders (That last one which was a non-option). Either all of those, or go through the VIP system.

And she did. She says it took her 30 minutes to finish what usually requires 3-4 hours in crossing the Jordanian and Israeli borders.

Now think of this on a greater scale: Why would you want to go through this miserable experience when you can shill out $100 and skip this whole charade? Who in their right mind, if they can afford it, would want to do that?

And that’s the problem: If you can afford it. Most people can’t. If you’re returning home with 5 or 6 kids, you’re not going to pay a month’s wages to just cross the borders with ease. What this system creates, is further class separation in an already separated society. Go back through the article, you’ll already have noticed several incidents of this: Gazans, and the unmentioned holders of Jerusalem ID, or even Palestinians from the ‘48 lands. Alongside West Bankers, that’s already 4 different treatments. Add on top of it people who bribe their way across the borders, and those with people on the inside “Wasta”, and now the VIP system.

That’s bonkers. Absolute bonkers. Our society is one of the most divided out there, and for a group consisting of 4.5 million people, that’s batshit crazy. These divisions go even deeper once you dig in: In Nablus for example, the terms “City” and “Village” become very evident. Or how about the tribalism that exists within society in the form of “city-cism” where people from every city take sides based on who’s from their city, or who’s part of their family.

You can see why I take such an issue with a VIP system. It only adds more fuel to already existing fires. And if there’s ever been a strategy that worked on Palestinians, it’s divide and conquer.

————————————————————–

I’ve had this topic open as a draft for at least a month now. So there’s good chance my initial point to get across has changed severely, especially that the two anecdotes involving my family happened quite recently. Anyhow, hope you liked it. If you did, feel free to share, like and comment. If you didn’t, well, I’d like to hear why.

Till next time.

The Cynic

Good afternoon. How are you doing? Hopefully you’re all cozied up and relaxed as you read this. I’ve been missing for 10 days, in case you’ve been counting (Non-blog entries excluded). Here’s what I’ve been up to since: Absolutely naught. I twisted my ankle last Sunday, in the silliest manner possible (If anyone asks though, I was stopping a mugging and shattered the ankle while tackling the mugger). That, alongside the start of my finals meant I had to focus all of my attention on studying and nursing the “brave” ankle back to health. In case you’re wondering, I did well on my exams, so maybe the “mugabe media lockdown” I entered was worth it afterall.

Anywho, the blog. It’s why you’re here after all: I’m planning a series of consecutive releases in the coming week to make up for not releasing this piece on time. It’s funny, I could have probably released it on Friday or even Saturday, but I chose to spend my time playing video games all day long. Nothing feels better than the numbing feeling repetitive video games give you. It’s not even about entertainment at that point, there’s usually an hour of “dopamine” but the rest feels like being binged up.

I’ve grown used to this feeling, the emptiness. I wrote about it in the now lost “I’m out of ideas” (As you can tell, there’s no hyperlink included, I lost the blog. If you read it you’re one of the lucky ones). Today is about a slightly different set of feelings. Not at all about my self-perpetuating, never ending cycle of routine driven emptiness (I may come back to that some other time).

Today’s piece, is about how shit life is. Not “my life”, just life in general. And if you’re not in the mood to get bumped down, you should keep reading. No, this is not a joke, you really should. What I should do though, is preface this piece by telling you a bit about myself before I proceed to tune up my inner “hared” to the max and take down all that is good in life.

Throughout my existence, I’ve come to associate myself with the glass half empty side of my life. I’m a cynical person, always have been. I’m the person you avoid just before an exam as to not bring your morale down. I’m the person who believes more in the idea of hell than in the idea of heaven. I believe humans are, at heart, self-centered creatures. See, as I write this, I’m setting in a well-known cafe in Ramallah, sipping overly expensive coffee (I used to pay as much for Starbucks in NYC, let that sink for a moment, coffee in Ramallah costs as much as it does in NYC) and acting in the mannerisms of what we project pretentious “artists” to be.

little meremaid meme llama meme

You’ve probably seen one of those two memes at some point (btw, I don’t plan to make a habit out of using memes). This is me, right now. It’s either ironic or highly hypocritical that I’m talking about how we’re all awful from my high horse. So high, it may as well be blocks the sun. On the inside, however, I feel empty. Why am I acting up this charade? Why am I putting up this facade of plastic? A friend once described this behavior to me as wanting to “see and be seen.”  To fill a gap inside oneself, to give the impression that you somehow care about the world and all its issues without doing something actually productive.

Right about now, you’d think that a cause to believe in, or a religion to follow, would fill this gap? But honestly, it probably wouldn’t. More specifically, neither would be enough, and here’s why:

One game I like to play (And have done so for years) goes by the name of Assassin’s Creed. I’m an avid player. Unless you’re one of the editions that  never made it to PC, I’ve beaten you at least once. I know the second game by heart, I know the story of the third word-for-word. So what is it about? The game is based on certain periods in human history, altered to fit a certain narrative, with certain events changed for the game’s sake.

Why is it important to know this? Because while the game depicts an endless fight between the protagonists, the “Assassins” and their arch nemesis, the “Templars”, fighting over several millennia under different monickers, each with a cause, the valuable thing that is forgotten is that the fight is “Endless”.

Take a moment to think of this: Humans have fought since the dawn of time. At this point, it’s fair to say it’s in our DNA (And it probably is, but I’m not going to delve into this). That’s a whole industry that Ubisoft (The makers of Assassin’s Creed) have created and made a fortune off of. Besides the games, novels and merchandise, they have a live-action movie coming up in December (Which I’ll be first in line to see) all of which is based on the fact that Humans have never, and probably will never, stop fighting.

It’s sobering thought, this. I mean, really, after you think about this, how can you have any more optimism? A wise man once said “Life is an endless series of trainwrecks with only brief commercial-like breaks of happiness.”

So let’s take a look at the list: Plastic facade that people put up? Check. Video games depicting the reality that people kill each other for progress? Check. Life is all a big pointless lie that’s not worth living? … ?

Yeah, I’m not sure about that last one.

Recently, I’ve been contemplating new taglines for the blog. The one that I’m going to go with is “When I bring my newfound hope back home for the first time to meet my cynicism and boredom.”

I know what is going through your mind right now: “Murhaf, you utter dirtbag, you mean to tell me, you just wrote eleven hundred words about how cynical you are as a person, and then wrapped it up by talking about newfound hope?”. The answer to that is yes, and you just read through it, so you may as well let me finish.

Life IS a mess, a horrible mess. But it’s our mess. We got it to where it is, so we may as well try to fix it. If we all collectively gave up and stopped caring, then that’s a problem.  If life was simple and easy to live,  then it would lack the challenge, and that’s a problem.  If life was any different, I ask you, “Would it be worth living?”

————————————————————–

Per usual, be sure to keep an eye for the blog, and if you like it, like share and comment. I’d appreciate it if you can also subscribe, I think an RSS feed button exists somewhere, if it doesn’t, then I’ll look to add one.

Not-A-Blog Entry #2

Morning (Or afternoon, or evening, this is the internet and unless you’re a blog post of mine, things don’t go missing, so you could be reading this post at 3 AM five years down the road, or you could get lost, it’s a 50/50 chance).


Last week I mentioned that I’ll be doing some changes to the blog. However, I may have to delay said changes for another week. I’m planning to change the blogs name, but I’m also considering doing some site redesigns (New theme, more vibrant look) and the process sounds tasking. I’m not complaining, but this is Finals week and I won’t have much time to work on the blog (Assuming I don’t procrastinate). So, I’ll be pushing said changes for a little bit further: This may affect next week’s blog. As it stands, expect one, but since I have an exam Thursday afternoon, I’m not sure where I stand.


In other news: There’s a strike planned in my University next week (Unfortunately, it wasn’t inspired by me, to get looped in on what the hell I’m talking about, read my latest blog, “Powerless“) and it has been looming for a while. As it stands, it’s the first two days of the new semester, but I could see it running longer than that (And either-way, I need a break from University, so I was planning on taking the first five or so days off anyway) and the plan for me is to work on the blog during that short break.


Anyhow, I won’t take anymore of your time. I need to get back to my studies and you need to go back to your lives. So wish me luck (Or don’t). 


Till next time.

Not-A-Blog Entry #1

Full disclosure: I’ve done something stupid earlier (More so than usual).


In case you’ve been roaming the blog today, you’ll realize that in addition to “Power(less)” being posted, last week’s second piece “I’ve ran out of ideas” has gone missing.


I was trying to unify all the pieces to have a similar look and feel, and by mistake I ended up overwriting I’ve ran out of ideas with a different entry. After my panic subdued, I realized I had gotten rid of what turned out to be my only copy of the original piece.


I’ve spent the last 2 hours trying to recover it to no avail. I don’t have a local backup copy and I’ve used google cache, I’ve used chrome cache, I tried to see if I had a backup copy on my phone’s cache to try and get it back, all of which didn’t pan out. I’ve asked around to see if someone might have a copy by complete accident, and as it stands I haven’t had any luck.


If someone is pissed off about it, its me. I ruined a perfectly working piece due to that tiny OCD-ish feeling in the back of my head that urged me to have everything organized. Recreating the blog is not an option, because I simply don’t remember enough about it to be able to even write 70% of it back.


So, for now, unless someone extends their hand with an advice on how to bring the blog entry back to life, or I decide I can conjurer something up that’s somewhat resembles the original entry, it seems to have been lost in the annals of the internet, something I never believed would be possible. 


But for every cloud … etc, you can consider yourself one of the lucky few who got to read one of the “lost entries” (Hopefully it’s just “entry”, singular, I’ll be doing regular backups from now on). Think of it as a lost Doctor Who episode. Of course, that’s assuming this blog goes viral over the next 50 years (for the right reasons). 


For now, thanks for reading, apologizes for the inconvenience and have a good day.

Power(less)

Hi, how are you? Hopefully it’s all well and good. The family? Kids? Wife? All good? Swell.

What’s with the awkward introduction, you ask? Well, I’ve hit a proper writer’s block. WAIT! Before you exit the website, cussing my name and calling me the boy who cried wolf over last week, I should probably explain to all of you new readers (All two of you) who might be feeling out of the loop what the situation is. 

Last week, I ran a piece titled “I’ve run out of ideas”. Turns out, however, I’m not actually out of ideas. While I apologize for the clickbait nature of the title, I don’t apologize for running it. As it was, after all, an appropriate title for the piece. 

This week, I find myself facing an actual writers block. If I explain how the writing process works for me, you might see why that is: I come up with an idea, let it simmer for a while in the think-tank until I have enough material to write a half-decent piece, come back to it a day before blog-day (Or as you know it, Thursday), then release it into its natural habitat.

Here’s the conundrum I’m facing: The original idea I had for today’s blog? I’ve sat on it for two weeks. I came back to it two days ago, deleted it and started from scratch, got half way through then decided to call it a good day’s work. When I came back to finish it yesterday, I realized I’m not in the right place of mind to write about it (A more formal way of saying I’m just not in the mood).

So I went to my “notepad” (Google Keep, do I look like the type who would write on a piece of paper like a savage?) to look for backup ideas. As I started to write this post, I had one idea in mind, but decided it hasn’t brewed well enough to be used. It’s a good one though, maybe I’ll come back to it next week or the week after it, so stay tuned. 

“Alright, I don’t have all day, stop beating around the bush and get to the point” is what’s going through your mind at the moment, probably, I don’t know, hopefully not. Alright, jeesh, you can’t fool all the people all the time apparently, and I certainly can’t bullshit my way out of this problem.

Today’s blog I improvised over the last 24 hours. So it hasn’t gone through the full think-tank experience. Whether this means it will be well thought out like usual, I don’t know, we’ll see. Today’s piece is about college. More specifically, it’s about my college experience, or to be even more precise, a solitary day in it: Wednesday


I enter my fifth year in college the Saturday after next, and on the eve of that, I reminisce to a time when the saying  “Full of ambition, brimming with hope” used to apply to me. It’s a quite pandering way to describe the “new generation” of anything. In this case, college students: the freshmen, or as we call them, the “sanafer” (Smurfs). It applies to every new student until the first semester is over, after which a recurring process of having said attributes beaten out of you on a systemic basis over the course of your remaining time in college occurs. Roughly by the time you’re in my position, you’ve given up the idea of being a catalyst for change (Unless of course you’re one of the lucky ones who didn’t care since day one, dragged yourself across semesters and now are preparing to propel this “uncaring” into the real world, in which case, if you’re one of those people, I applaud you and tip my metaphorical douche-fedora to you). 

Right about now, I couldn’t give a rats ass about “changing things for the better”, “using my time in college to influence things” or even “leave a mark”or any of those nice things Bernie Sanders talked about (Taken out of context and applied to a single college instead of the politics of a generation) Nope. With all the hope and ambition out of the way, all I care right about now is that sweet, sweet moment when I log-in to the college website in 9 months time and see the words “Congratulations! You’ve completed all the required hours to gradua–” at which point I’d drop my laptop half way across reading the sentence and start doing the macarena like I did back all those years ago back in my kindergarten graduation.

So what is it that drove all this enthusiasm out of me? Was it a singular event or was it collection of different things?

Probably both.

Wednesday was a good demonstration that as a lone college student, I posses very little influence over anything. I’ll spare you the details as I feel like I’m better off moving onwards and upwards.


What I’ll say is that I found myself in a class in a very unfavorable situation, and hating every moment of it. Wanting to bolt out just to punch something. I knew it was not worth it; I knew it was unnecessary, but I knew it would feel good. I was on the brink of something stupid, and luckily I avoided it. A teacher I spoke to after class reminded me of this. I, of course, knew everything he was about to say. But it was good to hear it coming from a voice that isn’t my own (Which at that point was edging me to do something stupid). He also said something that got me: This is about the bigger picture, about the war, not the battle. And in the war, things change and the balance of power shifts.

Every so often, we forget that. I certainly did. And we need a good reminder like that one, in every situation in life,

I remember the reaction on my Facebook wall the day after the results of the NYC primaries came out. People were freaking out. They were frustrated, devastated, they had the ambition and hope inspired by Sanders within months beaten out of them overnight. 

If you’re like me, have been left feeling powerless about enacting change, feeling like the systematic process of continual beat downs by your college, by your society, by your life has robbed you of all hope and ambition, then repeat after me:

Things change and the balance of power shifts.

Why is that? Because nothing lasts forever.


———————————————————————

Editor’s note: I’ll be changing the URL for the blog by next week. Change is scary, I know, but it might be best if we did it now while it’s still fresh than in 2 months time. I’m still deliberating names, so if you have ideas, shoot them my way. In the mean time, if you liked what you just read, then you can read my other blogs!

Forgive me, for I’ve been an idiot

I’ve recently found myself in a tight spot with a friend because of my sense of humor (or lack thereof). This is my apology, sort of: I’m cowering to do it person as I feel the message won’t be conveyed correctly.

For the last few weeks I’ve been spending my extra time browsing a certain popular website (which I’ll refrain from mentioning, as to not perpetuate the sort of behavior I’ll be talking about in this piece). A particular section of that website is dedicated to “Cringe worthy pictures”. As someone with a dark – often sad – sense of humor, I can get a laugh out of “too soon” jokes that rub salt on the wounds, or situations which involve extreme awkwardness for one party that is involved.

Said section consists of about 10% awkward, out-of-place couple in-fighting that makes its way to the public halls of the internet. 5% of it is just completely random creepiness (So the internet, in a nutshell). The rest is guys hitting on girls in the most obscene ways possible. It’s these extremely embarrassing situations where a guy comes on a girl that’s clearly not interested (more often than not, on Facebook), gets turned down, then proceeds to act like a dick (By which I mean there’s the occasional offering of a clearly unwanted dickpic).

How much of this content is fabricated? I don’t know. Probably a decent chunk, but a lot of what’s on it strikes me as legit. It shouldn’t be, because in the real world no one would ever talk like this, but since this is the internet, where the rules of social decorum do not apply, it seems very legit. And that’s the problem.

Back to the story: Couple of days ago, my friend made a post on Facebook (which I won’t get into, but let’s just say it’s very contradictory to the nature of the section of the website I was talking about). This gave me the (very stupid) idea of sending her a link to the website in a “Hey! Isn’t this thing ironically funny considering your post?” sort of way.

Her main response was not one I expected. See,the immediate blank expression was one I half expected; not everyone shares my sense of humor. It’s the screenshots that she followed up with that got to me.

One thing about this obsession of mine about the aforementioned section is that it appears to me in its own innocent, harmless bubble, separate from the rest of the world. It gets a “there’s no way this can be real nor can it actually be happening in real life” reaction out of me. It’s the only way I can enjoy it, half-lying to myself about how real it is. Because I’ve never been put in this situation myself, it appears an impossible one, being on the internet only makes it even more unrealistic.
The screenshots she sent me were those of random dudes on Facebook catcalling her. And I felt like shit.

Here’s the thing. It’s not like I didn’t know this happens, I’ve seen it happen in the street first hand before. It’s not like I didn’t see it happen on Facebook, it’s the reason for this whole mess in the first place: People catcalling on Facebook and being douchebags about it, but to my mind, it’s nothing but “harmless facebook in its own bubble separate from the rest of the world”. It’s the fact that it happened to someone I know that I didn’t even fathom to consider.

I felt like an instant idiot. How could I be so oblivious to an issue I know exists and has existed in our society forever. It immediately killed any interest I had in this sort of thing, it was no longer funny, and I felt like the past few weeks, all I did, even as an observer, was to perpetuate a horrible attitude. For a second there, I turned into the creeps I was laughing at. I was no better than they were as I was really helping spread this thing they do. And I didn’t just get off my high horse, I trampled from on top if it.

I then remembered something I’ve blocked out of my mind for sometime. Catcalling phone calls (Or text messages, for that matter). Nearly a decade ago, bored, out of work adults (Yes, adults, not even teenagers) would randomly call numbers, if the person who picks up is a man, they’d play dumb or just pretend it’s a wrong number. If it’s a woman though, they’d start the conversation with the now famous cultural meme “Momken netaraf?” Which literally translates to “Can I (get to) know you?”.
Some were persistent, calling time and time again even after you hang up on them or the phone changes hands and the person on the end of the catcall is a man. Others would give up and move on.

Why did this conversation with my friend affect me so much when it was only a few lines long though? I think it was, a what you’d call, an epiphany. I had a striking realization that I couldn’t get over and I had to do something about. It also got me thinking about other things in life, which may seem like they’re poking fun at a certain horrid thing but only help perpetuate it.

Right around now, I should point out that this isn’t a dig at satire or people wanting to cope with something horrible via humor, because that doesn’t only have its place, but it’s something we need. We need to be able to find the silver lining through comedy. But the website I was on, that wasn’t a “silver lining” sort of situation. It wasn’t only poking fun at these “cringe-worthy” moments, it was glorifying them by giving them the time and attention, rather than exposing them for their true nature.

Anyhow, I’ve rambled on for longer than I intended. Right as I get to the closing statement I realize that a simple face-to-face apology would have worked out better. So, Friend, I’m sorry about this whole thing, my intention was never to poke around in your personal life with things you might want to hide or forget about. From now on, I’ll stick to sending you gifs of babies falling over.
————————————————————————–

The idea for this blog came out of the blue late Tuesday evening, and I decided to follow through on it. However, I’ve stuck to a “rigid schedule” the last few weeks and I’m not dropping it. As such, this weeks non-emergency blog will be out on Thursday like usual.

If you liked what you read, then please take a moment to check my other posts where I’m not a total buffoon and actually try to analyze things by putting some thought behind them.