Saturday, 6 July 2013

Birthday Letter 2013


Dear Baba,

Another year, and another promised letter on your birthday.
So many things are happening these days, and I find myself looking forward to this hour I get with you, where I tell you what's been on my mind.

I have to mention at the start of this letter that I started today with an appropriate homage to celebrate your birthday (I suppose I can call it that!), a breakfast at Sousi. I still tell people the story you loved so much to repeat to our friends about my sudden black hole of knowledge concerning "sheep eggs". And you'll be happy to know everyone still finds it funny... I see you laughing now. Stop it.

I am in a state of missing you quite a lot in the last few months. It's weird how grief changes over the years, and the longing for someone shifts. There are days where I don't think of you, and sometimes I wonder if those are wrong days. But I guess you are always there, and I make up for it the days where I find myself wishing I could have a talk with you, ask your opinion about decisions in my life, big ones, and a lot of which are coming up these days.

I'm a lot happier than I have been in a while. Things seem to be stable, and on the right path (I know I mentioned this a lot in my last letter, I guess it's a good sign that I still feel that way up till now.)

I am en route to fulfilling my promise to you of continuing my education. I saw how much it frustrated you that after all those years of work, a simple title and paper would have made things so much easier for you. And I remember your tone when you told me that it should not be a question for me to pursue a masters. So after months of applications and running around and essays and portfolios, I've been accepted at Kingston University in London, in the Illustration masters programme. Now I'm on the last leg of the pushing, and hopefully it'll all work out and I''ll be back home in September, ready to start that adventure. I'm anxious about it all, but I guess that's normal. A lot of changes, leaving Beirut again for a year of school, reconnecting with my friends there, meeting new people, working hard to achieve the best that I possibly can. It's different than an undergraduate degree. Now I know what I want, I'm not too concerned with socialising. I am armed with determination and want to take the most out of this year... Wil kheir la eddem.

After that year, it's all open. I'd like to come back to Beirut, but that depends on a few factors, a couple that are close to my heart. One of them is the state of the country.

Akh, dad, I don't know what to say about Lebanon and Beirut. I wonder so much what you would think, you being who you are and raising me the way I am. It has become a full time job living day to day in Beirut. Things are a mess, ignorance is everywhere, corruption, political mayhem, lack of ethics and civil conscience.

I've defended Beirut so hard in the past, to friends, acquaintances, everyone. I came back while everyone was leaving and not looking back. People thought I was foolish and naive to come back, and yet I planted my feet in the ground, and fought back all their concerns with excuses and excuses and excuses... But I've had enough. It's painful, so very painful to see it this way. No one cares about anyone but themselves. A kind word is hard to come by. And most importantly, making a comfortable living, with not much more than necessities, is a luxury. It really, really upsets me. All of it. The country and it's "rulers" and it's people have let me down enough times that I see very little light.

I still have the sea.  At least I have that.

Speaking of the country, I am finally going to meet Michel.  He's finally visiting Beirut after many years of telling mum and I that he would. And unfortunately a bit too late to see you. But that's ok. Right?

We've developed a virtual relationship via email, and only recently Skype and Facebook. Crazy how easy it is to get to anyone these days. (Technology these days would really blow your mind dad. Ouf!)
He emails me often to ask about us and emails me photos and stories and music, and I look forward to meeting this part of you. I can't really express the feeling, and it makes me feel bittersweet, so I'd rather stop now. I know it will be good though, that I know.

And on that note, I'll leave you till next year. I hope to have so many good things to tell you then.

Miss you very much. More than you can comprehend.
And the love goes without saying.

Happy birthday Baba.


Bintak Karma.


Birthday Letter 2012
Birthday Letter 2011


Sunday, 28 April 2013

Putting a deaf ear to the ground


So Friday night marked the release of Fareeq El Atrash's* second album. The guys held an event at the Sunflower theatre, featuring two other acts, El Rass, and Latlateh. 

I first got introduced to the hip hop culture in Beirut a few years back when I was putting together my own sort of event, a hybrid of free style rap and pictionary. (I'm not going to go into much details, but check out Omar el Fil's review of the second edition of the event here.. it should do the trick).

I never was one for hip hop being more of a rock and indie music sort of girl, but through the crowds I met and the introduction I got, I quickly became a fan and bred an overall appreciation of the wordmanship and lyrical dexterity that went into hip hop culture in Beirut. I had an even bigger respect for old school instrumental composition, such as that of Fareeq Al Atrash, who really do put the extra effort into making their music and ultimately their live shows about the music as well as the words, bringing in solos and improvs and guest musicians. 

The supporting acts cannot go unmentioned, I have to put a word for Sayyed Darwish (part of Latlateh?) whose full on poetry was heart warming, touching, and truly performed with a tone that went right to the heart. The production sampling old Syrian songs and poetry was all too good at bringing it all close to home, reminding us that our neighbours, the people of Syria, are just over there, bleeding in a war in which no one will be a winner.  Al Rass was also astounding, his eloquence and delivery was impeccable, and his puns and play on words clever and piquant. I couldn't help memorise the last line from his song "The Penguin", where he says (roughly translated) "I've got my feet on the ground, and if I want to fly, all I have to do is swim in the ocean that reflects the sky". It's translation does it no justice. 

But this post really isn't just about the show, or the Fareeq guys who happen to one of many homegrown bands that I am proud to call friends, proud to say come from this city. It's more about a revelation I had while watching the performers.

In all honesty, hip hop and rap doesn't really go with the grain in our culture. It's a style more known to the west, sung more in English than anything else. But it's managed to transcend the language barrier, and bend into our letterforms, and cut up to measure, making it congruous. We've made it work. 
But I don't believe that's why it works.

In a country lacking modern history (actually any record of Lebanese history since 1975 to be exact. Check your official history books) hip hop artists have become our historians. 
It's not about the bling or cars or bitches on the beach. It's about the current political strife, the ills of society, the issues of our generation. It's about the war in Syria, the Palestinian cause, the Lebanese corruption. And that has taken it to a whole new plane of thought.

Hip hop in our culture is nationalist poetry put to a beat. It's the voice of the layman, the sound of the streets. And the artists know it too. And that's one hell of a responsibility to carry. So kudos to those who use that power respectfully, who do not fuel or feud, who ask for what everyone at the end wants. Stability, honesty, a future. 

It's the subject matters that are tackled that bring out in me a support and an appreciation of this music. I find the beats to simply add an organised support of what is being said, sort of like a unanimous head bob to the right message, and put to music (what could be better). We, the people, get to agree in our own simplified way. United we stand, under the bass line, and to the beat of the human beat machine.  

It's at these concerts, and to these lyrics I wonder where our politicians are. Actually, the politicians are brought down to our level. They're not any more powerful than the guys mentioning them in their lyrics. In fact the contrary is true, I see the power of the people, and it's way stronger than theirs.

This is our history. This is what we are. And all the babble in the background on the news is just noise, just a diversion, just a distraction to what is happening, to what is needed. 

So all you political analysts, news reporters, expat journalists assessing the situation, telling us what to think what to see, it's time to turn your deaf ear to these voices and hear the future, hear the truth, hear what we hear, hear what we mean.

You won't get a read on the situation from the suits behind the doors of parliament, not through the microphones of the tv stations. 

You'll get it from the streets, and through microphones on a theatre's stage in Tayouneh. 

* Fareeq El Atrash translates literally from Arabic into "The Team of the Deaf", hence the blog title.


P.S. Please encourage homegrown bands like Fareeq El Atrash, Lazzy Lung, Mashrou3 Leila, Wanton Bishops and all the other great talents coming out of Beirut these days by buying their music and going to their concerts. Thank you.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

I once heard ... About the time healer

I once heard about a remote town in Switzerland that was home to a clock maker.
He had a small shop neighbouring the newsagent, and two doors down from the local butcher.

It was said that this clock maker was different.
He was not frequented for his meticulous clock faces, or for his dexterity at oiling clock gears.
His intricate cuckoo clocks were beautiful and delicate, it was said, but people came to him for something else.

He was an oldish man, with round spectacles that shielded his small eyes, and a face that could tell you a lot more than he ever did.
His hair was silver and wiry and scarce on the top of his head.
His suspenders were worn out red, with brass clips that were monogramed. 

I once heard that this clock maker, clock mender, could heal the bent, the broken, and the shattered with time as a cure.

"Time heals all wounds" was a science he had perfected and managed to master. Some say it was more a witch craft, others say it was a blessing, a gift, but no matter what anyone thought, everyone found themselves walking across that cobble stone street and opening that red wooden door with the circular window at one point or another in their life.

They say there was a different watch for everyone that came to him. The broken hearted wanted nothing but to forget their lost love, the mourning wanted nothing more than to forget the pain of loss, and the damaged wanted to forget their fears.

One by one they would come to him, and he would silently listen, and silently turn to the walls of his small shop looking at all the ticking clocks in all their shapes and sizes and colours. He would silently find the right one, go up to it and turn the hands of the clock around and around. There was never a specific number of turns anyone could figure out. Or any specific clock.

He knew which and how many.
And he would make the time it took to heal what hurt pass with a swift circular movement. Silently.


But as the days went by, it was said the time healer realised that his "customers" were repeating.
The same woman, from a few months ago would come back again to mend her re-broken heart with the passage of time, her pain being worse. The same man would come back again to mend his damaged pride, having fallen just as badly.
It is said he realised he was not really helping these people. But harming them.
While it was painful for them to go through what they were going through, in doing so they built a layer of armour against whatever else will inevitably come their way. They were learning from what they had been through, having become slightly bruised, or even scarred with the experience.  They were healing themselves with immunity and knowledge.

I heard how he realised he was not a healer. Silently.
And sadly.

Then there was a night a racket had been heard in the street. But no one had paid much attention.
It was said that the day after, the door to his shop was ominously ajar.

Upon entering, the townsfolk found all the clock faces broken, shattered, some even bloodied.
the cuckoo clocks had their little wooden birds hanging out of their little doors.

On the floor was a pool of blood. Nothing else.
He was gone.


I once heard about the little shop and it's time healer, and how he disappeared in a stain of red.

Some say he was murdered, some say it was an accident.
Others say he could not take the repeating pain anymore. That he could not take harming by healing anymore.

But everyone agreed on one thing:
Only time would tell. 




Thursday, 30 August 2012

sketch skeleton and life

I had this sketch drawn in my sketchbook for a while. Drawn at 37º in Monot.



Decided to digitalise and try a different illustration style.
And hey presto:


Sorry for the lack of posts.

There's one coming up shortly, as soon as I draw the illustration for it.



Friday, 6 July 2012

Birthday Letter 2012

Where do I begin.

It's been one hell of a year since I last wrote to you.  So much has happened, and I'm not sure where to start.
It's been a year of lessons I guess. Tough ones, but necessary ones none the less, and I believe now more than ever that things tend to fall in place one way or another. Some ways more painfully, some ways more rudely awakening than others, some just magically I suppose. At many instances I really would have liked for you to be there. I think your insight would have been indispensable, then again, I think you were there.

There has been a real change in me. I don't know where to pinpoint it, I don't know where the beginning happened and I'm pretty sure the end is not that near. There is something in me that has changed. I am more of myself. More at peace with my mind, my heart, my soul. I feel that of the many paths that come up day to day, I have patiently and serenely chosen the ones that lead to dark dismal places, that take me away from what I know is where I should be going, wherever that may be, whatever that is, and blocked them off one by one. My head is less scattered, I now know that when my being is haywire, I am doing something wrong, or at least something is wrong, and I need to change it.

Perhaps that's why I'm at peace.

I found my footing again. I don't know where that takes me, but I'm no longer doubtful that I'm getting there on steady feet.

I've become more patient. (I can see your face as I write that. Yep. Me. Patient)
It's one of those things that have changed in me. I'm not sure how or why, sometimes I think it's because a part of me has given up on slamming my head against walls and worrying. I surrender to whatever must be, making sure before I do that I've done what I can to ensure that when I place my head against my pillow at night, I'm at peace. Part of that is sad, because part of it was truly me giving up. Simply put.
Then again, I guess when those dark thoughts subside, I find that it's just a matter of me walking the path, not worrying where it goes. It'll go somewhere worth going as long as I step steadily. Right?

A lot of new friends have entered my life this year too. And I wish you could've met them, I think they would have loved you, and you them. I always get a little hiccup in my throat when I find myself saying "I wish you'd met my dad", or "My dad would've had something to tell you about that!" or simply "My dad would've loved you."
My curiosity drowns me when I think of that. Perhaps also because I would have liked to get your impression on them, to read your face.

But I think you'd be proud of what I am now. Where I am, at least in some aspects. My mind is more focused, or at least has cut away a lot of what was weighing it down. And when I do what I must, as painful as it sometimes tends to be for me, I have a silent voice, a faded image, a nod of approval in the back of my mind. All yours. And it helps me know I've taken a step in the right direction.  I had lost myself somewhere along the way in the past few years, but now I'm closer to being me than I ever was. And I wish you could be here to confirm that somehow.

The football was going on recently. And being at Brick's watching a lot of the games, I noticed how a friend of mine would always end up watching the game with his father. It didn't get to me till one of the last games was on. I think it was just the sight of his father walking in, and my friend being in the corner, having saved him a seat, calling him over. Something about them finding each other and having a place to sit I guess that is meaningful in some sappy soppy hypersensitive way. One of those things that comes to me, you know.
It was then I wished we had something like that. You weren't really into football, you had the boxing thing. Man, how mum and I would wonder how someone like you, against mindless physical violence, could enjoy such a "sport". But I remember when I asked you once, semi disgusted as the sight of a boxer having his lower jaw punched so hard I swore it wrapped around his neck. You answered something along the lines of how it was not the violence that you enjoyed, but that it was a "smart" sport, boxers studying each other's moves, a game of wit and swift dance. Knowing when, where, how to hit. A physical chess, yes granted, with sweat and blood. However you managed to explain, it was a good answer, and although I would flinch every once in a while, I no longer complained when you were watching.
Maybe we could have the boxing thing. A bar, a beer, and the boxing.

I went to the office recently. I've decided to use a room to work in. One of the things I'm doing to try and keep focused.
I  can't lie, I thought I'd take it with a heavier heart than I did. It didn't make me sad. But I walked lightly, rediscovering it again through new eyes, looking for you in a new way so you could be my companion there in a new way.
Thanks for helping me find the switch for the air conditioning by the way. You know how I am with heat.

Otherwise, things are moving. Things are going. I keep saying it, but perhaps I can't help be happy that I feel I'm going the right way, or at least not the wrong way anymore. Mama and I are better. We have our slips, but she has been so supportive at certain times this year, and I am grateful for that. She is slowly finding the right ground to reach me, and I am slowly trying to be better at taking it too.  That too is going more or less on a better path.

I miss you differently this year.
Yes, I wish you were around. But I don't find myself wishing it naively. I don't get weepy at the idea of your loss. I just, miss you I suppose. And it annoys me that I have to focus sometimes to hear your voice the way it was. But it's still there.

Although July loomed at me in the distance this year, and I could see it creep up on me sadly, it once again passes with grace.
I wish you a happy birthday baba.
Till next year.

I love you so very very much.

Bawsat.


Bintak Karma


Birthday Letter 2011
Birthday Letter 2010
Birthday Letter 2009

Saturday, 16 June 2012

football: notes & observations

I'm not really one to write about football. I'm no fanatic and my knowledge doesn't really go much further than knowing who wears what colours, and a few names. But I do enjoy watching a game every once in a while. Doing this has resulted in many a conclusion deduced by observation during this year's 2012 Euro Cup around Beirut. I couldn't help myself.

It's very possible more points will be added to this list as the games continue... So keep an eye out.


1) Don't mess with Germany supporters. Ever. Those dudes are nuts.

2) A lot of Italian supporters tend to be of the female variety. You can tell this by the "Oooh"s and "Yiiiii"s every time there are closeups on the field.

3) Swedes are sore losers.

4) It doesn't matter how many times you explain it to me, I still don't understand offsides.

5) Footballers make the most ridiculous faces.

6) Slow motion replays look so dramatic and serious that it ends up looking epic. (slightly makes up for point 5)

7) Angry Swedish sounds funny. (check point number 3)

8) There are more Germans in Lebanon than I realised. They stand up when their Anthem is played. And they really do drink a lot of beer.

9) Flags flood the city. They're everywhere. Cars, shop fronts, bars, facebook profiles, mopeds. Well, every flag but the Lebanese one.

10) Sleazy, snide remarks vocalised by Lebanese men during Russian games are guaranteed. During closeups of the female audience of course. Good to know macho stereotypes are still alive and kicking.

11) The Arab commentators speak at the rate of 10 words per second, volume control is lost on them, and the amount of knowledge they have about the competing countries is scary. Screw the history books, you want to know about a country? Watch a game, listen and learn.

12) The music a DJ plays after a game is directly related to whether or not the team they're supporting wins or loses. You better hope it's the former. (Trust me, I would know)

13) Nearly every Lebanese viewer has a back up team in case their primary one loses. This confuses the hell out of me.

14) When someone's team of preference is not playing, their choice of who to support during a game is usually NOT the team their friend/s is/are supporting.  Team choice is a weapon of mass spite/taunter.

15) Lebanese supporters of the French team forget how to speak Arabic during games.

16) French supporters automatically sneer dismissively at you when you say you're an England supporter. They must've forgotten they're French supporters.

17) Every player with a remotely Arab name is pointed out with pride. Relentlessly.

18) While Lebanon was playing to qualify for the Asian Cup, #GoLebanon was trending on Twitter, and a waterfall of support flooded all social media. Well, at least till the Euro Cup started.

19) Cristiano Ronaldo is a douche. That's a fact no matter how many times he changes his hairstyle during a match.

UPDATES

20) Ibrahimovic is 1 metre 95 cm tall. Do not discuss football with anyone who takes it literally and gives that reply when you say "Oh my lord that dude is a giant! How tall is he??". Anyone who has that amount of information about football is dangerous, and could probably bury you.

21) The amount of female supporters a team has is porportional to the number of good looking players it has. And their average collective hair length, of course.

22) If you are out somewhere that isn't showing the games when a match with Germany is happening, don't fret. Hear those loud shouts in unison that happen every once in a while? That's a goal for Germany. Count them, and you know the score. (note:if Germany and another popular team are playing, the Louder shouts will always be Germany)

23) The chance that someone who owns a BMW is a Germany supporter is very, very high.

24) Sorry France, but quesadillas are way yummier than snails. Viva España.

25) I was wrong. Italian supporters are way nuttier than the German ones. It must be the Mediterranean in them.

26) Apparently a good hairstyle is not a factor in how successful a football player you are. Look at Balotelli.

27) If their team hasn't made it to the finals, the Lebanese tend to support whoever is against the team that kicked their team out. Hence all German fans became Spanish, and all the French fans supported Italy.

28) No. 27 doesn't apply to women. They still go for who has more good looking players/coaches (refer to point 21). The dilemma was Italy vs Spain. I swore I could hear heads explode.

29) At the end of it all,  at least we'll still have pizza.



Saturday, 5 May 2012

I won't forget.


I remember.

I remember the first day we met.
I was intimidated by you. You didn't seem very friendly at the time.
But then again, I remember the day we really met. I spilled my woes, and you spilled yours. And they took time.

I remember the night I gave you your improvised birthday gift.

I remember how you gave me your first gift, that now stares at me from my mirror frame every morning, reminding me of magnets and compasses and how they react when they're around each other.

I remember how we comfortably moved into each others lives, and then drowned in them.

I remember the night I semi skipped like a sheep on a Rage Against The Machine cover in the middle of an abandoned street.

I remember you saying how my dog was "Alright, as far as dogs go", and letting it slide.

I remember the many, many bottles of wine. But specifically how I was never drunk on them, but on something else.

I remember how you defended my dental structure one night, by refusing to tell me of the threats spoken against me by short drunken wenches with cruel tongues.

I remember how you straight out told a stranger you loved me.

I remember the book you gave me. And how I'm afraid to finish it.

I remember the book I gave you. And how I'm afraid you'll forget it.

I remember more than one movie a night.
And I definitely remember watching the first 10 minutes of the wrong movie at the cinema.

I remember being shooed out of bars because we wouldn't leave.

I remember our songs. And what they mean. And although they hurt to listen to sometimes, they remind me of beautiful things that I don't want to give up.

I remember our long talks in empty spaces with empty cars that lasted till the light signaled that it was time to (perhaps) go home.

I remember how you once told me you fantasise about my eyes, and I always remember yours.

I remember your scent, and how it would envelope me as I drifted to sleep, and how it translated into comfort.

I remember sitting doing crosswords and watching movies, and how that was more than enough. 

I remember how you would sit across me for hours on end while I worked, in silence, just so you could be there. And I remember how thankful I was for that.

I remember the night I lost one of my favourite lighters, and how I caught you googling a replacement.

I remember the timbre in your voice over the phone the day that was our last.

I remember the way we think things at the same time, in the same way.

I remember how you passed by just to say hello, but ended up staying.

I remember how you kept my cranes, and how much that meant to me, because they mean so much to me.

I remember how you made me feel. Happy.

I remember all the words felt, not necessarily said.

I remember always thinking I was crazy, and you assuring me I was not.

I remember us not needing to talk to know, and to be content.
And yet how it sucked to be us.

I remember how we never really got that chance..

I remember our many farewells.
And then I remember my last. And sometimes I wish I didn't.

I remember all these things and more. I fold them delicately and place them into a beautiful silver box, one after the other, and close the lid, and turn the key to lock them safe, and place them near my heart. Far enough to let me go, but close enough to keep it beating and warm.
I treasure them.

I remember all these things.
And I won't forget.

I won't forget.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

a few things you should know about me


I believe in unicorns,
but I know they don't exist.

I've fallen in love once,
but my heart has been broken way more times than that.

I cannot tell a lie,
but I've heard more lies than I should or can take.

I cannot tell a lie,
And I doubt I ever will.
(I said that twice for emphasis)

I have many friends, to whom I'm thankful,
but most of the time I feel very, very alone.

I do what I studied to do,
but not what I should be doing.
I'm still working on figuring out what that is.

I love books,
but I read way less than I should.

I love to draw,
but I don't draw nearly enough as I know I should.

I have pale white skin,
but most of the times I'm not comfortable in it.

I love music, it is easily my religion,
but I cannot play an instrument to save my life.
(save a handful of chords on the guitar, and the "snake dance" on the piano)

I have grown up in London and in Beirut,
but still cannot decide which is home.

I cannot remember what I had for lunch a week ago,
but I can remember the phone number of the home I grew up in.
(998 9954)

I have a dog, and I know she's only a "pet" to you,
but she means a hell of a lot more to me.

I don't have any siblings,
but I've chosen my brothers and sisters.

I am young,
but oh do I feel old. So old.

I have helped put many-a-person back together again,
but cannot start to figure out how to put together the pieces that I'm in.

I dream a lot,
but don't sleep enough.
I also have my share of nightmares.

I have experienced sleep paralysis,
and would not wish it on my worse enemies.
I hope you never experience it either.

I have never broken a bone in my body,
but sometimes I wonder if that would hurt less than the things I have broken.

I treat people as I would want to be treated,
but find that not many share that ideal.

I tend to come off as a tough cookie,
but as far as I know, cookies crumble.

I have an irrational fear of cockroaches.
I really do.

I love gummy bears. I love them,
but specifically when they've been in the fridge.

I sometimes drink more than you think I should,
but never more than I can take.

I talk to myself a lot more than I should,
but it doesn't bother us.

I sometimes feel I am owed a break,
but I am constantly being dealt tough cards.

I am constantly being dealt tough cards,
but I don't know how to gamble.

I am facing a long, winding, convoluted and terrifying road,
but I'm doing the only thing I can do. I'm walking.

I should be asleep,
but I'm writing this instead.

I am wishing you goodnight,
but dawn is breaking..

I will always believe in unicorns.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

a letter to a voice

Dear Cat, Yusuf, whatever you prefer,

Thank you.

For an evening, you took me places I haven't visited in a long time and probably would not have found their path without the help of the timbre of your voice which, incidentally, has not changed one bit since I first began hearing it. That must've been around 16 years ago, through small black earphones connecting to a basic black Sony walkman with a wonky play button and a battery cover held in place with scotch tape.

Your self titled album was one of the first 3 albums I ever listened to (the other two being Bob Dylan's greatest hits, and Don McLean's American Pie) and they had been given, well perhaps lent is more accurate a word, to me by my father. I listened to those tapes religiously and in no time had pretty much all of the lyrics down and the melodies committed to memory.

For an evening I saw my younger self slouched in the back seat of our Daewoo, looking out at the dark sky with my cheek leaning against the car door, as my mother drove us back to Beirut from a weekend in the mountains. Nothing but landscape and stretches of road to look at, and 6 sides of tape to listen to. I remember how I used to rewind to the beginning of Matthew and Son at least twice every time I heard it.

For an evening I saw myself being dropped home by the school bus, walkman in hand, uniform shirt tails popping out the top of a pleated skirt, and sitting on the concierge's sofa with her 13 cats sprawled around listening to "The Days of the Old School Yard" as I waited for my mother to arrive from work with the house keys.

For an evening I saw myself at my first art class sessions in Beirut where I had to replicate classical looking drawings of corny scenes (like a boat on a sunset stained sea). My only consolation being "Morning has Broken". I think I even remember a specific moment where the colour of the pencil i was using was a ochre-y brown.

For an evening I saw my 16 year old self scribbling on her new guitar's cloth case with a tippex corrector pen, writing "I MY DOG" and humming it in her head as she glanced over at her Labrador licking his paws. And on that same guitar she would eventually learn to play "Wild World" and "The First Cut is the Deepest".

But most important of them all, for an evening you had my father sitting right next to me.
I could see him there, in the corner of my eye. I could feel his chest rising and falling at certain words of certain songs, and see him bopping his head, eyes closed sometimes, at other times open and smiling and smiling and shining.

I sat silently at moments absorbing every vibration, hoping that by doing that somehow my father would hear it too, perhaps I could do it on his behalf if I focused enough. I thought how he would have loved to see you there on stage, right here in Beirut. I sat silently at moments and let the tears that formed roll and fall, because ultimately they were not my tears.

For an evening my father was there again, the father I have missed for so long, the one with the music and the smiling and the out of tune voice that was not afraid to sing. The one with music tapes he had reclaimed as his own long after I upgraded to a discman, stashed in an office drawer ready to be played out and heard as he worked.

For an evening, missing my father was a sad, but beautiful, beautiful thing to do.
And as you sang "Father and Son" your voice became my father's, and I sat and listened to everything he could never say. And how he had to go.


I have to admit that I was secretly scared of going to your concert. Secretly afraid of all these things that you've helped me revisit. Scared to remember the warmth of those moments and the details in my dad's features, the sound of his voice as he sang along, the tapping of his hand to the beat on the arm of whatever chair he was sitting in.

But I was wrong to be.
And I sang along to every song I knew.
And I remembered. I saw. I cherished.

And for that I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I can only wait for the time I give my son or my daughter a collection of music, including yours, hoping they carry it with them for me like I do for my father.

Much love from Beirut,

K*

Monday, 16 January 2012

echoes in 3's

Wine and cigarettes and thoughts and thoughts and thoughts.
Sadness and happiness and all those in between.
Rain storms and thunder and lightening and the calm that is before the storm that never really exists, because it's always calm before a storm. There is no such thing. It just is.

* * *

Music and words and words and words.
"You have a lot you want to say don't you?" she asked me without expecting a reply.
And it was cold and the words in my head made me shiver. The dogs were antsy.
And my silence was heavy and I nodded slightly, but it was the weight of the words I had in my head that made it move. They swirled and panicked and crashed into each other and got louder.
Yes, yes, yes I had a lot to say. yes. Yes I wanted to release them because they were so heavy.
My heart was so heavy.
Some one share the burden. Some one help me with this.
But instead I limply waved it away, and walked to the car with no one to hear me but the absent passenger sitting right next to me.

* * *

Dawn is breaking, and there are skips that have been done in the middle of the road among a haze of white wine, but I'm not drunk, not on wine. No, not on wine.
Laughter is drowning the ticking of clocks, and the passing of time.
And the dawn is breaking, breaking, breaking.
and in breaking it made me whole again.

* * *

This is where I am. This place is somewhere, and nowhere, and here.
And in it's novelty it is so familiar like deja vu, or a recurring dream, or your reflection in the mirror.
And you are somewhere, nowhere, and here.
Until you are elsewhere.

And that adds them all up, collapses them all into "where?"

And I wish I knew.
I am Somewhere, Nowhere, and Here.