Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Fortune telling dreadlocks, farewells, and hallelujah

I walk into the Cabin, a hot Tuesday evening, intending on having a couple of drinks before dropping a friend of mine, Nick, at the airport to take that flight home one last time.

A "KARMA! I need you!" comes from a corner and I turn around to find another friend, a completely different Nick, is calling me.
He leads me to a table in the corner, sits me down, looks into my eyes as though he has seen the light of God and come back to tell about it, and says: "Ok. You are about to be connected to someone."
A slight dramatic pause, a silence, accompanied by a look on my face that can only be described as part worried, part smiling, part confused, part pitiful. The whole shebang.


Again. He repeats. "You're about to be connected to someone... I don't know if it's bad or good, but you're going to enter some one's life and be something special to them, or vice versa.. "

I have the mentioned look on my face still, this time it's become more of a "are you crazy? I'm going to back away slowly to not startle you" look.

"What are you talking about man??"

Nick, frustrated with my "look" and my obvious disbelief points to his head full of dreads and shouts "LOOK!" firmly.

Wait. I haven't told you about Nick's dreads have I?
Well it's a crucial element in this story, and an element worth knowing.

I met Nick G. around Christmas last year. A skinny fellow not to be mistaken for lanky, with a head full of dreadlocks (proper dreadlocks. As in Get up Stand up dreadlocks) that reached his shoulders. We shared many a drink at the Cabin, many a conversation, and eventually became good friends without the time in between. We even started a blog together.
On one of our nights conversing over a drink at the bar, I noticed a bolt in Nick's hair (yes. A bolt as in a nut and bolt). Pointing it out and laughing, Nick explained that "everything" was in his dreads and seeing that I didn't really believe him, he bent his head forward slightly so I was face to face with a mess of dreads, and started rummaging through them.
Lo and Behold. Earrings, pieces of string, bolts, beads, whatever could be put in dreads, was in my man Nick's head.
"They're souvenirs," he explained. "Bits of people that stay with me. You have to give me something for my dreads..."
I cracked up, and then noticed he was serious. I was wearing my keffiyeh round my neck, a 30 year old Keffiyeh that was once my mother's before I claimed it as my own. The years had faded out its rich black to a glorious grey, and had given it a few torn edges. One of those edges was long time tear-worthy. So, I ripped off a greedy slither off the edge, and gave it to Nick.
Five seconds later, it was on a dreadlock, claimed as mine. Beats sticking a flag in his head.

When he got back here in May, the first thing I asked him about was my conquered dreadlock, and he'd shake the left side of his head towards me till, you guessed it, my Keffiyeh strip dangled among the forest of dreads that boy has.

Coming back to my story, he had said "LOOK!"
Still with that amalgam of emotions in one expression, I went through the different dreads, Nick's hands frantically separating them also, till I found my dreadlock. Keffiyeh still there.

"Ok.. What?"

"LOOK! It's connected to another one!"

Following his fingers up the dread, I saw what he was talking about. My dread had linked to another dread all the way to the middle.

"Er. Ok?" I said, being ignorant of dreadlock protocol.

"They NEVER do that Karma. Maybe at the roots, sure. But NEVER all the way down to the lower middle."

Here, I paused. I still had that odd look on my face, and I'd held it so long that my eyebrow had begun to quiver slightly.
I'd heard of coffee cup readings, tea leaves, palm reading... But fortune telling dreads? Now, that was something.

I found myself split between two emotions.
One that told me this was as ridiculous as the fortunes in fortune cookies, the practical, down to earth grounded line of thought, and a second that was more whimsical, wishful, more willing to put faith in the unknown, the part that kept fortune cookie fortunes in my wallet whenever I felt the need.
After all, Nick wasn't just anyone. He was someone I respected, and had a feel for his spirit. I took him very seriously. And now this.

I laughed nervously. "Fortune telling dreads. Seriously dude. Come on..."

"Hey, no matter what we think, it's worth considering."

I scruff up his dreads, shake my head slightly, and get up to the bar. Yeah. Perhaps it is worth considering.

On the way there, I spy a pyramid shaped object on a table near by. My friend's bag.
It's been designed to look like those Bonjus juice pyramids. The ones that we used to drink as children that are now not as popular. Also the only juice boxes my father drank while he was in hospital before he left two years ago. It had been a sign once.
And then I realised what day it was. The 28th of July.
And as it all strung up together during that short 5 second walk to the bar, I leaned my arms against it, and heard familiar chords sound among the noise of the bar crowd. I didn't recognise it at first, and then as more and more chords strummed into place, i knew what it was.
Hallelujah. Originally by Leonard Cohen, covered by Jeff Buckley.
Hallelujah. One of my father's favourite songs. One that always, always reminds me of him, on the day I lost him.

I stood there lost in my thoughts, organising all these things that just flew at me. Before shaking it all off.

Ok. this is what must be. An odd night, high with emotions, in a Bar in Beirut, with the prophecy of companionship, a friend's farewell, and a song in the background of it all.

I turn around to join my friends and spy my dreadlock Nick, shake my head at him with a smile, whispering "fortune telling dreadlocks indeed..." under my breath.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

120 stories

I saw a man, by the pond, reflecting on reflections.

We danced in the fountain, and our laughter dropped into its waters, and the ripples embraced them.

I watched the light sit on the bench from afar, and enjoyed it's company. From afar.

I carved my name in a tree. And then I carved yours. At least the tree still holds them close.

The buildings were conversing. "I've never seen you light up like that before."

I watched the ferris wheel go round and round. True, it turns round in the same spot, but its stories are never the same.

Friday, 24 July 2009

I can hear you, you know

I've decided to document things I overhear in different places, some are quite funny, others quite sad, and some just horribly out of context, although I try hard to keep them intact.

Some things are just made to be overhead.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

It's all locked up in my head...

Another literal interpretation of Lebanese slang, and literally meaning "it's locked with me", "M2afli ma3i" means usually that someone's stuck, can't think. A mental block on all levels.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

I once knew what this heart was for...

Not anymore. Not anymore...

Monday, 6 July 2009

Birthday letter 2009

Well, it's your birthday today.
It's been on my mind for a while, I'm not exactly sure why since birthdays were never really big for you, and after you went away, dates surrounding you aren't important to me much either.

But this year it's been on my mind. And I think its because of Time, not dates. I think now I've felt the Time. It crept up on me, I was not aware of it. Suddenly, like a tap on the shoulder I turn my head and two years have gone by.
And I realise that I miss you.
And that we have not spoken or seen each other in two years. Then again, how could we?

And, being as stubborn as you know I can be, I decided I was going to talk to you, tell you how I've been, and that it was going to be a yearly thing. there's nothing that can or should stop me.
So, on your birthday, as a gift to you I'm going to take the time to look back at the year, and tell you about it, and tell you of things I've thought about or done. You not being here doesn't have to stop that. You're still my father after all, and maybe by writing it out and asking things I want to ask, I'll hear your voice in reply somewhere in my mind. Sounds a bit silly no? No, of course not.

I took a big jump this year baba. I don't know if the jump was right or not, and I've come to believe that there is no such thing as a right or wrong. It just leads where it does. It's not the jump that matters, but where you land. I haven't landed completely yet, but I've taken the jump. I decided to pause my life as a typical graphic designer. I've realised I don't like the corporate world, and the job it inscribes to me. This makes me remember when i was into my second year at AUB, and you told me how you would have preferred I'd gone into architecture. I got so angry! How could you, a graphic designer, tell me, a graphic design student, that! Maybe because you were feeling then, what I felt now, although I really doubt architecture would have been the way to go.
I decided to stop the cycle. I was not enjoying my work, and I realised that i was being drained by it all, and my creativity was waning. I was tired, and the weight in my head was getting heavier.
So I'm going to Australia for a bit.
Crazy I know, but perhaps not as crazy as one would think. When I went there a bit more than a month ago, i was lucky to be in the presence of people who spoke to this part of me. I had conversations with strangers about one's essence and need to do what they feel deep down they must be doing. to not fear failure, and just follow one's heart and instinct. I have a feeling I need to be concentrating on my writing, and my art, and my creative outlets, and the atmosphere there as well as the people I was lucky enough to be around seem to be the perfect medium for it.

Thank you for the sign by the way.
I got it loud and clear, and I'm sure this is where I'm supposed to be now. And I'm sure if it is, you know that already.

I'll probably take small jobs bar tending or waitressing (I'm sorry, I know you never liked me to do those but have faith in my up bringing. I do), or maybe even design freelancing. Whatever comes my way to make my ends meet while I concentrate on satisfying this part of me is up for grabs. The corporate machine can wait. I'm making it wait. It's now or never.

But I'd also be lying if I told you I was not a bit scared. All this confidence I have in voicing my plans collapses sometimes, and I feel like huddling and staying close and just falling into line. But I suppose fear is meant to do that. But it's not for too long, and whatever happens during my stay in Australia, it'll be something that I'll learn from.

Did you used to feel alone? Regardless of having mama and I and anyone else who meant anything to you around? I do sometimes. I thought about it the other day. The stereotype of the artistic mind, the creative personage who is tormented by their thoughts and their inability to produce at the pace that their mind works. The inability in making it clear to those around how they think, or express and how this leads them to shutting the world out, and isolating themselves. I said this to a friend of mine, and he wondered how I could feel this way, considering the amount of friends I have. I told him its not about the friends you have around you, but how you feel inside. Sometimes I come back from a night out spent laughing and enjoying myself, but I get in the car and it's like I'm another person. I cannot smile, and I feel like it was not worth the time or effort. That I did not learn anything new. And I feel alone and disappointed with myself, as though I have not been true to myself. I started to think if you felt this way. I never stopped to notice if you had that in you, if I've gotten it from you, inherited this weird feeling of being a part of many scenes, but the one that matters the most feeling lacking, and unaccomplished. I'm so sorry if you felt that way. At least now I can tell you that I understand.

I wonder how different I am now, then I was when you saw me last. Not in appearance, but in attitude. I wonder if I'd surprise you, if you'd be happy, or proud. I'm sure that sometimes I do things, or act in ways that I know would instigate that look you sometimes give me that spells out "you know better than that", and I do, but I'm trying.
I'm noticing more and more things that I do, mannerisms, or ways I think, or talk, that reflect you strongly. I remember when you first left, how I once froze solid when in the middle of a conversation with someone, i clasped my hands together behind my head, leaning back with my legs crossed, and continued the conversation. This was not something I'd ever done. This was your seating position, not mine, and although it startled me, it also comforted me that you were coming through in all sorts of ways. I find so much comfort in that. I even think twice these days (Sorry Bob), once for me, and once for you, regardless the situation. I ask myself twice, and in my head my voice comes through, and I try to imagine what you would say. I try my best, I really really do.

I am realising now that this letter idea is more than I thought it would be. I'm writing and writing, and although I've told you a few things, there's so much more to talk about,
but it'll have to stop here for now. Till next time.

Here's to another year. Here's to moving forward and taking you along with me. Here's to you, and mama, and everything in between.

Happy Birthday baba.
I love you kteer kteer.


Saturday, 4 July 2009

The man's got a tin can for a head.

"Leish rasak mtannik?" is a slang phrase in Arabic (well, Lebanese) that refers to someone whose stubborn for no legitimate reason, boxed in, and unwilling to be receptive.
"Mtannak" comes from the word "Tanak" , which means tin, usually tin can. I decided to start a series of illustrations depicting literal translations of phrases such as this.
Procrastination hold your ground, come not near here.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Dream Sketch #7 ~ Another way to feel alone

Working overnight...

... just like I used to do when I was in university. Just like I was the night I started this blog. So much has happened since, so many things. I feel like going through all the writing I have on here, and trace my life through a cyber window, see how I've changed, if i have. See who has affected me, and why. See what I have to say about everything, and what that says about me، see where I'm going.

But I won't.

I'm going to hide behind the excuse that I have to finish this rushed job before I hear the neighbours rooster crow in a couple of hours. Of course, I could tell you that I'm scared of seeing myself in chronology, just like someone is fearful of putting his hand into a dark strange box. What if I don't like what I was, and I disappoint myself again? Or what if I find I've arrived nowhere? No no. Where's that excuse I needed? Ah yes. I need to work. Maybe I'll look through that window some other day, but not today.

I'm up after all the beings on this side of the earth have fallen asleep, and all the beings on the other side have begun to go about their days. And all I can think of is the next entry I want to write. Musha is sprawled on the floor, her paws crossed, and her muzzle twitching slightly every once in a while. I wonder what dogs dream about...

That excuse is becoming the elephant in the room. I guess I have to get back at it.

Good old days at the studio overnighting with everyone, smoking cigarettes, going crazy once in a while, and drinking diet Pepsi till my brain began to make that fizzing noise. I miss that.

There's the Mosque calling to prayer. The rooster's cue is in a bit.

Till the next post. A tout a l'heure, and goodnight.

(And seriously... what do dogs dream of?)