Friday, September 30, 2011

Tosbe7oon 3ala watan

So anyway, all up in arms about sexuality around these places.  sek-sho-ality?  What on earth!  Yes, the divine concept that has brought us forth into existence to begin with. Thank you.

Ahmar bil khat el 3areed (Thick Red Line)- funny once translated- a controversial Lebanese talk show that makes our mothers (and fathers) squirm in horror, for its courageous topics, and even more courageous, but very sober faced, talk show host, malek maktabi.   This week's theme was targeting teenagers and those younger souls that have no more innocence left in them, according to the latest polls in Lebanon.  Sex apparently has begun at the tender age of 8.  No details provided. Several warnings and threats later, the show was broadcast and I was very amused. 

And horrified.  Not because it's a subject no one should ever discuss, ha! but because there were parents who insisted that their teenage kids should not know, would not care (that's the funniest), and WILL be FORBIDDEN from knowing the story of the birds and the bees up until they are knocking on marriage's door.  Mama, take this gun from me, I really (want to but) can not use it anymore. Dot dot dot.

Maktabi dealt with a lot of hell before the episode was broadcast, and right now he's probably dealing with a little more, the poor bespectacled soul.

I was full of mixed feelings while watching.  There were the awesome inquisitive kids, boys and girls, some awesome parents, some deeply moronic parents, a not very humorous Gynecologist, and a twelve year old girl (or was she eleven?  Or nine? I can't remember now) who was supposed to get married soon. Religion be damned.  She was very "well informed" says her spooky but proud father of five girls.   Not sure what to make of his rather discomforting persistence upon knowledge but I'd rather not think about it one bit. His daughter is a child for hell's sake!

What I want to inquire about, very politely indeed is, WHAT'S THE BIG FAT DEAL?  About sexuality I mean. I'm not trying to flaunt my (geographically unacceptable) liberal thoughts in anyone's face, but come on, for how long are we going to keep our heads stuck in the desert sands?   The world is moving at such a speed and to such elevated levels (not always but sometimes), that we cannot keep thinking we're all high and mighty with our "values" and our "morals" and our "proprieties" and our "gender roles" and our sanctimonious battles in the name of what's "holy" and "scared" and "untouchable."

She's eleven for crap's sake.  Well, as long as she can wash dishes and set the table straight, right?  I am green with nausea.

The problem that was very clear throughout the episode was that those who were against the "enlightenment" feared that this sort of knowledge will promote, instead of put the breaks on, the said activity.  What they cannot see  (which baffles me because weren't these large children, teenagers at one point in their sorry lives?), what they cannot fathom is that sticking a candle in the face of their confused but very hormone-driven adolescent might actually have the desired effect of abstinence and/or responsibility! Just mention private parts falling off due to contracted disease and voila!  a job well done.

ok, I joke.  But seriously, for how long will this sort of stupidity last in our "holier-than-thou" mentality? Things like ignorance is bliss, or what you don't know cannot hurt you ladee da cannot apply here, can it?   When you don't know about TV and you're a woman or a house cat in the 1950's, yes ignorance might be bliss.  You just don't know what you're missing.  No genitals will fall off from this gap in information.  When you don't know your girlfriend is cheating on you, some might say ignorance is bliss, but I beg to differ. Not for loyalty or honesty or any of that nonsense.  It's for what's hygienic that the poor boyfriend might want to know.  On a completely non-sentimental level. So no, ignorance is not bliss, not in this day and age, where the internet is a raging flow of images and false learning.

Sexuality aside, what about perspectives?   Finally, the frowning Gyno decided to utter a word or two about that towards the end of the episode, highlighting the idea that not only is sex education a MUST, regardless of religion and morality, there's the notion of how the man views the woman and vice versa, on a different level, when the mind and the heart might want to play a role or two.

How does the man view the woman?   We all know. And guess what? The woman views him the same way.  OMG.  She has desires?  No way!!  ok, enough melodrama.  If we don't know how to view each other beyond the physical, how do we expect to move beyond the physical in everything we do?  Something about the spirit and the mind.  hmmmm... the spirit and the mind.  Minus metaphysical dogma PLEASE.  Maybe that's not relevant in some communities.  A child!  What would a child know about respecting her body and mind and spirit if all she's been born to do in her wretched little life is grow up, get her period and then get hitched to some idiot who's either too young, like her, to know any better, and will with time and further misogyny, bring home a myriad of STD's  or too old and silly to know any better too, and will, with more time and even further silliness, bring home a myriad of STD's, or some domestic violence while he's at it. 

Perhaps I'm being offensive. Perhaps I don't care that I'm being offensive.

So you want to be like the West?!  is the sharp response of course.  No.  I don't want to be like anybody.  I just want to be the best version of myself.  Imagine I am a society.  As a society, I would like to gather around the camp fire, think about what I've collected from all the exposure I've gotten over the years, wars, travels, and the Mediterranean, and put it all under a heavy magnifying glass and try to improve upon it. Not throw it over the cliff if it feels mildly unfamiliar, and be all "Eastern cliche" and categorical about it.

Thank goodness for souls like Marcel Khalife and Nadine Labaki who try to find the diamond in the rubbish.  Once they find it, they try to brush it clean.  Our problem is that we want to either throw the rubbish, diamond and all, or expose only the rubbish, loud and clear, without looking for the jewels. 

Malek Maktabi was trying to shed some light, not only on our physical being-ness, but also on the roles we play in each others' lives and the lives of our children, who are raised in a completely different time and space, whether we like it or not.  Okay, I'm 33, I'm not that old.  If the mother won't teach her son to respect his body, mind and spirit, and that of his partner, I see little hope for anything in this sad little place of broken electricity and minefields.  

This eleven-year old will probably raise men and women of the same caliber of progressiveness. Clap clap clap.  Much, muchhh, to look forward to. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Totes

I'm stuck in Beirut with a tissue box up my nose. Up my left nostril to be exact.  Not a whole tissue box but it might as well be.  I'm not supposed to be here.  I'm supposed to be back where my "real" life takes place.  This, here, is a figment.  Of someone else' real life.

Not mine, no.  I don't even get the red, white and green idea anymore.  I remember in fourth grade we were told, during Art class, that the white represented the snow that falls upon the majestic mountains of Lebanon, the red signifies the blood of the martyrs sprayed upon the white, and the green, oh the green was none other than the magnificent cedar tree of course.  Which usually lived high up on the mountains, and FOR WHICH the blood of the "martyrs" was spilled.

I look around me later, yes it's been a while since fourth grade, so many years later I look around me and find that the whole damn thing was pointless. The mountains are quickly becoming barren, there's hardly any snow in winter, there are a couple of cedars left, and the blood continues.

But I'm stuck here with a tissue box up my nostril because I'm ill and I shouldn't fly.  You know who else is ill?  Every single body.

Yes.  Everyone.  I don't want to complain about the people who live here, how rude, or obnoxious, or corrupt they are.  Minus my friends and loved ones of course. That's getting old.  I'll just complain about our parents.  Yes, our parents if I may.

May I?

I don't get them.  I've been sitting around with a few pairs of parents lately, you see, I didn't have much to do but sit around and listen to adults talk about, well, here it comes: politics.  That's what happens when you're sick and stuck at home.  You also drink a lot of caffeine and then take panadol night (cold and flu) and sleep the hell out of it all.

So anyway, parents.  Those awesome individuals who gave so much of their time, energy, finances and youth to raise us ungrateful personalities.  We won't get into that right now.  The point is, they've given up so much so that we follow (or lead) a better life path, right?  Yet!  Yet, they sit around and follow up on so and so's annual memorial for the millionth year, and watch it on television, and talk about it, and stick their heads out the balcony so as not to miss a single tear drop.  They pick out the faces they recognize in the crowds gathered to give their "condolences," they check out the tailleur and the hair do, the daughter and the son.  And they give excuses for the offspring who is/are unable to take over the leadership.  The poor thing is still young.  The poor thing lived outside all his life, he doesn't know better.  The poor thing is not as involved in politics as was his father.

The poor thing is soooo not a poor thing, first of all, is what I want to say.  Second of all, if the "poor" thing can't handle it, get out.  and frankly the "poor" thing doesn't need to be around to take over anything to begin with.  There are other individuals in the nation.

Nation?  Who said anything about a nation?

So when everyone is done crying over spilled milk, and I laugh a little, everyone looks at me very very disapprovingly.  So you're with the other party huh? Their expressions are hard and accusing.

umm, no?  I'm not with anybody.

A brief moment of relief arrives before they find something else to scratch at.  So why aren't you with them? You just want to oppose!

umm, no?  I'm just not impressed with the lack of initiative, I say.  I say the dead guy might have had a good idea for about five minutes but he's been dead for so long I can't even remember, over 20 years! and since then, what has anyone done for the nation?

That n-word again.

Oh a lot, a lot.  We wouldn't be here if it weren't for them. We would be extinct.

Like the species that we are.  Extinct.  And I think about all the other things that are extinct because of people like them in power.

Many parents don't see that so many are living abroad because of what's extinct, because of people like those still in power.  I want to complain about the parents who still don't see it.  Who get offended if we crack a joke about Catholics and pedophilia.  How dare you say all Catholics are pedophiles?!

umm,  I didn't!

And what the eff is up with those Longchamp totes?  Seriously what is up!  EVERYWHERE.  You can't be Lebanese without one it seems. It's hysterical!   And very very VERY boring.  If you're reading this, and your Longchamp is snuggled by your side, well I guess I should apologize a little.

But really?

And just like the Longchamp totes spreading like a virus, making everyone sick with imitation, and dis-originality, our parents are sick with their own distorted memory of what happened in the last 30 years, hanging on to what's widely (i.e. neighborly and socially)  acceptable, and "in."

They can't seem to find a better bag.  They just don't want to find another brand.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Birthdays and Ordinary Ones

(July/Aug. 2011)

I left my favorite song playing in the car when I left. 


The time has come for the dancing girls to begin their fasting.  Here, things take too long to happen.

God: a weary obstacle.

The time has come for the drinking boys to begin.

Here, things take too long to happen.  I close my curtains and cook a heavy lunch.  The gardener outside my window, a disappearing image.  I boil more coffee for breakfast.

London burns and Libya burns and Egypt is thrown behind bars.   And the same old man wakes up in the morning like nothing ever happens and wears a suit and tie.  The same suit and tie.  The same morning.  His beaten wife asleep in the next room. 


Jesus was thirty three when everything began.  And the bleeding continues since then. 

Sometimes, she said to me, you find yourself married to the same man you left behind, in the car where your favorite song was playing.  All over again.

The two have nothing to do with each other, except the rising between their legs. Always the rising.

And the beaten wife gives birth to children.

Eventually the children, no longer children.  Some of them have some of their own.  Always the rising between their legs.

The man gets up and wears his suit and tie. A country on his mind. 
Sometimes a city.

And I leave
the song playing in the car.  No children to claim.

None to ruin.