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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Why am I superior?

He assumed that I felt superior because of my fair skin … I corrected him.

He wanted to know the reason behind that feeling of superiority … I ignored him.

He insisted … I decided to tell him.

I am not superior because of the color of my skin; it is rather the brightness it reflects.

I am not superior because of the color of my eyes; it is more of the look – and outlook – it projects.

I am not superior because of the shape of my lips; it is probably because of my genuine smile.

It is not the sleek hands that lure you; it is the healing touch that subdues you.

It was never about looks; it is always about how those looks react and interact.

I am superior because I have invested a fortune on my inside – that luckily has reflected on my outside.

I have the super power of dreaming. How many people do you know dare to dream? How many paint their dreams in vivid colors? How many airbrush them with feelings? How many have 3-D dreams? How many have the supernatural power of breathing life into their dreams turning them into a solid tangible reality? I dream big dreams and I focus on the little details and the minute particles of my dreams. I have made all my dreams come true and I still dream more dreams and I will make them come true too. I am superior because ordinary people give up on their dreams.

I am superior because I have defied age. Most women fear aging while I drank from the elixir of eternal youth. So even if I grow into a pathetic heap of bones, you, and other mortals, will still feel my ripe supple skin. I breathed my soul into hundreds of students in my classes – that will live forever. I have shared my spirit with hundreds of lost spirits – that will never grow old. I have made so many girls jealous because they could never be me and I have made so many men jealous because they could never have me – no matter how much I gave; it was never all of me.

I am superior because, as a friend once told me, a gallon of paint could fall from the sky right where I stood but not a drop would touch my head; the paint would defy the laws of physics to form a perfect circle around me and I would stand there untouched and untainted. Words do not stick on me, wounds do not leave scars on my skin, and pain is just a path for reaching my own nirvana. I have the power to rewrite history no matter how sad. I have the power to define the future no matter how hard. I am in love with the present and whatever I touch turns into a hen that lays golden eggs. I am superior because I have good invincible karma.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Kabnoury Experience

Here I am about to strike again ... Here I am pointing a skinny finger at customer service and screaming "thief"!! Yes!! Thief .. a thief that promises what he cannot deliver .. a thief that robs us of our basic rights of being respected and answered!! OK .. before I begin ranting, I will tell you the story and I will let you judge.

I am living a very exciting phase in my life now ... I am a few steps away from literally laying my hands on my biggest achievement - my very own home ... a really nice home:)

I have a huge reception area and the kitchen is part of that space. I decided to get in touch with Kabnoury to design and build my kitchen; I wanted a rustic English kitchen to suit the fireplace and the stone library in my living area.

On Thursday 6 December, I called the short number 19088 and a nice girl answered. I told her who I was and I told her that I needed one of their engineers to take the dimensions of my kitchen. I begged her to make it on a Friday because I was busy all week and she was kind enough to accept. She told me that the engineer was going to call me on Friday to set the exact time.

So far, I was happy with my choice of such a dedicated and reliable company!!

On Friday 7 December, I waited and waited, then I panicked, and finally I began the chase. I called about four times to make sure that an engineer was going to meet me that day and the nice lady assured me that he was going to call me. Finally he called me, apologized for not calling earlier, told me that he was with clients and we agreed to meet at 4pm.

Engineer Mohamed Said was punctual, came with a catalogue, and took the measurements with utter professionalism. I was happy and so looking forward to seeing the design of my dream kitchen. Engineer Mohamed told me that it would be ready on Saturday 8 December. I told him that I taught on Saturdays and that I was live on OTV on Sundays and we agreed that I would go on Tuesday 11 December to the Maadi branch to check it out.

We met. The design was not ready. I was not very happy but later on we sat together and worked on the design together - a great experience ... I was involved in the details of creating my kitchen.

At the end of our meeting , he promised to send me two quotations the following day (Wednesday 12 December)

He did not.

I called.

He was busy with other clients.

The day after (Thursday 13 December) I called.

He had an accident but he promised to email me the quotations.

There was no email - not then and not now!

On Friday 14 December, I decided to drive to Maadi branch and pick up the quotations myself. I called on the way about 7 times ... he did not reply.

I arrived at the branch and his colleague, engineer Jacqueline, tried calling him but he switched his phone off.

She handed me four pieces of paper that made no sense to me and told me that he would call me.

One sheet quoted LE 37,887 and the other quoted LE 27,175. There were two others; one for LE 46,724 and one for LE 34,800 ... ahhhh and a bathroom unit for LE 4,712.

He never called back .. not on Friday, not on Saturday, not on Sunday ... I guess he will not call.

How would they have treated me had I paid the LE 40,000 + ? I now doubt their delivery promises, I doubt their quality, I doubt their integrity, and I am glad I did not commit!

So guys .. I need a kitchen ... any suggestions?

1:46 am December 17 .... I sent my post to the customer care email on the website - customercare@kabnoury.com

Guess what? It bounced back!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

For the love of Egypt

I hesitated a lot before writing this post; lately I have been getting messages and emails accusing me of falling out of love with Egypt. I am accused of baring its wounds and pointing at its scars - and this is far from the truth and far from my intentions. It just physically ails me to see little stupid things than can be easily attended to slip the minds of people who should know better.

This is an article in Kalam El Nas magazine that triggered that post. The article, by Dina Mounib, is about a school bus accident. Is it any school bus? No!! It is the bus of an international school - one of those schools that charge more than an arm and a leg to provide privileged children with a super education and utmost care.

The bus driver picked up the kids at 7 am as usual and, like an accident in the making, he drove to school at full speed. Because of his irresponsibility and negligence, he is in a coma and all the kids are injured.

Some parents managed to fly their kids immediately abroad for bone surgeries and others preferred to spare their kids further trauma and have them treated here.

In her article, Dina is suggesting that schools conduct personality tests and assessments as part of the hiring process of drivers to ensure that they have the minimum sense of responsibility, integrity and work ethics.

I am suggesting that such tests should be extended to all company drivers - be it a school, an oil company, a bank, a ministry, or any other company.

Companies like Gallup, Talent Plus, and others have all sorts of assessments and with a little more investment from the side of private sectors, maybe we can make driving less hazardous.

I am urging our young entrepreneurs to give this a serious thought. Here is how it should go ... get certified to do such assessments, form a product line of various assessments, team up with SGS or other quality assurance companies, team up with a few ministries, and then enforce your services on the private and public sectors.

It should sound something like this "your license could be revoked if you do not have your drivers assessed"

I am tired .... out and over!

Friday, November 30, 2007

SOS – The Relationships Guru needs Help!

On this page, now and today, I shamelessly take off my seven hats of experience and step out of my grand cloak of wisdom. I stand naked and shivering before you – my readers – seeking advice. This time my prince-charming is wearing a white coat and driving a Mercedes. He has a ten year old ring on his left hand ring finger, three angels of his creation, and he wants to take care of me for better or for worse. He wants to go back in time and marry the girl who loved him blindly and unconditionally 20 years ago – yes 20! Not a typo! Were you in my 33 year old independent shoes what would you do? Is this the last rescue boat in the storm or is that a test of the strength of my beliefs? Is he a true knight in shining armor or a dream’s butcher in disguise?

For starters, he was shocked when he met me; instead of the OTV star he was expecting, he saw the modest middle class working girl that I am. I was comfortably wearing my face with no makeup, no fancy jewelry, jeans, a wide sweater, and black sneakers. He told me that I needed a makeover and that he was the right man to see me through it. His prescription started with antioxidants, some growth drink/shake, a full medical checkup, a visit to the skin doctor, and at a later stage a boob job to give me the ultimate Haifaa Wahby look. I kid you not – I sat there with a smile on my face listening to him tell me how skinny, pale, tired, underfed, and neglected I looked.

Then with lots of love and tenderness he told me how much he adored me and that he would adore me even more were I to relinquish my silly independence dogmas and like a good girl, move back home with my mother who needed me the most. In the mean while, I could work more seriously on my relationship with God and walk in the path of light instead of the utter darkness that I have embraced over the past years. He assured me that I needed a heavy blow from fate to sober me up from my delusions and maybe then I would go back to God’s way. Concluding his manifesto of love, he reminded me that he was a man but he was still willing to forgive my past and would honor me with the golden opportunity to redeem myself and to be the decent wife and the loving mother that he was certain I could become.

As he was trying to save me from the brothel of a life that I am leading, he continuously assured me that he loved me and wanted to make me happy; that he pitied me yet fully sympathized with me; that all the men in my life despised me but he still respected me; that I belonged to him and that he sincerely cared for me; that I deserved to finally be with him after all the love and persistence that I showed in the past; that he loved me for who I was and that I was physically unattractive to him in all ways or forms; that had he seen me in the street he would have never noticed me and that I was too much of a tomboy to appeal to a real man like himself. Before we concluded the date, out of generosity and benevolence, he told me that I was not exceptionally successful, that I have wasted my life on absolutely nothing, and that he had no ulterior motives – he was not even physically attracted to me!

So ladies and gentlemen – as you could tell – I am completely lost and totally confused. I have a very generous marriage proposal from a man who came back to his senses, after 20 years, to show me how much he loved me and how much he cared for me. I am seriously depending on you to tell me what to do, or how to respond to prince-charming. I will hold you accountable if I took the wrong decision and I would be highly disappointed if you did not take the time and effort and respond to my SOS shouts. I have always been there for you and now I want to see if you would return the favor. I promise to share your replies and advice with him – uncensored!

Love always


Be warned!! This is a very disgusting and sickening post ... if you are not feeling so well, do not read!!!

I pulled the cover over my head yesterday as I tried to hush the voices in my head. I closed my eyes hoping that I would soon drift into peaceful sleep. I began counting the sheep but instead of the white furry creatures I used to see in the green fields, I saw cars. I saw lead vehicles of all shapes and colors crowded on a bridge and I could not count ... they were so many ... they were so random ... they were so ugly ... their poisonous fumes crept under my cover and their honking attacked my peace of mind ... I felt my stomach turning ... I saw his face (coming in another post) and I remembered how he sat there so self conceited ... I remembered his bitten untrimmed yellow nails, the grayish wax in his ears, and the scent of his sweat filling the air as he told me that I lacked femininity.

In a split second I was out of the bed, running to the bathroom, with my hand on my mouth trying to stop the flow of what I tried so hard to push down. I have never vomited that much ... I never knew that vomiting could hurt that bad ... It was allover the place .... It was coming from every hole in my face ... I could not breathe ... I felt the motion of the car .... I vomited more ... I heard his hiss of a voice ... I vomited more ... I remembered some work emails ... I vomited more ... I remembered my mom and her anger ... I vomited more ... I remembered my dad and my anger at him ... I vomited more .... I was about to faint.

Then it stopped ...

I thought of my new home .. I tried to smile ... the vomiting started again ... I thought of the painter, the carpenter, the plumber, and the mess they left behind ... I looked at the mess I created ... I vomited more .... My cats were at the door looking at what they have never seen me do before ... I tried to cry ... the vomiting started again ... I could no longer stand ... I could no longer sit .... I threw myself in the tub ... let the water flow ... remembered the cockroach (previous post) and finally smiled.

Why am I not Interested?!!

Why am I not interested in politics? Why do I not care for politicians? Why do I not care for Iraq, Palestine, Iran, or even Egypt? Why am I so apathetic when it is so much against my nature?

Those questions have been ailing me for the past few years - since I began writing basically - but they are haunting me now all the time. In my attempt to track my apathy I have reached down the abyss of my psyche and touched base with my father's preaching and teaching.

First of all, I cannot recall one time when politics was discussed in our house - we have been through the assassination of sadat, Mubarak's regime, Regan, Bush Senior, Clinton, Bush Junior, Iraq-Iran war, Palestinian cause, Iraq-Kuwait invasion, terrorism, Luxor masaccare, all sorts of bombs, US-Iraq attacks, and many more local and international incidents but I cannot think of one comment or one discussion involving politics.

"3eyal seya3" - vagabonds - was the description the fitted all incidents.

Demonstrations were categorized as a waste of time and effort and demonstrators were a bunch of "3eyal seya3". Unions were to be boycotted alltogether be it school unions, university unions, or any other union that is voicing any opinion.

The basic rule was: why bother when the fire is not in your house? Walk by the wall and you shall never get hurt and will never get in trouble.

Making a living, schooling, eating, and mating were the main drives for waking up in the morning. "yewla3o enshalla tet7ere2" as long as the fire is not at our doorstep.

Who is president? Who are members of the parliament? Who sets the rules? Who breaks the law? Who robs us of our bread and butter? Who the hell cares ... they are all the same!!

A few days ago a friend wanted to put an anti MB banner on his blog and another friend decided to help him with the design .... apathy froze my blood in my veins and I turned a cold shoulder to both of them ... I could not care less ... from the ivory tower where I stood, I said "wana mali" - it is just none of my business. It is not my battle and I do not want to be a part of it. What have I to do with the MB or with any other political or non political party?

Then I realized that I was standing on the margin not on an ivory tower .... I realized that my only cause and my raison d'etre - women and their empowerment - is only there because I got burnt ... otherwise I am sure I would have been as apathetic about women as I am apathetic about politics.

On the phone, my anti MB friend told me:

"They came for the Communists, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a Communist;
They came for the Socialists, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a Socialist;
They came for the labor leaders, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a labor leader;
They came for the Jews, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a Jew;
Then they came for me - And there was no one left to object."

- Martin Niemoller, German Protestant Pastor, 1892-1984

In another version, the quote appears in the Congressional Record 14 October 1968, page 31636:

"When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned.
And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned.
And when Hitler attacked the unions and industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned.
Then, Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church -- and there was nobody left to be concerned. "

To be continued ..... this is just an awakening

The Egyptian ISBN Story

Those of you who know me, are aware that I am about to publish my first book - which is basically a collection of everything I ever wrote threaded together like beads of different colors and shapes.

Those of you who really know me, are aware that I hate rules and that I do not like to be under anyone's control. This is why I opted for self publishing instead of having to deal with anyone I know - or do not know.

A friend - the famous KN:) - directed me towards lulu.com and another friend - the great Karim Terouz - designed the covers and I was all set to publish. I was only missing the ISBN number because I wanted to promote the book to international retailers.

Piece of cake ... I conducted an donline search for ISBN and I was directed to their site in the US. There was an option if you are a publisher and another if you are a self publisher. I chose self publishing, sent them an email, and the morning after I received the forms. I filled them in, emailed them back, and waited for my number.

I received an apology email that my address and credit card were international; hence, I needed to contact the international agency and they gave me the email.

Ok .. a few more days waiting .... who cares!! I emailed them and forwarded them the forms that I had filled earlier. They replied the next evening that I was Egyptian and that I have to contact the Egyptian ISBN agency. Here is exactly what they said and please note the last warning line:

Dear Marwa

The International ISBN Agency does not itself assign ISBN numbers as this is done only through national ISBN agencies. The latest contact details we have for the Egyptian ISBN Agency are:

Egyptian ISBN Agency
National Library and ArchivesCorniche El Nil-BoulacCairo
Tel. (+20 2) 575 28 83, 575 10 78, 575 08 86Fax: (+20 2) 776 65 34E-mail:

I should warn you, however, that I have had problems reaching this email address recently so suggest that you use mail, phone or fax.

After a zillion calls I discovered the following:

1) The website does not exist
2) The email does not work
3) The first phone number rings only
4) The other two numbers are infinitely busy
5) I am a "green" person so I do not use faxes

Eventually .... after many redial attemps one of the busy numbers rang. A machine asked me to enter the extension number or wait for the operator to help me. I waited .... and waited ... there was no operator. Another machine told me that there is no one here to help me so I needed to leave a voice message ... Not my favorite but I had no other option. I was directed to the mailbox and I was greeted by another machine that told me that the box was full, that there was no room for my message, that I had to call later, and hung up.

What the hell was that?!!!!!!!!!!!!

On a different note, I am meeting Mohamed El Sharkawy - Malamih Publishing House - and we will see how it goes.

Try not to cry

My friend Tonya keeps sending me such lovely stories ....

Will post again soon

She jumped up as soon as she saw the surgeon come out of the operating room. She said: "is my little boy ? Is he going to be all right ? When can I see him ?"
The surgeon said, "I'm sorry. We did all we could, but your boy didn't make it."

Sally said, "Why do little children get cancer ? Doesn't God care any more ? Where were you, God, when my son needed you ?"

The surgeon asked, "Would you like some time alone with your son ? One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes, before he's transported to the university."

Sally asked the nurse to stay with her while she said good bye to son. She ran her fingers lovingly through his thick red curly hair. "Would you like a lock of his hair ?" the nurse asked.

Sally nodded yes. The nurse cut a lock of the boy's hair, put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally.

The mother said, "It was Jimmy's idea to donate his body to the University for Study. He said it might help somebody else. "I said no at first, but Jimmy said, 'Mom, I won't be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy spend one more day with his Mom." She went on, "My Jimmy had a heart of gold. Always thinking of someone else. Always wanting to help others if he could."

Sally walked out of Children's Mercy Hospital for the last time, after spending most of the last six months there. She put the bag with Jimmy's belongings on the seat beside her in the car.

The drive home was difficult. It was even harder to enter the empty house. She carried Jimmy's belongings, and the plastic bag with the lock of his hair to her son's room.

She started placing the model cars and other personal things back in his room exactly where he had always kept them. She laid down across his bed and, hugging his pillow, cried herself to sleep.

It was around midnight when Sally awoke. Laying beside her on the bed was a folded letter. The letter said:

"Dear Mom, I know you're going to miss me; but don't think that I will ever forget you, or stop loving you, just 'cause I'm not around to say "I Love You". I will always love you, Mom, even more with each day. Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt a little boy so you won't be so lonely, that's okay with me. He can have my room and old stuff to play with. But, if you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn't like the same things us boys do. You'll have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like, you know.

Don't be sad thinking about me. This really is a neat place. Grandma and Grandpa met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything. The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly. A

nd, you know what? Jesus doesn't look like any of his p ictures. Yet, when I saw Him, I knew it was Him. Jesus himself took me to see GOD ! And guess what, Mom ? I got to sit on God's knee and talk to Him, like I was somebody important. That's when I told Him that I wanted to write you a letter, to tell you good bye and everything. But I already knew that wasn't allowed. Well, you know what Mom ? God handed me some paper and His own personal pen to write you this letter.

I think Gabriel is the name of the angel who is going to drop this letter off to you. God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him 'Where was He when I needed him ?' "God said He was in the same place with me, as when His son Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children.

Oh, by the way, Mom, no one else can see what I've written except you. To everyone else this is just a blank piece of paper. Isn't that cool ? I have to give God His pen back now. He needs it to write some more names in the Book of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for supper. I'm sure the food will be great.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don't hurt anymore. The cancer is all gone. I'm glad because I couldn't stand that pain anymore and God couldn't stand to see me hurt so much, either. That's when He sent The Angel of Mercy to come get me. The Angel said I was a Special Delivery ! How about that ?

Signed with Love from God, Jesus & Me.

"When you're down to nothing, God is up to something."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A ride with the angel of death!

Once upon a night - a late night - a taxi was roaming the streets of Agouza when an old bearded man in a white galabeya stopped him and politely asked for a ride to Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque becuase he could not walk any further. The taxi driver eyed the tired worn out old man carefully and asked him to get in the vehicle.

A few meters later, a young man stopped the taxi and told the driver that he wanted to go to Game3at el Dowal street. The taxi driver told him that he had to drop the old man first at the mosque. The young man looked at the driver with huge perplexed eyes and told him that there was no one in the car.

The driver insisted that there was an old man in the seat next to him and the young man who refused to get in the car insisted that the driver was stoned. Freaked out of his wits, the taxi driver asked the old passenger about what was going on. The old man calmly replied that he was the angel of death and that he came for him, but he was willing to wait until he prayed "Al Fagr" in the mosque then take his soul.

The taxi driver drove to the mosque in tears, got out of the car, and went to pray. He finished, came back, and discovered that the taxi was gone!!
A true story that a friend told me yesterday!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

To pay or not to pay?

Were I the marketing manager of Damac, I would not pay for this ad!!!

OK! I will refrain from leading you on like that and I will give you the chance to come up with your own conclusion.

This is a page of yesterday's Al Ahram Newspaper - 22 November, 2007 - and I neither have a problem with Damac nor a problem with the investigative report.

Speaking of the report, let me translate the headline for you: The law does not protect their victims - The whales of real estate fraud!

The journalist did a great job investigating real estate fraud and how a lot of real estate investment companies do not fulfill their delivery date, finishing terms, or overall service promises to the gullible trusting buyer, or they elope with the money, or even worse, they place more financial demands on the buyers and the victims have to pay or they lose everything - usually everything indicates lifetime savings and life binding loans!

Was it a coincidence that Damac's ad - more or less LE 40,000 - was placed on the same page of that investigation?

Now Damac's ad is an employment ad where the key message positions Damac as a socially responsible company that is embracing Egyptian graduates and offering them dream jobs.

The irony is that Damac positions itself as "the largest private master developer in the Middle East". The report did not mention new regional investment companies but he who is not burnt by the fire is bound to choke on the ashes!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The disgusting thing between my legs!

What a long day! I thought as I felt the warm semi boiling water pour from what I hoped was the sky onto my head. The healing drops ran through my hair onto my face and down my body as I closed my eyes and breathed the floral essence of my shower gel. I washed away the burdens of a day that did not want to end and smiled in silence to the blissful night.

I lost sense of place, space, and time; I was no longer the tired frail figure standing under the shower in the bathtub, I am a divine creature standing under the waterfalls of Eden in a white peasant dress with little lilies scattered on my shoulders and butterflies kissing my neck.

I smiled to myself and opened my eyes ... and there he was ... right between my legs staring at me ... challenging my dreams and peace of mind ... freaking the hell out of me with its disgusting brown figure, moustache, and sixty legs!

I froze as the image of Eden faded away into terror. I was too scared to move .. what if he moved too? I wanted to get out of the shower ... what if he followed me? How long has he been there? Did he touch me? Did he fly in or did he walk in? Was he on the wall or was he on the floor all along?

I froze with the shower head in my hand, and the running water now was pouring onto his head. I froze and could think of nothing. I froze and I drowned him underneath the hot water spray. He was not moving ... neither was I!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Antidote

I was having one of those self-esteem issues when I drowned my smile in a hollow well of insecurity and self-doubt. I somehow reverted into that freaky teenage girl at school and lost sight of the diva that I have worked so hard to establish and maintain.

Thanks to my great friend and number one ego booster KN who wrote the perfect prescription and gave me the ideal antidote for my untimely relapse.

I decided to be unselfish and to share with you the magical words that brought me back to life and expelled the fumes of despair out of my system.

Here is to anyone who needs to remember who they are, where they come from, and where they want to go ....

  • If your job is what you told me it was, then you are damn successful.

  • If this is your actual blog and those are your original blog words, then you are damn eloquent.

  • If you hold these degrees and you really teach at AUC, then you are educated and intellectual.

  • If these are your pictures and this is still your figure, then you are damn good looking and sexy.

  • If your mood and attitude is as you describe on your highs then you are one wild girl who has no fuck'n reason to be down.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Relationship Warning: Do not get involved with Egyptian Men!

Because of the nature of my work in the tourism sector, I am used to hearing that this or that country has issued a travel warning to its citizens who plan on traveling to Egypt, especially in the aftermath of an attack. Naturally, most warnings address safety and security issues, and some warnings dedicate a section or two to hygiene and harassment. Lately, and because of the increasing number of divorces, custody issues, and domestic violence cases, some countries warn their women from Egyptian men. Yes, they tell them clearly not to get emotionally involved or legally committed to an Egyptian man!

I did not just make that up. I got it first hand from a European woman who is living in Egypt, was married to an Egyptian man, has a son, and is currently divorced. “He swept me off my feet with his sweet words, compliments, attentive gestures, romance, and warmth; he was a god compared to European men, who are often distant, reserved, and not very emotional. I fell in love with him like never before. Bit by bit, I began opening up too and, against my better judgment, I gave up all my defenses. In three months, he asked me to marry him, and in my culture this is a very serious step. I translated his proposal as the epitome of love and I gladly accepted.”

I listened to Sandy and I knew exactly how she felt when she first met “her hero”. I know how it feels to jump in a jar of honey thinking of how sweet it would taste and how rich and overwhelming it would feel, only to get your hair tangled in its stickiness and eventually you drown in its suffocating viscosity. I asked Sandy to continue narrating her experience and she told me that his family was against the marriage; “they told him that I was loose and that he should get married to a virgin. They warned him that I would corrupt his children and reminded him that I was from a different religion. His mother hated how I dressed no matter how modest. All my attempts at communication failed but I was heads over heels in love with him to read the warning signs. He assured me that he loved me and that he was not willing to give up his soul mate.”

Her eyes welled as she told me her story. I tried to be as empathetic as possible but I was growing angrier by the minute. I naturally assumed that her guy was a lowlife Egyptian male parasite who wanted a way out of the country or easy sex. Because un-Egyptian women are not as class conscious, they miss out on all the “low-class” signals that his body language, address, grooming, verbiage, phonetics, and interests give away. I was wrong! “He is an AUC graduate and the descendant of one of the biggest families in Egypt. He had the looks, the manners, the class, the charm, and the money. He was so open-minded and understanding – I have never met anyone who was as perfect.” Sandy corrected me.

I was more than curious to know what could go wrong with such a compatible intercultural union. “We got married amongst his friends. His family did not attend but this was natural in my country; we were two responsible adults and we were in charge of our life-altering decisions. After marriage, he began changing; suddenly he had hurtful comments about my wardrobe, more hurtful comments about my public demeanor, and … he hit me! He told me that he loved me but suddenly his love began suffocating me. I realized that I got married to a very jealous possessive insecure spoilt violent person!”
Again I identified with every word she said. I KNOW our men! I asked Sandy about the frequency and the intensity of the jealousy fits and the violence attacks and she told me that it became on daily basis; “the tender loving caring man that I fell in love with disappeared. I was stuck with a person who mastered ignoring me, and when he looked at me, he told me that I was ugly and needed plastic surgery.” With her long golden locks tied back in a ponytail, Sandy was looking at me with deep blue eyes that rested on pink cheeks. She was flawless pretty! But I am fully aware of the self-esteem blows that our men know how to perfectly aim.

After a year of suffering and utter misery, Sandy got a divorce … and a son! A single foreign mother in Egypt could be quiet traumatizing. I asked her why she did not go back to her country; she told me that her Egyptian god threatened to take away her son. To add a more dramatic denouement to this repetitive farce, Sandy told me that after their divorce, he got married to a veiled Egyptian girl and that he stopped sending her alimony. This was when she went to the embassy and that was when they told her “we told you so!”

Just writing about this topic clogs my arteries; seriously, I cannot breathe! Sandy and her story is the trigger behind this article but I have witnessed many other stories that started with “he was so sweet” and ended in “he hit me” or “he walked out on me” or “I hate Egyptian men”. Even the girls who were spared the marriage disaster still enjoyed a rough ride on the dating arena. Sandy told me that her countrymen could still bully their women and that they were far from perfect, but at least they were honest, straightforward, and took marriage seriously. Like many Egyptian girls, she felt that he cheated his way into her heart and that he tricked her into loving him. It was ironic though, how Sandy thought that Egyptian women were best equipped to deal with their men.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Move in or Move on

Sitting on a stone couch on the terrace of my soon-to-be home, I grew wings and soared high in the horizon. I enjoyed the sunset as the scent of orange blossoms filled my heart with joy and birds sang their prayers to a new dusk. A sense of achievement flowed through my veins and a happy tear twinkled in my eyes as I embraced my future. My mobile rang. She was a friend. I answered. After a stream of courteous greetings, my friend asked about my whereabouts, and I informed her that I was checking the paint colors at my new apartment. I embarked on an infinite rant about the beauty of everything I laid my eyes on until she caught me off guard with a question: Will your boyfriend move in with you? I met her question with silence followed by a need to go do a thing!

I was not offended by her question; I was just baffled – needless to say clueless. First, I was not sure which boyfriend she was referring to. Who has she seen me with? Who have I told her about? Who has been in my life long enough to be a boyfriend? Who does she think I love enough to share a home with? I honestly could not pin a face to her question. The second and main source of my confusion is the fact that I have never given that particular issue any thought. It is true that I have been living alone for the past five years but I have never considered it “home”. It was as though I borrowed someone’s car; I have to keep it clean, keep it safe, treat it with respect, and return it on time in perfect shape.

Now I own a home and one day I will have a boyfriend who will make it past the first month. What if he makes it past the first six months? It is one thing to come and visit and it is a totally different thing to move in with me. Bearing in mind that I am a very territorial person – territorial enough to pee allover my desk so no one would dare sit on it – and bearing in mind that I value space and privacy beyond any man I have ever known. Will I be willing to share? Will I welcome his clothes in my wardrobe? Will I be able to see his toothbrush next to mine in the bathroom? Will he have a key? Will he really move in with me?

Other than my space issues, there is a lot of social baggage that comes with such a situation. Like virginity, abortion, homosexuality, extramarital affairs, cohabitation is another taboo in our society; for a couple to live together they have to be married. They get to really know and understand one another after they are legally bound to one another - another instance of burying our heads in the sand and sweeping our dust under the carpet. I believe that this is a major factor that is ruining all my marriage and commitment attempts. Between cultural variations, personal differences, and individual perks, I find the idea of cohabitation rather appealing and logical.

When two people come together, they are not just who they are today; they represent their respective homes, schools, friends, peers, and groups with their attitudes, habits, beliefs, and needs. This is a lot of ironing to do in a relationship. How a person eats, talks, or walks is just the tip of the iceberg. The way one communicates with, reacts to, and feels about things and people is a wide enough gap to bridge. Hence, many love stories crash after marriage because he was not who she thought he was or because she was not the girl she said she was.

The idea of sharing is in itself frightening; who is to do what? Assigning roles and responsibilities and trying to fulfill them over a long period of time is like the prologue to a marriage. Is he responsible? Is she reliable? Is he stingy? Is she a control freak? Is he too organized? Is she beyond sloppy? There is no other way to find out. Living with someone is not just about the sexual part of the relationship; it brings out the mental and emotional dimensions to the foreground and the day to day dealings are the real test of the success or the failure of the relationship.

Moving in together does not mean that one partner is hosting the other at his home – responsibility free. I am walking the whole nine yards here; electricity, water, gas, maintenance, food, and the rest of the bills. I am speaking about chores, tasks, duties, compromises, and adapting. How hard would it be for a man to move into my house and be reminded every second that this is “my house” and he is not entitled to anything? How hard would be for a woman – who is not me – to live with a man who treats her as a guest? How hard will it be to discuss the money issues and the other “embarrassing” issues? – I assure you it is much harder to talk about those things for the first time after the deal is sealed and signed.

I am also not claiming that jumping that hurdle is a guarantee that the relationship will last forever. People change and people grow in different directions; a couple could live together happily and get married, then after a year or two they could grow apart. Keeping a marriage intact is another story and it takes a lot of work on a different level; fighting redundancy and boredom that creep into the marriage requires two people who want to stay married and are willing to work to reap what they once sowed. In a way, it is much easier to reach the highest top than to stay on top.

I am not advocating brothels and turning one’s home into a full board motel; I am talking about a relationship that has grown and has developed into something solid and is worth investing in. At the same time, I am not promoting the notion of test driving the man; I am pushing the idea of test driving the marriage concept to that man. Having thought about it now, the “living together” phase is all good; if it works, then you will have a solid marriage with no nasty surprises because of how she looks when she wakes up or how he sounds when he goes to sleep. If it does not work, then you have saved yourself a rough marriage or an inevitable divorce.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


* I have reached a point where I got so familiar with the colors of sadness and madness; they come wrapped in a big brownish ball - the color of human waste.

* I am sick of the color, the smell, the taste, and the feeling of deep shit!

* My heart is sinking, my soul is sulking, and a vicious crab is playing xo on my guts with its cutting edges.

* I turned from the inspiration to the burden; from the muse to the block; from the comfort to the pressure; from the real thing to the distraction; from the relationship to the rebound.

* There is a huge void in the center of my body; I have no passion, no thoughts, no drive, and no life. I am a drained air-vacuumed sac of human bones!

* I knew this feeling; the feeling deep down that the person at the other end is slipping away. I knew it is over and I knew that the more I held on, the more I would get hurt!

* Getting over someone is hard; ending a relationship is hard; overcoming a crush is hard; letting go is hard; I wished it would just hurt a bit then go away.

* I am now vomiting the toxic residues of a relationship that went sour; the leftovers of a person who poisoned my life!

* I've been hit by a bus; I do not want to get out of bed. I am sitting there hurting from inside. I am unable to reach into myself - where it hurts - to try to make it better .

* There are tears to go with the pain. Sometimes I just go numb then I am struck by a sudden pang of pain. I feel overwhelmed by anger at life.

* I tried resisting but the more I resisted the more difficult it got. It was like pushing a rewind button that would start the cycle all over again.

* Memories hurt. Unfulfilled wishes and dreams hurt. Anger hurt. The wounded ego of a person should have been worshipped hurt.

* The hole is getting deeper. The wound feels as if it would never heal. It is a vicious cycle that is just draining me.

* The peak periods are driving to, or back from, work, upon waking up, before going to bed, during meals, watching a movie, before a date, on a date, after a date, with family, with old friends, with new friends, at work ... I do not recall the rest of the times when I want to shoot myself!

* I never knew that misery can be seen, felt, touched, smelt, heard, and tasted.

* I know the drill by heart; sinking, sulking, aching, hitting rock bottom, then bottling it up, pushing it down, locking it in my black box with my other black memories, and then climbing my way up the tunnel.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thoughts on: Change & New Beginnings

* New beginnings are always loaded with many contradictory feelings; hope, fear, optimism, doubt, resolution, skepticism, comfort, hesitation, and determination.

* The skeletons in the closet and collective experiences are a threat to new beginnings.

* We remember when we were last burnt or when we were last hurt, and we subconsciously look at our scars and resist the change.

* Memories of how deep and how painful the scars were rush back to our heads and, with an involuntary movement, we clench our fists as though we are holding on to the past - Something inside of us refuses to let go.

* At home we were directed to focus on our downsides, at school we had to improve our bad grades, and in the workplace we are asked to “develop” our weaknesses. Those who moved on did the exact opposite.

* It is amazing how much power we have yet we are so oblivious to its existence. Invest in what makes you feel strong instead of wasting time on things that only make you feel weak and bad about yourself.

* We do not believe in flying; we feel more secure with our feet on the ground, even if it is just quicksand.

* Fear always intercepts our attempts to change; fear of the devil we don’t know; fear of the other side of the fence; fear of the maze.

* We hold on to stability, to our comfort zone, like a mother to her child on a collapsing bridge, and we avoid venturing outside for fear of getting hurt or getting lost.

* Nothing justifies waking up in the morning hating what you wake up to, who you wake up with, or where you get up to go.

* Nothing explains leading an unfulfilled life with an unfulfilling job and an unfulfilling partner.

* We are meant to choose. We are created to investigate options and alternatives. We are not equipped to compromise for the long term.

* There are times when we consciously limit our options because we do not want to feel overwhelmed by the infinity of choices out there. It is difficult to choose; the bigger the selection, the more helpless we feel.

* How do we know we are making the right decision? How can we tell that we are not going to regret this? Other than using our limited common sense and intangible gut feeling, we will never know!

* Find micro-options and loopholes of choices in the tightest of situations and the trickiest of questions.

* Shift your motivation from the fear of loosing to the excitement about winning.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Penny for your Thoughts!

Growing up I had ample respect for writers whether they wrote for the silver screen or on the pages of newspapers and magazines. My deepest and most pious thoughts were directed towards those whose books and novels hacked my mind. I have always envisioned male authors to be old wealthy intellectual creatures whose lives are filled with seminars, parties, lectures, and brilliant discussions. My teenage head believed that female writers had to wear glasses on a plump face; they had to be short and their hair had to be gray. It was natural to assume that recognition, wealth, and thoughts that were worth sharing came with age; hence, the notion of a young writer was not to be conceived.

Over the past 33 years I have absorbed the colors, scents, flavors, textures, and voices of everything I encountered. I have sponged on people I met vacuuming their feelings, experiences, beliefs, fears, dreams, and nightmares. I have turned into a walking magnetic crucible of humanity and there is much more to attract. When I turned 30 my collective potion of pain reached its boiling temperature and it began pouring in emails to my friends, on magazine pages, and along the tabs of my blogs. Writing liberated me and vented the heat off my overloaded psyche. I also discovered that great young writers exist and that female writers could be pretty and smart without one attribute overriding the other.

In my grown up head it was natural to assume that if a person had the talent and the imagination to string literary beads of thoughts into a sacred rosary, then that person could be a writer. Then I learned the power of connections and the allure of fame. I adamantly worked on both seizing every opportunity that beamed in my horizon. I thought that I was a few baby steps away from my dream – becoming a writer … a real writer … a published writer with books, essays, novels, and what-have-you. Again, I assumed that people who contribute to the legacy of an era should do nothing but write, and that if a person chose to become a writer then that person needed to earn a good living out of writing.

Between the ruthless clutches of publishers, producers, agents, copyrights, and other calculative mechanisms a writer’s priceless thoughts and words became worthless. The most creative writers I know are leading the lives of vagabonds. The freelancers, unless they are trapped into some corporate entity, they are semi starved. The scriptwriters – talented ones – are licking the dust. Novelists are sold cheap and columnists do it for fun. Editors in magazines enjoy zero stability and very little income compared to their counterparts in other industries.

The blogosphere has attracted a multitude of writers – published and unpublished – whose work reeks of talent. Whether it is in English or Arabic; be it poetry or prose – mystical is their gift. Being the naïve optimist that I am, I urged them to get published. The Miss Fix-It that I could be, embarked on creating a fool-proof marketing plan for their talent and gift in a world that pays more for a skilled – not talented – well-connected pen. The World Wide Web has given them a voice, a solid base of readers, a fan club, and interactive feedback. They have escaped from materialistic torture devices into cyberspace. They write because they just want to write – it is not a living and it certainly is not a life.

The image that I painted for writers in my teens is now shattered. The dream that I lived about becoming one of them is now uncertain. Touring the world with my books, touching hearts, provoking thoughts, and raising our dead society from its beauty sleep all seem vague. If I want to maintain the standard of living that I luckily enjoy now, writing will not suffice. I will always have to sell my body to some corporate entity to secure my basic physiological and safety needs. In front of me she sat, and with young inquisitive eyes the 21 year old journalist looked at me and asked: “Can I make a living out of being a writer?” I could have lied. I could have given her false hope. I looked into her soul and said: “No! It’s a penny for your thoughts!”

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Magic Mirror

Mirror … mirror on the wall,
Who’s the fairest fair of all?
Mirror … mirror on the wall,
Who’s the smartest head of all?
Mirror … mirror on the wall,
Who’s that girl standing tall?
Mirror … mirror on the wall,
Who's to hold me when I fall?
Mirror … mirror on the wall,
Why are you not answering my call?

Oh mirror ...
The lines and the scars you do not hide
My scattered thoughts you would not guide

Me myself and I; the gap so wide
Oh mirror; you make me look inside

You show me a girl against the tide
By the rules she would not abide

Within your frame, a caged spirit am I?
By your name, what voice have I?

Oh mirror … can you hear me?
My mirror is deceiving me!

I will show you my smile ... will you let me?
A star in my eyes ... will you get me?

I will show you a happy face ... please let me
A shelter from myself ... please get me

Mirror … mirror on the wall,
Do not show me her face;
I have killed her and left no trace.

Mirror … mirror on the wall,
She shall never stutter;
With a new voice, words she will utter.

Mirror … mirror on the wall,
Her fear you shall never show;
Fearless she is to know.

Mirror ... mirror on the wall,
Do not point at her scars;
It hurts ... not her scars.

Oh mirror ...
There is no Santa but tell her not
Dreams are dreams but wake her not

She will give in ... tell her not to
She will give up ... tell her not to

Cruel mirror ...
Why show me a figure so broken?
Why tell me words unspoken?

My mirror ...
Every time I at look you
I miss a line in her face.

Every time I come to you
A part of her I erase.

Every time I need you
I abandon her grace.

So my mirror ..
Where is the little fat girl that you used to show me?
Where are the frightened eyes that used to look at me?

Is she still hiding her smile with her hand?
Is she still looking for a magic wand?

You loved her not
You loved me a lot

Mirror … mirror on the wall,
What have I done?
Mirror … mirror on the wall,
Where has she gone?

Mirror … mirror on the wall,
Which way do I run?

Yes mirror ...
How I wish I could give you my back
and never look at you again.

How I wish I could leave you on a rack
and never fall for your tricks again.

Oh mirror ... Why can’t you lie?
Why don’t you tell me that I am the fairest fair of all?
Why don’t you tell me that I am the smartest head of all?
Why don’t you let me stand proud and tall?
Will you at least be there when I fall?
Oh … Mirror … mirror on the wall …
Why are you not answering my call?

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Funfair

My laughter and giggles filled the air
as you walked me to the fair.
I was again a little girl of five;
I was so alive.

My pink ballerina shoes I wore
for I feared falling no more.
To the carousel we walked
and about all the games we talked.

The merry-go-round song played
and to the tunes I swayed.
A black stallion I mounted;
up and down I counted.

In the air my hands I threw
in my heart your love grew.
To the rollercoaster we went
next to one another we laid spent.

You bought me ice cream on a cone;
its chocolate flavor made me moan.
You painted kittens on my face,
and gave me mittens made of lace.

In the mirror maze we set foot
hand in hand we stood.
What I saw was never so true;
I saw the girl that I once knew.

In front of the fortuneteller our eyes met.
“Will it last?” I asked fearing regret.
“Carpe Diem” were the two words she uttered.
“I love you” in a low voice you stuttered.

Between a silent breeze and tunes so fine,
in the horizon a dolphin did shine.
In my heart and out he jumped;
our bodies gently bumped.

I am the ocean! The high waves I create.
I am a wave! In the ocean I propagate.
In a chocolate factory the little girl stood.
The delightful chocolate tasted so good.

Oh God!

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Deep into your beautiful eyes I look;
I see nothing.
Between your poised words I listen;
I hear nothing.
Through your sculptured face I gaze;
There is nothing.

You look at my defeated face;
You see nothing.
You hear my hollow words;
You say nothing.
You reach out to me;
But alas! You mean nothing.

Like a big transparent ball,
You are made of nothing.
Like a wooden plaque on a wall,
You reflect nothing.
Like a Greek statue in my hall,
You feel nothing.

In the circle of nothingness we met,
Talked for hours about nothing I bet,
Have I not told you? Nothing will nothing beget.

Yours truly,
Marwa Rakha

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Challenging the Dragon in the Eye of the Sun

“Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.”
- Sir Francis Bacon

I woke up gasping for air after another nightmare and I knew that this would be another sleepless night. I reached out for his book as though I needed to feel his presence. No one has ever dedicated anything to me - I read the dedication he wrote me one more time; in his head I am smoking apple flavored shisha on my terrace, staring at the stars, obsessing about my toothbrush, and coloring my world in orange. I am not an avid reader of Arabic literature but Ahmed Naje’s Rogers was anything but disappointing.

Reading Rogers felt like sitting next to a remarkable storyteller as he flipped through his photo album and told me the story of each shot. Instead of turning moments into fading memories, Ahmed decided to capture the essence of his childhood memories, school days, traumas, family icons, wars, and amours in his book. The prose and narration, along with his vivid imagery, textured descriptions, and forward colors gave life to each of his characters. His attention to detail can be easily traced in his descriptions – the mosquito scene on his grandfather’s hand is just one example.

Ahmed Naje’s Rogers is a canvas of memories and snapshots where fact and fiction are woven beyond identification. His imagination fed stories to his green inquisitive mind. Questions like the existence of God, the creation and “sewing” of the human body, the laws of attraction, and the need to create a utopia are just a few fragments of his enigmatic book. Unlike other picture albums, Naje’s pictures are far from perfect; he has no reluctance in showing his scars, his fears, his dreams, and his frustrations – as a little boy and as an adult. As a reader, you cannot help but identify with the feelings that each shot evokes.

Feeling the air blow against his face, walking by the river, and seeing green fields set a striking contrast between his life at his hometown and his life in “the big city” where suffocating cement blocks turn his stomach and only the thought of a revolution or a supernatural gift for larceny cause his mental orgasms. The most visible themes revolve around his grandparents, his parents, his street, his cruel teacher, his girlfriend, his undefined female friend, and his best friend. On a deeper level you can trace his unanswered questions – starting from God to his very own existence and his chosen path.

With lots of imagination Naje, echoing Roger Waters of Pink Floyd’s Album “The Wall”, created a brick wall between his reality and his fantasy land. In his own words and using his own palette he decided to color his pictures adding one brick after the other to the wall that he often crossed in his first book – Rogers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The S-Word

Like a sword the s-word cuts through our lives; starting and ending relationships; labeling and tagging people; torturing some and relieving others. I grew up watching our Egyptian cinema turning sex into a shameful repulsive act where the woman is defeated and the man is delighted. The message was very clear: women who “give in” to men without a legally binding document end up suffering one way or the other. The s-word turns them into social outcasts, black sheep, or infamous notorious creatures of the night. The man usually vanishes leaving behind a bereaved creature pulling her hair and tearing apart what’s left of her clothes as a sign of intense remorse. Some of those women were portrayed to show further suffering when the seed of the affair blossoms into a child. With nothing but disdain and a curled lip, the voice of our intact society would echo in our ears saying “I told you so!”

In our modern cinema, girls can flirt and tease as much as they pleased but the s-word is still frowned upon. Those engaging in premarital sex strive throughout the movie to set two wrongs right – and of course it is the girl who is always doing her very best to get a ring on the damn finger. Other tragic heroines, whose character flaw is their lustful nature, have to go through a painful catharsis whereby they are humiliated, rejected, mortified, and eventually forgiven, or killed in an accident. In the first dénouement, being forgiven in this sense means that they have learnt their lesson and that they will lead a life of penance and “virtue” until a fine gentleman sees how far they have changed and kindly accepts to give them a ring. In the second scenario - where they die - they have paid in full for their mortal sin and now they can just die to set an example for the living.

Today a fellow writer, in a casual chat, asked me why girls refuse and adamantly resist getting intimate with their beau. He complained of the fact that girls feel that the s-word impacts the interest, or the lack of interest, of a guy in a girl. He bluntly asked me why girls fear losing the guy once they have sex with him. I was not the only one watching those movies; I could even consider myself lucky because I was a late bloomer in my relationship with the silver screen. Decade after another, such movies spread the guilt culture in our shame society. As if FGM (female genital mutilation) was not enough to create lifetime barriers between our girls and their sexuality, we have a whole culture preaching the virtue of a hymen.

Arabic movies, books, and anecdotes planted a deeply rooted conviction that girls who are “dishonorable” are not fit for being wives or mothers. The same influences caused men to believe that a girl who expresses her love physically is loose; hence the famous analogies between a girl’s honor and a match stick, a brand new car and a second hand car, and the famous piece of meat covered in sticky flies. My maid once noticed that my cats were not playing together and threw me a casual comment saying “why would he want to even see her face … he already took what he wanted … he is just a man!”

I have many male friends who, in my presence, share their success stories and conquests in the female world. Their verbiage and jargon are of the most offensive type; verbs like jumped, humped, and scored are very popular. So even if a guy is sitting there all polished and cleaned up for his girl, she could still sense the jump-hump-score sequel. Our men are known to be sweet-talkers and to be very expressive in the beginning of the relationship; an American friend of mine, who laments ever getting married to her educated Egyptian hubby, told me that he swept her off her feet with his words, attention, and passion – this is what our men do.

But once the girl loses touch with the ground, she falls … she falls hard and is most likely to break her neck, smash her head, or crack her back. She survives the fall only to live with a permanent disability. Experience taught girls to hold back; they learnt to disguise their feelings in a cloak of callousness for self preservation purposes. Our generation of men and women are confused; everything that they were taught as kids is being questioned as adults. Our very same inhibited women and our very own conservative men, once in the presence of a foreigner are transformed. The women no longer feel judged and the men no longer feel pressured and questioned – what a mess!

I am not for or anti premarital sex. There are so many variables in the equation and our society is not ready for a generalization of any sort at this point of time; if I tell girls to go ahead and to release their inhibitions, I will be damned. If I tell them to resist and to fight the natural urge for intimacy, I am a lying hypocrite. I will just leave it at the point where it is a case by case scenario and I will conclude on a final note to the guys: mental shackles are way worse than metal shackles. We will get out of our dungeons, when we no longer fear your dragons.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Women are like Ducks!

A few years back Shania Twain inspired me to sketch an analogy between men and shoes. At the time, I had settled for a very wrong pair of shoes; uncomfortable from the start, though highly maintained, they lost their allure as time passed, and I realized that I have invested a fortune of emotions into a fake, yet well polished pair of mismatched sneakers. Today, for no justified reason, I decided to come clean with a new confession; women are like ducks. When I look at women, instead of faces, I see ducks. There are several categories of ducks in my world; wild ducks, stuffed ducks, black ducks, and sitting ducks. There are pure, hybrid, and deformed breeds of ducks … Let me illustrate to give you a better idea.

Wild ducks are fearless spirits, risk-takers, and trend-setters. In the prairie, among beasts they live, yet highly respected and well positioned. No one dares pluck their feathers, tame, mold, frame, or domesticate them. Those creatures are often criticized, rejected, and resisted but it never makes them any weaker or milder. Whether other ducks look up to them or look down on them, they just cannot be as wild or as free. Unlike black ducks, they know who they are, what they want, and where they want to go. Wild ducks end on a plate only if shot dead or ambushed.

At the other extreme, black ducks are outcasts; like their market value, their self esteem, and their social acceptance are low. Their flaw could be related to their physique, social disposition, spiritual inclination, tarnished reputation, or unheard of ideas. Black ducks are sentenced to a lifetime of isolation and alienation – and it hurts them. A black duck wants to be unnoticed, unheard, unseen, and, in a way, invisible. They are the geeks, the nerds, and the pimple-faced teenagers that never grow into anything more assertive. Since the men of this world are not blessed with insight into their souls, black ducks, end up alone or on the plate of an equal male outcast. Being a black duck is a stigma that neither time nor blood could erase.

Going down the ladder, stuffed ducks are a delight to look at and a pleasure to feast over. They are perfect for social occasions and for showing off purposes – each man on the table has a stuffed duck on his plate! Being full of rice, onions, and any leftovers in the fridge, stuffed ducks look bigger and better than other ducks – posh and grand. They lure men by their big bloated over-fed over-exposed over-stuffed appearance only to give them, instead of nourishing meat, a plate full of constipating legumes. Needless to say, one can only handle that much of stuffed fowl. Their mission in life is to look good – and stuffed! Stuffed ducks land on the plate of whoever pays more.

Sitting ducks are pathetically lovely; you can caress them, fondle them, shoot them, cook them, stuff them, or cage them. They are tame, demure, docile, and disciplined. Sitting ducks are anything but confrontational – they will whine, complain, and bitch about something to everyone and anyone but their offender. Sitting ducks have neither flying abilities nor argumentative capabilities; they are an easy catch, a quick dump, and a perfect emotional punching bag. They do not land on a man’s plate; they end up in his fridge for use when there is no other food on his table – sitting ducks are always taken for granted and never appreciated.

Our culture encourages sitting ducks, exiles wild ducks, despises black ducks, and craves for stuffed ducks, but pure breeds are rare nowadays; for example, I am a hybrid of wild and black ducks- and that says it all about me. Men drool over the offspring of crossbreeding stuffed ducks and sitting ducks; such ducklings fit all the molds of our patriarchal society. Some men are stupid enough to think that they can turn a wild duck into a sitting duck, or even worse, turn a black duck into a stuffed duck. The most hazardous type is a mix of wild ducks and stuffed ducks; they think they rule the word.

Continuing the bird analogy, I would classify swans, ostriches, and birds of prey as deformed breeds. Swans are the vain girls who do not practice what they preach; they claim to be on a high ethical pedestal when their feet are in deep mud. Ostriches burry their heads in the sand thinking they outsmarted everyone when they are nothing but blind, stupid, and ignorant. They easily point out the flaws in others, and because their heads are in the sand, they believe that no one could see their flaws. Hawks are a carnivorous strain of women that feeds on its own friends and loved ones. They are full of envy, venom, evil, and have zero tolerance and no resilience. Multiple deformities occur but the outcome is a creature that is, at best, disgusting.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Horizontal Relationships – Updates and Q&A

It has been almost two weeks since I wrote about my experience with horizontal relationships. I promised to be honest with my updates and here I am again. Natural selection and Darwinism played their role in filtering my eggs. I have to admit that I was so sad to lose three of my guys; yes, I lost three in one week!
The first guy was too pushy and all our conversations started with and ended in WH-Questions; where are you? Why don’t you answer my calls? What are you doing? Who are you with?
The second and the third are only good for desperate girls who have nothing better, or no one better, to invest in. They were both nice to flirt with but it started and ended with nothing but high school games – so futile and so unproductive.

I still like the fourth but I am missing the fun and excitement of putting my eggs in more than one basket. I feel that I am sliding slowly in a vertical relationship simply because I do not like anyone else at the moment.

What is a vertical relationship?
Vertical relationships mean that you are in a relationship with one person whom you get to know, understand, appreciate, and love by time. This is a type of relationships that involves a lot of trust, dependability, possessiveness, and depth. If you are in a vertical relationship, you invest deeply and seriously in the relationship and in the partner - you put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. If that basket falls, your losses are countless. Vertical relationships do not have a depth limit to them ... so if you stay a day and you dig a meter then when you are there for a week it is another few meters ... and so on ... as long as you are investing then it is vertical how far, how long, how deep, do not change the vertical aspect.

What are horizontal relationships?
“Your eggs” in horizontal relationships are randomly distributed in several baskets; you do not place all your bets on one horse and your investments are diversified to secure you from bankruptcy. Horizontal relationships are neither fake nor superficial; they are just not deep enough to cause serious damage should someone try to pull your tooth out.

Horizontal relationships are a great illustration of how the sum of the parts could be bigger than the whole; each one of your partners alone would make a wrong partner, but together their weaknesses seem to vanish with the sense of perfection they bring into your life. There is a continuous elimination process ... sort of a survival for the fittest process. If one of them becomes a burden or too much work he is expelled and replaced when I happen to like someone else. The value of the relationship is directly proportional to what the partner brings into your life. It is the ideal antidote for taking someone for granted; you snooze ... you loose.

What is the difference between horizontal relationships and open relationships?
In an open relationship, you are in a relationship with one main partner but you allow yourself to play with others. In horizontal relationships your one and only commitment is to yourself; what you feel like doing and who you feel like being with.

What is the difference between horizontal relationships and friends with benefits?
Friends with benefits are basically friendships that got comfortable enough to allow physical episodes. Horizontal relationships involve all the dating aspects. It is not a friendship.

What is the difference between horizontal relations and casual dates?
Casual dates have zero depth. You do not want, or care, to know your partner. You just want to spend some good time. In horizontal relations you genuinely care. You are sincere.

Can my horizontal partner be married?
No - It makes you his mistress not his partner.

Can my horizontal partner be dating someone else?
If he/she does not know, then no - It makes it an affair not a relationship.

Can my horizontal partner keep me in the dark?
No - you turn from a partner to a dark nasty ugly disgusting secret.

What are the advantages of having horizontal relationships?

* Emotional Independence - You will never need to depend on the presence or absence of one person in your life.
* Fulfillment - You will never feel lonely, bored, hurt, insulted, or cheated, and you will never have to spend another weekend alone.
* Attention - You will always have a date, and worst case scenario, you will always have an email, a text message, or a phone call to put a smile on your face.
* Balance - I am never too available, too focused, too critical, or too demanding simply because what one man lacks the other fulfills and I feel loved and cared for all the time.
* Content - moreover, when one man slouches, instead of reprimanding him, as I used to, I would just give more room for the other three to fill in the void that was left behind.
* Horizontal relationships are, so far, liberating, fulfilling, pleasant, and they add a different flavor to each day.
What are the disadvantages of horizontal relationships?

* If you are not the organized type, you will suffer stress, overlapping schedules, exhaustion, and the wear and tear of your mind trying to cope with the constant change.
* If you are the melancholic type, you will long for the intimacy the builds up in vertical relationships.
* If you are the committed type, this will not work for you!
* If you are looking for marriage and kids, this will not work for you too!
* Confusion and mixed up emotions is very likely to happen.
* Subconsciously comparing your partners is always a threat.
* Becoming too self-involved and too self-centered is a natural outcome.
* Being called a slut by people who cannot understand what you are saying.
What are the rules?

* Honesty is the first and foremost of all the rules; never lie about, or hide from, the fact that you are having multiple partners.
* Do as you would be done by – you are still an ethical person who does not step allover people in the name of horizontal relationships.
* Do not promise exclusivity when that is not the case.
* Do not claim to enjoy horizontal relationships hoping to entrap a vertical partner. This strategy is doomed to backfire.
* You have to truly, genuinely, and sincerely like your partners – all of them. This is not as easy as it sounds. Most of the time, people who are used to vertical relationships would like one partner and line up the others to fill in his shoes in case of absence or misconduct. This strategy is fatal; being with people you do not like, or with people you like half heartedly, will push you back forcibly into the arms of the one partner you like – and we all know how being clingy is inversely proportionate with being loved.
* I have always pleaded for equality, and it is only fair to remind you that you are free to come and go as you please and so are your partners.

Do you get jealous in horizontal relationships?
Every now and then you will feel a tingling sense of jealousy towards one of your partners but it is never as suffocating or as painful as the jealousy you feel towards your sole partner in vertical relationships. Were there a “flirting nerve” in our body, then this is the type of jealousy that triggers it.

Jealousy happens for two reasons: 1) you are insecure, or 2) you have higher expectations that what your partner could fulfill.
In this type of relationship, you are not insecure and you have zero expectations ... so the only jealousy that you feel is when you see that person showing interest in someone else ... when that happens, it just makes you more competitive and territorial in a positive way - you will try to be a better person instead of turning his life into a living hell.
“As time passes and u check your investment u will find minimum return corresponding to the minimum effort, time”
False! As time passes the weak eggs perish and you are only left with the strong assets. Plus who said anything about minimum effort and minimum time? Horizontal relationships are neither fake nor superficial; they just help you get what you want without pressuring people to give what they are not capable of.

“With time this wont be acceptable, with time we will all long for intimacy to fill the void inside us.”
False! If you are so dependent on intimacy then you are not equipped for horizontal relations. Check the definitions above to know where you are and what you are getting yourself into.

“Horizontal relationships are like takeaway food; it stops your hunger but u can not remember its taste.”
False! One night stands are take away food ... but this is so so different ... you dine in ... but you do not dine in one restaurant all the time.

“It’s like poker, you bet too high, you either win big or become flat broke (Vertical relationship) On the other hand, if you bet low; or fairly moderate, you won’t loose that much but if you do win (definition needed), that’s your “kick” which is sadly; momentarily. (Horizontal relationship)”
If winning = marriage then you will lose. If winning = commitment then you will suffer. If winning = anything but being happy now and who the hell cares about tomorrow then you will win and a momentarily high is your aim after all.

“Don't you think that one day, horizontal relationships, would ever make you feel lonely deep inside, even with the presence of the 4 guys?”
On the contrary; loneliness comes from being with people you do not care about or from people who do not care about you. In vertical relationships, you can be the loneliest person ever because your partner has no interest in you, or in what you do. In horizontal relations (please read the rules again) you are with people you DO like. Loneliness happens when you are empty from the inside ... and you are empty from the inside when you do not relate to your partner/s. In this relationship ... I like them all and there are touch points with each one.

Could we apply that for getting married to four?
No. This is a dating model not a marriage or family model.

“This is the pattern of relations everyone have after we break up specially after long termed relations; we feel a bit unsecured … u call it horizontal and i call it dilemma :)”
Nop the Dilemma is whether you can handle and fully understand horizontal relationships or not.

Can we turn a horizontal relation into an exclusive one by time?
“Be exclusive” is a voice of someone who cannot compete on the market, hence wants a guarantee ... it is way way gratifying to find a person who wants to be with you and only you out of love not out of a deal.

Are horizontal relationships a form of cheating?
Cheating is about being dishonest and lying. In this scenario the two are ruled out. We just give one another enough space to be.

Men will not welcome a girl in horizontal relations
False! If a man is confident enough he will not mind competition ... I do not mind competition ... I know who I am and I know what I have to offer ... funny enough the men who used to be so laid back taking my presence for granted are now working their asses off to get a bigger part of me! Love has to be earned ... I am waiting
The fool puts his eggs in more than one basket; the wise puts them in one basket and guards them well.
False: Protecting the basket is so consuming and you might end up putting in so much effort protecting worthless eggs ... leave it to natural selection … nature will expire rotten eggs and will nourish and protect good ones.

Will that make you loose/immoral?
No you are very structured, very honest, very moral, and very devoted - to yourself
What happens if I get attached?
Attachment is not part of that deal.What if all your partners ask you for a date in the same time, how will you handle that situation?They would never ask me for a date on the same day ... but let's assume that this day is Valentine's Day ... I will just consult my selfish self and decide who will have the pleasure of my company.

“When you talk about jealousy, and the person becoming more competitive in a so-called "positive" way, you are degrading yourself, and your partners. People will compete - only until they close a sale. If they compete again tomorrow, then that is to close a new sale. If a man or woman has a relation in which they do that type of competition - then they will only invest as much as they need to buy (or sell) today's share of pleasure.”

Those are the words of a person who hates competition and wants Egypt Air to be the national carrier forever regardless of the quality of the service or its competitiveness in the market. There is no such thing as closing a deal nowadays … the new trend is CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and that means you continue to serve and please your current customer because the cost of a new customer is 6 times higher than the cost of retaining an existing customer.

“Relationships - whether you call it horizontal or vertical - are about the other person being there for you - especially, when you have nothing to offer. That's what friendship is - the simplest form of a one-to-one not-otherwise-related relationship. You don’t pay the price for some good company unless you are desperate.”

Desperate is putting up with some silly good-for-nothing person in your life just because you think this is a steady relationship.

“You can think of these men as friends with benefits, but that's as good as it can get. Otherwise, when he picks up the bill for dinner - then that's how much money he invested in return for your company today. Tomorrow is a new sale.”

These words are so far from the truth. Read above the difference between this relationship and horizontal relations. For more insight on: who picks up the check, read my “I am half a woman” article.

"U might not be hurt half as bad as u would otherwise but can u feel half as good?"
It feels better .... remember the rules... you have to really like your partners ... otherwise you will be miserable ... and their presence will make you lonelier than ever.
"Can u stop urself from the inevitable game of favs? finding urself attracted just a tad bit more to someone?"
I do not know how other people function but I do not have a problem favoring one partner over the others ... it is not about them .. it is about me.
"Does that make u feel wholesome or just as u describe it a fragment of what HIS perfect woman should be?"
Believe it or not I am fine with that .. I am not perfect .. I cannot be molded ... I hate pressure.
"it is the ideal antidote for taking someone for granted ... you snooze .. you loose ... You know, you'd make a great sales manager - keep your staff on their tip-toes. Meet your targets, or help yourself to the door! - It works, but you have to pitch in some security to get a loyal employee who won't ditch you at the first next-best offer. As for a relation - there is a level of trust, security, etc. that you have to reach in order to call it a "relation".

Once again we are back to security. People who seek security, stability, stagnation, and a signed contract are not fit for horizontal relations.

If you have a car that you value, you don't dump it when it snoozes - but when a match-stick snoozes, you trash it. How valuable are you to your partners? And how valuable are your partners to you?

Your value is directly proportional to what you bring to the life of your partner; it could be great conversation, fun outings, warmth, no pressure, or anything that you have to offer other than the chains of commitment. The value of the partner is directly proportional to what the partner brings into your life.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Why put all your eggs in one basket!

Many a time have I written about relationships; our feminine mazes that confuse men and the masculine traps that capture our hearts. This is still by far the most difficult article I have ever written. I am about to advocate something that I have never believed in. Actually, I am on the verge of stabbing a deeply rooted belief in our multi-layered culture. The same girl that, given a chance, would have poisoned every man or woman who accepted getting into an open relationship - that very same girl - is about to cross out monogamous relationships and validate having multiple partners. To save face, I will refer to monogamy as “vertical relationships”, and “horizontal relationships” are to be synonymous with polygamy - I am still having psychological barriers with the word!

Let me start by defining the two terms. Vertical relationships mean that you are in a relationship with one person whom you get to know, understand, appreciate, and love by time. This is a type of relationships that involves a lot of trust, dependability, possessiveness, and depth. If you are in a vertical relationship, you invest deeply and seriously in the relationship and in the partner - you put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. If that basket falls, your losses are countless. “Your eggs” in horizontal relationships are randomly distributed in several baskets; you do not place all your bets on one horse and your investments are diversified to secure you from bankruptcy. Horizontal relationships are neither fake nor superficial; they are just not deep enough to cause serious damage should someone try to pull your tooth out.

Like my multiple careers, I began juggling multiple partners. I have always complained of the scarcity of good men, yet I found myself attracted to four men at the same time. They have nothing in common but me. I have grown to like them as individuals and to appreciate what each one brings into my life. The intensity that used to ruin my previous vertical relationships is now working in favor of my horizontal relationships. To the four, I am never too available, too focused, too critical, or too demanding simply because what one man lacks the other fulfills and I feel loved and cared for all the time. Moreover, when one man slouches, instead of reprimanding him, as I used to, I would just give more room for the other three to fill in the void that was left behind – and there is room for more.

But before you go ahead and embark on one of those awesome horizontal relationships, you need to know the pros, the cons, and the rules. I have spent enough time analyzing my new experience and I will gladly share with you my findings. Uphill, you will never need to depend on the presence or absence of one person in your life. You will never feel lonely, bored, hurt, insulted, or cheated, and you will never have to spend another weekend alone. You will always have a date, and worst case scenario, you will always have an email, a text message, or a phone call to put a smile on your face. You will never look like a famished Somali kid in front of an open buffet. Basically, you will be happy! Downhill, if you are not the organized type, you will suffer stress, overlapping schedules, exhaustion, and the wear and tear of your mind trying to cope with the constant change. If you are the melancholic type, you will long for the intimacy the builds up in vertical relationships. If you are the committed type, this will not work for you!

But if you want this to work, you must abide by the rules. Honesty is the first and foremost of all the rules; never lie about, or hide from, the fact that you are having multiple partners. Do as you would be done by – you are still an ethical person who does not step allover people in the name of horizontal relationships. Do not promise exclusivity when that is not the case. The second rule is an extension of the first rule; do not claim to enjoy horizontal relationships hoping to entrap a vertical partner. This strategy is doomed to backfire.

The backbone of this type of relationships is to truly, genuinely, and sincerely like your partners – all of them. This is not as easy as it sounds. Most of the time, people who are used to vertical relationships would like one partner and line up the others to fill in his shoes in case of absence or misconduct. This strategy is fatal; being with people you do not like, or with people you like half heartedly, will push you back forcibly into the arms of the one partner you like – and we all know how being clingy is inversely proportionate with being loved. Horizontal relationships are a great illustration of how the sum of the parts could be bigger than the whole; each one of your partners alone would make a wrong partner, but together their weaknesses seem to vanish with the sense of perfection they bring into your life.

I have always pleaded for equality, and it is only fair to remind you that you are free to come and go as you please and so are your partners. Every now and then you will feel a tingling sense of jealousy towards one of your partners but it is never as suffocating or as painful as the jealousy you feel towards your sole partner in vertical relationships. Were there a “flirting nerve” in our body, then this is the type of jealousy that triggers it. Horizontal relationships are, so far, liberating, fulfilling, pleasant, and they add a different flavor to each day. I broke the curse …. My men never lasted more than a month … my four men made it past the first month and some of them made it to two months … I am still experimenting with horizontal relationships and, as always, should I hit a brick wall, I will come back and spill my guts out ... until then … I will fly high.