Month: July 2014

Each One Is a World

What everyone needs to read

View from the donkey's saddle


We were sitting at Lincoln Park in West Seattle, with a handful of friends who had gathered for a picnic potluck, awaiting others who would be joining us shortly.

A Facebook message came through on my Smartphone from my friend Yousef Munayyer.

Hey Jen, just saw some news about a young man from the Shurrab family in khan yunis being the latest victim, Name is Tayseer. Have you heard from Amer recently?

Amer Shurrab was, as a matter of fact, sitting across the picnic table from me at that very moment.  He  had come for a few day visit from Monterrey, where he is finishing his MBA. Though we had planned the visit weeks before the shit hit the fan in Gaza, the timing of it felt oddly right. I think it felt somewhat comforting to Amer to be surrounded by people who had some notion of what he…

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The Past a Prison

I often list, in the middle of the night, how far I have come and how many things I have done in life. I know I have not done much, but it felt good to count all my little accomplishments and feel a sense of self-satisfaction.

Is this a good thing? I believe so. After all, if we look back and see the great heights (or not-so-great, as the case may be) we have covered, we would look at the mountains in front of us and think that, well, we have gone a long way so why would it be a problem to scale a few more miles?

So what is the problem? For me, it is reliving the past so much and basking in it that I found myself wondering if the present is as good. The past is safe; it is comfortable. Everything is familiar, and we are accustomed to it. When we have left an occasion or a person, often we find ourselves unable to think of anything but the good.

Like yesterday, for example, I was stuck in a train station in the middle of nowhere because of an accident. There was nothing but storage chambers and darkness all around me. One lady kept on complaining; a group of people were shouting drunkenly. The glow of the station lights was harsh, unforgiving against the rails and concrete and the faces of the anxious passengers. At that time I was frightened, unable even to leave my seat to go to the restroom; now I laugh about it and tell it to my friends. Where is the horror and the anxiety that I felt back then? They were all eclipsed by the relief I felt, and had become an ingredient for a good story.

And then there is  the future. It is uncertain while the past is set. One can pluck the grandeur of the past and makes it one’s own. That is much easier than working towards a future that appeals to us. Now this is the core of the problem. If we continue to hold on to our safe-zone, to the past that we know is not going anywhere, how are we going to progress? Knowing how far we’ve come gives us hope, true, but let’s not live counting our past ‘glory’. Let the past be a lifeline, not chains holding us from living the present to the fullest and looking forward to the future.

4th of July


Yesterday I had my first 4th of July celebration in the States. It was amazing.

First I went on a short hiking trail in Santa Anita Canyon, Arcadia, followed by cliff jumping in Hermit Falls. We got stuck for an hour when we got back (the rangers said something about closing the doors periodically…should have said that before we went in!) but it was fun. We ate cupcakes and chips, blasted some music, and saw some guys play badminton to pass the time.

Afterwards, we went to a grocery store and bought some stuff for barbecue at our friend’s house. All around his neighborhood there were massive fireworks. It was amazing to look at. We decided to go look at some more fireworks, so we went to the beach. During the drive through the highway, fireworks kept going up all around us. Headlights blinked in the dark and buildings loomed above our heads (the car was a convertible). For a moment, I felt as though we were in the movies. Fitting, since I live in LA.

When we got to the beach, the fireworks show was over, but we lay down on the sand and just gazed at the stars. There were many of them to look at because the ocean was really dark. I remember feeling so awed looking at the moon…it was a half-circle, yellow and perfect, flanked by stars in the middle of the sky. The ocean lapped against the shore, calming and rolling. I wanted to jump into the water (I was still wearing my swimsuit under my jacket) but the water was too cold).

I wish it could have been like that everyday, but I know that it is impossible. We live not to have fun, but to survive. Sometimes I wish it is not the case, and certainly at times like that it is easy to believe that life will go on like it always did. But I don’t want to feel sad, not after I experienced something so special, so different from what I know (the fireworks here are simply beautiful).

By the way, the fireworks up there is a picture my friend took! It was amazing!