Monday, September 15, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

When i started blogging, the thing that excited me the most about writing about my life is the idea of capturing feelings and emotions with a picture, a collection of words, a quote ... It was a mere selfish need to keep my memories safe and alive. I thought it would be a lot of fun to go back to old posts years down the road and re-live some of what i have been through.. It works ... It mostly works when it's about me and not people who read this. This is why i needed the distance. The purpose of these pages on the web was lost when i started writing to please and caring too much about comments i get ... So here .. I said it ..

And he interrupts ...

9/11, 7 years ago, was it?
This was Zee's idea, so here goes ..

I had not been in the States for long, a matter of months actually. I was in Upstate New York, it had not snowed yet. I was going out with Mike, a guy from New York city, your typical white suburban guy and i had made a friend, Claudine, a very unusual little girl who was second generation American of Egyptian origins. We had just made it back from the city having driven for a total of 15 hours that weekend. Come Monday, we all went back to our classes. I was leaving an early class and going to the hospital to have my usual coffee break with Mike when a guy stopped me in the hallway to tell me that they hit the twin towers. I had no idea what he was talking about. I had heard of the towers but did not really understand what the significance of what had happened was. I walked the long hall towards Blackwell, around me people looked panicked and in a frenzy. I probably got scared for a second thinking maybe Upstate will get hit as well, but who was doing that and why? I had no clue. I did not see Mike on the bench and i couldn't wait for him to show up. It was a half hour to the next class anyway and it was all the way up on Adams street. I mostly had this feeling that i should keep moving .. My heart started pounding .. It felt the way war used to feel in Beirut. I felt so alone ..
The class got canceled. It was an ethics class and the professor elected to use the two hours to have a discussion about our feelings towards what happened. I collected some idea about what went on from what people were saying and only then i understood the gravity of the event. I was sad but i was very defensive as well. In retrospect, it was very silly to feel persecuted since what happened did not concern me but i remember the looks i was getting that day. I was suddenly too self-conscious with my long black hair and my Arabic features. The misled discussion covered various stereotypical misconceptions regarding culture and politics and religion, where Muslim got lumped with Arabic with Afghani with Irani .. I still remember my shock that day. I found myself defending myself but getting blank looks and i understood for the first time that some preconceptions and misconceptions are there to stay and are there just because .. I felt that some people will look down on you because they think they can. White America. I understood why on my visa papers it said that i am of color, when i'm pale as a ghost and i understood why at orientation lunch, that lady was making an extra effort to be extra friendly to me and to the Indian guy in the class ... I became too defensive, back in those days, until i got over my insecurities, i would just go out of my way to point out all of what is wrong with Americans so i would not feel i'm the one being attacked for being different.. With time i learned to phase it out, to stick with close friends who will not treat me any less for being Arabic and to try and stay away from stereotypes.. That day 7 years ago, though, i learned all about the bigotry that is nationalism.
Mike and I broke up later that day...
My posts will be as unfocused and all over the place as i am these days .. Far from romance and extroverted to the point of shallow.. but summer will be over soon ..

Monday, September 01, 2008