Why I haven’t written for a while. (Not to be confused with an actual writing but more of an informal information)

1- some of the people I know in real life either follow or know of this blog.

there is something impersonal and liberating about sharing your thoughts on the internet, similar to screaming into the void. But if you’re a private person, no matter how badly you wanted to scream, you wouldn’t do it if a bunch of people were sitting a bit far from you. They might hear you.

2- my inner critic (who i like to refer to as the Bane of my Gotham), has grown stronger and louder.

Before, it used to be that I would think of something, contemplate writing about it, get past that and actually write about it, then contemplate publishing. Some pieces (the ones that sit proudly on my blog) are winners (or really good runners), because they have somehow escaped the discard judgement which my inner critic sentences my writings with, a lot. The rest, well, your time will come one day. Totally.

3-  so much is happening at every second.

good and bad movies are out every two days, TV series come and go, the human world is a mess, people rise and fall every five seconds. And here I am, playing a game on my mobile, thinking about what makes a good thing a good thing and why hasn’t planet Earth chewed us all in yet. It’s overwhelming.

4- I can’t care enough for my opinion to spread it, but i am also fabulous

while i am very aware of how insignificant my opinion is (to the extend that worrying about saying it is pointless), i am also vain enough to wonder if I should entertain the world with my precious ideas. After all, better and more informed people are out there, doing the good deed, but also worse and less informed people are out there, doing what they think is a good deed. I can’t figure out where would I belong if I did the deed.

5- I keep saying I will

While I am amazingly deep and philosophical, I am also lazy and a class A procrastinator. Case closed.

That being said, I am working on dealing with all of these reasons, because I love writing. Aren’t I a piece of work.

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You should read this because I am a very important person.

If I could name one unfavorable trait about my personality, I would say that I take myself too seriously.

It’s true: I am my worst judge, critique, and guardian. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “Don’t take life too seriously; no one gets out alive anyways.” I’ve always thought it was absurd. Precisely because no one gets out alive anyways is why one should take life quite seriously. Work hard, change for the best, never settle, or am I thinking of my horoscope sign traits? Anyways, there is no way to be sure every Capricon thinks this way, but I definitely am not one of these people who can just brush things off and laugh at themselves.

Here’s thing though: I want to be one of these people who can just brush things off and laugh at themselves.

None of us is unique. Just log into Tumblr and check the notes showing how many people re-blogged a photo quote saying “I overthink” or “I am drowning in my own thoughts” or that “My problem is that I care too much about people” or my absolute favorite Eminem quote “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.”

Ah, how amiable.

You see, we are most subjective when it comes to the way we see ourselves. We fancy our thoughts to be deep and meaningful. We like to believe our feelings are significant and special. We are the superheroes of this comic book that is our lives. I roll my eyes at us.

But back to my very important pressing problem

 I take myself too seriously. If I mess up, it’s a whole day –if I’m luck- of self-agonizing analysis of how could I do that, why did I do that, will I do that again, can I ever avoid doing that again, what if I can never change? Don’t forget of course, my telepathic mind reading of everyone involved in my messing up. “She must think I’m a failure, they must’ve laughed about it, he must really feel sad for me- who wouldn’t, they must feel I’m not worthy, they were only nice because they were trying to be sweet, gosh why did I say that they didn’t deserve it.” And so on and so forth.

Again, I am acutely aware of how common this belittling of self is among the general public, but I am the protagonist in this story and you shall cater to my every thought.

For me, everything has to have meaning. Everything has to be deep, Meta. I live my life like a movie: there’s a script (it has to be witty and smart and calculatingly representative of my awesomeness), there are many different tangled plots that should eventually mean something, there’s a bunch of challenges that I either win instantly win or may lose for the moment so I can win later on, there are losses that teach me lessons, and there is of course change.

Change is the tricky part, because I both want and fear it simultaneously.

This is no place to end a piece of writing I suppose, but I am special and also I want to sleep so let’s continue this tomorrow shall we? I will be most obliged.

Our Lives is one big Reality Show, but Who’s Adjusting the Lenses?

Just a quick heads up: The title is completely misleading and I’m not sure I even talk about reality shows in here.

Continue.

Blog’s theme for this week: Write about something opposite to what you usually write about. Challenge yourself. Think outside the box and bring about a piece. Or better yet, forget that there was a box in the first place, and write about that.

I don’t know how to write something that is opposite to what I usually am. Why? Because I don’t know what I usually am, and I don’t know how everybody else thinks they do.

I believe in masks and filters. I believe that none of us is really who we are when we are in public. Note being, public is a loose term that can range from society to only one other human being sitting next to you.

My mother used to always say that to know a person you must travel somewhere with them, or experience an accident along their side.

To know people you have to see them when they’ve run out of time to wear their masks, or keep up their pretense of whoever they “are”.

But even that is not enough in my opinion. One cannot truly ever know another, because good luck to us in truly knowing ourselves, better yet another human being.

I think that’s why believers believe in a God: A being so omniscient and omnipresent and all-knowing, that only HE can fully know us- and therefore judge us. We take comfort in that, because then we can project our own past and reality to those other less capable creatures- humans.

You can know nothing about my past except for what I choose to tell you. This version of my past will become your truth, which is completely different from the ‘actual truth’, because my story has crossed through your mind, and crawled through all the locks and the shades and the filters in there.

To be very honest, I have no idea where I’m going with this. It just hit me that truth is a relative term, and if I’m pragmatic enough, I shall dare to say that everything is a lie even when it’s not.

But because I’m not pragmatic enough, I’m sticking with my mom’s theory. So let’s pack our things and go to Morocco, because I’ve always wanted to go there. Like, really.

Being Black is Bad..Even in a Black Country

When I was in fifth grade, our Jordanian professor asked all students to search for the origins of their home countries’ names. The assignment was interesting; it had never occurred to me before that, that the word “Sudan” could have an inherent meaning other than referring to Sudan, my North African homeland. Intrigued and excited, I went back home and told my mother about our teacher’s request, but she was not nearly as excited about the question as I was. In fact, for some reason, my mom was offended. “Is your teacher trying to say that Sudan is from “Soud” meaning black? Is she trying to tell you that your country is named after your color?” She asked defensively. I hurriedly assured her that the question was not personal at all, and everyone in the class had to answer it too.

No matter how my mother felt about that assignment, the fact is the word Sudan indeed comes from “Soud” the Arabic word for black. Years later when we returned to Sudan, I realized that my mother’s defensiveness is a common reaction. The mere hint of any topic including skin color would bring out the defensive side of most Sudanese people, no matter what the context is.

Sudan literally means “the land of the Soud”, so for Sudanese people, skin color is both an identity and a nationality.  Sadly, though, somewhere along the lines of slavery, racism, and imperialism, the color black has become a stigma.

As in any African country, the “blackness” of Sudanese people’s skin color varies; and it is so highly emphasized that each tone has its own description. Starting from the darkest skin color to the lightest, people are labeled in colors: Bluish, greenish, dark brownish, brownish, yellowish, and then, the purest of all- whitish. Statistically speaking, light skinned Sudanese are a minority in quantity, but far from being a minority in quality. Quite the opposite, the lighter the skin the more prestigious and beautiful the person is considered to be.

But how is it that in a black country, being black is a shame? Why are girls constantly looking for the new hit product, the one that promises a cleaner, “whiter” skin tone? Why are comments such as “your skin color is lighter now!” or “You’re face is cleaner!” considered the highest form of compliments?

Unintentionally, society has decided that clean and white are synonyms. And while using products in attempts to have a lighter skin is a widespread trend amongst females generally, it is frightening to note that in a country where the majority has dark skin color, black is considered ugly and dirty.

Naturally, these beliefs about skin color and self-worth did not stem from nowhere; they all date back to the time of colonialism. Ever since the British, “the white people” colonized Sudan, feelings of inferiority were successfully passed down one generation after another. In the eyes of the powerless, dominated black man, the white man had privilege, status, and power. Those few Sudanese who were lucky enough to work with the British were considered powerful too, just by associating with the white man, because the British would often put them in positions of authority. Now, more than half a century later, the British are gone, but these beliefs remained. Dark skinned people are still unfairly denied well deserved job offers, and mothers continue to urge their sons to choose a light skinned bride so the grandchildren will turn out “beautiful”.

Why is this still happening? It’s simple: ignorance. Society is so unaware of how powerful these beliefs have nested in the minds of individuals, from the simple and uneducated to the high profile and sophisticated. Unconsciously, through our everyday language, we are breeding racism among our generation and the ones to come.

Blaming imperialism and Western media gets us nowhere. We need to make a conscious group effort to slowly eliminate these concepts from our society. Some Sudanese would say it is impossible; that these beliefs have hung around for far too long that they have come to define us. That’s not true, it is possible. However difficult it may be, if we improve our language we can improve our culture. The future generations shape their perceptions on what they grow up observing and absorbing, and that’s why we have to at least try.

Start. Tell your dark skinned daughter that she and her light skinned cousin are both beautiful, because beauty is not confined to a color. Explain to your son that girls with all skin colors are worthy of love. And most importantly, make a conscious decision to stop using derogatory racial judgments yourself. This way, slowly but surely, all Sudanese people will start to see themselves as they truly are: Beautiful.

When in Doubt, Watch a Movie.

Does anyone remember the first movie they’ve ever watched? I mean the very very first, the one that after you’ve seen whether you hated or loved it, made you decide that storytelling through images is cool, and you want more where that came from.

I don’t remember my very first movie, as hard as I’ve tried to. That is very sad, because movies played such a big role in my life, that I feel somehow indebted to the one that started it all for me. Of course, had I known movies would end up affecting the course of my life this much, I would have watched that first movie with great care and utmost attention.

How did movies affect me? I think in some parallel cosmo, had I never started watching movies at all, I would have become a complete different person. An idea as frightening to me as it is stunning.

Dreams are one aspect where movies impacted my life. I started watching movies when I was in third grade. I lived in an Arab country, so I spoke and understood only Arabic at that age, and did not even have adequate knowledge to follow an English speaking movie from beginning to end without translation.

Even the Arabic translation was a struggle; often it would move too fast on the screen, or I’d focus too much on getting every word that I would miss chunks of the movie.

But I loved it.

I often wondered about it, this art of translation. It sounded more exotic and exciting in my head at that age, but it was just that- art. I would imagine this person- who in my mind was nothing less than a knight, worthy of our awe and respect- as a connector of cultures, a messenger between civilizations.

This person, who had the privilege or luck of knowing two languages, was doing more than translating a badly montaged Hollywood movie so I and the less fortunate can understand the plot. To me, this translator built a bridge between the two worlds, two continents, and two opposites: the East and the West. He or she is responsible for my traveling into this new world, and broadening of perspective of society.

Of course at that time I believed the movies I watched actually represented the Western culture, but that’s another discussion.

So, as my love for movies grew, so did my love for translators. I became an expert too. I started recognizing the different translations one English word can yield in Arabic. I could predict the ending of the spoken sentence said just by reading the whole Arabic sentence written on screen. I started understanding new English vocabulary that kids my age did not know. These little victories for an elementary student meant a lot, and that was about the time I decided I wanted to become a translator.

I wanted to study languages to become that knight; that person whose skills would bring different people closer and help the world to become a friendlier place. Fast forward to after I finished my last year in high school: it was time to apply for universities. I was 16 then, and my dream was still intact.

I was going to learn languages. As many as I can.

I felt so comfortable that day, seeing everyone around me confused, conflicted, and worried about what to study, while I’ve got it all figured out.

But something happened along the way that I forgot to mention; I had watched a show that planted an idea in my head: What would I be, if I studied media?

A simple idea, yet it conquered my mind and began to grow slowly, all the while shadowing my long decided dream. I felt like Mal in the last scene of Inception (warning: spoiler) when Cobb admits he’d performed inception on his wife in the past with a little idea. But that harmless small seed grew in Mal’s head day by day until it became the thorny forest of doubts that eventually destroyed her.

Ok it was not that dramatic, but you get it.

Suddenly I was no better than these around me, lost, confused, and worried about the future. A choice had to be made: languages or media? I was certain of one thing: each one would transform me completely, turning me into a new person.

I just had to somehow predict which would get me closer to my envisioned future self: being translator or a media person?

Eventually I did what I always do when I’m confused: I prayed istikhara, and two years later I’m studying Journalism in the American University in Dubai. Had the dice played a different number, maybe I would have been somewhere else in the world, growing into a different person maybe better, maybe worse.

Homesick, but fine thank you.

If you ask me “how are you” whether it’s out of common courtesy and politeness or on the rare occasion that you actually want to know, I’d probably answer with a “fine alhamdulilah” or maybe drop a few complaints about something insignificant like exams or the weather. But if I were to be honest, I’d answer every how are you question I get daily with one word every time- homesick.
Now, whenever I tweet or post a status about being homesick, most of my Sudanese friends readily jump to reply with the same answer I’ve been getting since I came to the UAE: “You miss Sudanese people, not Sudan.”
False.
People are often surprised when they know I plan to go back to Sudan after graduating. They tell me that I’m just being sentimental, that it is not realistic or smart. They remind me of how lucky I am to have gotten out in the first place.
I don’t understand that. Am I only to love my country from afar, until it somehow decides to become “developed”? Is it so farfetched and unlikely that I love my country right now, just as it is?
Well, I do.
I love my country with its uncountable downs and few ups. I love it with –not despite- the unconstructed streets, the electricity cuts, the water running out, the people’s bluntness, the rakshas noise, and the crowded buses…till the end of the very long list. I love it with all that, and if I don’t love it, I can’t help change it.
I love the people, yes, but I also love the land, the air, and the Nile, and I would never trade any of it to live anywhere else in the future.
So yes, I live in a constant homesickness because I am here in the UAE studying for my Bachelor’s degree. The UAE is definitely a “step up” from Sudan, and it’s a comfortable, entertaining and beautiful place to be. But for me, it is no home.
When things get tough, I remind myself that I am here because I’m trying to become a better person through education and solitude. I try to remember that by endurance and hard work, I can become someone who would eventually do something for their country instead of just tweeting about it. And that gets me by for the next day, to when someone asks my how are you, and I say great, alhamdulilah.

What Should the UAE Do for the Rajaa Children?

Fifteen young Sudanese children were raped by their school driver at the Rajaa rehabilitation center in Khartoum where they live.

Now, why should we care? It’s Sudan after all. Raped women, assaulted villages, and destroyed homes are simply natural occurrences in the war ridden country that have been undergoing bombarding and shelling for as long as anyone can remember.

Yes, Sudan is a political and social mess, but does that give us the excuse to disregard the Rajaa children case? Absolutely not.

Ten years ago, there would have been no chance for the world of knowing that Motaz, a driver at the Rajaa center sexually assaulted and raped not one, or two, or three, but fifteen street kids hailing from Northern, Southern and Western Sudan. These kids, who regarded their stay at the center as their last hope to stay off of the streets, would have had to endure this inhumane abuse helplessly simply because no one would have known about it to help them.

But now, thanks to Twitter and BlogSpot, knowing is not the issue. Wherever we are we can know, but it is not enough to just know, we must act.

UAE has the means and the opportunity to help Sudan. Not through official donations though, since it became apparent that sending charitable funds to the Sudanese government have done nothing to prevent civil wars, let alone the Rajaa Children case.

What should be done however is sending financial support to non-governmental organizations that organize charity projects independent of the government.

Organizations such as “To Sudan with Love” and “Sudanese Red Crescent Society” aim to support homeless children, widows, orphans and other misfortunate minorities. They also encourage the society to become an active part of the social change, by urging the people –especially the youth- to volunteer with their time, effort, or money to help out their follow citizens.

These organizations put considerable effort into making Sudan a better place. They do not lack enthusiasm, motive, or good intention. They only lack the proper funding, and that’s where the UAE can lend hand.   

 

So Very Strange..

“How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn’t they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?”

Don DeLillo

Ripping a Band-aid off of your soul.

You don’t want to be you tonight. For a change, you want to be someone who is capable of following through with their goals; someone who does not again and again fall to the same old useless pattern because they’re stuck in their familiar comfort zone.

Today, you want to be someone who, after they’ve decided what they wanted, would conjure up the sufficient patience to carry it through and the courage. You lack the courage.

You have a clear view of what you want, and by now you think you know just how to become that- how to achieve what you’ve been dreaming of for so long. Yet you find yourself stuck. Maybe not literally, maybe you’re moving, but it is SO slow that for the naked eye -including yours- you’ve only been tottering in place. Which is even worse.

It is true what they say: when you change, you destroy a part of who you are. No matter how useless or bad that part of yourself is, it is still you, and it was in you for a reason. A long time ago, your soul has invited this part inside. But it’s not your soul’s fault. At that time, maybe it was the only visitor, and you were so lonely that your soul agreed to let it in.
After all, your soul is only looking after you. It would never have allowed such a dangerous thing to enter the most sacred and sensitive parts of you had it known that it would turn from a temporal visitor to a clinging full-time resident. It most definitely would not have let it in had it known it would become excruciatingly hard for you to kick it out.
When it first arrived at your soul’s doorstep it looked week and harmless, but you unknowingly fed it well and helped it grow so powerful. Now, it had entitled itself for deserving as much right of you as any other part of you rightfully does.

Time in time, you forget that it was once only a lonely beggar knocking feebly on the doors of your heart and mind. You forget that had things been different, you could have never opened the door. But of course the idea is most ridiculous; who would have you turned out to be without it?

No matter how much you resent it, despise it, and loathe the nonliving pieces of it, you know that without it you would not have turned out the way you have. Indeed, you like how you turned out- minus it. As hard as it may be to admit, you owe it. You know it’s the truth, and you hate it even more for that.

So what can you do? If there is a book or a movie about a villain posed as a resented full-time visitor, hurriedly refer to it. You’ll need all the advice you can get. It is a battle. You discover as you try to get rid of it, that it had glued itself to your soul ever so slyly, and you cannot risk tearing it off because you are uncertain of how much of your soul you would lose forever with it.

So it became like cancer, if there was such a thing as a needed cancer. For that, you must become your own chief surgeon. You alone must decide whether it is safe to pursue the operation, or if it is too late. You alone must calculate the advantages and the potential costs. Patients have it easy, they’ve got someone to blame: the hospital, the doctors, the equipment… But you? You are the patient and the doctor. You are the ailed and the healer. It all comes down to this: You have a Band-Aid in your soul, are you willing to rip it off?

See No Lies..Write No Lies

Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go write it down, and either you over dramatize it or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want it to.

Sylvia Plath

 

This quote touches on an issue I struggle with whenever I try to put my emotions into words. I think to myself, did I really communicate what I’m feeling or is it fiction that I’m writing right now?

I realize that it’s only my emotions we’re talking about here, and since I am not The Dalai Lama or Oprah, it is not a big deal. But what does that mean when it comes to reporting news?

Can one really literally describe whatever he or she sees in real life for others to experience the same situation?  Would the reader’s experience be similar to yours- the writer’s, or would it be more or profound? Do you choose to make it less intense? I am not talking about intentional, conscious manipulation of word choice of course, I’m simply casting doubts on the journey which news take on their way from our minds onto the paper or the laptop. Does our subconsciousness play the antagonist in this scenario?