Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Joy of the Occupied West Bank

There are ingredients that are added and mixed to create a tasty dish, and then there are ingredients that go into making the whole of a meal-going experience desirable in itself.

The environment of where you eat your meal can leave a lasting impression. Sometimes the adventure is the meal, sometimes it’s the journey to the meal. I had the good fortune of attending a number of restaurants  in Palestine in the summer of 2010 during my nearly five week stay. I can't stress how much of a joy it was to discover all the new, charming eateries in Palestine.

Monday, January 23, 2012

World Series Game 6

I remember looking down at the three guys clad in their blue Rangers jerseys.

 They all had their arms around each other, ready to share the special moment that was culminating after a long season of some pain but mostly joy, and I'm sure at least over 600 miles of travel on top of that.

I looked down. Bittersweet. Almost numb. I knew what they were feeling. The excitement. The joy. The relief. The disbelief.

I couldn't hate them for that.

After a mostly sloppy game, I didn't want to see another team celebrate a World Series victory on our field. But I knew it would be historic. How many people get to see a World Series victory in person?

I felt an emotion that I guess comes with years of loving a game. I'm not just in love with my team, ya know. I love the game. I appreciated what I was watching no matter the outcome. I felt a lump in my throat that had to be subdued because, you know, there's no crying in this game.

It was like some relief or blessing to see that intimate moment. These friends, or brothers, or whatever they were, seemed to really take in the moment. They weren't bandwagon fans. They were oblivious to the Cardinals fans around them by now. Two strikes away from the ultimate taste of victory. Then one. I looked down behind the Rangers dugout and saw the buzz of Rangers fans, excited to see it finally happening for them.
I don't remember if we were standing or not. I just remember my sister and I promised not to look like one of those sad, pathetic fans on TV. You know, the ones that are crying, or are cupping their hands in front of their mouths. We didn't want to be one of those people we mocked, so we pretended not to be. But I know we were feeling like someone was squeezing our hearts.

I looked around the ballpark, watching everyone's reactions, ready to accept defeat. What else usually happens in baseball? I didn't remember a baseball team coming back, down by two runs, in a world series game, one strike away from going home.

Then I saw the ball fly in the air. It seemed like time slowed down. It looked like Nelson Cruz slowed because the ball wouldn't carry out. He was going to catch it. And I heard screams. I heard the Rangers fans celebrating. I looked down at the field and the mound, waiting for a pile of Rangers. So this is what it felt like?

Confusion. Instead, I saw Pujols and Berkman running around the bases. I swear I thought the Cardinals were running because they refused to believe it was over. Were they confused too? I saw them cross home plate. I saw the crowd jumping wildly. I saw the ball being thrown in and Freese slide into third base.

I felt myself screaming and jumping up in down. I screamed like I had never screamed before, literally like I was watching someone being raised from the dead. I hugged my sister and hugged the strangers who had become friends behind us. "Oh my GOD!" was the phrase of choice. What else do you scream when you see what we saw?

We forced the game into extra innings and it felt like I had entered a dream state.

Then the dream entered a new twilight zone. Just as quickly as we had tied it, it felt like Josh Hamilton had undone that feeling of euphoria. Again, I saw the Rangers fans celebrating. But this time I was more crushed than anything else. How could something so wonderful turn so wrong? Why did we have to crash down like this? It was as if someone had punched us in the gut. "Oh," I thought, "it's one of those games." Was this the opposite of delirious euphoria? Is there a word for that?

But these Cards...they kept fighting in the tenth. And the Cards were suddenly down by one again. There were two outs, but Jon Jay was on third base and Pujols had been intentionally walked. Up came Puma. Again, we were down to our last strike, because let's face it, it wasn't just the Cards down to their last strike, it was everyone hanging on to every pitch.

Then it happened again. To quote Joe Buck, and I don't do this often, "They just. Won't. Go. Away."  I felt dizzy. There was that feeling of disbelief again. I didn't know any other feeling anymore. I kept thinking I would have to go home and pray after seeing a game like this.

Our new friend behind us kept getting text messages. "I have Cubs friends texting me! They're telling me this is the best game they have ever seen!" she screamed to us. Yes. This was the best game we had all ever seen.

I found out later that Cards radio broadcaster, John Rooney, described it perfectly when he said it was like a heavyweight bout. It was exactly that. And we were all exhausted because it was like the fans were taking and dodging the emotional punches. At one point, in between innings, my sister and I hugged, because we knew we were witnessing something special and we were glad to witness it together.

When the bottom of the 11th came, everyone felt like we had already witnessed a classic. I felt like we had all joined some fraternity or something. And when Freese belted that walk off home run, it was our happy ending. We screamed again, with what was left of our voice. I screamed "This is the best game I have ever seen" and I could scream it with conviction.

Everyone lingered because no one wanted to go home. We wanted to milk this feeling for as long as we could. We just wanted to be around each other. So we stayed. And when the ballpark was almost empty, my   sister and I left.

I still can't believe so many things. I can't believe that game and how it unfolded. I can't believe how sloppy it had started, like some lump of coal that turned into a diamond. I can't believe how many times we were down to our last strike. I can't believe we got to be there.

I'll never be able to accurately put into words the feeling we had being there. There are no words.
 Just the excitement. The joy. The relief. The disbelief.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The commercial that even children mocked: "I've fallen and I can't get up!"

Ead Quotables

Awesome quotes from the Eads---because sometimes you don't need a whole story:

Banan: "You can be my Pippa." (In reference to Pippa Middleton and the hotness she displayed at her sister's wedding, were Banan to have a grand wedding and I were to choose a gown.)

Banan: "We're like a reality show without the cameras."
(To which I replied "Some people call that real life.")

Sharif: "Have you tried these?" (pulls out Chewy Lemonheads candy)
Me: "No thanks."
Sharif: "Come on, try them. They're good."
Me: (hesitates, then takes a box) "ok."
Sharif: "That's how people try drugs." (walks away)
Me: (hangs head in shame)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Ramadan: Strugglin' to Be the Model Muslim

"Hey Ahmed, pass me the bread!"

Let's face the facts. Observing Ramadan doesn't always bring out the best in us. I know I'm reserving a spot in hell or something with what I'm saying, but I'm trying to be as honest as possible.

Listen, I understand that Ramadan is not about being perfect. (It's pretending to be perfect! Not Really. Just kidding. Please don't punish me, God.)  It's a month in which we strive for patience and understanding.  It's self reflection and empathy with the hungry. It's not just abstinence from food and water- otherwise you'd just be starving yourself, so I'm told. It's about seeking solace in your religion and prayers. It's attempting to purge yourself of your shallow and often whiny attitude about life, and those evil thoughts and actions. Oh, those evil thoughts and actions will be the literal downfall of us all.

So it's kind of fun to observe the casual Muslims from your everyday life attempting to do just that. We all have our issues.

 For some of us, our evil action of choice is cussing. For the foul mouthed Muslim trying to curb their sinful behavior during Ramadan, some sentences sound like this:

Holy shnikey that's a wowzer.

or this...

Mushy pants on your face, you hear me?! Mushy pants on your face!

or even perhaps this...

mother [bleeep!] Damn, I just cussed. Oh shoot. I did it again. Son of a monkey's uncle! Forgive me God!

For others, it's filling our heads with mindless, gutter dwelling television and music.

Oh we try to convince ourselves we're doing okay because we've somehow avoided watching MTV 2 or BET, but in our attempt to make the hours slip by more quickly, we forget to pick up a Quran and, you know, read it. Instead, the poor sucker travels effortlessly from youtube video to youtube video.

Why hello new Britney Spears video! When did you come out? And aren't you looking mighty fit and not-insane at the moment, Brit!

and then there's this...

I just need to know if the new "Moves Like Jagger" video came out. I just need to know!

For another portion of the population, the guilty pleasure resides in the kingdom of tabloidery. Eonline, people, [insert other celebrity watch site]...the list goes on and on.

Sometimes Casey Anthony news can't wait. Or you need to know how Jennifer Lopez is feeling about her divorce. Or you'd like to know how Jennifer Aniston and her new boyfriend are doing. I'm not judging you! I'm just acknowledging your existence!

I personally love all the Grumpy McGrumpersons in our lives. Again, I'm not judging, because this may include me. A conversation with Grumpy McGrumperson may look like this:

You: Did you hear what the meteorologist said the weekend would look like?

Grumpy McGrumperson: 100 [bleepin] degrees of hell. Hot [bleepin] fire crawling all up your [bleep]. Ask me again what the temperature is, punk [bleep] [bleep].

You: Wow, I was just asking.

Grumpy McGrumperson: (in mocking tone) "oh! I was just asking!" you pansy [bleep].

or maybe you've heard something like this...

You: What are we eating tonight?

Grumpy McGrumperson: Food.

You: That's funny. What kind of food?

Grumpy McGrumperson: The human kind.

You: Ok, is mom there? Can I talk to her?

Grumpy McGrumperson: Only if you never call here again ::Hangs up the phone::

And finally there are the delusional-I-can't-survive-another-minute-what-is-this-hunger-strike-or-heat-stroke?-please-help-me-God-I-can't-make-it people:

You: Did you see that new Mac commercial?

Desperado: What? Big Mac? Huh? ::falls onto the ground::

Desperado: Is it getting dark in here?

You: What? No, it's the same as it's been for the last 2 hours.

Desperado: What? What's happening? I can't think. Can you tell mom I love her?

So good for you if you have a house full of angels! The rest of us are these people. Please accept our fasts, oh Lord. And please forgive us for being terrible examples for the children.

Godspeed on your remaining days of Ramadan, fellow Muslims.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Would You Ask An Arab?

  • Who’s your daddy? –Moe Hamdan

The more appropriate Arab question here is, “Who are you the daughter (or son) of?”

Arabs usually identify members of society through the parents. In turn, our parents are often identified by using the name of their eldest son or child. So I am the daughter of Abu Arafat (father of Arafat) or Um Arafat (mother of Arafat).

That’s right… I’m the daughter of the mother of Arafat.

That’s how Arabs roll.

If you want to open Pandora’s Box, ask Arabs how they’re related.

  • Why can’t you pronounce the letter p? –Hannah Shalabi

Well, the tale begins with a young man and his monkey side-kick, who- by fate or circumstance- manage to get their hands on a magic lamp. The young man rubs the lamp and a genie exits with much pomp and circumstance. And that's what she said. We'll just stop the story there.

The short answer: borno. bony tail. Stop bicking your nose. Next question iblease.

  • Do you have your idea (ID)? –Fifi Ihmoud
Yes, it is in my bocket.

  • What’s your mom’s baklava recipe? –Jacqueline Blossfield
A hint of “heck yes”, a dash of “yum” and a lot of love. We need to have a baklava party. You won't get many baklava party invitations. You should jump at the opportunity.

  • Have you been reading Ask a Mexican? –Kholood Eid
No. But I want to be a part of “A Mexican asks an Arab”.

  • How the heck do you make that shawerma so tasty? –Daanish Faruqi
Our secret recipe is petroleum. Once you start consuming it, it’s hard to break the habit.

Other than that, garlic, sumac and other spices are important. But I wouldn’t be a good Palestinian if I just gave away our secret. It’s hard to hold onto anything that belongs to us these days.

  • Why the heck did you leave your country and try to be someone else? You lost both, buddy. –Ruba Abusharif

Most Arabs thought they’d be leaving their country’s politics and economy for upgraded ones. What they didn’t realize was that they’d leave their hearts behind as well. The best way to fix this is to go back home. There you’ll do one of two things: be reminded of why you rightly left in the first place, or have the idea reinforced that you shouldn’t have ever left in the first place. Either way, home is where the heart is! ::violins (or oud) play::

Also, remember, the sand is always grainier on the other side. If that doesn’t help, then the la7im is always tastier on the other side. Still no? The hookah/argeela is always ….oh, never mind.

  • Why so blunt? –Dalal Juma
What a stupid question! How stupid of you to ask this question! Just kidding.

Arabs tell people they’re stupid, too loud, too quiet, too short, too tall, too skinny, too fat or funny looking because they take the intended target’s silence as an open invitation for criticism. It’s also a way for the critic to take the attention away from their own flaws.

But the best way to combat this is to walk into a room full of Arabs and start calling them stupid, too loud, too quiet, too short, too tall, too skinny, too fat or funny-looking first. You know, beat them to the punch.

Or you can do what the rest of us do and make jokes about our insecurities, and then cry in your bed at night.

  • Why do our leaders suck? Miserable Tyrants! –Randa Abdulkarim
Ugh, they DO suck! I throw my shoe at them! Our leaders suck because human beings suck. We all know that human beings who are in unlimited positions of power are jerks. I’ve never met a person who was in an infinite position of power who wasn’t a jerk. Even leaders serving limited terms are jerks. End of story.

[*Updated Feb.17, 2011: The antidote to terrible leaders is awesome people who, at their collective breaking point, rise and fight the power. It would also help if the U.S. government and other Western powers didn't support these tyrants because it serves their interest, at the expense of Arab citizens and freedom, of course. ]

  •  What do you like better, the blad ("the country" aka Palestine)  or America? –Sharif Ead
It depends on when you ask me. When I’m paying bills, working, or giving a geography lesson because no one knows where Palestine is, the blad is better. When gangs of dogs are waking me up from sleep or an old, blunt Arab woman is calling me fat or an idiot, I like America better.

  • Cheef il business? –Waheab Yaghnam
Al business zift.

  • Fateh or Hamas? –Safi Eid
Neither. [See “Why do our leaders suck?”]

  • Why ya hate black people?! –Hamida Hashi

Well, I'm Arab and I do not hate black people. I’d like to think I judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. As for the Arabs you refer to, they, like any other race, can succumb to ignorance and false feelings of superiority. They, of course, don't represent everyone.

I think honest Arabs can own up to the fact that their societies don’t always treat minorities any better than Arabs are treated in other societies. Having an open and honest discussion on race could do the Arabs good. But I don’t think this is strictly an "Arab" problem. Hello history of man!

  • How long have you been in America? –Nijeh Juma

Long enough to make a commemorative plaque. Also, I’m pretty sure that if I went to and paid for a membership, I’d find some long lost relatives in the US.

  • Why do you hate the jews? -Shadi Abdelaziz

Ah, the dreaded "why do you hate jews?" question. I do not hate Jews. I hate it when people make blanket statements like "Arabs hate Jews". This claim of anti-semitism takes the attention away from the policies of an apartheid Israeli government that touts its false democracy while systemically driving Palestinians from their land and ignoring international law. I don’t care if you’re Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Atheist. That's wrong and unjust. I hate injustice!

  • So is your Allah like our God? –Shadi Abdelaziz
We’ve already copyrighted  “Allah bless you” after a sneeze. We’re working on “In Allah we trust.”

  • So…what part of Arabia are you from??? –Shadi Abdelaziz

The best part: No part.

Heeeeeeeeey! OOOOOH! Hey! Who said that?!

And finally, here’s a fun Debbie Downer quote from my dad. Just because.
“My son’s lazy and #6 doesn’t work on the calculator.” ::Waa Waaaa::

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shots of Newsenadrine

The Palestine Papers prove that we can't trust anybody. I'm not just talking about the Palestinian Authority, the U.S. government or Israel here. I'm talking about your mom, your dentist or your cat.

Josh McDaniels signed on as the Rams offensive coordinator. During the interview, Steve Spagnuolo asked "Is that a video camera in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?", to which McDaniels replied, "Oh, it's definitely a video camera."

Here's to hoping this leads to a last second field goal to win the superbowl over the Patriots. Only then will I start to let go of the past. Maybe.

Earlier this week, Macy Gray asked fans on her facebook page if she should go ahead with a concert in Tel Aviv. While she acknowledged that what the Israeli government is doing to Palestinians is "disgusting", she decided to go through with the concert because it "won't change anything."

She also called boycotters "assholes". The universe has commented that it is no coincidence that she has an album titled "The Sellout".

Macy Gray has since acknowledged that Rosa Parks should have just gotten up and moved to the back of the bus. Her words, not mine.

The Patriots lost to the New York Jets last week. Bill Belichick should've asked Tom Brady to take off his shoes and socks to distract Rex Ryan. Take one for the team, Tom.

American Idol is back. The judges are too nice. Steven Tyler needs to tell a male contestant that "Dude looks like a lady" and J. Lo needs to tell someone they're so bad, if they were a movie, they'd be Gigli.

Batman's next onscreen nemisis…Bane, who looks like he's ready to start for a major league baseball team.

Bane will be played by Tom Hardy, who won our hearts in Inception. Or who we just dreamed won our hearts in Inception. I don't know. Someone hand me a top.

Batman's next booty call is Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, aka Princess Mia Thermopolis, aka padow!, aka host of the Oscars.

Boys everywhere are squealing with glee. I didn't mean that as a Glee pun because she'll be guest starring on the hit show. It just happened.

Ricky Gervais made rich, beautiful, and famous people cry at the Golden Globes. The world went to the streets in protest asking for his resignation until they realized he wasn't in any position of power.

Some people thought he was funny, except for a few of the stars who work so hard for public approval it practically kills their sense of self and a few people who don't know the stars but are pretty sure they'd be best friends if they actually met.

Angelina Jolie doesn't care either way. We know this because her life is perfect and she is beautiful.

Speaking of roast, no one here noticed some guy in Tunisia set himself on fire. At least the Tunisians noticed.

In South America, animals make their own news.

While birds in the U.S. are falling dead from the sky, a drug-smuggling pigeon was caught in Columbia. The pigeon later appeared on the local news saying, " What was I supposed to do? I have many children. There are no jobs. Who wants to hire a pigeon?". He then coo'ed and crapped on a car.

And if the story and photo of the dog in Brazil who wouldn't leave his dead owner's muddy graveside doesn't make you tear up just a little, you should probably start dealing drugs with a pigeon.

Community is so good, I hate you for not watching it. I wish I could drag you out of your stupidity and force you to watch it for your own good. I should throw an insane cat at you, then make you befriend a drug smuggling pigeon.

I challenge you to find television more hilarious, more entertaining, more watchable or more creative than episodes like, "Modern Warfare", "Epidemiology", or "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas". You suck.

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Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words – the words live on
for as long as there are readers to see them, audiences to hear them. It is
immortality by proxy. It is not really a bad deal, all things considered.
-J. Michael Straczynski