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Friday, November 15, 2013

So Long, Farewell

So, this is my last Live From Lebanon... After 18 years of a journey full of ups and downs, I moved back to the United States. It was a tough decision, but one that has been in the pipelines for a while. Right now, I'm sitting in the closet of my nephew, which my sister converted into his homework station (I have usurped the poor kid's room until I get settled), and reminiscing about my last big move, the one that took me to Lebanon. It was a happy time back then, even though Beirut hadn't been even close to being rebuilt. But there was hope and optimism, and I was glad to be a part of it.

I lived with my grandmother and had a medium sized bedroom that my parents refurbished for me, because the old furniture had been there since the '50s. I put up two posters: one of Brad Pitt in 'Legends of the Fall' and one of 'Forrest Gump'. I had a little TV set with a VCR attached, a dressing table and an electric blue office chair that I never used and still don't know why I bought. My grandmother still has it and the posters are still up. I was studying at the American University of Beirut and typed all my papers on a laptop my dad gave me while sitting on my bed. I never folded my clothes and just threw them on the second bed, and my grandmother gave me a lecture about how I needed to be tidier so that I'd be a good homemaker when I got married. I still hate folding my clothes, but I'm not married so I guess it doesn't matter!

I got dysentery the first week I moved so after I recovered, I only drank Diet Coke for like six months. I also sustained myself on Kinder fingers and Cadbury Time Out bars when my grandmother was away, because I never cooked. Even though the elevator broke down for six months of the year I lived with her, and I had to go up and down the stairs a million times a day, I still gained weight because of all the chocolate I ate. I also walked to class everyday, except when it rained. I loved the smell of za'atar and tea in the mornings, and the hustle and bustle of Hamra actually gave me a sense of calm.

It didn't take me long to get used to the way of life in Beirut. I never completely conformed but always felt I was home. At first, the extended family were convinced I moved to Lebanon for a guy. They couldn't believe I would leave America, my parents and siblings just to come to AUB. But there was no guy. Just this crazy, wonderful, grating, charming town that I fell in love with. Through thick and thin for 18 years. But I like to think of myself as a lady, and a lady always knows when to make her exit.

So it's time for me to say goodbye to you, my beautiful Lebanon. But I leave behind my heart, and it will be here with you always.

Monday, October 28, 2013

UnBreaking Bad

So, I've been binge watching Breaking Bad lately. I wanted to know what all the hype was about and be in on all the references and jokes, but mostly I just wanted people to think I was cool. I was really drawn into all the Walter White drama, but thought that what Lebanon needs is the complete opposite - basically to unbreak bad. We've become so jaded over the years that no one is nice anymore. I know it sounds trivial, but for some time now, I've noticed that many Lebanese have lost their goodwill and manners are a thing of the past. I know, I know, you're thinking, Anissa, you really expect fighters in say Tripoli to take time in between trying to blow each others' heads off and say, 'Yo, thank you for missing a major artery', or 'please don't aim at the heart'? But you know what? Perhaps if we were kinder to one another, such conflicts would be less the norm nowadays.

For example, I have been going to the same gym for about eight months now. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, says 'hello'. But the thing that irritates me the most is the parking attendants at the cashier window. Every time I pull up, I greet whoever is on duty and all I have gotten in return are Walter White death stares. So, I made it my goal to get them to say hello back. I can't explain why, but it just became so important, like if I could get them to be polite, then maybe it was a sign that there is hope for Lebanon. I had like this Rocky moment, but instead of 'Eye of the Tiger', Katy Perry's 'Roar' was playing in my imaginary mission montage. I was gonna do it, whatever it took, Parking Attendant the Elder and Parking Attendant the Younger (they don't wear name tags) were going to acknowledge my 'hellos' and 'thank yous' dammit.

I explained my admirable goal to MadGlam and she said, 'Maybe they don't respond because you talk in English. Say it in Arabic.' Aha! That must be the reason, I thought. So the next day, I said, 'marhaba' and 'shukran'. Walter you-stole-my-meth White eyeballing was the response. 'Okay, maybe they think you're a peasant or something. Say it in French,' MadGlam advised again. (She has the answer for everything, as long as you don't ask her to name a song title.) So I tried the 'bonjour/ merci' route and got Walter I-am-the-danger White in return. (Anyone else getting that I am really into Breaking Bad?)

Then one fine day, after six months at the gym, I pulled up to the window and Parking Attendant the Younger was on duty. I said, 'hello' and miracle of all miracles, HE SAID HELLO BACK. I was so stunned that when he handed me back the ticket, his arm dangled out his window for a good 30 seconds before I noticed and took it from his hand. I felt victorious, but my mission was not yet complete. Parking Attendant the Elder was still holding out. He became my Everest.

Until last week. Oh my god! Eight months of unrelenting politeness in return for eight months of Walter shut-up-Skylar White evil eyes, and Parking Attendant the Elder finally, finally, caved in and said 'hello'. 'That's right, b**ch!' I shouted back triumphantly in my best Jesse Pinkman. Okay, not really.

But long story short: Mission accomplished; Everest climbed. Please acknowledge my awesomeness. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

No Sh** Sherlock

It recently came to my attention that someone has created a new car bomb app specifically for Lebanon. It is sad to say, but when I first learned of it, I was like, that's such a good idea! I know, in other parts of the world they get excited about new iPhones, Google glasses, etc, but around here, car bomb apps are the bomb, no pun intended (okay, yes, intended!). And this coming on the heels of our very own Electricity Cuts app, which lets us oh-so-very-advanced and civilized (we like to think) Lebanese know when our power is going to be shut off and for how long. Impressed with our inventiveness yet? No? How shocking.

Anyway, since this car bomb app came to be, I really wanted to download it, but someone cautioned me against it - 'You really want to download something that came from the army?' Good point. But as many living here have been going through as of late, nearly every car we encounter is a suspect. Just the other day, I parked my car in the underground parking of my gym and there was a car with tinted windows in the spot next to mine. The engine was running and the license plate was from a Gulf country.

I immediately got suspicious. Why is the engine running? This was a dinky looking car and usually cars with Gulf license plates are on the fancy side. Hmmmm, I thought, I could really use that car bomb app right about now. I considered going to security and reporting the car, but then thought, what if it's just some sleazy couple too cheap to get a hotel room? If only Sherlock Holmes were here (the Benedict Cumberbatch one, not RDJ). He would just look at the car, examine the dust particles and the pressure of the tires and surmise that there was no bomb, just a couple of randy teenagers going at it.

It might seem blasé to joke about this, but I rushed to the elevator just in case. I then decided not to report the car because I would be too embarrassed if my other suspicion of cheapo sleaze bags was actually the case. Stupid reasoning, I know. Since when is it better to get blown up than embarrassed? But this really was my thought process as I got in the elevator and calculated how far I had to be to be clear of the maybe car bomb. Perhaps only in Lebanon do average citizens go about their daily life in this manner. Car bomb? Nahhh, couldn't be. But maybe? Nahhh, just go the gym and shut up.

I was lucky that day, but damn if I didn't wish we had a Sherlock app, so that we could make sure that suspicious cars weren't bombs in waiting. You'd press a button on your phone and - pouf! - Cumberbatch would show up and give you the 411 in seconds. And I'm not just saying that because I'd want Cumberbatch to show up at the click of a button. No, I'm a genuine concerned citizen and said app would be solely for the benefit of Lebanon. Completely. Entirely. I do not harbor any selfish intentions whatsoever.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Say Cheese

Last week, I went to the beach with Mr US and Mr NYC. It was a semi-frou frou place in Beirut, but since it was a week day, I didn't mind. When we got there, there was a woman posing for pictures at the bar, with her friend behind the camera. She kept moving around to make sure that her precious handbag was in every shot - a hot pink Chanel - because, of course, there is no other reason to post pics on Facebook if you can't show off that you bring a Chanel purse... to the beach. This is not an exaggeration, readers. This really happened. Imagine... posing for pics to highlight your designer handbag AT THE BEACH! I think I have seen the epitome of superficial materialism/ stupidity/ desperation.

Now, let me be clear. There is absolutely nothing wrong with owning a designer handbag. I love my bags. But I don't feel the need to a) take pictures of them and post them on Facebook and b) tote them to the beach (of all places). This is mainly because a) I have a life and b) I know that there are more important things going on in the world than who has the latest designer purse.

Women from a certain segment of Lebanese society need to wake up and realize that most people outside their little bubbles care about how much money they have about as much as they care about what Amanda Bynes has been arrested for since she went bat-sh*t crazy. Who is Amanda Bynes, you ask? Yeah, exactly, I rest my case.

MadGlam was over the other day and we were exchanging horror stories about these supposed 'society' women and how they abandon their kids to the care of housekeepers so they can galavant around town getting manicures and attend mindless society events to show off about their bags, jewelry and extravagant vacations. I avoid such events like the plague. I'd rather hang out with the ghosts of Saddam Hussein and Qhaddafi. But Beirut is a small town and you hear things.

When I look around and see what is happening in the world, what is happening in our backyard, and then I see how these women behave, I become totally disgusted. I want to ask these women, aren't you tired? It must be so exhausting to always be in competition with your so-called 'friends'. Why try so hard to out do everyone when there is always going to be someone who is richer than you, prettier than you, thinner than you and - not that you care - smarter than you.

It is so freeing to just be who you are and to surround yourself with people who accept the real you. Step out of your bubble for once and see. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I'm Baaccckkkk!!

I know, I know. No comment/excuses necessary. The world's worst blogger is back! So, after a six month absence, where do I begin? You'd think after such a long hiatus I'd have at least gathered up some juicy, sexy morsels to share with you all. I guess some things did happen since January. I grew my hair out, and then in a sudden fit of madness, chopped it off again. I know, exciting. Just FYI, don't, no matter how hard a time you're having styling your hair, take a pair of scissors into the bathroom and think you can channel Vidal Sassoon and a create a new Jennifer Aniston craze by trimming your own locks. Unless you enjoy looking like Raggedy Anne. I have to admit, I'm not enjoying it so much.

Okay, moving on...  I FINALLY joined a new gym after moaning about it for the past year. In the last four months, I have gone four times. I am so fit! I found a hilarious internet posting saying something like, 'my bathing suit told me to go to the gym, but my sweat pants, were like, nah!' and I totally decided to take it literally. Sweat pants are far kinder. But yesterday, I opened the scariest drawer in my cabinet, the bikini drawer, and reality hit in. They just kept staring at me, tauntingly saying, 'You're never gonna fit in me.' So I went to the gym. Yeah, I'm gonna be a supermodel (hey, miracles do happen)!

I also went to London to visit Miss HotStuff, who is now the constant companion of a Mr ToughStuff. A Scotsman on the subway - excuse me, Tube - wondered if I was in town looking for a British husband. Since he did not look like Michael Fassbender, you can guess my answer! Unfortunately, most crushing of all, I could not get tickets to the Harry Potter Studios, but I did get to Platform 9 3/4 and pushed a trolley straight on through to the Hogwarts Express. Kind of. Miss HotStuff embarrassingly accompanied me to Kings Cross station as we asked 20 security guards how to find it. When we got there, she made one grave mistake: the 'conductor', asked what scarf we wanted and she, gulp, said Slytherin! I near had a heart attack and made her go for Gryffindor, naturally.

Let's see. Oh! I also went to the Guns N' Roses concert, which was AWESOME! Appetite for Destruction was the first album I ever bought as a teen, so it was nice to go back in time and rock out to 'Sweet Child O' Mine' with Axl Rose. I have to admit, I was kind of annoyed with all the teeny boppers there, crying and going nuts over the band when they weren't even fetuses when they came out. I kept thinking, This is my band! Go and see a Justin Bieber concert! You can have him and his stupid hair!

One other tidbit from that night: I went with my brother, we took a picture, he posted it on Facebook and next week, we were apparently engaged. To each other. Yep, that's all it takes, one pic on Facebook and you're getting hitched, even if it is to YOUR OWN BROTHER! EWWWWWWW! And the picture was LABELED, as in appearing with the same surnames!

Anyhoo, I don't want to overload you all dear readers with too much info, so I will sign off for now! I could promise to be a better blogger in the future, but we all know that we shouldn't make promises that we can't keep!!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Move Like Jagger

So last night, a friend was performing in Gemaizeh to launch his new album - he's an up and coming rockstar - and we went to cheer him on! Okay, so maybe rock is not exactly his genre, but he certainly has the pipes to make it big. While listening to him croon on the guitar, Nickleback's 'Rockstar' was playing in my head, and since the whole directing thing didn't work out quite as I expected, I thought, what if I were rockstar instead?' I mean, I have good taste in music (what? no, I did not download ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ by One Direction. Really. What, this song? The one labeled 'What Makes You Beautiful' by One Direction? How did that get on my iPod, you ask? Um, I plead the Fifth.) Anyway, the point is, I really love music.

I’ll tell you another thing that no one else knows: I also love to dance. This is kind of a secret because I never do – in public anyway. I make exceptions, like my sisters’ weddings and such, but that’s it. When I’m out with my friends, I’m usually the one sitting. Sometimes, if a song I really love comes on, I stand up and do the dancing-for-dummies two-step. If I’m feeling really frisky, I’ll add a shimmy, but only a little one, otherwise I look like I’m having a seizure.

It’s kind of tragic that I’m so completely talentless in both categories. It’s like God said, “I’m going to create this really awesome person (yes, me!), make her absolutely passionate about everything from Mozart to Coldplay, but make her sound like a dying cat when she sings and a flailing fish when she dances.” Thus, Anissa was created.

To me, it’s a big cosmic joke that I can do neither to save my life. I mean, I would do it to save my life, but you know, it would be a definite struggle for anyone who had to listen or watch. Still, anytime I see one of my favorite bands rock it out, I think, if only I could do what they do. Then I go into a sort of trance and start daydreaming about what my life would be like if I were a rockstar. Hmmm, I feel a reverie coming…

… if I were a rockstar, I would be cool like Joan Jett, have the pipes of Billie Holiday and – to borrow a line from Maroon 5 – move like Jagger, but with better hair and cuter outfits.  My concerts would be legendary, and I’d go on tour with The Rolling Stones and have Aerosmith open for me. In fact, I’d become such good friends with the band members that they’d put me in one of their videos, where I’d be the hot girl who can dance.

… if I were a rockstar, I would live out my childhood fantasy of marrying Morten Harket from A-ha and then Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran (luckily, I let go of my George Michael crush a long time ago). I would totally bitch slap Justin Bieber just because his stupid hair annoys me and tell Katy Perry that, no, blue locks are not a good look for anyone, unless you’re a Smurf. I would advise Madonna that it’s time to retire her leotard and maybe start hanging out with guys who’ve hit puberty.

… if I were a rockstar, Lady Gaga and I would be BFFs – we’d record at least one duet together and do a video where I’d be the one wearing the outfit not made out of meat. I’d hang out with Bono. We’d wear sunglasses all the time, even indoors, and he’d think my idea of recruiting Christian Louboutin to his Buy RED campaign was absolutely brilliant. Then U2 would write a song about me and I’d be in the video, where I’d be the hot girl who can dance... again.

Yeah, if I were a rockstar, I would be able to sing, I would be able to dance and life would be just grand!