Important Calculations

My first class on Sundays for the Fall semester is at 11:30am.

That means I will be taking the 9:30am bus from Mohandiseen.

In order to be ready, I will have to wake up at approximately 8:30.

A significant portion of scheduled Alabama football games begin at 6:30pm Central Time.

Take into account the time difference, Ramadan time changes, and the obligatory postgame Skype calls, tears, and beverages, I will be lucky to be in bed by 6:30am Sunday mornings.

Which basically means...I'm screwed.

So, Tide players, I expect the same level of committment from you this season. I want another National Championship this year. ROLL TIDE!

43 days until I am sleep deprived once again.....

If I'm free it's because I'm always running

Caulk in the crevices quick as you can
Fetid water stands waiting, fill the dam
Cheap construction that could never last
The landfill lies empty so fill it fast
Substandard materials to decay within me
But I'd rather it was full of shit than f----ng empty
And somehow it keeps beating,
Thundering on despite me.


Sometimes I feel like a ghost, wandering through the places that meant something to me a lifetime ago, stopping in to visit old friends, my stays so brief they're often left wondering if I was ever really there. Like a shadow of my old self, a figment of humanity, I've spent the summer lingering in a world I've moved on from. It's been a strange two months, walking the line between my old self and my new self, wobbling on a tightrope, trying to keep them both intact, both a part of me- trying not to let one destroy the other.

My weekend in Tuscaloosa sent me rushing back in time, and with every familiar face I ran into, the hurts seemed fresh again, the memories like they had happened yesterday, the drama like it actually mattered.

I woke up this morning in a familiar bed, but as the $1 draft and Baby Bomb stupor of the night before began to evaporate, nothing looked the same as it had before the sun came up.

I am not that girl anymore.

Realizing that was a revelation; a relief.

However, with that epiphany comes a new a puzzle. That girl got lost somewhere along the way- perhaps on some trans-Atlantic flight, or in a blazing orange desert, or in the arms of a man from a faraway place; perhaps she disintegrated into the lingering laugh of brown-skinned teenagers carelessly hurling clumsy sexual advances in her direction in a crowded bazaar, or in the backseat of a rickety black cab streaking through narrow openings on an overflowing freeway. But if she and I are not the same person anymore, the disturbing question remains: who am I now?

I'll let you know when I figure it out.


So I’ll give you a piece of myself
That was never mine to give
One day someone will come calling for it;
Something that belonged more to him
Than ever it had to me
But it hasn’t happened yet
He’s not come, but here you are
So take it.

Hot and sticky, and too green
This is the world that I knew
But I don’t belong here
Not any more than I belonged on
That hardwood floor
Cold and bare though I was wrapped
In a strange embrace
That used to mean home.

Worry and doubt and suffocating fear
Consume me. But come sixteen
And I cant afford the luxury
Of fretfulness, sleepless nights
Only lights and sounds and
The crush of humanity
Where survival and smoke
Is the only answer.

He’s wrong but he’s there
Another needless tumble,
Another silent morning.
I could cry but rather
I just wrap myself around
this breathing thing; because in
the strangeness and the loneliness,
he’s wrong but he’s alive.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

It's one of those cliche quips that gets tossed around on people's Facebook profiles all the time- and yes, I'm speaking from experience. It's been on my favorite quotes since my freshman year of college. And every now and then, I sit down by myself, no distractions, and ask myself that question. I don't get up again until I've answered honestly. What do I want to do in life so badly that I get teary-eyed-excited just thinking about it? What do I want to do, but am too afraid to try? Why am I afraid? When you think about it, those are all scary questions, and, I've found, they get scarier as you get older. When you're 18, the answers tend to be simple: settle down, get a job, get married, have kids. But the longer I've been in college, on my own, learning, and growing, my answers have changed radically. Now I'm in my twenties and my answers get me excited, but they're also terrifying.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

I would finish my last two years at AUC, graduate with my degree in Middle East Studies and a minor in Rhetoric with an emphasis on nonfiction writing; join the Peace Corps, where I would serve others while being dirty, growing dreadlocks, earning my Masters in Peace and Conflict Resolution, and gathering tons of experiences to write about; I would really pursue travel writing as a career with no fallback plan, and eventually get my own show on the Travel Channel where I would travel around the Middle East and Africa and shed real light on the beautiful cultures there that are all too often misunderstood.

Sounds like a tall order, right? But WHY can't it happen? What makes me believe that I want more out of life than I actually deserve? Unforunately, I haven't figured out the answer to that last question yet. Because until I decide that I won't -that I CAN'T- fail, none of my dreams are going to come true. So I'm spending these last couple weeks in America at home in Huntsville and doing some soul searching; some "working on myself", if you will. Because other people believing in me isn't enough anymore. It's time I became my own biggest fan.

What about you, readers? What would YOU do if you knew you could not fail?

Just a Boy, Just an Ordinary Boy

That Boy. You know the one. We all have one. For me, That Boy is my high school sweetheart. I cheated on my first real boyfriend with That Boy and we have been on again-off again-will we-won't we-we're perfect for each other-we're totally wrong together ever since then: six years of a complicated, nearly indecipherable web spanning between Old Friends and Current Lovers. He's That Boy who I swore I would marry one day. He taught me, for better or worse, things about myself and about life that felt so good and hurt so badly I thought I would burst. He taught me how to lust, how to really love someone, how to be hurt and betrayed and how to sob into my knees for two weeks straight. He taught me how to move on and to forgive but never forget.

Winter 2005: Norfolk, VA

Every summer, That Boy and I somehow ignite again. I keep coming back to that spot in my life where we made sense, and we try the relationship on again, one year older, adults, different now. Things are always different. Last summer, after our relationship simmering into ash for so long, years of indifference and "what if"s spontaneously combusted and suddenly I realized we were in a healthy adult relationship.

Spring 2006: Norfolk, VA

In the summer, no matter how we've changed or grown apart in the previous year, we're somehow reduced to our high school selves: naive, impatient teenagers who were little else but crazy about each other. Last summer we made the difficult decision to not attempt to continue our relationship when I moved to Egypt, and parted ways.

Spring 2007: Virginia Beach, VA

Now here I am, back in my high school town, just back from a trip to DC with That Boy to see my friends from Egypt. But something has changed. Unlike every other summer, this summer I couldn't go back to who I was in high school. I couldn't make myself be that girl that he loved anymore. I don't know that girl anymore. I hardly remember her. I hardly remember anything before the sand and the noise and the endless deserts and blazing heat. I don't remember the girl who loved That Boy, either. She seems like a stranger to me. Because, for the first time in my life, looking at him, I don't feel lust or passion or an intense need to be near him and hold his hand and to love him and be loved by him. I only feel a smoldering, comfortable affection: he is an old friend who I used to be in love with- nothing more, nothing less.

Senior Prom 2007: Fort Monroe, VA

I don't understand him or his goals, and he doesn't understand me or my life or why I have made the decisions I have. With nothing in common but our shared history and a deep, newly-platonic love for one another, it is finally clear: it will never be just he and I. The future for the two of us is something we never could have anticipated, but it finally feels right. That Boy is like a relic from a past that doesn't seem like my own in its distance from my present.

Summer 2009: Atlanta, GA
As always, That Boy taught me something new this summer without even realizing it. He's shown me that sometimes letting go feels good, and falling out of love with someone isn't necessarily a bad thing- sometimes it's healthy and necessary. You can't move on until you know for sure that That One Person really isn't the one for you. I finally know....this boy isn't going to be The Boy. That Boy is finally just that...just a boy.
Summer 2010: Washington, DC