AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: April 2006 (Page 1 of 4)

You stare straight ahead

I love how we have a spacious garden, a commodity we didn’t get to enjoy in Amman prior to moving to this house in October. But October was the beginning of the cold, wet season, so we only started enjoying it recently- and, oh, my! Although I’m not a nature person, having a garden in Amman is absolutely wonderful because the weather is fantastic!

And so, I spent the entire afternoon tanning and eating the shelen eskimo from Jabri, which is probably my very favorite thing in the world, and listening to the sound of the hustling leaves of a birch tree, which is on of my favorite sounds in the world. My mother, who grew up by the sea, says that it sounds like crashing waves. I think it sounds like the hot summers in my grandmothers house, when the world was so hot and all I could do was sit outside and listen to the birch trees.

zooksies 421 zooksies 436

Anyway, tonight I’ll be heading off to Beirut for a few days to attend a Danish-Arab dialogue workshop discussing the publication of the cartoons considered offensive to Islam and Muslims and caused tensions worldwide. The workshop will be filmed by film-makers on both sides with the purpose of producing a 26-minutes documentary film which will be placed in documentary film festivals, classrooms at the high-school and university level as well as in the public broadcast media. It should be a really interesting experience.

I’m excited about Beirut, especially as so many of highschool friends live there. I’m also extremely thankful that I’m going to be out of Amman for a week, I’m in the utmost need to distance myself from routine and certain people.

But you wouldn’t have to miss me so much. Jameed and Co will probably be airing their newest episode of JameedKast, of which I was the victim. I agreed to be on the podcast but then I found myself regreting it because Iyas and Laith bombarded me with questions that I couldn’t answer while keeping a straight face. I haven’t listened to it yet, and as I’m not much of a humorous person, I don’t know what parts they’ll edit out to make me sound funny. Allah yostor.

: I’m obsessed

“If your heart is in a dream, no request is too extreme, when you wish upon a star, as dreamers do.”
-Walt Disney

That was the opening quote I used in an essay I wrote for a class when I was 14 or 15 about what I wanted my career to be like 10 years from then. Seven years later, I find it funny that I used that particular quote- dreamers? Wishing upon a star? It should have been a more grounded quote by Walt Disney, perhaps “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

I found that essay sitting lonely in a file somewhere in my harddisk while looking for something unrelated earlier today. It’s amusing to read something I wrote so long ago, especially as I was in a completely different mindset.

No. I was in a completely different life. Does it sound like the same person?

This is my tribute to a Disney dream that is now reality. Disney has taught me something no tuition and no friend could teach; to set sights to infinity and beyond. Disney is by and large known for “Making the Magic”, and it is definitely the “dreamer who does”. Whether its dreams are hidden in the heart of a pretty sapphire-clad belle that slumbers until her prince comes or a roller coaster that is ignited to life by the shrieks of those who are soaring through the sky inside it, no one can project a masterpiece of love and dreams so stunningly.

As a child, my parents surrounded my life with the magic of Disney; I went to sleep by gazing at the murals of Snow White on my bedroom walls, I dressed up as Pocahontas to all the costume parties I went to, and I hungrily devoured every word of Disney Weekly on Thursdays. In fact, when I look back at my childhood, I realize that the best phrase to describe it would be “blurb-of-colors”. So now, as a young adult, my fantasies are tainted with falling down the rabbit hole to wind up in The Neverland or putting on the fairy-tale slippers to transform into a princess. Consequently, these tainted fantasies and a background full of animation and color lead my mind to renovate everything lackluster I see into a “how-to-make-it-more-pretty” project. After years of feathering doorknobs with fuchsia fluff and concealing paint-stained desktops with tie-dyed pillowcases, I set a life-long goal for myself. This life-long goal, also known as “beautifying”, is really nothing more than pixie-dust sprinkled across my world.

I have so far succeeded in giving small scenes in the play that is my life the ability to let my spirits ascend. The scene that is my bedroom, for example, is my candy-land. Being my creation from corner to corner, and filled with handmade uniqueness and simple creations dressed-up, I feel inspired to imagine when I’m in it.

I believe that every human deserves to have such a sanctuary to fade into, but I also believe that not everyone will enjoy inventing love with colors and creativity.
For this reason, I aspire to establish a career that will facilitate me in helping others create such a sanctuary. I want to cultivate the ability to tap into people’s deep-seated desires and to fuse age-old fairytales with brand-new originalities, while also developing my perception of the dissimilar psychological personalities of individuals. I yearn for the ability to transform a fantasy into a multihued, exciting world that individuals can move through cheerfully, touch, and enjoy. I want my hands to have the ability to create a life-sized child’s dollhouse- safe, bright, and swarming with innocent temptation. I want to manage to make poverty seem, well, charming. I want to dream, and I want my career to be the platform of my dreams.

Such fabulous work is the daily business of Imagineers, Graphic Designers, Architects along with Interior Designers, and I hope to be received into one of these professions. I know that I would love to be a part of any of these careers, giving up my heart and soul to fill others lives with beauty. I’m in love with doing such things. Actually, I’m not only in love; I’m obsessed.

Ten years is an eternity away, yet it’s also too close. Human life is sinking with prosaic ebony’s and insipid whites. It is over-involved with everyday realism and practicality to worry about simple things such as colors that harmonize and the minute details that may ember up a classroom that fails to motivate. I know that I will not be able to achieve my lifetime goal like I want it to be achieved it in such a short period, but I do desire to have access to miniature projects in vicinities that need to be sugarcoated. I also hope to accomplish innovation. I aspire to frolic with creativity. I wish that what has filled my life with inspiration and magic will spread to engulf the lives of others.

But most of all, I want to be a part of what started by obsession; I want to work for Disney.

Man, I guess I’ve been so mphalsapheh my entire life.

Saudi Champagne

One of my favorite beverages is one that is often served in “special” occassions in Saudi Arabia is Saudi Champagne, an improvised concoction of apple juice, lemon perrier, apples, oranges slices and mint. It’s quite delicious, and one of the few things I’m willing to replace my meal Pepsi with.

سخريه القدر

قررت انني “احتقر” اللغة العربيه في الصف الرابع عندما لم أنجح في صف العربي في المدرسة. ذلك الصيف، وفي كل مساء من عطلتي الصيفية المقدسة، كنت أجلسُ في غرفة الطعام ببيت جدتي في عمَان مع معلم للغة العربية أٌراقبُ بغيرة اخوتي و هم يلعبون خلف الشباك. قضيتُ ثلا ث’ أشهر فى هذه الحال و كلُ ما تعلمتهُ ذالك الصيف هو أن “أحتقر” اللغة العربية التي سرقت صيفي مني.

و لم أنجح في صف اللغة العربيه في الصف الخامس ايضا.

بعد ذلك، لم يكن لدي أي اهتمام لوضع اي جهد في تعلم اللغه العربيه. ولأن اللغه العربيه كانت تُدرس في مدرستي كلغه ثانيه، لم أتعلم أكثرمن القراءة البسيطة جدا. حتي هذا اليوم، بعد سنبن عديدة، ما زلت لا احاول أن أكتب باللغة العربية خوفاً من الاخطاء في القواعد و اللأملاء.

انها سخريه القدر ان هذه هي المره الاولي التي أحاول الكتابه بلغتي الام. ابدا.

-كلمة “احتقر” هي تعريب حرفي لكلمة “دسبايز” و التي أستعملها كثيراً

Age: 21

“Roba Al-Assi is an art student at the University of Jordan who loves Warhol, tennis shoes, and any unique spin on an old design. With an enthusiasm for colour and design that is contagious, she inspires her readers to be on the lookout for something new in the mindane. Roba’s fountain of effervescent energy affects every medium she touches, especially when the caffeine is flowing.”

That’s what one of the pages of April’s Viva Magazine reads, written by long-time Jordan Planet reader, soon-to-be-blogger, and now, friend, Kinzi.

It was such an interesting experience reading something written about you when as perceived by someone else when you spend so much time writing about others. I love tennis shoes. I love Warhol. I love a new touch to a vintage design. How true! Kinzi also writes about how as a child, I used to imitate my favorite childhood series (“The Baby Sitters Club”), something I have never ever told anyone prior to talking to Kinzi.

The article also has my age- 21, something I have basically refused to tell anyone because Arabs generally don’t take young people seriously, and I didn’t want to be brushed off as “just another Westernized kid with too many opinions”.

But here you go, what should belong in the “About Me” for those who need it: I’m a 21-year-old, liberal, feminist kid “badaye3 7ayati” studying Fine Arts and Design. My paternal family is from Nables, a Palestinian town famous for soap and desserts. I was born in Amman, Jordan in a startling summer day on July 30th, 1985 (making me a Leo, whose ruling planet, the sun, is not a planet at all, but actually the center of the solar system, and I don’t mention this because I believe in astrology, because I don’t, I just like the fact that I’m a roaring lioness). I love how both Nables, where my roots stem, and Amman, which I associate myself with, are mountainous towns, thus somehow making me a mountain girl. Cool, eh?

My family moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when I was 4 or something and that’s where I had a fantastic yet fake compound life amongst Riyadh’s Western culture. I moved back to Jordan late in 2003 to attend JU (which is not the most fantastic educational institute in the world but it’s been an interesting experience nevertheless), and I will be graduating in a year or so. I don’t think I want to do higher education because my attention span is literally around 30 seconds so it’s just much easier for me to learn on my own.

I’m really opinionated, quite skeptical, and I’m also pro-globalization, pro-capitalism, and anti-extremism. I consider myself a social person, although I have a very hard time getting close to people.

Ok. I think that was the first time that I wrote a string of factoids about me on this blog, and pehaps it was influenced by a conversation I had with Lina and Hala yesterday evening.

Sometimes, I wish I was anonymous.

(random fact for the none-Arabs: my last name, Al-Assi, literally translates to “the disobedient”)

(Other awesome bloggerettes were featured in the Viva article, namely Salam Najjar, Khalidah Mufleh, Lina Ejeilat, and Tololy. What can I say? Girl power! I think the issue should be available for another week or so, so if you’re really interested, go ahead and buy it, and maybe even send a letter to the editor about how much you loved the feature ;) )

I’m just a girl

It’s no big secret that I’m a feminist, and my first push into feminism was a song.

Ironically enough, I had completely forgotten about that song until I found a cassette today under the front seat of my car, and as Mood FM was playing sappy music (I can’t tolerate sappy music for the life of me), I popped it into my cassette player only to find out that it is a collection of my favorite No Doubt songs. Within a few minutes, I found myself listening preplexed to a song I know so well, a song that, back in 1996, pushed me into the first step of becoming who I am today.

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
I’m exposed, and it’s no big surprise
Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand?
This world is forcing me to hold your hand
‘Cause I’m just a girl, little ‘ol me
Don’t let me out of your sight
I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don’t let me have any rights
The moment that I step outside
So many reasons for me to run and hide
I can’t do the little things I hold so dear
‘Cause it’s all those little things that I fear
‘Cause I’m just a girl I’d rather not be
‘Cause they won’t let me drive late at night
I’m just a girl, guess I’m some kind of freak
‘Cause they all sit and stare with their eyes
I’m just a girl, take a good look at me
Just your typical prototype
I’m just a girl in the world…
That’s all that you’ll let me be!
I’m just a girl, living in captivity
Your rule of thumb makes me worry some
I’m just a girl, what’s my destiny?
What I’ve succumbed to Is making me numb
I’m just a girl, my apologies
What I’ve become is so burdensome
I’m just a girl, lucky me
Twiddle-dum there’s no comparison
Oh…I’ve had it up to here!

Ahh… Those words make me shiver.

It’s funny being a feminist in a country where the majority of the populace are mostly machismo pigs. A few days ago, I was having this really heated debate with a few guys about the role of women in society as well as their rights. Our main debate points were the following:

1) I believe with a severe passion that young females should be provided with equal oppurtunities as their male counterparts so that when the day comes when they need to decide whether to become housewives or working women, they have free will in the sense where they are fully aware of their options and the consequences of their decisions. The guys thought that it is a woman’s god-given duty to sit at home, cook, clean, and take care of children, “I wouldn’t mind if my wife works before we have children, but as soon as we do, I would not get married to someone who wouldn’t stay at home to take care of them.”
I say, toz. I respect a woman who is herself first and foremost, rather than a mother, a housewife, and a childbearer.

2) I believe that religious rules are mostly outdated. I’ll end this point here.

3) I am very much against gender roles. I do not think that it is a woman’s god-given duty to cook, clean, and raise, nor is it a man’s god-given-duty to provide for the household. A couple may switch roles if it makes them more comfortable. Of course, I’m always attacked severely in regards to this point, “Ba6al zalameh ili bog3od bil beit.” It always makes me say, “Mish fahmeh ya3ni, 3eib 3al zalameh yo2-3od bil beit o mish 3eib 3al wa7deh?”
I personally am not willing to be in a relationship where I do not make my own money or at least participate in the budget of maintaining the relationship and all that may involve it including a house, children, and so on and so forth (this is where people usually jump in and scream “With a degree in fine arts?!” Yes, mish 3ajebkom?)

Naturally, after an hour-long debate, the conclusion these guys reached was hilarious- “Roba, you know what happens to women like you? They never get married.”

Hehe, I found that absolutely amusing! It’s ironic how people think it is more appropriate to be unsatisfied, unhappy, and married than satisfied, successful, and unmarried.

Finally, a story and a question. A while ago, one of my male friends told me with an extra bout of confidence that he would never be with a woman who is smarter or as smart as he is, because as a man and like every other man, he thinks a woman slightly dumber is “easier to manage”. I was shocked silly to hear that, especially as he was someone I respected. When I expressed my shock and offense, he simply said, “Come on, Roba, admit it, wouldn’t you want to be with a man who is smarter than you? Women like that.”

Double whammy. According to this friend, men like dumber women and women like smarter men. Now, I’m posing this question to everyone- what do you think? Do you agree with this person?

Question open to both genders. I would really appreciate honesty, I wouldn’t bite anyone I promise.

Made with real fruit (not)

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A few nights ago, I dreamt I was eating Pop Tarts. Pop Tarts! I haven’t had Pop Tarts since the 4th grade.

Naturally, I woke up with an extreme craving for them, and after a trip to Cozmos, I was standing in the kitchen microwaving the iced and sprinkled delicious-looking slices of pastry, stuffed with “natural” strawberry, remembering a day when I was a child sitting around the kitchen table waiting for my Pop Tart to be served. Ahh… for that precise instant, I could almost remember the sweetness of the icing (I love icing) and the juiciness of the fill.

Of course, the deliciousness of Pop Tarts turned out to be nothing more than a figment of an overfertile imagination. Or maybe Pop Tarts don’t taste the same anymore. Or maybe I’m too old for Pop Tarts. I really don’t know.

What I do know though is that they were way-too-sweet, artificially flavored to the degree that it feels like you are eating chemicals, and quite dry.

What a disappointment.

I also tried my very first Caesar salad for lunch this evening. I know, I know, Caesar salads are all over the fricking place, including refrigerated salad meals in CTown, McDonalds and salad bars in every other restaurant in the Amman. But you see, Caesar Salads usually have little cubes of chicken over them and since I’m not willing to eat anything that had contact with chicken, I’ve never had a Caesar salad. Today, my mother decided to make me a Caesar salad minus the chicken, and it was actually good! Much better than the Pop Tarts.

I feel like eating kubeh nayeh (raw ground beef paste mixed with cracked wheat, eaten with garlic, yum yum).

Oh, yeah, did I ever mention that I love soda?

NO!

Ok. Seriously. I can’t take it anymore.

Air Arabia Hijacks South Park

The Air Arabia campaign has been making an appearance all over town for quite some time now. I even thought that the little chubby-faced guy with a tarboush, the tiny little feet, and the half-circle upper body was rather cute, somehow missing the features so characteristic of the potty-mouthed, psycho South Park kids.

Yes, Air Arabia did it. They stole South Park.

Boooooooo!!!!

[WorldNetDaily]

Wanna steal a South Park character? All you gotta do is get ziggy with a DIY Create-A-Character generator. Here’s me:

Untitled-1

Yeah, I know I don’t have short pink hair. BUT I REALLY WANT TO HAVE SHORT PINK HAIR.

Razzle Dazzle

I really am a very easily amused person. I enjoy putting words and sentences together- they’re even more magical than paint and colors. I enjoy trying to make them not make sense to anyone but me- or at least, I enjoy trying to put them together according to the colors and styles of my whims and fancies rather than try to be as clear as possible for everyone else. There is never a post here that means what it appears to mean, there are always hidden messages lingering between the lines- sometimes meant for specific people, othertimes meant for the smart.

Othertimes, I just write as if some little faery threw a bagful of pixiedust over my words, which are usually overflowing with phalsapheh, compiled of words that don’t really match together, and tailored with red beads and sprays of shimmer, soaking my words with overdecorative attachments- sparkle, sparkle.

Oh. My. God. I just realized that my writing style would be best classified as surrealism. Surrealism!

Dude, I hate surrealism. In the world of visual arts, I love what to me is the opposite of surrealism, which is too ungrounded as far as I’m concerned- I love minimalism, pop art, and modernism. I love simplicity, solid space, and grids.

It’s quite funny now that I think about it. The artists of the Arabian Gulf are famous for surrealism, and the art critics claim that this is the case due to the general opression in the Arabian Gulf. So I guess my highschool is to blame for my surrealistic writing style, because as I’ve said before, the only remotely creative class we had was English, which I soaked with my neglected and quite oppressed juices of creativity. And my very wishy-washy style of writing stuck with me, sometimes making me laugh.

Razzle dazzle.

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