This song has been stuck in my head for 13 years.

A few months before my tenth birthday, my family moved to Alexandria, Egypt for a year. My parents had always been wanderers. They met in Trinidad and Tobago as strike breakers for Pan- Am Airlines, dated in Paris, and even kept up a long distance relationship between Africa and the States while my dad was over there doing who knows what (he has so many great true stories, I have trouble placing them all on a timeline- perhaps I’ll write later about the time he snuck into Iran in the weeks between the fall of the Shah and the rise of Khomeini). So, of course, children didn’t slow them down. My younger brother was born in Saudi Arabia when I was three, and two years later my father and very pregnant mother didn’t see any reason not to take an extended trip through India on the way back to the States.

I was old enough in Egypt that I remember quite a bit of our time there. And for some reason, over the last thirteen years, one of the things that has stuck in my memory is the “Habibi dah!” phrase from this song. I think one of the reasons it stayed stuck in my head for so long, was the familiarity of the word. Habibi is essentially an Arabic equivalent to “Baby” (someone correct me if I’m wrong on this).  My dad is fluent in Arabic, and when we were young, my dad called my mom Habibi. So, as a ten year old learning Arabic (no, I don’t remember any of what I learned), I was excited to recognize a word on the radio.

Taxis in Alexandria, Egypt

Taxis in Alexandria, Egypt

“Habibi Dah (Nari Nari)” (Translation via Wikipedia: that’s my love: my fire is two fires) was released and went platinum in Egypt the year we were there. I remember being excited to hear it come on taxi radios, because it was the only song I recognized. In fact, it’s the first hit pop song I remember hearing. I was a shy, homeschooled child, so I didn’t listen to Britney, N’Sync, or the Backstreet Boys until my late teens when everyone started getting nostalgic about their childhood (at which point I realized that the latter two are actually pretty great); all my friends were reminiscing about the bands and tv shows that had defined their elementary/middle school years, but at that time I was into books and classical music (nerd!).

Anyway, fast forward thirteen years. I’m living in Reykjavik, Iceland, where you’d think not much would remind me of Egypt. Except, there is a fantastic  Shawarma place (owned by an Egyptian/Syrian couple) two blocks from my flat called… guessed it: Habibi. So this week, it finally occurred  to me to look the song up. It was a great moment of nostalgia. And yes, it’s as fantastic as I remember. Turns out ten year old me had pretty great taste in music.

P.S. I emailed the youtube link to my dad, curious to see if he would remember it. This is what he wrote back: ” I still have the cassette.  I never forgot the video clip, from Asian MTV.  Just remember you danced and ran around many those locations, like the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, as a little bitty girl in your pink and sky blue windbreaker, many years ago.” (Photo via. Edited by me.)


Nostalgia: Bonnaroo 2012

Bonnaroo Music Festival 2012

2012 was Bonnaroo‘s ten year anniversary and my third year in a row attending that amazing music festival. I had to break my winning streak in 2013 since I was saving up to move to Iceland, and this year I’ll be camping among the fjords of Iceland instead of “the farm” in rural Tennessee. But those three festivals hold a special place in my heart, and I’ll always smile when I think about running around in the crazy heat with thousands and thousands of awesome people shouting “Bonnnnarroooooo.” And even though I won’t be able to make it this year, I’ll be there in  spirit, so I’d like to chime in for #Roo14Wishlist. Icelandic bands, guys: Hymnalaya, Mugison, Lay Low, Sóley, and Moses Hightower should definitely be considered!

Bonnaroo Music Festival 2012

Bonnaroo Music Festival 2012Bonnaroo Music Festival 2012
Bonnaroo Music Festival 2012

Songs for Creative Late Nights

For nights when you won’t sleep anyway. So you write/ paint/ dance. Whatever you do when your mind is full to bursting, and the rest of the world has already closed their eyes. And here they are as a playlist.

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Two Lovely Things to Help You Dream Dreams & Imagine Nice Futures

Sometimes we need a little pick me up, a little bit of extraordinary. Maybe a little something to remind us of how many things there are in the world that are still out there waiting to amaze us, to stir in us that delicious feeling of wonder and hope. We may not know why, but there is a certain something living deep in us that opens its eyes to see lovely things, things that are brilliant, creative, and fun. Here are two things that will make you smile and maybe even cry.




I believe there is a reason why, deep inside, we know to look for hope, to find things in the world around us to remind us why we do what we do, why we love who we love, maybe even why we are here. I believe the reason we hope, sometimes against all hope, is because it’s what we were made to do. Some of us will put our hope in money. Some of us will put our hope in a job. Some of us will even put our hope in a person, a person who we think can make us happy and hopeful for the rest of our lives. But then they don’t. And the money is tight. And the jobs are gone. It’s then that we may realize that we’ve got to find someplace real for our hope.

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A Completely Unnecessary Soundtrack

Yo. Internet. I don’t like those awkward conversation starters like “How are you?” or “What’s Up?” (the answer is always the same! How does everyone keep forgetting it!) so I’m going to cut the social formalities and get straight to the point. I have been thinking about real life soundtracks a lot lately. When I watch movies, I think “Oh, that’s so cool/sweet/quirky/awesome. I wish my life could be like that.” I used to think my life was sans movie luster because of the actual plot and events, but after some indubitably insightful thinking sessions, I came upon the hypothesis that it’s not the plot, it’s the background music. A kiss is so much more romantic if Frank Sinatra is crooning in the background. Most fight scenes would be boring without the requisite instrumental, fast paced, high energy theme song. Horror movies rely the most on the tunes. And so on. Therefore, I could live just as cool a life as the movies if I only had a life soundtrack.

Of course, this would be difficult. How would you know how your day was going to play out thematically? Even if you knew you were going to be desperately fleeing a rabid pigeon in the park, how could you make sure your boombox was ready to play Phillip Glass’ creepy Ghandi opera at the precise moment?

Ezra dashing up the step of Columbia’s Library in NYC

Well, yesterday, as I was strolling around Staten Island on a weekend trip to NYC, my friend pulled out his phone to play a song so he could more easily strut/dance down the sidewalk. That’s when I had the best idea for this app that would….hmm. Actually. I don’t want anyone to steal my idea, (I’m talking bigger than Angry Birds brilliant) but basically it tailors a soundtrack for your life based on various factors (again…I can’t give this idea away). End result: your life is pretty much an awesome movie. Like an audible Instagram that makes everything a little cooler looking.

It may be a while, dear readers/ future app-buyers, before my groundbreaking work hits the iphone, but meanwhile, I’ve put together some  background songs for you. Anyone could grab a couple fun songs for their daily routine or a quirky jam for weekend explorations in Manhattan (see this song for the featured photo of yours truly dashing cheerfully towards a large building full of books). But what I have done for you, oh consumers of the internet, is I have made you a completely unnecessary soundtrack for life moments you will probably never ever have. Do work. Continue reading

Salty Coffee Mornings

I got the feeling that you guys liked my first try at blogging a poem, so here’s another go. I wrote this more recently, so hopefully it’s a little wiser and refined. Since I wrote the poem about writing a poem while listening to music, I thought I’d share the song I was listening to when I wrote the poem about writing a poem while listening to music. I would recommend listing to some sort of song while reading this. The song below is great of course. But you could listen to this one as well.  Or you could just pick your favorite song and see what happens.

Also, I realized recently that literary nods and allusions to other books and writers are the original, pre- internet hyperlink. Accordingly, I’ve decided to let you in on my little whispers with all my heroes and dead writer friends by actually hyperlinking allusions whenever possible.

Salty Coffee Mornings

A minute or two, no more than three
are the only things between this moment
right now
and the time when the song I like so well will be wrapping up
my moment of writing these words to a lovely tune
a lyrical creation

to sweep all the lonely people onto their feet
stop their weeping bones, aching eyes
all swollen imagining the cost of being alive for
another sixty-two years, sixty-three, God forbid seventy years or so.

If this was a song, it would be for all my friends
gathering in some room to listen and snap
their fingers in appreciation-
not a soft whisper under my sheets long after
the last call for a phone call to just talk
and say there’s nothing wrong and nothing is ever wrong
do you have a minute to talk.

It’s the loudest people, sometimes, who are the saddest.
The gladdest people have the salty coffee
and red eyes in the evening;
red eyes in the morning, failures take warning
red eyes at night, failure is right. Continue reading

Doing the Roo: Songs I’m Going to Hear This Weekend

Hellooooooo darrrrlings. I have several indubitably insightful posts in the works, but nothing that is quite ready for your well-trained eyes. It seems the longer I wait between posting, the harder it is to hit publish. My vanity must grow well un-read. Blogging is an exercise in trimming the gorgeous, oft-blushing rose bush that is my ego. While you wait with baited breath for next offering, I’d like to share with you some songs from some bands that I am going to see/hear this weekend as I journey to Tennessee the for the 11th Bonnaroo, a magical four days filled with hippies, thousands of unwashed bodies, southern heat, great food, and of course great music. This will be my third year in a row going.My mom and I are rolling from DC to Tennessee in my beloved Swag Wagon (aka station wagon). As always: here’s the playlist.

Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars

Go On Say It by Blind Pilot

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