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…..you 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.)

Grandpa Writing a Letter To Iceland

My Grandfather is not always particularly lucid. However, when he knows where he is, he is very proud of me for moving to Iceland for graduate studies. My mom just sent me these wonderful photos of Grandpa Bob taking advantage of a mentally sharp moment to write me a letter. Living abroad (or even far away) is so different in today’s world of technology than it was when my dad studied in England and Egypt. Then, he probably heard from his parents by letter every few months. Today, my mom sent me these pictures instantly after we video chatted. Another way to think about it: I received a picture of the letter being written about two weeks before the letter will arrive.

photo photo (1)

“Caroline Helstone was just eighteen years old…”

A beautiful excerpt from Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley (and a beautiful Icelandic song by an teenager to match):

“Caroline Helstone was just eighteen years old, and at eighteen the true narrative of life is yet to be commenced. Before that time we sit listening to a tale, a marvelous fiction, delightful sometimes, and sad sometimes, almost always unreal. Beofre that time our world is heroic, its inhabitants halve divine or semi-demon; its scenes are dream-scenes; darker woods and stranger hill, brighter skies, more dangerous waters, sweeter flowers, more tempting fruits, wider plains, drearier deserts, sunnier fields than are found in nature, overspread our enchanted globe. What a moon we gaze on before that time!  How the trembling of our hearts at her aspect bears witness to its unutterable beauty! As to our sun, it is a burning heaven- the world of gods.

At that time, at eighteen, drawing near the confines of illusive, void dreams, Elf-land lies behind us, the shores of Reality rise in front. These shores are yet distant; they look so blue, soft, gentle, we long to reach them. In sunshine we see a greenness beneath the azure, as of spring meadows; we catch glimpses of silver lines, and imagine the roll of living waters. Could we but reach this land, we think to hunger thirst no more; whereas many a wilderness, and often the flood of death, or some stream of sorrow as cold and almost as black as death, is to be crossed ere true bliss can be tasted. Every joy that life gives must be earned ere it is secured; and how hardly earned, those only know who have wrestled for great prizes. The heart’s blood must gem with red beads the brow of the combatant, before the wreath of victory rustles over it.

At eighteen we are not aware of this. Hope, when she smiles on us, and promises happiness to-morrow, is implicitly believed; Love, when he comes wandering lie a lost angel to our door, is at once admitted, welcomed, embraced. His quiver is not seen; if his arrows penetrate, their wound is like a thrill of new life. There are no fears of poison, none of the barb which no leech’s hand can extract. That perilous passion- an agony ever in some of its phases; with many, an agony throughout- is believed to be an unqualified good. In short, at eighteen the school of experience is to be entered, and her humbling, crushing, grinding, but yet purifying and invigorating lessons are yet to be learned. ”

Quite Possibly on the Wrong Side of Midnight

[Today’s daily post asked: Where were you last night when 2012 turned into 2013? Is that where you’d wanted to be?]

I didn’t notice when the figurative clock in my traditional-clock-free-home struck midnight, and I was too absorbed in writing a reflective New Year’s Eve post to see midnight return that strike with a vicious left hook. Too bad. I hear it was a great fight; clock boxing never gets old. As 2012 rolled over and conceded the title to 2013, I was at home, contentedly writing a list of all the things I’d learned this year.

Home is a basement apartment near the University of Maryland. The house was built in the 50’s, and my walls are almost all knotty pine paneling (and I’m blonde….I might as well start calling myself Betty Draper). I have a second hand table and vintage 70’s desk chair in the corner. I like to adjust the lighting so that it’s bright enough to read, but still ambient. Then I light a couple candles, turn on my illuminated globe, and immerse myself  in whatever ever I’m currently reading or studying (last night I was reading Myths of the Pagan North by Christopher Abram). I can spend hours this way, stopping every now and then to brew a new cup of tea, check facebook, or look up something on wikipedia or my globe.

Salvador Dali also enjoyed Clock Boxing

Salvador Dali also enjoyed Clock Boxing

I suppose some people, particularly people my own age, might give me a weird look if I told them that my ideal evening, on a night traditionally marked by indulgence and care free celebration, would be to take a shower then sit at my desk reading and learning late into the night. I would probably enjoy that weird look. I usually do. I would probably get an even weirder look if I said my evening actually led me to a new found appreciation of Wagner; that I spent the night listening to the entire prelude to the Ring Cycle while reading up on the opera, its creation, and it’s connections to Tolkien’s One Ring.

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Mini Cooper has this “inspirational” ad called “Not Normal” running right now. It shows you scenes of poor office people bored, a wife and husband having a boring breakfast together, a boring pair of shoes, and a boring computer programing job. Mini Cooper then shows you what “Not Normal” looks like. Not normal consists mainly of live bands with light shows, dangerous escapades by a youth that are free from the need to earn money. Continue reading

My Dream About A Bloodthirsty Blob and Exercising

I’m a dreamer.

Not a person who has grand aspirations and fantastic life plans- I just have lots of adventurous dreams that I remember with sometimes unsettling clarity in the morning. I think this may be a sign of genius. Well, maybe not, but (as I like to tell everyone) Robert Louis Stevenson got most of his stories from dreams. Imagine dreaming Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

Since most of my dreams are strange, and I like being strange, I like to tell people all the details of my dreams. They may just think I’m weird, but I’m hoping that one day someone will finally realize that I’m just trying to open up and bond with them. Gosh people. Tune to my frequency already.

My dream last was particularly vivid. Everyone was exactly like real life, and all the places were true to life as well. The only thing different was the giant pink monster that stole my friend. This dream seems to be also part of a unintentional series. This “friend” is someone whose company I don’t particularly enjoy. But for some reason, every month or so I have a dream in which I’m in love with him. For the rest of the day, I have to separate dream from reality. It’s unfortunate, but I’m sure it’s good mental exercise. Anyway, here’s the dream:

Steve McQueen: Man

I’m going for a run at night with another woman and The Man (the aformentioned “friend” who I will just refer hereafter to as “The Man”). We’re running down your average tree-lined, upper middle class suburban street (that closely resembled the neighborhood next to mine, where I like to go running). For some reason, the woman has to stop to rest, so The Man and I keep running and talking. We seem to be good friends in my dream. We head off the street onto a path in the woods. It’s a nice night and the moon is bright, but all of a sudden, he moves out of my sight. I assume a tree is blocking my view, but when I call to him, there’s no answer. Continue reading

Talking To Myself :: flesyM oT gniklaT

“I think I’m going to write a blog about talking to myself,” I muttered to myself as I sat in a public location. “That’s a great idea,” I replied, “It will distract you from the lack of human contact in your daily routine!”

Am I crazy? It’s irrelevant.

I recently accepted discovered that I talk to myself a lot. Even more disconcerting, I have extended small talk sessions with inanimate objects.  I don’t know how long this has been going on. I’ve been living by myself since February, and I love it, but I think the solitude may have had some adverse effects. I decided to get a roommate for the extra bedroom in my apartment, and it wasn’t until she was moving in that my little habit alluringly pulled up the edge of its floor length skirt to reveal an sexy-less, unshaved ankle. I was in my room on one side of the apartment, and my roommate (who I will call Lady Marguerite of Spain to protect her real identity- just kidding her name is Katey) was in the kitchen on the other side of the apartment. I walked merrily into the kitchen to see if she needed help unpacking, and she inquired innocently,

<<What were you saying to me?>>
<<Ha,” I scoffed, <<what are you talking about?>>
(This girl is crazy, I thought. She hears voices. Weird.)
<<You were talking.>>
<<No I wasn’t.>>
<<I’m pretty sure someone was talking.>>
<<Oh.>>

I wasn’t too worried at that point. I didn’t really remember talking to myself, but I was sure it must have been humming or something. Little did I know I had just seen the tip of the iceberg, and that my quirky, hermit habit had reached Titanic size.

It wasn’t until the next morning when I caught myself talking to my underwear and socks as I sorted them that I realized it was probably a good thing my time living alone was over. At least that’s how I explained the end of our conversational relationship to my underwear and socks.

Continue reading