Trip Like I Do—Ellensburg, June 27

The guy at Brick Road Books was full of stories. He told me about the biker gangs that congregate at Palace Cafe and the many permutations of place names that change with the tides of patronage. He also talked about the kind of outside real estate development that made the city what it is today. His way of speaking was hazy and circuitous, kinda like a Kerouac novel, so it was hard to grasp everything he was saying about the dynamics between locals and outsiders trying to make this place more attractive, but I do remember that, at one point, … Continue reading “Trip Like I Do—Ellensburg, June 27”

Saret Pizza

Lebanese people of a certain age can often be found expressing their frustration at the sheer audacity of the accumulation of circumstance with two half-moon gestures encircling an invisible drain, indicating the metaphorical girth of just how badly or how far the matter’s gone. “Tekhnet.” It has become quite thick. Lebanese people of a slightly younger age will widen the gyre, indicating that matters are so out of hand that the axes have collapsed and the pipe has transmorphed into “pizza.” Two fingers on two hands in the shape of an L around a very large O, wlo, “saret pizza.” … Continue reading “Saret Pizza”

A Note on Climate

It’s been three birthdays since my last in Beirut. I’ve been away before—to and fro, on and off—but never for this long of a stretch. This dislocation was heightened this week as rising heat mimicked foreign climates and a dearth of AC units recalled a life of daily power cuts back home. What’s new over there, since I left, is the bottom seemingly falling out from under our national resilience, with crisis after crisis accumulating on the backs of my friends and family. The latest indignity is the now regular scene of lines of cars waiting to fill up on … Continue reading “A Note on Climate”

Radio Dis/loc/ution

x “Zayin is masculine—ZACHAR. And there belongs to this man a beard—ZAKAN. And this man is old—ZAKAYN. And this man can look back through time—Z’MAN, and he remembers—ZACHAER, everything.” MMXX is a Spotify playlist I made in/for #TwentyTwenty and @rbinbetween. x “Only he who is beaten—KATEET, like oil which has been beaten from olives, until he is—KASHER, pure and fit, shall drink. Then Kaf turns itself into a crown.” AMALGAMA is a Spotify playlist I made during eclipse season. x “There is another kind of Resh. This is the end of pretending. ROSH HASHANA, the day of admitting. Master of the universe! RIBONO … Continue reading “Radio Dis/loc/ution”

Interludes of the Imagination

I read my last entry out loud to Christine, and she said: “I didn’t know that you’d been thinking about these topics,” and I said: “I didn’t know I was either. It just came together.” Lines converging at the center of two circles—poeisis and ecstasy. What makes for significance? Why this story and not that? I’ve struggled with these questions like milk pails over rocky ground. I’ve hesitated. I’ve stopped. This is a memory that sauntered through my brain as I sipped my coffee this morning. There was no reason for it being there other than circumstance and how circumstances … Continue reading “Interludes of the Imagination”

Threads To The Naked Eye

The other night, I shared the hyperlink to an interview about a book on ecology. In it, the author gushes about the affect he hopes his work will have on the reader’s way of perceiving the world: “To go and see something like a bunch of gulls swarming, [before you’re like] ‘Oh, they’re just gulls swarming,’ but then realize, ‘Wow, no, directly underneath them there could be thousands of herring.’ I mean, how cool is that? And I just think, wow, I want to be able to see that. I want others to be able to see that and make … Continue reading “Threads To The Naked Eye”

This Skin Is For Feeling Nothing

A couple of days ago, Christine and I were having one of those random rabbit-trail conversations that somehow ended up on the question of superhero mutations. She mentioned dragon skin and the power of imperviousness. I speculated on the dynamics of acquiring such powers; would a mutation amplify an existing trait? Or would truly mythic transformations bestow upon the hero-to-be the kinds of capacities they’d only wished for, but had never actualized? This metamorphic distinction seems to mark the line between the curse and the blessing in superhuman ability—then again, we know that both realities may be true at once. … Continue reading “This Skin Is For Feeling Nothing”

#BusLineHeroes = #GuardiansOfMobility

This is not a message of endorsement I expected we’d receive one year ago, let alone five or ten years ago, when I first started paying attention to public transport in Lebanon: This is the Secretary General of the UITP, the oldest and biggest transit advocacy group in the world. It’s not the sort of organization that is naturally inclined to be supporting of informal transit, but we were there when that door started opening two years ago. Has this crisis afforded new opportunities for relating to each other, after all? Let’s lead the transition.

#BusLineHeroes: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 18

Part 1: Becoming the Change This week, I’m stripping it all back to the bare tacks: I’m grateful for the stories I’m able to tell. @BusMapProject was a bit of tactical urbanism, a modest gambit to capture a global moment when participatory data and collective mapping were becoming en vogue, in the service of a sociotechnical artifact that was very much not—and in doing so, it was a lot more than that. It was an attempt at re-writing a story that Lebanese people told themselves about themselves. In place of chaos, we wrote of everyday ordering; instead of lawlessness, we … Continue reading “#BusLineHeroes: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 18”

Marking Time: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 16

Part 1: Non-Standard Calendar Time has been an interesting medium and muse for this weekly ritual. When I started this, I knew that I’d be making a partner of the unfolding days; I did not have a script nor plan for the whole arc of my gratitude in the first twenty weeks of #TwentyTwenty. I had general bearings, but no clear map—anything more definite would have been a contradiction in terms. So as we begin to crest the horizon and near the last leg of this journey, I’ve become increasingly aware of the regions of time that I’ve lingered in … Continue reading “Marking Time: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 16”