Year Zero: Hypertexture

Shortly after New Year’s Day, as part of a staff meeting check-in on Zoom, I was asked if I had a “word for the coming year.” That question hadn’t occurred to me before they’d asked it, but a word still rushed into view very quickly; after a few had volunteered to share why they’d chosen the words they’d chosen, I pressed unmute and said: “I have a one in mind, but I’m not going to explain it—I’ll just say the word: ‘wholeness’.” The thing is–I’ve been struggling with words for quite some time. What used to come to me like … Continue reading “Year Zero: Hypertexture”

Poiesis: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 20

Part 1: Beginning “Poiesis is understood traditionally as an activity of formation, in which the artist gives shape to matter in accordance with his or her idea. The specifically aesthetic quality of a work is seen as consisting in its form; perfection of form leads to the experience of beauty. The philosophy of art from Aristotle to Kant is based on this understanding. This perspective itself stems, ultimately, from a tradition of reflection in which the intellect is regarded as the primary mode of human existence … In modern aesthetics, especially in the classic work of Kant, the predominance of … Continue reading “Poiesis: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 20”

Seattle: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 19

Part 1: #WIP I’ve been skirting around the topic of Seattle’s big, contradictory, & broken-open heart for a while now—pretty much since I moved here. The crisis has brought the different aspects of what I love and what I don’t love about this place in & out of focus, and an overall gestalt has gradually emerged: Seattle is a tender place—tender as in fragile, and sore, and almost too sensitive to touch, but also tender as in loving, and patient, and kind. That second sense of tenderness has bled out into the open during this lockdown in many ways; one … Continue reading “Seattle: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 19”

Beirut: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 3

Part 1: The Writers This is ‘Floating Woman’ by Joe Nix. As soon as I stepped into Jupiter and saw this on the wall, I thought: “It’s Raneem!” I even said it out loud. The resemblance would have been shocking if I hadn’t seen it before; there’s a mural in Gemmeyze that also looks just like her. “Apparently, Raneem-looking people are muses.” Christine should know; she’s painted her too. Raneem and I first met when we were both searching for inspiration. She had a blog & so did I; we left a comment or two, exchanged messages, & agreed to … Continue reading “Beirut: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 3”

Edinburgh: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 2

Part 1: Nemo me impune lacessit On Christmas Eve, someone asked if I miss living in Edinburgh, & my response reflected the ambivalence of my experience there. I certainly missed my favorite haunts in Scotland’s ghostly capital—Dagda Bar, The Mash Tun, Snax Café, Yococo, Turquaz, Balkanarama. I miss the feel of my different neighborhoods—The Royal Mile, Easter Road, Buccleuch Street. I even miss Drummond. I miss our student union building & the special serendipitous place that its Library Bar will always have in my life—indeed, I miss those irreproducible moments the most—celebrating the actual end of the world in 2012, … Continue reading “Edinburgh: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 2”

In Transit: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 1

Part 1: NYE with TRU “And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! and gie’s a hand o’ thine! And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught, for auld lang syne.” I am grateful for this community of misfits and oddballs, for transit riders worldwide—dismissed, denigrated, devalued—yet rising, rising, organizing; a multitude in motion; one big union against the techno-fix. In Lebanon, I dreamt of working on new internationalisms, to give my migration some meaning. But I couldn’t imagine that two hours over coffee was enough to help turn that dream into reality. That was months ago; yesterday we had wine, whiskey, … Continue reading “In Transit: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 1”

New Year’s Eve, 2019

You’re probably sick of my rituals by now, but decades don’t come by every day, and there’s something satisfying about symmetry—it’s almost 2020, and just like in 2010, I’m standing at the threshold of something that feels new and energizing. I’m excited to step into this confluence, but I want to do so with a lot more intention & mindfulness than I ever have before. I’m not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I have some in mind this year. I have goals, but more importantly, I seek an orientation. I want to “face up” to this future; à … Continue reading “New Year’s Eve, 2019”

Pantograph

“Third proposal.” By number two, I suppress a groan, my muscles aching from the unforgiving pew and long hours.  “Third proposal: Welcome our gifts and our limitations too.” There’d been a death in our building. Across the hall, a neglected toothache took a troubled life away. No judgement. “God welcomes everything in us; in our turn, we can accept ourselves just as we are. That is the beginning of a healing that is so necessary for us all.” That morning, the bus was crawling up Pill Hill, like it did every morning. There was a stop for the Good Vibes hat, … Continue reading “Pantograph”

The Last Mile

It has happened, and my head is still spinning. My last weeks in Beirut, a proverbial blur, left no room to think or plan or feel — senses heightened, yes, but nothing sinking in; a cartoon dog of emotions–“no take, only throw”–onwards, forwards, one thing to the next, and here we are now entertain us. You don’t put off the get-togethers when you’re about to leave, so you find yourself more energetic and affirmative than ever before. “Yes,” I will go to your BBQ. “Yes,” I will join you for drinks afterwards. “Yes,” I’ll have another beer. I wrote those … Continue reading “The Last Mile”

#AdventWord 2018, Week 2

#Wild Today’s #AdventWord is ‘wild,’ and—with apologies to the theologians who made the selection—I’ve watched too much MTV over the years to associate that word with anything but a good time. Pictured here: Andrew WK at The Showbox, Kultur Shock at The Crocodile, and IDLES at The Sunset Tavern—these are some of the wildest nights I’ve had in this city thus far. They are also some of the most life-affirming artists I’ve ever seen in concert, who left me with a strong sense of their genuine love for their fans. Not pictured here, however, is probably my most memorable night … Continue reading “#AdventWord 2018, Week 2”