#AdventWord 2020, Week 1

#Tender I’m not ready for Advent this year. Maybe it’s this prolonged pandemic, this extended Ash Wednesday bleeding through page after calendar page—in which case, I’d be somewhat relieved—or maybe it’s my growing familiarity with what goes on behind the curtains as the audience lines up for their caramel popcorn—a very real possibility I must contend with—either way, this year feels a little off, a little “gently out of time,” as one of Blur’s lesser-knowns goes. Today’s word is “tender” but unlike 2 or 3 years ago, this year, I know that today’s word is not tender—I understand the logic … Continue reading “#AdventWord 2020, Week 1”

Syria: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 9

Part 1: The Citadel Al a’aqel zeena. “The mind is decoration”—or the mind is what makes one beautiful. I didn’t know it at the time, but those words on that shirt referencing a wartime radio play by the Lebanese artist I was about to see performing at the Damascus Citadel would perfectly summarize my sense of Syria for years to come. I’ve only ever had pleasant feelings in Syria, a place so close yet so distant, so foreign. I grew up in a country where you learned very quickly to stiffen up when a Syrian soldier was addressing you. My … Continue reading “Syria: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 9”

On Evil | طَأ طأطَأ طَأطَأتِينِي

There’s a reason why a taxi driver in Damascus ten years ago stiffened and fell silent when I jokingly said I preferred to put my seatbelt on, as “a good citizen,” despite ours being a very late-night ride to my hotel. That’s what authoritarian systems do to you. A quip like that could be a signal of something far more sinister. The walls may not have actual ears, but you hold your breath regardless. But the goose step doesn’t start there. You don’t have to wait for the garish banners to unfurl and the cultish anthems to ring to see … Continue reading “On Evil | طَأ طأطَأ طَأطَأتِينِي”