Tidbits 3

Rant –

College is not the place for aspirations. College is the place for application.

You get in, you get out after being shaped by the system. It’s no place for people who would like to be, say, writers.

It undermines creativity, especially if that creativity leads down a certain unorthodox path.

 

Fact –

There was another power cut yesterday. It was the third of the day. It makes me question why some countries still require their good citizens to pay their bills when they are unable to procure the basic necessities required for their survival.

We are not evolved, we are not advanced people no matter the number of doctors and lawyers and engineers on our list. This country is still living off generators due to its inability to find consistent power sources and produce continuous electricity for its people.

 

Rant –

People are like systems. They function depending on certain workflows they built for themselves. They work in continuous motion, with the same force and energy bearing the conditions around them don’t change. Depending on the variables and parameters that serve as inputs to their lives, they are able to produce constant unwavering outputs and surf through their existence in an almost linear fashion.

Except that most variables that dictate or at least influence our lives are constantly changing, evolving. Things like the weather, things like politics, things like technology, things like hobbies and likes and dislikes, things like society and culture and other people.

 

Fact –

The words of Hardy and Pynchon are playing with my thoughts. They’re hanging around in my brain, lurking about in my interiors, galloping through the confines of my mind. They make me reflect on many things: women, life, alcohol, introspection. The common thing between men. The things​ that separate them. The difference between a man’s character and another’s. The calm ones. The nerds. The beggars. The street rats. The rich and powerful.

There are too many categories, too many classifications and too many labels for things.

 

Fact –

I still indulge in the occasional beer or two at night while listening to Led Zepplin or Pink Floyd.

 

Tidbits 1

2 guys at work arguing about the placement of a wire in front of me.

They’re fighting and screaming at each other like madmen because one of them thinks the wire should be placed in a certain way while the other thinks it should be placed in another.

‘It’s just a wire’, I told them.

‘What’s that, new guy?’

‘At the end of the day, it’s just a wire,’ I repeated myself. ‘It doesn’t matter how it’s placed.’

‘Well look at that,’ one of them says, ‘he goes on for weeks without saying a word and now he’s all knowledgeable!’

‘So now suddenly you think you know everything there is to know about working at an electrical equipment store?’

No – and I didn’t want to. It was a goddamned electrical shop we were working at. And here were these two people acting like it was the most important job in the world. I hated the hours, I hated the workplace and I hated the people there.But it was all I had for the moment. I’d have rather bummed but I couldn’t afford to. And besides, I didn’t know how to bum like the best of them.

***

A final spot on the left-side of the road just cleared and I swooped in to park. But some guy beat me with his black Murano and took the spot. Now I’m forced to park on the right side and chase down the few coins I might or might not have at the bottom of my wallet to pay the park-meter. You look at that Murano guy, you look at a guy like that and you can’t help but think to yourself after what you’ve just witnessed: this guy’s going to have a good day. This guy’s going to have a really good day. You could tell. You could just tell.

I, on the other hand, was still in my car, examining my wallet inside out, occasionally stopping to admire the morning rain washing down my dirty windshield, thinking this car needs a wash, this car really needs a wash. But so did I. I needed cleansing from all that rotten luck; I needed cleansing from all the bad days and bad moments and bad episodes of life.

And most of all, I needed cleansing from people like the Murano guy.

 

Listen

I want you to imagine a pot-head giving a speech in front of a large crowd. Hundreds, no thousands of people attending and eagerly anticipating his words.

The pot-head has frizzy hair. He wears shades and a Led Zepplin t-shirt. His jeans are dirty and he’s wearing leather bands on his wrists.

The pot-head’s real name is unknown. But those who feel like they know him call him Hyde. The name’s appropriate because it always looks like he’s hiding from something. In a world as real as ours this isn’t so hard to believe.

We are all looking for an out.

The pot-head had a clean-cut solution to his worries. Well, it wasn’t really clean but it was solid fuel to his escape engine. That little talisman was pot.

He was always smoked. He was always baked. He was always higher than the clouds. Which was a good thing, in fact, because it meant he was always away from the monstrosities and atrocities happening around here. I’m not going to list them. They know who or what they are.

Anyway, think of this as some kind of manifesto – some kind of brief from a man who was always put down by The MAN. A man who fought against corporate and corporations, against sadistic employers and capitalism, against denial of truth and oppression. Think of this as the vendetta of a man who never got along well with rules, a man most would call a convict, a rule-breaker, a criminal.

The man is up there, beer in hand, fist raised to the skies, pumping high-up, screaming loud. His voice is raised, kind of like the voice of a mother berating her child or an instructor shouting at her students.

He’s not preaching love. He’s not spreading amiability. He’s spreading drug use, worship of alcohol and classic rock.

“First of all, I don’t love people,” he says. “I love mustangs, Zepplin and pizza, in that order.”

The crowd is wild. They are cheering for him like some kind of messiah. He is loved by the people, he is revered by the people.

He then speaks about the governments. How they never do things for the people. How they rob the people. How they insult the people. How they humiliate the people. He puts everybody down: the doctors, the scientists, the artists. Nobody has meaning, nobody gives meaning to themselves or others. Camus would have heard this speech and rejoiced. He would have liked to know his words are still valid among us.

Nietzsche too, would have been proud of him. Thompson would have applauded him for bringing the little brown Baggie with him.

“Don’t hate me,” Hyde says, “I’m just a product of my environment.”

We all are. And we all should reflect on the people we’ve become while drinking an ice-cold beer. Some of us think about this and imagine a unique scenario: sitting in a hammock on the beach on some faraway island. Others imagine themselves right at home in front of the tv or in their room. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, stop and listen to that man’s speech. It is a revolutionary call, the kind that happens once in a century to wake up the people, to shake them up, to change the direction the crowd’s going in. Good old Mark Twain did it with Huckleberry Finn, Spielberg’s doing it in the movies and Pink Floyd’ve chalked it up and sprawled it all over their lyrics.

All we have to do, is listen.

A Road Away From Home Book Signing

Dears, it is with great pride and pleasure that I will be participating in the upcoming Lebanese Authors Convention taking place THIS Saturday, May 06 at the Golden Tulip Hotel De Ville in Beirut. During the convention, you will get to meet Lebanese authors and familiarize yourselves with their works. I will also be signing my debut novel, A Road Away From Home, which will feature among the available books.

Looking forward to seeing a great crowd on Saturday. Be there and be many!

About the book:
Torn between fulfilling his passion of becoming a reputed writer and simply surviving in a fast-paced world, john Kaliba ventures through the shady areas of Lebanon, a small forgotten Middle-Eastern country running high on corruption, social tension and political divide. He is exposed to the social milieu in underground Lebanon: bars, drug use, alcohol abuse and prostitution en route to finding his voice as a writer…and an intense love affair to shift his attention from the word and drive him deep into contemplating the vices of Lebanese society. The terrible tale of a madman who is often caught between doing what is socially right and what his heart dictates, and who finally finds there is a story to tell even in the darkest corners of the world.

Quotes from “A Road Away From Home”:
– “For man always looked to hire a fool to amuse him without knowing he was one all along.”
– “Not all writers are crazy. Only the ones who are serious enough about their craft.”
– “It was still quiet outside. But after tonight, inside each of them, two restless beasts were finally put to rest. And they had each other to thank for it.”
– “In matters of love, one loves and the other decides.”
– “There always seemed to be a link back from the word to the heart, and john felt it the moment he’d lost Maryssa.”

Excerpts from “A Road Away From Home”:
– “But john wasn’t thinking about getting home. He was still thinking about Maryssa: should he have offered to get off at her place? He really wanted to – but he reckoned he was never a true romantic like Wordsworth or Byron or Shelley or Keats. Those were the true lovers, the ones that embodied the passions life had to offer. He never belonged to that circle of romance; he never truly belonged to them. He was also always hesitant when it came to women: it seemed there was never a right way to act around them. Or there might be, but it was unclear to him.”

– “john thought about the other poor people who wandered the streets of Beirut for measly breadcrumbs or dollar bills. He thought about the way Maryssa acted as his accomplice in the scam they’d pulled tonight. He’d found in her someone who understood his folly and matched it with some of her own. The night felt like a dream, the cool breeze like a small wind rocking john to sleep. He still wasn’t a proponent of love, but he was savoring every minute he spent with the girl with the golden voice. Writing – and everything else in the world – could wait.”

Link to the event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1110862912348697/

ROAD

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He wasn’t sure if he still loved her, or if he was still trying to.

She was turbulent, like a hurricane on the loose, a road racer, a fast-lane chaser.

But she was also the safest thing he ever came across. And it was the easiest thing in the world for him to hold onto the things he considered safe.

Her eyes had a gift: they changed colors. They shifted from green to red to grey to blue. When she got angry, they were red. She was compassionate now – they turned blue. Now she’s looking all cute and sweet: her eyes shift to green.

Whenever she’s worried, he could tell: her eyes turned grey.

It was difficult to hold onto a person with powers like that. Unnatural powers. You couldn’t expect to deal with them like you would with normal people. Write them letters? No. Play a sweet song for them? No. Buy them expensive presents? No.

It was hard. Hard for him to figure out a sure way to get her back and hold her tighter than ever. And it was hard for her to accept the incredible standards she’d set for him and the rest of the men looking to get to her. She had set those standards unwillingly – some would even say reluctantly – but she couldn’t apologize for the gift she had and who she was.

In a jobless, loveless, empty world, she was still a gem. She would be one of the first things to be hunted down by extraterrestrials if they were ever to come snooping around these parts for gold.

And that worried him. That worried him dearly. Because at the end of the day, he didn’t believe in extraterrestrials. He didn’t believe in aliens. But he believed in human nature. And human nature dictated that the strong and opportunist feeds on the misfortune of the weak. And he was the weak one in that court. He was the injured gazelle in the prairie. He was the bruised stallion entering the race.

And she was the girl with the color-changing eyes. She was the girl with the shifting hair. She was gorgeous, she was beauty. She simply was; and he, looking at her pictures, thinking about her on a rainy day again, was no longer; was not. He had fallen to the back of the line, fallen on his back again. No one and nothing could save him: not the books or good poetry or a nice warm cup of hot chocolate. He was done. And the more she sparkled, the more he faded and became nothing more than an entry. A journal entry. An idea. A figment of life itself. No reason for being and no reason to be. And the everlasting cries of his shredded soul were all that was left in her deep eyes, a pure black reflection of absent colors and melancholic noises that were once all it took to turn them blue.

***

Be sure to check out my debut novel, A Road Away From Home, now available on Amazon and in paperback.

A Road Away From Home – Hanna Abi Akl

Brute Force

Here is a confession: the writer in me is dying. Now more than ever I have to brute-force my way through the words just to get a few of them down on paper.

I no longer find meaning in what I write. And more worryingly perhaps, I no longer find the desire to. I could write something silly and not care.

Wet sunsets

Orange juice

Bald girl

Tattletale

Grass hills

Pine tree

There. Now you know my words don’t bear much truth in them. There’s no use believing in them any longer. I guess for all you monks out there this might come as a surprise or disappointment – for all the believers who have stood by these words or acknowledged their wisdom you might now be taking a cold hard look at yourselves and wondering how you’ve wasted all this time.

Well I’m here to share this disappointment with you. I’m here to tell you that I too indulged in their wisdom. I too chose to voraciously believe in them. I too chose to listen to them.

But now, it doesn’t seem like they’re listening to me. No, the dust has settled and the smoke has dissipated. The clouds don’t carry much rain in them anymore. We are heading for the dry, dry season. The land is dying. There are cracks left everywhere. And I am at the center of it all, watching it crumble down before my eyes.

I guess it’s true you can’t win them all. You can’t stay a winner your whole life. Someone or something is bound to knock you off your perch. But the problem is when you’ve gotten used to it for so long you forget it can be taken away from you. You forget how it feels like to live without it. And that takes radical adjustments and a change of perspective.

Flute

Strawberries

Jelly beans

The words are coming down but I still can’t nail them correctly. It’s like they’re brewing in the pot but the stew isn’t coming out right. I can see them cooking in front of me but they don’t taste the same. They were once pure and golden. They were once transparent and honest. They were once magical and transcendent. But now they are like us; they are foul and profane and obscene and corrupt. They are food for vultures. They are rotten decaying corpses.

Well, maybe I’ve been too hard on them. Maybe I’ve come down too hard on the thing that made me a winner once. Maybe it’s just me – maybe I was the one getting bitten and infected by the snake. But now that the poison’s dried out in my veins and I sit here still trying to unlock the door I guess we’ll never truly know for sure.

Until we hear the crack and see through the other side. Until then, if that moment were to ever come, I’ll just have to keep forcing my way through the page.

***

Be sure to check out my debut novel, A Road Away From Home, now available on Amazon and in paperback.

A Road Away From Home – Hanna Abi Akl

Back to his Best

‘You take time to warm up to people,’ she said.

‘Uh-huh.’

‘But I think that once you do, you become a lot more open. You become accessible, and maybe even funny.’

‘Ok.’

‘Funny man.’

‘Funny man?’

‘Yes, you. Funny man. Why’d you have to act all depressed all the time? Don’t you ever get tired of it?’

‘I’m not acting. It’s not a choice.’

‘What is it then?’

‘The way I am.’

‘Because you write?’

‘Because I’m a writer.’

‘Does that come like a sort of baggage with it?’

‘It does.’

‘Why is that?’

‘Because we see too much.’

‘Too much of what?’

‘Of everything.’

‘You mean the world?’

‘Yes, the world.’

‘Can’t you stop seeing and close your eyes for a moment?’

‘I tried.’

‘And?’

‘It didn’t work.’

‘Well what did you see?’

‘Everything.’

‘Why are writers such difficult people?’

‘Because they’re not really people. They’re not like the rest.’

‘And is that why you haven’t been with a girl for a while? Because you think girls are different from you too?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Well what do you know?’

‘I don’t know much.’

‘How about me then? Do you think I’m different too?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Do you think I’m an attractive woman?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Would you like me to kiss you?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Or maybe give you a nice back rub or caress those hard cheek bones of yours.’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Well dammit, if you’re just gonna stand there looking all serious and focused, then I’m not having any of it! There are tons of men out there chasing me and trying to get in my pants right now!’

‘Ok.’

‘Damn you! Damn all the writers! Damn you!’

‘…’

‘Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get loud. I’m sorry. I’m terribly sorry. It’s unlike me to act like this. I don’t know what got into me.’

‘…’

‘Will you forgive me?’

‘Ok.’

‘Do you think I’m an attractive woman?’

‘Yes.’

***

Be sure to check out my debut novel, A Road Away From Home, now available on Amazon and in paperback.

A Road Away From Home – Hanna Abi Akl