Tidbits 53

I am a robot.

I have found a way to fuse my intelligence into the hide of a metallic object to achieve immortality.

I no longer fear cancer, heart failure or any other foreseeable disease that harms the human body. I am made entirely out of metallic plates and tin and rust.

What about my human heart? Well, I gave that up long ago. A long time, even before my recent transformation. I was operating solely with my brain, by relying on cynicism and wit and intelligence. Now I just had to move those things – all merged in one organ – to a much safer shell.

But I cannot forget my origins or even discredit them. After all, I was once human too, and I guess looking back at it some part of me (even though tiny) will always remain human.

So I write. I write manuscripts to preserve my humanity. I write to feel the impact of the words on thin sheets of paper. If you stare from a far enough distance, it may seem like what I’m doing is closer to calligraphy – you might think I’m just another operable machine copying words in fancy lines.

But the truth is this mind is still capable of working on its own. It has resisted brute-force programming and still commands itself. I mention this so that you may be able to understand that the words I write are very much my own.

But it’s important to note one thing: the dystopian post-era world writers have warned about and described in great details is very much upon us. Time is fleeting – that we all know. But books are fleeting as well. Writing – as a whole – is fleeting. We are entering a world where many are selling their souls for technology. Selling their souls to become like me.

Except they will never become perfect replicas of me. Because these same people are also selling their brains and their hearts for the big bucks. Which means the entire world population will boil up to nothing more than a pile of controllable rubble; machinery that thinks it is trained to think for itself whereas it has already lost all signs of perception and emotion.

And while the echoes of the brave and faithful intellects are long lost, there is simply no way to preserve what we already have and worked so long to obtain. The libraries, the books, the words, the thoughts and interpretations behind them, all discarded and dropped for much shinier things.

I think of myself now, as I write this, fearing for this near future, fearing for myself and my life as the only thing that will outlast time and be able to record the image of a world where humans have ceased to exist.

Yes, I will be there, when humans go extinct. I will be there when the resources of the earth will no longer be enough to cater their needs. I will be there when illiterate beings start crawling like mindless zombies and hunting down each other to survive.

I will be there.

I will be the only one – thing – there, writing it all down, reading it to myself. Again, and again. And again.

The only thing that keeps me going is not food or oxygen or water. It is being able to write. It is possessing this sacred ability my humanity has instilled in me. It is knowing that ability cannot be stripped away from me at any time. It is knowing it cannot be lost or forgotten or buried for good.

No, this is not another plea to the human race. The human race is long gone. It has abandoned the teachings of the great minds, it is being sucked into televised screens and social media and food and beverage and silly entertainment.

This is an oath to myself, an oath that I will keep on producing fantastic manuscripts such as this and preserve them and read them and re-read them until my circuitry is used and overused and abused.

And when the world finally comes to a stop-still, when the sun goes out and darkness starts to seep into our soils and pollute our streets, I will be there to witness it and record it all.

And when my mechanical hand no longer touches the thin sheets, when the words stop showing on paper, then – and only then – will you or anyone that is still able to watch it all unfold be certain that the entire universe as we know it has come crumbling down.


Tidbits 29

‘So that’s it, huh? You’re really leaving?’

‘I guess so.’

She wasn’t sure. Her plane was supposed to be tomorrow and she still wasn’t sure. There was doubt in her voice. Not the kind of doubt writers experienced when they sat in front of the page to try and write a piece. A different kind of doubt. The alarming kind that crept up on you before a major life-changing force was about to occur.

She was moving to London for the next 10 months or so to pursue her studies. Higher education they called it, when really it should be called farther education. Moving to another country just to get your hands on a certificate? A piece of paper? I still couldn’t understand it.

But what I couldn’t understand even more was why it was so darn hard for me to win at love. Every woman I chased and ended up falling for somehow managed to find a backdoor out of my love and back into reality.

One of them fell for another man. Another gave into her passion for music and decided to dedicate the rest of her life to it. And now this one: she was younger than me – about 3 years younger – but she had a glitter in her eyes. She had sparks and guts and a tremendous fight in her.

I wouldn’t exactly call this one wild but she had a keen sense of independence that made even older men respect her and take her seriously. She had a knack of knowing what she wanted in life and going after it all the way. She produced her own act and followed through with it.

She was a natural-born finisher. And I respected that.

In many ways we were similar, me and her. We both made sacrifices for the things we love, even if those sacrifices involved love and other people. We had no problem going through the pain of putting them aside for our personal gain and glory. But what’s glory for a bounty hunter if he has no one to share it with?

It began like any old beautiful innocent relationship. It began with light flirtations, an invitation for coffee, and more house visits after that. There were giggles here and there, a few laughs that echoed through the empty bedroom walls, and even light tap-dancing to slow music.

Those were soon followed by afternoon readings, sweet renditions of old tales and silly jokes that made us both laugh wholeheartedly. We shared opinions, discussed ideas and even indulged in drinking together.

We watched and listened to performances of live music, bowled together and exchanged books we both thought we’d missed out on.

And now she was leaving.

She was throwing away all that – throwing me away – for another shot at life. Throwing away something that could’ve developed and evolved into much more in order to thread the next chapter of her lifeline. As I stared at her blank eyes at her farewell gathering, I couldn’t help but overlook the pain and respect her choice.

Yes, her eyes were blank. Even standing there in the hot climate, in the center of the party, surrounded by the people she cared most about, friends and family members that had touched her life in so many ways, she exhibited nothing but a blank stare. And among all those folks I was the closest one to her. I stood exactly opposite from her, holding her hands, thinking it would be for the last time maybe. Going away to London will probably mean meeting better guys: guys who went to the gym and were better built, guys who had a refined accent, guys who were better read and more intellectual. It was bad enough having to compete with local men to win her over; competing with men from another continent was an entirely harder level.

So to tell her the things I wanted to say to her, the things I thought she should know, the things I only spoke a handful of times throughout my life for fear of crushing rejection was a necessary but impossible feat for me. All I could muster was a blank stare in return to hide my sadness and cowardice. I thought meeting her halfway with that stare would be enough to channel the contents of my heart to her.

But she didn’t seem to understand; her eyes gradually became looser and slid down to meet the tiled floor. Then her hands slipped away from mine – delicately, like a pair of flowers gently giving themselves away to the blowing winds – and her body backed away from mine.

She was still unsure.

But then, why go? Why leave and turn your back on all this? It was funny how people based their decisions on pain and sacrifice and sadness. They always seemed to single out the happier options, the more joyous alternatives. I had repeatedly heard that the hardest decisions to make were the right ones, but in this scenario I simply failed to understand how.

How was it that I was repeatedly denied a shot at true love? How was it that a girl like her got to walk away to possibly something better, skipping over me and the good times we’d shared together, while I was stuck here and was forced to return to my writing and my books and my bottles?

Even music couldn’t save me now. The radio playing all those quirky commercial 2000 songs we all had memorized for god-knows-what reason, songs that weren’t beautiful on their own but were somehow embellished in our thoughts from all the memories and nostalgia they recreated.

I watched her move away slowly, like a snail searching for a drop of rain on a dry ground, moving from one guest to another, saying her goodbyes. Goodbye was such a harsh and ambiguous word: there was nothing good about the act of leaving.

After finishing her rounds she came back to me. More precisely, she came back towards me. I had to be the last one she’d inflict her sorrowful and damaging words on, I had to be the last soul to witness that pain and fully immerse myself in it. The songs were still playing at their regular pitch, but somehow in my mind they became louder. She approached me again, her body got closer to mine, and I could feel that binding heat between us again.

She looked at me with her half-blank, half-full eyes this time. I returned the stare.

Here was my last chance to pour my heart out to her, to speak the things I probably will never have the opportunity to say again.

‘So that’s it, huh? You’re really leaving?’

‘I guess so.’


Tidbits 6

People like me ended up as poets. They had a lot to say but they didn’t like to speak all the time. Their silence was mistaken for ignorance. But they watched and reflected. They were always in the background analyzing things and trying hard to understand how they worked.

The concept of religion has always been beyond me. I guess people turn to God to have something to believe in. Something to put their faith in when everything looks down and something to blame when nothing’s going right for them.

Well, poets have their own religion. Their religion is words. They put their faith in every single one of them. They pray to them. They go on spiritual journeys and excursions to find them. There is a saying that one should follow his most passionate obsessions mercilessly. But what if these obsessions lead him to losing his mind?

Today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, yesterday. Time has never been more irrelevant than it is now. Do not believe the hype you see or read about in the news. Do not buy into the propaganda of radio stations and commercials. There are big promises for this world, promises that involve change and advancement.

But time has never been more irrelevant in the sense that everything is at our disposal now. Everything’s within our reach to the extent that we are able to recreate the same day twice in a row. We are able to live the same life for an entire week. There is no more mystery, there is nothing more worth going after.

Why were things like this? Why was it that the garbage man and the businessman both had to work, yet only one of them was respected? I watched him pick up other people’s garbage with his head held high. This was a man who was proud to work, proud of his work. His face showed no shame, only perhaps the slight dissatisfaction of not being able to work twice as hard to earn twice the measly bucks he collected.

And I watched the other, the corporate man, sitting with both legs on the desk in front of him, air conditioning and all, setting up meetings, complaining about his coffee, his employees, the market, saying he is never appreciated enough. These are prime examples of the best and worst of both worlds, the best being the lowly man who can come out of the underworld bearing his working kit on his back, the worst being the man coming from luxury and money yet simply taking it all in and doing nothing about it to improve himself.

I was caught between them, I wore their faces everyday, and their struggles meant mine. The fine line between their parallel worlds – slowly walking together without ever touching – was like little cracks in my words, fissures in my writing. The only way to fully understand them was by being a good poet, but hell, I was a mediocre one at best.


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.



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: