I wanted to attend that Creative Writing session at the Cornwall public library that morning but I had to be somewhere else during that time. Maybe I would have learned something that would have contributed to making my writings more interesting.
I always feel that there is something wrong about how I write and form sentences/paragraphs, but never knew what it is. Only 4 of my articles had the chance of being reviewed by native english speakers before being published.
I wrote 3 articles for sitepoint.com. My assigned Editor used to fix my sentences, and give me ideas about how to make the articles more interesting, I liked that, and learned a lot from it.
Maybe I’m not that good at writing articles yet, but at least most people think I write good emails. I got told by many people in different occasions that they like my emails. That makes me a little bit happy as I usually put extra effort in crafting the sentences of my emails to make them more fun to read and easier to understand. Most people write horrible emails, maybe that’s another reason that makes my emails look perfect to most people.
Anyway, the day went just fine. I woke up at 9 and the lady made me a nice breakfast. The fruits were perfect. Never tasted fruits that good since I was in Kenya.
Took the bus to Manhattan, and headed to Citiibank. While I was there waiting, I had that short chat with the black security man.
Him: where are you from, sir?
Me: I’m from Egypt
Him: what’s the best soccer team there?
Me: Humm, I think it’s Al Ahly!
Him: What about Zamalik?
Me: It used to be, but now they are the 2nd best
Him: Oh, I used to like Zamalik. They had a good team
Me: So where are you from?
Him: I’m African too. I’m from Liberia. I used to watch the African soccer competitions, and Zamalik was my favorite team.
While it was a useless conversation, but it made me think about 2 things..
First, it’s amazing how Zamalik was able to disappoint millions of people for years, not only Egyptians, but Africans too. It’s the power of soccer.
Second, for years, I formed a theory about the connection between Zamalik fans and black people. That theory scientifically and logically doesn’t make sense, but it’s the result of my own unscientific observations.
The theory is that: If you ask a black Egyptian person “what’s your favorite Egyptian soccer team?” The answer would most probably be “Zamalik”.
I know it’s stupid theory, but it’s based on my own observations. You try to think about all your black friends and try to group them by favorite soccer club, and let me know if you find the number of those in the Ahly group are more than those in the Zamalik group. I totally love it when people break my theories, so don’t be shy.
Anyway, I managed to open the bank account after 3 tries at 3 different banks, but that’s another story I would better write about on shreef.com, someone would learn something from it.
I spent the rest of the day walking around. I tried first to find the apple store in Grand Central to buy a friend of friend a MacBook Pro she asked me to buy. Then made circles around times square trying to find an old pizza restaurant I ate at before, but failed to find it, so ended up eating at another pizza restaurant that had a lot of recommendations on Foursquare.
Last night I had the worst pizza ever. I was so hungry so I ate half of that pizza but left the rest not touched. The girl came running following me at the door of the restaurant asking me if I want to wrap the rest to take home, I told her “no, thanks”.. You had to see her lovely shocked face. Probably she wasn’t expecting that answer.
Today I had a way better pizza. It was a Margarita, and had pineapple juice. I no more drink cola and similar drinks. Coffee and fruit juices are my only options.
By the end of day, I headed to the bus station to go back home to NJ. At the bus stop, I found hundreds of people standing in a queue waiting the bus go to NJ. Queue and bus are words we never see in the same sentence in Egypt. I found every one standing quietly in the queue. No one complaining or trying to illegally make it to the front of the line. No one was organizing them, they were just standing. That was a good thing to see by the end of day.
Note: I was too tired and sleepy while writing this. I wanted to be committed to writing at least once a day. So I pushed my self to write this. Sorry if this post sounds weird, and full of typos.
“Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?”—Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart (via psych-facts)
Arrived 4 hours earlier than planned. This time I didn’t book a room at a hotel. Wanted to give Airbnb a try especially that I’ve no idea how much I would spend in Netherlands during the first month, so I thought it’s time to act like an adult, and think wisely about how I spend money.
Found a family renting a room in their apartment for $40 a night. Best deal I was able to find considering quality and price. It’s possible to find a shared room for $20/night but most probably it would be a rat hole, and I’m not comfortable sharing rooms with anyone. So that room was fine for my needs. Hotel rooms in NYC start at $300/night, so I think I saved a lot.
The family consists of the parents, a daughter, and 2 dogs. The mom welcomed me and showed me around. She talks little bit of English, but more comfortable talking in Spanish. They have a nice house, and the area generally is nice.
The mistake I discovered few days before traveling was that this house isn’t in NY. It’s in New Jersey. I always thought that NJ is a city in NY, but found later that they are 2 close states.
When I arrived to JFK airport in NY, I took the metro to Manhattan, then took the transit bus to cross the borders/river to NJ. It’s a 20 minute trip using the bus, so it feels like I’m still in NY.
Most of my activities will be in NY, so I will keep taking that bus everyday. The bus will leave me at the center of Manhattan where everything important happen. I don’t know why I paid for a $30 metro card if that bus was all I needed. So, here’s a wasted $30.
Till now I don’t have a data sim card for my ipad. I need to have internet access while walking around, but it’s a single week, so maybe I can survive without it.
I survived this morning by taking screenshots of the Google maps directions while still in Cairo. So I didn’t need Internet connection to find my way to home in NY.
It’s still 6:00pm here, so I will stay awake till it’s 10pm at least. I never get jet lag. My friends think my body has something special against jet-lags. I liked the idea of being known to have a kinda super power, so I didn’t try to correct that claim. But the truth is that I adapt to the times of the country I’m visiting during the flight, so when I arrive, my body will be ready to function normally. I can’t claim that I’m good at planning or organizing, but maybe that’s one of the few things I manage to do well.
Ah.. Back to the mistake about NJ and NY. Here’s the real problem. The transit busses are only available till 10pm everyday. This means that whatever happens, I have to be at the bus station by 9pm max to take the last bus heading back to NJ, or I will be stuck all night in NY.
Now I’m hungry so I should go out to explore the area and find something to eat. It’s windy and the temperature is as low as 10 C, so I gotta find something to eat quickly and head back home before it starts to get colder.
My flight with Etihad Airlines got delayed. They offered to book me another one. The options were a direct flight with Egypt Air at 9am, or another flight with Turkish Airlines at 3am that will stop first at Istanbul. I chose to go with Turkish airlines.
I know this choice won’t make sense to most people considering that a direct flight from Cairo to New York is too expensive, and that’s a free offer that most probably won’t happen again ever, but I thought that Turkish airlines would be more comfortable and make me happier, probably.
The problem with Egypt Air is that ..
1. I will stay at Cairo Airport till 9am (7 hours). Which I hate.
2. My experience flying Egypt Air never been good. Flight attendants are rude, and they always make me feel a little bit of guilt whenever I ask them for something.
3. Everything will be Egyptian till I arrive to NY. I have enough of that already.
Turkish Airlines is not the best Airline in the world, but hey.. Few minutes and they will give us those little Turkish bites (malban). Don’t remember what they call it in English or Turkish but it’s called malban in Arabic, and it’s high in quality, not like the ones we have in Egypt.
Anyway, they are asking us to shut phones off. Till later.
2 more hours to be at the airport for a one week trip to USA to be followed by another longer one to Netherlands, my new place to call home for some months or years.
I just waved bye to my 1 bag plan. Looks like I will need to buy one more travel bag when I’m back from this first trip. I’ve grouped everything I’ve in my room into 3 stacks. One to keep, one to throw away, and another to send back to home-base in Alexandria.
A friend will take my bed. Maybe one of his future babies will sleep on that bed.
Would that kid be proud about inheriting my bed, and tell his/her friends that s/he sleeps on the bed that used to be the bed of the great and awesome Shreef?! .. it depends on what gonna happen in my life next.
All day of nothing but watching Breaking bad. Other than the interesting story and how it develops, I sympathize with Walter White. The man who knows he is going to die in few months, and wants to secure a better life for his family. All his life was miserable, and full of sacrifices. He was one of the best chemistry scientists, and ended up teaching at a school. All his old colleagues are getting the prestige and money, while he is failing to secure enough money for his cancer treatment.
Breaking bad wasn’t just his way to securing more money for his family, but a way of revolting and expressing anger. He has been always seen as a nice person that’s always taken for granted. He obeyed the law and every other choice or decision made by the people surrounding him. He never had a choice at all. Even when he wanted to not got through the chemical treatment process, he had to change that decision to satisfy his wife who was pushing him toward going through that treatment process that would just make him live about 2 more years longer, but he will lose hair, and feel so sick during those extra months, not to mention that they didn’t have the money to cover all the costs.
It sucks to not have control over your life decisions. Also it sucks to not be able to achieve whatever you want to achieve in your life. You watch the years pass, and you grow older and older, and the older you grow, the more you start to feel the pain grow inside you, and the more you become aware that you won’t achieve anything of what you dreamed of. And come to the conclusion that you’re not that special one, not that smart kid, that can be whatever he wants to be, the hero, the artist, the scientist, the whatever you was dreaming of.
Your mommy, and your kindergarten teachers weren’t right, you’re just a normal person, living in an irrational world, most probably you will end up like everyone else, and even if you achieve your dream, you will find that it wasn’t the best thing to pursue, and start to think about all the wasted years that would have been better spent chasing another dream or a way of life.
So the granted thing .. is that you, like everyone else, poor or rich, healthy or sick, famous or not, lonely or found love .. like everyone else, you will have deathbed regrets.
My wish is to have as few regrets as possible, and to have too many blessings stronger than the regrets.
I don’t know how I will find those blessings, and whether I gonna notice them when they happen or not, so I will keep living and moving forward, hoping that magic will just happen, and that a light will be there to help me find and see my blessings, and put a smile on my face, when I’m there on the deathbed.
“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”—
That quote crossed my mind while writing the previous post. That’s the best explanation of sculpture.
So, my birthday went exactly as planned. Nothing productive accomplished. Woke up at 11:30, took a shower, went out for Friday prayers, had breakfast, read some Quran pages, received a short call from mom asking if I’m doing fine, watched a couple of youtube videos, browsed like 5 tumblr blogs and followed some of them, found 2 friends leaving me happy birthday messages on Skype (Yeah, Skype has birthday reminders), so thanked them, listened to some music on soundcloud, went through all the installed apps on my ipad and removed most of them, the ones I don’t use, and the ones I don’t want to use anymore, ordered lunch, started to watch a movie called Wish I was here, now pausing it at minute 00:57:00 as the internet connection started to get slow and I’m tired of watching the movie stop every few seconds to buffer, and now writing this.
I wanted to go out today but wasn’t sure whom should I call, also thought about exploring my artistic skills. I noticed that everyone on Tumblr is either forming poetry or drawing. I know nothing about both, but maybe I should try doing something related to drawing or sculpture.
Sculpture seams interesting as it’s all about removing. You keep removing layers and layers of that material till you end up with something good. If it doesn’t look that good, keep removing more layers. The worst things that can happen is that you will remove all the layers and end up with nothing. Ending up with nothing at all is better than ending up with something bad and ugly. I can’t imagine myself writing poets or drawing, whatever I gonna write or draw will be there forever reminding me of how bad that was.
Maybe I can buy a 3D printer too, but I can’t do that now. That’s my last month at this apartment. I will be moving to another city, so my life currently is stuck at the transition mode. I can do nothing until the transition is fully complete. I should even get rid of most of my old stuff. I’m giving away my paper books, throwing away my old clothes, giving away my bed. expecting to end up with 1 travel bag. 1 bag should be enough to hold everything physical I own. I can have 2 bags, but I really prefer to only have one. I want to always have one bag so it can be easy to leave and move from one place to another whenever I want to.
About leaving, I’m supposed to be moving to another city, to join another company. While I should be happy about the move, still I find myself thinking about when and how I should leave that company. I didn’t even start, and I’m now thinking about moving.
It’s seams like having unstable life is something in my DNA as mom always says. I never stay at a job for more than 2 years, I didn’t even stay at college for so long, even as a kid I kept switching schools many times, still for my surprise - and to my parents’ surprise - each move came with better results. What a crazy irrational world.
When it comes to the irrationality of the world, I can write about that forever, but I won’t write about that now. I’m sure it will happen naturally later when another irrational thing happen in my life.
All I’m thinking about now is how to skip forward .. how to skip life forward like when we do while watching a boring movie. This week, and the coming few weeks will be some of the most boring weeks ever. The days will be long, no body to talk to, and I’ve no interest in doing anything of the things that I used to do before to kill time.
When I get asked a question like “What’s your favorite X?” I get puzzled and fail to find an answer. I have no idea why I should keep a list of things I like the most, or why would I rank people, books, movies, fruits, or occasions?!
Still I have a list of things I hate. The list is very small, as I don’t usually hate things without a very strong reason. And there are no rankings. If I hate something, then I hate it as equally as everything else I hate.
Life is better lived without a lot of complication.
I can’t say that I hate or love traveling. When I didn’t know how to travel to anywhere outside Egypt, all I was dreaming about was traveling, but then I found that’s it’s not about traveling. It’s about who you’re traveling with, or who you gonna meet while traveling.
Of the trips I had to other countries, the best were those I had someone traveling with me. My recent few trips were just lonely trips. I had to finish whatever work I’m supposed to do, then walk around the city till the end of day.
A walk around a city you are visiting for the first time is totally driven by your desire to explore. Exploring is something better done in groups. As what the point of seeing something interesting and not being able to discuss it instantly with someone else?!
1: See that? How did they build it?! 2: Wow. I think that’s has something to with X that I read about.. 1: Tell me 2: Ok, it was said that …
That’s the fun part about traveling. If there are no conversations inspired by the things you see, or experience, then what the point?!
Being at interesting places and looking around to not find someone to discuss that with, is a very silly thing. What you gonna do then? take a photo and post it to Instagram/Facebook and caption it “Look friends where I’m now?! I hope you are jealous” ?! that’s more silly.
Another fun thing about traveling is the flight itself. Trains are fun too. Actually trains are more fun compared to planes. Most people hate flights/trains and complain about being locked in that same place for hours.
I find it fun. Sitting there, not getting interrupted, hearing the noise made by the train wheels or plane engines. The best environment you can ever have if you want to focus.
I use that time to read books, or watch the movies I always wanted to watch but never been able to.
Landing is the silly part. I’m the man you see there few seconds away from crying like a baby while the plane is landing. A friend told me about a breathing trick that helped me get over the pain you feel in your ears during landings. it helped, still I hate landings.
While I don’t use the other blog at shreef.com that much, I thought about turning it into a journal instead, but thought that maybe I should keep it for professional and kinda professional content only. (As if I write any)
Tumblr seams like a better fit for my unimportant stories. Also writing here seams easier as Tumblr doesn’t make me feel like I’m writing an article for The Huffington Post, it feels like I can just post anything here.
Also I did deactivate facebook again. I hope I won’t turn back.
As I said in my previous post, my excuse for reactivating the Facebook account was to get the happy birthday wishes on Facebook.
I thought again about it and found that this was stupid.. Facebook’s happy birthday wishes are usually fake. Those I get from family and very close friends are much valuable, so I deactivated my facebook account again even before it’s my birthday.
I think my life without Facebook will be better. I feel already that it’s 2005. All I did in 2005 was blogging and discussing tech stuff on forums. So forums are the missing thing, but I don’t feel like I need to get back to forums or anything similar. I still have Twitter, it doesn’t replace forums, but I’m following some every interesting people who share valuable stuff.
Yesterday, I spent the day doing nothing but reading blogs, watching random videos, and the last thing before heading to bed was watching Pulp Fiction. Actually It was my first time to watch that movie, and I had to watch it as looks like everybody like it. It was good. It didn’t feel like wow, but it was good.
Today I downloaded that Popcorn-time app. It has tons of movies and TV shows. I thought maybe I should start watching Breaking-bad again. I watched the first 3 episodes few months ago and it seamed interesting, but I didn’t have a lot of time back then to continue watching it, but now I have a lot of time.
I was supposed to finish a lot of paper work during the week. Successfully, I finished non. Actually I didn’t even try finishing any, I just preferred to stay lazy. Laziness is fine, not sure why some people hate it.
I have a flight to USA next Sunday to finish another patch of silly paper work. It’s estimated that all the paper work will get done in one day, then I will spend the rest of the week walking around NY, or just staying in my room. Another 6 days of nothing.
I can’t say that I hate or love traveling. When I didn’t know how to travel outside Egypt, all I was dreaming about was traveling, but then I found that’s it’s not about traveling … oh, this paragraph seams like a good start for another post. I will copy/past it into another post and start again…
Posted yesterday on shreef.com and moved it here as it felt like tumblr is a better fit as diary.
Yesterday I deactivated my Facebook account, and re-enabled it few hours ago. I was planning to put myself into a full month no-Facebook diet.
Those 24 hours weren’t easy as no one was home and I didn’t have a lot of outside activities that can keep me busy. Still I said that it’s normal, changing habits is always a painful thing to do.
I’m not used to be a quitter. I like to finish whatever I start, but this time I found myself making a silly excuse .. “It’s your birthday in 2 days..no one gonna know it’s your birthday if you deactivate your Facebook account, and no one -those you know and those you don’t- would tell you happy birthday this year.. Can’t that plan wait for 2 days?!”
I fell for it, and now I see a problem bigger than the “Facebook is eating all my time” problem .. It’s “Facebook will destroy my life if use it, and even If I don’t”.
“When I won this, my grandma, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, wanted to see it. I was coming around so I decided I’d bring my Nobel Prize. You would think that carrying around a Nobel Prize would be uneventful, and it was uneventful, until I tried to leave Fargo with it, and went through the X-ray machine. I could see they were puzzled. It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays—it’s completely black. And they had never seen anything completely black.
“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’
At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”
Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built, alas, on weak and shifting sand
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day
And only now I see how the years ran away
Yesterday when I was young
So many drinking songs were waiting to be sung
So many wayward pleasures lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me, me and nothing else at all
Yesterday the moon was blue
And every crazy day brought something new to do
I used my magic age as if it were a wand
And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond
The game of love I played with arrogance and pride
And every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died
The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away
And only I am left on stage to end the play
There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue
The time has come for me to pay for yesterday when I was young