I can’t read…

I’ve noticed that I can’t read a novel.  I’ve tried so hard to recently but I quickly lose interest.  The last novel I read from beginning to end was To Kill a Mockingbird.  That was in 2005. The first time I read that novel I was 12 years old. My English teacher at the time, Mrs Hall, made it so entertaining that the whole class participated. We took it in turns to read a paragraph and Mrs Hall would quiz us on each section we read to make sure we’d understood it.

I read it again when I was 14 and preparing for my GCSE exams.  It wasn’t much fun then.  I went to a convent school and the nuns were quite regimental. It put me off reading novels;  there was no fun anymore. The most important book was The Gospel of St.  Luke. It didn’t mean much to me because I’d been brought up differently,  God wasn’t to be feared and life wasn’t about sin – at least in Oriental Christianity. I was taught that God was my friend and would help resolve all my problems.  At Catholic school it was different. God suddenly became this entity that watched everything I did and was extremely judgemental. Suddenly reading and God became horrible. 

As a child I’d loved reading. I used to get through two books a week and was way ahead of my peers.  My father had encouraged me to read because I was lagging behind in English. i spoke Arabic until I was 5 years old. Apparently I used to tell my teachers of for not understanding me. I remember being quite quiet at school in my early years because of the language barrier. My escapism was reading because in my head I could say the words and understand what the author was writing but when it came to speaking I’d muddle my words up.  Sometimes I still do this because in Arabic things are said in a sort of back to front way that makes sense to other Arabic speakers. In English there are different rules and often I get confused between the two. 

I hated Arabic school which my parents had sent me too whilst I was growing up. My teacher was a conservative muslim who insisted on teaching the Quran. Hell,  I wasn’t interested in the Bible why would I be interested in reciting  the Quran. Reading became so boring and no longer a form of escape but rather a duty. I convinced my parents to take me out of Arabic school but I couldn’t convince them to take me out of Catholic school. 

As I grew up and matured I started to question absolutely everything that I was ever taught.  I soon discovered that I had no interest in novels and no interest in reading. I thought reading meant storytelling and being out of tune with reality. I associated it with all the boring ideas that I’d been taught at Catholic school. I only ever really enjoyed Dickens but we weren’t taught much of that at school we had to focus on the scripture and the miracles. 

One day I came across philosophy by chance.  I found a book by Immanuel Kant and I thought I’d give it a go.  It was about Enlightenment.  I loved this book.  I loved the concept of maturity and immaturity.  Suddenly everything I’d experienced at Catholic school made sense to me.  In Kantian terms I consisdered the nuns to be “immature thinkers” and I felt satisfied with this conclusion. 

A few years after high school I started to read again.  No not novels.  I discovered philosophy,  history and culture. Not the history I was taught at school; it was extremely Eurocentric and I became aware that there was a whole world of knowledge that I had missed out on.   Now I read so much but I can’t seem to pick up a novel it almost seems like a waste of time (which is not an ideal way to think about literature because it is valuable) and a form of escapism that I believe would only encourage a Eurocentric perspective (to a large extent).  Instead I read books filled with knowledge that excited me and questions that engaged me and left me searching for more answers.

My idea of a good read is shown in the picture below.  I’ve read these particular books several times and I love just how rich their knowledge is.

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One of my favourites

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That is a picture of one what’s left of my favourite drinks.

Lebanese style avacado smoothie.

To make you need:

1 large ripe avacado peeled and sliced
3rd glass of milk
Lots of Sugar or honey to taste
A dash of rosewater
A few ice cubes

Put it all into a blender and zap away until super smooth.

If you like you can add a few fresh mint leaves in the blender; it gives this a great fresh flavour.

Hope you enjoy.

The Peak District

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Photo taken by me in autumn 2012.

C took me to the peak district in autumn 2012. We had a very relaxing time there.  I have two memories that are distinct;  the first was the beautiful scenery.  The second was bad coffee.  It was impossible to get a decent cup of coffee and the only half decent stuff was Nero (which isn’t really that decent) and meant that we had to travel to Sheffield. The combination of fresh air and bad coffee made me very tired and C was happy because I was talkative. 

Another weekend.

I need another weekend to get over the weekend I just had.  I had been looking forward to venturing out of my neighborhood and hanging out with the girls and their kids in the countryside.  Instead Saturday turned out to be a disaster of a day.  I spent most of it playing therapist in an attempt to resolve a major dispute between my friend and her partner.  I have determined they are both selfish and require a ton of insight.  By the end of the day I felt exhausted, drained and not in the mood to talk to anyone.  Eventually C and I came home and started bickering. within a few minutes we had raised our voices at each other and were behaving like children.  At some point I started giggling when I realised what was going on.   I suggested we both chill out because we had clearly picked up on the bad vibes and we do not usually argue and bicker like two idiots.  C doesn’t like it when I point out the obvious so snapped some more and stormed off.  Not a perfect way to end the day.  I don’t like C going to bed upset so a short while later I followed her up and we had a sensible discussion.  

Yesterday was nice and I had invited my family, friends and cousins to come over for a BBQ.  It was a really nice day for us but I was still pretty drained from Saturday from all of the drama.  C and I had a nice day and worked hard together preparing everything for lunch and clearing up after our guests had left.  After our guests left we had a conversation about our summer holiday plans.  She wants to go and visit a friend of hers in NYC who is going through a custody battle.  I can’t think of anything worse than to be around negativity and I explained this to C and told her that it is not my idea of a summer holiday.  I have a lot of relatives in the US and I would not go to see C’s friend and ignore my cousins (who I would much rather see than her friend).  I also do not see the point to go to NY with C and not spend time with her either; there’s no point us going together.  Last night she told me that we could plan separate holidays which semi-frustrated me because we need some relaxing time out.  C wants to save the world which I think is very honorable.  So I have decided that it is about time I go to the homeland.  I went to bed last night and I suddenly felt nostaligic.  I started to think about all the good food and the nice beaches that I would enjoy back “home”.  I love summer in Lebanon if only for the smell of the fresh gardenia and jasmine.  Recently I have started to dream in Arabic which is weird.  That usually happens to me after I spend at least a week in Lebanon.  I’ve not been back since 2010 or 2009 (I cannot remember) and C isn’t interested to go there with me and I am happy to go alone.  In a way it made me think about a lot of things and how it would be so much easier for me to go there alone.  For one I won’t have to speak in English all the time and secondly I wont have to please anyone. That sounds really selfish but I can entertain myself; I have many friends who I have missed and I have family that I would like to see.  What I do not have there is a custody battle going on or any headaches.

I was looking through some of my old photo’s from my last trip to Lebanon and I found the two below.  One is a path in Byblos (that takes me to my favourite outdoor bars and cafe’s) and is filled with honeysuckle, jasmine and gardenia (so it is a longer route to the bars but the smell is beautiful) the other is the sunset from the pier in Byblos where my friends and I would spend hours chilling out and smoking shisha, drinking smoothies and playing cards together.  

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Photo’s taken by me, Byblos Lebanon (2010/2009)

 

 

Bluebells

I love walking in the woods and seeing bluebells.  It feels so magical and looks so beautiful. 

 Today I am in a magical and beautiful mood.  C and I had a good night and did some talking. talking is tough sometimes but it is better to get it all out there rather than keeping it inside and going a little nuts. 

 C and I are venturing out of our little suburban town tomorrow and heading to the country side to spend the day with a bunch of our girly wirly mummy friends.  Hopefully we’ll manage a walk in the woods and spot some flowers.  I love just love spring.  I love admiring the blossom and noticing the different sounds and smells when walking in the woods.  Everything comes to life and it seems so magical and beautiful.

 

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Photo taken by me sometime in 2011 or 2012.