Revisiting Egypt

Been rereading old journals tonight and this one stuck out, Dated 30 June 2013:

Egypt is active—even Ma’adi is active. We had a quiet day today: reading, writing, resting, talking. Abuna Bishoi didn’t let us leave the seminary at all, so we resolved to have a focused, quiet day here. I started out by cleaning my room, washing some clothes, and having a simple breakfast of yogurt, dates, and a Cliff Bar.

Then Dea joined me, we talked, and we went down to breakfast with the others. There, most of the seminarians were tense and only knew the vague outlines for the day, telling us that unrest had erupted all across Egypt.        

“I am very worried for Egypt,” said Ashraf.

Then, we separated. I read and I made some tea and dug up a short story to work on: Free Birds. I made some good progress. .

Afterward, we had lunch. Then the teachers, including me, watched a great movie called The Visitor. It was about a quiet college professor who teaches globalization in Connecticut. His wife, a pianist, is dead. He comes to an old apartment, finding a Syrian and his wife from Senegal in it. Not wanting to throw them out, he lets them live with him. He becomes their friend, and starts playing the drum. Then the Syrian is arrested. He’s innocent, but he’s also an illegal alien and is transferred to a deportation office.

The professor keeps trying to help. The Syrian’s mother comes, and the two fall in love. But the Syrian gets deported, and the mother returns to Syria to be with her son. They are all heart-broken.

The dialogue was terse and realistic, the shots were direct, yet fulfilling. The score was elegiac and beautiful—a lot of simple piano music and rhythmic drums. The story was good, and the acting was good.

After that, I wrote some more, working on the short story, and then Dea and Amy visited the suite, where we had snacks. Rita came after they left. We talked about the protests and the students and the teasing proximity of the flight home. Rita and I also talked a lot about books and writers. Then we had dinner, where I sat with Ashraf, Romany, and Alaa. I had a blast, and we joked a lot.

Then, I went on a walk with Atef, to say goodbye. He had given all the teachers a letter, thinking us and asking us to pray for him and Egypt. I got teary-eyed reading it. We walked around the seminary for about twenty minutes—although it felt like a very short time. He said a lot, like “Many in Egypt need many things, like gas, and food, and water. “They do not want, they need.” Also, he said, “I love Egypt.” I told him it was in his bones; he liked that. “This is American, I think?”

Then, I went to the roof, and looked out into the night. An old can rattled, and a heavy wind blew at me. I saw a group of young men walking down the street waving flags, shouting in rhythm “Yalla Morsi!” A few kids joined them too. They went down the road, converging on what sounded like a bigger crowd—even a convoy of people and cars. People shouted slogans and cars beeped out a rhythm as they flowed down the road. A tree blocked my view, but I could see the lights, the outlines of people, and hear the excitement.

Now I am here, writing, having just finished a non-alcoholic bear, courtesy of Abuna Bishoi. I can’t wait to be in my own bed again, but I think I am so tired that I will sleep well here. A good day, I think. I will have to see what comes in time.


Hey all,

Sorry for the long hiatus. I don’t know if you noticed, but I’ve made some significant changes to the site, both aesthetically and in terms of content. I’ve finally compressed my for-school blog into this site–including all of the past posts I did this semester–and will likely be doing both types of writing here from now on. I think the major changes are done, but I may be doing further tweaks, as I’m not quite sure how I feel about this aesthetic quite yet.

I hope to do my first post tomorrow, as a way to start the new year, but in the meantime, I hope everyone has a positive final day of the tumultuous 2016.


New blog, New Post

Hey all, I hope things are going well. I’m adjusting as I move back into school, starting my PhD in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric. As part of orientation, we had to make a new blog and blog post for our next meeting. So in place of a post here, I figured I would send you a link to my new blog over there.

At this point, the blog is still pretty basic and unfinished. Like an apartment that you might move into as the workers are still finishing up some walls, wiring, and plumbing. Or, like my current life-in-transition. But it is what it is.

I will likely continue to use this blog, but it’ll be more of a personal blog, I’m thinking, and I may use the other for more professional development and class-related content. We shall see.

But in the meantime, here is the link, and I hope you have a nice day.


I’m back (so apologies first)

Yes, it’s been awhile. I apologize. I feel as if I’ve been putting much of my life on pause–and continue to–but I’ve been wanting to get back to this, partly because it has a public sense of responsibility, partly because it may prove helpful. The last post I wrote was Jan. 26, about Zen and Everyday Life. Since then, I’ve been busy with papers, reading, etc., and haven’t felt like writing. My head’s been elsewhere.

In a way, I think I needed a hiatus. I’m not sure if I’m fully up to returning, with final papers coming up, but I felt like writing this morning, and as Thoreau said, “Write while the heat is in you. . . . The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.”

For now, I don’t have much to say, except good morning.

An update (and Carl Sagan)

I’ve been adjusting this past week to life back at school as I get my masters in English. That said, I’ve been a bit too disoriented to write a solid post. Although I’ve had some ideas and halting drafts, nothing coalesced.

I apologize.

I’ll try my best to post something this coming Sunday. In the meantime, here’s a compilation of the Sagan series, nine well-crafted videos using audio from the cosmologist Carl Sagan who died in ’96. The creators wanted to inspire science literacy, a lifelong crusade for Sagan.

You may not agree with everything Sagan says, but the videos offer a pointed perspective. One of the top-rated comments puts it well, I think: “Just like any teenager I love sleep but recently I have begun waking up half an hour earlier everyday to watch this video. It keeps my dreams alive for just a little longer before going about my day. . .”


Sagan series

On Frasier and Leaving The Past Behind

I’ve been watching a lot of Frasier the last few weeks. Maybe it’s a hankering for something funnier than today’s formulaic television comedies, or it’s probably just that the show is wickedly entertaining.


The 90s powerhouse comedy features Kelsey Grammer as the titular Dr. Frasier Crane,a pseudo-intellectual radio psychiatrist trying to get through life despite his multiple character flaws. He’s joined by his equally pseudo-intellectual psychiatrist brother Niles, his retired cop father and his snarky British housekeeper as he weaves through a series of unfortunate shenanigans.

In the episode “Seat of Power,” the Crane brothers attempt to fix a leaky toilet to prove to their father they can do more than recite Faulkner and wax poetic on a particularly good vintage. Of course, they fail miserably and call in a plumber; in a twist, the plumber is one of Niles’s high-school tormentors.

Niles wants no more than to shove his foe’s head into the toilet, giving him a “swirly,” the torture he endured many time in high school. Frasier talks him out of it, instead urging him to tout his success: the “living well” revenge.

When that backfires (the plumber drives a Mercedes and has a fulfilling marriage), Frasier recommends Niles simply talk it out with the bully. Though Frasier ignores his own advice when he takes a toilet-water infused revenge on a second bully-turned-plumber, Niles comes to terms with his aggressor and moves forward, settling some 20 years of pent-up anger.

You may wonder what my point is, but I was struck with how well Niles and Frasier’s misadventure mirrored my own struggles with leaving high school resentments behind.

Continue reading “On Frasier and Leaving The Past Behind”

Checking in

Hey all,

So I didn’t get a chance to write a solid blog post. The muse wasn’t with me, and my nephew was too busy requesting me to sing the scarecrow song from the Wizard of Oz as we danced around the room–or rather, as I danced with him on my back.

That said, I apologize. But I wanted to give a quick update about things, so it works out.

First of all, I have a “new” page on the blog: a list of helpful sites for brain candy, philosophy resources, and other tidbits from around the Internet. If you have some, feel free to comment there. I’ll try to update it now and then.

Second, I put up a list of books I’ve been reading, paired with a brief review. As I explain there, it may give some insight about where I’m coming from on the posts and offer possible titles if you want to broaden your own reading list. If you have suggestions, I’d be happy to give them a whirl–and who knows, I may even find time to review!

Third, you may have noticed the guest post this past week from my friend “blackbyrd.” I hope to have more posts from other writers mid-week. Feel free to stop in and see them Wednesday or Thursday. If you have an interesting reflection, thought, or experience that may fit on the blog, feel free to comment below. It may end up there as well.

The bigger the forum, the bigger the fun.

Fourth, I finally upgraded to, without that extra .wordpress. addendum. I’ll be exploring that as time goes on and may change up the blog’s look. It’s been a while.

Fifth, I’m planning on writing a few hubs once I get more familiar with their system. Hubs are a neat little addition to the Web. They’re collections of long-form posts focused on how-to discussions or information-dense topics–like how to write a good introduction. I’ll try to post the links if they’re relevant.

And that’s about it. Thanks for reading, commenting, and liking my posts. I’ll keep up my end of the deal with the reading, writing, and posting.

As Sartre said, “There is no art except for and by others.” Art exists, like flavor, through a communion of the object and the subject–the sender and the receiver. The compounds to create flavor in an apple, but “sweetness” doesn’t exist until someone takes a bite. Likewise, “art” is all about the “aesthetic experience” of the observer and the creation of the artist. At least, that’s what the subjectivists would say.

…And would you look at that, a bit of philosophy after all! Take care and stay skeptical, curious, and thoughtful.