What’s the point?

This post will start with the obligatory “the world is getting madder by the second, with performance and social media” statement.  There’s no way this can be avoided.  It’s as true as the blue state of the sky or as the warmth of a pie that is fresh from the oven.  Yet, I sometimes wonder: what’s the point of it all?

Tweets fill timelines, by the second.  Some are funny, while others are darker.  Then, the fate of these streams of unconscious thoughts is dictated by algorithms.  In other words, a machine will dictate if someone’s thought of the moment will become viral or not.  If it were up to me, any tweet containing botulism will have to become even more viral.  I mean, they already are….

Ahem!

So, what’s the point?  Can it be possible to create a zen atmosphere in Twitterland or on any other social media platform, away from the thundering cacophony of the modern world?  If not, could it be possible to tell the world to shut the hell up?  We’re billions of people (including unsinkable boomers….) on a dying planet.  Isn’t it time to take our heads out of our respective asses and do something to save it?  That question was sent to these aforementioned indestructible folks who buy trucks to compensate disadvantageous body compositions.  I get that a truck is important, when one has a cottage or has to work in the depth of the forest.  On the other hand, a stroll down University avenue can happen on a bike, you know?

Somehow, this blog post (which I didn’t want to write, at first) made me realize how much of a naive person I am and how much this dream of a better future for my neighbor’s children is a pipe dream, unfortunately.

Shut ‘er down, boys.  She had a good run.

Rebirth

My first contact with the world occurred on Monday, December 31st, 1984.  No, I’m not a savant.  I googled it.  It was a stormy day and a Monday.  Two birds, one rolling stone, as they say.  I was a juicy chunk of a kid and I weighed a lot of pounds, which is odd since I’m not officially a British person.  If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know I had to carry a gift I never thought I’d want: that birth defect.  Yet, that defect was a blessing.  I grew up with adults and that thing about a kid’s brain being a sponge was all but confirmed.  Man, if I grew in a Yiddish family…..

Anywhoo.

The doctors waited for my brain to fully develop, before they’d do any surgery.  That took a lot of years.  12 years, to be precise.  On this very day:  February 27th, 1996.   It was a Tuesday.  Also googled that.  Once again, I’m not a savant.  I don’t recall every detail of that day.  All that I recall is the “relax, it will all go well” shtick (although shtick may be a downplaying word, here.) the surgeons gave me and the anesthesia product they’ve put in my veins.  12 hours later, I was in the ICU, with tubes and needles coming out of me.  For some odd reason I couldn’t explain, it was like a second birth.  A rebirth, if you will.  The second coming of the arty Christ.  Or something.  Yet, that rebirth – as glorious as it may seem – did not crush or erase the old person.  In other words, if I were to use a writer’s analogy,  the one I’ve become post-surgery was the first draft of a second novel and the one I was before that day was the first draft of a first novel.  That brings me to my thesis:  if one goes through a surgery or a near-death experience, is that day the first day of one’s new life or is it another milestone on one’s walk towards the warm embrace of the grim reaper?

You may think that my earlier mention of the near-death experience is an oddity.  Here’s why it is not so.  Since that surgery I went through took place in my brain, I had to go see a shrink.  No, it wasn’t one of those shrinks with couches and “Oy, my mother’s a closeted nutcase” we see in the movies.  I even told that to my shrink, one day.  They said that’s a psychiatrist, not a psychologist.  Potato, tomahto.  Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  The experience.  Before I had my last one (roughly 12 years after my first one), another shrink asked me if I were afraid.  Either foolishly or with a sudden shot of adrenaline, I said that I wasn’t.  In the next session, I revealed that surgeons may be amazingly intelligent doctors, but under these scrubs, they’re human.  Anyone can have a bad day.  You, me, the priest down the street, the surgeon.  Anyone.

In conclusion,  today may be like any other day for 7 billion people (last time I checked.  I think my cousins or my extended family gave a surge to that number.) but it is the day life and doctors chose to give me another life.  Another face.  But the same humongous nose.  Happy “birthday” to me.

Thanks for reading.

 

Why?

In this day and age, we’re billions of people living on one small planet.  Each and every single one of us carries a distinct baggage, a personalized set of beliefs, thoughts, mentality, and so on.  This is true for you, me and the neighbors down the street.  However, since I may not know neither you nor the neighbors, this post is therefore about me.  This may seem narcissistic as all hell, but if one can’t speak about oneself, where are we headed?

So, without further ado, let’s dive in.  If you’re a reader of this blog (for that, I will be forever thankful), you’ll have realized that I’ve got a few scars in my past, which I still carry, albeit virtually, with me, to this day.  My past has made me the antisocial introvert with hermit tendencies that I am, today.  The funny part (if I may use dark humor, in this context) is that my own mother dreams of crushing this thick introversion structure that I’ve built, for myself.  It’s as though the desire is to see me become one of the boys, another sheep headed for the reaper’s eternal slaughterhouse.

I fully understand that my situation cannot be compared, in any way, to what other people have lived, due to their orientations or their beliefs.  This was simply written as a way to vent and ask why such things happen.

My life

I’ve worn many hats on Twitter and hid behind many characters:  the clown, the typical Yiddish character, the man with the fake Scottish brogue, and many others.  Yet, all these hats I’ve decided to wear seem to have diverted me from who I truly am, from my background, from my soul.  This is why I’ve decided to write this post, today.  This is a scary dive into who I am.

Even though I was born in Canada, eons ago, I come from a Middle Eastern and Muslim background.  Don’t worry, I’m not here on a mission to kill you, or to blow myself in a suicide attack.  In fact, I think that those who do are brainwashed cowards and the best way to put an end to these would be a common awakening, before it’s too late.  While my background is such, I decided, years ago, to follow atheism, when I realized that religion is an odd product.  It promotes peace, but all we’ve learned from history is that it creates wars.  Thus ends this rant.  This is not a history essay and I am not a historian.

If growing in a bilingual universe is tough, imagine growing in a trilingual universe.  It’s many things, but easiness is not one of them.  I spoke (and still do) Arabic at home and would often (read always) switch between French and Arabic, when talking to my parents.  I have a quasi-religious fetish with regards to old Lebanese plays and old songs from that country, from the land of my ancestors.  Heck, at one point, I even wanted to learn more about my genealogical tree.  That idea was nipped in the bud, when I realized I may stir pots that could contain unwanted memories.  Besides,  it’s not like my aunts and uncles are getting any younger, either….

This is me and this is who I am.

Yes, I realize these two mean exactly the same thing.

Desolation

To the writers of Twitter,

I know you’re fearing for your novels (I am, too.). However, these are dire times and it’s time to remove your heads from your dreams, my dear people.  There is an epidemic in our society: bullying.  I hear you.  This is like he-who-shall-not-be-named or some shit like that.  Maybe it is.  Maybe it is not.  Anyway, that’s not my point.

My point is that my friend Mel (@mel_westcott) has written a blog post, on the topic, and it was as popular as a grain of sand in the fucking desert.  Are you guys so deep in your respective asses that you don’t realize that there are other people out there?  Maybe the kid who got stuffed in a locker on the basis that he wasn’t clean-cut or had one single defect wanted to be your reader, when he’d get out of that metallic jail?  Do you really think he’d choose you, if he knew that in his time of need, you were nowhere to be seen? I didn’t think so.

Please note (or don’t note, I don’t care) that I’m not putting all writers in the same basket.  There are some stellar people in this brethren and I cannot sing their praises loud enough.  There are people who understand that a person hides behind a reader and that a soul and a heart in pain hide within that person’s body.  These people I’m proud and honored to call my hero (and I include Mel in that group) are the ones behind whom I would proudly stand, come rain, snow, sleet, bigotry, idiocy, and so on.

I’m ashamed of this community, to which I thought I belonged.  It’s a good thing extra-strength bleach is on sale.  God knows this community needs a shot or two.

Walk down memory lane

This post is the hardest I may ever write.  So much so that I thought, right until I opened my post-writing thing, about not writing it.  Who’d care about my life story?  Who’d care about me, when they got so many files to manage, so many balls to juggle, and so on?  So, let’s take that walk way down memory lane.  It may be a bumpy ride.

Here it goes.

At birth, I came to this earth with the usual body parts and with an unwanted gift: the Crouzon syndrome (for reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crouzon_syndrome).  If being a kid is a challenge, being a kid with a defect is a fucking nightmare.  At daycare, I couldn’t close my eyes, since my eyelids couldn’t close, easily.  Come Halloween time, I may have avoided wearing costumes, some years, as I was already hideous.  Needless to say, I shared many things with the walls, as a kid.  It is said that kids don’t always think before saying or doing anything.  My past incarnation can vouch for that.  I can vouch for that.

One particular story (the core of this post and the main reason why I didn’t want to write it, in the first place) happened in the second grade.  A kid laughed at me, the way kids usually do.  Yet, that was like the last straw, the final blow.  I had enough.  I came home that day and cried as if someone planted 10 knives in me.  My dad saw that and wondered what was wrong.  I couldn’t hide that monstrosity, so I told him.  My dad is both the smartest man I know and the man with the deadliest verbal blows I’ve ever seen, in my life.  So, my dad told me that if ever either that choirboy or any other kid decided that they’d laugh at me, it was necessary for me to defend myself, by any means necessary.  In retrospect, he may have meant “use your words”, or something.  The next day, the same kid did the same thing to yours truly.  Yet, that time, I had enough.  I grabbed him by the neck with all of the might I didn’t have and shook, as hard as I could.  Legend had it that if the teacher didn’t intervene, he’d be a relic of the past.

That adult intervention was a thing of beauty.  Here’s why.  Like always, I ended up in the principal’s office (don’t recall if my “aggressor” was there, too.) and they said they’d call my parents.  Remember when I wrote that my father had deadly verbal blows, a few sentences earlier?  Well, he tore a new one to the teacher, that day.  Let it be known that I don’t usually condone violence for violence’s sake, but desperate calls need desperate measures, and this was one of them.  That was the essence of my dad’s speech, that day.  From that day on, I had no other incidents to report.  People still didn’t play (or rarely played) with me, and I began to grow in my own environment, which I may never leave.

From a physical viewpoint, I no longer have the same defect (thanks to 7 surgeries, last I checked), but the impact it left, on my psyche, is far more deep and hard to erase.  I barely make eye contact (or sometimes), whenever I’m talking to someone and I tend to avoid looking at people, whenever I’m on the street.  That’s a burden I will have to carry, until the day I die.

 

How my mind works

If you have that chance (or that burden) of following me on Twitter, you’ll know and realize that I’ve made a pun or two, over the years.  Until last Friday, these puns were mostly written. Last Friday, the pun-making machine that is I erupted in real life. It was then that Kira Hawke (https://twitter.com/kira_hawke), with whom I was spending some quality time, asked me a question:  “how does your mind work?”

That question triggered an elaborate answer, which I thought of repeating here, for those of you who weren’t there.  And when I say elaborate, I mean it.  I must’ve taken at least a few minutes to reply.  On a simple question.  I can’t imagine how I’ll reply when asked “do you take this person to be your lawful burden?” or when the wife will get on one knee and asked “will you marry me?”.

That being said, are you ready to dive into the abyss of my mind?  No?  Well, I don’t blame you.  I’m not, either.  I think the only person who may be ready for that sort of ordeal is my therapist.  They also dove in my financials, but that is another matter.

Here’s how it works.  I’d hear words or see an image and, within a split second (two seconds, if coffee/tea has not been consumed, yet), I already have an answer ready.  Yet, it may seem that within that short time frame, that answer comes out of thin air.  That is far from the truth.  My reply is, more often than knot, the result of a vigorous self-assessment, as to the quality of the joke and the level of link it may or may not have with the original content, that was posted.  If my inner self gives me the green light, the tweet sees the light of day.

At this point, you may ask yourself:  “where is he going, with this?” and wonder if clicking on my blog’s link was not such a good idea, after all.  You still can leave me.  I won’t mind, if you do.  Enjoy the mundane of life, reader!

For the two of you who stayed here and kept on reading my blabber, let me say two things.  First, thank you! (and also: why?). Second of all, the second part of my “analysis” on that weird machine that is I. I also had that chance or that misfortune of writing tweets that were filled with puns, wordplay and other shenanigans.  I use the same process as the one I’ve illustrated, earlier. Sometimes, they tend to get as much attention as a grain of sand in the desert and some other times, they get some traction.  That’s life. People sometimes don’t want to see wit, in their timelines.  I can’t change that and, even if I could change it, I don’t think I will lift a finger to change such a winning formula.

I could go on and on about myself and the theoretical aspect of my creation.  The thing is that I have got nothing to add, to the equation.  Thank you for reading this post and I hope you can either appreciate who I am or write puns, for your own pleasure.

 

I’m fed up.

I’ve had a good run on Twitter.  Nay, a great run.  I’ve made people laugh, I’ve made them share their works, all over the place.  I’ve opened up and I’ve received other confidences from others.  I will take these confidences with me, to the tomb I’ll inhabit, in many years from now.  It’s been my place to shine, away from the hubbub of real life.  My cabaret.

Yet, it’s time for me to go.  The spark is gone, the clown is a fucking sad person, now. Tweets are sent but are not read.  Messages are sent, but are avoided, as if they were the plague.  Laughs aren’t the guffaws and groans I used to get.  It’s the last call, folks.  The bar is closed.  The thrill is gone.  I’m willing to bet all the money I have (and I don’t have much) that this post will be read by a few people and avoided by others.  I respect their call and apologize if I’ve caused something that called for this.

It could be said that the algorithms are to blame, with regards to the lack of reception of my not-so-great jokes, but I’m sure that there are deeper causes, potentially much more negative, than mere 0s and 1s.  That is why I’m pulling the plug on my account, at an undetermined date, in the near future.  I will still be reachable, via other means, such as this blog or my beloved email.

It has been quite a ride and I cannot thank you enough, for all these moments you’ve given me and that boost knowing that I make you laugh has given to my self-esteem.  It’s not an easy post to write and I hope to see you again, either in a bar or a book signing.  Write on, folks!

 

What I learned about Twitter.

I’ve opened an account on Twitter, way back when I was younger.  At first, I was mainly a retweeter, knowing full well that I had nothing to share.  Then, a few months later, I decided to jump in the sharing bandwagon.  Now, Twitter is like high school and a Middle Eastern bazaar.  You got your cliques, your divas and your drama (just like high school) and people trying to sell their work, hoping that they’d be the next Dostoevsky or something.  And this is where I’ve used the same technique as in high school:  steer away from it all.

You may ask yourself why I decided to write this post.  Simple.  I decided, last night, to lower my joke production, which represents a large chunk of my tweets.  People need to laugh and I’ve tried to provide that to others.  Sometimes, they were met with laughter and sometimes, they were not.  Now, I’m not complaining about that.  I mean, people have lives of their own and they’re not glued to their Twitter account, like yours truly.  Yet, it takes a second to reply, at any given time of the day.  I mean, it takes two to tango.

Earlier, I compared this social media behemoth to high school or a bazaar.  In retrospect, I’ve realized that it was more akin to Hotel California.  “You can check out (or log out) anytime you like, but you can never leave”.  That is why I decided that I’ll return to the reading aspect of Twitter and focus on that, rather than focusing on creating my own tweets.

Questions and answers

What word do you think should be deleted from the dictionary? Why?
Writing pet peeve? (Pick the worst one, the one that makes you growl every time you see it.)
The strangest thing you’ve ever researched in the name of writing?
If you could name a constellation of stars, what would it be? Describe it or draw it?
Greek or Roman? Aphrodite or Venus?
What colour is your aura? (Airy-fairy answers please.)
What is your definition of roughing it?
Jeep or LandRover?
Bush or city?
If the coffee bean suddenly became extinct (I know, run now screaming), what would be our caffeine replacement?
Windows, Mac or Android? (Or any combination there of?)

The internet is so great that I got to meet someone down under (I’ve always wondered about that expression, to be honest….) named Judy, without leaving home.  Talk about two birds and one stone.  Anyway, it seems I’ve been nominated for something.  As a goodie bag, I received questions from said person.  So, without further a dew, here are my answers.  Pull a chair, if you may.

  1. I’d delete no words from the dictionary.  In fact, I’d glue it to people’s hands, so that conversations become clear, and filled with the right words, again!
  2. My worst pet peeves when writing are life and people.  I am somewhat antisocial.
  3. A cheap motel.  Not for the sake of the story but for my own.  Still looking.
  4. For years, I have been a frodite. I still am one, by the way.
  5. I’d name it “passing memories”, for some reason I may not be able to explain.
  6. It may seem odd but my aura is metallic grey.  No fairy tail, here.
  7. Roughing it is something I’ve never defined
  8. I enjoy neither cars, to be honest.  Can’t (and won’t) drive
  9. Ah, the old “bush or city” question.  I’d say “bush” but then, I may need coffee, tea or booze. So, both?
  10. Tea!
  11. I’m a PC person, so