Bubble trouble

I woke up early today, too early, and as I vainly tried to fall back asleep, an odd flock of random memories visited my forcibly awakened mind.

When I was around 10 years old, my mother had to get surgery. At the time, having not experienced the matter myself or really been told what it entailed to have bones and tissue sawed and sliced, it didn’t seem as big of a deal as I now of course realize it was. She packed the few things she needed, pyjamas, hair and toothbrush etc. and left home. I believe I had school that day and went on with my life with the simple thought that my mum wasn’t at work but with a bunch of doctors, and that I oddly wouldn’t find her home when I returned. In my mind, that was it, I’d miss her but it wasn’t something to fuss about. Children can sometimes be terribly naive.

So I went back home, dad too, with news that we’d visit her the next day.

“Have a bath now.”

I remember hating baths at the time, all the tiring procedure of scrubbing and experiencing that burning in your eyes as ubiquitous amounts of bubbling shampoo trickled onto my face and ever unsuspecting eyes. So I got in, got clean and got out. The chore of personal hygiene over, it was time to return to more enjoyable pursuits. Or so I dreamt before hearing:

“Now we must dry your hair so you don’t catch cold.”

I had forgotten how structured my father could be in certain situations, and heat being the last thing I wanted applied on my scalp, I sighed and reluctantly nodded in approval.

“I’ll get the hairdryer”, he said.

I remember feeling amused and slightly scared at the thought of my father caring for my hair, a man who, well, didn’t have the gift of such a mane to really claim expertise in the department.

It hurt. There was pulling and indescribable manoeuvres with him trying to balance a boar bristle brush in one hand and a bulky 90s hairdryer in the other, pulling from the left and bumping my head on the right. The 80s blow-up made a failed comeback that night, but it was nothing compared to the ponytail we gave up on the next morning. Oh, dad…

Looking back, I think that period really strengthened my abhorrence for hairdryers, and it still shocks me when my dad, seeing my hair wet, tells me to go dry it off. Just look the other way, pops.


Happily obsolete

I grew up the old fashioned way. In a time of electronic evolution and new technologies, my parents decided to bring me up the way they were, with no added help, no frivolous objects, thus repressing the urge to follow the latest trends and rendering me less of a victim of increasingly elaborate marketing ploys.

I learned to use a vinyl record player when my classmates were walking around with discmans, I had a twelve channel programmable television set and a cassette player when my contemporaries had a hundred channels, cable and the latest hi-fi systems. I also played with elaborate (and definitely non-aerodynamic) paper airplanes and retro electric trains when gameboys and Nintendos were all the rage. You’d probably assume that made me mad, and you’re right, it did…at first.

As years went by, the more I had access to what was considered obsolete and the less I dabbled with modernism, the more I learned to count on myself for entertainment and everyday tasks like reheating dishes in a skillet or oven pan and finding the right technique to not end up with half of my food stuck at the bottom of what could easily become a dish-washing nightmare. And yes, I never had microwave popcorn with all the fake butter and ten thousand useless ingredients; instead, I went through bags of burnt kernels to perfect the corn popping technique, and guess what? I still can’t make a decent batch. Didn’t expect this turn of events, huh? I learned to cook whole meals from scratch while my friends were playing video games but I still can’t make a half decent bowl of popcorn at 27, how ridiculous. Well, it doesn’t end there. Since I moved from my parents’ house, I have had access to microwaves much more often – home still being a preserved haven of health and lowkey technology – and have used them a few times to reheat something in a hurry or make the occasional mug cake. However, popcorn remained a pan-only treat until about a week ago when my roommate popped some in a paper bag. The thought having pleased me, I decided today to try my hand at the matter and followed the relatively childish procedure: put popcorn in bag, close bag, program microwave and…pop! Except she forgot to tell me one thing: how many minutes do they take in there? I was alone and just pressed on 4, a reasonable time in the microwave world, I thought. One thing is for sure, guessing is a bad idea. A burning smell started exuding from the machine around three minutes in, but being in unfamiliar territory, I assumed it was a figment of my imagination, for how could anything burn in a microwave? Famous last words. I opened the door when the timer rang, unfortunate tune of my popcorn’s death sentence: inside the brown paper bag was a clump of black chunks formerly known as popped corn kernels. I’ll refrain from describing the dark cloud that also came out of my unfriendly helper.

Ultimately, I suppose my old-fashioned upbringing had nothing to do with my popcorn-making abilities, I believe I just don’t carry the kernel-popping gene (or the paper plane designing one if we’re being precise). Nevertheless, I think I’ll maintain the tradition of making my future children just as clueless about society’s downward spiral into the technological abyss, teaching them the value of time and what wonders a little elbow grease and creativity can produce. My train and record player patiently await their little hands…or mine until then.

You celebrate your half birthday???

As I mentioned in my previous post, I celebrate my half birthday every year to make up for my actual one which rarely fails to deceive my low expectations. Besides, twelve months is just too long a wait!

I was born mid August, mid summer, a leo supposed to celebrate in warm sunny weather; however, every year precisely on my birthday, wherever I am at that moment, it rains, and I have checked, it only rains where I am. Usually in France in the countryside during that period, I have celebrated twice in Paris and once in Lebanon and believe me when I say it has rained in the exact region I was in when candles were lit, every single year since my 5th. If I recall correctly, my parents had prepared a surprise celebration on that day and upon my return home from my summer day camp, I found a kiddy pool in the garden and little presents on every step leading to my room, bathing suit and accessories spread out on my bed upstairs. I got dressed and came down excited and giddy only to find the garden submerged in water from a sudden summer storm. It may have been the saddest sight I ever beheld as a child. Ever since, I have always celebrated carefully, preparing myself for things that often ended up happening, whether friends getting ill at the last minute to the ice skating rink being closed just on that day to being stuck at work on a Monday with colleagues I had to force a smile for.

Today is my half birthday, and from the looks of it half way in, it’s apparently a year-long curse I suffer from. Cheers!

The perks of my quirks

We all have these little habits, pet peeves, random fears, phobias and superstitious inclinations, some are outspoken about them, others less so, but nonetheless we are all guilty of some unexplained quirkiness, and it could be the most interesting part of us, whether we’d like to admit it or hide from it.

When I was a kid, I had this odd fear of bunnies, mostly the white ones. You know those tiny furry lovable creatures which rarely harm anything…yeah those. I used to stare at them in awe because I truly found them beautiful, but if you tried pushing one closer to me, I’d run away. Later on in life, I traced my fear back to a strange incident in my childhood, something one could almost qualify as a “made in china” phobia. Around the age of 4 or 5 I had been given a toy rabbit, white, red eyes and barely any fur. It was pretty on the outside but touch it and you’d realize it was a thin plastic carcass with barely enough plush to hide it. I can almost remember the touch of it, the bony structure of its body that would send shivers up my spine at the mere sensation of it. For years, the idea of a rabbit coincided with that skeletal toy, and just seeing one would project me into a distressing daze where I’d be caressing a carcass. Needless to say I still have visions of that horrible toy every time I see a bunny, but my brain now understands how far reality and Chinese products are from each other.

Another random fear my childhood brought me was from sunflowers. Of all the flowers in the prairy, that is the one I saw most growing up, spending 2 to 3 months each year in the French countryside. We’d walk near whole fields of it, and one thing always struck me as oddly disturbing; in the morning they’d be facing the sun as if part of some yogi salutation ritual, and at sundown they’d be turning their yellow heads away, all crumpled up and sad looking, faces towards the ground. They almost looked human, feeling, as if they understood the death of day was imminent and they were already mourning it. It might sound poetic said by my 26 year old adult self, but child me used to be terrified by the mere idea of human flowers, living stalks parading their emotions on their stage of soil.

I don’t know if I’d have preferred not thinking so oddly about what surrounded me as a kid, mystifying my surroundings almost built who I’ve become and most importantly who I was as a blossoming plant myself; the way I perceived the world was and will always be so inherent to my personality that, deprived of it, I might have been more serene, but also so much duller.

I fought the scissors, but the scissors won

Yes that was a Clash reference. So about a month ago, I decided to cut my own hair. If you remember, I mentioned a few posts back that I had had it cut quite short, which meant after a while it was bound to grow into a mess. I needed to let it grow back, therefore suffering through the various stages of growth was an inevitable necessity. Having pixie hair was fun, but I missed having hair over my ears and around my face – force of habit, what can I say? So I went for it, I took the pair of scissors that had been taunting me for a while and…chopped. My first attempt wasn’t all that bad, but since I couldn’t see the play going on at the back of my head, some actors went astray aka I forgot a few longer strands and it wasn’t a super clean cut. Since I was determined to finish what I had started, I did my best to fix my mess. Not bad, I ended up with a decent result. Skip a few weeks and there I was in my bathroom staring at my almost black mane, this dark mass of hair I’ve always liked but also always wanted to change. Contradiction, oh how familiar art thou. So as usual, I just said “what the hell”, pretended I was a hair colourist, bought a bunch of odd smelling tubes and experimented in my bathroom while my mum watched amused and a tiny bit frightened. Well who wouldn’t be if they were watching someone risk going bald, or whatever might happen in the obscure dimension of hair? Success, I ended up a ginger, a long time dream of mine. It wasn’t a uniform colour job but it was still really amusing to behold – going from dark and mysterious Wednesday Addams to peppy retro ginger isn’t something you witness every day, is it? A few days passed and this morning, waking up at 5 am due to my incessant cough from the super horribly timed flu I caught, I got up, looked in the mirror, looked to my right and there they were…the scissors. They called me, whispered my name – or one of them anyway – and my hands just grabbed them off the table. They were there, I was too… I couldn’t stop myself, the urge to chop had returned and…I now have a fringe (or bangs if you’re unfamiliar with the term). I’ve never had one before so I must say it takes time getting used to having something on my forehead, or seeing my reflection staring back at me in a 60s inspired look. Red lipstick, where are you my friend?

Conclusion, this summer was quite eventful, especially when it comes to my head, both intellectually and aesthetically; I added stuff in and chopped off another bunch, nothing to my displeasure, an adventure I’m quite glad I had. However, I think it’s time someone took away those scissors…

Stop, drop and…shop?

I am totally capable of leaving home in my pajamas, or in one of my dad’s old shirts which I always steal. However, unlike what some would think, I love shopping. I’m a designer after all so that isn’t such an odd occurrence, dressing up can turn into hours of fun. Problem is, in Lebanon, there’s a big chance you’ll end up dressed like someone else, everyone buying their clothes from the same places, everyone imitating everyone. I’m lucky enough to be able to shop in different countries, but there’s no escaping it, I sometimes end up buying things from here. There is nothing wrong with it, but when I ended up at a party sitting next to a girl wearing the exact same dress as I was, I exploded into a fit of laughter; after years of making sure this wouldn’t happen, it just… had to happen.

In a world where everyone wants to be like everyone else, and where capitalism has taken over every single aspect of our lives, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the chances of us owning similar wardrobe items and matching outfits with people we’ve never met grow higher each day. After vain attempts of trying to look different, we somehow find ourselves sucked into the masses, and after a while we start accepting that it’s just an inevitable result of globalisation.

However, mass-produced clothes and accessories are becoming more and more schizophrenic as time goes by. For example, why do many women’s pants and vests have fake pockets whileas babies’ bibs and shorts have real ones? Do they need them to put their tiny wallets and their toy car keys? And what about those tiny shorts everyone seems to be sporting, bums barely covered by oddly overpriced pieces of denim? I’d rather wear my bikini on the street if I’m going to be charged this much to look completely and utterly indecent and distasteful; we get it, you do squats.

Fashion used to be about individuality and mastering the art of mixing colors, patterns and shapes, whileas nowadays, all this word seems to summon is nudity, cheap materials and one-size-fits-all unoriginal trends. If people started caring more about what set them apart instead of what made them so comfortably similar, they’d realize fitting in is the real disease the media has managed to masterfully spread.

When someone asks me if I like fashion, I always hesitate to answer, because if I say no then I’d be lying, and if I say yes, I’ll have to explain that what I mean by fashion is completely different from what is understood by the masses. I believe fashion is a wondrous tool, one that can be used to express much more than what we commonly imagine; Vivienne Westwood gave a voice to the punks, Margiela gave a second life to random everyday objects, Hussein Chalayan questioned cultural practices… It is true the price tags would make one question the necessity of such creations when the world is in such economical distress, but compared to how much money is poured into war and arms, the bill seems quite benign and the practice quite harmless, at times even educational.

Fashion is just another form of art, and as long as it has meaning and comes from somewhere deeper than the need to see more skin on the runway, then why not?

Stereotypical tendencies

I was at a party 2 days ago, and expectedly ran into some friends. During a brief conversation, my recent haircut was brought up, and how different it made me look now that my long mane had been chopped off and forsaken. Then the phrase that no one had yet uttered was spoken: does your new do signify that you’re a lesbian now? I always dread Lebanese logic, but this was…hilarious.

From what I’ve gathered, your choice of hairstyle, garments, friends etc…determine your sexual tendencies just as they do musical influences. I have short hair and wear black, therefore I’m a lesbian Satan worshiper. My clothing choices have made many question my affiliations for years, being asked if I loved death metal or was a distant relative of the Adams family – not that I mind having sported the nickname Wednesday since high school. People judge, it’s no news, but the way they judge is simply ridiculous, basing their so-called knowledge on retarded TV shows and celebrity propaganda. I currently have short hair but I’m not Ellen, I wear black and studs but I’m not Ozzy, I love food but I’m not Yogi bear. I make choices because I’m free not because some insane fashions dictate my behaviour, I dress and do things in a way I feel comfortable in, just like I take on a different persona every once in a while. Life isn’t meant to be boring or routine-like, and one must live their truth instead of hiding behind stereotypes too scared to act on impulse or whim. I woke up one morning and felt like trying something new, that’s the only reason behind my haircut, the only reason I or anyone else needs; no sexual or religious meaning, no symbolism or rebellion, just a need for change.

There is a need to define everything and understand things on a deeper level than those existing, but sometimes one must leave Freud and Simone de Beauvoir on the bookshelf and let live. On another note, today I dyed half my hair pink – can’t wait for all the misconceptions that’ll result in!