Wednesday, April 30, 2014

8 Horrible Lies I've Told That You Should Use (and their justifications)

Let's be honest with ourselves here. We all know that I'm not the paragon of innocence, and that most of us are more than willing to tell a fib (or fifty) to get ahead. Whether it's to get ahead in a line, relationship, or life, sometimes a little white lie is just the perfect boost you need to slide your way out of a slippery situation.

Sometimes you can get carried away, and those little lies go a little too far. There are only so many times you can scream "I've got a balm!" or "Help, abuse of authority!" around your cop friends before they get mad enough to beat you with your own fists and throw your shoes out into the street. Yes, that did actually happen and I'm not even mad because apparently it's a popular American game called "why are you hitting yourself?"

However, there were several moments in my life where these horrible lies were completely justified, and I would like to take this time to finally air out the truth.

1) I don't speak English.

I figure it's best to just throw this obvious one right out there. As any bi- or tri-lingual person knows, it's all too easy to slip into your foreign tongue to gossip about others. It's the factually more polite way to let your comrades know that the man in front of you has a great bum. But have you ever just flat-out pretended not to speak any English at all and started screaming in whatever other language you know? 


I have. Many times. Because I live in Midwestern 'Merica, their first reaction is to assume I'm a sassy seniorita and start screaming garbled Spanish back at me. 

The justification: Sometimes I'm in a hurry, sometimes I hate talking to people. Or in one very particular incident, a scary man approached me in a gas station at 2 am and started asking me creepy questions. Screaming "Sorry, no inglis!" offers you the best chance of survival.

2) I have ED/I'm pregnant.

I had a routine check-up with the doctor. She told me I was as healthy as a ripe Georgia peach! I went home, chirpy as a chipmunk, and received a call from my then-boyfriend. He jokingly asked me, "So did they find out what was wrong with you?" Seizing the opportunity, I dramatically sobbed and wailed, "Yes...I...I have ED!

"U WOT M8?"
He freaked out for a good ten minutes before he remembered that I couldn't have erectile dysfunction. He got mad, to which I shrugged and said, "Would it be better if I said I was pregnant?" The sarcasm flew right past his head, and he freaked out for another ten minutes while I ate a cupcake and watched The Simpsons.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Facing Fears and Helping a Suicidal Driver

Growing up as a girl in the Middle East can be tough if you love superheroes. You aspire to be something much greater than you could possibly know in your present life. You catch sneak peeks of a different way of life through censored movies and pirated video games. You dream of being one of the characters you read of in books, if you were lucky enough to have literature in your life. Then, in secret, your life builds a hopeful goal for the future. I knew that no matter what I was facing, I would someday become the majestic Knight who conquers all Evil. One day, I overcame my fears and helped a suicidal woman from hurting herself.

I grew up frustrated at all the men pushing us around, mocking us with their power and hiding behind religion as an excuse for their abuse. I took every martial arts and weapons training class I could find in the USA. Maybe you pictured yourself wearing a camouflage uniform, a lab coat, or a spandex superhero suit instead of enchanted ebony armour, but we all dream of being an improved version of ourselves. We place this imaginary version on a pedestal in our minds, some of us comparing all our actions to those that our revered hero would do. 

I never worshipped a religious idol, but I spent years dreaming of a particular warrior. I wrote stories and drew images of the shining knight who had it all, but still considered her loved ones to be her most precious assets. She was a sun-kissed woman with flowing black hair backlit by a glowing sky. Her penetratingly black eyes were so stunningly expressive that she could scare off evil baddies with a simple glare.

Sometimes she would be wielding a sword and shield, an orphaned child, or a defeated villain on top of a mountain, while the crowd who once laughed at her now gazed up at her with grateful awe. She hid in the shadows, her bow steady in its quiver, a dagger hidden in her sleeve, waiting to save anyone who needed her aid. She was always somehow on top of the greatest mountain that anyone has ever seen. She refused to attack retreating enemies. She had a strict code of honour, and never placed her sword in anyone's back. She never used more force than necessary. She was badass.


She was the greatest woman I could possibly imagine. I wanted so badly to be her. 

As the years passed, I grew up to look nothing like the warrior. I had pale skin untouched by the fires of Hades. My hair was black, but frizzed instead of flowing in a whirlwind of leaves like hers did. My eyes were large, dark holes that scared away anyone who tried to show affection. My chubby stature did not look good in chainmail. The snotty crowd of villagers who once disbelieved in me still think I'm not good enough.

But I still live by the Knight's Code of Honour. I never resort to violence, even when pushed. If someone needs my help, and I am able to provide it, I will always be there. I will forgive when asked. I will protect with all that I am able to when needed.

The warrior on top of the mountain wasn't great to me because she was beautiful, strong, and captivatingly brilliant. She was my hero because she had everything a person could want, and still chose to live a life of goodness.

She was strong enough to do all that she desired without anyone able to stop her. She had her flaws; when enraged she would do unspeakable damage. She had a beautiful family and companions, but still befriended the ostracized and unprivileged. She had no fears but she still respected and put an end to the worries of others. She loved to fight and would laugh madly when people drew weapons at her, taunting them to attack if they attacked.

Unlike this Knight, I have many fears. I fear violence and loss of power. I am scared of policemen. I am scared of people who are stronger than me. I am scared of speaking to strangers. I am scared of the dark. I am scared of asking for help. I am scared of reaching out a hand only to have it slapped away.

But I still put on a mental suit of armor for the terrified, helpless girl I used to be.

A while ago, I was in pink canvas sneakers and a cheap fleece hoodie. It was almost midnight, and I had been working all day. I stopped at a grocery store on the way home to pick up some cleaning supplies. I was exhausted, but I still had to go home and clean my apartment for an important event the following morning. I parked my car at the farthest end of the almost empty lot as I always do. I got out, and heard a bang.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Scary Encounter With a Racist Cab Driver

I didn't learn to drive until I was around 21 years old. I showed up having just turned 18 in America, depending heavily on my sister, buses, and taxis to get around the city. Walking wasn't an option, I lied to myself, because Grand Rapids is a dangerous town! Every frolic might result in a mugging and being forced to become a masked vigilante!
I was incredibly nervous to ride the bus. Public transport is so terrifying in Kuwait, that we used to "dare" each other to ride it at night. Whoever received the least gropings/remained unscathed was the brave and fearless winner.

Seems innocent enough. Source
My first attempt at hopping onto a bus in this new city was traumatic. There was nowhere to sit so I had to cling onto a pole for the 30-minute ride. With every turn, we lurched into each other like a sweaty, germ-ridden gelatinous mass.

My fellow bus-goers were a sight unlike any other. There was an angry lady who wrangled hoards of children. They tumbled out of crevices like squirmy little ants. There was a grubby man violating you with his eyes and sprinkling the air with swear-filled diatribes. There were other terrified students clinging for dear life, much like I was, hoping that we didn't knock anyone out with our backpacks and grocery bags. I was both terrified and enthralled by the rumbling ride. And to think, I would do this daily for the next few years!

At the time, I had pink hair and a nose ring so I didn't mind sticking out like a giant pink elephant. 

"I am fabulous!"     Source
I only disliked taking the bus because it was incredibly loud, even though no one was talking to each other. You just sit tight, crammed together in silence. While everyone yapped on their phones, yapped to their spawn, yapped to themselves, or listened to loud music featuring angry men yapping about their lives. 

I started hesitantly relying on taxi cabs. In this part of Michigan, taxis don't circle the streets sniffing for the blood of an unwitting passenger. You have to call a cab service and get them to send one of their finely trained, somewhat socially stinted, chauffeurs to a location of your choosing. I memorised every route available so that the cab drivers wouldn't con me, but the cab drivers surprised me with their entertaining chats. 

There were the Sudanese charmers who spoke Arabic and asked me if I liked Amr Diab. There was the chap who asked me out to an upcoming Tool concert. There were a few rare gems, like the eloquent and endearing Russian sailor who delighted me with tales of his years at sea. Or the wonderful elderly American man who picked me up from a hospital after a car accident! He pretended the brakes stopped working when we were zooming downhill to make me laugh. With these cab rides I also met the morbidly obese blonde lady who asked if my third-degree burns were from "hitting a bong.

And then there was Bill.

Monday, January 6, 2014

How To Fix the World (when you feel powerless)

"It seems like I can't get a break, and I don't know why." You said you're saddened by the world around you, and that this year will be no different. I've never really known the answer for either of us, but my time overseas helped me understand how we construct our reality. Because even as I sit here, free and surrounded with love, I feel the remnants of our dark past. 

When it comes to problems such as apathy, ignorance, and violence, their sheer magnitude can be daunting for one person to tackle. "Who am I to stop this?" you've said, "or how could I even possibly stop this?" You said it was easier when I was by your side, willing to fight battles and never afraid to tell bullies to bugger off. You joked about me being an Orc at heart because I don't fear confrontation, but I'll be honest. I fight because I'm afraid. 

While your response was to shy away from the world, mine was to transform into something aggressive so that I could protect myself and others. But, in my time away, I've learnt that you can't always yell and brawl your way to a better world. You only end up leaving behind a trail of destruction in your ironic attempt to ensure justice. 

Improving the world also requires gentility, and quiet selflessness. 

I slowly stopped wielding axes in battle when I realised how inertia applies to goodness. If an object in motion stays in motion, then the goodness you bring will last longer than any weapon. We both know that a strong team isn't solely comprised of battle-hardened warriors. So how can regular people fix the real world? 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

How to realistically deal with a home invasion (picture steps)

I've had encounters with bandits who felt that they deserved my stuff more than I did. When you're the victim of a break-in, the sudden feeling of vulnerability leaves you helplessly frozen. All of my smack talk about being a fearless warrior went out the window, and I started considering actually leaping out of the window.

via Johnny Grim
I needed a plan! Someone tried to enter my apartment in the middle of the night. I wasn't sleeping; I was playing video games and chatting on the phone with my sister. He was persistent in knocking, but I refused to answer. Luckily, this man ended up leaving without confrontation.

Today, I checked my inbox and found out that my apartment community sent out a mass email warning about the nighttime prowler.

Actual message, edited for privacy.
That made me ponder, what else could have happened in that situation? I recreated the scenario and came up with a more effective tactical plan, in the case the nighttime prowler decides to pay me another visit.

Hark, barricade the main entry!

Once you see an unfamiliar face at the door, do not answer and do not open it under any circumstance. I don't care if it's a bloody lass or a grandma with a plateful of cookies. If you aren't expecting anyone, it's a trap!

Sneak away, grab any large objects, and jam them against the door to form a little barricade. This will buy you time to wobble towards a safe area.

Arm yourself with nearby makeshift weapons!

Depending on the room you're in, you might have a number of handy weapons available. You can be a sports brawler!

If you keep free weights lying around for motivation, pick one up and lob it at their head!

Or maybe you're more of a cleanly pyromaniac.