Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Reporting from below the burning tires and sounds of gunshots

Welcome to another weird wild and wonderful installment of opinionated drivel here at Otter’s own base for shooting his mouth off.

First off I am in one of my more spectacular moods.
One could say it’s been a rough couple weeks…month… run…whichever holds up long enough to cover the latest expanse of bad things following one another or attacking in unison.
Today is what I am beginning to traditionally hope every morning…
This… I find myself saying…is hopefully the end to the convergence of crap that gets thrown my way.

I’m getting a bit sick and tired of the build up.
If it’s not one thing it’s another.

I had intended to post this catalog of memories a bit earlier yesterday but then something happened.

I have recently had a lot of time on my hands.

It is in times like these that your beloved author takes time to go over some memories.
I’ve got some ones that will live on in silence and some I jotted down to keep a mark of.

These below are like stones thrown in a pond that send ripples right out to the shore
They sting with the need to have the sensations back again
To build on them… again…

Dancing in the rain…yes of course…. White…
The amazing mission impossible shot thief and the bouncing head of hair that made the loop around the entire place.

Watching the Beirut skyline and
the glow of Michel’s face from those dim lights below the glass
as he greets you with that famous knowing nod of his.

The classic “you know how I get when I am hungry” line… before or just after some appalling behavior.

The shine of everything in ABC at the holidays
the wonderful feeling of having sprung a surprise.
The watching selecting and listening to…”listening to tracks at Virgin”…

Being valiantly rescued at Fly, pampered and cared for.
Like almost all those other times it happened and in flew that angel that held back the world for those moments.

Picking out new glasses.

The rise of the road up the mountains of Broumana.
The way the fog wrapped around the little hamlets as a chill fell during the war
Us, the strangely dressed people, who shared those feastings up in those hills.
That silent jarring ride down
for once
everything made sense
and that true feeling of resonance
hit me.

Watching the clouds rush up the side of a place called Sakra
The husband, that got reincarnated as a parrot, eating on the chair.
The Lesbians and their big meeting at the table near the wall.
Peering into the black hole that was what had become Da’hiyeh
My putting us on the longest shortcut ever to get all the way down again.

Trips to 499 Orient… And the great Abaya parade
Surprise the silver one too.

Roadster’s…. AGAIN?!?!?

Coffee at Costa…

Foot massages at the Rouche Starbuck’s.

Foot massages in general.

Chopsticks and the great take away office dinner option with all the necessary glassware.
Those beans at Soto

Karam… and their little asafir

Yes I want a whole chicken at Deek Duke…
Abu Koko that wasn’t Abu Koko but some other restaurant…

The many many times at Casper and Gambini…

The nut shells at Waterlemon in the salad
and later fruit smoothies.

The Bab al Mina Sunday tradition

Appointments for running on the treadmill

The Haagen-Daaz cure to sadness

I can’t ride past Ge’ant without thinking over that tea buying splurge…the cart riding…
and the horrible sound of kiddie entertainment...

The monastery up on Mount Cherbil and that crazy swooping ride down.
Finding rings in the bathroom of that famous food spot up there.
Getting caught toying with a smile and someone at another table.

Pinocchio… and the fact I never set foot in that kitchen shop

Mayas… the bubbling tummy and the mariachi

Soy sauce stains beneath the Buddah…

Tapping on that frosted glass door where I mounted the Nike symbol
with such precision and bearing as to get its’ position exactly like the LOGO..
hearing that not so welcoming “come in”

Waiting in the cold and dark of that Hazmiyeh building parking lot.

Painting the walls… and shorts.
High on Turpentine
the Royal Plaza.-Great for both the world cup and a detox zone

Choosing the curtains.

Trying to get all the wiring done so that the place would be presentable.

The restaurant meal on big white plates that some crazed idiot decided to bring to the car.

The red BMW that met such a horrible end…
That sore feeling in middle of my chest
that I had been cheated when I found out what happened to it
and for how long I wasn’t allowed to know.
The forgiving it because…back in there somewhere there had to be a reason.

Daisy and her sneaky way of diving around traffic and giving a leg work out at the same time.

Messages from the hospital…
The constant barrage of testing that never seemed to make the worries any smaller…
Are you sure I don’t have…? How do you know?
The big book that should explain EVERYTHING for those questions.

Sending that SMS “sorry I couldn’t make it to class because I broke my collar bone..”
Having an all night post concussion discussion…

and that feeling of finding a long lost friend.

That feeling when I did lose…BIGTIME…forever..
And yes the idea that these memories...shall be frozen
never to be shared with the farmer that planted them…
not being allowed to give those memories any more brothers and sisters…

That hurts…

Sadness such as this I am told
eventually fades
but here in the thick of it…
I know it never does…
It merely hides
to wait and catch you when you are completely unaware.
To tear you to pieces like a tiger hidden in the thicket.

You never forget.

When that attack does happen; you get that distant look on your face.
A half baked smile
and that bulge at the bottom of your eyes that looks like a tire that has a flat.
Because the happiness of then
will never be topped or reborn.
It will never be part of something
because the other half refuses to be in them
They make the now of the visiting fleeting memory all the more bitter.

It is the point where you discover you are an orphan..
I feel so small and so damned hollow.

But instead you get this….
Yes Lebanon decided to throw another one of those interesting curveballs my way…
A bit like the day I got evacuated…
Once again words come out muffled…
Somehow lacking the emotion I have invested in them…
They come out pale and wane instead of being those fully colored things that I feel.
It’s amazing how easily words betray
the why and the what of my intentions and meanings.

I have to put up with the fact that though I have the best of intentions things never come out the way I hope they do.

I’m not so hot at living up to expectations…
Or maybe it’s that the expectations always seem to be a quarter inch too high…
I get caught feeling like the short kid in the white exercise t-shirt that’s always three sizes too large.
The big feet and gym shoes that just seem more looney toon than should be allowed in the section of life we call the real world.

Yup it’s hard to overcome those ideas and self image issues one has coming up though those formative teenage years.

But here I am denigrating my writing skills without getting into the meat of today’s posting.

Pardon my Yosamite Sam impression here but it only seems a fitting way to describe the sorry state of my neighborhood…

There was a… shootings… a….. burnings and….
a whole lot of other goodies and shenanigans
going on this Tuesday in the Karakas and nearby sections of Beirut.

There were of course political co-opted goings on too
But the truth is everyone in a very personal sense is sick of the entire region.
The arab world has become corrupt.
It’s been developing for a while actually… since the fall of the house of wisdom in Iraq.
With the ottomans the beuracracy and the pointy headed idiocy became magnified
Each ruler outdoing the last in ineptitude
until now we have what we have in this region..
It is now an oligarchy of patrons of their own silk linings.
The haves and
“have been robbed”s
are growing farther apart
With the death or should I say escape of
the middle class society here is shredding itself apart.
This all means the loss of a state…
The loss of the cornerstones to development…
The loss of movement and evolution.

Lebanon has been in a state of limbo since her creation.
Her politicians and neighbors seem hell bent on keeping her that way.
From what little I know of the history of the civil war… and in it
being a war there was nothing civil about it…

From what I have not been able to avoid as far as politics are concerned I have been forced to diagnose a problem here in Lebanon.

And what with the country… as I have said before… being IMAGE OBSESSED….
I think this place may have suffered another fatal blow…
Not to the people the protests were actually pretty lame. There were a few burning tires and some gunshots... actually TONS near the apartment where I live.
But, nothing really came of it.
Like most protests here in the Middle East NOTHING comes of it.
A soundbite on the news... and then of course.... the protest's purpose and intent gets hijacked by some political entity for their own ends.

Here I am stuck doing what I can
like usual..
Which incidentally… feels damned pathetic.
I visit the not so well endowed regions of Beirut with my trusty Blood Glucose monitor…
I do the test right out in the open…
Yup here I actually DON’T Hide the fact I carry and use needles.
It isn’t like in the USA where everyone automatically assumes you are a druggie..
Here they are sadly innocent of the issues of heroine in their own country.
Here whipping out a needle and injecting is a point in time you can teach.

Believe it or not a HUGE majority of the population wanders around as undiagnosed type two diabetics.

More than once I have had to deliver bad news.

That sorry buddy but as I told you 100 is normal
and I know you may have had a cup of tea and eaten something sweet but 400 is nowhere near respectable…

Go get yourself checked out and see what you need to have dialed up on your pills…

Not being a doctor and not being licensed to practice sometimes drives me up the wall

More than once I have told people who can’t afford to pay for basic things like a small bit of meat to go and scrape together enough for a glucose monitor.
More often than not
I am told that the local pharmacy has one
and that the test subject will go to the “saydalieh” to get their blood glucose tested for a dollar a test.

I know

These people should be testing a minimum of three times a day and here they are, going something like once a week.
There are huge populations in the South of Lebanon claiming they need BG monitors and also claiming they aren’t diabetics…
I guess here in Lebanon they don’t think you qualify for that honorary title unless you have to take something for it.

There is one particular guy in the neighborhood whom I keep demanding sugars from…
He usually runs a good 200 to 240 on a daily basis.
I have told him to visit the doctor and get his doses dialed up…
I’ve asked him about his diet…
I’ve told him where to adjust…
Trouble is…
I am not employed to be his diabetes educator…
Apparently neither is anyone else!
I wonder why non-governmental malitia have such power? Hmm could it be that these little groups are the only infrastructure these poor populations have ever known. Whatever happened to the responsibility of the state?
I mean there are some UGLY HIGH TAXES here in Lebanon!
The politicians get to roll around in some wonderfully nice cars and their houses are appallingly MASSIVE!!!
The average Joe is living hand to mouth just to make the bills.
(which I must add seem to get inflated according to how white and forgein I appear)
Yup there is no single law for everyone.
There is no sorry I'm not sure how to do that...
There is the sorry lie that says... I know how to fix it...
Then followed by a fixing it.... that results in the VICTIM cough cough patient's demise.
When are things really going to get repaired?