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Home feels very cinematic: the further you are from the screen, the clearer the picture. The closer, the more pixelated and fragmented.
Human by nature, German by nationality, Jordanian by birth, Palestinian by descent, and writing in English, I have severe problems answering to the question “Where Are You From?” Such question boxes one within a boundary and asks you to name geographies and places on the geopolitical map of the world whereby it inhales you to be associated with the whereabouts of an accident called birth, or an absent presence that is called History. On the one hand, having to state singular places therefore surely glorifies the triumphalism of geography and cultural borderlines; on the other, it marginalises the celebration of multiple cultural experiences. No singular or brief answer will ever suffice to answer such question. It is rather the transitory metamorphoses throughout various and diverse cultural experiences that count.
Indeed, writing and identity are both identical: because they are never final and both demand constant editing.
Notes To Self: 1.The falling of autumn leaves is not your fault. 2.Stop piling candles for decoration. They are meant to be burnt. 3.Silence has a voice of its own. Listen to your own silence. 4.A piece of advice from a divorced and a formerly political prisoner: “to be successful, avoid two things: women and politics!” 5.A semi-colon is the middle finger in a sentence when writing fiction. 6.Be sadist when you write. Good things come out of your character only when bad things happen to them. 7.A comedian once said: if you are looking for sympathy in life, you will only find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis. 8.No expectations. Just instincts. 9.Undergraduate degrees of creative writing are rubbish. They are vehicles of producing mass ignorance. Because if undergraduates want to become writers, they have to spend their twenties reading excessively first. 10.Every time you get rejected by a publisher, be thankful. It is a boost for your ego to keep going forward. It is a second chance to reflect, write, and edit. It is a rebirth. It is similar to being given the question-sheet in an exam to revisit your answers before you submit your paper. 11.You are fake and hypocritical when you write for fame or political purpose. These are exterior. Honest and free writing is interior: that is when you write for yourself. 12.Mark things in green. It is the colour of grace, hope and nature. Red is bloody and fascist. 13.Reason, not need. - King Lear 14.Your body is roughly 72 per cent water. Keep hydrated. 15.Read alone. Write alone. Eat accompanied. 16.Do not drive all the time. Cycle when possible. 17.More radio. Less TV. 18.Read more. Write less. Writing comes later. 19.Sing to a mirror. 20.Re-paint your walls. 21.Read an article or summarise a short story a day. 22.Learn a new word a day too. 23.Become drunk with poetry. 24.Watch foreign films. 25.Buy mother a piece of jewellery with first salary. 26.Publish a book before you are 30. 27.Practice poetry. For fun. 28.Have a tattoo you will regret. 29.Put that bloody mobile phone down! Do not become a machine driven by machines! 30.Speak less. Listen more.
One of the reasons for which you ultimately became a teacher, however, is the way by which you were taught. You came to realise that teaching is a political act at the heart of which lies political change. You became a teacher to rectify things. Because you had a great responsibility towards the future. As a teenager, you attended an average boys’ public school in a suburban area of a small city in the northeast of Jordan. It was a school where English was not obligatory until the sixth grade. A school where you were taught to stand up for your superiors as they walked into class, and where any eye-contact was frowned upon. A school where you were inspected for your haircut, nails, and shoes but not your concerns. A school where it mattered more where you are from than who you are. A school where the science teacher taught geography, sports, and Islamic religion, too. A school where you were grabbed by the ears and pulled up, hit repeatedly on the knuckles and slapped on the face for not remembering the capital of Cambodia. And for that you never forgot the capital of Cambodia. A school where philosophy was marginalised by religion. And where you had to wait in queues to urinate because toilets were busy with concealed homosexual activities. A school where during winter you had to wear layers and layers of wool and cotton because there was no central heating, double-glazed windows, or even curtains. A school where the drawing studio was used as a canteen by teachers during lunch-time only. A school where there was no awareness of the disconnection between the teaching curriculum and societal needs. A school where the story always goes with Mr Ali in the office, while Mrs Ali is always in the kitchen. A school where most teachers finished classes 15 to 20 minutes earlier so that they could exploit parents and students in highly expensive private classes outside the school. A school where all music classes were spent teaching you how to play the national anthem. A school where it was always easier to deny and reject than debate and accept. A school where the quiet boy was always neglected. A school where you were always asked what to do, but never did anyone ever do what you asked: to listen. A school where your colleagues were scolded for being overtaken in class by a Palestinian student.
We are not our age, height, colour, or clothes. We are the books we read. The sweet squeak in our laughter. The tears we cry. The people we accompany. We are the dreams we dream. The pictures on our walls. We should be defined by what we create, not by what we are created with. We should be defined by who we are, not by who we should be. We are our weaknesses and cries. Never the super Mario image we force upon ourselves and is forced upon us by society. We should never be ashamed to cry. The problem rests in crying alone. One of the major problems in our society is the lack of crying publicly. Our fear of the exposition of emotions. Because vulnerability is considered a downfall. A defeat. A crush of the alpha male protagonist image. Whereas in fact vulnerability is a very human characteristic.
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