Feminism, Musings, Running In Heels, Uncategorized

Six Lessons Lana Al-Resheed Taught Me Without Even Realizing It

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Mentors are not magic. Your mentor is not your Professor Dumbledore. Your mentor is a human being. They are allowed to have flaws and personality quirks and you are allowed to not like those things about them, and vice versa.

I personally grew up in a family of overachievers and in an environment that inadvertently taught me (or tried to teach me) that I should enter into all things either a) knowing everything or b) pretending to know everything. The more I grew up the more I resented this kind of intimidating and isolated attitude especially when it came to work or school. As a result, I tend to seek out indirect guidance and education from anyone around me who I think is a little extra special, regardless of whether or not they are my superiors in a professional environment. In hindsight, I’ve found that this one trait alone has given me such an overwhelmingly HUGE advantage in my careers as an academic, a writer, and as an editor/publisher. Because I’ve always unconsciously tried to soak up as much professional knowledge as I can from literally every single person around me, I think I can now safely say that I have a very extensive, advanced knowledge base in my chosen fields that most people who are my age don’t have and that usually only develop over a period of much longer, more complex work experiences.

Most recently, I’ve had the crazy lucky fortune of working super closely with known marketing badass and general all around awesome lady-person Lana Al-Resheed who, if you recall, was my debut Running in Heels interview over a year ago. The actual story of how Lana and I met, got in contact with each other, and eventually started working together would have never EVER happened without this humble blog. If you think about it, it’s a pretty strong and beautiful indication of who Lana Al-Resheed is as a person and how much risk and support she is willing to put into someone she believes in and feels a special connection to–even if it was someone she hardly knew like me. The story of how Lana and I came into each other’s lives is one of my favorite stories to ever tell just because it sounds so wonderfully unreal and miraculously fated by God. But it IS real and it’s goddamned beautiful.

Even after having worked with her for almost an entire year now I still don’t know what the exact reasons were for her choosing me and believing in me as much as she did (I don’t even think she knows exactly). All I know is that Lana loves it when she sees things that other people don’t see and she has told me that ‘you are something I saw that no one else saw.’ And, because of that, all I know is that I am lucky and so is she.

From my own experience, mentoring relationships usually end up being some of the most rewarding and meaningful relationships for both the mentor and the mentored, and they almost always develop into lifelong, family-tight bonds, even after the fact.

So, since I think that everyone on Earth needs to, at some point in their professional lives, find their own personal ‘Lana’ (even the Lanas of the world need their own Lanas), here is but a short list of some of the most important lessons that Lana Al-Resheed has taught me without even realizing it. (I actually tried to see if she realized it and asked her to list six of what she thought were her most important lessons for me and she didn’t mention ANY of these, which is, of course, proof that wisdom, authenticity, and versatility are second nature to Lana Al-Resheed.)

Uncategorized

‘Screw You!’ Week Is Over. Thank You. You’re The Best.

Well, its officially the weekend and that means ‘Screw You!’ Week is over. I feel so much lighter and happier and clearer and I don’t know why. I tried to make a point of venting about the stuff that, actually, is non-related to anything I’m going through right now specifically. Somehow, it helped. Thank you guys so much for your comments on the blog, on Twitter, on Instagram, in emails, and just for sticking around. You are literally the best people.

All my love!

Uncategorized

Screw You, Cat Allergies!

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Okay, to be honest, I have to say that I don’t really have it that bad with allergies. I mean, I DO but it’s not like my allergies are so insufferable that they keep me bed-ridden in a sponge sealed room for half the year or like I have the kind of immune sensitivity that could turn an ordinary peanut butter sandwich into a lethal weapon. If you are one of those people then, MY GOD I am so very sorry. My allergy is by no means that painful and dangerous but its still pretty bad and definitely sucks big time!

See, my allergy is against cats. Cats. Adorable, fluffy, neurotic, hilarious, damn-near edible kitty cats.

Yup. Put me anywhere within the approximate vicinity of where a cat may have once existed and my face will literally start to self-destruct. My eyes get insanely scratchy and well up. My nose reddens and explodes until it starts to resemble a garden vegetable variety. And I sneeze endlessly and ceaselessly until my body starts to get numb. I pretty much have to dunk my head in a bucket of Evian water before I can cleanse my pores of those tiny, flying, super pesky cat follicles.

Now, you see, all of these symptoms would be entirely manageable for me if I didn’t also happen to suffer from another deadly condition: AN EXTREME AND WILDLY INFATUATED LOVE FOR ANY AND ALL KITTY CATS. I live in self-denial and try to tell myself that cats are evil, passive-aggressive, night ninjas with knife fingers but, really, cats are probably one of the things I enjoy most in this world.

And, because of my allergies, I pretty much have to shun one of the things that I enjoy most in this world. And for that I say: screw you, allergies! I shall never, ever forgive you!

But, oh, it wasn’t always like this! When I was younger, I used to always go over to our family friends’ house–which housed at least half a dozen cats–and would do nothing but play all day in this adorable cat cornucopia of love, laughter, and endlessly fluffy happiness! I would snuggle the kitty babies and brush their kitty coats and attend their fake kitty weddings which the family would put on. It was good to be young then in the season of plenty.

But then disaster struck a few years later and I was kitty snuggling nevermore. I developed a weird allergy out of nowhere and overnight. This was discovered when my mother came home one day with a tiny, beige-colored ball of meowing cuteness. His name was Smarty; we called him Smarticus (because he was vicious and snotty yet oddly loveable). And ever since we’ve bought Smarty into the house my face has been plagued with the disastrous cat allergy from the seventh circle of hell. Over the years I developed a semi-immunity to Smarticus which allowed me to at least exist in the same household with him. But still. I couldn’t pet Smarticus. I couldn’t sit near Smarticus. And I certainly couldn’t stay in the same room with him for any longer than 5 minutes. My relationship with kitties. Was over.

“Meoooooow!” Smarty would quoth into the night. He would get no reply.

Now that I’ve moved out of my family’s home and my body is no longer used to Smarty’s presence, whenever I go back there I’m immediately seized with the worst bout of sneezing frenzies which doesn’t go away unless I can sedate myself with medication and warm drinks.

Imagine one of your life’s most beloved creatures. Imagine it standing in the distance, staring back at you with wide, glossy, perfectly round eyes begging for one last hug. Imagine yourself running out to it, a Celine Dion song playing in the background to your moment of final, loving embrace. NOW DIE BECAUSE YOU DON’T GET ONE FINAL EMBRACE BECAUSE OF FREAKING CRAZY CAT ALLERGIES. Now woefully skulk off into the sunset, as a lone, heartbroken tear streaks down your stupid allergic face.

Now you’re me.

So, yeah. Screw you, cat allergies!

Kuwait, Musings, News, Uncategorized

On Murdering and Remembering: Making It Really Count for Dr. Jaber

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Over the past (let’s say) 5 years, there’s been an alarmingly rising number of innocent murders committed in Kuwait. Sectarian fights. Bloody brawls. Revenge killings. Accidents. Mass murders. And, now, stabbings.

And yet after each “big” murder tragedy, we continue to do the same exact thing: We gape in horror and surprise, we angrily scream and shout, and, of course, we pretend to wonder why. Every single time someone murders an innocent person (or even a whole group of people) everyone is just so freaking surprised again and again and again. We have the same discussion, the same arguments, and the same ‘juicy horror story’ rumor mill.

Same old, same old.

We say, ‘Oh! This is the culprit!‘ The ‘culprit’ is always one or more of the following scapegoats: Lack of security. Or western media. Or online, social networks. Or an unstable, broken family. Or godlessness. Or homosexuality. Or video games. Or ethnic ‘genetics.’ Or hormones. Or ‘defenseless’ women/children/minorities. Or mental disorders. Or medication. Or drugs. Or, really, anything on the freaking planet.

We get caught up in the hyper-theatrics of “the event” all while blissfully and conveniently avoiding the glaringly obvious. That being the reality of the fact that these kinds of heinous, murderous crimes are being committed against innocent people simply because many individuals in Kuwait think they can just do whatever the hell they want.

That’s right, you guys. To an overwhelming number of people in Kuwait, the law and the peace and perhaps even the sanctity of human life doesn’t mean jack if it stands in the way of them doing whatever the hell they want to do. This is the brutal truth.

Because Kuwait is not a land of poverty; nor a land of racial violence and unrest; nor a land of totalitarian crackdown.

Kuwait is a democratic, diverse, economically and socially fruitful land of plenty. There is literally no sociologically relevant reason for these kinds of law-flouting murders (or near-murders) to occur besides the fact that people just think they can blatantly do whatever the hell they want no matter what.

Like many of you, I can honestly say I spent the better part of this weekend pouring over a number of different ‘news stories’ surrounding the tragic murder of Dr. Jaber Yousef in The Avenues mall last Friday. And I’m pretty sure I did everything that you guys probably did: scrambled to piece together all the different bits of news information, tried to figure out the “why” of what happened, and, finally, attempted to come up with a way to effectively make sure this kind of thing has as small a chance as possible of happening again.

And, for whatever reason, I have to say this particular murder struck a different chord with me. I mean, let’s leave aside the fact that this was a young, bright, ambitious man who, like many people my age, held lots of promise and future potential. Let’s forget the fact that he was killed in an illustrious mall, filled with bustling eye witnesses at every corner, and which I personally happen to frequent quite often. Let’s forget the fact that he was murdered in cold blood over something that almost anyone with a car has fought over at some point in their lives: a freaking parking spot. Let’s forget all these personal albeit thin connections I (and many of you) may have with this murder case.

Because the one thing that really stuck out to me about the murder of Dr. Jaber Yousef is the fact that, through the immense social media coverage it recieved, you begin to realize just how unisolated this kind of case really is.

And its not just stabbings per se. It’s a woman setting a tented wedding party on fire (killing 57 and injuring 90). It’s camp attacks in the dead of the night. It’s police officers raping and killing racial minorities. Its people who think they own the road and, through their recklessness, inadvertently killing more people in accidents than organized crime.

Call it homicide; manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter; murder; whatever. At the end of the day its all needless, innocent death caused by individuals who, for the most part, thought they had the right and the privilege to act on what they personally wanted/felt regardless of anything else and for pretty much no substantial reason.

It’s as if people in Kuwait have gotten so used to reading these kinds of headlines with their morning breakfast omelet every few days that they can barely afford to muster up a bit of shock and awe before turning the page and forgetting all about ‘the event’ in a week or so.

But, hey, no point in overdoing it now, right? I mean, let’s be realistic here. A group of crazed guys ambushing and bloodily murdering another guy over something as petty and meaningless as a freaking parking spot–in a place as popular and crowded as The Avenues no less–is certainly not something you hear about every day. Right?

Wrong.

This has definitely happened before. It’s already happened again. A quick skimming of the comments section in this 248AM post will go to show just how prevalent and how likely it is to continue to happen.

And I’m not saying this as a way of discounting any of the other facets that may very well contribute to a person’s choice to kill someone, even if inadvertently. There is a good chance that western media and video games share a part in the way that these innocent souls were unfortunately lost.

I know there is no quick, easy, all-inclusive answer we’re all just waiting to implement here. I know that there has to be a root change in the way that people in Kuwait regard order, authority, and social responsibility. I don’t pretend to have an answer, nor a drawn out 5-year plan, nor any solid thoughts of how to rid Kuwait of this deadly pattern of national indifference towards crime.

I know this is making me sound like such a hopeless pessimist–and I’m not–but I think we all need to realize how quickly we forget the tendency Kuwait actually has for these kinds of mindlessly brutal tragedies.

I’m well aware of the fact that media glorified violence, bad parenting skills, horrible role models, and/or a hyper-masculinized social culture that is inspired by age-old notions of tribalism and sacred blood bonds has something to do with this. But the fact remains the same.

Every day in Kuwait people think they can override law and order and, in many cases, arrogantly (even if unintentionally) kill another human. We need to stop forgetting these deaths and please stop pretending like this kind of tragic incident is a unique case we can just blame on the Internet or security or video games.

Because the life and death of Dr. Jaber should count for more than that.

It should count as a constant reminder and as a lasting lesson of the fact that, if we forget and let our social responsibility falter once again, we’ve only got ourselves to blame.

All my love!

Uncategorized

The Tinderbox Project: A Fiction Series (And a Thank You)

To read The Tinderbox Project please follow @thetinderbox on Instagram or email me at owlolive.blog@gmail.com for a copy.

I am by nature, profession, and overwhelming passion a reader and a writer. I can’t say I’ve ever occupied my time with a more rewarding (and frustrating? Sure.) vocation than, well, putting words together into coherent and meaningful sentences. Really, I’ve always been adamantly certain about the fact that I am a writer through and through.

Besides writing for this blog which is nothing if not an absolute hoot (get it? OwlOlive: hoot. Get it?), I also try to get myself involved in virtually every other form of writing. And as anyone who has ever spent time doling out a creative piece of work will tell you, the dearest and most cherished piece of writing anyone can ever commit to the page is a creative one. To write fiction, and to share fiction, is to let someone into the warm privacy of your own soul.

That is honestly one of the most special and scary processes that any real writer will ever go through.

So for a while now I’ve been debating sharing some of my creative work with you guys because, as the slogan goes, I like to share “everything that matters to me” on this blog. I’ve expressed this idea on Instagram and Twitter and have been met with surprisingly warm motivation from more than a few people. So, over the last couple of months I’ve been working on a special fiction series type thing just for this blog’s wonderful readers and followers.

And now I can proudly say that I’ve finally got enough of it down to start sharing it with all of you: a creative story titled ‘The Tinderbox Project.’

The Tinderbox Project is, basically, the story of a woman who feels an inexplicable sense of loss whenever a meaningful moment passes her by. So, in trying to escape this overwhelming surge of loss and time, she decides to keep physical proof of her fleeting sentiments in a tinderbox–a box which fires used to be made in many years ago–and just wait for it to set itself alight.

This is the basic premise of the story however the whole thing is turning out to look more and more deliriously convoluted the more I write it.

Now, here is the important part: The Tinderbox Project will not be shared on this blog. That’s because I’ve seen many an occasion of internet trolls who roam the web fishing for unprotected, anonymous creative writing to plagiarize and plaster their names onto. A good number of my friends have had this happen to them and I’m not interested in meeting the same fate.

So instead what I’m going to do is share The Tinderbox Project on Instagram under a private profile (I’m only keeping it public for the first few days just to get people acquainted with it). If you have an Instagram account and you are interested in reading The Tinderbox Project you can follow it @thetinderbox. If you don’t have an Instagram account and you still want to read it please email me and I will be more than happy to send you a copy of the story as I’ve shared it on Instagram so far.

I know this might be somewhat of a pain but I hope you guys can understand where I’m coming from with all this apprehension and caution.

So please enjoy this creative work which I have honestly made specifically for you guys and PLEASE share with me any thoughts or criticisms you may have. Your words and commentary are always more than welcome in my book. Thank you guys for being so incredibly patient and motivational–I appreciate it more than I can say.

All my love!

Uncategorized

My Life is One Big Boarding Call

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Right now, I’m in seat 33A on a British Airways flight headed from Kuwait to London, to Montreal.

I’ve been in this seat (not this particular seat but, you know, figuratively and all) at least half a dozen times in the last year and a half. I’ve been leaving Kuwait and returning to it so many times at this point that this process should be second nature to me by now.

But, oddly enough, it’s not–and I doubt it ever will be. I’m one of those people for whom saying goodbye never gets easy. I always get that tinging sting in my chest whenever I have to hug my grandmother goodbye, or whenever I look out on Kuwait’s seafront, knowing it’ll be a while before I breathe in its salty gusts.

As much as I love travel, and different experiences, and all the excitement that new places bring, I will never completely stop missing Kuwait. Say what you will and complain all you want, but Kuwait is special.

So just before I leave this beautiful place, I’d just like to give you all a resounding, all-encompassing THANK YOU. This summer I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people and experiencing so many worthwhile moments through this blog. Thank you guys for helping make this summer so special and for embracing the blog the way that you have in these last few months.

I know that I’ve been MIA for the last 2 weeks, busying myself with about a million and one things (blog related and otherwise), but I’m hoping that I can focus back on blogging now that things have begun to settle down.

Hopefully, in the coming weeks I’ll have a new layout, a fiction series, and, uhm, other stuff ready for all you awesome and super patient readers.

Well, now they’ve just turned the seatbelt sign on so I’d best sign off before some snippy flight attendant starts harassing me with a Cockney accent. See you guys in the next timezone!

All my love!

Beautiful, Kuwait, Musings, SAY WHAAA...!, Uncategorized

A Reaction to the Reactions to Saher il-Lail

I’m probably inviting drama onto myself by saying this but, why in the world is everyone treating Saher il-Lail like a big, Iraq VS. Kuwait boxing match?

Look, I’ve watched the entire Saher il-Lail (Watan il-Nahar) series this Ramadan and I’m going to say this right off the bat: it was freaking phenomenal. Really, it was a work of great production value, promising writing, and included some very talented members among its cast. Sure, it had some technical slips (Oh my God! A PLASMA!), but, nitpicking aside, it was still a very worthy and admirable effort which was geared towards creating a real and positive change in the minds of its viewers.

And, from what I could figure, the change that Saher il-Lail was trying to accomplish was this: a sense of unity, pride, and respect for all those who have suffered the various forms of trauma and pain which the unjust and brutal Iraqi invasion of Kuwait had created in a countless number of souls who’s stories deserve to be reflected.

Saher il-Lail was not set out to demonize a whole nation or to make it okay for racists and bigots to start cropping up from under the ground. Anyone who uses Saher il-Lail as an excuse to fling insults and racist remarks against Iraqis or Kuwaitis or ANY nationality insults the noble effort behind which this television show was created. It’s not nationalism or pride, its freaking racism. And if you say its not, then you’ll be happy to know that you’ve just revealed your cards.

That said, I’m not belittling any of the war crimes which occurred upon the hands of the Iraqi military or the brutality that was used during the invasion. The reality is that, to whatever extent anyone would like to admit, the events that were portrayed in Saher il-Lail were inspired by similarly traumatizing experiences which real people went through during that horrible time. I’m not a historian nor was I really there at the time of the invasion (I was in Kuwait but I was one), but I know that not only is it useless to try and deny that certain atrocities really were committed, but that its also quite insulting to the history of Kuwait to do so.

Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis alike suffered greatly due to the ramifications of the unjust, aggressive, and, at times, murderous Iraqi invasion. This is simply a fact of history and there is no debating it.

But, let’s all get this straight: Saher il-Lail is not a documentary. Its a television show. A television show that had a lot of integrity, national respect, and honest work behind it. But still a television show.

That means that we need to take into consideration the fact that, like any network television show, stylistic drama is always involved. There needs to be a hook for audiences to attach themselves to so that they remain invested in the show for the entire month. In that respect, Saher il-Lail, like every other historic TV show to ever appear on television, is also concerned with purposefully creating empathy for certain characters and disdain for others. Every single television show under the sun is built with the same concept in mind. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, its the right way to make a successful and great TV show which is actually worth watching.

You’d think that this aspect of Saher il-Lail (that its not a documentary) would allow people to just enjoy it for what it is: a good television show that re-ignited a sense of unity and respect for national history.

Yet, for some insane reason, a whole lot of people are taking it as if it were a direct assault on all the Iraqi people or treating it like a piece of historical evidence. Serious news channels are having shouting debates about it; sending people out in the field to get counter-reactions from Iraqi people; and just basically taking everything that is beautiful out of it.

And now, all of a sudden, its just a big Iraq VS. Kuwait title match! I’ve seen nasty Youtube response videos, read hateful tweets, and just a whirlwind of racist backlash from BOTH sides and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why.

It’s a television show. For some people it brings back bitter memories. For others its interesting and new. And for a whole other group, its just not their cup of tea. It’s not a groundbreaking, historical documentation which can be used as some kind of legitimate argument ammo about current or past politics. You can’t cite Saher il-Lail in a freaking history essay thesis.

Its simply a television show written from the creative perspective of a Kuwaiti family during a time of war which was, undeniably, difficult and traumatizing.

If you like it, keep watching and enjoy it. If you don’t, just turn the freaking channel.

All my love! (P.S. Eid Mubarak everyone!)