The way people drive in Lebanon is the opposite of anything orderly. And yet, I think they find comfort in creating their own rules. I have to admit almost every time I get in a car with someone, and definitely every time I am subjected to the torture of driving up the narrow winding mountains, I want to die.
(First get in the car)
Where’s the seat belt? Ah, stuck so far behind the seats like it never existed. Probably hasn’t been used. (Aloud) Hey, the seat belt doesn’t work back here? (They reply) What, you don’t trust me? Don’t worry, I’m a great driver!
We’re moving through traffic. Red lights mean nothing, I’m convinced the country is color blind. I keep breathing, we’re still in the city, can’t accelerate that much that far.
We’re on the highway. It’s starting to rain, at night. We accelerate faster…because that makes sense? I’m recalling my first driving lesson when my dad told me I should stay double the normal length behind a car when it rains because it’s hard to stop. We haul ass for about 2 seconds, slam on the breaks, and wind in and out of cars. Doesn’t seem like we’re getting anywhere faster.
We’ve hit Jounieh and are getting off the highway to climb up the mountain. The higher we go, the faster we are moving. Now the rain is picking up. The narrow curves of the mountain seem to excite this guy. This isn’t a woman you’re driving, be careful around the curves! I start to lose my breath. He is literally slinging the car around blind turns with oncoming cars going just as fast. Now I’m recalling my brother giving me driving lessons telling me that going 15 miles faster only saves you like five mins in the long run. FIVE MINUTES MAN!
I thought this kid, less than half an hour ago, was such a nice guy. So calm and smart and a little bit funny. Very smiley. I liked him! Now I hate him. He is a reckless douche, a little boy, oh I wish I could slap the shit out of him. Do you realize, boy, that you’re not just putting yourself in danger!? My boyfriend, your girlfriend, and I are here! What about us, motherfucker!?!?!?!?!
I grip Matias, I tell him I love him, and I prepare to die.
I’m getting nauseous. I want to vomit and die and I’m raging mad. I have to stop looking at the road now. I’ll close my eyes and let death come at me. They say when you’re not expecting it or if you don’t tense your body you’ll probably live so I try to stay calm. I hope Matias is too.
I gave up religion and all the accompanying beliefs whenever ago, but I CANNOT stop saying Oh god, please god, oh my god oh god oh god. At the same time I’m battling myself for saying these things in my head and having an existential religious crisis! Does my real true self believe in god while my normal self doesn’t?! You guys have to coordinate here!!
At the most unexpected moment we literally slingshot into a garage built into the side of the mountain and exit the car. My Lebanese comrades don’t seem the least bit affected. I’m about to vomit, I have to lie down. The driver’s girlfriend jokes that he was driving slower than he normally does. I’ve got to cool off and take a couple Panadols. Bless me, I’ve survived another car ride.
-But Berlin DJ predictably denied into Lebanon for Israeli stamp
You know what, I’m glad the Middle Eastern Gulf region is taking into account all kinds of sexy when it comes to deporting men.
Because the most recent deportee is a 55-year old German man, Rolf Buccholz, internationally known for holding the Guinness World Record in having the most body piercings.
Buchholz flew to Dubai to party it up at Circque le Soir, a club that promises to bring out all the freaks and fantasy fetish stuff, as a paid appearance. But at the Dubai Airport he was denied entry into the Emirate on the account of possibly being a High Priest of the Dark Arts and a practitioner of Black Magic. Yes, that is why he was denied entry, because he looked as sexy as a Black Magic Priest. And yes, I would probably be wooed by him.
That’s why I’m q... more
Norwegians are the masters of understatement. When something is gargantuan, they’ll say ‘It’s a bit big’ and when something’s breathtakingly beautiful, they’ll say ‘It’s nice.’ If a friend made a $10 million profit on a business deal, they’d claim he made ‘a bit of money.’
I still don’t understand whether it’s humor or specific cultural brain wiring (for example: how different cultures understand time). But there is one thing that reassures me in all of this, a ray of hope that cuts through the vague cloudiness which always has me scratching my head asking “Is he/she joking…?” — and that is when a Norwegian talks about the Lofoten Islands.
Because they don’t understate anything about it. Any Norwegian will tell you how magical Lofoten is — how emotional it is to stand next to giant mountains that dive straight into the sea, or how disoriented one b... more
-I was the only dancer and they noticed
It All Started With Lena Dunham
In March my sister, Margaux, sent me a Youtube video with a perfectly succinct message: “This is Lena Dunham’s boyfriend. She directed the video.” Dunham’s boyfriend is the guitarist of Fun and started the band Bleachers as a solo project. Loved Lena’s video, died for her boyfriend’s song, “I Wanna Get Better!”
Admittedly Margaux knew how to pique my interest with the reference, but that day I became a Bleachers fan too. The thick riffs did what they wanted to my body, the lyrics “I didn’t know I was lonely till I saw your face” literally made (makes) me cry; I played the song on repeat and told my boyfriend to dance at a distance in case I exploded into a rainbow — it was that wonderful.
Slowly more singles like &ldq... more
Take a look at the festival fashion at Hove!
As a recent immigrant to Oslo I can’t help but notice the strong Norwegian sense of style. Everyone walks around as if just getting off a Banana Republic-meets-Free People photo shoot, rocking box-fresh threads and highly styled looks. Being one of the world’s richest countries influences how people dress and they definitely dress like they are rich and care how they look.
Between us there is a sharp visual contrast; I, with my decades old tees (that were made decades ago and cost $1), dilapidated shoes, my aversion to makeup concealer, and dark curly hair versus the Norwegian current-season outfit, long flowing golden locks, lots of face concealer, and really clean looking shoes.
But as I prepared to camp in the woods at Hove for six nights I imagined a sort of fashion overlap. My laid-back grungy style just might mix perfectly with the relaxed atmosphere of camping, I thought. I just might look like I fit in here especially among the teens since my part... more
What Is Brown Cheese?
“I just thought the Norwegians packaged peanut butter in a different way, you know, instead of spooning it out of a jar they served it in a block that you slice with a cheese cutter. It still tasted like peanut butter and I ate it on bread with jelly but I didn’t find out it wasn’t even peanut butter until much later.”
Babs, an American expat in Norway chuckled as she told me about her first encounters with Norwegian brunost (brown cheese). She and her Norwegian husband met in Lebanon decades ago where, at the time, he would ship in a huge box of brown cheese to satisfy his homestyle hunger.
Americans compare it to peanut butter; Brits compare it to Marmite; Many others compare it to dulce de leche. But it is none of them.
Norwegian brown cheese is not essentially cheese — it’s made with goat milk, whey, and cream — and boiled for so long that the sugar in the mixture cara... more