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Friday, March 31, 2006

Shallow. Cultureless. Lacking in self-confidence.

"What drives a person to converse in a language not his own? Is it that he considers the Arabic language not worthy of being spoken? Or is the English language, or as they refer to it, the language of the civilized youth, superior to Arabic?
This, of course, stems from lack of self confidence! This person tries to make up this deficiency in his personalities by using a language other than his own to appear better - according to his faulty perspective- and to appear to be a civilized youth!"

As translated by yours truly from an Gulfian Arabic blog which I won't link to because I am not in the mood to start a flame-war (but are you surprised to find out that it's the blog of the same person who believes that the word "Bye" is a mighty conspiracy against our convictions?).

Nice, eh?

Anyway, save for a few exceptions such as Serdal and Tech2Click, I very much dislike the Gulfian Arabic blogosphere. It is infested with hate, intolerance, and that particular Arab mentality that make me want to shoot someone. Ok, 'dislike' is too tame a word, but let's leave it at that shall we?

After reading the post the excerpt is from, I have this sudden impulse to stand on the rooftop and scream my dislike out to the world. Me is getting really pissed off with the elitist attitude towards the Arabic language. Yes, it's a beautiful language, no one can deny that, but that doesn't make everyone who doesn't perfect it "culture-less" and "lacking in self-confidence".

I, for one, absolutely adore the simplicity and practicality of the English language. Yes, here I am, I'm saying it out loud, I LOVE ENGLISH!


If this person's logic holds, my love for the English language means that I look down on Arabic. It also automatically makes me shallow, cultureless, and lacking in self-confidence. Ahuh. The only thing I look down on is sharing a common language with such mentalities, and the only thing I lack is such idiocy.
"This is especially prevalent with the English Arab blogosphere! It makes me sympathetic to see those truly pathetic people who use English in topics sillier than themselves! This also goes back to shallowness of thought and lack of selfconfidence as I have pointed out earlier, otherwise, why else would they insist?
On the other hand, I am proud of those who use English to spread Islam."

Yeee, 3aleina 3ad!

Ok, ok, enough with that. Let's talk a little about Arabic instead. Seriously, regardless of whether the person is Arab or not, how can anyone look down on Arabic? It is the most mystifying language! Arabic calligraphy by itself is mind-blowing. Watch this space for an hommage to the sheer beauty of Arabic calligraphy soon, for now, I will leave you with this painting by Egyptian artist Ahmed Moustafa (click on it to view details);

26. Egypt-Ahmed Moustafa

Fantastic, isn't it?

This is our culture. This is our identity. It's not in Arabic itself as a language- it's the whole package, you know? With the colors, the movement, and all.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Olive Oil

Here's a piece of art from my new French book on contemporary Palestinian artists that caught my eye;

"Nablus-Jabal il Nar" by Nasser Soumi
Soap, olive oil

Interesting isn't it?

I guess I'm just extremely amused by this visualization of Nables (against stone tiles too), especially as it sort of hits home. When we were kids, we used to go spend a week or so at my grandmother's house in Nables every several years, and the things I associate most strongly with Nables are Nabulsi soap, the smell of smoke, and my grandmother's olive tree garden on the mountains.

Anyway, the French in the book didn't turn out to be too hard to understand. Looking back, I spent a good deal of highschool learning the rootwords of the English language, some of which came from French, so that's making life easier (and ok, I also took French as a subject at school for around 8 years, and I always managed to get A's, but I really don't remember much).

Hey, perhaps I'm not too bad with languages after all...

(And I'm in this particularly artsy fartsy mood, so nevermind all the art blabbing you will hear during the next few days)


Today I bought a French book on contemporary Palestinian artists. I don't know half a word of French (the book wasn't available in the Palestinian native language, Arabic, nor was it available in the language I grew up reading, English) - but I'm going to read it (somehow).

Work of art above is Identity Theory by Annette Lemieux. Intense isn't it?

(It is rude to be too direct)

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Here's a really interesting read,

Designers must write

use words"Sometimes I feel as though the right selection of words coupled with careful enunciation and timing is as graceful as a surgeon’s hands keenly manipulating life as though it were not complex in the slightest. Well, perhaps that’s a bit of an overstatement, but I don’t expect that many would argue that even a few well chosen words can wield more power than our most brutal weapons."

De Paris

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Fantastically enough, my last class, which usually keeps me at school till around 4:30 or so, was cancelled today and I found myself leaving the University of Jordan at 2:00 PM.

The first thing that came to my mind was to head to Weibdeh to Darat Al-Funoon, because I have a lot of reading to do and nothing beats Darat Al-Funoon for a quiet, cozy place with a good collection of art books to keep me busy.

Weibdeh, Weibdeh, I adore Weibdeh to bits, except for the little fact that I still manage to get lost every time I go, and so, on my way to Darat Al-Funun, I found myself staring at Dowar Il Hawooz, magically re-named and re-decorated to become Square de Paris (it's sort of funny that they called a circle a square, isn't it?) Across from the Square de Paris lies another new addition to Weibdeh, "Librarie de Paris", which I've been wanting to visit for a while, mislead by the "librarie" part into thinking that it's an actual let's-go-sit-to-read kind of library. Well, it turned out to be a cafe/bookshop, sort of like a Books@Cafe with French and Italian books.

It's a cute place though, and I really like the French.

Anyway... upon discovering that the Librarie de Paris is not going to do me any good, I decided to make use of my time in Weibdeh; I took my Ayn Rand book out of my bag, sat on the benches spread around the Square de Paris, and dug into my book, right then and there.

It was wonderful! There were no stares, no vulgar comments, and the weather was perfect. I will certainly start to do that more often.

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I was really happy to read that the Friends of Archeology Society along with the Amman Municiplity will be setting up a campsite in the arena at the King Hussein Garden today to allow citizens to experience the eclipse. They will be providing telescopes and special goggles starting from 11:00 AM.

The best part? It is free and open to everyone!

According to the article I'm reading, "This is the biggest eclipse that the kingdom has faced during this century and it is important that we give it its importance."

Man, talk about an improvement in attitude. Way to go!

(Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of such stuff, and I'm going to be stuck in this pink room at the Istisharat Center in JU listening to my music appreciation professor try to teach us how to read notes. Ta ra ra ra, tafti ta!)


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Monday, March 27, 2006

A reason to love Syria

Other than the food, I absolutely love the Syrian ability to hang on to the heritage and modernize it without taking out the identity and the rich heritage. They rennovate ancient buildings and use them for restaurants, hotels, and even fashionable clothes stores, rather than demolish them.
Check these fantastic interior shots from the Villa Moda Boutique, a Kuwaiti franchise, that opened recently in Damascus.

Beautiful! I'm absolutely loving the red bright chandlier, the contrast with the sober stone behind it is amusing. Me wants the chandlier...

[Kuwait Unplugged]

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

number therapy

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First off, my little cousin had her 8th birthday party a few days ago, and I had to go help "babysit". Man! I'm so glad we don't have any kids!

Anyway, she's pretty much the only kid in the family, and there's a generation gap, so it was just an interesting experince watching two dozen little children be annoying.

It reminded me of this homevideo we have of when we were children, and I'm wearing this pink tutu and 'dancing' to "Kol Il Banat Bit7ebbak, Kol Il Banat 7elween". I think it's the most embarrassing thing I have. But it's interesting how it's the same games, the same actions, the same jumping around.

Again, I'm so glad we don't have any kids, but I really do feel sorry for my family, because we were all kids at the same time!

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Here are some vintage birthday pictures. It's sad how I was always the only girl.


Second off, here's another post that made me laugh (and I'm totally falling in love with this blog, fantastic isn't it? Girl power! h/t SM). (Note to Muna: shu jananek la te3qali o tet7ajabi?)

Third off, here's a post that made me grin. 3ala golet 3ami Iyas, dorrar ya Wael, dorrar!

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Friday, March 24, 2006


I can't get over how cute this little dog is. I want him. I want him! I want him sooo bad.

I've always wanted a mohawk, I don't have the guts to get one, so I'm totally considering giving Whitey one. She'd look extremely adorable with pink spikes wouldn't she?


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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Urban Legends at Jordan University

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In the mid 90's, my mother took me to my first visit to the campus of the University of Jordan.

The scene wasn't new to my eyes, because we have a decades worth of 70's photoalbums that consist of pictures taken in UJ, where my mother had spent a good deal of time studying and then working.

I remember how excited she was that day, taking me around and pointing to the various landmarks around the campus. There is "Share3 il 3osha2" (the street of lovers), and that is the milkbar. Down the street is the library, and over on that hill is the old psychology department. This is the "Koleyet il Majali" area, and oh, did I ever tell you about the art studio that I spent so much time in? Memories are precious.

I, though, wasn't impressed. What I saw that day was very different from what I saw in my mother's old photoalbums, which might have as well been taken on the movieset of "Grease". The student population didn't consist of dolled up Arabian Barbies dressed in colorful floaty 70's dresses, pointy sandals, and perfect up-dos. The guys were not Kens either, there were no sideburns, hot charlestons, and tight chest-revealing tops. The general social atmosphere was also drastically different- the general comfort in the old pictures was nonexistant, and the conservative shift in society was shining bright.

It is 2006, and JU is the only Jordanian educational institution I have ever known. The conservative shift is more drastic now than it was in the past decades, and this shift has greatly influenced the campus of Jordan University. I, being the most easily fascinated human on earth, find these social and physical differences absolutely mindblowing, and I marvel endlessly over the sameness of the things that time didn't change.

"Share3 il 3osha2" still exists but has now become the home of a bunch of exceedingly loud funoon students (weee-ha). The delicious smell of the pine trees is still the same. The milkbar lost its display of milk bottles that have given it its name, and has now turned from a "cool hangout" to a building in the center of "Share3 il Nawar" (The Street of the Vulgar). The man that runs errands in the Deanship of Student Affairs is older now than he was in the 70's, but the cups of tea he uses are the same exact style.

After some thought, I decided to sort of start "documenting" the Jordan University student experience in the first decade of the new millenium- you know, the recent urban legends that the alumini are not aware of and the older legends that haven't changed for decades. These "documentations" will be very experimental, and I'm hoping they'll also be collaborative. So, if you're a student at Jordan University, start snapping or write something up and email it to me, otherwise, I would be content with suggestions that you think are worth documenting. If you're an alumini, please do share your memories and images as well, it would be nice to have comparative experiments.

Below are some pictures from my mother's photoalbums. Forgive me for the crappy quality as I don't have a scanner.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006


The same thoughts (identity crisis), the same place (MS Word), a different stimulus (Alexander the Great).

*Chuckle* It's really quite hilarious.

Imagine that around every 15 posts or so, I try to write a post about identity. Most of these unfortunate posts either end up lost in the bits and bytes of my recycle bin, while others float aimlessly in my drafts. Either way, I always decide to stop before the empty canvas of MS Word starts to solidify.

Reasons, reasons. Reasons are many, some of which I know of, others of which I don't. I know that I'm one of the most opinionated humans in the world, but believe it or not, my biggest issue with myself is my complete unawareness of my own feelings and their causes. But yeah, typically for one who is willing to Wikipedia her ass off to make sure that she has an opinion about everything that she may possibly be asked about, I can think of a few reasons for the lost words, at least the reasons that are floating in my head rather than in my heart.

Well, Reason One is social taboo. In our 'fantastic' society, identity is an issue of great taboo, and in order to lay things objectively on the table and break the issue apart, dozens and dozens of other issues need to find a place on the same table. Otherwise, there's the much increased risk of being misunderstood. But the table is small. It fits one issue at a time. Reason Two is more personal and much harder for me to discuss- I still haven’t come to terms with how I feel towards my identity. Often, I find myself completely comfortable with a certain issue in one instance, all the while being aware that it may easily revert to becoming intolerable in a different one. Which sucks.

And see? I already have too many paragraphs and I still didn’t even start talking about the issue.

Another saved draft? More bytes in the recycle bin?

March 11th, 2006.

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Polling for appointment

Have you visited the National Gallery in the past 2 years?

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Universal Connections

What is the difference between analogue and digital, physical and virtual? What connects and bridges these apparently different worlds?

(None to me)

I find the concept of this project completely and insanely tantalizing, teasing the personal indifference I feel towards difference. What difference? My life is too digitzied.

(Is that bad?)

These objects and products that are surprising, enlightening, inspiring and questioning, sometimes even amusing.

(Culture of the indifferent, universal connections but empty none the less. I'm getting depressed)

Hitting painfully close to home.

a snapshot from summer, your favorite gig, your first time or your last flirtation. do you want to click through your memories or bury them?

what’s more significant – what we see or what it means? object or content?

no access for unauthorized persons.

any more secrets?

are we suited to one another? are we really compatible? how long will it last? it’s all about give and take – synchronize!

data injection

plastic, steel and glass. where should the data go?

what are our essential needs? what do we really need for surviving?


(Check the rest of the objects out here)


Mother of the Martyr
"Mother of the Martyr" by Rula Dallal

She's a teacher, she's a mentor, she's a friend. She's an artist, she's a philosopher, she's a psychologist. She's spiritual, she's open-minded, she's commonsensical. She's firm, she's loving, she's understanding. She's modern, she's conservative, she's cool.

(In every sense of every word)

She taught art at schools and teaches life skills at companies, she mentored young adults outside of schools, and she is a friend with anyone who needs a friend. She's a selling artist, she holds a master's degree in philosophy and a bachelor's degree in psychology. She's too spiritual for my liking while all the while being extremely open minded towards everything, and she holds common sense supreme. She's firm with rights and wrongs, yet always able to understand. She's a heck more modern than I am, yet we always manage to argue about more conservative issues that I am very much against.

(She hates the fact that I'm a feminist)

Influential. In the past months, I've referred to Warhol, mosques and Mondrian as some of the things that have influenced my life, but all along, I've been saving her, the most special and most drastic influence, for a special day. This influence is an open mindset. It's a fervent career. It's the greatest love I have ever known.

(Today is Mother's Day)

Rush: Misty watercolor memories (this is how you hold a brush), the galloping dreams (you be whoever you want to be), rows upon rows of printer ink on a stock of A4 written by a 9 year old (you write beautifully, write, Ruba, write). How to play with the Atari (look Ruba, Mario saves Princess Toadstool), snap a pictures (never a take picture that doesn’t have has people in it), freedom to think(believe in whatever you have knowledge about, a fair God will not judge a person who came to their beliefs through knowledge).

(It's all in the game and the way you play it, and you've got to play the game, you know)

It's not merely an influence. It's who I am.

She's my mother.

Hope The Dream of a Girl Jerusalem Jahan

Note on paintings: The media used is watercolor on silk. Silk is a highly reflective material, thus accounting for the high brightness in the images. They really don't do the paintings justice, I should have taken them during the day.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

of things - when is it exactly?


When I reached the 900th page of my 1200 paged book, just when the climax started building, I realized that the last page spells a beautiful, shining "To be continued..." Man! After 1200 pages, what more do you want to say?

Don't get this wrong, I absolutely love big books, because seriously, who wants a good book to finish? But a big book becomes terribly annoying when you've been reading it for quite some time only to realize that you will never get to finish it because the continuation is fantastically unavailable in the hills and valleys of Amman. Frustrating!

Frustrating enough to have me spend an entire evening fishing in the few bookstores in Amman stocked with English books for "Anne Rice".

"The Good Book Shop" in Jabal Amman.
I've been wanting to visit "The Good Book Shop" in Jabal Amman for a while as they renovated recently. From the outside, you see past the glasspanes to the absolutely inviting interior with the cozy wooden floors and beige walls covered with rows and rows of books. Once inside though, as much as their design is cozy, I found that their content is really disappointing. 80% of their books are academic, and by academic I mean those used for the IGSCE and IB systems, 10% are religious scriptures, and the other 10% are nothing I would personally acquire. I know I will never visit it again.

"Titles" in Abdoun. A bookstore that I prefer a lot more is "Titles", one of Amman's best hidden secrets. I've never left Titles empty handed, even when I don't go with the intention of buying anything. Their book section is quite small in comparision to other bookstores around, but it's always fresh and full of good new content that I hit it before any of the bigger stores. Titles didn't have the book I was looking for, but with their fantastic collection I left with 4 books that I totally wasn't considering buying that day. As an added bonus, their sales guy is cute- very punky.

"Prime Megastore" in Mecca Mall. Ahhh, Prime. I absolutely adore this place although I don't get to visit it as often as I'd like because its unstrategically placed in one of my least favorite places in Amman- Mecca Mall. Their collection of art, photography, architecture and design books is absolutely fantastic- always changing, always brand new, always fresh (and overpriced), and always tantalizingly appealing to me. I don't think I ever feel as much shopping instincts anywhere as much as I do in Prime.
Their novel collection is also wonderful, and I love how they concentrate on books written by Arabs such as the works of Edward Said, Laila Lalami, and Amin Malouf. They didn't have the book I was looking for, but I've never left Prime disappointed. In fact, I love it there so much that my friends and family absolutely refuse to accompany me to it because I have to be dragged out.
Ahh... I do wish they'd open somewhere other than the mall. Some stand alone unit perhaps?

"Books@Cafe" in Jabal Amman. I like Books@Cafe, it's not as diverse as Prime nor is it as comfortable as Titles, but it's a quite nice book buying experience anyway, and they have a good collection of books. They also have a very cheap used books section, which is usually filled with junk rather than anything else but which I think is a fantastic idea anyway.

"Aramex Media Bookshops" sprawled all over Amman. I like Aramex's attempts to spread book supplies all over Amman. They have a branch in almost every single supermarket and in all the areas in Amman, even Jordan University. They only get recent bestselling novels, which is cool I guess, although that's not the reading I do. They also have the ordering off the internet service, where you can buy any book with the ratio of $1= 1.3 JD. I've never used that service, but my brothers get all their shoes from there, and so far, so good.

The other bookstores around but which I've never bought anything from due to limited, mostly old, and overpriced collections and/or horrible book organizing are "The University Bookshop", "Istiklal Bookshop", and "The Oxford Bookshop". I've never left any of those places with a book.

At the end of the day, I didn't find the book I was looking for anywhere, although I ended up with four books, all from Titles, and my brother Hisham bought 2 books, also from Titles.

The loot:
  • "Atlast Shrugged" by Ayn Rand: The first book I started reading, so far, so good.
  • "Banat Al-Riyadh" by Rajaa Il Sane': I'm really excited about reading this book! It's set in Riyadh, the city where I was a "bint". I read the first few pages, and I love the way it's written and the issues it's tackling.
  • "1984" by George Orwell: Of course I've read this book before, but I thought that it was worth owning.
  • "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey (gorgeous cover)
  • "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand
  • "The Accidental" by Ali Smith: I've never heard of this book or of Ali Smith, but the book's cubist cover that's oh, so, DuChamp and its experimental opening chapter didn't allow me to think twice about buying it. And yes, I do judge a book by its cover.

From the back flap:
"I was born in the year of the supersonice, the era of the multistorey multivitamin multitonic, the highrise time of men with the technology and the women who could be bionic, when jump-jets were Harrier, when QE2 was Cunard, when thirty-eight feet tall the Princess Margaret stood stately in her hoverpad, the annee erotique was only thirty aircushioned minutes away and everything went at twice the speed of sound. I opened my eyes. It was all in colour. It didn't look like Kansas anymore. The students were on the barricades, the mode was maxi, the Beatles were transcendental, they opened a shop. It was Britian. It was great."

Man!!! That's gorgeous, isn't it? I'm so amused at the fact that that paragraph isn't making much sense to me and how I am going to have to look up several words in it! Yay! I'm so excited about reading it!

Here's it's fantastic cover:

مخفر؟ مغفر؟

Blogged by Guest blogger Omar(the brother) on this dashing blog (Roba made me say that).

هذا إل بوست دون "باي" سيباويه دار العاصي

عمر: (بضحك بصوت عالي) هشام بقول إنو مخفر إلشميساني بتنكتب بال"غ" يعني بتسير "مغفر" هاهاهاها, يا مفصوم!!!

: إنت إلمفصوم! شو مخفر هاي؟! مغفر طبعاً !!!

: (لسه بضحك بصوت عالي) طبعا؟ طب هاتي نسأل باسم

: مهوه باسم أهبل منك....إسأل تيته

: مخفر خاوه و تيته بتصلي

let's Google it

: يلا



عمر: هاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاههاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاههاهاهاهاهاهاها
عمر: جوز هبايل

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Profile deal

home logo


When I saw these vases that are modelled after a person's profile, I thought, "Man, how very Escher, I want one!"

The whole "Vase or profile" deal is a pretty cool use of negative and positive space if it hasn't become so kitsch thanks to the blessing of forwards, which manage to tack even the awesomest stuff up. But still, equipping this concept in the real phsyical world is a fascinating idea, is it not? Especially when it's presonalized to your own profile!

At 150 bucks though, it is way over priced for an ugly wooden vase, cool concept or otherwise. So I thought I'd equip my much loved Adobe Suite to check out how my profile would look as a vase (Illustrator rocks doesn't it?), only to realize that I absolutly hate my profile.

Check that out! That's not something I would display. Yeah, no $150 dollar vase for me.

Yet again, I spent an entire year in an Fine Arts Foundation year, and I absolutely miss getting my hands dirty with charcoal and clay, so maybe that should be an experiment I should undertake. It really should be quite simple... Man... I also miss drawing! We spent a while drawing selfportraits with mirrors and stuff, I think I drew my profile once. I had promised myself after I finished that year that I will continue to draw, but I haven't really sat down and drawn anything ever since. That's terrible isn't it? But first off, I need to finish all my midterm projects then redesign this blog and migrate to Wordpress.

capturing discourse

im hating 2006 it started off with this ultimate sweet and terribly sour incident chinese for dinner too that day (love you) its continuing with an antisocial mood that I havent experienced in years where I just cant stand anyone and everyone im also taking too many classes and that can never be good can it? too many too much
(weekend finally been waiting for it all week I can sleep!)
but I know that I will spend most of my weekend sitting on this chair working on some of the way-too-many projects I have to do just as I spent most of this evening blue or gray? tabs or sidebar? coated paper or tracing paper bleh i hate being a perfectionist I also know that sitting too long in front of the screen will get me to start depressing over how empty my life has been during the past several months or so then I will open my really huge picture folder and move on to think about how there's this really good side to being obsessively in love with one's camera as all the pictures taken every day are a living proof that even the littlest moments in the past month were full and the past few months werent as empty as i thought they were

You know, this year hasn't been so bad after all.

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February 16. Two Italianos, an English girl, an American-suburbia raised Arab, and 2 locals, exchanging cross-culture cuss words. Felt like 6th grade.

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March 11. Vandalism, I know. But it's making everything prettier, isn't it? Man, that class is so boring. I won't tell you what that class is though because I can't get myself to admit that I don't appreciate fine music. So boring. So boring.

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January 12. The boys. They amaze me. I wish I had a sister.

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March 5. I can't tell you how much I hate that room. It depresses me. Dude, who paints walls GRAY? I spend at least 2 hours a weekday in it though, which may account for my terrible mood. One day I'm going to paint pink Book@Cafe style flowers all over it's walls.

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March 11. Saw a friend I hadn't seen in a while.

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January 30. I found this juice being sold in some off beat dokaneh, and was immediately flooded with childhood memories. I consumed so much of this juice as a child in Riyadh. It was always cold. Really cold. Perfectly refreshing for desert weather.

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February 2. She's always sleeping. Always. People claim we spike her food. I love her though. I really do.

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January 7. I love walking in Jabal Amman, especially with persons whose company I enjoy and who don't mind my amusement and need to take pictures of everything.

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January 27th. 5:32PM +2 GMT.

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February 18. Absolutely love my new shoes.

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January 17th. I hate mobile games.

March 3. Funny? What's funny?

February 12. Pre-Jordan Planet meet-up. Bad day. Only good part was a podcast-worthy discussion later on. And being in a speeding car that fell into a bump which had me scream all my frustration away.

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February 21. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Especially when painted with white wall paint. Not for consumption.

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January 25. Cold. Cold. Cold. So. God. Damn. Cold. But. My. Friend. Had. To. Wash. The. Car. Brr.

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February 05. A nice little hill in inner Abdoun over looking Jabal Amman and Ras Il Eein. A chat.

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January 12. Resting in the car between classes.

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February 9. Share3 Il Ordon, where sunsets are gorgeous.

(P.S. This post is completely experimental. Much love! And oh, yeah, it's March 17th.)