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Vancouver, Washington, United States
Click here To read a short biography of myself.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An update

So ... the past few months, since I last blogged, have been rather challenging.  I have had this chest pain which refuses to go away, and what makes it really frustrating is that no one seems to know what's causing it!

While it's easy to dwell on the terrible things such an experience presents, I am finding that it has brought out many things -- good things if I may say -- that really make me happy!  I have friends and coworkers who are going way out of their way to be supportive -- with one friend practically putting her life on hold to fly from California to be with me.  My coworkers drive me back and forth to work, and even bought me a cot to lie down in when I'm not feeling well enough.  The heartfelt concern and support I've been getting is nothing far short of incredible!  I don't know what I did to deserve these wonderful people in my life, but whatever it is, I'm very glad to have them.  Just everything else does, this too shall pass!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Independence day America, Oqbal Falasteen

This article was inspired by a message I saw somewhere wishing a happy Independence Day for America and hoping the same for Palestine.

This is a poem about the Palestinian struggle I’ve always memorized since I was a little boy. As I grew older, however, I found out that it applies to any struggle. Loosely translated (words written with such eloquence can never be properly translated), “That’s the destiny of man, to drink the bitter and the nasty; but so long as blood goes through his vein, he will always continue to learn. He who battles the high waves will ultimately make it to shore, and a breeze can turn into a hurricane, and night is always followed by day.”.

The poem is written in colloquial Arabic, which makes its appeal even more stunning. It is easy to express one’s self in an intellectual way, but to be able to convey such powerful ideas into words that can be understood even by the most illiterate is a powerful and rare ability. I hope you enjoy it.

هذا هو قدر الإنسان, يتجرّع مرّ وعلقم
قدّ ما يخفق هالشريان, الإنسان بيتعلم

وِالّي يصارع هالتيّار, أخرته بيرس عالبَرّ
والنسمة تولّد إعصار, والعتمة بيعقبها الفجر

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A New Recognition

I have been recently humbled by an honor I was afforded by the Qatar Social and Cultural Center for the Blind, who chose to feature me on the “distinguished persons” part of their web site along with persons such as David Blunkett, the former Home Office Secretary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Click here to read the published article in English, and here to read it in Arabic.

The 4th of July

So, it’s the first of July (yes, that heading right above this article is correct). This is my 18th July in the United States, but my first as an American. Yes, it was a long fight to get here, and I must say it’s been worth every bit of it.

Despite my misgivings about this country’s foreign policy in some parts of the world, especially the Middle East, which is where I was born and raised, I have no doubt in my mind when it comes to the overall decency of the people of this country. Yes, there are the extremists, the racists, the yahoos and the jobos, but show me a country which doesn’t have its share of those.

Americans are among the highest (if not the highest) charity contributing people in the world. In my travels around this country, I’ve seen a general respect for human life, human dignity and the human spirit. There are many people who get up everyday to do the right thing. They have a set of ideals that govern their lives, and many are willing to stand up for those ideals.

America is not a country that does no wrong. America, to me, is a set of values and ideals, ones that govern our culture. They are the values of freedom, respect for others, and fair play – give everyone their fair chance, irrespective of who they are, what they believe in and where they come from. So long as the majority of us are committed to those ideals, this country will be “America”. As soon as we abandon those ideals to those of religious extremism or racism, whether in the name of security or so called patriotism, this country will lose all that made it what it is today – it will no longer be America.

The past few years have tarnished the reputation of this country around the world and planted grave doubts about its commitment to its core values. My faith in the American people and their belief in their core values, however, was not misplaced. Americans overwhelmingly chose to reverse the dark course that their country took. I hope that the commitment to the core values continues, and on my part, I pledge here for all to hear: “my country right or wrong. If it’s right, I will support it, if it’s wrong, I’ll do what I can to correct it.”

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Follow my blog on Twitter!

So, digital world, here I come! You'd think I would have been there sooner, but well, what can I say, better late than never.

From now on, anything I publish here will be on Twitter (well, not exactly, just the title will be). If your curiosity is peaked, you can click and read the whole article. What? You don't know what Twitter is? Don't worry about this then, or, learn about it here!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mobile Blogging

Blogging via sms too. Is it working?

I've been to many places ... too bad none of them is real

The last few weeks have been rather challenging. In early may, a terrible and unceasing wave of chest pain came over me. I underwent several MRI's and other imaging, all of which revieled nothing!

In trying to manage the situation, I was put on pain killers (a strong dose of it). I've never been on pain killers this much before (sure I've taken the odd one or two when needed and prescribed, but never this many pills at a time). I had to resort to taking as much as four tablets at once, and that put me in a whole different world! This world was pleasant; but it was not real. Besides the fact that my pain was hidden away (pain killers never really kill the pain, they just mask it), I felt as though my mind was wandering in many places -- those of calm and anger, those of peace and anxiety and those of happiness and sadness. in addition to being masked from my pain, I was also masked from reality. My feelings were vivid, my imagination was ritch and my emotions were all over the place, but my whole reality was ... not real as it were! That's what drugs do to you!

It is nearly the end of June, and my chest seems to be calming down and my pain is on its way out. The world I leave behind, the world of pain killers is somewhat different from the world I entered into. There were many things I was looking forward to this summer, including a promising relationship, but as the world of pain killers is behind me, so is this relationship -- quite honestly, I'm not sure why! Pain is a tough beast to battle. For those of you who have never had to fight it, I hope you never do; and for those of you that have had their battles with it, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

Now that I am back into reality, it is up to me to make the best of it, and that I will.

I have put off many things this summer, and I don't know how much of them I can get back, but I do know that I am still going to take the Foreign Service Officer test, the one scheduled in June and had to be rescheduled to sometime in October. I have a life ahead of me, and no matter what reality throws at me, I'm still going to catch it and play it back -- there is no other choice; for a traveler can never travel if he stops.

Onward and forward.

Monday, May 11, 2009

fragen sie doch

It's amazing how we can spare ourselves making the most foolish of mistakes simply by asking! This was made abundantly clear to me on one of my recent oversees journeys.

On November 8, 2007, I was on a German Lufthansa flight from Frankfort Germany to Denver Colorado. As I was making my way through the aisle to find my seat all the way towards the back of the airplane (I walked so much I thought I was already in Denver), a flight attendant was apparently trying to gesture to me wanting to know how she could help. Naturally, I failed to see her gestures, since obviously my reason for her thinking that I wanted her help was the very fact that I couldn't see! It seems as though one of her bemused looks targeted her purser, and it seemed as though she was trying to mouth some words off to him presumably asking him what she should do! He looked at her and exclaimed in a normal, firm and professional tone of voice "fragen sie doch!", which simply means "ask!".

After getting over her shyness and being utterly surprised at me being able to converse with her in German, I safely got to my seat, and the purser himself, a Mr. Oblouvskey, came and introduced himself and asked "what can we do to be of help to you on this flight?" -- a simple yet very powerful question! I explained to him that I did not foresee any need for help during the flight, and that I will be sure to let them know if there was any exception to that on a case by case basis! Needless to say, the flight was one of my most pleasant ones! The statement that stuck with me ever since is "fragen sie doch" -- ask!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Blogging again -- maybe!

So ... here I am, blogging again. Why you say? Well, lots has changed, and I guess I feel I need to let something -- anything out!

So my lawsuit is over -- yes it is; and ... I won! If you're curious, go to http://www.uscitizenatlast.com/

So what's next for the traveler! Well, I must say I am enjoying the feeling of being "in between" journeys as it were. I usually don't like idle time, but now I seem to be enjoying it, and that's OK!

At the present moment, I'm working as a state employee for the Department of Services for the Blind in Washington State. I love the place, the people, but I just can't stand the weather! It's cloudy, rainy and overcast almost all the time! I have a difficult time adjusting to winter in June -- last year, proper summer did not begin until well after the forth of July!

So will the traveler be traveling again you ask? The answer is ... well, he wouldn't be a traveler if he didn't travel! I have applied for the State Department, and will be sitting down for the Foreign Service Officer Test on June 6 at 1:30 PM. The short end of it is that if I am hired, I'll simply be a US diplomat; one who gets paid to travel!

Let's see how all that ends up being -- as the Germans say, "Kommt Zeit, kommt Rat", or "in time comes certainty".

This is not it of course -- my life can never be summed up in a paragraph or two, but this is just a "snapshot" if you like. Lots more is happening and is likely to happen, but I really don't know how often I'll be blogging -- so feel free to use an old fashion way of communication -- yes, that's it, personal communication. Call, email, text; just let me know you're there and you care.