On Language

The word “bombdiggity” is such an American word, isn’t it?

Well I like it.

So I talk with an English accent, more Southern than Northern. I was born in London, in the same hospital my mother was born in. She has had the monopoly of the influence on my speech patterns as I grew up, so I speak more like her than my father.

My father taught himself English; he is a studious man. When people hear him speak, they think he must be a newscaster or something of that ilk. He is very meticulous and such a perfectionist when it comes to his speech and his work. In both Arabic and English, he will correct my grammar and sentences, even in speech! He maintains it is for my own benefit, since I am studying Language at university. I think he just likes to have people speak well.

He isn’t a newscaster, though. He is a professor of Linguistics and Phonetics, has published many books and is a renowned translator in his career circles. He was born in the mountains of North Morocco, and grew up on olive oil, mint tea, pomegranates and oranges, as he keeps telling us. As a child he was poor, and spent whatever money he earned on books. His clothing suffered as a result, but who wants a nice new shirt when you can have books? My father was always knowledge hungry. He would go to bed with a massive book on Biology one week and the next he would have a small booklet about the politics of language. His bookshelves contained a wild plethora of books on all subjects. I attribute much of my childhood learning to my father’s books. His love of books has translated on to his children, and we are all avid book collectors.

I did most of my growing up in a desert city on the Arabian peninsula. It was hot and humid, and in some places hot and dry. I knew only sunshine, dust and curly heat waves. And books, of course. I devoured books because there was precious little else to do, other than shop, and what child likes to shop? My parents tried their best to make our lives more eventful. We had seven bookshelves in our house, all crammed with books. The books we couldn’t fit onto the shelves were tucked away under beds and on top of wardrobes and in stacked on bedside tables. We had swimming lessons, we went to many events, my mother created a club in which a group of people like us did activities together, cooking, sewing, swimming (lots of swimming in the heat), day trips to the desert, renting out villas where lots of families would just hang out and swim and barbecue, day trips to the beach). We had quite the community of friends, and thus we did have a great time.

However, my linguistic experience was mostly pushed forward by my love of words. Growing up, I mispronounced a lot of words. I tended to use words I came across in books, and when I pronounced them, I would misjudge where the stress on the word would lie, and so it would sound funny. My parents would laugh at us, and other people would look at us funny. I do it to this day, folks. So do most of my siblings.

I don’t really know why. So I think I talk funny. I pronounce all my letters, except sometimes for the ‘t’ in water. I sometimes make the word ‘food’ sound like ‘feud’. I talk very fast so sometimes my words run into each other. I think that is the influence of speaking Arabic with my father. Being bilingual is fantastic, but sometimes if I forget a word in either language I will substitute it with a word from the other language.

For example, the Arabic word for ‘stick’ is ‘lasaq’ (in some dialects), and I might say, “It’s not lassiq-ing!” if the word ‘stick’ doesn’t come into my head fast enough. Similarly, I might say to my father “Al-miftah laysa fee al–cabinet!” (The key isn’t in the cabinet)

How do you speak? And how has your language been influenced as you have grown up?

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January

Was an interesting month.

I didn’t do much to be proud of, really. I complained a lot about things and people. I was ‘busy’, rather than ‘productive’.

I did a lot of driving, a lot of writing. I spent money I didn’t really have. On things I didn’t really need.

January passed me in a bit of a blur. What did I achieve in the first month of the year?

Nothing, really. I submitted two assignments. I went to the gym three-four times a week, I got up at six o’clock every morning, witnessed some frost, witnessed no frost..

Sometimes it was sunny, sometimes a drizzle hung over the city, making everything wet and shiny, creeping up on us before we noticed it and drenching us slowly, menacingly.

I had some marriage hiccups. Some familial hiccups. But they all sorted themselves out in the end. As they do.

Did I achieve all my goals? I don’t know. I didn’t really have goals.

But I think in writing about each month of 2016, I might have a good picture of what my goals are, and how my year will turn out.

My husband said to me today, “I don’t want to chug away t work everyday. I don’t want to be like all the millions out there. I want to innovate and create and make this world a better place. I won’t do that designing lights for luxury cars while my fellow colleagues around me hobble past with mugs of tea.”

He has a point, you know.

My goals for February are to be more outgoing. Go to new places, do more things, be more creative, read more books, connect with my soul. Also get 85% in my next two essays. Also get my paints out of the attic.

That was my January. How was your January?

On Cricking (or Cracking)

I am an avid finger cricker (or cracker).

It started the summer of 2008, when the famous credit crash happened as a direct result of greedy bankers wanting to profit on fake bonds in the housing market (a relatively safe market – or so they thought). It all came crashing down past their ears though in the end. Thankfully (sarcasm intended), none of those greedy bastards were jailed, and they got off scott free. Hell, the government even bailed them out because that’s what rich people do; help a rich brother out and all that.

I wasn’t affected by the credit crunch, though. I was liberally fourteen. I had enrolled in a summer school in the heat of a UAE summer. Perhaps it was the air conditioning, but my fingers ached and the only way they stopped aching was if I cricked them. I cricked and I cricked and I cricked and it was pleasant and relieving. Since that summer I have not stopped cricking.

It’s like a primal need. Sometimes I don’t notice that I am doing it. Sometimes I do notice and I try to stop but when I try to make myself stop the urge to crick increases.

My husband hates my cricking. He says it sounds disgusting and vulgar and he can’t imagine how my fingers can make such a loud and irritating noise. In fact, when I crick he becomes moody and brooding and won’t respond to my kindness or even my terrible jokes and my attempts to cheer him up. He says I crick around fifteen times a minute and he knows this because he counts. It really is a big issue for him.

In short, my cricking puts him off.

Oh dear. It even puts me off!

It makes me frustrated and annoyed. I only have to move my finger slightly and a loud SNAP resounds around my very being. No. I lie. I move my fingers that way on purpose, because the snap is such a relief.

Short lived relief. The urge to crack again comes not even moments later.

I am constantly aware of it. Even my toes crick. I don’t know what to do. I have a cricking addiction. I need to stop. The more I think about it, the more I need to crick. I crick my back too by turning on either side, and the series of little snaps it induces make me slump in relief.

This terrible habit makes me feel like all my joints are loose and I am just a loose jointed, cricking humanoid.

I think it’s a vicious cycle in which cricking evokes the onset of the need to crick which then makes one crick which then exacerbates the cricking urge turning cricking into a nasty habit that is enforced by itself, thus making it even harder to stop.

Do you crick? Do you think cricking is a vulgar and unattractive habit? What are your thoughts on cricking, and do you know how one can stop cricking?

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HELP. I CAN’T STOP CRACKING (CRICKING).

On Bin Men

Driving to the university from home this morning I had to wait some five minutes while the bin lorry (the lorry that collects all our rubbish) reversed in the narrow road, a slow collection of cars started lining up behind me.

Some of them flashed and beeped at me to overtake the lorry but I couldn’t because it was too big and there was oncoming traffic.

One of the men in bright green jackets held his hand up in thanks to me. I nodded, prepared to wait for as long as they needed me to.

I, surprisingly, didn’t feel irritated as I usually do when I am being held up on the road, even though I was late. I get very irritated driving in the city in the mornings, some people are so rude and such terrible drivers and have no road etiquette.

But I wasn’t irritated with the bin lorry and the bin men. I think it’s because they are doing a great service to our city, cleaning up all the rubbish. It’s not an easy task to manoeuvre a massive lorry in our tight little roads, and they are really working hard and being so nimble and quick and deft so early in the morning.

It’s inspiring to see how energetic they are, collecting all the bins, running here and there, lifting the heavy black bins and hopping on and off the lorry as though they were performing a skilled circus performance.

Kudos to them, that’s what, they put everything they have into what they do, so let them take as long as they need to.

Because of them we live in a clean city and don’t have piles and piles of rubbish on our doorsteps, as in lots of other countries. There is an order to be kept and they keep it, and this is what makes the city a much better place to be in. Also it is a blessing. Mostly because rubbish can be so depressing to look at.

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10:29PM

I

Submitted

My

Assignment

Finally

After

Three

Long

Weeks

of

Brain

Fever.

You would think I would be able to now breathe a lovely sigh of relief and lounge around with a tall glass of lemonade or, given the season, a big mug of thick, delicious melted chocolate.

But no, my loves. I have another assignment due in a week and a half. Luckily this is a creative writing assessment. Still exhausting, given that I don’t have free reign and must comply with textbook standards… but it is definitely (hopefully) easier than analysing female demons in Wuthering Heights!

Tom Hardy as Heathcliff

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Is bloody brilliant.

It’s not just because he is a handsome man. He is terribly handsome, yes, but I never saw Heathcliff as handsome. I saw him as a dangerous man full of bitter anger and passion and revenge but he also had a tremendous amount of presence. He was exploding with emotion, he loved to hate.

I felt that this came to life in many of the scenes in the 2009 film with Tom Hardy. His voice is wonderful and resounding and allows him to maintain authority as well as instil fear. His tendency to enunciate his ts as ds is terribly compelling. This is also why he did excellently as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

His emotions translated strongly throughout the film, and I found myself crying with him when Cathy died, as opposed to cringing when I watched the Ralph Fiennes version. Tom Hardy also had great chemistry with Charlotte Riley who played Catherine Earnshaw in this version.

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It’s interesting, though, to see these emotions played out on screen because in the book I had a tendency to sympathise with Nelly, the narrator of Heathcliff’s story, as opposed to Heathcliff himself, the living and breathing soul of his own story. Seeing him actually experiencing the cruelty he experienced, and being cast aside by the one person who he thought really saw him for the vulnerable human he was, made all his later actions make a lot more sense. Yes, I don’t empathise with how he treated Isabella Linton and his son and the poor animals, but I understand it more because I could see the character actually go through his harrowing experiences as a child, and see how they affected him directly, rather than be told by a rather biased servant that he had gone through them. A child (for he was a child) is impressionable and if all he has known is hatred and cruelty, and being second place (to Edgar Linton of all people) he is bound to grow up compassion-less. I think that made all the difference to me, and will definitely influence my analogy of the subject and the character.

I’m studying Wuthering Heights in great detail at the moment at university so have watched all the possible versions of Wuthering Heights and I must say, to me, the 2009 mini series did Heathcliff the most justice.

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Halfway Around the World

I feel like we all have someone who we would go halfway around the world for.

Don’t we?

My first someone I met when I was a sweet, innocent lass of sixteen. Never mind he was a manipulative predator. When I loved him, I loved him hard. Now I look back and think, ‘God, what was I thinking?’

I knew I could never have him forever. He was older, he came from a background of drugs and alcoholism and abuse. He was also unstable and a psychopath. He once said to me, ‘One day you’ll be married to a nice man who is just like you, and I will be languishing by the road somewhere, or dead, probably.’

I refused to believe that, at the time.

I was vehemently, irrevocably infatuated by him.

“No way,” I told him passionately, “I will be married to him, yes, but I will still be in love with you. I will always think about you, I will always want to be with you.”

I believed that so strongly.

Yesterday I was watching my husband as he put his shirt on for work. I watched how his brows furrowed in deep thought (they always are, he is going to have permanent frown lines), how his lower lip stuck out a little as it does when the cogs of his engineering brain are whirring. I even cast my eye up and down his physique because, well, he’s my husband, I’m allowed.

And my sixteen year old words echoed in my head as I did.

I will always think about you’

I will still be in love with you when I am married to him’

I didn’t know I would be married to D, though. I am not still in love with that animal of my past. I thought, at the time, since he was my ‘first love’, that I could never experience an attraction and connection this powerful.

They say you never get over your first love. They say your first love is always the strongest.

It wasn’t in my case. I thought it would be, because it shook my entire world, at the time, but the connection I feel with D is ten times more powerful. I love him more as each day passes. Sometimes, yes, I am irritated by him and we fall out, but that’s what any couple does. I can open up to him in a way I could never do with that predator. I never talked when I was with that predator. Only sometimes, but I never spoke about myself and my thoughts and my dreams and aspirations. But with D I am free as a bird. Maybe D is my real first love?

And yes, not a day passes when I don’t think about my ‘first love’, but it’s mostly horrified thoughts and thoughts of disgust, hatred and regret.

I hate him. I really do hope he is dead or languishing by the road somewhere, for what he did to me. Have I healed, yet? No. I know I haven’t. Sometimes my world constricts and gets darker and I am afraid and depressed and I know it’s him, lurking in some dark place in my mind, his terrorising threats echoing in my mind. When an unknown number calls me I still tremble like a leaf, even though I have changed my number several times. But I struggle out of it. It’s not fair to D, it’s not fair to me. Why should I stop living a happy, bright life because of some selfish maniac?

He wasn’t my first love, I realise that now. If he was, I wouldn’t have been able to drop him as quickly as I did when it got too much, and feel nothing, only relief.

Maybe I did love him a little, but I was young and it was probably just naive lust.

My point is, we all have somebody we would travel halfway around the world for. Maybe that somebody isn’t a lover, but a friend. Maybe a family member. I know I would travel seven seas on a rickety ship for my husband.

Who would you travel halfway around the world for?

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On Friendship and Betrayal.

I’m ticked off.

I know, it’s Tuesday morning. Surely I would have more positive things to write about. But no, I’m annoyed, and this is my rant.

So I have a ‘friend’ who I used to be pretty close to up until recently when she stopped returning my calls and texts and was being just plain rude. I didn’t confront her about it because I know she can get lazy with things and plus I secretly knew why.

You see this friend doesn’t like my mother in law or my in laws in general. When she found out I was going to marry D she was incredulous and said, “But isn’t he pious!?”

I admit I laughed in her face because D is anything but pious, not that there is anything wrong with being pious but she knows me and I can’t stand ‘piety’ because ‘piety’ means hypocrisy where we come from. But she didn’t know D like I did, and so was going by what she assumed.

But there you see that’s where it all began. She (let’s call her Madam S) was already judging. She was judging my Significant Other without even knowing him. She reckons my mother in law is judgy and that is why she doesn’t want to associate with her, which is all very well, but now she doesn’t want to associate with me because I am now part of my MIL’s family, so therefore I must be ‘judgy’ by association.

I’m sorry but that just isn’t fair. It’s judgemental to assume somebody is ‘judgy’ without giving that person a chance. She hasn’t given me a single fudging chance. Not one. She assumes things about me, and talks to another ‘friend’ of ours who is also hating on my MIL, about my MIL, and this makes her assume things about me meaning she no longer ‘trusts’ me.

Now my MIL is a lovely, well intentioned lady who always tries to be as good as she can and as kind as she can to others. Sometimes this can be overbearing, and sometimes people can get the wrong end of the stick. I mean, I used to as well. But I’ve lived with her now and I know she only means well. When it gets too much for me I have a little moan and get on with it, because she is my family and the mother of the love of my life. She does care about me, a lot, and is always making sure I am happy and comfortable, which I think is lovely. Others don’t know that, but they are exaggerating things that have happened and are going around saying horrible things which are only falling back on me, because I am now part of that family. Also it is insensitive to talk about others when you really don’t know the full picture. It is inconsiderate and not very wise.

For example when one of our mutual family friends was divorcing her husband, my MIL may have said something along the lines of ‘You should be sure you are making the right decision because of your kids etc’. Now that lady’s daughter is telling Madam S that my MIL ‘blamed’ the divorce on her mother (the lady who is getting divorced). Which isn’t true at all, and a slanderous accusation based on presumption, not fact.

The girls who are saying those things are girls like me, in their twenties; impressionable young ladies who generally like to make mountains out of molehills. Yes, I make mountains out of molehills. I can be selfish sometimes, I can be moany and irritating. I admit it, but I also give people the benefit of the doubt!

Some of them have gone through some rough patches, like parents getting bad divorces and family members having nervous breakdowns, so naturally they will lash out at small things and get the wrong end of the stick.

But this Madam S who used to be one of my best friends is being, I am sorry to say, a little bitch. She KNOWS me. So if she doesn’t want to associate with me purely because of assumption then I am sorry, I have better things to worry about.

I have run after her enough times, suggesting outings for us and inviting her to places and calling her and asking about her health and even telling her a hilarious story about wonky boobs which she replied to but then nothing. Silence. Blank space. Nada. Zilch.

So I am done. I think she needs to grow up.

And if she calls me or texts me you can bet your life I am not replying. I am too hurt, and I think she doesn’t deserve my friendship.

So, dear reader, if you have made it this far, what are your thoughts? Have you had a friend betray you before? How did you deal with it?

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On Necks

I think necks can be very beautiful things. There is something whimsical about a slender, elegant neck protruding gracefully from the seams of a lacy dress. That is the vision I had for my own wedding dress. The only difference, of course, is that my neck is anything but slender and graceful.

I feel as though my back hunches outwards a little more than I would like, and my neck crouches on top not unlike a small frog. It’s all about posture, they tell you, and I have terrible posture.

Well the wedding dress was nice and I had a lovely day and didn’t think once (not once!) about my neck so all was well and ended well and now my dress is up in the attic somewhere and it might be gathering mould so goodness me I really must sort that out.

I like the paintings of elegant ladies with their heads turned sideways, their necks stretched out as their smooth hair softly curls behind their ears.

In many cultures long necks are seen as beautiful assets to a woman’s features. For example in the Kayan tribe in Thailand women wear brass rings around their necks from a young age, adding rings as they get older to elongate their necks. Some women sport 20 pounds of rings around their necks!

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However despite their necks people can be beautiful. They can be beautiful in spite of them too. They can also be beautiful without taking into account how pretty their necks are. Their necks could be their sole redeeming feature as well.

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This woman sports a long neck. She is stunning.

 

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This woman has very little neck. She is stunning too.

I woke up Saturday morning with a tremendous neck ache in which I couldn’t move towards my left at all. I reckoned I must have slept wrong, took some ibuprofen and carried on with my day. Because it was the weekend and he wasn’t commuting to work, D drove everywhere (because he reckons I drive too slow and my car is a rattly old thing) so this morning when I got in my car and turned to look over my shoulder at the ‘blind spots’, a sharp pain seared through my neck and into my shoulder blade and I gasped in shock.

Google tells me it could be a variety of illnesses ranging from a simple pulled muscle to lung cancer. Lovely. As a self diagnosed hypochondriac, I tend to stay away from WebMD when an ailment afflicts me because my mind goes into overdrive and I start writing my last will and testament and become emotional and clingy to my loved ones, much to their annoyance. My mother reckons I have had all the cancers so far, and come out miraculously unscathed.

So for this one I think I will carry on as usual and even go to the gym tonight and not lift any weights but step like mad on the step machine. I will take ibuprofen and force myself to eat my meals even though this pain is making my stomach churn.

The NHS website presented a link titled ‘Living with pain’ and I thought to myself, gosh, some people have to live with pain day in day out! This has been going on for three days already and I am beginning to tire of this constant ache. So, you know, it could be worse.

Have you experienced any neck problems? What are your thoughts on necks in general?

 

Young Scrooge

D and I were in the university library. We were both writing our essays, or rather, should have been. Silence prevailed because it was 11pm and only the remaining swotters sat in front of their computers typing away, piles of research books all over their tables.

A Chinese boy wore a fresh shirt and his tie was still tightened; he kept putting his finger up to push his large, square framed glasses up his nose, as his fingers flew across his keyboard at breakneck speed. They didn’t stop tapping even when he glanced up and around him.

A group of students sat in one of the conference rooms not too far from us. They looked pretty chilled, leaning back in their chairs. One of them was playing a game on the large screen usually used for presentations.

They kept erupting into loud, muffled laughter.

D kept glaring at them.

“What’s wrong?” I asked after a while.

“They’re too happy” he growled, brows knitted together, as he angrily scrolled down a Pinterest page, procrastinating.

That made me laugh, folks. He sounds like an old, cantankerous grouch, my 24 year old husband does.

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