A Quick Change of Views

The readers of this blog (if they exist in the first place) deserve an update on my constantly changing ideas. If you have read my previous posts, you would have noticed that I am a Marxist. While I do not deny that I was a true believer in that school of thought, I have to admit that I was wrong. Perhaps wrong is not the correct word to describe what I think. Let me explain.

The more one person reads, the more he tends to lean in a certain direction on the political spectrum. Since most modern and intellectual authors and personalities being leftist, it is normal and natural for the reader to also lean to the left.

That was the case for me. It started with me becoming a moderate leftist and being slowly radicalized till I became a full on anarcho-communist at one point, however edgy that might sound. Things have changed and the tables have turned. I have become a Classical Liberal. No, the change did not happen overnight and no, I did not became rich or join the 1%. It took months and sleepless nights of reading and researching for this change of views to happen. Also, I’m still middle class, at least for the time being.

I still hate Donald Trump.

Don’t tread on me.

Mankoushé

Two nights before my birthday, I stand in front of my neighborhood bakery, waiting impatiently to order a mankoushé.

A lady, old in age, interrupts my way. She is telling the baker a story about how she almost got hit in the head. “Praise be to Allah for your safety!” replied the baker. Sick of the waiting, I pull out my pack of cigarettes and light one, hoping that the flame of the smoke will burn the time away.

Halfway through it, the lady turns around and examines me then says out loud: “Yes! Smoke now so that you may destroy your lungs at a young age?” I stare blankly at her face, turn around and leave the store in fear of my tongue failing me if I reply.

A few minutes later, I walk back to the bakery. The lady is gone but the baker with a smirk on his face asks: “Since when do you smoke?”

“It’s almost been a year.”

“You are a sneaky boy, aren’t you? I never expected you to be a smoker.”

“I’m not really a regular one,” I hold out my packet, “I’ve had this one for about three months.”

I see the expressions of shock appear on his face as he nods his head both in surprise and approval.

I lost my virginity to the US

I lost my virginity to the United States. You read the title and you probably thought that there is something wrong with me. Why would I write about my sexual virginity? Why would I write about sex at all on my personal blog? Isn’t this the kind of stuff that you keep off the Internet only to be shared with your guy friends? These are very good points but I shall write what I want to write.

Six months ago, I was at the Beirut International Airport saying goodbye to my mother. She was crying and all I could do was hug and comfort her, hoping that it would stop the tears. At that moment, I was too excited to realize that I was leaving my family and that was about to change in the next few hours. After I got on the plane and found my seat, I was delighted to find out that my friend is sitting next to me and that I will not be bored throughout the trip. However, when we took off, I was slapped with a shocking realization: this is not a field trip. I just realized that I was not leaving my country for a week nor for a month. I was leaving home for 10 months. I gaze at the nothingness of the dark sky in Lebanon as I contemplated that idea.

That story was a simple example of how your feelings and motivations can change in a few seconds. What could six months do to you?

I am not the person I was when I first came here. I have been destroyed and rebuilt, I have been melted and forged again. People told me that I will “find myself” during this year and that I will learn to live on my own. These people either don’t know what this feels like or do but chose to lie to us. Even if they told us the truth, we would have made the same decision anyway. How did I change? If I met you during the past few months then you only know me as what I currently am. Let me expand on that.

I do not see the point in debating frequently anymore. If you knew me before I came here, you know I would do anything to prove my point right. I got into two to three arguments every day just because I believed I was right. Although I found it fun at the time, after I came here, I realized that it was useless. My comfort and lack of stress was far more important than proving my points right. And just like Bertrand Russell, I would not die for an idea because I might be wrong.

I have also became more emotionally and physically independent. I had to switch host families two times, I had to meet and get close to people who I will leave, and I had to learn to depend on myself. It’s when I faced the idea of leaving that I realized that I have nobody here. I hated it. How can I strengthen bonds with people I will leave, possibly for eternity? How can I create a new life for myself that I will desert only a few months after it stabilizes? Am I a masochist for doing this? What was I thinking?

I lost myself when I tried to find myself. I don’t know who I am anymore. I can tell you where I came from, what languages I speak and what I might want to be in the future. However, is that really who I am? Sartre said that we are just the sum of our actions. My actions are too contradictory for them to represent a human being. I truly lost my virginity, in fact I lost more than that, I lost my sanity.

15/2/16 – Very sciency day

So I received an email two weeks ago from Dr. Nicole Herbots, a professor at ASU whom I was working with, asking me if I could attend two lab sessions as a visitor. I hesitated at first because every time I remembered her research, long and boring papers would come to mind along with complex formulas that I did not have the understanding to grasp. The first lab session was on a Friday at around 1:00 PM and the second one was on a Monday around the same time on President’s day.

I decided to reject the invitation for the Friday lab session as I had school on the same day and to get there on time, I would have to leave at around 11 am. She replied saying that she understands my situation and asked me if I could attend the second lab session on President’s day as I would have the day off. I decided to ignore her email and wish she would not notice my silent disapproval. Two days later, she emails my physics teacher about that lab session asking her if I could attend. I had to agree on going as I had no valid reason to reject the invitation. I can endure four hours of boring lab work.

My host mother drops me off at ASU at around 12:40 pm. “I am 20 minutes early!” I thought. It took me 10 minutes of going through Google Maps and ASU’s online campus map to figure out the location of the building I’m supposed to be at. I eventually get there, and have 10 minutes left to waste. I decided to sit in the hall downstairs and wait the remaining time away. I looked around me and saw different college students on their phones or laptops while only one was eating what looked like green herbs out of a plastic box. Is this what college feels like? I guess I’ll have to wait to know.

It’s 1:00 PM and I decided to hop inside the elevator and go to the lab where I’m supposed to be. I quickly realized I have no idea what floor I’m supposed to be on. There were 3 other people with me in there and the guy asked each one of us for floor number we were heading to. When he got to me, I just nodded my head and he thought he already chose the floor I was heading to. Before he got off at the last elevator stop, I interrupt and show him the room I’m heading too. I had the website on my phone and it said GWC B34. GWC was the code name of the Gold Water Center, while B34 was the floor number followed by the room number. I did notice there’s an elevator floor numbered B and had to embarrass myself with that question. He told me it’s on floor B and I just head there.

I knock several times on the door and no one answers. There is someone in there, I saw their bald head! I texted Dr. Herbots but I received no reply so I assumed she was busy in a lab where she could not use her phone. Half an hour later, Alex pops out of nowhere with her skateboard. She said that Dr. Herbots sent her to look for me as they were running late and how she was not allowed to be in the other lab anyway as she was wearing shorts. Her key to the lab did not work so we just sit down and talk about random topics to kill time.

Dr. Herbots eventually show up with 3 other student researchers and someone’s mother. We headed into the lab, put our coats and hairnets on and started looking at the simulations. “Never start taking scientific measurements unless you have an idea of what you should get.” said Dr. Herbots. That’s why were looking at our simulations, so we could predict the outcome of our experiment.

I’m not sure of what I could disclose on the research but long story shorts, it was more exciting than I expected, I was actually in a lab for the first time, I got to work with a REAL particle accelerator, I was the guy taking notes (at least for the first part) and Dr. Herbots is a really interesting person. I also got really hungry and Yash’s mother gave me a clementine, shoutout to her!

My host mom comes back to pick me up and she asks me: “How was it?”

EXHAUSTING. FUN BUT EXHAUSTING.

On the ride back home, we discussed religion, her kids’ future, whether dinner is ready and teenage relationships. She is a really smart woman. Do I end up with the intelligent people just by chance or what?

At around 7 PM, I started skyping with a fellow Lebanese exchange student in North Carolina. I had a small crush on her because she looked like the perfect match for me: she was a Lebanese atheist, she loved science, she was really smart, she’s cute and she could actually debate ideas. I couldn’t really ask for more. Okay maybe it was not a small crush.

Anyway, I discovered she can be a bit sassier than expected. She implied I was a white girl because I have a Tumblr account, I straightened my hair at one point and can’t grow a full beard. I was offended because I actually liked her and I felt rejected although she could be just playfully teasing me. At the end of the call, I kinda just got angry at her and said “You have a short hair! Do you call yourself a women?” and she, with a smirk on her face, replies with “Really Moe? Bye.” Not a good way to end a call with your crush. Learn from my mistakes.

Okay, so then we texted for a bit and made a few jokes. She started making the same joke again and I said it’s starting to really annoy me. She apologized and I had to soften the mood and tell her I’m only annoyed because I myself make fun of white people. I suppose I have failed for the day as she said decided to go to bed.

It’s 12:45 am, it’s technically not February 15th anymore and I’m writing this journal for no one to read. Can life get any better?

The “Hoco” Experiment

As an exchange student, I wanted to make the most out of this year. I wanted to participate in everything that simply is not available at home. Of course, I forced myself (with the aid of my friends) to go to homecoming. Now keep in mind I had no idea what homecoming was about. Sure, it was a dance, but what kind of dance? Why does it take place? Why is called “homecoming”? And most importantly, what’s with the great amount of child pornography at every teenage American dance?

Before attempting to answer any of these questions, I wanted to find a date. Everyone will tell you that it’s unnecessary to have a date as you can just go with your friends and have fun. That is correct partially, but going with another person makes the night more special and memorable for the future. I’m writing this about 2 days after homecoming and I can still remember everything. See? It was a memorable night.

Anyway, I asked an exchange student from Jordan to homecoming. At first, she said that she would be going with her friends to her own dance which is on the same day as mine and she doesn’t want to leave them to come to mine. I really wanted to go to homecoming with her for some reason at the time, so I offered to go with her (which doesn’t work usually). Two days later, she tells me that her natural parents didn’t like the idea. You win this time, Catholicism.

I tried to laugh at the idea of how I was rejected from people an ocean away. I want to stress on the word “tried”. I talked to my Lebanese friend, Tala, who lives about an hour away and she said she wants to come to my homecoming. We filled in the paperwork and added her to my school’s guest list.

IT’S HOMECOMING NIGHT OH EM GEE. I’m wearing a white shirt and a red tie to match Tala’s red dress and we leave home at around 7:15 pm to arrive about 20 minutes late to homecoming. It doesn’t really matter because it’s not a formal meeting where you have to be on time. In addition to that, most of my friends were late.

We arrive there and people are doing some weird dance so we jump and do likewise. When the dance is over, Wyatt, my Irish friend, comes over to say hi. He seemed really happy to see me. I’m not going to lie, I was happy to see him too for some reason although I’ve already done that no more than 24 hours ago. I hear Aiden shouting my name and his smile was so wide too. I guess I am that special there, huh? I ask him where the other guys are. Apparently, they just left and it’s going to take them 50 minutes to get here. Meanwhile, Tala, Aiden and I along some other people were standing in awkward circle barely dancing. Some catchy song finally came up and Tala grabbed Aiden’s arm who in turn grabbed mine to go start shaking it. It was my first dance so I had no idea what I was doing. Just look around and try to imitate others.

Kunica, Braden and Jasmine are here. Nothing special. Dante arrives. His dancing makes me laugh and is actually entertaining to watch. Some slow music goes on and everyone is in a hurry to find a partner. A big black guy asks me if I mind if Tala dances with him, I reply with a no. I don’t see Tala for the next hour as I was slow or normally dancing with either Aiden or Ricardo (who introduced to his girlfriend as his lost twin). I also got in the middle and started dancing with a lot of people I barely know. Plus I awkward danced with Sarah who screamed at me “Stop making it so awkward, just do what I’m doing!” I had to explain to her how it was my first dance. She said I did a great job at the end but it was clear that she was just complimenting me.

I finally find Tala sitting on the bench next to the same guy, clearly tired from wearing heels all night. She does this hand signal telling me to call Stephanie to pick us up. I do so then we all (including Cory because he came to homecoming too) go outside and wait for Stephanie. According to Tala, the guy tried to get her grinding on him like four times. However, every time he tried to spin her around, she refused. That’s one thing about Tala: she is a classy lady.

Stephanie arrives and we all go to Ihop. The first Ihop was crowded and one table had like 10 students who clearly just came from another homecoming. They kept the three waitresses busy and even though we were there for thirty minutes, nobody came to take our order. We decide to leave to another branch and I scream “F— YOU” at the students before I leave. Stephanie suggested flipping them off on the window but that kinda failed.

The other Ihop was almost empty. The chicken and waffles I ordered plus the hazelnut coffee tasted so good. I can see why the other one was so crowded. We finish the meal and we decide to head home since Tala’s ride back to Eloy was almost there. She takes her stuff, hugs me goodbye and leaves. I decide to stay up till 3 am because I can.

Next Sunday morning, Cory and I had the hangover feeling. It’s almost as were drinking all night. All we needed was more sleep but our bodies refused to go back to bed! We decided to just deal with it.

Today (it’s a Monday) at school, we were talking about the funny things at homecoming. One of these things was my dancing (I am not surprised at all). They also told me that my date was hot and beautiful (she is actually, I mean, she is Lebanese). Cory then said he was surprised how she isn’t my girlfriend, apparently she “jokes around, doesn’t give a shit and has the same hair” which makes her “perfect” for me. I’m just not romantically attracted her although I am aware of all these awesome traits. At least for the time being. I’m a pretty strange, random dude.

My Year in the US: California

It’s 12:21 am and I have a lot of homework to do. I have a lot of pre-calc exercises and a chemistry lab.  They will probably take just around 20 to 30 minutes but I’m an awesome procrastinator. Therefore I, Moe, decided to write my first journal of my exchange year. IT’S GOING TO BE ABOUT CALIFORNIA, YEAH BABY! (Sorry)

Day 1: Friday

I decided to sleep over Daniel’s house because his mom is hosting another exchange student, Rilvan from Indonesia. So I wake up in the morning at about six am, I take a quick shower, shave my facial hair with a disposable razor (first time I use those), eat a bowl of cereal, pack up and get ready to leave. On our way, we share a can of Rockstar energy drink because we only had one left and we all went to sleep at like 3 am.

We’re at the Central United Methodist Church parking lot, it’s where we’re supposed to meet. Everyone was there! Tala was there but she was obviously not happy and craving some extra sleep, Ramsha was jumping around with her semi-Indian smile, Ali was being Ali and MOHAMMAD KHAN was just standing there with his cheeky look. There was also this Japanese guy, Teru, whom I didn’t like very much. Ten minutes later, Dominick arrived with all his awesomeness. We also had a lot of other students that I like like Nastiya from Russia, Jamil from Philippines, Mandy from Netherlands and Paulina from Germany. Yes, I do realize most of them are girls but I have to say that most guys are unbearable.

We hopped into a van and it took us about eight hours of driving through traffic while stopping several times at gas stations to get to Oceanside from Phoenix. Being crammed in a small van does not make it any easier. Lots of racist jokes were exchanged between me and Esmaralda, an American from Mexico. She doesn’t like me now.

Anyway, we’re there. We decided to go down and walk on the beach regardless of everything. I decided to just walk on the sand because I’m wearing running shoes and jeans but the waves decided to go off their normal track and splash me. Ramsha told me to just get into the water and I did. She was very happy that I was having fun. I ended up walking barefoot to the hotel though. I decided to walk by Mandy and I discovered she’s adorable although a bit shy.

I slept on the balcony on a sleeping mattress that was leaking. I woke up to find my self sleeping on the concrete floor.

Day 2: Saturday

We wake up at freaking 6:30 in the morning and we have quick breakfast. Bagel it is I guess. We then get quickly dressed and headed to Knott’s Berry Farm. At the door, I made my usual racist jokes and asked Esmaralda if she’s gonna hope over the fence or buy a ticket. She did not take it very lightly and hit me.

We’re in the farm, my group includes me, Ali, Tala, Farah, Dominick and Cameron. Cameron refuses to stay with us and just wanders off leaving his phone with Ali. We decide to go on one of the scariest rides at first, I was yellow and red because I was frightened. I’m simply scared of these kinds of rinds because I’ve never been on them! To my surprise, they were really fun! The shimmering feeling going through my spine was the best part of it. I was able to get on another four or five rides before my stomach started to feel funny and I felt like I’m going to throw up. My friends went on three other rides without me but that was it. We then called Kristen, one of the people responsible for us and told her Cameron wandered off. Aziza and Charlotte (Cameron’s mom) called Cameron’s phone that was with us. I have feeling he got himself into trouble.

We were able to leave on time and got on the bus to the train station so we can take the train back home. We arrived early so we stopped to take a lot of pictures there. On the train back, I wore a flower crown and was announced as a princess. They also tried to take a picture of me while I slept like we do to everyone else but they failed.

We’re back at the hotel, we had dinner and now we’re just watching Futurama on Netflix. Guess that’s it for that day.

Day 3: Sunday

We have nothing to do for today so it’s BEACH DAYYYY. However, since I’m not an idiot and I don’t want to be sunburned, I went during the afternoon while wearing sunscreen. It was mainly me and Dominick who went during that time then we caught up with the other group that included Ali, Esmaralda, Mandy, Farah, Tala, Miral, Neena, Lala, Manahil and Nastiya. Later on, Cameron, Joaquin, Mohamad Khan and Branden joined so we started playing some ball game. I sucked at it.

That day went by pretty fast, we spent a few hours watching Futurama and How I Met Your Mother too. I also had a pretty good time talking to Paulina for the first time and having fun conversations with Mollie, Kristen, Aziza and Charlotte. AYUSA people are simply awesome.

Day 4: Monday

This weekend was pretty quick. I didn’t feel it pass… We woke up early and packed our stuff and got ready to leave. The van trip this time was much shorter for some reasons and it was more fun. I stuffed an oreo in Teru’s mouth while he was sleeping and a bottle of water and an orange in Mohamad Khan’s. We also found these interesting products at a gas station in Arizona called “candoms”, they’re apparently can holders. “When drinking at random, use a candom.”

We’re back at the church, Katrina (Daniel’s mom) came to pick me and Rilvan up. I hugged everyone goodbye. They were family now.

#SophomoreLife: Part 2

A few months ago, if you guys remember or care, I wrote a small blogpost on how I was suffering through the beginning of my sophomore year. I said that it’s gonna be tiring, that new classes will be a struggle and that there will be too many accents. Read it here.

None of that turned out to be true.

First of all, I barely studied. Seriously, I passed most of my classes easily without having to spend a whole night revising exercises or solving exams from previous years. The material being taught was too easy and the exams were pretty straightforward. Well, our maths exam wasn’t so straightforward but I managed to solve it with ease. It’s maths.

As for my grades, they were getting higher every semester without any effort on my part. I was getting used to the material and the somehow “new” education style which got me an average of 17.47. In addition to that, being very active in class and having some basic culture will get the teachers to like you. When the teachers like you, your grades will get higher, not because they’ll give you extra points, but because you’ll be motivated to do better.

Now about those new classes, sociology and economy, they’re easier than what most people say. Once you understand the concept of the lesson and what it talks about, you’ll be able to break free from the book’s phrasing. You will start explaining everything in your own way. You’ll easily ace your exams, given that you have good French, of course.

Spanish is, uh well, close to French. If you understand French grammar, you’ll be easily able to understand Spanish given that you pay attention in class. Sleeping through Spanish was probably why my grades were getting lower. But I got 9/10 on my Spanish final test. Yay! Now I’ll never learn this language again. Unless idiot-me decides to take it in the US.

Plus, there was no school newspaper and I couldn’t care less that the current sophomores are the most hated.

TL;DR: My sophomore year went better than expected. If this is your first high school year, don’t be nervous, it’ll all be super fine.

*With the exception of the accents.

#SophomoreLife

About a week ago, I start school. This was my first high school year (in the Lebanese educational system, 10th grade is the first class of high school) and I was hella nervous.

Just like any “first of something” year, people tend to scare you with all their notions on how hard this year is going to be. It happened in 9th grade. It happened in 7th grade. It will happen in my senior year. And it will happen during college. Usually, these “notions” turn out to be wrong and exaggerated. That was not the case, it was true.

It was only the first week, and BAM an exam. We also have three new subjects to learn, yay? First, we have to learn Spanish for the first time in this school’s history. That adds up to the other three mandatory languages. So now, we are forced to learn Arabic, French, English and Spanish. ¡Hola! Me llamo Moe. Y tú. Cómo te llamas? (TOO MANY ACCENTS AHHHHHH).

If that’s not enough, we have to learn Sociology and Economy. In French. And it’s over 20 or 40 (I don’t remember to be honest). I have one question to ask: WHY?

I’m also responsible for the school’s newspaper. Now I’d rant about it but I’d rather leave it for another time/never.

Oh wait, did I tell you that the current sophomore students are by far the most hated students in the history of this god-knows-how-it’s-still-in-business school?

I’ll get used to it. Trust me, I know I will.

(I forgot what I was supposed to write… To be continued?)