what is said to the rose


November 07
I'm a Liberal-Arab-Poet-Politico-Red-Sea Dervish-Punk. Lone wolf, socially anti-social, I'm way too influenced by Rumi, the drum machine, Nick Cave, Ian Curtis, 1977, the Cramps, the Stooges, the 13th Floor Elevators and Excene Cervenka


FEBRUARY 8, 2009 12:00PM

25 Things pt. 2 and a Grand Finale

Rate: 9 Flag

Part 1 is over here.

14.  I spent a good part of the ‘80s travelling/transiting through Europe, and went to Boarding school in England. I used to have an English accent because it was drilled into me; it was just that kind of school. We played lacrosse in the snow with bare legs! We also spent an entire year of O level prep studying World War 1. That’s how I fell in love with poetry; from reading Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. I do use British slang and expressions. My time there changed me forever; the culture and the music made me who I am today. Both my sisters live in England so I still visit. I hope to move there one day.     

 15.  My parents live in Dubai, so that city is my other home. Dubai is very English, and the English language that is spoken is British English. You’ll definitely hear locals speaking with the exact cadence and tone of the English. In Dubai I can watch Manchester United live, have a fry-up and order spotted dick for desert. Yum!

 16.  At the age of 11, my family and I were eating in a Swiss restaurant in Leicester Square when the IRA phoned in a bomb threat and we, along with the entire square, had to be evacuated.  

 17.  Although I grew up in the Middle East I graduated from American High School, so I chose to spend my gap year in the place I considered home, and that was Saudi. Sadly, my gap year coincided with the Gulf War. I spent the last part of Desert Shield and ALL of Desert Storm in Jeddah. My kid sis learned to walk during the air campaign, under the rumbling of b-52s and the sonic screeches of f-15s. Those sounds raise massive anxiety in me, they are all I heard twenty-four hours a day for months. I don’t like air raid sirens either. I still have my gas mask.

18.  My mother is American, blonde and blue-eyed, from a working class German-Catholic family, she’s also one-quarter Choctaw. My father is dark skinned with black hair, and is of Arab, Turkish, and Indian descent. I grew up using both the Turkish and Indian endearments for grandmother, not the Arabic. I did call my father the Arabic for father.

19.  I have struggled with racial identity my whole life. I regret that I was not born with my father’s dark brown skin, or his coal black hair. I’ve dyed my hair black—with time out for pink, and purple, and red—since the age of twenty. With black hair I think I look more Arab and less hybrid.

20. My mother’s uncle was part of the D-day invasion and landed at Normandy. Back in Germany, my mother’s great-uncle, a Catholic monk, spent the war in multiple concentration camps. He was a Holocaust survivor; the only one of his brothers who did not immigrate to Chicago after WW1. Is war ever sane?

21.  My great-grandfather was the commander of the last Ottoman garrison in Jeddah, that’s where the Turkish comes from. My Indian ancestor was wanted by the British for being a leader of the Mutiny in the provinces; he was both a Sufi scholar and a mystic. He escaped to Makkah where he changed his last name to the family name that I have today, I’ve seen the copy of his pardon, signed by Queen Victoria. So my family is from Makkah, and I’ve been to visit our old homes on a hill overlooking the great mosque.

 22.   In the summer of 2005, my best friend Jill moved from DC to LA and kindly allowed me to make the trip cross-country with her and her cat Emo. That was one of the biggest adventures of my life, and I loved every minute of it except for Phoenix, AZ. The leg from Phoenix to L.A. was actually equally as hot as Death Valley that day. The AC was useless in such extreme heat, and our sun block melted off us seconds after we put it on. We developed salt cravings from sweating so much and had to pull over on an Indian reservation for French fries.

23.  July 2006 I stayed the night in a yurt at the foot of Glastonbury Tor. I was running away from a broken heart, a heatwave and an ex in London. That was an incredibly meaningful moment for me; climbing the mystical hill at sunset, then sleeping under canvas while doves cooed above me. I’m not bedouin, but that yurt healed and nurtured me in ways I have yet to understand. In so many ways I relate to “primitive” culture, and to the folkways of traditional cultures. I’ve been studying Mythology since the age of 16.

24.  I was a virgin until the age of twenty-three. It wasn’t a religious choice, but culture had a lot to do with it because men and women are segregated in Saudi Arabia. I never really felt like I could relate to American men, but in the punk world I developed close friendships with guys and eventually slept with a man who was a good friend. I have no regrets because, in actuality, inside I was a girl well into my twenties. I suspect most women are, regardless of cultural origin. I still have a hard time relating to men unless they are gay

25 .  I’ve been vegetarian for sixteen years, and have been vegan. In fact, I eat mostly vegan because I’m lactose intolerant and mildly allergic to eggs. I react to lactose free milk as well so I suspect it’s actually an allergy. I experimented with both goat’s and camel’s milk, but react just as badly so no milk for me. I will eat frozen custard though; I can’t deny myself that because even with the pain it’s worth it.  

Grand finale here, thanks to whoever made it this far, please rate! Ok, the BBC once interviewed me. I was a Goth/Punk DJ in DC in the late nineties, and the father of a kid who’d committed suicide while listening to Marilyn Manson came to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress. The BBC rang up my club and my boss gave them my number. They interviewed me from their DC offices for the international bulletin that beams out across the world. My caption was DJ M____, Club Asylum. I prayed no one in the Middle East was watching, but figured I was safe as my family mostly watches the news in Arabic. I was never an MM fan, and never DJ’d him, but my realm of expertise was Goth/Industrial culture. So, off I went in all my gear: Siouxsie eye makeup; a studded dog-collar that I’d taken off a pit-bull; ripped fishnets and a patent leather miniskirt; Doctor Martins, freshly shaved black Mohawk, and a black biker jacket covered in pins for bands like Vice Squad, Anti-Pasti, The Damned, Blitz, Violent Society, and The Pogues. I was probably wearing my Motorhead t-shirt.

Damn! I’ve led a weird topsy-turvy life; good, bad, and weird. I do hope for continued goodness, along with a healthy side of weird. I'm really a very eccentric person who is comfortable with tradition and at home in multiple cultures. I still feel like an alien in America though! Remnants of Bush, sadly. That's a whole post on it's own. Do most Americans care about the marginilization of its Arab/Muslim population? We are bitter, and last year's campaign showed us how outside of the American mainstream we are. But yes that's another post becuase I'm still angry.

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hi red sea rose,
interesting, very interesting.:) how did your father and mother meet?
Mary: my father was sent on scholarship to study geology at the University of Arizona, Tucson. She was a student there as well with a friend who hung out with international students. So she was dragged along to an Arab students get together and the rest is history. They are celebrating 40 years of marriage in August, if my dad can get a visa that is, but she met him at the age of 19 at that party. She has so many interesting stories that I wish she'd write a book.

He had a pick up line for her: I rode horses by the pyramids in the moonlight. Cute!
clearly I can't count, I ended the prior entry with 14! Oh well, I did learn to count in Arabic, and my caffeine iv hasn't kicked in yet.
I love your list. Very exotic.

I was going to come to the US last October and my friend and I were driving from L.A to Chicago through Vegas. We ended up changing our minds last minute, but I love road trips :)

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing all this vivid detail about yourself. I used to live down the street from Asylum in Adams Morgan and would sometimes go in there to play pool. It's nice to hear more about you. Weird is good!
Pat: I used to DJ at that Asylum! Monday nights from '97-'99 and Saturday nights from '04-'06. In fact there's a picture of me on the bar, I don't know if I should be proud of that though.

Adams Morgan is really unique. I'm glad you enjoyed Asylum.
"Do most Americans care about the marginalization of its Arab/Muslim population?"
Yeah, some of us :/ it's stupid and unfortunate
Natalie, do the American road trip at some point, and if you don't go cross-country then drive the Pacific Coast Highway which is like nothing you'll ever see! The West Coast is so beautiful, I just don't know why I don't live there.

Hyblaean: I'm still bitter, the Bush years were traumatizing. I try to have a good attitude but my trust needs to be re-earned by this country. I'm very glad that you care :)
Every time I read one of your posts, I get all of these different ideas of books you should write. One of which is definitely a memoir involving your amazingly diverse family history/geneology.

Do you have a tape of the BBC interview? I would love to see that!
We are so going to the frozen custard place the next time I'm back. Which I'm considering for the weekend of the 28th - you around then?

We have to do a road trip again! This time with less of a deadline, and no needy panting kitty. I often think of a West Coast up-down trip, all the way up to Seattle. I've never been to Portland, and we could hit San Francisco and Monterey and Big Sur, etc. It might have to be more like fall, but think about it.
Jill! Name the road trip date and I'll be there. Shall I bring the Wild Turkey and American Spirits as mascots?

If you're down the weekend of Feb. 28th I have a ticket for you to see Palestinian theater at the Kennedy Center. At the very least I'll anticipate frozen custard, yay!

I have never seen the BBC interview tape, they promised to send a copy round to Asylum but never did. Damn Brits!

Maria thinks I have a memoir-type-thing in me as well, but I have no idea where to start, or even what to reveal. I'm probably too "young" for a memoir, people have said as much. Then again, some people may be annoyed that at 36 I've had a more interesting life than they ever will so...memoir I could do.