Tuesday, November 04, 2008

belonging

everyday i sit down in front of my laptop during that single hour of time that I own , but that somehow, seems to own me, after my children fall asleep (sometimes on the couch...but who's counting). I sit down and I say- ok time to write a new post. but it doesn't happen, and instead I began to go off in tangents until I wonder how my precious hour passed. so today I decided to simply let my words spill out without worrying about excessive editing and beautification . Today my tangent was thinking about a time in my childhood when I actually had timed to feel "bored".

I've also been distracted by other thoughts. Thoughts of homeland; of absence; of belonging; suspension of time and place and space.

And the elections of course and all that jazz.... counting the visit to my brother's this weekend, we've have 5 house visits from Obama campaigners, "change" button plastered to their vests, clipboards in hand. I applauded their efforts, but stopped them short to save them the trouble-, we aren't citizens, I told them, and I'm not sure how I got on their list (their answer: the lists don't specify citizenship), though my sister in law did vote, proudly, for Obama. I also suggested they work on my blue-collar neighbors- with a house full of at least 5 undecided voters, they had their work cut out. You may have heard, North Carolina has been thrust into the limelite as a swing state all of a sudden.

And so on and so forth. As though it mattered, as though I belonged, somehow, to this season, to this cycle, to this time, to this place.

I keep up to date wtih all the Free Gaza news of the ships travelling to and from Cyprus and Gaza. And I think how lucky they are, to have the luxury of choosing to voluntarily sail to Gaza to prove a point. I think how in this day and age, in this time of ours, where borders and all they signify seem to dissolve, they have actually never mattered more; citizenship has never mattered more. the paradox of my existence.

My father provides dad's daily updates on Skype: collection of the olives from his farm during the fall harvest; pressing them for oil today: they had a surplus. Persimmons are finally in season-but still expensive. They'll get cheaper though, he assures me, as though it will matter. As though I belong to that season; that cycle; that time; that place.

Its chilly outside. My fig tree stand upright and green, branching out near the rosemary and loquat, as thoguh snubbing its nose at the weather. It is estranged, too. And who, in my lonely little garden, really belongs to this place or this season. Some thrive, and others make do with the reality before them: they predict a harsh winter this year. Conserve your energy, like the dormant mint, until the season passes.

11 Comments:

Blogger الفلسطينية said...

beautiful post!

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marhaba Laila

HOw I empathise with you... I too have an 8-month old baby whom I have just put down for his morning nap. I have so much to do in this time that the little one (Yusuf, by the way) sleeps. but exhausted i just flopped myself down in front of the laptop. It's so true what you say.... remembering as a child when you actually had time to be 'bored'. Bored? what's that?!

Keep the posts coming Laila.

Lotsa love
Nurah

10:29 AM  
Blogger Ginia said...

What a beautiful and touching entry. I very much enjoy your blog and, though I've only discovered it fairly recently, have already learned a lot from you. Thank you for sharing about your culture and educating about the day-to-day realities of the Palestinian plight as eloquently as you do.

I hope you will one day become an American citizen. We would be lucky to count such an intelligent and thoughtful person as yourself as one of ours and the cultural perspective that you bring to the table is a valuable one. Of course, I hope even more that your family will be able to live in Gaza soon if that is what you'd prefer. Let's hope that once Obama is in place a just and sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis can be arrived at. In the meantime, we're lucky to have you here.

Kind regards,
Virginia O.
Los Angeles

5:44 AM  
Blogger Angelina said...

Well that was a sad but lovely post.

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely post. I have just found your blog, look forward to following your journey. Best, Patricia from Texas

8:09 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Good afternoon Ms. El-Haddad, My name is Thomas T. Phu. I teach an upper level history class entitled U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East since 1914 in the United States (Age of student is between 15-18). Without having to explain in thorough details what the class entails, I have attached a the following link that will give you an idea of what I am trying to achieve in my class this semester. http://www.da.org/podium/default.aspx?t=101936
The culminating exercise that my students must achieve is a policy paper in which they are charged with reexamining and proposing new strategies of how best to conducting foreign relations with the peoples and nations in the Middle East so as to achieve an equitable, stable, and prosperous world for all parties involved. Rather than looking through foreign policy purely from the lens of Americans, I design the class that required students to also look at opinions, data, and impressions from the Middle East. A significant part, I hope, will derive from interviews with peoples who have substantial first hand knowledge of the attitudes and pulse of respective countries in the region. I sincerely believe, just as former Secretary of Defense William Cohen suggested in his recent writing, that a reexamination of US foreign policy by these students cannot be successful or meaningful without listening to the voice of nations that the US directs it policy. Hence, I ask for your help.

In the next few weeks, we will engage in a discussion of Palestinian-Israeli issues, both national narratives and policies vis-a-vis each other and their Arab neighbors. What I would like to obtain for my students is a sense of what life is like as a Palestinian today abroad. What are you concerned about? What kinds of conversations are taken place in coffee shops? etc. These would be especially important given that we need to balance our thoughts to those we will surely get from our conversations with various Israeli officials at their embassy and with APAC personnel in December. I hope that you will be kind enough to come to my class for a conversation with my students or grant us a phone interview conversation.

My sincere gratitude for your time and consideration. I look forward to your reply. Thanks

*************************
Thomas T. Phu
U/S History
Durham Academy
919-287-5555 x.6334

"Know thyself"...Socrates
**************************

2:25 AM  
Blogger eurofrank said...

Laila

Juan Cole mentions this food blockade on his blog this morning.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7722948.stm

I have to think to my self, Good God!! How appalling.

8:27 AM  
Blogger John Mullis said...

Assalamu Alaykum Laila

Belonging or Belonging?
North Carolina or Gaza City?

Sometimes Allah speaks through distractions - a way of getting our attention I suppose.

We continue to pray for you and the voice He has given you and the heart you have for your home.

Kareem

John

5:49 AM  
Anonymous kayla said...

I can honestly relate to your posts, i hope things are going well, and the kids are beautiful.

4:28 PM  
Blogger JohnB said...

Marhaba Laila.

I was reminded of two things when I read your beautiful and bittersweet post: the novelist James Joyce's themes of the artist belonging and not belonging the everyday world - viewing everything through a somewhat different prism.

The second is the story of my great aunt and uncle (my namesake). They migrated between America and Slovenia several times before settling here. In a monograph that my aunt wrote, she relays a very strong sense of not belonging here in this country, of missing home and family - that even though things were not very good in Slovenia (why else would they emigrate?) that the feeling of "belongingness" if you will was so very strong and so very missing from their life in America that it was a constant pull on their hearts.

I am not sure that my Uncle John and Tanta Anna ever really reconciled themselves to living here despite becoming citizens and raising their children here. They very much missed "the old country" and while I never was able to discuss this with them, my feeling is that a big part of them remained at "home" in Slovenia.

I hope that you find peace when the season passes for you, Laila, and that you are able to take root in a garden that is less lonely...

Salaam,

John

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh brother. Obama is not going to support Muslim murderers. Soon you will learn this.

7:33 PM  

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