10 Reasons You Secretly Hate the Beginning of Winter

Since the duration of Autumn in Lebanon is a weekend, it seems that winter decided to officially roll in as of last Monday. This is confirmed by the 3 common signs: your house has rugs again, your winter clothes have reappeared, and you’re having (maybe) non-sexual wet dreams of a jacuzzi filled with non-sticky hot chocolate and mini marshmallows.

And so 10 Reasons You Secretly… – The Winter Edition

1. Waking Up in the Morning

You’re all wrapped up under heavy blankets. It’s warm. It’s safe. It’s all yours and you’re never going to leave this feather fort of cotton. What’s that, body? You need to pee? No, you don’t. What’s that alarm? Time to get up? No, it’s not. And not to use profanity but, in the words of Babe, BAH RAM YOU ALARM. Snoozing is the reason you have set 4 consecutive alarms with different tones. You know what awaits you: you have to get out of your cocoon and then get undressed to change into whatever layers are going to return you to the warmth that you currently have, the same one that took all night to create. The dog is barking, the duck is quacking, and then there’s the nuclear holocaust alert that is your phone’s way of saying “THE SHIT HAS HIT THE FAN, MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!”

Uhm, how ’bout no. Snooze.

2. Hot Water Dependency

You would rather go a week without a shower than take an ice cold one (okay, you’ll go to Teta’s before that happens…I hope) but the dependency on hot water that develops during winter is always surprising. You’re late for work and the hot water heater was off all night. Shower? No. Okay, fine, shower. Short-haired folk, you win on this one. You don’t have a layer of drippy icicles attached to your scalp once this is over. Are you hiding in your bed wrapped in your mom’s fluffy robe wishing you were home-schooled/freelanced/never had to morning-shower ever again? Skip the shower you say? You still have to wash your face with the liquid cousin of an unlicensed acupuncturist. And then your hands are never warm ever again.

3. Darker Earlier

Normally you’re not afraid to walk to your car after a late afternoon at work but then again, no one told you to park in the underground-flickering-light-leaky-pipe-horror-scene-you’re-all-going-to-die-down-here-umbrella-corporation parking lot. So now that it gets dark at 5 p.m., you’re running like the Matrix phone is ringing. It’s okay though, there’s a security guard who looks like a sweet old grandpa, kind of like the man who used to sell you 500L.L. bags of Fantasia chips in the village when you’d go on walks to the mini market because you were bored. He’d give you free chocolate when you were short on change because he knew you’d be back once you get another Eidiyyeh from your old-school-Marlboro-reds-only uncle or when you got bored again…so 30 minutes tops. 3amo Security even has the same tooth missing under his bushy mustache…maybe he’ll give you a free “lo7 chocola”, too. TANK, I’M IN. *hand on car window*

4. Michelin Man

“Oh, winter wardrobes are so elegant”/”Don’t you love layers”/”Leather jackets are so badass.” Yes, you all look rather dashing and sophisticated in your coats, shalls, and tights with little bows on them. Everyone loves a cashmere sweater. Especially if you’re not the one wearing it and you’re hugging a cashmered entity. Sawwwwft. You momentarily turn into a cat as you nuzzle the sweater before realizing it’s attached to a person. “Sorry, I was just testing to see if you had an irregular arrythmia, it’s quite common, just looking out BRO.” If the sweater’s fresh from the laundromat, try your best not to breathe in all the softness…loudly. Anyway, because you are a hot tamale of cloth, you tend to be rounder than your actual self.  Welcome to the Michelin Man Army. This is completely normal so if for some reason the answer to “does this ski jacket make me look fat?” is a “no”, then you should eat a double cheeseburger wrapped in bacon because even Popeye’s Olive becomes a beehive in those things.

5. Driving Lectures

Because it’s raining, people don’t know how to drive. In a country where people don’t know how to drive to begin with, this can mean very scary things to worried family members, especially parents. Rain is suddenly the perfect reason not to go anywhere…even if it rained 4 days ago. You see, roads don’t dry until March so you might as well just stay home. “Invite your friends over, where are you guys going to go in this?” Of course, this doesn’t work because your friends parents are saying the same thing to them so everyone’s just inviting each other over and you’re caught in the Snowball of Parental Worry. Don’t even try the I’m-driving-to-Faraya card. But, honestly, don’t even try driving there because them bitches be crazy.

6. Uggly Shoes

Uggs galore. Studded boots. BoyzIIMen Timberlands everywhere. Burberry patterned boots – there’s always a pair of those around. These huge shoes are your only hope against keeping your feet (and sometimes your entire calves and knees) dry. If you get the really heavy duty kind, you may enjoy charging through puddles way too much pretending your Godzilla and then acting out the scene with the lighter. Winter footwear gives off the illusion that we have tree stumps for feet. We are all Hobbitses.

7. Wet Socks

HOW this happens baffles me. Could it be because you decided to live dangerously (props if you read that in Austin Powers’ voice) and wore your Converse instead? Could it be that your boots are not waterproof and you should’ve got those kind that make you look like you sacrificed a family of rubber ducks to make them? Whatever it is, you end up with wet socks. These go right up there with the roads that don’t dry until March. The only solution is to leave them on a chauffage while you and your friend watch all four seasons of the OC. Okay, skip season 4.

8. Cold Nose

It is known that the extremities are usually the parts of the body that are always the coldest. For me, it’s the nose that’s the coldest. Can’t they invent an invisible wool clown-nose? Or something you can just slip on to keep it toasty? Stop thinking about a willy warmer.

It’s even worse when you get a cold and you develop a love-hate relationship with the tissue box. Personally, I become Rudolph reincarnated in human form and no, I don’t have a thing for naming myself after male deer.

9. New Year’s Eve Obsession

The discussions as to where you will be spending NYE begin. You round up the lists of people who will be in the country, people you actually want to spend it with, people you want to avoid, and people you have to invite because they’re part of a package deal – a get one, buy 5 free sort of posse. Then comes the part where you have to figure out if these people want to actually fork over cash, go thrifty, or use the “I’m so over it, I’m staying home” excuse because this will determine whether you need tickets to a party, keys to a house/chalet, or just enough pesos for a bottle of Jack and a copy of Snatch. Don’t stress, the NYE plan will change 8 times before December 31st.

10. End of the Year/World

You hate the beginning of winter because it means another year is ending and you don’t know when that happened because last time you checked it was still February so it shouldn’t be winter AGAIN if it’s still winter but it’s November and another year has passed and you haven’t done everything you said you were going to do and you’re aging and your life isn’t going the way you thought it would and things were SO different last November but different is good because it helps you grow and there’s time to be something and achieve greatness and we’re all going to die in December.

6 Awkward Etiquette Moments

1. The Tipping

Most, if not all, gas stations in Lebanon are not self-service. While your tank is being filled, you may get your windows and side mirrors cleaned. Then comes the moment when you’re paying for said gas and you should tip the dude for wiping bird shit off your car. It’s not his fault that you park in a forest or that a sandcloud from Saudi blew in yesterday when you decided to park outside the overhang/underground lot. One problem: you have no change. You have a 5 thou and 50 dollar bill. “Is 5 thou too much? Yes, you’re forking over $50 for gas and it was dirty soapwater anyway.” Never goes to that station again. 

2. The Greeting

Saying hello is way too stressful in our part of the world. Do you kiss? Do you shake hands or hug? Is their girlfriend going to hex you if you kiss him twice? How many kisses does this person do? There’s this internal voice screaming “Wait, one for friends, two for older folk, and three for relatives on Eid. But some only do one now. Damn now I’ve lost count, look at their face, I’m freaking them out all WHY IS SHE STILL KISSING ME?” and then you nervously say, “I never know how many, ha ha…”. Never leaves house again. 

3. The Correcting

This refers to when you avoid explaining something to someone because you’re going to make them feel uneducated and sound like a pompous ass. Like when people use “wherefore art thou?” to ask where you are when, in literature, Juliet is actually asking why Romeo is a Montague, not where he is. Then there’s the graduating English Lit major who can’t correctly spell anything in their Facebook status. “Omg, I’m finaly gradauted. I can still here the applause.” Never trusts that person’s university again. 

4. The Inviting

You were invited to dinner with some friends. Your other friend calls you an hour before you leave your house and asks what you’re up to. Because you don’t like lying, you tell them your plans and don’t know if you can tell them to tag along to an outing they should’ve been invited to in the first place. You tell them to come not knowing who you’re going to piss off in the process. Your friend feels neglected for not being told, you feel awkward for being stuck in the middle, and your friends are annoyed that you didn’t tell them to add one to the reservation. Never answers phone again.

5. The Attending

You’re at a lecture, formal function, or ceremony. It’s so boring that watching a documentary about growing moss would be like co-starring in a movie with John Malkovich in comparison. What’s worse is your foot’s asleep and will have you walking out like Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects as you’re talking to yourself because Durden made you do it, but you’re sorry because all you wanted to do that night was eat an entire bag of Tostitos while streaming The Vampire Diaries. Never goes to formal functions again.

6. The Visiting 

There’s something about it being bad luck if you refuse an offering of food related to an occasion. You said “no, thank you” to your new baby cousin’s souvenir chocolate from Patchi and now he’s going to go bald at 14. Your friend’s mom is offering you a cheese sandwich, a slice of cake, freshly-squeezed OJ or, most likely, all of the above. If you refuse, it’s like you said no to a rare unicorn burger; she will think you’re an arrogant ungrateful child who doesn’t like her cooking. “No really Tante, I just ate a whole combo meal from KFC, a bowl of popcorn, and 4 macaroons…okay, I’ll have some shish barak.” Never visits friend again. Unless their mom makes homemade crepes with bananas. 

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10 (More) Types of Lebanese Drivers

As requested – shout out to Jade S, Bahij K, and others who asked for a part 2 and made suggestions.
Here’s the second installment to Lebanese Drivers:

1. Accidental Rental

They are good drivers with bad luck. They are “accident prone.” They have totaled 2 cars in the span of 4 months but it’s totally not their fault. What do you mean yellow means slow down? What do you mean you want to wear a helmet while I drive? Good news is they’re a great reference when you need a rental; they’ve tried out most of the cars available because their ride is always in the shop. 

2. Zucchini Houdini

They pick their nose, digging for kousa, while thinking they are discrete and stealthy. They be like “I think I’m invisible as I pick my nose on the Manara sea-side road in my fancy tinted car, but my window is cracked enough so you can actually see me. THEN I’ll roll it down some more and ask for your name, ya gameel.”

3. Shawarma Schumacher

Apparently, not everyone has heard the saying “don’t eat a banana in public.” Eating a baguette sandwich or licking an ice cream cone one-handed while trying to keep track of the traffic never looks right to other people nearby. The very skilled Schumachers are those who scarf down a shawarma djeij from Arax, simultaneously holding a pickle, sipping on a diet coke, and controlling the wheel with their knees.

4. Ja2ra Ba2ra 

They cut someone off, block their right of way then proceed to stare them down for 7 seconds flat, the same amount of time that any Sean Bean character spends on screen. This all seems to happen in slow motion because it is happening in slow motion. They will not just make a u-turn from the far right lane, but they will melt your soul on the way just because you dared to drive on the “right side” of the road. 

5. Black Sports Utility Vermin (B-SUVs)

They travel in packs, these “security forces” motorcades. They think they’re entitled to the road as they aggressively honk and signal that they need a clear path. But when their high-beams flash and their monster trucks charge at your slightly small sedan, only one thought comes to mind that could describe what the B-SUVs are and Michael in My Best Friend’s Wedding said it best, they are “the pus that infects the mucous that cruds up the fungus that feeds on the pond scum.”

6. Chauffeur el Bouta

They pick people up, drop them off, and are a key component in all roadtrips. The only thing more unfamiliar than the idea of being a passenger is the idea of being alone in the car. They are better than a Google maps directory when it comes to friends’ addresses and their gas bill would make Carlos Slim cry.

7. Gendarme You

They are a member of the Police force and are thrilled they get to ride around in a Dodge Charger that was donated to them by the US Government. They sometimes forget that they are a member of law enforcement. Let’s just leave it at that. 

8. Porsche el Papi

They are financially blessed. Or their parents are and they’ve been spoiled with a shiny new toy. They roll around in their most-likely Italian suede-interiored beauty, have valets park it in front of restaurants, and maybe, just maybe, have furry dice hanging from the rearview. Oh, they be so loaded with money. Until their allowance runs out and they live off of falafel sandwiches for 4 days straight. 

9. Barely-Moving Bambino

New drivers. They are too afraid to move at a normal velocity because that would mean that they were embracing the beautiful technology that enables them to get to a destination without walking for 83 hours. They learned how to drive in a manual Datsun with a broken AC in the middle of July, it is expected that they would be more badass in an automatic. Alas, the speed of their vehicle is equivalent to a sloth on hash.

10. Seasoned Bambino

Most likely driving a used car bought by their parents. It’s their first car and the love of their life…until, 5 years later, it has electrical problems, pieces falling off the door that are popped back into place like a dislocated shoulder, and throws ignition tantrums by refusing to start because they called her “wheezy” after the engine began to breathe like that guy who loves Helga. They have been driving it since their first year of college and should probably trade it in before it’s worth as much as a karaoke machine, but they don’t want their parents to pay for another car. They then move to a new city that has a fully functional metro system. Or they buy a bicycle. 

Some of the above terminology is Lebanese slang and has no English translation. My apologies.

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10 Types of Lebanese Drivers

This list was requested by reader & friend, Lena J.

1. Florence and their Machine

They think they have a Grammy voice. They think they are Adele without the depression. Maybe. They hit the high notes and whisper the melodic lines of “Skyfall” as they imagine themselves tuxedoed/LBDed, suave and debonair at the bar ordering a shaken-not-stirred vodka martini. They are calm and collected with a voice that is as ferocious as their fiery naturally volumized Arab hair. They are Florence Welch and they are driving their Machine. Move aside earthlings with no vocal talent, listen to them roar. Oh yes, they are a star. 

Unfortunately, to the audience, they sound like a dying cow and look like they’re having a seizure dancing the robot with the steering wheel.

2. Jagal el Alpina

They are the sleazy & cheesy male drivers of the BMW Alpinas covered in latex tattoos of “Follow Me If You Want to Die” and weird phrases in something resembling English. They think they’re skilled drivers because they “shaffit” leaving skidmarks to document 360s done in the middle of an intersection. They have a misunderstood relationship with hair gel and jewelry. 

Horny & Corny

Not to be confused with sleazy & cheesy, these are the male drivers who tend to be the conductors of vans, charging with their heads jutting out of the window. They maneuver like the vehicle is an extension of their body. Although there is an unbreakable affection between them and their horn, they also make a mating call that can only be described as a prolonged kiss sound, only that would make it seem gentle. This, along with the poetic lines that are directed towards pointing out ladies’ assets, makes them one of the crippled Casanovas of the country. 

4. The Teflon Tante

She drives an X5, X6, Vogue, Q5, Q7, Cayenne, anything that’s a gas-guzzling 4×4 that is never really meant for offroading. She is female, coined the Teflon Tante because she thinks she’s as gangster as Rick Ross especially since she has the same gold-encrusted pimp sunglasses. The key difference is that he still looks badass in something that would normally be cast off as only-for-Liberace. She, on the other hand, combined with her high maintenance everything, is a glorified soccer mom. She probably wears designer sweatpants that have never seen the gym, has half the nose she was born with, and never parallel parks.

5. The Skypist

They are stuck in traffic and staring at their crotch. Their head is bobbing up and down making everyone wonder what on earth is really going on because, as far as us nosy people can see, no one’s in there with them. They are Skyping. That’s not remotely as dirty as it sounds or as it looks in this case. They’re going to get someone killed though because they‘re simultaneously making sure they don’t hit the car in front of them while trying to make eye contact with someone who’s sitting on their bed in their pjs in another country. 

Pull over and stare at your crotch without hurting anyone else or make like an abstinence campaign and DON’T SKYPE IN THE CAR. 

6. The Lowriding Snoop Camel

They drive with their left hand, one butt cheek on the seat, leaning back, eye-level with the dashboard. They don’t even grip the wheel because they’re so smooth, they be sipping on gin and juice. *Hydraulics? Spinners? Yeah, I know what they are. No, I can’t afford them. But check out my “mango” palm tree air freshener. So fresh, so clean, hell I bet you want some sushi now.*

7. The Fast and The Are You F**king Serious

They are practicing for the F1 race. If they’re not already, they want to feel like they’re driving a manual car and “betweenet” are their specialty, shifting gears in their tiptronic monster just because they can. They want to get to that moment in Driven, when the raindrops are freezing in mid-air before splashing on to the windshield. They want to pull the handbrake, spin, whip out a 9mm, and wink at Eva Mendes but they won’t because they’ve hit a tree.

8. Oh So Textual

“Omg traffic is soooo bad.” Yes, we’ve all done that one. It’s usually because you’re in traffic and you’re not moving. But there’s the Oh So Textual drivers who have a disease. They‘re as evil as the Skypist. They check Facebook and drive. They Instagram the speedometer and drive. They text “lol” to the hot girl from English class that they just randomly saw at Starbucks because if they don’t immediately initiate a whatsapp conversation, timing will be off and she’ll never be the mother of their children. They’ve got to text now because texting later will be…exactly the same thing.

With that said, Shazam needs to bypass the iPhone keypad lock because that shit is annoying when my unknown jam is on the radio.

9. The Motorcycle Clans

One of three clans when driving a bike:

• TooLegitToSit – meaning they drive a bike that is never actually seen being driven because it’s always parked outside an establishment looking shiny.
• Acrobatic Ballerinas – the performance artists who balance on their motos in the middle of the highways, practicing Cirque du Soleil routines as they pop a wheelie.
• Meals on Wheels – those who deliver greasy food to the masses and, on occasion, a hookah to a Teflon Tante.

10. Service

Taxi drivers of Beirut, they go HAM. They could be the sweetest or the craziest people you will ever meet. But one thing’s for sure, there’s always good stories with them. 

Want 10 more? Click here.

5 Similarities Between AUB & LAU Students

AUB & LAU are the two largest English universities in Lebanon.
1. School Sweater Fashion Faux Pas 
While most students abroad love to collect memorabilia pertaining to their alma mater, students in these two institutions will never wear anything stamped with bold letters or Phoenician triremes – at least, not outside the house. They will wear sweaters of other universities like Oxford, USC, NYU, AnyImpressiveSchoolWeKnowNothingAboutExceptForItsAcronym but AUB students will not wear AUB sweaters on campus and LAU students will not wear LAU sweaters on campus. There is one AUB student who was rumored to wear her AUB sweater around campus and then, upon graduation, wear it to LAU as well (burn). This student may, or may not, be me. Such a rebel.
Most students will flaunt a sticker on their new car, partly because they want to feel like it’s their car but also because they want everyone to know they go to the “best university in the country.” The sweater, on the other hand, is reserved for those foreign kids in the summer Arabic classes.
2. Spend All Day & Night in Hamra 
After spending most of their daylight hours in classrooms, you would think that these students would want to get away from their campuses when it’s time to unwind. Nope. In the past few years, Hamra has been the destination topping the list when it comes to nights out. Uruguay St. in Downtown & the Gemmayzeh quarter are great but they’re a different atmosphere. 
Hamra is comfortable. Hamra is eating Bliss House sandwiches outside your hazard-lights-a’blinking-diagonally-parked car. Hamra is having Dunkin coffee by Main Gate at 8pm. Hamra is going out in your sweatpants and tees without worrying about dress code or a bouncer with an allergy to Converse. Hamra is bumping into everyone you know and everyone you’re going to meet next semester. It’s like going to class but there’s beer and cigarettes. 
3.  Lunch Dilemma 
The neighborhood is so condensed with cafes, fast food joints, restaurants and mini markets that students have to go through a process of elimination everyday when deciding on where to eat. At some point in their academic life, they will realize that eating greasy saj wraps daily is bad for the arteries and the salty flavor is not because their salt shaker cap goes loose occasionally. Those dudes by the round saj are not polar bears. Juicy. Students will also come to find that the process of elimination will become limited to a choice of 4 places max similar to how you alternate between the same 2 pairs of jeans from a pile of 12. 
If at AUB, you will get sick of afternoons at Universal Snack as Laura Branigan’s Self Control plays and end up going to Kababji. Then you’ll be like “no, no tabbouli today” (how dare you) and go to Subway. And then you’ll go back to Universal. McDo/BK/Hardee’s are reserved for days when you feel like you need a hug in a hamburger or it’s raining. If at LAU, you would eat kaak everyday but switch it up sometimes by ditching a class and going to Roadster. 

“Ma3leh, ma byekhod attendance w ktir 3a beleh fries and cheddar wlo! Bas honey mustard bella sour cream, bi nasih” *fails class*
Translation: “It’s okay, he doesn’t take attendance and I’m so craving Fries & Cheddar! But honey mustard, no sour cream, it’s fattening.” 
4. Vote or Die
Because student elections is a condition for accreditation and because Lebanon is obsessed with spraying politics all over everything like it’s Baygon in the middle of mosquito season, these universities participate in yearly student elections where they are indirectly divided into two main camps and the I-swear-we’re-not-backed-by-anyone-we-just-lean-towards-a-side independents. Election week is all campaigning and phone calls from people you don’t even know followed by election day where you get harassed at the gates.
Elections proceed, some side wins and the outside world thinks it’s a big sign that the youth supports so-and-so and those elected do nothing productive all year due to “bureaucracy.” Yup, sounds like it’s a pretty accurate microcosm of the rest of the country. 
5. Loyalty
Regardless of which university you claim as yours, you will miss it when it’s over.  

10 Reasons You Secretly Love the End of Summer

1. Expenses to Keep Up with the Expats

You no longer have to spend your salary on boozing festivities at rooftop bars, eating too much fried food or forking over ridiculous entrance fees at beaches – most of which takes half your gas tank’s contents to get to only to find that it still smells like a sewer and the pool water is unnaturally warm. Thanks a lot, kid. 

Your friends and relatives who flew in for the season are now flying back to their respective destinations on other continents. You can now go back to your series of world clocks and Skype dates. You will no longer be guilted into outings you can’t afford through the cleverly worded plea “come on, it’s my last week!” or “but I won’t see you until next summer [insert sad face here].” How on earth did you ever get anything done when everyone you knew still lived within a 20 minute drive? Oh right, you didn’t get anything done; you were a freeloading college student with dreams

2. Back to School Sections 

It was the best part about having to go back to school. Roaming through aisles of school supplies and wanting to be the one with the coolest pens, pencils, and the most original set of folders. And then you go to school and that girl with the light-up sneakers has the same ones. The smell of freshly sharpened pencils calms you down. NBD. I have the special edition sharpies, HA! 

Even when you’re not going back to school, these sections remind you of simpler times. Have no shame in buying a set of multicolored paperclips and impractical clover-shaped post-its “for the office.” Wink, wink. 

3. Tabkhas

Tabkhas, or home-cooked hot meals, were hiding during those sticky months when all you would hear is “no, it’s too hot for that, let’s just have cold cuts” or “salads are so fresh and light.” Given, it makes sense that you do not want to be sitting around a stove cooking in the non-ACed kitchen only to eat hot food because you need to get some meat on them bones to keep you warm. You are not Ivan Denisovitch; you don’t take your hat off and eat with a spoon to feel human. The last thing you want in July is something to keep you warm because you’re not in freezing gulag, you’re in Satan’s sauna. 

BUT, now that it’s gotten just a bit breezy and you can go back to sleeping with only your toes poking out of the covers, you want some lentil soup. You want rice, kale and all those dishes your Teta (grandma) makes in order to get you to visit her more often. 

Sweaters, Scarves and Hats – Oh my!

The wardrobe of Autumn/Winter allows for us all to become the Michelin army of cushiony squishiness. Not only do we wear layers of soft fabric and accessorize with scraps of more soft fabric but the fact that everything is hidden allows for some of us to become a wee bit cushiony ourselves. You don’t notice it as much since you’re covered up most of the time and there’s no pressure to look fit (there’s always pressure to be fit) because no one has to be half naked on the shore for another 5 to 9 months. 

Ah, the joys of inner beauty. I blame Teta’s cooking too. 

5. The Return of TV

All the series (well almost all, sorry GOT people) that left you hanging are to return so your life can be complete again. What were they thinking leaving you for so long? If they think that you’re just going to let them back into your life without a second thought, then they’ve got anoth– 

I’m Chuck Bass. 

Okay, you can come back. 

6. Sweets

Candycanes, candy corn, pumpkin pie, apple crumble, Halloween packs of fun size everythings and finally, the Bûche de Noël. I’ll trade in my ice popsicles for this stuff any day. 

7. Bubble Baths

You know what I mean. It’s been a long day and all you want to do is soak, play with bubbles, light some coconut candles and put on some Sade. Yes men, it’s not just you; ladies like to do this too. However, it’s difficult to enjoy the experience when the air is as hot as the water. 

Would you look at that? It’s 20 degrees outside. TIME FOR BATH SALTS.

8. Rain

So not everyone enjoys rain. It creates traffic, mud, and it messes up your hair. But everyone gets so ecstatic over the first real rainstorm. Facebook erupts with weather report statuses just in case you live in a Batcave and didn’t notice the leaking noise was not from your dark river of black to match the sinister echo of your secret abode.

That, and everyone loves reenacting this.

9. Toes 

The glorious time has come when you don’t have to look at people’s toes anymore. Goodnight sandals, goodnight flipflops, goodnight peep-toe shoes. Goodnight, cow jumping over the moon.

10. Countdown to December Begins

Holiday season countdowns only get real when the last one is truly over. The cold condensed cinnamon packed version of Summer is now 3 months away and everyone will be home again and everyone will love each other and deck the halls with boughs of holly and presents and happiness and New Years and marshmallows with hot cocoa and Christmas songs and…You’re broke again. Refer to reason #1. 

5 Reasons You Stare at Your Ceiling at 3 a.m.


1. Mental Brushfire

This occurs when you let your thoughts run away with themselves. Blame it on the brain clusters that allow you to associate different words to different thoughts. Once this ping pong game of mental craziness begins, it will only conclude with you realizing the time: that is your chance to stop it before it continues on to another loop around your mind.


Having dessert was a bad idea. But it tasted so good and you don’t go to that restaurant a lot and you’ll go to the gym tomorrow. You should go to the gym. But you’re always so tired. It’s because you took that job. Maybe you shouldn’t have accepted that job’s terms. But you like the money. Then you can buy shoes. That you don’t need. Rewards for hard work are not a crime. You wonder what it would be like to go to prison. Don’t drop the soap. Wait, you’re not a dude. Thank god. But they don’t have to deal with all the dramatic female crap, always smile and smell like watermelons. You swallowed a watermelon seed today. A tree is going to grow in your stomach like that ginger Chucky in Rugrats. You need to stop watching cartoons. It’s 3 a.m., you should be sleeping so you’re not a zombie at that job you took…

And the cycle continues.

2. Ambushed by Choices

You’re contemplating everything. Important choices, trivial ones, even the ones that have nothing to do with anything. Your choices have lead you to where you are now. Had they been different, where would you be? Is there a split universe where another you is living a different life because they chose the road less traveled by at that last crossroad you were stuck at? Are you happier in that dimension? Maybe you shouldn’t have chosen that major, gone to that school, or ordered that milkshake. Maybe you shouldn’t have sent that text, gone to that conference, or agreed to that decision even though you didn’t agree. Maybe you should’ve bought tickets to that show, ditched that acquaintance, or just said everything you were thinking. But you did what you did and didn’t do what you didn’t do. The Butterfly Effect is clear to you and you think that maybe Ashton Kutcher is not such a horrible actor after all. Yeah right, because Punk’d has substance.

3. Double Agent Sheep

“Count sheep,” they say. “It works,”they say. No, it doesn’t. If anything, this makes you think more about keeping track of the damn balls of fluff. Then they start doing pirouettes and Swan Lake moves over the old fence. Your going apeshit trying to count the thousands of cotton ballerinas and you’re thinking that it’s more frustrating than exhausting. You try just counting without the sheep, maybe just numbers works? You realize the numbers equal the seconds of the time passing by where you’re still awake and you’re mind wanders and you forget the number. Somewhere, a sinister sheep baa-hahaha’s at you.

4. Nonexistent Signs

Because it’s late and you’re brain is working in overdrive, you start going over the activities of your day. What happened and what didn’t happen, what could’ve happened, what should’ve happened. You realize that there were hidden signs. There were clues that a higher being left you to tell you what to do with your life or to alleviate the worry that has been building up due to the ambush previously described above. You see the links that were so subtle before. If you hadn’t watched “She’s All That” that afternoon, you may not have thought about going to Just Falafel thinking that you were going to bump into a jock that wanted to make you prom queen. Sure, you didn’t meet a jock and you graduated high school over a decade ago but then, the next day, you get crowned at Burger King at your cousin’s 4th birthday party. It was a premonition.

5. The Clock

The more you think about how you’re still awake, the less likely it is that you’ll actually fall asleep. It’s the complete opposite of falling asleep on a transatlantic airplane. You’ve woken up with a neck ache thinking you’ve slept for at least 6 hours only to find that the stewardess hasn’t even served the peanuts yet. In this case, you open your eyes to check the time to see that 3 hours have passed and you’re thinking, “maybe I should give up and start the coffee maker.” The tick tocking sound of Swatch watches, wall clocks, or the crocodile in your sink. It’s taunting you. You know with every passing tick, you are increasing your chances of being a cast member of Twilight in the morning only without rolling in glitter and baby powder. You’re that guy from the auditions that wasn’t hired because you actually just look dead.

Sweet dreams.

5 Random Acts of Kindness Done by Lebanese Strangers

Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol – Byblos, Lebanon ’12

1. The Tfadal Invite

The phrase “tfadal/leh” is one that Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol probably experienced when visiting Byblos this summer. During his concert, he told a story about how, when souvenir shopping in the Byblos souk, a dining shopkeeper asked him to join for dinner. It was a sweet story and the audience took pride in the we-are-so-hospitable-and-awesome moment. Upon reflection, this man probably said “tfadal” to Gary and it was translated as “join me.” This is not an untrue translation; however, foreigners don’t realize that this has become more of a common courtesy and less of a genuinely kind gesture. What the Lebanese don’t realize is that even this simple common courtesy is rare in other countries.

2. The Parallel Parking Assistant
This refers to strangers taking a good 10 minutes out of their day to help you parallel park in a tight spot. In Lebanon, a tight spot is any space that can fit your vehicle: legally, illegally, paved, unpaved, or unblocked by a broomstick in a cement block. Given that this RAK may happen frequently if you’re a female – meaning you’re in need of assistance because members of your gender are not to be trusted behind the wheel OR you’re in need of a knight in shining armor to help, gawking at you while insisting “you’re almost there, just a little bit more” – it is still nice to have an extra set of eyes to see the sidewalk that decided to relocate under your car when you weren’t looking. It was dark and it moved, I swear.

3. The M2addam Offer

When given a compliment, a common response is “Merci, m2addam” meaning “thanks, I present it to thee.” If taken literally, this means the person is saying you can HAVE whatever it is you just complimented. Now, I have never actually seen anyone take something that was m2addam but I would love to just to watch the reaction. “Hello America”, an Adel Imam movie from ’98, pokes fun at this: Imam’s character interacts with Americans who take him up on his offer leaving him stunned at their no-shame-I-just-scored-a-Rolex attitude.

4. The Wedding Motorcade Extra

Weddings in Lebanon are a grand affair. When the bride and groom drive off, a motorcade forms with a string of relative-packed cars honking their horns as the hazard lights blink indicating to all others in the ongoing traffic that the two people in the flower adorned rental just got hitched. Sometimes, a poor soul will get caught in between the motorcade. When this happens, people do one of two things:
1) make way and just wait for them to drive by like an ambulance parade
OR go with the fun option
2) join in, start honking like a maniac and just let everyone assume that they’re the annoying cousin that was invited because he helped get the discount at the reception venue.

5. The Habibi Turettes

“Habibi” is the Arabic equivalent to corazon, mi amore, cherie, my love, etc. The difference is that this endearment is applied to everyone. The guy making your shawarma sandwich will call you the same thing that your girlfriend/boyfriend calls you and it’s completely normal because this is Lebanon and we love you.

7 Tips for Harmless Anger Management

There are so many reasons for people to be angry lately. Irritation is in the air along with the humidity, the power cuts and the impending addition of Dwight Howard to the Lakers. Yes Kobe, you are going to be in his shadow and LeBron, you will never see another ring because the Lakers are now the Avengers of the NBA. Here are some breathing-in-a-brown-bag ways to relax your nerves without inflicting pain on anyone even though, deep down, everyone would love to do this once:

1. Play the Sims.

Create a character (or a few depending on your level of rage) and name them whatever you like. Feel free to make them resemble someone who’s been a source of annoyance to you. Your colleagues, your boss, that woman that took the last box of Raisinets, the guy who keeps violently blowing his nose right next to you – be as realistic as possible because it makes what comes next that much sweeter. Once you’ve moved your Sim into a nice cosy home, proceed to terrorize their artificial life. Make them order pizza and then delete the door on their home – they will crawl into the fetal position on the floor and cry. Make them go for a swim and then delete the ladder – they will rack up fitness points until they probably die of overexertion. Get creative. In reality, this hurts no one. Just don’t run around telling people how much fun you had last Saturday night torturing virtual people on your computer. You’ll look like a disturbed sadist and no one liked Buffalo Bill.

2. Rip Paper or Pop Bubble Wrap

Become the world’s most skilled human shredder. Not shredding humans, just shredding in general. Restaurant placemats are always good for this especially if that’s where you find yourself on the verge of nuclear meltdown. Where are my cheese fries? Why can’t I have game like Barney Stinson? He looks like the offspring of Sting and Julien Assange – How does that work? Stop asking me about my future. I DON’T KNOW WHY I LIKE RACCOONS. Where are the fries? Rip your frustrations into tiny smithereens until they’re just a pile of fibers. If you feel bad about wasting paper, collect it and donate it to a pet shop so it can be used to line the cages of poop-happy bunnies. Bubble wrap is harder to come by but works best when twisting it like you’re wringing out a wet towel…similar wrist movements that would be used for the decapitation of a Barbie doll.

3. Decapitate a Barbie Doll

It’s quite self explanatory. It might be hard to do if you don’t have younger siblings. Even if you do, they may not appreciate you going King Henry VIII on their toys. Therefore, replace the head with something else like a ping pong ball or a Mini Babybel. Maybe you should just replace the whole doll – then you can go all out and make the first one into a Mattel s’more at a bonfire.

4. Be Axl Rose

Choose your favorite loud angry song. “Sing” it alone in the car with the windows up. Scream your heart out. It actually doesn’t even have to be angry, just something with a high-pitched was-he-kicked-in-the-berries chorus. You must sing along or this is completely pointless. Suggestion:

5. Drive-Thru Car Wash

If in Lebanon, go to an IPT station that has the LASERWASH machine where you get to drive through an instant car wash. It takes 15 minutes and you get to stay in your car and watch it all happen. This is not the most fascinating thing since sliced bread but it’s still fun to watch all the foam and pressurized water go everywhere while you are safe inside. And they have multicolored polish that splats all over the windshield. If you enjoy color or have an unnatural level of natural stimulants in your system (no, not pot – if you’re just amused by “simple” things), you will clap and squeal. Bring a fun song for the experience. You should have a soundtrack for all things in life.

Do not use this machine if you’re sunroof is broken. It happens, okay?

6. Listen to This, on REPEAT

Listen to it over and over until you’ve memorized the words and you’re laughing at how ridiculous you are. It will be stuck in your head and you will piss off everyone else because your incessant humming will make it stuck in their heads too.

7. Just Dance

Another example: learn from one of the best crazy people out there. In this film (What Women Want), Gibson’s character has hit a wall after his promotion goes to a woman. Play this at 28s.

8 Things You Learn from TV Shows


1. Being a medical intern is all about finding your soulmate. Myocardial infarction or feeling like your penguin pebble has been tossed through the grinder; no matter what, emotionally and medically, all that matters is your heart.

2. Vampires are sexy in that tortured brooding way. Sure, they want to drink your grandma like a margarita at a Las Vegas poolside but they will always love you rather than want to kill you because you’re “different.” That means you smell like cabbage.

3. A song by Kings of Leon will always be one of the featured tracks on your soundtrack.

4. No matter how dramatic life gets…teenage pregnancies, prostitution, theft, drug abuse, cancer…there will always be gwackamoley. 

Oscar from 90210 (where’d he go?)

5. All murders can be solved in 45min with 2 commercial breaks because there’s always an obvious clue pointing to the killer. Come on, you all knew that the stuffed animal under the bed was a clue that the guy in Florida was raising bears to be trained killers so he could get away with smuggling dolphins into Maryland. 

6. In life, you have 8 people to choose from as a romantic partner because everyone else are just extras. Use, reuse and recycle, it’s fine. If you’re true friends, all they’ll want is for you to be happy with their ex, who technically was your ex first but high school doesn’t count. It’s like playing musical chairs with hormones.

7. There will always be that one friend that will have random bursts of awkwardness that will either a.) get you kicked out of a swanky restaurant or b.) get you free dessert from said swanky restaurant. You’re not sure where their fits of inspiration come from but they are the ketchup to your group of fries; always adding some flavor. 

8. There are other quirkballs out there. Even if it’s a fictional TV show, someone had to write that stuff. You’re not alone.