Maghawir el Leil(a)

Leave it to Lebanon’s growing pains to get me writing again. I’ve been so wrapped up in other media and projects that my fingertips haven’t been still long enough to weave a coherent paragraph of word strings.

Last night, I went to the stars. I needed to be off the grid to get back on it, to reposition myself, to be aware that my time on this third rock from the sun is finite and, ultimately, negligible. Marcus Aurelius said, “what we do now echoes in eternity” and getting lost in a snapshot of the universe will remind you that you are a blip on the timeline of this planet, the planet that is slowly dying because no one feels like their choices have any impact. We want fewer motorcycles on the road but we want shawarma delivered to our doorstep at midnight. We want freedom of speech but we want to silence music or mask art that are reflections on and of our societal structures.

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“Remember when music used to sway us?” – Lyrics from Comrades by Mashrou Leila

Khalil Azar, the cognoscenti of the astroadventurer group, BeirutVersus, mapped out where we were in relation to our geolocation and the summer season. A concept that stuck with me from his intro was that of Jupiter and its 3 moons. Gravitationally bound to one another, the system stabilizes as they resonate in space. In the sea of the Milky Way that flows out of the teapot asterism across the sky of Kfardebian, that glimmer of cosmic kinship was solacing.

The thought of entities orbiting harmoniously in vast darkness is the way we keep spinning and allowing for life to persist. We each have our own moons keeping us stabilized in a world that is geared to always veer into chaos. The second law of thermodynamics roughly dictates that we are not supposed to stabilize, that there is a constant loss of energy available to do work, that entropy will only increase as we continue to exist. No wonder the loss of a moon can throw you into a tailspin.

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Last night’s universe by Anthony Ballouz

 

 

As Khalil continued to break down the stars with Arabic names, including the three that make up the Summer Triangle star formation, we quickly saw how influential our part of the world was in celestial documentation. Vega, one of the vertices of this triangle, is a loose transliteration of wāqi which means “falling” or “landing.”

A fellow stargazer then said, Wein kinna w wein sirna.” *
“We’re still here, I said.

And yet, with the youth being shipped out in droves, their bags being packed by their own parents who shove them out the door, the collective attention being sidetracked because of a meme or a lyric while the country is Vega, falling further into decay – are we still here at all? The sky is the most basic record of the past and it could be that we’ve all but vanished to the eyes of beings across the galaxy. All this light is seen from a distance even though we’re long gone. It feels like this place is a sky full of ghosts.

 

*A phrase that means, where we were versus where we are now

El-Tanein Diet Week #20

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Before heading to Barcelona, I had done a recap of the goals that were set out at the beginning of the El-Tanein Diet series. Now that I’ve returned, it’s time to take a look at that list and see where to go from here. No more walking my way through meals of cheese and sparkling wine, it’s back to the gym for me.

UPDATED GOALS FOR EL-TANEIN DIET

  • Do regular push-ups (I currently do modified bent-knee)
  • Plank for 2 minutes straight post-cardio
  • Lose 15kg by June 12, 2016
  • Work my way up to 6kg weights
  • Wear shorts to the gym without feeling the jiggles
  • 10K steps/day or at least 50K/week total
  • 5 classes/week minimum
  • Run my 5K in 35 min or less
  • Run one 5K run/week
  • NEW: Join Nike Running Club
  • NEW: Walking to and through Horsh Beirut   

The original cut-off date for ETD was January 12, 2016 to total out to a full six months of recording and progress. Can you believe it’s already been 20 weeks? Well, I can’t either which is why I’m extending it to June and bumping up the kilos to be lost. It’s also because BCN took out a chunk where I was doing more chewing than toning. I did not balloon up over there but, knowing the sedentary car-dependent lifestyle of Lebanon, I am going to have to work much harder to balance my food intake and get healthy exercise back into my weekly routine.

I was too optimistic thinking that week #20 would have me back at the gym like it ain’t no thang. Coming back, at the start of Thanksgiving week no less, has been harder than I expected. Besides too much mezza, it’s taking me longer than usual to be okay with how Beirut has changed – or hasn’t – in my eyes.

Week #21’s post will be a status report to see where I’m at physically post-Barcelona; I need to see if I’ve lost the stamina that I built up over the summer. My gym has changed up its class schedule (and jacked up its membership fee) so that may affect my workout tally too.

I have nothing to report this week but I’ll leave you with this track:

As for cheese of the week, I will admit to inhaling lots of Cheez-its with white wine. It may be Barcelona withdrawal, filling the void that only cava and slices of cheese can fill, but I think it may also be the Kellogg’s product.

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I once saw something about Doritos on Discovery Science. It said that along with the perfect crunch sound, the chip flavor was purposely created to be the perfect balance between salt and sweet so that your body could never reach satiety, leaving you always wanting more. Cheez-its have got to be part of that club because they are my cheddar cheese Achilles heel and the archenemy of El-Tanein Diet. They need to go.