Thanks to years of being subjected to family scorn, I am overcome with self loathing whenever I wake up past 8am regardless of how late I went to bed the night before. I could have run a 5 hour midnight marathon and woken up at 10:30am, and my family would still say upon seeing me with my marathon trophy, “You just got up?” Thus, as I transition to a more Ramadan-appropriate slumber regime, sleeping at 4am and getting up at 12 pm, the first thing I feel upon awaking is a sense of shame, followed quickly by righteous indignation. “I didn’t even go to bed until 4 am and I got exactly 8 hours of sleep so there is nothing wrong with this. NOTHING WRONG. I’M NOT CRAZY.” Before I even drink my morning nescafe and peruse the morning internet, I’ve experienced a veritable roller coaster of self-blame and justification. My family has clearly taught me well; I look forward to imparting a similar sense of self-loathing to my own children.
After this train wreck, I pulled myself together and then made the mistake of sitting in my living room for four hours straight as I planned my upcoming Italian vacation. This was a poor decision since my living room is generally an unbearable place, filled at all times with stale air, heat, and gaudy furniture. When we removed the heat element through the wonder of air conditioning in addition to closed windows, we were left with a new evil: florescent lights. As I lingered in the harshly lit cave, clicking through endless tabs of travel advice, I found that having the fluorescent lights suck the soul from my body was equally uncomfortable as sweating through every layer of clothing I have on.
Realizing I needed some soul revival, I set out on a little errand that would take me where some sun rays could splash my pasty skin and help me remember once again what life felt like. And so I descended from the den of death and burst into the sunshine. Never had I seen Cairo more beautiful. It felt like my first spring day, even though it was near a dusty 100 degrees. I even saw several trees wither and die while I saw out, but to me everything was beautiful. While wandering around the shaded streets of Doqqi, I noticed a burst of greenery resplendent in the sunlight at the end of a street. What joy! I thought. Perhaps this is a park I didn’t know about! I saw visions of myself wearing ribbons in my hair, strolling in the park while licking lollipops and petting puppies. As I savored the possibilities of the future, I came upon the green area and found to my chagrin that it was merely a spit of weedy grass with some scraggly trees in the middle of a traffic circle. There was no park to be found here, and if I wanted to come and lick lollipops with ribbons in my hair it would be weird.
So I went home and sat in my room and read a book with the window open, suffering through the sweat so I wouldn’t have to suffer through the depths of fluorescent hell once again.