Tag Archives: light

Sacrificing to the Great Tree and Other Holiday Fun

I went shopping yesterday and apparently it’s Christmasandotherholidaystime. Unbeknownst to me, and wholly without my permission, Union Square was decked with an ice skating rink and a giant Christmas tree for retail shoppers to worship as they complete their obligatory paycheck sacrifices.

I should have guessed this season was coming from the dropping temperatures, the massive “Christmas cookie edition” of various magazines at the craft store that I went to a couple of weeks ago, and the fact my skin is feeling more and more reptilian. Still, it seems a little soon to start pumping out the holiday jams and tinsel-fying everything.

This is that special time of year when retail workers begin to go insane from overexposure to Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” and too many renditions of “Jingle Bells.” It’s that time of year that means everything from “hope” to “believe” to “eat” to “shame eat,” messages that will eventually lead to “start over” “begin again,” and “diet.”  It’s the time of year when it’s impossible to buy clothing that doesn’t look like a Christmas ornament, clothes that will be unwearable outside of these 6 weeks in the future because their sparkles and colors of good joy and cheer are dead-giveaways for holiday merch.

Yes indeed, it’s holiday time. It’s time to spread the laughter, the belief, and the inspiration, whatever those words mean. According to Banana Republic, they mean it’s time to get new dresses that are covered in gold sequins.  But I believe they mean it’s time to be real and break down the barriers between our fellow humans.

I’m going to start by hugging everyone at work today, full of the holiday spirit. And I showered, so I’ll smell nice. Maybe I’ll put a mini-tree on my desk and invite others to place small but valuable gifts underneath it for yours truly. Anything is possible, because this is the time of year when miracles happen. I’m hoping for a bed miracle, in which I find a bed on the side of the street in perfect condition.

I will make my sacrifices to the great tree and see what happens. I advise you to do the same.

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The day’s adventure: a glimpse of heaven, crushing disappointment

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.

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