Tag Archives: wildlife



(today I saw what I believe to be the only butterfly in Cairo. It was big and yellow and seemed pretty confused. I wrote up its internal monologue.)

One…two…three…HERE I COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BUTTERFLY BUTTERFLY I’M A BUTTERFLY! Soar over the ledge, swoosh around the table. Whoa, chair! Whoa, girl on her computer! Better flap near her! Flap flap flap flap flap.

Too excited to flutter! Did you see that light?!?! It….is…AWESOME!  I need to be inside of it! Must get inside! Inside inside inside inside!

(thud) Ow! Okay….new approach! I’ll go low and then rush at it again in the exact same way and then I’ll get inside and then I’ll touch the light and all the warm and fuzzy will be mine! I love light! Light light light!


(thud…thud thud thud). Why. Won’t. This. WORK? I go up, down, across, under and I just can’t ….reach….it. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I must have light! There is nothing besides light! No food! No water! No air! I love light and light only! No family, no friends, no proboscis, no wings, no me, no you, only LIGHT! WHY CAN’T I TOUCH LIGHT!

All is black and meaningless without light! All is hopeless foolishness without light! Would that I had never metamorphosed! Would that I had remained an earth crawler so I hadn’t set mine eyes on the one beautiful thing in the world!


(I turn off the balcony lights)

Whoa. Where am I? How did I get here? Why are my wings bruised? I feel empty inside for some reason…am I hungry? I wonder if that guy I went on a date with has emailed me back.

Well, better get back to my leaf. Strange day. Is mom home?

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The Mosquito Lay Dead In My Cup

It’s all too true

(after preliminary words, the trial begins)

“I will tell the whole truth, not part of it, and nothing else besides it, truth.”

Prosecutor: Where were you and what were you doing on the night of September 13, 2011?

Arabic student: It’s hard to say exactly….yesterday seems so long ago. I think I was at home, probably working on the balcony or something like that.

Prosecutor: What do you mean by working? Were you doing your “Arabic homework?” Is that right?

Arabic student: Well, yes…..when I come home from classes sometimes I take a nap but then usually I go outside and do homework and watch the bats flap around the tree that encroaches upon…

Prosecutor: That’s quite enough! So you were doing homework. Was there anything unusual about that night?

Arabic student: No, I don’t think so….I think I remember being stressed out by how much homework I had. I was wearing a tank top I hadn’t worn in a while. Oh! I ate a big shwarma sandwich earlier that day, so I wasn’t really hungry for dinner since I hadn’t been eating meat that much and…

Prosecutor: SILENCE! QUIT YOUR BABBLING!  You say you weren’t hungry, but were there any other physical needs you were satisfying by partaking of certain elements?

Arabic student: Excuse me?

Prosecutor: WERE YOU THIRSTY? For goodness sake, is this so difficult? Were you thirsty? Go on and answer the question. Am I talking to myself here? Am I speaking English? Does my cravat frighten you? ANSWER THE QUESTION!

Arabic student: Okay, okay! No I wasn’t thirsty. I’m never thirsty at home because I always drink water out of a big blue cup covered in stylized fish.

Prosecutor: Ah ha! A big, blue, cup covered in stylized fish you say….about how many ounces do you think this cup of yours is?

Arabic student: probably about 32 ounces

Prosecutor: Monstrously large! And you mentioned you drink water, is that right? May I inquire as to the origin of this water?

Arabic student: Yeah I drink water since I think drinking juice is just like munching on sugar cubes and besides that it’s more…

Prosecutor: I will hold you in CONTEMPT! Answer my question! Where do you get this water from?!?

Arabic student: Okay, geez! I get it from the tap. I hate having to pay for bottled water.

Prosecutor: Disgusting! Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please note the complete lack of taste the defendant has shown by drinking bleach-flavored tap water from a hillbilly’s water pail. Arabic student, as you drank, did you notice anything different about this obscene cup of yours?

Arabic student: Well, the water wasn’t as cold as usual since I had forgotten to refill the plastic water bottle I fill with tap water and keep in the fridge and so I had to drink warm water straight from the tap.

Prosecutor: No you baboon! Don’t waste my time with water temperature! Did you notice any other changes!

Arabic student: Now that you press the subject, I do remember seeing a dead mosquito on the side of my cup that night.

Prosecutor: Ha! Now just so the jury can be clear on how repulsive this is, could you please describe for us the precise location of the mosquito and approximately how long it had been there?

Arabic student: It was on the inside of the cup, near the water level and I have no idea when it got there.

Prosecutor: How ghastly! You mean to say there’s a substantial chance you had been drinking mosquito seepage for a significant amount of time?

Arabic student: Well…yes.

Prosecutor: And what did you do after you noticed the mosquito’s rotting corpse in your giant cup, as a human being generally concerned with hygiene?

Arabic student: Well my first thought was that I had to get it out, obviously, and so I stuck my finger in there and took it out but then I thought it would be cool to get a picture of it, since it was kind of funny.

Prosecutor: So, as a graduate from a university, what did you do then?

Arabic student: Well I put it back in the cup and took a picture of it.

Prosecutor: Utterly vile! My dearest jury members, may we be certain of the fact that this here Arabic student willingly replaced the deceased, disease infested mosquito, back into her dirty cup for the sole purpose of capturing it on film.  And then, you surely removed it after that, right?

Arabic student: Well…no. I didn’t want to go wash the cup and so I just made a note of where the mosquito was and tried to avoid drinking from that spot.

Prosecutor: I’ve never heard anything more abhorrent! Clearly you’ve reached a new level of baseness only known to a class of human beings that completely rejects any semblance of propriety or civilization. If I understand you correctly, and I pray that I don’t, you not only continued drinking from the cup, but you didn’t even remove the mosquito.

Arabic student: Yes that is correct.

Prosecutor: When, if ever, did you undertake the removal of said mosquito and sanitation of the big, blue, cup?

Arabic student: Umm….


Arabic student: You see, that night was I really busy and stressed out about homework, so I….

Prosecutor: ANSWER ME!

Arabic student: I DIDN’T TAKE IT OUT, OKAY! IT’S STILL THERE! IT’S STILL THERE…. (breaking into sobs) I was going to do it eventually, but then I just got sidetracked….I…I….I don’t know what to say.

Prosecutor: A good place to start would be apologizing for the pathetic example of a human being you’ve become. Not only have you shamed you and your fellowship program, but you have shamed your parents, cousins, and roommates, both former and future.

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to the jury the 32 oz. blue, plastic cup covered in stylized fish. If you’ll notice—and please try to hold in whatever vomit tests the strength of your lips—the mosquito is still there, part of it stuck to its original location, and part of it where the  Arabic student willingly replaced it. May you swiftly convict the defendant of all she is charged with so that justice may be dealt swiftly. I rest my case.

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Bats: Just Hanging Around (It’s a Pun)

You can see his eye glowing. There’s a body too, I promise. 

I realize I’ve already written about the bats, but last time I could have been lying. I could have been spewing whatever crazy froth had floated to the top of my brain, just as I do when editing other peoples’ resumes, putting up job descriptions on Craig’s list, or applying for a place in the emergency room. But now I have proof of all my romantic waxings about bats, and my life, your life, and especially the bat’s life has changed.

It’s nothing unusual to see bats loitering around while I’m clacking away at the ol’ silver clickers (keyboard) on my increasingly dusty balcony in Mohansideen where it never gets completely dark. I’ve even named one of the bats Nigel, but it’s difficult to tell which one he is since they all look like soot colored flappy things against the grey nighttime sky.

I had already finished yelling at the moon (credit: 30 rock) and drowning in my endless sea of Arabic homework. And so there I was, getting my greedy fill of internet magic and thinking about the banality of life when the world changed. I see Nigel fly up near the tree next to my balcony, since bats can fly. This was nothing special. I was utterly unimpressed, disgusted even.

And then he latches onto a branch and HANGS UPSIDE DOWN ON THE BRANCH! UPSIDE DOWN! CRAZY! He hung for a good 3 minutes and I felt the whole world disappear as I stared at his freakish being suspended there in the vegetation. It was, to be quite frank, the most ethereal bat experience I’ve ever had. Here is a play by play of my thoughts throughout the encounter. Also, National Geographic is probably going to be contacting me pretty soon because of my breathtaking pictures, in which case I’ll have to buy sunglasses and leave this lame blog behind.

12:45 am: No new facebook notifications. My life is worthless. Why did I even have wireless internet installed? Why did I go through that hassle only to reach the unavoidable conclusion that my online life is as mundane as my carbon-based one?

12:46 am: There’s Nigel…he’s looking fit tonight. Why is my eye twitching?



12:49 am: (enthusiasm wearing off) Oh good! He’s still there! If I could only see his dark leaf-shaped body against the background of the actual dark leaves….this picture is not going to be great. (checks camera) Nope, not great. What did I expect anyways?  This must be what average people feel like. (too much?)

12:58 am: Why was I impressed by seeing a bat hang upside down in the first place? I need to get more sleep.

1:00 am: You know what, it was really cool to see Nigel hang upside down. It was freakin’ AWESOME! But seriously, why is my eye twitching?

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I’m Cute and Furry!

I live on Cairo’s streets! Love me!

Hello there! It’s me, your friendly neighborhood Cairo street ferret! You just caught me bounding along effortlessly.

Wasn’t that adorable?  Don’t you just want to die because of how cute I am! Did you see the way my body forms perfect mini-arches with the street as I’m springing along? Weren’t you reminded of the scalloped dye cuts that your mom used when she went through that scrapbooking phase? Some people have described my cutesy antics as magical, ineffable, and transcendental. For me, it’s just my normal life. Do you know what it’s like when people are inspired by even your most ordinary actions? Is anyone moved to tears or laughter at the preparation of your morning coffee? No? Well, this might be something we ferrets alone can understand.

When I saw you leave Cairo Jazz Club, I thought I’d make an appearance so you could know there is something beautiful left in the world. I was just over there by that pile of trash doing dainty ferret things when I sensed a smoky soul in need of a lift and then hop! bounce! There I was! And then I was gone! You don’t have to tell me how much you enjoyed seeing my amiable face and bizarrely flexible body. I’ve heard every praise known to man and ferret, so anything you say will be meaningless anyways. I’m glad to do this merely as a service for those a little bit more burden-laden than the rest of us in this city.

I know you Arabic students have a hard life, trying to make it off of a stipend that only supports a humiliatingly upper-middle class lifestyle, the exorbitantly expensive restaurants, country clubs, and apartments embarrassingly out of reach. You have to deal with nightly homework in a subject you specifically came to Egypt to study. If that isn’t enough, you have class a ridiculous four days a week, and only fourteen weeks of vacation out of the year long fellowship. So I get it.

You and I are not so different. I live off of street trash and car fumes. In fact, after the Ferret Council of 1974, street ferrets decided to evolve and can now digest most forms of Styrofoam and need car exhaust in order to survive. It gives us increased flexibility and fur sootiness. I, like you, also smoke people’s cigarette butts whenever I can find them. If I’m really lucky, I inhale the second hand smoke directly from someone’s mouth. That’s only happened once before and I don’t think the man himself understood why he was laying on the ground smoking a cigarette with a street ferret tickling his whiskers, but it was a pleasant, and maybe once in a lifetime, experience for both of us. I also live my life prancing around the streets of Cairo, my slinky-like body structure allowing me to be run over or stepped on without any damage whatsoever to my person, even though my pride is always hurt. The ferret rage comes afterwards, and sometimes I crawl into the hoods of parked cars and tinker with their engines just to show them. It’s eerie how much satisfaction I get from watching things burn. But that’s what this city does to you.

So…I’m getting bored with this conversation. You Arabic student types aren’t exactly skilled conversationalists, are you? Anyways, I’m glad I could brighten your night a little bit and I hope life gets easier for you. Really, I do. I hope someone finds you and decides to pay you for just being who you are and nothing else, since that’s what everyone deserves. If I’ve learned anything from Cairo’s streets, it’s that everyone is special.

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Batty About You

Come for dinner and we’ll wipe the table off for you. Probably.

We have quite the impressive balcony in our new apartment. I don’t mean to toot my landlady’s horn, but it is, quite literally, the greatest thing that has ever existed. Despite the thick layer of dust and an occasional poopy smell, this balcony is one of the most pleasant places I have taken my Nescafe, and I am glad to be here.

A live tree hangs over the balcony, making half of the right side look as if it were in a forest. (Just to clarify, we are not in a forest. We are in the opposite of a forest: Cairo, where trees come to be coated in dust and then wither despite the abundance of carbon dioxide ). This tree is a preferred swooping location of our local bat population.

The thought of bats might sound unpleasant, like when you get an email from a guest you accidentally locked out on the balcony notifying you that she stole your delicates and won’t give them back until you replace the pair of designer jeans she tore while climbing down from the fifth floor. I myself used to think that bats were grotesque creatures, especially because their wings look like desiccated hands. They are also mammals that fly, which is just wrong.  Though they had never done anything to hurt me, childhood movies and Halloween taught me to fear them as creatures both of darkness and evil intent, only one of which they deserve.

But then, on accident, I learned something. Bats eat insects, including mosquitoes. This was a game changer. Were I given a thousand marble tablets, nine hundred and ninety nine assistants, three thousand years, a box of potato chips, and an endless supply of gummy bears and chisels, I would still not be able to carve out the depths of my loathing for mosquitoes. The bat, my former de-facto foe, became my friend since it feasts on the beings I despise.

Why should we hate the bats anyways? Is it because they are like us, preferring to stay up at night and swoop around in seemingly haphazard oblong shapes? Why should the dove be associated with love, when they are good for nothing more than statue-defecation and vegetation-carrying? Who cares if they’re monogamous? Aren’t bats the true romantic animal, staying up late, sacrificing the sunlight in order to eat disgusting creatures that would otherwise suck my blood? That’s all I’ve ever sought in a man.

I finally understand that bats are simple creatures, loving darkness, mosquito eating, and screeching, activities that I occasionally indulge in myself. Now when I see him/her/them swooping around outside the tree, I smile to myself as I imagine the thousands of insects they have crushed in the grips of their weird mouths. I no longer look on the bat as any less than human. They are my guardians in a world full of things with more than four legs, and what they do is more noble than creepy. I’m taking this opportunity to announce a new line of greeting cards, chocolates, and bedding based on the concept of bats as the true symbol of romance. If you are a hands-off, fun-driven investor, please email me at battyaboutyou@hotmail.com.

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