Wednesday, August 30, 2006

naguib mahfouz

egyptian nobel-pize laureate for literature naguib mahfouz, the "balzac of egypt" died this week.
i read his cairo trilogy [palace walk, palace of desire, sugar street], he wrote so beautifully, his arabic translated into english still with a lyrical and poetic fanfare.
he would have certainly been a fan of oum koulthoum, egypt's most famous singer. people would sit on the streets, in shops, around dinner tables, listening to the radio, or watching her tv appearances. cairo would stop for her music.
here is a sample.

i am so shit at sewing

recently the delightful fluffy asked people what they are bad at.

i forgot to say i really suck big time at sewing. this can even be sewing a simple, simple thing.

just now i did princess a favour and sewed up the two gaps in the teddy bear she made at aftercare on monday. she is going on school camp next week and had the great idea of taking it, along with a message written on it from moi, saying love you, have a great time, etc. and then getting her friends to also sign it.

so, i sewed up the seams which had been left after she had shoved the stuffing in. this went well. see, i can do some things like this, and then it gives me confidence, so then i try something a little more complex, and get myself into a "situation."

then i thought i'd do her another favour. she's sewn on a button on the teddy's front (why are bears always boys?) and a bell somewhere near his belly. she said she wanted to make his nose, in a triangle, with brown thread. you know, like the traditional bears.

so i thought i'd do that for her and give her a surprise.

i couldn't fucking do it.

i tried.


both times i got myself into such a knotty place that i had to cut the thread, swear, then try to get the tiny knots out where i'd sewn through the thread.

i'm so good at bad sewing.

ps why won't blogger load more than a couple of pics at a time? it's bothering me something awful.

Monday, August 28, 2006

monday crush

on saturday, in the age good weekend magazine, there was an article which featured several men of different ages being interviewed about their lives, and specifically about the male experience.

now, i've always liked danny katz, but i've never fancied him before. i've enjoyed his wry form of observational humour, in his columns, for several years. but in the paper, there was a photo of him, with very nice, smart glasses, that gave me a small frisson of something-or-rather. and he wasn't holding his chin. you look. most photos of him, he has his chin in his hand. don't know why. but if i ever get into conversation with him, i will ask him and tell you straight away.

when princess moved schools last year, she moved into the grade of mr katz's son.

earlier this year, i went to a parents' morning tea, held at the house of the writerly one. he wasn't there. i'm sure he shipped out, expecting it would be insufferable with all these loud women standing around eating cake and gobbing like turkeys about school and the like.

or maybe he was there, listening at an ajar door, gathering material.

anyway, i cooked this to-die-for chocolate torte, and then gave out the recipe at school the next week. i went up to him, as he was standing with someone who had been at the morning tea. i was introduced to him as danny, and he proceeded to prove the following:

what do you like most about being a man?
i adore women. i adore flirting with women. in fact, i don't think i can talk to any woman without flirting, even if i'm not attracted to her.

and he was a bit flirty. kind of just looked right at me, big smile, handshake. i even made a joke that he chuckled at, i can't remember now what it was, something about the torte. you know, tortes are hilarious. and he made a crack back. can't remember his either.

anyway. he's often at school for pick-up, more often than mitch, his loverly wife. and she is tall. something he referred to in the interview, in a most charming way:

if you could make a major life change, what would it be?
i need to become a better partner to my wife. we're best friends, we get along famously but i'm absolutely appalling at romance. i have no sense of romance whatsoever. i know she needs it because she says it to my face, not even hinting. it doesn't come to me naturally. i'm not a hand-holder, i'm not a hugger. i'm not an intimate person. i wish i could be like that for her, and yet i can be like that with my kids. i don't know why. part of our hand-holding problem is that mitch is considerably taller, so i always feel like i'm holding hands with my mother.

so in a slightly stalkerish way, i look-but-don't-look at him at school, as he lingers mostly on his own, the creative, wordy smallish man, the loner. i usually am on my own too; not being there from prep means i have kind of missed establishing myself as one of the gobblers at the gate. but we have about two degrees of separation, as one of the mothers who chats to him sometimes also chats to me. but not at once, so i can't engineer an opening for that question about the photos and the chin.

have you ever met someone, and pretended not to know who they are?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

what are you having for dinner tonight?

soup and bread rolls always complement each other nicely, don't you think?

want to come over for tea?

Friday, August 18, 2006

where were you when...?

for me there are three specific events that define the origins of my internet use.

the first time i think i ever went online was using my dad's laptop when he was away overseas. this must have been around 1997 or something.

i don't have any memory of email or the internet before sitting in my mother's kitchen while staying there when princess was a baby and we'd just come back from overseas, with the phone cord plugged into the laptop. i would cruise around, checking stuff out. i remember the search engine of choice was alta vista i think, and i remember i had madonna's ray of light playing in the computer at the same time. to me, this was the ultimate techological sophistication. i remember going into a chat-room associated with dad's isp, i can't remember the name* i remember there were these chat-rooms with different names, like hot-tub and barstool. in one of these rooms i watched someone do a strip-show. even though there were no visuals, it was so erotic and the atmosphere was so charged. i felt like i was peeping at someone, and i backed out of there, heart thumping.

the next lot of internet use was around the monica lewinsky scandal. by this time, i had an office set up. i was doing freelance work at home, and spending hours and hours at night playing games such as harry the handsome executive** and warcraft which my brother had put me onto. i also read for hours and hours about monica and bill.

also around this time i read an article about jonbenet ramsay, a 6-year old "beauty queen" who had been found murdered in her family home basement, on boxing day 1996. her father found her, there was a ransom note demanding $118,000. because the father, john, had found her and carried her up out of the basement to where the police were searching other areas of the house, much forensic evidence was destroyed. rumours began, and people thought the parents had done it, either separately or together. or that the older son had. or that blah de blah had done it.

occasionally over the years i would google jonbenet to see what there was to read. amazing conspiracy theories.

which have been put to rest today, i guess, as i see a man has been arrested in thailand. this man is a teacher, who said that he loved jonbenet and her death was an accident.

a thai policeman is quoted as saying:

they fell in love with each other... so he kidnapped her and killed her by accident.

this sentence is so, so wrong. they fell in love with each other? excuse me, at 6 years old, little girls fall in love with kittens and puppies and the colour pink. they have probably fallen in love with their daddies around the age of 2. they do not fall in love with 31 year old men.

the saddest thing about this is jonbenet's mother, patsy, died of cancer 2 months ago.

things like this freak me out. last night i had a conversation with princess on the edge of her bed about how she says she is scared someone is going to come into the house and hurt her. she said she felt very safe when we moved in here, and she doesn't know why lately she's been scared. she told me she had a dream about her cousins being in a toilet and a man hiding behind the door, wanting to hurt them. i told her it was clear to me that she has been upset by what happened to the girl in perth, in the shopping centre toilet.

what do i say to a 9 year old who is the same age as a girl who was raped and murdered in the space of ten minutes in a shopping centre in our own country? not somewhere overseas. then at least i could consider a lie, and say "that wouldn't happen here."

how do i reassure her, when i myself worry about these things happening too? how do i respond when she asks me whether it would be better to scream, or to try and run away, or to play stupid, or to pretend to be asleep if someone comes into her room? or to fight.

i don't think i could fight a man, mummy.

so i try to tell her about the flight or fight instinct. we talk about david***, and how she's seen him talk about animals running away or fighting. i tell her she's smart and she would work out what to do. as i'm saying this, i'm wondering whether i should be telling her not to worry. am i indulging her by responding? am i feeding her fear, making it credible by not cutting her off and saying "don't be ridiculous. nothing's going to happen to you"? because that's a lie, i can't guarantee that nothing will happen to her during her life? how can a parent say that?

so i tell her i don't think she needs to worry about this. that i don't know anyone who this has happened to. that she is safe safe safe in our house, with john and me to take care of her. i tell her that bad things can happen in life, but we can't worry about them too much. like granny getting cancer. you deal with it. like mum and dad getting divorced. things work out.

then i tell her the best place to kick a man is in his private parts. she laughs, incredulously and tells me about a boy at school accidentally banging himself there and rolling on the ground.

the scary mood is broken and we smile as we acknowledge the male vulnerability.

and then today i pick up the paper and see the story on jonbenet. i will be making sure it's not lying around for the kids to see. she doesn't need to know that some crazy fuck somehow brooke into a little girl's house and raped her and murdered her. even if it did happen almost ten years ago.

* what are some names of early ISPs in australia other than bigpong. it wasn't those fucks. something with "super" in it i think.

** can someone please validate me here. has anyone else seen this piece of superb gaming?

*** david attenbrough, whose docos have been, and continue to be, a staple of princess' life education.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

not an ordinary day

this morning i thought i'd cook a chicken curry for dinner. nothing especially outrageous about this.

i got the recipe out, mr oliver's book, the first one, where he's in a blue shirt on the cover. from way back when, before he became jamie DOT com. i still have a soft spot for him.

so i turn to fragrant green chicken curry, which begins on page 122 and crosses to the next page.

page 123.

this is where fluffy's meme comes in. not that i knew it at the time.

look here.

so following the instructions here is my meme response:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
6. Tag five people*

let me confess, i did pick up one of the two closest books, which is "getting started with microsoft frontpage". i turned to page 123 and saw it was a really boring corporate web page blurb.

so then i reached for the other closest book, just next to my computer. it was already open. to page 123.

if you think i'm fucking with you, get your copy out and check. or call whoever it is you know who has this book. you will find the second half of the fragrant green chicken curry on page 123.

and THEN, when i find the fifth sentence [3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil] i think to myself, huh, how weird would it have been if it had been about the limes? [see previous mini-post]

well fuck me dead, i have just had another bizzarro world coincidence.

look at instruction 4 above.

i have to post the text of the next four sentences...

here they are:

zest and juice of 4 limes

Put all the green curry paste ingredients in a food processor and whizz to a smooth green paste. Marinate the chicken in a little of the paste for 30 minutes, then add a little oil and the chicken pieces to a hot casserole-type pan or wok. Fry for 4 minutes, then add the remainder of the marinade - it will sizzle and spit.

but that's not all, folks**

before i realised all this weird meme stuff, i went and did my food shopping. i went to safeway. i bought the ingredients. while shopping, and getting lemon grass stalks, fresh coriander etc. i was thinking to myself, this is fairly blogworthy. comparing how much it would cost to make a curry from scratch, to getting a ready-made jar of curry stuff.

so what i did when i got home was add up the ingredients for the curry. i got to limes and saw that i was charged $16.98 a kilo. do you know how many limes i got? 4. do you know how much they cost? $9.90.

$9.90 for 4 limes

so i went back up there with my limes and my receipt and got my money back.

i came back home and got lemons off the tree.

i did the mini-post about the cost of limes. i'm not craig and fluffy kindly responded.

i sat down and read fluffy's blog.

i marvelled at the weirdness of the meme and the recipe being on page 123.

but that's not all.

i went into the kitchen. i chopped up the curry paste ingredients. then i tried to whizz them with my bamix. no good. then i tried to pound them in my seriously large mortar with my seriously large pestle. no good. i knew i needed a food processor.

i have never had a food processor.

there, it's out. i've said it.

a few years ago i bought one for my mum, and have had long borrowings of it when i needed to. i used it more than she does.

yesterday a myer catalogue came and it had a nice beville food processor in it. i liked the idea of something that is just a food processor. not with a milk shake maker. not with a cake mixer. just a food processor.

so i went to good guys and bought one. they're pretty good, those guys. and you know what? there was a woman there, and she bought exactly the same one as i did. she had all her research written down on the back of an old envelope. i think we affirmed each other's choice.

so all up, even factoring in returning the $10 limes, i figure this curry has cost us:

four freerange chicken breasts - $24.93

bits and pieces for curry paste (spring onions; basil; coriander; ginger; lemongrass; lime leaves; green chilli) - $13.11

handful of pistacchio nuts, i don't know how much, but i got a bag for $8.92

i got some roti to go with it, 2 packets @ $3.67 each = $7.34

food processor - $235 (they undercut the myer price by $4, down from their own price of $269.95)

so, this curry has cost $280.38 without the pistacchio nuts.

and i figure a jar of ready-made would cost about $4 something?

tell me you have moments like this as well.

* i tag whoever wants to do it.

** i bought some steak knives today as well. i really did.

so tell me, how much do you think limes are, per kilo?

i'm going to tell you a story but first, tell me (without cheating) how much limes are a kilo.

also, tell me what the difference is between lemon juice and lime juice. has anyone done a taste test? is there a palpable difference? will a recipe be ruined if one uses lemon juice instead of lime juice?

i await your comments.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Napoleon Dynamite Dance Scene

we just watched this movie again tonight. this scene is beautiful. happy to see it's on youtube. my new best friend.

background to the scene. napoleon's friend pedro is running for school president. it seems he has no chance, for he and his buddy napoleon are dork losers. each candidate gives a speech and then presents a "skit". you can see the competition; the blonde girl in blue outfit, who gave a very uninspired speech, then followed with her girl gang doing a cheer-leadery dance with mime moves.

pedro ends his speech with "if you vote for me your wildest dreams will come true."

and napoleon helps him out with this dance he's been working on in his bedroom.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

tonight, we have bananas

my mum is staying with us, cause she had a wrist operation for carpal tunnel. at the same time, she had a ganglion (!) taken off her other wrist. so, now she has two wrists in bandages, one in a sling. yesterday i had to dry her after her bath. this is something i've never done, not even when she's been so sick after chemo, and any of the number of infections she's had following or during treatment. that was a first, and not nearly as hard as i might have thought it would be. i am learning i can be tender and caring and kind in ways i never thought possible for myself.

i took her to the dentist today. we had lunch at prahran market and saw gabriel gate with a box of fresh produce. why when i see a celeb are they of such minor proportions? sorry, gabriel, if you happen to google yourself and see this. i did enjoy your taste le tour recipes last month.

at the market, i had wonton soup and then mum said she'd shout us some bananas. i was very excited. we went to one of the stalls and carefully chose the best bananas. we got six of them and it cost $13+.

then the stall person had the fucking gumption to brag about how she can eat bananas whenever she wants, when she heard me saying politely and conversationally that it was such a treat for us to have bananas, and how excited we were.

so when she said she could eat them whenever she wanted, i thought she was bullshitting. so i said, really? surely not, unless you're the wife of the owner [then thinking, how sexist] or the owner of the shop yourself?

no, i just work here. but i can eat them whenever i want.

fucking smug bitch.

do not, when you are faced with someone who hasn't had a banana for ages, brag to them how you can eat them whenever you want. just be gracious about it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

the underpant poll - results

this is a non-discriminatory blog. it is not the author’s wish to pathologise in any way the underpant-wearing conventions of the readers. some participants indicated they felt “abnormal” for wearing underpants to bed. if you feel that you, or a loved one, may be distressed by this, please seek professional help.

The intention of this research project was to investigate the underpant-wearing conventions of a sample of bloggers, with specific reference to their bed-time attire. The genesis of this study lies in a conversation which the researcher was involved in a couple of weeks ago, where she was challenged by others present; simply that not wearing underpants to bed was somehow not the normal thing to do. The discussion was initiated after the researcher laughed at the idea of someone wearing underpants under pyjamas, which was met with howls of “of course, that’s what you do! you HAVE to wear underpants underneath your py-JAMAS!”

As the challengers were catholics, and all came from the same family, this researcher decided to take the question to a wider group of people. Participants were asked to volunteer information on two questions:

1. whether they wear underpants to bed

2. what religion they are

Data were collected in the form of comments, and using qualitative methods (Miles & Huberman, 2000), were analysed in an attempt to tease out themes and patterns. A visual data matrix was constructed* which enabled these themes to be cross-referenced, so that conclusions could be drawn.

The size of the sample group was 53 participants including glenn’s wife.

After careful analysis** of the data volunteered by the 53 participants, several statements can be made. It is important to note that the researcher has made some assumptions, which she will defend if readers wish to criticise. Following is the major assumption:

- citing that you wear undies to bed with a t-shirt if you are a girl does not count as wearing undies to bed. This researcher feels that while technically this sort of answer would be included in the “affirmative undie-wearing” class of respondents, in this case the underpant has become something other than underwear. It has become like shorts, or similar. In this way, the researcher has chosen to count as primary “affirmative undie-wearing” data only those participants who explicitly state that they wear undies under pyjamas. Secondary “affirmative undie-wearing data” includes people who wear undies under nighties, as distinct again from people who wear undies with a t or another top.

31 people stressed they wore no undies to bed. Of these, some said they would occasionally wear undies, if at someone else’s house.

15 people said they wore undies, this ranged from wearing them under pjs, to just wearing undies (mostly men), or wearing undies with a t-shirt (5 people)

Of the undie-wearers, several (3) emphasised the underwear was clean.

"when you’re on your ladytime"

I had trouble deciding whether the above quotation, or “when the painters are in”, was the more delightfully quaint euphemism for menstruation. Nevertheless, 6 respondents specified that while they were non-undie wearing sleepers, they would wear undies when they had their periods.

the converts

There were three stated converts, who have moved from undie-wearing at night-time, to not. Cuntman shared with us a story of how he slept with undies under pjs until a somewhat traumatic caravan holiday he had with friends. The 8-year-old was deemed “wrongheaded” by his friend’s family who then “made” him do the “nocturnal freeballing”. Cuntman is, however, glad they did. Now he would prefer to sleep naked, but kids in the bed make this difficult.

Another convert who also said she was glad she had changed her ways was michellesarah, who stated that she used to wear pjs with undies, but recently did a similar poll amongst friends, realised she was “abnormal” (michellesarah’s own words”, and changed. As michellesarah said:

“feel much better for it, actually. Shits got time to BREATHE. I wear baggy PJ pants. Yo!”

Clokeeey was another participant who also stated he used to wear undies under pjs but recently has changed this practice. He offers no indication of whether this has been a positive experience, or indeed whether the choice was fully made by him.

“a good airing”

Finally, one theme that emerged from this study was that mothers had told their daughters to not wear underpants to bed, as they needed (presumably) to air their vulvas. Some cited that it’s the “most hygienic option” while others (6) came right out and stated that they don’t wear underpants to bed because they need to air “down there” and specifically, their mothers had told them that. Anne Altman was perhaps the most evangelical about this issue, saying:

“[you’re] not supposed to wear underpants to bed”

“shit’s gotsta breathe”

Anne even invokes jesus, saying “no doubt jesus didn’t wear underpants to bed.”

Interesting anomalies, further research ideas
- some people indicated that undie wearing was connected to whether a person was a morning or evening showerer.

- the issue of hygiene was raised by a couple of undie-wearers, which directly contradicts the non-undie wearers following mother-advice.

- yublocka shared that she has a kind of underpant-demotion system, where once day-time undies get a bit ratty, they move into the job of night-time underpant and then eventually get thrown away. it would be interesting to see whether this featured in any other participants’ selection systems.

- dj stated that even when he was a child, he would take off his clothes in bed “seconds after” he was tucked in by his parents. it would be interesting to explore whether patterns were set early on, whether they have changed over time, and what factors have influenced any conventions.

- the man at the pub stated that while he had a “no undie wearing in bed” policy in his household, for lovemaking reasons, “oddly, a warm jumper is acceptable on a chilly night”. interestingly, delightfuljen also stated sometimes wearing a jumper to bed. is this a trend?

- nailpolishblues stated that “at the most – socks” were worn. it would be interesting to do a follow-up study on socks in bed.

The religion aspect of this study quickly became irrelevant. Anecdotally, there seems to be no evidence to support my original hypothesis that catholics would be more likely to wear underpants under their pyjamas. Thanks to everyone who shared about their religious connections.

The weird coincidence that I mentioned a couple of days ago is this. Someone told me that at their work-place, people had been discussing this issue: ie, wearing underpants to bed or not. This was kind of freaky, and I wondered whether it was someone who’d read this blog, making their own little poll. I’ve never heard of a blog bleeding into real life in that way.

* this is a lie.

** this is also a bit of a lie. But the results speak for themselves.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

only four to go

thanks to everyone who has contributed to the poll on whether people wear their underwear to bed. i am busily working through all the data while john watches the footy. i still need, however, FOUR more participants. then i will have my even 50, an ample sample.

the next post to follow will not be a comment on the dog that ravaged teddy bears, nor on the fucked-upness of lebanon and israel. it won't be a piece on the racist-tool quotient of mel gibson, nor will it contain any narrative on how much i want to EAT A FUCKING BANANA!

it will be all about the poll. who wears what and why. i will try to draw some conclusions, and answer any questions that people have had about the origins of the study. plus something interesting, and perhaps not so coincidental, that happened during the week, relating to the study.

so four more people. to please say whether you ordinarily wear underpants to bed. and in what manner. or not.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

two women. one lebanese, one israeli.

these are emails i've received through a newsgroup i belong to.

the first one is from liza barki-harrington, a jewish woman living in israel. The second is from zena el-khalil, a lebanese woman living in lebanon.

interesting reading.

first, from liza in israel:


Thanks for everyone writing and asking about us. I decided to write an update of what it all looks like from my perspective (not a news agency). So I appologize that this is not a pesonal email.

First of all, I finally surrendered to ongoing pressure from the south and left Haifa for Beer Sheva tonight. This was after Haifa was hit by 10 rockets today, one of which hit a 3 story building. I was at the universityand heard them falling. The Haifa area is particularly dangerous because of the petro-chemical industries and oil refinery located right at the foot of Mt Carmel and surrounding area of over 270,000 people. Since people are being pretty obedient about entering the shelters, no one was killed today.

By the 6th day, the northern part of Israel has been hit by over 1500 rockets and missiles targeting dozens of cities and villages, Jewish and Arab alike. Up until now, our toll count is 13 civilians and 12 soldiers killed. In addition we have 3 kidnapped soldiers, one in Gaza (by Hamas) and 2 in Lebanon.

I think the Hizballah were very surprised by the force of retaliation of IDF. They said they identify a weakness in Israel and that is the "great regard for human life"and that is why they kidnap soldiers. They thought we'd immediately engage in negotiations and refrain from attacking them.

However, it seems that Olmert and Peretz ( P.M. and Minister of Defense), who are not former army generals for a change, are doing a good job at staying calm, quiet and are letting the army do its job. The army is attacking only Hizballah infrastructure and rocket/missiles launchers.

It must be understood that Hizballah are Shiites that use the locals' homes/schools, sport facilities etc to hide an arsenal of over 10,000 rockets and missles, some with a range of over 100 miles. IDF continually warns the local population of areas that are going to be targeted (bridges, Hizballah neighborhoods etc). None the less, any attemptsof the Lebanese or Syrian army to help Hizballah are stopped immediately.

It was the Lebanese Army that used their radars to give Hizballah the exact location of one of our ships, which led to the death of 4 soldiers. These radars do not exist any longer. This is a wide operation that we hope will put an end to the violence of Hizballah against Israel and against Lebanon. Not one country in the Arab world is supporting them because they bring harm not only to us but also to our neighbor. It is that clear understanding that "enough is enough" that brings Israel to refuse negotiations to release prisoners and to accept the on going assaults by Hizballah.

We have reached the point where we are all united in our understanding that we must endure the on going missile attacks on Haifa and other cities so that the army can do its job and make them understand that enough is enough. We are not cold blooded killers that target innocent people but we cannot and will not accept this any longer. So personally, we are ok. Now all of us are in Beer Sheva. I suppose living in the south of Israel has to be justified… however, having had a just a taste of what the habitants of the border cities in Israel are subject to throughout the years on a daily basis makes you appreciate them more. I hope these days will be over soon, with as little innocent casualties on both sides. However, we will endure whatever necessary so that Hizballah understands that this is not the way to talk to us.

Thanks again for writing and please stay in touch,



now, from zena in lebanon:

Dear Friends,
The account by Ms. Zena el-Khalil was sent to me via a Turkish-Lebanese friend of mine in Istanbul. She sent it on Friday, July 28th, several days before the unfortunate attack on Qana.

From Zena el-Khalil: I have started coughing, but I don't know why. I am not sick. I don't have a cold. I think it's a reaction I'm having to stress. My body feels weak. My mouth is always dry, no matter how much water I drink. And I'm afraid to drink too much water because I don't want it to run out!

Last night was probably the most frightful night I have ever experienced in my whole entire life. I was so tired and exhausted... have not slept in days. When there is finally a quiet moment, the tension in my stomach and heart prevents me from falling asleep.

Last night we counted at least 15 bombs falling into Dahiyeh (Beirut Suburbs).. and these were just the ones we heard. At some point during the night, I said to myself that if I didn't at least try to get some sleep that I was going to go crazy from fatigue; and that that was what was going to kill me. Haven't been able to eat either, so am losing physical strength. It's all psychological at this point. I know I have to be strong, and I will be, but I can't deny what I’m going through.

And I think it's important that people hear about the downside as well as the bravery. So many of us are already working hard to fix things, we are running around Beirut trying to get food and water and medicine to people, we are doing things online, etc, but it doesn't mean we are not scared, sick or tired.So, last night amidst the worst shelling we've had so far, I realized that I was not afraid of the noise anymore; how quickly you get used to it. I realized what was hurting the most was the "UNKNOWN". What is going to happen tomorrow? When will this all end? How are we going to start re-building again? Are the refugees going to be ok? How are the people in the south? And why punish a whole country? What is the real plan behind all of this? How much worse is it going to get?

My husband and I have been housing foreign "refugees" helping them to find their way out of the country. Two managed to leave this morning, a German and Swiss. The other two are British and American. The craziest thing is that out of all people, the American embassy has been the LEAST helpful to its citizens here. The phone line to the embassy has been practically out of service. My friend, Amanda, (whom I just met a few days ago, by the way) had to hire a cab to take her to the embassy (which is a ride out of Beirut) and all they could tell her was that they didn’t know what they were going to do and to keep checking the website. Only thing she has gotten on the website is that she now knows that there is going to be an evacuation (5 days later), but when it happens, she is going to have to pay for it! Yes, they are saying to their citizens that they are going to bill them for their ride out! Can you believe that?!

Trying to evacuate people has put me under stress. The question is what am I to do if I had the opportunity to leave? Would I leave? What do I do with my friends? My family? My art studio? I have a British passport; I could be evacuated with my husband. But what would happen to my best friend Maya? She has a very rare and bad case of CANCER! I have been taking care of her since she was diagnosed a few months ago and I know that my care for her is what has helped her do so well. Her type of cancer is "untreatable", but ironically, the day the shelling started, her doctor told us her tumors had shrunk! Unbelievable- a true miracle. I can't leave Maya!What about art work in my studio? What about all my brushes and paints and glitter and books! All my books! Again- the crazy things that cross your mind. What about our photo albums? All our family pictures? The memories...What about the doodles I drew on my balcony a few summers ago when I was suffering from a bad break up? What about all the love letters I have saved? Letters that document my youth that I wanted to some day give to my daughter.

What about my other best friend? My dog, Tampopo? My beautiful Jack Russel Terrier who has never let me down. Who has always been a source of purity and compassion... Who has eyes of an angle... Dogs are not allowed to evacuate. My American friend Christine is going to have to leave her dog with me; a black pug named Baousi (means Kiss in Arabic). She is heartbroken! She almost didn't want to evacuate. She went to so many embassies to try and register with them and see if they would take her dog. Don't worry Christine, I will take great care of Baousi.

My sister has been volunteering to help the refugees who are being sheltered in public schools. Right now they are calling on Lebanese citizens to help out with money, medicine, food, water, blankets and mattresses. She has been going to people and asking for money and then going out to buy medicines for refugees- her own initiative! My mom has joined in too. A friend has put together a website for accepting donations:

Biggest cynical statement of the day: I

srael has told people to evacuate from the south because they are going to annihilate the south of Lebanon. However, the people can not leave because all the roads have been destroyed/blocked. And yesterday when people did try and leave, the Israelis opened fire on them! A massacre is happening!

Update on the attacks, as of yesterday:

- Israelis have been bombing the south of Lebanon with phosphorus and other chemical bombs.
- Israelis have bombed all ports along the coastline of Lebanon.
- Israelis have bombed all our local army radars and some outposts
- Israelis have bombed/attacked the fire fighting brigade and the Search and Rescue Brigade in the South. Innocent civilian lives were lost. It was a massacre - the buildings were also housing refugees.
- Israelis have continued to bomb the suburb of Beirut, Dahiyeh & Haret Hreik
- Israelis have now killed over 100 civilians and there are several hundreds wounded - and they continue to bomb the south
- Israelis have started hitting roads that lead to the mountains. They hit a main one leading to the Shouf.
- Israelis have hit a gas plant in the mountains... I can't keep up with what they have hit. ***

Israel has begun to target Lebanese army outposts. They have killed Lebanese soldiers. They are no longer just targeting Hizuballah. They mean to kill all of Lebanon.

The reality: Israel is trying to bring Lebanon to its knees. Israel is trying to destroy Lebanon and the Lebanese spirit. Israel is trying to turn Lebanese against each other. Israel is trying to turn us into animals scrounging for food, water and shelter.

Israel and the United States of America are trying to drag Syria and Iran into this too. They are using Lebanon as bait. Lebanon is stuck in the middle. The Americans and Israelis are trying to launch a regional war!!

Please help in any way you can.

Please pass on the message, this email - reprint if you wish.

Please tell people what is going on.

Please put pressure on your respective governments to step in and do something.

Lebanon is a peaceful country. We are the only country in the region in which people of all religions co-exist peacefully.It is unbelievable how biased the news is. They are not reporting the real damage being caused. They don’t report that the Israelis are killing innocent civilians. It seems from this end that all they are focusing on is G8!

Are the Israeli & US government really just trying to wipe us all out?? Well, you can tell them that I'm not leaving. And there are many of us who are not leaving. We love Lebanon. We love what we have spent our lives building. Tell them about people like me.. who build culture and tolerance. Who work for peace and understanding. Who work to educate. Who work to promote love and compassion. There are thousands like me here. What about us?Tell them about people like me, that despite all of this, I have still not learnt to hate. They can take everything from me, but not my dignity. Not my morals and beliefs.

They will never never break my spirit.

Tell the Israeli citizens what their government is doing to us. Tell them that violence begets violence. Remind them that Lebanon is their neighbor and that co-existence is possible. How are we going to ever reach an understanding through violence? We were so close... We were so close...

Please stop this brutality!

Still with love, Zena el-Khalil.