Reading

Rebuilding My Bookshelves

One of the most difficult things about my move to a different country is the fact that I had to leave more than 90% of my books behind. They were too heavy and there was no way I could cram them all into my suitcases… unless I was prepared not to pack anything else. So I only brought twenty books with me, and they’ve been looking at me forlornly from their single small shelf since I got to Dubai… so sad was their appearance that I had to find them company. Fast.

My big pile o' books.
My big pile o’ books.

I arrived here on the 18th of October. Since then I’ve accumulated 11 news books, bringing my total to a whopping 31. I’m trying hard not to bring that number up anymore for the time being, but it’s proving to be so incredibly difficult. The bookshops here are absolutely lovely, and far bigger and better than anything I found back in Lebanon. One particular bookshop, Kinokuniya, was so big I needed four hours to browse through it. And even then I was barely thorough. I was so overwhelmed by the fact that there were many books there that I’d been looking for and hadn’t been able to find before. My wallet complained. Loudly.

So yeah. I bought a lot of books. And I found myself buying a lot of hardcovers too. I usually buy paperbacks, but in the face of all the gorgeous hardcovers I came across I could not resist. This country has corrupted me. But for now, I’m just going to highlight a few of my favourite picks! Continue reading “Rebuilding My Bookshelves”

General · Inanity · Reading · Writing

A Bibliophile’s Packing Dilemma

I’m moving on Friday, to a whole new job, a whole new city, a whole new country in fact. I’m excited and terrified at the same time. This is a whole new level of independence and responsibility that I’ve never had before, and knowing me, I will either screw up badly or do brilliantly. There’s no middle ground.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to is having my own place and furnishing it the way I like (priorities, amirite?). I’ve started looking at apartment listings and furniture catalogues already. I have visions of myself strolling through IKEA, seeing my perfect living room/bed room and saying, “This is it. This is so me.” I am also on the lookout for the perfect bookshelf… which brings us to the title of this post.

HOW THE HELL DO I CHOOSE WHICH BOOKS TO TAKE?

*clears throat*

Books, I’ve discovered, are very heavy indeed. 10 paperbacks and 5 hardbacks together weight 6.7 kg (14.7) pounds. I’m only allowed 40 kg for my flight, of which 10 kg have already been taken up by the weight of my bags themselves. Speaking of bags, I had absolutely no idea they could cost so much; I was so shocked! Anyway. I have about 400 books on my shelves, out of which there are 65 books I haven’t read it (give or take). My first solution?

Read All the Books

I thought I was making good progress. I was reading one book per day. But with a sinking feeling, I realised that if I were to read all my books before leaving, I would need to go through at least 6 per day. Impossible. Distraught, I started thinking of other tactics. Continue reading “A Bibliophile’s Packing Dilemma”

General · Reading · Writing

Blind.

Blindness has always been a great fear of mine. So much in my life depends on my eye sight that I feel I would be completely lost without it – writing, reading, translating, staying in touch with my overseas friends, even watching TV and going to the movies… or just simply going about my normal life unassisted. I know these might sound like mundane things in the grand scheme of things, and I know there are probably alternatives, but these mundane things are an essential to me, and losing any of them would send me spiraling down a bottomless pit of depression.

Before I say anything else… no, don’t worry – I’m not going blind. However, during this past week, I’ve been forced to live like a blind person for a couple of days. It wasn’t some sort of dare or social experiment… but rather a result of my severe clumsiness syndrome; basically, I accidentally scratched my cornea with a pen.

Yes, it is as painful as it sounds. Continue reading “Blind.”

Food · General · Writing

Birthday Week in Pictures

Last year I said something about the need for birthdays to be official holidays. I would like to amend that statement a bit, because my wish was granted – or rather, twisted a bit – this year. Rather than be a holiday of its own, my birthday fell on an actual (lunar) holiday, and that was a bit annoying. It’s kinda like having a birthday on Christmas; everybody’s so busy with everything they don’t have time for the birthday boy or girl, and that’s sad-making. So… bottom line; birthdays should be official holidays, AND should not fall on official holidays. There has to be some law regarding that.

From the above and other miscellaneous things that happened, you might’ve guessed that my actual birthday wasn’t so good, so I decided to have a birthday week instead. Yep, you heard me – I spent the entire week doing things in the name of my birthday! You will notice an underlying theme in the pictures below. 😉 Click for captions!

I feel like I need to apologize again for being so MIA these past couple of months. Every time I try to be active again I end up getting caught in something else. During the last two weeks I’ve had to design more than 20 characters and come up with five storylines, and I cannot begin to tell you how tiring that has been. Even moreso when I developed Writer’s Block – a very inopportune time! I promise to get back into the swing of things soon. I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do. =[

That said, how have you all been? How was your weekend? 😀

Food · General · Writing

Do it with ice cream.

When it comes to celebrating, I tend to go for chocolate and all kinds of different desserts. The most important thing to me is stuffing myself full of sugar in order to perfectly savour my celebratory moment. However, I realised I’d been overlooking one very important treat – ice cream.

I have had reason to celebrate recently. Some of you have seen me complain about  work, and the past few weeks have been so rough and stressful, and I’ve fallen behind on everything from reading to blogging… but all that should change very soon. I’m happy to report that today I signed a contract for a brand new (and very fantastic) job as a game writer. Squee. Instead of spending eight hours a day slaving over laws and legal documents, I now get to write a story, complete with dialogue, character backgrounds, etc. and get paid for it. How cool is that?

Doesn't look as attractive as described, but you'll just have to trust me on this. I know my ice cream.
Doesn’t look as attractive as described, but you’ll just have to trust me on this. I know my ice cream.

To celebrate this joyous event, I went and treated myself to four scoops of ice cream – dark chocolate, caramel wafer, crème caramel and tiramisu – topped with caramel sauce and chocolate chips. It was all so delicious and nice to have on such a hot day, and I was simply in heaven. However, it was incredibly sweet. Next time I’m going for fruity flavours!

Okay, okay, I’ll come clean – I’m not here to talk about ice cream; I’m merely using that as a thin disguise to tell you about my job. I was never good at being subtle, but I’m just so happy and excited right now!

Do you celebrate with ice cream or cake? Or something else altogether? Have you ever worked as a game writer before? What was the experience like?

Food · General · Reading · Writing

In which I tease you with photos of sweets and books.

I don’t know about you, but when life stresses me out – and it has been doing that a lot lately – I find the best way to unwind is by spending a little money on things that make me happy. Well, all right, I’ll come clean; I spent more than a little, but today’s retail therapy did wonders to me. Wonders I tell you. With the overwhelming amount of work at the office, my recent escapade of paranoia, and my still-persistent headaches, it was nice to go out and have fun… and celebrate my recent Freshly Pressed status (I may sound all casual about it now but I was squealing my head off when I found out!).

So yes, retail therapy! What is it without sweets? 😀 If you’re on a diet the following pictures may be bad for you. I should know. I’m on a diet. But I do not regret what I ate! No, every single dish was completely worth it. I took my sister with me and between the two of us we shared three desserts, the first being a delectable (and extremely rich) Nutella pie.

I have never eaten so much Nutella in one sitting, but it was absolutely divine!
I have never eaten so much Nutella in one sitting!

Continue reading “In which I tease you with photos of sweets and books.”

Food · Writing

I like math.

mathWhenever someone disses math and I end up defending it, I get funny looks. A lot of funny looks. The fact that I like math makes me seem abnormal to others, and there are some who say, “What is even there to like about math? Of all the subjects you could’ve picked for a favourite…”

I like math for the problem solving aspect of it. Complex things were always fun for me – I liked working to get to the proper solution, even if it took me hours. I remember that one time I sat working for two hours straight to get a two-digit answer. It sounds bad, yes, but when I put the pen down and rested back in my chair, I felt absolutely elated. When I found out that I had been the only one to get to the solution, I was glowing with pride.

Why did I feel compelled to talk about math of all things? Well because of the common misconception that liking things most people dislike (or vice versa) doesn’t make you normal. Continue reading “I like math.”

Inanity · Reading · Writing

WebMD recommends panicking and reading breaks.

Placing myself on a self-imposed reading ban has always been out of the question. I loved books too much to do that. Even when I swamped with work and exams, I would make sure I shared a few minutes with fictional characters. And it’s not just books either, I also love reading blogs. One of my favourite activities during the day is browsing through my Reader and picking out the posts that seemed interesting to me. However, for the past week or so I’ve avoided both.

It started with the headaches. I spend at least 10 hours of my day sitting before a computer screen, working, browsing the internet, talking to friends, then I spend at least an hour per day reading, sometimes even when I’m dead tired and yearning to go to bed. Ten days ago my head started pounding persistently. I ignored the pain at first, tried to tame it with a couple of pills, but it continued. I went to bed and woke up in the morning and the headache was still there. Then my vision became a bit blurry and oh boy did I panic. A visit to my nearest WebMD made me absolutely positive I had brain cancer, and I spent a couple of days drowning in depression and trying to figure out how much time I had left.

Not really my finest hour, I’ll grant you that. Continue reading “WebMD recommends panicking and reading breaks.”

General · Writing

Hello. My name is Zeinab.

nameThat’s my official name on paper, the name I sign my credit card purchases with, the name I give when somebody wants to list me down for something; however, I go by a different name among my inner circles – Zen. In a way it feels like having a double identity. Formally I’m Zeinab, a quiet, reserved girl who never toes the line and stays behind her books. Informally I’m Zen, a clumsy dork who enjoys childish things and eats more chocolate than is healthy.

My parents gave me the first name that occurred to them. Maybe if they had slept on it instead of naming me within the hour of my birth, they would’ve realized I’m not much of a Zeinab. It’s not that I dislike it, but I’m just not sure if it suits me. To be honest, I don’t even know what other name I would’ve chosen for myself instead, but I would’ve definitely preferred something less common. It’s a bit discomfiting when one out of 10-20 girls bears my name… at least where I live. If you stand on a crowded street and call that name, you will be sure to turn the heads of a considerable number of girls.

What does it mean? Zeinab is an Arabic name that stands for “Daddy’s precious jewel” or “a fragrant plant”, though my parents didn’t choose it for its meaning – even though dad did spoil me a lot and mum did make sure I always smelled nice – but rather because it’s the name of an important historical character. It’s been also said that Zeinabs are associated with chubby, rosy cheeks, so I guess that part hits the mark, haha. How do you pronounce it? Zay-nab. Incidentally, my new “identity” came about because my little cousin found it difficult to pronounce it and took to calling me “Zen”. I didn’t mind it; in fact, I felt more at home with it. My friends thought it was cool, and the name stuck and expanded to include variations like Zenny and ZenZen. Some people called me ZeeZee Za Zombie (and still do)… but that’s a story for another time. 😉

General · Inanity · Writing

The roads are a safer place without me.

drivingDriving terrifies me. There I said it. I’m scared of getting behind the wheel and navigating the streets… especially the streets in Lebanon. They are such a disaster. No rules anywhere, motorcycles crisscrossing all over the place, no street lights, cars cutting you off without so much as a warning, people who choose to walk on streets instead of sidewalks… the list is endless.

However, you’ll be surprised to learn that I do actually have a driving license, even if I don’t put it to use. My parents are always nagging me to get a car because they don’t want me riding cabs everyday, and they always end their argument with, “If you never wanted to drive, then why on Earth did you go and get a license?” In fact, my mother said that to me just this morning, which is incidentally what prompted me to write about this.

Well, to be honest, I did want to drive at first, but my driving adventures weren’t really encouraging. Continue reading “The roads are a safer place without me.”