How to Live With a Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head (Or Cut Off His)

Right. So you’ve been introduced to the revolutionary. Well done! You apparently did not get scared or bored to a stupor, which is a miracle in itself. You’ve also passed the Danger Examination, and it seems you’ve understood that the revolutionary doesn’t see the world through the same lenses as you.

And yet you’re still here. I’m impressed.

Now let’s see what you make of waking up with the revolutionary.

Oooh you might think this is a pretty straightforward situation, after all, what is there to fear with waking up with somebody? Surely, the revolutionary is also a human being, who wakes up with bad hair and needs at least a gallon of coffee to kick off a revolution somewhere? I mean, I’m sure Vlado Illitch himself could not stomach the Materialist Dialectic way too early before cherry tea, couldn’t he?

How I envy your naivety. It really pains me to break it to you, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

The Revolutionary thinks and breathes and sleeps the Revolution. You think he’s deep into his slumbler, blissfully oblivious to the world, dreaming, as you do, of sandy beaches and peace of mind (but maybe that’s just me), while in fact he might have his eyes closed, but in truth, his brain is assessing the need to have the bourgeoisie on your side while you’re starting a revolution and then needing to get rid of all those nasty bourgeois interests when building the communist society, which I’m sure you’ll agree, is no easy task. The struggle must never stop my Comrade, don’t be lazy and sleep like a depraved member of the obsolete aristocracy: use your body needs to support society in its never ending painful conflict with the oppressor!

But let us not get carried away, for it’s not the Revolutionary’s sleep that is of interest to us, but rather, his waking hours.

The revolutionary will wake up, fresh from his 3 hours night sleep (what with all the thinking, the going to bed at 4 after having spoken with his Comrades and having drafted one or two manifestos, the revolutionary will not manage to get more than that, and that’s just when he’s not on a square somewhere asking for the demise of a dictator) and will pay his respects to the Revolution. That would usually be done by the singing of songs at the top of his lungs, most of aformentionned songs talking about struggle, solidarity, humanity, and the need to reverse this awful unjust order. Therefore, you should be well advised to be prepared to listen to L’internationale in various languages (c’est la luuuuutteuh finaleuuuh), to Ciao Bella, to Nahna Al Thawra wou el Ghadab, or any revolutionary song that will make the revolutionary sing and jump out of bed and re-energise him.

Needless to say, you’ll still be half asleep, dreaming of coffee and of rusty axes, wishing murder was not a criminal offence and debating in your head how lenient a jury would be. You’re thinking very.

 Now listen carefully. The revolutionary will try and make you join in his all singing all advocating performance.

Do not join in under any circumstances. I repeat. Do.Not.Join.Him.Under.Any.Circumstances. You don’t want to be seen encouraging a behaviour whose long terms effects might lead you to prison for killing said revolutionary with a smack of Das Kapital on the head.  Even if you feel like it. Even if you want to humour him because it’s his birthday. Be strong. There will be no 8 o’clock in the morning singing for you.

Just accept and get used to the fact that most people wake up thinking about work, life,their to do lists, put on some normal music, make loads and loads of coffee, go out to buy croissants, rush like hell to catch buses and trains, while the revolutionary will do what he does best: planning the revolution. In Music. Thinking he has a great voice, a leader’s voice, and perhaps he should throw in a pretend speech to his “people”, made in front of his mirror?

You’ll be witness to more speeches than you care to mention, but if that saves you from singing l’Internationale, your hand on your heart and tears brimming your eyes, I think you’ll be fine.

To all the revolutionaries who went to sleep during the demonstrations in the Middle East and never woke up: your voice will always be missed. Rest in Peace.

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Child Dies in Agony over Her Imprisoned Father

An 11-year-old child from Hebron died Thursday night, two years after having serious health deterioration when she was not allowed to hug her father held in an Israeli jail.

Abeer Skafi went two years ago to visit her father, Yousef, in the Naqab prison, where he is serving four life sentences for his role in fighting the Israeli occupation. He had been in prison eight years when Abeer was visiting him.

According to relatives, a thick glass was separating between Abeer and her father and when she was not able to hold him, she started pounding very hard on the glass, screaming and crying.

A week later, her teacher in school noticed that she was not able to hold a pen in her right hand, and the family noticed that Abeer was not able to use her right hand for anything. She was taken to doctors, who said that he had problems in the nerves.

Her health continued to deteriorate since then to a point she was not able to speak or move. Doctors inJordan, where her family took her for examination, said she was suffering from nervous breakdown.

Few days ago, Abeer went into a coma and doctors in Hebron were not able to do anything to save her life. She was pronounced dead Thursday night. Abeer was buried Friday in a large funeral in Hebron.

The reality of the occupation. Heartbraking. Disgusting.

Moi, J’ai Peur

J’ai peur quand j’entends les journaux télévisés égrener le nombre de morts comme s’ils parlaient de l’état catastrophique des tomates de M. Durand, honnête citoyen indigné de la médiocre production de son potager.

J’ai peur de regarder les vidéos sur YouTube, qui vous montrent en live direct des hommes, des êtres humains, se faire trucider par des ombres, par des assassins invisibles qui distribuent la mort, la plupart sans aucune notion de ce qu’ils sont en train de faire, juste pour l’effarante raison qu’on leur en a donné l’ordre. Je ne me suis forcée à regarder qu’une seule vidéo de manifestation réprimée dans le sang, en Libye. Ca m’a suffit, j’ai eu la nausée pendant une semaine. Je sais que l’on tue, je n’arrive juste pas à regarder la boucherie en face.

J’ai peur de la désinformation, j’ai peur d’être manipulée.

J’ai peur de retrouver un jour un nom familier dans le chapelet macabre, noyé au milieu des larmes des autres familles et amis, de me retrouver seule face à cette douleur, car on est toujours seul face à la douleur, impossible de la partager celle-là, et tant mieux, à quoi bon?

J’ai peur de la fin du printemps, couleur de sang.

J’ai peur de la respiration haletante des gens qui rendent l’âme sur mon écran d’ordinateur, leurs cris de liberté interrompu par leur souffle raréfié et sifflant, leurs hululements de Horriyé! entrecoupés de prières à Dieu, de supplications. J’espère que Dieu leur réserve un aller express pour le Paradis, j’espère qu’il allège leurs souffrances dans leurs derniers instants. Il y a mourir dans son lit et il y a mourir sur le bitume brûlant d’une ville qu’on a trop aimé, en homme et en femme libre. Ceux-là on fait un choix que je me demande si j’aurais le courage de suivre.

Par dessus tout, j’ai peur d’avoir peur. J’ai peur de me plier aux stratégies des monstres: frapper un coup, fort. Les tétaniser. Couper l’élan, tuer l’espoir. Répéter jusqu’à annihilation totale et intégrale des forces vitales d’un pays. Faire Peur. L’horreur comme arme, et le fusil pour conscience. Je veux me dire que moi aussi, le jour venu, je saurai répondre à l’appel de la liberté, sans avoir peur, comme ces millions d’hommes et de femmes qui, eux aussi, ont eu peur, mais se sont décidés à se battre.

Devenant, instantanément, libres.

How to Live With A Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head (Or Wanting His)

Chapter 2: On Danger

Beware, for we’re approaching minefields (No I mean it. Literally).

You’d think you pretty much have everybody’s approach to danger, or even understanding of the concept. Danger: 1. Exposure or vulnerability to harm or risk. 2. A source or an instance of risk or peril, as in, the basic neanderthalian reflex that doesn’t go further than: Oh Lordy, Big Saber-Toothed Tiger charging me, run my good man run!

You might. The Revolutionary, however, doesn’t exactly see it that way. You will soon come to realise that the Revolutionary seems to have another dictionnary than the lovely Petit Larousse you were provided with when you were twelve, which sometimes makes communication, nevermind agreeing on the meaning of terms, as easy as making Che Guevara work at the World Bank.

Take Danger for example. You’d think danger is a pretty consensual notion wouldn’t you? Well guess what?? It’s NOT (mad hysterical cackle, for justification of hysteria, kindly do not see Freud (that liar), but below)

Indeed, you’d think that visiting conflict ridden areas (while the conflict is ongoing, complete with bombings, and rocket launchings and sniper shootings of all sorts) might just be a teeny tiny, well, risky, thing to do one might say. Dangerous, someone else might add. Pretty damn unconscious, a grumpier soul would argue.

The Revolutionary will have his bags packed in no times, a glimmer of excitment (or madness, all depends from which angle you’re taking it) shining in his eyes, his visa stamped on his passport and his Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution safely tucked under his arm (let’s not push it and forget the basics now shall we?), while you’ll be looking at him gawping, your mind unable to fathom the fact that yes, he’s going, no it’s not dangerous, do not worry. He will therefore take his bags and go, full of courage and determination, eager to talk to people on the ground, to support them, to learn from them, to exchange with them, and really, who cares about a tiny little shrapnel? Pah! it was only a Leg anyway, really who needs it? Don’t be so bourgeois.

You see, the Revolutionary really doesn’t have the same image of danger as you. However, it is worth noting that the Revolutionary has a double standard and will not let you accompany him, ”because for you it’s dangerous” sign that he either thinks he’s God (and let us not fool ourselves, the Revolutionary hardly believes in God, People’s Opium, Conservatism and all that) or that he does have some sort of a common sense of danger, only that he doesn’t think  it applies to him in any way. The Revolutionary will even try to protect you by distance by not telling you things. Note: I never said lie. I say “not tell you”,which entiles a silence during which your heart will skip several beats (that can’t be good screams to hypochondriac in me), only for him to finally answer your 235 messages by “All is Well! Sorry! Was in Demo”. To which you’ll either feel you want to severe his head with a rusty axe, or cry of relief that’s he’s not injured or dead or has been arrested and is currently detained in communicado or tortured or all of the above or even be a little jealous that, you know, you after kinda wanted to be at the demo too (because his passion is starting to rub off on you, as said previously and of course never a good thing).

In the end, the things you might feel the most are pride and inspiration, because after all, isn’t it thanks to revolutionaries that we have a glimmer of hope of a better world?

Nous, Les Peuples

 

Un petit peuple libre est plus grand qu’un peuple grand peuple esclave.
Victor Hugo

Ils pensent que je suis bête, que l’on peut me flouer, me manipuler, me faire peur et me faire marcher à la baguette. C’est vrai que j’ai une capacite de résistance et d’endurance qui va jusqu’a dépasser l’entendement. Malheureusement pour eux, ils n’ont toujours pas compris que je peux tout supporter, en gardant dans mon coeur l’espérance de jours meilleurs, puis un jour, j’explose, et ils se retrouvent désemparés. Comment, se demandent-ils, oui, comment est-il possible que ces veaux (j ai ete taxé de nombreux epithètes plus ou moins glorieux à travers les âges) restent endormis des decennies durant, puis se réveillent et crient comme mille sirenes hurlantes? Alors ils cherchent de coupables, à peu près partout sauf là où ils risquent de les trouver, parce que les seuls coupables, ce sont eux, ils cherchent des coupables et me traitent de traître, me disent que je suis aidé des autres, de l exterieur, d’une entité abstraite qui m’est aussi étrangère que l’air parfumé et poudré de leurs palaces quatre étoiles . D’un seul coup je deviens un espion, un rebelle, l ‘ennemi à abattre. Mais moi, je ne veux que du pain, mes droits et de l’espoir. Je me bats comme une bête enragée si je n ai pas ces choses, parce qu’alors je ne vis plus, et donc je lève mon point et je supporte les balles, les coups et les viols. Je n’ai pas peur, à quoi bon puisqu’en ces minutes je suis immortel, et je me soulève comme une vague, la lame de la marée humaine de justice me porte et m’emmène à la victoire, tandis qu’eux, perplexes, continuent à s’interroger, mais qui les a informé de leurs droits ceux-la, ils n’ont pas compris que moi, je n ai pas besoin qu l’on m’ éduque à la liberté, je n’ai pas besoin qu’un homme vienne m’apprendre la dignité, ces choses-là, je les connais, elles sont inherentes à ma nature, elles font partie de la condition des  femmes et des hommes qui me composent. Je connais mon propre chemin, et je le suis, malgré les coups et les baffes, malgré les déceptions et les mensonges, malgre mes membres qui tombent pour ne plus se relever, heureux dans la joie d’être morts des hommes et des femmes libres. Je garde ma tête haute et mon esprit en ebullition, je suis le peuple, je n’ai ni frontieres ni religion, je suis le même aux quatre coins du globe, Ma patrie est l’humanité, ma mère et ma fille sont révolutions.

Je suis le peuple, immuable et indestructible, la justice est mon drapeau, liberte est mon credo. 

Put your face on

I wouldn’t want to run
Into him looking like I feel.
Carrie Bradshaw

Let he or she or thee who has never put a brave face on cast the first lipstick.

Make up truly is a lovely thing. I mean, it s all there in the words isn’t? Make up, as in, making something up, like making happiness up. You can fake your rosy cheeks and eye lashes and pretend all is well, too. Us women really have this advantage over men. Poor souls, it’s all right there on their faces, their sleepless nights spent agonizing over things, their anxieties, their rough mornings, while us women can just take that Mac concealer and bask in our eight hour cream and no one will ever need to know we spent all night crying in our corner, quietly. Make up
is a shield against people’s questions, against their whispers (foundation’s big with battered women) against their plain speaking: hi, what’s wrong you look like shit?As I’m a woman of too many words, these questions can be dangerous with me and I tend to use make up as the social equivalent of cold cream: it smoothes things around without being sticky, so you don’t have to feel you wished you’d never ask.
Pretence and society go hand in hand, helped by the almighty cosmetic, for what would become of us if we started jumping at people’s throats right left and center screaming our last woes? Could you imagine the horrror? Oh hi, How are you? You look a bit peaky this morning? WAAAAHHH YEEEEESSSSSS I hate my liiiiiife (please insert tears, hair tearing, manic look and all round scary shocking behaviour as you see fit). No, clearly not the way to go.
And then there are the days when even pretence is superfluous, when lifting your hand to apply kohl is beyond you, when it s all right there, on your bare little face, when your hollow eyes and dark circles say it all. No more acting, the gloves are off. I ll always remember my sister’s reaction at the funeral of a loved one, she looked at me and said; you took your make up off? I had never put it on, what for? Death has this way about it, it renders everything else incongruously useless, you re kind of washed by the absoluteness of it, the definiteness of it. The equality of it. No make up needed for death, it sees underneath anyway. So i was spooked by the numbers of “you re pale be careful” that I got that day, it was kind of bitter sweet really, all these women panda eyed from the crying and the mascara, telling me i looked empty and pale.
Every day has a different reason for make up, whether it’s a mundane thing or a more serious issue, that’s why I tend to try not to judge women who wear too much of it. Maybe they’re protecting themselves. Maybe they just sodding well likeit, maybe it cheers them up in the morning, just to give themselves a really dramatic look as a really good kick off start of day.
After all, most of the times, don t I just wear it out of habit and because, wel,l fuck it, I love pretty colours.

How to Live With A Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head (Or His)

Introduction

As of today, on the good advice of my lovely and too talented for words Lebanese illustrator Maya Zankoul, I shall begin describing the oh so exciting life of living with a revolutionary. Now don’t get me wrong, I take very seriously revolutions and have high respect for revolutionaries currently risking their lives around the world at this very moment, braving with undescribable courage the cruelty of the regimes that are oppressing them. I have and will always take my pen (or keyboard, as it happens) to talk about their struggles, as I will always use my will and everything that I have to support them in any way I can (and therefore associate myself with them, and become part of their movement). That being said, I’m only trying to use humour as a way to alleviate the anxiety that we can feel sometimes when living with revolutionaries, them being your friends, lovers, husbands, wives, or what have you. I’m just waiting for someone to start writing about how it feels to live with a writer, which would turn them into writers themselves, and let us stop there, my head hurts.

Chapter 1: Generalities on the Revolutionary

Insurrection is an art, and like all arts has its own laws.
Leon Trotsky

First of all, brace yourself for the very entrance of the Revolutionary’s room and prepare your eyes. A fondness for checked fabric would be a plus in a revolutionary’s partner, as you will see a lot of these hanging around, so much so that you’d soon think you’ve entered the Headquarters of the PLO, half expecting Abu Ammar to jump at you from behind the bookshelf (The Revolutionary Bookshelf will be extensively treated in a subsequent chapter, do not worry). You will soon learn all there is to know about the last Keffiyeh Factory in Nablus (many times over), about how the cheap Chinese imitations are slowly killing a once flourishing industry, and against your better judgement, you will actually start caring (Beware, for revolutionaries have a knack for communicating their passion, be careful or you might turn into one of them). Soon, you will be picking up Keffiyehs right, left and center, the revolutionary having bought half of the production of the factory in his indignation, almost wanting to go to China and have a word with Hu Jintao to tell him he has betrayed the Founding Fathers (Marx and Trotsky, who else) and is a traitor (which he is. See, what have i told you, turning into one of them).

The revolutionary is deeply human, and cares about everything and everyone, explaining things to you, to his computer, to his mother who’s trying to keep up with all the atrocities and injustice the world is facing, to his friends who mostly don’t care or to his other revolutionary friends (also known as Comrades) with whom he will build all kinds of plans. Which brings us nicely to our second general thing you need to know: be patient, and don’t have sleeping troubles, for the revolutionary WILL have late night calls with other Comrades, he WILL yell at his computer for not working properly at a crucial moment (should we or should we not accept foreign interference? No! That’s Imperialism! And then Skype connection fails and all hell breaks loose) and he WILL toss and turn in his sleep, thinking of about a million things, which of course he won’t share with anyone (why do you think all revolutionaries have sexy smouldering looks? Why do you think no revolutionary has ever been on a yoga retreat? think people think!)

Last but not least, the revolutionary is very passionate, and you can be assured he thinks about the revolution 24/7, to the point that you sometimes wonder whether he’s actually aware of your presence. Now listen to me carefully, as this is your cue to ask whatever you’d like. Wait for the revolutionary to be very quiet. Check he’s not sleeping (for he might, what with all these late nights). If he isn’t, make sure he’s engrossed in a letter of Rosa Luxembourg to lover Leo Jochiges, in Polish translated in Russian. Then go ahead and ask! He’ll give you a non commital shrug and a mmm mmm which will force him to acknowledge the fact much later, when he’s come to, that he agreed and that he will have to grant you whatever you’ve asked. See? Bliss! Of course, such passion can also have pernicious effects, as he might not notice you’re asleep with your glasses on your nose and your books strewns around you and you wake up with a terrible headache while he saw you but did not even notice you had your glasses on. As in, they’re part of your anatomy. Pathetic.

But have no fear: revolutionaries tend to be passionate about revolution, but mostly, they’re passionate about people. He’ll talk about you so much everywhere that 1) you’ll be internationally known and 2)families will send you gifts even if they don’t know you (now is it because they feel sorry for you, you’ll never and don’t want to know).

I trust you will take these few tips at heart next time you will meet a revolutionary (and beware of the fakes, wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt does not a revolutionary make).