on vulnerability — notes

February 18, 2011 § 2 Comments

beautiful and funny ted talk on vulnerability.  here.

h/t natural attachment

connection is why we are here

shame is the fear of disconnection.  is there something about me that if other people know it or see it, that i wont be worthy of connection.

the only people who dont experience shame do not have the capacity for human empathy or connection.  no one wants to talk about it. and the more you talk about it, the less you have it.

in order for connection to happen, we have to allow our selves to be seen, really seen.

the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging, believe they are worthy of love and belonging.  the thing that keeps us out of connection, is the feeling that we dont deserve connection.


whole heartedness

–a sense of courage (to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.)

–compassion to themselves first and others

–connection as a result of authenticity.  willing to let go of who they should be, to be who they were

–fully embraced vulnerability.  what made them vulnerable, made them beautiful.  willingness to do something where there are no guarantees.  vulnerability is fundamental, not comfortable or excruciating, just necessary.


vulnerability is the birth place of love joy creativity


-we numb vulnerability.   you cannot selectively numb emotions.  you cant numb the hard feelings without also numbing joy gratitude happiness.  and then we feel purposeless, no meaning.  and then we feel vulnerable. and then we numb again.  a cycle.

-we make the uncertain, certain.  just certain.

blame – a way to discharge pain and discomfort

-we perfect.

-we pretend that what we doesnt have an effect impact on other people.


-to let ourselves be deeply seen.  to love with our whole heart even though there is no guarantee.  to practice gratitude and joy.  to believe we are enough.


awake for it.

February 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

what i realized during the 18 days was that there was no one particular role i wanted or needed to play.  what i felt compelled to do was understand the revolution.  from as many sides as possible.  and by understand, i mean experience, get close to, get underneath, witness, live, breathe it.  and then be able to respond to what was happening in the moment it was happening.

which meant sometimes i was a protester with a scarf soaked in vinegar over my nose.

and sometimes i was a mama explaining to aza what was going on outside.

and sometimes i was a friend offering a drink and a smoke.

and sometimes i was a medic offering medicines and advice.

and sometimes i was a writer taking notes and hitting ‘publish’

and sometimes i was a photographer with a camera and a smile.

and sometimes i was a translator trying to relay impossible questions.

and sometimes i was the researcher/analyst reading about the history and the future of the region

and sometimes i was just tired or confused or overwhelmed or scared or cranky or insomniac.

but underneath it all, i kept hearing this little voice saying, just understand it.  just be in it.  so you can understand it.  pay attention.  pay attention.  keep waking up.

we have to keep waking up again and again.  its not a one time thing.  to be fully awake is a constant re-awakening from that half-sleep state of mind that we lapse into like a habit.  that state where we stop paying attention and instead get all lost in our heads in fantasies about the past and the future and the not here and not now.  and then we catch ourselves and we wake back up.

this is the internal revolution, to wake back up fully.  during an external revolution.  and both of these revolutions, the personal and the political, are constantly being refreshed.  we fall into half-sleep state.  we fall into social complacency and oppressions.  and then we revolt.

to fully awakenedness for a moment.

and then we just do what needs to be done.


on tuesday million man march in tahrir

February 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

quick story.


so a bunch of us were going to tahrir.  and as the protests continued the checkpoints (run by protesters) to get into tahrir became more strict and numerous.  at the last checkpoint, we were all asked to show our id.  when our friend, o, egyptian filmaker, was asked for his id, he looked at the checkpoint guy and said, let me see your id.

check point guy didnt have an id, it turns out.

then how the fuck are you going to ask for my id, when you dont have one???

they start to argue.  loudly.  but o stands his ground and after a couple of minutes we get into tahrir square.

i just laugh.  this is a whole new world.  where no one can tell who is king and who is pauper anymore.  people having to negotiate power and authority in whole new ways.

how to support a revolution

February 17, 2011 § 3 Comments

what i learned in the past month and past 31 years…

–offer free babysitting for folks who are going to hit the streets or do other kinds of work/revolt that is more difficult with children around

–let people sleep on your couch, bed, mattress, floor.  offer crash space.

–if you have internet.  share internet w those who dont.

–keep the bar stocked.

–keep cigarettes stocked

–if you have al jazeera english.  let folks come over and watch. call folks with the latest news if you know they dont have access.

–keep basic first aid supplied handy

–be a street medic. ( i will never forget the guy who came to me with coca cola to blow in my nose to off set the effects of tear gas.  it fucking worked.)

–if you can translate, do so.  like it was so helpful when we could watch state tv and have someone translate for us, or watch aje and vice versa for the arabic speakers.

–joke and laugh a lot.  morbid jokes are totally appropriate.

–trust chaos. (fighting it accomplishes nada)

–keep food stocked. (you never know who is coming by.  or when stores will be open or closed. )

–take pictures.  document.  reflect the revolution to the world.  tell the stories.

–fight. if you cant fight on the front lines, support the people who are fighting on the front lines.

–remember its not about you or me.  its about freedom.

–model self care.  (ppl who need to take time to take care of themselves are more likely to do so when they know that others around them are doing the same.)


notes on a (continuing) revolution

February 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

–there are a bunch of thoughts running through my head about the ousting of mubarak and suleiman (omg we did it!) and how the revolution continues and how a lot of analysis i am reading coming out of the states doesnt seem to take into account that the revolution is not over to those who are most relevant in the discussion — the freedom fighters who put everything on the line to bring us to this huge first step.

–which leads me to thoughts about how i am getting exhausted by reading analysis by people who write as if they know what is needed next.  all yr predictions were wrong so far, a month ago egypt wasnt even on yr radar, and now you know what folks here need to do to be free?

–really havent been able to write properly lately.  they just come out as little sketches and notes.  still processing a lot of it–mentally physically emotionally.

–there were a few moments when i was afraid.  when the gunshots got too close.  too many friends getting arrested.  walking on october 6th bridge in the middle of the afternoon during clashes.  aza telling me she had a dream that she was shot by the police, but then she flew into the air so they couldnt reach her…

–there were many many moments when i was amazed, and filled with wonder.  when we took over july 26th bridge from the police despite the tear gas and riot cops gear.  the community members organizing themselves to defend their neighborhoods.  h, who spent days and nights at tahrir, after the police beat him and broke his leg while they imprisoned him for four days after jan 25.  he had a cane, a cast, a lap top, his guitar, and a bag full of change.  the way my friends just took care of the freedom fighters, journalists, artists, protesters — they basically ran a guest house for two weeks, free of charge, with much love, and a good dose of alcohol.

–so much thanks to jo and kelsey who did free babysitting for us while we cal and i went down to tahrir.

–i know.  in my bones.  what freedom feels like.

–seeing anarchy and chaos at work.  beautiful.


more pics from tahrir sq protests

February 9, 2011 § 4 Comments

family at tahrir sq protests last week

woman in front of the checkpoints to enter tahrir sq.

one more bad ass woman at the tahrir protests

aza and i dancing at tahrir’s million man march

February 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

some notes on a revolution…

February 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

also wrote this a few days ago:

—honestly, i LOVE that there is no leader of this movement.  i think that the lack of up-down leadership is one of the strengths of the movement, not a weakness.  because there is no single leader, no political party that can claim this movement as its own, millions (srsly millions) of people can and do participate from all walks of life.  when i walk through the crowds in tahrir sq.  it feels like everyone is making this movement their own.

—i am not really concerned with what happens next.  i say let this moment be what it is.  it is too beautiful to destroy with our need to control it by forecasting the future.  two weeks i knew no one who thought that a little protest on police day could come so close to bringing down not only the egyptian govt, but spark other govts as well to make concessions to the ‘will of the people’.  we can live inside this moment of uncertainty.  we can be ignorant of what to do next.  we can take a deep breath and trust that if we have gotten this far into a revolution we will know what to do when it is time to act.  im not against organization.  i just dont think that organization needs to be imposed on an organic process.  let us remember that chaos creates its own patterns that we cannot predict but we can appreciate the beauty and symmetry.

—ok and fuck mubarak’s concessions.  let me make this clear, if the people decided, okay, mubarak is going to step down in the fall, so lets just go home and be glad that we made the impact that we did, the next few months would be a reign of hell.  mubarak would have no accountability.  and most likely he would arrest, terrorize, destroy every activist, protester, revolutionary that he and his secret police could get their hands on.  revenge.  he would get revenge.  the state violence during the summer would reach levels that i dont want to imagine.  no. no. no.  furthermore, he would reify a system in which he still had influence and control over the govt.  and the elections would be rigged.  his party, the ndp, would win.  of course.  no. no. no.  this is a revolution.  mubarak and his govt and his cronies have to go.

time’s up.

game’s over.

system down.

—personally, and this is just me, i speak for no one else, as an international, a us citizen living in egypt, i feel compelled to stay.  for so many reasons.  but one reason that burns brightly is…look, a lot of us americans come to egypt.  work, study, live.  for years.  because egypt was a stable country.  whatever violence was happening was not a concern to us citizens who were protected.  our tax dollars paid for the stability.  that stability that we enjoyed was based on the violence, structural and direct, that the egyptian and refugee people endured.  and now that people are saying, no more, no more violence, no more mubarak, leaving because it is no longer that stable safe space seems, for me, hypocritical.

i benefited from the violence, aka stability, of the mubarak regime.

if i thought that aza was in danger, then i would leave.  but she is not in danger.

she is getting to see what freedom looks like.  close up.  on the ground.  in the air.

some images of the revolution off the blackberry

February 9, 2011 § Leave a comment


boy teaching girl how to throw rocks in front of a mosque on tahrir sq.

mother carrying child during protests on friday--day of rage

fuck mubarak in red graffitti

woman standing with two children, one of whom holds the egyptian flag

ctr + alt + delete system down

tear gas hitting the nile river

a few pics from the first week of the protests.  it has been amazing to witness and participate in.  people finding their own sense of freedom and working to create a new world.

we apologize for any inconvenience

February 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

we apologize for any inconvenience, but this is a revolution

–subcomandante marcos, jan 1, 1994

so ive mostly been blogging on my tumblr account about being in the midst of the egyptian revolution.  (i do not think the word ‘revolution’ is overblown. whether or not it succeeds or fails, it is a revolution…)

wrote this about a week ago:

Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000167 EndHTML:0000003724 StartFragment:0000002243 EndFragment:0000003708in cairo, the past week:

they closed the phones for nearly two days.

and the internet for five.

and the banks for five days.

everyday curfew moved up from 6pm, to 4pm, to 3 pm, to 1 pm.  most people didnt give a damn about curfew and the streets were filled with folks carrying signs, laughing, shouting, taking pics on the cell phone, dancing in the streets.

you know when people are free.  the joy.  the sheer joy, exhausted joy, limping joy, dizzy joy, but always joy.  that.  that is freedom.

we are so fortunate, so amazingly fortunate, to get to witness this.  a revolution.  how quickly a people can go from apathy to determination.  how a spark can set fire to city.  and how no matter how powerful a regime, the secret police, the untouchable dictator, no matter how secure the controls — people can choose the uncertainty of freedom over the deadening silence of safety and false peace.

aza will remember this.  she will remember not to trust the police and their false promises of security.  she will remember that feeling of being in the midst of a free people.

i do not know what will come next.  if it will fall into self-destruction, or rise beyond what we can imagine.  but for now.  this is the bright light of anarchy.  this is so very tender and human.

“Danger has been a part of my life ever since I picked up a pen and wrote. Nothing is more perilous than truth in a world that lies.”

—nawal el saadawi


“Déjeme decirle, a riesgo de parecer ridículo, que el revolucionario verdadero está guiado por grandes sentimientos de amor.”

Ernesto “Che” Guevara

“Let me tell you, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”

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