Lebanon As I Know It

In the mountains of Lebanon
In the mountains of Lebanon

A place where heat drips from your neck to the small of your back with no respite in sight, the Mediterranean sun praising you for the entirety of the day.

Fall asleep to the sounds of the sea on a balcony that’s been struck by a civil war and still it gently cradles you as you slumber only to wake to rusted speakers that blare calls to prayer before the sun peeks.  An unearthly sensation. . . . celestial.

Stroll Beirut where every one person has three tongues, feel the rush of Tripoli as the night stirs within ancient bath houses in narrow alleyways.  Feel your chest expand in Zahle,  the sweets melt your heart. And the people……like Phoenician beauties.

In Lebanon you learn that in each of its cities you can live for only today and every other moment.. well. .  it all hangs in the most sensitive of balances.  Graciousness is a given, hospitality present in abundance, life is at its most fragile.  And yet I breathe relief and belonging in no other place.

City At Its Finest

#Paris walking. #france #5thArr #travel

A photo posted by N C (@habibitoo) on

A metropolis at its best. City bikes. Vast underground Tracks. Tubes. Taxis.

Patisseries. Brasseries. Boucheries.

Decades of technique, layers of flavor, centuries of history, pride carried in language and culture.

Sit, lounge and walk slow. Taste . . . loveliness. Don’t watch, observe.

Each arrondissement has its unique offerings. You’re just incapable of seeing it all and understanding it all.

Paris. Epicenter.

Where the lights don’t dim.

Calling It Quits @ 1am

A LGBTQ Pride kickoff party in NYC @ Avenue Lounge and nightclub.
A LGBTQ Pride kickoff party in NYC @ Avenue Lounge and nightclub.

There’s nothing like leaving a club at 1am and while you’re already having you’re after-drinks slice of pie you notice that those who are 10 years younger than you are just barely arriving at the clubs.  Did I also mention it was a WEDNESDAY night?!

Look, I can dance with the best of them and drink with the worst of them but staying out late on a workday is just not reality for me anymore!  I need to stack my paper, manage people, get invoices paid, type coherent emails.

So ya, while you are leaving home . . . I am heading back.  I am OK with that, no really.

Vieques Left Plenty of Sand in My Luggage

Sunset in Vieques, Puerto Rico

Slow and sandy Vieques where the liveliest moments are when the roosters rise with the light. Life that is truly timed by the sun and the moon. An island that possesses beaches created by a goddesses’ vision.

Life spent here is spent fulfilled and not for someone else’s dreams. This land is one of the pages to the book that teaches me about what life should be. Clear waters that calm the mind, relieve the soul, ease the heart and warmth that heals any ailment.

Enlighten Me New York

Enlighten Me New York

My day started with a haircut but progressed into something much more.  I got to meet Jonathan who asked that I take his picture, his energy: enthusiastic and hopeful with a smile that’s contagious. Guards down and an open heart.  Around the corner I spotted Louis Mendes an artist (http://nyti.ms/ZhahFK) who’s picture-perfect Taking a photo of a photographer can always make you sweat a little and his “you have one shot” didn’t make it easier.  He’s calm, cool and collected.  Lastly, on my way home Uptown I stop at 59th St and get introduced to the audio of Malang Jobarteh, he plays Gambian Kora, smiles, sings and exposes our ears to sounds that fill the underground.

Here in New York, I get to experience those who want to share their life, who are positive, creative, warm.

Focusing only on getting from point A to point B lends itself to missed interactions and exchange. There’s a whole distance between those 2 points.  While I am here ‘being’ on this level of existence I look forward to enlightening moments.

Phnom Penh: The Direct Line to My Soul

Gifts for Angkor Wat Buddha

70 hours of traveling to see 8 million people in a 3rd-world country leading to a 3rd-eye awakening.

Circling back to Phnom Penh was the cherry on top. It is the Beirut of Southeast Asia, the New York City of the Orient. Fresh from a civil war, it’s a puzzle far from solved as men drive Bentleys yet infants sleep on the sidewalk concrete.  Corruption in plain sight. Foot traffic that’s nonstop. Six Cambodia money-women for every middle-aged white man. The locals throw stares that may be followed by a smile. A country that gets by on charm and the want for economic and social commerce. Ox and child bathe in the same soiled pond. The country will remind you that every possession in your luggage has no connection to your soul.

Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Koh Rong and back; the Cambodia I got to meet. She’s complicated but patient and continues to survive regardless of her past and hardships.

Now back to New York, where life comes too easily. With this experience in my back pocket I can only hope to gain more understanding, patience and compassion. One step forward as to realize that my life is not meant to be lost in the daily grind. It’s to be utilized, enjoyed, remain vulnerable and most of all, shared.

San Francisco in Transition

Castro Gay District in San Francisco

I want to observe you in absolute admirable awe of the fact I can’t put you in a category, I appreciate the grey in what most can only comprehend in black & white. It’s not a matter of questioning to understand but rather just accepting. Reacting in “is that a boy, girl….andro, femme boy. . . ?” is not where we should be, because I’m going to take a look at you and let go of that small box that the world puts you in and when my turn is up, I’ll want you to take the lid of mine.

So….. slow, sweet San Francisco reminded me of the appreciation I have for FTMs & MTFs.  It allowed me to spend the first day questioning even the biomen & biowomen but everyday past that being grateful for realizing I don’t need those sorts of “definitions”.  Just be. Love and acceptance will come.

Paying It Forward

I’m not very keen on handouts ya see?

So when I chose to swipe my metro and enter the underground only to find that I forgot to put in my gauged ear plugs leaving my lobes a stretched mess I knew I’d have to head right back home. I was not stepping into my conservative job LIKE THAT! So I took my ass home. Pushed them right in and made a u-turn back to the downtown train. Please tell me 11 minutes have lapsed since I last swiped. Please?!

Swipe! Beeeep! Damn!

I pivot to get a single ride from the machine only to see the attendant point to me then to the turnstile right next to me. “What?! Oh shit! Thank you so much.” And in I went to the dank underground.

This hand out, I’ll take. Now I just have to find a way to pay it forward.