Thank you for instigating my own personal 2012 apocalypse (hat tipped to Carolyn at Awesome your Life for the term). Thank you for giving me my dream job for one year, as well as the opportunity to refuse it in favor of greater adventure and higher ideals the next. Thank you for allowing me to gain enough perspective to witness my core values and feel out my roots. Thank you for AUB’s campus, my students, their poems, their stories, and arches. Thank you for Boushra , mountain tomatoes and Russian rifles, figs and writing games, cedars and run-away train poetry readings. Thank you for small particle physicists and shadow puppeteers, alleys full of pubs and sea castles. Thank you for fish from stone souks, the ruins of Tyre, and the salvation of sea turtles. Thank you for blasé soldiers leaning on their machine guns. Thank you for Joanna, prison theater, campus Banyan Tree-climbing lessons, and Sufi parables. Thank you for Hiba, café logic lessons, labneh, and protests. Thank you for Maja, seabathing in Byblos, exploring islands off the coast of Tripoli, and the random discovery of and entrance to the oasis of Horsch Beirut. Thank for Ronald, the only lesbian bar in Achrefieh, hours spent picking up garbage on beaches in Saida, and the obscene amount of books AUB lets instructors have out at once. Thank you for Rima, olive oil, hyenas, peacocks, Rusted Radishes, and long talks about god while floating on waves. Thank you for Elyssa and Umar, random knife fighting lessons at Eco-village, bamboo tree houses, farmers markets, and yoga beneath the stars. Thank you for bicycles, the Holy Valley, hiking groups that don’t need insurance, 1,700-year-old monasteries, caves and sleeping beneath Cypress trees. Thank you for Hana and Julia, healing puppies, weeks without electricity, and limes that are lemons. Thank you for Michael James Dennison, his cats, Lama, his sacred verse, his boldness in first adventuring to Lebanon and bringing me along with him. Thank you for the now deceased pig god of Luna Park, the Ferris wheel that fell over twice and the ancient cult of SerapisDionysusJimMorrison of Byblos. Thank you for dabke at restaurants you have to hike an hour to find, belly dancing, the English Department band, punk shows in Hamra, and the guy at the military permissions office for letting me go south twice without numbers and once without a passport. Thank you for cheap buses and services, generators and candles, Mediterranean sunsets and starscapes in Chouf. Thank you for waterfalls, Adonis, French, Humbaba, and still existing. Thank you for letters, sea shells from which you pulled purple, and your temples of anchors that helped spread our most important myths.
My favorite writing spot just below campus.
The best part of walking to class.
Center of campus. Many lovely free concerts are held here.
My favorite swimming spot.
Near AUB Beach.
In the grotto with poet Michael Dennison.
The best fish stand at the souk in Tyre. These are fish brought in straight from sea (about a three minute walk).
A mural in Tyre.
Best fish restaurant in Tyre. They bring the food straight from the kitchen of a restaurant that is about three times as expensive.
Michael near the church where we foolishly attempted to attend Easter mass thinking it wouldn’t be boring.
Michael Lubbert’s graffiti photojournalism.
Sunset at Orange House Sea Turtle Reserve in Mansourri.
Michael Lubbert (yoga teacher and rock star) enjoying his second trip to the south.
The coast of Mansourri.
The first palm tree I’ve ever climbed
The family who farms the land around Orange House.
Puppi, who guarded me on many night swims.
Mantouf, Mona’s guard bird.
The bees love these purple flowers on the beach. They go to the waves to die.
I will send ten dollars to the individual that can identify these flowers.
Rima and the hermaphrodite goat that Mona saved.
I spent thirty percent of my trips to Orange House playing with goats. We both love bananas.
Rima and I were at the Orange House for the season’s first sea turtle nest.
From my second hiking trip in the Chouf with Footprints…where people only occasionally plummet to their deadth
Where I taunted a group of men into swimming in freezing cold waters. It was obviously worth the chilly ride home.
The home of a family from an ancient line of Druze warriors…who have the coolest imaginable thrones.
Hanging in a tree over a great precipice.
I spent many hours here.
Nighttime trip to Jbeil/Byblos with my roommates.
My old roommates Julia and Hanah.
One of the weekly protests at the Syrian embassy that happened right outside my bedroom window…a pleasant welcome.
An upscale mall built over Phoenician ruins…yup.
Magical grapefruit tree. (another trip to Orange House).
Behind the gate.
Our sand-fashioned tribute to infinity turtles.
Michael doing tortoise pose by our turtle on top of turtle.
beautiful banana flower.
Our writing utensils. Note the mug I won from the French Embassy for writing (very poorly) my first poem in French.
More awesome graffiti.
One of the many random gatherings of musicians in the alleys of Hamra.
Layers of ruins between upscale shopping…yup.
Eco-village in Chouf
Along the path to get to eco-village.
Ralph Nader is Lebanese-American. They love him at Eco-village.
The path is marked with wisdom.
…and stunning vistas
Umar, Elyssa, and me. At this point we had no idea that that evening we would learn to how to effectively stab one another, block blows, and stay calm while being stabbed…with real knives…actually pressing them into one another’s bodies. No insurance requirements yields results.
Sustainable farming experiments.
Eco-village produces all of its own electricity with running water.
I claimed a boat on the river that runs through eco-village and took it on an adventure wherein I encountered giant snakes.
Michael claimed the chicken coop.
The bamboo we harvested and cleaned for our dinner.
Michael Dennison and I on his birthday trip to Jbeil/Byblos with Maja and Ronald. This is a temple formed by Phoenician anchors that they placed here as offerings to the gods for their successful journey.
Maja and I considering a dip in the beautiful beach at Byblos.
Layers of history revealed here in the archaeological digs of Byblos. It is supposedly the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
A view of the old city of Jbeil (daugher of the god Baal).
The spring of Isis. Where she unified with her beloved Osiris.