Monday, May 24, 2010

In Praise of Passion…

Yesterday I was having a meaningful discussion with a young smart lady – who happens to be quite pretty as well – about our values and perceptions in life. She is strong willed, determined, and purposeful – all qualities I value deeply. Then disagreement emerged when the discussion veered towards the passions versus the intellect and how one ought to stimulate and direct one’s instincts – the position I held - as opposed to quelling them with the freezing grip of reason. This is a subject I’m well versed in since very early in life I took the unforgivable decision to direct myself towards complete emotional detachment; emotional independence that I touted as the purest form of being. I opined – and bear in mind that I did that when I was merely a toddler – that one has to completely overcome one’s instincts in order to enjoy a healthy purposeful existence based on the rational and shielded from the follies of the irrational – the instinctual. I have always been an admirer of man’s intellect and the ability of the mind to overrule the senses; that old adage about reason being the only differentiating factor between man and beast. I am inclined to believe that this came to be as a result of my early exposure to the distorted truisms of Christianity and the dread it bears towards man’s instincts and passions.

Regardless of the causes, this position I held was only further emphasized by watching those close to me succumbing under the burdens of their drives. Those weaklings hostages of their instincts who had no recourse to overcome themselves and gain control over the direction of their lives. They lacked the ability to formulate thoughts and make decisions based on cold logical critical reasoning skills rather than whimsical desires. It was too late when I figured out the grave folly I had committed. I became withdrawn, cold, calculating, uninterested, unconcerned, unmoved, and uncompromising; an emotionless processing unit. Then I understood that what I was engaging in was not self-mastery but emotional castration; the sublimation of my instinctual drives by stubbing out the passion within. And it dawned on me. What appeared to me as weakness was life in its most splendorous of forms. Self-mastery meant direction not sublimation; control not castration. Existence is worthless if not fueled by a relentlessly blazing passion. To love with passion, to hate with passion, to long with passion, to admire with passion, to enjoy with passion, and to desire with passion are what make this life worthy of living; life is plentiful only when one draws towards the outer limits, the extremes. To live and live abundantly became my call as opposed to living purposefully and rationally. The intellect adds supreme value in the artistic and scientific contributions it makes to this world and is useful insofar as it helps explain, interpret, and somewhat channel those instinctual drives pulling us in all directions rather than being touted as a replacement or even worse as a double faced shield insulating the individual from the world and the world from the individual.

The recovery process is ongoing but far from over. I have unintentionally treated unjustly too many close people along the way. Lovers, friends, and family members have all suffered as a result of the dry ice-cold emotionless twat I became. I did not feel love or hatred, joy or sadness, jubilation or anger; I felt not a single emotion and thus could not share any, identify with yours, or even reciprocate. I admire you for zealously attempting to unearth what was not and thank you for not giving up when you were left unacknowledged. 

While I was busy trying to figure it all out you were truly living and you taught me the most important lesson of all:

Keep the flame of passion ablaze….

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Psychological Mumbo Jumbo…

I do not normally trust psychological assessment tests as I always think I can beat them and steer the results to a predetermined outcome – I’m smart like that you know. In any case, it does not matter how the results come out for at the end of the day we’re all screwed up; some a bit more than others.

Anyhow, I took an extensive DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) assessment test as part of a requirement for a potential job opportunity. It turns out that I’m what’s known as a “Planner”. It’s a bit ironic knowing that I’m totally disorganized and all over the place. Having thought about it more, I think the test is correct in that I’m predisposed to structured and meticulous thinking with my disorganization being an acquired behavior that only increased as my carelessness and disenchantment with the world grew.

Anyway, I’m in a bit of a hurry as I’m writing this while preparing to go out and I’ll be returning to the subject in more detail. Below is a list of attributes that apparently represent how my style is seen by others:

Organized, planning, purposeful, determined, logical, exact, decisive, high-principled, tough, inquiring, demanding, steadily ambitious, meticulous, values knowledge.

This is like reading the daily Horoscopes…

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Playing Tourist in Lebanon…

And it’s been decided. I will be playing tourist in Lebanon this weekend. If you see a person in a Guy Fawkes mask doing fancy tricks in slow motion with kitchen knives while downing tequila shots please do not feel intimidated. I might be repulsively drunk and physically dangerous but I still am very approachable…

My dislike of the Lebanese has waned a bit since my last exposure five months ago which is why this trip is long overdue.

I will try to update this blog in between hangovers…


Lebanese Pride; reclaimed!

And the great Lebanese can wallow in their pride by again claiming the official Guiness record for the largest Hummos dish and retaining the unofficial record for the most annoying, repulsive, and uninteresting waste and joke of a culture. I mean, for hummos’ sake, can’t this bunch of baboons endowed with the collective IQ of a bowl of plums engage in an endeavor less worthy of their cumulative inanity? A collective disappearance act is at this point highly advisable…

Lebanon Claims Biggest Hummus World Record

Three Months Later…

And the blog lives on. Chaotic, cluttered, disorganized, unstructured, purposeless, pointless, cynical, sarcastic, and absurd but enjoyable nonetheless – at least for me. Come to think of it, that’s exactly how I would describe my own existence…

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

And The Agony Continues…

After several attempts to reach the bank, a lady by the name of Hanin finally answered. After taking the time to explain my plight she said:

“I’m sorry Sir – I hate being called Sir – but in order to activate your card I need an email from the local branch requesting me to do so.”

“But I was at the Branch two days ago and was told that an email was sent the day I picked up the card then in front of me a reminder was sent; check in your emails, I’m sure you’ll find it.”

“I apologize Sir – I hate being called Sir. We have not received any email request to activate your card. However, if you send us a handwritten fax requesting it I will activate it for you”

Ah, finally a witty and competent employee actually offering to help and suggesting a solution that could get the problem resolved. She gave me the fax number and 5 minutes later I sent out a letter to Hanin’s attention asking her to activate my credit card and requesting her to call me back to confirm. Although I knew my phone number was included on my account information, I nevertheless added it to the letter just to make sure I receive that confirmation call. The call never came. Who was I kidding in thinking that they could have a single competent employee in this joke of a bank. I tried calling back. No answer. I started dialing all the possible extensions in the vicinity of Hanin’s number; No answer. On the way home I stopped at an ATM to confirm to myself that indeed incompetence was universal to all employees of that bank; and I sure was right, the card was still not activated.

On the bright side, I have lost track of what I owe my friends and co-workers who have been kind enough to subsidize my expenses for the last 6 weeks. Free meals, free drinks, free fuel, and free smokes; what more can one ask for?

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Debit Card Ordeal…

Six weeks ago, the stupid bartender at the joint where I was having a drink mixed up my Debit Card with that of another customer. I only noticed the next day when the ATM would not allow me to withdraw any cash. Taking a closer look at the card I learned that it belongs to a certain Ahmed. I immediately called the manager of the joint to check whether my card was still with them or they had given it to Ahmed or any other customer. The manager had no idea where my card was; the only thing certain was that they had no cards left from the previous night. I immediately called the bank to request they block my card if my account had not already been cleared out. Fortunately, nothing was withdrawn yet.

“No need to block your card Sir – I hate being called Sir – I will call Mr. Ahmed to ask him if he has your card since I have his number in front of me and will let him know that his card is with you”

“Huh?! What do you mean you’re going to call Mr. Ahmed? Put my debit card on hold then call him; for all I know, Mr. Ahmed could be a crook.”

“I cannot block your card, I will have to cancel it. And if I cancel it, you will have to re-apply for a new one. Or I can call Mr. Ahmed and check if he has your card then you do not need to cancel it.”

“Are you kidding me? Cancel the card NOW.”

“Ok, which debit card do you want me to cancel?”

“Huh!? I only have one debit card. What do you mean?”

“No Sir – I hate being called Sir – I can see here in the system that you have 3 debit cards assigned to your account.”

“What the Fuck? I had one card that expired 6 months ago. I requested another one which I lost yesterday. How in hell can I have 3 debit cards?”

“I’m sorry Sir – I hate being called Sir – that’s what the system shows.”

“Never mind, cancel all 3 cards, and give me Ahmed’s contact number; I will call him to sort out the issue.”

The customer service representative canceled my debit cards and gave me the contact info of Ahmed. I called Ahmed and explained to him the situation and told him that I would leave his debit card at the same joint where the mix-up had happened the previous night and asked him to throw away mine because it was already canceled. The next day, I went to the bank and filled out a request for a new debit card. “You will receive an automatic SMS when the card is issued” advised the lady at the counter; “wait for a couple of days after you receive the SMS and pass by to pick it up as they will be sending it from the Main Branch – where my account was opened – which is 1000 KMs away”. Surprisingly enough, she was right, after 3 days I received a text message advising me that the card was ready for pickup. How cool is that?! Being the procrastinator that I am, I only went to the bank 10 days later and was welcomed with the news that my card still had not made it to the local branch. Let me cut it short. After multiple visits, phone calls, and shouting matches, last week I received a call from the bank informing me that the card was in their possession. Hurray, five weeks after the ordeal started I would finally be able to pay back all the debt I had accumulated. It was not to be. A couple of days after picking up my brand new card I went to the closest ATM, no luck; the card was not working. I called customer service.

“Sir – I hate being called Sir – I can see in the system that your card is not activated”

“What do you mean it’s not activated? It’s brand new, I just picked it from the bank a couple of days ago; why would they give it to me if it were not activated?”

“Normally the card should be activated by the branch where your account is opened, you will have to personally go there for them to activate it for you”

“Go there!? It’s 1000 KMs away, I’m not fucking going there. Can’t you activate it yourself?”

“I’m sorry Sir – I hate being called Sir – it can only be activated by the branch where your account is opened”

Of course, going to the main branch was out of the question, so the next day – yesterday morning - I paid a visit to the local branch to get the issue sorted. 

“My card is not working. I called customer service and they said it was never activated. Why in hell did you give me a card that was not activated? Why would anyone need to have a non-activated debit card!?"

“My apologies Sir – I hate being called Sir – but I had sent an email to the main branch informing them that you had picked up the card and requested them to activate it. I’ll send them a reminder just now.”

“Don’t send them a reminder, pick up the phone a call them directly. I need the card activated NOW.”

(Hesitatingly) “I would, but, uh, but the problem is… they never pick up the phone"

“Never pick up the phone!? Are you joking!? Call the manager of the main branch NOW, I want to have a word with him.”

She picks up the phone and dials a number. No answer, as she had predicted. She tries again. No answer. A third time; still no answer. At this point I had lost all patience and did not feel like shouting at the poor lady; instead I asked her to send the email and give me the phone contacts of the main branch so that I call them myself. The whole day I’ve been dialing them incessantly, still,, no answer!

Morale of the story: When you lose a debit card, shut down your account and change banks.