Sunday, March 05, 2006

dear portishead

  1. i don’t like blue mouth wash, but i used it anyway, because it’s all that we have at the moment.
  2. i’ve given up cereal. it used to be my favorite thing to eat, but now it just makes my stomach hurt.
  3. i think that dick van dyke was hot when he was in his early 30’s.
  4. my first memory is of being afraid of a rainbow; i didn’t know what it was so i cried and hid under the kitchen table. i think i was 3.
  5. i like it when ryan reads books to me because he does the voices.
  6. i like to keep as many as 3 different types of conditioner in my shower at all times.
  7. i displace my feelings onto my goldfish--"wibble likes it when you ...."
  8. meaghan (my sister) and i were very serious about our barbies.
  9. i am really starting to enjoy horror films; i never thought i would.
  10. i have 3 brown sweaters, and i want 3 more.
  11. the teddy bear i slept with from the age of 2 to marriage is an official tupperware bear and his name is tedso.
  12. i wish i knew how to read korean
  13. i don’t have any superstitions surrounding numbers.
  14. “only you” by portishead would play if you turned my car on right now (a song i have been listening to waaaaay too much recently).
  15. i wish we had trash pick up service instead of having to go to the dump.
  16. i haven’t spoken to my grandparents on my mother’s side since october 2004. i just want them to apologize, so i can love them again.
  17. i HATE when people throw cigarette butts out their car windows onto the street. (and i don’t have very much)
  18. my cell phone is named “watashi mo” which means “me too” in japanese.
  19. i don’t like the smell of coffee, never mind the taste.
  20. i still have the bouquet of roses from my wedding dried and hanging in our bedroom closet.


i did a different list for my friends a few months ago. it’s a fun little exercise, and you learn a lot of interesting things about people. so i did an updated one (the cereal thing is an update, and the last one was made before i got my new phone). when you get the chance, maybe this weekend, you can do a list of 20 for me. “20 random things i didn’t know about ashraf” J

it’s really fun to write, at least for me, i hope you think so too.

and i’ll stop emailing you for today. my iichiban tomodachi Danielle is over and we’re going to watch a film once she’s done battling ryan on the xbox. which means i’ll next be checking my mail from work tomorrow. whatever that means to you, i don’t know. i hope you’ve had a nice day though. and i hope you enjoy my list. you don’t have to respond to anything in it unless you really want to (i wouldn’t mind, of course). it’s just for you to get to know me better. and useful, because now you’ll never offer me coffee.

best always.

a: Uh-oh! Houston, we've got a problem! I don't know how we can be friends if you can't stand the smell of coffee. See, I'm an Arab, and for us coffee is an art, if not a religion. (I guess, for me it ranks just after poetry and Dalida... See what happens when one rejects organized religions? He ends with several more arbitrary ones!) One of my favorite passages in "Memory for Forgetfulness" by Mahmoud Darwish is a passage where he is describing his attempt to make it to the kitchen to brew the perfect pot of coffee while trying to avoid sniper fire... Coffee as a last wish!

But I guess I can forgive you that since you've been listening to Portishead. I guess, besides Dalida, Starsailor (first album), Lhasa (first album), and Pink Floyd (and maybe a couple others), Portishead are amongst a few of my 5-star acts. LOVE them! I saw Beth Gibbons in concert here in Philly, and she autographed my CDs and a postcard. She is awesome! (And a wonderful live act; mesmerizing!) Have you heard here solo album, "Out of Season"? That website has the best screensaver:

(And I loved #7!) So, thank you so much for sharing!

Here is a questionnaire that we played as a game at Christmas Eve at Wojtek's parents. It's an American Express ad, but we were bored and out of games, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I'll try to remember my answers...

My name:
Ashraf Osman

My childhood ambition:
To design perfume bottles, car lines, and theme basements

My fondest memory:
Rejoining my parents in Abu-Dhabi on my birthday where they surprised me with a brand new keyboard / Walking in Florence on a sunny day with a gelato cone in hand

My soundtrack:
Dalida (surprise, surprise!)

My retreat:

My wildest dream:
To be wildly famous (secretly, to be brilliant)

My proudest moment:
Defending my thesis

My biggest challenge:
Adjusting to my life here in the US

My alarm clock:
The iHome (which I love!)

My perfect day:
Waking up unhurried, slowly sipping the perfect coffee, reading, feeling productive, and going out with friends at night

My first job:
As a medical representative for Parke-Davis (now part of Pfizer)

My indulgence:
KFC and porn

My last purchase:
Shea butter-verbena cuticle creme

My favorite movie:
A tie between "The English Patient" and "Since Otar Left"

My inspiration:

My life:
Still waits to be written.

My card:
A GreenCard!

k:dear portishead,
thank you for salvaging my credibility with ashraf; things were starting to look a bit shaky!


i didn't say i couldn't stand the smell of coffee, just that i don't like it i have to make fresh coffee all morning at work and it is actually my least favorite part of the job. i'm pulling for a new sort of system where i only have to fill a filter with grounds and the gigantic thurmous brews and serves, i don't have to smell the finished product. (i'm awful, aren't i? though, i'm sure you make much better smelling coffee than the stuff the hotel brews.)

oh and then babies. there's a pic of you and mika on the floor facing each other that made me giggle because i noticed in that picture that you two were wearing pretty much the same thing! kawaiine!!
generally though, babies freak me out. i'm okay with little people that can speak. if i can communicate with it, then fine, otherwise ... no thank you. at least at the moment, i am completely not ready for babies! and i don't hear ryan pyning either, so that's good. my mom on the other hand is unrelenting in her vocalization of her desire to have grandbabies. i've got 4 years before ryan turns 30, maybe in 4 years i'll be ready!

i first heard "only you" on a chris cunningham dvd (he's a music video director who does mostly disturbing nine inch nails type videos). after i heard the song and beth's voice i picked up their album that featured that track. most of the reason why i enjoy portishead is because of beth's voice. i'm so particular about female vocals but sometimes you hear someone and it's bliss and you never can let go. there aren't many female vocalists that i enjoy (i hope dalida is one of them, but i won't go looking for her, i want you to be able to introduce us); bjork, [the ladies of] cibo matto, shirely bassey, kristy macoll, karen from the yeah yeah yeah's and beth from poetishead are the only female vocalists i can think of that i really enjoy listening to. there are one off's though, like debbie harry from blondie, she's an amazing vocalist, and i do enjoy her every now and again, fiona apple has some beautiful moments, and i used to like gwen stephanie before she went pop diva harijuku crazy.

i think i will check out beth's solo act. she's the reason i like portishead anyway. does she write her own stuff, do you know? (am being lazy by asking and not reaching out the internet to find out myself.)

My last purchase:
Shea butter-verbena cuticle creme

i thought you said other than the fact that you're both guys, you shop at banana-republic and you like ikea, that there wasn't much gay about you? i don't even know what butter-verbena is! though i bet you have lovely fingernails!

ah, i should read more lorca. talk about poetry displacing religion, lorca's deep song is apparently a bible. more later.


a: You are so cute with that "dear portishead,"! And don't worry about the coffee; I guess we don't have to agree on everything (though it might be difficult to cleanse my place off the smell of coffee, or wane myself from it when you're here...). And I don't think it'll smell any better to you (as much as I'd like to pride myself on my fancy coffees!).

As for babies, for some reason, I did not realize till now how young you are! (You're younger than my sister!) I think it's because you are so mature, sensitive and talented. I was talking to a friend of mine about you over the weekend, saying how I hope you don't become as jaded as I am when you are my age, and she said: if she isn't jaded at 22, she'll never be. I'd like to think that's true. As for me, it's not that I mind children as much as I mind the responsibility. I guess I have such a staunch existentialist bent that I would refuse to impose this life on anyone (hence, I refuse to procreate) and I will not want to make any decisions for anyone, or take responsibility for them (which is why I don't think I'm well-suited for my job, as it is about making decisions for others). I was hoping that this will not be an issue for Wojtek and me anytime soon. But he seems to be getting more and more serious about it (if only to fill that growing existential void). And I refuse to use children as plugs! I wrote another bombastic poem to that effect; I'll try to post it soon, but I am having some computer trouble at home. Our anti-virus expired, and I uninstalled it to install a new one that we get free with Verizon. But it wouldn't work (again), and that got me so frustrated. I was waiting for an excuse to ditch Verizon (I hate big corporations: they charge so much and have such crappy customer service!). So I think I'll finally do it. So, I might not be able to write from home for a while (I don't like to venture on the web without anti-virus).

I do hope you like Dalida's voice. I would have burnt you a CD, but our burner at home is busted (and at work they're iffy about stuff like that). So, I'll figure something. And yes, Shea butter-verbena cuticle crème is pretty gay, however I have the worst cuticles ever! (That is why I buy all these creams.) I basically butcher my cuticles. When I was a teenager I used to pick at my acne, and I have a forehead and neck blotched with the fading scars of my nasty habits (I have to get one operated on because I messed it up so bad the skin got keratinized, whatever that meant). Now I don't pick at my face as much, but I bite my cuticles all the time. It's quite obsessive, and quite out of control. But I can think of worse self-mutilation. (That and my teeth-grinding at night... All that tension!)

As for Lorca, I have to say, you have such a knack at selecting good passages of poetry! Those are two great passages (I especially love the first). As for the sketches, I think they'll have to wait until I fix the computer situation at home.

Mr. Rohrer I will hold off from commenting on until I have read a bit more. I can certainly appreciate him more, though I am afraid I will not be as smitten with him as you are. His writing still strikes me as mostly too dense, ingrown and restrained. I will elaborate later, if you don't mind. Now your poem, on the other hand, is what I call delicate, simple and humane (in the best senses of all words, and it was so lovely to see your handwriting!). It takes a tender (almost mundane) everyday moment, one that is there, that would in most cases just pass, but is also the kind of stuff that Life (with a capital L) is made of, and captures it so skillfully that it seems effortless. (And I love "haunches"; it is such a good rough counterpoint to "graces" and the rest of the poem; it fishes it out of being too delicate. Punctuation, on the other hand, is nothing I give much importance to...) But then again, who am I to judge? I just got another batch of poems reject from another publication that nobody's heard of except its editors. And I am bitter, and I am baffled, and I am giving up. Goes back to how arbitrary poetry is... I guess giving up is not so bad after all. No expectations, no disappointments.

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