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Showing posts from March, 2014

Brick's in Hamra: Smooth Vibes, Great Tunes, and One Helluva Quesadilla

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With a low red-brick fence, miniature street lamps, and a spacious outdoor terrace on its corner Hamra lot, Brick’s is an inviting pub-restaurant along Makdessi Street. Not one neighboring venue seemed as vibrant and alive as Brick’s on this particular Wednesday night when we showed up for dinner and drinks. The interior has a soft, cozy ambiance, with a portrait of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out as he peers over guests. There’s a tile-topped island in the center of the room able to accommodate about a dozen people, as well as plush sofas against the wall ideal for couples and small groups.
Every night the DJ spins soft rock, soul, R&B, and oldies—we were treated to tunes from the 90s like Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be” as well as the 60s hit “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke. The choice of music as well as the spot-on volume level made for convivial conversation among guests as they sipped on their drinks. The menu spans light appetizers to share, about ten salads, half a dozen ma…

An Ode To My Mom On This Mother's Day

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My fondest and most vivid memories of childhood involve my sweet mother. She is gently braiding my hair before school. She is waiting lovingly at the front door to greet me on my return home. She is generously heaping homemade food in a bowl for my afternoon meal—even though I’d just eaten the lunch she packed and sent with me for my midday recess. She is listening to me recite notes before the next day’s exam. She is peeling an orange for me to keep me hydrated and flush with nutrients. She is planting a kiss on my cheek as she tucks me into bed. My mother has always been my best friend. Good day or bad, she is the first to know. And she need not ask, because she can extract exactly how I feel from my voice. Sadly, I cannot be with her on the occasion of Mother’s Day, which we celebrate today in this part of the world to coincide with the advent of spring. She is nearly 7,500 miles away and nine time zones removed, but that doesn’t prevent us from talking several times each day. In f…

Reflections From The Airport Terminal: Destination Beirut

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15 days have passed by in a blur, and that's no surprise: vacations are always so fleeting. Happily I did what every self-respecting daughter and sister does when she reunites with her doting family. I joined my dad at the gym every morning of my first week (when the jet lag roused me from my slumber at dawn); I shopped passionately with my mom; I accompanied my brother on happy hour outings; and I gorged on homemade comfort food. My cheeks are noticeably ruddier, and I am totally refreshed.
I'm heading back to Beirut two big bags in tote, because nobody comes to the USA and leaves lighter. I'd almost forgotten how convenient life in these states could be. Driving is therapeutic, almost like clockwork with sensor-controlled traffic lights, speed limits, stop signs, and vigilant police officers to enforce them inflexibly. People actually drive cheerfully and passively, and if you're a pedestrian, even before you alight to the street level, all vehicles quickly stop and y…

As I Sit Here Waiting For My Flight To Go Home

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As I sit here waiting for my flight to board, a rush of thoughts storms my mind. I'm thinking how great it is to be heading “home,” my childhood home, the place where I grew up. It's been exactly a year and four months since I last visited, a year and four months that I haven't seen my two brothers, and thus this trip is a year and four months overdue. My parents spent a fair amount of time with me in Beirut last year, but they returned to Southern California a while back. I miss them, too.
It's no easy voyage: a 5.5-hour stretch to London Heathrow, a couple hours of layover, and then a connecting 11-hour flight to Los Angeles. Between baggage check-in, security checks, actual air time, customs, and baggage claim, it's a daylong exertion. 24 hours devoid of sleep and in its stead, back-to-back movies, less-than-mediocre flight meals, discomforted babies, and desiccating cabin pressure. But it's a small price to pay for what awaits me in the arrival hall of LAX.
I…