Sunday, April 30, 2006


Tulips are my favourite flowers.
3 inner petals, and 3 outer sepals,
smiling open during the sunny day,
shy and closed during the evenings,
they definitely possess feelings....
and infront of them, I can't hide my feelings.

Tulip was always her favourite flower.
It was her first and favourite gift I gave her,
and I still remember.
It was a flourist in Jeanne D'arc.
The flower.
Yellow in color.
yellow and dark.
The birds singing in her eyes.
The rain drops...
a drop, after the other..
after the other.
The meetings.
The smile.
The goodbye.

(picture: Tulips everywhere in Pittsburgh)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

My lost dreams...

"I lost my dreams!"
It came to my mind today while talking to friends about dreams.
I realized it's been a long time since I last dreamed. Or maybe, remembered my dreams.
The ghosts.
The vivid pictures.
The illogical that makes sense.
The "flying dreams"...
How and when did I lose them?
I felt scared...
Is it my self inflicted sleep deprivation?
Is it my indifference I have towards most of things around me?
The after the other?
The fallen pieces.
The waiting.
I need a break.
I need a long break.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

You gave me a new name..."khalo"
You give me a smile everytime I talk to you...
a laugh....
and a sense of innocence I thought no longer existed...!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dedicated to Jan

She waited for him,
at the corner of "walnut" and "Ivy"
her muscles shaking...
her body aching...
her eyes moving in all directions,
hoping he would come.
Despite the cold night...she waited.
Despite the passing eyes of men's lust,
and women's jealousy....she waited.
The guilt. The shame.
The excitement. The joy.
The child in her.
"he's coming" she thought, and lit a cigarrette.
"I can't be imagining" she thought again.
His deep eyes, meeting hers halfway.
The observations,
the unspoken conversations,
the unexchanged touches,
the butterflies,
and the kiss.
Her tension is now rising.
She doesn't know his name,
where does he live,
or what does he do.
"who cares".
With the hours passing,
and her hope, like the city's lights, fading,
she remembered "Godot"....and the waiting!
she spent her life waiting.
For him.

(picure: the intersection of Walnut st and Ivy st.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A shot

Some of oakland....
and alot alot of a blue sky.

(From Schenely Park, looking at oakland, Pittsburgh, PA)

Trying to find my place

I'm here...
look...look closer...
Do you see me?
Do you hear my laughs traveling in the wide space?
I'm here....
small and insignificant...
but my dreams are beyond the limits...
beyond how much the universe is expanding...
So, do you see me now?

(Milkyway galaxy, curtsey of an anonymous at NASA)

Friday, April 21, 2006


It's the darkness again.
the silence..
the clock ticking...
the street sounds....
the pictures...old and new....
the thoughts...good and bad....
scattered and empty.
the conversations....replay and replay...
the unfinished tasks...
the unpaid bills...
my home...
the future...
the tension.
the breathes on the pillow...
the frustration grows.
the anxiety soars.
A small beep. It's 3 am.
Another sleepless night.
I firmly shut my eyes.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Coffee Tree

I always had something with places...
something that make them personal...
a narrow street,
a wooden bench,
a small corner,
or a coffee place!
Something that makes the place full of life,
and a memory..!
And here it is.....the "coffee tree"...
the long hours studying, starring, or laughing,
my delicious coffee,
my friends,
and the strangers walking by.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It was a full moon...

She looked at me and said, "everytime you look at the full moon, remember I'll be looking at the same full moon, no matter where I am!".
And now, everytime I look at a full moon, I remember her.
Some people think they will be remembered by a rose, that soon loses its colors,
others by a picture, that soon fades away...
but you always knew how to be remembered...forever!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's April 13th...

I still hear the echoes...
far...but very clear...
"boom....boom..." and my head is spinning....
my heart is racing....
A long whistle....then "booom"
A sigh of relief...
A look of disbelief....
A tear...a child's cry....
"boom....boom" regular...
A few bullets in between...
the play in that underground place...
the blond hair of our neighbour's daughter....
the ball....
the war game...
the wooden "klashinkov"
and the sand bags.
the fear...
the sense of doom...and absurdity.
the speeches...
the cause...the ever changing cause...
the enemy...the ever changing enemy...
The martyrs...
pictures...on an old a dirty street...
the years of waiting...and waiting...
the line infront of the bakery...or the gas station...
And then...the silence.
cut by deep scared breaths...
blank faces...
sleepy eyes....
"el haya'a khalas..." my mom's voice announces.
The awful music tone plays in my brother's radio..."Hona maktabo el-ta7reer...."
I still hear the echoes....
far...but clear....
" tin3ad..."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A thunder storm

It was a windy evening today,
and then, there was the sudden white glowing flash of light,
the loud thunder seconds after,
the sound of rain drops pouring from the sky,
and when I smelled that familiar earth smell
deep memories were stirred,
pictures....ghosts.....and mixed feelings.
And I felt like chocking....
Thunder storms have a place always in my heart.

(picture: Walnut street, courtesy Jan Beumer)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


"Good morning, sir!" says the tall waitress.
"Good morning...." I reply looking in my jacket making sure I brought my wallet.
"What can I get for you?" She says, looking straight at me.
"mmmm a bagel!". I say looking at all these varieties at the counter.
"what type?"
"oh.....mmmmm....what do you have.....?"
And she starts like a recorder "a plain, sesame, chocolate hazelnut, whole grain, all grains, asiago....etc".
Lost in all these names, I just stick to the first name I can pronounce: "a plain....please!"
"cut and toasted?"
"yes please" happy there isn't alot of choices here!
"a cream cheese?"
"yes, please."
"what type?"
And I go blank again.
"plain, hazelnut, honey, raspberry...." She says, almost intolerant.
"ahhhhh...plain please".
Bringing the bagel from the toasters, she asks, "for here or to go?"
"for here".
"yes, please"
"what size?"
"medium...." hoping they don't have the fancy starbucks names of grande, or tall...etc.
"a cup or a mug?"
"a cup please". The line behind me is getting bigger.
"This is your cup sir, and you can pick your flavour from over there".
And I look, to see 8 coffee reserviors, with all long flavour names.
And I get dizzy.
All I wanted was a bagel, and a coffee!
Good morning!

Monday, April 10, 2006

A perspective...

(in the road to the University of Pittsburgh campus)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A sunny April day...

And spring is glowing in pittsburgh...
at last...!

Friday, April 07, 2006

A flashback...

"Do you remember?" she asked.
"Our morning walks on Manara... when there was no one but us and the blue sea?"
"vaguly..." I answered, remembering the smallest details, lost in the flashing pictures, shivering in the morning breeze, and breathing the smell of the sea.
And she stayed mute.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

" you at the main gate..." 

Sleeping with the enemy...! 

More about death, and life...

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Abraham Lincoln

His name was "Kaisar Haddad".
I'm sure some of you knew him, or at least heard about him.
He was the head of "Alrawda" school in Beirut.
He was my patient for his last 10 days on this earth.
He proved to be more than just a patient.
And here is the story.

I was in my fourth year in medical school, during an elective month in psychiatry.
I was asked to see him because apparently he was refusing to eat or take his medications.
Although I never met him before, I recognized the name since alot of my friends went to Rawda.
Entering the room, he was sitting in his bed. Alone.
A moderately overweight, 60'sh in age, with clear strength despite the years heaviness.
I introduced myself, and that I'm with psychiatry.
"psychiatry? whay would I need psychiatry? sho kanni akhwat?", he said.
I tried to explain the importance of getting our medications, but he cut me short by saying not taking his med's shouldn't prompt a psychiatric intervention.
Catching my embarrassment, he nicely said: "But since I got all kinds of doctors, I think I can handle one more. Have a seat, my son. What was your name? Where are you from?"
So, here I was. Instead of interviewing my patient, he was interviewing me!
We talked for more than 2 hours that first meeting.
And for the coming 10 days, we'de meet for a chat.
We talked about life,
and about death.
About love,
happy moments,
and regrets.
We laughed, and cried together.
When he cried, he was so quite,
when I cried, he comforted me.
He quickly became a friend, rather than a patient.
Our discussions are still vibrant in my memory...
And I remember them like echoes from the past, and I smile everytime.
He considered death part of the life package.
"A package that we didn't have the chance to accept or refuse. It was just given to us. We're all gonna die." he said.
He never considered it an end. But he hated it. Never agreed to give up to it.
Though his life wasn't as he dreamed it will, he cherished every minute of it.

In the 6th day of our meetings, his condition deteriorated, and he had to be intubated, and moved to ICU.
Rushing to the 4th floor where the ICU is, he felt my concern.
Intubated, with multiple tubes coming in and out of his body, his gave me the thumb up determined to fight.
In the last few days, he would write to me, and I would talk to him.
I still have the papers with his handwriting on it,
from the patient who really taught me death is not the end.
When he died, alot of people cried.
I didn't.
"We're all going to's only a matter of when and where".

(this post was inspired by Rouba)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

"Picture: University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Institute"

First day....

8:30 am, Presbyterian hospital:

A 52 y.o. lady, previously healthy, was just diagnosed with an esophageal adencarcinoma. The primary team just gave her the brief news, and promised her the oncologist will come and address all issues.
My first patient as a fellow.

The patient looking at me after I was talking for at least 10 minutes, explaining about the cancer, the options of treatemnt, the side effects of treatments...etc.
"well, doc, I really appreciate the detailed information, but what I need is an answer to one question". Still looking at me, "why me? I never smoked, I always tried to eat healthy, live healthy, so how come I got cancer?".

10:30, Hillman Cancer center:

A 53 y.o. lady, with a diagnosis of active chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), is being given the pre-transplant education.
"So, the immediate mortality from the mini-ablative procedure is, as you see on the graph, 10-20%, with a response rate of 30-35%, and the rate of GVHD side effects is this, while the failure is that...ect etc", Said the transplant attending.
The lady calmly says "with all my respect to the statistics you're giving, Doc, I really don't care. What I care about is where I fit in this graph...with 10-20% unlucky poor who will die, or those who'll make it? Where do I stand? Can you tell me?".

3:15 pm, Still in Hillman cancer center:

An 81 y.o. gentelman, with a history of myelodysplastic syndrome, just got the bad news that his disease transformed to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). After I examined him, and talked with him, he grabs my arm, and says in a weak voice " I'm not dying, I? I know you won't let me die...right?"
"this is just my first day..." I was thinking. Never dared to say it, however.

What a day!
I felt so limited in what I can do.
How much I need to read.
And still, how much I need to learn, from the patients!
How much we miss the whole point, and concentrate about their least concern.
Do we treat cancer, or people with cancer?
I definitely learned today I'm ought to talk more to patients.
Meanwhile, Ghassan, Mirvat, and all the people in cancer research, we need your help guys...
God knows how much we need you!

Ok, tommorrow is a new day.

(I apologize from my friends with nonmedical background for using medical terms here, but those were just presented to the poor patients as such)

Today was the big cleaning day...
maybe a way to feel I'm finishing a period, to start another.
And here is my small place...
my nest...
my living room...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A double rainbow

There was a thunderstorm,
then it rained,
and when the sun insisted to join the party...
a double rainbow engulfed Pittsburgh's sky.

(second picture courtesy Alyssa Cwanger, post gazette)

Blessed with friends

When I moved to Pittsburgh on a snowy February 2003 day, I knew 3 friends in the city...
The days would go tasteless...surrounded by strangers, no matter how nice they are.
Three years later, things are so different...
Celebrating me becoming a fellow started in the VA hospital ER where I last worked as a resident...Thanx Rachel for making my day more exciting...and memorable!

In the evening, the coffee shop "gang" joined for a celebration dinner, over a lebanese mezza and food...
"For he's a jolly good fellow" they sang...
Thanx Rachel, Ann-Mary, Kurt, Niraj, Jessica, and Anita.
Thanx Jan, Flavia, and Wissam, although you couldn't make it.

I'm blessed to have you in my life.

Last day as a resident...

That's it...
The internal medicine residency is over.
A page in my life is over.
And a new page is opened.
I can't hide the excitement...