Dear diary… remember me?

Been a while since I blogged here. Let’s be honest, no one who takes themselves seriously has “blogged” since about 2003.

Gerard's starting another journal againLike many creative kids, I was constantly starting journals or diaries, promising myself that this would be the one I would write in every single day forever. That’s how I ended up with a drawer full of exercise books that began with “OK, THIS will be the diary that I write in every single day forever.”

(And there WAS a drawerful of exercise books. Pick up from where I left off? Are you mad? There must be a nice, crisp, new page 1. Pages 2 onwards, of course, remain blank. Forever.)

The best thing I did the last time I started a journal was to promise myself that it didn’t matter how much time elapsed in between each entry. It means I now have a journal that lurches forward in time in enormous bounds, never getting bogged down with self-flagellation over the gap, nor mocking itself with hollow promises to be a better diarist in future.

It’s a wild ride, exciting or thoughful moments in time with no connection to each other. I do wish the gaps weren’t so large. It changes noticeably from the journal of a young man experiencing a series of doomed and often unrequited romances to that of an almost-middle-aged man mourning departed friends more often than he would have hoped. But along the way he’s suddenly happily married to a previously unmentioned woman, so at least that worked out.

All this is to say that I don’t see any reason why my blog should be any different. I’ve been busy, that’s all. Plus, I went pro, writing a few articles for the good people at The Hoopla. It shut down soon afterwards, so let that be a lesson to you all.

The articles were archived for a while, but now they’ve gone forever. Why would you worry about that? Who are you? Why are you still checking in on my blog a year and a half after my last entry? You’re weird. I like you.

It’s nice to be back. See you in three years.

A happy Christmas in Syria (yes, you read right)

Christmas Eve, 2012.

My mind is on Syria, as it has been all year, and throughout 2011, for reasons that are only too obvious in the news headlines.

But today, as at every Christmas, it’s on my mind for what I could call happier reasons. If only I could be reassured that those reasons aren’t now just a memory.

I’ve known and loved Syria since I studied Arabic in Damascus in the 1990s. Compared to the chaos around it back then, it was a quiet corner of the Middle East. Authoritarianism and insularity bred stability and predictability – along with problems that one was best not to mention. How things change. Continue reading