I’m writing this in a plain office in the corner of a building that was described by the realtor as “exclusive,” though it doesn’t exclude despondent ultra-Orthodox Jews panhandling for cash, plumbers who break all the pipes you hadn’t called them to fix, or the cheerful lady who lets her dog pee in the elevator. There’s the hum of heavy traffic from the road below and a view across the valley of brake lights on a highway where no one ever seems to move. The air is clear enough up here that I usually only smell me, sweating through the desert heat, except when the garbage truck empties the trashcans and sends up a rotten fruit ripeness, or when the khamsin blows and I can smell the dirt on the hot wind. There’s a mosquito in here, but the bastard isn’t friendly enough to show himself. When he does, I’ll do what people in the Middle East do best. There are already spots of my blood across the whitewash where his brothers and sisters felt the thick side of my fist.