Syrian blogger: ‘I live or die here’

Story highlights

"Big Al" began blogging about his life in Homs, Syria, in September

Stuck inside while war happens outside, he watches "The Simpsons," listens to Nine Inch Nails

Al argues with his parents about whether to stay or leave Syria

Most protesters are young, like him. "I know my rights as a human being," he blogs

CNN  — 

In a concrete block apartment building in a working-class Syrian suburb, a young man who calls himself “Big Al” spends his days listening to Nine Inch Nails on his smartphone. He watches back-to-back episodes of “The Simpsons” on his laptop while he shovels a pan of brownies into his mouth.

He loves to cook. It’s the only thing keeping him going.

“I’m a big guy, and I like to cook and bake,” he says. “Since I’ve been jobless for more than a year, and there are no activities to do, I get busy baking. In fact, I made more pizzas and cookies this year than I did in the past three years.”

When the electricity is on, there he’ll be, in a tiny kitchen in his parents’ apartment, stirring and sifting and tasting. He’ll hear gunfire popping in the distance; sometimes the boom of a shell landing shakes the apartment. He is scared. Of course he is scared. Fear settles on everything. His eyelids are heavy. But what else can he do but keep on living?

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Big Al lives in Homs, now full of burned out structures and rubble, such as this building.

It’s scorching hot in Syria, but Al always keeps the windows open a little. Pressure from explosions around his Homs neighborhood can cause glass to break. This is one of the lessons he’s learned from war.

He’s also learned to keep his laptop plugged in so it can soak up whatever electricity might come on, if it does. Al loves the Internet. To him, it’s freedom. He can say what he wants and be who he would like to be, something like the goofy, happy guy he used to be before so many people started dying in his country.

Al spends hours hunched over his keyboard, typing, working on his blog, Thoughts and Feelings of a Syrian Freedom Fighter. Its entries, thousands of words, white letters against a black background, are nothing like the usual bomb and body-count stories about Syria.

Al’s blog is a detailed diary of a young man’s life interrupted, days and nights existing in two states: mundane, almost zombie-like