Tuesday, June 27, 2006



No title. No time.

Quickly: I learned today that my grandmother was operated on to stop severe bleeding, severe enough that they went ahead and opened her 3 days and 200 miles south of where she's scheduled to have surgery on Sunday. Later on, she'll be transported somehow to UAB for a radical bladder-ectomy.

This is scary and I'm really reaching for faith in God's will here.

Please pray for her, and my grandfather, and my mother, and, you know, our family.

Israel and Gaza


Y'all know me as a pretty ecumenical person when it comes to reading. I'll read anything and anyone, if only to know what I should stay away from. Thus, the links on my sidebar. I am Muslim and my links include other Muslims, Christians, Jews, and even a Jehovah's Witness-turned-Agnostic. Amongst the many, lest I leave out the religion of someone over there.
I was reading RenReb and came across this:

The Muqata ???? ?? ????????: One Soldier's Life.

And you know what? Astaghfirullah wa audhubiLlah al Aziz, the first thing I thought was, " I can't sympathize with that position, y'all too busy killing children." I was thinking of UmmYousef and Democracy Now's posting of the casualties a couple weeks ago.

Astaghfirullah - May God forgive me, truly. I haven't felt so remorseful as I did when I caught myself thinking this way. Yes, I sympathize with Gaza and it's elected government AT TIMES- but someone has been robbed of his freedom, and that can't be tolerated from anyone anywhere either, or what kind of American am I? I've been able to see the Israeli opinion at times, even if I don't agree it doesn't mean that the people who hold the opinions and live on the land are not people. What kind of Muslim would I be if I didn't protest against that injustice, too; and not just those that are dear to me? Not the kind of Muslima that I said the Shahada to become.

This is what happens when I allow myself to take a side or to decide that the pain of one person is more worthy of my sympathy than another. That, if you ask me, is really at the heart of the entire conflict.

Just my $.02 while I was thinking about it.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Get in touch with needs.


So I was over at the Renegade Rebbetzin's spot, and was reading her rant, which is actually kinda similar to Shabana's a couple weeks ago, about how people do for others based on their particular needs and wants.
the point of ??? is to do things for other people, not because you want to or you can, but because they need it, period, and for no reason other than that. ~Renegade Rebbetzin

The word in hebrew is chesed, which is like, um, giving loving kindness (and is much better explained by RenReb herself in the article.

Both of these wonderful ladies make me take a good hard look at myself. Yes, I have needs of others. But the real question is, Whose needs am I really in touch with, and am I providing to them what they need? OR what I'm willing to give?

Because, to respond to a part of what each of them has said, I know I'm guilty of providing and giving and sharing with others only what is convienient for me. (Which is why I thought at one point that Shabana was talking to me, and thought, well, this shoe is mighty comfy, huh? Maybe I shouldn't be so mad about that, but just go ahead and change.) Until they quite loudly spoke up about it, I was perfectly willing to quash my awareness of that. Now I can't. Thank you very much.
And it ocurred to me just now that I might be receiving more of what I need from others if I were attending first to what others need from me. Instead of hiding inside myself and my nafs (and that's a whole 'nother post).

Short example: I find myself growing more and more depressed what with the happenings of the past few weeks and the lack of a job and a concrete decision about my school. And I wish people would call me to hang out. Or do things. Then, I think on how many people I could be calling, and, well, maybe it's a silly argument. I don't want to trivialize how I feel or depression in general. The articles just led me in that direction.


Every day is a true struggle for me to REALIZE what I'm doing and thinking and to be honest with myself about my reactions and actions. How about you?


Ah Got me a Meme!


from Farrago.

I am? a Tall Black Muslim Woman.
I want? to help raise my community to new heights
I wish? I didn't have to worry about everyday work.
I hate? depression and other intangible mental disorders.
I miss? Culebra and the rest of la isla
I fear? that I won?t find a life partner or be able to take care of myself.
I hear I am not? the most conventional or obedient person.
I hear I am? an inspiring writer and speaker.
I dance? whenever I can.
I sing? Gospel and other praises, mixed with the blues.
I cry? at the thought of pain, physical or psychic, others' or mine.

I am not always? sad. Or happy.
I make with my hands? food, blankets, scarves, music.
I write? better than I think I do.
I confuse? dates- for two weeks in a row, I thought Monday was Tuesday.
I need? security, love, confidence, to be needed.
I should? accept reality without so much wrangling.
I start? enthusiastically
I finish? with determination and pure cussedness.
I tag: Fatima, Dictator Princess, Um Mahtab (Where you at??!), UmmZ (of course), Sherry, Shabana, IzzyMo, Baraka, and anyone who wants it.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Get thee to MarisaMarathon!


Yeah, so by now I realize there is a serious problem with my commentage. The friendly folk of blogger haven't answered my questions about it, so I am still working on it.

I'll be blogging a bit more over on my marathon page.

So click on the link to go there and leave me lots of encouragement and smileys. Smiles are charity, you know.

Feel free to leave a donation if it fits in your zakat plan (what, no zakat budget? You mean, you give freely whenever and wherever you please? Oooh, pick me, pick me!) or if you haven't given to your charity this year, or if you found a $5 bill under the couch cushion that you didn't, like, need desperately. And feel free to plug said link into your sidebar/blogroll/place where nosy people see what stuff you read.

See, my fundraising has netted a big fat $25 so far, and I only need $2075 more to be able to run in the marathon without charging $2100 to my credit card. (Let's pause to laugh at that one. HAHAHAHHAHAHHAhhahahahahah! Whew! As if I could do that!) So protect me from the evils of riba (usury) and do a good deed and leave me some encouragement!

Thank you!


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Immoral, Inethical, and ill...oh, wait...



In the interest of discussing something on which others may comment:

What do you do when faced with a situation where what you would choose to do is neither immoral nor inethical, but illegal?

But you know it's right?

Like, in Cincinnati, where I craftily made my escape from *ahem* grew up, it's illegal to feed other people's meters when you see they're about to go out/have gone out/the person is 'bout 3 cars from getting a ticket.

There's this one granny who used to go around with a bag full of quarters saving peoples' backsides, not knowing that it was illegal- and then when one parking officer with nothing better to do saw her and informed her that indeed that was unlawful, she didn't care. As I recall (too lazy to google it) she did end up in jail over that mess.

Or how about (dun dun dunnnnnnn) the topic of the moment: multiple wives? I haven't heard so much commentary from the Muslim side of things as I have the pseudo/Mormon side of things. But I was just thinking about making the choice to live in a situation like that, and making the normally-unnecessary distinction between my religious compass and the civic-legal compass.

I mean, I believe what I believe, but, um, I even tryna be a lawbreaker here.

And then, too, the law can be "a ass".
And then, too, I ain't going to jail for anything less than a true conviction (either meaning of conviction).

My mama used to say that I could do whatever I wanted as long as it wasn't immoral, illegal, or inethical. Today I found myself going back to the basics: the 'voice inside my head' ticking off the 3 criteria. And got pulled up short. Whaddaya do with something like that???

It's something I need to think about theoretically, before I ever get to the level of needing to apply that in real life.

Anyone got some experience?

Discuss amongst yourselves.


I'm afraid.


I'm faced with still more decisions.

I'm afraid.

I have no job.

I'm running out of money.

I've been given a proposition which is way too tempting, but which would solve two of my problems.

I'm praying, are you?

Because I'm really really just scared right now. No one told me that being an adult involved living scared so much, and so I'm angry too. Eh. Eccch.

That'll be all.

Monday, June 05, 2006

torn torn torn



Some while back I mentioned that my mother's mother had to undergo a biopsy. I recall at the time that I didn't have a great feeling about it. No matter. Your duas are needed- it's without doubt cancer, and it has spread.

Grandma is already recuperating from knee replacement surgery, which she'd put off for quite some time, but which was supposed to give her a lot of her mobility back. Now the doctors are talking about major surgery next week. What really frightened me is that they're not giving her chemotherapy beforehand- they think she's too weak to deal with it. I might have mentioned that my mother was in Tuskegee last week- turns out she was there b/c she found out the diagnosis. Apparently Grandma has lost tons of weight, "and not eating-right weight, but the 'my-body-is-fighting' weight", Mama said.

Pray, please pray. I think I'm more like my grandmother, so we tend to argue and keep each other at arms' length. My mother, and my sister, though are much closer to her. I'm torn up about her being sick, because I've been there (and how). I want her to feel her cantankerous and outrageous self. I've been asking for my feelings toward her to soften. Surprised the heck outta me, when my mother mentioned that she needed someone there all the time, that I said "I could do that. I wish I could go"- and I meant it. I'd be there now if it werent for the fact that I can't do it and work, too.

Pray for God's will to be done in this, and for his presence with my Grandma. Please. Add yours to ours.

Before I found all that out I was gonna tell y'all some things.......ummm....

Oh yeah.

Name change: Yes, Koonj, I have to "officially" change my last name to include my mother's maiden name, as it is shown on my PR ID. Since the great Commonwealth (common weal) of Virginia has decided that since it appears that way on the PR ID that I must have changed it and so need official proof - a court order- of a name change I never made in the first place. This is aggravating in the extreme. To add to this my parents, naturally, are against that since they say my name is as they gave it to me, and never included my mother's maiden name in any way shape or form. I agree with them in theory (I repeat, I NEVER changed my name legally- culturally in PR if you don't use yo mama's name on official stuff they think you're a bastard. No. Even bastards just use their mom's maiden name twice for their last names. See?) but I'm not tryna a)take the driver's license test, in a borrowed car, for however many times I'd have to take it THIS time (it was 4 before I passed after I left the country) b) just get a VA state ID so that if I ever want to drive again I'd STILL have to get another license, thereby just delaying option A by some undetermined time period.

Plus, I actually have no problem acknowledging the fact that my mother is my mother by adding her father's name to mine. I think their attitude is a little bit funny considering that my birth certificate doesn't list her under her married name even though she was married. Hmph. I digress. My PR license is good 'til 2009; I'm still mad that people won't just let it rest and let me deal with licensing issues in 2009. Virginia's all nuts b/c some of the people who flew the 9/11 planes used VA ID's. 9/11 has complicated my life mo' than a lil' bit.

Columbia: I've decided I'm going insha'Allah. It's too early/late to get into it now. Thanks for all your commentary. Please discuss as you wish. Dictator Princess, I'm with you on the debt... really, really-really. but at the same time, Alhamdullillah, I've got the chance to go to the #1 school in the world for what I want to do, something I worked hard for. How do I turn down a blessing? How much is a dream worth? Ima find out- insha'Allah insha'Allah insha'Allah.

I think I'll go get some sleep. I'm baby-sitting tomorrow!


Saturday, June 03, 2006

I know it's great to be agonizing over these kinds of issues...


...but still, I do wish I didn't have to agonize at all.

I've got like 4 things bothering the mess outta me just now.

My main issue is that Columbia University costs so much that I'm having to decide if the debt is worth the anguish of being in that debt. I'm talking about $600 or $700 per month loan bills after I graduate. I'm talking, get a $80,000/yr job or a sugar daddy or a way to pay it off, or else. I'm talking, take the debt or have a family type decision, here.

This is because my fear is the worst case scenario: that I take on all this debt and then can't pay it back. This is a nerve-wracking thing to me. As Mikah said to me yesterday, "You're your own worst enemy," and I already knew what she meant before she said that. I get so afraid of the possibilities of greatness or failure that I don't even try, sometimes. I really really don't want that to be what stops me from taking advantage of this opportunity.

But another part of the issue is that I can't step back. I can't see the forest for the trees, here. At this point in time I have no perspective. I want to go so bad that I'm like, "to hell with the costs, give me a loan so I can make the most of the experience and then pay it back through working in IHS". That's what I've decided to do so far, but then the whole "One-Hundred-Thousand-Dollars-For-Just-Two-Years" thought goes through my head, or I wonder what happens if I don't get into the public health corps or the IHS, and I can't sleep.

So, I ask for and listen to advice...

Nene: "Why do you want to go to Columbia?".... (listens to the answer) "Okay, then go. It's just money. If New York is THE place to get the best training in this and a good place for you to live, and you've already got into the school, then go... I have some friends up there who may be able to put you in contact wth some places that can help with financial aid a bit... " etc. etc.

Mama (this is at various points over a two-year time span): You don't have to go to Columbia. Why is it that you don't want to go to Emory? (listens to the answers) It's a very, very expensive school, daughter. We don't have any family in New York. And you don't have to do this now. I sense an urgency on your part. But no one in our family has gone to an Ivy league school, and we're all doing fine. That kind of school, at that kind of cost, isn't necessary. Not for black folks. I know you're putting value on the name. And I know the school is excellent for what you want to study. We-your father and I- we can't help you if you go. I didn't go to an Ivy League school, and I didn't get my doctorate, and I don't think that makes any difference to the people I have helped in my lifetime. But get your teaching license first- I say that's why you went to Puerto Rico. Have something you can fall back on. Wait- study something else. Do you realize what kind of loan payments you'll be making? What job prospects do you have? You don't have to go to Columbia. You don't have to go there. You don't have to go now. etc. etc.

Umesh: (lilting Indian/Briton accent, here) Since you asked me, I do not think you should go. Look at me- I got a scholarship, and now I am struggling to stay inside the country. And I'm not taking any high-paying job. I went to the school that is the poorest in [pricey Ivy League school], it doesn't pay much. So I am very frugal. [ahem skin-and-bones frugal] That is an opportunity that may come again, but the cost is not worth it. I think not. You should wait, and teach in the meantime. etc. etc.

Magali : This is your dream, man. I mean, I'm not in your position. But you're not an extravagant person, you don't have expensive taste. You know how to save. The real decision, from what you've told me, is between going with your dream and taking debt, which we know makes you crazy, or not going with your dream and living with berating yourself for the next 5 years and regretting it and not knowing what to do instead. That's the real decision. Forget everything else and make that decision. That's what I think counts.

Vee (my sister and thus party to all decisions all the time): No! Don't even tell me you're thinking about not going! There are people in our family who have money that will give it to you for your education. (listens while i explain that our mother has said that her family would tell me go to a cheaper school- tis a given that our fathers side has enough for themselves and not much more) Look. Sister. You're the first person in our family to go to an Ivy League school. even if the family doesn't help you, you've been talking about this for 3 or 4 years now. You know what? You have to go. (over my protests about the costs and the fact that I'd want even more education later) You have to go. You told me this would happen. Do you remember? You said that one day you would find a way to talk yourself out of going, and that I have to come and kick you and make you go. I'll help you. Or just take the loans. But you have to go. You can't give up on your dream.

Mikah:You know, the first thing is, that that is a LOT of money. Think of what that did to you at GW. Think what happened when you were in Puerto Rico and not making any money. You got sick. That tore your body down. The past is a great indicator for the future. Can you be studying and working at the same time and earn enough for your incidental expenses without getting sick?
The other thing is, that when we're in our early twenties, we always think that we have to act right now, jump on it so that this opportunity will not pass us by.
But there's no rush, Twenny! So you'll have to go through the application process again. That's okay. I know you want your dream and you don't want to step away from it right now. But if you got in, and they want you there, then you belong there. So you can apply again and assume you'll get in. In order for you do this, you need do do proper planning, so that it doesn't stress you. And a good deal of your problem is that you haven't planned enough. Have faith that if God wants this for you it will happen, and wait on his timing. Anything you start half-assed is just half-assed. Don't set yourself up for a cycle of failure. etc. etc.
Yeah. So advice is all over the place. I can almost break it into generational categories: BabyBoomers = don't go. GenX/GenNext: forget the money, follow your dream.

What else is bothering me?

Well, I don't have a job. And I'm about to change my name and I don't want to talk to my family about it b/c they've shown themselves to be opposed to it. Oh, and I'm about to be twennyfive with no marriage prospects in sight, and I live with my aunt.

These are all great things to be worried about, masha'Allah. Today, at least, I'm not worried about where my next meal is coming from, or that the house is going to fall in on my head. I'm not sick, thank God. I can help my friends and laugh and know that none of this is the end of the world. Still, horses for courses. This is my life, and so these are the things I worry about.

Shouts to my friends, esp. Sherry- I've got your messages, and I miss you, and I'll be calling you soon.