I don't think this is going to be a very coherent post, but I think it's going to be a very long one. If you know me, you may want to avert your eyes. My natural frankness has been suppressed and I"m letting go.
I wish I had a telephone and a friend to call. I mean, I have both of those things but neither fits the bill, y'know? I guess that's why I blog. I'm not feeling very secure right now, but I am feeling tired and lonely and um. not privileged. Things I need to talk out. I've got so many blog entries stored up in my head it's ridiculous. SO I'm at my job after hours (which I was fussed at severely for doing last week) and instead of doing my taxes (which I've been trying to do since I had all the papers together in FEBRUARY, mind) I'm getting all those entries out in bits and pieces.
I went to the MSA East Zone conference this past weekend. I enjoyed it. Meeting so many young Muslims was very cool, inspiring, etc. So why am I frustrated now? I'm not sure.
We drove down to Florida, mashaAllah while it was snowing up here, I was soaking up some warm sunshine. My executive director essentially told me that I HAD to take a break. I really was stressed out, to the point where I got sick with the phlegmy-congestiony-hoopalahpa on Wednesday, before we left on Thursday.
Ooh, on Wednesday, we had the greatest meeting up at this One Local University (OLU) with a name similar to AlmaMater's. We met with higher-ups in their department of education, to discuss developing our test. WOOOOOO HOOOO! I'm mad excited to see my hard work paying off.
I wish that were the only thing I had to focus on. I'm not happy with my job and REALLY not happy that I had to cancel the interview I'd scheduled for today at another place. Now someone'll come along and tell me to just bear it, that the few fun/fulfilling moments are those I"m lucky to have. I'm not supposed to like my job. Am I crazy for wanting to be happy with my work, even as I work to improve? I think I'm in the wrong field... but definitely in the wrong office.
I'm going to have to bite the bullet and take the loans and go to nursing school or something. I've got to get going on what I KNOW will be what I want. I need a change. I'm restless. I'm not quite depressed but not happy and not normal. Just kinda bleh. I'm not meeting my goals, I feel like I'm marking time.
Back to East Zone. Last time I went to EZ was four years ago, and it seriously inspired me in my pursuit of Islam. SO I was disappointed that I didn't get as much out of it this year. I'm sure that had to do with the fact that I"m four years older and the entire time I was there I was hanging with a crowd of peeps a bit younger than I. While it was fun socially, I feel like it didn't do much for my deen.
It helped me realize something, though: I have got to get married.
Y'all have heard this before. I know. Hell, this thought goes through my head every day. Know how people say folk can think about sex up to every seven minutes or seven seconds or something like that? Well, yeah, that and making my life with another person to learn with and pray with and fight with and live with and love with there by my side. Only the most important drives are enough to take up your consciousness every seven minutes, right? I grew up with the New Testament refrain resounding in my head, "better to marry than to burn" and I'm getting to the point where I feel like burning is an inevitable and immediate part of my future and I DON'T WANT IT TO BE THAT WAY.
This is a sore point.
One night as we sat on our slippery satin hotel covers, feet swinging between the beds, I was talking to Leila, a roomie at the conference. And we'd had a couple of sessions that day about marriage in Islam and 'assisted marriage' as opposed to arranged marriages (um, the upshot of the "You had me at salaam" session? one, you tell your parents what you want, the other they tell you what you want, but in the end they do the majority of the picking, and NO Dating Allowed as is halal of course. Big waste of time for me, but whatever) as well as "communication between the sexes" (that one was really meant for married couples though they didn't say so until we were all in the room and seated, but I gleaned some helpful things out of it) and I asked Leila, (wow, this paragraph is really train of thought, huh?) "how do you think you'll get married? Traditional, or American (those were the catchphrases we were using)?
She and the other girls had been interested in my question- they wanted to know, what did I want to ask them so badly? See, during the session with Imam Magid (yeah, we went all the way to Florida to hear sessions by Imam Magid, which ended up good in that I got to bend his ear about something that has been bothering me about ADAMS, but why did I have to go to Orlando to do all that?) and Dr. Yasmine, I sat in the front (but I always sit in the front, that's nothing new) and then when the Q/A session came, had my hand allll in the air, waving it around, etc. Finally, when the guys started bringing up questions that they'd written on note cards, I busted out my green pen and wrote my own question. Now, the moderator (and also the daughter in law of Dr. Yasmine the speaker if that mattered) had given me the 'nod' as if to say, "you're next", but then ignored me, and when I took my question to her, they both ignored it as well. The girls sat several rows behind me, so they saw me get up, they saw the other girls get up and take their questions and have them answered, so all these hours later (it must've been 2AM by the time Leila and I got to this question) they wanted to know.
I asked :
"How would you advise young people who really want to get married but have to go through the process "family-free"? I'm a convert, but I'm also thinking of kids who have very little interested family or people who are more practising than their parents."Do y'all know that question was completely ignored in the general session?
I don't give up easy, in fact I'm pretty well known for the way I Keep. Asking. Questions. until I get an answer on the things that matter to me. So I went up to Dr. Yasmine after the session and asked again. Of course, she pointed out the "Adopt an Auntie" suggestion that she'd made early in her speech. My problem is that I've done that, and it hasn't worked. I either ended up with nothing to show for it b/c the 'aunties' were either lazy or very very picky on my behalf , or I got hooked up with the dishonest men who were out for mut'a marriage(ASTAGHFIRULLAH) or second/third wives. Or the former jailbirds.
Man I was so discouraged. I thanked the sister because she did give me her card, and I'm writing her, but...
I'll get back to that in a second.
That night I really envied Leila the ability to respond as she did, in part: " I don't think there's anything wrong with going from my father's house to my husband's house. My dad... Islam is his life," she said, saying that he reinforced with her that it was always her choice, because that's mandated by the Qur'an. Her answer was that she might very well go the traditional route, but that her father (her mother died, may she have peace) told her that if she finds a man who's nice, and they get to know each other in a halal way, then he'll accept that too. Basically she said that she'll be married young, and that while one side of her family wants to push her to do the independent woman, own apartment, make money etc. thing, she's not into it, her dad agrees that she shouldn't have to, and she's lucky to be able to choose that and feel tis a legitimate and acceptable choice.
I... how to explain how I felt? I didn't quite envy her, because I was happy that her situation allowed her to do that even as mine pretty much completely excludes that. But felt a kinship in the certainty that she had that getting married young was going to be her choice and the right choice for her and she was fine with that even if it was against the mainstream. I think she's really lucky to have her father be allll about supporting her in an Islamically correct choice.
I'd told her that the reason I'd asked that question is because my parents are the opposite; my father still mentions the days of when I told him I wanted to graduate college and get married right off with disgust. You know how people kind of save things up to throw at you later during an argument? That's how I know how he views it. And I mean, yeah, for him, secular/Christian him, why go to college if you're going to get married right away? Why waste your brain in your youth by having kids right off? You can have sex anyway, people shack up and no one seems to stop them, so the idea of getting married so early is one that gives disgust. I don't agree but I know how he thinks.
My mother also pulled away from the idea of helping me search for different reasons- I think it's against everything she knows. The idea is foreign and uncomfortable. And yeah, some of it has to do with my issues; when I told her I don't date (still don't, heh, every attempt went disastrously, remind me to tell you about that sometime- let's just say that I dont' like it for now) she asked, "But, Twenny, if you don't date, how will you find someone? How will you know how that person is?"
Typical American argument. I guess I find it illegitimate because I feel if people who know both parties well do the search, and both parties are allowed to know each other well enough to truly consent to the marriage, then, you can get married without sharing a lot of the, what, fitna? that comes with girl/boyfriendhood here in the US dating culture. But later in that conversation she also let me know that I need to open up a little. I am very guarded with men, and with my feelings in general. For some people spending too much, or appearing with a hair out of place in public is their big deal, the thing they guard against- for me, well, I don't like having my trust or my emotions betrayed (yes, no one does, but for me it's that thing, and I'll get over looking crazy in a random picture before I forget exactly the circumstance under which I was hurt. I'm working on it, but at the same time it's been that way as long as i can recall.) Ain't that many people who know me, the real me, and not the images I project. I'm changing that, but what she said was that it was keeping me from getting dates, which is part of the point of my facades.
So, since I've been 19, I've not lived in the same city of my parents, where I grew up, for more than 2 weeks at a time. I only say 19, because I did spend the summer after freshman year there. Which is why I haven't done it again. The problem is probably me, not my parents or the city (it's kind of ridiculous to say a whole city is an issue with you, right?), but at the same time, since that first summer, the acquaintances I did have largely left the area, and I've always reached my limit at about 2 weeks.
SO my question really went... not unanswered but unfulfilled and I'm still asking. All the women (heck, and the men but they have much less of an issue from what I've heard, correct me if I'm wrong, please)
Leila and Reea and I also discussed the lack of an 'Alim (spelling, y'all?) at the MSA EZ conference. This was a picking point for both of them. So I had to ask what an alim is and then I let them explain why this was such a big deal. See, the point of one of the conference sessions went something like, "Americans, and Muslims: making your mark on Islam" or similar, and the speaker there was AMAZING. He was talking bout the infrastructure of the USA and how we as muslims can't do everything our community needs if we only educate ourselves to be doctors and lawyers, because those professions among others feed into some non-islamic conditions already tearing down our people here. His great example was about the doctor who wanted to provide free care. If Islam requires us to give charity and that can and should be time as well as money, then, wow, he was doing a great thing,r ight? He was fired, because American systems are set up to be all about money. Not that that's wrong, but it's not an islamic system, and to build up islamic ideals in this country, we've got to be able to branch out to provide all types of expertise and alternatives that we need. While that was interesting, the point Reea and Leila made was that this brother came with the hardcore evidence from the Qur'an and hadiths. Yes, multiple. The girls said (and I reflected and agreed) that he was really the ONLY speaker on a semi-secular issue who kept what he said Qur'an based and Islam focused, instead of stating an ayah at the beginning or end and tying their professional expertise to it instead of explaining the expertise from the Islamic bases (if they existed). Leila went so far as to say that they should've brought an alim over, which brought my original objection that this is an american conference, don't we have alims (alimeen? alimat?) here? She said yea, there're schools for that, but the point is that the deen-intensive learning wasn't there.
And we all agreed that there needs to be another version of EZ- but this one needs to be deen-intensive. No competition for the Qiyam ulLayl or the doing dhikr outside with Imam Zaid Shakir (I'm Still Mad I missed that one, since I'd've preferred to be there instead of where I was but it was rather hush hush).
There were also some pretty funny things going down. I got called "Mom" by like half the peeps from DC region. Not sure why- I think b/c of my OC tendency to be super prepared, so I had like this huge bag full of food in the car... but also how I had a blanket when we stopped to pray along the way and the gazebo had bird poop all over the floor...and how I'm big enough for Elle to jump all over me and hug me and shriek, "Moooom!" without completely falling over and how it wasn't a thang for me to go up to this guy one of the girls wanted to talk to and be like, "Ey, son, you tryna get married?" (No, I wasn't that ghetto, but yes I did that. He blushed his way through that one, gave me his fb name, so that I could find out there that he's with some girl named M___e- dude, I was straightforward with you, guess you're shy?) Hi-LARIOUS. I also got the same girl to get the info of a guy (Okay, his name was like Munawar? Minabar? I'm terrible!) who caught my eye, but I don't know if he knew it was for me. She was vague about this. Hmm.
Not everything was so focused. I met an amazing woman who is cubana, a convert married to a born muslim, and was there with her three (hiskool/college aged) kids, all of whom were awesome, mashAllah. She's been Muslim for 30 years and married for 22, and she knew EXACTLY what I'm going through. It was such a relief to meet someone like that. You have no idea. I adopted her on the spot, but she lives in Southern FL, boooo. Email shall have to suffice. I can't tell you how awesome it was to meet her though. I don't want to give away too much info , this blog is public, but it was definitely ironic the way I met her. We ended up chit chatting in Spanish- at least until my "child" Elle interrupted. I did some shopping and now officially own enough hijabs to make it through the summer without the pashmina that kept me through the cold winter. Yay! I also bought these books, Companions of the Prophet, that are an amazingly good read. I got pretty absorbed into them on the way back and it's my subway companion now.
The trip up and back was long but rewarding, at least on the way back. On the way down I totally slept most of the way, since I had that hoopalahpa thing going and was drugged up. I figured out about halfway through the first day of the conference that the drugs were hurting more than they helped. So we did the leg down with me (yeah, 6'2" me), Elle, and Leila in the backseat, and Mahmood and Neal in the front driving. Eh. Halfway through I was shrieking and demanding to be let out to stretch my joints- my knees were on fire- but other than that, it was your standard long road trip. I"m almost immune after years of 13-hour trips between Ohio and Alabama as a kid.
On the way back, Talib and the other drivers had done some switching around to allow for those who wanted to get back to DC Metro area earlier and those who wanted to go to Universal Studios. The in-betweens fell in my car: me, Mahmood, and Reea. I started in the backseat, but was so uncomfortable that both Mahmood and Reea suggested that I moved to the front. Mahmood hadn't talked much on the trip down, and I'd arranged my trip in 'his' car by email through a friend of a friend, so I didn't really know him and thought he was a kinda strict but good-hearted person, who cracked crazy jokes in emails, one who didn't socialize with women but was nice enough to give us a ride since we all needed one. Y'know, fisabilillah.
Naturally though I wanted to ride in the front and not be in agony allll the way back to DC, I didn't want to make the driver of the car uncomfortable, so I was cool with staying in the backseat and making him stop ever so often so I could stretch. So I was suprised when he goes, "Well, most girls are more comfortable riding in the back seat..." when Reea said that basically he'd become our driver since Neal went to Disney. HA! I'm not nor have I ever been most girls. I jumped in the front.
I almost wish I hadn't, though. Fifteen hours, eight lecture tapes, a bucket of chicken ,one $350 speeding ticket and countless exchanged words later, I've got a crush on Mahmood. SOOOOOOOOOOOO glad Reea was in the car. So so glad.
That hadith about shaitan being the third when a man and woman are alone? Dude, I used to dismiss it, then I believed but academically, but, y'all, Sis. TwennyTwo has seen the light. Especially since this is no one I had even thought about thinking about until we were almost at the end of the trip. Beyond not my type (actually, he's short, dresses like whatever, otherwise he's smart and up on news, knows a lot about Islam, a great qari, even Reea said we share a sense of humor... hey wait! I'm supposed to be convincing myself NOT to like this guy! Gotta stick with the program!) And prolly (inshaAllah) I won't be thinking him about once the memories of the trip fades. And especially since I had the most embarassing and foul... um... breaking of wind... right as I was getting out of the car. HORRIBLE. Horrible. QUE VERGUENZA! After I'd called a male friend for directions from my house to Reea's university in the district at 3AM- (my friend D for those who follow the blog at all) and he answered my call. I imagined that didn't look too good either. Mahmood was all, " Thanks, D, now TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!" in a funny way, of course. And Reea thought I was saying "dad", not "D", but they were both profusely thankful even as I know they were wondering, "What kind of friend answers phone calls at 3AM?"
So ha. No liking of Mahmood.
Some of y'all remember the crush of a couple weeks ago. I found out that he was just playing. I still talk to him, but much less than before. Someone said something during one of the conferences- something like,
See? Witness the above. I have my issues- I realize I like someone and then either wait for him to say something or try to convince myself that what I think /feel isn't real, or that I need him to validate it from his side of things. I tell myself that it's not there and it's not that deep if it is.
At the same time, I know what I want- I want to be married. I think I'm sabotaging myself. At least I'm having some fun while doing it, but yo, I'd rather not do it!
Wow, I've been writing for two and a half hours, this is going to be one heckuva post. I didn't even get to tell y'all how I met Baba 'Ali (nope, Ididn't take a picture, but there's now a challenge to me in there) or about how close I am to quitting my day job... yeah, I'm still singing that song. But it'll have to wait, my Lord and 'Isha prayer and then my house call me. Insha'Allah, soon.