Friday, July 27, 2007

Right now


so right now i'm throwing my fist up at the sky and hollering,
"where is my sustenance! You promised! where is it?! how am i supposed to make it?!"
in a friendly, loving, obedient and respectful way
of course

and while my head knows i am owed nothing but death i need my heart to be at peace with it
but not so as to hasten that particular debt collector

and all i'm really saying is that i work all day every day and i work alone
(but for You)
so not paying the rent or not eating shouldn't be an option because i work
(for You alone)

if one more person tells me i have to sacrifice they will truly sacrifice themselves for my sake
i know what i have to do
i know how it is (its hard)
i don't know how to be. show me how to be patient. show me how to be frugal. show me how to be friendless. show me how to be homeless.

its not that i dont trust You more like i don't trust me
but i live for You and You, you're up there sending down sustenance
and i don't want to miss it so i'm looking real hard
right now
i don't want to make any decisions because they're all bad
except that i still trust You
right now
i need You for real
that's all i'm saying

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What's with the fifth degree from Saudi? - and other questions


It's going to be a looooong weekend.
I'm riding down to my parents' birthplace with my Aunt C. inshaAllah. I actually don't anticipate drama. I think Allah is testing me with this one. I think patience and love will be key. I also plan to enjoy my time with my cousins, especially the one whose birthday is Monday. She's also the youngest and smartest and most sensitive of the bunch, and I miss her. The rest of the time I'll be reading or sleeping- I doubt Aunt C. would unbend enough for me to help them drive, and it's between 9 and 12 hours driving. Which means I'm headed out of here soon. Praying for mercy the entire way.

D. moved to Syracuse, to start his master's studies bootcamp for journalists. I'm definitely going to miss D's presence. I think what confused me so about him is the fact that he's a one in a million friend; one that makes me feel confident, smart, and safe at the same time. I finally figured out that while he's not my future husband, the one for me will have those same qualities times about a hundred and BE MUSLIM. So there. Question resolved. He's enjoying his time in bootcamp and I'm glad; that's something he's wanted to do for a very long time, and I'm glad he's happy with that choice. I also know that that's the end of an era, since I most likely won't be in DC by the time he finishes his studies.

Speaking of DC, yesterday I took my accent seminar students for a field trip to the Capitol and the House Gallery. I think the trip itself went pretty well; But I've got some serious questions. If the congresspeople and the Capitol are supposed to be freely accessible to the people, then why do you have to have separate passes to get to the House galleries, Senate galleries, and the Rotunda? Why do you have to have a Capitol staffer with you to see all three at the same time? One red-shirted guide nearly ticked me off by quite loudly explaining that I didn't have the right pass for the rotunda. I let my students see it anyway (this is MY government, too!), and they snapped photos before the red-shirt controlfreak used a walkie talkie to call a Capitol guard to escort us away. Humph.
And, oh, yeah, we got to see the vote on the bill to support education and decrease in student loan debt. Steve Chabot, I am severely disappointed in you! How dare you vote no on a bill that would help so many of your constituents in Cincinnati to excape from the burdens placed in front of higher ed in this country! One of only 5 who did so as well. I'll be writing a formal letter. So yeah, it was def cool to see my past and present representatives on the floor. When the vote was first called, the floor was empty. My students asked, "Is this it?" and wondered exactly how many people would get to vote... and then they started trickling in. I personally found it fun to see how they were dressed, who they talked to, and how they made the vote- they took these little cards and placed them into a slot, then pushed the button to make their choice; at the end they were asked if they wanted to change their vote, I guess to prevent mistakes. One rep was awesome- she wore a white jacket, black skirt, had her hair elaborately braded into a crown, and a long flowing red scarf over her shoulder. I remember thinking that'd be a killer hijab. It was a thrill to see John Conyers and Charlie Dingel as well as Ambassador Wilson, too. Very cool. I hadn't seen that scene since I left my lobby position my sophomore year.

And then I returned to the school to teach my night class. I met two very nice sisters named Samiya and Fatema, from Jubeid (sp?) in Saudi. They proceeded to ask me fiftyleven questions: Oh, you're Muslim? Where are you from? And your family? No, I mean, are your whole family Muslim? Do you speak Arabic? Oh, so that's what you know? How did you come to Islam?

That last one... geesh. I answer that question so much, yo, after the impromptu interview It was a bit much. But when I gave a general answer "Oh, I took shahada at college, when I was 18", she was all, "But, HOW?!".

Okay. Que rude. Luckily the bell rang and I went to teach my class. My student Ishmael had seen them crowd me in the lobby and said, "I know, they interviewed me, too." It's hilarious, but at the same time, makes me kinda mad. What's up with that?!

Anyhow, I'm off on a journey. Please make dua'a for my grandmother, and for me, and for my family. InshaAllah I'll talk to you all after I get back.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

My grandmother has died


inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.

My grandmother died at 8:29 this morning. May God grant her peace and have mercy upon her.
Please pray for her, and her children, her husband, her sibs and all of the rest of us.

I have to blog it out. My sister doesn't want to talk, and my cell is nearly dead. And I have some whinery in here somewhere. Blog blog blog.

I'm so sad right now. You might think it's odd that I'm not really sad for my grandmother- she'd been very sick, so that I'm glad she nor her caregivers have to go through illness anymore. And I'm relieved that we don't have to have disputes between us anymore. Her being sick opened a door for me to forgive ( though I'm not done with that yet I have started). Mostly I'm grieving for my mother- she was at the nursing center with her this morning, just the two of them. Reminded me a lot of how Nzingha described being with her mother at her passing. And for my aunts, my grandmother's other daughters, as well. My aunt C., the one I lived with here when I came back from Puerto Rico, had just left the night before, so she made it back here. She'll have to make the trip again. I think she'll be the most deeply affected of all of them. She's so stoic, but the advent of my grandmother's illness has made her frantic in a way. I wish I could comfort her, but, true to pattern, I think I'm so annoying to her that I'd just irritate her. As I did my grandmother, a lot of times. *sigh*

Today is my remaining grandmother's birthday, so I called her. My grandparents live up the street from one another; technically the streets have different names since they're bisected by the main road that goes through Tuskegee, but we only have to cross one street to walk from the house of my mother's parents to that of my father's mother. She said she was grateful to have made it to another year- and that she was cooking for "yo mama'nem. Your mama has been up so late all these nights, They all been up these nights, they shouldn't have to be cookin' too". Her co-mother-in-law (why don't we have a term for this in English?!) died on her birthday and she started cooking, which is very "her".

Mama (I actually call her Mami which sounds like Mommy in English, but it's wierd to write that) asked me if I'd be able to come to Tuskegee. Ostensibly for the funeral. I want to go give her a hug and wait on her. Yup, go and serve my mama. I'm rather ambivalent about the funeral for a couple of reasons, but they all are some variation of the fact that I don't want my grandmother's funeral to become or enable a focus on my differences from and with my extended family. At all. And I want to avoid that completely. I selfishly don't want things to be about me, I don't want questions, I don't want to sing, I don't want to be overwhelmed, I just want to go hug my mama and fix her plates and rub her feet.

I know that depending on which scholar I listen to I'm not supposed to go to the funeral anyway. Part of me doesn't want to go. I don't like funerals. I don't like my grandparent's church (this is where my mother and all my aunts were married.) I prefer burials, when things are quiet and the body is returned to the earth. Islamic funeral prayers and burials are just my style, really.
But. My mother has asked it. So much of my life in Alabama has been funerals, looking at the orange and white sandy ground while preachers say things and people brush tissues over their faces. InshaAllah I'll go to Tuskegee and play things by ear from there.

Logistics won't be fun. I guess I'll be making the ride down and back with my youngest aunt and uncle. I'm broke and I'm looking for work; I don't know if the school where I'm teaching will actually hire me back for both morning and evening sessions (it's month to month work until I'm full time, one session left to teach for that to happen), and I don't know where the money to travel will come from. I have a final exam to administer on Thursday evening; if perhaps I give it on Wednesday and let the students turn in their final book reports on Thursday, I could turn in the paperwork in order to actually be able to leave on Thursday night or Friday morning... I was going to use the time to look for jobs but... and, oh, yeah, Friday just happens to be my 26th birthday. And I thought the last one sucked. At least now I don't have to wonder about what I'm going to do. And I'll get to be around my cousins and my sibs and my family. *sigh*. I'm reaching for Allah right now, to help me know how to act.

You know, my grandmother had a great life. She kicked ass. As much as we disagreed, she gave me the best gift I have- my mother. For that alone I should celebrate the fact that she was here. and ask for God to keep her now that she's not. I'm mixed up, but I know that I'm grateful for that much.

But my grandmother has died, and she didn't die alone; my mother was with her. Pray for them, pray for us.