Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Oh. Get somebody else to do it. (warning, ramble ahead)

Assalamu ALaikum,

I want a teaching license. But not badly enough to go through the rigamarole it takes to get one. Apparently.

I'm so sick of the Universidad del Sagrado Heart. My problem is really that they're operating Portareeco style. I should be used to this, but I guess two years away from the island mean I'm again sensitive to and agitated by the way people use and abuse time there. See, I did many of my teaching credits there. In order to get a teaching license, I have to prove that I have a certain number of credits of a certain type in education (thanks a whole bunch, NCLB, you continual pain in my ...ahem. Anyway). Crazy thing is that I have the copies of the UPR transcript, and I have the copies of my Alma Mater transcripts. The people it's hardest for me to get hold of are of course the Sagrado Heart Registrar's office. It's like they take 3 hour lunches and leave 2 hours early. Now, I do exaggerate. By thirty minutes. Tops. Either way.

What that means for busy teacher me is that even though I KNOW USH has scheduled the ONE class I was told I needed for a FT teaching license in PR (and thus a FT teaching license here in midwestern state) and I KNOW they've scheduled it in TWO different summer sessions, and I KNOW that USH has dorms for super cheap during the summer, I haven't been able to CONFIRM that that's STILL the class I need to take. Because I can't get my transcripts out of the place. It drives me mad. I've called on my lunch break for four days straight, and even when I call before the posted noon lunch break hour I can't get through. Boo. Hiss. And they love to claim they're the premiere private university on the island. O-kay. They just can't prove it by me. Long story short, I'm 'bout to send one of my peoples over to the campus to wrangle with them face-to-face. If you can't beat'em, get your army to do it.

So I don't know whether I"ll be here for the summer or not. Even so, I went ahead and applied to the Fawakih program that's starting this summer in Indianapolis. It's an intensive, month-long program to learn Arabic. I've got to get ahead in that struggle, somehow. I've been taking the weekly (free!) basic grammar course as a part of our halqa, and I love that. And I'm very satisfied with the level of tajweed I'm learning with the help of a sister who isn't charging me a dime, may Allah reward her and bless her for her teaching and her forbearance with me.

I just want more. I'm thirsty for the language. I'm thirsty to learn things. And I want to go back to being a student- or I would if I didn't have to pay to do it. I think that's one of the worst things about academia. You have to pay to play, unless you've paid so much you feel it dripping from your veins. Then you go work to get out of hock. Unless you find a different way to do it.

And being a student is something I'm best at. Always have been. Yet again in the Two household we were having the conversation, "what do you want to do?" And in searching for the absolute truth, I said that I wanted to go back to school. I loved being in school. I knew I was on scholarship so I wasn't stressed about the cash it cost. I went to a foo-foo university and I believed (oh, did I ) that my degree from Alma Mater would mean super duper amounts of cash from a nice job when I left. Ha. (Liz, I feel your pain and I don't know what to tell you except that I've been there. Hang in, hon.)

Thing is, now I'm a 'responsible adult' ( or at least, I am when at work) and so I have to pay bills and going back to school for some Master's degree I don't really really want just makes zero sense. That's why I've been resisting (okay, passively. I"m still recovering) her insistence that I get the formal license. I hate education courses, they seem like bunk, and everything EVERYTHING I've learned that I HAD to learn about teaching I really learned from experience. I've had like 3 courses out of maybe 12 that actually taught me something I had to use in my classroom. What a waste. AlHamdulIllah it wasn't my money. I just can't see throwing away my money on more of the same. I need it to get to work. Anyone else see gas hitting $4.00/gal this year?

Speaking of which, I'ma just g'on 'head and be ungrateful because my raise this year? Will cover gas for two months in my car. I either need to get rid of the car or go somewhere to get paid more to do tutoring. Or find a better-paying side gig (and teaching on the side rocks just now). Because I need to get someone to clean my house. I can't do it. I don't have any more sick days. And I can't see letting it stay this way for the other 24 school days in the year. And my weekends? AlHamdulIllah, I'm booked solid for the entire next five weeks. Ha, and at one point I was lonely, imagine. So, since I know that others can do it better, I just need to find some cash and get somebody else to do it. I'm relaxing just thinking about it. Then everybody involved will be happy.

Speaking of gratitude, I need to be more outwardly grateful. See, that's what I mean. At one point you'd've caught me dead before I went a week without sending a thank-you note to someone who'd been especially generous, or considerate, or helpful to me. Now my cheeks burn in shame when I think of all the things people have done for me that I know I haven't properly acknowledged.

I have some amazing friends, y'all. Last week I went to counselor retreat for MYNA camps because I was 'sponsored' by one friend and driven by another; the hour I came back Samina S. opened her home to me on literally 3 minutes notice and gave me clothes to wear; when I went to a banquet that night I really enjoyed the fabulous speakers and dinner and didn't have to pay- and they ended up not needing my volunteer services for which I dined. May Allah bless every single person who has been so gracious to me, I couldn't be working and feeling at least this good without them.

I didn't say that all the house-cleaning I mentioned above needs to be done in order to accomodate JW again. He's back home after being released early from his university. We still don't know if he's been withdrawn or on probation. ALlahu Alim. Please make dua'a for that whole situation.
Since JW hasn't really been at home, I'd closed up the back (drafty) bedroom my sister and I used to share, since it gets freezing cold in the winter, and just used his. So my stuff is all over his room. Now I don't know when I'll stop and get it all up. Because then I couldn't have four blog posts this month, you see. And I feel terrible now because he's home and I'm all sleeping in his room and don't want to go back to mine.

That's it! I'm getting somebody else to do it. THat's the responsible action, after all. Let someone else clean up after me.

Somehow that's not as satisfying in print as it would be in real life, and that means I've made a compromise somewhere. I'll end up doing the cleaning myself, just as I'll end up suffering through every minute of the teaching classes I (hope I don't really) need for a license. I'll grit my teeth and sweettalk the portareecan crew and use the PR version of wasta for everything else. I'll be frustrated and still single and get it all done. But boy wouldn't it be nice to get somebody else to do it for me.



Open. Your. Eyes.

Assalamu Alaikum,

Oh, man. Yesterday I needed someone to hold me back. I won't say what I did in the privacy of the teacher's lounge, because, well, it doesn't sound very nice. I hit a limit of fury yesterday. It's not good to feel that outdone at your place of employment.

Remember, I've said so many times that it's never the child who causes me problems. It's usually adults who won't act right.

Long story short, there's a female parent of a child who is causing problems because she's kicking up a fuss about her child.

Now, this is, at the root, what every parent wants to do. You all want your child to do well and you'll do what it takes to make that happen. You'll talk to the teachers and ask for extra work. You'll have him do that work, with a lot of help from you, under your very careful and watchful eye. You'll teach your child in the way of Allah. You'll help the child against herself when she needs it.

If this were that and only that, I could fully understand and bring the fullness of my patience to the situation. But it isn't. It's about this woman's refusal to see what her child does and how the child affects others. Like telling me you've enrolled your child in a pretty tough extra-curricular class and then telling me that you know your child, of course your child doesn't hit others. And of course, I should have a gentle and special way to have this child follow instructions, unlike the other children who obey me the first or even the second time I tell them something. Right. Just explain to me how out of 38 children how your child is the only one who is having accidents and being injured so, if your child never disobeys her teachers or hits and taunts the rougher kids until they snap. You seek that information, but when I tell you you don't see. Open your eyes!

I think another thing that bothers me is that there's another mother and another child who DO deserve help and the best of our resources, and I'm missing how both of these situations are being treated equally. And I'm sad that it probably means that neither of the children will be at our school next year. *sigh*. At least I'm not worried I won't be at the school next year.
I'm really sad for the first child I mentioned, because this child is so manipulative and sneaky that the child needs the boundaries that we provide. Really. Child A does so much better when we're firm but loving, that mother's insistence on being gentle and solicitous with this one child drives me wild- that isn't actually what will serve her child best, in my professional opinion. Anyway.

Yesterday we had about a half-hour meeting, and after that, I was through. I'm done. There are 26 school days left this year and I'm just going to work toward getting through all of them well, with smiling kids at the end. I'm also going to have to keep this child separated from certain others. Fine. You'll pay me to do that, it'll get done. And then I hope you go to another school, because that's the only way you'll learn exactly how your child is, and you'll learn to open your eyes.

And that's all I want to say about that.

In other news, I have no idea what I'm doing this summer, and May begins... tomorrow! My Master's application for the University of Conservopolis is due, um, tomorrow. Ask me if I've begun. No, don't. And gasoline is up to $3.65 a gallon here. A friend invited me to stay at her house five minutes from work, and at first I refused, until she made me accept (anyone else have Egyptian friends? I love her so much mashaAllah!), and then when I came out and saw how high gas was I was glad she beat me into it!

And... I think my last crush is off the potential marriage list. We'll see. He's going to Jordan for a year to learn Arabic starting this fall. I still think he's an awesome guy, but at the same time, this past weekend someone made me realize that um, I'm not unique in thinking that. His family is very well known, which I think is a big factor in that. And I want someone who wants me for me, not looking for an ideal social match. Not that he's said that or anything.

Off to work... make dua'a for me!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Go, read, quick. Go!

Assalamu Alaikum,

Oh my goodness. Go read Liz at Muppie Chronicles. Awesome-a-licious.
Not because I agree with her (but man do I), but because what she writes has such a fresh tingle. Girlfriend is hitting nails left and right- for example:

I’m just saying that when it comes to domestic bliss, in all respects, and thank you for not making me spell that out, a lot more comes into play than a pretty face. I mean, we’re talking roommate for life, God willing. Not only is this person going to share your kitchen, and your bathroom, and bicker with you over window dressings, but you have to share a bedroom, too. And a bed. And the covers. And trust me, you’re not going to care how hot she is if she won’t give you the blanket in January. Trust me. If you’re going to have no refuge from someone, have no refuge from an interesting someone. From a nice someone. From a merciful and loving and patient and kind someone. No refuge from a hot someone gets old pretty quick, if that’s his/her crowning virtue.

Go, read her, I've already added her blog to my list. And now Ima go drown in archives. MashaAllah!



assalamu alaikum,

I've been lost. I'm trekking my way back. Thanks for reading, really.


I tutor several students, off and on, at the middle school and high school levels. Incidentally, they're all boys- not sure why. That's probably just how the community is around here. I don't know nearly as many teenaged girls as I do boys here in Conservopolis. Girls, where are you?

What I was going to say is that I've had all of these students go through an exercise to build their own goals. It's simple, really: you have someone ask, over and over again, "What do you want?" and write down EVERY answer. Then go through and weed out the things of the moment from the true goals.

Alhamdulillah, one student replied, "I want to go to Jennah alFirdous, inshaAllah, and be in the shade of Allah and the company of the Prophet on the last day." No kidding. A fourteen-year-old told me that (he wasn't trying to impress me).

And then I kept asking.
You want that? What else? What do you want along the way? When do you want it? How do you want it? How do you want to gain the pleasure of Allah (swt) inshaAllah?

All of the boys do this. Then I make them tape up their goals on a wall or mirror they'll see daily. And put dates on them (well, all but the goals like the one above. That one isn't one I hope to be able to put a time and date on). ANd then review them weekly and monthly and see them daily and determine not only what it is that they want from this life, but to see that they're the ones who determine how this gift of life is spent. Parents do a lot, but they have only so much to work with. Allah has granted us life. We've got to use it.

And yet I've gotten away from that myself.

How often is it that the teacher loses sight of the student for the knowledge? Today I went through and re-made my own goals.

It was humbling and amazing to see how I'm holding myself back from taking advantage. It's scary. *sigh*.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008


assalamu alaikum,

Yes, so I'm averaging about two posts a month this year. How far I've come. I'm writing through a splitting headache just now- otherwise I won't get a chance for a while. I've been "thinking" my posts for weeks now. By the time I get to sit down, they're all forgotten. Maybe I should go back to good'ol paper journaling for good. On the other hand, what I like about blogging is the ability to share, and get feedback on the thoughts I actually publish. I'm thinking about moving to wordpress, but only if and when I have time to actually do stuff with the blog and not just neglect it for weeks at a time. I dunno. We'll see.

The school was on spring break last week. I'd made a whole bunch of plans for what I'd do. Puh-leeze. I slept the first 6 days, ran around running errands on the seventh, and then on the last three went to St. Louis for the MSA Central Zone conference. The conference was good, but sparsely attended- even the campus where we were was on spring break, and half of the students who'd registered and paid to attend didn't show. I guess they were on break, too.

I enjoyed the trip. St. Louis was a nice city, not that I got to see much of it. I became really good friends with the women who went with us. I went with the University of Conservopolis MSA- and you know how they roll, girls in one car, guys in the other. So it was good to relax and just talk, read, and eat, learn about and from one another. More than half of us ended up, um, not praying during the trip. I don't know what that was about. But anyway, I genuinely liked every single one of the women with us, and that was a treat.

I'm up in the air on whether or not that was my last MSA trip. I'll have been out of undergrad five years (yikes!) this May. On one hand, I do feel, just a bit, that I should have outgrown the group. But on the other hand, I haven't. Maybe I'm attracted to groups that have either mature or even just likeable people. I'll go anywhere I can to learn a little more about Islam, add to the pieces of understanding and truth I've picked up since my shahada.

Too, we're Muslims, and that seemed to come first at this particular C-Zone conference.. East Zone conferences I've attended in the past have definitely had a bit of that "ISNA Saturday Night" feeling, and I was able to just gravitate toward the actual learning portions of the conference. EZ definitely was more meat market, more "foo foo", appearance based, and um... young, as in immature. There were way more people there, too.
This conference really didn't have much of that. The people there seemed for the most part to be actually focused on living as Muslims, day in and day out, in our communities and in this country. The speakers were all actual imams, sheikhs, learned individuals. I'm trying to think if even one was a woman... I don't think any of the main speakers were female. Not that that bothers me. I'm just sayin'.

As an MSA conference, of course there were like 4 main areas under which all of the lectures and breakout sessions seemed to fall: How to Live Like a Muslim, Bringing Islam to American Communities, The Cultural Gap Between Backhomelandia (ht to Umm Zaid)and the USA, and, ever-present, Gettin' Hitched and Otherwise Keepin it Halal Around The Other Gender.

Oh, which reminds me what I wanted to say about that.

I forget that I'm a convert sometimes. When I'm allowed to. When it's just me and my rug and my Lord. When I'm going about my business. When I'm living a life carefully groomed toward ever more taqwa and ibadah (worship) inshaAllah. That aspect of my Islam is not one I've decided to keep on the outside as part of my identity. I'm Muslim. It's annoying sometimes to go through the 20 questions with every Muslim I meet and after I answer, "My parents are from Alabama", I get the, Oh, MashaAllah, A Convert How and Why Did/Do You Do It? speech. (Not sure why I'm capitalizing everything in sight. Bear with me.)

However, because I am a convert, there are certain things that I see that are particular to being a new Muslim especially in the US. My feeling is that while converts may be a small portion of the world's Muslims, we're a big fount of increase in Muslim numbers. We're not an ignorable minority, because many converts still have social currency in the sections of society they belonged to before Islam. Which means, if a convert radiates contentment and joy even during the hard times after conversion, then there's more opportunity for more dawah as people who know this person see that in them. On the other hand, all of us have heard of the convert who was truly a convert but was disillusioned in Islam and turned away, complaining bitterly to the people to whom they've returned. If nothing else, attention needs to be paid to this group, just little touches that make converts feel able to integrate smoothly from where they are to the Muslims Allah wants them to be. That sounds idealistic, but that's how I feel.

And yet, especially when it comes to things like MSA conferences, aspects that would especially apply to converts are repeatedly ignored. And when they're brought up, they're brushed off or treated as side notes. It's frustrating. The particular thread that comes to mind is (of course) one of the breakout sessions that was about marriage and how to actually approach the other person blah blah blah. I hope y'all get the gist. Just as last year, I brought up the question of what the speakers (fortunately great speakers and pretty knowlegeable, I thought) would tell a convert or even a student from a not-so-practising Muslim family whose parents aren't able or don't want to help him/her get married. And the silence was big. It was as if these guys hadn't even ever considered the possibility that that could even happen.

Of course, they answered the question. The response was (I wish I had my notes with me) something like, 'they should ask friends or someone they can trust, or even get their parents to help them. Their parents should want to help them since they love them. Since yes, mashaAllah there's an ever larger number of people coming to Islam through our college campuses we should be open to this possibility."

Sigh. Discuss. I've gotta go. InshaAllah when I get back to the computer I'll talk more about that--- and the fact that the man I've had my eye on was on this trip. Heh Heh Heh. Yay cliffhangers!